This week, in the second part of Impact Wrestling Best of 2019, it’s time for the Match of the Year, Tag Team of The Year and Wrestler of The Year, chosen by the fans. I prepared a little something of a Top 5 or 10 by myself, match wise, something I would have shared with you whatever happened but Impact just put online the Top 10 Matches as chosen by the fans.
I usually start the review with the Impact classic Cold Open but I let you find out in the video below the Top 10 matches of the decade, again as chosen by the fans. I wish I could have the time to talk about them with you… Let’s not forget Hard To Kill is just 7 days away and it’s hard to look back when present and future are about to collide.
Like last week, I’ll review for you this Best of 2019, Part 2, and share with you The Nygma’s own 2019 Impact Wrestling Favourites of The Year. Were my choices the same than the fans? 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 New Year wishes I decided not to quote (you can find the vignettes on Impact Wrestling Twitter account). I won’t review the matches again, but add a few words to the reviews I’ve already done. Josh Mathews and Impact EVP Scott D’Amore hosted the episode.

  • #1 Contender’s Elimination Gauntlet Match: Michael Elgin vs Rich Swann vs Moose vs Daga vs Brian Cage vs Tessa Blanchard – IMPACT 19/11/2019

If you check the review of the match here, you’ll remember how happy I was to see a PPV-calibre match on national television, a 55-minute bout that was mind-blowing. The performance of Rich Swann was outstanding and his portion against Moose, Elgin, and then Cage ruled. He lasted 40 minutes in this gruelling match.
It was not a surprise to see Tessa Blanchard win as, of course, the match at Hard to Kill was announced 2 weeks before. Can a 24-year-old young lady become the Impact World Champion, a title that has always been held by men? This question remains open… It would change this business forever if it happens… All I can say is, in 7 days, it won’t remain unanswered anymore…

 

  • Impact World Tag Team Champions The North vs Naomichi Marufuji & Eddie Edwards – IMPACT 12/11/2019

I’m not a Joshi or Strong Style expert. I’m pro-hardcore, pro-equal wrestling, but Japanse wrestling and I are not friends at all. If the match itself was really good, as you can read here, the fact is having Marufuji on Impact showed the world the partnership between NOAH and Impact Wrestling has never been stronger. Also, it’s a chance to have a legend like Naomichi Marufuji on TV. The Japanese Strong Style fans, for sure, must have been happy to see him in the USA and on Impact.

 

  • Tessa Blanchard vs Gail Kim – Rebellion

I’ve never seen this match as a passing of a torch and I think time has proved it was not. Like you read here, and we were in April, if one career was coming to an end, another was still in the making. 
Gail Kim was telling me the day before the PPV she was coming out of retirement to teach Tessa a lesson. But it was not the one we were expecting. Blanchard won, left the ring a few minutes to hug her Dad, and another woman came back in. She saw Gail Kim laying and decided not to chastise her. She gave her hand to Kim who hugged her. Tessa burst into tears and left the last word to Gail Kim… Gail Kim, probably one of the best female wrestlers of all time, acknowledged her time was over but Tessa’s time was now. The way Tessa wrote the following pages of her story showed us she can break boundaries as Kim did, but the way she has been making it is so utterly different… That’s why I still think it was not a passing of a torch.

 

  • Tessa Blanchard vs Sami Callihan – Slammiversary XVII

An intergender match, making the main event of an Impact Wrestling PPV, enough to make history? No. Because it was Tessa, because it was Sami, because it was about a mix of respect and hate. It was everything I told you here. There were no Dave, no Jake, no Madman, just 2 wrestlers and 2 baseball bats… It was nasty, vicious, but it was a real wrestling match. Tessa didn’t win, Sami didn’t beat her down more than necessary. He handed her her bat and walked off. Sami Callihan showed how he respects this business. Meanwhile, Tessa Blanchard turned into another woman and another wrestler…

 

Impact Wrestling 2019 Awards vs. The Nygma 2019 Awards

– Tag Team of the Year: The North

I was expecting LAX, maybe The Lucha Bros. Fans chose The North. With all the respect, and the friendship, I owe to Josh Alexander and Ethan Page, until Santana and Ortiz decided to leave, they were the Kings of the Tag Team Division. It was set in stone The North would become Champions but it happened faster than expected because Penta, Fénix, Santana and Ortiz left Impact Wrestling. There’s no disrespect in my words, at all. Page and Alexander were absolutely the best choices to walk into the footsteps of the 2 legendary Lucha Libre teams. The style is not the same, the chemistry is not the same. But it works and it makes them true great World Tag Team Champions.

