15 December 2013

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Dec 12, 2013

We kicked off hot with Kurt Angle calling out Bobby Roode. The intensity of these two during this rivalry has been off the charts, it really adds to the feud because its clear to tell these two hate each others guts. 2 out of 3 falls next week should be a great match. After 18 months we finally got those 3 words we've wanted to hear said to Joseph Park “You Are Abyss”. I'm looking forward to where this story goes next, now we've got this development TNA cannot stall on continuing this angle so we are pretty much guaranteed to get to the bottom of the Joseph Park/Abyss story in the coming weeks and months.

I liked the Sting/EC3 confrontation. Sting said a while back his goal was to deal with the “entitled” and he made the first move in his quest on Thursday. The visual of EC3 in the ring with Sting confirmed my thoughts that Carter can very well be a main event player in TNA in the future. The segment with Hardy & Magnus after their wins last week wasn't great. I appreciate them hyping up the match next week but both promos were miss-able and didn't give off the “damn I've gotta see this match” feel.

Is the Gail Kim Open Challenge over already? If ODB wants to go after Lei'd Tapa that's fine, but if the pay-off of this open challenge is a feud between Kim and the returning Madison Rayne that I will be very disappointed. If the end-game of the Open Challenge was to have young indy women squashed just for a former Knockout to return and take it to Kim, even though the challenge was issued because Gail has beaten every Knockout past or present, then what was the point in the first place?

The Rockstar Spud in Georgia segments were hilarious. He played the fish out of water role great, and him having the belt in his hands but walking (running) away empty handed was icing on the cake. AJ Styles getting another over on Dixie must have Carter pushed to her limits. I was surprised with the Aries title win, the X Division has been non-existent since Bound For Glory, and this match came out of the blue. I hope Aries having the belt leads to more focus on the division, and I hope this story with Sabin & Sky continues to heat up.

The Bully Ray attack and promo was very interesting. I like that losing the Aces & 8's has caused Ray to snap and become a more darker individual. I think TNA's focus on creating characters is great at the moment, and this new twist to Bully Ray could be icing on the cake. A few years ago I wasn't keen on the Feast or Fired concept, however I'm kinda happy it returned. It will be interesting to see who gets what case next week, my guess is either Chavo or EC3 gets the fired briefcase, but I guess we'll find out next week. 

Favourite Moment - I liked EY telling Joseph Park that he was Abyss, I think it was a very well done moment.

Least Favourite Moment - The Knockouts segment. I'm really disappointed with how this Gail Kim Open Challenge has played out, and if its all for the return of Madison Rayne I will be very upset indeed. 

MVP of the Night - EC3. He held his own with an Icon like Sting and then was the first man to retrieve a briefcase in Feast Or Fired.

Grade - I'll give this one an A-. I enjoyed the show and thought it had several strong points, continuing the trend of the last several weeks.

My initial reaction to this episode of IMPACT is that it flew by!  I rarely remember an episode in the last 4 years that really defined Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling like this one did.  I'm sure there were a couple in there somewhere but this one had Old School TNA stamped all over it.  The approach of going back to pre-Hogan roots is refreshing and attractive for long-time fans.  I really think that fans are coming back to the product as the feedback on Twitter has been great lately and the numbers are bearing it out.  I hope the trend continues as TNA is proving that "taped or not taped" the show is really improved and entertaining.  With the U.K. Tour approaching, this is a very exciting time to be a TNA fan.

I personally would like to see a full time 1-hour show that would be taped in U.K. that would air as Explosion on a permanent-basis.  Make it JB's baby and let him to the whole thing from "over seas" all the time.  On the same note, I hope they tape a shit-load of Explosion matches while they are in the U.K.  in Jan/Feb.  Back to the show, I thought Roode/Angle was excellent as always.  Bully made a impression with his "more evil and menacing" character tweak.  Aces and Eights are done, but Bully needed to adjust his persona to differentiate this character from "The Prez".  Now, the background music was controversially "reacted to by critics" but it's part of the television production that comes along with taped episodes.  They have the time to enhance or add to the sound track and someone in the production/sound team did just that.  The rumor was that the LIVE IZ crowd chanted, "This is creepy.", which it indeed was.........but that is what TNA wanted to get.  Samuel Shaw is going to have some "creepy moments" sometime soon also.  Is it a coincidence that his recent "American Psycho" character took shape, since he is a product of the same nearby-Orlando Team 3-D (Devon and Bully) wrestling school run by those same Dudleys?  Bully and Samuel Shaw being in business together as psycho-crazy bastards would be worth watching.  I, again enjoy this type of psychological wrestling.  It's the same reason why I enjoy the Wyatt Family on WWE RAW, to be honest. 

