Off of the heels of last night's IMPACT Wrestling broadcast on Spike TV, the table is set for Final Resolution next week. Not only is the finals of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Tournament set, but it'll be contested in a Dixie Land Match. The concept itself is interesting, but the name of the match, I would imagine later on if they continue to use the concept, would be changed. Rockstar Spud did a great job last night and looked very comfortable in his role. I know you are all waiting for the show to start to, let's begin!
IMPACT WRESTLING STARTS
VIDEO PACKAGE/ VIGNETTE - N/A
We begin with the same video package of AJ Styles taking the TNA World Heavyweight Championship title to Mexico and Japan, meeting fans and defending the title outside of the U.S. After the video package, we see Rockstar Spud driving around, leaving a message for Dixie Carter with an update on his search for AJ Styles in Gainesville, GA. After hanging up, he admits that he is lost.
I thought the Rockstar Spud vignette to start the show would lead into not so funny moments throughout the show, as we all knew his journey would be documented throughout the night. Too early to judge, so let's move on with the show.
IN-RING SEGMENT: BOBBY ROODE GETS THE UPPER HAND ON KURT ANGLE - B
What started out with Jeremy Borash, the 4 Feast or Fired briefcases and the Wheel of Dixie (Borash was about to reveal the stipulation for the tournament finals between Hardy and Magnus) turned into a brawl. Kurt Angle interrupted Borash, called out Roode, exchanged some words and went at it. After security came to separate the two, Bobby Roode hits a low blow kick and makes the challenge: 2 out of 3 Falls at Final Resolution.
Angle first hinted to this bout in his verbal exchange, telling Roode he could beat him twice in one night. This was a good way to get the crowd going (though they weren't as loud as I would hope they would be for this start) and set the tone for the night. Bobby Roode and Kurt Angle work very well together and the 2 out of 3 Falls Match could be the best match the two will have. I still believe these two should have been competing against each other for the world title, but I'll take this program. It also would have been nice to see these two again throughout the night, as this was the only time the two made appearances, to really dig into one another for the needed momentum heading into Final Resolution.
VIDEO/ BACKSTAGE - N/A
A video package is shown highlighting Bad Influence's attacks on Joseph Park and their visit to the address which held Park, Park & Park.
Joseph Park and Eric Young are backstage getting ready for their match. Nothing special here as it is only to preview the upcoming tag team match between Joseph Park, Eric Young and Bad Influence.
BAD INFLUENCE VS. JOSEPH PARK & ERIC YOUNG - C+
The contest went down pretty much as one would expect. Bad Infuence take the loss after a Black Hole Slam on Kazarian. The only aspect of this match that was unexpected was EY putting Park in a headlock and proceeding to deliver "stiff" punches to the forehead, opening Park up so he could see red and destroy.
I've said it in my Booking IMPACT! article for TNANews.com: this program has gone on way too long. Nothing special is coming from this program anymore and the initial intrigue has long faded. Please get rid of the Joseph Park character and bring back Abyss ASAP. Even that may be disappointing if EY will still be involved, as Abyss may turn into the sappy monster during the early Hogan era of TNA. Despite that, this was a good match for what it was, just nothing to really spark your interest.
#IMPACT365 VIDEO/ ETHAN CARTER III RING SEGMENT - A+
After a #IMPACT365 video of EC3 getting a massage and proclaiming that what he will do in the ring tonight will blow up social media, EC3 makes his way into the ring and challenges... Jeremy Borash. Out of nowhere, Sting makes an appearance. Sting tells Carter to "man up" and insert himself in the Feast or Fired Match or fight him instead. Carter ultimately decides on Feast or Fired and leaves the ring.
GREAT meeting between EC3 and Sting. The crowd was really into this entire segment as well. EC3 has one of the better entrances in TNA Wrestling, so I'm always hyping myself when the voice over introduces EC3. Sting should now be focused on giving the up and coming stars the rub, knowing he cannot wrestle for the world title at all. EC3 is prominently featured in both the main show and #IMPACT365, so he is being groomed for a great 2014. Now that Sting is involved, who knows where Ethan Carter III will stand. I'm very happy that TNA has finally decided to put EC3 in a position where he not only looks like a contender, but will be acting like a real contender going forward.
