24 August 2013

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Aug 22, 2013

This week was part two of Hardcore Justice, and it was a pretty good second half to what was a great first half last week. The opening promo from E.G.O. was solid, further establishing the group and trying to strengthen their numbers by adding Austin Aries. Storm getting involved trying to save Aries didn't make the most sense, but him trying to turn Aries, as well as Bad Influence against Roode does. Good match between Storm & Gunner vs Roode & Kazarian, E.G.O. are now 3 for 3 in matches.

Good match from Manik & Sonjay Dutt, showing why the X Division is back to one on one. Manik continues to grow and become more and more the face of the division. The footage of him being given a contract on the Impact Interactive show was awesome too, really great moment. The four way was solid. Aries gave E.G.O. their answer and hopefully this means a full face turn, which I thought we got a few weeks ago but apparently not after refusing the Main Event Mafia.

Bully revealing Brooke Tessmacher was interesting, it seems now Bully has his own crew away from the Aces & 8's with Tito & Brooke, his interaction with Anderson was interesting also. Not a bad Knockouts match, Gail gets the win which must mean this feud will continue, there are no other KO faces at the moment to face Mickie other than ODB so until she gets the upper hand on Gail we will be waiting for a Knockouts title feud.

The AJ turn was awesome, the change on the ramp was a fantastic moment and the crowd loved it. The 5 on 5 was a good main event. Rampage didn't look too bad and did a good sell when he got hit from behind by Knux, which is promising. Devon loses the fall and is gone. It's a shame it was Devon as I would've happily seen Brisco or Bischoff lose the fall, as the other 3 members can actually wrestle but that's another story for another time. AJ's face turn now adds more intrigue to the BFG Series, will we get the Bully vs Styles match we predicted months ago, who knows, but another good Impact that moves us closer to the BFG Series Finals.

Favourite Moment - It has to be the Styles turn, it was a great moment that was shocking as it didn't have the obvious foreshadowing TNA has been guilty of doing in the past. AJ possibly in the Mafia too now gives 25% of the BFG Series to the Main Event Mafia, and another 25% to E.G.O.

Least Favourite Moment - Has to be the lack of explanation from Tito for turning on Rampage. I understand signing up to fight one another will change their friendship, but what does that have to do with TNA?  What does that have to do with Bully and the Aces & 8's? Hopefully it's addressed better next week.

MVP of the Night - AJ Styles. He finally returned to the old AJ Styles which drew a great reaction from the fans. He also got the pin in the 5 vs 5, so it was a great night for AJ on all levels.

Grade - Good show with some solid matches and a great turn, so I give this one a B. It was good, but not everything blew me away, which should be expected for a taped show.

I'm not sure if I'm alone on this or not, but this week's Impact felt quite a bit like the shows from 2008 and 2009 in which the action was non-stop and many storylines were developed, oftentimes within one segment.  I always enjoyed that aspect of the writing simply because pro wrestling rosters to me are equivalent to an ensemble cast in a television drama.  I believe that is TNA's biggest strength - its ability to create a structure of several story arcs and intertwine them.  This week's show heavily featured the clash between the Main Event Mafia and the Aces and 8s but it's the subplots within this umbrella storyline that intrigue me the most.  The friction between Bully Ray and Mr. Anderson seemed to have been elevated, this week, with the latter's insistence that the club's President keep the rest of the members in the loop.  But the introduction of Brooke Tessmacher seems to indicate to me that Bully Ray may have other plans.  It was quite evident that a new alliance is in the works and the current members of the Aces and 8s aren't invited, minus Taz.  It'll be interesting to see how this group develops, and more importantly, how quickly now that Devon has been ousted.  I suspect that Bully Ray's recent tactics, combined with TNA's current roster restructuring, spell doom for Mr. Anderson, Wes Brisco, Garett Bischoff, and Knux.

Favorite Moment - Although the AJ Styles surprise was a mark out moment for me, I have to give this to Bully Ray, Tito Ortiz, and Brooke Tessmacher for their outstanding segment.  It was the sort of segment that makes you realize, as a fan, why you love pro wrestling and dare I say, sports entertainment.  I chose this segment, however, because it left me wanting more.

Least Favorite Moment - Let me say this...I love how impromptu Impact can be most times but, this week, we also saw how unsuccessful it can be.  The booking of the James Storm and Gunner vs Bobby Roode and Kazarian match was awkward and its execution even worse.  It simply did not come across well on television.

MVP of the Night - AJ Styles.  The reality is that the lone wolf character simply did not click with the live crowds nor did it with me, I hate to say.  As much as I wanted to, I couldn't quite fully embrace him.  But that all changed this week with the return of the real AJ Styles.  And I wasn't alone.  The crowd in Norfolk, VA as well as the fans on the internet cheered him as if he were gone for almost a year.  Interestingly enough, he was.

Grade - I give this week's Impact a solid B.  Like I said above, it brought me back to the days when TNA was truly non-stop and so entertaining.  We need more of this.  And it looks like we're going to get it.

This show was one of the best 2nd show tapings I have seen since IMPACT went on the road permanently.  The dynamic between Bully Ray and Tito Ortiz seems to have come together nicely.  I'm glad they made Ortiz a heel as it suits him well, and it make sense given that Rampage is a face with the MEM.  EGO is just frickin' awesome!  I was really enjoying Bad Influence even before this new group was formed, but now all 3 men seem totally on par with each other and are very entertaining as a faction.  I'm finding Storm and Gunner to be a total afterthought lately, as the tag team scene has taken a backseat to the BFG Series. 

Sonjay vs. Manik was a good X-Division match with the finishing sequence by Manik/TJ being unbelievably sick!  I hope the X-Division gets more time going forward (probably not a reality until the Final Four of the BFG Series is determined however).  I would really love to see Petey, Sonjay, and Rubix all signed to contracts like TJ was recently.  The Street Fight was well done as Jay Bradley stood out and Joseph Park & EY continue their antics.  At some point the blood-seeing-then-snapping routine with Park will develop into something more.  Aries was great here and his promo afterward was very well done. 

Bully Ray is a master of the heel promo as he generates AMAZING heat from crowds.  The reveal of Brooke Tessmacher as Bully's main squeeze was well done and edgy with the making out and Brooke's sucking-the-ring-off-his-finger routine.  I think the Aces & Eights are rebooting themselves as Tito and Tessmacher have now replaced DOC, D'Lo & Devon.  I can see Knux leaving too soon and another member replacing him. 

The Knockouts match was average and I think the whole division is somewhat stale currently.  I'm looking fowrad to the debut of Lei'D Tapa to mix things up.  The 5 on 5 main event was decent.  The AJ turn seemed forced to me and unnatural.  Still it got a huge pop and really added to the match.  Devon getting the pin and leaving TNA is beneficial for the company in multiple ways.  Devon does deserve a lot graditude and respect for all the years he contributed to TNA.

Favorite Moment - My favorite moment of the night was the Street Fight as I thought Jay Bradley finally showed his potential and there was so much action going on; great hardcore match.

Least Favorite Moment - Even though I like ODB and Gail, the match was just kind of eh. Been there, done that.

MVP of the Night - I thought the MVP of the night was Bully Ray as he controlled the crowd with his promo work.  His crowd reactions are legit and prove why having him as World Champion is the right move going into BFG.

Grade - The show was pretty solid, although I'm not sure why the HardCore Justice moniker remained for Week 2.  I give the show a B- overall.  Still a great crowd in Norfolk!

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