09 April 2017

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Let's be honest, the episodes of Impact since the new regime took over have been up and down to say the least.  I'm optimistic that the shows will be more consistent and engaging as time goes on, but right now it looks like a work in progress.  The in-ring product is simply not matching the same level of success in comparison to that of the company's managerial (not on-screen) evolution with the multiple new promotion affiliates and positive developments (like the India tapings, new TV deals, etc.)  Are they really making Impact great?  If you isolate just the show itself, I wouldn't call it necessarily "great" right now but it could definitely achieve that level of adulation by Slammiversary or Bound For Glory if they play their cards right.  There have been so many new or returning talents appearing on Impact lately that it becomes difficult to address them all, but I thought that making a list of the best and worst of the lot would be feasible.  With all the new wrestling company allies and pay-per-appearance type of deals with wrestlers, there will probably be a Part 2 of this same kind of column in the near future.  It's also too early as of today to judge the success of Magnus, Matt Morgan or other signings as we don't know the length of their deals and how or if they will be booked going forward.  For now, let's take a look at some of the performers that have been in the limelight recently and events that have transpired so far. 

The Good

1. LAX - Just fucking awesome.  They have had the best debut/return that I've seen in a long time.  From the backstage vignettes that look so gangsta to the unique and engaging ring entrance (complete with their own doorway) to the in-ring performances displayed by Santana, Ortiz and Diamante, it has all been fantastic.  I was skeptical of Konnan being in the company again but he has been great so far (despite the rumblings of some possible toxic-like prima donna behavior).  Homicide may or may not have matches in the future but the focus is rightfully on the young talents in the group who can really wrestle and are in their prime years.  They came in at exactly the right time and made most of us forget about the Hardys pretty quickly.   

2. Garza Jr. & Loredo Kid - Besides the somewhat unrealized potential of Tigre Uno, Impact Wrestling has been missing the entertaining element of lucha libre for quite some time.  I didn't know much about either of these guys before they came to Impact, but they have been really effective in their short tenure so far.  It seems like fans have placed the "future star" tag on Garza and that would be excellent to see another Mexican wrestler rise to the top of the company, especially given that the AAA and The Crash partnerships are looming.  Having quality Latino wrestlers like this on the roster makes me excited for a potential Mexico tour and/or possible set of TV tapings someday.    

3. Reno Scum - I expected very little from these two and have been somewhat surprised with how good these guys have actually been.  They need to cut the "Oi! oi! oi!" shit in half or less as it is becoming reminiscent of Lei'D Tapa yelling constantly at this point, but other than that they have been pretty impressive really.  They are a throwback to old school tag teams of the 80's and early 90's and you can tell that they have tagged together for so long that their in-ring chemistry allows them to work well with anyone.  The unique charisma from this duo can continue to translate well moving forward with a few tweaks here and there.  I think they'll come into their own once they get involved in a meaningful feud. 

4. Alberto El Patron - Initially, I was not happy about Patron coming in.  I was willing to give it a chance but his reputation definitely proceeded him and he had to be asking for a good chunk of change also.  I admit that I have been pleasantly surprised and he has actually been pretty impressive so far with his matches and promos.  Knowing what we do now, that Bully Ray was the alternative, I would take Patron over Bully any day of the week and twice on Sundays.  He is a name that people know and he falls into that Latino demographic that Impact Wrestling seems strategically intent on capitalizing on, which is a smart and savvy plan of attack.  He's shown some signs of being a loose cannon again lately on social media but for now, the pros still outweigh the cons unless he really screws up big time.

5. Kevin Sullivan - No, the Dungeon of Doom did not reform on Impact, thank god... this particular man named Kevin Sullivan is the VP of Production and he has been responsible for those awesome and memorable new Impact intros, video packages and graphics.  The overall look of the show has vastly improved and he deserves all the credit in the world for giving Impact a more professional and sleek appearance.  This is a classic case of "you don't know what you have until it's gone".  Kevin was with the company for years and years and then just recently returned after Jeff Jarrett came back into power.  This type of influence is what makes Double J's return so valuable; he is bringing back several formerly disenfranchised employees that Dixie Carter seemingly drove away.   

6. Sienna - It's amazing what can happen when a talented performer is given mic time and a platform to succeed.  Sienna played second fiddle to Maria for so long that I'd almost given up hope that she would be allowed to actually display her skills.  Her previous KnockOuts Title reign was a frickin' joke because the booking was horrific and she barely defended the belt.  The pairing with the recently debuted "cousin" KM (why they didn't come up with a name for him I'll never know) is somewhat intriguing and may just lead to Sienna getting the push that she has long deserved.  I love the way she disrespects Karen Jarrett by throwing the obvious and unsettling nepotism facts in her face constantly.  She is speaking for a lot of fans by dissing Karen in this fashion, but I'll expound more on Mrs. Jarrett below. 
The Bad

1. The Booking of Eli Drake - As long as Eli Drake is in Impact Wrestling (and that better be a long ass time or I will be pissed, that I can assure you), I am going to continue to beat that drum that he needs to be pushed as a legit player in the main event scene.  Maybe he rubbed some higher ups the wrong way when he reportedly (and justifiably I may add) voiced his concerns that the loyal roster members were being made to look like fools with the whole "Make Impact Great Again" stuff.  He has some valid concerns because, to be honest, the on-screen version of Impact was not total crap before the new regime came in, as they falsely portrayed it.  There were a lot of good things still happening and the way Bruce Prichard and Dutch Mantell threw the show under the bus was a bit out of line, although I took more offense to Prichard's words to be honest.  If management holds a grudge against Eli and books him like shit going forward because he stood up for himself and the other wrestlers, that is not going to sit well with fans like myself.  Do the right thing; get Tyrus away from Eli and let Drake be the badass that he is meant to be.  Push this man ASAP!  Damn it!

