Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - Stipulations on stipulations continue to hurt a solid story-telling effort, Magnus and Hardy advance, and more!
By Will Pruett
This far in the TNA World Championship tournament we have seen a Full Metal Mayhem match, a Florida Death Match, a Falls Count Anywhere match, a Submission match, a Last Man Standing match, and a Tables match. This is a whole lot of matches, isn't it? More accurately, it is a whole lot of stipulations. Watching this week's episode of Impact, I had to wonder, why?
Can anyone explain, in a logical and possibly concise manner, why every match in the TNA Championship tournament has a stipulation tacked on?
Stipulation matches, in their original purpose, were conceived out of necessity. Feuds would get to a point where a stipulation was required in order for the playing field to be fair. Fans would anticipate a No Disqualification stipulation that would turn the babyface loose after the heels have taken advantage for too long. A Submission match would often favor one of the wrestlers involved (or put two evenly matched technical powerhouses against each other). Wrestling stipulations used to make logical sense.
It was in the late 1990's when stipulations became something randomly tacked onto matches. Instead of logic dictating what would happen, they suddenly popped up everywhere. In some ways, this change has never reversed course.
TNA, a few years back, had a best of five series between The Motor City Machine Guns and Beer Money. The series seemed to already be getting universal praise before it even started. The weird part of it was how every match had a stipulation tacked on. Instead of letting the great wrestlers wrestle, TNA threw an awful lot of silliness into things.
With this tournament TNA is repeating the mistakes of their past. They are making stipulation matches silly jokes they can throw around instead of serious moments in storytelling. Next time a wrestler suggests taking a feud to Full Metal Mayhem, why should I pay attention? Full Metal Mayhem is just a random match type to them. The spin of a wheel dictating a stipulation is a terrible precedent to set.
The TNA World Championship tournament has been far less than the sum of its parts, mainly due to the overuse of gimmick matches. Is it too hard for the people in power in TNA to just let their world class roster go out and have wrestling matches?
Picking up the pieces:
- The opening segment featured one of the most dispassionate promos I've ever seen from Kurt Angle. He didn't look determined, he looked tired. His exchange with Magnus was pretty much the worst type of thing I expect from "bullet point" style promo writing.
- The interruptions from Bobby Roode and Jeff Hardy leading to their match were more passionate. These moments worked for me.
- Hardy vs. Roode was a passable Tables match, but I couldn't quite get past the fact that both men would have had (and have had) better regular singles matches.
- I actually liked Roode and Hardy both going through a table at one point. It was a way to add some drama to the match and it established the authority of the senior official (before embarrassing him later in the night).
- The way Roode loss was wonderfully coincidental. It kind of plays into the way he has won most of his matches (coincidental concussions and such) in recent months. Roode, who often has called other wrestlers "flukes," has built up quite the fluky resume himself.
- Dixie Carter's quest to get the TNA Championship belt back was kind of odd. After Styles left she said it was just a toy and a new belt would be made. This was an inconsistency in what TNA has shown before. Of course, it could be blamed on the unpredictability of Carter, but it's a flimsy excuse.
- The concept of the Ethan Carter III vs. Earl Hebner segment was to get cheap heat on an established semi-sympathetic character. I understood it. I don't think it worked the way TNA wanted it to. Hebner (and his son) aren't as sympathetic as TNA thinks they are. Carter could use more time establishing who he is without these cheap moments.
- I hope Sam Shaw plans to kill the pervy camera man and director who continue to show the slow pan up on Christy Hemme when she's announcing.
- Let's be realistic for a moment. No fans are sending Dixie Carter flowers.
- The Bad Influence vs. Eric Young and Joseph Park feud continues to drone on. It's not an impressive showing form TNA creative and it just keeps happening. It's a poor use of four characters who can be compelling.
- I like the addition of DJ Zema to The Bro-mans, but the sounds he was playing during the matches made me want to turn the TV off. It was extremely annoying. I'm all for the act, but how about we stop with the random annoying noise?
- The slow breakup of Gunner and James Storm rolls on. I kind of want to see Storm be the heel coming out of this. He has had his chance as a babyface and the act is stale. Storm could use a little character development.
- Speaking of annoying, Rockstar Spud (the Kane of TNA), is terrible and almost unwatchable. I know I'm not supposed to like him, but I don't want to hear him talk.
- Is TNA trying to make Lei'D Tapa look as ridiculous as possible? I'm beginning to believe this is the case. Tapa's costumes are awful.
- The Knockouts Division continues to bring in talented women to lose to Gail Kim in three minutes or less. I'm wondering now what the endgame is when all of these women could make great additions to TNA's roster. I know one can't sign everyone, but how is TNA not thinking of adding these women?
- Kurt Angle and Magnus had one of the strangest Last Man Standing matches I've seen. Once again, I feel they would have been better served without a stipulation. They had a normal wrestling match, but it felt like a letdown.
- Why did there need to be a referee bump in a Last Man Standing match? Why not have Roode obviously attack Angle, then lift Magnus up, securing the win for Magnus? This could have been much more sinister.
- Dixie Carter didn't get her belt back, but instead got the (literal) little red toy belt. I laughed.
- A.J. Styles and his friends have updated their camera equipment. Good for them.
This show was a middling effort in front of a flat crowd. It's not that it was necessarily bad, but there continue to be some odd logic gaps. The stipulation-mania running wild on the tournament continues to be the most glaring error in judgement TNA is making. I can only hope the finals don't give us more of this silliness.
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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