Tuesday, 30 July 2013

TNA Impact Wrestling 25th July 2013 Review

Impact Wrestling this week was actually a fairly enjoyable watch, with a solid overarching storyline tying the show together in an attempt to keep the viewer watching for as long as possible, with some good wrestling action thrown in for good measure, with two championship matches and three Bound For Glory Series matches, there was certainly a lot to keep me entertained for the two hour duration.

TNA World Title Decision

This was the story than ran throughout the show, from opening segment to closing segment and did a fairly good job of keeping my interest throughout. Firstly, we start off with The Main Event Mafia in the ring, with Kurt Angle talking about the end to last week’s show, which saw a new World Heavyweight Champion crowned in the shape of Chris Sabin. Angle called out Sabin to talk about his victory, and whilst everything Angle said was true and he delivered his promo well, it just didn’t quite feel right to me. Once again, the spotlight wasn’t truly on Chris Sabin, it was on Kurt Angle and the Main Event Mafia, and really wasn’t helping Chris Sabin seem like the star that he should have been in this segment. Instead of the Mafia putting over Sabin, we had Sabin putting over the Mafia and it just didn’t feel right at all. Bully Ray then came out accompanied by lawyer, and demanded that if Sabin didn’t hand back the title, he would sue TNA. I actually quite liked this development, even if it was making the best of a bad situation after having Sabin use a hammer to win the belt, and was surprised that I hadn’t seen this used before, as it’s such a perfect heel tactic and worked well with Bully Ray here.

So throughout the night, we caught up with both General Manager Hulk Hogan  and President Dixie Carter as they flapped around backstage trying to come up with a solution to the problem. They way they built up was actually quite nice, as we got glimpses of Hogan and Carter backstage separately which set the tone for a meeting between the two later in the night. The content of the meeting between the two was strong, with it being made to look like Hogan and Carter had no choice but to strip Sabin of his championship, even if Carter’s emotional connection with her staff seemed a little contrived after the release of Jesse Sorensen recently. The only part that bugged me was that it was shot from outside of the office through blinds, I felt a little bit like my intelligence was being insulted, like I was meant to believe Hogan and Carter weren’t aware they were being filmed when it’s their television show! I do actually quite like the backstage stuff that TNA is doing at the moment, with the quick interviews from Jason Hervey bringing a nice feel to the show.

The final segment of the show, saw Bully Ray come out to demand his World Heavyweight Championship be giving back. I can’t praise Bully’s promo ability enough, his work over the last two years has been superb and even when he’s working with horrible storylines, like the one he had with Brooke Hogan, he’s hit the ball out of the park. Sabin obviously refused to give the title to Bully, so the decision was left up to Hogan, once again taking the spotlight from the companies new World Heavyweight Champion. Hogan came out and it was made to look like he’d be switching the title back, but he obviously didn’t, ripping up Bully’s legal paper work and booking a match for three weeks’ time, at a Hardcore Justice themed Impact Wrestling, inside a Steel Cage. Hogan’s promo was pretty weak, as he repeated a lot of the same points, and said the word Justice so many times I expected The Shield to jump him on the entrance ramp. He’s getting worse with his promos which is to be expected with his age, we’ve seen it happen to a number of older wrestlers, but are no longer holding major roles on television.

Overall, this story was a pretty enjoyable one episode thing, even if it had a few plotholes, such as why Bully Ray didn’t just sue anyway, was he scared by how Hogan tore up the legal documents? The idea of the special editions of Impact Wrestling seems to be sticking, after a successful Destination X, the week previously. It’s a good idea to help bring in good ratings,  if they can consistently deliver matches and stories that people will tune into see, and the more the special editions deliver in quality, then you’d think that the ratings would continue to go up steadily, which can only be good for wrestling as a whole.  

