20 July 2014

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Jul 17, 2014

Chris Regal
We have been anticipating this week's Impact for months, ever since it was even rumored that TNA would be taping their show in New York City.  As highly anticipated as this show was, I feel that it delivered in a big way for TNA.  Firstly, the atmosphere was this week's biggest asset.  The Grand Ballroom of the Manhattan Center is a beautiful venue and it looked simply stunning on television.  The crowd was also a highlight when they weren't trying to get themselves over, which was brief.  It brought me back to the days when TNA's crowds were akin to a college football crowd.  This was before Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff came to TNA in 2010 when the live crowds were told that they were part of the show and they needed to act accordingly.

As for the content, this week's show I believe featured the most wrestling we've seen in months.  I prefer there to be a balance so I personally felt the show was a little too wrestling heavy but it didn't negatively affect my experience because every match was, at least, good.  The highlight of the in-ring action was the main event.  TNA continue to build Lashley up and a clean victory against Jeff Hardy goes a long way in that effort.  The spot of the night was Hardy's Swanton off the top tope onto the steel steps.  It was as insane a move as I've seen in pro wrestling ever.  It was also the most dangerous that I've ever seen.

The X Division gauntlet match was a lot of fun with some nice spots.  You look at this match and all of a sudden, there's some depth in the X Division, the likes of which we haven't seen in years.  Some will argue that Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards are tag team wrestlers, moonlighting as X Division guys.  Well, to them I say, TNA has always successfully intertwined their wrestlers.  The Motor City Machineguns flawlessly went back and forth between the two divisions for years.  Austin Aries has done the same in the Heavyweight and X Divisions.  It doesn't take away from the fact that the current X Division is stacked right now.  And from what we're hearing, the division will only get better in the coming weeks.  The Knockouts also displayed some nice physicality this week with their No DQ match that saw Madison Rayne defeat Brittany.  A good showing by the ladies.

With Ethan Carter III going through a table at the hands of Team 3D, we're one step closer to seeing the inevitable Dixie Carter table spot.  I say inevitable because TNA have telegraphed this moment for months and they're in too deep to turn back now.  The question is, when will it happen?  But with EC3's table spot, it's a sign that we're close.  The Team 3D reunion was nicely done and it looks like TNA will give them a nice farewell tour on their way to their Hall of Fame induction in October.  And lastly, James Storm continues to harass Sanada backstage and this week, he physically attacked him.  I'm loving this storyline simply because it's as much psychological as it is physical.  Storm is preying on Sanada's discipline for some reason and it looks like we will find out next week when the Great Muta appears.

Favorite Moment - This one's easy, the Swanton off the top rope on to the steel steps. I can't even begin to fathom the sort of courage it takes to do what Jeff Hardy did this week.  He's fearless.

Least Favorite Moment - I thought the opening with Kurt Angle was off.  He's never been a great actor but he essentially shit the bed in his promo.  It was awkward and poorly acted.  It could be because Angle had to re-shoot it since he had mentioned AJ Styles and Sting leaving TNA in his initial shoot.  Perhaps TNA felt it wasn't a good idea to namedrop them on a show that Bob Ryder called a "reboot".

MVP of the Night - This one's difficult but I will have to give to Jeff Hardy.

Grade - The first of many shows in New York City, it set the tone nicely for the rest of the Summer.  It's important to note that TNA, other than the return of Devon, saved their biggest surprises for later.  Overall, this was a fantastic show that signaled perhaps TNA finally turning that proverbial corner.  It was an A all the way.

I hate to say it, but the opening segment's only negative for me was Kurt Angle.  He's shot his mouth off so much now that it's ruining my enjoyment of his on-screen IMPACT time.  Other than that, the opening video was awesome, the Taz promo was inspirational and heart-felt (his best ever in TNA in my humble opinion), and the subsequent Bully/Dreamer & EC3/Spud/Rhino stuff was amazing.  That was probably the best opening segment of the year so far.  Some will debate that, but it set the tone for the entire show and the multiple NYC shows to come.  It was beautiful and MUST-SEE TV.  To the people saying it was "too ECW", get over it.  Bully, Devon, Taz, Dreamer, Rhino and others are big ex-ECW stars.  So what?  They've also spent a lot of time in TNA and are part of TNA's history.  It's a savvy move, while in NYC, to have them be involved in storylines.  They are helping to put over people like EC3 and other younger stars which is great. 

