Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - Bully Ray conquers Full Metal (and wood) Mayhem, A.J. Styles almost makes his decision, Chavo and Hernandez win the Tag Titles
By Will Pruett
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This was the first pseudo-pay-per-view edition of Impact Wrestling. It was given four weeks of build up and pushed very strongly on last week's show. I was surprised by how far TNA went to build this one episode of Impact, but I was also quite eager to see it. The actual execution left a little bit to be desired, but it didn't completely disappoint.
The main event delivered a big, TNA pay-per-view quality match between Jeff Hardy and Bully Ray. There were a few awkward moments, especially the commercial in the middle of the match, but it moved the grand plot of TNA forward as much as the average monthly pay-per-view in TNA would have. It was a big match that highlighted a big show.
Aside from the big match highlighting the big show, we also saw the biggest matches in the both the tag team and knockout divisions put on display. Both of them seemed to be a little less than we would have seen on a pay-per-view and one was not even promoted for this show. The show was described as "pay-per-view quality" by Mike Tenay, but it didn't quite get there.
- The new opening of Impact spoke volumes about the show, more in the wrestlers not featured than those that were. A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, James Storm, Bobby Roode, the entire X Division, and the entire Knockouts Division were all noticeably missing from TNA's new opening package. I know not every star can be featured but these are entire divisions and world title competitors.
- Chavo and Hernandez vs. Roode and Aries seemed like it would be a disappointment when the first two falls occurred within the first minute and a half. This was dissonant with what is usually expected from a pay-per-view, but it was fine for a television opening match. What was I supposed to expect?
- The third fall was really well built and quite an entertaining match. I enjoyed watching Aries and Roode play the dirty heels and Chavo and Hernandez did a really nice job here.
- I do question the decision to put the tag titles back on Chavo and Hernandez. Not doing so would have taken the total team count in TNA down to two, which would be a major issue. Putting the titles on Mexican America 7.5 also allows them to drop them to Bad Influence without an odd heel vs. heel matchup.
- It's fairly entertaining to watch the Aces and Eights play around on motorcycles, especially with the knowledge that they cannot ride them for insurance reasons.
- Joseph Park playing up his law experience and getting involved in the Brooke and Bully storyline makes total sense and was pretty entertaining. His segment worked for me and Devon's promo following up on it also worked. Is this the next little red toy belt feud?
- I was surprised to see Taryn Terrell vs. Gail Kim on this show. It's the biggest match in the Knockout's Division right now and it seemed like they could build it for another week or two before getting to the climax. I was even more confused when Terrell got the in over Kim, as that seems like the end of the story.
- Is Adam Pearce destined for Aces and Eights? I have no idea how the choice to eliminate him over Magno was made. Choices like this have made me lose faith in the reformed Gut Check.
- Here's the biggest issue with the A.J. Styles segment: With four of TNA's biggest home grown stars in and around the ring, the only thing the live crowd cared about was Hulk Hogan. This was a case of recognizability and positioning really hurting a segment.
- Last week, Styles was told to make a choice, or he would be fired. This week, Styles was given a third option and he still didn't make a choice. I enjoyed the wrinkle of adding Bad Influence into his selections, but the choice storyline is going to wear thin very soon.
- Rob Terry is not getting the desired crowd reaction. As silly as it seems, I feel like his hair isn't helping. Terry still has his comedy haircut from the Robbie E. partnership. If he could get rid of it and have something a little more serious, it would be a good start.
- I felt like TNA was seriously telegraphing a Brooke Hogan turn with her insisting on being at ringside. This was not the case, but they did a nice job of teasing viewers expecting it.
- Magno was eliminated unceremoniously from the Gut Check. This was an odd week of Gut Check and it is part of a long line of odd choices and poor matches.
- Jeff Hardy and Bully Ray put on a good, pay-per-view quality main event with their Full Metal Mayhem match.
- The issue with this type of match is the formula. It is easy to figure out what will happen about three steps into the future if you've seen more than four of them and this match illustrated this point. Hardy and Bully had a good match, but it felt a little too staged and choreographed for my tastes. It's hard to have a TLC-type of match without choreography.
- Brooke's slap towards Bully made me think she wasn't going to turn after all. It may be one of those "Bully had to take a beating" style explanations, but I would rather not see it happen after this show.
- Who is next for Bully Ray now that he has defeated Hardy in his rematch?
A pay-per-view is usually built on the main event or main events. This show was very much like a pay-per-view in that way. Hardy and Bully delivered, now the next chapter begins. The major question now is how the next chapter is built. Does it culminate at Slammiversary, which is a little more than two months away? Is there another big episode of Impact that will set up that show?
TNA is still learning how to tell stories in their new format and this show was a good first step. It's nice to see a TV show with really good and really big matches on it without constant worrying about buyrates and things like it.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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