Johnny Impact talks Bound for Glory 2018, Austin Aries, IMPACT journey, and more


In this exclusive interview, IMPACT Wrestling star Johnny Impact discusses his upcoming Bound for Glory main event, facing Austin Aries, and much more.

Since failing to capture the Impact World Championship in the main event of last year’s IMPACT Bound for Glory pay-per-view, Johnny Impact has had quite the journey in overcoming every obstacle necessary to return to world title contention. The only roadblock left standing in his way of becoming champ is Austin Aries, who has had plenty to say about Impact’s commitment to the company and outside endeavors.

It is bound to be an outstanding outing from an in-ring standout, but it will be more than a match on Sunday for Impact. It will also be an opportunity to prove himself as a world champion caliber competitor and complete his road to the top, but it will be no easy feat to topple The Greatest Man That Ever Lived.

Ahead of Bound for Glory on Sunday, Impact has plenty to say about why he’s more ready to win the world championship this time around, his personal animosity toward Aries, the evolution of IMPACT Wrestling, and much more in this exclusive interview.

Daily DDT: What do you feel are the biggest differences between your bout last year against Eli Drake for the world title at Bound for Glory compared to this year’s main event match with Austin Aries?

Johnny Impact: Well, first, let’s hope I come out with the “W” and take the Impact World Championship back to Slamtown. But with more nuance, me and Austin Aries are different people. I respect Eli Drake more than I respect Austin Aries in some ways. Austin Aries is a fierce competitor and he’ll do whatever it takes to win the title, but he’s crossed a couple of lines for me personally that I didn’t expect. Now, I feel more motivated than I have in a long time to want to get in a ring and want to beat the crap out of somebody.

DDT: Do you feel you are more ready to win the world title this time around compared to one year ago?

Impact: Yeah. That’s the one thing I’ve been happy with in my wrestling career and a little surprised about is people feel like you’re past your prime or whatsoever. But for me in wrestling, that hasn’t happened for me yet. I feel like I’m still improving physically, mentally, emotionally, every category in pro wrestling. Every year that goes by I improve and this year I feel like I’ve made big strides in all those areas. In regards to if I’m ready this year, yeah.


DDT: What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in IMPACT Wrestling over the past year?

Impact: IMPACT has evolved into a company for young, hungry lions, so to speak, in the wrestling business. Cage, Fenix, Pentagon, Mattt Sydal, Trevor Lee. Everybody in the company now, Sami Callihan for example, has a chip on their shoulder with something to prove. I feel the same way. Austin Aries, I’ve heard him say in interviews before that the chip on his shoulder helps make him the same height of whoever he’s talking to. (Laughs) He’s had a big chip on his shoulder for a long time.

That common bond, to me, is what makes IMPACT Wrestling interesting to watch and interesting to be a part of, but also if you’re there to be a part of something, whether you’re swimming with sharks, you better be damn sure that you are also a shark because the roster right now is unforgiving. People are competing to prove who’s the best and you can’t afford to have an off night with IMPACT right now.

DDT: From Eli Drake to Kongo Kong, you’ve had plenty of rivals since arriving in IMPACT Wrestling, but would you consider Aries to be your favorite feud to date?

Impact: “Favorite feud” sounds like a bit of an oxymoron. (Laughs) I feel like there’s stuff I’m going to do on Sunday that is going to be interesting and different than a lot of the stuff I’ve done in the past, not just with IMPACT but in general with my career. With regards to a lot of the things that Austin said in the ring, I’m not sure 100 percent what he was trying to accomplish by saying that I do a lot of things. Jack of all trades, master of none. He’s also written a book about being vegan, he’s doing a lot of stuff, too, and I don’t think that tips the ballot either way in regards to who’s going to win at Bound for Glory.

I think Austin is insecure with his place in the business and in IMPACT Wrestling. He wants to be the man and he wants to prove to himself and to everybody that he’s the man, so much that he talks in circles and buries himself. Unfortunately for him, what he’s done is p*ss me off and motivate me to want to beat the crap out of him at Bound for Glory and if I take a step back, if I’m not talking about what he said about my wife, if I’m talking about just someone who is watching outside of myself and has not experienced what I’ve experienced and feeling what I’m feeling, then sure, it’s interesting. But from what I’ve said now, “favorite” is a hard word to use.

DDT: You’ve taken part in plenty of projects over the course of your career including appearances on Survivor and starring in Boone: The Bounty Hunter. Do you feel those outside endeavors have helped enhance your skills overall in the wrestling ring?

Impact: Yeah, absolutely. There’s more to life than wrestling. There’s more to fighting, there’s more to competing than what you learn in any one promotion at any one time. To me, the more people experience outside of certain promotions, oftentimes it opens up the little space in the back of people’s minds and adds tricks to people’s bags that they can pull out and use. That is how I feel about it.

If I’m training MMA or jiu-jitsu for a movie or training parkour for Boone: The Bounty Hunter, a lot of the stuff that I’m learning and working on isn’t anything that I might have done in the world of pro wrestling, but everything’s applicable. That’s the cool thing about wrestling. Wrestling’s such a blend of all these different sets of movements and skills and pretty much anything you think is cool in pop culture, the more you dabble with, the more intelligent and purposeful you are about what you choose to do in the ring. A lot of that stuff ends up being helpful.


DDT: Assuming you both win on Sunday, would you and your wife Taya Valkyrie winning gold on the same night be among your top career highlights up to this point?

Impact: (Laughs) Well, that’s an easy question. Yes, yeah, that would be the first time in wrestling history where that’s happened that newly weds have won championships for the first time on the same night. I’m really excited about Taya’s opportunity to take the Knockouts Championship from Tessa. She’s been training twice a day. She’s been killing it in the gym. She’s been thinking about this and preparing for this for a long time. She’s been talking about it all over her social platforms. Tessa also is no joke, she’s no slouch. She knows what she’s doing. She’s champ for a reason, which is why I think it’s going to be a good match.

DDT: Aside your own and Taya’s, are there any matches you’re excited to see on Sunday?

Impact: Man, The Lucha Brothers and Cage vs. oVe is exciting because there’s so many interchangeables, so many things that Fenix, Cage and Pentagon… it’s such a crazy combo. They’re so different yet so similar that it’s really interesting to me. oVe has also showed time and time again that they always deliver when they’re in a money match-type situation. I can say the same thing about most of the card at Bound for Glory.

LAX, from two guys who I didn’t know much about before I got to IMPACT to now they’re two of my favorite people in general but also being able to watch, they’re always interesting. They always have a real cool chemistry between them and intangible charisma that’s fun to watch, but they’re talented guys, too. This Bound for Glory card, like you said at the beginning of this interview, has really turned into something special and it’s cool to be a part of it.


DDT: Beyond Bound for Glory, are there any other opponents you’re looking to mix it up with in IMPACT Wrestling?

Impact: The whole roster is so talented. It’s sometimes the kiss of death to look ahead, so I don’t even want to throw a name out there. If I become champion at Bound for Glory, I don’t know if Austin Aries is going to to just walk away. He might want another shot, he might want a rematch. Killer Kross might have something to say about it. I’ve been a big fan of Eddie Edwards for a long time. We’re both cool and we’re friends, but if he wanted a shot at the Impact World Championship, too, then I don’t know.

Like I said, sometimes it’s the kiss of death to look ahead because right now I’m just focused on Sunday because Sunday for me really is a make or break moment in my IMPACT Wrestling career. Say whatever you want about Austin Aries, but he always delivers in these types of situations. He’s champ for a reason and I believe I’m going to take the championship from him, but it’s not going to be easy.