Revisiting TNA’s Impact Wrestling: Week 2

Impact Wrestling Spike logoThis is part two of an ongoing series, looking at TNA’s product from a non-fan perspective as it builds towards Destination X. You can check out week one here.

Last week, Impact Wrestling was a disaster of a show. Between Hulkamania running a little too wild, a weak X Division title change, and overbooking in every segment, I had minimal desire to tune back in this week. My final thoughts were, “is this what TNA fans really want?”

No, it’s not. What TNA fans really want are chants, like “T-N-A” or “This-Is-AWE-SOME!” Apparently, they really miss ECW.

But this isn’t ECW. It’s not WWE, it’s not ROH, it’s not NWA. After existing for more than a decade, TNA still can’t quite find an identity. (For example, am I supposed to call the product “Impact Wrestling” or “TNA” or “TNA Wrestling” or what? The re-branding with the term “wrestling” from a few years back still has me confused).

The July 4th edition of Impact Wrestling proved a little more coherent. I’m totally on-board with the Bound for Glory series – this is how you make matches meaningful. While WWE has a TON of matches every week, only a few of them seem important in the bigger picture. What TNA has done with the Bound for Glory series is give their cards a sense of purpose.

Does it always work out? No. The Joseph Parks DQ against Jeff Hardy seemed a little cheap. Also, I’m not digging the way Joseph Parks is still having “flashes” of Abyss. I’m pretty sure he was doing this exact same thing last summer when he had his feud with Bully Ray. Has his character not evolved AT ALL since then? Maybe TNA is just recycling the same storyline.

But the in-ring product overall was solid. A great tag-team match, and killer main event. Was it as awesome as the TNA fans in attendance seemed to think? Maybe. Then again, I’ve heard fans in the Impact Zone give the same ovation to Hulk Hogan in a walker. Chris Sabin and Austin Aries definitely have chemistry in the ring together. But they were simply overshadowed by the 1,540 other people at ringside during their match last night.

I also think I’m pretty much done with the Main Event Mafia. Didn’t these guys originally debut as heels in 2008? The “wrestlers-in-suits” gimmick just makes them look like they take themselves too seriously. Plus, it doesn’t really fit the kind of relatable persona this faction is trying to develop. It would have been like the WCW making the NWO turn into faces… oh, right.

And I’d like to return this emo-AJ Styles look-alike, please. His constant look of constipation is bothersome. I know Taz and Mike Tennay like to say he’s “a loner,” but I think that’s just a nicer way of saying, “he looks like the guy from the 7-eleven security cam footage.”

Destination X is only two weeks away – July 18th, live on PPV Spike TV!

Revisiting TNA’s Impact Wrestling: Week 1

impact_wrestling_logo

This is part one of an ongoing series, looking at TNA’s product from a non-fan perspective as it builds towards Destination X. 

Before last night, I hadn’t caught an episode of TNA’s IMPACT Wrestling since 2012. The last major Pay-Per-View I caught was Bound for Glory 2012, back when Aces and Eights revealed it’s (not actual) leader to be Devon, and Jeff Hardy captured the TNA World Heavyweight Championship from Austin Aries.

I didn’t stop watching because I disliked the product. In fact, TNA’s big Summer IMPACT Wrestling push last year was some of the most consistent work in the company’s 11-year history. The shows were entertaining, Austin Aries was a great champion, and the Aces and Eights storyline still had a little teeth to it. My schedule simply got too busy for a Thursday wrestling show.

Unfortunately, I tuned in last night and my first thought was, “well, not much has changed.”

I can’t compare this show to last weeks show, and I have no idea how last night’s events fit into the big TNA picture. But watching that episode of IMPACT Wrestling left me feeling completely indifferent. It wasn’t the in-ring work, which was as solid as ever (including Samoa Joe, who continues to be one of my favorite wrestlers never to step foot in a WWE ring). I’m also a big fan of the Bound for Glory series, which was hyped prominently throughout the night.

It just felt like TNA had too much going on. Moreso, it seemed as though the creative staff didn’t know how to highlight the really important things from the not-so-important things.

Example: Main Event Mafia kicked off the show (which annoys me unto itself). Kurt Angle and Sting hyped that they would be adding a new member by the end of the night. But, when the segment with Samoa Joe took place, it just felt awkward. All three men seemed unclear how to handle the moment, and the announcers fumbled through the call. Wasn’t this supposed to be a big development? Furthermore, have Aces and Eights just given up? They didn’t seem too concerned with tearing apart TNA anymore. If that’s the case, then why are Sting and Kurt Angle so threatened by them?

Every segment seemed to have more than one thing happening at a time. It couldn’t just be a match – it had to be a match AND THEN an interview. Or an in-ring promo, then a backstage segment. And why the heck was Hulk Hogan featured more prominently than the TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray?

I thought the Austin Aries reveal was a nice surprise. On the other hand, knowing what little I do about recent TNA events, it seemed to completely undermine the whole “X-Division Champion can challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship” scenario. From my understanding, the Chris Sabin X-Division Championship win was a big deal, and it seemed like a great way to build him up to that next level. But watching fake Suicide steal the title in such a ridiculous manner, the stipulation, and thus the title, both lost a little prestige. It seemed like TNA was trying to make this its own Money in the Bank at the cost of the championship.

And by the end of the night, with so much going on, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to care about.

Yes, WWE has some weak nights too. But it seems to promote its flagship show in such a way that you know what’s important, who to focus on, and what to talk about the next day. All TNA seemed to emphasize was the “more stuff happening” part, and it caused the whole product to suffer.