Impact Wrestling presents their Bound for Glory pay-per-view tonight from The Odeum in Villa Park, Illinois.
It is the same venue that hosted the ECW Anarchy Rulz pay-per-view in September 1999, which was the promotion’s first pay-per-view available to providers in Canada. Interestingly, a few performers from 1999 card will also be wrestling on this show tonight with Rob Van Dam and Rhino appearing twenty years later.
Impact is at a unique place within its tumultuous history. The company is set for its latest television switch, with the move to AXS TV representing as stable of a home as they’ve had given their parent company’s majority purchase of the network outright.
Following a special on AXS TV this Tuesday, the flagship Impact program moves to the network on Tuesday, October 29th with an 8-10 pm eastern timeslot. It is unquestionably several steps above the visibility that the Pursuit Channel offered, which was non-existent and put the company on the backburner of fan’s weekly programming diet. AXS TV does not blanket the entire country but Impact will continue its relationship to live stream the show through Twitch, although live viewership statistics for Twitch don’t reflect a high audience, at least while it’s been a Friday night destination at 10 pm ET.
Today’s landscape is a complex one where the content era has emerged and the game of creating hours and hours of content in exchange for television rights fees has placed the WWE into a nearly untouchable financial stratosphere. All Elite Wrestling is playing the long game with the hopes of creating a solid foundation with the hopes of landing a major rights deal that puts the company into profitability. Then, it is the next level of promotions that include MLW and the NWA where they represent quality wrestling programming but not the notoriety of WWE. If there is a great demand for more professional wrestling in the marketplace beyond WWE and AEW, those promotions would appear next in line and are inexpensive programming in the long run.
Impact’s strategy remains a question mark. They have effectively taken their flagship program out of the running for a major rights deal because it’s on their in-house network with AXS TV, along with Canadian properties, The Fight Network and Game TV to go with their international partnerships.
The professional wrestling industry is thriving through television deals rather than the old system of live events, pay-per-view, and merchandise.
In 2014, WWE’s gigantic shift from pay-per-view to its own streaming network was their top priority. After scoring two landmark television deals in 2018, the WWE Network was no longer a “sink or swim” proposition because they have guaranteed revenue at record levels for the next five years.
Impact Wrestling has many different functions, and for Anthem Sports providing first-run programming that they own and can distribute worldwide is one of those functions. The idea of Impact being a loss leader for Anthem’s broader portfolio of original content they produce and own may be enough to justify the costs associated with running at a deficit. Profitability should always be the goal but there is value to Anthem beyond looking at the individual promotion’s profits and losses for a given year.
Impact has worn out the “reset” button over its years of existence but this latest era they are set to embark on does represent the most stability in years. Barring a philosophical change from the top end of Anthem, it would seem inconceivable Impact is going anywhere and those running the company can focus on producing a wrestling show that can separate itself from the weekly mass of content out there.
Tuesdays seemed like an opening when SmackDown moved to Fox, but already, we have new content dropping that night from AEW with their Dark series and the surprise hit that is NWA Power that has found a unique place in the crowded sandbox. Impact will be adding their program to the mix on Tuesdays with the hope that viewership rises, which seems inevitable when compared to the last year of visibility, and translating those viewers into paying consumers for pay-per-views, Impact Plus, merchandise, live events, and getting audiences in larger numbers back into the habit of consuming the Impact product weekly.
Nate Milton and I will have a Bound for Glory POST Show later tonight on the site with a full review of the card.
Here is the card for tonight’s pay-per-view beginning at 8 pm eastern from The Odeum:
BRIAN CAGE VS SAMI CALLIHAN FOR THE IMPACT TITLE
The long-term plan feels like a showdown between Callihan and Tessa Blanchard for the Impact title, based on the Slammiversary result with Callihan’s victory and Blanchard seeking redemption.
Cage is in the position where losing the title after the wedding angle would seem to be a step back. The angle where Callihan smashed the champagne bottle over Melissa Santos got over strong and had the added intrigue with Callihan’s plausible deniability that he was aiming for Cage and not Santos. It peaked last week, where Callihan revealed his motivations and delivered a piledriver to Santos, so if you can Callihan the benefit of the doubt he double-crossed you.
It’s an important match for Callihan, who has consistently been the top heel in the promotion and going into their AXS TV debut, having a fresh heel with the championship and a unique program with Blanchard down the road seems to be where things have been heading.
