It's been a wild 2017 for the company now known as Impact Wrestling. It was five days into the year that Anthem Sports purchased a majority control in the company, bringing Jeff Jarrett back into the fold and ousting Dixie Carter. The ownership change guaranteed yet another reboot for a promotion that has had its fair share of new beginnings. Through just one set of television tapings, we have already seen a slew of newly debuting wrestlers, an addition to the commentary team and a new group of bookers and decision-makers, both in an on-screen and behind-the-scenes capacity. Heck, the new regime has even taken 'TNA' right out of the company.
The introduction of new, fresh faces has helped at least partially off-set the loss of some pretty high profile talent that has decided to jump ship. For some, the promise of another 'new era' rings hollow for a company that has so frequently been plagued by financial and creative challenges and constant directional changes. Time will tell how much this latest refresh button helps Impact Wrestling get things on track. In the meantime, however, let's take a closer look at some of the in-ring personnel who debuting or returning to the company, as well as those who have flown the coop.
Now, please bear in mind that the debuts and returns discussed here are based on information gathered from a series of recent TV tapings, much of which hasn't aired on Pop TV as of yet. Spoilers await, so be sure to tread carefully as you read on!
15 Found: Kongo Kong
Joining Jarrett in his latest reign at the top of Impact Wrestling are some usual faces such as his wife Karen and running buddies like Dutch Mantel, Bruce Pritchard and Scott D'Amore. Also along for the ride are a slew of talents who had first joined Double J as part of Global Force Wrestling. The biggest of them all - literally speaking, anyway - is the 6'7", 400-lbs Kongo Kong. The long-time veteran of the indie scene boasts the size and intimidating, wild man look to serve as a formidable heel to help elevate up-and-coming babyface wrestlers. Right off the bad, it appears that he will enter into a feud with the popular Braxton Sutter. Assuming he gets a few wins under his belt and gets built up as a credible threat, he could be an effective asset moving forward.
14 Lost: Josh Matthews
Even in accounting for spoilers, we don't yet know whether controversial announcer Josh Matthews is actually done with Impact Wrestling. What we do know is that he came under fire from management for a tweet suggesting hosts of a podcast he had a disagreement with should "shoot themselves" and may have been written out after having his team come up short in a "loser leaves the announce booth" tag match during the tapings. If he is, in fact, out the door, then the company certainly wasted a lot of TV time and heat generation in turning him into a reviled figure. Of course, his arrogant real-life persona may have done much of that work anyway. For many Impact Wrestling fans, his exit from the promotion probably can't come soon enough. Not only is he grating, but his feud with Jeremy Borash on commentary is quickly taking away from the show.
13 Found: Reno Scum
Before Anthem took over, Impact was masking a pretty shallow tag division with the weekly antics of The Broken Hardys. The DCC was never much of a threat, The Decay became little more than Hardy fodder and there just wasn't much else to speak of. Jarrett seems to be addressing those depth issues right off the bat. One signing that has offered some immediate help has been the addition of GFW tag team Reno Scum, a colorful pair of tatted up punks. Boasting a unique look and some mic skills, the tandem of Adam Thornstowe and the mohawk-sporting Luster the Legend could quickly grow on fans in the Impact Zone. Jarrett has also introduced newcomers Garza Jr. and the Laredo Kid as a packaged tag team combo, but Reno Scum simply seem more authentic, well-established and more likely to catch on with fans.
12 Lost: Jade
Jade wasn't entirely a homegrown talent for Impact Wrestling, having traveled through Combat Zone Wrestling and Shine along a decorated career on the independent scene. However, she came an awful long way in just two short years after debuting as part of the bizarre Dollhouse tandem alongside Marti Bell in 2015. Almost exactly a year after her debut, Jade had broken off on her own and won her first Knockout's title as part of a developing face turn that catapulted her to the top of the division. She engaged in a memorable feud with division icon Gail Kim and, in many ways, appeared to be the Hall of Famer's heir apparent within the company before opting to bolt once her contract expired. At 27, she still has plenty to offer any promotion that might be seeking her out.
