Impact Wrestling is being overhauled. The much maligned promotion, which has been in existence since 2002, has failed to achieve much success in their 15 years, but they are still alive, and with another chance to change their legacy.
Anthem entertainment purchased controlling interest in the company and has decided to give booking power back to the original co-owner of the promotion, Jeff Jarrett. In 2002, Jarrett started the promotion after both WCW and ECW went out of business. Jarrett had been black-balled from returning to the WWE as a result of how he left the company, and had no choice but to start his own promotion when other non-WWE options folded.
Jarrett ended up selling controlling interest in the company to Panda Energy, whose owner, Bob Carter, wanted his daughter Dixie to run it. Now with Dixie out, and Jarrett back they have a chance to once again become a major promotion. Jarrett has a lot of work to do however, and he'll need to restock the roster with wrestlers fans want to see.
Unfortunately for Jarrett, WWE is locking up most of the talented wrestlers across the globe, so Impact Wrestling is going to have to choose from those WWE has turned down. Also, lengthy Lucha Underground contracts will prevent numerous other top stars from debuting for Impact as well.
There are several top indy stars they could sign however. In this article we shine the spotlight on 15 different wrestlers Impact could sign in 2017.
15 15. Matt Sydal
Things have been quiet for Matt Sydal since he was arrested for possessing marijuana in Japan. Sydal was in the country wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling at the time. He spent from September 23rd to December 12 last year in a Japanese prison.
He won't be going back to New Japan Wrestling anytime soon, which means he's free to be picked up by Impact. Although he has wrestled frequently with Ring of Honor before his arrest in Japan, it's doubtful he was under any type of contract which would prevent him from signing with Impact.
Known to WWE fans as Evan Bourne, the 33-year old Sydal would be a perfect addition to the roster. He could participate in either the X-division or be a credible contender for the world title.
14 14. Shelton Benjamin
Shelton Benjamin signed a deal with WWE when the company was looking for more superstars to fill up their rosters, but unfortunately an injury prevented him from passing a physical and is considered "on hiatus".He's currently rehabbing and potentially hoping to make WWE's main roster once healthy. But WWE is cutthroat and we don't see him coming back.
Impact Wrestling would be wise to scoop in and sign him. Benjamin is a guy who could slide into the world title picture right away and have an impact, or he could be used to help get other guys over for that spot.
The 41-year old Benjamin was always someone known for having good matches but not being overly marketable. Now that wrestling has started to value good workers more, Benjamin's return to wrestling in North America seems like a good fit. If it doesn't happen with WWE, it should with Impact.
13 13. Veda Scott
Veda Scott has spent the last few years working as a manager in Ring of Honor. While she can wrestler, her real talent appears to be working as a manager or commentator. She has a legit law background, but opted to try for a career in pro wrestling instead.
She requested her release from Ring of Honor in December, which led many to speculate she might be WWE bound. Since WWE appears to be signing up more talent from organizations like ROH, it seemed likely she would announce that she was off to Orlando. Then in early February she announced she was taking bookings for indie dates. Why she requested her release from ROH still seems unclear.
Veda Scott as a lawyer-gimmick'ed manager would be a great mid-card act in Impact, and she could also add another name to the knockouts division.
12 12. Cody Hall
Bringing in Scott Hall's son, with his father there to manage him, could give people something to talk about. While he still isn't a very polished wrestler, Hall spent much of 2016 in New Japan Pro Wrestling, learning from some of the very best.
The 25-year old Cody is 6ft 8inches and almost 270lbs. His facial expressions, body language and move-set are all exact duplicates of his father. Cody might want to do it on his own, but he's going to get there a little faster with his dad's help. Lots of fans from the attitude era would love to transfer their Scott Hall fandom onto Cody.
Kevin Nash has a kid a little younger than Cody. Perhaps we could get a next generation Hall and Nash tag team in not too long.
