Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - Kurt Angle's concussion story and the challenge TNA is giving themselves, the World Championship tournament, and more!
By Will Pruett
TNA took a step in a very dramatic direction with this week's Impact episode. Kurt Angle could not respond to the referee in the ring after suplexing Bobby Roode off the top rope. He was noticeably twitching and playing up major concussion symptoms. This was different than what we usually see in wrestling.
Some people will be very offended by this story and be vocally outraged. They'll be upset about using a concussion in a story when they happen in real life. We've seen some very crazy things cause real concussions in a wrestling ring, so I understand not wanting to see fake ones.
Wrestling is fiction. Saying wrestlers cannot tell a story about concussions is like saying no one can die on The Walking Dead because people die in real life. The logic is flawed. Wrestling can totally tell this story. They are built to. Wrestling is supposed to be a factionalized version of a sport, and these things happen in sports weekly. This situation was meant to scare and frighten viewers, causing them to care about Kurt Angle in the process.
The challenge in front of TNA now is how they will follow up this story. When they chose to take this route, they made a contract with viewers promising they would tell the story well and bring it to a satisfying conclusion. They have to take this story seriously and bring a high level of verisimilitude. Without it, they become the joke many of us think they are. This is a chance for TNA's creative team to prove they can tell a great and dramatic story. This is also an opportunity for them to fail on an epic level.
Picking up the pieces:
- Dixie Carter is getting more comfortable in her in-ring talking segments, but she is also being overexposed. I know the A.J. Styles story requires the authority figure to be very involved, but she is more involved than she should be.
- Speaking of this A.J. Styles story, it's still a poor ripoff of C.M. Punk's story in 2011. This will not change.
- The introduction of each tournament participant via video package was a good idea, but it was poorly executed. TNA's production team could have polished this segment a little more, especially with a week to edit it together.
- Bully Ray not being given another World Championship opportunity works for me. He's been in the title picture for eight months, so it's likely time for him to move on. He has a hot program with Ken Anderson waiting for him anyways.
- This week seemed to be the unofficial launch of the Impact 24/7 campaign. At this moment, it is disappointing. The backstage segments are just shot in a blurrier manner and the in-ring ridiculousness is just as prevalent. I'm not fully judging it yet, but I would like to see TNA transition to more innovative formula of production as they move back to Orlando.
- The Bro-Mans vs. James Storm and Gunner seemed like the exact same match they had at Bound for Glory, but it was truncated for time. Storm and Gunner may be transitioning to singles competition, as Storm is in the World Championship tournament. In the meantime, The Bro-Mans are severely lacking in opposition. Is there a plan in the TNA tag division?
- Sting being given another shot to get a shot at the TNA Championship was an interesting story for the gauntlet match, but it could have been played up better by Mike Tenay and Taz. Both commentators were quite weak on this episode of Impact. Tenay and Taz quite detrimental to TNA.
- It was fun to see "Pretty" Peter Avalon (Norv Fernum) back on TNA television. Ethan Carter III squashing him was entertaining for a second time. I'd love to see some backstage fun with EC3 and other wrestlers he feels superior to soon.
- The comedy with Bad Influence on this show was especially weak. I'm fine with a little bit of silliness in wrestling, but I would like it to be high quality silliness. This was some pretty low quality comedy all the way through. Bad Influence is better than this, but sometimes you swing and miss.
- The gauntlet match was fun to watch, but it dragged on a little long without excitement. Perhaps an early elimination or two would have helped this. The commercials did it no favors either. Those things said, the gauntlet creates a nice spectacle.
- How did Knux get in the running for the TNA Championship shot? This was a little random.
- Sting running the table in the gauntlet really could have been discussed more. Coherent storytelling needs to be a priority on all levels in TNA.
- Magnus winning the gauntlet fits with his current push and it definitely fits with the story TNA is telling about him. I expect we'll see more hints of the overconfident heels Magnus right up until he loses.
- We should all be thankful TNA didn't choose to have another Bound for Glory Series to crown a champion.
- ODB and Gail Kim had a fairly basic match. I still don't enjoy ODB as the lead Knockout babyface. TNA doesn't have much of an option there, but ODB is not relatable or fun to watch.
- Abyss continues to appear occasionally with the announcers not even suspicious of him and Joseph Park being the same person. At least try to think like a viewer sometime, TNA.
- Is every match in the TNA Championship tournament getting a "Wheel of Dixie" gimmick? This is a terrible booking decision. It somehow makes the tournament less exciting to know ladders, tables, and all sorts of extraneous gimmicks will be tacked on. Does TNA have so little confidence in these eight wrestlers that they feel these important matches need more spectacle?
- The "every match gets a gimmick" idea for this tournament reminds me of the Best of Five series between Beer Money and the Motor City Machine Guns TNA had to gimmick up years ago. The gimmicks made the series feel like less than the sum of its parts.
- Angle and Roode had a match very similar to their Bound for Glory effort and it was quite good.
- One logical error on Kurt Angle's part: Why would he even go for the move that knocked him out?
This show was a set up for the next few months of TNA storytelling and it wasn't bad. TNA is moving past the point of recreating the C.M. Punk story and moving into their own original creation. How they handle this creation remains to be seen, but I hope it is good.
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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