Review: Impact Wrestling 11/04/2013
With several marque matches headlining this installment of Impact Wrestling, we find ourselves with the essence of a pay-per-view by another name. After reducing the total number of monthly pay-per-views down from twelve to four, TNA were bound to produce a few special editions of their flagship show to fill the void and it makes for all the better a product.
Beginning the night perfectly was the two out of three falls match between Tag Team Champions, Bobby Roode & Austin Aries and their challengers, Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez. The first fall of the match flew by at breakneck pace, with Roode and Aries having attacked the Mexican duo long before the bell had even rung, allowing a dominant start for the former World Champions. They were not as fortunate with the equally speedy second fall however, as Chavo took advantage of Aries' failed frog-splash to even the tally and continue the bout for one final fall. This is where the meat of the competition took place, with both teams putting on a superb tag team contest that I would be proud to watch any given week. Momentum swung back and forth in a matter of seconds, making the outcome all the more mysterious. Not an easy feat in modern day professional wrestling. The finish came through a combination of Hernandez' brute strength simultaneously suplexing both Roode and Aries into position for one last Guerrero frog-splash, giving us our new TNA Tag Team Champions. A wonderful bout to be sure, but I'm not keen to witness another generic Chavo/Hernandez reign as Tag Champs and this resolution also leaves Aries and Roode's place on the card up in the air. After their good works in 2012, the IT Factor and A-Double were already slumming it in the Tag Team division in the first place. What will be their next stop on the road to greatness?
In the first promo of the night, Joseph Park made his way to the ring to address his grievances with Aces & Eights. Never mind the fact they held him hostage for over a month at the tail end of last year, his latest ire is the ongoing abusive marriage between Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan. What a gentleman. To put this situation to an end, the former Attorney at Law has drawn up Annulment papers, which upon filing, will release Brooke from her loveless marriage. Being the bright spark that he is, Park waves said papers in the air for all to see...namely Aces & Eights. Upon seeing this, the Sergeant at Arms, Devon, was down to the ring like a dose of salt. Like every bully ever presented with legal paperwork, he tore it up. Because Joseph Park has never once heard of a photocopier...or you know...saved his work. But tearing up a piece of paper will never be enough for the likes of Aces & Eights, as Devon proceeds to nail Park with a steel chain and leave the goofy sum'b*tch lying. I can't say I'm looking forward to the eventual match between the pair, but all I ask is that it's for the Television Title. I see that thing on Devon week in, week out and I swear to god, he hasn't defended that thing once since he won it back from Samoa Joe in December.
The disappointment of the night, at least for me, came in the form of Taryn Terrell's ultimate defeat of Gail Kim. I'd been loving the gradual build between the two Knockouts for the past month, boiling over at the Lockdown pay-per-view and simmering nicely on the shows since. I even liked Taryn's initial offense in the match itself, as she came out of the gates swinging. However, what I couldn't appreciate was the ridiculously short runtime. For the only women's feud on Impact right now, one that even supersedes the Knockouts Champion herself, wrapping things up in two minutes flat is borderline insulting. I was genuinely curious to see what Taryn could do in the ring, especially working with a skilled veteran like Gail. But this match served as a mere glimpse. TNA shouldn't be afraid to let their Knockouts go wild for five to ten minutes a piece.
The Gut Check segments, while always entertaining for exposing the thought process behind hiring decisions, can also be slightly infuriating when you disagree with said decisions. I, personally, would've chosen Adam Pearce, ten times out of ten. Even if he wasn't going to be hired at the end of the process, he deserved to be taken out infront of the crowd and judged as the true victor of the match. I agreed 100% with Danny Davis when he made the point that Pearce was technically sound. He may never have hit it big in WWE or TNA so far, but the talent is there and he's carved out an impressive career on the independent circuit without any assistance. I also agreed when the judges pointed out that as impressive as Magno's offense can be, he's also far too large and one error can end with him landing flat on his face. As for Magno's pleas in the ring, I wasn't overly impressed by his promo. Ducking in and out of his native tongue seemed to get the crowd riled up and on the wrong side of him. Not to mention, when he finally did speak English, it was rather whiny and with a noticeable lisp. The idea of TNA taking advantage of the Lucha Libre community is a good one, but they have to be absolutely sure they have the right man behind the mask before pulling the trigger. In Magno's case, he wasn't that right man.
The "will-he/won't-he" AJ Styles drama continued on for another week and call me strange, but this time out, it actually hit home. For the threat of Styles joining Aces & Eights, there hasn't really been a true heel presence in these segments before. But with the addition of Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, I have to admit, it's peaked my interest. Everyone knows they're playing TNA's resident ass-hats. AJ knows better than anyone, having spent the best part of a year fighting them. But they're the only people arguing FOR AJ. Screw Hogan and his politics, screw Storm for his unnecessary guilt-trip, screw Aces & Eights trying to manipulate him, Kaz and Daniels are arguing what's best for their friend. I don't think there's a chance in hell that Styles will side with his former Fortune cohorts, but they make a good point and I think it's one that will resonate with the Phenomenal One. He won't fight against TNA, but he won't fight for TNA. He's out for himself at the moment and that's the best place to be. All his options are still open and he could literally do anything.
Finally, we come to the Main Event of the evening, as World Heavyweight Champion, Bully Ray, defended his title in a Full Metal Mayhem match against the Charismatic Enigma and Hulk Hogan's top pick, Jeff Hardy. As pointed out by the announcers, they've only ever held seven such matches in TNA's entire eleven year history. For such a popular stipulation, they obviously know when to hold it in reserve. This incarnation certainly had the insane bumps to justify it's use, but maybe I'm mellowing when I say they appeared gratuitous at the same time. A large portion of the match was dictated by the challenger, Jeff Hardy, who while contending with Ray's own offense, equally had to deal with the unintended side effects of his own. For every crazy move of Hardy's that landed, something just as devastating would backfire. At times, it was almost as if Hardy were fighting himself. Bully Ray could've stepped out at any time and let Hardy shadow-box his way into oblivion. The match felt more choreographed than classic TLC bouts of the past, not helped by minor screw-ups such as ladders falling over or tables collapsing, necessitating the pair reset and try again. The end came as Hardy stood atop the ladder grasping at the dangling World Title, only to be met by a swift hammer shot to the head from the defending Champion. This sent the daredevil careening off the top of the ladder, crashing down to the mat through a nearby table. It's bumps like those that give Hardy every right to be a pill-popping lunatic. All damage to his body combined, it's a wonder the guy can still walk.