31 August 2013

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Aug 29, 2013

The opening with Bully Ray, Tito Ortiz, Brooke Tessmacher and the Aces & 8's was very interesting.  Although it's not totally clear, it seems as though they are going in the direction of Bully separating himself from the rest of the group.  We shall see how it all plays out, but it is very evident that the heel mic work by Bully Ray is second to none. 

I thought the Kaz vs Jeff Hardy match was entertaining, and it made sense for Hardy to go over here.  Even though I enjoy ODB, I am having a hard time enjoying the Knockouts Division lately.  They do bust their ass and work well together but it's getting to the AJ vs Daniels level of repetitiveness at this point.  I was surprised that ODB won, but she is very over with the LIVE crowds so it makes sense I guess. 

The Daniels/Aries backstage promo was very well done as both are excellent talkers.  Bobby Roode vs AJ was obviously a good match, but it was puzzling how AJ won via pin fall instead of submission.  I also liked the dig at CM Punk by AJ when he stated, "I'm better than The Best in The World" ....hmmmmmmm.....

Daniels vs Aries was the match of the night in my opinion.  Stiff kicks and awesome exchanges ensued.  The ending segment proves how over Hulk Hogan still is in front of certain crowds.  Bully and Hulk had a nice back and forth, however, it was disappointing how Hulk dropped the ball with some of the things he said.  It seems like he either got confused or too caught up in the moment.

Favorite Moment - My favorite moment of the night was when Bully Ray told Hulk Hogan that he never cared about his daughter.  It seemed like they were really getting at each other in that segment.

Least Favorite Moment - The way Hulk Hogan made it sound like Sting was getting a title shot was just absurd.  It sounded initially like the Slammiversary stipulation did not matter at all, until things were clarified post-IMPACT.

MVP of the Night - The MVP of the night was AJ Styles as his worked-shoot promo felt very sincere and I thought it came across well on TV.

Grade - The crowd was hot all night, and I was very entertained.  I give the show a B overall because of a couple of segments that didn't connect.  I enjoyed the show, taking it all into consideration.

Aces & 8's open the show, distension continues to form between Bully's new clique and the rest of the Aces & 8's. Bully seems to have a thing with abusing his VPs, first DLo and now Anderson. It will be interesting to see where the group goes with the divide forming between its President and Vice-President.

All three of the BFG Series matches were great. Hardy vs Kazarian was solid, Roode vs Styles showcased both men's varied arsenal with both going for pin and submission victories. Daniels vs Aries was fantastic, both guys put on a hell of a match. The build to the match was great as well, and Daniels' line about Miley Cyrus was just hilarious, and very true.

ODB vs Kim was good. Unfortunately even though all the Knockouts are working hard and putting on great matches every week, I'm really bored and down on the division. It's just the same set of girls facing each other over and over again, and after a while it makes it hard for them to make the matches different and for fans to still be emotionally invested. Until we get some new Knockouts the division will suffer, even with the girls busting their asses.

The AJ promo was great. It explained clearly why AJ has changed in the last year, his turn to the "old AJ" last week and his frustration with his treatment and his standing in the wrestling world. Really enjoyable promo from Styles.

Interesting to have one final BFG Series match next week with the Gauntlet Battle royal. While this year's Series hasn't been that great, I can get behind the last match of the series being a Battle Royal for 20 points for future installments, it's a shame though it wont be a live Impact, as it takes away the shock value the match would deliver. Hogan was over in Cleveland, unfortunately he screwed up on his promo and tried to say that Sting, who is not allowed a title shot in TNA, would be getting a title shot next week. Interesting announcement for the No Surrender main event, while it could be anyone on the Aces & 8's, I think we all know who out of the line-up would actually challenge for the World Title.

Favourite Moment - The AJ promo, it was clear, it answered a lot of questions, and the worked-shoot vibe to it made it all the more entertaining.

Least Favourite Moment - The Hogan botch with the Sting vs Bully announcement, the fact TNA had to tweet after the show saying it wasn't for the Title shows how confusing made the announcement.

MVP Of The Night - My vote goes to AJ Styles. After a fantastic promo, AJ had a solid match with Bobby Roode and earned 7 points in the BFG Series, setting him up to have a better chance next week of finishing in the final four.

Grade - Must Win Thursday was a B for me. Four solid matches and some great promos put the show right up there. However Hogan ending the show leaving viewers confused after his Bully vs Sting announcement as well as a couple of other things made this one just shy of an A outing.

Putting aside the fact that the Bound for Glory Series has officially jumped the shark as a concept, I thought this week's show was quite enjoyable if judged on its own merits.  If anything, the match between Jeff Hardy and Kazarian highlighted one of the strengths of the BFG Series, if executed properly - two wrestlers who typically do not cross paths via storylines, battling it out for the company's top prize.  This is the essence of the BFG Series and regrettably, TNA still hasn't a grasp on how to implement it.  In any case, the three Series matches were very good, although the AJ Styles vs Bobby Roode was a bit too contrived for my tastes, particularly the ending.  I'm aware of what the writers were attempting to do but it's this sort of stop and start writing that ultimately kills any momentum a talent like Styles gains.  The third match in the Series, Christopher Daniels vs Austin Aries, was, quite frankly, a battle between two of the most charismatic stars in pro wrestling right now.  We've all been clamoring for an AJ Styles vs Austin Aries feud but I must confess, I think a full-fledged feud involving Aries and Daniels, complete with face-to-face promos, could potentially outshine the aforementioned "dream feud".

