Impact Wrestling: The Best of the Billy Corgan/GFW Era

I think I’m not alone when I say that the mid to late 2010s was a rather ‘difficult’ time if you were a fan of TNA Wrestling as we were fresh off the hot mess that was the Hogan/Bischoff era which saw many of the company’s top stars leave, a period of channel hopping until landing on AXSTV and of course the financial woes. Combine all of this with the constant internet bashing and stories that the WWE was going to buy the company’s tape library and it’s easy to see why it was considered a dark period in the promotion’s history… Well not exactly dark.

Yes, despite some of the things I’ve previously mentioned the period that makes up the Billy Corgan era and the Global Force Wrestling (GFW) era did have a number of good things going on, in fact, some of them could be seen as some of the best in the company post the SPIKE TV and pre-Anthem era…So with that, all said, here are the ten best things to come out of the Corgan/Global Force Wrestling era of Impact Wrestling.

10. The Final Active Years of Gail KimGFW Era

It goes without saying that Gail Kim is a living legend in pro wrestling and it’s easy to see why as she among others has helped to define the style and tone that makes women’s wrestling what it is today, so it comes as no surprise that Gail’s final years as an active member of the roster makes onto this list.

2016 saw Gail spend most of the year in a rivalry with Maria Kanellis Bennett and her Lady Squad which certainly took a number of twists and turns before it all culminated in Gail regaining the Knockouts Championship from the ‘First Lady of Professional Wrestling’ at Bound For Glory 2016.

Speaking of BFG 2016, mere hours before her title match with Maria, Gail Kim became the first ever woman to be inducted into the company’s hall of fame and would be the only female member of Impact’s Hall of Fame until Gail’s long-time rival, Awesome Kong was added to group in 2021.

Before the year went out Gail had announced that 2017 would be here last year as an active pro wrestler and in one of the high points of BFG 2017, Gail Kim won the Knockouts Championship for an unprecedented seventh time before relinquishing the belt on the next episode of Impact and retiring from in ring competition… Well, at least Rebellion 2019.

9. BFG 2016 & Slammiversary 2016/2017 – GFW Era

Ok so I might be cheating here as I’m putting three pay-per-views in one slot but all three do share a thing in common: there undoubtedly the best bit of wrestling the company has ever produced during a period of great uncertainty.

Now we’ve already mentioned how BFG 2016 was the show that saw Gail Kim become the first female member of the Impact Hall of Fame and went on to win the Knockouts Championship later that same night but that wasn’t the only impressive thing to occur on this show.

In what is arguably the last great Bound For Glory in recent memory, the PPV included things like Decay vs. the Broken Hardy’s for the tag team titles, Moose defeated Mike Bennett, Cody and Brandi Rhodes making their debut in the company and the main event between Lashley and EC3 was spectacular… But while the biggest story surrounding this show was whether or not this would be the last show in the company’s existence, the PPV came before and after this one didn’t have those problems distracting the fans.

Both Slammiversary 2016 and 2017 saw Bobby Lashley in the main event for the world time, a incredible match between Matt and Jeff Hardy, Rosemary and Sienna (Allysin Kay) and we even got to see the return of the late great Don West make his final return to the commentary table proving that TNA can not only still produce great wrestling during it’s most troubling years but both still kind of hold up well today. 

8. Impact Goes To IndiaGFW Era

Considering how much wrestling YouTubers and some in the wrestling business tend to write off much of Impact’s success after their mid-2000’s popularity, you could be forgiven for not knowing about this important piece of history so allow me to clue you in.

Back in 2017, Impact went to Mumbai India where a set of tapings took place which include a series of matches and moments with the most memorable being Sonjay Dutt finally winning his first X Division Championship after a decade of coming close but falling short of winning the title.

This all came about thanks to the promotion’s partnership with Sony Six and Impact brought their signature total nonstop action to the people of India while using it as an opportunity to give hometown stars Sonjay Dutt and Shera more of a chance to shine.

What makes these often forgotten set of tapings all so important in the grand scheme of things is that TNA/Impact Wrestling is as of the timing of this article the only major U.S. wrestling promotion to have taped and air episodes of its weekly show in India… Something that the WWE shockingly hasn’t done.

TNA/Impact was never afraid to do things that others didn’t really think about doing until years later and their historic trip to India in 2017 is a great example of this.

