TNA Impact returned to Spike TV last night (May 30, 2013) from Tampa, Florida, featuring its latest effort on the road to Slammiversary on June 2 in Boston. And though I usually view my pro wrestling with quite the critical eye, I came away from this show, the go home effort to the pay-per-view (PPV) this weekend, mostly satisfied.
Click here to get full results and the running live blog, but let's get to the reactions so I can explain why.
- I liked the opener between Team 3D and Sting & Joseph Park. Call me crazy, but I did. It was a standard match between two teams who had a good reason to be in the ring against each other in a preview of their respective singles matches this weekend. It worked. Simple booking is simple and TNA has been known for years for convoluted storylines that try way too hard to get way too cute. This was done well.
- That said, I'm not a huge fan of the fact that no one seems to have caught on to the fact that Abyss and Joseph Park are the same person. Bully Ray masterminded the Aces and 8s and manipulated his way into the heavyweight title but can't figure this out? He had extensive programs with both characters. We're supposed to believe he's never even had a suspicion and the very sound of Abyss' music would send him running up the ramp leaving Devon to get jumped by Stinger to win the match? Like I said, I liked the opener, but I'm not a big fan of top heels who just pulled off a huge con looking dumb for not seeing what's right in front of them.
- Dixie Carter as the damsel in distress will always work, and I actually thought Garett Bischoff showed some promise in his short time on the microphone. He totally looks like that kind of creepy bastard who would circle around a fragile female licking his chops, exactly the kind of guy you want a Samoa Joe type to run down and beat the shit out of.
- That's why it was kind of nice when that's exactly what happened. I know you have to book the heels strong to get them over and TNA hasn't done that with Aces and 8s and that's partially why they've bombed so hard -- and I've been driving the train on saying that for so long now -- but this is one of those times when, as mentioned previously, it's better to keep it simple. Bischoff isn't going to stand a chance against a pissed off Joe, so let him get his ass kicked. It also set up nicely for interference from Doc and Wes Brisco so Joe could announce the return of Jeff Hardy at Slammiversary.
- Two issues here, though: I'm not sure I like bringing Jeff Hardy back like this. He's the biggest star in the company, you've got to do something more for him. Also, when did Joe get the power to book matches? He made the match with Bischoff last night and then he made the six-man tag for the PPV. I'm not going to complain too much, but it's the little things like that that get annoying over time. Especially when that means Hulk Hogan is essentially useless in his role and is still getting all this television time.
- Speaking of that, it definitely looks like the direction is Brooke turning on her dad and joining forces with Ray. This almost certainly means Ray wins on Sunday night and they do the heavyweight title match between the two at Bound for Glory with Brooke in Bully's corner, maybe turning back babyface to help her dd win the belt at the biggest TNA event of the year. It makes storyline sense and will probably be done well, but I have no interest in seeing it happen. Plus, the match will have to be an overbooked mess of epic proportions simply because Hogan can barely throw a punch, let alone take an actual bump.
- Gunner scores points with me for using the Torture Rack, a finisher I felt got jobbed out by not being included in the Greatest Finisher Tournament. Still mad at you Cagesiders for that. Actually, I totally forgive you.
- Mickie James is super talented on a number of levels but she's long been underused and when she has been, it hasn't been in the right manner. Now, she appears to be turning heel and I'm already a fan of how she's doing it, playing all perky and dumb but with that evil gleam in her eye. Remember when she was stalking and obsessed with Trish Stratus? She was wonderful back then, a talented performer with depth. That's been beaten out of her with this Hardcore Country nonsense and complete lack of attention to detail with regards to her on-screen character. Now that she's got the belt and they're doing something with her, I'm anxious to see where it goes.
- Love the vicious Gail Kim, too.
- I'm not sure how bad it is, but I agreed with Tazz when he talked about being tired of Chris Sabin's recovery story already. Because let's face it, it's already old. The problem is they're probably going to put the X Division title on him to see if he can run with it using that story as his backdrop and I'm not looking forward to that at all. He's got a ton of talent and can really go in the ring, but I don't want to hear any more about his rough two years rehabbing.
- AJ Styles vs. Mr. Anderson was a garbage main event, but it served its purpose of getting to the big all out brawl with nearly the entire roster out there only to clear out so Sting and Ray could go head-to-head leading into the PPV. I got just lost in it enough that it almost felt like a big match for a second there. That's a testament to the story being done well, because the match itself is going to be horrendous. Sting just can't go anymore and Ray was never athletically gifted and relies on a stronger style that Sting can't play into. We'll see how they do but my hopes aren't up.
- Can we go back to the Tony Schiavone WCW style of going off the air while things are still going on and Mike Tenay screaming "WE'RE OUTTA TIME, WE'LL SEE YOU SUNDAY NIGHT!!!" Can we please have that again?
I actually enjoyed this show, much to my surprise. Maybe it was the complete lack of expectation, or the fact that I don't grade it on the same curve as I do WWE due largely to its handicap in star power, but this was mostly fun.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with your thoughts on last night's show.