Monday, 5 August 2013

TNA Impact Wrestling 1st August 2013 Review

This week’s Impact Wrestling encapsulated my feelings for the current direction of the promotion in two hours. There is so much potential in the lockeroom and most of the time the build up for rivalries and matches is great, but the payoff is almost always disappointing. Whilst there was plenty to enjoy on Impact Wrestling this week, the decision made by the company and some less than well thought through booking, made the overall feeling for me coming out of the show as one of frustration.

What will the Offer Be?/August1Warning Reveal

I had been very impressed with TNA’s attempt at the viral video, with their August1Warning videos running between last week’s show and this one. They certainly helped to create a buzz amongst wrestling fans with a lot of discussion regarding who the mystery man might be. The speculation included names like Batista, Goldberg, Low-Ki, Adam Pearce, Hardcore Holly, Gutcheck Winner Bad Bones and even Nick Hogan. With such a good build up, I was expecting big things from TNA here with an important and popular wrestling name being brought in. However, with UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz being announced to fight Main Event Mafia member Rampage Jackson for Bellator the day before, my excitement was quashed pretty early on.

The build up for the reveal began from the beginning of the show with Bad Influence discussing the videos, along with Jeremy Borash and Mike Tenay mentioning the reveal every five minutes, strange for a guy who apparently doesn’t work for the company! Taz was also work into the story with him not being allowed into the building for some reason, that wasn’t really explained. After a white Hummer limo was seen driving around the backstage area, Taz reappeared to open the door of the limo to reveal that only a laptop playing the warning was inside. Even if we look past the logistics of the laptop and the hummer, the big point for me here is that TNA recently signed Taz to a contract, which we can expect is fairly lucrative, and is not really using him. Yes, the commentary has been better the last two weeks between Tenay and Borash, so what was the point of resigning Taz in the first place.

Another story that was weaved into the August1Warning build up, was the Main Event Mafia’s offer to the Aces and Eights, with the Mafia seen a number of times in their “office” discussing the offer they were going to make to their rival faction, with Kurt Angle and Sting doing most of the talking. I’m confused to what Rampage Jackson brings to TNA that validates him getting payed as much as he does. All we’ve really seen from him in the Mafia, is some nodding and the occasional “Yup”, whist during these segment Joe and Magnus come over as lackeys to the more experienced Angle and Sting rather than as equals.

The final segment of the show saw Kurt Angle call out Aces and Eights, who came out lead by Vice President Mr. Anderson. Anderson actually did a fairly good job of his promo and I’m enjoying his new more important role in Aces and Eights. With Angle announcing that at the Hardcore Justice special edition of Impact Wrestling, the Main Event Mafia challenge Aces and Eights to a five on five match, with the loser being removed from the TNA roster, a brawl ensued with Main Event Mafia coming out on top, before Anderson accepted on behalf of his team. The five on five match concept has potential, but why Main Event Mafia didn’t just say that the loser must disband didn’t make a lot of sense. It was then that the August1Warning was announced, with Tito Ortiz making his way to the entrance ramp to stare down with Rampage Jackson. It wasn’t the moment it needed to be for me, as a wrestling fan Tito Ortiz means very little to me. Whilst admittedly there is some cross-over between wrestling and MMA fans, I’d think that those fans watch each product for different reasons. I can’t imagine Aces and Eights turning up on a Bellator show either.

Bound For Glory Series Match: 

Austin Aries 


AJ Styles

The show had kicked off earlier in the night, with Austin Aries coming to the ring. Aries spoke about how he would go on to win the Bound For Glory as well as his Bound For Glory Series match with AJ Styles later in the night. Aries did a great job building up the match later on, putting over Styles and himself, bringing an extra sense anticipation to the bout. However, it did get me thinking that this match really should have been on PPV and not free television. It doesn’t even need much of a build up, just the fact that this match had never happened before, would surely bring in a decent buy rate for a TNA PPV. AJ Styles also got a chance to talk just before the match, as in a backstage promo, Styles rubbished “Dream Matches” and revealed he’d win the Bound For Glory Series for the money. It was another strong attempt from Styles, who is really growing into his new character. Some might not like, but I certainly do.

The match for the most part didn’t disappoint, whilst it took a while to get going, and there was awkward superplex/neckbreaker section that didn’t quite work, once the match found it’s feet it really did become a pleasure to watch. With a number of exciting high spots, such as Styles front suplexing Aries onto the entrance way before ending up taking a back body drop off of it, alongside some nice actual wrestling, it built up nicely and was well put together. Aries, in the same way as Jeff Hardy two weeks ago, managed to bring out some of the old AJ Styles, with springboard moves and other highflying action coming back into Styles’ repertoire. The change in Styles in ring style, for me, has been a positive one, as it has meant that when Styles does go for the more exciting moves, they actually mean something, rather than being just another move.

The only thing that really fell flat to me was the ending of the contest. With Styles and Aries going back and forth with some hard punches and chops, Aries seemed to take control with a hard back suplex and discus clothesline and everything seemed to be going well. That was until Styles hit a Pele Kick out of nowhere and both men ended up with an arm across the other. With the referee counting both pinfalls, until Aries managed to get his shoulder up to pick up the pinfall victory and seven points in the Series. Now, there was two reasons I didn’t like the ending , firstly, after such a strong match, it was frustrating to have no clear winner, yes, Aries won but it wasn’t particularly decisive, now this would have been fine, if this wasn’t the Bound For Glory Series, as the two could have had a rematch with a good story to build upon, but it will be forgotten on next week’s Impact Wrestling. Secondly, the Pele Kick? How often has AJ Styles finished someone off with a Pele Kick? And now he finishes himself off with it? It was just bizarre.