7. Taya ValkyrieGFW Era

Today, Taya Valkyrie is regarding as one the best female wrestlers to compete within the Knockouts Division of the last decade and the beginnings of this success can all be traced back to 2017 during the GFW era.

Taya first showed up during the September tapings of 2017 when she came to the ring and became a heel when she attacked Rosemary thus kicking off a feud that goes on and off due to Valkyrie’s visa issues preventing a match between the two taking place at that year’s Bound For Glory.

Even still, many of Taya’s matches at the time helped to show off her strength and speed while also showing off some of her mic work in a few post-match segments with Karen Jarrett and aforementioned Rosemary.

While Taya’s meteoric success in the U.S. women’s wrestling scene wouldn’t come until 2019, the seeds of her soon to be greatness were on full display for Impact fans at the tail end of 2017 during the GFW Time.

6. DecayGFW Era

Here’s a question: What happens when a promotion known for its over the top gimmicks takes a hardcore legend, a midcarder and an unknown new talent and makes them into a new group? Well in TNA’s case you get your answer in form of… Decay!!!

Making their debut in early 2016 the trio of Rosemary, Crazzy Steve and Abyss took the TNA fandom by storm thanks to their creepy backstage promos, tremendous theme song brought to you by Marilyn Manson and the fact the chemistry between all three felt so organic that you almost feel like they’ve been together as a faction for years.

Decay also managed to wrestle some of the most established tag teams in the company’s history like The Wolves, Santana & Ortiz, The Bro Mans, The DCC and Beer Money with the latter team being one that Crazzy Steve and Abyss defeated to become the new TNA World Tag Team Champions for 197 days.

While the new version of Decay that currently exist on Impact is still over with the crowd, you can’t beat the original trio…well maybe that’s not true as a few tag teams were able to beat the face-painted trio which brings me to my next entry.

5. The New LAX – GFW Era

The Latin American Xchange also known as LAX are one of the most beloved tag teams/factions in company history as the pairing of Homicide and Hernandez along with fellow members Shelly Martinez, Hector Guerrero and founder, Konnan have seen the group take on a who’s who of great tag teams during the promotion golden age. So when the decision was made in 2017 to bring back two of the group’s former members and pair them with three new wrestlers as a way to continue the LAX legacy for a new generation of fans…

Some could have seen this with much scepticism, but even during one of the lowest points in the company’s history, they were able to make stars out the new LAX which was only helped by the in-ring talents of Santana & Ortiz.

The new LAX would go on to defeat Decay, Reno Scum, oVe and countless others within the tag division leaving Santana and Ortiz on top as the most dominant team within company and in the process won the promotion’s tag team titles on several occasions until their departure from the promotion in 2019.

4. Matt Hardy & The Broken Universe – GFW Era

Matt Hardy was always stuck in his brother’s shadow for much of his career with Jeff being seen as the Hardy brother most fans wanted to see while Matt was left to play second fiddle; Fortunately, Matt’s lucky would change once he came to TNA Wrestling as he would go on to win the World Championship on two separate occasions, turn heel alongside his wife Reby, and had a couple of great matches with EC3, Bobby Lashley and The Wolves to name but a few…However, it’s what came next in 2016 that would change Matt Hardy’s career forever.

On the April 19th 2016 edition of Impact, Matt faced off against his brother in an ‘I Quit’ match with the finish seeing Jeff hitting a Swanton Bomb from the top of a structure leading to the match ending a no contest and with Matt being dragged away onto a stretcher. Almost a month later, Matt would return albeit a much darker version that would eventually be known to the world as ‘Broken’ Matt Hardy.

As part of his ‘Broken’ persona, Matt would come to the ring wearing outlandish attire, messy hair, and makeup and speaking in an accent that sort of sounds British whilst frequently mentioning how he was going to ‘delete’ his enemies while also threatening to the ‘eat them’ in a few rare instances. 

With how the broken gimmick was displayed at first it would be easy for people to look at Matt’s new persona as just another questionable decision by a company that was making way too much head scratching choices and for a time that’s exactly what some thought until The Final Deletion happened with both Hardy brother’s taking part in something that could best be described as the lovechild of cinematic matches and backyard wrestling with the outcome angering wrestling purist while others enjoyed it leading to TNA getting something they didn’t have for quite some time: good publicity.

