Television in 2020 has been weird. Check that. It's super weird.
In a year marred by pandemics, death, catastrophe, and overwhelming heartbreak, the viewing habits of everything in entertainment has changed - wrestling included. Ratings are down. No one respects appointment television - and heck, there is even less need for the idea of watching content through said television.
Where am I going with this on a Wrestling pay-per-view review? Come on, get to the point, bro!
I haven't been shy in communicating my severe disappointment in professional wrestling (namely WWE) during this pandemic (Pro Wrestling in COVID Times). When many entertainment options were off the table, most notably that of sports, pro wrestling had an extreme opportunity to give fans something different, and even capture casual fans.
Unfortunately, they didn't. And a large part of my growing disinterest with pro wrestling has been because of the WWE, and to a much lesser extent, AEW.
So yeah, enter Impact Wrestling. With some time on my hands, I managed to catch up on the product over the summer (binged watched wrestling?), and I've really been hooked since. Quite frankly, the company has not only been the best product in pro wrestling over that course of time, including right now - in my opinion, of course - but, it also feels continuative and engaging - meaning, I want to know what happens next.
Remember that in pro wrestling?
So you can imagine that I was fully invested in checking out Bound for Glory. The event has had all roads leading to this event with solid builds and storylines, and of course, what Impact has been doing so well (actually, very under-the-radar), engaging and well-rounded characters.
Yes, I was a fan of Wrestle House.
While I feel like this about Impact Wrestling, I do often wonder if anyone is seeing Impact - like for reals, for reals - for what it is, the best wrestling product out there.
In a time when viewership of everything is down, and in wrestling, the mighty WWE is even enduring changing viewership of their product as well as severe disinterest, it does feel like a slight bright spot of 2020. Impact Wrestling is the tree that is falling...er taking bumps, and no one is hearing it.
With that lengthy introduction out of the way, here are a few thoughts on Bound For Glory 2020:
THE MAIN EVENT OF THE YEAR
Ah yes, with Bound for Glory comes the yearly "what is really the top event of the year - Bound for Glory or Slammiversary?" discussion. And every year, this company tells us its Bound for Glory. And every year, we don't believe it. Almost as if one year Impact will simply say, "yeah you're right, it's now Slammiversary."
But Bound For Glory has been built as Impact's biggest bill of the year once again, and it was treated like it. We were subject to a pre-show, a panel discussion (great idea, but had some really rough moments with sound and production), and yes, we had the formal attire on every one that is only seen at said company's biggest show of the year.
This year, D'Lo Brown went as far as mentioning "moments" and using "career-defining" to describe some matches of discussion, phrases typically associated with Wrestlemania - you know, that big show. So it felt more like the biggest show than it has been for some of its editions.
And while there is a part of me that always will feel like BFG being the big show isn't as organic as Slammiversary feels - the historic significance, the name which evokes specialty, and really, I feel like many more significant moments happened at Slamviversary than BFG - I truly have come to admire the lineage that this regime has continued for the company, rather than trying to make the company into some other mold - which we've seen from some.
And by the way - kudos to Josh Matthews on the great call of, "THIS, is Bound for Glory, THIS, is our Main Event of the Year". That was a nice touch and great opener.
So yeah, felt big.
X is for STORYLINE
I love the X-Division. Always have. I love the ambiguity of the championship. Always will.
However, what I absolutely loved about this match was that there was an actual backdrop for why six people were vying for the X-Division championship! And not the usual opener of six random athletic talents, with no character, going out and flipping, reversing, and pulling off athletic feats to "kick-off" the show.
This match still had many of those elements, but there was a reason for this match. And there was also a reason for Rohit Raju (who has been amazing as Champion) trying to pick up a cheap victory if possible - which he eventually got.
Remember when wrestling meant something?
By the way, Jordynn Grace is a special athlete.
WASTED VOTE FOR HEATH
You just have to feel for Heath. My dude pulled off two jumping knees where he looked excited and super motivated, then suddenly looked like the biggest elephant in the room that was just there. Wounded. Pitiful. Sad.
The gauntlet was fun. It also says plenty about where Impact is now in its history (a different post for another day) that you can have legitimate "returns" that evoke feelings of nostalgia. James Storm returning had that feeling. After all, this is the sixteenth - SIXTEENTH!! - BFG.