11 11. Carlito
Really? Carlito? Yes, Impact Wrestling should absolutely sign Carlito. The WWE was rumoured to have been interested in Carlito around the time of the brand split but whatever they offered him it wasn't enough for him to give up wrestling in Puerto Rico and on the indies.
Impact Wrestling would be wise to offer Carlito enough money to do just that. Perhaps a talent exchange could be worked out between Impact and the World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico, which just so happens to be owned by Carlito's father.
Carlito had plenty of memorable feuds while in WWE, most notably with an up and coming John Cena on Smackdown. He would later form a moderately successful tag team with his brother as well.
Would Carlito spitting a chewed up apple into Josh Mathews' face turn the company around? No, but it's not a bad start either.
10 10. Chuck Taylor
Fans of Chikara will agree that Impact Wrestling could do themselves a favour by signing Chuck Taylor. The 30 year old Dustin Howard, has gone by the name Chuck Taylor in Chikara, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Evolve Wrestling.
Taylor debuted with Chikara in a young lions tournament when he was only a teenager. Now the more seasoned and adult looking Taylor has over a decade of experience he would bring with him to Impact Wresting. Jeff Jarrett might want to give this guy a look.
He's also a trainer in Chikara's developmental system, and could potentially broker a talent sharing agreement between Impact and Chikara. There are some colourful characters in that organization who could make a big splash in Impact, and then leave in time to not wear out their welcome.
9 9. Charlie Haas
Don't just bring back Shelton Benjamin; you have to bring back both members of the World's Greatest Tag Team, aka Team Angle. The duo were an on again off again team from 2002 to 2010, apart from a brief period in 2005 when Haas and wife Jackie Gayda were released from the company.
After leaving WWE in 2010, Charlie Haas wrestled for Ring of Honor from 2010 to 2013. He announced his retirement in 2013, but has continued to wrestle on the indie scene sporadically since then.
Even if not paired with Shelton Benjamin, bringing in Charlie Haas as a veteran guy with a credible looking style would be a welcome addition to the Impact roster. He's never going to be a guy you build a company around, but he certainly could have some good matches and help younger members of the roster get over.
8 8. Amber Gallows
Wife of current member of the Club, Doc Gallows, is Amber O'Neil. An experienced women's wrestler, Gallows is 5ft 8 and 140lbs. She looks solid in the ring, which should't be surprising seeing as she has nearly 20 years of experience.
She worked for TNA briefly in 2006 and 2009, but has spent the majority of her career wrestling for companies like Shimmer, who focus solely on women's wrestling. She appeared in New Japan Pro Wrestling as a member of Bullet Club, and has done the same on some Ring of Honor shows.
Her appearances on the international scene stopped once Doc Gallows re-debuted in the WWE, and she appears to be a free agent at the moment. She could bring some credibility to the "Knockouts" division, and help some younger members of the roster get over.
7 7. Ryback
This might sound like a terrible idea, but Ryback was once super over in the WWE, there is no reason he couldn't be again in Impact Wrestling.
Ryback's "Feed Me More" period in WWE, where he went on a long undefeated streak, proved that fans will get behind the big guy if he's given a push. His undefeated streak was only stopped by CM Punk inside a Hell in a Cell, during Punk's lengthy WWE Championship run.
Fans who have learned more about the real life Ryback may not be quick to cheer for the guy however, as he has bashed several wrestlers in shoot interviews since his WWE days. He is a monster however, and could play a solid heel opposite to Bobby Lashley.
6 6. Zack Sabre Jr.
29 year old Zack Sabre Jr has never been hotter in his entire career. He was given wide exposure through WWE's cruiserweight classic, but before then he had already been one of the most sought after talents from Europe available.
Sabre Jr. most recently debuted for NJPW, defeating Shibata and joining the Suzuki-Gun stable. Shibata had recently defeated Sabre Jr for the British heavyweight championship, but with Suzuki-Gun's help Sabre Jr. won it back at a show in Japan recently.
