At the end of Wednesday night’s episode of Dynamite, Kenny Omega became the new AEW World Champion with help from his long-time friend, Impact Wrestling Executive Vice-President Don Callis. Shockingly, at the end of the show, Callis announced that Omega would be appearing on Impact’s company’s flagship show, Impact!, this Tuesday night.
Naturally, this raised a lot of questions from wrestling fans. Including, for many, this one: Is Impact Wrestling still a thing?
Which tells me that they’re not reading my recaps, which are posted right here every week. So shame on them.
But instead of holding a grudge, I’ve put together this primer for those AEW fans who are going to tune into Impact this week for the first time, or for the first time in a long time, as the case may be.
By knowing some of the characters and some of the ongoing storylines, it may help boost your interest in the non-Omega segments.
We've been left with more questions than answers between @TheDonCallis & your new #AEW World Champion @KennyOmegamanX.
I guess we will have to wait and see what Omega & Callis have to say this Tuesday on @IMPACTWRESTLING. pic.twitter.com/8trZjvKNhA
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 4, 2020
Where can I watch Impact?
The two-hour-long show airs weekly at 8pm EST on AXS-TV in the United States, the Fight Network in Canada, and on Twitch in both countries. In addition, after the initial broadcast, the show gets uploaded to watch on the Impact+ subscription streaming service.
What is the show like?
During a typical episode, there are usually 5 to 7 matches on the show, most of which are short – though the main event and one other match may run through a commercial break (there is no “picture in picture”). So, there’s nothing like the marathon matches that happen on AEW.
Between matches, there are a few short interview segments, and a lot of backstage vignettes. Mostly, the vignettes relate to an ongoing story arc, but sometimes they are standalone and self-contained to that particular episode.
The Look and Sound
One major difference between Impact and AEW is that Impact runs in an empty studio. Meaning, there are no fans in attendance and there is no piped in crowd noise either. The only noise during the matches are from the competitors in the ring, and the voice-over commentary.
Speaking of commentary, that’s another major difference. Impact’s team of Josh Mathews and Madison Rayne do a serviceable job, but they’re understandably not near the level of Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, or Taz. At times, their on-air bickering can be distracting from the match (they are married in real life, by the way), but generally they stick to calling the action.
With Callis appearing on the show this week as part of the Omega story, it’s unlikely he’ll join Josh behind the desk – which would be a treat, because he’s really good. But maybe they may bring in Matt Striker who seems to elevate Josh’s game in his occasional appearances.
The studio itself is pretty sparse, with just the ring and an entrance ramp, with the empty seating area darkened. The backstage promos often are filmed in an office, a dressing room, or another small space. So it definitely feels more confined than AEW, which tends to use more space in the arena. On the other hand, the minimal and tighter locations for vignettes seemingly make shooting them easier, because those interviews aren’t plagued with poor and echoey audio, like many AEW backstage moments.
Key Roster Members
Impact’s roster is smaller than AEW’s (number-wise, at least; in terms of physical size, it’s a coin toss). Here are details of the major players, and some of the current ongoing storylines.
World Champion Rich Swann is the babyface who always seems to be fighting as an underdog. Currently, he is staving off a number of potential threats to his title, including Chris Bey – a high-flying technical star – who he will face on December 12 at Final Resolution, the company’s next Impact+ special. In the background is Moose, a large, angry former football player who recently has adopted a serious and dangerous edge of simmering violent intensity (kind of like Wardlow).
Rohit Raju is the X-Division Champion, and he will take any weaselly shortcut he has to in order to walk away with the title. If that means he loses by disqualification or count-out, that’s fine. If he has to exploit a technical loophole to maneuver his way out of a title match, he’ll do that too. A comparison? How about Dr. Britt Baker as a South-Asian man.
The women’s roster – or as Impact calls it, the Knockouts Division – is an area where Impact is head and shoulders above AEW. Knockouts Champion Deonna Purrazzo is a well-rounded technical wrestler specializing in submissions. She and her cohort Kimber Lee are currently engaged in a feud with the “undead bride” Su Yung. Yung’s character evolution has been a long-running story in the company, and has a lot of supernatural overtones. Most recently, Purrazzo has tried to weaken Su by recruiting the “Sinister Minister” Father James Mitchell to try to banish Su Yung to the demon realm.
Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows – also known as the Good Brothers – likely no strangers to AEW fans, as they were former Bullet Club members along with Omega and The Young Bucks back in the day – are the current Impact Tag Team Champions. They are currently in a feud with The North (Ethan Page and Josh Alexander), who are right up there with FTR in the conversation as being the best tag team in the world today (though they have been teasing some dissension recently).
Another key player that will likely be seen in a couple of segments is Executive Vice-President Scott D’Amore. As the show’s on-air authority figure, D’Amore is tough but fair, doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and often sides with the babyfaces in thwarting the villains’ plans.
Matches announced for this Tuesday:
Here is some background on the matches that have been announced for Tuesday, in addition to Omega and Callis explaining their actions from Wednesday night:
Purrazzo and Lee take on Taya Valkyrie and Rosemary. This match is part of the ongoing tournament to crown new Knockouts Tag Team Champions. Taya Valkyrie may be the best woman wrestler in the company, though she’s been relegated to comedy lately, which is a shame. Rosemary is a demon character – not as intense or scary as AEW’s Abadon, but a better wrestler.
Josh Alexander faces Chris Sabin. Sabin is one half of the tag team the Motor City Machine Guns, along with his partner Alex Shelley. The Motor City Machine Guns are like The Young Bucks but older, with a better grasp of psychology. So, maybe a better comparison would be to say they’re a younger version of Daniels and Kazarian.
Eric Young faces Cody Deaner. Young returned to the company earlier this year after barely being used in WWE after a decent NXT run. He’s come in as an intense maniac who wants to bring anarchy to the company, and recently recruited the country-tough Joe Doering as part of his agenda.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) December 5, 2020
In recent weeks, they have been interrupting mid-card matches and laying out the participants. Cody Deaner – a redneck who teams with his Cousin Jake – was tired of being dismissed as meaningless comedy filler by Young and demanded this match. These two have a long friendship in real life, and that’s been played up as part of Deaner’s frustration.
TJP takes on Brian Myers. TJP is a young veteran with a ground-based style. Looks-wise, he’s similar to Sammy Guevara but with 80% less recklessness; you might remember him from his WWE run. Brian Myers is like one of the uninteresting forgettable members of the Dark Order – so, pretty much how Colt Cabana is being used.
Chris Bey and Moose face Rich Swann and Willie Mack. Swann will team up with his friend Willie Mack against the two men who are gunning for his championship. Mack is a compact heavyweight who has hovered near the upper-mid-card for a while, often being used as comic relief or filler matches to mixed results. I suppose Miro may be a close equivalent, since neither company seems to really know what to do with these guys.
Other ongoing storylines
Tommy Dreamer is playing detective to find out who shot referee turned heel manager John E. Bravo during his wedding to Rosemary. 1980s throwback star Johnny Swinger – sorry, John Silver fans, but he isn’t even in the same league as Swinger comedy-wise – will likely be involved in this. Last week, Dreamer was laid out by the admitted perpetrator Larry D, so there may be some physical retaliation by Dreamer this week.
A bunch of people have been brought into a story where they steal a wad of cash from each other. The money was originally won by the muscle-head Hernandez in underground backstage arm-wrestling matches, and stolen several times after that. The mini-Sumo-like Fallah Bahh had it at one point, but he lost it to the brash, streetwise female tag team of Kiera Hogan and Tasha Steelz. Remember when Brandi brought out the fire when yelling at Jade Cargill a couple of weeks ago? Imagine if she had wrestling skills. That would be Steelz and Hogan.
Sami Callihan and Eddie Edwards have been engaged in a major feud that has a lot of history behind it. Most recently, Sami, a master manipulator, directed MMA legend Ken Shamrock to assault Eddie Edwards, a tough everyman guy who never backs down from a fight. The closest AEW parallels would be if Eddie Kingston coached Lance Archer and they went after Jon Moxley. Shamrock was suspended for his actions by D’Amore, so look for Sami to play solo mind games on Eddie, possibly using Eddie’s wife Alisha as a pawn.
The Knockouts comprise a large part of the roster, so look for a few of them to appear in backstage segments. Some of them include: the powerhouse Jordynne Grace who is teaming with ECW original Jazz in the tournament; Havok and Neveah, two of the bigger and stronger females (gothic versions of Nyla Rose); and Tenille Dashwood (a self-absorbed social media influencer).
With so many eyes expected to tune in to this episode, Impact has an opportunity to showcase its product to its biggest audience in years. If they do it right, they may be able to convert Tuesday night’s “Omega-curious tourists” into ongoing viewers. And, more importantly, ongoing readers of my recaps. See you all on Tuesday night.