The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is often credited with the following quote “the only thing that is constant is change.”
This is particularly true in the world of professional wrestling. Add a global pandemic to the mix and things get even more bizarre than normal. IMPACT Wrestling announced the title match for its premier pay per event, Slammiversary. Tessa Blanchard was slated to defend her title in a five-way match featuring Ace Autin, Trey Miguel, Michael Elgin, and Eddie Edwards.
“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” is another fitting sentiment. Just three days before her contract expired IMPACT terminated the contract and stripped Tessa Blanchard of her title as well as releasing fellow contestant Michael Elgin.
With the match already announced IMPACT had to revise the title match for its most prestigious pay per view event, Slammiversary scheduled for July 18. Ace Austin, Trey Miguel, and Eddie Edwards would still get their shot at the vacated title with the caveat that there would also be a fourth mystery opponent competing for the title. IMPACT has been teasing the return of a former world champion at Slammiversary which has fueled the imagination of fans about the identity of the former champion. IMPACT tweeted a short video giving hints as to which new stars may debut at Slammiversary on July 18.
So, let us take a look at the most likely candidates to appear at Slammiversary as the mystery opponent for the recently vacated world title.
#1 Heath Slater.
On the surface this seems a bit unlikely as he made an appearance on the July 6th episode of Monday night RAW. His final match in the WWE was against his best friend Drew McIntyre. Following his appearance on RAW, WWE posted what amounts to a final and emotional farewell from Slater to their twitter account.
Slater was one of a multitude of performers let go from WWE amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He is currently under a “no compete” clause of his contract which runs 90 days from his April 15th release. Interestingly enough, Slater would be able to lace up his boots for another company on July 15th. The timing seems perfect for him to make his in-ring debut with IMPACT on July 18, at Slammiversary.
Slater began wrestling with the WWE in 2006 where he remained until being let go in 2020. Throughout his time in the WWE Slater has racked up the following titles: WWE tag team titles (3 times), SmackDown tag team titles, and the 24/7 title which he held for less than a day. Slater posted the following video to his twitter account. The obvious date of July 18th has led many to speculate that he will appear at Slammiversary this year and make IMPACT his new home.
Did you catch the glimpse of the Bulgarian flag in the IMPACT teaser in the intro to the article? If not go watch it again and see if you can spot it. Observant fans that noticed this have been quick to make the leap that Rusev is headed to Slammiversary on July 18.
Rusev was another casualty of the WWE’s cost cutting measure on April 15. Rusev not only had to endure the end of his WWE tenure due to the corona virus but was subject to an ill-advised and inappropriate story line involving his wife Lana, and Bobby Lashley.
This awful story line may have made Rusev grateful for his release. The 3-time WWE U.S. champion now can seek a company that will utilize his unique skill set and talent in a more fitting way. Rusev has the power and size to create a mismatch between any of the other three challengers he would face as the mystery opponent in the four-way title match at Slammiversary.
#3 Eric Young.
The former TNA star’s return would fit the bill as a former champion returning to IMPACT where he cut his teeth in the wrestling business. Young worked for TNA from 2004 until 2016 where he defeated Mangus in 2014 to capture the TNA world heavy weight champion. Young boasts an impressive in ring resume including titles in both the singles and tag team divisions.
His collection of championships includes being a two-time Impact tag team champion, a two-time NWA tag team champion, NXT tag team champion as well as the Impact world champion. For their part, Impact wrestling posted this teaser which appears to be showing the cape worn by Super Eric.
#4 Brian Myers aka Curt Hawkins
He is another performer on the list of those let go by WWE on April 15. In 2015 Hawkins Trevor Lee defeated The Wolves to become TNA tag team champions. While their title reign was short lived it does fit with the message IMPACT wrestling delivered that a former world champion will return at Slammiversary. After his departure from WWE, Hawkins is now using his given name of Brian Myers as he looks to continue his career.
During his tenure in professional wrestling Myers has been a 2-time WWE RAW tag team champion as well as collecting various other championships across the world of professional wrestling. Not to be outdone, Myers also posted a teaser to his twitter account which appears to show him headed to Slammiversary using the tagline “Freedom is Coming. July 18.”
He would have been higher on this list, but a recent teaser posted to his twitter account appears to show him headed to AEW.
Ethan Carter III wrestled for TNA from 2013-2015. This is significant because it aligns with the teaser IMPACT has released promising the return of a former world champion. EC3 defeated none other than Kurt Angle in 2015 to claim the TNA world championship.
Carter held the title for 101 days before relinquishing the title to Matt Hardy. ECIII would become TNA world champion for a second time prior to being granted a release from his contract in 2018. Carter returned to the WWE in 2018 where he worked until being released on April 15 in a cost cutting move due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
#5 GOOD BROTHERS
The Good Brothers. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are rumored to be on their way to IMPACT.
While certainly they are likely to be a force in the tag team division it is not out of the realm to think that one of them could be thrust into the title match as the mystery opponent. The logic here would be that one member of the good brothers would be competing in the match while the other is in the corner and may run interference for his partner. I would not envision Gallows or Anderson winning this match but this might be a way to introduce them into IMPACT, fulfill the 4th spot in the title match, and then set them on a crash course against the IMPACT tag team champions.
It is not clear who the fourth mystery opponent will be to take on Ace Austin, Eddie Edwards, and Trey Miguel for the IMPACT World Championship at Slammiversary on July 18. What is clear is that IMPACT can benefit from the bloodbath inflicted on professional wrestling by the WWE on April 15. A wealth of talent was released in a short-sighted cost cutting measure by WWE that only adds to the well-deserved reputation of not taking care of their talent.
That dark day in professional wrestling appears to have been the beginning of a renaissance for IMPACT as they have reached out to many of the displaced wrestlers in an effort to boost their product, give the fans what they deserve, and maybe put people over profits in this time of uncertainty.