30 March 2014

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Mar 27, 2014

Chris Regal
After a week in which I felt TNA took a step back, probably due to the first night of March Madness, this week's show was a vast improvement.  I mentioned in my weekly Randomania that it looked like, going into the show, TNA was giving the Gunner vs James Storm match top billing.  And indeed they did.  From the opening moments, TNA did an outstanding job building up to the main event.  The show opened with a recap of last week's brutal attack on Gunner's dad in a beautifully filmed video package and throughout the night, TNA aired a retrospective on the complicated relationship between Gunner and Storm, which began with the Cowboy giving a young wrestler a chance to partner with him.  So to me, this week's show would ultimately be judged on one match called Unlocked and I have to say, it was a huge success.  If you haven't watched the match, I strongly suggest that you do.  In my opinion, it was the best match on Impact this year, surpassing the Kurt Angle vs Bobby Roode cage match in Huntsville, and quite a fitting way to end this feud, if that's the case.  But oddly enough, I can watch these two go a couple of more rounds.

In other developments, MVP booked a huge four-way match for the TNA world title next week involving Magnus, Abyss, Samoa Joe, and Eric Young.  I love the way the writers have gone about creating a little bit of tension between every wrestler including MVP, who's interestingly rubbing heels and faces the wrong way equally.  Some don't believe that Eric Young deserves a world title shot but I think it's important not to dismiss the storyline implications in this case.  It makes sense that he's involved in this match next week from a storyline standpoint so I will not impose my own personal beliefs on championship etiquette on TNA.

The Beautiful People have officially reunited after Velvet Sky turned on Madison Rayne.  I've been waiting for this moment for years and I can honestly say that it did not disappoint.  Yes, we were forced to endure a couple of long tedious in-ring promos the last couple of weeks but in the end, it was all worth it.  I'll go out on a limb here and say that the Knockouts Division, which had been a bit stale, will get interesting real fast now that the Beautiful People are roaming the backstage area looking for Knockouts to bully.

Samuel Shaw and Christy Hemme were on full display again this week in what has become pro wrestling's must-watch "love affair".  Every week, TNA finds ways to top themselves and this week was no exception due to the tremendous performance by the two stars.  I'm curious to see how far TNA are willing to take the Shaw character because he's quite capable of creating a buzz for the company at a time when they need it, due to the lack of star power.

Which brings me to this point...we all know that there's a lack of star power in TNA right now and in my opinion, it's a good thing.  It has forced the company to try to create a buzz within the wrestling world (and even the mainstream world) via new and inventive ways, as opposed to the old way in which they simply signed an old former WWE or WCW star.  We're starting to see TNA expanding the barriers of pro wrestling by creating unorthodox characters, even by wrestling standards, and putting them in unconventional situations.  All of a sudden, we're seeing the introductions of characters in non-wrestling scenarios which then are seamlessly dropped right in the middle of a wrestling storyline or feud.  I have to admit, TNA have really struck gold with this concept that's taken us to places such as Samuel Shaw's apartment, Willow's shack in the woods, Knux's hometown, etc.  It'll be interesting to see how the writers continue to tackle all these fascinating characters because it's a formula that, I believe, will work to attract new viewers.

Favorite Moment - So many to choose from this week but I'm going to give the honor to the Gunner vs James Storm match and in particular, the spot where Gunner speared Storm off the apron onto the table on the floor.  It was a 'holy shit' moment that was as dangerous as it looked.

Least Favorite Moment - I can't recall of a moment that I disliked but I will give it to the in-ring promo between Angelina Love and Velvet Sky.  I realize that it led to something later on in the show but the promo could have taken place backstage and that TV time could've been given to the X Division.  Two in-ring segments for the Knockouts is one segment too many for me.

MVP of the Night - This one's easy: Gunner.  The man has become a star right in front of our eyes. 

Grade - A very good episode this week that saw so many new developments, fun moments, and one brutally physical match of the year candidate.  Impact gets a well-deserved B from me this week.

The show kicked off with MVP coming to the ring.  Things got kind of windy between Magnus, Samoa Joe and MVP here but it served a purpose to set-up the World Title bout next week.  I thought the star of the first 30 minutes of IMPACT was Eric Young.  He delivered the best promo of his career and was very convincing about why he deserves to be in the title match.  Least I remind everyone that EY is becoming more famous all the time with his TV shows (yes he will have 2 shows of his own here soon) and has also been extremely loyal to TNA.  It's not like they're putting the belt on him so get over it. 

The Hunt For Willow stuff was really entertaining all night long.  EC3 and Spud have a natural chemistry together.  Spud in the gilly suit was amazingly funny.  Dave Lagana pointed out on Twitter that he looked like an Ewok......coincidental that our own Lewis Harris made and posted some Ewok pics of Spud in the last couple of months?  Just sayin', just sayin'.  The Wolves VS Abyss/Magnus match was pretty decent (funny that I predicted that match would happen without even knowing the spoilers).  The Wolves work well with everyone they've faced so far and this was no exception.  Abyss is already contemplating breaking off from Magnus (thankfully).  The Beautiful People promo was fine, but we've seen lots of talking from them the last 2 weeks.