VIDEO: THE CONTINUED ADVENTURES OF ROCKSTAR SPUD - N/A
Another video where Spud has stopped at a gas station to ask for directions to AJ Styles' house or where to find him at all. He is directed to a bar a mile down the road and Spud his on his way.
Once seeing this, I got a sense that these vignettes will only get better throughout the night. I still don't have a grade since it's your basic video pushing along a story with nothing quite special happening, but it's enough to have my attention and see how Spud prevails or fails.
IN-RING SEGMENT: GAIL KIM, LEI'D TAPA, ODB AND THE RETURN OF MADISON RAYNE - B-
In what was supposed to be Gail Kim's Open Challenge, ODB makes her way to actually confront Lei'D Tapa. They get it on until a mysterious woman enters the ring and attacks Kim, who turns out to be Madison Rayne. The two fan favorites are in the ring staring down the retreating Kim and Tapa to the delight of the fans.
Madison Rayne looked great on IMPACT!, with even a "Madison" chant from the crowd. It's good to see her back and having even more TNA nostalgia return to the current product. Outside of Madison's return, the segment was also as can be expected between Gail, Tapa and ODB. We now have a tag team match set for next week's Final Resolution event and it will be good to see how Madison handles herself in the ring after a long absence.
VIDEO: ROCKSTAR SPUD'S DEBUT IN AN "AMERICAN PUB" - A
Rockstar Spud enters a bar in Georgia and orders a "Ladyboy Chaser" to the bartender in exchange for some information on AJ Styles. She returns with a bottled beer and a lemon wedged in it to Spud's displeasure. He still wants his information! We go to commercial and back with Spud holding a mic from the local performers of the bar. He is eventually encouraged to sing, does so, and is then thrown out of the establishment.
At this point, I'm really enjoying the work Rockstar Spud is putting in for tonight's program. He "rocked out" with the band at the bar and is really embracing his current role in TNA Wrestling as Dixie's Chief-of-Staff. Spud has wrestling ability (he is the winner of British Bootcamp after all) but I am reminded of Wrestling News World's own Richard Gray in that would you rather have him be a full time wrestler and possibly be underutilized or not utilized at all or have him in his current position and be featured on TV week after week in entertaining segments? He'll get his ring time, but it's so far so good for Spud.
FEAST OR FIRED VIDEO PACKAGE/ GUNNER & JAMES STORM BACKSTAGE MEET - B
After a Feast or Fired video package to hype tonight's main event match, Gunner and James Storm are backstage clearing the air on their recent friction. The two part ways after acknowledging their individual chances and opportunity with Feast or Fired and a "Sorry about your damn luck" from The Cowboy.
It's still good to see Gunner getting some time to shine. It's clear that Gunner and Storm will have a rivalry into 2014 but who will get the better of their program is still up to the booking. We'll just have to see how this plays out tonight and into the next few weeks.
VIDEO: ROCKSTAR SPUD'S MISSION - N/A
Apparently three doors down from AJ's home, Rockstar Spud makes his way into the darkness with a pen light.
This guy is great.
IN-RING SEGMENT: DIXIE CARTER, MAGNUS, JEFF HARDY AND DIXIE LAND - B
In another in-ring segment, Dixie Carter brings out both Magnus and Jeff Hardy to reveal that they will compete in a Dixie Land Match. What does this entail? The two will battle in a steel cage. They must exit the cage through the top and make their way to the stage where they will then have to climb a ladder to grab the TNA World Heavyweight Championship suspended up high.
The concept is great and original in my opinion. Of course, if TNA were to keep this concept, the name will have to go later on. It's an interesting platform for both competitors with alot of crazy moments that can possibly take place. Steel cage matches alone are notorious for their unpredictability, but now that they must exit only to climb a ladder on the stage is a new element with equal uncertainty. Jeff Hardy looks to be the favorite in this kind of environment but, as history has shown, Hardy's high flying tactics could be his downfall. How the match plays out will be interesting.
BACKSTAGE: VELVET SKY AND CHRIS SABIN - N/A
After the 4 briefcases for Feast or Fired are on display, Sabin and Velvet Sky are backstage making their way towards the ring area. A funny moment where Sabin asks if Velvet changed her hair style. She says no and Sabin walks with a very "ooooookay" look on his face.
