24 August 2014

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Aug 20, 2014

This episode of IMPACT was a top 5 show for the year, so it really is a shame that Hardcore Justice was not promoted like it should have been.  Switching to Wednesdays out of the blue really hurt the viewership as it was nearly cut in half from what one of the earlier NYC shows garnered.  Hopefully U.S. fans can figure out that IMPACT is on a day earlier on Spike TV going forward because the product is very good right now.  HOT start to this episode with Stairway to Janice.  Bram has really impressed lately with his insane savagery, and this match established his barbaric character even more.  Some sick spots here from Abyss and The Crazy Hooligan, as this type of hardcore match is right up my alley.  Not sure where things will go from here with Janice and this feud, but it fully has my attention.  Nice promo with EC3, Spud and Rhino as Team Dixie continues to crumble and now it appears that we'll get a Rhino/EC3 program.  Poor Spud, he just wants to be loved.

The match of the night was most definitely Samoa Joe VS Low Ki.  To me, this is what the X Division is all about and I hope we don't have it pulled away from us again like it has been the past couple of years.  These 2 men put on a wrestling clinic and it was an undeniably great contest.  I enjoyed the Samuel Shaw/Anderson "I Quit" match more than most, but it was the low point of the show.  It's time for them to have Samuel move on to something else before they risk losing the audience intrigue of his character.  I want the Creepy Bastard back and maybe getting on Team Storm would be just what the doctor ordered?  Glad to see the tag team series of matches announced between Team 3D, The Hardys and The Wolves.  I guess that those who don't understand the rules involved didn't finish high school since it's really not THAT complicated.

The Dixie Carter interview with Mike Tenay was decent.  A necessary evil to show the damage to her back and to reassure the fans that she's still the boss lady to Serge and TNA.  The Gail Kim VS Angelina Love "Last Knockout Standing" match was the best Knockouts match of the year in my opinion.  Some crazy spots here and they surprised me with how hardcore they really got.  The ladies don't need to do THAT every week, but hopefully this means more quality matches going forward.  The "Better Than Divas" chant had me giggling.  A decent MVPKingLashley promo heading into the #1 contenders Six Sides of Steel bout.  The actual match itself was nothing to write home about but it had some good spots.  The double Tower of Doom move got a fantastic reaction from the awesome NYC crowd.  The photo finish EY/Roode ending will be sorted out next week and served as a cliffhanger for the World Title scene.        

Favorite Moment  - The Stairway to Janice match was my personal favorite as I love those kind of bloody, brutal fights.

Least Favorite Moment - The Samuel Shaw/Anderson match seemed to lack oomph.  

MVP of the Night - I will give it to Low-Ki and Samoa Joe.  Best X-Division match of the year so far.

Grade - I loved the show and it surpassed my expectations.  I will give it a solid A.

We opened Hardcore Justice in fitting fashion this week with Abyss going up against Bram in the Stairway to Janice match, And good lord this match delivered the “Hardcore” in Hardcore Justice on its own. Both guys really pushed themselves to the limit and did some insane spots, Bram taking bumps onto the Ladder, The Barbed Wire Board and the Thumbtacks, while Abyss fell off a ladder through another Barbed Wire Board and also took a shot from Janice to the gut again. Very violent match that could easily be the blow-off match to this feud, both men have delivered throughout and Bram has become a star in the process. This week was a sort of evolution to the EC3 character, we saw for the first time Carter show more of an aggressive side than he ever has before, lashing out and Rhino, blaming him for his Aunt Dixie going through a table, and even pushing over his best friend Spud during his rage. It will be interesting to see whether or not this is Rhino's exit from the company or the start of a full blown feud between him and EC3, I'm also looking forward to see how EC3 will be now after this character change, and where exactly Spud will fit into all of this.

Having Low-Ki vs Samoa Joe for the X Division title was just awesome. It was so great to see these two face off, and also to have that kind of action back in the X Division is just wonderful for any fans of the Division, great match with Joe retaining over his long time rival. Shaw vs Anderson was decent, but its safe to say this was the worst match out of the 5 on the show, and that's not saying it was bad. We still haven't really got any more storyline progression here, and I'm starting to lose interest because of it, hopefully we get some more developments in the coming weeks. Holy crap we're getting a Tag Team series with The Hardy's, Team 3D & The Wolves! I hoped we would get one match between these three teams, but to be guaranteed at least 2, and possibly 4 at best is awesome. I can't wait to see these teams go at it starting next week, and regardless of Davey Richards injury or the Bully Ray rumour's, I'm going to enjoy as many matches as this series can deliver.

The Dixie Carter interview was interesting, it was a mix of the serious side with her injuries, but also her as a character vowing “She'll never forget what happened”. Personally I was hoping for her to be remorseful and use what happened to her as a wake up call, causing her to apologise for everything she's done and decide to stay behind the scenes, however them leaving her return open may come in handy in-case a certain situation doesn’t get resolved. Boy oh boy did the Knockouts raise their game or what? Very good match between Angelina Love & Gail Kim that I'm sure surprised viewers with how good it was, this match wasn't to try and get people interested in this feud and the Knockouts, this match grabbed people's attention and made them take notice of how good the KO division is, great job.

