Friday, June 22, 2012

TNA's Impact Wrestling: A Mixed Bag Of Nuts

(Courtesy of TNA)

It’s a rough day today at Grass Roots of Wrestling. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Oklahoma City Thunder fan. I have been since they were known as the Seattle Supersonics. Last night the young Thunder got knocked out of the NBA finals by the NBA’s version of the Mega Bucks. It was a great season for the Thunder, and I look forward to seeing what they do with the 28th pick in the NBA Draft. This is the deepest draft in a decade.

I’m hoping All American Draymond Green from Michigan State University, who is a jack of all trades type of player, is available at the end of the first round. For a team not looking to shake up the first 8 players in their rotation, Green would fit well as the 9th man on the bench because of his ability to bring a variety of basketball options to the team including passing, rebounding, and an extremely high basketball IQ. With a team that’s core group of players is around 23 years old collectively, I know the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to be a force in the years to come. This isn’t the end, just the beginning.

After the game I settled in to watch TNA’s Impact Wrestling on the DVR. I will have to admit I haven’t watched much TNA over the past year because every time I do I usually end up regretting what I am seeing. I think the frustrating part about TNA is that they have some of the most talented wrestlers in the business, but usually the promotion ends up dropping the ball with the misuse of talent, diluted storylines with too many twists as if the writers are trying to prove they’re smarter than the fans, or they try too hard to be a wrestling show pretending to be a reality show. You’re not the WWE, you’re Total Non-Stop Action. Highlight your athletic roster and stop trying to be another show on VH1.
Last night was another mixed bag of nuts on Impact Wrestling. First off, Austin Aries should be called “The Mint” because he prints money. His look, his mic skills, and his persona are better than almost anything in pro wrestling today. Then add in the fact he is one of the top five wrestlers walking the planet today, and you have a true bona fide star. I loved the opening segment because it helped elevate the X-division, it showed AA isn’t a moron because who turns down a shot at the world title, and it was a good use of Hulk Hogan to help get a star over instead of himself. Robert Roode vs. Austin Aries will probably be the best wrestling match on PPV in July for any company, WWE included.

The decision to make it that every year the X-division champion can trade the title for a world title shot at Destination X is a really good idea. The title already had importance, but now it will have more importance around TNA’s biggest time of the year, Slammiversary. If you are the X-champ after that PPV then you are guaranteed a title shot at the next PPV. It just adds more heat to any title bout. A big thumbs-up to TNA on elevating one of their second tier belts, unlike what the WWE has done with theirs. Who’s the US champ, and does anyone care?
The Bound for Glory series is another over thinker moment in TNA. I didn’t like it last year, and I don’t like it again this year. I guess it is for the stat nerds. If this happens then this can happen, blah blah blah. Why is a submission victory more important that a pinfall? Kurt Angle gets an Ankle Lock & its 10 points. Jeff Hardy nearly cripples RVD with a KO neck snapping twist of fate & its 7 points. It doesn’t make sense.

Also having Robbie E in the series makes no sense at all either. Crimson has lost one match in his TNA career and he is somehow out of it. What about Sting? He was in the Slammiversary main event a couple weeks back & now he can’t get into the Bound for Glory series. Yet Robbie E is out there getting torn apart by Kurt Angle. Also the Pope has been out for a bit, and he returns to a spot in the series. Maybe I missed something, but shouldn’t the guys who have been on TV be in the series, not a Jersey Shore midcarder & a dude straight off the shelf. Plus why do I care about Magnus? He’s an ok talent, but what about Kazarian? AJ & Angle are in the tournament, why not Daniels’ partner?
This Bound for Glory Series is another over thought angle that has too many holes in its logic. The six matches were ok, but nothing to write home about. The ten minute time limit puts restrictions on the talents to tell a story. There is just so much you can do in 6-8 minutes. How is this going to play on PPV, where 15-20 minute matches can do more to flesh out the feuds & characters? Until I see something special from this idea, it will continue to be a failure by TNA & a waste of talent.