The popularity of the Broken Hardy gimmick led to the company pushing Matt as a bonafide main eventer which was something he never really experienced before in his career and soon everyone Decay to the entire Hardy family began to get involved and it easily became a highlight in the promotion’s history right up until both Matt and Jeff left the promotion in early 2017.

3. Rosemary – GFW Era

One of the longest-tenured people still working for the promotion, Rosemary has become synonymous with Impact much in the same vein as AJ Styles and Samoa Joe with her first years in the company easily being one of the best.

Debuting in January of 2016, Rosemary’s arrival also heralded the debut of Decay which as previously mentioned led to the group becoming of the most popular acts in the company and even winning the tag team titles along the way, but for Rosemary her debut year in the company being one of the greatest as she not only was a part of Decay in 2016 but she also feuds with names like Reby Sky, Gail Kim and Mia Yim with the latter seeing “The Demon Assassin” defeat Yim in a Steel Cage match in December to become the new Knockouts Champion…

So to recap:

  • She had a memorable debut in January
  • Was a founding member of the most popular trios in recent Impact History
  • Took on some of the best female wrestlers not signed with the WWE
  • And won the Knockouts Championship towards the end of the year

Talk about a hell of a first year… Rosemary would continue her success as Knockouts Champion until losing the belt to Sienna aka Allysin Kay at that year’s Slammiversary; she would soon transition into a rivalry with Taya Valkyrie and fail to win the title back from Chelsea Green in the finals of a tournament, her character work and wrestling ability continued to resonate well in the following years even after suffering a near career-ending injury and new management taking over… speaking of new management.

2. Don Callis & Scott D’Amore: Impact EVP’s – GFW Era

When news broke that former ECW and WWF personality, Don Callis would be returning to the former TNA Wrestling for the first time in a decade and doing so with former Team Canada member, Scott D’Amore as the new Executive Vice President of Impact…Many in the industry felt that the company was finally going to get some stable leadership in charge and even without the ability of hindsight they were right.

Officially brought back to the company by Anthem Sports & Entertainment on December 5th 2017, both D’Amore and Callis soon began to make changes that made the company look and feel like a completely different promotion with the biggest example being the amount of brand-new faces that occupied the roster like Tessa Blanchard, Brian Cage, Killer Kross, Willie Mack, Rich Swann, Josh Alexander & Ethan Page, The Lucha Bros among many others.

Under the D’Amore/Callis regime Impact slowly but surely began their road to recovery as more and more names began working both in front of and behind the camera while at the same time, the promotion was producing shows like Slammiversary 2018 which has gone down as one of the all-time greatest wrestling PPV’s in modern wrestling history.

While Don Callis would leave the promotion in 2021 to work alongside Kenny Omega in AEW, D’Amore continued to operate behind the scenes with his most notable accomplishment being the fact that Impact and New Japan Pro Wrestling were finally able to work together again for the first time in over a decade and even getting names like Chris Bey and Ace Austin to become a part of the Bullet Club.

As of the timing of this article, D’Amore was promoted to the position of President for Impact Wrestling with the company’s momentum not slowing down any time soon.

1. Anthem Buys Stake in Impact – GFW Era

While all of the other entries I’ve mentioned on this list were great in their own right, there was only one thing that could truly top this list and that would be Anthem’s purchasing of Impact Wrestling.

As mentioned throughout, the company was in serious financial trouble and with the options of who will buy out the company being either Vince McMahon and the WWE (who only wanted the tape library to put on the WWE Network) or Sinclair Broadcast Group (who owned Ring of Honor), the future was uncertain for the former TNA.

However, Dixie Carter instead decided to sell most of the stake in the company to a multinational media group known as Anthem with Impact being added as part of the group’s Sports & Entertainment branch.

The purchase of TNA/Impact by Anthem soon become a blessing in disguise for fans as Anthem would help to get Impact on AXS TV which was a big deal at the time as this meant that the company was now on a channel that would allow the promotion to do what they want and not have to worry about being cancelled due to ratings not satisfying the network.

While many fans may argue on whether or not Anthem is doing enough to get Impact seen in more households in the U.S., the fact that the company has a financial backer in spite of everything they’ve gone through is remarkable and with the success, Impact continues to have in the following years Anthem looks to be side-by-side every step of the way. Despite GFW being a bit of a meme in 2023.

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