20 April 2014

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Apr 17, 2014

Chris Regal
First of all, on behalf of the entire TNAMecca staff, I'd like to wish those of you who are celebrating the holiday a very Happy Easter.  And second, I'd like to wish my colleague and friend BigDawg a wonderful day as he celebrates his birthday.  On to this week's Impact review.  As those who follow my work here at TNAMecca know, I was a huge fan of Eric Young becoming the new TNA world champion last week so I was very interested to see how the writers would book him this week.  Well, I think they did an exceptional job.  Young opened the show with a promo, promising the fans that his title reign will be fun and I believed him because he comes across as genuine when he speaks.  The opening segment ended nicely with Bully Ray essentially putting over Eric Young, which was a nice touch.  There aren't many who can put over a young champion like Bully Ray.  Unfortunately, the segment meandered a bit when Dixie Carter interrupted Young's speech.  I believe there's a place for Dixie on Impact but this wasn't it.  She's much more comfortable in backstage segments so I think the writers need to keep her out of the ring going forward.

Eric Young's night ended with a challenge by Abyss in a Monster's Ball match and I must say, the last two matches of this kind that I've watched have literally made me cringe.  The first was Abyss vs Jeff Hardy at the Old School One Night Only PPV and the second this week's brutal battle between Abyss and Eric Young.  This sort of match makes you appreciate these magnificent athletes who put their bodies on the line on a weekly basis and often daily.  In the end, Eric Young came out looking like a beast in his first title defense.  TNA were very smart to put him in a position to succeed as a victory over Abyss in Monster's Ball is still something that's seen as quite a feat.  So I'd say EY's first week as TNA world champion was a huge success.  Not only because of his booking but because I get the sense that we're in for a really fun time this Spring with Eric Young leading the way.

In other developments, we saw another tease of a Beer Money reunion as James Storm came out to the ring to help Bobby Roode defeat Gunner.  It was subtle but the signs are there that Roode and Storm are perhaps willing to work with one another.  Last week, we saw the two working together in the 10-man gauntlet match so the writers are putting them in each other's orbits.  Only time will tell if Beer Money reunites, but keep in mind that Storm still possesses a briefcase with the tag title shot.  I have to think that Storm would go to his former partner when choosing one for the tag title match.  The BroMans once again found a way to disqualify themselves in order to hold onto the belts and although I still feel they are lame duck champions, I admit that the writers are at least making us want to see the Wolves finally win the tag titles.  And lastly, the X Division is finally being focused on a somewhat regular basis, although I'd still like to see the division get at least one segment per week.  Sanada vs Tigre Uno was a fun little match that saw some very interesting moves by the two international stars.  If this match is any indication, Match #3 at Sacrifice should be fantastic especially if Sanada and Tigre Uno get a good ten-plus minutes.  I have to say, kudos to TNA for really doing an outstanding job on Sanada's evolution as a wrestler in the United States.  Not only are they finding ways to feature him in the ring (10-man gauntlet, tag title matches, etc) but the narrative of a young Japanese wrestler traveling to the US, with the pressure of an entire nation on his shoulders is one of the most poignant stories I've seen in wrestling in a long time.  Bravo, TNA.  I have to think that the Great Muta is very happy with the way TNA have treated his young protege.

Favorite Moment - Many great moments this week but I have to go with the return of Austin Aries.  His promo further proved why this phenomenal character should be featured on television every week.  It was also great to see that the writers didn't forget that he and MVP were feuding before his extended absence so kudos to the continuity.

Least Favorite Moment - Unfortunately, this week, I have to go with Dixie Carter's in-ring promo.  I think as a character, she's not elevating the show but rather bringing it down.  And that's not good.

MVP of the Night - Eric Young again this week.  He opened the show and closed it out with his arm raised with the TNA world championship belt in his hand.  Tremendous performance by EY this week.

Grade - A great show this week that opened a bit slow but ended with a bang.  We saw the returns of Aries and Kurt Angle, some good storyline development, and the Sacrifice card coming along nicely.  I'd say, this week, Impact earned a well-deserved B+ from me. 