Bound For Glory Series Match: 
Jeff Hardy 
AJ Styles

The main event of the evening was a big Bound For Glory Series match, between Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles. Now, whilst it’s clear to anyone that Hardy and Styles are two of the biggest stars in the company, I find it frustrating that TNA attempted to market this one as a dream match, again! Yes, this probably was a dream match back in 2004, the first time it happened, but 2013 we’ve seen this match before and whilst it usually delivers, to call it a dream match just makes TNA look a little bit silly. Whilst Styles has been a focal point of Impact Wrestling recently with his transformation into the Lone Wolf being a big storyline for the company, Jeff Hardy has kind of taken a backseat after the culmination of his rivalry with Bully Ray in the Full Metal Mayhem match, a few month ago.

The match was a good television main event, with a lot of action in a short timespan. It was nice to see Hardy bring out some of the old AJ Styles, as Styles brought back some of his more fast paced action that we saw before the Lone Wolf development, it was great to see moves like the Pele kick thrown in amongst AJ Styles current moveset. It’s matches like this one where the Bound For Glory Series really works, where the match is given enough time to tell the story and when it looks like both competitors are giving their all in an attempt to get the points, as was helped here by the selling of both Hardy and Styles, as well as the intensity with which the moves were delivered.

If Jeff Hardy had brought us glimpses of an old AJ Styles, it was the new AJ Styles that helped secure the victory, as he rolled with ease into a Calf Killer submission hold, and after sometime Hardy submitted, giving Styles ten points in the Bound For Glory Series. It was a nice ending to the match, with Styles looking strong in picking up a major victory over on of TNA’s biggest names. It made sense to have Styles win here, as the company clearly has an idea where they are heading with Styles, whilst Jeff Hardy currently seems in a state of limbo.

As the Bound For Glory Series develops it’s becoming pretty obvious, to me anyway, who we will see in the Top Four come the end of the series and I’d be extremely surprised if anyone else takes one of these spots. The four for me, have to be Magnus, Samoa Joe, Mr. Anderson and AJ Styles, as they are the four guys with the strongest direction in the Series and it would also lead to an interesting dynamic with two Main Event Mafia guys, one from Aces and Eights and then the Lone Wolf in AJ Styles, but out of those four I can’t currently pick an overall winner, although I’m edging closer to either AJ Styles or Mr. Anderson. Jeff Hardy on the other hand, looks to be heading for a mid-table finish, and the company doesn’t seem to have any clear plans at the moment for Hardy heading into Bound For Glory, which is strange considering he is one of the companies biggest draws. I’m beginning to wonder if Hardy will be around TNA for that much longer.

Best of the Rest (In The World)

The opening match of the show, was the Ultimate X match featuring Greg Marascuilo, Manik and Sonjay Dutt attempting to capture the vacant championship. For me, this is one of the strongest Ultimate X matches they’ve done in a while, because it used the three way concept and the Ultimate X match to it’s advantage, unlike the Ultimate X match at Slammiversary were it felt like both things were getting in the way. Marascuilo, Manik and Dutt all brought something to the match, with some nice spots throughout the match and unlike the majority of Ultimate X matches actually managed to tell a good story throughout.

The ending of the match also managed to feel climactic and purposeful, which really does make a change to other matches of this type. With Manik took out by Marascuilo on the ramp, with a sick Crade Belly to Back Piledriver on the hard Impact Wrestling ramp. With Manik out, this allowed Marascuilo and Sonjay Dutt to put together a fantastic section that had me on the edge of my seat. With both men climbing the outer steel support, they ended up on top of the structure trading blows, in what felt incredibly dangerous, helped by the rocking of the structure. With Marascuilo falling through the structure landing on the ropes, Dutt kept him in place, stopping him getting at the title, whilst Manik recovered and eventually managed to detach the new X Division title belt. Whilst it’s great to see TJ Perkins pick up the X Division belt, I still struggle to see why he’s been kept under the Manik costume, especially after cutting a promo without the mask earlier in the show!

