20 Years of IMPACT: 2018

Santana and Ortiz carried on the LAX name with honor, living up the tremendous legacy of Homicide and Hernandez. However, the original LAX weren’t exactly pleased to see their spotlight taken by a younger generation. After over a year dominating the tag team division, Eddie Kingston arrived in IMPACT with a worrying message – Konnan had been taken out but he was here to steer the ship in Konnan’s absence. Diamante was skeptical of Kingston at first but over time he earned Santana and Ortiz’s trust and helped lead them back to the Tag Team Titles. All was well in LAX until Konnan returned. 

Konnan revealed that he was taken out by none other than Eddie Kingston himself as a clever ploy to remove Konnan from the picture and take over LAX for himself. Just when it looked like Kingston was found out and the game was up, King proved he was still a step ahead when Homicide and Hernandez returned to IMPACT to lay out Santana, Ortiz and Konnan. The originals joined forces with Kingston to form a new group – The OGz. From there the battle lines were drawn and both sides went to war. LAX defeated The OGz in a kinetic and physical 5150 Street Fight that wowed fans at Slammiversary, they battled on the streets of Toronto through the summer – including little Richie becoming collateral damage – before their brutal rivalry culminated in a Concrete Jungle Death Match at Bound For Glory. The ring mats were removed to reveal the hard wooden boards below as both eras of LAX fought it out one final time – with Santana, Ortiz and Konnan ultimately emerging the victors. 

The always brash and arrogant Eli Drake was shocked by the returning Austin Aries in February, with Aries capturing the title in an impromptu match. Aries defeated Drake in just 53 seconds to win the IMPACT World Title for a second time. Aries – who was in the business of collecting title belts all around the world at the time – would briefly lose the title to the debuting Pentagon but swiftly regained it before holding off the challenges of Moose, Eddie Edwards, Fallah Bahh and Rich Swann. For the second year in a row, Johnny IMPACT – fresh off appearing on the hit reality show Survivor – found himself challenging for the World Title at Bound For Glory. After a uniquely personal build up, Johnny dethroned Aries to capture the title for the first time. Johnny would end the year as champion after a spectacular defense against Fenix. 

The international spirit of the X-Division lived on in 2018, as then Pro Wrestling NOAH star Taiji Ishimori defeated Trevor Lee to capture gold. Ishimori made successful defences of the title against El Hijo Del Fantasma as well as against Andrew Everett in Japan, before Matt Sydal – who debuted in the X-Division in 2003 – defeated Ishimori to win finally the title. We then saw a new side of Sydal, claiming to have undergone a spiritual awakening – he encouraged all around them to open their third eye while he was briefly managed by Josh Mathews. No amount of cosmic wisdom could prepare Sydal for the force that was about to enter the X-Division though. “The Machine” Brian Cage returned to IMPACT and immediately began smashing everybody in front of him. He soon found himself face to face with Sydal, winning gold at Slammiversary. Cage would have a spectacular reign with memorable defences against Rich Swann, Fenix and Sami Callihan before Cage uttered two words not heard since 2016: Option C. Cage was coming for Johnny IMPACT’s belt. 

After Allie heartbreakingly had her Knockouts Championship taken away from her in 2016, she doubled down and worked harder than ever to get back to the gold. She finally achieved this goal in 2018, defeating Laurel Van Ness to become a two-time champ. Demonic forces were looming in the Knockouts Division though as the sinister and deadly Su Yung arrived in IMPACT. “The Undead Bride” took out Allie’s ally Rosemary – symbolically burning her in a Funeral of Fire – before Su ended Allie’s reign in a Last Rights match. Tessa Blanchard – who debuted at Redemption – won a three way to become champion and ended the year with the title after a rivalry with Taya Valkyrie. 

For four years, Eddie Edwards was the lifeblood of IMPACT. His clean cut, never say die attitude defined him. One moment changed that forever. After a match against Sami Callihan, Sami swung a baseball bat at Eddie that nearly took his eye out. This left Eddie a changed man – no longer a man of honor and respect, he was now a man of wild and out of control vengeance. He would stop at nothing to end Sami Callihan. Tommy Dreamer, who had gone through this same cycle 20 years earlier with Raven, tried to talk sense into Eddie – resulting in a match between the two at Slammiversary. While Dreamer did convince Eddie to reel back on some of his more violent impulses, Eddie would never be the same man again.

For four years, Eddie Edwards was the lifeblood of IMPACT. His clean cut, never say die attitude defined him. One moment changed that forever. After a match against Sami Callihan, Sami swung a baseball bat at Eddie that nearly took his eye out. This left Eddie a changed man – no longer a man of honor and respect, he was now a man of wild and out of control vengeance. He would stop at nothing to end Sami Callihan. Tommy Dreamer, who had gone through this same cycle 20 years earlier with Raven, tried to talk sense into Eddie – resulting in a match between the two at Slammiversary. While Dreamer did convince Eddie to reel back on some of his more violent impulses, Eddie would never be the same man again.

Other notes from 2018: Barbed Wire Massacre returned in January as LAX defeated oVe in only the third iteration of the violent match. IMPACT crossed over with Lucha Underground for a spectacular inter-promotional event in April. This saw Pentagon and Fenix become regulars in IMPACT, delivering classic matches every week – most notably the brutal and bloody must-watch Hair vs. Mask match against Sami Callihan at Slammiversary. Scott Steiner returned to IMPACT to capture gold one final time – winning the Tag Team Titles alongside Eli Drake.

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