The +/- #’s: Impact Wrestling, 8/1

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. This week’s Impact review will attempt to score each segment as a hit (+1; a superior match or well-executed story-building segment), a miss (-1; offensive to the eyes or ears), or a push (+0; a segment that is wholly acceptable, but nothing memorable) in order to find an overall rating to the show.

Segment 1: Austin Aries & Bobby Roode Promos

Positives: Aries cut a driven, decidedly babyface promo to get the crowd hot for the main event from the top of the show. TNA finally gave Aries a promo in which he could define his character and explain why the quest for the title is so important to him.

TNA has kept Aries and Roode juxtaposed in one way or another all year, which makes it feel like something huge is brewing between the two further down the line.

Negatives: Roode said he was serious again, which is good, but the real world is about showing and not telling.

Aries calling Roode the “spit factor” for spitting when he talks seemed like a bit much. There’s a lot of evidence that Aries doesn’t understand where the line between “super cool guy” and “person it’s embarrassing to be around in public” is drawn.

Segment Score: +1

Segment 2: Bobby Roode vs. Hernandez

Positives: This wasn’t a great technical match, but it told a story that made sense and both wrestlers portrayed their characters well. Roode looked good selling for Hernandez, which was important to set up the screwjob finish meaning something.

Roode’s involvement in the first segment wasn’t as strong as Aries’, but Roode said he was going to get serious and do anything to win, and then he did it immediately afterward. TNA put two wrestlers over strong in the first twenty minutes of this show.

Negatives: The bottle finish worked for this match on paper, but the execution left a lot lacking (more on this later in the show…). Roode doing the dance with all the chairs to set up the distraction spot felt like something from the 2004 Jeff Jarrett playbook.

It made Brian Hebner (and referees in general) look completely powerless that he noticed the glass on the mat after the bell, looked at Roode, and asked, “Where did this come from?!” like he was scolding a 5-year-old that had broken a dish. Either have the ref miss the spot completely (which makes him look stupid, but works) or draw attention to the fact that he noticed and make a big deal out of it.

Segment Score: +0

Segment 3: Sabin & Mannik Backstage Exchange

Positives: This made Sabin’s title win feel like a real rub for the X Division, as Sabin pulled off being both an X Division wrestler and a newly-minted World Heavyweight Champion in this segment.

Negatives: This didn’t feel nearly as major league as what Aries and Roode did to lead off the show – and this is supposed to set up a Champion vs. Champion match! The title deserves better than the dimly-lit back side of T.J. Perkins’ head.

TNA gets points for trying to add some depth to the Mannik character, but he needs to speak directly to the fans, not through dark backstage pretapes if he’s going to get that character over.

Segment Score: -1

Segment 4: Joseph Park vs. Jay Bradley

Positives: I never thought I would say this, but it was nice to watch a regular Joseph Park match – one where he doesn’t get busted open and do a Black Hole Slam. When the character was over, it was because of its goofball appeal, not because it was Abyss. An Eric Young injection may breath some new longevity into the character which seems to be stumbling toward the finish line.

Negatives: TNA are booking Jay Bradley like it’s “an honor for him to be there” in the Bound For Glory Series. He needs to get some points late in the game or he will have gained almost nothing from being part of the Series.

Segment Score: -1

Segment 5: Chris Sabin vs. Mannik

Positives: This was the right match for Chris Sabin to have: he showed his X Division roots but also displayed more main event restraint with his pace. Sabin going over cleanly with his finisher in the middle of the ring felt satisfying, considering his dirty title win.

Fighting back against Bully Ray after the match felt like a big moment for Sabin. He is getting the full-on Rey Mysterio smaller man push in that he isn’t afraid of the monster heels and he’s actually able to fight back against them.

Negatives: TNA put their World Heavyweight Champion on TV at the end of their first hour, then main evented two guys in a tournament to become number one contender. This is Hulk Hogan/Eric Bischoff logic at its finest: “Sabin isn’t as big a star as A.J. or Aries, so he shouldn’t follow them.” Of course, that logic is circular, because he’ll never become a top star if he isn’t allowed to main event TV shows.

In some ways, Mannik looked good in this match, but he never looked like or was treated as a threat to the title in any way. He was clearly being used to put on an exhibition with Sabin, not make the World Heavyweight Champion look vulnerable.

Segment Score: +1

Segment 6: Taz “reveals” the August 1 Mystery Person

Positives: Seeing Taz on TV helped me remember how much better I like the job Jeremy Borash is doing.

Negatives: This was absolutely moronic. In the age of TMZ, are wrestling fans really to believe that the camera wouldn’t have pointed into the limo the second Taz opened the door? Him cutting a promo on what he saw in the car while the camera just focused on his face felt like something out of early 90s WCW.

Segment Score: -1

Segment 7: Gail Kim vs. ODB

Positives: TNA did a good job reintroducing ODB into the mix and making her seem capable of going toe-to-toe with the Knockout Division’s biggest stars.

These two did a great job proving that the Knockouts Division can deliver when Mickie James has the night off.

Negatives: It’s sort of strange that Gail Kim has gotten involved in two feuds with referees this year. Does she really have that big a problem with authority figures?

This was strangely executed screwy finish number two on the night. Kim and ODB brawled extensively on the floor, then they suddenly just got counted out. It was really unclear at what point the ref had started counting and at what pace he was doing so.

Segment Score: +1

Segment 8: Brooke Hogan Offers Bully Ray a Deal

Positives: No “Wardrobe Malfunctions.”

Negatives: Brooke doing something selfish to help Bully Ray feels a day late and a buck short in this angle. Her character would feel better gone than nuanced at this point.

Divorce is a sad occurrence that touches a lot of families. It seems a little coarse to be portraying illicit bargains being made surrounding a divorce as something people do to get ahead.

Segment Score: -1

Segment 9: A.J. Styles vs. Austin Aries

Positives: There was some really top-notch wrestling in this match, as both men are tremendous workers. The match also benefitted from Austin Aries establishing himself in a babyface early on in the show. The result of Aries’ promo was that the crowd actually understood who to cheer in an A.J. Styles match – remarkable.

There was a contrast in style and pace in this match that really worked. Styles didn’t fall back into his old habits and worked his WWE main event heel pace in a way that made Aries’ high-speed spots seem ridiculously exciting.

Negatives: This was strangely executed screwy finish number three on the night. When Aries and Styles fell to their backs with arms draped over each other, there was some conspicuous rearranging by Aries that looked more panicked than calculating. It’s always a shame when an excellent match ends with a deflating finish.

Segment Score: +1

Segment 10: Aces & Eights vs. Main Event Mafia/August 1 Reveal

Tito Ortiz on Impact

Positives: The Main Event Mafia and Aces & Eights are finally having an all-hands-on-deck match in which somebody will have to leave TNA “for good.” This is what this angle should have built toward much, much faster.

Negatives: Tito Ortiz being revealed as TNA’s latest mystery man was tough to react to. Ortiz, Jackson, and the wrestlers at hand looked like they didn’t know what to make of the situation, so the audience and the people watching at home didn’t either.

Segment Score: +0



One thought on “The +/- #’s: Impact Wrestling, 8/1”

  1. Haha, internet nerd pointing out a wrestlers social inadequacies, hilarious…Btw, the spit factor line was awesome,nice nitpicking though..

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