Welcome to the TNA Blog Zone here on Wrestling News World. This is Ric Santos from TNANews.com covering for Kendra Bunyon this week. We're coming off of one of the more interesting episodes of Impact Wrestling in more ways than one.
The first hour was the weakest of the night, excluding the tremendous opening contest between Jeff Hardy and Bobby Roode. It set the tone for the night and established the importance of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Tournament as we make it to the finals. However, the rest of the hour was a jumble of videos and segments that would have been more effective had these been incorporated throughout the night instead of thrown together for the first hour. The second hour picked up the pace again and gave us three matches back to back, with a quick final segment involving Dixie Carter and a video of AJ Styles himself to end the night. After a quick rundown, let's look over Impact Wrestling in detail.
IMPACT WRESTLING BEGINS
Opening Video Package> C
The show opens up with a very strange video package going over the happenings of the past few weeks with animated men (mindless puppets?) watching on a big screen. I've lost you already, haven't I? Well, this was the opening video to start the show. I suppose it was supposed to be some kind of commentary on how Dixie is in charge and everyone below her are just subordinates who are in her control. I understand that may have been the goal, but the opening was just too strange for a wrestling show and kind of came off of amateur or even comedic. The Hardy Vs. Roode and Magnus Vs. Angle screens during this video actually looked pretty cool, so it wasn't totally unnecessary.
In-Ring Segment> B-
A cool in-ring segment that starts off with Kurt Angle leading to Magnus making his way upon Kurt's request. The two exchange the usual verbiage of respect, being hungry and the goal of being champion. Bobby Roode makes his way to throw in his two cents, which leads to Hardy showing up to start his match with Bobby Roode. Overall, it was very cool to open the show with these men, but I was slightly distracted with the noticeable editing done while Angle and Magnus were alone in the ring. The beauty of taping is the ability to edit anything that is not needed or to sharpen a segment up, but it could also damage a segment slightly. Not to worry, the energy and overall message was executed well and we start off with the Tables Match in the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Tournament.
TNA Heavyweight Championship Tournament Tables Match - Jeff Hardy Vs. Bobby Roode> A
Match of the night to start off Impact Wrestling. While going through my Twitter during the commercial break at the end of the match, someone retweeted a comment made by another viewer and that comment basically stated that after all of this time and after all of the spots taken, Jeff Hardy is still able to perform at a high level and make things look easy. Hardy has slowed down in his later wrestling years, but this is a true statement. Jeff Hardy looked great in his bout. Bobby Roode looked great as always; it's hard to find a bad Bobby Roode match in the regards to his in-ring.
The match itself was well executed. Some people might say that there wasn't enough craziness involved, but I thought it was just about right. The double fall through the table between Hardy and Roode was done to perfection and added an element of excitement as the match continued. If I had to point out one negative, and it really wasn't a negative but could have been better, was how Roode lost. Jeff Hardy hit his twist kick while Roode was on the apron and falls back to the outside through a table. For me, this was even more shocking because I've been preaching a Bobby Roode/ Kurt Angle finals and to see Roode lose blew my mind. This is why you should never bet on professional wrestling folks, anything could happen. Despite my disappointment in the outcome, I was pleased with the contest and thought it was the best way to open the show.
Winner - Jeff Hardy
A short #IMPACT365 video of Ethan Carter III having makeup applied and stating that he will be facing a legend tonight. As we all know, EC3 is blowing smoke, so we'll have to see what he comes up with in his match. It's always good to see EC3, as he is being built up the right way.
In-Ring Segment> B-
I will not be counting this as a match, as this was just a glorified in-ring segment to get EC3 heat. The legend he would be facing was referee Earl Hebner, who he demanded lay down for him for the easy pinfall. Chief of Staff Rockstar Spud brings out Brian Hebner to referee the "match" and is ultimately made to count Earl for the three with EC3's finger on his chest.
I am not counting this as a match, as I've stated. The purpose was to further the EC3 character and it did just that. Ethan Carter is going to have a great 2014 as long as TNA doesn't place him in ridiculous situations and continues the slow build. He has moved away from Norv Fernum and Dewey Barnes (thank goodness) and even though he has yet to face a legitimate threat, he is beginning to atleast interact with recognized names in TNA. However, this particular route in his build is growing thin and should be facing real competition on the weeks to come.
