20 Years of IMPACT: 2017

Eli Drake’s loud mouth and brash attitude immediately got attention when he debuted in 2015. From his time in The Rising to his run as King of the Mountain Champion to his rivalry with EC3 – people immediately identified him as a future World Champion. Lashley defeated Eddie Edwards to regain the title in a classic 30 Minute Iron Man at Genesis but a Gauntlet for the Gold in August for the vacant championship gave Drake his best chance yet. He overcame 20 men including former champions Eddie Edwards, Lashley and EC3 as well as the debuting Johnny IMPACT to become champion. Drake then immediately entered a rivalry with Johnny including main eventing Bound For Glory, but Drake would hang onto the title for the rest of the year.

Konnan led LAX to astronomical success in 2006, and when he returned to TNA he brought LAX back with him. Often in pro wrestling “new” versions of classic teams and stables fail to live up to the hype, but the 2017 incarnation of LAX carried the legacy of the old group as strong as ever. Konnan introduced the team of Santana and Ortiz, alongside Homicide and Diamante, and they immediately made a splash. LAX defeated Decay, Reno Scum, and Laredo Kid and Garza Jr to capture the titles. The rest of the year would be defined by their back-and-forth rivalry with oVe.

The Super X-Cup returned for the first time since 2005 with an all-star line-up from around the wrestling world. ACH, Taiji Ishimori, Sammy Guevara, Davey Richards, Drago, Dezmond Xavier, Idris Abraham, and Andrew Everett battled it out in a single elimination tournament. IMPACT’s Dezmond Xavier battled Pro Wrestling NOAH’s Taiji Ishimori in a hard-hitting, high-flying final at Destination X with Xavier putting his name alongside Chris Sabin and Samoa Joe by winning the prestigious tournament.

Since his debut in 2003, Sonjay Dutt was always considered one of the best wrestlers in the X-Division to never win the title. For 14 years, despite multiple efforts, the title eluded him. As Low Ki returned to TNA to capture the X-Division title once more, Sonjay looked to finally win gold as IMPACT broadcast from India for the first time. With the full backing of the Indian crowd, Sonjay finally did – winning the title for the first time after all those years. Sonjay would later lose the title to Trevor Lee, but his name will remain in the record books forever.

Since the launch of the Knockouts Division in 2007, Gail Kim was synonymous with both the Knockouts Championship and the division as a whole. With a record-tying six reigns as Knockouts World Champion with a record-setting 711 combined days as champion as well as a Knockouts World Tag Team reign alongside Madison Rayne, the first Knockout inducted into the IMPACT Hall of Fame decided to call it a day on her storied career. Gail Kim won the Knockouts Championship for one final record-breaking seventh time at Bound For Glory, closing the book on a truly legendary career. Laurel Van Ness, known these days as Chelsea Green, won the vacant title and closed the year as champion.

Other notes from 2017: The year saw many debuts and returns including Matt Sydal, Matt Morgan, Magnus, Scott Steiner and more. NFL star DeAngelo Williams made an impressive pro wrestling debut tearing the house down alongside Moose against Chris Adonis and Eli Drake at Slammiversary.

The Wolves exploded throughout the year battling in multiple brutal matches culminating in Eddie Edwards and Alisha defeating Davey Richards and Angelina Love in Full Metal Mayhem at Slammiversary. Dan Lambert and American Top Team united with member Bobby Lashley to take over IMPACT, including Lashley and the debuting King Mo defeating Moose and Stephan Bonnar at Bound For Glory inside Six Sides of Steel.

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