A really interesting episode of Impact this week, and it wasn’t even really because of the wrestling. No, it was because of the storytelling, the backstage vignettes of Bully Ray explaining the whole Aces & Eights plot. Now, it’s hard to tell how much of this was always intentional and how much of it is retroactive, but it’s still great to see TNA commit to making a long running story make sense and to make it at least look planned out. This is 9 months of what at the time seemed like nonsense and silly booking, transformed into a master-plan, and it’s really cool. This is the kind of thing I wanted WWE to do with Paul Heyman and reveal a mass conspiracy including CM Punk, The Shield, Brad Maddox and Brock Lesnar, but they chickened out of it and haven’t really had the storylines connect like they should.
TNA went through with it, and really, probably only could because they are a smaller company. But nonetheless, this storyline now works, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends.
As for the rest of the show:
The TNA tag-team division is basically only 3 teams, but luckily, they are good teams (and yes, I include Chavo and Hernandez, yes, Chavo is kind of lame, but Hernandez is really impressing me in the ring lately). The Dirty Heels beat Chavandez in a good match after interference from Bad Influence, who then beat the Champs. This 3-way feud is good, but once it’s over, they really need to bring in some new teams, even if it’s only 2 of Aces & Eights or something, I’d like to see a tag-team of DOC and Mike Knox knock-off Roode and Aries and get them back into singles action (still as friends) and back to trying to win all the belts.
The X-Division title match was good fun, I’m a sucker for high-flying cruiserweight stuff, and Kenny King is a great prickish heel. I also like the new rules, where every match is a 3-way and whoever loses is out of the division, that should help to keep things competitive and fresh and stop the matches just being Kenny King, RVD, Xema Ion and Christian York like they have been recently.
The Knockouts storyline came to a head in the way I think we all expected, with Taryn Terrell switching from being a referee into being a wrestler. This is good stuff, and another good example of TNA doing long-form storytelling, and one that was surprisingly subtle. It blows my mind how many supposedly smart fans have been complaining about Terrell being a shit ref, that was the point of the story! But yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing Gail Kim getting the shit kicked out of her in a real match.
The Matt Morgan/Joseph Park match was kind of boring, Morgan is a beast, but he seems kind of directionless. But he did a good job of building even more sympathy for Park, who is just a great good guy.
The AJ Styles stuff is a bit strange, they seem to be retreading the silent, Crow Sting character from the original WCW NWO days, which is odd, since Hogan mocked Sting about that in this very show. We’ll see how it goes, but for now… AJ needs to speak and not hide in any rafters. And wow, James Storms says some weird crap doesn’t he?
The main event was a weird one, as it was 4 faces going at it, who are we supposed to cheer for? I personally wanted Magnus to win because a) he’s the only one who hasn’t been champion before and b) he’s from the UK, but Jeff Hardy winning is fine too. This was a good match with some good moments, but it did feel odd.
So yeah, this was a good show, and a great example of strong long-term storytelling in wrestling. Just imagine what WWE could do if they didn’t have Vince McMahon second-guessing the writers and changing things at the last minute.