IMPACT Wrestling’s biggest pay-per-view of the year is in the books, and 2018’s Bound For Glory event was a generally entertaining, if underwhelming show for the company. Rather than showcase all of the unique talents that the company has under contract, it served as a reminder of one of its most abrasive problems: IMPACT Wrestling still doesn’t have an identity to it.
When one thinks about all of the wrestling promotions outside of WWE, which is a self-proclaimed variety show geared towards appealing to millions, it’s generally easy to spot a company’s niche. CMLL presents fast-paced action with multiple falls, New Japan Pro-Wrestling has highly technical matches and a MMA-like atmosphere to its presentation, and Lucha Underground is a genre-bending television show that features some of the most fantastic wrestling storylines imaginable.
IMPACT Wrestling on the other-hand has…a bit of everything? The main event delivered some great technical wrestling with some memorable spots, but wasn’t a classic by any means. The Su Yung segment was meant to appeal to those that enjoyed the “Broken Universe,” although I’m not sure it was very successful in doing so. The only thing that truly felt unique was the LAX match, as no other promotion would seemingly endanger their talent by removing all of the padding and structure to the ring. It resulted in a match that had people worried in the wrong ways and distracted from what had been a fun build for a blood feud.
So, what exactly are they offering up to fans? The in-ring product isn’t as good as the best matches in other promotions, the wrestling style isn’t different enough to be distinguishable, and the wacky storylines feel like the straight to television version of an already bad b-movie.
Having little kids die and Su Yung get slashed with an axe creates a television program that isn’t believable in the slightest, but yet IMPACT also wants to promote realism as well. The main event was built around a TMZ appearance and one guy saying something slightly disrespectful to his wife while we had dimensions being discovered just moment priors. How in the world is the belt more important than a storyline that has actual murders taking place? The whole structure seems out of place when it’s examined and there is no tonal consistency to it. This hurts the product as Austin Aries doesn’t seem all that rebellious flipping off management after his match when we have homicides and abductions taking place regularly..
So, yes, IMPACT Wrestling’s Bound For Glory was generally enjoyable over its three hour runtime, but I’m really not sure who the product really speaks to. Very few people left ecstatic about everything they had seen, and there were generally disappointments from storylines (James Ellsworth being the mystery opponent) to a few of the matches themselves. If the company really hopes to grow they need to hone into a niche and cater towards it, then grow the fanbase organically. By throwing everything to the wall in order to see what sticks, they’re just making people realize that the overall product isn’t worth the weekly investment when there are so many high quality alternatives out there.
As someone that wants to see the industry thriving in order to give the talent more places to work and better opportunities, I hope that IMPACT will reassess their product. If they focus on what worked and hone in on the specifics, they’d have a better chance at drawing people in. After all, there’s good wrestling available everywhere so you need something unique in order to get people to tune in.