05 October 2013

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Oct 3, 2013

Nick Mann
Bully Ray and AJ Styles opened show doing nothing but hyping their match for Bound for Glory, good to see it becoming more about the match and the personality clash between these two.

The tag match with Jeff Hardy and Manik vs. Kenny King and Chris Sabin served its purpose as it helped set up the Ultimate X for Bound for Glory nicely. Kenny King did come off as the odd man out and I felt Manik should’ve been more present in the post match segment but that’s nitpicking.

I said on social media that I felt the purpose of TNA reforming the Main Event Mafia was to give Magnus a rub and elevate him to a new level. This week’s Impact proved that it may have worked. The EGO gauntlet really made him look like a star, even in defeat. The post match angle with Sting set up an interesting BFG match between the two. I have a feeling Dixie Carter is going to influence this somehow.  Remember, you heard it here first.

Good video package on Hogan’s TNA run. I remember being really hyped for 10.10.10.

EGO’s backstage segment was priceless again this week. Singing Robert Roode’s theme reminded me of the glory days of Edge and Christian. The “Hall of Fame” induction should be gold.

Lei’d Tapa debuted and stopped the battle of the booties that was going to happen between Velvet Sky and Brooke Tessmacher. Anyone notice Velvet seemed unusually covered up this week? Perhaps this is the new heel Sabin influence. Tapa looked awesome in her debut. I can see her vs. Gail Kim being very good.

Ethan is here and he’s Derrick Bateman! I haven’t seen much of Bateman, so jury will have to stay out for now. Really dug the video though.

Speaking of videos, good one on Gunner and James Storm. It reminded me of the “Rough Cut” videos TNA used to do.  I loved those and would like to see more of this on Impact again.

Samoa Joe vs. Bully Ray was a hard hitting match, but it really didn’t go anywhere. Styles did a run in and him jumping into the crowd was cool; but the match was sort of pointless. I wonder what Joe will be doing at BFG?

Dixie Carter is really hitting it out of the park with this heel turn. Although, I still think Hulk should’ve been fired.  It would’ve added more heat to the new Dixie. I think we all need to get on the #DixieTrain!"

Favorite Moment - Magnus’ performance.

Least Favorite Moment - DQ finish on Joe vs. Bully.

MVP of the Night - Magnus.

Grade - B-. This is one of the rare times that the taped show was better than the live one. This show hyped BFG, worked on creating a new star and potentially ended the run of Hulkamania in TNA.

I couldn't help but feel while watching this week's Impact how much better it would've been had the live crowd been more active.  The fans in Little Rock weren't completely dead; they had some good moments.  But overall, they didn't elevate this show like a good crowd should.  Because, let's be honest, there were some really good moments this week that would've made much more of an impact with a livelier crowd.  For instance, Magnus' big night was simply sabotaged by the fans.  They failed to rally behind the young star while he was struggling to survive the ankle lock by Bobby Roode.  Instead, they sat motionless, as if they were simply waiting for the show to come back from commercial so the next segment can begin.  To make matters worse, their lack of reaction to the touchingly dramatic conversation between Magnus and Sting was blasphemous.  Magnus wasn't turning heel, folks.  He was a man struggling with his inability to get the one win that will officially make him a star.  He needed support and reassurance and the fans in Little Rock let him down.  Luckily for him, Sting gave him the reassurance he needed.  It was a wonderfully sweet moment between a wrestling icon and a young star that we don't see enough of in pro wrestling.  

In another important moment that the crowd fell asleep on was Jeff Hardy's huge announcement that the X Division title match at Bound for Glory will be an Ultimate X match - his first ever.  In my opinion, Hardy's involvement in Ultimate X makes this match a must-watch and a reason I'd buy this PPV if I were a Jeff Hardy fan.  It was a savvy booking decision by TNA.  

The crowd was equally as tepid during Lei'D Tapa's attack on Velvet Sky, which is disappointing. Tapa's performance, although strong wrestling-wise, was a bit over the top and awkward at times.  She's got the tools to be an enormous heel in this business but she needs to find the right balance between naturally intimidating and noticeably contrived.  She's simply not there right now.  

In another debut, this week, we were introduced to Ethan (well, sort of) in a wonderfully filmed segment in which he showed a sense of entitlement and a lack of respect for others, albeit in quite an amusing way.  It was the sort of segment that piqued my interest and made me excited about the character.  As for Michael Hutter, I won't pretend to act like I'm familiar with his work but from what I've seen of him, he has the personality and the mic skills to pull this off.  And in an environment such as TNA where talent have certain freedoms, I haven't a doubt that Hutter will absolutely thrive.  

And finally, AJ Styles and Bully Ray came face-to-face to promote their world heavyweight championship match at BFG.  The differences in the two were quite stark.  The champion, opting for his usual tactics, bullied his opponent with personal insults, including some directed at his family, whereas the challenger remained focused and confident, showing a sense of calmness that will erupt on the night of October 20th in San Diego, CA.

Favorite Moment - Some great moments this week but none better than the two minutes of pure ecstasy, courtesy of EGO, which began with the guys celebrating their collective victory over Magnus by singing Roode's theme song and ended with the announcement of his Hall of Fame induction next week.  If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend it.  I believe TNA have posted the segment on their Youtube account.

Least Favorite Moment - I don't think there were any terrible moments this week, however, this honor goes to the disappointing crowd, who essentially failed to elevate this show.  I praised Little Rock for their enthusiasm, last week, but it was an utter failure on their part this week.

MVP of the Night - AJ Styles - the visual of the Phenomenal One jumping into the crowd in order to avoid security was fantastic.  It was a reminder of how much fans love AJ Styles.

Grade - I thought there were a lot of good developments this week but I felt the show was lacking a sense of energy, which is often the case with the taped shows.  But the crowd, this week, were the biggest culprits.  I gave this show a C+.

