Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - A.J. Styles and Dixie Carter perform a dramatic reenactment of a WWE story from two years ago, Bully Ray gets his rematch, Bound for Glory fallout, and more!
By Will Pruett
I am a firm believer in the seven year rule. A wrestling angle can be repeated after a period of seven years has passed. It worked back in the day for Hogan vs. Orndorf, then Hogan vs. Sid. It would likely work today (although the availability of old wrestling footage makes it hard to guarantee this). Apparently, TNA did not get the note about the seven year rule, since they are trying to replicate a story from two years ago, without the original compelling elements.
The story is A.J. Styles winning the TNA World Championship, then walking out on TNA authority figure and owner Dixie Carter. It is remarkably (and probably not coincidentally) similar to C.M. Punk's star making turn in June and July of 2011. It's scripted in a slightly different manner (the walkout occurred after a rematch and not the original title win) but the basic elements are too similar to ignore. It's not just a similar story, it feels like TNA's creative team has attempted to recreate the Summer 2011 story and improve upon it. This is a real-life "How we would have booked it" essay from the TNA team.
Of course, there was magic in the Summer of 2011. Everything seemed to click and a new star was made. C.M. Punk stepped out from the shadows on a fateful June night and the wrestling world took notice. Where is this magic in TNA? A.J. Styles stepped up a little over a month ago and delivered one of the most rambling and confusing promos I have ever heard. He broke through the fourth wall, but was never actually believable. Wasn't believability the magic of C.M. Punk's rebellion? Fans buzzed about whether or not his promo was supposed to happen, what lines were approved and what lines weren't, and whether or not he would be back. Where was/is this buzz for Styles?
The end of this show was a contract negotiation between Styles and Dixie Carter. This very much resembled the last episode of Raw before Money in the Bank 2011 where Vince McMahon agreed to give Punk everything he wanted in order to be assured Punk would stay in WWE. The big difference? Dixie Carter and A.J. Styles do not have the unique chemistry or sheer performing ability of Punk and McMahon. The negotiation was (once again) remarkably similar to July 2011, although it did lack a request for TNA Ice Cream Bars, and Styles turned down Carter's offer of everything he ever wanted. Styles then drove away.
The issue here is not only the blatant plagiarism of the most well known wrestling story of the last five years. The issue is the poor reproduction of it. Styles and Carter seem like actors in a dramatic reenactment on "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" and not professional storytellers. Without the right players in place, this story is going to fail. Even with the right players, this story would fail. Where is the originality?
TNA is fantasy re-booking a story from two years ago for all of us to see on national television. Is original thought not an option? Was it cut from their budget too?
Picking up the pieces:
- While TNA is considering other stories from wrestling's past to reproduce, I would like to suggest a few: Undertaker vs. Undertaker featuring Bobby Roode introducing a fake Abyss, the Katie Vick saga featuring Abyss and some heel accusing him of doing sexy things with a dead girl, Montreal again and again and again, The Shield and their introduction, being kicked out of their arena by a basketball team, and any other past WWE angle the creative forces in TNA feel they could improve upon.
- A.J. Styles was decent in the opening segment. This talk between him and Carter was actually better than the closing segment. Carter's over the top southern belle act is entertaining in certain moments.
- The opening of this show was the standard post-Bound for Glory sprawling talking segment. They took about 30 minutes and told multiple stories within it. Styles' feud with Dixie and Bully were covered, as were Bully's beefs with Styles and Ken Anderson.
- Speaking of Ken Anderson, I would have enjoyed a true run-in (like the Cody Rhodes and Goldust jumping The Shield moment) instead of a moment where Anderson obviously had the lighting and sound guys working with him. Was the response to his music worth making his appearance look very staged? If TNA is trying to achieve reality in their main stories, why make it feel so unreal?
- Why did Anderson mention the agents in his promo? What exactly do "agents" do in a kayfabe world?
- Brooke Tessmacher was oddly chill about teaming with Gail Kim, who had a giant beat her up and who pinned for the Knockouts Championship. I know there are very few Knockouts left in TNA, but this was an odd detail to overlook.
- Ethan Carter III will take some time to get over, but I believe the pieces are there. This act could be very fun in the future. EC3 is an entertaining twist tied to the top angle.
- Were Sting and Magnus making up after their lack of handshake at Bound for Glory? I found their segment together confusing. Hopefully in the coming weeks we will see some real development in Magnus' struggle. Right now he isn't likable, but he isn't worth disliking either.
- Bobby Roode and Kurt Angle had the best segment on this show together. They brought the intensity from last week and the added motivation from their match on Sunday. I'm not excited about another Bound for Glory rematch on Impact so soon after the pay-per-view, but this segment was nice.
- What was not nice was the silly tag team championship celebration. The Bro-mans aren't getting serious anytime soon and the tag titles instantly mean less when around their waists.
- Bad Influence, James Storm and Gunner (Gun Storm? The Drunk Vikings? America's Moderately Desired?), and Joseph Park and Eric Young are all still in the tag title picture as well. This is an odd combination of teams and stories when one mixes in the Abyss story as well.
- Bully Ray and A.J. Styles actually had a better match than they did on Sunday, but the finish was worse. These guys should be capable of having a good match without the bells and whistles TNA leans on, but they haven't proven they can.
- What was the point of the referee bump, other than to prove how dangerous Earl Hebner's job is? TNA is addicted to adding unnecessary elements to their main event matches and it ultimately detracts from them.
Impact Wrestling is headed down a dangerous path and setting a dangerous precedent for themselves. The blatant use of a prominent angle pulled from WWE's recent past is inexcusable. I don't want to watch a fantasy booking show, I want to watch some original professional wrestling. The lack of originality prevalent in TNA's creative process would be almost funny if it wasn't so sad.
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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