+/- #’s: Impact Wrestling, 7/11

Segment 1: Main Event Mafia + Aces & Eights Promos

Positives: Nobody got hurt.
Negatives: I’ll be honest, I barely remember anything about this segment other than the fact that I found it totally unnecessary at the time. Obviously Aces & Eights vs. the Main Event Mafia is the big storyline between now and Bound For Glory, but given that this episode of Impact was seven days before Destination X, it would have been a better idea to do something X Division related with this time. The Main Event Mafia felt pushed at the expense of Destination X this entire show.
Segment Score: -1
Segment 2: Samoa Joe & A.J. Styles vs. Jeff Hardy & Joseph Park
Jeff Hardy front suplexes AJ
Positives: It was nice for the Joker’s Wild competition to start with a match in which  both teams worked together. TNA could have easily copped out and had all these matches be about tension between teammates, but they did well by establishing a serious win-first tone with this first match. It’s always good to see Joe and A.J. look good, as they’ve been booked criminally inconsistently over the years.
Negatives: This match displayed the foolhardiness of Joseph Park being in the BFG series for the second week in a row. The Series needs to be portrayed as serious, important, and featuring the top talent in TNA. Park hurts rather than helps all those criteria. Even more importantly, why on earth was Jeff Hardy kept out of the gauntlet? For the second week in a row, TNA made their most marketable, over star look weak for the benefit of a nudge and wink novelty act.
Segment Score: +0
Segment 3: Hernandez & Jay Bradley vs. Mr. Anderson & Magnus
Positives: Magnus was put over hard, albeit in a convoluted, unnecessary way. Bradley continued to display breakout potential, although TNA would be wise to explain who he is, where he comes from, and what he stands for if they want him to really get over.
Negatives: This was by far the least compelling of the three Joker’s Wild matches. Hernandez is a powerhouse, but beyond that, it’s becoming very apparent that he doesn’t have much of a character to portray. Anderson’s antics suffered from a large logic hole: What if Magnus had been getting his rear handed to him? Would Anderson have been content to lose just so he could laugh in the face of his enemy/partner? It seemed so, which is the wrong way to portray any wrestler.
Segment Score: +0
Segment 4: Bobby Roode & Kazarian vs. Austin Aries & Christopher Daniels
Austin Aries delivers his signature dropkick to Kazarian
Positives: The match had the most natural story to tell of any of the Joker’s Wild contests, and it didn’t drop the ball. The four set up the match well with their backstage exchange, and the announcers did a good job explaining what a unique circumstance each of these men was in. It’s always nice to see a match packed with good workers, which this certainly was.
Negatives: I didn’t find much fault in this match, but if anything, given the story that was being told and the skill of the wrestlers involved, I think it could have benefitted from another five minutes.
Segment Score: +1
Segment 5: Aces & Eights Choose Their New VP
Positives: Bully Ray recusing himself from the voting was really interesting, and I thought his performance in this segment showed some real nuance. He still seemed like a heel, but you could see why a gang of people would see him as a leader they want to follow. This segment did a good job portraying Aces & Eights as an actual gang, displaying both the brotherhood and the interior politics.
Negatives: Typical TNA booking has Anderson (37) being made more important than D.O.C. (29). I guess the kayfabe argument would be that Anderson is “smarter” and “more experienced” than D.O.C., but Hankinson has turned in some solid performances in the last few weeks and, if booked correctly, could be a player in TNA for the next decade. Of course, my objections to this would be assuaged if Impact tells a compelling story between now and Bound For Glory centering on D.O.C.’s growing satisfaction and disillusionment with A&E.
Segment Score: +0
Segment 6: Taryn Terrell vs. Gail Kim
Gail Kim delivers a ladder-aided figure four to Taryn Terrell
Positives: These two proved their Last Woman Standing match at Slammiversary wasn’t a fluke with another show-stealing performance. Kim and Terrell both put in high-level efforts, and for once the ladder gimmick didn’t seem superfluous or in the way. It’s a mystery to me how the male wrestlers in TNA aren’t feeling the heat from the spectacular performances the Knockouts have been putting on over the last few months.
Negatives: I was very disappointed that this wasn’t the main event of the show. Also, as great as Mickie James has been with her new heel character, I’m not sure it’s good sense to have a heel-heel title match so early in her reign. I think the WWE proved to all of us that there’s little money or excitement in a babyface Gail Kim.
Segment Score: +1
Segment 7: BFG Series Gauntlet
Positives: This reminded me a lot of last week’s X Division Title match in that once all the multi-man silliness was out of the way, a very good match broke out. Magnus and Roode worked really well together, which made me wonder why TNA didn’t just think of a more normal pretext for the two of them to wrestle each other.
Negatives: I know the illustrious history of TNA effectively started with a gauntlet, but the gauntlet match is really a broken gimmick. The only way to really get someone over is to have them run the entire gauntlet, which makes everybody else look like a chump. Even a battle royal would have been better, as weak as that gimmick is…
Segment Score: +0
Segment 8: Chris Sabin Turns in the X Division Title/Final MEM Member Revealed
Chris Sabin and Bully Ray face off
Positives: Sabin cut a spirited promo, inspire of some of the unnecessary moving parts he had to deal with in this segment. Rampage Jackson has the chance to attract some non-wrestling eyeballs toward TNA and the Main Event Mafia.
Negatives: Chris Sabin is 31, and while he isn’t as tall as most top-tier professional wrestlers, he is talented and experienced enough that he deserves not to be booked as a child. Everything that Hulk Hogan and Bully Ray said and did simply served to remind fans that Sabin is undersized and, relative to them, has not been given much time to define his character on TV. If you’re giving a guy from the midcard a shot at the title, your best bet for attracting eyeballs is to play up the top-notch work he’s been doing throughout his career and say anything BUT “he’s never been a main event star.” I’m sure there will be some great Chris Sabin video packages at Destination X, but by then it’s too late to promote, and nobody will be watching.
Also, it’s nice that the Main Event Mafia have Chris Sabin’s back, but I felt like they “bigfooted” the whole segment by appearing when they did. Why couldn’t Rampage be revealed earlier in the show, and then make the save to help Sabin at the end? That way, Sabin would have his own time to shine, but you could still give the “helping out the little guy” rub to Jackson.
Segment Score: -1
Overall +/- Score For July 11 Impact Wrestling: +0

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