As I was quietly working on a brilliant piece about an Impact Wrestling Best of 2018, the company put on Twitter this Thursday its own awards. The fact is this year was just the best Impact Wrestling has ever had for years, every weekly review was a treasure to write for you. Because of that, I couldn’t do a Top 10, whether on matches, moments or wrestlers, because of this amazing effort both the roster, the Creatives and the Executives of the company have made this year. So the Nygma changed her mind…
Of course, I’ll review for you this Best of 2018, Part 1, with all the highlights of the year, but I’ll also share with you SteelChair Mag’s own 2018 Impact Wrestling Awards. Were our choices the same than Impact? No more words, let’s get ready for some action, but your French Enygma Steph way, of course…
The Nygma’s Chart and NutCrackers of the Week
There were a lot of promos for Homecoming I decided not to quote. I won’t review the matches again, but add a few words to the reviews I’ve already done.
- Willie Mack/Rich Swann vs. Ethan Page/Matt Sydal – Bound For Glory
Like I said here, Willie Mack was making his debut with the company, in front of his crowd, like Ethan Page. This match was a great opener for a PPV, an X-Division, high-flying style match is always the best to open a PPV.
- Tessa Blanchard vs. Allie – Slammiversary
Like I stated here, Allie was just out of the casket and Tessa was making her PPV debut. We were witnessing the birth of a new Allie, more audacious and tenacious. Impact Wrestling at that time was trying to build a Superstar out of Tessa Blanchard. And they succeeded in. You already know what I think about these 2 ladies, my mind hasn’t changed since Slammiversary… (All hail Dark Allie…)
- Brian Cage vs. Bobby Lashley – Impact – March 29, 2018
It was the first “real” match of Brian Cage on Impact, against a “real” opponent, like I told you here. You know I’m not a fan of “big men” matches but both Cage and Lashley were impressive… We know the rematch took place and Lashley left Impact just after, while Brian Cage made his way to the top…
- Sami Callihan vs. Eddie Edwards – Impact, March 1, 2018
The infamous baseball bat accident… If you remember well, I told you we all knew what happened after the match but we didn’t know what happened before… This match was just stunning, a great main event, but what happened after opened the gates for one of the major storylines of the year, cemented the legacy of a wrestler, and completely changed the fate of the other. I tell you more after…
- Impact World Title: Fallah Bahh vs. Austin Aries – Impact, September 13
I was not a fan of this match when it was announced. But I was pretty happy to review it here. Because what could have been an ugly match or a quick disqualification bout was, in fact, a real wrestling match. And a surprisingly good one. Bahh was meant not to win, but he pushed Aries to his limits and I liked that.
- Impact World Title: Austin Aries vs. Moose – Slammiversary
The build-up of this match really made me remind, at that time, of the way the first-ever Iron Man match was built in 1996. Moose was Shawn Michaels, chasing his first World Title and preparing as hard as he could for it. Austin Aries was Bret Hart, the experienced and passionate veteran who already held so many titles. I thought this match could end like the Iron match ended, with a new Champion and I was wrong.
Moose finished the match, despite suffering from a concussion. Aries won. Their match made you bring back to some of the best moments you’ve ever lived as a fan. A modern classic that really reminded me why you love wrestling.
- Petey Williams vs. Johnny Impact vs. Taiji Ishimori vs. Fénix – Slammiversary
Another classic opener for an Impact Wrestling PPV. An X-Division high-flying style match, in fact, what Impact has always done best. The Canadian Destroyer Petey Williams replaced Rich Swann last minute. But most of the build-up of this match was done around the comeback of Johnny Impact and “The Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori, as you read here. Johnny Impact won but, in many ways, the winner of the match didn’t mean a lot in this kind of match. Because the only winner is the fan who can enjoy a good, very good, high-flying match. The Mayor of Slam Town was back and decided to reach the gold.
Impact Wrestling 2018 Awards vs. SteelChair Mag 2018 Awards
Fans were able to choose their favourites wrestlers, moments and matches on social media. The matches quoted below were highlights, I let you imagine what the Top 5 will be…
– Wrestler of the year: Sami Callihan – Our opinion: 200% Nygma.
The Wrestler of the Year is not meant to be the one who has won the most titles or the most matches in a year. Being a steady presence in the ring or at ringside, developing a strong character and being a part of some of the best matches of the year are enough reasons to be Wrestler of The Year. Sami Callihan made his debut on Impact Wrestling at Bound for Glory 2017, with Dave and Jake Crist, his Ohio brothers, and, ever since, he has never stopped to push the limits, in the ring, during the oVe Creepy Cam promo, on the media calls (thank you, Sami, for not telling me to kiss my ass this Thursday…).
I was in Manchester at Wrestling MediaCon last September and his match against Jimmy Havoc was beyond hardcore. It was horribly beautiful to watch from the crowd. What makes Callihan the Wrestler of the Year is his ability to seize the moment, to bring new life to a storyline, to make his character reach new heights or a match be better, and also, according to Jimmy Jacobs, to be a proactive force in the building of storylines and matches. Even if the oVe/Lucha Brothers lasted for a while, and could have become boring, every match was better than the previous. The Barbed Wire Massacre in January was a legendary moment. The Hair vs. Mask at Slammiversary against Pentagon Jr was one of the best matches of the year, not only on Impact but in wrestling. Sami Callihan is definitely THE Draw and is not decided to stop here now.
