Welcome to the TNA Blog Zone and Happy New Year! I hope our readers had a memorable holiday with wrestling on the mind. With that said, the first IMPACT Wrestling of the new year featured the in-ring action we've come to know and love, storyline build and the return of AJ Styles. Let's get right to it.
IN-RING SEGMENT: KURT ANGLE AND BOBBY ROODE FACE TO FACE
Always able to grab our attention, Kurt Angle and Bobby Roode met in the ring to open the show and set up a one on one steel cage match at Genesis in two weeks. This segment was about 10 minutes long and just right for timing. Get to the point and get to the action. For the past few weeks, the first hour of IMPACT Wrestling has been talk heavy while having a wrestling heavy second hour, so this was (finally) a good change of pace. This wouldn't be the last time we see either man as Rockstar Spud books a tag team match for later in the night. Speaking of Spud, the Chief of Staff gimmick is perfect for him. He's really taken to it and I wouldn't mind at all if Spud no longer wrestled and remained in his current role.
MATCH: TNA KNOCKOUTS CHAMPION GAIL KIM w/ LEI'D TAPA VS. MADISON RAYNE(W)
A very good Knockouts contest with Rayne taking the win and earning a Knockouts title shot (I think). There is a little confusion regarding this as Gail Kim's Open Challenge was originally featured to have non-roster female wrestlers. Since Madison Rayne is part of the TNA roster, even with a win, she shouldn't receive a title shot based on this win. This will most likely be ignored and she receives the title shot. That's perfectly fine as, realistically, there isn't a non-roster competitor that would've gotten the shot anyway. Going back to the ladies, Madison Rayne has looked good since returning and Gail Kim is still in top form. I'd love to see Gail make history for the Knockouts again in 2014, much like with Taryn Terrell in 2013.
TNA X-DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: CHRIS SABIN(W) VS. AUSTIN ARIES
Chris Sabin told Velvet Sky in a backstage segment that if he didn't win the X title tonight, he might be leaving the building without her. Well, one distraction later and we have a new X-Division Champion in Chris Sabin. The match could have been better, especially with these two going at it. Austin Aries had better be positioned for something much bigger in 2014 after this very irrelevant title reign. As far as Sabin goes, I hope TNA gives him more time to be a character on TV and features the X-Division again as prominently as possible. Either that or just do away with the X-Division and bring back the Television Title.
MATCH: SAMUEL SHAW(W) VS. NORV FERNUM
What else would you expect in this kind of debut? Samuel Shaw, or the American Psycho as I dub him, has a good look and should have a good 2014. What TNA needs to do is take things slowly with him and build him up the right way. Unlike EC3, where he has a much more mainstream look and appeal, the Samuel Shaw character feels like a wrestling fan's wrestler and not a sports entertainment fan's wrestler.
TAG TEAM MATCH: KURT ANGLE AND GUNNER VS. BOBBY ROODE AND JAMES STORM(W)
BEER! MONEY! That's right ladies and gents, for one night we saw the tag team pairing of Roode and Storm. In the opening segment, Rockstar Spud told Roode and Angle to find partners for their tag match and so, here we are. While Angle asked Gunner to team up, Storm asked Roode in order to teach Gunner a lesson. I don't think this is a full heel turn for Storm, but a continuation of the frustrations and problems with Gunner. Storm is a tag team specialist, but I think it's time that Storm transitions as a singles competitor again like Bully Ray transitioned. This was match of the night because of the solid action and the nostalgia of Beer Money, which was very cool. We now look ahead two weeks from now as Roode battles Angle in a steel cage at Genesis.
IN-RING SEGMENT: ETHAN CARTER III AND STING
The biggest challenge for EC3 is Sting and I'm pulling for EC3. It's too early for EC3 to be featured prominently in the main event scene, but getting the rub from Sting would place him exactly where he needs to be for 2014. It's good to see the crowd into the EC3/ Sting feud as well. Aside from Kurt Angle, Sting is the legend of TNA Wrestling. Anyone even just facing Sting, not necessarily picking up the win but just facing him, elevates that individual greatly and EC3 is next to get that shine. EC3 letting the crowd get under his skin was a nice change of pace for the character who's normally cool and egotistical.
"MATCH": BULLY RAY VS. JOSEPH PARK(W)
This certainly was not a match, more like a glorified in-ring segment in order to expose the new Bully Ray to the IMPACT Wresting audience. Low blow to Park and the "match" is over. Mr. Anderson comes in to help Park, who's being sprayed with lighter fluid before Bully sprays Anderson with the fluid and threatens to light him up. If this darker Bully Ray were to make it to the world title picture in 2014, he would be the world title MVP again. Anderson needs to be booked with more visibility and mic time to sell the feud that should culminate in a match at Genesis, but I don't see that happening. It certainly can happen, but this feud looks to be extended a bit before an actual match takes place. And Joseph Park's situation is going nowhere, so moving on.
IN-RING SEGMENT: THE CORONATION OF MAGNUS AND THE RETURN OF AJ STYLES
A very exciting end to IMPACT Wrestling. Gunner coming out to cash in his world title shot was an interesting twist and should keep him in the world title radar for some time. The match wasn't official, so I imagine he still has his shot. AJ Styles coming out from the crowd to challenge Magnus was great (AJ's belt is quite shiny too). AJ Styles is TNA and if you didn't get that before, you got it last night. Magnus and AJ Styles should have one of the most entertaining bouts to kick off the year next week and I can't wait to see it unfold. I hope there isn't interference, though one would imagine some kind of interference or distraction by the Carter Camp. Either way, next week's show will be the last of the old TNA (it was filmed in early December) and it's proper to have the first live televised event for the new TNA being Genesis.
This week's IMPACT Wrestling was a solid show with pacing that was much improved. Each storyline was progressed heading into next week's show with AJ Styles Vs. Magnus taking the lead.
Apologies if this edition of TNA Blog Zone seems a bit rushed or anything else. I'm a bit under the weather but wanted to give you the TNA Blog Zone you've come to expect. Thank you for reading and onward to next week's IMPACT Wrestling!
Loved Villain Or Misunderstood Anti-Hero,