It’s an absolute understatement to say that Thursday night has been highly-anticipated by wrestling fans for months. For the first time ever, IMPACT WRESTLING will be broadcast from the world-famous Manhattan Center in New York City. The arena will be packed, the atmosphere electric and history will be made… a fact not lost on TNA’s new Executive Director, Kurt Angle.
As one of pro wrestling’s greatest competitors, Angle understands the need to seize a special moment, and there’s no better way to do that than with a World Title match. He already has a special Champion – love him or hate him, Lashley’s combination of power, speed and brutality makes him the most physically-dominant TNA titleholder in years. However, this special moment would also require a special challenger, and the Olympic Gold Medalist knew just who to call: Jeff Hardy.
There was just one problem - the man who answers to that name had been absent from TNA for months. In his place was an unhinged, maniacal, suspiciously similar-looking masked man named Willow. While dangerous in his own right, Willow’s motivations were clearly not steeped in winning, losing or anything else based in reality. He was a warrior, for sure… but he wasn’t a winner. He wasn’t a champion.
On last week’s IMPACT, Angle focused his efforts on convincing Willow to “step aside” to allow for the return of Jeff Hardy. Angle believed that he could persuade Hardy to seize this special moment, but he needed a testing ground. That came in the form of a 20-man battle royal, with the winner receiving the upcoming title shot. In the end, Hardy returned with the renewed focus that Angle was looking for, leading to a victory, a celebration, and a one-way trip to the biggest title match of the year.
As a former three-time TNA World Champion, we know that Hardy is good enough to hold the gold, but is he mentally ready for this match? Consider this: the emotionally-charged “charismatic enigma” slid into the shadows months ago due to conflicts with then-TNA President Dixie Carter. With Dixie no longer in power, Hardy has returned of his own accord with the sense of freedom that he’s always thrived in.
When in the right mindset, Hardy is no longer the reckless daredevil he was pegged as in his early days. With a more well-rounded life, ring strategy and overall approach to life, Hardy has allowed himself to grow, evolve and become a much more complete wrestler than he was even a fewy ears ago, and that’s a good thing. From his recent times behind the mask, we know that he still has those urges, but imagine if he can harness that instinct? If he’s found the balance to control his wild side and unleash it when the time is right, there’s absolutely no telling how high he can fly… possibly all the way to a championship victory on Thursday night.
Let’s also remember that Hardy may have the most passionate, supportive fans in all of TNA. He truly thrives off of that relationship, and his return to New York, the site of some of his most memorable career moments, will undoubtedly produce a dynamic atmosphere like no other. When he walks through that curtain, expect to feel the earth rumble all the way to your living rooms, and that energy could push Hardy to near-unbeatable territory.
Credit Kurt Angle with recognizing this special moment, but now, it’s up to Jeff Hardy. Can he make IMPACT WRESTLING’s NYC debut the most special night of his career?