Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - The Main Event Mafia turns a corner, Chris Sabin regains the X Division Championship and tears the house down with Austin Aries, a hot Vegas crowd improves the show
By Will Pruett
When Sting announced he was bringing back the Main Event Mafia to battle Aces and Eights, I wasn't a fan. It seemed like a cheap ploy to bring in older talent and push them ahead of many young stars on the roster. It seemed like a retread of something we've seen before. Even in the last two weeks, it was hard to overlook the logical fallacies inherent in bringing in members of the Mafia who were present when the inciting incident inspiring the Mafia's formation took place. This all changed on this show.
Somehow, TNA managed to take what I believed was a rapidly failing concept from the beginning and make it an exciting story I am actually looking forward to. The essential logical fallacy is still there, but I am now inspired enough by the story to look past it. It isn't perfect and I would argue it isn't exactly what TNA wants, but it is now working really well.
One of my major complaints about the Mafia's reformation was the lack of young stars the group could get over. It seemed like TNA was going to go with the MEM's old mission statement. On this show, they went against it. Magnus was added to the group despite never holding a World Championship. This gave the group some focus on youth and gave a young star some rub by being endorsed by three of TNA's biggest legends.
Magnus' addition also gave the MEM a great wrestler in need of a solid character for a long term story. Magnus has been all over the place and, despite being incredibly talented and charismatic, he has struggled to find himself. This group and this story could lead to a resurgent Magnus. To be perfectly honest, if I'm part of TNA creative, I am having serious discussions this week about Magnus winning the Bound for Glory Series as a part of the MEM and winning his first World Championship at Bound for Glory. It's worth discussing.
Credit must also be given to the Las Vegas crowd, who greeted the MEM like conquering heroes as they entered. It enhanced the act to be in front of people truly excited to see them. Despite what I originally thought, the MEM has a clear mission statement, an eye on young talent, and a fan-base standing behind them. I am happy to say I was wrong and I'm excited to see where the Main Event Mafia goes from here.
- It actually may have made more sense for Hulk Hogan to strip Austin Aries of the X Division Championship, but award him a shot later in the night. The logic is still deeply flawed, but it would have worked a little better.
- In this whole X Division Championship situation, I fail to see how the story told was better than Aries just declaring his intention to swoop in and win the title before Destination X. I believe the goal was to use Aries to lend credibility to Sabin and there were many more compelling ways to do this. A rapid-fire series of title changes and a real breech of believability hurt this story.
- Since T.J. Perkins has been unmasked, why is he returning to the mask? I would rather just seen T.J. play T.J. I am thankful for the elimination of the Suicide name. Manik, while poorly spelled, is a far less offensive name.
- Chris Sabin delivered a very nice promo in the opening segment. I feel like everyone in this story is being big-footed by Hulk Hogan (another flaw in the story), but Sabin held his own nicely.
- Given the serious nature of the Kazarian and A.J. Styles rivalry from a year ago, it was odd to see Kazarian telling jokes before the match. While I always enjoy the Throwback Thursday fun from Christopher Daniels and Kazarian, it fell a little flat and felt out of place here. They can't all be winners.
- Sometimes new A.J. Styles seems far too Spider-Man 3 for my tastes. I know the gimmick is appealing to some, but overly emotional A.J. doesn't have universal appeal. He's still a great wrestler, but the whole package is often a little much.
- Mickie James is absolutely killing it in this new role. Her promo on the ladder was fantastic. This character is a perfect centerpiece for the Knockout's Division and one of the best things in all of wrestling right now.
- Gut Check just isn't working. It's turned into a series of tropes and cliches instead of a real talent evaluation. I dread these matches and judging segments.
- I have to wonder if TNA is regretting putting Jay Bradley in the Bound for Glory Series. He seems out of place from the moment he makes his entrance to the moment he goes back through the curtain. He may be worth a risk for TNA, but I believe a weekly TV role is too much too soon.
- Hernandez is doing alright as a singles star in the BFGS.
- James Storm and Gunner are basically America's Most Wanted 2.0, right?
- The BroMans tag team worked much better for me this week than they did last week. This could be fun.
- As much as I enjoyed the Main Event Mafia segment, I wanted Sting or Angle to fix Samoa Joe's collar and give him a tie much more. Also, Joe is a former World Champion, which probably should have been made clear.
- Jeff Hardy vs. Joseph Park was a fun match with a really cool finish. This crowd was so hot, it would have been cool to see Hardy against an Aces and Eights guy or another heel, but they responded well to Hardy vs. Park.
- I was wondering what stories could be told with Park in the BFGS and they found an inventive and fun one on this show.
- I know TNA wants their Gut Check to be a talent-finding process, but they have yet to actually find a star through it. They've had some fine potential acts in, but they need to decide if they want it to be a joke or be a real opportunity for wrestlers.
- DOC had a nice little promo threatening the Mafia backstage. He should have more opportunities to talk.
- The hype for next week's Knockouts Ladder Match was really well done. TNA has something special with Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell. Even though I don't like that this match is happening, the hype made me look forward to it.
- I wonder what the future is for Manik. He was taken out in the X Division Championship match. Will he return? I like Perkins as a wrestler and talent, so I hope he's allowed to hang out in TNA for a little longer.
- The benefit of Manik being taken out of the match was the phenomenal singles match between Austin Aries and Chris Sabin. This match was all TNA should need to see to know the three-way gimmick doesn't work in the division. These guys are more than capable of a spot-fest in a three-way, but they are also capable of telling a brilliant story in a singles match. Let them tell stories.
- Sabin and Aries should be put into a singles feud after Sabin has his program with Bully Ray. These guys are great together.
This show flowed really well. It was almost a complete reversal from last week's episode. TNA threw a lot of stories at us and created some exciting television on a holiday evening. If you didn't get a chance to see this show (fireworks are awesome), make sure to catch it on your DVR. It was fun to watch and left me very excited for next week.
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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