07 December 2013

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Dec 5, 2013

The thing that stood out to me on this episode of IMPACT was character development.  TNA seems to be in overdrive when it comes to giving the younger stars their own identity and direction.  I can't understand why people think that kind of direction is a bad thing.  Are certain elements and certain wrestlers on the show taking a backseat? Yes, they are.......... but it's a necessary and good thing.  For the past year, all I heard from a majority of people was how they "hated how Hulk Hogan and the Aces & Eights were eating up too much TV time" and were the focus of the show.  Now we are embarking in a totally different direction and different gear and the same people complain about what they are doing STILL!  Is there no pleasing them?  Have you heard of patience?  Look into it.  Now, I don't expect everyone to absolutely LOVE everything TNA is doing, but they have listened to the fans and adjusted the core of the show.  Let it play out and let the story come to life before you jump to conclusions. 

I digress.  The final 2 matches for the Dixie World Title Tournament were well done and accomplished what they needed to.  Magnus is not as over as a face, but the writing is on the wall for that to be rectified soon.  Roode and Hardy had an awesome tables match as both men took big bumps.  EC3 proved to be a fantastic character and heel yet again with his Hebners segment.  The Rockstar Chief of Staff made sure to throw his weight (what little actual weight that may be)  around throughout the night, which I enjoyed immensely.  I am so intrigued with the Samuel Shaw character!  His acting was superb with threatening the waiter in that vignette.  It makes me excited for his future, no doubt. 

Bad Influence and Joseph Park did a great job with their segment also, as the plot thickens and the end-game is shaping itself in a positive direction here.  Layers are being peeled back and the payoff for this storyline is finally approaching.  BroMans vs Gunner & Storm served its purpose but was nothing special.  Zema Ion and BroMans are making an impression on the audience each week, even if it is annoyingly polarizing to some.  Gail Kim's Open Challenge is kind of "ehhh" right now but the KnockOuts Division has been in neutral for some time so it comes as no surprise.  The end of IMPACT was good TV as Dixie and Spud got foiled and the "Friends of AJ" video brought this edition of IMPACT to a close. 

Favourite Moment - The Samuel Shaw vignette was so intense and poignant.  He continues to steal the show in my opinion. 

Least Favourite Moment - Gail Kim vs Laura Dennis (Cherry Bomb) was pretty boring.

MVP of the Night - To me, RockStar Spud is enhancing the entire show with his character. 

Grade - I give this episode a B- .  There's room for improvement but the show is consistently good right now.

Chris Regal
I think the thing that struck me the most about this week's Impact was the new emphasis on character development, story progression, and the little details that make a weekly serial drama so much fun.  Some of the purist wrestling fans may cringe at that description but the reality is that the best wrestling show is a hybrid of pro wrestling and dare I say, sports entertainment.  Sports entertainment wasn't such a dirty term for fans old enough to remember the early to mid 90's WCW and the late 90's WWF.  The most successful eras in pro wrestling, it seems, are when a promotion finds a way to best combine the two elements.  ECW did exactly that in the mid-90's.  I believe TNA are headed in that direction if they stay the course.  I say this simply because, of all the promotions I currently watch, TNA are the only one with the means and desire to spark another boom period in pro wrestling.  The WWE will not do it and ROH is simply irrelevant right now.

But let's get back to this week's show, where the semi-finals of the world title tournament took place and the winners of each match were not the one many of us were expecting to see advance to the finals.  I like the fact that Bobby Roode and Kurt Angle can now focus strictly on annihilating one another while Jeff Hardy and Magnus can compete for the top prize.  It'll be interesting to see whether or not Dixie Carter favors one wrestler over the other in the coming days.

In other developments, Ethan Carter III was involved in his best segment to-date, and that's saying something because I've genuinely enjoyed his build.  It's interesting but EC3 seems to have provoked two emotions from fans: adoration/respect and hate.  I, personally, fall under the former.  EC3 is one of the best things to happen to pro wrestling this year.  I look for him to be one of the most refreshing acts of 2014.  Also, Samuel Shaw and Christy Hemme were seen on a date.  There were signs of OCD in Shaw's behavior in his debut video but this week's update revealed a much more troubling sign: a personality disorder with psychopathic tendencies.  In just two appearances, Samuel Shaw has certainly piqued my interest, which bodes well for his development.  Speaking of personality disorders, it appears that Bad Influence discovered a very interesting secret about Joseph Park - his law firm closed their doors 13 years ago.  I must say, this was a brilliant twist to the Joseph Park/Abyss mystery and one that has given this storyline much needed momentum.  And finally, Dixie Carter received her package in the mail only to discover that AJ Styles sent her a paper or plastic version of the TNA TV title.  As soon as I saw the little belt, I almost choked from the laughter.  It was truly a fun twist and one that makes me wonder, are they teasing the return of the TV title or are they trolling Booker T's ridiculous belt.  I am not sure.

