As noted, former X-Division Champion Taiji Ishimori will be returning to Impact Wrestling at their annual Slammiversary pay-per-view on July 22nd.
Ishimori made his debut with Impact last summer as a part of their working relationship with Pro Wrestling Noah, where he has consistently been among their top stars for the better part of the last decade. His future with the promotion was put into question when he made the shocking announcement that he was leaving Noah, and almost immediately showed up in New Japan Pro Wrestling as the rebranded “Bone Soldier” character, joining Bullet Club.
The decision to bring him back must have been recently, as Don Callis said in a recent media call just a few weeks ago that he didn’t know if the two sides would be working together going forward. Impact’s new mission statement is to work with anyone, from anywhere in the world that will partner with them, be it for live events, Twitch streams, One Night Only pay-per-views, talent exchanges or content taped for television.
That being said, with Impact Wrestling in bed with Pro Wrestling Noah as well as AAA, it puts New Japan in a potentially awkward situation because two of their biggest partners are CMLL and Ring of Honor, so there’s a lot of promotional rivalries in play. But at the end of the day, with Don Callis pulling double duty as the voice of New Japan and a top executive with Impact, the door is more open for cooperation than it has been in years.
Another interesting factor is that Ishimori was advertised for Slammiversary as a NJPW star with the Bone Soldier gimmick and all the Bullet Club branding. It’ll be interesting if his stock has raised and he’ll be taken as a much bigger star, as the move to New Japan and his recent blow-away performances in the Super Juniors tournament have very rapidly established him as a top juniors star in Japan. His return at Slammiversary will also mark the first time Bullet Club has an official presence on Impact programming.