The opening promo with EY, Dixie and Bully was very well done.  Eric showed a lot of good emotion and proved that he's not going to take shit from anyone.  The Knockouts match fit the overall theme of the night which was hard-hitting, hard-core action.  This show had an Old School vibe to it.  Interestingly enough, there was no Magnus on the show as he completely stayed away after dropping the title last week.  Abyss challenged EY to a World Title match, and Eric upped the ante  by demanding it be made into a Monsters Ball! 

The Austin Aries promo with MVP felt like it had some shoot elements to it.  Aries seems VERY disgruntled and it's hard to tell if it's a work or shoot (probably a combination of both).  Good stuff there.  Wolves VS BroMans was a pretty good match as DJ Z Tho made sure that Eddie and Davey did not take the titles yet again.  I still think the pay-off will come at Sacrifice on PPV.  EC3 & Spud VS Willow was entertaining as the chemistry between Ethan and Rockstar Spud is impeccable right now.  Angle returns and it looks as though we will finally get a conclusion to the Angle/EC3 feud now that Kurt is healthy. 

The vignette of Sanada was very well done as we are starting to get to know him better.  Japan should be proud of Sanada as he has represented himself very well.  Tigre Uno has one of the best finishers in the business with the SaberTooth Splash!  Just an amazing high-spot move.  Kenny King did some nice mic work and also represented well on commentary.  Gunner VS Roode in a Tables Match was a stiff-shot carnival of goodness.  Both of these guys are main event material, no doubt.  The Monsters Ball match was SICK!  EY was not going to stop, even with tacks sticking out of his back and blood gushing from his body.  Lots of heart shown by the World Champion as he sent Abyss deeper into the barbed-wire board with a top-rope elbow drop for the victory.  A fast-paced, fun show!

Favorite Moment  - Eric Young delivering an impressive top-rope elbow drop onto Abyss with bloody tacks stuck in his back.

Least Favorite Moment -  The Knockouts match kind of got lost in the shuffle but not really a bad moment tonight. 

MVP of the Night - Eric Young continues to impress me to no end.  The man is doing it all right. 

Grade - I give this show an A-.  Not as good as last week but still very impressive.  Great momentum right now for TNA!

This shows main feature was establishing Eric Young as a serious World Champion. From the opening promo to the face off with Abyss and finally the crazy Monsters Ball World Title match, its hard to say TNA didn't achieve what they set out to accomplish, and more people look at EY now as a serious World Champion. I thought Young's response to Abyss backstage, and Abyss' reaction, were both fantastic, it shows that Young wants to prove he's worthy of being Champion, and the Monsters Ball match was very entertaining, and very brutal.

In other events, Austin Aries and Kurt Angle both made their returns. Aries made it clear he was upset he'd been sat at home and wanted to do something about it, leading to a match next week. Angle returned and went after the man that took him out, EC3. Angle & Willow vs EC3 & Spud was announced for Sacrifice, which allows both EC3's feuds with both of his opponents to continue and have some sort of conclusion. EC3 & Spud are a fantastic pairing, so it was great to see them against Willow on Thursday, and to find out they will tag together in 7 days at Sacrifice.

The Wolves once again challenged the BroMans for the World Tag Team Champions, and once again were screwed out of the victory thanks to DJ Z. I very much believe we get some kind of stipulation match at Sacrifice and the Wolves will finally win the titles. The Knockouts match was a physical bout, Rayne got a rub by overcoming the numbers game and getting the win, giving her some momentum going into her title defence against Angelina Love at Sacrifice. Match 2 in the Best of 3 Series for the X Division title was another solid bout between Tigre Uno and Sanada. Uno gets the W with his awesome SaberTooth Splash, making Match 3 at Sacrifice the decider, and that should be a fantastic X Division Title bout. With Kenny King on commentary during this match, it leads me to believe that King is the next in line to get a shot against the Best of 3 winner.

Favorite Moment - Eric Young coming off the top with the elbow drop on Abyss, seeing that finish and the carnage that was left post match was a nice visual.

Least Favorite Moment - I think this one is None Applicable this week, because I enjoyed this episode.

MVP of the Night - It goes to the World Champ, Eric Young. He looked great on this show and I think shut a lot of critics up.

Grade - Really good episode yet again, it didn't have that shock factor like last week, but something like that is pretty rare. This one gets an A- from me.

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