12 January 2014

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Jan 9, 2014

This was a monumental episode for TNA, and I think in retrospect, more fans will appreciate how unique and special it really was.  The opening promo with Dixie, AJ and Magnus was a gem.  I don't care what anyone thinks of the following opinion.......but I frickin' love the Dixie-Heel-Southern Debutante character still.  There are little nuances that Dixie has integrated into it that most people hate but I find amusing.  I won't ramble on about it, but sufficed to say it has worked.  AJ was emotionally invested in what he had to say, and Magnus played the new-heel-champ role well.  It continues to baffle most people whether or not AJ is really coming back or not but he didn't give anything away with his words.  Now, the wrestling match later may have leaned that way but the words involved did not. 

The elimination of the faces or "Friends of AJ" were taken out through-out the night starting with ODB and EY.  Joseph Park took a hard bump onto the guardrail courtesy of a BroMans finisher, "The Bro-down".  Kinda odd booking of a #1 Contenders match for the Tag Titles against the current champs (and their awesome DJ may I add)......BERP BERP BERP I never have liked the "current champ/s VS contenders who must pin them AND THEN then get a match for actual title/s later" scenario.  Man, Bad Influence are 2 patient men as they deserve a tag title match and shots at other titles as well (I guess it's still taking a long time to have Abyss resurface with the TV Title). 

Besides AJ and Magnus, the star of this show was Samoa Joe.  The fire seems to be back in his eyes after the intense backstage conversation with Dixie Carter.  Joe is going to come after Magnus sooner than later.  EC3 and Joe had a decent match besides the "no contest" finish.  Ethan takes him out afterwards with a wrench meanwhile Rockstar Spud plays his role perfectly imo.  Storm and Gunner are a semi-boring part of the show to me, but I'd almost rather have Storm just take Gunner's case away at this point.  The systematic elimination of all of AJ allies continued and all of them were gone except Sting, who kept trolling Team Dixie. 

Angle VS Bad Influence in the cage was decent, except Daniels and Kaz deserve more respect than losing to Kurt Angle 2 on 1 to be honest.  Sting VS Roode in the cage was an average match with Roode rightfully winning of course.  I think the Bully/Anderson stuff is kind of polarizing with the audience but I do like it for the most part.  TNA is totally going to keep doing the ominous background music for Bully, which is still a weird fit for a lot of fans.  The AJ vs Magnus match was a spectacle (as Chris Regal wrote about) and totally served its purpose.  I had no problem with it at all as it had to be done that way for it to make sense storyline-wise.  I implore fans to be objective and think for yourselves here.  Don't take the TNA-hater-sites and dirtsheets' word for everything.  It's up to you whether you like or dislike something.  I respect honesty.  I have a hard time respecting sheep who always go along with the "popular/cool thing to do at the time".  That "cool thing" lately has been to shit on what TNA is currently doing and their direction.  I understand the frustration with AJ and Jarrett reportedly gone, but give the product a chance.  Bobby Roode looked like a badass in the midst of all the chaos.

Favorite Moment - Samoa Joe's intensity was a welcomed sight to see.  I think we have Magnus' 2nd legit contender for his new World Title.

Least Favorite Moment - Gunner and Storm.  They are a sore spot on the show currently for me. 

MVP of the Night - Bobby Roode stood out in that main event like nobodies business.  He is coming for that World Title, no doubt.

Grade - I give this episode an A-.  It had all the elements of a big show that will be etched in TNA History.

This week's Impact can be best described as a two hour story, with the focus throughout the night being on AJ vs Magnus, and almost every part of the show tied into that main event. Throughout the show Dixie Carter orchestrated a systematic removal of the "Friends Of AJ". It was refreshing to Dixie interacting with the likes of Gail Kim & Lei'd Tapa, The BroMans and Bobby Roode, recruiting them to be apart of her plan to make sure that AJ Styles had no chance of defeating Magnus. The opening promo was enjoyable, and set the main event up nicely.

Very smart booking for the tag match finish. Gail & Tapa take out ODB, which draws EY away from the match to tend to his wife, thus putting Joseph Park in a 2 on 1 situation, giving the BroMans the chance to beat him down, then slam him onto the guard rail and send him to the hospital. If Samoa Joe doesn't end up leading the charge against Team Dixie then something is wrong, he was great in his segment with Dixie, and like I said in a recent POV he can thrive in that anti-establishment role which would allow him to be a lovable bad-ass. It was nice to see EC3 have a competitive opponent, though the aim of the match was for Carter to take out Joe and eliminate yet another Friend Of AJ.

Its a different Dynamic with the Storm/Gunner feud, normally when a team breaks up you have a clear face and a clear heel, take both the AMW and Beer Money break-ups for example, but with this both man have reason to be pissed with one another. I look forward to seeing which one will turn, as it stands both could, and I expect it to happen during their match at Genesis. It was also good that the writers had them taken out backstage after the segment, it would have been very easy for them to use the simple excuse that they are feuding with each other so they would be busy, which is just lazy, but most people know both Storm and Gunner would have AJ's back, so them being taken out was a nice addition to the story.

