Wrestle Watch Monthly (0211) – TNA Review

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Last month’s Wrestle Watch Monthly reviews didn’t touch on TNA because at the time they were moving from Bravo which was shutting down and were in the middle of finding a new channel to broadcast in the UK.  Of all the channels, they now find themselves housed at Challenge TV.   I don’t get the thinking behind that, but there you go.  No big deal.

So over a number of evenings, they broadcast episodes of Impact to catch up with developments on the show and are now more or less up to date with the latest Impacts and have broadcast the last PPV event Against The Odds.

TNA is a busy wrestling organisation in terms of something going on all the time.  Yet for all the activity, the potential and promise of their roster there is still a feeling that they are not a threat to WWE.  At times their stories are more compelling than what’s going on in SmackDown, but then a star on the Blue Brand can pull something out of the hat that the mass of talent in TNA doesn’t match for whatever reason.  You know it’s bad when the show becomes too formulaic, for example the beginning of most episodes of Impact you can guess that it will see a faction of some sort or Eric Bischoff coming out to yap on the mic until a face turns up to offer a challenge and then at some point in the show a brawl should break out among the knockouts.

Having said that, I do watch it now and although it doesn’t make for great wrestling storylines, some of them make for decent competent alternative to what the WWE churns out.  Here are my views on some of their main storylines at present.

RVD vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Ken Anderson

Poor Matt Morgan.  The Blueprint’s time in the main event appears to have come to a rather unsatisfactory end despite never getting a good chance at getting justice in his quest for the belt.  Now he’s busy with mid-card level issues from which he came.  I feel he’s done well enough to merit another run in the main event spotlight, though I reckon his big man image isn’t convincing enough to give him a run with the top title … yet.

In the meantime for reasons known only to them, the writers allowed Ken Anderson to be champion only to drop the title back to Jeff Hardy at the last PPV.  People’s perspectives on the titles differ.  Some don’t see it as being the be all and end all of the promotion, some see it as just a trinket in this sports entertainment era.  If it is to be treated so cheaply, my question is what’s the point in having it at all?  Imagining wrestling without titles is a bit bizarre – if it’s just feuding for the sake of feuding and then winning feuds there can be the case where there’s little point in watching it.  For someone to get a strap and lose it by the next PPV comes across as a fairly cheap run, unless you are a transitional champion like Mick Foley.

That is not the case with Anderson who has a fairly good standing by appearances with the fans and is a genuine talent worth investing in a worthwhile run for the top title.  If it’s an injury to the guy I can understand, but other than that the switch doesn’t make sense.

Hardy’s heel run is still going well, but the lack of quality backing in a much weakened Immortals faction should be the push for him to seek his own identity without them.  Though not a great heel champ, he’s playing his role well.  The introduction of his brother, Matt, though hasn’t really come across as a big deal and in the light of the stardom of his brother, Matt comes across as a bit of a chump.

It’s good of the company to keep RVD ticking over as the champ who never lost his belt and merit his continued quest.  His recent defeat on Impact to Hardy with Anderson as the guest ref, puts a little dent in that appeal, unless they can make it the natural three-way dance that this can be.

Personally I can see why you need to keep the belt on the heel because it gives more for the faces to go for, it’s just the problem of letting the Anderson hold it for such a short time.  I hope he gets a longer run with it before too long.

Fortune Emerges

When they finished on Bravo, Impact had a super-group collaboration going on with Fortune and Immortals combining to run things.  I felt it was a bit too unyieldy having so many wrestlers in a relationship between factions.  So to have them eventually leave the agreement was a good move.  The way they left it though, wasn’t so good.  To copy the ‘them’ angle that saw the launch of Immortals was not fired off in a great way.  Yet AJ Styles did get back some much needed focus on himself as something other than an odd-job lackey playing second fiddle to others.

In fact all four members of the faction come out looking that much better as a result of leaving and Flair’s association with them should be the springboard for them to continue in the lineage of great four-men factions inspired by Flair’s own Four Horsemen.

Kazarian of late has really impressed me with the quality of his promos, interactions with other wrestlers and in-ring performances.  He looks to have taken the baton and the whole up-market suited and booted deal and shone.  He deserves to be X-Division and if given the right material he can elevate the strap and hopefully others in the same division.  If he does well with that over the year there’s no reason why he shouldn’t consider following in the steps of his stable-mate AJ Styles and compete for the top title.

