13 August 2014

Plot Points: The Intro

Since this is my first regular column, a brief introduction is in order. I think it will help you all better understand where I'm coming from and why I'm so passionate about wrestling. Two things you need to know about me: First, I'm a story teller at heart. I love telling stories, listening to stories, and participating in stories. Second, I feel that wrestling is art, and the beating heart of wrestling is the story telling.

Now, I happen to think that TNA's Impact Wrestling has the best story tellers -- both in the ring and behind the scenes -- on television today. This is the main reason why I choose to spend my very limited amount of leisure time watching Impact over any other televised wrestling. It's why I'm here right now writing about wrestling.

And with that, I give you Plot Points!  In this little column of mine, I will be discussing whatever ongoing Impact Wrestling story lines happen to tickle my fancy. The format may vary from column to column, but my topic will always be about the stories that drive the action in the ring.

The Top Five Story Lines That Have My Interest

5) The Rehabilitation of Samuel Shaw: I'm fascinated by this story for several reasons. First, it has given Samuel Shaw more of a personality. Yes, the Creepy Dude was fun in, well, a creepy sort of way. But now Sam is getting to show some emotion. It was great to see him get fired up in the ring last Thursday night during the six-man tag match. I actually found myself cheering for him when he got into the ring, and I felt bad for him when things fell apart for him and his team at the end of the match.

Second, this storyline has given Gunner something to do other than flex, look menacing, and threaten to hurt people. I think Gunner is a solid talent, and he's now getting some meaty story bits to sink his teeth into. It's good to see his character develop a bit.

And finally, I'm looking forward to seeing where this plot goes. A story bores me if it gets predictable, and I can honestly say I don't know what is coming next for any of the three characters involved with the story.

4) The Reluctant Heel Turn of Sanada: Sanada is a very talented performer in the ring, and his athletic ability is unquestionable. But the language barrier makes it difficult to develop any stories around his character. But the TNA writers have done a brilliant job in setting up the tragic fall of an honorable hero. Using James Storm as the protagonist/narrator for Sanada's story has been the perfect way to hook the American audience.

I'm totally emotionally invested in this story. I bought into Sanada as the honorable hero with the excellent promo with Muta. And his inevitable turn to the Dark Side in a misguided attempt to save his honor will be appropriately tragic. It will be equally fun to see if Sanada will recognize the lies Storm has been poisoning him with and attempt to redeem himself. Great stuff!

3) Lashley Continues to Destroy: When Lashley won the belt from EY, I assumed that he would be just a transitional champion. Surely EY would regain the title in short order, or maybe Jeff Hardy will take it in his triumphant return, or maybe the ever-awesome Austin Aries would win it using Option C again. But Lashley withstood all these challengers, and in dominant, old-school monster heel fashion. And I've loved every minute of it!

Bobby Lashley has always been impressive in the ring, but his mic skills have always been lacking. Because of this flaw, he was never able to get over as a babyface, no matter how hard he was pushed. But with MVP as his mouthpiece, Lashley has proven to be an impressive and intimidating heel. He's a very believable unstoppable force, and it makes me cheer for those who challenge home all the more. I love hating a good heel!

2) Samoa Joe Returns to the X Division: Samoa Joe is home at last! I first discovered TNA Impact Wrestling when the Christopher Daniels-AJ Styles-Samoa Joe three-way feud for the X Division was at it's peak. (It could be argued that this was the peak of the X Division itself, and maybe even of TNA as a whole, but that's a topic for a different column.) To me, those three wrestlers have always epitomized the X Division, and the division has been lesser for their absence over the years.

And honestly, I think Joe fits best with the X Division. Here, he can be a dominant force, and his ring style and antics work best against X Division opponents. When he was mixed in with the rest of the heavyweights, he often got lost in the shuffle. Other than his one brief title reign, when was the last time Joe got a sustained push? I think Joe and the X Division need each other to shine, and when they are together, I think they can shine bright indeed!

1) Bully vs. Dixie: Okay, I'm cheating just a little bit because this storyline is presumably over. Bully Ray putting Dixie through the table last week was the perfect topper to what has proven to be a delicious cake. But I put it on this list (and at number one, no less!) because this has been one of my all-time favorite TNA story lines. It deserves to be here!

Bully Ray is always great, but he really shined here. He's in the best shape of his career, and he's solid gold on the mic. And I thought Dixie did a fantastic job throughout the feud, never shying away from mixing it up. The cameraman disguise incident was priceless, and the table spot will go down in wrestling history. But the breakout character of this feud was definitely Ethan Carter III. He really came into his own here, showing impressive skills in the ring and absolutely knocking it out of the park each time he had the mic. He's the total package, and TNA is lucky to have him on the roster. I am absolutely looking forward to seeing more of EC3.

I would love to hear what everyone thinks! What are your favorite current story lines? Which characters do you want to see featured? Discuss!

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