Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - Sting is attacked, Bobby Roode retains his title, Austin Aries receives an ultimatum from Hulk Hogan, Ultimate X returns, one of the best episodes in years
By Will Pruett
- What does it say about the X Division Championship and the concept of the Ultimate X match when it opens the show? What does it say about the challengers to the X Division Championship that they did not receive an entrance for their championship match? There is a real issue with that division and this did nothing to help it.
- Ultimate X could easily be a main event match built up all through an episode of Impact Wrestling with highlights from past matches and interviews. Throwing it out there as a match only advertised in social media was a mistake.
- The Ultimate X match itself was not the spectacle it was in the past. It wasn't the all out spot-fest that we have seen so often. It was an okay match that served a purpose: to put Austin Aries over.
- Zema Ion and Chris Sabin could be developed characters. Hopefully if Aries is leaving the X Division, the other personalities in it will be accentuated.
- The segment that followed the Ultimate X match was really well done. From the Austin Aries promo to the commercial and through to the speech and offer from Hulk Hogan, it was all geared towards Aries. It was a great way to evolve his act to the his own personal next level.
- Hulk Hogan embracing Austin Aries as an act that he believes in and that gives him goosebumps is the best use of Hogan yet in TNA. This is how Hogan can use his own star power and his role to improve and not overshadow Aries.
- As a character, it makes complete sense for Aries to give up the X Division Championship for a shot at the World Championship. Is that what the secondary title in a promotion should lead to anyways? Hogan put it the right way when he talked about Aries' ascension to greatness.
- Hernandez returned with a semi-impressive showing on Sunday night at Slammiversary. He was hen fed to Devon in a Television Championship match. Why do this to Hernandez right away?
- When I first saw Hernandez challenging Devon, I actually wondered to myself if Hernandez could be the guy to win the TV Championship. He isn't a perfect wrestler to hold the title, but he is younger than Devon, and slightly more dynamic.
- The reveal of Dixie Carter and A.J. Styles' personal drama was well-built on this show. It wasn't the overload that we saw last week. This story has legs and can be quite intriguing, but it should move onto the next phase soon. It's a nice hook in this season of live episodes.
- I'm all about TNA having a Royal Rumble-esque match to kick of the Bound for Glory Series this year. I just have to question why it was called a gauntlet instead of a battle royal. I suppose this is TNA's attempt to brand it, but it didn't work as well as they may have hoped.
- Part of the surprise of the gauntlet match was the promise that we would see each competitor in the Bound for Glory Series revealed as it went on. The commercial breaks in this match really hurt that concept, as quite a few of the wrestlers were revealed during commercials. It isn't that Robbie E. would have been a blockbuster inclusion, but he should be treated as a big deal if he is in the series.
- The use of the Royal Rumble format to further the many feuds intertwined in the gauntlet match was a great choice. We saw more from the Bully Ray and Abyss program. Christopher Daniels, A.J. Styles, and Kurt Angle all were able to tell their stories as well. This was a nice way to kick off the series.
- James Storm was the most over wrestler in the gauntlet from the moment he entered. Eliminating Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy before his entrance was an extremely good choice. The fans in the Impact Zone came alive for Storm in a big way.
- The crowd was actually hot for this entire show. The live atmosphere may actually be helping the Impact Zone crowd get more into the show. It also helps when they are given a fast paced and well structured show.
- The awesomeness of James Storm and the greatness of the Impact Zone crowd combined in a big way for James Storm's promo at the top of the second hour. This is how a new rising star should be positioned, in what is regularly the most-watched segment on the show. The content of the promo struck the perfect tone. Storm is now a man on a mission.
- Madison Rayne was a fine first opponent for Miss Tessmacher as the new Knockouts Champion. Tessmacher needed an opponent that could hold up their end of the match and Rayne is just that.
- Miss Tessmacher being pushed as the big babyface of the Knockouts Division is great for the division itself. She is a star that hasn't been in WWE and hasn't been wrestling for too many years. She's something new and fresh, which TNA is tapping into for the first time in its existence.
- Brooke Hogan and Gail Kim's segment was not a terrible moment, but it wasn't perfect either. The Knockouts Championship main eventing Open Fight Night should be fun, although I don't expect Brooke doing the eliminations to be an exciting concept.
- I neglected to mention it last night in my live coverage, but Ken Anderson had his best in-ring outing in a long time against Bobby Roode. He took the fight to Roode and showed an aggression that we have not see from him in a long time. His portion of the match against Roode was really well put together. I would love for that version of Anderson to lock into a feud.
- Bobby Roode seemed intense and focussed all through his World Championship defense. That concluded with Roode winning the match via submission without having to cheat or use a beer bottle. This is what Roode needs to be nine times out of ten. We shouldn't hate him because he cheats, we should hate him because he is a jerk.
- In an odd way, this show left me looking forward to Bound for Glory and the build to it the same way that the Royal Rumble usually does for WrestleMania. Kudos to TNA creative for making that happen.
- There was a little too much replay from the show before the final promo segment. I understand promoting next week, but this was a little too hard of a sell for me.
- Sting's Hall of Fame video repeating from Slammiversary was well done once again.
- Sting's promo segment thanking Jeff Jarrett and Jerry Jarrett (and continuing on to thank others) may be a tell for who actually attacked Sting. A feud with Jeff Jarrett seems natural at this moment.
- The attack on Sting didn't seem vicious enough to me. I wasn't expecting a full-blown Nexus style tear down of the Impact Zone, but a little more beating of Sting would have been awesome.
- Am I allowed to repeat my three Dark Scorpion joke from my live coverage? I was a big fan of it.
Overall, this episode looks far greater than the sum of its parts. It was one of the best episodes of Impact in years. I looked at the clock and realized that time was flying by about two-thirds of the way through the show. Every story on this show took a logical step forward. Some of them were major and some were minor, but everything represented worked perfectly.
Most of all, I'm looking forward to the choice from Austin Aries next week and the Bound for Glory Series featuring James Storm. As both of these stories develop, we will get to see more of the two most compelling characters in TNA today. The best part is that they (and Bobby Roode) are all TNA's and not stars from the past. Something about what TNA is doing just feels right.
Did you enjoy TNA live? Am I way off? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and chat me up on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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