02 March 2014

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Feb 27, 2014

Chris Regal
You know that the Lockdown PPV is fast approaching when everyone on Impact appears to be a bit more irritable than normal.  This week, the claws were out and the top feuds took a turn for the worse.  Magnus and Samoa Joe began the show with a contract signing.  Even though I'm not a huge fan of contract signings - at this point, they're more of a symbolic exercise - I thought TNA executed this one quite well.  The two wrestlers brought a new intensity to the table, particularly Joe, who needed not a single spoken word to make a statement.  It was a good contract signing.

Gunner and James Storm came face-to-face in the middle of the ring for the first time since Storm's betrayal of his former tag team partner.  So many times, we hear how underwhelming heel turns are but this is a perfect example of how a turn can essentially rejuvenate a lackluster feud.  Storm's heel turn has made his feud with Gunner must-watch TV for me as I found myself hanging on to every word during their segment.  It's a good thing too because Storm pulled out some of the most biting words you'll hear on any pro wrestling show.  I'm sure there will be those who think it's inappropriate to insert Gunner's military service and his religious beliefs into this feud but I applaud TNA for having the courage to go there.  I follow Gunner on Twitter and if there are two things I truly know about him, it's that he served in the U.S. military and he's very religious.  So when James Storm shouts out that nobody cares if Gunner "lived or died" during the Iraq War, it doesn't get more real than that.

After Kurt Angle was officially inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame, Ethan Carter III attempted to rain on his parade by announcing to the world, like any respectable dirtsheet, that Angle's knee was in terrible shape and he planned to retire from wrestling.  It was the sort of brilliantly sarcastic promo that only EC3 could deliver and not make it feel corny.  It was fantastic, as was Kurt Angle's response.  Incidentally, Kurt Angle did make an announcement after all - he announced that he would be facing EC3 inside a steel cage at Lockdown.  The dirtsheets, umm, EC3 I mean, was way off.

And lastly, it was the moment we all had been anticipating - Samuel Shaw cut his first in-ring promo and it was hugely entertaining in many ways.  Shaw's complex "relationship" with Christy Hemme finally came to a head as he confessed his feelings for her.  The segment truly took off, however, when Mr. Anderson decided to intervene.  In what was one of this week's most enjoyable moments, Mr. Anderson led the live crowd in a thunderous chant of "creepy bastard", confirming the fact that viewers have taken to this fascinating character.  Joy quickly turned to horror, however, when Shaw locked in his finishing move on Anderson, provoking what was a heart-wrenching moment for me.  I genuinely felt the agony in Anderson's face as a lunatic was choking him out.  It was that good.

Favorite Moment - So many moments were deserving this week but I have to go with Samuel Shaw choking out Mr. Anderson.  It literally made my jaw drop. 

Least Favorite Moment - The editing for the Knockouts match was a mess.  I typically enjoy the chaos but it was simply too much.

MVP of the Night - Austin Aries.  He was heavily pursued throughout the night by Bobby Roode and MVP and in the end, he made the decision that best benefits him.

Grade - A great episode, again, this week which did a great job highlighting the top talents and their feuds.  More importantly, young guys like Ethan Carter III, Gunner, and Samuel Shaw came across as stars, which bodes very well for their pushes.  Overall, I give this week's Impact an B+.

I really dug the Joe/Magnus contract signing as it wasn't "as formal" and MVP did a good job of moderating it.  Joe looks primed to beat Magnus up really bad (even if he doesn't actually win the World Title) and having the match at LockDown fall under "Joe Rules" is intriguing for sure.  TNA did as good of job as possible, given the situation, in showing The Wolves house show title win and then editing out the BroMans actually holding the titles in London.  It felt for a minute like Stewie and Brian (Family Guy) using their time machine while trying to make sure they don't run into themselves from the prior time period but.......I digress.  The actual match between Bad Influence, BroMans and The Wolves was a  joyful exhibition in tag team wrestling.  The only complaint is that it didn't last longer but most matches on IMPACT don't have enough time to really breath so it comes as no surprise.

EC3 was AMAZING all night long.  He has really came into his own as his character is unique and entertaining to say the least.  Nice gesture to bring Doug Williams back in but I was surprised he agreed to be basically squashed by Ethan.  The more vicious and demented side of EC3 adds another layer to his persona which is nice to see.  I have never seen James Storm be so mean and cut so deep.  Telling Gunner that "nobody cared if he lived or died" and later "your God is gonna cut you down" was WOOOAHHHH!  Easy James, we get it.  You're a heel now.  Damn.

Kind of an odd move to bring Bad Bones in just to be annihilated by Samoa Joe.  If you want to see him actually have a good match, watch his Xplosion bout with Daniels as it was very impressive.  Aries kept his Lethal LockDown choice close to the vest all night and basically played MVP like a fool.  The Angle HOF segment was somewhat touching but his recent WWE love-fest on Twitter and in interviews took away the genuineness for me.  I'm at the point now where I appreciate Kurt for what he's done for TNA but I won't be sad to see him go.  EC3 was hilarious again when he crashed the party here and trolled the Internet so hard!  I loved the shots at false Internet reporting.  Suck on that Meltzer.  The Knockouts match was decent but the 2 amazons were both kind of clunky.  Now, don't get me wrong, Alpha Female and Tapa are legit scary and could kick most men's asses in real life.  However, they were a makeshift team that had no chemistry. 