This brings me to another flaw in the Bound For Glory Series. There are a number of top stars involved in the Series, and a lot names that TNA want to keep looking strong for the time being, so whilst Jay Bradley and Joseph Park will lose the majority of their matches cleanly, some of the top names will end up finishing in this kind of manner. Now, when the fans cotton on to this, the big name collisions will become less alluring, as we know we’ll get dodgy ending like this one, which won’t result in a rematch, because the Series has to roll on til October. Once again, on paper the Bound For Glory Series looks like a great idea and for the majority of the time makes for good television, but in a lot of the execution and major details it simply hasn’t worked as well as it should.

Best of the Rest (In the World) 

The other big match on the show, saw World Heavyweight Champion Chris Sabin face off against X Division Champion Manik. Now, a Champion vs. Champion match should be the first thing I’m talking about in this review, but TNA didn’t feel that way with this match basically being an after though, summing up Chris Sabin’s reign as World Heavyweight Champion so far. In build up to the match, Sabin and Manik were seen talking backstage, for some reason Manik had his mask off but his back to camera, I honestly don’t know why they kept the gimmick. It wasn’t a particularly great segment and Sabin was really shown up here, as he simply wasn’t believable in what he was saying and seemed to just be remembering words in the correct order.

The match on the other hand, was another solid display with some nice quick highflying action, that showcased what both men could do well, in what was essentially an X Division contest. This is where the main problem of the match lay, it was an X Division contest. Chris Sabin is yet to get a clean win over a heavyweight, after basically cheating to win the title from Bully Ray. A win over a bigger heavier man clean here, would have made him look at least close to a credible World Heavyweight Champion. Sabin did win the match, after a good closing section, finishing Manik off with Hail Sabin. Manik also got very little out of the match, as he lost to the person who had previously given up the X Division Championship, making his title reign get off to almost as poor a start as Sabin’s.

In the opening match of the evening, Bobby Roode took on Hernandez in a Bound For Glory Series Match. With Roode interrupting Austin Aries’ earlier segment, to announce he’d be getting points on the board tonight, by returning to his old motto “It pays to be Roode” in a solid promo, the match had an extra sense of intrigue than it would have otherwise. Roode and Hernandez put on decent television contest, with Roode’s ring savvy helping him get the upperhand for most of the match. It was when Hernandez’ power came into play, that we saw what Roode was talking about, with Roode throwing a number of chairs into the ring, distracting the referee, allowing Roode to hit Hernandez with a conveniently placed beer bottle to pick up the pinfall victory. Now, apart from the referee deciding to ignore the load of broken glass in the ring, this was a good way to re-introduce Roode’s character and have him add points to the board.

In the women’s match of the evening Gail Kim took on ODB, in ODB’s first televised match since November 2012. It was a welcome return for one of TNA’s most talented females, as ODB and Kim put on a strong contest, with the fast paced, hard hitting action that has become the calling card for TNA’s women’s division over the last few months, thanks to the likes of Kim, Taryn Terrell and Mickie James. After ODB sent Kim into the ring post, the match broke down somewhat, with ODB and Kim brawling on the outside before Kim sent ODB into the steel steps, leading to a double countout and a draw, as the two continued to fight. The match built the rivalry well, and unlike the Styles/Aries match later in the evening will surely get a rematch later down the line. ODB could make a great opponent for Mickie James as well, if the company went down a different route to Taryn Terrell.

In the other Bound For Glory Series match of the evening, Joseph Park took on Jay Bradley. With Eric Young accompanying Park, bringing his scientists knowledge by giving Park headgear to stop him bleeding, you had the making of a hilarious comedy duo. The match itself was poor, with Bradley and Park really not connecting well in the ring, with most of what was presented looking clunky and awkward. After Bradley had removed the head gear, it still wasn’t enough for him to pick up the victory, as Park got the pinfall after a Samoan Drop. Jay Bradley is certainly proving to be the whipping boy of the Series, playing the same role that Robbie E played last year.

Elsewhere, Bad Influence’s Christopher Daniels and Kazarian talked about their match in the Bound For Glory Series next week, with the tension between the two being played up. If done correctly, this match has the potential to be the match of the Series so far, if given four minutes or gone to another Dusty finish, it could be a big disappointment, which would be a crying shame after Kaz and Daniels have been consistently the best thing about TNA over the last year or so. 


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

1. August1Warning was a disappointment.

2. I actually like the new AJ Styles.

3. Even the absense of Hulk Hogan doesn't help the focus of TNA.

Bound For Glory Series Standings

1. Magnus - 49 Points (Non-Mover)

2. Samoa Joe - 26 Points (Non-Mover)

3. AJ Styles - 22 Points (Non-Mover)

4. Austin Aries - 21 Points (Up Two)
4. Christopher Daniels - 21 Points (Non-Mover) 
4. Mr. Anderson - 21 Points (Up Two)

7. Jeff Hardy - 17 Points (Down Two)

8. Bobby Roode - 7 Points (Up One)
8. Hernandez -7 Points (Non-Mover)

10. Jay Bradley - 0 Points (Down One)

10. Kazarian - 0 Points (Down One)

12. Joseph Park - -3 Points (Non-Mover)

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