The Bully/Roode match was good, with all the tables and hard-hitting. Looks like their feud is going to last for a good, long while.  The Knux & Tanaya (still not sure on the actual spelling) vignette was another high-point of the show to me.  We don't even know the full story yet but it is very intriguing for those of us with an open mind.  I want to know who his dad is!  Angelina vs Madison was OK but obviously the progression here is Velvet taking Love's side and finalizing the heel pairing of the original TBP duo.  Although it was brief, the Kenny King appearance eluded to The King of the Night not taking a backseat to anyone.  Looks like he will have a larger role on the show next week, unless MVP brushes him off again that is.  I liked the EY/Joe match as they beat on each other pretty good.  We now know that EY can definitely hang in the ring with Abyss and Joe.

Samuel Shaw did his Creepy Bastard thing again with the snipping of Christy's hair for his collection.  I know it's not for everyone but I enjoy Samuel every single time.  The UNLOCKED fight with Gunner and Storm was brutally vicious again and as old-school as you will find.  These 2 are not done with each other yet as they still need to kick each others' ass for a while.  Willow was playing games with EC3 and Spud and gave Ethan the "infamous umbrella beating".  The point was not that Willow was supposed hurt Carter, it was that he messed with them all night and one-upped them at every turn.  I am actually looking forward to seeing a EC3/Willow feud if that's where this is going.   
Favorite Moment  - The Gunner/Storm UNLOCKED match was my favorite part of the show.

Least Favorite Moment -  The Beautiful People promo seemed like a bit of overkill to have it in the ring again. 

MVP of the Night - Eric Young gave a fantastically honest and poignant promo. The best I've ever seen from him.   

Grade - Much better than last week.  Not perfect but a vast improvement.  I give this show a solid B.

The show started off with MVP and Magnus talking about Abyss only answering to Magnus, so of course MVP books him in a match next week. I'm confused what the stipulation is with Abyss, if its what I think it is, then MVP blatantly did something he couldn't do and Magnus let it happen without questioning it. I really enjoyed EY's promo, it really drove home that regardless of all the comedy stuff he's done over the years, he's really achieved a lot and proved himself, and now with all 4 men having some kind of tension between one another, next weeks 4 way should be a very interesting World Title bout.

It was a smart way to achieve two things in one by booking the Wolves against Magnus and Abyss. It put over the Wolves and made them look strong while it caused a rift between the Champ and his hired Monster. I was certain after TBP promo that Velvet would side with Madison, Love kept taking shots at Velvet saying she was nothing without her made me believe their would be no way they would re-unite, however as we saw it was all a swerve and they planned it the whole time just to get one over Madison. The thing that made TBP what they were was their bitchiness, so them re-uniting as heels should be fun.

Very entertaining brawl between Roode and Bully. This feud should be very fun to watch in the coming weeks, this brawl was a nice tease of the brutality that's to come in this rivalry. Its an interesting story that's unravelling with these Knux vignettes, I don't know what change this is going to cause in the Knux persona, but I must say, I'm interested to find out. The King Of The Night has a sense. It was good to see King pop up backstage with MVP, but it was a little weird how after weeks of videos touting his return, he comes back in a backstage segment. Something tells me this was by design and its going to lead to something, well, I'm hoping that's the case. Samoa Joe vs EY was a good watch, it's great to see Young be able to show his skill and show he can perform with the best in TNA. I did like Brian and Earl Hebner acknowledging the finish, showing that while Joe did choke EY out, Hebner could have given the pin-fall win to EY, who had Joe's shoulders on the mat.

What a creepy segment with Samuel Shaw. This guy still manages to get weirder by the week, my only concern is after this feud with Anderson and Christy, where does the character go from their, I really hope they have something just as entertaining planned for Shaw once this story comes to a close. What a brutal fight between Storm and Gunner, the video packages throughout the night set this match up perfectly, and the match itself delivered. Storm is doing a great job as a heel right now, and Gunner has come across as a star during this rivalry, great match that really delivered the violence. The Hunt for Willow segments were hilarious. EC3 and Spud are a great duo, and some of the conversations they had were fantastic, I'm looking forward to what else the EC3/Willow rivalry will deliver, with Willow being such an outlandish character, they can do several out of the box things with him and EC3, like Carter going in the woods to hunt for Willow. 

Favorite Moment - The Hunt for Willow segments were gold, very entertaining. Special mention to Gunner vs Storm, as they put on a hell of a main event.

Least Favorite Moment - The explanation of Magnus' authority over Abyss, I really don't understand what his say so is or how MVP could still book Abyss in a World Title match against his "boss".

MVP of the Night - It has to go to Rockstar Spud and EC3. These two together are gold, and for me are one of, if not the most entertaining part of the show on a weekly basis.

Grade - It was an improvement from last week. With the Hunt For Willow segments and the Storm vs Gunner main event, I think this show deserves a B.

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