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Opinion

IMPACT Wrestling On Pursuit: Stop The Pain

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IMPACT Wrestling Sami Callihan

Steve Cook chimes in on the move of IMPACT Wrestling to the Pursuit Channel, and what it means for the brand as a whole.

One would assume that WWE has had the most cable partners out of any wrestling promotion in the history of television. USA, TNN/Spike, MTV, SyFy, TBS, Univision & WGN have all carried McMahon family programming over the years. You could also add MSG, PRISM & various regional sports networks that carried house shows from their city’s arena, but I’d say those weren’t national. WCW kept most of their national shows on TBS & TNT, but WGN carried a show for a period of time, as did the Prime Network. ECW landed a TNN show for a minute, and a ton of regional promotions got FNN nighttime slots back in the day. Not to mention ESPN’s hodgepodge of AWA, World Class, USWA, GWF & UWF.

Ring of Honor’s show airs on too many Sinclair-owned digital subchannels to keep track of. Sometimes I catch a couple of weeks old episode on Stadium that actually airs before my bedtime. I’m old. It’s a throwback to the old days of syndication, back when wrestling promotions sold their shows to different stations in different markets. The difference is that the broadcast company owns the promotion, so they don’t actually have to sell it to anybody. They try occasionally, but it doesn’t seem to be a big priority.

TNA Impact Wrestling

TNA Impact (the precursor to Impact Wrestling) on Fox Sprots Net.

The wrestling show that holds the record for airing on the highest number of cable outlets owned by different people found yet another home last week. I remember when TNA iMPACT! first hit the air on Fox Sports Net in June 2004. It was right around when I started writing about wrestling on the Internet for websites. I decided to recap the show for the little-remembered but much-loved TWTF.com because my dear friend Larry Csonka, who came up on that site as well, was obligated to review the show exclusively for 411mania.com. (He’ll correct me if I’m wrong on that detail.) I had already done a news column or two for the site because Dave Schilling requested I fill in for him.

Not that I’m bitter that Dave didn’t take me along to some of the other places he’s landed since then. Of course not. I’m very happy here at The Chairshot while Dave is followed on Twitter by Mina Kimes. Very very happy. Happy happy joy joy.

Anyway, I recapped Impact for the year it was on Fox Sports Net, which did get me noticed by 411 and got me the call up there when the vaunted 411/Inside Pulse split happened. The rest, as they say, is history. Impact Insight was a good run for me. I got noticed by 411 & by people on the TNA roster at the time, which completely spoiled me for everything that was to come after. I just assumed everybody I wrote about positively would read my words & contact me. Little did I know.

Once the Fox Sports Net year ended, Impact went online for awhile, and at the same time had one of their best periods of consistent entertainment. Because of course they did. They got on Spike in October 2005, and embarked on their longest period of time with one network. Impact’s first timeslot on Spike was Saturday at 11 PM, which wasn’t great for me, as I was in Louisville at the time & OVW had their long-running Saturday at 11 PM slot on WBKI. I still tuned in, because I was an idiot and didn’t see the opportunity to get in good with OVW brass at the time. That’s one of my regrets during this whole thing I’ve done online. Had I played things differently then, who knows where I’d be now.

Not that I don’t love everything I’m doing now. Of course I do. That sounded convincing, right?

TNA fans whined and complained about the timeslot until it got moved to Thursday nights at 11 PM, and eventually got bumped up to Thursday nights at 9 PM, with two hours. Once they got that slot in 2007, they reached their highest visibility. 2007-2010 was a good time for TNA. They brought in some big former stars, they did some good things.

Then Hulk Hogan came in, and they decided they wanted to run Monday night. Spike played along with it for a bit, until it became obvious it was a complete disaster. TNA running head to head with Raw was a tremendously awful idea copied from a time when someone had the resources & the motivation to actually compete with Vince McMahon. Eventually TN-oh hold on this is when they became Impact Wrestling, came to their senses, listened to the audience & went back to Thursday.

They were there for awhile, and then on Wednesday for a minute, until Spike decided to move on. Now they’re the Paramount Network, which airs old Friends episodes from what I can tell. But that’s popular now, just like Cheers & Seinfeld episodes were for awhile, so I can’t hate on it. I mean, I never got into Friends, but I’m the Seinfeld age, or at least act like it.

