28 September 2013

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Sept 26, 2013

I mentioned on social media yesterday that TNA needed to deliver this week in a big way and I believe they did exactly that.  This week's Impact was outstanding.  Let's begin with one of the most anticipated angles in recent history: heel Dixie.  Following last week's heated confrontation between Dixie Carter and AJ Styles, this week's closing segment saw the TNA President tear up AJ Styles' contract and give Hulk Hogan an ultimatum.  She's made it clear that if Hogan does not support her, his future in TNA could be at risk.  I was absolutely enthralled by this segment.  I'm not sure what it is but I can't keep my eyes off of heel Dixie.  She has certainly captured the audience's attention with her behavior, and it's making for must-see TV.  The scary thing is I'm not so sure she's even begun to peak yet so things can get even more interesting in the weeks leading up to Bound for Glory.

Another interesting development on this week's show was the drama in the X Division.  It began last week with Chris Sabin's attack on Manik with Jeff Hardy defending the latter, and continued this week with the return of Kenny King and Chris Sabin provoking a fight with Austin Aries.  What's interesting about this is the motives and actions all seem to stem from Aries' scheme to put himself in a position to challenge for the TNA world title by stealing Suicide's ring attire.  On that night in late June, Aries' actions changed the course of history for himself as well as for Chris Sabin, Kenny King, and TJ Perkins...and as a result, the shit is hitting the fan now.  I, for one, can not wait to see how this unfolds.  It looks to me that TNA are quietly transforming the X Division into a division that's on par with what would normally be a promotion's second title, and not simply a division for cruiserweights.  It's a good sign that three of the five wrestlers involved in the current angle are former world heavyweight champions.

And finally, let's discuss the saga that is the Aces and 8s.  I must admit, for an angle that meandered for much of the year, it's been quite compelling the last few weeks.  Many will claim that the angle's turning point was Mr. Anderson turning on Bully Ray but I'm not sure I agree.  In my opinion, the Aces and 8s angle became interesting the night Ray won the world title when Tito Ortiz turned heel, and Ms Tessmacher was revealed the following week as the Brooke.  This week, in another poignant moment, we witnessed the ouster of Wes Brisco from the group.  I think it's important to note that the Aces and 8s angle has also improved simply because the writers have made us care about the members.  I defy you to watch Bully Ray essentially destroying Mr. Anderson and Wes Brisco with piledrivers and spitting on them, figuratively speaking, by removing their cuts on their way out the door and not feel any sympathy for them.  It's impossible.  Say what you will about the notorious Aces and 8s angle but I'm glad to see that it will end on a high note.

Favorite Moment - This one's tough because there were so many this week, but I will go with the segment/match combo involving Austin Aries and Kenny King.  If you didn't watch Impact, do yourself a favor and watch this segment in its entirety.  It was everything that pro wrestling today should be.

Least Favorite Moment - I'm not sure there was a moment that deserves this honor so I will pass on it this week.  It was a very good week for Impact.

MVP of the Night - Dixie Carter seems like the obvious choice but I will go with Austin Aries.  Like he said, even when he's not in the final segment of the show, he's always the main event.  I couldn't agree more.

Grade - This show gets a well deserved A- from me.  I would've graded it an A but I felt the show was light on wrestling.  But overall, it was an excellent show.  We saw the return of Kenny King, the announcement of new talent in Lei'D Tapa and Ethan, and the drama elevated in the Dixie Carter/AJ Styles conflict, the Aces and 8s story, and the Magnus vs EGO feud.  Great week for TNA.

Interesting opening with Dixie pretty much ignoring Sting. I don’t understand why the rest of the Aces & 8's just don't take Bully out and take his cut, or even all hand in their cuts instead of just accepting Bully's stipulations and power-plays. It's obvious they are not happy with Bully as president, and that they are eventually going to be fired by him, so why do they continue to just go along with it?

Fun pre-match segment with Park, EY and ODB with the shaving incident. Standard 6-man tag with ODB pinning Jesse and embarrassing the Bro-Mans for the second week running. Really cool to see Kenny King return in a segment with Aries, followed by a good match between the two. King was cut pretty bad during the match, but it made Kenny look more intense everytime he got on the offensive.