I wrote a whole "Into the Abyss" column on why I liked the Joseph Park/Abyss angle from IMPACT so I won't retread that here.  Bad Influence is awesome, that is all I'll mention.  The build-up of Magnus VS Hardy has been as well-done as a taped show allows.  It is what it is, but the show is still enjoyable, given the restraints of a non-LIVE performance.  Gail/Tapa VS ODB and the returning Rayne is kind of blah, but it has purpose at least.  People responded well to Madison coming back for the most part.  Aries winning the X-Division title was a surprise and even those that read spoilers would admit as much.  Sabin and Velvet have done this current role justice and I am intrigued by it. 

In my opinion, Rockstar Spud was the star of the show.  He is funny and sharp on screen with the "searching for AJ Styles" vignettes.  From the rainbow bow-tie, to his #LadyBoyChaser cocktail, to his rock and roll singing, he kind of reminds me off a Sex Pistols/British Punk kind of vibe.  It is over with the audience, regardless of what his on-screen appeal is.  I personally enjoy it as well as EC3's spoiled brat/rich boy personality.  Sting is a different choice for an opponent than I would prefer but eventually we'll see Ethan VS Roode or Ethan VS Joe or Ethan VS Storm.  These character-heavy and character-focused storylines are proving to be appealing to a mass audience.  I love this direction. 

Feast or Fired was nostalgic and fun.  Case winners results next week should help tidy things up and give wrestlers even more direction within the Title chases.  TNA right now is in Regroup and Reload Mode.  It will all make more sense when February rolls around.  Until then just roll with the punches and see what the end-game is.  Welcome to Dixie Land at Final Resolution boys.

Favourite Moment - RockStar Spud ordering a Lady Boy Chaser.

Least Favourite Moment - Gunner/Storm interaction.  I didn't talk about it above because I'm not a fan of it, to be honest.

MVP of the Night - I said it on Twitter and I'll say it again.  AJ Styles has the wrestling world by the balls right now.

Grade - I give this show a solid A .  That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

Chris Regal
The moments following this week's Impact felt like I was in a time wrap: it was 2008 all over again, and Total Non-Stop Action, once again, became a phrase one could use to describe Impact.  After the show, the pro wrestling experts and smarks were quick to criticize the product while the fans dispersed to their favorite forum or TNA site to share with others their excitement for Impact Wrestling.  It was a wonderful feeling.

It was a show that saw Kurt Angle and Bobby Roode display a genuine hatred for one another that's made their feud the best in pro wrestling right now.  A close second, in my opinion, is the sheer brutality that is Bully Ray vs Mr. Anderson, which saw the former piledrive his rival into the ramp...for the second time.  Some were perplexed by Ray's promo but I thought it was simply brilliant.  The thought of Bully Ray quoting Motley Crue or 80's metal lyrics in his promos has me downright giddy.

In other developments, Sting has finally confronted Ethan Carter III.  I thought the fact that EC3 did not look out of place in the ring with Sting bodes very well for his future in TNA.  EC3 proved, this week, that he has enormous star potential.  Madison Rayne made her return to TNA by attacking her longtime ally, Gail Kim.  I'm happy to see Rayne come back simply because I hated the way she left the company.  For those who don't know, Madison Rayne's contract expired while she was on maternity leave, making it impossible for her or TNA to negotiate on an extension.  I'm glad to see both sides come together.  I think it's important to note that Rayne's return does not appear to be part of the Open Challenge angle.

Speaking of returns, the Feast or Fired match is back, and although I dislike the concept, I thought the match came across really well on TV.  Gunner, EC3, Chavo Guerrero, and Zema Ion were the winners of the match, each grabbing a briefcase.  After the match, the more interesting developments were the dissension between James Storm/Gunner and the possibility that EC3 knew the contents of the briefcases before the match.  Dixie Carter introduced the final two competitors for her TNA world title.  I thought the segment was underwhelming simply because Jeff Hardy's promo skills are not great and Magnus appears to exist in a parallel universe just waiting for the perfect moment to turn heel.  I think the Brit needs a good heel turn (ala Bobby Roode in 2011) to make him relevant again.  And finally, Rockstar Spud absolutely shined in his segments, this week, while searching for AJ Styles' house in order to steal the world title belt.  Very funny stuff.

Favourite Moment - Quite a few to choose from this week but I thought two moments stood out to me: Sting and EC3 coming face to face and Eric Young exclaiming "You are Abyss".  Both were perfectly executed.

Least Favourite Moment - None.  I didn't hate anything.  Although, I was disappointed that there was no Samuel Shaw this week.

MVP of the Night - I'll give it to Austin Aries this week.  He defeated Chris Sabinto win the X Division championship and he was a human highlight reel in the Feast or Fired match.  Good week for Aries.

Grade - Overall, this week's Impact has earned an A from me.  Although I've enjoyed TNA the last few years (minus the awful 2010 to early 2011 period), the last time I was this excited about the TNA product was in late 2009 when AJ Styles was champion and Kurt Angle and Desmond Wolfe were in a brutal feud.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, old school TNA is back, and I couldn't be happier.  I have a feeling 2014 is going to be an amazing year.

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