23 March 2014

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Mar 20, 2014

The brawl between Abyss and Eric Young to start the show was a refreshing change from the standard opening promo.  Good action here and the chain-choke spot looked convincing as EY's face went to almost a purple color.  EC3 VS Lashley was a decent match until Willow interrupted things and attempted to repeat his revenge-fueled destruction on Ethan (like he did on Spud and probably will seek to do on Magnus also).  Carter slithers away from Willow and that's that.  They kept building towards the Bully/Dixie meeting all night which was a nice teaser.  Samoa Joe and MVP seem to have beef now after Joe has already became frustrated with MVP's decisions.  The Ethan/Magnus tension is near boiling point as they have both made it clear that they despise one another.  That could be some foreshadowing to Ethan possibly being the person that eventually costs Magnus the title, beginning a long feud between those two.

The show got really good during the Gunner/Storm segment.  Heartfelt stuff again from Gunner as he continues to improve on the mic.  The beer bottle shot on his father from Storm was one of the most unpredictable and shocking things that I have seen in professional wrestling in a long, long time.  I literally gasped when it happened.  His dad deserves a lot of praise for how well it came off as he sold that shot like a champ.  Lei'D Tapa VS Gail Kim was fine, but the end game her was obviously Tapa leaving TNA for reasons that have been rumored and speculated about.  The backstage segment with MVP and Willow was bizarre but THAT is Willow.  He is a bizarre, unorthodox character.  He established that he is his own man and he wants nothing to do with taking a side or politics.

I wasn't enamored with The Beautiful People in-ring segment as it kind of got drug out but the eventual result is one that most fans want with them reuniting.  Interestingly enough, Madison Rayne turned them down and then Love beat her down in the back which most likely translates to TBP being heels again?  It seems like DJ Z is going to have a funny one-liner (this time was a reference to them not being a stranger to international 3-ways) each time he's in his DJ booth while introducing BroMans, which is a humorous touch.  The actual match between The Wolves, BroMans & Sanada/Tigre Uno was fine but I wish it would have received a bit more time.  The writing is on the wall for The Wolves to eventually regain the belts, only it will actually be on TV this time.  Nice vignette for The King of the Night again as he will return soon.  Also a good vignette for Knux and his valet (Tanea or Taynia?) as he will be reintroduced to the company.

The Bully/Roode scene at Dixie's office was done fairly well.  It did take some suspension of  disbelief to deal with Bully talking to an obviously empty chair.  Still, I thought it all worked OK as Roode beat him down.  Bobby did kind of overdo the "You Don't Screw With Bobby Roode!" line as he said it several times.  MVP volunteered to be chained to Abyss as the main event gets underway between Joe and Magnus.  The match was kind of been-there-done-that and seemed to fall flat somewhat.  Abyss throwing the chair into Joe's face was a nice spot but other than that it was kind of forgettable. 

Favorite Moment  - The beer bottle shot on Gunner's dad was absolutely INSANE!

Least Favorite Moment -  The Knockouts match simply felt like a formality to get rid of Tapa as soon as that stipulation was announced.

MVP of the Night - Gunner's dad?  Not sure how that happened but it did.

Grade - This was not a great episode of IMPACT IMO.  I give it a C-.

I really liked the brawl that opened the show. It started the show off hot and was a good change of pace from the standard opening promo we normally get. EC3 vs Lashley was decent while it lasted, but it seems the direction with Carter is moving from Lashley towards Willow, who looks to be on the warpath against those who cost Hardy the title at Final Resolution. Joe seems to be going a little tweener since Lockdown, having some kind of beef with EY and now MVP, while its good their giving Joe several people to move into his next feud with, I'm not quite sure how he can move into a program with one without interacting or feuding with the others.

The segment with Gunner, his Father and James Storm took their feud to another level. The beer bottle to Gunner's dad was out of the blue, and how Gunner's dad sold the shot was very good and realistic. What a great segment to build up next weeks match, which should be very brutal and very entertaining. The Tapa vs Kim match felt very rushed seeing as they only broke up last week, but once the stipulation was announced it became very clear they were doing the match so Tapa could finish up with the company. The Beatuful People segment went a little long but the end result was good, their best run was together and with the move TNA might start re-building a KO tag division around them. Madison turning them down made sense, she's the Knockouts champion and she doesn't need to be part of a group, which when she was saw her as the lackey of the trio. Angelina beating down Madison was a cool twist, it now begs the question will Velvet side with Madison or will she turn heel with Angelina and get back to what made the pair successful.

Short but sweet 3 way tag match with the BroMans retaining. This match achieved 2 things, it got over the story that the Wolves have yet to be beat by the BroMans in a Tag Team title match, giving them a legit reason to still be #1 contenders, and after losing the match, it gives Sanada and Tigre Uno a reason to move on from the Tag Division and into the X Division. I'm looking forward to seeing Kenny King return, the King of the Night gimmick should be a nice fit for him and give him a chance to shine. The Knux video was interesting, it looks like its going to document his visit back home over the next few weeks and re-introduce Knux with a different character before he returns.

Pretty creative way for Roode to get revenge on Bully. I would have preferred someone sat in the chair moving it from side to side at times so it didn't look empty, but other than that it was a good beatdown that will continue what should be a great feud. The main event wasn't bad, but it didn't come across as good as it should have done. There wasn't that much to discuss other than MVP chaining himself to Abyss, who still ended up helping Magnus get the win. I don't know if its my disappointment at the lack of explanation behind Abyss and Magnus' pairing, but this didn't feel like the main event it should have been.     