Beer Money with Motor City Machine Guns (currently out of action because of injury to Alex Shelley) are the best tag teams on television at the moment.  WWE have nothing to compare in the division at present.  Robert Roode was given great mic time when Fourtune clashed with Immortal and proved himself and the team as a unit just work well and deserve to hold the titles.  It’s a shame TNA are not doing more in the tag division to give the storylines they deserve.

Immortal Doesn’t Look So Immortal

So Hogan isn’t around.  Abyss has been written out.  Fourtune have left and now I’m meant to be impressed by the likes of Matt Hardy, Gunner and Murphy supporting the World Heavyweight Champion as the anointed group of Hogan?  These are the immortals?  Yeah I get the involvement of Jarrett, but he’s a loose affiliate rather than a crucial part of the group.

Something significant has to happen to the make-up of this group to make it mean something soon, or else it will be a walking joke.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Kurt Angle

Some people have a problem with bringing the children into this feud.  My only problem is the obvious nature of the storyline.  Take for example the stipulation in their PPV match.  You don’t have to be a booker to know that when it comes to custody vs. aisle march, the custody is onto a loser especially in a feud still gathering momentum.  So what’s such a big deal about marching your ex- down the aisle?  Is this really what the feud is based on?

What is the pity is that Jeff is actually alright in his heel role.  He knows enough of the ropes to play his part alright.  Even Karen isn’t that annoying, though Taz was hilarious in saying that she, Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky must have gone to the same speech or screech therapy coach in their style of communicating with the fans.

The deal isn’t catching fire yet, which is a pity, because Angle does deserve better than just treading water with the likes of this deal.  We’ll see if they can pull it off as a big deal where Angle can finally get his much needed win over Jarrett.

Pope D’Angelo Dinero vs. Samoa Joe

So they’ve turned Pope heel in a rather bizarre fashion.  He’s tracked down doing different things by Joe.  He’s confronted by Joe.  He pleads his innocence, but then gets upset with Joe being in his business and from there the feud begins.  Not the best way to tell a story, but the Pope is still making lemonade out of what he’s been given.  He’s very good on the mic and can turn it out in the ring.  He along with Anderson, AJ Styles and Joe should be the characters that TNA look to invest in for the short term future at the very least as main event candidates.

I don’t get the introduction of Joe’s assistant unless it’s their tribute to The Green Hornet – what does a killer like Joe need with someone like him?  Like a lot of the TNA booking, though, it evidently doesn’t have to make sense.

The opportunity is there for these two to tear up the house with their feud and remind fans as well as show the booker and TNA management that they shouldn’t be treated like mid-card fodder but elevated as soon as possible to fight for the top title.

The Knockouts Division

How do you use your female wrestlers well?  WWE sure don’t know as their misuse of Gail Kim shows and the movement of their Divas title indicates.  TNA have a better chance with their roster and what are they doing?  Neutering Tara’s effect by making her a lackey to Madison Rayne.  Stop-starting anything serious with Mickie James by not giving her a proper run at the title.

Their storyline with Winter is alright though.  Must be a bit odd for Tara and Mickie James seeing someone do a psycho-diva role, seeing as though that is something that they did as well.  The Beautiful People appears a bit tired and so I hope Winter’s presence can somehow bring that to a natural end.  Other than that, there is little in the ring and in the feuds that suggests that TNA have recovered from losing the powerhouse that was Awesome Kong.  They really will have to find something better to do than the incessant brawls.

… And The Rest

These are the dominant feuds taking place in the promotion at present and outside of that they should do something with Robbie E and make him and Cookie get some mileage from the X-Division feud.  I appreciate it’s not easy to keep all your talent well-occupied, but something can be done in the X-Division to make it the serious contender and alternative to the big-man approach to other titles.  If you can tell me what on earth Scott Steiner is still doing in a ring, I’d be most appreciative.  Admittedly he didn’t do too bad in his last run-out but seriously other than a role as advisor or manager, why is he taking up the time that other wrestlers could use to make a name for themselves?  On the topic of over-the-hill performers though, I do enjoy Bully Ray’s feud with former tag partner Brother Devon.  I saw the match at the PPV where Devon’s sons were involved and the way that panned out was brilliant, even including the serious commentary by Taz condemning Ray’s heinous acts in those hushed, take-off-my-glasses-cos-this-ain’t-no-joke kinda way.

Things like that and the potential they have keep me watching TNA when I can.

Shalom

dmcd

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