Elsewhere, Kurt Angle and Sting were included in a backstage segment, as they talked about the Main Event Mafia ongoing feud with Aces and Eights. Sting and Angle spoke about still having one major goal to complete in finally destroying Aces and Eights. It wasn’t anything we’d hadn’t heard before, but was a good way to keep the fire burning for the feud whilst not actually developing it. It was nice to not have too much Aces and Eights involvement this week, as it has been a little heavy handed at times and gave the story time and space to breath, which it will need if it’s going to last until October.

The Knockout’s Championship was also up for grabs this week, as Mickie James defended her strap against Gail Kim. Velvet Sky cut a promo before the match, which seemed out of place, I’m pretty sure her story with Mickie James was finished about a month ago, and I’m hoping TNA don’t choose to resurrect it, over a fresh feud between Mickie James and Taryn Terrell. I was actually really disappointed with this match, as it should have been a solid matches between two of the best females in the business, instead it was pretty sloppy and didn’t feel like a title match. The most awkward section seeing a strange exchange of holds in the corner of the ring that looked like neither woman knew what they were doing. After Gail Kim slapped referee ODB, Mickie James managed to pick up the victory with a roll up. Brooke Hogan then made an appearance to admonish Gail, reminding her ODB was still an active competitor. It’s great to see ODB finally out of the referee role and if this poor match achieved one thing it’s that we will get to see ODB back in the ring again.

After a pep talk from Bully Ray about the new importance of the Bound for Glory Series, Aces and Eight’s Vice President Mr. Anderson was in action against Hernandez. It was a decent, yet forgettable contest, with the some strong ideas, like Anderson teased attempting a run up on Hernandez only to hit him in the face, but the majority being a pretty basic television contest. After Anderson had dominated most of the bout, Hernandez had a comeback which lead to the ending, after SuperMex missed his Air Mexico run, allowing Anderson to hit the Mic Check and pick up the seven points in the BFG Series. I liked the ending as it suited Anderson’s character as a sneaky and clever heel, and felt like it had been thought through well. The match was around the right length, as any longer than this and it might have become a little repetitive and boring.

The other Bound For Glory Series match, is one that TNA should be marketing as a main event contest. That being Samoa Joe against Christopher Daniels. This match has the potential to be an absolute classic, and we’ve seen classic matches from these two in both TNA and ROH before. So it confuses me a little why TNA would choose to throw this match away with little promotion and little time here on Impact this week. It was a decent match, and did the best it could with the time it was given, before Mr. Anderson came back out to distract Joe and allow Daniels to pick up the victory after two Best Moonsaults Ever. Like a lot of the TNA product recently, the idea seems to be in place, but the focus is slightly to the left of where it should be.

We also got a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel in the Joseph Park and Abyss storyline, as in a backstage segment, Eric Young showed Park footage of his match against Jeff Hardy, where Park attacked the referee. With Park having no recollection of events, Young said he’d get to the bottom of things. I don’t care how it happens, Eric Young can use his newly found magical powers for all I care, as long as TNA replaces Joseph Park with Abyss, and brings back The Monster, sooner rather than later.


What did I learn from this week's Impact Wrestling?

1. The right ideas are in place, but the focus is wrong, for the majority of Impact Wrestling.

2. I'd be very surpirsed if the final four for the Bound For Glory Series aren't Magnus, Samoa Joe, Mr. Anderson and AJ Styles.

3. I am not missing Taz on commentary one bit. Jeremy Borash and Mike Tenay are doing a fine job in his absence. 

Bound For Glory Series Standings

1. Magnus - 49 Points (Non-Mover)

2. Samoa Joe - 26 Points (Non-Mover) 
3. AJ Styles - 22 Points (Up Three) 
4. Christopher Daniels - 21 Points (Non-Mover)
5. Jeff Hardy - 17 Points (Down Two)
6. Austin Aries - 14 Points (Down Two) 
- Mr. Anderson - 14 Points (Up One)
8. Hernandez - 7 Points (Down One) 
9. Bobby Roode - 0 Points (Non-Mover)
- Jay Bradley - 0 Points (Non-Mover)
- Kazarian - 0 Points (Non-Mover)
12. Joseph Parks - -10 Points (Non-Mover)

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