wrestling / Columns

That Grand Championship Needs A Hand

May 1, 2017 | Posted by Dino Zee
GFW Grand Championship

When Impact’s Grand Championship was first announced, I was a tad skeptical. Still TNA at the time, the company had struggled to really establish a secondary title that held any type of meaning. The Legends Championship became the Global Championship became the Television Championship, with none of them catching on. The final iteration, of course, would be when Jeff Jarrett – as part of his Global Force Invasion – would name the belt the TNA King of the Mountain Championship. Oddly enough, naming a championship after one of the dumbest matches ever just didn’t catch on, either.

So when Billy Corgan announced the new belt, as stated, I was skeptical. Yet, at the same time, I was also oddly hopeful that perhaps the company had stumbled into something different enough from the rest of the American mainstream wrestling scene that it could actually work, if done even slightly properly.

The rules were simple enough, as each match would consist of three rounds, with judges using a 10 point must system to score each round. Similar to how wrestling can be presented in Europe, it also borrowed heavily from today’s Mixed Martial Arts setup, which definitely intrigued me.

The tournament of course culminated at Bound For Glory last year, with Aron Rex becoming the inaugural champion after defeating Eddie Edwards via split decision. Since then, the belt has slowly sunk in stature, with Rex’s reign doing nothing to excite fans, followed by an underwhelming (and lack of TV time shortened) reign by Moose, a quick reign by Drew Galloway, and then back to Moose for the current reign.

From my perspective, there just doesn’t seem to be any real urgency from anyone to win the title. There doesn’t seem to be any importance to the championship itself. It almost appears as a vanity plate for someone Impact wants us to think is important, without actually having them do anything important.

It is with that in mind, and with hope in my heart, that I present the following suggestions to help add some validity to the Impact Wrestling Grand Championship.

1. Bring Back Non-Title Matches to Create a Division

To me, this is the most essential move for Impact to make. Outside of the inaugural tournament, I cannot remember the last time there was a match contested under Grand Championship rules that wasn’t a title match. This, to me, is a huge problem.

It basically states that anyone can get a title shot by doing absolutely nothing to deserve one. A wrestler can just start some beef with whoever holds the belt, and suddenly they’re in a championship match. Sure, it can work this way for other titles, but with the Grand Championship, it’s basically the only way to get a shot. There are no rankings. There are no contenders. There is no other way to work out who deserves the next crack at the champion outside of “who does the champion dislike right now?”

This only hurts the champion, as well. The Grand Champion doesn’t get to talk about overcoming all the odds, turning away all of his fellow contenders on the path to becoming the champion. He literally just has to be lucky enough to have his name called, and then hope to win the whole thing. There’s very little drama (if any) to the division because it feels like it’s “Champion vs. Guy Who Got His Name Picked Out of a Hat.”

This move would also allow some of the roster currently not doing much to strike out in this brave new world and look to earn gold when the X or World Titles aren’t currently feasible. Someone like Tyrus, for instance, could possibly have a fun little go beating someone up three minutes at a time. Instead, he has to sit back and say two words for every fifty that E_Li_Drake kicks out.

With a decent number of talent currently doing nothing, why not bring back the non-title / non-champion Grand Championship rules matches, and establish an actual division of wrestlers who want to prove themselves as great?

2. Different Conditions for Title / Non-Title Matches

This is a concept that was used, however briefly. The finals at Bound For Glory saw the match competed in three rounds of five minutes, instead of the usual three. The explanation I was able to find was that this would be used for “special event matches,” such as the aforementioned tournament final.

Recently though, this concept has been dropped. Are “special event matches” only those that take place at a pay per view? I’d hope not, as any title match should be considered to fall under those circumstances in my view. We saw Moose this past Thursday defending his belt against Davey Richards, and all three rounds were contested in three minute spans, not five.

Why was this concept dropped? It’s a very sensical progression to have championship matches contested under longer-than-usual limits, much like how MMA treats its contests. Furthermore, there’s just something very underwhelming in knowing that this title match you’re watching is absolutely going to be over in nine minutes. At least, for me it is. I don’t mind short title matches, mind you – I just hate having the limit be so short, and so obvious. Stretching the title matches to five minute rounds would at least allow for more time, and more drama into the title matches.

And really, if I’m being honest, I also wouldn’t mind if, similar to UFC, the Grand Championship matches were extended to five rounds instead of simply extending the time of each round. This would result in roughly the same amount of total segment time, with the same in-ring time of 15 minutes. Either way, whether it’s adding time or adding rounds, there should be some element to the championship matches that makes them stand out as special from the non-title matches.

3. Add Specialized Wrestlers to the Division

For a second, it appeared that Drew Galloway was going to attempt to do exactly this. He appeared to view the Grand Championship as more valuable than the World Title. He liked the structure of the matches, and felt that his hard hitting style was more suited to their rules.

Of course, his reign was over before it ever really began, and he’d leave Impact shortly thereafter, heading back to NXT.

Still, much like we’ve seen forever with the X Division, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to bring in guys with a style that’s more MMA based than some of the others on the current Impact Wrestling roster. Bringing in guys who specialize in strikes and submissions (as opposed to Flippy Doo stuff or basic wrestling) could bring an edge to the division.

For me, it can be a little odd seeing someone like, say, Robbie E in a Grand Championship match. Yes, he has skills and has proven himself a champion many times in his run with the company, but he just doesn’t seem to “fit” what I think of for that division. Guys like Galloway, Moose, and even Richards make a tad more sense, as they go for a hard hitting style that can absolutely earn results in the short window of time the Grand Championship matches provide.

I think of Aron Rex specifically, who changed his style a bit when he became champion, employing his maced hand / taped knuckle strategy to ensure he could bring matches to an end quickly, at any time. It was actually one of the few things I dug about Rex’s run, as he showed that he knew a change would be needed to fit into the division properly.

There are plenty of well known and not so well known wrestlers employing this style across the country (as well as the globe), and I feel that Impact would do well to bring in more people that wrestle that style to really bring some unknown variables to the division as a whole.

Basically, in the same way that a wrestler who doesn’t use a fully athletic, high paced style won’t usually be seen in an X Division match, we should at least try to keep those who wrestle a slow, calculating style out of these matches as well.

Though, now that I think about it, a guy winning the belt, and defending it by using 15 minute headlocks might be the best way to build a terrible heel in that division, too. But let’s build an actual division with different styles of wrestlers first, yeah?

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article topics :

GFW Impact, Impact Wrestling, Dino Zee