Chris Sabin's promo backstage with Aries was great. I love Sabin as the arrogant heel, it was interesting him noting that Aries had returned to the X Division. They now have Sabin, Hardy and Aries involved in the X Division, which makes this guy very happy. Magnus is still pissed off at EGO, and it was obvious his frustrations and lack of focus on the Aces & 8's was getting to Joe & Sting. We got promos for the return of Kurt Angle at BFG, a Lei'd Tapa promo and an Ethan is coming graphic. Kurt's return with that promo feels big, Tapa hopefully will take advantage of the small Knockouts division and Ethan....well I don't know for sure who it is but I'm interested to see who it is.

Hogan does a set-up promo for his face-off with AJ Styles. By doing this, I expected something big to go down later, which it did. Couple of stumbles from Hogan but it got the job done. Enjoyable Sabin vs Manik match. I liked how Sabin kept using Velvet Sky to protect himself, and it was noteworthy that Velvet wasn't too happy about it. Manik wins, Sabin jumps him and Aries comes to chase him off. I don't know about you, but the X Division is really heating up.

Nothing new with the MEM vs Aces & 8's. EGO takes out Magnus and continue to be TNA's best booked faction in a long time. MEM win even with the man disadvantage, which says a lot about the A&8's. Bully takes Wes out and gets Knux to hand him Brisco's cut. I don't have much to say about this A&8's implosion because it doesn't look like it's going to have any big climax.

I loved Dixie in the final segment. Undermining Hogan, ripping up AJ's new contract, dismissing Styles from “her ring” then telling Hogan he's either with her or against her. Big hook for next week's show with Hogan's decision, and Carter is thriving in her new role.

Favourite Moment – Had to be Dixie's promo again. I thought the sarcastic southern accent made everything she said hilarious, and yet again made it clear TNA is her world.

Least Favourite Moment – Probably the Hogan botches in his first promo. That's nitpicking on my part because really there was nothing I didn't like.

MVP of the Night – Dixie Carter. Everyone had their eyes on what Dixie did and throughout the night she didn't disappoint.

Grade – I'll give this one a solid B. All the show was solid in my eyes, but I wasn't blown away by the show overall. Another strong edition of Impact.

You knew Dixie was still on a roll when she shrugged off Sting's "offer of help" backstage to open the show; great foreshadowing here.  Bully and his lady Ms. Tessmacher were on-point as usual during their in-ring segment with Knux, Garrett and Wes.  The Prez has lost his patience and now his lackeys are gonna pay.  Knux was actually entertaining here as the final stages of the current version of this faction is proving to be more compelling than most fans will admit. 

Gail Kim as the reveal of the Knockout with Bro Mans was ehhh....and from a wrestling perspective the match between themselves and EY, Park & ODB was average.  However, there was some good comedy here as it feels like a multi-team tag team match is in the works for BFG.  I think Kenny King stole the show, especially in the 1st hour as his promo with Aries was really well done.  I'm glad King is back and he is a welcome sight for the mid-card scene in TNA.  Their match was stellar too, and I like to see blood so King getting busted up the hard way was a nice bonus for me.

My girl, Lei'D Tapa is coming soon, as her teaser video was well done!  Then we had 2 good backstage interactions with Sabin/Aries and Magnus/MEM that really furthered character developments.  Hulk Hogan came out to a nice pop and laid out his thoughts on the AJ/Dixie stuff and set-up the final segment of the night.  Kurt Angle is confirmed for his HOF ceremony at BFG. An "ETHAN" tease was shown, eluding to a new wrestler debuting soon.  The Sabin/Manik match was a bit short but still quality.

MEM vs A's & 8's is way overdone at this point but at least we see Wes get ousted so whatever.  The aftermath with Bully was better than the match itself.  Then the finale with Dixie, Hulk and AJ provided the best segment of the show with Dixie showing them both what's up.  Heel Dixie is very fun to watch and she wants to know who is on Team Dixie?  This is the HOOK of TNA and it's gonna get really, really good from here now.
Favorite Moment - My favorite moment again was Heel Dixie and her delivery of her upgraded Southern Lady Boss character.

Least Favorite Moment - Most segments were great on this episode, so it's hard to pick a bad one.  Maybe the 1st promo with Hogan as he stuttered at bit at one point.

MVP of the Night - The MVP to me was AGAIN Dixie Carter.  She is amazing me with her ability to play this heel character.  I didn't think she had it in her.  She took acting classes perhaps?

Grade - My grade is a A- as it was WAY better than last week overall.  I am very intrigued by all of the storylines right now going into BFG.  Excellent show from TNA.

