Wow. Quite a day.
It’s taken me until now to get a look at both Raw and Impact, and its fair to say the combination of both shows being on at the same time has led to probably the biggest day in wrestling since Vince bought WCW back in 2001. Make no mistake, this is momentous. Not necessarily notice given that TNA will take over, but enough to suggest to me that they can be, and indeed perhaps already are, a player.
My thoughts, initially, soon after digesting both the shows and the fallout are that there is no clear winner here. I would think both sies are happy with their output. TNA debuted a raft of new stars – maybe too many – and got a great deal of people talking about their product. From what I hear of their rating – a rumoured 1.5 – they must be ecstatic about that too. They were never going to beat WWE on Monday, but they have drawn bigger than any point in their history. They now know that they CAN go on a Monday night.
WWE produced one of their best shows in a while as competition. Not just the Bret Hart stuff, mind. Bret’s exchanges with Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon were captivating, but you can’t base a whole show on that. DX had a great match with JeriShow (anyone else see Hunter give something to a front row fan? Possibly a cheeky dig at Bret?) and Orton continued his character development, first with a great exchange with Vince, before his Legacy brethren put him in his place. The wheels are really in motion for DiBiase v Randy again.
I’ve talked about WWE aplenty in my review at The Sun – CLICK HERE - so I’ll get down to a much more detailed appraisal of Impact in this blog. Stay tuned – there a lot of things to get through.
I’ll start with the positives, because there were many, and although numerically the negatives are going to probably win the day, I’d say a great many of these positives re more important.
I’ll start with what I felt was the most important thing of all, and suggest to me that Eric Bischoff had a HUGE amount to do with the TV show, and that is that the show felt chaotic. That is absolutely not a criticism, and is a huge piece of praise. I loved that old-school Nitro (and I mean early, successful Nitro) feel for the show. It felt live (well it was live, but Raw doesn’t even feel live any more, it is so sterile) and it felt as though anything could happen. That is why Nitro took over Raw because the WWE’s offering was taped at the time and the hook of Nitro was shocking happenings.
I particularly liked the cut during a match to the backstage area to show that the Motor City Machine Guns had been laid out. It showed that things could happen at any point. That a potential assailant was not pausing for the end of a match before attacking was great.
The show had Bischoff fingerprints all over the thing, and that’s great. Here’s the thing that is never said about WCW – what if Bischoff had more power? What if he hadn’t been shackled so much by the corporate environment? Admittedly he wouldn’t have been able to spend so freely, but that now doesn’t become a factor, since they have the talent they need available. I think Bischoff is a very intelligent man who will have learned about everything that ahs happened to him over the years. I’d reign back his on air performance as much as I can, but encourage him to get involved backstage as much as humanly possible.
Let’s note a couple of other things I really loved. Obviously the main event has to be respected. A fantastic match between two brilliant wrestlers with top notch quality. It was a good decision to have a seriously good match to close the show. No-one really knows how many typical Raw fans saw it, but that was probably better than any match which took place on Raw in 2009. It would help cement TNA as wrestling, not sports entertainment.
I liked the Sting cameos. I know it is old, but as long as he doesn’t stalk Hogan for a year and attack him like he did in WCW, then its fine by me. Sting can’t be expected to be one of the guys or to wrestle every week. Everyone knows his rafters gimmick, so can buy into it quickly. Do this for a month or so and then have him rappel at some point for a big angle, whatever it may be. Sting is talented enough on the mic to be babyface or heel – I’d make him a heel. Has Sting ever really been a heel? Not often, if ever. If there is going to be a Foley/Jarrett stable of sorts to fight Hogan and co. then I’d side Sting with them. Have him call the people idiots for cheering Hogan and saying people like him come to TNA, give them blood sweat and tears and then get kicked to the curb.