The opening segment with AJ Styles and Bully Ray was really intense and enjoyable.  This promo definitely helped to sell the main event at Bound For Glory as Bully got really personal with AJ here.  The following tag match with Kenny King and Chris Sabin vs Manik and Jeff Hardy contained some good wrestling and was fine.  However, the aftermath with Aries setting up the 4-way BFG match and then Hardy adding the Ultimate X stipulation were the best parts of the segment.  That match figures to be epic and really adds to the BFG card.

I wasn't really digging the Sting/Hogan backstage interaction of the watch, which for me was most likely a by-product of reading the spoilers last week and knowing the endgame with Hogan.  The Magnus vs EGO gauntlet match had a purpose to it, but I found it to be a bit too long and drawn-out.  Magnus is getting the push that he deserves but this match didn't make me too excited.  I'm not sure I completely understand the Sting vs Magnus match at BFG, but I guess Sting passing the torch to Magnus is a nice gesture.  Can Sting do the match justice with his decline in in-ring skill? He may just surprise us.

The backstage EGO segment was funny as hell.  These three really have a comedic chemistry and it was a joy to behold.  The Miss Tessmacher vs Velvet Sky match obviously never got underway as Lei'D Tapa came out and destroyed Velvet with a vicious clothesline.  Then the Tongan Death-grip and Samoan Drop left the Chris Sabin-less Sky in a heap of rubble.  I know I'm a wee bit biased about Tapa, but when she screams "Bow Down" to the audience it does get a nice heel response.  She will improve and get better in time with less screaming and letting her moves do the talking.

Three straight vignettes up next with the best one being the character development of the yet-to-be-revealed Michael Hutter as Ethan.  His debut is going to potentially be a nice shot in the arm for TNA.  The Gunner/Storm one didn't connect for me.  The Kurt Angle vignette was well done and I am happy that Kurt is in a better place so that he can be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I was expecting a better match from Samoa Joe and Bully, but other than some hard-hitting it wasn't that special.  Then to finish the show Dixie was a star again with her Southern Debutante-style promo with Hogan.  Hogan quits, Dixie begs him to stay........then when he doesn't retract she says he's fired and she never wanted him as we fade to black. 

Favorite Moment - The favourite moment for me was the EGO backstage promo work with the singing of Roode's old theme song lyrics and them just being silly and hilarious.

Least Favorite Moment - My least favourite moment was the Storm/Gunner vignette.  I don't feel invested in them as a tag team at all right now.

MVP of the Night - I will name Bobby Roode as my MVP of the night as he stood out in the gauntlet match and subsequent backstage EGO segment. 

Grade - This show really didn't do it for me and was my least favourite in a long time.  I will give it a C overall.

I was so glad we opened the show with a Bully Ray, AJ Styles face-off. Good promo segment that started what hopefully is a strong build to the BFG main event. I like how they mentioned their Last Man Standing match from Slammiversary 9, revisiting the heated history and great matches these two have had can only add to this feud.

Enjoyable tag match with Hardy/Manik vs Sabin/King. Is it just me or is Hardy looking like a younger version of himself?  The speed he is doing some of his main moves has increased and for me, it's noticeable and quite cool to see. I love the Ultimate X match at Bound For Glory, the only problem I have with it is Kenny King not being involved. I think post BFG Hardy, Aries & Sabin will move onto feuds outside the division, so would a great performance by King in that match solidify his place as a top contender?

Magnus vs EGO gauntlet was more storytelling than anything. Some great wrestling included, but it had a purpose, and it served it well. I like the story of Sting wanting to "make" Magnus. Not only does it show how much faith Sting has in Mangus, it shows how serious TNA is about making Magnus a star.

I loved the EGO segment. These guys are having fun, and it comes across great on TV. The Hall Of Fame induction next week should be gold, and that tied in with Roode using the Ankle Lock, with both seemingly mocking Kurt Angle, makes an Angle return and a Roode vs Angle BFG match seem like the best way to go.

Lei'd Tapa debut was...interesting. I'm not sold on her constantly screaming. I get she's trying to be intimidating and dominant, but doesn't her sheer size achieve that on its own? I'm intrigued to see where the direction of the Knockouts at Bound For Glory goes after this development. Loved the ETHAN video, uniquely shot and Ethan sounded hilarious. It's pretty much confirmed that Michael Hutter is Ethan, which makes me excited to see this character's debut.

It's good to see TNA do a little background video for Storm & Gunner, I'm glad these two are getting the attention they deserve. Could've been a better match from Bully vs Joe, but wasn't bad by any counts. More interaction between Styles & Bully, hopefully we get what should be a golden worked/shoot type promo between the two in the coming weeks before BFG.

Heel Dixie continues to entertain. Hogan giving his in/out promo wasn't bad, but I would've loved Dixie to cut him off before he quit and told him he was fired. Hogan quits, Dixie begs, then gets up and tells him she didn't want him anyway and he's fired. I know some were annoyed that Dixie got on her knees for Hogan, but it made the "you're fired anyway" bit even funnier.

Favourite Moment - The EGO backstage segment. These guys are great, and I expect their Hall Of Fame ceremony will be my favourite moment next week.

Least Favourite Moment - Probably the Lei'd Tapa debut. She destroyed Velvet but all I could think of after seeing her performance was that she may not be ready for TV. 

MVP of the Night - Bobby Roode, defeating Magnus AND getting a Hall Of Fame induction, how could he not be. But as he said about his win, this MVP win was a "team effort".

Grade - This one gets a B-. Several good segments but nothing really hit it out of the park, and there were some bits I thought could've been better. I'm glad the BFG build is starting and should make the next two weeks better than this week's showing. 

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