Impact Wrestling is getting a makeover. The company is going to look, sound, and run very differently then it has over the last ten plus years under Dixie Carter. However, it may ultimately look, sound, and run in a familiar way due to some old Impact Wrestling favorites returning both to the ring and to the backstage area. There were many critics of the company during Carter’s run and rightfully so. The Hulk Hogan-Eric Bischoff era of Impact Wrestling may have been both Carter’s greatest accomplishment and failure. On paper, Hogan and Bischoff were great acquisitions that brought instant credibility and recognizability to company looking to grow its fan base. However, they were given way too much power, which led to questionable creative decisions that just didn’t work for Impact Wrestling.
In the end, Hogan and Bischoff did more to hurt Impact Wrestling than to help it. Carter sat idly by and let it happen. With Carter out, hopefully Impact Wrestling can reestablish itself as a quality alternative to WWE. There are critics that wish Impact Wrestling would just go away but despite the company’s struggles they are important to maintaining a healthy pro wrestling industry. The winds of change are upon Impact Wrestling and fans may need a scorecard to keep track of all the comings and goings. With that said, let’s take a look at 15 things you need to know about the new Impact Wrestling.
15 Anthem In, Dixie Out
Most pro wrestling fans know by now that Dixie Carter is no longer in control of Impact Wrestling and that is a great thing. Carter was a glorified pro wrestling groupie who was handed Impact Wrestling by her filthy rich parents. She will be best remembered for ushering in the Hulk Hogan-Eric Bischoff era of Impact Wrestling, which was an absolute disaster. With Carter in the rearview mirror, Impact Wrestling can hopefully move forward under the control of Anthem. What exactly is Anthem? For those fans not familiar with them, Anthem Sports & Entertainment is a broadcasting and production company with headquarters in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Their President and CEO is Leonard Asper. Among Anthem’s assets are Impact Wrestling and Fight Network. It will definitely be interesting to see the new Impact Wrestling under the control of Anthem Sports & Entertainment.
14 Josh Barnett
Josh Barnett is an accomplished MMA fighter and pro wrestler. Barnett is also the broadcast partner of Jim Ross on New Japan Pro Wrestling’s television show on AXS TV. He is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and his overall MMA record is an impressive 35-8. He has also wrestled for both New Japan Pro Wrestling and Inoki Genome Federation. Barnett recently added Impact Wrestling to his resume when he answered World Champion Bobby Lashley’s open challenge. However, it appears Barnett is not in the plans of the new regime, as he did not participate in the latest television tapings for the new Impact Wrestling. Barnett was brought in by John Gaburick who is no longer in control of booking talent. Reportedly, during the last tapings under the old regime, two matches between Lashley and Barnett took place. It is unclear if those matches will ever air.
13 TNA Is Dead
The TNA (Total Nonstop Action) Wrestling name has been dying a slow death for several years. The company has been a lot more focused on developing and establishing Impact Wrestling as a brand. The TNA name and logo has become less and less significant over the years and rumors have persisted for some time that its use would be abandoned altogether. An official announcement is sure to come soon as upcoming episodes of Impact Wrestling will indeed mention that “TNA” will no longer be used. Fans can also look forward to a brand new Impact Wrestling logo, which will replace the transitional and awful Anthem Owl logo. The new logo and dropping of “TNA” is a symbolic start of a brand new era in Impact Wrestling.
12 New Blood
The new Impact Wrestling will attempt to showcase some new talent. Among the new blood fans will be seeing in the coming weeks are Fallah Bahh, Idris Abraham, Mario Bokara, Kongo Kong, and Kevin Mathews. Bahh might remind some fans of a smaller version of WWE Hall of Famer Yokozuna. He’s been wrestling for about 12 years in promotions such as the National Wrestling Alliance, Pro Wrestling Syndicate, and Global Force Wrestling. Abraham is a native of Ontario, Canada who has been wrestling for about six years in promotions such as Border City Wrestling, Smash Wrestling, and GFW. Bokara has been wrestling for about 14 years in promotions such as PWS, American Championship Entertainment, and GFW. Kong, at 6’7 and 400lbs, is the physically most impressive of the five new comers. He has been wrestling for about 13 years in promotions such as Juggalo Championship Wrestling, IWA-Mid South, and GFW.
