Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - TNA doesn't surrender with their No Surrender special featuring A.J. Styles winning the BFGS, Bully Ray breaking Ken Anderson, and EGO interfering
By Will Pruett
We are officially about six weeks away from Bound for Glory and TNA has already produced their last major pseudo-pay-per-view before it. This is officially the road to Bound for Glory and TNA has its eyes fixated on the biggest show of their year.
The major development on this show was A.J. Styles winning the final four tournament of the Bound for Glory Series. Styles defeated Austin Aries and Magnus in two good matches to win it all. This show made a strong case for the BFGS becoming a tournament instead of a round robin style series. The final four concept produced a big match feel and was quite understandable for fans at home and the live crowd.
Styles looked really good for the first hour and 59 minutes of this show. The crowd was into his emotional/phenomenal combination character. His in-ring work was fantastic. He looked like the A.J. Styles fans will want to get behind. It was in the final moment that he lost a little something. He was celebrating when he took a microphone and discussed his worked-shoot from a couple weeks ago. He promised another one, specifically calling out Dixie Carter for next week.
This concerns me. Styles is not a character set to get over with his improvised mic skills. Styles is brilliant in the ring and fantastic at portraying a classic white-meat babyface. He doesn't need to break the fourth wall or address authority figures to achieve. He's better than that. This direction almost seems like a force-fit and not a natural progression.
What is odd about the Styles story is the lack of acknowledgement of a huge portion of his struggle. Where was the mention of his year without a title shot? This story should have been an undercurrent in TNA for the last ten months. There should have been moments where it looked like Styles could dethrone Bully Ray, but Ray held the lack of title shot over his head. Styles should have been frustrated and angry about this stipulation. Finally, this should have been Styles' primary motivation as the BFGS began and ended. Instead, we heard nothing about it. A babyface gets over by struggling against adversity and the struggle was absent here.
I like Styles. I do feel he is the best choice for TNA as a lead babyface right now. He is connecting with crowds and his recent character shift is resonating. I am looking forward to seeing what he does in the main event of Bound for Glory for the first time since 2009. There is still time to highlight the struggle and make A.J. look like the savior TNA needs.
Picking up the pieces:
- I'm usually quick to criticize TNA's production team for missed shots and other mistakes, so I'm happy to praise them here. The videos used to open the show were fantastic. Both the BFGS final four video and the Bully Ray and Anderson hype video had me legitimately excited about this episode of Impact.
- Hulk Hogan has been very excited for his last few promos. Is this just Hulk being a little silly? It's an odd character shift considering how serious he was when discussing Bully Ray and the Aces and Eights for a while.
- Bully Ray's heel act is really good, but on the verge of overexposure. TNA has all of their marbles in the Bully basket right now, but after Bound for Glory, a break from Bully would be nice.
- I'm not a huge fan of the logic behind suddenly adding a stipulation to a previously stipulation-free match. Making said stipulation a Last Man Standing match also causes concern for me. Last Man Standing is one of the most overrated gimmicks of the last 15 years. It's all big spots and counting to nine.
- Styles vs. Aries was a good match, but not on the level of their previous BFGS encounter (if you don't count the finish of their previous match). I had hoped to see some ramped up intensity for the finals, but the match lacked a little bit.
- The second rope Styles Clash is a pretty cool move. A.J. really broke out the rarely used specialty moves on this show.
- Did Sting seem to not fully believe in Magnus backstage? I caught a little bit of doubt from Sting in his pep-talk segment. Also, did Samoa Joe look upset to anyone else?
- What happened to make Bobby Roode angry during a commercial? Is he a Patriots fan and was he angry watching their defense fall apart? This is the only logical explanation.
- Roode vs. Magnus was a good match with a surprising finish. I didn't expect Magnus to make the finals and I didn't expect the match to end after only seven-ish minutes. This exchange made me want to see a real feud between these two wrestlers.
- I was quite worried when Roode, Kazarian, and Daniels vowed to interrupt the finals of the BFGS. Part of me honestly believed we would see a delayed finals process because of this.
- I do wish T.J. Perkins was not hidden under the Manik mask in the ring. Manik is an okay character, but I really like what Perkins can do with his facials. His segment with Hogan was decent, aside from Hogan comparing Manik's success to Hulkamania.
- I'm not sad to see Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson written out of TNA. I wonder if it is due to a lack of ratings movement from them or a sudden realization of the absurdity of building an MMA fight through wrestling angles. Either way, I won't miss Tito standing awkwardly or Rampage's fashionable camo jacket.
- Bully Ray sucking up to the Aces and Eights made me laugh. He really is a great heel act.
- Bully Ray and Ken Anderson had a nice entertaining match, despite the Last Man Standing stipulation. Bully looked like a truly evil mastermind and Anderson seemed like a plucky babyface standing up to his leader. This could be Anderson's write off in TNA's storylines. This could also be a great set up for Anderson's return to face Bully again. Either way, it was a compelling match and post-match angle.
- Was it weird to anyone else to see the Aces and Eights use The Shield's signature move? It's a small touch and it didn't ruin the show, but it was odd.
- What has happened to James Storm? In the last year, he has gone from World Championship competitor and regressed all the way to being half of America's Most Wanted 2013. Storm is truly regressing. I am not sure if it is Storm's fault or creative's but it is sad.
- Gunner ended up being the most compelling part of the tag team segment. I cannot express how excited I am not to see Chavo Guerrero back in the tag team scene. I hope this is not the plan for Bound for Glory.
- At one point, Taz turned into a really good babyface commentator, especially in the main event. This was weird, but also very nice. Taz did really well.
- The main event featured A.J. doing great work and Magnus following suit. There is a huge story opportunity for Magnus coming out of this series if TNA wants to follow up on it. Magnus is a great talent and I believe he can be World Champion in the next year.
- The run in from Daniels, Kazarian, and Roode was not the match-ruining moment I thought it would be, but it was a little inconsequential. I suppose it will be used in the weeks leading into Bound for Glory, but I wonder what another faction will do for TNA storytelling. Will both the Aces and Eights and EGO feud with the Mafia? This seems like a little much.
- The moment for Styles at the end of this show was great right up until he talked. I really wish the focus wasn't on "The Loose Cannon" version of Styles.
This was a really good edition of Impact with a strong focus on Bound for Glory. TNA could have something really great happening for them if they allow it to blossom. Styles is a great babyface with a compelling story if TNA chooses to tell it. Bully could use this as a launching pad to be a ruthless heel again. TNA's lead story took center stage on this show and could be great.
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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