Yes, this is what you think it is - an article that focuses on the positives of TNA Wrestling. The positives do exist, but for whatever reason, it’s so hard for some fans to see what I see. I’m not going to pretend like the company doesn’t have problems, as I'll go over that a little bit towards the end. My goal for this piece is to realistically evaluate what TNA has offered so far in 2016 as we prepare for Slammiversary.
Slammiversary’s Main Event feat. The Rise of Drew Galloway
Not that it’s a surprise to anyone, Drew Galloway has been busy kicking butt and winning titles all over the world since his WWE release two years ago. In January, Galloway captured the Feast or Fired briefcase for a future TNA World Title shot. Two months later, Galloway cashed in on a vulnerable Matt Hardy to win his first TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
Since then, Drew has successfully defended against Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Tyrus, and Eli Drake. Galloway is currently facing his biggest challenge to date - “The Destroyer” Lashley. After months of Lashley destroying everything and everyone is his sight, he will challenge Galloway for the World Title in the Slammiversary main event.
WWE is currently ushering in their “New Era,” and I believe the same could be said for TNA when it comes to seeing these newer guys that aren’t TNA originals taking over the main event scene. Countless attacks and brawls have been filmed between Lashley and Galloway to make this a must-see bout.
The Miracle Ends The Streak
When Impact debuted on Pop TV in January, we witnessed the TNA debuts of “The Miracle” Mike Bennett and his lovely wife, Maria Kanellis. It didn’t take long for the couple to make an impact, pun intended.
Bennett started off his own undefeated streak by beating the likes of Robbie E, Pepper Parks, and Drew Galloway by the end of February. He soon turned his attention to another undefeated star in TNA.. EC3. The two finally clashed in late April, where Bennett did the unthinkable and pinned Ethan, ending his 30-month streak.
I really can’t find the words here to describe how good this feud is. To understand it, you would simply have to watch their promos and ring work together. All of it is fantastic! And to make things even more interesting, Mike won’t grant EC3 a rematch until he battles all of his past demons. These demons include Rockstar Spud, Tyrus, and Matt Hardy
It is inevitable that these two will face off again on pay-per-view, which will also be a must-see match. This is a case where both men should win, but only one can.
Maria Takes Over The Knockouts Division
Where Mike Bennett goes, you will find Maria Kanellis there also. Despite her previous years in WWE and Ring of Honor, I had never had the pleasure of hearing Maria talk or seeing her wrestle before she came to TNA. As I started binge watching all the episodes of Impact from this year a few weeks ago, I immediately noticed how much I like Maria’s villainous character.
Seeing as though she is the First Lady of Professional Wrestling, Maria hasn’t been quite fond of the current Knockouts division. With or without permission, Maria slowly began to make decisions for the division, practically warranting Jade her opportunity to take the Knockouts Championship from Gail Kim. It wasn’t long before Billy Corgan booked a seven-Knockout Ladder Match to determine the division’s leader. And guess who won?
Since then, Velvet Sky has been “fired” and Sienna (a/k/a Allysin Kay) debuted as a force to be reckoned with. What could be next? Just this week, Gail Kim and Maria brawled for the first time. It should only be a matter of time before Maria vs. Gail is set for Slammiversary, and what a match that will be.
Decay, Decay, DECAY!
I started watching Impact regularly in 2014 around the time The Menagerie debuted. Remember those clowns? Literally, one of them was a clown - Crazzy Steve. Two of the members from that group (Knux and The Freak) are no longer with the company while Rebel is somewhat used in the Knockouts division. The point I’m trying to make is who expected Steve of all people to stay in the company long enough to find an awesome gimmick that would lead him to capture tag team gold?
When Impact debuted on Pop, Steve aligned himself with Abyss (who is now maskless, donning a freshly painted face) and Rosemary (Courtney Rush). The trio has run roughshod all over the place, taking out the likes of The Wolves, Beer Money, Jeff Hardy, and even Gail Kim. Their creepy entrance music (“The Nobodies” by Marilyn Manson) goes perfectly with the gimmick! They are the perfect package and I’m glad TNA put the Tag Team Titles on them.
X-Division Storylines Still Exist
In these few years that I’ve been watching Impact, it appears TNA doesn’t know how to create storylines for what’s left of the X-Division. We see random title defenses for practically no reason other than to put them on TV. Granted, over these few years, the company has had to deal with bigger issues such as changing channels and nights every year. Now that the rocky waves have somewhat settled, it looks like we are finally seeing importance restored in the title and the division.
At Bound For Glory 2015, Gregory Shane Helms approached then-champion Tigre Uno practically out of nowhere. We all thought Helms himself was coming after Uno to pick up another cruiserweight championship. Once 2016 arrived, we soon learned that Helms hired Trevor Lee to be the man that would dethrone Uno. Lee has successfully defended the title four times since February, with one of those being inside Six Sides of Steel and one being an Ultimate X match.
What I haven’t mentioned is the fact that GS Helms spent a few weeks trying to recruit Eddie Edwards, who has been competing in the X-Division while Davey Richards has been injured. Edwards turned him down, so Helms recruited Andrew Everett. The Helms Dynasty has been battling Edwards and a rejuvenated DJ Z over the last couple months.
You may be thinking, well that’s only four X-Division stars and a not-so important storyline. That may be true depending on how you look at it, but it’s a start! It takes progress and I believe things will continue to be on the incline as we go through Slammiversary.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Dixie Carter herself recently stated in an interview that “We are putting out some of the best television our company has ever put out and if you watch it you can tell, great things are happening to our company.” We may not be able to see what exactly is going on behind the scenes, but I can say with certainty that TNA has been putting out some of their best work in 2016. And what we see on screen is a reflection of what is going on the in the company. Take 2015 as an example. Slammiversary was a mess! Three of their biggest storylines weren’t featured on the pay-per-view. After Bound For Glory in October (which wasn’t a horrible show), the episodes that aired through December were actually taped in July... before BFG!
The number of fans tuning in have declined. If you have Pop TV and don’t watch Impact, maybe you should give it a chance. Even it’s just to see certain wrestlers like Drew Galloway, EC3, Eli Drake, or whoever you like! You may find it as a better alternative if you happen to be tired of WWE.
Let me conclude by reiterating that I’m not a TNA fanboy hoping to see an eventual uprising so the company can legitimately compete against WWE. I am simply sharing what I have found enjoyable in hopes that maybe fans come back around. All wrestling fans in general should want to see TNA succeed.
Now it’s your turn to voice your opinion. Take the opportunity to sound off below in the comments area. I’d love to hear if you watch and why, and if don’t, why?