Nick Mann
Interesting open with Sting and Dixie Carter backstage, perhaps this is teasing another write off for the Icon? Could be a good twist with the legends actually defending AJ Styles against Dixie. Bully Ray's promo work was solid as always, I particularly liked that he brought attention back to the match with AJ at BFG. You know, because that is the main event for the biggest show of the year. Knux is definitely the Opie Winston of the Aces and Eights (anyone that watches Sons of Anarchy knows what I mean) in that he does what's best for the club, even if it means standing up to the boss. Knuxy was very good on the mic here and really comes across as believable; I'd like to see him vs. Ray down the line. Did I just type that I want to see Buh Buh Dudley vs. Mike Knox? Wow.

The Joseph Park/EY tandem has started to grow on me and I think there is some potential for an eventual feud between Abyss and Eric Young coming out of it. I'd like to see Joseph's brother (or alter ego) return and begin to attack EY and daring his "brother" to save him. I think that would be a good twist. The six person inter-gender tag was entertaining and featured some good comedy (the motorboat spot was priceless) but I think a lot of fans were hoping for a new Knockout to be with the Bro-Mans, although anytime Gail Kim is in the ring is fine with me.

Kenny King and Austin Aries showed they have charisma and mic skills to back up their in ring prowess with the interview they did. Loved the "Gen Next" reference and Aries' line about the newspaper headlines. Very good stuff here. The match was excellent as well, glad to see King back on TV and I hope they give him something more to do as he has been one of the best talent signings by TNA recently.

Speaking of signings, it seems TNA is bringing in some new faces. "#Ethaniscoming" had me intrigued when I looked at Twitter on Thursday (wasn't watching live) and if you read TNAMecca regularly you know that Lei'd Tapa was coming up soon. The Knockouts desperately need new talent with Mickie James and others leaving recently, Tapa could be just what they are looking for. Am I the only one hoping for a Barbarian appearance? I was such a Powers of Pain fan back in the day, I mean I preferred Demolition, but they were so cool, sorry off topic. I'm thinking Ethan is someone new because I think if The Pope were coming back he'd be The Pope.

Chris Sabin continues to heel it up with his new character and the pairing of him and Velvet Sky has a very Randy Savage-Miss Elizabeth vibe to it. I liked his performance in the match with Manik. I love cowardly heels; when everyone is a bad ass it really takes away from being able to hate the bad guys. Throwing Aries in the X division mix is cool with me and I'm not going to give anything away, but I think fans of the X division will be happy with the title match they have lined up at BFG.

Anyone else thinking that maybe Robert Roode faces Kurt Angle at BFG after the backstage segment with EGO? How funny were Daniels and Kazarian with the "bad guy laugh."

The main event was almost an exact replica of last week's, but not quite as good. While not a bad match I wasn't as into it as last weeks MEM vs. EGO confrontation. So Wes Brisco is out of the Aces and Eights and seemingly; at least in storyline; out of TNA. I guess with the gang only being given "access" last year at BFG, if you're out of the gang, you're out of TNA, but didn't Wes win a Gut Check match for a contract? I don't know. Anyway, I can't stand the way Wes walks to the ring and stands with arms all stiff, it drives me crazy. I think this is the end of my beloved Aces and Eights and that's fine but I still think they need a better blow off then just fading away. Perhaps a match with Knux and Bully is the way to go to end it.

The confrontation with Hogan, Dixie and AJ was an interesting one to say the least. Hogan was actually good here. One thing he does well is rile the crowd up and he seems to be able to get the fans to cheer for whomever he endorses; this is what he should've been doing since he came into TNA. Dixie was spot on with her performance (loved the 1% reference, very topical) and this story could be a good way to right Hogan off, but AJ came across as second fiddle once she came out which isn't good.

Favorite Moment - The Aries/King segment and match. Very cool.

Least Favorite Moment - AJ being dismissed.

MVP of the Night - Outside the box here, but I'm going with Knux. Everything he did was believable, mic work and facials were great all throughout the show.

Grade - C+. While a step up from last week in terms of in ring action and entertainment value, I have to give Impact the same grade because of the final segment. I may be over analyzing here but I didn't care for the way that the focus shifted from AJ/Dixie to Hogan/Dixie. I mean Hogan isn't in the main event for BFG is he? I understand that they need to have a hook for next week but I really think that the focus is on all the wrong things right now. In my opinion, TNA needs to focus more on the AJ/Bully Ray match as it is the match you're trying to sell, not AJ vs. Dixie.

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