2. The Format of the Impact Grand Title - This whole thing... oy vey.  From the point system predictability to the format of the rounds to the judges sitting out there ringside marking down phony points to provide the illusion that it is an actual MMA or boxing like competition.... it is all just convoluted.  It's definitely not revolutionary or appealing to the pro wrestling audience.  This title has been doomed from the beginning when Aron Rex was made the initial champion due to Galloway's injury.  Moose is an impressive wrestler but even he cannot elevate this belt and make it something great.  I'm not sure that scrapping the title this quickly would be productive either but they have really painted themselves into a corner with this whole thing.  I'm at a loss for how exactly they would turn the Impact Grand Title into something compelling and productive but I do know that the current plan is not doing the job. 
3. The DCC - Oh jeez....where to begin here.  I get that Billy Corgan leaving the company screwed up the plans regarding this faction, but even with that being the case, they could not call an audible to save this thing?  Yes, the situation changed and a good chunk of the promos explaining their purpose were edited out and/or altered to the point where the purpose of the DCC made no sense at all.  It was just a matter of time until it faded away in a similar fashion as Evolution.  Please, please... let Storm be done with these hokey factions.  They have been a complete waste of time and a pointless usage of his talents.  He needs a World Title run and Impact needs to stop making factions that are ill-conceived and badly executed.  Their history of failed factions is getting pretty long and the whole concept needs to have a significant break in order to cleanse the palate thoroughly.  Keeping Bram and Kingston as a tag team and having them continue on with using the DCC music and making the hand sign and the whole gimmick will not accomplish that.  Just get rid of it and move on.        
The Ugly

1. Bruce Prichard - I have listened to some episodes of "Something to Wrestle With" (his current podcast that supposedly landed him a position again with Impact) and it is actually entertaining if you were a fan of the old WWF days (like I was) when Brother Love was alive and well.  Again, I was open minded to Bruce coming in despite his previous TNA run which was kind of meh.  Now it has been a few weeks and my observation is that he does absolutely nothing for the product.  He doesn't promote Impact Wrestling on his podcast, he's horrible in his on-screen role on Impact itself and he looks like 10 pounds of crap in a 5 pound bag.  I don't care about his experience in the business.  Get him off the show and leave him off.  He has been absolutely atrocious.  Also, the "TNA is dead" line will go down in infamy as one of the most asinine remarks in Impact history given that the belts still have the TNA logo on them (you know, the most coveted prizes in the company).  I understand that the belts will be replaced sometime in the future but the irony of him saying that and then Lashley walking out with the TNA World Title as the crown jewel of the company seconds later is just unbelievable.  I know, I know... the name change.  The problem is, they weren't ready for it completely though and it made Prichard look like a reprehensible buffoon.  That buffoon was speaking on behalf of the entire company.  Yikes. 

2. Josh Mathews - This guy.  I could write a whole column on how he has steadily jaded the loyal fan base over the last few years but by the time I was done writing it I'd be vomiting all over the place.  I get it, he is playing a heel role.  However, he's doing such a douchey job at it that it literally is hurting the product.  The constant bickering and fighting with anyone else he sits with at the announce table is worse than listening to Gilbert Gottfried reciting "War and Peace" verbatim.  He should never be an announcer again on Impact and I hope on all that is good and holy that he will not be for much longer.  He was never that good to begin with but I used to defend him when he first came to TNA.  Now, he drives me nuts and his annoying antics make me feel apathetic to tuning in some weeks in dread of being forced to hear him spout his nonsense.  Flat out, he's an embarrassment.     

3. Karen Jarrett - The funniest thing I have heard on Impact in months was when Sienna called out Karen for basically marrying her way into the business and not paying any dues.  This is true; if she hadn't been married to Kurt and then subsequently to Jeff, she most likely would not be in the pro wrestling industry.  She has no inherent right to be trotted out on Impact as an authority figure.  This situation is the epitome of nepotism and I don't care at all that she was over in the Impact Zone as the track record of who is over and who is not in that place makes zero sense.  Jeff, we get it.  You love her.  She is your wife.  That doesn't automatically make her an authority figure that is allowed to take up precious screen time.  This was one of the only things that I was concerned that Jeff may do as he came into power.  Make things right and get her off the show.  It is so damn unnecessary.  Please.    

Given the title of my column, you knew it wasn't going to be all rainbows and puppy tails but I did give you six "Good" items too.  So what do you think?  Do you agree or disagree with my lists?  What would your lists look like?  Sound off.  

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