Today I will be talking about TNA Impact Wrestling and their weekly TV product. I’ve been watching since 2008, enjoyed the greatest matches, and through all the negativity I’ve defended many questionable business decisions. However, certain things have bugged me this year, and as a wrestling fan, I don’t want to be annoyed or disinterested with the program. That doesn’t mean I want the company to fold, and I certainly don’t want them off TV. I’ve had a hard time finding ROH since they switched networks as no one uploads torrents of the show (I’m English and it doesn’t air here) anymore, so TNA is my only alternative for the time being.
With that said, I decided to split this article into three chunky slices, the first being filled with a dollop of constructive criticism, followed by a layer of positivity, and to finish .. a nice little conclusion sprinkled with logic and hope. I’m going to be blunt, and to the point with my opinions, but I’m sure you already knew that. I’m looking forward to seeing your slices of tasty feedback in the comments.
Some of you are going to love this as much as I enjoy a good cup of tea. I’m not here to rip TNA for the fun of it; that’s not my style. Feedback is something TNA has not taken on board lately, they haven’t done much of it since switching back to the six-sided ring. While many would see the departures of Austin Aries, Bobby Roode and Eric Young as negatives .. I do not. How can it be a negative when they’ve done everything? There’s nothing left for them to achieve .. so it makes sense they moved on to new horizons. What it does do is make space for new stars to be made. That’s why I don’t see the recent exodus as a negative, because “Enough is enough! And It’s time for a change!” Happy Birthday Owen.
- Since Kurt Angle went into semi-retirement, he’s left a gaping void which no one can fill. He left on good terms, and both sides squeezed every last drop out of the partnership .. but now he’s gone, and there’s no wrestling machine. No one on the roster comes close to Angle in terms of wrestling ability, so for the purists, there’s a lack in quality, and no one’s “stealing the show” because NXT is doing a far better job.
- They spent years building EC3 as an undefeated champion, and kept him heel when some fans started chanting his name. And then .. for no particular reason, they put Matt Hardy over. Don’t get me wrong, Matt desperately needed a new character, and the heel persona is x100 better than what he was doing .. but it came at the expense of the hottest talent on the roster. And with Tyrus/Rockstar Spud joining his side .. well, I can understand it with Tyrus, but Rockstar Spud too? Why change Spud heel? He’s the ultimate underdog and gets decent fan reaction, so it blows my mind he’s back to playing the “Chief Of Staff” role when he could be one of the biggest babyfaces in the company; I ain’t buying the cheap retread.
- Pre-taped episodes grind my gears. As someone who has to research and check on title histories .. more often than not I’ll have a title change spoiled because someone edited Wiki before it aired on TV. Exceptionally annoying, it takes all the surprise away, and I’ll know about title changes weeks .. sometimes months in advance. I hate it. I really, really do. I understand they’re trying to save money .. but it kills the program for me.
- The Knockouts Division is struggling. I love Gail Kim, but her time is done, and there’s no reason to give her the title unless someone has the talent to push her further than we’ve ever seen before. Jade isn’t that woman, although she’s pretty good at what she does, she happens to be there at the right time. Then there’s Maria Kanellis, who I’ve tried to hate .. but she overacts too much and I end up tuning her out. She isn’t getting the heat you would expect from the obnoxious gimmick, although it’s a stark contrast to when Bennett talks. Also, with The Beautiful People disbanded once again (Angelina Love having a kid, Velvet leaving the company AGAIN!), who’s left? Jade, Gail Kim .. Marti Belle, Rebel? (may have left too). The Knockouts Division is painfully dull, and for the first time I can say the WWE Women’s Division beats it by a country mile.
- Poor production. I remember when the Impact zone was bright, had fireworks, and they weren’t afraid to let fans loose. I’ve said this before, but since they rebranded .. it continues to look like a cheap version of Smackdown. I understand why, but I don’t have to like it. I’ve said this before and will continue to say it .. Impact needs to be colourful (and I don’t mean ring ropes with rainbow colours) if it’s going to attract fans and keep them interested. They also need to encourage rowdy fans, because small venues filled with families will give nothing but a quiet atmosphere. It’s been a long time since I heard a raucous crowd on Impact; and silence is deadly.
