Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - Mr. Anderson suffers from overkill, Kurt Angle and Austin Aries highlight in the main event, Dixie Carter fails to impress, and more!
By Will Pruett
TNA often tries to rush their stories. In the midst of the current reboot, they are trying to get rid of what is left of The Aces and Eights without abandoning the group, but drawing them to a conclusion. The wrestler chosen to end the illustrious run of this ill-conceived biker gang (and their unseen social media intern) is Ken Anderson, a former member of the group.
This, in and of itself, is a very good idea. I have no issues with Anderson getting this push, especially after his final few performances before his last contract ran out. He delivered his best work in TNA on the way out. Where this idea fails is in the speed and overexposure of the story, which was clearly seen on this episode of Impact Wrestling.
The opening segment, with Anderson confronting Bully Ray and the Aces and Eights was well done. While Anderson's performance didn't blow me away, it set up next week's high stakes match perfectly. If Bully wins, Anderson leaves. If Anderson wins, the Aces and Eights are no more. This match is a logical conclusion to at least one part of this story. After this, and the defeat of Knux by Anderson, the story needed to end. Everything else was superfluous.
Garret Bischoff wandered into some random, creepily lit corner of the arena containing plywood and road cases. He did so for no reason. Bischoff was then attacked by Anderson, who handcuffed him to some sort of metal object. The camera cut away, but I shudder to think of what happened in the moments following this. I can only assume Anderson violated Bischoff. When we came back, Anderson picked up Bischoff to carry him elsewhere. Finally, Anderson, after the great final match, which concluded in a great moment highlighting the most important feud in TNA (Angle and Roode), brought Bischoff onto the stage and delivered a Piledriver to him.
This neck-risking moment got in the way of a great story being told on the stage. It delivered hype for Bully vs. Anderson, but was honestly kind of pointless. It didn't make the match seem more important. It didn't make it seem bigger. It just muddied the waters. There was no time to reflect on Angle and Roode's determination. There was no time to see Aries react to defeat. We just saw a pointless character, placed on TV because of nepotism, get potentially injured. This was not a compelling final moment of Impact.
TNA does this quite often. They build a feud, get it to a nice boiling point, then try to increase the heat more, thus overexposing it and hurting the overall product. Anderson was a sympathetic character until he randomly handcuffed Bischoff in a sex dungeon. Now, he is as sadistic as Bully Ray. People want to cheer him, but will think twice.
This is a macro-problem with TNA at the philosophical root of the promotion. This is where change needs to occur. No matter how many new writers, new wrestlers, new authority figures, or new gimmicks they can dream up, TNA needs to philosophically change to make any progress. Until then, I'll enjoy the one step forward and dread the two steps back.
Picking up the pieces:
- One major missed-opportunity on this show was the Kurt Angle concussion issue. He was convulsing on the mat when he last wrestled. Why was there never a question as to if he was cleared. This would have created some great Impact 365 moments where Angle was at the doctor and Austin Aries discussed whether he would target Angle's head. It's like the concussion story has been abandoned until Angle faces Roode again, which is a mistake.
- Anderson was back to being his ring announcing character, which didn't fit the tone of TNA's current direction with him. If he were to scale it back from an eight to a five, he would catch on better.
- There was a little too much Joseph Park on this show for my taste. I know they were setting up the Abyss challenge and they're enamored with this character, but he is grating in large doses.
- It's disappointing to see Bad Influence in this program and the Bro-Mans with the tag titles. If the roles at Bound for Glory would have been reversed, TNA would likely be more compelling now.
- Ethan Carter III should probably have less entertaining jobbers from now on. I like Norv Fernum an awful lot, but he's more over than EC3, which I do not believe is the goal.
- There is a part of me that wanted A.J. Styles to go full-on Kenny Powers while down in Mexico.
- Dixie Carter is outraged about the "Friends of A.J." spots. I get where they're going with this, but her fake outrage isn't working well.
- Dixie had great heat for her promo segment, but she delivered a bad promo in the midst of it. I still do not see a reason for her to be a character on television. I don't suddenly believe wrestling is real because she is there. She doesn't have the acting ability to perform what is being asked of her.
- Why does James Storm, who has never been in a Bull Rope Match in TNA, automatically have an advantage on one?
- The mini-promos between next week's tournament opponents (Roode and Storm, Magnus and Joe) were really well done. They each got to show a little personality and it set up next week's matches as important.
- Most important, among these promo segments, was Samoa Joe's, which demonstrated exactly how a babyface should be approaching this tournament. He is all about assuring A.J. Styles gets a fair shot.
- Dixie Carter wanting to crown her own champion signals a Dixie's Champion (likely Bobby Roode) vs. The People's Champion (A.J. Styles) feud for the future. There could be worse things.
- Gail Kim's promo and subsequent match with Hannah Blossom was enjoyable. This Gail Kim open challenge gimmick will be fun to see run its course. TNA needed a way to bring new women in and this is as good as any (and better than a Gut Check).
- Park vs. Abyss is definitely an attraction for next week, but I wonder just how silly it will be. I feel like one of these characters will be written off somehow.
- Angle vs. Aries was a very good match, even though it was a missed storytelling opportunity. Angle's head trauma issues should have been emphasized and Aries could have chosen whether or not to target him. Aside from this issue, they had the type of match I expected two very good wrestlers to have.
- The emphasis on Roode and Angle continues to delight me. These guys come off as major stars.
This show was a mixed bag. I hate to see great opportunities for storytelling missed. I also hate to see over-complication get in the way of a good story. The Angle and Aries match lifted this to being a good show and rewarded viewers for staying tuned. However, if this happens to be on your DVR, feel free to watch the opening, then fast forward to the main event.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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