SPOILERS: Major Title Change And Return At Impact Tapings

Impact Wrestling's first tapings of 2018 certainly got off to a bang.

Tonight saw 2018's first set of Impact Wrestling tapings in Orlando, Florida - and fans were certainly treated to an eventful night, with a major return and title change.

In a shocking turn of events, Austin Aries returned to an Impact ring and defeated Impact Global Champion Eli Drake for the title. It's worth noting that he appeared for the promotion last November, but only in a commentary role.

Drake won the title on an episode of Impact, broadcast on August 24th 2017. He defended it in the main event of Bound for Glory in November, defeating Johnny Impact thanks to considerable help from the interfering Alberto El Patron.

Austin Aries made his name competing in Impact and ROH in the 2000s. He is a former TNA World Heavyweight Champion, a former incarnation of the same title he won tonight. If we take the belt's continued lineage into account, this is the second time he has won the championship.

Aries is also a six-time X Division Champion, tied with AJ Styles and Jay Lethal (only Chris Sabin has enjoyed more reigns). He also won the promotion's Tag Team Championship in 2013 alongside Bobby Roode.

He signed with WWE in early 2016, enjoying some time in NXT and the cruiserweight division. There he had a well-received feud with Neville, losing to the Brit in the opening match of the WrestleMania 33 pre-show.

Since being released from his WWE contract last July, Aries has also found success on the UK independent scene. He currently holds both the IPW and Defiant Wrestling Championships.

Despite Aries' history and popularity in Impact Wrestling, this title change must be seen as a surprise - and possibly an indication of the promotion's future direction under new executive vice presidents Don Callis and Scott D'Amore.

A major aesthetic change was also noted before the show, as the company have reverted to a traditional four-sided ring once again.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

Head of News at Cultaholic.com | [email protected]