Saturday, March 07, 2015

This Week on IMPACT Wrestling

By Talon
March 6, 2015

Column note, I have included my way of "Standing Up for Pro Wrestling" with my suggestion below the main section of this column. Check it out after this review.

-The segment between BDC and Drew Galloway was a fun way to open IMPACT. MVP should be pissed as it was Galloway who put the nail in his coffin last week and cost him the World Title. Galloway seems to be the voice of the pro wrestling fan. It was possibly the best promo that he has ever cut. He even got a few fans involved. I see great things for Galloway if he can stay the course. 

Kenny King stood out tonight when he stepped up to Galloway. The two had a solid match where King got some nice offense in. Eventually he fell victim to the Future Shock DDT. A feud between Galloway and BDC is something that interests me.

-The Roode promo was a nice teaser for the main event later in the night. Roode is a guy getting further and further away from the World Title as weeks go on. Even though I believe he should be a World Champion, it seems distant right now. I liked his interaction with Angle on the mic tonight. EY's sneak attack also made sense since their rivalry isn't over. Just judging on this segment, it would feel like Angle would be walking out tonight as #1 Contender.

If there was any doubt, Destination America aired a commercial for next week's IMPACT announcing that Kurt Angle was #1 Contender. It was a horrible way to spoil the show tonight and is a true headscratcher. Between that and the hype for other DA shows, I am feeling like TNA is becoming a pawn for the network. It is what happened on Spike as well. As long as its a two-way street and not a way for the network to piggyback off of TNA, I am fine with it.

-I am intrigued by an alliance between James Storm and Bram. While I don't want Bram joining the Revolution, a tag team down the line could be fun. This segment strangely reminded me of a segment years ago between Snitsky and Heidenreich where they praised the devious acts that they did. This one was much better and featured much better characters.

Bram ended up picking up the win in his match against Matt Hardy following a low-blow. I am loving the name of his Impaler DDT "The Brighter Side of Suffering." TNA has been coming up with some sweet names for signature moves the past few weeks.

I also enjoyed Magnus' return and promo. This was one of Magnus' stronger promos yet. His comments about Bram's blood staining the hallowed ground of England were excellent. Looking forward to the next step in this feud.

-Speaking of strong promos, the exchange between EC3 and Rockstar Spud was also excellent (as well as Spud's suit). They added all of these extra pieces to extend this thing but it is getting near the finish line. They have been building to this for awhile. Spud was on point tonight. These two will face off in a Hair vs Hair Match next week in a contest that fans in attendance praised. Should be a good one!

-I honestly believed Taryn Terrell would drop the title tonight. She threw everything she could at Kong but nothing worked in their match. It was Kong who chose to push the referee. She could have taken it tonight if she wanted. All she wanted though was to hurt Taryn. She would have done that had Kong's biggest vice in Gail Kim not stepped up. Kim and Kong is probably the best Knockouts feud in TNA history. Having a 3-way feud here should be great. 

-Despite the interference, I really enjoyed the Tag Team Championship Match. There was some great back and forth action. The Wolves hitting three or four suicide dives was a cool moment. It made sense for The Revolution to interfere but it also made sense for Matt Hardy to come out and even the odds. The Wolves picking up their third TNA Tag Team Title following the Hammer of the Gods (another cool name) was a great moment that could have been saved for a major PPV.

-The Main Event was strong despite them giving away the finish. Part of me was pulling for EY, who had a gruff mountain man look to him tonight. The numerous German Suplexes almost made Brock Lesnar jealous. I loved the final minutes of the match with the constant submission move reversals. In the end, it was Kurt Angle who capitalized on an EY chairshot who won the match. We will be getting a huge first-time match with Angle vs Lashley. Its a match that could have main-evented Slammiversary but we are getting it within the next few weeks.

Next week, we will be getting Bobby Roode vs Eric Young in a Last Man Standing Match as well. Is that the feud ender?

Final Thoughts: A great episode of IMPACT. Three excellent promos in Galloway, Magnus and EC3/Spud plus a handful of fun matches involving the Tag Team Championship and main event. I will echo JSO's sentiments in saying this could be the strongest episode of IMPACT yet on Destination America.

Below are my suggestions for how to improve IMPACT Wrestling. I don't believe I know it all and think a lot of what happens is subjective. My basic idea is that IMPACT should be a hybrid of everything that makes wrestling great. It should be characters, promos, in-ring action, backstage segments and strong storylines. Going in one direction too far isolates a certain fanbase. ROH is very wrestling-centric while WWE is storyline-centric. TNA should be a "rope opera" where action, backstage segments and non-wrestling segments tell a constant story.

Here are my suggestions:
#1) Make visual changes between each show. Aesthetically, Xplosion, One Night Only and PPVs should look different from IMPACT. Change the sets, ring rope color and aprons for these shows. You should feel like you are watching something different.

#2) Have three tentpole PPVs each year. Lockdown, Slammiversary and Bound For Glory should be the big shows each year. They should be built up to months in advance. They should be Live and they should be an experience within themselves. Have VIP events leading up to each show. These should be the shows that stand out above the rest and should feature huge matches and big moments.

#3) Tape One Night Only closer to their air date. One Night Only could be fun themed shows but right now they feel irrelevant. The biggest problem with these shows is that a lot of the time, by the time these things air, the characters and storylines are outdated. TNA could make these things big annual events where the results matter. Imagine Gutcheck, Joker's Wild, the TNA Classic and the World Cup all being events that the fans look forward to. They could be but their results have to matter and they have to feel relevant to the current product.

#4) Pull back the curtain even further. TNA promised that they would do this but they haven't really capitalized on this. John Gaburick's strength is his production skills. I would like to see more off-location segments much like what we saw with the Hunt for Willow, Spud going to AJ Styles' house and more. These segments are unique and are a different way to present the product. Imagine Bram going to the house of Magnus and tormenting Mickie James? (I read that somewhere). It could be a cool way to add context to the Bram character.

#5) More explanation behind characters and storylines. Why did Abyss join the Revolution? Why exactly did the BDC come together? I think there is a huge area of improvement when adding context to characters and storylines. There shouldn't be huge questions hanging in the air over these things. I feel that having more depth to these things would allow TNA to stand out.

#6) Differentiate Unlocked more from IMPACT. Instead of it being a glorified recap, have Mike Tenay's show feature more exclusive content. The top 5 is a good start. The pop-up messages can be a fun read. The interviews continue this. Have a few more original segments specifically for Unlocked and it would give certain viewers more of a reason to watch the show on a weekly basis.

#7) Recognize your brand names and keep them. TNA has lost AJ Styles, Sting, Hulk Hogan, Samoa Joe and many others in the past year and a half. That is fine however TNA needs to recognize who they are building their company around and try and keep them under any means necessary. These names to me include Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, James Storm, Lashley, MVP etc. (as well as EC3, Bram, Magnus and others). There are some names who could leave and not impact the product at all. There are others who are the new foundation to the product. 

#8) Keep things fresh. Staleness in a product is the worst thing you can have. TNA needs to give refreshing their roster. Hire new wrestlers and Knockouts (the names at ONO are a good start). Give us new matchups and feuds. Try new things instead of going back to things done over and over. 

Those are just some of my suggestions. Please leave yours below.