MOOSE VS KEN SHAMROCK
The promos leading up to this match have been done well with Shamrock in the role of the legend coming back for one more fight, For this part, Moose has done some of his best work as the bully and being given lots of promo time. When they had Shamrock get physical on last week’s episode, it showed his limitations and the care the match needs in not overstaying its welcome. It’s hard to justify Shamrock beating the established and regular member of the roster but there is always the temptation for the feel-good moment with Shamrock. This is one of those angles with a veteran where I don’t feel the mutual respect angle is the way to go at the end as people genuinely have begun to dislike Moose. The build has been very good but my expectations for the match are not high and will rely on the audience getting behind Shamrock.
JAKE CRIST VS TESSA BLANCHARD VS ACE AUSTIN VS DAGA VS ACE ROMERO IN A LADDER MATCH FOR THE X DIVISION TITLE
Ace Romero was added as the fifth entrant on Saturday night’s All Glory event in Illinois. This is quite the collection of performers for this match.
I would expect a lot of daring spots and risks to be taken especially from Crist. Daga, Austin, and Romero are each going to want to have stand-out moments to grab everyone’s attention and there is a lot of creative ideas you can come up with for Romero, who is a unique talent.
The entire match seems centered on Blanchard being the star and I think should win the title. They have made it clear that her destination is the rematch with Blanchard and avenging the Slammiversary loss in the biggest way possible.
ETHAN PAGE & JOSH ALEXANDER VS RICH SWANN & WILLIE MACK VS ROB VAN DAM & RHINO FOR THE IMPACT TAG TITLES
I would consider putting this match on first when the audience will be rabid and is the best position for Van Dam and Rhino to come out for.
Alexander is an amazing talent and has a big singles run in him down the road when they pull the trigger with him and he benefits greatly from the pairing with Page, who Impact seems high on as a team. The North received the storyline credit for sending LAX out of the company and I also see Van Dam & Rhino strictly in roles to help get The North over right now. Swann and Mack add a lot to the match and should be a fun tag match that gets 12-14 minutes and I see The North retaining as they are the team on the ascent and should have the division built around for several months.
MICHAEL ELGIN VS NAOMICHI MARUFUJI
They are presenting this as the dream match on the card and they are in a great city with a crowd that will go crazy for Marufuji, hopefully.
Elgin has huge expectations for this match, and they should have no restrictions when it comes to having the match they want and the time necessary to accomplish that.
Elgin has said he will have the ‘match of the year’, which is always a lofty goal to set but tells you his mindset he has going into the match.
Elgin should win the match and they can always run it back on a future show in Japan, or Takashi Sugiura gets the win back for NOAH in a few weeks when Elgin faces him on November 2nd. The fact that the Sugiura match is for a title is all the more reason Elgin needs to win.
I do expect this match to be excellent and very likely the best we’ll see on this show.
TAYA VALKYRIE VS TENILLE DASHWOOD FOR THE KNOCKOUT’S TITLE
I was not into this program throughout the last few weeks, but Valkyrie cut a very good promo on this week’s episode. She went over their history together and Dashwood seeing her when she had her first match and was green and still looking at her as a rookie but she’ll prove how much she has improved and the experience she received in Mexico.
Dashwood needs a really big outing to put some attention on herself as her ROH run was not memorable and hasn’t done much since coming to Impact, but this is her big chance. Valkyrie’s matches on pay-per-view are always strong so Dashwood has a great opponent but is not a super-heated challenger and doesn’t seem ready for a title switch.
THE RASCALZ VS DR. WAGNER JR., AERO STAR & BLACK TAURUS
This is going to tear the house down with five great fliers…and Dr. Wagner Jr., who will get by just fine with his charisma and the audience taking to him as a notable star.
I didn’t know what to expect with the two mystery partners but with the announcements, the expectations are high for this one. It’s great that Black Taurus is receiving a nice stage to perform on as he’s been a major breakout talent in 2019. He has the opponents to have a great style of match and I expect a lot of people to be enamored with Taurus after this one.
CALL YOUR SHOT GAUNTLET MATCH
This will be a 20-person Royal Rumble style match with the winner receiving a title match of their choosing, which will feature men and women.
The participants are unknown other than Eddie Edwards is the first entrant and Mahabali Shera is the last to enter. I would expect surprises as this style of match lends itself to it. Hopefully, this is much better than the battle royal from this past week’s Impact.
Bound for Glory
Sunday, October 14, 2018
Queens, New York at the Melrose Ballroom
*Willie Mack & Rich Swann over Ethan Page & Matt Sydal
*Eli Drake over James Ellsworth
*Tessa Blanchard over Taya Valkyrie to retain the Knockout’s title
*Eddie Edwards over Moose by DQ
*Eddie Edwards & Tommy Dreamer over Moose & Killer Kross
*Sami Callihan & The Crists over Brian Cage, Pentagon Jr. & Fenix
*LAX over Homicide & Hernandez in a Concrete Jungle Deathmatch
*Johnny Impact over Austin Aries to win the Impact title