Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - A.J. Styles kind of makes his choice, Bully Ray confesses him love for Brooke Hogan, James Storm picks his partner, and more!
By Will Pruett
The best division in TNA right now is the Knockout's division. Quietly, they have been creating compelling characters with clear motivations and focus. These characters are entering into logical feuds. These feuds are becoming more and more compelling. This is simple, logical wrestling booking.
On this episode of Impact, Mickie James won the TNA Knockouts Championship from Velvet Sky. She did so in a decent match where the gutsy, but injured Sky tried to fight with a bum knee. James, the frustrated veteran, took advantage of the knee injury and used it to win the match and the title.
This continues down the road of character transition for James, who's frustration has been evident lately. James is a very solid choice to lead this division. She's one of the best female wrestlers in the world and is able to have a good match with almost anyone. With the experience level of some of the women in the division, James can definitely help the, elevate their game.
Elsewhere in the division, Gail Kim is playing the role of Bret Hart expertly. Her feud with Taryn Terrell has been boiling for months and they are set to collide at Slammiversary. Kim is playing an old-school arrogant heel more than willing to attack others. She isn't trying to be cool or to redeem herself in any way. Her brawl with the "Hot Mess" on this show was a nice piece of angle maintenance, considering this feud is already built and ready.
With these two feuds, and the other supporting players in the division, TNA is telling logical and compelling stories with their often-maligned women's division. Hopefully this isn't an aberration. I would love for a great Knockout's Division to become a cornerstone of TNA again.
- The opening segment of this show was an awkward mess. Hulk Hogan was busy promoting his restaurant. Sting lost track of his words. Brooke Hogan may have cut her worst promo to date (after being consistently good thus far in the Bully Ray story). Bully Ray was the saving grace of this segment at the end, but all he really had to achieve was remembering his lines.
- One benefit of this segment: it set up the Brooke Hogan heel turn (which I assume will happen at Slammiversary). This is the next compelling angle for Brooke to participate in. I have enough faith in her as a performer and her chemistry with Bully Ray to make this work.
- Kenny King spent most of his time on commentary getting over Petey Williams and the Canadian Destroyer. He does know Williams isn't his opponent at Slammiversary, right?
- Suicide stood out in his match on Impact, but the rest of the match was really poor. I'm happy to see T.J. Perkins getting a chance on the national stage (even if it is with a tasteless name under a mask), but I hope his matches improve.
- Suicide vs. Chris Sabin vs. Kenny King in an Ultimate X match could be an old-school X Division match, if given enough time. These matches used to take quite a while and be very good. Eight minutes is not long enough to tell a great story.
- One of the big things from this show (and for TNA's next couple months of storylines) is the World Championship shot the X Division Champion can get (like Austin Aries last year). This is apparently still happening, even without the Destination X show. This is great news! Chris Sabin could make a great challenger for Bully Ray.
- Sam Shaw has the second worst wardrobe in wrestling. He deserves what he got.
- Magnus looking brave when outnumbered against Aces and Eights is great for him. Now, if he can go three weeks of TV without getting beat up and taken out for a month, I'll be happy.
- Anytime we see a reunion of the Samoa Joe and Magnus team, I am happy. These two should still be in the tag division (bringing the grand total up to four teams) and should now be best friends.
- I liked A.J. Styles costing Kurt Angle the match against Anderson, even though I didn't like the match itself. Angle and Anderson are shells of what they used to be just a few years ago.
- I laughed a few times during the James Storm promo segment. At least one laugh was for Bad Influence. The others were for the ridiculousness of Shark Boy. Sure, the gimmick is tired, but when I'm only seeing it once every few years, I get a kick out of it.
- Gunner's return (in really terrible jeans) was decent. I haven't been a fan of his at any point, but he could be an okay partner for Storm in the short term.
- When a wrestler returns from a hiatus in TNA now, it is a requirement to return with a beard. The bushier the beard, the bigger the push.
- What I just said is a lie. Matt Morgan has been gone for a while since losing to Sting, despite his beard's bushiness quotient being high.
- I liked the match between Velvet Sky and Mickie James. I also appreciated the angle.
- A.J. Styles guzzling a beer on television only seemed a little bit odd.
- The Aces and Eights "patching in" ceremony was a nice little segment. I liked A.J. Styles eventual double cross. I liked the work from Bully Ray. I even enjoyed the promo work from Kurt Angle.
- A.J. received a big pop for finally turning on the Aces and Eights. I hope TNA continues to give him big moments to be a standout babyface. Booking him against Kurt Angle after next Sunday will not do this.
This episode of Impact was anchored by Bully Ray and A.J. Styles. I would like to think this was the beginning of an eventual feud between the two, which could work really well. On the way there, we could see programs between Bully and Sting, Bully and Sabin, and even Bully and Park/Abyss. I would be fine with this storytelling device.
The show has made some creative improvements. The stories still feel slow, but I'll take slow over an overbooked mess every time.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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