Aries! Hardy! Suckup! Mistaken Identity! TNA World Heavyweight Championship!
I have no problems with Jeff Hardy. Yes, he was a drug addict who managed to screw up every chance he ever had. He put himself, and his opponents, in danger every time he stepped into the ring high. The guy was a mess and a waste of talent. The important thing, though, was that he sobered up and got clean. Hardy has been back in TNA for over a year with no mishaps. It is an act that should be commended and respected.
That being said, what Austin Aries was forced to do last week (Sept. 20) sickened me to my core.
Having Aries, the current TNA World Heavyweight Champion, talk up Hardy backstage just felt gross to me. Aries, "The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived," should not be putting Hardy on a pedestal in the run up to their match at Bound For Glory. Aries has earned the title around his waist and the respect that the title carries. Just because a couple hundred sheep in the Impact Wrestling Zone love themselves some face paint and Tripp pants doesn't mean that Aries should be lowering himself.
Yes, I'm aware this is pro wrestling and that it is necessary to build up your opponent and yadda yadda yadda. I just can't shake the feeling that all of this is solely because Hardy's contract is about to come up. If TNA can stroke "The Charismatic Enigma" ego enough, maybe he'll stick around. So TNA has the current champion to act as if he's chasing the strap and not the other way around. Impact Wrestling fades to black with Hardy holding the championship over his head instead of its rightful owner.
And in two and a half weeks, we may very well have a new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
Maybe this is just sour grapes on my part. This is TNA, and in all honesty I shouldn't be surprised at this latest development.
I might as well accept our face-painted overlord.
Storm! Roode! Revenge! Brawling! What's Next?
James Storm called out Bobby Roode for last week's Open Fight Night, which in and of itself is not a bad thing. Roode had screwed Storm out of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship multiple times, and "The Cowboys'" patience has run out. Roode, looking like a million bucks in his suit, was compelled to compete by Impact Wrestling General Manager Hulk Hogan. Again, the heel being forced to get his comeuppance is a basic tenant of pro wrestling. That is just how the angle is supposed to play out.
Yet somehow TNA managed to weaken the eventual blowoff match.
I think Geno "The General" Mrosko put it best when he said that the buildup was a step in the wrong direction. I don't know if Impact Wrestling is contractually obligated to have a brawl every week, or maybe the writers don't know how to advance any angles except for wrestlers to engage in fisticuffs backstage. It just seems unnecessary to have Storm and Roode go after each other two and a half weeks removed from the biggest show of the year. You have to hold them apart, delay the climax to make it more fulfilling.
That is just basic storytelling.
Where do Storm and Roode go from here? Do they continue fighting every week until things get settled at Bound For Glory? Unless TNA is planning some type of gimmick such as a steel cage or falls count anywhere, a regular one-fall match seems out of place now.
Aces and Eights! Hogan! Park! Trapped! In a Cage!
For the first time in what feels like forever, we had a legitimate development in the Aces and Eights storyline. Joseph Park had some mysterious evidence that would blow open the whole case. As he was on his way to deliver it to Hulk Hogan, though, he was intercepted and captured by Aces and Eights. Park's computer that held the evidence got the sledgehammer treatment, with the kidnapped attorney himself getting a shot to the dome shortly thereafter. Hogan has promised to march into Aces & Eights clubhouse tonight to take on the whole group and free Mr. Park.
I didn't say it was a big development. Just a legitimate one.
We've gone far past the point where anyone is interested about Aces & Eights. What has started as an invasion of the entire Impact Wrestling roster has turned into a campy sideshow that allows Hogan to relive his glory days. TNA has held off the great reveal for so long that I doubt anyone really cares who are behind the masks.
I will give TNA credit for trying something interesting, though. There was a point in there where I was generally excited to see what was going to happen next. The problem was TNA itself had no idea what to do. So they feinted and stalled and kept pushing the inevitable conclusion back until the problem took care of itself. Even if Jeff Jarrett and/or Eric Bishcoff are the masterminds behind Aces and Eights, no one will be disappointed because no one cares anymore.
So at least they have that going for them.
Everything Else! Bullet Points!
- Tara is still pissed that her protégé Miss Tessmacher retained the Knockout Championship at No Surrender, so she took out her anger on Impact Wrestling ring announcer Christy Hemme last week. Brooke Hogan told Tara that there would be repercussions tonight. This might be one of the most straightforward angles in all of pro wrestling, and that is certainly not a bad thing.
- Evan Markopoulos finds out if he earned a TNA contract following last week's ‘Gut Check.' The kid is 18 years old and showed some real potential in the ring. He deserves a shot, even if Taz will tell him that he has to "dry hump the pavement" or "sensually massage the tarmac" or whatever the stupid expression is.
- A NEW Television Champion will be crowned tonight. The men who will try to convince Hogan for a shot are Samoa Joe, Garett Bischoff, Magnus, and Mr. Anderson. Outside of Joe, that is a pretty sad list. What is more interesting is that Impactwrestling.com actually brought up Devon's contract negotiation on their website to explain why the Television Championship was vacated. Telling the truth in pro wrestling? Blasphemy!