Shore's TNA Impact Wrestling Hitlist: Impact on the road looks great, AJ Styles returns, Matt Morgan gets some direction, Bully Ray doesn't say enough, Jeff Hardy says nothing at all, but show is overall Hit
By Chris Shore
Check out Will Pruett's All Access audio review of TNA Impact Wrestling, which is available right now on the main page.
TNA Impact Wrestling Hits
Look of the show: First and foremost, this was the best I have ever seen Impact look. Hell, it was even better than Lockdown to some degree. They have obviously put money into a set and into production values and they are to be commended for that. They still need to slow down just a bit more to give the show a better flow, but for their first live show on the road, I don't know that they could have looked significantly better. Bravo TNA, bravo.
Sting and Hulk Hogan: I personally dislike that Hogan and Sting still command so much air time, but accepting that as what we are going to get, this was a Hit. To be honest, part of it was surprise at Hogan "turning" on Sting. It makes perfect sense, but I didn't think Sting would be the guy to face Hogan's wrath. And Hogan, for all his crappy acting skills, was believable in his anger at Sting. Sting played his part well too, and it was easy to believe the interaction.
AJ Styles returns: Even though the segment leading up to his return was a miss (see below), I did think AJ's actual return was a hit. There can be no question that Styles is a hell of a wrestler, but his character has always been flimsy at best, especially as a heel. This heel angle for him is already more believable than all of the time he spent with Ric Flair combined. He looks angry and depressed, and his attacking both Kazarian and Storm left eberyone wondering. Well done.
Austin Aries vs. Sting: It took both Bobby Roode and Aries to carry Sting to a good match, but carry they did. Sting got good heat at the start of the match with his attacks on both men, and then Aries worked to his strengths as he worked on Sting during the middle of the match. Sting isn't going to get close to five star matches at this stage of his career, but this is the best I have seen him in many weeks. Part of it was surely his excitement with the company being live on the road, but Aries deserves a ton of credit for making this a Hit.
Matt Morgan vs. Joseph Park: Joe Park can get on my last nerves, though I have to admit some of his jargon confusion can be funny, but I thought he did well enough here to earn a Hit. Morgan carried the bulk of the segment, and I like that he finally gave us some idea of the direction he is going. We've known for months he was pissed at Hogan, but Morgan has been a victim of the stalling tactics I talked about in my blog yesterday. They finally seem to have set him on a path, and Park is a good place to start.
Overall Show: Yesterday I said TNA needed to put up or shut up. To their credit, they put up. The show wasn't perfect, and I'm still very frustrated by Ray not giving us any explanation about why he's had his ass kicked 300 times by his own group, but there is no question that TNA put their best foot forward with this show. Now they just need to continue it.
TNA Impact Wrestling Misses
Bully Ray explains nothing: My only real frustration with the show was the fact that Bully Ray explained nothing about the last nine months. He didn't explain why he was beat up so many times. He didn't explain what their purpose was. He didn't even explain why there were two run ins from Aces and Eights, (the explanation he gave didn't make a lot of sense). This isn't some cardinal sin that can't be fixed, and I didn't expect them to say everything tonight, but at least one step in that direction would have been nice.
No Jeff Hardy: I realize we saw him at the end, but why no comments from Jeff Hardy? Didn't he just lose his title? Doesn't he have a rematch clause? Doesn't he have anything to say about Bully turning on him in the ring? I realize Hogan is the center of attention for Aces and Eights, even though I don't like it, but come on. You have got to give the former champ a chance to respond. I would have even taken one of those silly internal monologues, though giving him a mic would have been better. A silly and avoidable miss.
Legion of Boom: As good as Kazarian and Daniels looked in their LOD get up, they failed when they got on the mics. It didn't stink, but they have raised the bar for their mic work and simply failed to meet it here. James Storm wasn't any better either. It all led to a good moment, but Bad Influence had a swing and a miss here.
Closing segment: I just didn't get it. Why not end with the big brawl. Why have TNA take the beating? What did that accomplish? It went on way too long, and then the stuff with Hogan and Ray at the end didn't make sense. Why not attack him? He's on crutches, take your shot. I don't think it left fans wanting to tune in next week. Fans should tune in, but TNA didn't give them a reason with this segment.
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