Pope’s Commentary Was Excellent on Impact

After sputtering early in his run, Pope is coming along as TNA's color commentator ...

The latest installment of TNA Impact Wrestling had its ups and downs. Opening with the Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Roode match was a nice change of pace for a wrestling show in 2016, but TNA followed that up with two straight talking segments that lasted about half-an-hour.

Lead play-by-play man Josh Mathews even noted the difference, remarking, “what a way to open a wrestling show!”

A positive on this show was definitely Pope, who I thought had one of his better nights on commentary. Pope was insightful, playing the Joe Rogan role, if you’re a fan of the UFC, pointing out why wrestlers were doing what they were doing in the ring. The best subtle comment of the night came in the Angle-Roode match, when Pope pointed out that Roode went for a very early cover, knowing he wasn’t going to get a three count.

However, it was important because Roode leaned all his weight on Angle, forcing Angle to use a lot of energy to kick out. It made sense why Roode would go for a pin attempt after a hip toss, when any fan who has watched wrestling for more than five minutes knows that’s not the finish of the match. Pope pointed out that Roode also knew it wasn’t the finish to the match, but he was softening Angle up for later on.

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As good as Pope was, it was out-balanced by Mathews, who for some reason, was being extra cheesy on commentary. He telegraphed a lot of false finishes as well, like a pitcher tipping pitches. There was something about the pitch in his voice, and how he got excited for nearfalls, that just tipped off to the viewer the finish wasn’t actually coming. Screaming “Bobby Roode is going to make Kurt Angle tap out!” tells viewers that Roode is not going to make Angle tap out. At least not at that point in the match.

As far as creatively, the show was paced well and on the whole, did feature some good matches, despite the heavy-talking in the middle of the first hour. Angle-Roode and Mike Bennett vs. Drew Galloway were both very strong, and the Abyss vs. Jimmy Havoc match delivered some good action, for the weapon-filled spotfest that it was. I’m still very intrigued with the Decay storyline. It’s been very underrated on Impact.

The ending of the show was a tad anti-climactic. ECIII needed to get some of his steam back after losing last week, and earlier in the show challenged Rockstar Spud to a non-sanctioned fight. It was a tad confusing, with Dixie Carter booking the match, forcing Spud into it, but not sanctioning it. In the end, ECIII beating up Spud just didn’t feel like it was enough.

Match Results

1. Kurt Angle beat Bobby Roode

2. Eric Young beat Big Damo to retain the KOTM Title

3. Mike Bennett beat Drew Galloway

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4. ECIII appeared to be Rockstar Spud, even though it was non-sanctioned

Quick Strikes

1. The only problem with the Angle-Roode match is that it was only about eight minutes long. Roode and Angle didn’t over do it, they just had a very good wrestling match, especially considering Angle’s age and limitations at this point in his career. Pope was really good in this match as well, explaining why Roode was going for early pins. He provided some really good insight.

2. Two times within an hour that ECIII had literally promised to murder Rockstar Spud. That’s no joke. He said that the coroner would need to identify Spud’s body, and then later backstage, said he was going to force Spud to take his last breath. I’m not a huge fan of these lines in pro wrestling. No one actually believes ECIII is going to murder Spud. Those lines are for effect, and I think it’s smarter for the babyface to promise something he can actually deliver. Why not just say he’s going to smash his head with a chair the way Spud did to him last week?

3. I’m interested in the Gail Kim-Maria feud, but TNA seemed to move away from it by having Jade attack Gail after a promo. Gail’s promo was OK, she stumbled a bit, but the most interesting part of this angle was definitely Jade attacking Gail on the ramp, without the rest of the Dollhouse. Could this signal the end of the Dollhouse? Perhaps. I found it interesting that she had no help, and did this on her own.

4. Bennett beat Galloway after a distraction from Maria. This was a good way out of a match where both men really can’t be beat clean right now. Galloway owns a title shot and him taking the loss the way he did, with Bennett grabbing tights after Maria was involved, is not going to hurt him moving forward.