Wednesday, 18 May 2011

IMPACT Wrestling Review: "The Network's Revenge" - 17/05/2011


Tuesday 17th May 2011 – 10pm on Challenge

Mr. Anderson wins 25 Man Battle Royal for Number 1 Contendership
Crimson d. Abyss & Samoa Joe
Chyna returns to Pro Wrestling as Kurt Angle’s hired “Mistress”
Mick Foley is revealed as the Network’s Representative
Sangriento d. Suicide
”Wildcat” Chris Harris is revealed as Matt Hardy’s Mystery Tag-Partner
AJ Styles confronts Tommy Dreamer regarding his actions
Ric Flair returns…but he is NOT the Network Rep
Mickie James & Miss Tessmacher d. Madison Rayne & Tara

The IMPACT Wrestling era began with a bang and one of the best episodes in a long time. Mick Foley’s reveal as the Network Representative was well built and made a ton of sense. Mick has a rocky history (both on and off screen) with Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan, is good personal friends with Sting and Kurt Angle and is a great talker. This is the perfect role for Mick.

I enjoyed the interchange between Mick and Hulk and i loved the digs at WWE with “wrestling matters”, but if i’m allowed to nitpick i thought the change to IMPACT Wrestling wasn’t very clear for the casual viewers for whom it would have come across as a random announcement that really didn’t mean anything at the end of the day. TNA will have to do a better job explaining this change to their entire audience in the weeks to come.

The pop of the night went to Chyna whose shocking return to pro wrestling made waves on TMZ et all and was a really good surprise. TNA managed to keep this secret quite well, having many believe in the weeks leading to the show that it would be Isis the Amazon. Chyna is a huge name that casual viewers will remember and she has a lot of history from her high profile storyline with Jeff Jarrett during the WWF Attitude era. I must admit i was worried but pleasantly surprised at just how big a crowd reaction Chyna got upon the reveal.

The other big reveal of the night was the return of “Wildcat” Chris Harris, who will partner Matt Hardy against Beer Money at Sacrifice. This was a nice twist, given the heavy hints that it would be Matt’s brother Jeff. I also liked the fact that Beer Money acknowledged this by asking Matt to hurry up and “get his brother out here”, was a nice touch. I was a big fan of America’s Most Wanted and Chris Harris, and many have been clamouring for a tag-team return at some point. Whilst i’d be all for it on a one night basis and i don’t want to see this happen permanently, Beer Money are the best tag-team in wrestling today, TNA shouldn’t break what’s working.

Nice to see Flair’s return. Hogan’s accusations that Flair was the rep really got home the point that Hogan was paranoid about the whole deal, also liked how they interwove some reality in there with Hogan asking why Flair cancelled his surgery.

We got a Sangriento vs. Suicide match-up for the second week running. This weeks was by far the superior bout. Red and Daniels are both amazing performers, more of this please! By the way, what about that back-flip cutter that Sangriento is using as his finisher? Impressive or what?

TNA’s “Reaction Cam” style interviews are fantastic and have a much more realistic feel to them than you would see with WWE and their staid old school “interviews”. I just loved how Sting went from a photo shoot with the title, right into responding to what he thought of tonight’s upcoming events, little touches like this go a long way.

Great to see Crimson take the win in a three-way bout with Joe and Abyss. Crimson has all the tools necessary to be the next break out star. Keep this win streak going, have him go over a few big name stars (starting with Abyss at Sacrifice) and the sky’s the limit for this guy.

Loved the decision to have a battle royal main event, its different, fresh and unpredictable. The images of all of the talent lining up backstage for their chance at a shot at the belt was just magical. In the end they delivered a main event choc-ful of the ingredients necessary to draw a wrestling audience – suspense, drama, humour (Eric Young’s “TV Title” win was ridiculously funny!), excitment, dismay even anger on my part (come on who dosen’t want to just punch Bully Ray? Bubba is awesome at his job.), and Anderson was the perfect winner. His journey to finally getting his re-match has been great television and i sincerely hope he goes over Sting at Slammiversary.

All in all a show that delivered elements that make wrestling great. Given the staggeringly fast upward trend in viewership for IMPACT this past while, i can see this one being a record breaker.

Until next week, thanks for reading.

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