TNA Impact is like watching the Championship after you’ve watched Premier League football. There are some who play gutsy stuff and some exciting stuff, but they are not quite as good as the guys at the top. Latest developments on the brand tend to bear this out.
The World Heavyweight Title scene.
OK let’s get this straight, first RVD had the title and never lost it. Then in the rush for it Jeff Hardy turned heel in one of the better heel turns. That allowed him to beat Kurt Angle and Mr. Anderson to claim the title. Anderson gets the title, only to lose it again within a month back to Hardy. So really it should be RVD and Anderson chasing Hardy for the title.
First of all there was a bit of controversy in the cheap way they hinted his return in a blatant rip off of the return of the Undertaker on WWE. But the bigger deal was for Sting to return and be put into a match with Jeff Hardy. Talk about contentious. Here’s why – with the greatest respect, why on earth are you putting the title on a man who is 52 years old? With the greatest respect, the man doesn’t look like a competitor on which to hoist a company especially with the hiatus he’s taken from the industry. When you have workers slogging away and putting in a good stint for the company even hombres like Matt Morgan (hey I’m not a big Morgan fan, but his push deserved to put him over), it’s got to be a kick in the teeth when someone who was at the peak of his career two decades ago can stroll in and take the title, whatever anyone says about their value.
Nevertheless that was the scenario with Sting scheduled to face Jeff Hardy in a rematch at Victory Road, but if the decision to give him the belt was bad, the match at VR was an aberration. On this occasion though, reports circle around the condition of Jeff Hardy and the match lasted less than two minutes. It was a disgrace to professional wrestling and the company apologised (although to be fair the whole PPV wasn’t worth an episode of Impact, let alone people coughing up money to watch).
Since then they’ve endeavoured to pick up business by adding another dimension to the title race Bully Ray stepped up to suggest he could knock Sting off his block in a fantastic promo. Along with Anderson and RVD, then adding AJ Styles to the mix made it a heavy title picture and the match on that Impact was inevitably overridden by a storyline based on Bully Ray destroying AJ. So as it sits the title picture is in a bit of a haze, also with the intriguing question of whether Mr. Anderson has become part of Immortals to get his hands on the title he’s obsessed by.
TNA have made little signs that Anderson is there guy they are building as a cheap knock-off of Stone Cold Steve Austin and so it would not be a surprise if he does turn heel to reinforce his ‘asshole’ credentials. With Hardy being out of the way for at least a month it’s fair to say TNA will be looking for a top heel to take that place and Anderson would be a better choice in that position than RVD.
The Rise of Fourtune
One of the best things on TNA at the moment is Fourtune. They are a great faction. Even in their current face roles, they are still being written as strong characters who are not pandering to the fans, but going about their business of putting across great matches and looking like faces based on the heel tendencies of their opponents.
When watching the Impact in which AJ was ‘put out of action’, I was reflecting on the continued rise of Kaz. His performance at Victory Road was one of the few highlights. I was thinking that this guy has the makings to do all that AJ did in going through the ranks and titles to claim the world title. Not only that I believe Kaz is actually better than AJ. He’s fitting into the face role well, but as a champ heel he would be money if it was written around him right. I continue to be very impressed with the stuff he’s doing.
Meanwhile Beer Money are just continuing being the best tag team in wrestling today. They’re interaction with each other, popularity with the fans, quality of in-ring work marks them out above other performers currently in a tag position. They are strong, they are believable and they can do work on the mic. They elevate their opponents as they did against Ink Inc. at Victory Road by their willingness to put over their opponents whilst never making themselves weaker as a result.
I’m not suggesting for a minute TNA know what they’re doing in their tag division – as with a lot of their wrestlers they are just making things up as they go along. Thankfully in Beer money they have a very safe pair of hands to hold the titles and do a quality job.
You take those factors into account and it makes it a rather interesting time that the leader of the group is taken out of action for while. The whole title deal looked to be the beginning of Styles in the main event picture properly and he deserves to be there. I am intrigued to see what they will do with arguably the best faction on television at the moment. (Though now that tile might have to go to Corre by elimination.)
Pope vs. Samoa Joe
This feud is starting to heat up just right. Pope’s really playing his heel role to the hilt and his take on the TV evangelist schtick is outstanding – he can get a Ha-men from me y’all. His mic work is brilliant and he can also bring it in the ring. He is definitely making the most of this feud and the material he’s got and even should he end up losing the feud he can still come out of this stronger than when he went in. For starters as a confirmed heel he can make a bid to replace Jeff Hardy higher up the card.
Samoa Joe in the meantime is not being used so strongly, although there’s still time to change and to transform the fear that Pope has for him into something more definite that can elevate him. It’s quite apparent the brother can do with elevation and a sense of belief that the company has in him, though as I inferred earlier when you know what decisions are being made with the title, it’s no surprise he might not be the most motivated member of the roster. At least his push as a face is as a bad-ass tough guy.
This feud is still one to watch as a potential break-out one in a similar manner to ones that Joe had with Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles, if the bookers keep building it properly.
… And The Rest:
Kurt Angle against Jeff Jarrett? Nah not that interesting anymore and that’s mainly because I’m not really caring about Angle getting his revenge on the newly-re-weds. It doesn’t bother me as much.
Not much else to talk of really … oh yeah the two stories in the Knock-outs division. I’m glad they’re using them, but it’s still a bit lacklustre. You get the impression they’ve had to resort to gimmick matches to keep the title interesting, so with the stipulation that Mickie James’ umpteenth challenge against Madison Rayne will have her hair at stake. It remains a crying shame to see Tara/Victoria not being used effectively as anything other than a lackey for Rayne – it doesn’t help Rayne who is now in a position to make her own way.
Then there’s the Beautiful People deal with Winter causing upset in relations between Velvet Sky and the other big chested girl. It’s fodder.
Immortals? Are you serious, Matt Hardy has little places to go and as for awarding tome lackey the TV title, well it’s definitely a work in progress at the earliest stages. As a title you want someone of worth to get their hands on it and push the sucker the way AJ or Samoa would push that kind of title.
Impact keeps ticking over. I don’t mind watching it, but it’s not great wrestling and again I maintain that they’re not making the most of their talent. They’ve suffered as well from a number of shows that were hugely non-wrestling heavy, which kind of goes against the point of it being a Total Nonstop Action company if it appears more like Total Nonstart Action.