Another waste of my time is Dixie Carter. I was lucky enough to marry a beautiful Indian woman. Her Grandma came to America from India years ago. When I hang out with Nani, we watch Indian soap operas on Zee TV. It’s how I am learning to speak Hindi. Anytime Dixie Carter is on my TV it looks like an Indian soap opera. She is over the top emotional for everything. On top of that she somehow sucks three of the best talents (AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Frankie Kazarian) into her web of soap opera suck.
The current storyline is that somehow Dixie & AJ are doing unspeakable deeds behind closed doors as Daniels & Kaz would have us all believe. Yet it isn’t that they are committing adultery, but helping a pregnant addict that they both know somehow. Are you kidding me? I hate when they bring addiction & this type of stuff into wrestling. So for the past few weeks AJ has been protecting the secret of an addict and letting his & Dixie’s names be dragged through the mud, including letting talents call them home wreckers. Now we just need an evil auntie with an oversized bindi, and this would be classic Indian soap opera.

There are too many non-wrestling, non-manager characters on the TNA roster. Hogan is the GM, Dixie is the owner, and Brooke Hogan is the Knockout Commish. Is Nick Hogan going to be the food & beverage manager next?
What does Brooke Hogan bring to the table? Just because Ivanka Trump is on the apprentice doesn’t mean Hulk’s kid has to be in TNA. The group meeting in multiple segments was a waste of time. A title match is on the line and everybody is just chillin’ like it’s a slumber party, catty comments & all. The Knockouts are leaps & bounds better in the ring than the WWE Divas, but their segments behind the scenes are just the pits.

“Let’s pow wow for a bit girls so I can get to know you”, hey Brooke how about you watch the product before you take the job! How does anyone get a job running a division in any business & have no idea about what makes up the division? If Brooke’s work was her boyfriend, it would cheat on her for being this horrible. The capper was having Velvet Sky & Mickie James together backstage as she made her decision, and there wasn’t much of a fight from Sky when Brooke picked James. She just hugs Mickie. I guess that title isn’t that important.
One Segment that is really original is the TNA Gut Check. The idea is great & it lets the audience see some of the amazing talent on the independent circuit. Each time Gut Check comes around I will tune in because I want to see fresh faces, and this is a perfect way to do it without taking away from your established talent. It makes the crowd care about somebody who will probably job out to an established talent.

Taeler Hendrix, this week’s Gut Checker, had a nice piece on her. Giving her a backstory like being a cancer survivor, and showing footage from some of her indie matches, helps develop why the fans should care about her. In the ring she was ok. She didn’t screw anything up, but there wasn’t any moment that popped out that made me want to see her again. Her look doesn’t set her apart from the other knockouts, and the way she took Tara’s finisher didn’t do much to help elevate the established veteran. I would be shocked if Ms. Hendrix survives her Gut Check. Good try, but better luck next time.
Bully Ray is another bright spot for the company. The former Dudley is probably the best heel in the company. On the mic he can get the crowd to riot. In the ring he is so physical. I hope he can get out of this Abyss feud soon, and move on to the title picture, especially if AA wins at Destination X. An undersized champ and a brutish bully, it writes itself. More Bully Ray, More Austin Aries, Less Boobs Hogan; That’s a recipe for success.

Again TNA’s Impact Wrestling was another episode of highs and lows. As one segment would make you want to keep watching, there was equally another segment that made you want to change the channel. The matches didn’t really move the needle as most looked to be more angle driven than anything. Again the 10 minute time limit forces too many matches to have the out of nowhere finish feeling. It is handcuffing TNAs ability to set themselves apart from the WWE, where the 6-8 minute match is their bread & butter.
This show, and the promotion overall, is a big mixed bag of nuts, which probably explains why they drive me crazy. Cut the crap, stop trying to be a full contact soap opera, and start being the action packed promotion you can be. I like the way Hulk Hogan is used. I like a lot of the wrestlers. The Knockouts can wrestle. Just stop trying to be a reality show with situational drama & out of the box concepts that water down the actual product. I don’t care about the backstage meetings & hug fests going on. Make me believe these people want to tear each other apart in & out of the ring. This is Pro Wrestling, not a Boy Scout camping trip. Less weenie roasting, and more action! There are too many lulls for this to be called Non-stop.

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