Rhino picks up the "Call Your Shot" trophy. Want more nostalgia? Rhino won the NWA World title at the very first Bound for Glory!
I was so happy to see Bryan Myers get new gear. The new black tights were sleek, but most importantly, really helps take his character to another level when he doesn't resemble Brian Myers, the guy with a long losing streak from WWE.
Or an indie wrestler turning his New York Mets fan hood into tights. Which, his former gear definitely was.
The cinematic match has truly become a part of wrestling normative expectations. When done right, they can be fun. This one was well, almost there, but I really enjoyed the plot twist that was the long-term storytelling this transformed into.
Call me a sucker, but I had this one pegged as EC3 returns to reclaim the TNA Heavyweight Championship, and he somehow connects his past with his current existence. But, no! This was about Moose taking the next step in his progression as a character. Swerve, bro!
Say what you want, and maybe I've become that old wrestling fan now, but I do miss when wrestling storylines were drawn out. I miss when not everyone became champion right away. I miss when things could be unpredictable. I miss when the characters evolved.
HALL OF FAME WORTHY
I'll admit it, I was one of those who were utterly confused when Impact nominated Ken Shamrock for this year's induction into the Impact Hall of Fame.
Besides that first night, it just felt more like a vanity selection - possibly even for continued credibility on what really is an awesome HOF collection.
[side note: I recommend Christopher Daniels for 2021. He seems like the first of that "originals" crew to be available, willing (maybe?), and towards the end of their career.]
Nonetheless, Shamrock has been solid in his return to Impact. I didn't have much interest in him taking on Eddie Edwards, but the match turned out to be one of the best of the night.
Shamrock is worthy. Very much so.
And of course - seeing The Rock on Impact TV was about as 2020 as it gets. Who had that on their prediction list in January?
TAG TEAM SPECIAL
There isn't any other way to put this, this company's tag team division is special.
And now, we're adding the Knockout Tag Team championship to the scene. It's amazing to think about how ahead of it's time this company was in offering such a concept on such a stage.
The North regain their titles in a great match. Truthfully, what I remember most about this match was Ethan Page's "94 Days" promo before it. So epic.
Oh yeah, the other thing that I remember - that double-under-hook piledriver by Josh Alexander on Alex Shelley...wow!
BAIT & SWITCH
Was it a disappointment that we didn't get Kylie Ray vs. Deonna Purrazzo for the Knockouts Championship? Absolutely. I had that as my most anticipated match of the night, like many others.
However, in today's wrestling climate where so many matchups are blown through, I'm okay with this. Wrestling is very much oversaturated today in content and overall nuance. We'll get this match somewhere down the road.
So yeah, disappointed, sure. But, the payoff will be that much better.
The undead bride was a nice return. What I would like to see more of in Impact Wrestling are signature entrances. Su Yung definitely has that capability to make her character so much more with such an entrance.
Nonetheless, a great match. And I can't wait for Purrazzo to chase again, even exploiting the "any person alive" statement in her challenge. She really has become one of my favorite talents to watch in 2020.
A BFG MOMENT?
This Eric Young vs. Rich Swann match was incredible. It really was. I just wish it was in front of an audience, but such is life in 2020.
Swann is insanely athletic - which we all know, but I just wanted to give credit to it once again. As for Young, the guy is indeed incredibly talented at what he does. He seems even more motivated after his time at WWE. There were so many little things that he did that added to the match - making him believable as this maniac, and really, helping to paint the picture for Swann to overcome.
My only gripe? I wish there were more time following the match to let the win and moment breathe. To enjoy the celebration and allow for the good guy's triumph to settle. Impact Wrestling has always rushed these types of moments historically, and this was just another one of those times.
NO SWINGMAN, DADDEHHH?!
Look, I find Johnny Swinger to be the most entertaining thing in pro wrestling - that thought, I would never imagine I would have. Like, ever. But again, 2020. On the biggest show of the year, I was hoping for more from the swingman. Even in the call your shot gauntlet. But hey, not all shows are perfect.
I'm looking forward to the build to Hard to Kill. I just hoped this event made enough noise to get a handful of disinterested fans in pro wrestling right now - maybe even casual fans? - to check out this product.
Because a lot of trees are falling and a lot of noise is being made. I really, really hope someone is hearing it. The crew at Impact Wrestling deserves it.
**Credit Photos: Impact Wrestling