Previously on Impact Wrestling
Montel Vontavious Porter opened things up, because the only way TNA knows how to open a show is with talking - preferably by an authority figure. His plan for dealing with the guarantee of Abyss-ference in any match featuring the TNA World champ (since The Monster is under contract to Magnus rather than TNA) is to put Abyss into a title match with the champ and Samoa Joe.
Joe doesn't like the plan one bit, logically pointing out the it becomes a 2-on-1 handicap match...with him as the 1. MVP thinks that the chance to be the champ will break Abyss away from the Brit. Eric Young has a different plan - make the title match a fourway and let him take care of The Monster he unleashed. Much talking that saw EY re-establish himself as a serious character ensues, and Magnus vs. Abyss vs. Samoa Joe vs. Young is booked by the head of Wrestling Operations. The Samoan Submission Machine doesn't like, so he and Eric brawl...leading Porter to make it official-like for later in the show.
The Wolves petition the head man for a match against Magnus and his bodyguard, and not only get it - they win it. The victory is a little tainted due to the champ's quick tap when placed in Edwards' single leg crab, and Abyss doesn't like his boss' explanation that he's fine with losing when the belt isn't on the line.
Ethan Carter III and Rockstar Spud spent last week looking for Willow in the woods. Seriously, if you haven't seen it yet, go watch it now. We'll wait. Back? Love it or hate it, it is something else (but if you hate Spud, we can't be friends).
Bully Ray is doing things that the fans want him to do now, and the fans want to see him put Bobby Roode through some tables. The It Factor doesn't do things on anyone's time table but his own. He will change that schedule is a lunatic from the Bronx attacks him, though, and is always willing to use his intellect and agility to slip away from a spear that end up sending the former President of Aces and Eights through a table. You know what's a funny word to type a lot? Table. Table table table.
The Beautiful People are a thing again, as Angelina Love convinced Velvet Sky that her best days were when they were an evil duo. Sky turned on Madison Rayne, allowing Love to claim a pinfall victory over the Knockouts champ. Not the most fully developed turn in wrestling history, but it beats being stalked by Samuel Shaw, which is the other job opening Impact has for females right now. The creepy bastard was suspended for a week due to his latest hair-sniffing invasion of Christy Hemme's personal space.
Joe choked EY out in their singles match, but the crack team of Hebner & Hebner realized that the big man's shoulders were on the mat while he applied the hold, so...intrigue abounds as head to the title match.
The main event of the evening felt like TNA may have actually made a new star, and revitalized an old one in the process. Gunner avenged the assault on his father by using James Storm own beer bottle against him, and then nailing him with is version of a F5, the excellent reference/bad-ass sounding Hangar 18. Never would have believed it a couple of months ago, but I'm excited to see what's next for the former Marine and the heel Cowboy.
Still working off the last set of Orlando tapings (spoilers for which can be found here).
The fourway title dance is the big drawing point. Can Joe overcome the numbers game and finally get his hands on the title, or will Magnus slither away with the belt again? Can Eric Young put The Monster back in the bottle, or will Abyss decide he not only likes being bad, but that he wants to be World Champ while he does it?
Two feuds collide as an Attitude Era dream team of Jeff Hardy and Bully Ray face EC3 and Bobby Roode in a tables match! It'll probably be better than owning a plastic skeleton.
Speaking of plastic skeletons, Angelina Love will pit her reformed Beautiful People against Madison Rayne and a partner of her choosing. The only babyface Knockouts currently employed by TNA are ODB and newcomer Brittany and I have to assume they hired Santana Garrett for something, so...
Mr. Anderson will try to get his win back from Lockdown when he faces off with Samuel Shaw in a straightjacket match! And Tigre Uno will face X-Division champ Sanada in the first of a best of three series between the newly signed International superstars!
Expect to pop for:
A well-rounded roster. Don't look now, but Impact seems to be doing what we so often ask of wrestling companies. They're developing more than just a handful of main event acts.
I may not be crazy about the angles they're featured in, and I still often deplore the booking decisions made within matches and often whole feuds, but I can look down their roster page and give you character descriptions and motivations for about a third of the folks listed. When you consider that another third are people we haven't seen in months like Hernandez and another third are ones we know to have left the company or who were never that serious about being on a pro wrestling show like Sting or Rampage Jackson, that's not bad at all.
For a company that only has a couple hours of television time to fill each week, being able to stack an episode like this week's edition of Impact with ten or so guys that the audience can connect to, along with a few guys who can change the pace and provide match variety like Edwards, Davey Richards, Kenny King and the new Japanese and Mexican acts, should be plenty to create a compelling show.
You still need to use them in programs and bouts that don't insult your audience's intelligence or contradict the character development and story logic that got you there. But it's a start.
The heat is on:
Knux. Not to pick on, as Mike Tenay calls him, WWE's Mike Knox, as he's just the latest example of TNA Creative attempting to innovate in ways that I'm not sure are conducive to pro wrestling. As with Samuel Shaw, the vignettes chronicling Knux's return to a home that has crumbled since he left it against his family's wishes are the stuff of classic drama and not something you often see in pro graps.
But there's a reason for that.
How does this turn into a wrestling angle? Will he fight the person who bankrupted his family's farm, or knocked up his high school sweetheart? That might even be a cool one-off story, but are they only planning to use Knuxy for one angle, or is he supposed to be a roster-member going forward?
If there's a series of foes he has to fight to right what has been wronged in Clan Knux, how does that mesh with the more traditional pro wrestling stories that make up the rest of your show? Does he say to the banker who's foreclosing the farm, "hey, I work for this company where we do business a different way. How bout best two-out-of-three falls for the deed to the ranch?"
I'm all for trying something new. But unless you're starting from scratch, you need to play within the narrative rules you've already established.
Will TNA continue to build from a strong core of characters, or get in their own way by over-booking and going too far outside the box for fresh ideas?
Let us know what you think below, and find out with your fellow Cagesiders in tonight's live blog!