– Knockout of the year: Tessa Blanchard – Our opinion: 25% Nygma.
You all know I’m not a fan of Tessa. If I look at 2018 the same way I did for Wrestler of the Year, only one Knockout has been there all year long and pushed herself to the limits. Sorry, Tessa, Allie is our Knockout of the Year…
– Tag Team of the year: LAX – Our opinion: 150% Nygma
The badass attitude that was surrounding Ortiz and Santana made us forget about what these 2 wrestlers were about. The new regime decided in 2018 to put action first. And suddenly, LAX has emerged as a team of very good wrestlers, because they were allowed to show how good they are in a ring. We can thank Konnan for his fantastic coaching because he helped Santana and Ortiz to become the longest reigning IMPACT Tag Team Champions in the company’s history. LAX has made it all this year, from Barbed Wire to Concrete Jungle, and they have never come up short. If they are able to defeat The Lucha Brothers at Homecoming, LAX would set a new record of the longest tag team title reign in IMPACT’s history. Well done guys…
– X-Division Star of the Year: Brian Cage – Our opinion: 75% Nygma.
Brian Cage as the X-Division Champion was something pretty unexpected. Cage is a high-flyer, but he’s so massive he kind of doesn’t fit the X-Division mould. When you think about Matt Sydal, Taiji Ishimori, Rich Swann or Dezmond Xavier, you think of them as guys that are fitting the X-Division standards. But has the X-Division ever had standards? Because of that, having an X-Division Star of the year was difficult for us to choose. For me, Matt Sydal and Cage are tying at this game.
– One to watch in 2019: Killer Kross – Our opinion: 300% Nygma
The mystery that has surrounded the debut of Killer Kross was just incredible. The man with the X-crossed red card that was destroying wrestlers and officials backstage emerged to be one of the greatest characters in the business today. Killer Kross is frightening, synonymous with doom, scary… and to be honest, that’s just awesome… If for the moment we haven’t seen the best of him in the Impact Zone, Killer Kross could just tear 2019 down. The day Killer Kross will become World Champion will be Doomsday on Impact… And that will be wonderful…
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) December 19, 2018
– Moment of the year: Sami Callihan destroying Eddie Edwards’ eye with his baseball bat – Our opinion: 100% Nygma
Some things are not meant to happen in a ring. This baseball bat was not meant to hit Eddie Edwards’ face. But it happened. And Sami Callihan became the most hated man on the planet in a nanosecond. That day, he became The Draw. Things could have stopped there but, thanks to Impact Creative Joseph Park, aka Abyss, who told me he was fully responsible of it, the accident turned into one of the best storylines of the year and helped shape a new “version” of Eddie Edwards, the current Crazy Eddie we can see on TV right now. This moment may have been shocking for many fans, what would be more shocking would be not to treat it as the turning point of 2018 on Impact.
We decided to push the button a little bit further, here are some awards we chose to share with you and Impact Wrestling. Of course, comment on these choices on our social media @SteelChairMag.
– Most Likely to become Champion in 2019
World Champion: Brian Cage
Tag Team Champions: The Lucha Brothers
Knockouts Champion: Taya Valkyrie
X-Division Champion: Rich Swann
– Comeback of the Year: Austin Aries
– The «Titanic is sinking » Award of the Year (Disaster of the year): The Desi Hit Squad
– The « Take a walk on the Wild Side » Wrestler of the Year (Turn of the year): Allie and Eddie Edwards, tie.
– Monster of the Year: Kongo Kong
– Most Overrated Wrestler of the Year: Joe Hendry
– Most Underrated Wrestler of the Year: Trevor Lee
– Feud of the Year: oVe vs The Lucha Brothers
– Manager of the Year: Konnan
– The « Captain Charisma » Award of the Year (best on the mic): Eli Drake
– The Heart and Soul Award of the Year: Impact Wrestling Hall of Famer Abyss
– The “Panda” Award of the Year (fan favourite of the year): Fallah Bahh
To be eNYGMAtic…
Those highlights were good, but I don’t completely agree with Impact’s choices. Many other matches made the year, I think about Rosemary vs. Su Yung and many more. But the fact is, next week, Part 2 will be the Top 5 Matches of the Year, chosen by the fans. And because of these highlights, I easily imagine what they would be. The year 2018 was so good, so interesting, so full of action I’m sure the fans made the good choices. I hope…
On my behalf and the whole SteelChairmag team one, have the happiest and sweetest Holidays ever… On this very Santa note, until next week and the Nygma’s birthday, never EVER forget to stay #eNYGMAtic…
Impact Homecoming card (as of Saturday, December 22):
* Impact World Championship Match: Johnny Impact (c) vs. Brian Cage
* Impact Knockouts Championship match: Tessa Blanchard (c) vs. Taya Valkyrie, with Gail Kim as special guest referee
* Impact World Tag Team Championship Match: LAX (Ortiz & Santana) (c) vs. The Lucha Brothers (Pentagon Junior & Fénix)
* Ultimate X Match for the vacant X-Division Championship: Jake Crist vs. Ethan Page vs. Rich Swann vs. Trey Miguel
* Monster’s Ball Match: Abyss vs. Eli Drake
* Falls Count Anywhere Match: Eddie Edwards vs. Moose
All pics, videos, and screenshots courtesy of Impact Wrestling. Photomontage by @frenchnygma exclusively for @steelchairmag.