Before Wednesday’s Impact even hit air, TNA president Dixie Carter announced that TNA and Spike TV had agreed to keep Impact on the air through the end of 2014, and that “negotiations are ongoing” for 2015 and beyond. Finally, some positive news for TNA, and this move to Wednesday nights could be a last-ditch effort to save the television deal with Spike. At the very least, Spike is willing to experiment with TNA for the next four months, which means they haven’t totally written off agreeing to a new contract.
We praised the Impact move last week, and it’s smart business. That being said, the execution was terrible, to the point that loyal viewers could have easily forgotten about the change. I forgot, and I watch the show every week. It was sitting on my DVR this morning before I said to myself, “Oh yeah, Impact was on last night.” They needed to do a better job educating their audience, and not rushing the move would have helped.
The biggest reason this change happened, at least in the short-term, was the NFL’s return next month, and the league scheduling Thursday night games for another season. There’s also the rumor that WWE will move Smackdown to Thursdays in the fall, as part of the new television contract with NBC Universal. So why rush the timeslot change? It included only a handful of plugs – all graphics – on last Thursday’s broadcast, along with the announcers clearly not knowing about the change, despite the show being recorded just nine days earlier. Not once did Mike Tenay or Taz mention it during the show.
Ideally, TNA would have made the timeslot change effective Sept. 3. That’s the night before the NFL kicks off on Sept. 4, it would would have given them three weeks to adequately plug the change. They could have re-dubbed the commentary in post-production so that Tenay and Taz could relentlessly hit the audience over the head with the change – take a page from WWE’s “$9.99” book.
Here’s what actually happened on Impact on Wednesday, once I finally watched the show on DVR:
Bram def. Abyss in a Stairway to Janice Match
Not a bad opener. We’re subject to a themed Impact this week – Hardcore Justice – so this match fit right in. If you remember, TNA also ran a Hardcore Justice a few months ago as one of their cheaper, pre-recorded pay-per-views. It was taped in Lowell, Mass. in December, and I’m guessing no one watched it.
Bram hit Abyss with a low-blow and then gave Abyss a gut-shot with Janice to grab the win.
EC3 Turns on Rhino
Next, a talking segment. Ethan Carter III is an underrated promo, and he did a nice job here talking about his arrest last week.
As an aside, if we never see another “arrest” in pro wrestling again, I’d be thrilled.
But EC3 said it gave him time to think, and he realized Bully Ray wasn’t to blame for putting Dixie Carter through a table, Rhino was (I’m not sure how that makes sense, by the way, but let’s go with it). Rhino and EC3 yelled a bit, and Carter smacked Rhino in the face before delivering a beatdown. The crowd seemed mildly disinterested. Perhaps if Rhino didn’t just debut with the company a few weeks ago, people would have cared a bit more?
The biggest issue with turning a guy like this is that it doesn’t really turn Rhino. He was a heel when he hit the ring, and never did anything that would remotely make him a “good guy.” So another heel beat him up. So what? Rhino never acted like a babyface, unless you count getting stomped in the middle of the ring a babyface move. The turn would have been much more effective had Rhino turned on EC3, or did something that the fans could have gotten behind.
Samoa Joe def. Low Ki
As you would expect, a very, very good match between two of the top wrestlers in the world. They weren’t given enough time, but that’s a product of television and trying to cram in as much content as you can. The finish came when Joe knocked Low Ki down from the top rope and hit a muscle buster for the pin.
Mr. Anderson def. Sam Shaw in an I Quit Match
This match actually started in the backstage area during an interview, and after a commercial, had spilled out onto the stage and they just sort of started it from there. Not to go on a long diatribe, but the whole idea of “this is a Hardcore Justice show, so everything has to be hardcore” is so dumb. It’s the same as WWE saying, “Well, it’s October, so we must have a Hell in a Cell match.”
In an I Quit Match, you’re supposed to inflict so much physical punishment on your opponent, that they would accept screaming the words “I quit!” into a microphone for the world to hear. Perhaps this is too “old school” of me, but a match like an I Quit match can’t be a seven-minute match in the middle of a television show. It needs to be, at least, 20 minutes.