New York/New Jersey area independent wrestling veteran Kevin Matthews will also be debuting soon on Impact Wrestling. Mathews has been wrestling for over 15 years and has also seen action in GFW. It’s no surprise that these new talent have all made stops in Jeff Jarrett’s GFW. Rachael Ellering has also been signed to the Impact Wrestling Knockouts Division. Ellering was most recently in WWE’s NXT. She is the daughter of legendary pro wrestling manager and WWE Hall of Famer Precious Paul Ellering. Ellering was trained by Lance Storm at the Storm Wrestling Academy and has wrestled for promotions such as Shine, Queens of Combat, Resistance Pro Wrestling, IWA Mid-South and the NWA.
11 Revamped Tag Team Division
The new Impact Wrestling tag team division will have some new faces, familiar faces, and new but familiar faces. They will all be vying for the now vacant tag team titles. Former champions The Decay will be the favorites to be the first tag champions under the new regime. However, they will get stiff competition from two new teams and an old but updated favorite. Reno Scum and the team of Laredo Kid & Garza Jr. will be interesting new contenders in the Impact Wrestling tag team division. In recent years, Reno Scum has made a name for themselves in both Ring of Honor and Global Force Wrestling. Laredo Kid and Garza Jr. both have experience wrestling in Mexico but their team is brand new. Finally, Konnan will make his return to Impact Wrestling as manager of the new Latin American Xchange-LAX. The new LAX will be comprised of Homicide, Angel Ortiz, Mike Draztik, and Diamante aka Angel Rose.
10 Mike Bennett & Maria Kanellis
Last year, Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis were key acquisitions from Ring of Honor. It was a great pick up for Impact Wrestling which had found itself in a bit of a talent feud with ROH in recent years. What a difference a year has made. After a crazy wedding segment on the final Impact Wrestling episode under the old guard, Bennett and Kanellis find themselves on the outside looking in. It will be interesting to see how their absence will be explained in a storyline that is sure to continue. The real life couple never looked comfortable in Impact Wrestling and never really found any real momentum. A fresh start somewhere else or a return to Ring of Honor might be the best thing for Bennett and Kanellis. With the way WWE has been calling up talent lately, NXT might also be a landing spot for the couple.
A familiar face fans won’t be seeing in the new Impact Wrestling Knockouts Division is Jade. The former Knockouts Champion and former member of the Dollhouse will be a huge loss to the Knockouts roster. Jade was a solid wrestler and her value was seen from day one. The Dollhouse became the hottest female group since The Beautiful People when they debuted in the Spring of 2015. Jade was a big part of that group’s success. She would later establish herself as one of the best wrestlers in the Knockouts Division with a great rivalry with Gail Kim. Jade’s departure from Impact Wrestling before the start of its new era is extremely controversial. Jade is in the prime of her career and was definitely someone that could have been a foundation for this new era in Impact Wrestling.
Both Dutch Mantel aka Zeb Colter and Bruce Pritchard aka Brother Love will help produce the new Impact Wrestling and will also be used as on air characters. Pritchard reportedly will be some type of authority figure character while Mantel may not appear on screen as much. Both bring years of pro wrestling booking experience to the new Impact Wrestling. Mantel had a creative role in the old TNA Wrestling from 2003 to 2009. Pritchard worked in creative roles with WWE for over 20 years and was also in a similar position previously with TNA Wrestling from 2010 to 2013. Both Pritchard and Mantel have also had very successful runs throughout the years as on screen characters. Mantel’s Zeb Colter helped breath life into the career of Jack Swagger briefly in WWE. Pritchard has had past success with being a heel authority figure, commentator, and manager. He is probably best remembered for his controversial Brother Love character in WWE during the late 1980s.
7 The Jarretts
Jeff Jarrett is back in Impact Wrestling in a creative role and is not expected to be an on screen character as of right now. His official title is Chief Creative Officer. Oddly, Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling will continue on. Reportedly, Anthem could be helping Jarrett to obtain a television deal for his struggling GFW. This could be a case of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” Fans can expect to again see some GFW cross over onto Impact Wrestling. It probably won’t result in another GFW invasion angle, which was pretty awful. What fans can expect is GFW talent being used and some GFW titles possibly being defended on Impact Wrestling. One of the GWF belts will reportedly be seen on Impact Wrestling in the coming weeks. Unlike Jeff, Karen Jarrett will have an on air role and it appears it will be as an authority figure for the Knockouts Division. She was previously the commissioner of the Knockouts Division back in 2011.
