2021 has been a time of transformational change throughout the ranks of IMPACT Wrestling. Newcomers, returning stars, and a developing relationship with All Elite Wrestling have made for shocking appearances and stories. David Finlay and Juice Robinson joined the tag ranks, ODB made a surprise return to the Knockouts division, and Kenny Omega stormed IMPACT’s castle to add their World Championship to his collection. Meanwhile, Omega’s mouthpiece Don Callis formally left the company’s leadership trust, while homegrown star Ethan Page made the leap out to the bigger platform of AEW. There has been one constant throughout these last months, however, and one that deserves to not get lost in the shuffle: the development of Brian Myers into one of the company’s go-to heels. He’s worked with legends like Hernandez, gone up against top guys like Eddie Edwards, and had spotlight matches with everyone from Tommy Dreamer to Josh Alexander. In all of these different modes, Myers has shown a gift for telling a story and a willingness to win by any means necessary. That ruthlessness suits a strong character he’s developed that few likely saw coming.
When WWE made their original COVID-19 related releases (oh so many slacked jaws ago), it’s fair to say few casual fans would have picked the man then known as Curt Hawkins as the guy they were most excited to see somewhere else. Before winning the tag team titles at WrestleMania 35, he had been on an infamous losing streak and had never received the featured singles runs enjoyed by his past (and future) running mate Zack Ryder (aka Matt Cardona). Even through that, Myers showed a commitment to selling what he was given, like kooky “Face The Facts” vignettes (citing Chuck Norris-style inanities about himself) or addressing the mounting losses head-on by cutting promos about the “Curt Hawkins Star Factory” on the mic. Since moving to IMPACT, Myers has continued to go full-bore and put his all into what he’s putting on screen. The difference, now that it’s not being dictated to him by a writing room, is that his every word and move feel real and compellingly natural. He comes across as the purest distillation of himself we’ve ever gotten to see.
It’s often said that the best wrestling gimmicks are a blown-up version of the real person. Listen to enough interviews and podcasts and you’ll find that Myers’s role as “The MOST Professional Wrestler” has the same kind of IRL roots. Selling himself as a man always in control of in-ring surroundings is a natural fit given his long history in the craft and operating his own training school at Create-A-Pro Wrestling. CAP boasts graduates such as MJF, Kris Statlander, recent AEW addition Mark Sterling, and more, a testament to the expertise Myers possesses about what he does everyday. That knowledgable, safe hand is backed up by how many men made their main roster or RAW debut against Myers, who could be trusted to avoid injuries and make them look like a million bucks. Mixed in with classic heel tactics (eye pokes, low blows, tights grabs, etc.) are simple but unique moves that also allow Myers to show off himself. He communicates right through the TV that he is a master of this environment, such as by baseball sliding by his opponent and tripping them on his way out to gloat to the camera. Not fancy, but (annoyingly) effective. Check and check, as we saw earlier in the year in a match that elevated another rising star in IMPACT’s Josh Alexander (check out the 4:40 mark of the video, or just enjoy the whole dang thing).
His persona naturally runs deeper than just “being really good at this thing.” What you also learn in following Myers is that he’s no killjoy (as his sarcastic wit and recounting of ribs on The Major Wrestling Figure Podcast attest to.) However, he has little tolerance for stupidity along with a huge knowledge of (and passion for) wrestling that shares that outlook, particularly the original ECW. So he crafted himself a new image in that vein – no bullshit, nothing that’s not needed, focus on the action. He pared down his gear from its established Mets-inspired colors to a more sparse, black-based palette. He no longer ends matches with the “Heatseeker” elbow drop from the top rope. That move has a natural showiness and a lineage to match, calling back to the likes of the Macho Man, Shawn Michaels, and others. In its place is the “Roster Cut” (wordplay!), a high-speed lariat that ups the brutality and gets to the point faster.
Look under the hood, though, and his love for all things wrestling is still there. That lariat itself is a descendant from prior all-business ring generals like Stan Hansen and contemporaries like the late Brodie Lee. Meanwhile, his trademark arms-out pose recalls ECW stalwarts like Raven and Myers’s past IMPACT opponent Dreamer. Myers even began sporting a logo that paid homage to WWE superstar Edge, who helped Brian with his first big break (Hawkins and Ryder famously appeared as Edge imposters at a 2007 PPV and were then a tag team known as the Edgeheads for a time). These little touches reward close attention and studying wrestling history (as he so clearly does) without disrupting the story on-screen – like casually referring to Cardona as his “Janetty” without any wink at the camera or long-winded explanation. The whole package makes watching Myers do his thing all the more rewarding, even if you’re lustily booing at the same time.
IMPACT appears to have taken note of this, giving Myers plenty of feature TV time as the year has gone on and having him go over the likes of Alexander and more recently Cardona himself (likely the bigger name to more casual fans) in a much-hyped showdown. A successful wrestling company knows that its heroes are only as good as their villains and a great villain needs credibility, a realistic chance to ruin our fantasy. IMPACT has found that in Myers and is building cred fast. His momentum and rising stature became clear at IMPACT’s 2021 Hardcore Justice event. Put across from another burgeoning star in Jake Something, Myers and the big man put on a great match despite what could have been a very tacky blindfold stipulation. And while Jake got the win, it took outside interference AND a foreign object to do it. This shows a level of protection around Myers’s reputation befitting someone held in high esteem, someone with bigger plans ahead of him. After years of bookers having precisely nothing for him, that has to feel good.
Most importantly, just as he did with the scripted promos and packages in WWE, Myers has delivered on his perspective as a self-righteous, deprived bad guy with gusto and conviction. His words may not be revolutionary or flashy, but they deliver exactly what they need to and hit what they aim for. Not only is his delivery on-point, but it feels realistic because they have the verve that a hint of truth provides. Knowing where Myers has been means you can’t dismiss his current character whining about things being stacked against him or people being out to screw him; he legit did arrive in IMPACT before his buddy Cardona, etc. He is in fact someone who has been messed around with, passed over, and isn’t taking it anymore – he has a real point to sell – but on-screen is just a bit of a prick about it. That has been the model for many of the most successful heels in all of wrestling, and Brian Myers is showing that, given time and the proper spotlight, he just may add his name to that list.