Maybe I shouldn't be writing this article. Regardless of what I say, some AEW fan will say "well, you're talking about it aren't you?" or some Impact diehard will tell me "Kenny will disrespect Impact like he's done to AAA!" and my only answer to those kinds of responses is "Fair enough".
The fact of the matter is that Impact Wrestling puts on a solid product each week and featuring Kenny Omega on their weekly show did little to change the quality and very little to change the number of live viewers on traditional live tv platforms (keep in mind a lot of people watch Impact on twitch or live tv alternatives like Sling or YouTube TV). But culturally Impact has been in the conversation a lot more recently following Omega's decision to bring the AEW World Championship to Impact's weekly show.
The answer to the question "Hass AEW Elevated Impact Wrestling?" is a murky one. There are solid reasons why you might say yes and very understandable arguments against that. So let's break down those arguments and then maybe you can decide for yourself.
The first argument for the yes side is that more eyes are on Impact's product. That is not a super easy number to track, one way would be to look at Impact's weekly Nielsen ratings, but (despite how we treat them in the wrestling community) those numbers are inherently flawed and don't represent the number of people watching on twitch or on live tv alternatives.
Some fans will point to a report from Figure Four Online stating that Impact's "Hard to Kill" PPV has Impact's second-best buy rate in their post-Spike TV era. Hard to Kill did feature Kenny Omega teaming with the Good Brothers to take on Rich Swann, Moose, and Chris Sabin in six-man tag action. That is a pretty compelling argument until you read a bit further and see that Impact's best buy rate from this era was Slammiversary 2020 which featured the return of several recently released talents from WWE.
So what we can go off of is how much people are talking about Impact. Anecdotally, I have seen more people on social media talking about Impact Wrestling following Kenny's announcement that he would be making his appearance following his win over Jon Moxley. Ever since that moment, you can't go a day without seeing speculation of who will be the next person to cross over onto Dynamite or Impact. You can also do a quick google trends search for Impact wrestling and see that searches for Impact spiked at three points in the last year. The first spike was around Slammiversary which should be expected, the second was around the time that Kenny became AEW champion and the third most recent spike is currently happening after Kenny Omega defeated Rich Swann to become Impact World Champion.
What this tells me is that, yes even in the most basic way, Impact is in the public consciousness more following AEW's crossover.
The other two arguments are a little bit easier to follow the first one is that with Kenny Omega as Impact World Champion, that does elevate the title belt. It is hard to argue with that one, Kenny Omega is a bigger start in wrestling than almost anyone on the current Impact active roster. Fans can only hope that Kenny will represent the company well.
The last argument is that everyone that has participated in the AEW crossover so far has looked like an absolute star. Whether it was Rich Swann who put on a great show at Rebellion or Moose and Chris Sabin who got to show off at Hard to Kill. The individual talents are being lifted up even if Impact as a brand might be getting pushed down.
Ok, it is time to talk about the paid ads. Was it a funny bit at first? Sure, I think the surprise for everyone who tuned in to watch Kenny Omega got a good laugh at seeing Tony Khan and Tony Schiavone come to trash Kenny for what he did and Impact for allowing him on. Then over time, the ads started to feel a little less like a joke and more like space for Tony Khan to vent about how good he thinks AEW is, and it also began to feel a little one-sided.
Impact hasn't been getting time on Dynamite to talk trash and promote their show. In fact, all of these AEW "paid ads" live on the Impact Youtube channel where the only videos that consistently pull bigger numbers are classic matches and segments with Kenny Omega. The fact of the matter here is that AEW is using Impact as a platform to burry Impact and no matter how many eyes are on the product that isn't great for Impact in the long term.
The other big issue is that even if Kenny shows up frequently on Impact to talk trash or maybe defend the title, the title still is on someone outside of Impact Wrestling. We can't say we know for sure who made the call, but for whatever reason, it was decided that Kenny Omega the AEW World Champion should take the Impact World Championship away from Impact Wrestling on their own pay per view. I have no clue how that is supposed to elevate Impact as a company. What that communicates is that Impact is open for the picking, and while Impact tries to spin it as a positive thing it is hard to set up your wrestling show when the world title and tag titles are being held by other companies.
Connected to the title issue is the legitimate worry that Kenny Omega's run as Impact World Champion will be similar to his run as AAA Mega Champion. Now, it should be made clear that a major impact on Omega's AAA run has been the global pandemic and its effect on travel, but still, Kenny has rarely brought the belt out or talked about it on Dynamite. The biggest hope is that Don Callis will make sure that Kenny is referred to as the Impact World Champion, but history has shown us that Kenny might not be willing to rep other companies on AEW.
The forbidden door is open, that really cannot be denied. I will admit that I had never purchased an Impact PPV prior to Rebellion and that alone is pretty good evidence that AEW talent can be a draw for Impact. That being said the arguments that AEW has only elevated Impact to continue to bury it are very compelling.
This all really comes down to how you feel about both companies. If you're an Impact diehard, I can understand why you're cautious about Kenny as your champion. If you're an AEW fan, I get why you think Impact fans need to be thankful to Tony Khan and company for getting the Impact brand out there. The biggest factor in this crossover is time, and that means we will all just have to wait and see.
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