- Heavily relying on The Hardys and Lashley. TNA is milking as much money out of Jeff, and keeping Matt sweet at the same time. And then there’s Lashley, a guy who’s improved a lot, but for some reason .. he doesn’t come across as dangerous. He’s taking everyone out .. putting the roster on notice, but it’s not spectacular or scary. He’s a MMA athlete, yet his spear is weak, and he doesn’t intimidate me. Lesnar would laugh in Lashley’s face before destroying “The Destroyer”.
- The way EC3’s undefeated streak ended. Why? I mean .. Mike Bennett was the right choice, and I don’t have a problem with that. The problem I have is how it was done. Could it not have been saved for PPV? Surely it should have had weeks of build? Do they need to mention Sting, Bully Ray, Kurt Angle and others every time they talk about the streak? It’s like they’re trying to sound cool because so-and-so worked there .. but lately it’s coming across as unnecessary, and a little desperate. EC3 should have won the title a third time, held it a few months, then lost it and the streak at the same time in the main event of a PPV to Bennett. Two guys with undefeated streaks clashing at Slammiversary or Bound For Glory? It sells right? But it doesn’t sell when it’s thrown away on a random Impact.
- AJ Styles merchandise! The company comes across as a money grabber as Josh Matthews plugs the “Best of AJ Styles” each week in the middle of matches. Don’t misunderstand me, they’ve done it before with Sting and others, and it makes good business sense .. but this time we’re aware of the drama between AJ and TNA, and how unprofessional the company was when he didn’t sign a new deal. They’re willing to be unprofessional in public statements, and try to make AJ out to be someone who doesn’t deliver on “promises” (even though no contract was signed), yet they don’t mind plugging his body of work on TV for money?
I always look for the positives. You can’t have negatives without positives. There are some parts of the show I am enjoying, but I wish there was more to like. In 2016, Impact Wrestling should be an exciting alternative by giving talent a platform to fulfill their potential, and if in the process they can make new stars it should go a long way in moving the promotion in the right direction.
- Mike Bennett. I didn’t think much of him when he was in ROH, mostly because I didn’t hear him on the mic too often, and he was in a tag team. He reminds me of CM Punk a little bit in his mannerisms, but he’s no copycat by any stretch. Love his entrance, and I’m digging his work, and this is what TNA should be doing .. making new stars! The win over EC3 gave him some credibility, but as I already explained it could’ve been done to better effect. TNA needed another main event caliber guy, so they pushed Bennett to the sky and back, and I expect he will win the TNA World title in the next year.
- Drew Galloway. Seen as WWE has no Barrett, Neville’s injured, and Paige isn’t doing much .. Drew is the only wrestler from the UK who’s succeeding as the current TNA World Heavyweight Champion. WWE mistreated Drew almost as bad as they did Damien Sandow, so it’s cool Drew has been given a chance to run with the ball. At the same time, he’s not the most entertaining, he’s not going to force you to stop what you’re doing to listen to what he has to say .. but at least he’s working and we get to see him. I do wish they would stop pairing him with Dixie though .. and give him something creative .. something to up the audience participation. #StandUp is something they seem to have put to the wayside. Either way, Drew is likeable, and he’s only 30 so expect him to hang around a while.
- Decay. It’s a little cringeworthy when Rosemary says, and screams “Decay … Decay …. DECAY!” .. but aside from that it’s exactly what TNA needed. The entrance theme is old though .. it’s like Billy Corgan and creative suggested gimmicks that would work fifteen years ago so they could pair Marilyn Manson’s song with it. Crazzy Steve and Rosemary are getting there and doing a good job, while Abyss has once again reinvented himself. Is there anything he can’t do? Aside from sign with WWE like everyone else?