Samuel Shaw had a career-making kind of in-ring promo with Mr. Anderson and Christy Hemme.  Loud chants of "Creepy Bastard" rained down from the London faithful.  He is a favorite of mine and it made me very happy to see him pull this off so well.  His finishing choke looked great due to Anderson selling it so well.  The little nuance of Samuel shushing him in his ear as Ken passed out is very poignant and I hope the follow-up from here with Shaw continues to be done as well.  The Willow vignettes continue to get more insane and demented.  I want to see this character come on the show and LockDown pretty badly now.  They briefly showed Eric Young explain that he's attempted to contact Abyss/Chris Parks to no avail, as the foreshadowing for an appearance/return next week or at LockDown seems evident.  Roode VS MVP exceeded my expectations as the match was pretty damn good.  Aries joining Team Roode was a nice touch but as Austin later explained on Twitter, he's not a heel or face or really on anyone's team.        

Favorite Moment - The Samuel Shaw in-ring segment really put Samuel on the map.  Great job.

Least Favorite Moment - The Knockouts match was just kind of ehhh again.

MVP of the Night - EC3 stood out the most to me.  He is on the brink of REALLY breaking out and becoming a superstar.  He has all the tools and is proving how badly WWE failed on pushing him.   

Grade - This was a good show.  Probably my least favorite of the U.K. Tour though.  I give it a B.

Little different way to start the show with a contract signing. It wasn't the typical sitdown, face to face, across the table signing that always ends with someone going through the table, it was more relaxed and refreshing to see it done this way. The Joe's rules stipulation is interesting, the psychology of the match will be unique with the only way to win being Tap out, Knock-out or Submission. I liked the video of the Wolves title win and the BroMans reaction, it informed viewers of the change and also gave the 3-way tag a reason to be taking place. TNA did a respectable edit to get around the BroMans being shown with the Tag Titles, and the match itself was a little short, but a good showing of all three teams.

Nice to see Doug Williams back for one night, even if it was to put over EC3. I'm glad that TNA are still doing these job matches for EC3, but the quality of the talent is improving, he's established himself as a higher up on the roster, and with the talent he's currently feuding with, him beating a former TV, Tag Team & X Division Champion gives him more legitimacy. The beat down post match continues to show the more ruthless side of Carter, which I expect to see come out more at Lockdown. Very intense promo from Gunner & Storm. This heel turn could be the re-vitalisation of James Storm, some of the things he said really drew some heat and brought home how bitter Storm is towards Gunner. The brawl backstage was well done, and the visual of them facing off with the gate in-between them was great going into Lockdown.

Boy did Samoa Joe tear through Bad Bones. Joe is being booked as unstoppable right now, and people are getting behind him. Its going to be interesting to see who walks out the Champion at Lockdown, because right now Joe is on a role and they might  not want to stop that by having him lose to Magnus. I enjoyed the Hall Of Fame induction, Angle is very deserving of the honour, regardless of his recent comments about wanting to return to WWE. EC3 was hilarious here, from the video to the speech, he was gold. Angle really did a good job of announcing the match, his delivery made it sound like he really wants to get his hands on EC3 and teach the punk kid a lesson.

I'm going to be honest, I hate Alpha Female's acting. The expressions and the body language comes across so forced that I cant bear to watch it. Wasn't the best match from the Knockouts. It seemed like they were rushing during this, especially Tapa. I'm really hoping we get new Knockouts at/after Lockdown, right now other than Gail & Madison I don't care for the division at all. That Boy Samuel gets creepier and creepier. I love the touch of Samuel's new theme music is called "Wanting You" and is sung by Christy Hemme, not many people mentioned it but I thought that was a nice touch, its a good fit too. I like Anderson's involvement here, for Shaw to think Anderson, a proud Husband and new Father, was chatting up Christy when he was just showing her photo's of his baby twins shows how paranoid he is. Anderson mocking Shaw was pretty funny, but it took a turn when Shaw chocked him out. I must say, Shaw's choke is very effective and very creepy, watching Shaw slowly choke someone unconscious while shushing them is a very effective visual.

The Willow video's really have me interested to see the characters debut as well as how it will affect Jeff Hardy's return, will Hardy return as Willow or will they be two separate entities, we shall have to wait and see. Solid main event between MVP and Bobby Roode, you knew Aries would be the deciding factor in who won this. The segments of him talking to both men throughout the night gave you a background on why Aries picked the team he eventually would pick. I'm fairly sure Aries believe he can get more out of Team Dixie than Team MVP, and that was what ultimately made his mind up, the question is what is it.

Favorite Moment - EC3's bit in the Hall Of Fame ceremony. The video and his "big announcement" were very well done, as was Kurt's reaction and challenge.

Least Favorite Moment - The Knockouts tag match. I really hope its true that after next week Alpha Female will be done with TNA.

MVP of the Night - EC3 was entertaining all night. I really enjoy what he's doing right now and look forward to him vs Angle at Lockdown. Honourable mention to James Storm for his promo work throughout the night.

Grade - This week was another good show, bit of a drop from the last few weeks but its still on a good trend. I'll give this week a B.

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