What's Next for AEW, Impact Partnership After Kenny Omega's World Title Win?

Philip LindseyContributor IApril 27, 2021

Photo credit: impactwrestling.com

On Sunday, Kenny Omega secured his third world championship when he defeated Rich Swann in the main event of Impact Rebellion.

In doing so, The Best Bout Machine fulfilled the promise he made the week after he won the AEW world title, and he and Don Callis shocked the industry when they took it to Impact Wrestling. This historic win has been in the making for five months—or 27 years if you believe Omega's new mouthpiece—and it seems this is just the beginning.

On Dec. 8, 2020, The Invisible Hand removed Jon Moxley's nameplate and officially christened Omega as the new AEW world champion. It was a moment many fans expected from the second the renowned New Japan Pro-Wrestling star joined the new company in 2019, but no one could have predicted he would achieve it this way and set a loftier goal days later.

On that fateful night outside of the Impact Zone, Callis and The Cleaner laid out their route to "change the course of history" starting with their relationship as a part of NJPW and the creation of All Elite Wrestling.

Now, they planned to take it a step further as Omega sought to add more championship gold to his collection. He already had two prized possessions after also winning the AAA Mega title at Heroes Inmortales XIII in October 2019. Over the weekend, those ambitions bore fruit as the Canadian became a triple champion to the dismay of the Impact locker room.

So, what's next for The Elite following a controversial victory? This can't be all about Omega's legacy, right? There has to be a bigger story here as the future of Impact and AEW and the trajectory of the industry remain in question.


How Does This Benefit Impact Wrestling?

So far, Tony Khan and AEW look like they're effectively flexing their newfound success on Scott D'Amore and Impact in a bid to cement their position as the second-best wrestling company in the United States.

That may seem like a rat race of sorts because no one is going to topple WWE and the winner will always have to contend with its looming shadow, but the marketplace is much more competitive than it was two years ago.

Ring of Honor still has a presence because of its history as a home for some of the greatest indie talent over the last decade. NWA Powerrr just made the move to FITE TV, and NJPW's North American branch, New Japan Pro-Wrestling of America, is the company's latest attempt to expand into the U.S. Meanwhile, MLW recently announced a broadcasting deal with Vice TV.

Professional wrestling is more accessible than ever before, and fans have more options than they know what to do with. It's easy to say AEW's partnership with Impact looks one-sided, but the exposure it creates has to be a good thing in this crowded market.

The company needs a way to stand out, and working with another promotion with more positive buzz isn't a terrible idea. As they say, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

If Omega's appearances encourage new fans to stay tuned and gain interest in the Knockouts or the X-Division, that's a win. Right now, even the smallest victories matter because Impact doesn't want to fall behind its competition.


Impact's New World Title Picture

Let's be honest: Impact has been trying to rebuild its world championship scene since Tessa Blanchard abruptly left the company last June. The third-generation wrestler was the biggest star on the roster at one point, and her absence created a void for the next flagbearer to step into.

Unfortunately, though, no one has had the star power to take on that mantle yet and lead the promotion into the next year.

However, Impact has done a great job building a compelling story around Rich Swann. His journey back to the squared circle to vanquish Eric Young and win his first world title was one of the feel-good moments of 2020. Additionally, the deft high-flyer produced a contender for the match of the year with Chris Bey at Final Resolution.

Although some cynics may argue the outcome of the Winner Take All match at Rebellion was never in question, Swann looked like a strong world champion even in defeat. The Baltimore native has been the heart and soul of the company. That much was clear on Sunday night, when his peers and rivals rallied around him as he stepped into the biggest match of his career and performed admirably.

Swann's meteoric rise isn't done here, and Impact has a fiery underdog on its hands that it can craft more stories for. Moreover, Omega gives the roster an indispensable heel champion to galvanize around.

It's the perfect way to take advantage of his name recognition and reputation to groom its next big star. Signing a familiar face like Samoa Joe or building up young names like Bey or Trey Miguel wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility. Either way, the company has plenty of options moving forward.


A Cross-Promotional Show Could Be the Next Step

In April 2019, the NJPW/ROH G1 Supercard was the first professional wrestling event held at Madison Square Garden by a company that wasn't owned by the McMahon family in nearly 60 years. That's a big deal and proved that a non-WWE promotion can draw a crowd with the right card and established stars.

The "forbidden door" was open. Yes, that admittedly sounds hokey and unnecessarily grandiose, but members of both the AEW and NJPW rosters competed at Rebellion. It's not hard to see the wealth of possibilities here.

Now that Omega has the Impact World Championship, that door could swing both ways as the Impact roster could invade Dynamite. Many fans wondered why this hasn't happened yet, but it simply didn't have the motivation. The results of Sunday's pay-per-view could be the catalyst for that storyline.

Also, Impact cleverly teased appearances from more than just some alumni who WWE recently released in their preview of Slammiversary. Two former IWGP heavyweight champions, Tetsuya Naito and Kazuchika Okada, were also visible. That doesn't guarantee either will show up at the upcoming event, but the mere idea of Okada vs. Omega V should be enough to entice viewers to keep watching. After all, that legendary series of matches put The Best Bout Machine on the map.

If a supercard is on the horizon, that would be the best place for a rematch between The Cleaner and The Rainmaker because it would benefit all three parties. It's easy to look around and predict gloom and doom, but there's actually a lot for both AEW and Impact fans to be excited about.

With AEW Double or Nothing around the corner on May 30, we will just have to wait and see where this all leads in the second half of the year.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.