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Will Samoa Joe return home to IMPACT Wrestling?

Listen to the latest episode of Brace for IMPACT on Fight Game Media


WWE releases:

On April 15, a year to the day from last year’s “Black Wednesday,” WWE announced the releases of Samoa Joe, Mickie James, Chelsea Green, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Wesley Blake, Tucker Knight, Kalisto, Mojo Rawley, and Bo Dallas. Out of all the talents released, the most surprising name is Samoa Joe’s. Joe had just worked WrestleMania as color commentator with Michael Cole over the weekend.

Should IMPACT sign Joe? If they can, absolutely, but it would all depend on his health, and if AEW wanted him.

Joe has been sidelined from the ring after a number of injuries and concussions. I’m sure AEW would love to have him, but their roster is full right now. IMPACT’s roster is as thin they’ve ever been. Joe would mean FAR more to IMPACT than he would to AEW. But are they willing to pay the price to get him? We will see


The “Samoan Submission Machine” debuted under IMPACT’s old TNA banner in 2005 and was immediately pushed as a monster. He held a year-plus undefeated streak. Joe had several classic matches with AJ Styes, Jushin Liger, Christopher Daniels, and, of course, Kurt Angle, plus held the World Heavyweight Title and X-Division title. Lockdown 2008, headlined by Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle for the World Title, still holds IMPACT’s record for pay-per-view buys at 55,000.

IMPACT EVP Scott D’Amore has already made overtures to Joe on Twitter, reminding everyone that Slammiversary 2021, much like last year, will take place after the 90-day non-compete clauses—of all the released talents are over, on July 14.

Another talent D’Amore publicly supported yesterday was Chelsea Green. Green played the former “Hot Mess” character, Laurel van Ness, on IMPACT from 2016–2018 and became a huge hit while there. She’s currently in a relationship with  IMPACT star Matt Cardona and is said to be close with Deonna Purazzo. Of all the talents released, I say she is the most likely to end up here.

Mickie James would obviously be a great fit with IMPACT, too. AEW and NWA (where her husband, Nick Aldis, works) would probably be interested, as well. If IMPACT doesn’t sign her, I hope they work out a deal with whatever company she lands with and put her in their hall of fame. She’s right there with Gail Kim as one of the greatest women’s wrestlers in company history.

The Iconics, while not great in the ring, are quite popular, and would fit in the Knockouts tag team division. The entire division consists of Fire ‘n’ Flava. Wesley Blake is the former tag partner of Steve Cutler, and Cutler has been linked with IMPACT these days, so he could get a look. I don’t think the rest of the released talent would fit with IMPACT, though, but they really need talented bodies, so who knows what might happen.


IMPACT! on AXS TV review

The April 15 episode was a great episode that did an awesome job of building to Rebellion. The pre-match press conference featuring AEW owner Tony Khan and IMPACT EVP Scott D’Amore, as well as Rich Swann, Kenny Omega, and Don Callis, was very effective. The opening match between TJP and Josh Alexander was also fantastic. Even Matt Cardona had a good match.

(Watch the full episode here.)

HITS

Rebellion press conference: This was the best use of a pre-match press conference in pro wrestling that I have ever seen. Josh Matthews hosted, with Tony Khan and Jerry Lynn on one side and Scott D’Amore with Rich Swann on the other. Kenny Omega and Don Callis showed up fashionably late à la Conor McGregor. While the questions from the media were scripted, the members of the media were real. Andreas Hale, Ariel Helwani, Gareth A. Davies and others from the combat sports world were used, making it seem even more like a big deal.

One interesting takeaway from the segment was when Tony Khan was asked a question about whether or not there would be a clear winner in the match. He stated that he’s bringing in an AEW referee, and that since his company is involved, there will be a clear winner. This was the most important part of the segment.

Throughout history, these matches have ended in disqualifications and count-outs as a way of making sure no one comes off looking bad. Khan also stated that if Swann won, he would be a regular on IMPACT and AEW going forward. The same goes for Omega.

When the press conference was over, Swann and Omega brawled. The segment that aired on TV was the shortened version, but IMPACT has released the full 42-minute version on their YouTube and its worth a watch.