– Wrestler of the year: Tessa Blanchard

Cringe time again… There was no doubt in my mind Sami Callihan would win it 2 years in a row. In introducing Tessa in this category, instead of the Knockouts one, they set the cat among the pigeons (in France, we say set the wolf among the sheeps). If there was one good way to test the popularity of Tessa and her ability to be the leader of the company as its World Champion, that was it. Fans ratified with their votes what Impact Wrestling have worked to build over the last 6 months.
Tessa was given a very unique spot in this company. She gambled, like Callihan did and the company too. I’m not saying she doesn’t earn it or she is a bad wrestler. Absolutely not. She had raised her game in 2019, she turned her cocky character into a smoother one. She IS a very good wrestler. Of course, she has the shoulders to become the first woman ever to be the World Champion of a national-televised wrestling company. Then, making history is a heavy burden…

– Match of the year: Tessa Blanchard vs Sami Callihan – Slammiversary XVII

It was not my match of the year (find out below) but it was so obvious it would be 2019 Match of The Year, chosen by the fans. Once again, fans ratified with their votes what Impact Wrestling have worked to build over the last 6 months. They also give Sami Callihan Match of The Year Award 2 years in a row, which is absolutely well-deserved. Fans said we want more intergender, we want more Tessa, we want more Sami. They will have it at Hard To Kill.
I confess I fear this moment at Hard To Kill. I read I’m not the only one. I very often talked about gambling. For me, making Tessa win is about changing the rules, asking every man of the roster to compete against a woman if they want to have the belt, making every woman who doesn’t want to fight an intergender match to be treated differently. Her win can create something huge for the Impact roster, could it be a stir, could it be a stream.
This is my opinion, may you respect it if you disagree with…

Here are the Top 10 Matches as chosen by the fans:

#10: Elimination Challenge (Tessa Blanchard vs Brian Cage vs Moose vs Rich Swann vs Daga vs Michael Elgin) – IMPACT November 19, 2019
#9: Brian Cage vs Sami Callihan – Bound For Glory
#8: Brian Cage vs Michael Elgin – Slammiversary
#7: Ace Austin vs Jake Crist vs Tessa Blanchard vs Daga vs Acey Romero – X-Division Ladder Match – Bound For Glory
#6: Brian Cage vs Sami Callihan – Steel Cage, IMPACT October 29, 2019
#5: Tessa Blanchard vs Taya Valkyrie – Street Fight, IMPACT Uncaged – February 15, 2019
#4: Taya Valkyrie vs Havok vs Su Yung vs Rosemary – Monster’s Ball – Slammiversary XVII
#3: LAX vs The Lucha Bros – Full Metal Mayhem – Rebellion
#2: Tessa Blanchard vs Gail Kim – Rebellion
#1: Sami Callihan vs Tessa Blanchard – Slammiversary XVII

 

Here are my Top 5 Matches of the Year. I stuck to 5 because it was extremely difficult for me to choose just a few ones in the middle of a flurry of great matches. Of course, comment on these choices on my social media @FrenchNygma.

