The +/- #’s: Impact Wrestling, 7/4

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 to the show.

Opening Segment: Hulk Hogan Kicks Off the Show

Positives: Well, we won’t have to deal with the name “Suicide” anymore, as T.J. Perkins’ hooded character is now “Manik.” This is +1 for good taste, -1 for spelling.

Negatives: Overall, this was not a strong follow-up to the conclusion of last week’s show. Hogan felt like an un-self-aware Mick Foley with his cheap pops. Sabin’s “greatest scam that ever lived” line felt like something a writer backstage was just peeing themself waiting to hear. Hogan could have just easily come out and said, “We’re having a triple threat to make things right.” It could have been that easy.

Segment 1 Score: -1

Segment 2: Styles vs. Kazarian

Positives: It feels like A.J. has finally found a pace that makes him seem like a great athlete who’s also a serious adult. He still gets in his high-flying, high-impact spots, but he’s successfully created a character that seems way more calculating. All in all, this was a solid TV match with the right finish, as A.J. gained 10 points with his Calf Killer 

Bad Influence as S & R

Negatives: I’m usually a gigantic fan of Bad Influence, but I think the Siegfried and Roy outfits were too cheeky for their own good. Doing the Road Warriors in Chicago was fun, nostalgic, and respectful, but making fun of Vegas entertainers is just too easy.

Segment 2 Score: +1

Segment 3: Mickie James Asserts Her Dominance

Positives: Mickie James is turning in the best performances of her career, and for my money, nobody in wrestling is executing their character as well as her right now. Her threats and insults seemed catty, conceited, and completely perfect. If TNA recognize what a good thing they have going with Mickie, they will feature her heavily as a top star in the promotion.

Negatives: None.

Segment 3 Score: +1

Segment 4: Gut Check Part 1

Positives: “The Big O” is gone from TNA.

Negatives: One of the consistently worst parts of Impact is the backstage banter between Pritchard, Al Snow, and Danny Davis. Does Bruce Pritchard really think he’s over or that 90% of the fans even know who he is? Also, while both of these contestants sucked, it doesn’t make too much sense to start by eliminating the guy who actually won a match. I know that in legitimate sports some guys are signed even after a poor showing in a workout or tryout, but the executives picking the teams wouldn’t choose them over someone who actually looked good. Sheesh.

Segment 4 Score: -1

Segment 5: Hernandez vs. Jay Bradley

Positives: Nobody got hurt. Jay Bradley looks like he could be a player with a bit of polish. Hernandez will never be accused of making his opponent look good, but Bradley looked capable of going toe-to-toe with an established TNA star.

Negatives: Boy, I wish I had minute-by-minute ratings to see how many viewers this show lost the second they announced the two wrestlers. Bradley is exactly the kind of wrestler TNA should keep Hernandez away form: he makes Supermex look short and he can’t do anything to help hide Hernandez’ signature sloppiness. On top of that, the cameras showed a number of spots being called, which is just poor direction considering the show was taped and they had their pick of angles.

Ultimately, this was the kind of finish that should never happen: a babyface manager using heel tactics against a heel to help his colleague win. It only makes things worse that this finish occurred in the context of the Bound for Glory Series, where TNA desperately needs to establish that the matches are prestigious and somehow sacred.

Segment 5 Score: -1

Segment 6: The Bro Mans vs. Gunner & Storm

Positives: This match wasn’t anything to remember, but it was a functional squash match to establish that Gunner & Storm are strong champions.

Negatives: Gunner looked largely back to his old look, which I think is a mistake. His man bun made him stand out. Also, he looks way too much like Storm (at least from the front) at this point. There was some sloppy offense from both of the tag champs in this match, including an especially ugly fallaway slam from Gunner at one point.

Segment 6 Score: +0

Segment 7: The Main Event Mafia Introduce Their Newest Member:

Magnus in the MEM

Positives: I’m a fan of these mission statement promos. Angle clearly stated, “We’re here to destroy Aces & Eights and to make sure Bully Ray loses the World Heavyweight Title.” Now the audience has something to hold onto to judge just how successful the new Main Event Mafia is in their journey as a group.

Magnus really looked the part in the suit. It was honestly Flair-esque. He pulled off a very confident promo considering his age, explaining what made everybody in the group elite and reinforcing their mission statement. I was expecting not to like this segment, but I honestly came away impressed with the direction of the angle.

Negatives: Joe’s promo was fairly strong, but I thought Angle explaining it afterwards was unnecessary. Why not let Joe introduce his former tag team partner Magnus himself?

Segment 7 Score: +1

Segment 8: Jeff Hardy vs. Joseph Park

Positives: In spite of all the shenanigans, Hardy “won.”

Negatives: Hardy did an admirable job playing into the Joseph Park storyline, but it really wasn’t a good idea for him to take even one bump for Park. Hardy is the most marketable commodity in TNA (including Hulk Hogan) and should be treated as such. If he’s wrestling Park, it should go Mule Kick – Whisper in the Wind – Twist of Fate – Swanton Bomb – Pin.

This match also suffered from being way too long. As wrestling fans, we should never have to watch Joseph Park working a reverse chin lock on Jeff Hardy in the middle of the ring. I admire Jeff Hardy for trying to tell a meaningful story with his matches, but this was a time for him to win handily.

The finish of the match was an abomination. Why not have two matches: one where Hardy goes over clean and shows off his moves and one where Park wrestles someone a little lower on the card and goes through the same “transformation?”

Segment 8 Score: -1

Segment 9: Gut Check Part 2

Positives: Ryan Howe is gone from TNA.

Negatives: Borash asked Ryan Howe if he thought the judges had seen his best effort, and to everybody’s great shock, he said yes. So, losing is his best effort? He should have been ushered toward the exit door the second he said that. Then, his “kick out promo” had nothing to do with wrestling. He could have been auditioning for any ol’ thing, talking about how “entertaining” he is. Mercifully, he was sent packing, but I’m still wondering why TNA devoted even a second of TV time to him. Featuring him even to show how good TNA wrestlers are by comparison was a colossal waste of time, which is a limited resource.

Segment 9 Score: -1

Segment 10: X Division Triple Threat

Postives: Aries and Sabin did a great job illustrating why the triple threat formula for the X Division title doesn’t work. They put together a compelling match after the third man was removed from the equation. It’s a net positive that Sabin won the title back, but what the heck was the point of last week’s show then?

Negatives: I get that Bully Ray is supposed to be concerned about who he will face at Destination X, but I didn’t like that they started the match by drawing attention to Aces & Eights. He is the World Heavyweight Championpion, but the X Division should given a chance to shine on its own leading into Destination X.

This match featured a powerbomb onto the floor and a Death Valley Driver onto the apron — both of which, while high-impact, were totally unnecessary and dangerous. I get that they wanted to write Suicide (errr… Manik) out of the match, but there were any number of spots they could have gone to that were less risky.

Chris Sabin hits Cradle Shock off the Top Rope

The finishing sequence exposed some of the shortcuts taken in main event matches, with unnecessary kickouts from finishers necessitating the finish off the top rope. The spot was “cool,” for what it’s worth, but better saved for a match people are paying to see. As time passes, I believe more and more that finishers should be reversed, not kicked out from. The chain of kickout false finishes just feels like a tired holdover from the Attitude Era.

Segment 10 Score: +0

NET +/- FOR JULY 4 EDITION OF IMPACT WRESTLING: -1

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