Over the weekend, IMPACT Wrestling sent shock waves through the wrestling industry when they ended their contract with Tessa Blanchard. The company subsequently stripped her of their world title weeks before one of their biggest pay-per-view events of the year, Slammiversary. So, what’s next for the third generation star?
Tessa Blanchard has been a controversial figure since some of her peers alleged that she bullied them in the past. Even more, she allegedly used a racial slur during an altercation with La Rosa Negra, which she later denied.
These claims put a dark cloud over her historic world title win at Bound for Glory, leaving many fans who followed her meteoric rise feeling conflicted or apathetic. Nevertheless, IMPACT moved ahead with Blanchard as the face of the company. The response to her had clearly changed but the company attempted to salvage plans that had been in the making since last year.
The Blanchard saga took another turn this month when she didn’t comply with requests to record promos while in quarantine in Mexico. IMPACT wanted to use the material to build towards her title defense at Slammiversary. According to Mike Johnson of PWInsider, this caused a rift between IMPACT and Tessa, who didn’t show any signs she wanted to resign with them.
Now, this immediately feeds into the rumors that Tessa Blanchard is difficult to work with and unprofessional. However, her contract was set to expire on June 30. So, she technically had the right to ignore requests to promote a match and event scheduled for a date after her contract was up.
One could still argue it wasn’t the proper etiquette because the company stood behind her and made her their top star. Apparently, the two parties couldn’t remedy the situation and IMPACT terminated her contract.
Blanchard’s unexpected exit immediately raises the question: what’s her next destination? More importantly, is she worth the risk for any potential suitors? Both questions will elicit debate online but it seems like she will inevitably end up at another major promotion. It’s only a matter of when.
After all, Tessa Blanchard is undeniably one of the most talented women’s wrestlers in the world. Unfortunately, she does come with a great deal of baggage and the timing is bad.
Signing her when Black Lives Matter is a global rallying cry and women in the industry are speaking out about abuse and misconduct would be a regressive move. Blanchard also never actually apologized or lent her voice to speak on the behalf of black people as other wrestlers have recently. That won’t help her cause.
At any rate, we would be naive to assume no one will try to sign her. Yesterday, Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer reported that WWE is interested in Blanchard. In addition, Alex McCarthy of talkSPORT noted that a source close to her told him that the company is a “likely landing spot” for the former Knockout.
McCarthy’s source also suggested that Tony Khan, and by extension AEW, isn’t inquiring about Blanchard. That’s possibly true as the company has taken a hard stance against other wrestlers with similar reputations. At the same time, she also has friends and family there who would likely vouch for her.
Any company that signs her will have to accept the consequences and backlash that comes with that decision. Honestly, no one should rush to pick her up because it sends the wrong message but this does fit WWE’s M.O.
WWE became the juggernaut it is today by poaching the biggest stars, often former world champions, from smaller promotions. They used this tactic to cripple competition in the past and they’ve continued to entice marquee names to join NXT. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that they would reach out to IMPACT’s first female world champion.
If she does sign with WWE, some fans would be rightfully upset. Yes, Blanchard is only 24 years old. She could grow into a better person, but she has to own up to her mistakes first. Her questionable departure from IMPACT isn’t a step in the right direction. If anything, it looks like she avoided responsibility again when backed into a corner.
It’s probably not a wise move to sign with another company without properly addressing the controversy surrounding her. Nevertheless, Tessa Blanchard will wrestle for someone in the near future. While many of us are asking where can she go next, but that isn’t the most pertinent question.
Is she willing to change? That’s what we all need to know. If she’s not, it won’t matter where she goes or what level of success can achieve.