Words can’t even begin to describe the level of frustration that accompanied watching this week’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling. The average fan will more than likely sit behind his/her computer, type vigorously about the experience and speak glowingly about the developments that took place on the show, all the while highlighting the consistent and strong build towards the January 13 Genesis pay per view.
That same average fan will also more than likely casually ignore all the mind-numbingly preposterous obstacles littered about the broadcast; after all, being a “true” fan means sitting back and enjoying the product for what it is. Here’s an honest question: what happens when you watch the show as a fan and don’t enjoy it? The simple answer is this: you complain and complain until someone agrees with you or you inspire the villagers to take up pitchforks and torches against your cause.
There is a such thing as constructive criticism, adding a slightly different perspective that while not necessarily “glowing” or “positive,” enables the recipient of said criticism to grow from the experience that will hopefully lead to a much more favorable outcome. Believe it or not there is a difference between “bashing” something and giving it constructive criticism.
Blah blah blah, what made the show frustrating to watch was the blatantly obvious sports entertainment nature of the entire broadcast. It’s not that the company is “wrong” for showcasing sports entertainment, but the fact that it was at the forefront of the entire program in light of the many “THIS IS professional wrestling!” diatribes found in various places on the internet was just damn disrespectful. Funny part of it all is the frustration is caused by the fans and not the product; we’ll get to that in a minute.
In regards to the show it was primarily filler consisting of video packages and backstage segments. The matches were forgettable; that doesn’t say they weren’t good, it just says they were forgettable…forgettable in the sense that it’s highly improbable that a month from now anyone will YouTube one of these matches to add to a Bleacher Report list.
Add to this cavalcade of consistently solid programming the fifty-ninth flaccid return of Sting, a return that was hyped for at least a month and was executed in the form of a bat, a post-main event match save, and the unmasking of Mike Knox, a superstar introduced by Mike Tenay as “a familiar face from the WWE.” Guess what: Taz knows him too!
Even more gripping is the solid storyline drama unfolding between Hulk Hogan, Brooke Hogan and Bully Ray. Remember folks: this space-stealing storyline that includes one of the hottest “heels/faces” in pro wrestling today, has yet to include any actual wrestling. Even scarier is the idea that someday down the line this whole thing won’t end until Bully Ray faces Hulk Hogan, gets Brooke Hogan pregnant, or both. No matter how you look at it, all of this fluff is the same cannon fodder fans use when spewing their hatred for WWE; yet it is guaranteed that the broadcast will get a solid grade-B and yet another consistent 1-point-oh-something ratings share.
Take all of that into consideration while celebrating the following tweet from former American Male, Scotty Riggs:
It’s shocking that tweet was sent in all seriousness around the world…
In the spirit of constructive criticism, here are the things that stood out in the show:
- Sting returns, avoids getting beat up, and Mr. Morris doesn’t lose a bet
- Hulk Hogan: Pro Wrestling’s Worse GM Ever
- What’s an X-Division?
- Hardy-Aries-Roode at Genesis 2013
As mentioned earlier “The Icon” Sting made yet another vignette-inspired return to TNA, this time under the guise of exacting revenge against the Aces & Eights. For those of you not keeping tabs the biker gang was responsible for putting Sting on the shelf almost two months ago. Upon his return Sting, who is at least 20 years older than most of the IMPACT Wrestling roster, was able to stave off all of the members of the group on his own. Sting was also able to unmask Mike Knox, something that most of the other wrestlers on the roster couldn’t do either.
Most fans probably expected this to happen and so it won’t be a shock to hear that most fans were not let down with Sting’s return (*cough predictable cough*).
I personally and openly lobbied for Sting to make a grand return to IMPACT Wrestling, only to be taken out in a similarly grand fashion by the Aces & Eights. This honestly was the only logical and unpredictable direction this storyline could’ve taken, and as such TNA chose not to take that direction; Russo swerrrrrrrrrvvvvve!