6 Blasts From The Past
With Jeff Jarrett in creative control, there will be three big names returning to Impact Wrestling. Chris Masters is best known for his days in WWE. However, in recent years, Masters has been closely linked to Jarrett. He started wrestling for GFW in 2015 and was a part of the GFW invasion of Impact Wrestling. He also wrestled for Jarrett’s Ring Ka King in India in 2012. Masters will re-debut in Impact Wrestling soon. Jarrett has also brought back two very familiar names to Impact Wrestling. Magnus and Matt Morgan will both be returning to the Impact Zone very soon. Interestingly enough, Magnus is the reigning GFW Global Heavyweight Champion. Equally as interesting is the fact that Morgan hasn’t wrestled regularly since 2013. It will remain to be seen if these three hand picked names by Double J can make up for some of the high profile talent that were not retained by the new Impact Wrestling.
5 Josh Mathews
Josh Mathews was unpopular with Impact Wrestling fans and it became clearer over time that he wasn’t a good fit for the lead commentator role. Speculation about his future in that role escalated with the change in leadership in Impact Wrestling. It has been reported that Jeff Jarrett was never high on Mathews.Mathews did work the new Impact Wrestling television tapings but will be involved in an angle that will write him off the announce team. It is unclear if Mathews will be used in another role going forward or if a release from the company has been negotiated. This could be the end of the line for him in the world of professional wrestling. A return to WWE would appear highly unlikely and his stock on the independent pro wrestling circuit probably wouldn’t be very high either.
4 Drew Galloway
Drew Galloway may prove to be the biggest loss to the new Impact Wrestling. Galloway was a key player under the old regime but would also seem to fit the new Impact Wrestling’s direction and vision. Galloway is a very popular wrestler in Scotland and Great Britain. He would have definitely helped to continue Impact Wrestling’s presence in Europe. Galloway is an excellent big man in the prime of his career that has main event written all over him. The talented Galloway is sure to resurface somewhere big. New Japan, Ring of Honor or a return to WWE could be in the cards for him. He would make a great monster heel in New Japan and a great enforcer in Kenny Omega’s Bullet Club. If he returns to WWE then hopefully fans will see his full potential this time around. Galloway is a lot better than being a glorified jobber in a comedy tag team like 3MB.
3 Cody & Brandi Rhodes
It appears that, at least for now, Cody and Brandi Rhodes will be working for the new Impact Wrestling. They both worked the latest set of television tapings under the new regime. Cody Rhodes is no stranger to Jeff Jarrett as he is the reigning Global Force Wrestling NEX*GEN Champion. However, Rhodes is enjoying a tremendous run as an independent wrestler. He recently joined The Bullet Club and has made his presence felt in top promotions such as Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, and GFW. His deal under the old Impact Wrestling regime was non-exclusive, which allowed him that freedom. Things could become complicated if Impact Wrestling were to ask him to be exclusive which has been standard for all talent at different times in the company’s history.
2 Hardy Boyz
The Hardy Boyz have officially parted ways with Impact Wrestling and don’t look for them to return anytime soon as the split from the company was reportedly “ugly.” The reigning tag team champions did offer to drop the belts in the ring but the new regime declined the offer. Matt Hardy claims that he and Jeff are in possession of the physical title belts and said fans will “learn their fate soon.” The titles are officially vacant and Impact Wrestling will be making an announcement about crowning new champions. It has also been reported that creative control was one of the sticking points of getting a deal done. The Broken Hardy gimmick probably would have clashed with more traditional booking that is expected from Jeff Jarrett, Dutch Mantel, and Bruce Pritchard. The Hardy Boyz recently won the Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship and have signed a deal with ROH. After their title win, Matt cut a promo in which he referred to Impact Wrestling as “dreadful.”
1 Alberto Del Rio & Paige
The new Impact Wrestling scored a major free agent acquisition by signing Alberto Del Rio aka Alberto El Patron. The old regime had been trying to acquire Del Rio for quite some time but it was the new Impact Wrestling that finally got the deal done. With that said, Del Rio is an extremely talented wrestler that has some well-documented baggage that has included legal issues, no showing events, and backstage altercations with other talent. The acquisition looks great on paper but for the sake of Impact Wrestling’s future hopefully Del Rio has put the baggage behind him. Del Rio’s girl friend Paige was reportedly backstage at the new Impact Wrestling television tapings. However, the former WWE Divas Champion is still under contract to WWE. It will be interesting to see if Del Rio can help the new Impact Wrestling grow in a positive direction and if Paige will eventually also end up in the Impact Zone alongside him.