- ARIES - ROODE IN-RING CONFRONTATION: Once again, another terrific week for the soon-to-be-former X Division champion, Austin Aries. Aries cut a great promo, explaining the ramifications as a result of him forfeiting the X Division Championship and how a tournament will determine the new champion at the Destination X PPV. I also liked how Aries recapped the last 12 months of his career and how some of the "new and old faces" of the X-Division can have a similar opportunity that he does now if they are the X Division champion this time next year.
The segment excelled even further once Bobby Roode entered the scene. In his eight months as World Heavyweight Champion, Roode has faced all comers - James Storm, A.J. Styles, Jeff Hardy, Sting, Rob Van Dam, and Mr. Anderson - and has conquered the competition (by any means necessary) and now faces his most hungriest challenger to date. Aries is determined to step up to the next level by becoming World Champion and verbally combating with Roode was a great step forward. Roode attempted to bully the challenger by claiming it was the champ's ring but Aries had none of it. It is easy to cheer and support Aries when the pompous and arrogant Roode in his counterpart.
I also liked how both men were close to coming to blows before Roode declared Aries "isn't worthy" of the Champion's time. By walking out of the ring before engaging in physicality, it hyped their World Title match without giving away anything on free TV. That is executing the formula correctly, which has been a problem in TNA, not just in championship feuds but nearly every feud where the wrestlers brawl each and every week and by the time the PPV match arrives, there is zero anticipation. Hopefully TNA can continue the War of Words with Aries and Roode without any altercation. If TNA keeps them separated, then it could make their main event match at Destination X one of the most anticipated of the year for TNA.
- SAMOA JOE VS. BULLY RAY: At 13 minutes, this is an example of how the Bound For Glory Series matches should be represented. Sure, Bully Ray used stall tactics to begin the match, but that fits his character. Once things got going, it was a competitive back and forth contest. Bully Ray has made a complete turnaround over the last two years to the point where he can hang in a main event singles match against some of the top stars in the company. His past singles matches with Mr. Anderson and A.J. Styles, and now with Samoa Joe, are prime examples of this claim and it is one of the reasons why I feel he should ultimately become the World Heavyweight Champion. If it wasn't a sheer formality that James Storm would be winning this Series, the next-in-line would be Bully Ray.
But, despite the Bully Ray praise, I am happy Samoa Joe seems to be having a renewed singles push (finally!) and is building momentum in the BFG Series, cutting down Storm's ridiculous early Series lead. Of course, the feud between Bully and Joseph Park extended and seems to overshadow Ray's participation in the Series. I dig Joseph Park finally growing a set and standing up to Bully and I liked it even more that TNA hyped a match two weeks in advance! I'd like to see TNA hype the match this week with some humorous Joseph Park training videos.
- X DIVISION QUALIFYING MATCHES: The Playa from the Himalaya is back in TNA! When Austin Aries said he saw some "old faces and new faces" when he was walking around backstage, I wondered just who he was talking about. Now, I am not familiar with Rubix (or Jigsaw, as he is known on the independent circuit) but he had a fine showing against Sonjay Dutt. I would recommend Dutt change his finishing move, though, as the moonsault into the double foot stomp seems too dangerous and a broken ankle just waiting to happen. But, it was visually impressive.
Speaking of finishing moves, "Mr. Philly 215" Rashad Cameron needs to invest in an original finishing move. The leaping face-buster just reminds me of Shelton Benjamin's singles run in WWE. But, Cameron carried himself like a star and the afro stands out as a memorable look. With Zema Ion, Kid Kash, and Douglas Williams already involved in the tournament for Destination X, the field of eight is shaping up nicely and I hope to see some more returning stars on this week's Impact. It would be great to see Elix Skipper or Petey Williams back in TNA. Just saying.
