TV REPORTS CALDWELL'S TNA IMPACT REVEW 4/19: Focus, pacing, RVD, TNA Title, Joe, Good wrestling gives TNA a foundation to build on
Apr 20, 2010 - 11:36:16 AM
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TNA Impact Report on Spike TV
April 19, 2010
Live in Orlando, Fla.
Report by James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor
This episode of TNA Impact can best be described as a ray of sunlight emerging from a dark cloud that was hovering over the TNA product. Starting with the Jeff Hardy vs. RVD match that carried over to the second hour, it might have been TNA's finest hour.
There are still issues throughout the TNA product, namely Rob Terry's undeserved and embarrassing push, but the good-to-great on this week's Impact far outweighed elements of the product that need to be addressed.
Until I watched this week's episode this morning, the show sounded like desperate hot-shotting after TV ratings were below the 0.8 mark last week. After all, TNA delivered on free TV the much-anticipated RVD vs. Jeff Hardy match and subsequent RVD vs. A.J. Styles match with a major title change. However, this show was about making a statement in one night that RVD is TNA's guy and they are hitching their wagon to Van Dam. I call that smart booking to give TNA an identity.
Van Dam looked like a superstar the past two nights on the Lockdown PPV and on Impact. Just an absolute star. If TNA is going to pick someone to put all the focus on, he's at the top of the list. This brings me to one of the key points from the show - the simplified approach and focus on key elements on the show.
I've been critical of TNA's pacing, rushed storylines, and too many elements thrown against the wall at one time. On this show, TNA slowed down and allowed the audience to sink their teeth into the show. It was unbelievably refreshing.
As always in pro wrestling with 52 weeks of continuous TV without a break, the key is follow-up. Does the dark cloud re-emerge and cover the ray of light, or will TNA build upon a fantastic night for the promotion?
I'll identify some of the stand-out elements of the show that are worth drawing attention to and that TNA can build upon going forward.
- The focus on pro wrestling being vitally important to success in TNA and the central piece of the show.
- The shoe finally fit on A.J. Styles's heel role. Styles wasn't trying to be Flair, Jr. He was simply being cocky A.J. with the volume turned up. His title loss in the main event should only intensify his heel character.
- TNA heavily focused on the TNA World Title in the opening segment. At Lockdown, Hulk Hogan had zero conviction behind anything he said during his talking segments. He acted like an actor who didn't believe a word he was saying. In the opening segment on Impact, it was the complete opposite where he put over the title, RVD, Jeff Hardy, A.J. Styles, and the title again with exuberance. It was the right way to utilize Hogan and it was the right tone for the top of the show.
- TNA built to Jeff Hardy vs. RVD throughout the first hour, featured RVD backstage pre-match, and delivered a very compelling Hardy vs. RVD match. It was simply a great TV wrestling match with something at stake, two compelling characters, and good in-ring action. Most importantly, viewers had something they could sink their teeth into.
- There was follow-up after the match! It was a great touch with the post-match analysis from RVD and Hardy backstage talking about what just happened in the ring while reviewing the tape. It conveyed to the audience that the wrestling mattered and the match finish was important to both men.
- Samoa Joe returned as a bad, bad man just being Joe trucking folks. One of the problems with Impact remains Abyss's SCREAMING and YELLING during promos, but Abyss had one of the best facial reactions I've seen on Impact recently when he simply turned his head and shot Joe a look as Joe walked out of the ring after suddenly returning and showing no true allegiance to anyone other than himself. Nothing about Abyss's character seems subtle, but this was a great moment where subtlety told the story.
- Championship Ranking announcement. I'm curious to see what TNA will come up with after promising a ranking system in February. Going back to point #1, it will presumably reinforce that what happens inside the ring counts and matters. TNA has been notorious for making what happens in the ring not count. This seems to be a change in a different direction.
- Championship celebration. RVD's title victory meant something. I had no problems with the post-match celebration as Hulk Hogan, Dixie Carter, and Eric Bischoff shared the spotlight with Van Dam. I thought it was the right tone to endorse RVD as the man in TNA and symbolically recognize him as the wrestler they are hitching their wagon to.
We welcome your 0-10 score and comments on this show for an "Impact Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on Impact, click here.
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