Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - A.J. Styles has a price on his head, Bully Ray and Magnus clash, Chris Sabin and Samoa Joe preview Ultimate X, final Bound for Glory hype, and more!
By Will Pruett
TNA fired up the hype machine on this show and produced an effort worthy of Bound for Glory. In the past few weeks, they have geared up to this, but not quite achieved it. Even three weeks ago, I found myself disappointed in the build and the card, thinking both could not be saved. After this episode of Impact, I am actually excited about most of the matches at Bound for Glory and am looking forward to Sunday.
The main event, Bully Ray vs. A.J. Styles was built with a good promo segment to close the show. They signed their contract and discussed what the title would mean to them. Styles said the title meant putting food on the table for his family. It's a small statement, but it really help emphasize how important this match is for both men. This still doesn't feel like a major marquee matchup, but it is getting close.
Elsewhere on the show, Bully Ray vs. Magnus occurred with Sting accidentally distracting the referee and costing Magnus the match. Magnus wants the chance to do this alone and Sting is giving him the opportunity on Sunday. The tension between these two has actually impressed me. I don't believe this match will be Sting vs. Ric Flair, but it has potential to be a formative moment in Magnus' career. No matter what happens, he is on TNA's biggest show of the year with their legacy star. It makes Magnus either way.
The rest of the card saw a fair amount of hype come its way as well. The Ultimate X match had Samoa Joe vs. Chris Sabin, and a small brawl with all five men afterward. Bobby Roode and Kurt Angle had a very good promo segment for Angle's return match. Even the Knockouts had a nice moment backstage discussing both their match and the potential for Lei'D Tapa to interfere.
TNA did right by themselves with this effort to sell Bound for Glory. The show still doesn't feel like the biggest show of the year, but it feels like a major show. Hopefully this feel carries over to San Diego on Sunday and TNA is able to produce something special.
Picking up the pieces:
- Dixie Carter turned in her best performance to date on this episode of Impact. Honestly, while watching her, I wanted a young male wrestler paired with her. I would love to see Dixie have a "heavy" of sorts to do her dirty work. I could see Gunner fitting into this role really well, actually.
- There aren't enough bounties placed on people in wrestling anymore. The $50,000 offered for taking out Styles worked well throughout the night. It put Styles in danger and allowed him to overcome some obstacles. Plus, it's an entertaining through line for the episode.
- The bounty also allowed various babyfaces to step up and, in the face of authority and money, stand up for A.J. Styles. Magnus, Samoa Joe, Gunner, and James Storm all benefitted from being babyfaces who do the right things. This is a major issue in wrestling, but these four guys were able to overcome it on this show.
- The four-way match to preview the four team gauntlet worked for me. I expect a fair amount of silliness from the gauntlet match and this previewed the silliness nicely.
- Knux vs. Gunner made sense in terms of the bounty story. It also made sense to get the tag champions on the show. They don't have a definite match to prepare for, so this moment with them worked.
- A bonus from the Knux vs. Gunner match was the setup for the Aces and Eights finally collapsing on Bully Ray, likely at Bound for Glory. TNA managed to tell quite a few stories for Sunday with this little match.
- The hype video for Ultimate X was exactly what this match needed. Ultimate X is one of the coolest spectacles in wrestling and if the five man match can capture some of the magic of the original Ultimate X efforts, TNA can have something really special on their hands.
- Samoa Joe vs. Chris Sabin didn't do much for Sabin, but seeing as Sabin is a wimpy heel, it didn't need to. It established Joe as a killer and gave the announcers more time to discuss Ultimate X, which is most important.
- Manik looked quite frightened to be jumping off of a ladder in the post-match brawl.
- If Jeff Hardy gets a ladder involved in Ultimate X, will Mike Tenay and Taz remember the "unwritten rule" of the X Division that no ladders can be used in Ultimate X? This was established in a weird six man tag Ultimate X match where Team 3D was trying to take down the X Division. I shouldn't remember this.
- It doesn't surprise me to see that Ethan Carter III is related to Dixie Carter. It should be a fun ride with this character. I'm not convinced he is the heavy Dixie needs, but it should be interesting to see how he is used.
- Bully Ray vs. Magnus was all about setting up the finish and the dissension between Sting and Magnus. I'm enjoying the current character development with Magnus, but I hope he isn't discouraged for too long. A big moment where he overcomes would really unite people behind him.
- One positive I have to give TNA is that they allow their babyfaces to get discouraged. John Cena loses the title and does nothing. Daniel Bryan is screwed out of the title three times and doesn't even talk about it. TNA's babyfaces get disappointed like real people do and it makes them far more relatable.
- I hope, more than anything, that Sunday is the last time I hear the Aces and Eights theme for a long time.
- Bobby Roode vs. Kurt Angle was nicely set up by their promo segment. Roode is a natural heel for Kurt to come back to. Playing off of their main event feud from 2011 worked rather nicely as well. This match has a chance to steal the pay-per-view on Sunday.
- The final segment of the show built towards Sunday really well. Styles, Bully, and Dixie all played their parts well. I only wish Styles had made it rain instead of just throwing the briefcase full of cash.
Bound for Glory is this Sunday and TNA recovered from a poor early build for the show to create a show people will want to see. This isn't to say all of the storytelling in TNA is suddenly great, but they rounded out the Bound for Glory show with some quality storytelling.
I'll be live at Bound for Glory on Sunday and will be discussing it with Jason Powell and Zack Zimmerman exclusively for Dot Net Members on Sunday night. If you'll be at the show, feel free to find me and say hi. I'm all about high fives as well.
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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