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By Mike Johnson on 2020-05-04 11:00:00

This past Tuesday on Impact Wrestling's Rebellion, the promotion pulled a huge swerve by reviving the TNA World title for the main event of the event, taking fans on a left turn when they expected to make a right with the teased ascension of Michael Elgin as the new Impact Wrestling Champion. 

With Tessa Blanchard, the defending champion, home in Mexico and not appearing at the Rebellion taping and Elgin's fellow challenge Eddie Edwards also bowing out of the event, who should answer the call, but Moose, now declaring himself the new TNA Champion by virtue of well, beating up TNA Wrestlers over the last several months on Impact TV.

Indeed, when the lights went out and Moose's music began, it may as well have been a graduation ceremony for Moose, who has been competing for Impact since 2016.  The second he unfurled his robe and revealed the TNA World Championship belt, Moose had essentially leveled up.

"I think one thing I pride myself on is always trying to evolve as a performer, as a wrestler," Moose told this past Friday during a conversation during a break as he was in the middle of moving into a new house.  "I knew when I came in and I had that tied belt around my waist, that it was going to be a chance for me to evolve into a better version of myself. And that's what I tried to do. I'm happy that guys like yourself saw that, saw how I felt coming through that curtain."

The ascension was the latest accomplishment for Moose, who has seen his promos and characterizations leap upwards to meet his athletic prowess.   Although he continues to bill himself as "Mr. Impact", Moose, despite his on-air portrayal of being against the return of TNA, actually thought the decision, driven by nostalgia and an attempt to bridge today's Impact product to its past in a positive way, was a smart one.

"I was excited about it, " Moose admitted.  "I mean at first when I heard the news about this One Night Only, There's No Place Like Home, TNA show, I was very excited about it and then when I saw guys coming in to try to take my spotlight, then the proud full side of Moose came up and was like, 'Okay, this was only a one time thing. I hope you guys are not trying to come in and make my home, the home that I built, the home that I made a name for myself, the name that I made for myself, Mr Impact Wrestling.  Now I feel like you guys is trying to come here and take that spot for me.'  That's when I felt like I had to start putting my foot down and be in some of the old TNA talent. But I mean initially I was very excited about the move and now who knows, I mean TNA might be here forever. I mean all thanks to me, right?

As it turned out, it was Moose retaining the TNA title over Elgin and TNA stalwart Hernandez, with Impact Wrestling teasing that Moose's claim to the title is self-professed within the confines of the company storylines.  Within those confines, Moose boasted as to why he's officially recognized as champion:

"I'm the TNA heavyweight champion because as you can see from what I did the last few months on television," Moose remarked.  "I have beaten every single wrestler, every star in my opinion that's came through TNA. You got guys like Rhino. You got guys like RVD. You got guys like Ken Shamrock. You got guys like Hernandez.  All these people that I have beaten, so to cover that, I think I declare and deserve to be the TNA Heavyweight championship and that's what I am."

The former NFL star admitted he's had great satisfaction in being part of the process as Impact itself has rebounded from its lowest points over the last few years.  "I'm glad to be part of all this because when I first got to TNA/Impact Wrestling, it was a mess. I mean we was going through issues with pay, with Dixie [Carter] and guys [weren't] getting paid and the morale was very low. But then now you got guys like Scott D'Amore and Don Callis and Ed Nordholm come in and they turned the whole program around, like a 360 turnaround, where people are happy to come to work every time that we have shows and the whole locker room get along with each other for the most part. It's now fun and it's almost like a family. So I mean kudos to those guys, man, their vision has shown, just watching our show, you can see how much fun that we have and how great the program and the roster is, kudos to those guys."

The return of the TNA title opened a door to the past, with a number of former TNA Champions and personalities taking to social media to tease a potential return to chase the championship.  Moose takes the idea of returning talents in stride, admitting they'll make good opponents, but also represent a challenge for himself as a core member of the Impact Wrestling roster.

"I mean I look at it [two] ways," Moose explained.  "I mean they could all come back and the same thing that happened to the rest of them is going to happen to them. But I talked to Scott about this all the time and we know that our doors is always open to some of these guys that recently just got let go from WWE, which that was really sad by the way. But I mean, like I said, like the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure, right? So I mean all those guys like Doc Gallows, Ken Anderson and Eric Young, I mean those guys are welcome back to TNA. I mean myself and our locker room and our roster would love to have them, but at the same time, I mean the same thing that happened to guys like Chase Stevens and Rhino and everybody else, they have the same fate. I mean they get in my way, I'm going to do the same thing I did all those guys, I'm going to kick their ass."

Of course, Tessa Blanchard remains the Impact Champion, which means the promotion is presenting two World Champions within the confines of their storylines.  So, are we looking at Moose vs. Blanchard, title vs. title?

"I mean I'll be honest with Tessa, if that's a match that's going to happen, it's not going to be me pushing because I don't care about her Impact world title because I feel like my TNA heavyweight championship is the real world championship. So if that's a match that's going to happen, it's going to have to be her, wanting what I have, not the other way around. I do think Tessa is a great opponent and she would be a great opponent. She has done things no girl will probably ever do ever again in professional wrestling. I get it, she's awesome, she's a great wrestler. But, there is a but, I don't see her Impact World title as something that I care about because I have my TNA Heavyweight championship. So for that match to happen, it's going to be her wanting to come after my prize, what I carry because I'm the real world champion."

He does, however, know what the return of the TNA title means for the Impact belt.

"Maybe Tessa is just mad because after I showed up with the TNA Heavyweight championship, she at that point realized her title was a second rate title and a second class title and a mid-card title, so she can have it."

Having crossed over from the National Football League, Moose is open to the idea of others sports stars sliding into his ring to face off with him.

"I've said it before, DeAngelo Williams," Moose suggested as a possible TNA title challenger, "but he's also said that he would never have another match. So other than him, I mean maybe Gary Barnidge, the ex-football player.  He used to play for the Browns for many years, I think about teb years. But other than those two, I couldn't tell you offhand."

As reported last week, one of the reasons TNA has been revived is that the One Night Only special did surprisingly well on AXS TV, leading to talk of additional TNA-related programming on AXS TV.  Moose noted he's ready for it.

"Before two months ago nobody heard of TNA. TNA was dead, TNA was buried and I brought TNA back to life and I resuscitated it, becoming the TNA heavyweight champion, "Moose remarked.  "So that makes me the greatest TNA heavyweight champion ever to step through those doors. So you know what? If we do get extra TV programming on AXS TV, that's awesome. I'm here to carry this company to new heights and put this company on my back, which I've done the last few months. That's why I call myself Mr Impact Wrestling."

So, what's next for TNA?  Moose says that is beyond him.

"Honestly, I mean, I already did my part, I brought a dead company back to life," Moose boasted.  "I guess what we could do now, maybe we have more ... I don't know. That's a good question. I don't know. I have to sit down and think about that. I mean, I already did, I did the hard part already, bringing back that company back to life now. I guess it's up to the hands of Scott D'Amore and Don Callis and some of the other guys in the office like Ed, to see what they want to do with the company I just revived."

Time will tell...and it will start telling this Tuesday when Impact Wrestling returns to AXS TV at 8 PM EST.

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