By Tony Quant
Impact Wrestling returns to the UK screens this coming Friday at 9pm on Spike UK. Ahead of the promotions return to the UK audience, FloSlam was able to catch up with Impact Wrestling’s Executive Producer Jeff Jarrett to discuss the new television deal along with a whole host of other topics.
The previous television deal in the UK between Impact and Challenge expired in the back end of 2016, and since then, fans on this side of the pond have been unable to access content easily, something which Jarrett and the new owners Anthem Sports were keen to address.
“Television is where everything starts," Jarrett said. "Spike and Impact becoming partners really is a match made in heaven, I am super excited for it. Spike is a big distributor and they have already shown what great partners they are going to be with the production they have put out already. It is really creating quite a buzz.
“As we roll out we will be looking into live events, merchandise and everything else. In the world of the digital age wrestling is so much more than just a weekly show. It is 365 days a year that you need to keep up engagement and working with Spike on that really excites me”
The partnership between the pair has been very well received by Jarrett and his colleagues at Impact and he confirmed that during negotiations whilst there were some other parties at the table, no offer was as attractive as the Spike presented.
“It was a perfect fit," Jarrett said. "They (Spike) wanted a flagship show to wrap their hands around and we can provide that. We have an enormous digital presence and a track record of success in the UK. It really didn’t take either side long to realize that we would form a great partnership.”
And it is not just partnerships with television networks that Jarrett has been working on since his return to the promotion at the start of January. Just this week Impact announced a partnership deal with Mexican promotion AAA after announcing a similar deal with Japanese promotion NOAH in February. The deal will see talent shared across the promotions which in Jarrett’s eyes will result in the fans getting to see a number of dream matches.
“We have partnered with the number one promotion in Mexico and the number two promotion in Japan to give talent the opportunity to compete in dream matches," Jarrett explained. "We have a passionate fan base as do AAA and NOAH and these agreements work really great for the promotions, talent and fans.”
The Impact roster has been hit hard in recent months, with the departure of a number of its established stars. While they have looked to bridge some of those gaps with some of the big independent names, its the new talent Jarrett feels has the best opportunity to make a name for themselves under the Impact brand.
“I mean guys and girls like Bobby Lashley, LAX & Rosemary are the household names but I’m looking forward to giving new guys/girls an opportunity," Jarrett said. "Fifteen years ago a kid from North Georgia got put on stage, fifteen years later AJ Styles is competing at the top level. Other guys like Bobby Roode and Samoa Joe are the same. I am looking towards the next crop of talent and am keen to give them an opportunity, that drives me and I am very passionate about that.”
The feeling behind the scenes at Impact was described as very positive and given the new ownership and renewed focus things are certainly beginning to look up for the promotion. Jarrett advised that the mantra is to “crawl, walk, run." Friday night is just a small part in the overall picture of rebuilding the Impact brand and building trust with fans but one in which they are putting every effort into making a success.
“Friday night will be all about bell to bell action," Jarrett said. "We are going to be taking things back to their roots. We are going to come out of the gate on Friday with hard hitting action and look to put our best foot forward.“
Impact Wrestling returns on UK screens this Friday night at 9pm GMT on Spike UK (Freeview 31 Sky 160 Virgin 154 Freesat 141)