#5: Elimination Challenge (Tessa Blanchard vs Brian Cage vs Moose vs Rich Swann vs Daga vs Michael Elgin) – IMPACT November 19, 2019
#4: Taya Valkyrie vs Havok vs Su Yung vs Rosemary – Monster’s Ball – Slammiversary XVII
#3: Rich Swann vs Trey vs Ethan Page vs Jake Crist – Ultimate-X Match – Homecoming
#2: Sami Callihan vs Tessa Blanchard – Slammiversary XVII
#1: LAX vs The Lucha Bros – Full Metal Mayhem – Rebellion

The Nygma’s Nutcrackers of this Best Of

  • Sami Callihan and Tessa Blanchard, reigning supreme

They were given the opportunity to shine, of course, they did and the fans noticed that. I said enough above and last week to convince you they are Impact. Will they be again in 2020?

  • Breaking records, barriers, grounds…

You want hardcore, intergender, female wrestlers doing hardcore, Joey Ryan’s lollipop? No problem, Impact Wrestling is made for you. There’s no boundary that doesn’t deserve to be broken. 

  • Never forget the past…

The first half of the year was about talents like Johnny Impact, Killer Kross, The Lucha Brothers, LAX. They had been very important in this process of rebuilding. Wherever they are right now, let’s not forget what they did for the company…

  • … But make the future bright

The Rascalz, Rich Swann, Willie Mack, Ace Austin, Acey Romero, Madman Fulton, Jordynne Grace, Daga, the list of talents that have everything to become is as long as my arm. Give them the good opportunities and they will shine so bright the Sun will be jealous.

  • 4 Aces are making a good game…

Do you remember my 4 Aces’ theory? Because they chose to look at the future, Impact Wrestling showed they have 4 strong cards in their game. The Ace of Hearts is the ability to give a chance to young talents, help them improve and develop. The Ace of Diamonds is the Knockouts because Impact Wrestling is treating female wrestlers as the equals of the male wrestlers.
The Ace of Spades is the styles of the matches, there’s no limit to them. You want hardcore, intergender, high-flying, classic or powerhouse matches, they are all on Impact. The Ace of Clubs is the characters. Every talent is given incredible freedom to develop his character, make it legit and ensure it will be successful.
Enough to play All-In in 2020? That will be the ultimate gamble…

To be eNYGMAtic…

The episode was once again nicely done. I’m puzzled without being surprised by the second part of the 2019 Awards. Saying more would be unnecessary because, as I said earlier, Hard To Kill is just around the corner. In just 7 days, we’ll know the exact direction Impact Wrestling would have decided to take. At that time, I will probably have more things to say.
Some wrestlers left, some wrestlers arrived. The history of the company is based on this constant turnover of talents, it has always been. Impact Wrestling stole the year 2019 with the talents they deserved, the guts they needed to push some boundaries, TV and wrestling partners they required to support them, and a fandom that has finally come back where it should have never left.
I can thank everyone like I did last year, Executives, Creatives, Talents and PR. I won’t because they know how grateful I am to be a part of their family. Behind the scenes of the reviews or the interviews, there is a mutual trust I’ve valued day after day. Listening to Sami Callihan say ‘I love your work’ has been enough to put more fuel in my inner fire…
In 2020, the word rebuilding is officially banned from Impact Wrestling vocabulary. Because there’s nothing more to rebuild, just things to consolidate and new dreams to make come true… 
On this very “Nygma is Definitely Hard To Kill”, until next week, never EVER forget to stay #eNYGMAtic…

Impact Wrestling’s Hard To Kill Card (as of today):

  • Impact World Championship Match: Sami Callihan (c) vs Tessa Blanchard
  • X-Division Championship Match: Ace Austin (c) vs Trey Miguel
  • Impact Knockouts Championship Match: Taya Valkyrie (c) vs Jordynne Grace vs ODB
  • Impact World Tag Team Championship Match: The North (Ethan Page & Josh Alexander) (c) vs Rich Swann & Willie Mack
  • Winner Takes Call Your Shot Gauntlet Trophy Match: Eddie Edwards vs Michael Elgin
  • Brian Cage vs RVD
  • Moose vs Rhino
  • Madman Fulton vs Ken Shamrock

All pics, videos, and screenshots courtesy of Impact Wrestling and AXS TV. Photomontage by @frenchnygma exclusively for @steelchairmag.