DISCLAIMER: This article represents my thoughts and beliefs only. I am speaking for myself and on behalf of nobody else. My thoughts may or may not be shared by other fans or the management at NHB Girls but I’m grateful they’re letting me write this anyway.
I’m sure all of us have gone through the pains of having a television show we really loved but then suddenly got cancelled, leaving important plots and story lines unresolved. Sometimes there’s enough warning to cobble together a finale that ties up some loose ends but ultimately is unfufulling. So then the petitions start to bring it back. Most of them fall on deaf ears but there’s always the lucky few that do find new life from a new team of writers and producers. Everybody rejoices because the story isn’t really over yet.
We all eagerly tune in for that first episode back to prove to the networks that there is a dedicated fan base out there and we love this show. But something’s definitely off. We’re back in the world and there’s the characters we know and love, but something’s…off. They’re not speaking like they did before or are behaving differently. And gradually, the realization sets in that it’s not the same show any more. The new people making it are trying to remain faithful but they’re clearly putting their own interpretations on things that you don’t agree with. And you finally just have to swallow the bitter pill that you’re not going to get the conclusions you desired after all.
I apologize for that long-winded, rambling introduction but I think anyone who has been following the saga of New Zealand’s Impact Pro Wrestling over the past year can see the similarities between the scenario I described and what they’ve gone through as a company. In April, after battling economic issues they held what was to be their final show and it was a bitter sweet farewell from a company that had been one of New Zealand’s top promotions for a decade. But in July, new life was breathed into the promotion and they resumed business under new management. Everyone was overjoyed by this sudden reversal of fortune. But for some, the happy feelings quickly disappeared.
It became apparent right away that something was amiss when the new Head Of Live Events, Steve Wrigley, declared that even though IPW had only missed a handful of potential shows, all the championships were being vacated and the company would be completely rebooted instead of picking up where things had left off. Immediately red flags started to go up for me then. To me, there was no real need for a reboot when so little time had passed between shows. If the company had been gone for over a year, yeah, then I could understand why you’d do it. Then, it’s likely there’d have been some new blood making their debuts while some others would have moved on. But if the roster is still intact and the story lines are still fresh in fans’ heads, why would you throw all of that out the window?
The reboot made even less sense when the card for the return show, Revival Of The Fittest, was announced and Evie, the Women’s Champion before being stripped of the belt, was in the match. So if she was competing for the belt in the end anyway, why strip her of it? Why couldn’t it have been a regular title defense against Britenay and Olivia Shaw? The madness only continued when during the match, Megan-Kate interfered and the match was thrown out, leaving the title vacant. After reading the results of the show, I reacted for the first time using the popular “Cornette Face” reaction, popularized by Botchamania. But it certainly would not be the last.
Things came to a head on the next show when Mr. Wrigley awarded the title to a complete unknown by the name of Emmy Driver. Nobody had heard of this woman and as we came to find out, that was because she wasn’t actually a wrestler but was awarded the title because she “looked the part.” Fans and wrestlers alike took to social media, including our own Twitter account to criticize the decision and demand an explanation from Wrigley. He gave some disturbing replies about not understanding why a wrestler should hold a wrestling championship and expressing ignorance about his roster and their accomplishments elsewhere. Finally, he turned quite hostile and began blocking people from complaining to him. As of this writing, the NHB Girls Twitter account is still blocked by Mr. Wrigley.
Over the next couple months, sanity of some sort seemed to return to the company as Evie won a #1 Contender tournament and was booked to face Emmy for the title at Nightmare Road: Last Chance two weeks ago. But then the rug was pulled out from under our feet again as Emmy fled from the match and the title was vacated once again. And it is at this point that I reached my breaking point with the company.
Honestly, I no longer care what the ultimate outcome will be for the women’s division of IPW. I realize there are some very talented girls down there busting their asses for this belt but I just cannot find it within me to care anymore. The way this company has been handled since its return has been infuriating. Sure, the whole character of Steve Wrigley may be a ignorant buffoon and the actual people running and booking the shows actually know what they’re doing. But that doesn’t stop the decisions from being stupid.
This is one of the angles in wrestling that I cannot stand on principle. The whole “bumbling authority figure who clearly has no idea how to run a wrestling company” angle does nothing but tick me off. It’s the same reason I lost interest in CHIKARA during what turned out to be its final days. Sure, Wink Vavasseur himself may have just been a character and didn’t really hold any authority. But that doesn’t change the fact that all of “his” decisions were foolish and unnecessary.
So while the rage and indignation of the talent for the decisions of IPW management is likely all fabricated and it’s building to a conclusive pay off where the wrestlers take back their division and restore it to its former glory, I’m no longer personally interested. Maybe IPW will eventually return to the normal service that made them a successful company for a decade and the focus can be on the wresters again. But until then, I’m no longer invested. And that’s unfortunate because I was really looking forward to following along with this company since they produced such a talented star in Evie. Now, I just wish they’d have let it stay dead so the good times of the past could remain unblemished instead of being tainted by the actions of the present.
This article was submitted before Saturday night’s IPW event, a full write up of those events to come shortly.