‘I was at Impact Wrestling’s 1000th episode, and it delivered in spades’

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    Impact Wrestling is one of the most significant sports entertainment companies in the world.

    It recently marked its impressive 1000th episode and I was fortunate enough to be state-side to take in the grand spectacle.

    Through its early incarnation as TNA, through to its current brand as Impact Wrestling, the company has been ground-breaking. Whether it was a six-sided ring, its advancement of women’s wrestling through the ‘Knockouts’ division, or its innovative match styles, the company that helped to bring us or further develop talent like AJ Styles, Cowboy James Storm and Gail Kim has sought to deliver something unique, and its no surprise that TKO holdings, the new parent company of WWE and UFC has listed Impact as competition.

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    For the latest Impact Wrestling news, click here.

    This 1000th episode celebration sought to both celebrate the company’s present roster and to offer some nostalgic, an emotional review of its history. The show delivered in spades.

    The show matches happened in a different order to the broadcast, but some of the highlights have already made it to TV. The most emotional and impressive bout of the entire event from my perspective was the epic battle between Lio Rush and Chris Sabin for the X-Division Championship (held in the past by Samoa Joe and AJ Styles). The story behind the match had Sabin pursuing Rush for a rematch after the former had taken it from Sabin at the Slammiversary event.

    The pace of the match was relentless, it was in and out of the ring and in-between. We saw counter after counter, with Sabin kicking out of Rush’s finisher and then using both Kushida and his Motor City Machine Gun tag-partner Alex Shelley’s moves before seeing Rush off with Sabin’s own. One can forget just how good Chris Sabin is but this was an emphatic victory, followed by a deserved show of respect from the locker room which came out to celebrate Sabin’s 10th title run. All hail Sabin.

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    Though the Sabin/Rush affair was the match of the night, the emotional draw was always going to be the reunion of Team 3D. It fell to the Desi Hit Squad to play prey for the Dudleys. Devon Dudley had been away from in-ring action following a stroke, and a back operation, and so it was even more emotional to see him back and on form. Though his ring-time was limited, we did get a ‘Whatssssupp’ headbutt, a ‘3D’, a ‘get the tables’ moment and a ‘testify!’. It was a short but sharp greatest hit fest. An emotional Bully Ray had the crowd in the palm of his hand, garnering massive Impact Wrestling chants.

    One of Impact’s signature matches was re-introduced for the 1000th episode. The ‘Feast or Fired’ match is good fun. Not simply a ‘Money in the Bank’ style guarantee of a championship shot but opportunities to vie for the World Title, Tag Titles or Digital Media Title are at steak, with one unlucky loser getting fired. The match helps set up story lines into the near future, and leaves us intrigued as to who will find what in which briefcase.

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    The match followed the as-yet un-broadcast Ultimate X match, which will be well worth watching (not least for a multiple-man-moonsault). However, for FOF, four cases hung atop steel structure in each corner of the ring.

    This match had plenty of the high spots one might expect, including over-the-top rope launches, a Tower of Doom in the corner as multiple bodies were slammed into the matt and swerves such as PCO seemingly looking to team with Giselle Shaw’s right-hand-man Jai Vidal before chokeslamming him nearly through the ring.

    We even had one of the surprise returns of the evening when Rhino gored Steve Maclin to steal his briefcase which landed with Moose but left us with a lovely in-ring reunion between Rhino and Heath (without his kids….). In the end, Chris Bey, Crazzy Steve, Yuya Uemura and Moose took the cases and we’ll soon find out what this means for each of them.

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    The Knockouts division remains one of the jewels in Impact’s crown and a pre-match showdown revealed that completing the teams would be none other than Mickie James and Tasha Steelz both making surprise returns to the company. The ring stood full of wrestling royalty, as Awesome Kong, Gail Kim and the Beautiful People (Angelina Love and Velvet Sky getting one of the loudest roars of the night) faced off against current stars of the roster including current champion Trinity, Giselle Shaw and Deonna Purrazzo. The match, when it is broadcast, will be worth the wait.

    It was that balance between classic and modern which paid off for Impact 1000. It showcased the impressive elements of the work from TNA onwards, the stars that built and continue to build Impact, like the ever impressive Eric Young or Courtney Rush, but gave stars like Mike Bailey, Chris Bey, Savannah Evans, KiLynn King and Lio Rush their time to shine too.

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    If you didn’t watch the first episode, you should sign up to Impact Plus and watch it, and make sure to tune in for the second part including the return of Team Canada, the Ultimate X match (including my personal favourite, Black Taurus) and much more besides.

    Watch Impact Wrestling on DAZN every week by clicking here.

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