His technical style features plenty of unique pinning moves and advanced grappling techniques. He’s not all technique however, and he will throw hard uppercuts like most european-based wrestlers.
He isn't exclusive to NJPW or any other company as well, so he should be free for Jeff Jarrett and company to pursue.
5 5. King Cuerno/El Hijo del Fantasma
Amazingly, some masked wrestlers in Mexico still have unknown identities. It is literally not known what this guy's real name is, which must make paying him, and getting a hold of him, rather difficult.
He went by the unique gimmick of "King Cuerno" in Lucha Underground. King Cuerno was a very successful character, even once winning the promotion’s Gift of the Gods championship. Unfortunately there appears to have been a falling out between Fantasma and Lucha Underground, and his character appears to be in limbo.
The owner of one of the greatest suicide dives in wrestling, Cuerno/Fantasma is capable of having fantastic matches, as he has done regularly in Mexico.
He's 32, has a following and a name already (albeit not a real one), and is capable of having great matches. He'd be a great pickup for Jarrett.
4 4. Shayna Baszler
Jeff Jarrett and Impact Wrestling should absolutely sign former mixed martial artist Shayna Baszler. Not only would they get a wrestler who already has a bit of a following, but you might even get a Ronda Rousey appearance out of it if you play your cards right.
Shayna Baszler is one of Ronda Rousey's old "4 Horsewomen" who all trained with each other in Arizona. Baszler's MMA career went downhill shortly after starting to train in Glendale and she began to transition to pro-wrestling. Perhaps you sign Shayna, then after a while you ask Shayna if she would ask if Ronda would ever be interested in making an appearance and perhaps you might hit a big score out of it.
She once managed ReDragon at a Ring of Honor event, as they played up their MMA style. Shayna has also wrestled for World Wonder Ring Stardom and various other independent promotions.
3 3. Donovan Dijak
Donovan Dijak and Ring of Honor parted ways in February of this year, though nobody is quite too sure what may be next for the 29-year old.
Dijak's Ring of Honor run spanned three years from 2014 to 2017. During that time he received several opportunities to win the Ring of Honor television title, but he was never able to do so. He went through a manager change at one point as well, choosing to ditch Truth Martini's "House of Truth" in favour of joining a stable run by Prince Nana.
He is 6feet 7inches tall and can move around the ring fairly easily for a man his size. In 2016, Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked him as the 216th top professional wrestler in the world for the year.
2 2. Matt Riddle
Matt Riddle is the kind of guy that Jeff Jarrett and Impact Wrestling really could rebuild the company around. For years Riddle was an impressive mixed martial artist, but his fondness for marijuana made passing a drug test difficult.
The UFC eventually booted Riddle out and he started up his pro wrestling career. According to Riddle, he was fired because of his two failed drug tests for marijuana, and this didn't sit well with him. So he abandoned a promising MMA career in favour of a pro-wrestling one.
He wrestles primarily for Evolve, but has also appeared for Progress, Revolution Pro, and the cult favourite Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
Riddle is a star, and one who has never appeared on WWE or TNA programming before. That's exactly the kind of thing they could build a company around.
1 1. Wade Barrett
The former Wade Barrett, real name Stu Bennett, has recently been going under the new name of "Fake News Bennett" while attending autograph sessions. He has stayed largely out of the limelight since requesting his release from WWE, but under the right circumstances might be open to returning to professional wrestling.
The 36-year old Bennett underwent several different character changes throughout his six year WWE run. He went from the leader of the Nexus, to Bad News Barrett, to King Barrett. In media interviews since leaving the WWE, Bennett has stated he was growing frustrated with his role in WWE, and wanted to focus on an acting career outside the ring. He landed a couple of bit parts in 2016, but nothing major.
Bennett is 6feet 7inches and nearly 250lbs. He could easily slide into Impact Wrestling's world title picture.
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