As post-PPV Impacts go, this week’s was good. It was eventful, it developed new angles across the card and functioned as a reset. Some people, present company included, could argue that it was edited well too. Edited in the way it was intended to be, for want of a better phrase.
The show’s most notable element was the debut of Private Party (and in turn, Matt Hardy’s return) and their main event victory over Chris Sabin and the returning James Storm.
Obviously, Impact had to pivot in a new direction after Alex Shelley pulled out of Hard To Kill and these tapings – it remains to be seen what the story is there. What we got last night was a surprising but fun new direction that points to the manner in which Impact and AEW’s partnership should function moving forward.
On initial viewing, Marq Quen pinning Sabin and not Storm bothered me. As the guy not contracted to either company (as things stand), he seemed the obvious and rightful candidate to be looking up at the lights. However, the Jerry Lynn angle was neat and made much more sense with Sabin, while the visual of pinning Sabin, a recent Tag Team Champion, is probably more impactful in the broader invasion angle.
Beyond that though, everything was much to my liking. In an invasion storyline like this, the faces and heels will vary on both sides. That sounds fairly obvious but promotions don’t always get that character assignment right. In AEW, the Impact talent is the invading heels and should be booed, but when the shoe is on the other foot, Tony Khan is a ‘heel’ because he’s running down the competition and supporting his talent against the ‘native’ ones.
From Matt Hardy coming out to the closing moments of the show, the segments involving the AEW talent were the epitome of how a partnership like this, between these two promotions, should work.
Impact isn’t going to be ‘developmental’ for AEW, that’s not the right word. Like many things in the wrestling industry, that term and the mere idea of companies working together has become mired in WWE’s gnarled, sprawling tentacles. AEW isn’t also a talent-hoarding behemoth that is a drain on the wider wrestling ecosystem. BUT, this relationship should work along the lines of a sporting relationship between a bigger club and a smaller one. They’d be feeder clubs in football or similar, in a sense, to the D-League in Basketball. It’s a symbiotic relationship – they have different roles to fulfill but, in turn, they make each other stronger.
AEW has a place to send younger talent to develop and gain further experience. Private Party are still, in many ways, quite green and their new gimmick under Matt Hardy’s management needs breathing room. Impact gives them that and allows them to try a few different things and iron out any kinks away from the bigger spotlight of TNT. They can get that polish and refinement in a different setting. For Impact, they’re getting more young, hungry talent to work with and some good angles to pop both a live number and social media activity. It also allows, in this instance, their talent to get their wins back as there’s no way The Good Brothers lose to Private Party. It’s a much bigger manifestation of what WWE were doing with Evolve and it’s a good system.
BREAKING: @MachineGunKA and @The_BigLG will defend the IMPACT World Tag Team Titles against @IsiahKassidy and @Marq_Quen w/ @MATTHARDYBRAND on Saturday February 13th at #NoSurrender on @IMPACTPlusApp!
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 21, 2021
Impact announced on Thursday that the match would take place at No Surrender, their next monthly special. That’s a sensible move to give the show some more pep and keep any new AEW-based eyes on the product. It’s not doing the match that’s most important, it’s the getting there. That’s the more promising sign for Impact and AEW’s budding relationship.
The Week in Review
- I don’t care who disagrees with me on this, but Matt Striker and D’Lo Brown are such a massive upgrade on Josh Mathews and Madison Rayne.
- Impact appear to have replaced Ethan Page with Matt Cardona. Weird flex, but ok. I wonder what Matt’s thoughts on editing are…
- Next week we’ve got: Ace Austin and Madman Fulton vs Josh Alexander and Matt Cardona, Rosemary vs Tenille Dashwood and Joe Doering vs Jake Something.
Well, until next time…