TNA Impact Wrestling Hit List: Abyss returns to help Sting and Kurt Angle battle Aces & 8's, Kenny King and Chris Sabin get mic time, Austin Aries and Bobby Roode vs. Bad Influence with James Storm as special referee
By Jason Powell
TNA Impact Wrestling Hits
Sting, Kurt Angle, and A.J. Styles opening: A strong opening segment in that it set up the show's main event and furthered the Styles story as much as they can without having him speak. It's still hard to believe there's a real decision to be made here since they blew it right out of the gate by having Aces & 8's tell him he would have to start at the bottom of the ladder, yet I did like the way they made viewers believe this could be the night that Styles would join forces with TNA wrestlers to face the heel faction. The buildup to that moment isn't always the most satisfying because he's not speaking, yet it is setting up a strong payoff moment.
Austin Aries and Bobby Roode vs. Bad Influence: This was a good match once they got the obligatory comedy out of the way. The live crowd had no incentive to cheer anyone other than the referee, yet they were into the match once the wrestlers picked up the intensity. The no-contest finish was really weak, but the action down the stretch that preceded the screwy finish was really good.
Kenny King and Chris Sabin: King's lines were strong, but his delivery isn't quite there yet. He moved around too much and therefore looked more nervous than poised when he spoke into the camera. He was much better during his face-to-face with Sabin and his nice guy routine into the big heel promo on Sabin was great. I have no idea why Mike Tenay felt the need to spoil it by mocking the idea of King's sincerity before Sabin even arrived in the ring, but the work of both wrestlers were good here. Sabin's not the most charismatic guy on the mic, but his humble approach combined with the story of his knee injuries really clicks with the ultra cocky King. We definitely need to see more of King talking going forward. I'd even like to see an addition to his act such as a valet or an agent type, which would help make him stand out as more of a player. Here's hoping TNA scraps the silly all three-way match format long enough to set up a singles match between these two.
Magnus vs. DOC: The top half of the TNA roster is filled with too many guys who have won the title and it feels like they've all faced one another too many times for it to matter. TNA needs undercard players who can step up to the next level. Viewers will get into watching the progression and once the undercard wrestlers get there the top wrestlers will be able to have fresh programs again. The problem is that there just aren't enough undercard wrestlers who really stand out. These are two examples of younger talent that the company can build up. The finish may have been more about D-Lo Brown than either wrestler, but I was impressed by the way Magnus held the crowd, and I continue to feel like Gallows has been underutilized in Aces & 8's.
TNA Impact Wrestling Misses
Aces & 8's vs. Sting and Kurt Angle: Thank goodness they included the teaser of the mystery person laying out the Aces & 8's members because the match was too slow and too ordinary for a television main event. Sting had the crowd late until there was the awkward moment when Anderson tried to him him and missed, but it was so clumsy that the crowd wasn't sure what to think. I also had a hard time buying into the idea that poor Angle and Sting may not have a partner because Styles blew them off and Magnus was beat up. I can think of several babyface wrestlers who could have joined them, so that part of it felt really flat. Besides, Sting and Angle have been built up as superheroes, so why would fans worry about them facing a trio that included Devon and Mr. Anderson?
The Abyss return was a comedy of errors to start with when the production team missed his first clothesline, he stumbled while performing a double clothesline in the ring, and he threw two weak big boots that were more like kicks to the gut. Fortunately, things settled down, the fans were receptive to his big moves, and the announcers gave it the hard sell for the viewers watching at home. The Abyss return was effectively made to feel important. I'm not really sure why he was be able to make the pin when the referee had no way of knowing he was a legal man, but whatever. Overall, it was a solid two-hour show with a finish that some viewers will dig and others will detest based on whether they feel Abyss was worthy of the hype.
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