Powell's TNA Impact Wrestling Hitlist: Bobby Roode, James Storm, and Austin Aries shine, Bound For Glory Series begins, Ultimate X match, TNA earns the title of being the most consistently entertaining pro wrestling TV show
By Jason Powell
TNA Impact Wrestling Hits
Overall show: If you're someone who wrote off TNA at any point and haven't given the product another chance, you're depriving yourself of the most consistently entertaining pro wrestling product on television right now. The first two live shows weren't as good as the series of taped shows that led up to this live run, but Thursday's show was the best of the bunch and was arguably the best edition of the show this year. The creative team is either listening to the fan base or, better yet, knows which wrestlers they should be showcasing.
There was a good buzz about the product coming out of Slammiversary on Sunday. Here's hoping the ratings show that viewers are finding the new time slot and the dramatically improved booking is rewarded. If not, then the company and the network should show patience. After all, WWE Raw was superior in quality to WCW Nitro long before it actually pulled ahead in the ratings battle. Furthermore, the second our of Impact went against the NBA Finals last night and will do so again next week.
Austin Aries and Hulk Hogan: I'm giving this a Hit even though it irritated me that Hogan didn't offer any explanation for why Aries had to forfeit the X Division Championship if he wants a TNA Title shot at Destination X. I like the storyline, I just wish they would have taken the time to come up with some logic behind Hogan's decision. Most importantly, Aries is being treated like a star. Hogan's role on the show has been ideal in recent weeks. He's not getting more time than he should and he's doing a good job of shining a spotlight on the wrestlers he's in the ring with. He put over Aries in a big way this week, and he let Bobby Roode shine in his "I'm not done yet" promo last week.
Bobby Roode vs. Mr. Anderson: A good match with some strong near falls. The key to this was Roode going over clean. This has to happen more often. I'm not suggesting he should beat every top babyface clean, but this is a good example of a meaningful win for Roode that didn't kill the momentum of a top babyface. Anderson looked good in defeat and the more Roode wins like this the more it will be established that there's no shame in a babyface losing clean to a top heel. TNA has to establish Roode as a heel who doesn't have to resort to cheating. His likely match with James Storm at Bound For Glory has to feel like one of those matches where either guy could win clean rather than a situation where fans feel like Storm wins unless Roode cheats. The real money is in a showdown match with fans expecting a clean finish either way.
James Storm: A huge Hit! He dropped some necessary weight and is might be in the best shape of his career, which is appropriate given that he appears to be in the midst of the biggest push of his career. His promos are consistently strong and the live crowds view him as a star. His loss to Roode at the TNA Lockdown pay-per-view upset a lot of people, but it just wasn't the right time despite the fact that they were in his hometown. He and the company needed to build momentum, and Roode needed to be a more credible champion. Here's hoping those who were outraged by the outcome of that match are starting to see it differently or at least will be the time Storm takes the title from Roode.
Gauntlet match: This was a good way to introduce the Bound For Glory Series. The actual explanation of the series and the pre-match hype left a lot to be desired. It should have felt like a bigger deal each time someone entered the match than it did. In fact, some of the entrances were missed by commercial breaks. It was encouraging to see Samoa Joe be the last man eliminated. He looks like he's dropped some weight and his pay-per-view match with Austin Aries showed that he has the type of talent and charisma that can pull a crowd into his match even if he's not getting great storyline support.
Austin Aries vs. Zema Ion vs. Chris Sabin: A showcase for Aries. It's a shame the other guys in the match lack direction right now. Obviously, Sabin is just coming back from knee surgery and also lost his tag partner, so that's understandable (and it's a damn shame that the guy blew out his other knee). I'm not sure why they pulled back on Ion, who seemed to be developing nicely and getting over as a cocky young heel.
TNA Impact Wrestling Misses
None: There were matches that weren't Hit-worthy, and some segments I didn't care for as much as others, but this was a very good television show. I didn't think they did enough to make the results of some Slammiversary matches feel as important as they should have. It seemed like business as usual for A.J. Styles, Kurt Angle, Daniels,a and Kazarian despite the title change. It was nice to see a Slammiversary video, but they need to do a better job of making pay-per-view events feel important after the fact rather than just moving onto hyping the next show. Did they give us a reason why guys like Pope, who hasn't been on television in months, and Robbie E scored spots in the BFG Series? If A.J. Styles and Dixie Carter felt this went on long enough, then why are they waiting until next week to come clean? I like the way they teased something for next week, but the logic seemed flawed.
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