wrestling / Columns

Who Makes an Impact in 2018?

December 7, 2017 | Posted by Dino Zee
Dezmond Xavier

As 2017 winds down and turns into 2018, this columnist felt like it would be a good idea to look ahead, and think about who in Impact Wrestling could end up having a big year. There were the obvious choices – guys like Global Champion E_Li_Drake, or top contenders in Johnny Impact and Alberto El Patrón – that wouldn’t be so hard to make. Drake has long been a favorite of ZeeWI, and I certainly hope to see his reign continue long into the upcoming year. However, this wasn’t about calling out a status quo, and saying “The guys who are on top of things will probably stay there” just didn’t sound like the type of forecasting I wanted to do.

Obviously, those three are expected to have a big 2018. It’d be more of a surprise if they didn’t, if we’re being honest here. No, that was just a little too easy.

Nah, we’re going to focus on the guys slightly lower on the ladder. Does it reek of trying to call something? Perhaps. But trust that it comes from a place of being a fan – of honestly wanting to see the guys listed here succeed in 2018, and not from wanting to be able to pat my back in a year and tell you all that I called it. Honest. For realsies.

So, who’s going to blow up in 2018?!

Fallah Bahh

The real inspiration for the column, I spent most of 2017 wondering why Bahh was wasting time in a tag team with Mario Bokara. Not that I didn’t think Bokara was any good, but it was clear that the team wasn’t finding much success, and someone of Bahh’s size seemed like a dangerous out in any one on one contest. Recently, however, we’ve seen less of Bokara, and more of Bahh, which leads me to assume that the team is no more, and Fallah is ready to cut loose in Impact.

We got a glimpse of what the man is capable of when he challenged Ethan Carter, III for the Impact Grand Championship a few weeks back. While the size of Bahh is an obvious advantage, his speed, athleticism, and overall power are things that aren’t talked about nearly as much. Carter found out quickly that his opponent was anything but a slow-moving wall.

Instead, he found an opponent that was able to move with surprising agility, throwing crossbody blocks and other attacks not normally seen by someone his size. Carter seemed thrown off, and took a while to finally get his bearings back. Yes, Bahh came up short. An attempted Banzai Drop led to Carter pulling him off the turnbuckles, followed up by a stacked pin with EC3’s feet in the ropes. Make no mistake here: one of the very best that Impact Wrestling has to offer needed to break a couple rules to escape the match by the skin of his teeth.

Bahh must build off of this performance. As stated, there isn’t anyone else in the company with his build, and certainly not with his mix of size and speed. The size advantage he holds over everyone is something he needs to realize and use every time out. His match with EC3 was a wake-up call to the rest of the roster, but he can’t simply rest on that one match and think he’s proven his point. It’s going to take multiple performances like that – consistently – to finally get others to take notice of the incredible wrestler that I already know him to be.

It’s hard to proclaim him a future champion in 2018 – he most certainly won’t hold X Division gold, and the two guys holding the Grand and Global Championships represent the absolute cream of the crop, along with being guys unafraid to cheat to win. Whether or not he ends up with a gold belt, I do see Bahh raising his stock an incredible amount this year.

He just needs to take advantage of every single opportunity provided, which is always easier said than done.

Dezmond Xavier

This one is a little disappointing as, at one point, Xavier seemed poised to have an insane 2017. His victory over Pro Wrestling NOAH standout Taiji Ishimori in the Super X Cup Finals this past August seemed to signal that huge things were on the way for the young star. Instead, that win ended up representing the biggest thing he’d do.

After winning the Super X Cup, we wouldn’t see much of Xavier in September or October, which really helped in killing off any momentum he had built. And instead of getting a big showcase match, which he presumably earned by winning said Super X Cup, he was forced into a Six Man match for the X Division Championship at Bound For Glory, alongside Garza Jr, Matt Sydal, Petey Williams, Sonjay Dutt, and titleholder Trevor Lee. Lost in the shuffle, it wasn’t even considered a big deal that he didn’t win the X Title that night to many.

What a way to wrap up a year that started so promising, eh?

In 2018, Xavier needs to serve notice that his time is now, the X Division is his, and there isn’t a single person on the roster that’s going to stop him.

The good thing for him, unlike with Fallah Bahh, is that his path to superstardom is so easy to see: Dominate the X Division. That’s always easier said than done, but that’s literally all Dezmond Xavier has to do. He doesn’t need to concern himself with the Grand Championship or the Global Championship. Hell, he doesn’t even need to think about forming a tag team (though that could make for an interesting turn of events as well) – it’s X Division Gold or bust as far as this writer is concerned. Xavier was basically created to be the face of the Division for years to come – his incredible moves are everything that we love about the X Division.

Perhaps – and it hurts to even suggest this – an attitude change is needed for the young man? He has confidence in his abilities, that much is obvious. But is it possible that he’s entirely too polite? The man didn’t rock the boat after he was basically left to twist in the wind following his Super X Cup win, and he didn’t even complain about not getting a proper one-on-one opportunity at the X Title at Bound For Glory. He almost seems to be happy just to be there. That’s fine at the start, but if you want something, you have to take it.

It’s comparable to the UFC Fighters who, when asked who they’d like to fight next, will answer “Whoever they put in front of me.” These fighters often tend to get passed over in favor of fighters willing to actually call someone out.

Xavier may have put himself in that position by just being happy to be the winner of the Super X Cup. He didn’t try to use it as a springboard to anything greater – the Cup itself was the reward. He cannot make that mistake in 2018. In 2018, he needs to do everything in his power to guarantee that the X Division stands for Xavier.

And this columnist happens to think he will absolutely do just that.

Santana of LAX

Look, I have nothing against Ortiz of LAX. I think he’s a very capable grappler, with an excellent roughhouse style that acts as the perfect yin to the yang of Santana’s acrobatic approach. That said, when it comes to which one I like more in LAX, I’m on Team Santana all day.

LAX came in like a ball of fire this year, with Santana and Ortiz claiming not only the Impact Wrestling Tag Team Championships, but also the Global Force Wrestling Tag Team Championships, unifying the belts in the process. However, right when it looked like nothing could stop them, they were beaten in a huge shock of an upset against Ohio Versus Everything.

Since that loss, Santana and Ortiz have had chances to regain their gold, but have come up short each and every time. On paper it is a frustrating result, as it would appear that LAX is much better than oVe. Yet there they are, not beating oVe. Santana has grown visibly frustrated in recent weeks, as he certainly can’t be happy to be on the losing side after things were going so well for so long.

For 2018, I expect Santana to do whatever he needs to do to return to a place of prominence. Whether that means forcing changes within the ranks of LAX, or simply not competing in tag team action anymore or, hell, even leaving LAX altogether, anything is on the table.

Santana is someone I can see doing well in the X Division, as well as the Grand Championship Division. The Global Championship might be a lofty goal so early into his Impact career, but there’s nothing wrong with setting goals! Regardless of the direction he chooses, yours truly absolutely expects big things from Santana in 2018. He’s simply too good to hang out as wallpaper while Konnan talks about doing gangster stuff.

And that does it for us here at ZeeWI! Who do YOU think will have a big 2018 in Impact Wrestling? Let us know in the comments below!

Also, the OFFICIALLY UNOFFICIAL GRAND CHAMPIONSHIP RANKINGS will return next week after a brief hiatus! See you there!