I imagine the AJ Styles "pipe bomb" resonated more with the viewers at home than it did with the live crowd and that's a shame.  It was Styles' most heartfelt promo in his career and the crowd in Cleveland simply did not have enough savvy to realize that they were experiencing an historic moment.  Instead, they resorted to heckling and YES! chants.  Like I said, a real shame.

Favorite Moment - I initially planned to choose the backstage promo between Austin Aries and Christopher Daniels, which was simply brilliant, but I will go with the subtle mention of Velvet Sky's relationship with Chris Sabin.  I'm not sure if I'm reading too much into the segment but I'm genuinely intrigued by the prospect of a Sabin/Velvet Sky on-air relationship.

Least Favorite Moment - I will be frank...Hulk Hogan's botches in the final segment of the show were some of the most embarrassing that I've seen in recent years.  As the GM of Impact Wrestling, one of Hogan's responsibilities is to announce the booking of matches, any stipulations, etc., so it is imperative that he's clear and precise.  Instead, his promo was a confusing mess.  I said, on Twitter after the show, that if we had taken Hogan at his word, he'd have us believing that we were missing a dark match between Sting and Bully Ray for the TNA world title.  This is unacceptable to me.  I said earlier in the week that Hulk Hogan needs to be let go when his contract expires in October, and he did nothing to change my mind.

MVP of the Night - If things had turned out differently for AJ Styles, he would have been my pick but I will, instead, give the honor to Bully Ray.  He has single-handedly made the Aces and 8s angle bearable and dare I say, interesting.  The latest development is one that will hopefully do one of two things: finally end the Aces and 8s at Bound for Glory, or give them a much needed reset.  I suspect the latter will happen.

Grade - I will put aside my feelings about the BFG Series and grade this show on its own merits.  I think this week's Impact was a solid B.  Under the circumstances, I feel that TNA delivered a very good show, which I genuinely enjoyed.  However, as a viewer, the last thing you want is to be left with a sour taste in your mouth and that's exactly what Hulk Hogan's incompetence did.  I will be completely honest...Hulk Hogan is not very good as the GM of Impact Wrestling and TNA needs to remedy this immediately.

Nick Mann
This week's Impact featured the return of Hulk Hogan, "Must Win Thursday", problems between the Aces and Eights and a "pipebomb" from AJ Styles. Show opened with Bully Ray berating his faux biker gang about the loss of Devon. Anderson seemed to show the most balls in standing up to Bully who pledged his allegiance to Tito Ortiz and Brooke Tessmacher. Very good opening segment, Aces and Eights continue to be an interesting story for me (more on that in the next "Mann in the Cage"). I liked the BFG Series matches, especially Austin Aries vs. Christopher Daniels and I loved the interview before their match, Aries is still the coolest dude on the roster and hits everything out of the park every week. Vince Russo recently made a comment about Daniels not having a character, I doubt he watches Impact anymore, otherwise he'd change his tune. The final four were set with Magnus, Bobby Roode, Aries and Jeff Hardy (or so we thought), at this point I was wondering if AJ hadn't resigned after all. Speaking of AJ Styles, his "pipebomb" was interesting considering the contract situation and I find it funny that the "other AJ" dropped a "pipebomb" of sorts on RAW. Styles may not be the best on the mic, but he always speaks from the heart and comes across as genuine. Then of course there was the ending with Hogan returning and announcing Sting vs. Bully Ray for next week; I guess he didn't see Slammiversary when Sting was supposed to have his last title shot; he also announced that a member of the Aces and Eights will face Bully the following week and that the BFG Series was continuing with a gauntlet match for 20 points. Odd, odd indeed.

Favorite Moment - Had to be the Austin Aries and Christopher Daniels interview in the back before their match. Very funny back and forth between the two, Daniels' line about Miley Cyrus' ass was priceless and Aries firing back with a shot about Daniels' hair was hysterical. Loved it.

Least Favorite Moment - The Hogan announcement completely ignored current TNA storylines. Sting was supposed to never get another title shot and yet, Hogan comes out and just gives him one. Too bad, as that was a big draw for me when I bought Slammiversary and now it's back to business as usual. I guess "Must Win Thursday" was more like "It'd be good to win Thursday" as someone can gain 20 points next week and inject themselves into the final four anyway.

MVP of the Night - Austin Aries, best match, best promo, all around good night for Aries.

Grade - B- The opening segment and all the matches were great (even ODB vs. Gail Kim was really good) but they kind of blew it at the end. With all the criticism TNA has been getting regarding the BFG Series not having enough matches, they come along and change things on the fly and go back on a major stipulation that people were actually happy with. I would've rather Hogan have announced Chris Sabin getting a rematch as opposed to Sting, at least he is owed a rematch.

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