23 February 2014

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Feb 20, 2014

Good exchange to start off between MVP and Magnus. Both were good on the mic, especially Magnus who established himself more as a leader than a yes man to Dixie Carter. Magnus bailing on EC3 was hilarious, especially after EC3 was going off at MVP & Gunner. The confrontation backstage was good too, I'm interested to see where this issue between the two goes. Samoa Joe didn't have a huge role on the show, however the win over the BroMans made him look good going into Lockdown, BroMans got a good amount of offence, which they needed seeing as their the Tag Team Champion's, but Joe's comeback established the hot run he's on at the moment.

The Samuel Shaw stuff was both creepy and well done. The visual of him dragging the production assistant away while shushing him was perfect. And him taking out Anderson and taking Christy away continues the stalker angle, but also starts something between Shaw and Anderson, which could get the two on the Lockdown card. Damn do I miss Beer Money after that segment, it came across as very real and showed that no matter what happens, there will always be that bond between Storm and Roode. I like the tease of Austin Aries in Lethal Lockdown. It would give him and big role at the PPV, and allow TNA to do a re-boot for the X Division in an X-scape match. With Zema Ion already around, names like Kenny King and Manik waiting in the wings to return, and the tease of more new talents, I think that would be a good way to bring some attention back to the division.

While I'm not interested in the Knockouts ATM, the Street fight got my attention. Good effort from Gail and Madison, and I look forward to seeing what they do at Lockdown. That with the tease of new Knockouts from Christy Hemme, I'm hopeful the Knockouts division will regain my interest starting at Lockdown. The videos on Gunner and Magnus were great, especially the Gunner one. I think this really helped a lot of the audience connect with Gunner and become more invested in him, one thing he's lacked in his TNA run is a real background story, in my eyes he's got all the tools, but needed that human side to be shown to the audience to build a connection between Gunner and the fans, and I think this achieved it. Gunner giving Storm the Tag Title shot was very subtle, and is very interesting after what happened during the main event.

Bobby Roode's promo was very good. All night he showed a very honest, real side to him, and I'm sure many thought he was really walking away. Not a huge fan of the 10% stake Dixie gave Roode, but Bobby being a businessman it makes sense for him to take it along with the captaincy of Lethal Lockdown. Really liked the Wolves vs Bad Influence tag match. Obviously they held a little back for a future match but very good none the less, hopefully their are more additions to come in the tag division. The Willow vignette was nuts, and I enjoyed it. Apart from the Anti-Christ, Hardy has been doing the same thing for years, so like the Insane Icon was for Sting, Willow could be a great gimmick change for Hardy and make him another great character in TNA.

I thought the World Title match was a solid main event. For me Gunner was elevated this past Thursday, and I think he has potential to be a big player going forward. the Storm turn came off great, The Last Call looked so out of the blue and really shocked a lot of people. Magnus once again walks away the Champion after a little help, and the heel turn of Storm should hopefully re-rejuvenate his character and give Gunner his first big feud.

Favorite Moment - I thought the Gunner vignette was very well done and really gave the main event a big fight feel.

Least Favorite Moment - I cant say their was one, I could say the Knockouts match due to my lack of interest in the division right now, but that would be unfair on a good match between Gail Kim and Madison Rayne.

MVP of the Night - Undoubtedly Gunner. He really went to a higher level and established himself as a face in TNA's future. 

Grade - This was a very enjoyable show for me, and not a bad moment in my eyes. I'll give this one a solid A, very good show and continues the great run TNA has been on lately.

Chris Regal
Before I begin my review of this week's Impact, I have to give a shoutout to the fans in Manchester.  They were a TNA-savvy crowd who looked like they were emotionally invested in the product and cared about the wrestlers and the stories they were telling.  TNA's product is much more nuanced than, let's say, the WWE's so whenever a live crowd truly gets it, it makes the show so much better as a viewer.  It also makes me feel so good as a fan of the company and a fan of pro wrestling.  Kudos to you, Manchester.

For the last couple of months, we've anticipated James Storm's heel turn but the more the writers prolonged it, the more it became less inevitable.  A few weeks ago, we thought the writers had put an end to the Storm-Gunner feud when they appeared to make up in front of a live crowd in Glasgow, Scotland.  Since then, the writers masterfully focused on Gunner's world title aspirations while allowing Storm to lay low until he could execute his plan - to cost Gunner the world title in a way that it would sting the most.  After all, Storm could have sabotaged Gunner's chances by simply turning on him on two occasions since their reconciliation - their tag match against Bad Influence for the world title briefcase and last week's briefcase vs briefcase tag match against Magnus and Ethan Carter III.  But James Storm chose the last possible minute.  A phenomenal job by the writers.

Bobby Roode feigned leaving the company in a wonderfully nuanced promo that the live crowd in Manchester completely bought into.  I suspect that Roode was hoping to force Dixie Carter into giving in to his demands for a world title shot, but instead, the TNA President dangled the promise of part-ownership in front of him.  It was an interesting twist that I hadn't seen coming.