Once Spike kicked Impact Wrestling away, they went to Destination America. I never got this channel on my cable system, so it didn’t surprise me that their ratings went into the toilet. Apparently somebody thought it was a good move, or it was the only move they could make, so they went there. Obviously, I have little memory of this era, as I couldn’t watch it. I’m sure I could have gone on some backwoods internet site with spyware and downloaded some episodes, but it did not seem worth my time. You could tell how seriously Destination America took Impact Wrestling when they added ROH as a lead-in. It probably gave some old folks some flashbacks to the syndication days, if they got the channel.

Then Impact Wrestling went to Pop. Which I liked. See, Pop was the re-branded TV Guide Channel, and had a pretty prominent channel listing where I live. I saw people complain about the show being on Pop and I was confused. I mean, it’s channel 10 where I live. Who gets confused by that? Maybe everybody except me. I saw a lot more of Impact on Pop than most other people did based on the conversation I heard. I have this early bedtime since I’m old, so once they moved it to 10 PM I was kinda screwed.

So I figured when I heard they were looking for another new home they would be looking for something a bit earlier. Anthem, their current owners, got the show on one of their channels, the Pursuit Channel. I have no earthly idea what the Pursuit Channel is, and after some research I found out I don’t get it. At least I feel less unintelligent for not knowing what it is. According to Wikipedia, it’s geared to hunting, fishing, shooting & outdoor recreation. I mean, if you’re running a Southern rasslin show it fits in with that demographic, but I’m not sure Impact or anybody else is at this point.

The topper is that the best timeslot they could get is Friday night at 10 PM. I mean…if you’re trying to get on Spike TV back in 2005, that’s a decent slot to shoot for. In 2018 on a station most people don’t get? The landscape is ripe for different pro wrestling, which is why Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks and their backers are feeling froggy. This deal suggests that pro wrestling can’t get over on any channel in the cable universe.

Which isn’t true. We, as pro wrestling fans, know that the genre has an audience. We also know that TNA/Impact has done more than enough to disqualify themselves from our interest. As much as I’ve liked a lot of things they’ve done in the last year, that brand name has a lot of damage. It’s just like how WWE couldn’t do anything with the WCW brand name after they bought it. Broadcasters were slow to buy into the WCW name, especially ones that WWE had shows with. As much as I can buy into some of the things Impact has been doing, they don’t wipe out the last decade of ill will they’ve built up with TV networks & fans.

This is exactly why Cody, the Bucks & their backers won’t associate themselves with a name they didn’t create. Impact Wrestling has some damage. ROH has some damage as well. The next real competition for WWE will come from a name that isn’t established yet. A name that hasn’t already been written off by people like me. If I was a network executive looking for something to draw more attention than WWE, I wouldn’t be looking at companies that have failed to for years. I’d be looking for something new & fresh.

Which, ultimately, is the problem that Impact Wrestling faces. No matter who buys the compsny, and no matter which creative voices they add to it, there will always be that TNA stink on it. That’s why Anthem has to air it on a channel they have a stake in, but not enough of a stake to air it in a viable time slot. Honestly, y’all gonna tell me they have a deep stake in this Pursuit Channel and the best slot they get is Friday at 10 PM? Child please.

Unless Impact’s strategy is to go full Skinemax with it, this thing can’t last. If I’m going to watch a show on Friday night at 10:00 PM with Scarlett Bordeaux on it, I’m going to want more sexuality than she’s already shown. I think y’all know what I’m saying there. I want some TV-MA and more letters added on to it. Otherwise, what the heck are we doing? What better way to compete with WWE than to go full adult?

I mean, a company going full adult with Scarlett Bordeaux would have my attention. I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I’m a red-blooded male, so it’s true. I don’t know why else a wrestling company would work that time slot. I know we’re in the Internet age and maybe nothing matters as long as it’s online somewhere. But I still am old and think that TV means something.

Whether it does or not, I can’t have a positive forecast for Impact Wrestling in 2019. Their drawing power was already questionable, and will be even more so in 2019. They’re going to air on a hunting channel, plus whatever online deal they can find. I really wish I could find something positive there, but nah.

Maybe this is what you deserve when you push this as the best wrestler in your company.

Congrats Impact Wrestling. #TheDraw got you on the Pursuit Channel at 10 PM on Friday night. Makes sense. What a draw.


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Opinion

AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21

AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?

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As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.

Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!

#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time

There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…

THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!

I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.


#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic

Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.

People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.

I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.

#3- Overuse of Certain Moves

This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…

Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.

If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.

How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.


That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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