Of the course of the past year, Impact Wrestling has worked to create alliances with other promotions around the world. Similar to how WWE works with England’s PROGRESS, Scotland’s Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) and US super indie EVOLVE, Impact has forged alliances with Mexico’s AAA, US indies like DEFY, Wrestle Pro, Destiny and Border City Wrestling (BCW), and with Lucha Underground. But some actions over the past few days seem to indicate that Impact Wrestling could be making stronger strides in working with the IWGP Conception more than any time since their first failed attempt back in 2010 and 2011.
THE IWGP CONCEPTION
So what exactly is the “IWGP Conception”? It’s a term that was coined a few years for the emerging alliance between New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and it’s allied promotions worldwide that included NJPW, Ring of Honor (ROH) in the US, Revolution Pro Wrestling UK (RevPro) in England, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) in Mexico, and Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) in Germany. Since it’s inception in 2015, it has lead to these promotions holding title matches in each others promotions and storylines crossing the borders as part of an international kayfabe. In recent months, it appears that Ireland’s Over The Top (OTT) Wrestling and England’s Defiant Wrestling (formerly WCPW) have also entered into the Conception, as NJPW and ROH stars have competed for large events, including NJPW stars entered in last year’s WCPW Pro Wrestling World Cup, ROH World Championship matches on WCPW programming, and NJPW stars competing with more frequency in OTT. Recent appearances of NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis on ROH programming and the NWA vs ROH World title match at ALL IN would also suggest that Billy Corgan‘s National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) is open to working with the Conception as well.
— BIG DAWG (@RhettTitusANX) March 10, 2018
The first stokes of this potential alliance stemmed when Austin Aries showed up at Ring of Honor’s ROH 16th Anniversary Show this past March, carrying all the belts in his collection, including the Impact World Heavyweight Championship. “The Belt Collector” challenged then ROH TV Champion Kenny King for a shot at the one title that eluded him during his storied time with ROH. Aries got his title match, but by the time it happened on May 13, it was Silas Young who held the gold and who retained (the episode just aired this past weekend on ROH TV).
IMPACT vs. THE UK
Tickets for our return to the UK in Manchester at @WrestlingMediaC on September 9th go on sale THIS FRIDAY!
We're issuing an OPEN CHALLENGE to any UK Wrestling Promotion to bring their best wrestlers to face our best on September 9th!
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) May 24, 2018
Impact Wrestling recently announced that it was returning to the UK for a special Impact vs. The UK event at this year’s Wrestling MediaCon in Manchester, England this September. At the time they issued an open challenge to face the best of the exploding UK BritWres scene. With WWE’s alliances with PROGRESS and ICW, those two seemed unable to partner with the company for such a showcase. But while no official challenges have been answered, there will be England’s #2 promotion working the MediaCon the same weekend. At the same conference, RevPro will be holding a tournament over both nights of the conference, September 8 and 9. With the new WWE UK deals boxing out their talents from working with the likes of RevPro and Defiant Wrestling, opening up alliances with Impact Wrestling could offer more North American exposure for both companies.
SAMI CALLIHAN CALLS OUT CHRIS JERICHO
Up until a few days ago, Chris Jericho‘s upcoming Rock N’ Wrestling Rager At Sea (aka The Jericruise) event was going to be a Ring of Honor sponsored tournament, Sea of Honor. It still is, but thanks to Sami Callihan‘s strong words this past Saturday, it’s competitors may get a little more diverse.
EXPLICIT LANGUAGE: We caught up with @TheSamiCallihan outside of our Windsor tapings, and he wasn’t happy. He had some extremely inflammatory comments about @IAmJericho, @ringofhonor and the @Jericho_Cruise. pic.twitter.com/o1OhS3jDCc
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) June 2, 2018
Sami Callihan has been embroiled in some of the strongest work of his career, as the “too violent” for TV wildman that cause controversy wherever he shows up. “The Draw” (as he calls himself now) has worked his feud with Eddie Edwards (that involved the infamous errant bat incident) into becoming one of the most hated men in wrestling. His ire at Chris Jericho and his cruise for neglecting to use him (or Impact Wrestling) drew a response from the ultimate party host himself.
— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) June 2, 2018
That intrigue was piqued even more when Impact Executive VP Don Callis (a longtime friend of Jericho’s) responded that he agreed with Callihan and was “not sure why Impact Wrestling is not a part” of Jericho’s wrestling cruise venture.
