TNA hasn’t been embarrassed to admit they’re a pro wrestling company. It’s something many wish their counterparts in Connecticut would also embrace. Impact Wrestling’s premiere on Friday night as part of the Destination America lineup had plenty of top-notch wrestling to offer. If TNA is interested in being a true alternative, then featuring the type of matches it did on Friday is a great start.
First, the show kicked off with Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle wrestling two segments. Joe won with a submission after some help from the new Beat Down Club, which is the name of the new faction that’s headed by MVP. The Wolves and the Hardys wrestled a terrific tag team match, Low Ki won the X-Division Title over Austin Aries and Eric Young and Bobby Roode battled in a No Disqualification match.
In interviews hyping the company’s debut on Destination America, TNA president Dixie Carter kept saying that TNA wanted to be an alternative. She wouldn’t name WWE by name in some cases, but we all know what she means. The live show last Wednesday didn’t seem like much of an alternative. But last night was a glimpse into what she was talking about.
The matches were great. The level of in-ring work blows WWE away in some cases. The TNA wrestlers are unique, and don’t feel as cookie cutter as WWE’s product. The different camera angles and lighting all distinguishes the show from WWE. Raw and Smackdown, as well as almost every WWE pay-per-view with the exception of Wrestlemania. WWE lights the show the same, they mix the audio the same, they use the same camera angles and the announcers have all been the same for years. Very little has been done to change the way the product looks since they went to the HD set more than five years ago.
TNA was having a similar problem when they recorded every show at the Impact Zone. There was nothing to differentiate the look and feel of the show. The changes TNA is making – and we noticed it more this week with the work done in post-production – are all great steps.
1) TNA sure likes heel factions. I’d rather this than a heel authority figure, but TNA seems intent on trying to recreate the NWO. This is the second faction MVP has been in charge of since joining the company. Before that, Aces and Eights ran the show. It’s interesting that they tend to keep returning to the same booking pattern.
2) Awesome Kong again made an impression after the Knockouts match, confronting the Beautiful People. She also chokeslammed DJ Z, which was a terrific visual on television and also a tactic TNA utilized when building Kong during her first run in the company. Kong is a unique talent. Carter has talked about trying to differentiate the TNA product from WWE’s, and Kong is more different than any other Diva or Knockout in wrestling today.
3) Bobby Lashley, the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, is officially a babyface. The BDC did what they do best, beating down Lashley in the show’s final segment. MVP tried to say that the World Title belonged to the entire group, and not just Lashley, and the champ didn’t take kindly to that notion. He was rewarded with a beat down and MVP stealing his title. The show went off the air with MVP holding the belt on the ramp while Lashley was down in the ring.
1) Samoa Joe def. Kurt Angle via submission
2) The Wolves def. the Hardys via pinfall
3) Eric Young def. Bobby Roode via pinfall
4) The Beautiful People def. Brooke & Taryn Terrell
5) Low Ki def. Austin Aries to win the X-Division Title
TNA has no pay-per-view to build to at the moment, so they can get away with giving away some of these matches on free TV. They’re a company that is clearly focused more on its television product than anything else, and that’s OK. I worry that without a boiling point to build to, some of the storylines could seem long winded and lost, but that’s a worry for another time.