Think about it for a moment: after successfully gaining unadulterated access to the Impact Zone the biker gang has pretty much excelled in putting TNA wrestlers on the shelf. They haven’t won matches, they haven’t revealed a master plan, they haven’t shaken the company and forced a ragtag crew of loosely aligned wrestlers to wage war against them. All they’ve managed to do since arriving in TNA is put people on the shelf.
Logically speaking, particularly since he didn’t show up or make an “impact” until the end of the show, the Aces & Eights should have easily incapacitated Sting and sent him back to the hospital from whence he came. It’s not like Sting took them off guard, kicked over all their bikes, kidnapped the skanks or even desecrated the club house. Sting, armed with a bat, came meandering down the ramp and proceeded to own Mike “Rey-cist” Knox after scaring off the entire group…because he’s so damn intimidating, you know?
The main reason we should pay attention to this storyline is because it’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here. The obvious route is for Sting to take a Cena-Nexus like campaign against the group, hoping that the backstage segments and matches will at least be mildly entertaining seeing as the Aces & Eights have already been established as a stable that can’t win matches. Other than that, why else would it be intriguing to invest in this storyline?
With each passing episode of IMPACT Wrestling Hulk Hogan proves himself to be, quite possibly, the most inept authority figure in the history of pro wrestling authority figures. And yes, that includes Mike Adamle.
If we’re lucky this character trait-slash-flaw is all a part of a much larger and more intricate storyline arc; then again, that’s if we’re lucky.
It would not be surprising if this trait-slash-flaw was an unintentional side effect of the intended direction of the story, a story which will more than likely find itself conveniently squeezed into the Aces & Eights storyline. Since Hulk Hogan’s arrival to TNA three years ago (happy anniversary, by the way), the company has consistently offered year-long major storylines interspersed with minor ones along the way.
Bully Ray’s major issue with Hogan is that the geriatric GM never trusted him, despite living a life style that epitomizes the word “untrustworthy.” Given that during the episode Bully admitted to breaking an On-the-Road-Code it would appear that Hogan was justified in not trusting the man from the get-go, once again making Hogan the face and Bully Ray the heel in the situation.
In one brilliant swoop, however, Hogan revealed himself to be just as vindictive, unrealistic, and stupid as any other GM we’ve grown to dislike in such a position of authority. Hogan begged Bully to tell him what was going on betwixt him and his daughter when any other guy (*cough Austin Aries cough*) could’ve easily figured out and justifiably assumed that Ray was busy giving Brooke the ol’ Hell’s Kitchen canoodle.
When Bully admitted to not adhering to the On-the-Road-Code, Hogan suspended him indefinitely…which is apparently grounds for suspension in professional wrestling…
*Side note – Numerous fans have gone out of their way to note how WWE used the AJ Styles/Dixie Carter storyline as a rubric for the AJ Lee/John Cena storyline. What’s ironic to me, and very apparent, is that Bully Ray was suspended for a supposed relationship with the Knockouts GM, Brooke Hogan, in the same way AJ Lee was suspended for her alleged involvement with John Cena. I’m curious to see just how many people will besmirch TNA’s immaculate name for “copying” a storyline from WWE, but I guess technically it’s not “copying” because they did it first with AJ Styles and Dixie Carter. In that case it would be recycling, which could be viewed as something just as lazy, if not worse, than simply “copying” a storyline from another company. Either way it seems that both TNA and WWE are suffering from a lack of new ideas; the real case must be which company can rehash something better than the other company, which would then in turn give WWE a justifiable reason for emulating something done by TNA…only better…
This would make Hulk Hogan appear senile.
After establishing his diminishing cognitive functions, we can take a look back and see how the slap-and-tickle between Brooke and Bully has dominated most of his waking moments, causing him to seriously lose focus on his duties as a General Manager. I do believe at one point somebody (*cough Austin Aries cough*) asserted this opinion during a broadcast.
This would make Hulk Hogan appear inept.