"I find myself in an interesting position where maybe for the first time I'm agreeing with @TheSamiCallihan…but I'm not sure why IMPACT Wrestling is not part of the @IAmJericho Cruise." – @CyrusOverHuge on these comments from Sami Callihan. pic.twitter.com/2rOLtWFiC7
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) June 4, 2018
The curious words of Callis seemed to spark his old Winnipeg friend and Jericho’s immediately invited Impact Wrestling to become a part of the Ring of Honor sponsored event. Is this a precursor to announcements of Impact stars entering the Sea of Honor tournament, creating match ups of Impact vs ROH like recent Impact special, Impact vs. Lucha Underground?
— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) June 4, 2018
— The DRAW (@TheSamiCallihan) June 4, 2018
SAMI CALLIHAN CALLS OUT BULLY RAY
Yesterday, Sami Callihan made a tweet mentioning that he’d “upset” the staff of Busted Open Radio, one of the most popular wrestling online radio shows on the internet.
— The DRAW (@TheSamiCallihan) June 4, 2018
It had to do with an interview Callihan had just done with BOR, where he called out BOR co-host, WWE Hall of Famer and current ROH star Bully Ray (aka Bubba Ray Dudley). You can hear the whole interview below:
Bully Ray naturally didn’t take Callihan’s words too lightly.
Im “offended” fans waste $$ on you.
There’s a reason ROH and WWE threw you away like the POS jobber you are.
I will beat you up, blow you up, humble you and expose you.
Either show up and jump the rail or STFU.
See you next Tuesday. https://t.co/fdEdguMCYc
— Bubba Ray Dudley (@bullyray5150) June 4, 2018
Just ride off into the sunset before you get your HALL OF FAME face bashed in.
You'd never see me coming.
— The DRAW (@TheSamiCallihan) June 5, 2018
Now that Bully Ray’s “retirement” turned out to be an angle rather than a real life situation, with the former World Champion back wrestling for Ring of Honor, is this angling for a showdown between one of the legendary “bullies” of the industry facing off with its current one at an upcoming Ring of Honor
FIRST CURRENT BULLET CLUB MEMBER TO APPEAR ON IMPACT
With seeds seemingly planted for Impact involvement with Ring of Honor, the next huge announcement came on Monday at Impact’s press conference for the upcoming Slammiversary XVI in Toronto at the end of July, when the company announced the return of Taiji Ishimori. Ishimori came to Impact early last year as part of Impact’s alliance with Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan and became a big part of the re-establishment of the X-Division in 2017 and early 2018, becoming an X-Division Champion in the process. So while the announcement of Ishimori’s return may not seem like a huge announcement on its own, it’s the circumstances around his return that are the meat of the story.
Fresh off reaching the finals of the prestigious Best of the Super Juniors tournament, we're delighted to announce that former X-Division champion @taiji_ishimori is coming to Slammiversary on July 22nd.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) June 4, 2018
Earlier this year, Ishimori shocked Japanese fans when he announced he was departing NOAH this past March, after a 12-year career with the company that saw him leave a 3x GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion and 6x GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. What was even more shocking, was his unveiling at Wrestling Dontaku Night 2 as the new Bone Soldier and latest member of NJPW’s Bullet Club, joining NOAH’s largest rival in Japan.
Ishimori then emerged as one of Bullet Club’s entries into this year’s prestigious Best of the Super Juniors, with a critically acclaimed run that saw him make it all the way to Monday’s finals, where he ultimately lost to Los Ingobernables de Japon‘s Hiromu Takahashi, the same day as his announced return to Impact. But what’s interesting is that in Impact’s announcement on Social Media, Ishimori was featured with the NJPW logo (just as past NOAH or AAA performers have appeared with their logo) and he was referenced as Bone Soldier. This would mark the first time an active member of Bullet Club has competed on for Impact Wrestling and first time we’ve seen a NJPW wrestler on Impact since the last attempt that saw a criminally underutlization of the likes of Tetsuya Naito, Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazuchika Okada back in 2011.
With Impact VP Don Callis also the NJPW contracted play-by-play for English commentary on New Japan World, has Callis managed to smooth over any past tensions and convince NJPW to work with Impact once again? While Impact may not officially be joining the IWGP Conception, it would definitely appear that Impact is on the road to at least working in alliance with the IWGP Conception – at least, it’s strongest members.