IMPACT Wrestling is just days away from a defining moment in their history as a hopeful fanbase lies in wait for Slammiversary. In the midst of a global pandemic that has ravaged the entertainment industry, the company may be able to pull off a masterstroke that will show there is still life in them yet. This Saturday will be a culmination of months of trials and tribulations for Impact management. They have lost top stars including the history-making first female World Champion Tessa Blanchard, but with WWE releasing talent en masse at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak this also presented new opportunity to add to their roster.
Wrestling companies are struggling to adjust to restrictions around weekly tapings and pay per views in empty arenas, canceling live shows, issues with TV deals and talent being unable to travel the challenges seem never-ending. In an increasingly competitive sector, Impact has gone from a top US promotion with innovative matches, hot young talent, and industry legends to slowly dropping down the ladder with the emergence and hype of NXT and AEW in recent years, the future looked grim.
Somehow, Impact has turned this all to their advantage and people are talking about them again as they can feel the potential that something great could happen on Saturday. The mystery returning champion has everyone talking about who will take the final spot in the main event against Ace Austin, Trey, and Eddie Edwards and there are several candidates all with great possibilities.
To get a full understanding of just how many curve balls have been thrown, look at the timeline below:
- 1 April 2020 – Bully Ray’s ROH contract officially expires.
- 15 April 2020 – Due to the Covid-19 outbreak WWE release over 30 employees to cut costs. This included talents such as EC3, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Kurt Angle, Eric Young, Rusev, Mike Bennett, and Zack Ryder.
- 1 June 2020 – Tessa was due to send in promos for IMPACT tapings but never did so, causing creative to rewrite the episodes at the last minute.
- 16 June 2020 – IMPACT release a teaser trailer confirming AT LEAST one former world champion will return at Slammiversary, showing a video package of many of the released WWE talent and others such as Bully Ray, Mr. Anderson, and Austin Aries.
- 20 June 2020 – NWA Vice President David Lagana resigns after being accused of sexual assault by Liz Savage leading to NWA deciding to shut down amidst ongoing internal investigation and seek to restructure their management.
- 22 June 2020 – Joey Ryan and Dave Crist released and Michael Elgin suspended by Impact following #SpeakingOut allegations.
- 24 June 2020 – IMPACT tease a video of D-Lo Brown hinting at Aces & Eights returning.
- 26 June 2020 – Tessa Blanchard confirmed as being fired by IMPACT, her contract was due to expire on 30 June and negotiations broke down.
- 27 June 2020 – IMPACT announced Michael Elgin will no longer appear on their programming
- 30 June 2020 – IMPACT announce the Slammiversary main event will now be a Fatal Four Way including the mystery former champion.
- 1 July 2020 – Heath Slater (now Heath Miller) teases appearing at Slammiversary.
- 2 July 2020 – EC3 releases a promo teasing joining AEW.
- 3 July 2020 – Bully Ray’s departure from ROH gains more publicity and begins trending across wrestling news sites.
- 7 July 2020 – Karl Anderson tweets a picture of tag team partner Luke Gallows in an IMPACT t-shirt.
- 8 July 2020 – IMPACT release further teaser confirming the former champion will not be coming alone.
- 13 July 2020 – Rusev (now Miro) announces he has tested positive for Covid-19
What happens next?
Now, this cannot be stressed enough, this is IMPACT. They have been here several times before over the years where a former world champion was teased and the likes of Bobby Lashley, Tommy Dreamer, and Rhyno were brought out much to the disappointment of many fans hoping for someone bigger.
While optimists everywhere are fantasy booking almost endless possibilities given the plethora of talent on the free-agent market, all signs point towards a potential Aces & Eights reunion. It would be almost unthinkable to attempt to reactivate the faction without Bully Ray and Gallows being involved as the two were the most synonymous with the group. It fits the profile of a former champion who wouldn’t come alone and the last month or so it has been heavily speculated Gallows and Anderson have indeed signed on with Impact.
If this is done right it would put IMPACT back on the map in a big way. Despite involving talents fans struggled to take to such as Garrett Bischoff and Wes Brisco in its initial incarnation, Aces & Eights is generally regarded as one of IMPACT’s success stories over the years and remembered fondly for entertaining segments and the build-up to the Bully Ray reveal as their leader.
While that is the popular theory, there is always the possibility it may well be a return for EC3 who excelled in his role with Impact during his five-year tenure there. Although he has teased a likely AEW debut, it wouldn’t be the first time a wrestler has sent everyone in the wrong direction. Certainly, a potential faction including EC3, Gallows and Anderson would make headlines sparking a lot of interest in what is happening in Impact right now.
Those are the two front runners who could make this event something special, unless they can somehow get Kurt Angle to return, as much as it would be amazing it seems highly unlikely.
Again, this is IMPACT Wrestling, and we have been here before, so expect greatness…and not so greatness all at once.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. We provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can watch IMPACT every Tuesday on AXS-TV at 8pm EST and see past episodes of IMPACT Wrestling on IMPACT+. IMPACT Slammiversary 2020 airs live on FITE.tv at 8pm EST.