The latest live episode of TNA Impact aired last night (July 26, 2012) on Spike TV and featured the continuation of the Bound for Glory Series, the debut of Chavo Guerrero, and Aces and Eights continued invasion of the Impact Zone.
Let's skip the pleasantries and get right to reactions.
- James Storm as the leader of the Aces and Eights? Sounds ludicrous, right? It doesn't really fit in at all with his current story and would serve to turn him when that should be the furthest thing from the minds of the creative team. Now, having Bobby Roode plant the seed in everyone's mind that Storm is the leader with just enough evidence to get folks to believe it and start to turn on him could work wonders in turning Storm into an anti-hero, much like WCW did with Sting in the 90s when he went up against the NWO. It also helps continue the issues between Roode and Storm while creating something for Storm to deal with while he's trying to win the Bound for Glory Series and Roode is still in the midst of his program with Austin Aries. Storm isn't the leader and we know that because even TNA isn't dumb enough to turn him at this juncture, especially considering how far gone from the story it would be. There's been an added emphasis on paying attention to detail in TNA as of late and that's probably why they went about this as carefully as they did. At a glance it didn't seem that way but this has potential and the Aces and Eights are more interesting with the idea that someone is working on the inside helping them plot and plan their attacks. The commentary team teasing as much with dissension from the wrestlers on the roster are all the key ingredients to a solid invasion angle.
- It kind of sucks, too, because TNA is doing the right thing with this program but they don't have a payoff. The NWO worked for WCW because they had Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, two huge names from the WWF to come over where they could blur the line of reality enough that lawsuits were filed. They also had Hulk Hogan, one of the biggest stars of all time, and his heel turn that set the pro wrestling world on fire. When TNA reveals that it was Jeff Jarrett behind everything all along (though that's not set in stone but is heavily rumored at current time) and his band of misfits includes WWE castoffs like Luke Gallows and Chris Masters, it won't have near the same impact. In fact, it will feel a bit like a cheap knock off. The only way to combat that is to utilize the current storyline of teasing a big star (for TNA's standards, of course) already on the roster who is working for the other side.
Thoughts on the rest of the show after the jump.
- So what was the point of Sting coming out at the top of the show to announce that Dixie Carter had made him Interim General Manager in place of the injured and out Hulk Hogan just for him to pass off his duties on the show to Austin Aries and his only running in once at the end of the show? It all just seemed so pointless.
- Speaking of Aries, he was great last night, as usual. For all the times a dirt sheet has reported that they have sources telling them Aries is a gigantic dick in the back, it seemed like we got a small glimpse of that last night when he was dispatching X Division title contenders with condescending remarks. Not that it wasn't funny but it felt an awful lot like Aries was just being himself and having fun at the expense of guys way lower on the totem pole like Dakota Darsow and Rashad Cameron. I'm not bleeding for them, it's just a thought that came into my mind.
- Chavo Guerrero's debut was underwhelming. The company did well to have a bunch of guys put him over before he showed up on TV and he was good putting everyone else on the roster over while he was on the microphone but his promo was severely lacking. Referring to himself as a legend is utterly ridiculous considering his career, especially the later years in WWE, and talking about his family so much only served to remind everyone how far he was cast under their collective shadow. He'll be serviceable but not as a major player.
- I couldn't be any less interested in the storyline with Madison Rayne crushing on Earl Hebner's old ass and his using his power as a referee to help her win matches. It's just not an interesting story to me. Maybe it is to you and if so, more power to you. Enjoy.
- I can't buy into Gut Check as any sort of legitimate thing because I believe they've handed out a contract to everyone who has come through the program except for Joey Ryan. And everyone who has come through the program and earned a contract has yet to get on TV since then. Joey Ryan, meanwhile, is on TV and constantly being talked about. It's like they're trying to undercut the idea of actually earning a contract and doing what you're supposed to. The whole thing is ass backwards and makes it hard to stay invested in it.
- X-Pac >>>> Zema Ion. That's how little I think of the current X Division champion.
- The wrestling on last night's show ranged from good to great. Kurt Angle and Bully Ray had an awesome match to close the show, despite a blunder on Ray's part by doing a piledriver spot on Angle. I'm sure Angle was fine with it but any time you're dealing with a guy who has had a broken freakin' neck, especially more than once, it's just unnecessary to take a risk like that. The price to be paid if something goes wrong is too steep. Storm and AJ Styles also had a damn good match that was ultimately used to help get over the idea that Storm is working for the Aces and Eights. It serviced the story so the smoz finish is no big deal. Crackhead Claire was there but at least her bullshit was relegated to replays.
- The only note I have on that is TNA is still deserving of mockery for running replays of the angle with Claire date raping Styles. They ran no less than two last night. Dumb.
Overall, this wasn't a bad show and you can tell TNA is doing its best to avoid making things so convoluted. There were plenty of guys who weren't even on TV last night -- probably as much of the roster that was, wasn't -- and it shouldn't be looked at negatively. The effort is there and it's paying off with relatively solid showings.
So, we got decent angles, good to great wrestling and very little Crackhead Claire. I'd say this show was a success.
What about you?