Favorite Moment - Storm's beer bottle shot on Gunner's dad, it was dramatic, shocking and sold very well by Mr Lail.

Least Favorite Moment - The Kim/Tapa match just felt like a formality to get Tapa out of TNA, it could have been built up better and felt like an end to a pairing/break-up feud rather than just a match.

MVP of the Night - It's a tie between James Storm and Gunner's dad. Storm is really getting over as an evil red-neck bastard, his facial expressions and promos are great right now. Gunner's dad shares the honour simply for his sell of the beer bottle shot, he made it look very real and shocking, which made the segment come across well. 

Grade - It wasn't the best of Impact's, several things pulled  the show down this week, there was still some good in their, so my grade for this week is a C.

Chris Regal
TNA have been on such a roll lately that a show that's not as good stands out more and unfortunately, this week's show did that for me.  By no means did I not like Impact but there was something lacking for me this week that I'm not sure I can put my finger on.  With that said, I still enjoyed much of the show and I feel like the company is headed in the right direction from a creative and philosophical standpoint.  The one aspect that still seems to affect the shows for me is the Impact Zone, although I realize that it's a necessary evil right now until the company can get to a point where they're financially able to take Impact on the road permanently.  If that ever happens, however, is anyone's guess.

The world title scene, at the moment, consists of Magnus, Samoa Joe, Abyss, and Eric Young with MVP as the mediator.  That's an interesting dynamic and one that intrigues me simply because all four talents were essentially non-factors a couple of years ago.  Incidentally, all four are also TNA originals.  Although the relationship between Magnus and Abyss will get some getting used to, I think there's a place in pro wrestling for unorthodox duos, and this is one of them.  Never would I have imagined that TNA would pair them up but they have and although the explanation behind it is flimsy at best, I will give it a chance as I like both wrestlers.  Unlike others, I don't have an issue with the way Magnus has been winning matches, although I admit it the interference was ridiculous at one point.  However, the writers have finally settled in and have streamlined Magnus' title reign now that Dixie Carter is out of the picture.  Abyss' involvement adds a new element in that he, unlike Dixie, can challenge Magnus for the world title so I'm curious to see if the writers go there.  So the main narratives in the world title scene appears to be Magnus' machinations to hold on to the belt with Abyss as his insurance policy, Samoa Joe's desire to get a fair shot at the title, Eric Young's guilt for his role in Abyss' evolution, and MVP trying to hold it  all together as the new Director of Wrestling Operations.  It's a fascinating story and from what we've seen so far, there are no true allies in this equation.

I think the most significant moment of this week's show was the segment between Gunner and James Storm which also included Gunner's dad.  It was one of those segments that made my jaw drop in a way that only pro wrestling can.  We've seen family members become part of a feud and often become targets of the heels but I don't think I've ever watched an angle featuring a family member as successful as the one we watched this week.  James Storm's attack on Gunner's dad was simply brutal.  The beer bottle to the head looked so realistic that I genuinely felt bad for the man.  In actuality, the man was legit hurt in that segment as I believe he twisted his ankle.  Overall, a truly memorable segment.

In other developments, the Beautiful People have reunited sans Madison Rayne, who technically was not an original member so I am fine with that.  When it was confirmed that Angelina Love would be returning to TNA, I immediately hoped for two things: the reunion of the Beautiful People and their heel turn.  Judging by this week's events, it looks like both will happen and I am ecstatic.  The Beautiful People are at their best when they're bullying and tormenting other Knockouts on the roster.  Willow attacked another member of Team Dixie this week, which makes perfect sense storyline-wise.  EC3 now appears to be involved in three feuds, with Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley, and now Willow.  A fourth could soon develop with Magnus.  If ever there were any questions as to whom management believe is the future of the company, I think this is an indication.  And lastly, Bully Ray and Bobby Roode continue to one up one another in what has been a violent feud.  In almost every encounter, someone has gone through a table, been brutally attacked by a gang, or been hit over the head with piece of a cardboard (which I'm now convinced is TNA trolling someone or something).  I'm actually scared to find out how this feud will ultimately end.

Favorite Moment - The honor goes to James Storm smashing a beer bottle over Gunner's dad head simply because it was perfectly executed, from the great camera angle to the execution of the bottle smashing to the dad's selling of the shot to the head.  It was simply brilliant.

Least Favorite Moment - I hate to say it but I find that the show feels a bit too disjointed with so many Knockouts segments.  This week, we got two in-ring segments and multiple backstage segments.  One less in-ring segment would be my preference.  I might get some criticism for this but I feel that the shows work better when there's only one in-ring Knockouts segment per show plus some backstage promos.  This week, it was Knockouts overkill for me. 

MVP of the Night - This one's tough as I don't feel like anyone truly stood out but I will give this week's honor to Gunner dad's for the way he sold Storm's brutal attack on him.  When he fell to the floor, I honestly thought he was legitimately knocked out.  Kudos to Gunner's dad.

Grade - I think this week's show was not bad but it feels like it was a downgrade from previous shows simply because they were so good.  I enjoyed it for the most part and overall feel optimistic about the company's direction.  However, something about this week's show was lacking for me so I give it a generous C+.

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