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. This week, for the first time, however, Dave’ll be doing his best to explain his reasons behind the score.
Seg 1: Kurt Angle/Magnus Promo Exchange
Thoughts: Kurt Angle’s had so many head injuries in his career that all his promos sound like he just got a head injury.
Magnus needs to stop hedging and turn heel. Talking about having heart and desire in promos isn’t at all consistent with his in-ring actions in what was supposed to be a star-making vehicle against Sting at BFG.
Roode cut a solid heel promo, but the best part was the closing line when he told Magnus he will “never ever be World Heavyweight Champion.” Mangus sold being legitimately insulted, too, which made it even better.
Jeff Hardy starting his own “Hardy” chant was awkward on a lot of levels, most notably: If TNA had booked one of the most over wrestlers of the last 15 years with any competence at all, fans would pop for him on their own. On the other hand, can we already go back to blaming the Orlando crowd for not being into anything?
Reasons: None of these promos were home runs — heck, Roode only hit a double. With that said, Impact opened with a segment that featured wrestlers promoting the two big matches on the card without any authority figure meddling. That’s a good, rare thing these days.
Seg 2: Jeff Hardy vs. Bobby Roode — Tables Match
Thoughts: A few minutes into the match, Hardy bumped right onto his head on a short-armed clothesline from Roode. It looked really scary, and the announcers threw to a replay, suggesting he took an awkward amount of time live to recover. Things got even worse when Hardy crashed and burned on a Whisper in the Wind attempt on the next spot. If Hardy starts respecting his body more, he’ll be able to make money wrestling for many years. If he doesn’t, he won’t.
Hardy and Roode simultaneously bumping through the table from the apron was very well-timed. If that spot had gone wrong, it would have made for a really awkward decision: call for the bell on the fly, possibly changing the finish, or pretend it looked good. Lucky, it looked great, preventing what could have been a bad situation. Also, it was a nice, logical spot to throw to commercial on, rather than cutting away in the middle of in-ring action.
The finish on this match was great in that the right man won, and he did it in an original way. Hardy had already hit the Swanton and the Twist, so finishing on the mule kick off the apron felt fresher than “here’s my finisher again!”
Reasons: Strong TV match between a great babyface and a great heel. Several good spots throughout with a clean, different finish.
Seg 3: Ethan Carter III vs. Earl Hebner (yes, you read that right)
Thoughts: Based on the tight shot of Carter during his promo, it’s safe to say that all his “You suck” heat came out of an extra large can of Goldberg Brand Canned Heat.
This segment was an awful, awful idea, but you know what the worst part of it was? No babyface wrestler came out to stop EC3 from being a gigantic jerk wasting the fans’ time. As I said in my preview, whoever’s booking this angle thinks they’re being “old school” by building Carter on an island separated from any real wrestlers, but that strategy has already cost the character valuable heat. On this trajectory, EC3 will never become a heat magnet, just a channel up button.
Reasons: This whole segment felt like a pre-intermission house show bit, and a bad one at that.
Seg 4: A Collection of Short Promos/Vignettes
Thoughts: The Sam Shaw vignette was really, really good. It successfully made me, a faithful but fairly jaded TNA fan, excited to see more. Shaw actually came across as a decent actor in the segment, and Hemme’s been defined as just a ring announcer for so long that the idea of her actually being involved in an angle seems fresh and intriguing.
Roode’s promo, while short, was a nice touch too. Too often, wrestlers lose an important match and then move onto the next thing with no further thought. It’s good to see TNA actually take care of one of their top characters after a big loss.
The time dedicated to Dixie Carter would have been far better spent as an extra thirty seconds for either Shaw or Roode. Obviously TNA’s writers feel obligated to give their boss X minutes per episode.
Reasons: Cheers to Shaw and Roode. Jeers to Dixie.
Seg 5: Bad Influence “Expose” Joseph Park
Thoughts: Bad Influence have been one of the most consistent, and consistently strong, acts in TNA since they came together. With that said, being involved with Joseph Park so long has really dragged them down.
After 10 minutes of peeking through my fingers at the TV for fear the awfulness of this segment might blind me like some kind of solar eclipse of shit, I suddenly realized that this whole exchange solved absolutely NOTHING other than set up a match with Eric Young in it.
Reasons: I haven’t cringed so much during a wrestling segment since Claire Lynch. I usually complain when story lines are dropped with no explanation, but this Joseph Park mess was the time to do it. Every time they tease that they’re going to end the angle, I get hopefully optimistic, and every week they just kick the can down the road.
Seg 6: World Tag Team Champions The BroMans vs. GunStorm
Thoughts: The BroMans exist in this existential singularity where I can’t tell if I really hate them or if they’re just good heels.
This match had some solid mid-card action, which was exactly what this episode of Impact was in desperate need of.
The finish of this match was predictably awful. I can never decide if that’s better or worse than an unpredictably awful finish.
Reasons: Watchable midcard match, but nothing special. A solid step down the path for both The BroMans as champions and GunStorm heading toward a breakup.
Seg 7: Knockouts Champion Gail Kim vs. Laura Dennis
Thoughts: Gail Kim’s real-life husband, Robert Irvine (of Food Network fame), heeling in Kim’s pre-match promo was fantastic. It’s good to know that heels are married to other heels. This actually felt like a nice “cable-level celebrity” rub for Impact, as Irvine is, in his own way, a very well-established TV character.
Dennis’ offense was mostly punch-kick, but her timing was good, which resulted in the smoothest and most watchable Gail Kim challenge match to date.
ODB’s save looked really good. She came to the ring hot and put together fast-paced offense without looking even slightly blown up. Her clothesline of Tapa over the top rope successfully made her look like a threat to the Kim/Tapa empire.
Reasons: Another watchable match that actually enhanced Gail Kim as champion, and a strong return for ODB. Also, the Robert Irvine heel turn put The Knockouts over the top this week.
Seg 8: Magnus vs. Kurt Angle — Last Man Standing Match
Thoughts: This match had some decent action, especially from Magnus, but Kurt Angle’s limitations are getting harder and harder to hide.
Roode’s interference felt like the ultimate copout. This finish will help Roode’s ongoing feud with Angle, but it didn’t do a thing for Magnus who this tournament is supposed to build up as the next main event star in TNA.
This was a good enough match, but it honestly didn’t feel as “main event” as the opener between Hardy and Roode. Angle has a well-established reputation, but I think both matches would have benefitted from this match happening in the first hour and Roode/Hardy main eventing.
Reasons: This match was fine for what it was, but not anything special. A clean win for Magnus would have been a +1, but this match wasn’t good enough to make up for such a bad finish.
OVERALL +/- SCORE FOR 12/3 EDITION OF IMPACT: +0
Final, Final Thoughts: There was about thirty minutes of extremely strong content on this show. Unfortunately, it was a two-hour show.
While Hardy vs. Roode, Sam Shaw’s vignette, and the Knockouts were all positives, ECIII and Joseph Park provided just enough horrifically boring, terribly draggy segments to bring the whole episode back down to earth.