The Wrestling Backfire: An Inside Look at TNA (James Storm, Robert Roode, Bully Ray, Sting, Hulk Hogan)

Believe it or not, I am starting to watch Impact and their PPVS. And believe it or not, I am actually enjoying some of the stuff they’re doing. I only saw an hour of the show tonight because NBA playoffs are more important than wrestling, but what I saw for the last 3 weeks was lots of improvement compared to the Russo era.

The major differences with the product that I’ve found is the pacing of the show is at a slower pace and they’re allowing matches and segments to sink in with the viewers because they’re not quickly going “to the back!” or cutting off something quick. There’s more wrestling and more important than that, matches that are presentable. They’ve limited the comedy on the show, as Eric Young and ODB are the only comedy gimmicks.

The first match on Impact tonight perplexed me, though. It felt like they were finally building Roode up by allowing him to win some competitive, clean matches and that Sting would be another one who bit the dust until Roode tapped in a match that just lacked timing and pacing. The other two reasons why it perplexed me were because Sting and Roode’s previous match did a lousy buyrate and nothing can come out of this match that is productive.

It’s not a sell-point match if you’re looking for people to pay it to see a quality main event, and since Roode has already beaten Sting, 101-booking would say that Sting has to win this match, especially since TNA hasn’t allowed a babyface to win at a big show in a long time and especially since it’s their 10th year show. I’d be for Sting to win the title if he hadn’t won it so many times already or if his title run and matches weren’t lackluster.

If Not Sting, Who?

AJ Styles: Styles would be a good choice to be TNA champion. I realize he got a long run with it already, but he should always be the center piece around this company. TNA’s core audience used to love its product because of its unparalleled in-ring in mainstream wrestling, and Styles was a big piece of that. That said, Styles is in the mix of a feud with Daniels and Kaz, thus he shouldn’t be the next TNA champion until that feud climaxes.

Samoa Joe: Normally, I would say yes, but Joe has seemingly lost all his motivation when it comes to TNA or wrestling in general. He’s been dogging it for the past few years and he’s fallen incredibly out of shape. The way TNA has treated him doesn’t make me blame him at all. He’s just fallen out of the loop so far it would be silly to put the title on him next.

Austin Aries: Aries has everything to be a TNA champion except size, which is his downfall. Of course, they could bring back his arrogant heel gimmick back and give him the “dirtiest player in the game” gimmick to hide his size, but I don’t believe that will happen in the near future. Plus, he’s doing a compelling job with the X-division title, especially when you consider what he has had to work with.

Chris Daniels: Sadly, Daniels never got a run with the TNA title. It’s sad because it maybe too late at this point for him. They should’ve struck when the iron was hot: when he was both performing in the ring and his gimmick was incredibly over.

Jeff Hardy: Hardy would be a great choice to be champion. After all, he’s the top merch seller in the company by a landslide. The problem is Hardy has shown in the past that he’s unreliable, though.

RVD: RVD hasn’t shown he has that much left in the tank anymore and he isn’t nearly as over as he once was.

Kurt Angle: Angle is still performing at a level that defies science (even though he shouldn’t be with all his injuries). Angle is always going to give 100 percent in the ring and he’s always a lock for a great match when you need one, but just like RVD, at this stage in his career, he should stay away from the title unless it’s to put someone over.

Ken Anderson: Hell no.

James Storm: At the moment, Storm is the only logical pick. He should have won it at Lockdown against Roode in his hometown. And at the least, he should be facing Roode for it at the upcoming PPV. Apparently, they’re going to strike when the iron isn’t as hot as it was once was and that’s Bound For Glory. Just do it and see how he handles the situation.

Even though I don’t believe it will ever happen, I would love to see someone get the title who I didn’t mention and that is Bully Ray. I can’t believe I am saying this in 2012, but Bully Ray’s reinvention of himself has been a bright spot in that company. His asshole character is done to perfection, and even the little things such as talking really slow to the crowd, repeating himself, pausing when needed, playing tough guy and then backing down to even Joe Parks, who isn’t even a wrestler is executed incredibly. Not to mention, he has also gotten in shape, making his in-ring work better.

It’s like this single run has awakened him out of the cookie-cutter formula he fell into by teaming with Devon for so long. He also does it with little support from the company. I don’t remember the last PPV match Bully Ray has won, but he’s still managed to keep his heat despite that. He would be an incredibly good champion that could really elevate someone in a blow-off championship match. And do it a lot better than Roode could.  He’s just miles ahead of everyone for a most improved end of the year winner and should be rewarded with the TNA championship.

Slammiversary PPV line-up:

TNA World Hvt. Champion Bobby Roode vs. Sting for the TNA World Title.

TNA tag champions Daniels & Kazarian vs. Kurt Angle & A.J. Styles for the TNA Tag Titles.

X Division champion Austin Aries vs. Samoa Joe in a non-title match.

Bully Ray vs. Joseph Park.

TV champion Devon & Garett Bischoff vs. Robbie E. & Robbie T.

Before I go, I’d like to talk about this PPV’s card a bit. I cannot believe TNA is doing a HOF induction. That would be like a football player being inducted into the XFL. Anyway, I hate the Sting vs. Roode match. I always emphasize how important it is to cap a PPV off with a quality main event. I just don’t believe there’s enough tricks in the bag to make this match good.

I’m really sick of them shoving this Roobie E and T vs. Devon feud down our throats when nobody cares. It’s such a WWE move by them to shove shit in our throats and expect us to eat it. WWE gets away with it because they’re making millions of dollars a year, but TNA is losing money every year. Maybe listening to the fans would help, even for the little things like this; and to make matters worse, they’ve thrown greener than a California lawn into the mix.

Parks and Bully Ray have been brilliant on the mic and this feud is developing into one of the more interesting things happening in TNA. It’s amazing how terrible Abyss is at being Abyss but amazing at playing his brother. It will be interesting to see how they book this because Joe Parks isn’t a wrestler. What I would do is allow Bully Ray to just beat and beat on him, then allow Parks to get some hope-spots, but only for Bully Ray to cut him off and just beat him more.

Austin Aries and Samoa Joe sounds like a good match on paper, but like a lot of things on this card, it lacks build. The logical thing to do would’ve had been to have Joe come out and challenge Aries for a x-division title match by talking about how he brought the x-division to a newer level and that Aries needed to beat him to solidify his reign and to prove that he truly is the greatest man who ever lived. They still obviously have a week to do this, but this match just needs some build behind it. Anyway, why is this a non-title match when Shelley did nothing to deserve a title match on Impact? That’s just the stuff that puts you over the edge, something this company has done for its 10 years of existence a lot.

I’m not the biggest fan of this AJ Styles and Dixie Carter relationship angle. It’s never been TNA’s forte’ to book this kind of angle and Carter has to be the worst actress ever, but this match has MOTYC written all over it. I’m not worried with them not getting time because Kurt Angle matches always guarantee enough time for the match to develop.

This looks like a solid but underwhelming card. For a 10th year show, you just expect them to do something special and there’s nothing special on this card. In fact, most of the matches were just announced tonight, 2 weeks from the show. I wish they would’ve put more effort into this card. They do have one more week to do it, but they seem more concerned making their live Impacts special instead of this PPV. Still, it looks like a solid night for wrestling as long as their wrestlers show up and the booking doesn’t hinder their matches.

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