02 February 2014

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Jan 30, 2014

Lewis Harris
My biggest concern going into Glasgow was that it would be a show dominated by the reveal of the Investor and that not a lot of thought would have gone into the matches themselves that night.  Whilst there was a constant stream of references to the reveal throughout the night, they were definitely needed as I found myself invested in every single match and by the end of the main event I had almost forgotten we still had the reveal to come.  Some have said that there were too many promos, but personally I think they struck a great blend of wrestling and talking.  None of the mic work was superfluous, and most of it was short, concise and drove forward a lot of stories in meaningful ways.

Bobby Roode continues to be awesome, confidence growing that Joe and Angle consider him such a threat, and the revelation that Dixie has promised him a World title shot for services rendered.  The Abyss and EY storyline has taken a turn for the worse as they look set to fight amongst themselves, resulting in Bad Influence (the biggest shit stirrers in TNA!) starting to work their magic on a new fractious relationship in the form of Gunner and Storm.  Sabin being dumped, Anderson and Bully taking their feud to the next level, the friction between Magnus and EC3, the lack of confidence Dixie is having in her new World Champion... TNA did everything right for me in this show.

The biggest surprise for me was perhaps how well received Samoa Joe and Gunner were by the Glasgow crowds.  I have been worried for a long time that TNA was suffering from a lack of faces to compete in the World Title scene, but these two gave some great performances on the mic on Thursday and really began shifting my perception of them both.  Gunner in particular and his talk about his time in the marines could have resulted in some fairly ugly booing from a non-native crowd, but Scotland was lapping it up.  It felt like TNA were teasing a heel turn for James Storm (I doubt I was the only person thinking that when Storm said sorry and shook Gunner's hand, he would add a customary "...about your damn luck!" and Last Call Gunner in the chops), and I believe that Gunner could do a fairly decent job as a top face as a result.

The Investor reveal wasn't so much of a revelation as MVP is one of the names that had been circulating the most beforehand, but they did it very well.  I am fortunate enough not to have ever seen him during his time in WWE, so am looking at his appointment with an open mind.  Some might argue that MVP is counter-intuitive to the current youth movement, but they need an established name of some sort to make this Hostile Takeover angle work.  I look forward to what MVP can bring in the coming weeks.

Favourite Moment - Tough call with the hilarity of the Spud/Wolves segment and the MVP reveal, but my favourite moment (or moments) has to be the squabbling we saw between Magnus and EC3.  I love the direction TNA are headed with this, like two precocious brats vying for the attention of their favourite Aunt D, adds a great dimension to TeamDixie.

Least Favourite Moment - I can't think of any moment I disliked in this show.  The Knockouts match was brutal but quite short, and although it would have been nice to see some X-Division action I feel that there was already so much going on that one of the other matches would have suffered as a result.  I'll say my least favourite moment was probably Tenay's voice breaking when he squawked "M V P!" at the end of the show.  Guy sounded like he had caught his gonads in his zipper.

MVP of the Night - Samoa Joe.  Joe has been floundering for a long, long time now.  It finally looks like he is being placed back in the Title Scene and he did a really good job on the mic and in the ring.  I loved the ending of the main event with Joe scouting Magnus' double-back clothesline and reversing it into the choke for the win, almost wished they saved that ending for their inevitable Title match!

Grade - A solid A from me.  A fantastic show to kick off the 2014 UK Tour, there was nothing I didn't enjoy about it.  Props to Glasgow for being such an awesome crowd!

I am confident in telling you that this was my favorite episode of IMPACT in at least 2 years.  Just a fantastic feeling to this show and the Glasgow crowd made it all come to life.  There was a unique situation in play here with the tape-delay for the U.S. TV audience.  Those fans in the U.K. deserved that kind of gratitude from Impact Wrestling and I'm glad Challenge TV made that happen.  This U.K. Tour is shaping up to be a literal turning point for the company.  I have no idea what happens from this point on, but the next 5 episodes from Glasgow, Manchester and London figure to blow my mind.  It will be cool to look forward to IMPACT each week, even more than usual.  I salute those audiences and the TNA fans "across the pond".  Now to the show.

I knew the heat that Magnus would get from a Scottish crowd would be damn impressive and it lived up to that billing.  Joe and Kurt were equally impressive as the Super-Over faces.  Glasgow frickin' loves Samoa Joe and it was awesome to hear the "JOE! JOE! JOE!" chants.  The Knockouts match did what it needed to do and was more enjoyable than in recent months (the crowd had a lot to do with that also as they reacted 10-fold compared to what the IZ is capable of).  Post-match Chris Sabin pulled out the "I don't know if it's your time of the month" card.  Wowza, that's harsh. Joe was reestablished as a badass all night long as he chokes Roode backstage threatening him to not interfere in their match later.  

