Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - Comedic characters collide with a serious world and storytelling dissonance ensues, Gunner isn't likable anymore, Kurt Angle goes into the HOF, and more!
By Will Pruett
TNA has a problem. Well, they actually have a lot of problems, but they have a main one I would like to discuss here. They have quite a few characters who have been built up over the last six months. They have found directions for many of them and stories for many of them. Some of them are very serious, like Magnus and Bobby Roode. Some of them are there for comedic relief as over-acting clowns, like Rockstar Spud and the Bro-Mans. Some of them seem completely out of place in a wrestling context, like Sam Shaw.
The issue in TNA is when these characters all come together in one large central storyline. This is happening more and more. It is weak storytelling and shows a lack of forethought. As one example, the super serious Bobby Roode, who is fighting for ten percent of the company at Lockdown, now has the Bro-Mans, a comedy act with a DJ in tow, on his team. How could any person logically make this choice? There are probably at least five other wrestlers Roode could ask who would perform better and take the match seriously.
Even Ethan Carter III, who has been a true beneficiary of TNA storytelling in the last few months, is getting into the comedy spirit, as shown in his segment with Kurt Angle. EC3, going into a cage match with Angle was telling jokes instead of taking him seriously. These are the types of things that change a compelling main event into a mid-card attraction. Could you imagine someone telling jokes about breaking The Undertaker's streak? Why joke about this?
Even on a show without Dixie Carter, who is an over-played comedy figure, TNA still mixed too much comedy into this show. I'm not against wrestling comedy. I actually enjoy it. I am against it suddenly being a part of main storylines I am supposed to take seriously. When I'm laughing, I am taken out of the moment. When I'm laughing, I'm not emotionally investing in an outcome. When I'm laughing, I stop caring. I thought the goal was to get us all to care.
Picking up the pieces:
- Why exactly did Ethan Carter III, Bobby Roode, and Magnus have match making abilities instead of MVP, who owns half of the company? This power structure is getting more confusing than WWE's.
- The contract signing in the opening segment worked for me. I'm not sure the new stipulation in the Samoa Joe and Magnus match does. Can Magnus have a good "Joe's Rules" cage match? He's not Kurt Angle who, for one night only, evolved wrestling with Joe six years ago. I doubt we'll see anything near as good as Joe vs. Angle from '08 at this year's Lockdown.
- The Bro-Mans losing the TNA Tag Team Championships probably should have been on this show. One random title change isn't going to suddenly spike TNA's failing house show business.
- I hated The Wolves losing their match on this show. They lost because they were taunting instead of wrestling, which goes against their gimmick. They probably shouldn't lose any matches for quite a while, even if they aren't pinned.
- The Bro-Mans being on a Lethal Lockdown team only reenforces the broader point made in my above little essay.
- The Austin Aries segments throughout the night worked for me, but the Aries heel turn to close the show did not. Aries' character is wildly inconsistent. I'm not sure he has any idea who he is.
- EC3 vs. Doug Williams was a disappointing use of Doug Williams. Who's the X Division Champion right now? Why not set up a two week story where Williams has a great match with them? (Please do not email me saying Austin Aries is the X Division Champion. I am well aware. I am feigning ignorance to make a point.)
- I am so glad I could get back to disliking Gunner this week. Last week felt weird. Gunner almost seemed like a heel explaining to James Storm that he (Gunner) is the only reason Storm has the freedom to drink beer. It was a weird promo turning a ver positive thing (military service) into a heel tactic, much like Kurt Angle did in 1999 with winning a gold metal.
- I'm not exactly sure James Storm and Gunner will be a good match. They're going to be constrained by being one of twelve cage matches on Lockdown.
- Samoa Joe squashed a nobody. Good for him. On the plus side, he is very over.
- Kurt Angle's nonsensical Hall of Fame storyline continued with him accepting his induction on this show. The "ceremony" definitely happened.
- Ethan Carter III is walking a thin line between serious and witty. He's coming off more like a comedy character than a real contender, which is a bummer. He's good enough to do more. The character has been built up well enough to do more.
- The giant girls are now teaming together. Good for them.
- Samuel Shaw is a good character and he the actor playing him is doing a good job. I just have no idea what being a creepy stalker/serial killer has to do with wrestling. We have seen no connection between being a wrestler and being Samuel Shaw. He's stalking the ring announcer who TNA treats like a sex object and not a person, but that's all he does. Character development takes more than just coming up with who someone is, there has to be a reason for them to exist in the world as well.
- Anderson vs. Shaw in a cage is a match I will likely ignore. Why is Lockdown an all cage show?
- Willow is pretty creep-tastic. Is he going to kidnap me from my bedroom?
- Austin Aries is no Shawn Michaels in bike shorts.
- MVP looks great when given the chance to wrestle in singles action.
- Bobby Roode welcoming Austin Aries onto his team was fine, but the random heel turn at the end of every episode of Impact is getting old.
This show did not delight me. It was a stark contrast to the great wrestling show presented on the WWE Network at the same time. The character development in TNA has almost nothing to do with the wrestling, which causes me to wonder why I watch the wrestling. The stories just don't work. I want TNA to do well. I want to enjoy watching them, but weekly viewing is becoming an exhausting chore.
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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