I haven't had a chance to formally share with you my thoughts on the first two episodes of Impact on Pop so I thought I'd take a moment to do so this week. I'd like to keep it simple so I will separate my thoughts into two parts: what I liked and what I didn't like. For this particular column, Part I, I'd like to focus on what I liked. Later in the week, I will post Part II, what I didn't like.
- The Kurt Angle Farewell Tour. It's been well executed thus far with a Kurt Angle promo, announcing his TNA departure as well as his desire to wrestle some of the company's best wrestlers before he goes, and a very good match against Drew Galloway, whom he chose as his first opponent. There was also the interesting development between Angle and Davey Richards at the One Night Only PPV. It felt like a tease of what's to come so I certainly hope TNA book the two in a match at some point, although it doesn't look likely with Galloway and Bobby Roode recently announced as his opponents on the UK tour. Overall, it's a simple but effective storyline and a proper way to send Kurt Angle on his way.
- The Return of James Storm/The Beer Money Reunion. Admittedly, I was surprised to see James Storm return to TNA and judging by what we've seen so far, I'm happy to see him back. I thought his explanation for his departure, that he stopped having fun, was fine and probably true. It's interesting that TNA seemed to ignore the fact that Storm technically never left from a storyline standpoint since he competed in the World Title Series but I can overlook it since Storm seemed to speak from the heart. The reunion with Bobby Roode, although a bit rushed, was a feel good moment especially for long time TNA fans who have had to deal with the departures of so many of their favorites the last couple of years. The Beer Bash was a fun way to take a stroll down memory lane while putting the past behind them as they prepare to go after the tag team titles. Overall, the Beer Money reunion seems to have rejuvenated both Storm and Roode as well as all of a sudden make things very interesting in the Tag Team Division.
- EC3 Wins the World Title. Many of us were hoping that TNA would put the belt on EC3 on their premiere and I'm happy that the writers did not overthink things by putting the belt on Matt Hardy. It was the smart decision because I think it made clear the fact that Ethan Carter III is the top guy in TNA, and everything the Creative team does going forward is with this in mind. EC3 might very well lose the world title this week against Matt Hardy in their Last Man Standing match but I think it's important to keep in mind that EC3 has not reached his ceiling and it might take a loss to a hated rival to elevate him even more. It'll be interesting to watch but I'm happy to see that TNA have essentially declared that EC3 is their top star.
- The Miracle Mike Bennett and Maria Debuts. I mentioned in one of my columns recently that Mike Bennett's star potential will make him someone to watch in 2016 and I must say, TNA made him look like a star in his debut, complete with one of the best entrances in pro wrestling right now - an entrance that includes an introduction from his wife, Maria. You can tell that TNA are definitely behind him because he's getting the star treatment with a memorable star-making debut, a promo where he declared himself a Pro Wrestling Jesus, and even a run-in with TNA's top star, Ethan Carter III. I'd say Mike Bennett and Maria will be a duo to be reckoned with and TNA seems willing to push them like top stars. Overall, they've had as good a debut as one could have for a new company.
Other things that I liked include Awesome Kong joining the Dollhouse, the pairing of Eric Young with Bram and Eli Drake with Jessie Godderz, Eric Young winning the KOTM title, the (hopefully) first appearance of Shynron, the emergence of Reby and Maxell as characters, and an impressive brand new set that resembles the one used in 2013.