The Wolves wrestled a tag match against Bad Influence and I couldn't be happier.  It was, once again, an appetizer for those of us who are clamoring for a longer Wolves match.  I must say, TNA has done an exceptional job methodically building up the Wolves, especially for those who have never heard of the American Wolves.  I realize the internet marks believe that Ring of Honor is a mainstream brand that is well-known nationally and internationally by wrestling fans but the reality is that most wrestling fans have never heard of or watched ROH.  So TNA have booked the Wolves inside the ring like a newly discovered tag team while advertising them as the biggest free agents in pro wrestling.  It's a truly brilliant strategy, and one that's working.

Favorite Moment - This week, I have to give the honor to Davey Richards' howling before stomping on Christopher Daniels off the top rope for the win.  It was a mark out moment for me.  TNA often gets criticized for their production issues, and deservedly so at times, but the camera work for the final moments of the Wolves vs Bad Influence match was outstanding.

Least Favorite Moment - There was nothing that was blatantly bad this week but I'll pick the Knockouts' street fight for simply being too short.  It needed more time.

MVP of the Night - Gunner was the clear MVP of this week's show.  From the touching video package to the strong performance in the world title match to the live crowd getting completely behind him, Gunner came across like a star.  It was wonderful.

Grade - I initially planned to give this show a B+ but the last two matches of the show - the world title and the Wolves tag match - elevated it to a A- for me.  It was another fantastic show.

During the opening with Team Dixie backstage and the subsequent in-ring promo with MVP, Magnus really started throwing his weight around.  I thought it was his best mic work since he's been World Champ as he has now firmly established himself as the alpha male.  I have to admit that I was wrong about MVP.  He has been great in his role, and off-camera he has been #TeamTNA all the way.  This man is committed to being a team player and he has 100% changed my mind about him.  I don't remember an ex-WWE guy being this on-board besides maybe Christian & Team 3D.  I digress.  Bobby Roode was fantastic all night.  They set-up his stuff so well and he legit got emotional during his in-ring promo.  The tease of a Beer Money reunion was a nice touch also.  Roode deserves to be a Lethal Lockdown captain and I can't wait to find out the participants on each team.  The 10% ownership offer from Dixie was not my cup of tea because it seems like minority-ownership-stake talk in regards to TNA is starting to become too commonplace for my liking.  I get it though.

The Samoa Joe VS BroMans 3 on 1 match was fun as Joe was SUPER over with the Manchester faithful.  Again, the crowd made the show go to another level and I will keep complimenting the Brits over and over because they deserve the praise.  The Samuel Shaw stuff through-out the night was frickin' fantastically awesome.  Samuel has doing a tremendous job with this character and I can't wait to see his first feud with Mr. Anderson take shape.  I really hope Austin Aries is involved with Lethal LockDown.  His backstage scene with MVP was very clever.  I also hope (as many have been clamoring for) that there is an X-Division Xscape match at LockDown to determine the #1 Contender.  A returning list of Manik, Kenny King, Sonjay Dutt, Petey Williams along with Zema Ion and Rockstar Spud would work for me (although I'm not sure Spud will be involved). 

Rayne VS Kim was a serviceable match, and Gail got busted up the hard way with the steel chair.  Their LockDown match should be pretty good but I admit I'm looking ahead to some new faces and feuds for the Knockouts.  The vignettes on Magnus and Gunner were quality, but they did shave a chunk off of them which seemed like an odd decision.  Storm getting handed the Tag Team briefcase was also odd to me as it kind of devalues the briefcases in my mind.  Bad Influence VS The Wolves made me so excited for what the future of TNA's Tag Team Division may be, as it is going through a much-needed resurgence.  The blood dripping out of Davey mouth at the end of the bout was a stunning visual.  I also dig the wolf call when he goes up for the stomp off the top rope.  Great appetizer for what The Wolves are capable of. 

Willow.........WILLOW!  Willow?!?  Wow......just wow.  They have a chance to make this a career-reviving character change for Hardy.  I have never been this excited for Hardy's return as I am now.  These vignettes make me feel like I'm on hallucinogens as they are INSANE.  The sentences he strings together are pure MADNESS!  Gunner VS Magnus totally put Gunner on the map as a big-time player.  He looked like a star and his feud with Storm just went to a completely different level now.  Not reading the spoilers made The Cowboy's heel turn so believable and poignant for me.  Sweet main event and Magnus remains the paper champ.     

Favorite Moment - The Samuel Shaw segments were my favorite.  Good stuff! 

Least Favorite Moment - I'm having a hard time caring about Madison and Gail's feud. 

MVP of the Night - Gunner went to another level on this show.  He works so hard and has finally won over a majority of the audience.

Grade - This show was not as great for me as the previous 3 but still earns an A-.

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