- GUT CHECK: While the whole Gut Check process has already become predictable with the judges alternating yes and no's, I liked this month's edition of the Gut Check decision mainly because of the disruption of Joey Ryan. When Joey Ryan was first introduced last month, I thought he should drop his gimmick. But, as time goes on, I have found myself liking the guy more and more. His feud with Taz is nothing but greatness and it continued this month when he and Taz had another verbal confrontation. I like the storyline of Ryan invading the Impact Zone as the guy who did not win the contract, but not going anywhere until he finally gets one. I am sure Ryan is already under contract with TNA, but making it seem as though he is an outsider trespassing into the Impact Zone is an intriguing and refreshing way to start a storyline.
And, I am happy Taeler Hendrix won herself an Impact Wrestling contract because the Knockouts division does need some her blood and also because she represents my home state of Massachusetts!
- MR. ANDERSON VS. ROB VAN DAM: My opinion on this match swayed back-and-forth between a Hit and a Miss, ultimately landing in the Miss category. What I did like about the match was the end result, as Rob Van Dam desperately needed to get on the board, as the top point-earners, James Storm and Samoa Joe, are seemingly running away from the competition. Perhaps the field will get muddled over the next several weeks as the Series progresses.
If the rules remain strict, and everyone in the Series only faces each other once, then this was not the best presentation of an Anderson vs. Van Dam match. I enjoy watching a mat-based wrestling match and, as James Caldwell mentioned during his Impact coverage, it was refreshing to see this type of match between Anderson and Van Dam because the audience is accustomed to seeing a formulaic Van Dam type of match. I am not saying every RVD victory has to end with him connecting with the Five Star, but in a Series where the combatants wrestle each other only one time, I would have preferred a more fitting ending to the match than a fluke, crucifix pinning predicament.
- TAG TITLE MATCH: Who would have thought when the top two wrestling companies had a main event storyline involving an A.J. character, that the more entertaining storyline would be about the female A.J.? Unlike the entertaining storyline revolving around A.J. in WWE, this storyline in TNA has more logic and plot holes than a slice of Swiss cheese.
Initially, it made sense for Kazarian to be upset with Daniels about withholding information. Kazarian not wanting to be Daniels's partner and going to Hogan to try and make it happen was just a way to cover his tracks. But, what if Hogan agreed and removed Kazarian from the match? Would the swerve had happened the way it did? This is an example of how professional wrestling is too pre-determined because everything was laid out too perfectly for things to work out in Kaz and Daniels's favor. I am glad Kaz and Daniels are again the World Tag Team Champions of the World (no, not redundant; they are two worlds of great!), but they got from Point A to Point B by abandoning the rules of logic and continuity.
Then, Daniels made the accusation that the "bastard child" Claire is carrying is A.J. Styles's baby. How does he know for sure? Nothing that Daniels has said in this storyline has been accurate. Sure, Daniels is just stirring the pot and causing trouble, but at least one thing he says has to be true in order for the fans to believe him at all. And, Dixie threatening Daniels is finished? Didn't she say that a few weeks back and nothing happened? Couldn't she just fire him if she really wanted to?
POST-IMPACT THOUGHTS: For the third week in a row, Impact started off strong, continued throughout with very solid-to-good in-ring action, and bottomed out with a flat ending. Why does TNA continue to end shows with leaving a sour taste in the viewer's mouth? The sooner this debauchery of a storyline ends, the better for all parties involved.
On a positive note, the one thing Impact has vastly improved on, especially since going live, is promoting matches or other happenings a week in advance. Last week's Impact hyped this week's Knockouts Championship match of Brooke Tessmacher defending against Gail Kim (which has now been changed). Plus, the remaining X Division Tournament qualifying matches, and the main event of James Storm vs. Jeff Hardy in the BFG Series. And, they even announced Joseph Park vs. Bully Ray in two weeks! Can you tell me the last time Impact announced a match two weeks in advance?
TNA continues to right some wrongs while wronging some rights at the same time, which is what seems to prevent Impact Wrestling from gaining traction on the live broadcasts.
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