The promo from MVP with Lashley & Kenny King was a nice little touch before the #1 Contenders match, it was also a good way to have the World Champion on the show. I'm not sure if it was legit or canned heat, but the crowd were LOUD during this segment, and it was a good reminder for fans that regardless wins the cage match, they have to face Lashley, something which very few would look forward to having to do so. One of the reason's I voted for the 6 Sided Ring to return was for the 6 Sides of Steel, and in its return match it made a great impression visually. Solid main event between 6 of TNA's best, the double tower of doom was amazing, something I can't remember seeing before, smart finish with both EY & Roode escaping the cage at the same time, which creates a little program between the two before one of them moves onto Lashley and the World Title.

Favorite Moment - Its a toss up between Bram/Abyss and Ki/Joe. Loved both matches, but I'm gonna have to side with the X Division Title match, it was awesome for me to see these two face of in the division again, and hopefully it will lead the division to bigger things.

Least Favorite Moment - The Shaw/Anderson match, nothing really wrong with it but compared to everything else, its just lacked that special something.

MVP of the Night - Bram looked like a star after Stairway to Janice, I really believe that he can be a top star for TNA in the not to distant future.

Grade - Very good show this week, last week was a little drop-off from the recent standard, but this week was certainly a return to form, and was a great way to start of the Wednesday era of Impact. This show earned a A grade from me, and hopefully it will be more of those to come.

Chris Regal
Last week's show was a bit of a disappointment for me but I'm happy to report that this week's Impact delivered in a big way.  Every match lived up to the Hardcore Justice label and it made for quite an intense couple of hours.  Even the one match that did not have a hardcore stipulation, the X Division title match, fit the theme of the night with some of the stiffest wrestling we've seen in TNA all year.  Samoa Joe vs Low Ki, in my opinion, was easily one of the best matches in all of pro wrestling this year and will hopefully get the recognition it deserves on people's year end lists.  It was that good.  If you don't believe me, just pay attention to the live crowd during this match - that's how a crowd reacts when they're heavily invested in a match.  The only way this match doesn't make my year-end list is if we get Samoa Joe vs Low Ki II before the end of the year.

The most brutal match of the night was easily Stairway to Janice as Abyss and Bram brutalized each other for a good ten minutes.  This was not a wrestling match.  This was not even a fight.  This was two men who wanted to kill one another.  Bram, once again, defeated Abyss and I'm glad to see Mike Tenay and Taz make a big deal out of it.  The announcers certainly put over Bram as one of TNA's brightest young stars and it's easy to see why when you watch him perform.  The man has a presence that makes him stand out from the pack, and that's a good sign for his future in TNA.

The biggest surprise of the night was the Last Knockout Standing match between Gail Kim and Angelina Love.  This was a great match that ended with one of the sickest spots you'll ever see in women's wrestling.  Gail slammed Angelina off the top rope onto a chair with a Samoan Drop variation.  It was truly insane and much kudos to Angelina Love, who took that bump like a champ.  In the main event, a Six Sides of Steel #1 contenders match, Bobby Roode and Eric Young escaped the cage virtually at the same time so now it remains to be seen which of the two will get the world title shot.  I imagine we will be getting a singles match between the two to determine Lashley's next opponent or at least I hope that's the direction the writers are going in.

And lastly, the two biggest developments of the night came when Ethan Carter III turned on Rhino and brutally attacked him for allowing his aunt to be put through a table.  In a way, EC3 has a point.  Rhino was paid to protect the Carters and quite frankly, he failed.  With that said, the odds were stacked against Rhino with so many former ECW wrestlers aligning with Bully Ray but EC3 wants someone to blame and it makes sense that he'd take it out on the help, if you will.  The other major development was the announcement that there will be a three-way tag team title series involving The Wolves, The Hardys, and Team 3D.  The rules are simple: the first team that wins two matches wins the series and becomes the new Tag Team Champions.  In addition, the team that wins each match gets to pick a stipulation for the next match.  The first match in the series appears to be a standard match but the winners will get to pick a stip for the next match.

Favorite Moment - I will go with the Samoa Joe vs Low Ki match.  I was blown away by the intensity of the match, especially since there was not much build up.  What helped was the fact that two men have such a long history so it made for a truly personal affair.

Least Favorite Moment - For me, it was the ending to the Mr. Anderson vs Samuel Shaw match.  It really felt forced. Of course, I'll take it back if it was storyline-dictated and Shaw tapped out intentionally to fuel the tension between Anderson and Gunner.

MVP of the Night - I will give the honor to Gail Kim and Angelina Love this week, who really put on a great show for us. 

Grade - An excellent show this week that gave us some strong wrestling as well as much interesting storyline developments.  Overall, I'm glad to see Impact rebound from a lackluster week.  I will give this week's show an A-.

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