Now, we have been aware of Matt Hardy coming in for a while and that is next week.  Sometime soon, Low-Ki and Homicide and Brian Cage are all coming in (amongst others).  Also, we'll get Great Muta next week (strong hook for next Thursday btw).  The Storm/Sanada stuff was simply brilliant again.  I'm loving the way that BFG in Japan is being shaped and molded, and now here comes Muta again!  The X-Division Gauntlet Match was very entertaining and had some nice spots.  The end with Sanada and Aries was breathtaking.  Aries controlling Option C again is a welcomed sight.  It was a wrestling-heavy show with a overall great vibe to it.  The crowd was a tangible part of the atmosphere at The Manhattan Center and it elevated every single thing that happened.  The EY/Roode VS Kenny King/MVP match told a story and I was happy with how it turned out, despite the physical limitations of MVP.  Brittany VS Madison was even a good match that had some hard-hitting action. 

The Jeff Hardy VS Lashley World Title match had high expectations it more than surpassed them.  The Charismatic Enigma took some SICK falls here.  The Swanton Bomb onto the steel steps takes the cake for most risky spot of the entire year so far.  This show was the exact type of show that you give to a returning/new portion of the at-home audience.  They will tune back in next week because the pro-wrestling involved was great, the sports entertainment stuff was great, and the crowd was great.  3 greats make a show complete.  The ending with Devon's return and another tease of Dixie going through a table was a perfect way to sell the next several weeks.  TNA is ON FIRE!

Favorite Moment  - The Hardy Swanton onto the steel stairs was AMAZING.

Least Favorite Moment - The Kurt Angle parts make me irritated slightly right now. 

MVP of the Night - It sounds weird but I'm giving it to Taz.  He verbally laid it all there in front of his hometown fans. 

Grade - I will give this an A, but the only thing that didn't make it an A+ was Angle's Internet stupidity bleeding over to the show.

Finally! This week was the first show from New York City, after weeks of anticipation for it to air, and 4 solid Impact's leading up to it, this show lived up to my expectations. We opened with 2 nice little promos, first of was Kurt Angle welcoming us to the show and re-introducing the 6 Sided Ring, which was great to see back and fit right in, and then Taz hyping the audience up and telling us that the mood in TNA was about to change. I said in the Saturday Night Chat that after this promo, I think maybe Taz should replace Kurt as the Director of Wrestling Operations when Kurt will more than likely leave to return to the E in September. We got promos from Dreamer/Bully & EC3/Rhino to segue into a tag team match between the two, it was a decent match to kick things off with Team Dixie (aka The Poachers) getting the win.

Very enjoyable X Division gauntlet, it reminded me of way back when TNA used to put on these multi-man X Division matches at let several guys show what they could do. It was smart to have the final hurdle for the X Division champion to involve everyone in the division as the final test to prove that they really were the cream of the crop and up to challenging for the World Title, especially in a climate where an unstoppable Lashley holds said World Title. Aries gets the win and even more momentum going into his decision of whether or not to cash in on Option C next week. Storm attacking Sanada was pretty out of the blue, but its created interest around what The Great Muta will do when he shows up next week, which should be interesting to see. I was surprised that MVP wrestled with this injury, even though it was a tag match, regardless it was a good tag match with MVP & King getting disqualified after using the crutches to lay out Roode & EY. Its going to be interesting to see MVP compete one-on-one with Bobby next week with his injury.

Brittany vs Madison wasn't too bad of a match, but like the crowd, I wasn't really into. One thing I need to mention is this, I hate how Brittany constantly poses with her shoulders pushed back, it looks really forced and can be a distraction, which it has been for me the last few weeks. Very impressive main event, Hardy & Lashley worked at a quick pace to point where you could describe the match as “Total Non-stop Action”. That Swanton on the steps was F'n sick, kudos to Jeff for doing that, it looked so painful and I know the fans appreciated him doing it. Lashley looked really impressive once again in victory and continues to live up to his Destroyer moniker. I loved how Dixie opened her promo, instantly dismissing all the hype surrounding the NYC fans, the rest was a little blah and went on a little, but the end game of Devon returning and Team 3D putting EC3 through a table was worth it and a great way to end the show.

Favorite Moment - Hardy's Swanton onto the steps was sick, It was a legit Holy Shit moment that shocked the fans in attendance as well as viewers at home.

Least Favorite Moment - The Knockout's match just didn't click for me, and I really hate saying it because I feel like I keep picking on the KO's every week, but I'm only being honest.

MVP of the Night - Lashley looked dominant once again in victory, even it what was a fairly even match. The dude has proven he is 100% worthy of carrying the World Title.

Grade - The first NYC didn't disappoint, the crowd was loud, the arena looked great and the action was enjoyable, this week's show was absolutely an A grade show for me.

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