Why I'm NOT paying attention to Impact Wrestling

In the past month or so, I've grown increasingly disenchanted with the booking of Impact Wrestling. To the point that I'm not fussed whether I miss it or not. Don't get me wrong, I still tune in every week. But it's by habit and not by choice. More often than not, I'll give them about half an hour to grab me. I'll see if the opening segment shows any promise, hang around for the first match and then if nothing is ringing any bells, I'll totally zone out and wander off. You can blame my short attention span (wait, what was I saying...), but in recent weeks there simply hasn't been anything to hold my interest. Top to bottom, the stories have sucked. I'll address a handful of them in this article, but don't think there aren't more.

Aces & Eights

In what was meant to be TNA's big summer angle that catches everyone's interest, the Icon Sting was attacked during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech. The culprits were a group of masked men, their number ever increasing, their identities remaining unknown to this day. They followed up this bold statement by taking out the Immortal, Hulk Hogan (never mind that he was scheduled for surgery that week anyway). Subsequently, they've attacked random members of the roster, from people as high as the World Heavyweight Champion to others as low as the latest Gut Check chump. This is the bread and butter of Impact Wrestling for the foreseeable future...only it's not working. While the idea of a masked faction adds a level of intrigue to the angle, the fans have had nothing to grab onto. There's no figurehead, no motive, no meaning, no nothing. Also, it doesn't help that the recognisable members of this faction, even through the masks, are jobbers through and through. If there's a high profile name among them, I'll be shocked. At best, we'll get a bitter Jeff Jarrett revealed as the mastermind and he'll boss around his legion of jobbers for a few months. Where's the upside of this angle? Where's the excitement? This is no NWO. Hell, they aren't even the likes of Immortal or Fortune. This group were D.O.A.

Clare Lynch

I could somewhat understand an angle whereby Christopher Daniels was trying to insinuate AJ Styles was having an affair with Dixie Carter to get ahead in the business (even if he hasn't been in the World Title picture for months), and as bizarre as the payoff was, I could somewhat understand the reveal that they were simply helping a family friend. But that's where it should've ended. The angle was bombing even back then and people were wishing it'd end. Inexplicably, TNA decided to continue. Clare has pulled a pseudo heel-turn and is now claiming AJ cheated on his wife to father their love child. How the hell does anyone benefit from this angle? AJ Styles is a wholesome family hero, who they're dragging through the mud with no redemption in sight. He can't even feud with the villain of the piece, as she's a pregnant woman! What's the payoff? A handicap match of AJ vs Clare and the illegitimate baby? No, it'll be Match 1,000,000 with Christopher Daniels. I'm sure AJ will get his triumphant moment, where it's revealed he never slept with Clare, that she merely took pictures of him whilst passed out, and that Daniels is the real father of the baby. But what sort of reward is that? I borderline expect another Mae Young giving birth to a hand debacle.

Where's Joey Ryan?

This is a double edged sword. I absolutely love what they're doing with Joey Ryan. They're just not doing enough with him. TNA have a certifiable phenomenon on their hands with his 87% gimmick. Fans are taking 87% signs to WWE shows for christ sake! I just can't believe they're moving at such a snail's pace with him. Assuming there's one Gut Check segment a month, you MIGHT catch a glimpse of Hollywood's own in the Impact Zone's audience, that one single time, but there's no guarantee. This angle has almost entirely been off the grid, in the realms of Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. I've never known a promotion (in Joey's own words) leave money on the table like this. They really need to pull the trigger on this and have him regularly appear on Impact Wrestling. Giving this the appearance of a legitimate shoot situation may work in the short term, but you don't draw a gate by telling the crowd who WON'T be on the show. Joey Ryan has all the potential to be this year's Austin Aries and look how that turned out. It's a no brainer, make it happen.

The Booking of Austin Aries as Champion

Speaking of our World Heavyweight Champion, I have a bone to pick. The booking of his title reign has been ridiculous to say the least. I can see how A Double's rise to stardom may have caught TNA by surprise. He didn't get to the main event through a story or a promo, he got there through the fans recognising his talent in the ring. Whether it be Bully Ray, Samoa Joe or Bobby Roode, Aries has let his skills do the talking. As such, I imagine the booking committee flat out don't know what to do with him. They can count on him to carry a PPV all on his lonesome, but to give him scripted content? You can hear them scratching their heads from here. Despite having one of the biggest feel-good moments of TNA's ten year history in his World Title victory at Destination X, Aries has spent the past month lost in the shuffle. Aces & Eights take all the focus, then James Storm and Bully Ray, maybe some Bobby Roode after that, but what does our Champion have to say about all of this? We don't really know, because they keep putting him back with X Division guys. Either he's stuck in a room deciding who gets a shot at Ion next or he's tagging with Kenny King. He broke through the glass ceiling of that division months ago, but they're still treating him as though that's where he's meant to be. Aries got to the top through blood, sweat and tears, don't let that all be for nothing because you simply don't know how to capitalise on it.

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, two outright disasters and two "why the hell aren't they doing more with these guys?". Impact Wrestling can very easily be a good show and essential viewing, but they need to take the focus off the crap and put it where it belongs. It's an eerily similar problem to what happens in the WWE. You're TOLD what to like, not come to your own decision and request more of something you DO like.

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