Photo Credit: Lee South/Impact Wrestling
There has been a demand for added emphasis on home-grown talent in Impact Wrestling for years. Fans have begged for fewer WWE cast-offs, less talent from the mid-to-late 1990's, and more wrestlers collected from the independent circuit and developed into stars by Dixie Carter's company. Only recently have those demands been addressed.
In recent months, Impact Wrestling has featured three young stars they have developed after discovering them in various independent companies across the country. Those three are Gunner, Robbie E, and Crimson.
Gunner is an interesting case in that it appeared as though he would serve as security for the Immortal faction for a few months before fading into relative obscurity. Instead, he was able to successfully break away from tag team partner Murphy, win the Television Championship, and appear to be the first home-grown TNA talent to really receive a decent push from creative. In recent weeks, he has been positioned alongside the top talents in the company, going as far as to pin Sting in a tag team match six days before Slammiversary and then, on the June 16 edition of Impact Wrestling, pinned TNA World Heavyweight Champion Mr. Anderson in a non-title main event.
Gunner is not the only young, up-and-coming star Impact Wrestling has focused on in recent weeks. Since arriving on the scene as the brother of the Amazing Red, Crimson has enjoyed an undefeated streak that has seen him defeat the likes of Samoa Joe and Abyss. Drawing weak comparisons to Goldberg because of said streak, Crimson has joined Gunner as the face of the new talent initiative the company has embarked on in the last few months. He appears poised to continue his streak, likely until a major showdown, likely over TNA gold, can occur.
The third star is a former X-Division Champion who exploded onto the scene and, whether it was positive or not, had little trouble getting the crowd to react for his obnoxious antics. Hailing from the Jersey Shore, Robbie E quickly achieved success, winning the X-Division Championship and appeared on his way towards a mega-push. Then, amongst a largely-negative response from the Impact Zone in Orlando, the push was halted and Robbie became just another X-Division star with nothing going on.
Despite the disappointing drop-off for Robbie E, it is apparent that someone within the Impact Wrestling organization has realized the need to develop fresh, original stars. It is a step that the company would not have taken as little as one year ago and a sign that the company is ready to evolve, to take another step to becoming a more complete company. Whether the three men discussed above will ever become breakout stars is a question that will be answered with time.
The fact that two of the three have been placed in a position to succeed is something fans of the sport, not just Impact Wrestling, should be excited about.