Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - Dixieland surprises with a Magnus win, Jeff Hardy remembers 2010, and why more backstage segments would help this show!
By Will Pruett
When TNA announced their return to Orlando, their marathon taping schedule, and the Impact 365 concept (seemingly) all at once, I was actually excited. I wrote a blog at the time about how TNA had the opportunity to change the format of wrestling television for the first time since 1997. They had a chance to become something truly different. The opening segment of this show demonstrated the chance they had and why they should have taken it.
Magnus and Jeff Hardy had a long in-ring promo exchange in front of a crowd who seemed tired and burnt out. When the wrestlers wanted them to chant or react, about six people did so. It wasn't sweetened. It was quiet. These were the men set to compete in the TNA World Championship match later in the show and they were greeted with crickets in Orlando. Why not tweak this segment a little and film it backstage?
One of my favorite promo segments in wrestling history happened before WrestleMania X-7 (or XVII or 17). Steve Austin and The Rock sat down in a locker room with Jim Ross and talked to each other. They laid out why they should be champion. There was organic tension and great conflict. They didn't touch each other. They just talked. It was awesome. Why not let Jeff Hardy, Magnus, and Jeremy Borash do this backstage?
Magnus could have asked the same questions of Hardy's character. He could have treated Hardy the exact same way. His acting in the opening was good. Why not showcase his ability there instead of making him play to a crowd who didn't care.
Jeff Hardy is much better when being understated than when opening playing to the crowd. His promo style often feels forced, but when looking into the eyes of Magnus and just honestly talking about his desire to be TNA Champion, Hardy could have been much more compelling. It also would have enhanced Hardy's in-ring promo before the Dixieland match. Jeff Hardy could have ignited the crowd with his anti-authority stance, especially if it would have been the first time they saw him.
Impact isn't a show taped for the audience. The audience shouldn't get the full experience. Let them guess about a few things. There was no reason for this segment to happen in front of the fans. They hurt the overall message of it. They hurt the story TNA is trying to tell. Impact Wrestling is a TV show, not a live experience. It's taped on a soundstage, not in a sold out arena. TNA can take liberties with their tapings WWE cannot. In this way, they can change wrestling.
TNA, by not allowing for change on this show, proved exactly why change is necessary. Evolve the wrestling universe instead contributing to its stagnation, TNA. I believe in you.
Picking up the pieces:
- The Final Resolution opening video was a fun touch, even though I still don't think the pseudo-pay-per-view is a viable device.
- Bringing back the demons of 2010 in the opening segment was a nice bit of continuity from TNA's creative forces. I'm all for wrestling companies admitting their histories. I also enjoyed how Jeff Hardy defended himself against it. Hardy allowing the 2010 turn to be a part of his babyface character's history is a wonderful step towards consistency.
- I may risk overstating this point here, but could the live fans have cared less about the opening segment?
- For a quick tutorial on how to make a series of backstage segments work, check out the Feast or Fired segments. It's not a great concept, but these backstage moments were very well produced.
- Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Roode was a disappointment. They didn't have time to tell a great story. The falls weren't naturally built to. It just didn't click. I expected a great match out of Roode and Angle and we got something mildly passable.
- One touch I enjoyed in this match: Roode beat Angle in the final fall in the same way Angle beat Roode at Bound for Glory 2011.
- Kurt Angle is afraid Bobby Roode has his number. He's going to think about it a lot over the holidays, which will make his Christmas morning quite depressing.
- The Eric Young and Joseph Park segment was not as bad as their recent work. I'm not excited about the return of Monster's Ball, Janice, or Abyss, but the segment promoting all of the above didn't make me want to cry.
- Samoa Joe's speech to Jeff Hardy backstage worked for me. Joe taking on a role as the conscience of TNA would be fun to see. He has the veteran credibility to pull it off.
- Chavo Guerrero leaving TNA is the best think to happen to this show. He hasn't been worth watching at any point in this company. His "tribute to Eddie" act has been awful.
- Gunner and James Storm seem to be set to collide sooner rather than later. I still hope this ends with a James Storm heel turn and evolution. Storm's character is whiny and boring.
- Sting's moment with EC3 was nice. This program is going to be intriguing to watch develop.
- Gail Kim and Madison Rayne's history video package surprised me. Once again, TNA is attempting to bring a high level of continuity to their show. I don't mind this.
- Rayne being the woman to have Kim's number makes sense storyline-wise. Hopefully they'll produce some very good matches.
- Jeff Hardy's pre-match promo had the potential to be electric, but TNA didn't allow it to be. The opening segment hurt it and the promo that followed hurt it.
- The overdose on Dixie Carter philosophy in TNA is becoming detrimental. He pre-Dixieland promo wasn't good. She can work in small doses, but there is a ridiculous amount of time dedicated to her.
- The Dixieland match surprised me with some good quality wrestling and a good story being told. Jeff Hardy is great in any match that allows him to jump/fall from great heights. Magnus looked like a main event performer in this one. These guys wrestled a good match.
- The holes in the sides of TNA's cage for the cameras are ridiculous. Jason Powell compared them to doggy doors, which is the funniest thing I've read in a while.
- I expected a little more drama around the ring and on the ramp. The match went quickly from the cage to the ladder. I'm not complaining, just expressing surprise.
- Dixie Carter endorsing Magnus is going to be interesting going forward. I'm excited to see the next chapter of this story. I've been high on Magnus for a while and Dixie needed a serious wrestler in her contingent.
TNA produced a better main event on this show than WWE did on TLC. This is quite surprising. They also seem to be getting into a nice rhythm story-telling-wise. The show isn't perfect and they seem to still be establishing their identity, but TNA has reasons to be optimistic coming out of this show.
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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