The promo with Gunner and Storm was the most enjoyable segment from these 2 in the duration of their time together.  How the hell did Gunner get a Scottish crowd to chant "USA"?!?  The answer is because he finally was speaking from his heart and was very genuine in telling us about his time in the U.S. Military during the Iraq War.  Finally I felt invested in this storyline but they need to have strong follow-up or it will lose momentum again.  I don't feel like this Gunner promo was his "coming out party" like Magnus had last year with his stunning promo, but it's at least a starting point for Gunner.  Storm will still break off from him eventually when the time is right.  Bad Influence had perfect timing here as Kaz hilariously called Storm a "monkey fart", inciting a small chant from the crowd (that made me giggle).  A decent match followed and Gunner retains his World Title briefcase again. 

The "wrestler profile" videos on Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle were the best I have ever seen from TNA.  Whoever is in charge of those deserves a pay raise.  Roode really shined tonight also as the Main Event scene in TNA is getting really good right now.  Rockstar Spud is a show-stealing lil' tart, as he really did a brilliant job with The Wolves in-ring.  Just seeing The Wolves finally beat someone down was very cool.  They are slow-burning their 1st match and that's making people want it even more, which I think is a smart strategy.  Abyss/EY VS BroMans was a serviceable short match with the main purpose being to continue building Abyss as The Monster he used to be.  I am pumped for the Monster's Ball match with EY & Abyss next week as the Final Experiment from The Scientist will be performed.  EY screamed, "Crazy?!? I invented crazy!".  Yes EY, yes you did.

That Samuel Shaw vignette with Christy Hemme! I could write a whole column on it.  A mannequin that he adds her real hair into and sniffs?  Holy balls.  That is something.  Super intense promo with Bully and Anderson, as their elbows rested on a casket; it was a nice touch as I'm looking forward to that match also.  So many good storylines in TNA right now, with EC3 and Magnus getting sideways with each other more and more while they both put on a good face for Madam Dixie backstage.  Quality Main Event tag match, and the subsequent reveal of MVP as a new investor.  Great hook to end the show as MVP stood on the stage with The Wolves while his rap music theme-song blared over the speakers during his return to TNA to end the show.    

Favorite Moment - The in-ring promo with Angle & Joe as the Samoan Submission Machine was VERY over with the crowd.

Least Favorite Moment - First time I will say NOTHING. 

MVP of the Night - The Glasgow crowd was the star that elevated the show as they made it so enjoyable. 

Grade - I will give a show an A+ for the first time in a Ringside review.  It truly was that kind of show in my eyes.

Chris Regal
This week's Impact, live from Glasgow, delivered on so many levels that it left me anticipating next week's show like never before.  TNA is in a good place right now, especially creatively, and it showed this week.  What struck me the most about Impact was the fact that every single wrestler on the roster is involved in at least one angle.  This is something I felt the shows lacked in 2013.  But it looks like the writers have kicked it into high gear as the show now features wonderfully complex character development for most, continual storyline progression, a renewed focus on attitude, and nicely executed surprises.

The MVP reveal to end the show was so well done that it essentially won over even those who weren't thrilled by his arrival.  Personally, I was indifferent about MVP signing with TNA, but his debut left me wanting more, which is a good sign.  Overall, I'm very excited about the investor's group which also includes Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards, as well as others who haven't been revealed.  So it appears there might be more surprises to come.

In other developments, the Wolves in-ring debut was amazing.  Rockstar Spud, who was brilliant as always, set it up perfectly for Richards and Edwards to show off their finishing move in TNA for the first time.  It was tremendous.  Eddie Edwards' promo to end the segment was quite possibly the best I've ever seen from him.  What I love about TNA is their willingness to give everyone a chance on the mic, whether it'd be in the ring or backstage.  Every talent gets an opportunity to cut a promo, which is something we don't see in the WWE.

Samoa Joe officially became the #1 contender for the TNA world title by choking out Magnus in a tag team match that also involved Kurt Angle and Ethan Carter III.  It looks like TNA are finally giving Joe the push he deserves but more than that, they're re-establishing him as a beast that can't be fucked with.  That is the Samoa Joe we know and love.

And finally, we witnessed another Samuel Shaw/Christy Hemme date and my first thought was, how does TNA plan to outdo their last one.  For those who don't recall, it was the one that featured Samuel threatening the waiter for flirting with Christy.  In any case, TNA did exactly that.  What we saw from Samuel Shaw was truly disturbing; the sort of thing that gives one chills.  With that said, I can't wait to see what the writers have planned next.

Favorite Moment - There were so many special moments this week but I will go with the Wolves' in-ring debut.  I wondered how they would come across in the ring and, in my opinion, they passed with flying colors.  They fit right in and, to me, felt like they've been part of the TNA roster for months.

Least Favorite Moment - Nothing truly felt unnecessary or filler this week.  I also didn't dislike a single thing so I will pass this week.

MVP of the Night - Samoa Joe is back.  We had seen signs of the old Joe in the last couple of weeks but this week, it was confirmed.  He was the star of this week's show and easily, the most over wrestler.

Grade - Excellent show this week.  The only thing that would have made it better is a four-star match which it lacked.  But on every other level, it was outstanding.  For this reason, it gets a well-deserved A from me.  It was that good.  More importantly, it looks like TNA are in a really good place right now so don't believe anyone who says otherwise.  A certain writer for another site claimed that TNA is in bad shape simply due to a couple of production flaws.  It was a gross overreaction on his part.

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