Monday, 5 September 2011

Thoughts on IMPACT Wrestling: Aired Sep 1st (USA) / Sep 4th (UK) 2011

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What a difference a live crowd makes huh? Credit to the Huntsville crowd who were loud all night. The show, the very impressive set and the crowd moise made TNA look big time. It was also interesting to gauge the crowd reactions for many of the roster in comparison with the IMPACT Zone. By and large the crowd reactions were as desired by creative, with Hogan and Angle getting roundly booed as opposed to the mixture of boo's and cheer's in the IMPACT Zone where some fans let their respect for Kurt Angle's abilities get in the way of booing him, which as a Heel at the moment is what I'm assuming he'd like to be hearing.

  • The opening promo from Hogan, Angle and Sting was tremendous and has really got me chomping at the bit for Hogan vs. Sting at Bound For Glory. I know both guys are older now, I know both guys perhaps won't have the kind of match they could 10 years ago but come on, surely there's others like me who will enjoy the spectacle of two of the all time greats going at it one last time? And you never know...they just might surprise us!  
  • Also interesting to note the mention that Flair vs. Sting will take place on the September 5th edition of IMPACT Wrestling. Many will question why TNA haven't kept this one for the No Surrender Pay-Per View. Yes, this is a match many are looking forward to but those same fans are also criticising TNA for letting nostalgia acts get in the way of pushing the younger stars. Remember that No Surrender features the battles of the Final Four participants in the Bound For Glory series, the focus is and rightly should be on these four men and their match-ups, Sting/Flair would likely overshadow this and is best kept for an episode of IMPACT which hopefully will garner a good rating to boot. Good call by TNA Wrestling here in my opinion.
  • On the subject of Pay-Per Views - let's face it the Pay-Per View industry is dying, certainly in wrestling's case. It's time to either cut the number to four pay-per views a year and reserve a spot for an extended live special of Impact every other month or simply look to find a new medium of broadcast i.e. Itunes, IPPV etc. which is surely where the next battle ground will be.
  • Rob Van Dam vs. Gunner was a decent bout, with some clumsy spots but a nice surprise finish. I don't think many expected Gunner to go over, so this was a welcome surprise and Jerry Lynn finally revealed his true intentions by costing RVD the match, anything that results in these two squaring off again is good news in my opinion. 
  • Samoa Joe's attempted interference and subsequent exchanges with Matt Morgan through the night were great stuff, very intense and reminded me why Samoa Joe can still be a big player in this business. I had assumed that Joe's attacks would in the end  propel him into the final four, obvious creative have something else up their sleeves, interesting to see where this is all heading to.
  • Regarding the Bound For Glory Series Final Four, with Gunner, Bully Ray, James Storm and Bobby Roode all in the mix, my pick will be Roode vs. Storm in the final with Roode ultimately winning the tournament and the World Heavyweight Title at Bound For Glory in October. 
  • The build and reveal for the Knockouts VP was sublime and there could be no better choice than Karen Jarrett. She will make the knockout's lives hell in a very entertaining way and we can always expect great dialogue from Karen, one of the best female talkers in the business right now in my opinion. 
  • I just love how Brian Kendrick's "Wizard of Odd" character has developed over the past few months. His title reign has been great, and the focus on the X-Division, coupled with the many new names that now make weekly appearances has really freshened up the product. They've been making Jesse Sorensen look like a million bucks in recent weeks as the upstart rookie and I think everyone will agree he has all the tools to make it big. However he does need some mic time and more character development but I guess that will come with time. 
  • Mickie James vs. Winter for the Knockouts title was a surprisingly clumsy match with a lot of missed spots, unusual for these two as they are impeccable workers, but I guess even the best can have bad nights. Great to see Mickie James get the title back and the crowd seemed happy with this development, hopefully this is the beginning of a run up to the Mickie vs. Velvet money match at Bound For Glory. 
  • The preview for Jeff Hardy's return was very well recieved in my household. My son has not been into wrestling as much since his hero's departure but is very excited to see him return. I think they've done the right thing in addressing Victory Road and having Hardy return as a face (at least that's how it looks given Hogan and Angle's reactions...). Hardy has the potential to turn this into one of the greatest comebacks of all time, he's incredibly charismatic, very talented and has a cult following. If Hardy's on his game he will mean big business for TNA.
  •  I enjoyed AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels tonight much more than their Destination X encounter. That could be because I, like many wrestling fans today, am no longer accustomed to hour long matches. But I did feel tonight's bout was much more action packed and fast paced and the ending was a bit of a surprise. I'm guessing AJ will now begin to chase Daniels who will let the win go to his head.
  • The main event between Sting and Kurt Angle was very good, even though the ending was somewhat predictable. I really enjoyed seeing Sting no sell the chair shot from Hogan etc. it brought back memories of the "Crow" Sting back in WCW when he would come out and take on the nWo single handedly most nights. Great reaction from the crowd throughout and Anderson's save with the baseball bat was exciting, though they should have saved his return until this show rather than last week in my opinion as it took the edge off of it a little. 
Overall a thoroughly enjoyable show and a success presentation and entertainment wise, if not financially. Spike is footing the bill for IMPACT Wrestling on the road and given that the show was the first of their recent run on the road and it featured all the top talent in Sting, Hogan, Angle etc. it won't bode well that tickets didn't sell particularly well and the rating dropped this week.

Taking the show on the road certainly makes the product look ten times better, but financially I'm not sure it's viable. I guess this is only one stop and by next week things might look a lot different but I fear a permanent move to IMPACT "on the road" will upset talent with added travel, increase expenses and negatively affect the Live event business in those markets with fans waiting out for IMPACT rather than House Shows. It might be a better idea to keep IMPACT tapings at the IMPACT Zone and take the Pay-Per Views on the road. But that's just my two cents on the matter.

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