Chris Cash looks at last night’s TNA Impact.
TNA Impact Review (2/3/11) – "They" Are Finally Revealed
This week’s edition of Impact has been hyped by Dixie and Co. for weeks and as it’s been reported, changes to the original plan for the "They" storyline had to be made at the last minute. A short-term deal to bring back Nash and Sting (apparently Booker was never going to take part) and reform the Main Event Mafia got derailed due to Kevin Nash backing out of his contract and Sting not re-signing.
Unpreventable circumstances out of TNA’s control forced them to go in another direction – one that this writer feels they should have done a couple months ago anyway.
The big reveal turned out to be the face turn of A.J. Styles and Fortune as they broke away from Immortal, which now seems to be hurting for talent. And I am including at least one of the Hardy brothers. Which one? Take your pick.
The Immortal storyline has been one big mess from the beginning. There wasn’t one good reason for Ric Flair’s newly formed Fortune to get involved. With Jeff Hardy’s turn, Abyss, the eventual debut of Matt Hardy, Gunnar and Murphy (who?), Hogan and Bischoff, there was plenty to run with without mixing the two factions together.
A.J. Styles is turning into a very believable talker. Beer Money is the best tag team in the business right now. Kazarian should have been replaced with a big guy like Matt Morgan or someone better suited like Desmond Wolfe, but I digress. Fortune is a solid group and their feud with Immortal should make for better television than TNA has put out in recent months.
It will be interesting to see where they put Flair when he returns. I’m assuming he’ll jump back in with Fortune, but I honestly hope he doesn’t. He’s better as a heel at this point in his career and there are plenty of other young talents that could use his rub more than his former group now that Styles and Beer Money can carry the stick on their own.
– The opener was short, to the point and well executed. I’m not a fan of TNA constantly putting over shoot situations when it concerns the WWE, but if they felt an explanation was needed for the non-arrivals of Nash, Booker, and Sting, than Eric Bischoff did his job without harping on it for too long. Scott Steiner is not known for his amazing mic skills, but I enjoyed his verbal attack on Bischoff and Immortal. Good talkers don’t need the use of vulgarity to get themselves over. Steiner does and it works. He truly is a scary mf’er and it’s easy for fans to get behind a legitimate badass. Since he didn’t wrestle, Steiner gets to stay in the "Pro" category this week.
– The X Division qualifying match between Jay Lethal, Doug Williams and Jeremy Buck was fun and what you’d expect between three guys in this division. With Max Buck (winner of the first qualifying match) working commentary during the match and Jeremy winning, it clearly indicates that TNA likes this duo. They are getting a lot of character development since their heel turn and it seems to be paying off.
– A lot of fans and other journalists will scold me for this, but I enjoyed the Jeff and Karen Jarrett episode of Cribs that aired throughout Impact last night. If it wasn’t for the dirt sheets and hardcore wrestling fans knowing that it’s based on a shoot, it would be easier for people to stop pre-judging everything Jeff and Karen do and simply look at it for what it is. I’m not a huge Jeff Jarrett fan and agree with Les Thatcher’s assessment that Jarrett is a mid-card heel at best, but the role he is playing right now is tailor-made for him. Karen is best when she’s in "evil bitch" mode and Jeff playing the cocky, over-bearing "man of the house" is believable. I have found myself highly entertained in recent months when Jeff Jarrett is on tv and if you know me, that is definitely saying something.
– The Bully Ray and Devon segment was nothing out of the ordinary, but it worked as an attempt to build their street fight at Against All Odds. It’s easy for Ray to play an arrogant asshole – he truly is one in real life. The spot at the end where he spit in the face of Devon’s two boys was great and played right into how personal the match between these two should be. They can’t wrestle their way out of a cardboard box, but their chemistry is real and fun to watch.
– The taped fist fight between Mickie James and Sarita was a dud. Sarita is a bad heel and a worse face. I know she has talent in the ring, but let’s be honest, fans don’t care about that when it comes to the women (with very few exceptions). Madison Rayne’s post-match involvement was the best part of that segment.
– The main event match left a lot to be desired after the numerous backstage segments and the in-ring promo between Ken Anderson and Jeff Hardy built it up as a legit ppv-quality bout. Neither men wanted help from the back and made it important to point that out throughout the night, so why couldn’t we have gotten a clean finish for once? The aftermath could have taken place after Anderson and Hardy gave the fans "what they wanted to see" (Anderson said it himself). The match itself wasn’t anything special, but it could have been better with more time and a clean finish.
– Other than a couple of exceptions, TNA did a poor job last night at building up their next pay per view. I guess they have a different revenue model than the rest of the industry and free television is more important than selling pay per views. March 3rd now feels like the next biggest event to watch in TNA – not Against All Odds.
– Could somebody please get rid of that HORRIFIC Championship belt? I get it. Hogan and Bischoff let Jeff Hardy design his own belt because he’s "their" Champion, it’s unique to him, he’s unique, whatever. It’s something that would fit the Knockouts more appropriately, not something that is billed as the most coveted prize in the business. It’s hard to take anyone serious carrying that damn thing around.
– There will always be a place for Eric Young’s gimmick as much as there will always be a place for WWE’s version in Santion. No, I’m not being sarcastic. It’s good comedic relief compared to some of the other crap tried by both companies.
– What’s up with Jeff Hardy’s baby-like spit-up stunt he did while walking to the ring?
– You know the studio crowd is over exposed when the best thing they can chant after Styles tells Bischoff he is killing TNA is in reference to bringing back a six-sided ring.
– How is Gunnar and Murphy still security guards? They can’t win a match and are the first ones to get beat down when a face attacks. If they would split from the factions and get some decent wrestling attire, I think they would be a good addition to the tag team division over time.
– The promo between Jeff Hardy and Ken Anderson was…awkward. Jeff Hardy should rarely talk and sometimes it seems like Anderson tries too hard.