With two healthy strikes against him, Hogan also has to face the fact that he did absolutely little to prevent the Aces & Eights from infiltrating IMPACT Wrestling. He lost a wager against them that gave them access to the Impact Zone (and apparently wrestling contracts with TNA) and prior to that he did absolutely nothing to protect his wrestlers from their random acts of violence. Hell, he hasn’t even addressed the fact that they viciously assaulted and severely injured several of his employees on live television! Once more Dixie Carter hasn’t even said squat about it; all of these malicious and premeditated attacks happened under Hulk Hogan and he still has a job!
This would make Hulk Hogan appear ineffective.
So IMPACT Wrestling is managed, generally speaking, by a senile, inept and ineffective authority figure. With no offense to Bully Ray, Hulk Hogan is easily the most intriguing character in this entire storyline due to the befuddling fact that Serg Salinas, Bruce Pritchard, Dixie Carter, Sting, or Erik Watts have yet to appear on television to at least publicly reprimand Hogan for being all but rest-home bound. The bad part about it all is that, as stated earlier, Hulk Hogan is the must-watch character in this triad of
sports entertainment “wrestling” story-telling.
I intentionally YouTubed the following match Wednesday night:
Compare that match with the X-Division Tournament Match between Kid Kash and Christian York that aired on the show. To say that the X-Division is a shell of its former self would be the understatement of the year.
Change is inevitable and there are very few things on this planet that can remain effective if it does not evolve in some way, form, or fashion. From that perspective it is unrealistic to expect or demand that the X-Division look, feel, and behave the same way it did many many moons ago. What’s saddens me, and perhaps other fans, is that the division resembles almost nothing of what it once was and barely resembles what it’s actually supposed to look like today.
It’s depressing that a year ago this same type of “tournament” had at least 8-12 people vying for the chance to become X-Division Champion. It’s depressing that the fast-paced and “spot fest-like” action that the division was known for and excelled at has been replaced with…*sigh* storytelling. The primary focus of an X-Division match isn’t storytelling; it’s pure athleticism and move/maneuver creativity mixed with high-impact, high-flying action.
Take the DragonGate USA Fray matches: 5-6 men doing ridiculous stuff to one another back-to-back-to-back:
X-Division matches were, and should be, tailored to do similar things. It’s perfectly fine to interject a solid story into the action (Kenny King attempting to dethrone Bob Van Dam), but for the most part the action between stars striving to gain a title shot is perfect for wrestlers who can execute with near-precision some of the most jaw-dropping things we’ve ever or never seen before. One should anticipate this being the case with next week’s “tournament” match between Zema Ion and Kenny King.
But it’s damn sure not what we got between Kid Kash and Christian York. What we saw between Kid Kash and Christian York was a solid, straight-forward wrestling match. If we didn’t know the men were in a “tournament” to become the #1 contenders for the X-Division title, we would’ve a easily assumed that it was just an exhibition match designed to put over York. If that’s the case, then the question becomes whether it’s necessary to have an X-Division title if the matches will decidedly look and feel like every other single match in the company.
In comparison the same argument can be used for the kajillion belts currently in WWE; what the hell is the difference between being the World Heavyweight Champion and the WWE Champion especially if the brand-split is non-existent? Why is the X-Division belt important the wrestlers in that division wrestle look and wrestle just like everyone else, even the Knockouts?
Either way it was a good move to delay King and Ion until next week, giving fans something to look forward to instead of blowing a wad prematurely by having it followed by what we saw yesterday.
The good news of the night was the announcement of an “elimination style triple threat match” for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Current champion Jeff Hardy will have his hands full as he attempts to retain his title against the vicious and wily antics of Austin Aries, and the cold and calculated machinations of Robert Roode. The confluence of styles in this match is a solid way to ensure a consistent number of fans tuning in for the pay per view.
The storyline(s) surrounding this match doesn’t pique one’s interest as much as the wrestling does, which is not a bad thing and pretty much TNA’s modus operandi. Even though all three wrestlers appeared on the show, they were not in action and instead participated an opening segment and a backstage segment that was more about Hulk Hogan being mad after suspending Bully Ray than anything else.
Other than that…not much to say outside of “This will probably be a great match to watch in two weeks.”
Those are just my thoughts on the show tonight; what do YOU think?