VIDEO: ROCKSTAR SPUD INVADES THE STYLES HOUSE - A
Finally locating AJ Styles' home, Spud makes his way in through an unlocked door. He searches with his pen light and finds the TNA title on a table top. Overjoyed with his finding, AJ Styles makes his way down and reveals he knew he was coming. If someone goes around town asking for him, of course he'll get a call about it eventually. Spud eventually runs away without the gold as AJ closes the door to end the video segment.
The final video adventure of Rockstar Spud is a great end. Again, Spud is very comfortable and works very well with his peers. Now that Spud will return to Dixie without the TNA Championship, what will happen to Spud? How will Dixie react? I expect a backstage segment or two regarding this with a heated Dixie Carter and an apologetic Spud.
QUICK BACKSTAGE SEGMENT OF ANDERSON GETTING READY FOR FEAST OR FIRED - N/A
X-DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: CHRIS SABIN(C) VS. AUSTIN ARIES/ BACKSTAGE SEGMENT - A
A very good matchup between Sabin and Aries with a new champion crowned in Austin Aries.
Chris Sabin should have lost the title last night. Since becoming X-Division Champion, there really hasn't been a focus on it or Chris Sabin. Where is the X-Division by the way? Back in limbo. There needs to be a resurrection of the X-Division badly. Austin Aries can bring alot of credibility back to the division, but there's gotta be structural change. It's sad to see the division which helped TNA immensely in the early years be relegated to an accessory. We can only hope things look better for the X-Division in 2014, but that may be asking for too much.
Backstage after the match, Sabin and Aries meet up in which they both confirm they will enter Feast or Fired.
BACKSTAGE: MAGNUS AND A MYSTERIOUS CALL - N/A
We go backstage again where Magnus is telling us that he can't focus on drinks (in the Dixie Carter in-ring segment earlier, Dixie stated the winner of the Dixie Land match will join her for drinks and ride along VIP style) or anything else and must focus on the title match next week. It's a quick segment where Magnus receives a phone call and must answer it, asking the interviewer to end the segment.
It may come off as nothing, but receiving a call and the way the segment ended sort of abruptly is interesting. Maybe it's nothing, but we all know that it's the little things to look out for in professional wrestling.
FEAST OR FIRED MATCH - A
The Feast or Fired Match itself was done very well with one or two surprise briefcase holders. The moment that stole the show was even before the match started. Bully Ray attacked Mr. Anderson, taking him out of the match, and giving a very dark and brilliant promo about good and evil to the fallen Anderson. The promo by Bully Ray was done to perfection and evolves the Bully Ray character further. Finally, Bully Ray can truly focus on being a singles competitor without distraction.
For the match itself, it was again done very well with EC3, DJ Zema Ion, Chavo Guerrero and Gunner taking the briefcases. If I had it my way, I would book it like this: EC3 gets the world title shot, Gunner gets a tag team title shot, DJ Zema Ion gets an X-Division Champioship shot and Chavo Guerrero gets the pink slip (sorry Chavo). EC3 is making his way to the top, so a shot at the world title is perfect. It doesn't necessarily mean he will win it or even that he will compete for it, knowing this crazy business. But it's a good fit. Ion looks good with an X-Division shot and Gunner can continue in his eminent feud with James Storm in attaining a tag team championship shot. Chavo Guerrero hasn't been used much at all, so let's do away with him unfortunately (again, sorry Chavo). Maybe Gunner getting a world title shot and EC3 getting the tag team shot with Sting is an interesting dilemma, wouldn't you say?
FINAL VIDEO SEGMENT: HARDY MEETS WITH DIXIE - N/A
After the Feast or Fired Match, we have a video package of Dixie Carter in a restaurant being told that she has a guest. The guest is Jeff Hardy and as he sits at the table, the blinds are closed to end the program.
A heel turn by Hardy is way too obvious in this scenario, but it will be interesting to see how Magnus reacts if he were to catch wind of this. More fuel for the TNA Championship fire courtesy of Dixie Carter.
Overall, it was a solid IMPACT Wrestling, but I question the extensive segments recently for hour one and back to wrestling in hour two. They need to better balance out the moments before people expecting wrestling tune away during the first hour. I'm sure it will get better as far as balance and story telling.
We're one week away from Final Resolution and the finals of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Tournament. For those who know the winners via spoilers, please don't comment below. For those who do not read spoilers, what's your take? Sound off below and thank you for reading this week's TNA Blog Zone.
Loved villain or Misunderstood Anti-Hero,