Saturday, January 10, 2015

This Week on IMPACT Wrestling

By Talon
January 7, 2015

TNA premiered on Destination America this past Wednesday night. Described as a sneak peek for TNA's run on a new network, IMPACT Wrestling will officially premiere on Friday, January 16th. This show needed to make an IMPACT. There was a lot of intrigue and questions heading into the show. Here are my thoughts.

Opening Minutes- You knew this show was going to be special just based off the first few opening minutes. We opened with a letter to a mystery person that would set up the main angle of the show. Following a cool sequence of the TNA wrestlers getting ready for the show (which should be the intro every week), James Storm, Bobby Roode and MVP gave their guys pep talks to motivate them tonight. This all led to a brawl in the street of New York which made its way inside. 

If the intro was any indication of TNA's new production initiative, I am excited. Between the rap and the seamless transition to the first segment, it was handled well. The huge brawl to open the show gave the fans a hint that this was a new era in TNA.

Kurt Angle and MVP- Tonight, Angle made a huge announcement that he was stepping down as Executive Director TNA and was re-activated as a wrestler. Knowing that he has been out injured for the past 9 or so months made this announcement that much bigger. Who will take the authority position? Will TNA become a lawless land? Will the power fall in numbers?

The actual match between the two felt significant. I actually wish they would have saved this for PPV but TNA has a history of throwing it all out there. It is bound to continue happening. The actual match wasn't very memorable in itself but it led the way to what happened later in the show.

Tag Team Championship- The Revolution was featured heavily during the show, especially James Storm. TNA did a good job plugging the Unlocked show with the interview with Storm. I see enough differences between he and Bray Wyatt to not be bothered by their similarities. Their match against The Wolves was an exciting championship match. My guess is that the backfire by the Hardys will build tension between the two tag teams.

EC3 and Rockstar Spud- Jeremy Borash got his head shaved. EC3 did well on the mic and Spud continues to be the underdog. This segment gave lip service to this feud. Nothing to complain about here. I'm sure JB looks fine without any hair.

X Division Championship- I am happy that we got a little spotlight feature on the X Division, since it forms the foundation of TNA. Both Low Ki and Austin Aries are both major pioneers of the division. The two had some pretty fun matches back in 2007. This one was no different. It didn't take that next step but was nice for what we got. I wish we would have gotten some mic time from either guy. Aries' title win came out of nowhere as it felt like Low Ki was going to get a lengthy run. That seems to have changed in the new year. I am hoping we get more matches between these two in the near future.

Knockouts Championship- The Battle Royal was a way to get all the Knockouts on the show. I actually liked the pre-match interview from Robbie E, since he was just returning from the Amazing Race. It looks like we will be having a rivalry between Robbie and Brooke due to Robbie's comments and Brooke's return tonight. 

The actual Battle Royal wasn't anything special. The real moment came after the match as Havok was destroying Taryn. The lights went out and when they came back on, Awesome Kong was face to face with the giant Havok. I marked out huge to the return of Kong. With some of her comments in the past, I never would have thought she would be back in TNA. She is one of the biggest names in Knockout history and is the biggest monster in Knockout history. Kong vs Havok is a pretty cool match to have. I hope TNA can really build this over time because it could be a huge one.

Roode vs Lashley- TNA did a good job all night hyping up this match. Lashley's face when Roode was entering was priceless. He was so intense. The two had a very good back and forth match. It was similar to their first two encounters. Unfortunately the ending got in the way.

After the referee went down, MVP, Kenny King and two masked men came to the ring. They laid out Kurt Angle and then attacked Roode. The shock came when these men were revealed as Samoa Joe and Low Ki. Joe and Ki have had recent history with each other and Joe has had issues with King and MVP in the past year. It will take a bit of explanation to get me to buy into this one.

They were cleared from the ring by Eric Young, holding a chair. EY shocked people in attendance by smacking his buddy with the chair and costing him the title. I said in recent columns that I wouldn't be shocked by an EY heel turn since he has reasoning. A Roode vs EY program is something that interests me.

Lashley looked confused by the finish which makes me believe he wasn't in on it. A Lashley face turn is coming guys. With MVP, Joe, Ki, King and EY possibly forming a new faction, they will need people to face off against. Lashley has had great build since his return and could be the guy to help stop them.

A New Look- TNA took a more reality-TV, stripped down approach to this show. The lighting in the crowd was darkened putting the spotlight on the ring. I had no problem with it since it gave the show a new look. The ring had the sleek new logo and very dark ring ropes. We also had a new set that had bars and lighting. It was very different. I am still deciding whether I like it or not.

The camera work left a lot to be desired. The lighting of the cameras was messy and the camera men missed a few key shots. I am hoping this was just an off-night instead of a result of budget cuts.


FINAL THOUGHTS
This show had enough moments to make it feel special and kick off a new era in TNA. While the opening minutes were the highlight of the show, I thought we got enough good wrestling and moments to make this show stand out. I am interested by the direction that TNA is going in. Here's hoping they learn from past mistakes and aren't damaged too much by their cutbacks.

One thing is for certain, this is a different TNA than in the past. Expectations are different. You can't expect TNA to deliver the numbers they did just a year ago. TNA should focus on delivering good content to their fans while also boosting their network. Its a different landscape in wrestling now.