Bad Influence vs Kurt Angle was a fun cage match. I thought the EGO alliance had totally been forgotten, but it was good to have Roode get his buddies to try and weaken Angle before they face off next week. Sting vs Roode was a little slower and not as good, but still gave Roode a good win going into next week. The Bully Ray character continues to evolve, he really is becoming a creepy individual, threatening not only Mr Anderson, but his wife and unborn twins. It should be very interesting to see their match at Genesis.

The main event has taken quite a bit of hate, personally I thought it was exactly the way this story should end....for the time being. There was no way Dixie was going to leave it just to Magnus to get the job done, she tried it with Bully and it failed. Dixie has created herself an entourage over the past few months, so why wouldn't she just send them all down to take out AJ. I thought the involvement of EGO was standout, Bad Influence have a long history with AJ, so them getting involved in AJ's last match was like tying up a loose end. As for Roode, I thought he shone, he made the most Impact and stood out in that final segment. It really was a new beginning on Thursday, Magnus is now the Undisputed Champion, while Dixie seems to have taken control of the company fully with the support of a good portion of the roster. Next week will have a new beginning feel, and I cant wait to see what happens.

Favorite Moment - Bobby Roode laying out AJ, it really stood out to me and made Roode look great.

Least Favorite Moment - Tough to call, I'll go with The Gunner/Storm promo. I like the angle, but the promo didn't totally click for me, and on any other episode I wouldn't say this, but there was a lot of good this week

MVP of the Night - Bobby Roode. He continues to have Angles number, a victory against Sting in the cage and to top it off, he was the deciding factor in the main event.

Grade - A from me. I really liked how everything tied into this big final angle. Good show that has me excited to see where this new era will take TNA.

Chris Regal
After winning the Bound for Glory series, AJ Styles called out Dixie Carter and the feud for the soul of Impact Wrestling, and TNA, was officially on.  Since then, Styles left the company with the title belt and defended it across the world against Dixie's wishes.  In order to save face, the President of TNA began the process of crowning her own champion via a world title tournament, which culminated with a Dixieland finals match between Magnus and Jeff Hardy.  While AJ Styles remained away with the real championship belt, Dixie Carter was handpicking her new champion, Magnus.  Having had enough, Styles returned to TNA last week during Magnus' fabulous coronation to issue a challenge - a champion vs champion match for the TNA world championship, which Magnus agreed to.  The brief synopsis above spanned about four months and it led us to one of the biggest spectacles in TNA history.  It was an event that TNA and pro wrestling fans will never forget.  January 9th, 2014 will forever be known as the day that Dixie Carter screwed AJ Styles.  The Phenomenal One, AJ Styles.  I hope fans realize the magnitude of this simply because it has changed the course of Impact Wrestling for good.

Everything about this week's Impact was specifically designed to make sure that AJ Styles did not leave the Impact Zone with the TNA world championship belt.  With the exception of a minor glitch here or there, the execution of Dixie Carter's plan was flawless.  Anyone who might've posed a threat to her plan was taken care of, some in the most violent of ways while others were simply coerced out of the Impact Zone.  It left AJ Styles vulnerable.  Dixie Carter, however, knowing what Styles is capable of did not take her foot off the pedal.  Within seconds into his match against Magnus, Ethan Carter III and Rockstar Spud wasted no time in dismantling Styles.  And then the BroMans and Zema Ion.  And Bad Influence.  It was a scene right out of Nat Geo Wild - a pride of young male lions going in for the kill.  Unfortunately, their prey was an enormous African buffalo who simply refused to go down, leading to the involvement of the It Factor, Bobby Roode.  Akin to an adult male lion, Roode swooped in to finish the job, absolutely annihilating AJ Styles and officially putting an end to his TNA career.  It was truly spectacular.  From a storyline perspective, the last four months have been well done so I give kudos to the writing staff.  But the ending to this story was simply amazing.  I'm sure TNA had planned to stretch this out a bit longer but due to Styles' contract expiring, they were forced to wrap it up prematurely but honestly, I'm glad that this drama is finally behind us.  We can now all move TNA's next chapter.

Favorite Moment - I will go with Bobby Roode's involvement in the main event.  As huge as he's been in recent years, this moment somehow managed to elevate his status, in my opinion.

Least Favorite Moment - I'm not sure there were any.  Perhaps, the writers could have found a better way to dispose of Kurt Angle. 

MVP of the Night - I could easily go with Bobby Roode here but I'm going to give Dixie Carter a huge kudos as well for giving the haters the middle finger for the abuse that the poor woman takes on a daily basis.  She's been magnificent in her role and this week, she was simply brilliant.

Grade - A great show.  From beginning to end, it was one of the best executed pro wrestling shows I've watched from a storyline standpoint.  For this reason, I give it a well-deserved A.  My excitement for TNA is at an all-time high right now so I can't wait to see what happens next.

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