05 January 2014

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Jan 2, 2014

Good opening segment with Angle and Roode. Kurt desperately wants to beat Roode, while Roode wants to move on after beating Angle on several occasions, so it made sense both wanting to raise the stakes for one more match. I liked the development between Gunner & Storm, Storm being upset with Gunner makes sense, and the way he went about becoming Roode's partner for the tag match was well done. They could have had him randomly appear as Roode's partner and make it look like Storm is turning heel, but it was good how Storm made it clear he didn't want to help Roode, but just wanted to send a message to Gunner.

So I guess it's confirmed, the payoff to Gail Kim's Open Challenge was to put Madison Rayne over. I don't think it was a bad match but honestly, I'm not interested in the Knockouts division these days, and the disappointing way the Open Challenge has gone hasn't helped. A good but short X Division title match. I'm not exactly sure why they had Aries win the title a few weeks ago only to lose it in his first defence/appearance since winning it, maybe it was to add the "help me win the title or it's over" dynamic to the Sabin/Sky story. I'm hoping we start to get some real progression with this angle, the audience can't keep sympathising with Velvet if she keeps doing the same thing every week with no reason behind it.

Nice debut from Samuel Shaw, apart from that god awful theme music. I liked how he's changed his style to a slower, methodical style, and staring at Christy after every move was a good, creepy addition to his character. His moves were fluent, and that choke as a finisher is great, him even shushing Norv like a twisted psycho really gets over his character as a very creepy, complex individual. I enjoyed the tag match, I liked how Storm and Roode showed their natural chemistry in the ring together, but still showed the friction between one another. Some are complaining about there being no fanfare for the Beer Money reunion. It wasn't exactly them willing to reform as a team again, plus if TNA had advertised the reunion the same people would have said it was stupid and killed the Live illusion for the casual viewers.

Enjoyable segment with EC3 and Sting. I thought it was hilarious that EC3 challenged Jeff Hardy, knowing full well he wasn't in the arena, and won't be for some time. Sting goading Carter into a match was done pretty well, and their match at Genesis should be decent, and the first time we'll see EC3 in a competitive match. I'm getting into this new Bully Ray character, he's always had that violent streak in his gimmicks but this one is stepping it up a notch, wanting to burn Joseph Park and then instead of fighting Anderson off, spraying fluid on him and threatening him with a lighter really got over his twisted mindset. I thought it was a well done segment that has set-up the table for Bully's new character.

Very enjoyable closing segment. I really enjoyed Magnus' promo, and the whole coronation was a nice touch. Gunner crashing the party again wanting to cash in was a nice follow up to last week, he's very keen to get his shot, so I expect he won't be holding onto the case very long before he cashed it in. Styles' return was pretty cool, the messages throughout the night were a good way of setting up his return without saying "AJ's returning tonight". Next week we get the big Title vs Title match. Unfortunately this seems rushed, and we know the reason why. But I look forward to the match next week as I'm sure these two will put on a great bout like they did in the BFG Series finals. 

Favorite Moment - The debut of Samuel Shaw. I've been waiting for this for several weeks, and it didn't disappoint.

Least Favorite Moment - The Knockouts match, like I said I'm disappointed with how the Open Challenge has gone and uninterested in the division at the moment.

MVP of the Night - Magnus. Really enjoyed his promo, and if it's a sign of things to come, his title run should be fun to watch.

Grade - I'm gonna give this one a B-. Some enjoyable bits but the gap between the taping of the show and the airing of it has removed that excitement factor for me. 

Chris Regal
Some have mentioned to me that the shows feels a bit disjointed but that's only natural when a company is in transition on so many levels.  It's also quite common when a show that has been dominated by one huge umbrella storyline for well over a year to feel a bit chaotic when the writers finally begin the process of scripting several different storylines and feuds. We've also witnessed the debuts of a few new characters and the returns of others so it's all part of the transition process.  I imagine things will start to settle down come Genesis on January 16th in Huntsville, AL.

