The news that Impact Wrestling officials Scott D'Amore and Ed Nordholm met with WWE at their Stamford, Connecticut headquarters recently was intriguing for its secrecy but less so for the idea of the companies finally working together 16 years after the inception of the of the Tenness...Orlan...Toronto outfit.
Indeed, the road has been rocky for an organisation that briefly presented itself as the Number Two promotion in North America, but a relatively stable year or so under the stewardship of D'Amore and ownership of Anthem Entertainment has resulted in the product quietly finding the sort of form that once made it such a viable opposition in the first place.
Subversively, it was at this point WWE elected to actually pay the group some attention.
The careers of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and others were bolstered by clips paid for in a gentle agreement between the companies, whilst references to the company on television (no matter how derisory) and the WWE Network generated gasps from fans that bought into TNA's false narrative in the mid-noughties.
This newest coming-together has sparked fresh conversation about the possibilities of a sale or working relationship, despite Nordholm and D'Amore's flat denials about an intertwined future. But what if the decision was taken out of their hands? And what if such a deal actually favoured WWE more than whatever Impact Wrestling even is in 2018?
8. The Roster
As the wrestling industry itself evolves beyond its former self in 2018, so too has Impact Wrestling.
Escaping a damaging few years in which the group could barely hold on to their name let alone a television network, the company have since found a new identity as the weirdest mainstream product out there. Matt Hardy's Broken Universe opened the organisation up to a wilder side previously promoted by Lucha Underground, and it's something that has (years after it really matters) established Impact as a genuine alternative.
Slammiversary was a perfect platform for the madness to unfold in front of a live audience. Pentagon's Mask vs. Hair battle with former NXT wrong'un Sami Callihan combined the brutality of the Attitude Era with the in-ring violence of the modern age. Brian Cage and Matt Sydal introduced a David/Goliath story into an X Division match, whilst Su Yung's victory over Madison Rayne promoted the dark future of the Knockouts ahead of its earnest past.
These are wrestlers working everywhere rather than remaining exclusive to the Toronto organisation, but Impact's promotion of them (based on television coverage alone) has helped shape their personas away from Pop TV. Just as they could as WWE part-timers.