I loved Flair getting out of the limo. That felt major. In fact I liked the intrigue surrounding Flair full stop. Ric Flair is a promo guy par excellence who should be allowed sufficient time and focus to make his first verbal gambit. Not lost amongst a sprawl of tons of stuff. I have no idea how Ric Flair will be used, but I hope they find something useful for him, because he will be earning plenty of dollars.
I also liked Flair taking a look at the main event and nothing more being made. I like that kind of segment which isn’t explained. It suggests that things are in the pipeline.
I liked the initial comment by Nash that Hulk Hogan was coming “but not alone”. There was then someone switching limos to join Hogan. I assume that was meant to be Bischoff. It wasn’t clearly explained, but I really liked the build that Hogan’s arrival was a big deal. He made it look stupid by saying “I’ve been in the back all day” when he was supposed to be arriving by limo, but I guess you could explain that away by saying that he was, then disappeared to pick Bischoff up.
I am keen on the fact that there were plenty of questions to be answered throughout the show and indeed plenty still remain. I might have liked my announcers to play them up a little more, but think of: Who is the guy in black that attacked AJ? Is Hogan siding with the (former) nWo? What will happen with Foley and Jarrett? What are Sting’s intentions? Will Jeff Hardy stick about? Lots to think about, and more besides these points mentioned.
I liked Foley trying to get in and being thwarted. In fact more than anything else I liked that they had a spot with Christy Hemme as an interviewer talking to a generic fan but interrupted it so she could, run and talk to Mick. I’m sorry that Christy’s body is in a bad way, but I think she’ll be a very, VERY good backstage interviewer. Back on track, I felt that Mick’s spots throughout the show build nicely from a polite wish to get in the building to a furious drive to see Hogan. I especially liked parts of the last segment where Mick talked to Sean Morley (more on that later) and (gasp) logic came to the fore. Morley mentioned an office “down the hall on the left” and Mick commented that there was only one office “down the hall on the left”. The underlying meaning here was that Morley didn’t know whose office that was, and Foley knew that he meant the office that he (Foley) once occupied.
I liked Hogan being on the show at the top of the hour. It made great sense, and showed me that TNA understand the scheduling of a head-to-head show. That may sound obvious, but it was a boneheaded mistake WCW used to make.
As long as they don’t hang about for three years and take up loads of TV time, I liked the Nasty Boys’s involvement. Ignore the fact that they are Hogan’s buddies, they are interesting, they have character, and a tease for a brutal match with Team 3D is exciting.
I really enjoyed the Girls tag match. The initial Tara v ODB match where a title changed watered down the tag title switch, but the match itself was very good.
I know it was a bit derivative, but I liked the Beautiful People segment. Look, WWE is going PG, so it behoves TNA to go down the opposite path. Therefore, if you have three hot women whose gimmick is being beautiful, and at least one of them (Lacey) can’t really wrestle, it makes sense to me to have them strip down a bit. The show will lose credibility quickly if there is nothing but scantily clad girls dancing about, but if this supposed to be an adult show it doesn’t hurt to have to sexual content. And actually this isn’t even sexual content, it was just slightly titillating.
The former Val Venis, Sean Morley, is a solid hand, and it really would not surprise me that his return is as much as an agent as a wrestler. Either way, it’s a solid acquisition.
Krystal did a great job on Bobby Lashley’s behalf. I have met Bobby Lashley and Krystal, and they are genuinely nice people. Bobby is a hell of a guy and I hope he does fantastically well in MMA. That said, I always thought he was overpushed in WWE and that his TNA run has been poorly received, at least compared to the hype. I was in California for Bound for Glory, and Lashley got booed out of the building trying to play babyface against Samoa Joe.
I’ve now seen the ratings – I’m not going back and editing, because I can’t be bothered. I like the fact that this is stream of consciousness, and it gives you a flavour of how long this blog post has taken me so far.
In fact, I’ve gone on for plenty enough time. That’s pretty much it for the positives aspects of TNA. I have plenty of negative points which I’ll come back to in a post very, very soon.