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, as ever, this 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; wholly acceptable, but nothing memorable) in order to find an overall rating to the show.
Segment 1: Dixie Carter Promo/Title Tournament Announcement
Positives: TNA chose the right group of wrestlers to put in title contention. There was a strong representation of TNA originals (Storm, Joe, Sabin, and Roode) as well as recognizable WWE stars (Angle and Hardy). It was also refreshing/a relief that Bully Ray is officially out of the title mix. His character was a big part of driving Impact into the ground over the last five months, so it’s good that TNA spared fans the fear that he might get the belt back soon.
Negatives: As I mentioned in my preview, this angle is infuriating because TNA finally got the title on the right babyface… and then immediately wrote him off TV.
While it was good to present video packages on each of the contenders to reinforce their legacies within the company, the editing on them was herky-jerky as hell. It was blatantly obvious that the highlight reels had not played for the live audience, which made Impact seem conspicuously taped and minor league.
Segment Score: +0
Segment 2: GunStorm vs. World Tag Champions The Bromans
Positives: Gunner has definitely improved in terms of being able to put together offense that excites the crowd and sell enough to build anticipation. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t use his time as a Tag Champion to actually push him.
Negatives: If they are going to continue to push Gunner as “The Modern Day Viking,” they really need to explain the name at some point. I get that he has a beard and kicks ass, but does that make him a viking? By that logic, the following people are vikings: Ernest Hemingway, Dustin Pedroia, and Sallah from Indiana Jones.
This match needed to be twice as long to effectively tell the story they were going for. Storm jobbed to somebody holding his ankle after he absorbed absolutely zero punishment. Considering that they were presenting him as a worthy World Championship contender only ten minutes ago, this destroyed his credibility.
Segment Score: -1
Segment 3: Ethan Carter III vs. Norv Fernum
Positives:Nobody got hurt.
Negatives: Unless you’re doing a big underdog angle (see: 1,2,3 Kid), having a rising heel obliterate the same tiny jobber two weeks in a row is pretty weak. The idea is that they roll over gradually more impressive looking jobbers until they ultimately wrestle a main roster member.
Much like the BFG match, Fernum got in just enough offense to make things awkward. Jobbers get one hope spot, not thirty seconds of offense. When a cat plays with a dead bird, the bird doesn’t get in a dropkick and a top rope crossbody.
Segment Score: -1
Segment 4: World Title Tournament Play-In Gauntlet
Positives:Kazarian actually made Sting look really good in the opening moments of this match, something that gets harder and harder to do every day. They seemed to have great chemistry. Could we see Sting and a mystery partner vs. Bad Influence at some point? That would be a Sting match that would actually get me interested.
I feel like I’ve said this a lot lately, but TNA booked the right man to win this match, even if the match wasn’t great. The finish was far from thrilling, and considering the four finalists (both member of Bad Influence, Sting, and Magnus), it felt rather underwhelming. That aside, it’s good to see TNA give someone a consistent, strong push.
Negatives: I usually don’t comment on this sort of thing because I’m the furthest thing from a television executive, but it seemed really strange how the show cut to a long commercial break so soon into this match. If the goal is to make this seem like a game-changer match that could alter a wrestler’s career, it would probably help the prestige not to throw to commercial the minute it starts.
At the moment when Sting, Knux, Kaz, Daniels, and Eric Young were all in the ring, I realized that this match was an unadvertised, unhyped, main eventer-free Royal Rumble. So, basically the Royal Rumble without the things that make it work.
Knux positively towered over every other wrestler in this match, but he didn’t get a single elimination. One of the great things about the Royal Rumble is that WWE has consistently used it to give credibility to big guys (heck, the Rumble is half of both Kane and Bulldog’s legacies), but TNA positively missed the boat on throwing a bone to a big man who might actually have a future once this Aces & Eights deal fizzles out.
Segment Score: +0
Segment 5: ODB vs. Knockouts Champion Gail Kim (w/Lei’D Tapa)
Positives: In terms of storytelling and work, this was the match of the night so far. Both Kim and ODB are over, and they know how to have a match that gets both of their characters across.
Lei’D Tapa seemed far more… uhh… chilled out in this match than she has been in the past, but it actually helped things. She effectively played Diesel to Kim’s Michaels (This is my new analogy. Get used to hearing it a lot.), but didn’t steal the spotlight away from the champion and the number one contender, which she had been doing over the last month.
Negatives: This finish involved an outside distraction from a heel manager and the champion holding the ropes to get a pin. Bells? Check. Whistles? Check. With that said, the finish is somewhat understandable, considering that ODB is the only babyface Knockout in the company — They have to book in a way where they can keep coming back with this same match.
Segment Score: +1
Segment 6: Bad Influence “Find” Abyss
Positives: This wasn’t a second longer than it was.
Negatives: I’m usually a big fan of the comedy stylings of Bad Influence, but the opening minutes of this segment were hard to listen to. Kaz and Daniels succeeded in drawing boos, but it didn’t feel like the right kind of heat.
This whole segment reeked of the overly gimmicked, unfunny comedic hijinks that make fans embarrassed to watch wrestling with other people. Furthermore, just because a show falls on Halloween, is it really necessary to have a sub-Scooby Doo level mystery about two men chasing a monster? This felt like a waste of time and a severe insult to intelligence.
Segment Score: -1
Segment 7: Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Roode
Positives: Hey, look! It’s two really talented wrestlers in a wrestling match devoid of over-complicated stipulations! Kidding aside, these two could wrestle each other on every show for a year and each match would be worth seeing. They can really work holds on the mat, and they understand how to pull off an old-school pace in a way that’s really tense and exciting. Each big spot is built up through exchanges and mat work in a way that keeps the crowd engaged in every move.
Negatives: Another great match between these two with a brutal, brutal finish. As I said in my preview, this feud is built around the fundamental question of wrestling: Who’s the better man? Unfortunately, TNA is refusing to answer that question and keep giving these horseshit finishes rather than putting either man over. The crowd would accept either Angle or Roode winning clean, so it seems pointless, counterproductive, and harmful to the product to continue booking on this tack.
Given Kurt Angle’s medical and personal history, telling a “his body is giving out on him” storyline seems in especially bad taste. Imagine if something did happen to Angle; how would TNA look? It would would seem like they were half-begging for it to happen.
Segment Score: +1 (a bad finish, but I can’t turn my nose up at the actual match)
NET +/- SCORE FOR TNA IMPACT WRESTLING 10/31: -1