11 Found: ODB
For those keeping track at home, this marks ODB's third tour of duty as a member of the Impact roster. She's a known commodity - a seasoned vet who knows how to work a crowd. While there could be another Knockouts title run in her future by virtue of the lack of roster depth (particularly on the face side), she is probably better suited for putting other wrestlers over and participating in comedy bits here and there. The trouble with ODB is that her boozy and overtly sexual in-ring persona carries a bit of a minor league feel to it. If Impact is to be taken seriously as a national promotion, ODB, who is now pushing 40, probably shouldn't have a huge role to play.
10 Lost: Mike Bennett
It was with a healthy dose of hype that Mike Bennett arrived in TNA from Ring of Honor at the beginning of 2016. Dubbed as "The Miracle", Bennett was quickly inserted into the main even mix with feuds against Matt Hardy and Drew Galloway and even became the first wrestler to pin Ethan Carter III. During his short Impact stint, Bennett never fully capitalized on that initial promise. His initial momentum was cut short when he lost to ECIII in their rematch at Slammiversary and he simply didn't catch fire as expected. By the end of his run, he was serving as little more than arm candy for real-life wife Maria Kanellis. There may have been bigger plans for Bennett down the road, but we will never know for sure.
9 Found: Chris Masters
You could be forgiven if you have little memory of Chris Masters' first Impact run as part of the largely forgotten GFW invasion storyline. He lost a King of the Mountain match, fought Bobby Lashley to a no-contest in a quickly-interrupted singles match, beat Drew Galloway and lost a Lethal Lockdown eight-man tag as part of Team GFW. While the brief run likely did little to excite Impact fans over the prospect of a return to the fold, his GFW ties likely put him in good standing with Jarrett and created an opportunity. Masters will be going by Chris Adonis during his run and is set to debut in a face role. Does that mean he'll be breaking out the AdonisLock? His name still carries some value from his WWE days, but don't expect a lot from the one-time "Masterpiece."
8 Lost: Jeff Hardy
The Charismatic Enigma should probably be higher on this list, given his decorated history with TNA. Over two separate stints with the company, Jeff Hardy won three World Championships and had two tag title runs, most notably serving as the centerpiece of the heel Immortal stable alongside Jarrett, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Abyss. More recently, however, he found success while taking a back seat as a sidekick to his brother. Playing Brother Nero to Matt's Broken persona, Hardy embraced the weird while being engaged in a series of popular storylines that seemed to take place outside of the Impact universe. There is simply no way to replace the unique contributions that The Hardys have offered Impact over the past year. Once a major singles star, Jeff now looks to be part of the collective Hardy's package - not that that's a bad thing.
7 Found: Matt Morgan
Will this finally be the time and place for the "Blueprint" Matt Morgan to ascend to superstardom? Both during runs with WWE and TNA, Morgan seemed poised to ride his imposing size and impressively athletic moveset to great things before falling victim to pushes cut short and characters that didn't quite catch fire. You'll often hear fans bemoan his creative direction through the oft-used example of his stuttering gimmick in WWE, but that actually only lasted about two months and represented a mere fraction of a lengthy but largely aimless career. Remarkably, his only title runs in either promotion were a pair of stints with the TNA Tag Team Championships alongside Hernandez and Crimson. But while Morgan now finds himself on the wrong side of 40, he is in peak physical condition on account of some recent bodybuilding work and may be primed for one last big run.
6 Lost: Maria
When Bennett and Kanellis arrived in TNA as a package deal, who would've guessed that it would be Maria who would represent the more damaging departure for the company? Starting in ROH and continuing over the past year on Impact, Maria completely reinvented herself from her WWE days, going from ditzy, air-headed babyface to a conniving heel. This latter role propelled her to the top of the Knockouts division where, despite lacking in in-ring ability, she grew into a centerpiece heel thanks to some sensational mic work. She injected heat into her feuds with Gail Kim, Jade and Brandi Rhodes and helped establish Sienna and Laurel Van Ness through her alliance with them. It was, however, her on-going feud with Allie that truly turned the unassuming babyface - much like Maria once was - into a star.
