There were rumblings of Anthem Sports & Entertainment working on something with AXS TV, but the news of Anthem acquiring majority ownership of AXS was a surprise to many including Impact Wrestlers.
Impact's VP Scott D'Amore talked to Wrestling Inc's Brian Wohl before Impact's debut on AXS this week about how long the talks between the two sides had been going on.
"As people probably can understand, this isn't the type of thing that comes together overnight. It's been a very long process and it goes back many months. It's been in the works and one of the hardest things to do is just keep telling people, 'don't worry, we have a plan' but not being able to say what that plan was. So, it was a pretty exciting day when we finally got to get that announcement out about AXS TV," said D'Amore.
Impact' moved to AXS TV this past week. Impact just joined Pursuit earlier this year and D'Amore was asked why things didn't work out with Pursuit.
"Ultimately, Pursuit was a stopgap for where we knew we were going. We were still on Pop TV when we knew that AXS was going to be our new home. But without us committing to Pop, Pop couldn't commit to us. If we would have stayed on Pop, we would have been bounced all over the late night time slots," revealed D'Amore who then praised Pop TV executive Brad Schwartz for working with Impact.
"Going to Pursuit did a couple of things: we spent so much time looking at short-term extensions with Pop – it almost just became let's just house it here for now as it's one of our own properties in Pursuit and we know it's short-term. The other thing was that it allowed us to do the Twitch deal which was important to us in continuing to build our digital platform. With a conventional broadcaster, we were leery of saying we're gonna simulcast our show that you're paying money for online. Are you okay with that? Pursuit, since we own it, we were okay with it and we've now shown it's something that can continue. Even as we move to AXS, it doesn't hurt the broadcast component because the person consuming it digitally is a different viewer than a person who's gonna watch it on broadcast television."
Impact's TV show moved to Tuesdays on AXS TV and D'Amore talked about what the promotion's biggest strengths are.
"In wrestling for so long the characters were at the forefront and the in-ring product was neglected. Then over the course of time the in-ring product has become very good but there's a lack of depth in character development and storytelling. Something we've tried to do with Impact is tell dynamic, compelling storylines and try to tell them in different ways," stated D'Amore.
"We have some contests where it's athlete vs. athlete - who's the best and who's gonna come out with the championship? But then we do things like The Undead Realm where we take a different approach to storytelling? Or like what we're doing with Ace Austin who not even a year ago was just a young, high-flyer and now we're adding depth to the character with a compelling storyline with a great, seasoned veteran like Eddie Edwards."
When asked what the biggest benefits of AXS TV being owned by Anthem are, D'Amore brought up many of the past issues which have plagued Impact for so long.
"I think one of the biggest things is the fact that there's been a lot of instability in Impact Wrestling in the pre-Anthem era. Since Anthem's came in I've had no questions about the instability. The problem is, if you've been a fan of Impact and you've been through all of the ups and downs, it's hard to believe it. With this acquisition people know Impact is here and it's not going anywhere," said D'Amore.
"While people on the inside were comfortable with that before, now I think a fan knows that they can get engaged and invested in the product knowing that it's here today, tomorrow and for a long time in the future."
D'Amore's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post, or via the video player at the top.