In hockey, basketball, and other sports I’m sure I’m forgetting, individual players are held accountable for their team’s performance during their time in the game through the plus/minus statistic. If left wing Doug Smith is on the ice when his team scores a goal, he’s +1. If his line surrenders a goal later in the game, he’s +0. If poor Dougie is on the ice for a second opposing goal, he’s -1. This week’s Impact review will attempt to score each segment as a hit (+1), a miss (-1), or a push (+0) in order to find an overall rating for the show.
Segment 1: Sting & Kurt Angle on Reforming the Main Event Mafia
Positives: The show opened by emphasizing one of the two main storylines that will take shape over the summer: the formation of a new Main Event Mafia to challenge Aces & Eights. Sting and Angle each cut a solid promo on why the Mafia was important and established what’s at stake.
Negatives: The combined age of the two men kicking off Impact was 98. Kurt Angle’s trembling hands are scary, considering his history of spinal injuries.
Segment 1 Score: +0
Segment 2: Aces & Eights Intimidate Chris Sabin
Positives: Doc looked really intimidating here – It’s a mystery why viewers haven’t been treated to more of him in this role. Ray lived up to his name and acted like a legitimate bully, overtly acting brash and threatening while also hinting at the inherent cowardice of bullies (really, he’s scared that Chris Sabin is going to beat him up?). Ray also worked toward getting over his new catchphrase (“I’m a bad person.”), which is great.
Negatives: This exchange was rendered totally meaningless when Sabin lost the title only moments later.
Segment 2 Score: +0
Segment 3: X Division Title Match
Positives: All three wrestlers in this match were good workers. For better or for worse, the “Tower of Doom” is perhaps the signature spot in X Division history, and it was extremely well executed in this match.
Negatives: TNA takes the title off Sabin only minutes after he’s in a segment in which the World Heavyweight Champion treats him like a threat. Huh. Hogan introduced T.J. Perkins to the mainstream wrestling world like this: “This guy got beat up backstage, brother. You should feel bad for him.” Talk about building a future star.
Segment Score: -1
Segment 4: Gut Check Match
Positives: Nobody got hurt.
Negatives: “The Big O” has a look, name, and ability level that represent exactly what wrestling needs less of. Taz’ commentary making fun of Ryan Howe (who, don’t get me wrong, wholly deserves to be made fun of) completely undercut any sense of importance or seriousness in this match.
Segment Score: -1
Segment 5: Bully Ray Confronts T.J. Perkins
Positives: As with the Chris Sabin segment earlier, Ray tipped his hand and revealed his inner chicken heel by showing genuine concern about which X Division wrestler will challenge him at Destination X.
Negatives: Earlier in the show, Hulk Hogan introduced T.J. Perkins by telling us that we should feel sorry for him because he got beat up. Now, rather than focusing on getting his own revenge, Perkins is portrayed as a weak pawn in the heel champion’s storyline.
Segment Score: +0
Segment 6: Knockouts Title Match
Positives: Mickie’s phony heel character is one of the best things happening in mainstream American wrestling today. She plays a “real” heel– a terrible person that every single person knows. Her promos and calculating in-ring style mesh flawlessly.
Negatives: Velvet Sky is not a good enough worker to be carried through a passable match on anything but her best night, even working with a great wrestler like Mickie James.
Segment Score: +1
Segment 7: Magnus vs. Bobby Roode
Positives: Combined years spent in the WWE by these two men: zero. Roode has become very, very good at playing the bumping heel, a character which brought us Nick Bockwinkel and Ric Flair. Magnus is legitimately on the rise in the sense that his character is receiving a good push and he’s becoming more popular with the crowd each week.
Negatives: TNA has two major summer-spanning storylines: the Bound for Glory Series and the formation of the new Main Event Mafia. This segment suffered from trying to serve both masters, with Roode auditioning for Sting and Angle while also trying to earn points toward a title shot. Roode deserves to be a man on a mission, not a man caught between two missions.
Segment Score: +1
Segment 8: Storm & Gunner Face Off With Jesse & Robbie E.
Positives: It’s nice to watch wrestling and get the sense that they’re thinking at least one week ahead. While none of what anybody said was particularly good, it did set up an effective TV feud between these two teams.
Negatives: Homophobia is not cool or funny. Have wrestling promoters ever considered that a gay man or woman might have a wallet or purse with money in it? Storm is a good babyface – he doesn’t need to tease his opponents about potentially being gay to get over. If Spike TV were a reputable network, they would step in and put the kibosh on garbage like that.
Segment Score: +0
Segment 9: Samoa Joe vs. Mr. Anderson
Positives: Joe in the Main Event Mafia is a good thing. Granted, his first stint in the Mafia was during his “long pants and scary knife” period, which was something like Steve Austin being the Ringmaster, only with the implication that he was slicing up people’s faces.
Negatives: If TNA is going to get the Bound for Glory series over as important, they need to somehow establish that the matches are sacred enough that interference is not tolerated whatsoever. Also, thanks to being positioned at the end of a double taping, this match never had the crowd, which makes it hard for anything to come across as important or exciting.
Segment Score: +0
Segment 10: Suicide Reveal
Positives: TNA effectively told a short-arc story that started in the first half hour of the show and ended in the final minutes. The story fit into their larger summer story arc of the build toward Destination X. This is what’s called “solid booking,” regardless of how much you like or dislike the players and specific situations involved. Oh, it’s also good that this is probably the end of the Suicide character.
Negatives: Aries has put in solid work this year, but his character is really poorly defined. He’s against Ray, so now he’s a babyface? Wasn’t he just a heel? Isn’t jumping someone backstage and stealing their place in a title match a heel move? This reeks of Eric Bischoff – pushing a cool heel rather than thinking of a way to effectively turn him babyface. TNA is being lazy and falling back on the fact that they know the crowd will cheer Aries for being “awesome.” They’re in dangerous waters if they really plan on promoting “Cool Heel” against “Mean Heel” at Destination X. Why should I want either of those jerks to win?
Segment Score: +0 (this could have been a +1 for the storytelling if Aries was facing a babyface champion…)
NET +/- FOR JUNE 27 EDITION OF IMPACT WRESTLING: +0