We move on to video of Samuel Shaw's dinner with Christy Hemme. As the waiter comes to deliver the check, Hemme excuses herself to the restroom. The waiter returns to Shaw grabbing him and threatening to hurt him if he ever looked at "his girl" again. Hemme returns and the two leave arm in arm.
Two video packages in and I already enjoy Samuel Shaw. When I first covered the Samuel Shaw character for TNANews.com, I dubbed him the American Psycho. He is a clean cut guy with good taste, but harbors a dark side that will be interesting to see upon his in-ring debut as the Samuel Shaw character.
Multiple Backstage Segment> C+/ B
The first backstage segment is Dixie Carter awaiting her package (expecting the world title belt) but receives flowers. She disregards the flowers and asks that she only wants to be told when the world title arrives. Not much to really discuss here except that she claims the flowers were from a fan, to which everyone on twitter and the IWC pokes fun since Dixie has no fans.
The next segment after a return from commercial break is Dixie Carter backstage with some of the TNA roster. She reveals she is bringing back Feast or Fired, revealing the 4 briefcases that the men will be vying for next week. In another attempt to erase the Hulk Hogan Era, in my mind, TNA brings back the Feast or Fired concept. I've always enjoyed the idea, but the execution can be a bit iffy. It's good to see a classic concept, but this can be a hindrance if it's not executed correctly and the right people get the wrong briefcase. Or is it the wrong people get the right briefcase? I digress.
In-Ring Segment> B
Bad Influence make their way to the ring and expose Joseph Park by showing a video of their visit to Park, Park & Park after Joseph makes his way to the ring. In video shows an empty office space and are told by the floor receptionist that Park, Park & Park closed down 13 years ago, so what has Joseph Park been doing for 13 years? After a beatdown and a save by Eric Young, a tag match is set.
Thanks to Bad Influence, the Joseph Park storyline is interesting again, even if it's only a little. I don't care about the Joseph Park character and I feel it has run it's course. TNA needs to do away with the Joseph Park character and bring back Abyss full time. Please let this be the road to the end of Joseph Park.
Backstage Segment> A
Earlier in the night, Sting is shown making his way to the arena and we had a backstage segment where is was speaking with Magnus. Now, we find Sting making his way to see Kurt Angle, only to be stopped by Rockstar Spud. After a few verbal jabs at one another, Spud leaves as he is told a package has arrived.
Sting was funny here and really came off well with Spud. As far as Spud goes, he is starting to grow on me in his new character and cane certainly interact with the rest of the roster nicely. Sting is Sting, which means he is most likely on point in his segments.
Note: Have the readers noticed alot of video, backstage, in-ring segments? I was worried for this broadcast as the first hour progressed. However, this is the end of hour one and we move onto hour 2.
TNA Tag Team Champions The BroMans Vs. James Storm and Gunner>C+
We finally get a second and we have The BroMans taking on James Storm and Gunner. Storm and Gunner take the loss via disqualification due to Gunner pushing down the referee after a nonstop attack on Robbie E (who spit beer in his face to get him riled up). Storm has words for Gunner causing the DQ and leaves.
The match gets a lower than average rating from me only because nothing truly significant happened. It was a good match for what it was, but could have been better for both teams. Gunner and Storm continue their friction, while the BroMans are the BroMans. Not to say that in a bad way, they just need to be displayed more prominently as they really stepped up their game at Bound for Glory. Aside from that, nothing much else to discuss on this front.
Winners - The BroMans
A #Impact365 video shows Gail Kim and her husband Robert Irvine kissing, only to be interrupted by the interviewer who receives a response from both Kim and Irving regarding her open challenge.
I want to point out here that this was a standout segment because of Robert Irvine. Gail Kim was great in this video, but Robert Irvine made it his own. He gave a heel manager kind of promo that came off natural, real and straight to the point. Robert Irvine looked like he belongs by Gail Kim's side as her mouthpiece, an interesting dynamic. He also did NOT look out of place infront of a TNA Wrestling ring. I know they got him in for only the segment, but the man came off tremendous on camera and really hit it out of the park with just a few words.
Another #Impact365 video when we come back from commercial with Chris Sabin recording infront of a mirror as Velvet Sky is behind him. Basic video of him saying how "you gave me inspiration" and the like, as Velvet Sky is liking what she hears. The TNA X-Division Championship is taken and after Sky asks "How do I look?", Chris Sabin says "The real question is how do we look?".
