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The ‘Impact’ of the Jericho Cruise



Earlier this week, it was announced that Impact Wrestling will join an all-star line up for Chris Jericho’s cruise that will take place in October. Already signed for the unique venture are several professional wrestling legends, entertainment figures, music acts, and the Ring of Honor tournament. Along with the Impact announcement, this week will also see Jericho return to New Japan for an anticipated match against Naito at the stacked Dominion show this weekend.

Despite Jericho’s longtime friend, Don Callis’ role as one of the vice presidents of Impact, it was still somewhat surprising to hear that the organization will be involved in the Jericho cruise, simply because Y2J will always be known as a loyal WWE star. For Impact, it does a lot from a PR prospective to help present a new image for a company that under Dixie Carter. was on the brink of collapse before Anthem Sports rescued it.

I’ve written several times that Callis was a hidden gem of the wrestling business, and his direction with Scott D’Amore has somehow put the promotion in a progressive direction. The association with Jericho alone is enough to create a sense of optimism around the group.

It creates an intriguing “alliance” so to speak, as stars from ROH, Impact, and New Japan will all be a part of the same event. Keep in mind, Impact and ROH have somewhat of a working agreement already after Austin Aries appeared at an ROH pay-per-view while he was the Impact World champion. Plus, there was the recent addition of Lucha Underground talent to Impact shows. As I mentioned in a previous article, it makes sense for these groups to work together instead of essentially dividing what is already a small piece of the pie in terms of market share.

It might be a harsh reality, but the WWE owns 95% of the audience in the United States and used the monopoly they had post-WCW to expand their empire into a truly global entity. Especially after the recent $2 billion TV deal that the company secured, the WWE is playing with house money in many ways. The massive payday just for the rights to distribute Raw and Smackdown is only one of many revenue streams for the publicly traded company. Don’t get me wrong, the WWE isn’t perfect, but regardless of any criticism of the direction of the project, from a business viewpoint, it’s a major success, as they secured literally billions of dollars for the next five years.

That said, even the WWE knows that there must be options and alternatives for any industry to maintain itself. If management decided to sign as many talents as possible in an attempt to keep them from working other places, and basically scorch the earth of any other major companies in the process, the entire industry would eventually become stagnant, which is more or less what happened for a few years after the WCW shutdown.

Remember, there was a tremendous buzz for performers like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Nakamura, and others when they finally arrived in WWE because of their accomplishments in other companies. These working agreements among the smaller promotions help keep the business fresh. Again, why divide the audience when everyone can benefit from a working agreement? It’s refreshing to see the current management avoid the pitfalls of the territory promoters of the past, work together when you can to maintain positive momentum instead of disagreements that could be counterproductive to any group’s overall goal.

Some might wonder, would Jericho’s work with Impact cause any friction with WWE?

Let’s be honest here, as I said before, the WWE is a global publicly traded company and the TV deal gives them at least five years of major money just through distribution so there’s really no other company in the world that poses any threat to them. In fact, WWE benefits when smaller promotions have more exposure because it allows new stars to make a name for themselves, which could eventually lead to an offer from the WWE. All things considered, it’s very doubtful that there’s any disagreement between Jericho and management.

However, could the Impact announcement lead to more than just the cruise event?

On the surface, it seems like a long shot that Chris Jericho would appear for another company in the United States because of his close association with WWE, but for the reasons I just mentioned with no threat, could there possibly be a Jericho match for Impact? More specifically, Jericho has evolved during his career and built himself into a commodity that makes it seem like anything could be a possibility. In many respects, Jericho is in a league of his own in the way that he keeps his career fresh and he’s still ahead of the curve after such an extensive career. Who else could bring ROH, Impact, and stars from New Japan to the same event?

After the Sami Callihan/Eddie Edwards incident a few months ago, Callihan and Impact made the best of a negative situation, using it to further Callihan’s character, which he has done very well. Recently, Callihan posted a promo online and mentioned Jericho so it might be a set up for a match. It speaks volumes to Callihan’s ability to create questions about if his persona is scripted or not. Obviously, Callihan is portraying a character, but the fact that some are questioning it in 2018 is proof that the formula works. He was actually on Jericho’s podcast a few months ago so maybe there was a plan for the events that unfolded this week. More than anything, the entire scenario is very intriguing and it will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta

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