The finish came when Anderson locked an armbar on Shaw, and he quit. Anderson stared down Gunner after the match, which means this silly “he’s a stalker” storyline isn’t over yet.
Someone has a plan?
Matt and Jeff Hardy were out for an in-ring promo. They talked about their great matches and led the crowd in a chant of their own name (seriously). They said they had an idea to revitalize the tag team division, and called out Team 3D. Devon said they loved the idea (they apparently shared this idea, off camera, backstage prior to this promo).
Bully Ray said it would be great to be inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame (Team 3D is going into the Hall of Fame in October) as World Tag Team Champions. The Wolves then appeared, and said they would be honored to defend the titles against them at “any time, any place.”
We then cut to commercial.
So what was the Hardy’s big idea to revitalize the division? Seriously, did I miss it? Or was the Hardy’s big idea to give Team 3D a title shot?
And now, the strangest interview of all time…
Next we went to an interview in Dixie Carter’s home. She was laying in bed. Mike Tenay (TNA isn’t even trying to pretend their shows are live anymore) was sitting at the foot of her bed, asking questions.
Carter said Bully Ray “broke her back” putting her through the table, and she was going to focus on “business outside of the ring” for now. She also vowed that we haven’t seen the last of her.
Alright. Where do we start. This was a complete waste of television time. Bully Ray putting Dixie Carter through the table is what wrote her off television. Her character (finally) was going away. It was never good and it was never entertaining and she wasn’t a good heel. It was a bad idea to have her out there in the first place, and she was the generic “wrestling heel authority figure” on the show for about one year.
She goes through the table. That was the end of her story. That was the payoff. There was absolutely no need for this interview from her home where she’s going to tell us she’s not going to be around. Just go away. Dixie went through the table and died, that’s what the audience saw on television. We don’t need to have our hand held and explain it to us. Treat the viewer with some intelligence. When Electro was defeated in The Amazing Spider Man 2, Jamie Foxx didn’t interrupt the movie to tell us his character was gone. We got it.
Gail Kim [c] def. Angelina Love in a Last Woman Standing Match for the TNA Knockouts Championship
A terrific match from these ladies, including an awesome finish – with one small hole in the logic – that had the live crowd jumping out of their chairs.
Kim was on the top rope and positioned Love on her back. She jumped off and drove her through a chair that was in the ring. Kim got to her feet at nine while Love failed to meet the 10-count, and Kim retained the title. Velvet Sky, Love’s partner in crime, was on the outside of the ring. They’re heels. She never tried to interfere with Kim beating the 10 count, or try to help Love get to her feet. There are no disqualifications. It wasn’t very heelish.
Was this the big idea?
Kurt Angle announced a series for the TNA World Tag Team Championship. Get ready to get confused …
So it’s The Hardys vs. Team 3D vs. The Wolves. They’re going to wrestle a bunch of times and the first team to get two wins will win the TNA World Tag Team Titles. The winner of the first match gets to pick the stipulation for the next match, and so on.
Who won the main event?
We’re not sure.
Speaking of complicated and confusing things, the main event was a Steel Cage Match to determine the No. 1 contender to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. It featured Eric Young vs. Bobby Roode vs. Austin Aries vs. Magnus vs. James Storm vs. Gunner.
Just take everyone out of the locker room that hasn’t been on the show yet, and throw them in the ring. That’s what this felt like. The end came when Young and Roode each escaped simultaneously and touched the ground at the exact same time. The show went off the air with the referees arguing over who touched the ground first. So we don’t have a winner, and we don’t have a No. 1 contender.
In wrestling, almost everything has been done and re-done a million times, but this felt like a near ripoff of the 1994 Royal Rumble match. Bret Hart and Lex Luger were the final two and both went over the top rope, hitting the floor at the exact same moment.
If Impact opens next week with replay after replay, and the ultimate decision is Bobby Lashley defending against both Eric Young and Bobby Roode at Bound for Glory, then the rip off will be complete.