This video segment was fine and questions whether Sabin was taking about Velvet Sky or the TNA X-Division Championship. A good way to get the two on TNA television, but nothing more really. On with the show.
Gail Kim Vs. Laura Dennis>B-
Continuing her open challenge, Gail Kim defeats Laura Dennis. Post match, Kim and Tapa give Dennis a beatdown until ODB makes the save.
As I've stated in my Booking Impact article for TNANews.com, I want to see Gail Kim's opponents become more difficult as the challenge progresses. We already have EC3 facing individuals who have no shot at taking him out. Though the women Kim is facing have some wrestling ability from from the independents, they clearly are not ready for the TNA stage. Yes, this is to make Gail Kim look good and dominant, but when you have green wrestlers challenging a veteran, how does that encourage her dominance on the level she deserves to be at? She needs competition and defeating real competition would cement her claims. However, on the flip side, I again understand that this is to make Kim look good as the heel champion. I just had a different vision for the open challenge but things could change with ODB stepping up again.
Winner - Gail Kim
Backstage Segment> N/A
Dixie is on the phone with Spud and tells him to come to the back as she is excited to have the package is waiting for.
TNA Heavyweight Championship Tournament Last Man Standing Match - Magnus Vs. Kurt Angle> B-
After a good back and forth, Magnus defeats Kurt Angle with interference from Bobby Roode. The referee is knocked down during the match, to which Roode makes his appearance. As the referee comes to and counts both men laying on the mat, Magnus stands for one second to after the ref makes it to nine and is victorious. Roode attacks both men as Hardy makes the save. A stare down and hand shake by Magnus and Hardy ends the in-ring match.
Now that Bobby Roode and Kurt Angle will not be in the finals, I had time to soak it in throughout the night and into the last moments of the broadcast and accepted that TNA has different plans for the title picture. Kurt Angle is an established superstar with multiple world title reigns between WWE and TNA Wrestling. Bobby Roode is an established superstar with not as many title reigns in comparison to Kurt, but a main event level history that perhaps not having a title reign now will not hurt him at all. We can only look forward to these two picking it up in the world title scene in 2014.
In analyzing the finals between Hardy and Magnus, I do notice something. TNA is currently switching up and becoming a new TNA for 2014 and Magnus has been getting alot of attention this year. He didn't make it in the BFG Series, but is now in the finals of the TNA World Championship Tournament. With Jeff Hardy an established world champion, and Magnus looking to make a statement, it's beginning to look like Magnus is the favorite to win the entire tournament. I still believe it is too early for Magnus to become a world champion as he needs to be seasoned a bit more. He needs to involve himself in high caliber feuds, much like he recently had with Sting. Get him involved with Bobby Roode or even Bully Ray somehow after the Bully Ray/ Anderson program is completed. Then again, if he were to win the tournament and is crowned the new champion, what kind of situation are we looking at with AJ Styles? This could be the high caliber program he needs to boost his stock. The finals are in two weeks at the Final Resolution special on Spike TV.
The issue I have with this main event is at one point, after commercial, we were again backstage with Rockstar Spud and Dixie Carter looking over the received package. A major wrestling match is happening in the ring, and we are removed from it and to see a backstage segment between Dixie and Spud? This particular backstage segment could have been removed completely or added in before the match began. At the end of the match, we were treated to another backstage segment to end the show with Dixie and Spud opening the package, only to find a toy belt. A "Friends of AJ Styles" video is then played with AJ himself, holding the real TNA Championship, telling Dixie that she will have to come to Gainesville, GA to get the belt.
Winner - Magnus
I had my doubts about this episode of Impact Wrestling as the first hour progressed and didn't want to read tweets from so called wrestling fans bashing the show. I did share an exchange with another TNANews.com contributor and he stated he was angry at the program during the first hour. It was a pretty lackluster first hour in regards to in-ring, but programs were progressed. The second hour was wrestling heavy, but I think the overall show could have been better if the matches and segments were spread out. 1 match in hour 1 with 3 in hour 2 could have looked better with 2 matches for each hour.
Impact Wrestling could have been presented better but there were glimmers of greatness with the Jeff Hardy/ Bobby Roode contest and the Gail Kim/ Robert Irvine #Impact365 video. The Last Man Standing Match was well done, but not on the level of past Magnus or Kurt Angle bouts. The show is now behind us and we look forward to next week's Impact broadcast.
I hope I did you proud Kendra!
Loved villain or misunderstood anti-hero,