In any case, after last week's underwhelming show, TNA kicked off the new year with a much better effort.  The coronation was the huge spectacle that I had expected.  It was thirty minutes of pure sports entertainment awesomeness with a couple of minor hiccups.  The one thing that I took out of this segment was how much of a star Magnus is.  It was his first appearance since becoming the new TNA champion and he took full advantage of the opportunity.  He was the quintessential corporate heel champion who shined like a bright star when so many others would have fallen flat on their face.  What struck me about Magnus' character, however, was his refusal to be pigeonholed.  In a surprising twist, he proved that he's Dixie Carter's champion but on his terms.  Not hers.  

In other coronation developments, Rockstar Spud and Ethan Carter III, once again, showed why the company is so high on them.  They are comedic brilliance and add depth to the Team Dixie alliance.  Conversely, Gunner is simply not clicking with me as a world title candidate.  He's very limited on the mic and he's got virtually no personality, unless you consider grunting like a caveman interesting.  He's essentially a big ogre with a briefcase.  I would typically overlook this if his wrestling skills were top notch but again, I don't see much upside there either.  Gunner is, simply put, pedestrian in every way.  He's hardly a world title contender.  And lastly, AJ Styles returned to TNA to crash the festivities.  I thought his promo was fine but I didn't feel the big moment that the company was going for.  But I will give them a pass simply because of the various factors that have ruined this angle.  The reality is that TNA is in a holding pattern right now until Genesis, when they can finally move on with their new vision.

In other developments, EC3 brilliantly challenged Jeff Hardy to a match, leading to a fantastic confrontation between he and Sting.  EC3 continues to be infectiously heelish.  Samuel Shaw made his much-anticipated debut and I found him intriguing enough to want to see more.  It wasn't a great debut but I thought there were elements of it that I loved - his glances towards Christy Hemme, his gentle shushing of Norv Fernum as he choked the life out of him, etc.  Some mentioned how quiet the crowd was for Shaw's debut.  Keep in mind, however, the Impact Zone crowd did not get to watch the Shaw backstage segments at the time of the show's taping so they were witnessing Samuel Shaw for the first time.  And finally, Bully Ray almost set Joseph Park on fire.  I liked this segment until Mr. Anderson's involvement, which was unnecessary.  It would have made more impact if Bully Ray simply left the ring after dosing Park in lighter fluid, leaving him in the ring to writhe in pain.  With that said, I'm genuinely intrigued by Ray's new character.

Favorite Moment - It's a tough one but for me, it was the reunion of Beer Money, albeit for one night.  It was a nice touch and put a smile on my face.  This is something TNA does so well - they never forget or re-write their history like the WWE often does.

Least Favorite Moment - The finish to the X Division title match.  It's embarrassing what's become of the once-prestigious X Division.  I truly hope the company returns this division to its rightful place within the TNA landscape because it's unacceptable to me the condition it is in now.

MVP of the Night - On a night that AJ Styles made his return to TNA, Magnus was the MVP.  The Brit outshined him in the final segment of the show.  That bodes very well for Magnus' title reign and TNA's future.

Grade - Overall, I thought this week's Impact was enjoyable and much better than last week's.  I give Impact a deserving B this week.  Things are looking up for a company that's gone through so much adversity in recent months.  I see some TNA fans on social media have expressed their frustration over the behind the scenes uncertainty and all the anti-TNA sentiment that's triggered it.  To those fans, I say: hang in there.  TNA is in a good place.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  In the meantime, avoid sites that resort to TNA bashing or subtly taking jabs at the company simply for hits.  And unfollow those who resort to trolling on Twitter.  This is the reason why we created TNAMecca - to provide TNA fans a site in which will enhance their TNA experience, not discourage it.  Hang in there, TNA fans.  TNA will have a fabulous 2014.  This isn't hyperbole.  It's a promise.

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