What’s So Different About Impact?

Back around November, I started watching Impact. I was never a TNA fan and never saw a single TNA pay-per-view or Impact show until the fall of 2018. Never had any interest! Then Impact signed Su Yung. Then they signed oVe. Then they changed ownership. Then they signed the Rascalz. Then they signed Jordynne Grace. Then they signed Ace Austin.

That was when I decided to give Impact a try. For several months I have watched the show (Friday nights at 10 pm on Twitch) every chance I got. If I missed the Friday show, I’d catch the replay on what is now Impact+, a great subscription value at only $7.99. Not only can you watch past episodes of their show, you now get monthly live shows, shows from other promotions, and classic wrestling in the form of The Best of Wrestling at the Chase from St. Louis hosted by Larry Matysik. (RIP, good sir!)

I’ve enjoyed watching Impact. I’ve become a fan of more of their stars including Tessa Blanchard, Moose, Rich Swann, and Brian Cage, and I’ve always liked Johnny Impact. But lately, something has struck me as odd about the show. Something feels off. I couldn’t put a finger on it for a while, but it has to do with the week to week programming. The way the show is constructed seems a bit old school. The rivalries and story lines play out the way they used to on Raw and Smackdown. And the gimmick matches! One week there’s a street fight. One week there’s a deathmatch. They keep mixing things up. It’s not always one singles match after another. But it IS one match after another. Yes, you get an in-ring promo here and there, and the same back stage interviews every promotion does. But they don’t take 52 minutes to get to the action. They open with a match. Then here comes another. And another.

I don’t know how Impact was before the new owners took over, but it plays like an old school wrestling show. Not even Raw or Smackdown, mind you, but even further back in time, back when I used to watch World Class on ESPN after school every afternoon. It feels odd, really odd, because it’s not what I’m used to. I watched Raw and Smackdown for decades, and while those shows have become much more script driven, Impact is purely wrestling driven.

In all honesty this is not a tongue in cheek way of promoting Impact. If I sound sarcastic and like I’m taking sideways shots at WWE, I’m not. This essay began with me reading a Tweet about this week’s street fight between Eddie Edwards and Killer Cross and trying to puzzle out, why does this feel so strange? Why is it strange that once again, Impact has built to a special stipulation match between two wrestlers with a grudge? What is it about Impact that just feels odd?

Impact is formatted as an old school wrestling show. It only feels off because it’s been so darn long since I’ve watched such a show week after week. I’ve become a fan of the promotion and the wrestlers, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something different in their weekly wrestling shows.