5 Found: LAX
It has already been a decade since the Latin American Xchange (LAX) blossomed into one of TNA's hottest acts. First as a reviled, anti-American stable and then as a group of beloved babyfaces, the ever-changing group helmed by Homicide, Hernandez and Konnan could always draw a response from the crowd. By bringing them back into the fold, Jarrett is taking a chance that lightning will strike twice, although the group may not be the surest of bets. For one thing, Hernandez will not be part of the new LAX, reportedly on account of disagreements he's had with Konnan. Konnan, meanwhile, is back, but already seems to be generating backstage heat. They were crowned tag team champions at the tapings, so there is clear evidence of a major push, but how long will that last?
4 Lost: Drew Galloway
How much did the loss of the former Drew McIntyre hurt Impact Wrestling? There were reports that it was, in fact, Drew Galloway who was originally tabbed to win the world title belt off of Bobby Lashley during the first episode of the new era. If those reports are to be believed, then Jarrett and company were clearly high on Galloway and were looking to him to be a key component moving forward. Instead, he will be collecting a few nice paydays on the indie scene while figuring out his next move. For his part, Galloway has refused to rule out a return to WWE, although his free fall from being booked as Vince McMahon's hand-picked "Chosen One" to representing one third of the 3MB trio of jobbers will surely give him pause on talks of a reunion.
3 Found: Magnus
It never felt quite right to see Magnus leave TNA at the beginning of 2015. The charismatic Brit was, after all, about as close to a homegrown superstar as the company had developed in quite some time, going from a little-known signee out of the UK to world champion during a five-year climb through the ranks. Since leaving the company in pursuit of bigger money opportunities elsewhere, he latched on with Jarrett's GFW and even became the promotion's first world champion. So his return as a main event babyface to a Jarrett-led promotion is hardly a surprise, but carries plenty of promise given that he still is just 30 years of age and has plenty left to offer as a headliner. Given their endless resources and recent UK tournament, it's a wonder why WWE didn't come calling for the real-life husband of Mickie James.
2 Lost: "Broken" Matt Hardy
It hasn't been easy for Impact Wrestling to make much of a mark on the wrestling scene in recent years. Though gifted with name talent and skilled in-ring workers, there has remained a perception that the Impact product is neither exciting nor particularly relevant. The one angle that has kept them firmly entrenched at the forefront of the wrestling landscape has been a broken brilliance of the Hardy's, anchored the mesmerizing and original "Broken" Matt Hardy character. The over-the-top mystical elements of their act may have turned off some fans, but it garnered the promotion attention that none of their other main event talent has afforded them. Seemingly every live wrestling crowd in recent months has engaged in a "Delete" chant in honor of the Hardy's. Now, Impact's loss becomes ROH's gain.
1 Found: Alberto El Patron
Love him or hate him, it is hard to deny that Alberto Del - I mean, El Patron brings bona fide star power to Impact Wrestling. The two-time WWE and World Heavyweight Champion appears set to be tabbed as the central star that the promotion will be booked around. On top of giving El Patron a title run right off the bat, the TV tapings seemed to direct him towards feuds with Lashley and ECIII, two of the top stars in the company. It seems like it will only be a matter of time before he steps into the ring with the likes of Eddie Edwards, Cody, Magnus and Moose. There is also the looming possibility of a reunion with fellow MexAmerica running mate Dutch Mantel (formerly Zeb Colter), perhaps with the soon-to-be-released Jack Swagger eventually joining the fold. No, the group didn't gain much traction in WWE, but Mantel already dropped a "We The People" reference in an episode to air in the coming weeks. Maybe a hint of what's to come?
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