Sometimes different goals lead to the same road. For one, the goal is to destroy the reputation of a wrestler by taking his soul, destroy his reputation with the same badass attitude that has made him become THE Draw. For this other man, the moment has come to leave the island where he was trying to survive and try to reconquer the Kingdom he left behind him. For this wrestler, it’s a matter of legacy, being the Champion and staying the Champion to cement a fruitful 18-year career. For this Legend, it’s a matter of respect when the friend you came to help has become your worst enemy when he literally snapped.
These 4 men all have to compete in one match to reach their respective goals and they all brought them on The Road to Slammiversary XVI. Week after week, step after step, they’re all on their personal way to The Rebel Complex of Toronto where that night they will all try to reach their goals.
SteelChair Mag had the chance over the last 10 days to be a part of 4 different Impact Wrestling media calls with Sami Callihan, Johnny Impact, Impact World Champion Austin Aries and the Hardcore Legend Tommy Dreamer. A few hours before Slammiversary XVI, it’s time to share with you their state of mind as they’re about to put their titles, honours or legacy on the line.
Sami Callihan is putting his hair on the line against former Impact World Champion Pentagon Junior to whom he already stole the mask. But tonight, he can, by taking his mask, take away his soul and his career. And the Worldwide Desperado has zero fear as he’s coming to this match. “I’m going to take Pentagon’s mask once and for all. A lot of people outside of Impact’s world don’t realize that me Pentagon, Fénix, Dave and Jake (Crist, his oVe brothers), we’ve been doing this for years all over the world and now we get a chance to do it on national television, live on pay-per-view. There’s nothing that is going to stop me from taking his mask once and for all. I am sick of every company I go to where I have to be shadowed by Pentagon Jr. He rides my coattails wherever I go and I’m done with this. He may have may have the rest of the wrestling world fooled that he’s some undead Mexican Zombie but I know his secret. He is just a really good professional wrestler that wears a mask. I’m going to take that ask from him and he’s not going to be special anymore.”
Sami Callihan is not a character, he’s what he is. When I asked him what the soul of Pentagon was as he was able to look into the mask, his answer was clear. “There’s nothing about Pentagon that frightens me. He wants to talk about zero fear, well I have zero fear. I’ve looked him in his eyes and I can tell he’s afraid of me, he doesn’t know how to take me. He knows that every time we step in that ring it might be his last because I might end him and that truly frightens the man with zero fear.” The flip side of the coin is Callihan may lose his hair in the same match he can take Penta’s mask. And that’s not meant to happen, according to him. “I’m not going to have my head shaved, that’s the point. This head of hair has been with me across my entire career. It says sweat, tears, lost jobs. It also says a job that I quit. Everything about me streams through the hair because that’s truly who I am my hair actually means something to me. So I’m going to beat Pentagon, I’m going to take his mask and then I’m going to parade around all around the world wearing it. Maybe I’ll become Pentagon, who knows? A couple weeks ago I was wearing his entire outfit, I’m pretty sure I’ll make a better Pentagon Jr at this point than he does.”
In fact, the plan is far less spontaneous than Callihan is letting think. Because oVe quite simply wants to rule the wrestling business. “I’m starting a revolution. I’m changing wrestling from the inside out.” When I asked why he’s such a Draw for this business, he includes his Brothers in arms in an answer that exudes confidence. “We do things our own way and that’s why we are where we are. People want to wrestle oVe, people want to wrestle Sami Callihan because for lack of better terms. I am The Undertaker of wrestling right now, especially Impact Wrestling. If people wanna be famous, they wrestle me because they know they’re gonna get more buzz than they’ve ever got in their life. Look what happened to Eddie Edwards. Look what happened to LAX once they feuded with oVe. Look what’s happening now to Pentagon Jr. I’m bringing him to an even bigger echelon than he was before.”
The 3 “Bruce Lee of professional wrestling”, as he described oVe, are in Impact Wrestling to make a statement. “Mediocrity is dead. We’re going to give the people what they want to see because this is our generation taking over now. We’re here for our generation, we’re by our generation and everything we do at this point is going to change professional wrestling.” We’ll see tonight if with a mask or without his hair, Callihan is destined to put the wrestling world on fire again and again.
For those who were thinking Johnny Impact has left the Impact boat, sorry he’s never left it. Johnny Impact spent a few months on an island, trying to survive, and then he got married. But tonight at Slammiversary XVI, the Mayor of Slam Town is back in the Impact Zone. And he couldn’t more happy of it as he’ll be facing Fénix, Rich Swann and Taiji Ishimori in a 4-Way match. “I can’t think of a better way to return to Impact than with this four-way match between some of the most talented guys in the world, myself included. I’m planning on stealing the show for sure but this is going to be the first time that I’ve been in the ring with Rich Swann. Fénix and I have battled all over the world, I’ve had only one match with Taiji Ishimori and I was beyond impressed by his charisma and his talent and ability to do whatever he wanted with his body. To me, that’s a marker of someone who’s unlocked his ability to control themselves. Everyone has it in this business to a certain degree but the guys in this match are really on the upper echelon of athleticism and charisma.”
When you have a former X-Division and two hungry wrestlers in front of you, you’d better be prepared and Johnny Impact is more than ready. “I think the best strategy is to fight fire with fire. I’m hungry, I’m a current Champion, I’m a former champion of a lot of different places. I don’t know if there’s anywhere in the world that those guys have been that I haven’t been first. Right now I’m fresher than ever, I’m hungrier than ever. I’m planning on just hitting that match hard and fast and seeing what happens.”
Johnny Impact is coming back and, while he was busy elsewhere, a new load of talents started to grace the Impact Zone with their talents. And when I asked him who’s eyeing on, 2 names came in the conversation. “I’ve got my eye on Kevin Kross. He looks like a psycho man, he’s a scary dude. What I’m thinking about somebody that I’m watching on impact or on any wrestling ring, I can usually pinpoint a weakness or a flaw or something that I can exploit if the two of us were in a match. When I watch Kevin Kross, I haven’t been able to pinpoint that weakness, he’s got this psychotic type of confidence and he makes me worry a little bit about what it would be like to be in the ring with him.”
The second name was Brian Cage, “There’s like a disconnect between like how big he is and what he can make his body do. I feel like he might be the agilest big man in the history of wrestling. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone as big as him that can do the kind of things he can do. As far as having matches with him on the Impact roster, I’d love that because wrestling people like Brian, who is one of the best in the world and is at the top of his game, is the type of match that pushes me to my limit and makes me elevate myself. It’s important to be there in the ring with somebody who forces you to go the extra mile.”
And there will be the World Championship that seems not to refuse to grace his gorgeous waist. “When I came to Impact Wrestling, I took the name Johnny Impact and that was to become the Impact World Champion. I took a little sidetrack but, now that I’m back, that time away has really been great for me because I feel more focused now than ever and has really been able to dial my training in and made up to the next level and become even more hyper-focused than I was before on training my body in mind to be able to beat anybody on the Impact roster to get closer to that Impact championship and then eventually take it from whoever’s got it.” May it be Moose or Austin Aries…
In Part 2, Austin Aries and Tommy Dreamer will be telling their truth…
All pics courtesy of Impact Wrestling