One other note before I proceed...I have to give kudos to Rockstar Spud who has absolutely been a delight in his current role.  He's the perfect, shall I say, supporting character for the Carters, who seem to appreciate, tolerate, and abhor him all in one fell swoop.  It's a truly magical combination.  As for his segment with Sting, some felt it was random.  I couldn't disagree more.  Not only was it one of the funniest moments of the show, Rockstar Spud obviously did not want Sting to give Kurt Angle a pep talk before his match against Magnus.  But why?  Could Dixie Carter have picked her champion?

Favourite Moment - Quite a few this week but I will give it to EC3's defeat of Earl Hebner.  From beginning to end, the segment was flawless.  And the acting of all involved was simply fabulous.

Least Favourite Moment - The Knockouts match wasn't too interesting.  I hate to say it but the Gail Kim Open Challenge isn't resonating with me, mostly because TNA seem to not care about it.  However, I do like the fact that young women from the indies are getting a much needed extra paycheck.

MVP of the Night - AJ Styles simply for the fact that he trolled Dixie Carter big time.  A great moment.

Grade - An enjoyable show, this week, that set up several angles nicely.  For that reason, it has earned a solid B from me. 

It was an interesting promo to start the show. It didn't really pop into my mind last week Magnus possibly faking his injury and bailing on Angle, but Kurt making the point adds an interesting twist to this tournament. I enjoyed Roode vs Hardy. The photo-finish was well done and is a great fake-finish for a tables match. Hardy winning didn't surprise me as I thought the tease of an Angle vs Roode final was too obvious for it to actually happen. EC3 challenging Earl Hebner was hilarious. I really liked what Carter showed here, he was very demanding and did a good job in his role.

The Samuel Shaw segment was great. This new character of his seems like the perfect fit for him and I cannot wait to see whats next. Feast Or Fired is back, and I'm actually glad about that. I think its a good concept for TNA, and I'm hopefully that with the return of the concept, the winners of the title shot briefcases will actually acknowledge them rather than in the past where they would be forgotten about until they were cashed in.

Finally some real progression with the Joseph Park story. I like how Bad Influence discovered that Park, Park & Park closed 13 years ago. The whole Lawyer thing was Park's identity, now its been put into serious question and Joe Park seems oblivious to it. Is Park really Abyss? All signs are pointing to the answer being yes, the question is how will this play out over the next few weeks. Ok match between Bromans vs Gunner & Storm. I'm very interested in the Gunner & Storm angle, I think the best part about it is fans can side with both. Neither of them are showing signs of turning heel, there's friction but their genuine reason for both to be annoyed with one another.

The Sting/Spud segment made me laugh. The sarcasm from Sting was very much appreciated. Not bad showing from Laura Dennis. I've never seen her work and I think she may have something to offer. I get the feeling ODB's save means we may be heading back to ODB vs Kim, which would disappoint me seeing as the Open Challenge has only lasted 3 weeks. I liked Angle vs Magnus, I thought it was a good match that followed the trend of these World Title tournament matches being top quality since the start. I expected Roode to get involved, his dream of being Angle in the final was dashed earlier in the night, so its no surprise he didn't want Angle to reach the final either. Styles ending Dixie the toy belt was funny as hell. It was a nice touch to end the show with the Friends of AJ commercial of AJ poking fun at it and telling Dixie if she wants the belt to come get it.

Favourite Moment - The Samuel Shaw segment was very enjoyable, and showed the first segment with him wasn't just a one off, and this character could be great.

Least Favourite Moment - The ODB save. It wasn't bad at all, but what it could mean (Another ODB vs Gail Kim feud) had me saying "please no" as I watched.

MVP of the Night - EC3, I really enjoyed him in the evil boss role and thought he did a great job.

Grade - B-. It was a good show with quite a few developments. I wasn't blown away as somethings could be better, but once again I enjoyed Impact.

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