TJP vs. Josh Alexander: What an awesome match. These guys have great chemistry and hit it out of the park together again. Alexander picked up a much needed victory heading into the triple threat for the X-Division title at Rebellion.

Matt Cardona vs. Sami Callihan: This was by far the best singles match I think I have ever seen Cardona in. Callihan really brought out the best of him. He was very aggressive and the two worked well together. When their current feuds are over, I’d like to see this again down the road.

MISSES

Jazz’ retirement: The beginning of Jazz’s retirement speech was good. Then in the middle of it, Fire ‘n’ Flava interrupted, which set up an impromptu match between them against Jazz & Jordynne Grace. This made no sense because Jazz already lost her retirement match. The bout lasted all of three minutes, with Jazz pinning Kiera Hogan, making the Knockouts tag team champions come off like geeks.

Afterwards, Jazz finished her speech while the entire locker room came out to show their support. This part was cool. If they just didn’t do the nonsense with Fire ‘n’ Flava it would have been a beautiful moment. To make it worse, when the speech ended, D’Amore was shown backstage chastising Fire ‘n’ Flava for their actions, then made a tag team title match at Rebellion against Jazz & Grace . . . who just RETIRED after losing in a RETIREMENT MATCH. Thankfully, Jazz turned it down, and now Grace will head into Rebellion with a mystery partner.

Teniile’s “All About Me” segment: If Tenille was trying to get us hyped for her match at Rebellion, she didn’t do a good job. This was thoroughly uninteresting and unfunny.

Jake Something loses: I probably should just give up on IMPACT pushing this guy anytime soon. We clearly have two very different ideas of what we see in him.


Ratings analysis

This weeks episode averaged 132,000 viewers which is way down from last weeks 168,000 viewers. The show scored a 0.04 in the 18–49 demo, down from 0.06. Lower ratings isn’t a surprise considering last week they had Kenny Omega in the main event. Hopefully, for IMPACT’s sake, they can achieve a better number for their Rebellion go-home show next week.


NEWS

  • MAMA MIA! ESPN first reported that Mauro Ranallo will be on commentary for the main event of Rebellion. Ranallo is one of the top combat sports broadcasters out there right now and is beloved by fans. He is the former voice of PRIDE Fighting Championships and is currently the lead announcer for Bellator MMA and Showtime Championship Boxing. Ranallo has been on again off again with pro wrestling for over 30 years, getting his start in the independent scene in Canada. He has also called NJPW on AXS, and more recently was the voice of WWE NXT. This is a huge get for IMPACT.
  • AXS TV, Fight Network, and IMPACT Wrestling all have channels available now on the Plex app. The IMPACT channel is very much like their free streaming channel on Twitch and Pluto and will be airing the IMPACT! on AXS TV show live every week.
  • Dave Meltzer in his Wrestling Observer Newsletter stated that Vikingo is on IMPACT’s radar, and that according to Konnan, the company is interested in several talents from Mexico and is awaiting for them to get their work visas. Vikingo is tremendous and would be an awesome addition.
  • Davey Richards, in a response to a fan on Facebook stated that he would be willing to return to IMPACT but is looking to get in to physician assistant school. He’s currently taking independent bookings.
  • Nevaeh announced her departure via Twitter during this week’s episode. She had recently turned on her tag team partner Havoc and was seemingly set for a heel run. Nevaeh was not on a contract and was on a per date deal. The roster overhaul continues. I hope they replenish the talent as fast as they are losing them.

Updated Rebellion Card (Full preview next week):

AEW World Heavyweight Title vs. IMPACT Unified Title Match: Kenny Omega vs. Rich Swann

X-Division Championship Match: Ace Austin vs. Josh Alexander vs. TJP

Knockouts Championship Match: Deonna Purrazzo vs. Tenille Dashwood

Knockouts Tag Team Championship Match: Fire N’ Flayva vs. Jordynne Grace & a Mystery Partner

Last Man Standing Match: Sami Callihan vs. Trey Miguel

Violent by Design vs. James Storm, Chris Sabin, Willie Mack, and Eddie Edwards

Matt Cardona vs. Brian Myers

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