Impact Recap for 11/28
Patience in storytelling hasn’t been all that common in TNA’s 12 and a half year history, but it has become the calling card of the current product. I see two factors that have caused this shift in how they present themselves. First…they can no longer rely on having an abundance of “big names” to come out and put on their nostalgia act. Not only has there been a good amount of roster turnover resulting in the need to get over new characters (EC3, Lei’D Tapa, Rockstar Spud, Sam Shaw)…but people who were primarily midcard (or lower midcard) hands are being focused on more than at any time in the past (Sabin, Magnus, Bro Mans). Secondly…Eric Bischoff leaving has changed the mindset from trying to find the big quick hit to creating more three dimensional characters.
The most interesting thing about this Thanksgiving edition of Impact was realizing that nearly everyone on the screen was either slowly furthering a storyline or in the process of having their characters defined. Take the main event 8 man elimination match… James Storm was the first one eliminated while his tag team partner Gunner stared right at him and didn’t attempt to break up the pin. They still aren’t tipping their hand on which one of them is going heel so you can see either side if you want to at this point. Is Gunner wrong to not act like a tag partner here and to have thrown in the towel to save Storm from eating barbed wire last week? Is Storm being a crybaby about losing a couple of matches in a row? Under Bischoff one of them would have turned by the second week…under Russo before him they would have already had the blowoff match. Magnus was the next to be eliminated when he “injured” his knee and didn’t finish the match. A clear step towards his next character. A valiant babyface would have gutted it out for his friend and opponent next week Kurt Angle. Magnus’s days as that have come to an end even if he hasn’t gotten there in storyline yet. As for Angle…his frustration at being unable to beat Bobby Roode finally came to a head as, while facing a 1 on 4 disadvantage, he took everyone out with a chair and got DQ’d.
On the heel side of the match we saw Bobby Roode gain a third straight victory over Kurt Angle and then lead the Thanksgiving heel celebration. With Roode it has been less about a character makeover and more about giving him the wins to make him far more credible in the role. Chris Sabin pushed his new character both in the ring (sleazy, cowardly, opportunistic) and at the Thanksgiving celebration that followed (sending Velvet Sky to the back because she lost). Even Bad Influence managed to throw another bullying shot at Joseph Park in the pre-match promo.
The other three matches on the show were all squash matches designed to push the new characters. Tapa made short work of Velvet beating her clean with her finisher. EC3 beat Curry Man quickly with his finisher. Bro Mans beat Dewey Barnes and Norv Fernum in seconds with their Hart Attack finisher. Strong, decisive wins.
The Bro Mans match was to determine who would wear the turkey suit (as is Thanksgiving Impact tradition). They even had a pre-match video package for the history of the turkey suit. They showed enough restraint to leave out that AJ Styles was one of those unfortunate few. Zema Ion debuted as a part of the Bro Mans act serving as their personal DJ complete with the most annoying air horn of all time. Robbie E and Jesse Godderz did the Arrested Development chicken dance gag to mock Fernum and Barnes. It wasn’t funny here…but boy did Robbie E commit to it.
Something that actually was funny was the Aces and 8’s funeral segment. This time TNA copied something of their own! Back in 2005 the top heels in the company had a classic segment at a mock funeral for Team 3D. Well…apparently Bubba died again so they did another one. While not quite at the level of the first…there were several great one liners in here. Samoa Joe was going to bury beer in the casket but it was still cold so he passed them out instead. When he got to Angle he said “You’re always in…on second thought” and then skipped over him. Mike Tenay buried Taz’s vest and instead of burying Brooke’s leather shorts he slickly pocketed them in his coat. Ken Anderson, who emerged from the casket, mocked how many segments Aces and 8’s had been featured on over the last year and a half. When it came time to bury Bully’s famous hammer…he opted to keep it because “it’s a perfectly good hammer”. Bully Ray then walked in and cut a serious promo directed at Anderson who he claimed had “raped him of everything” and then threatened him and his pregnant wife. This worked.
Rockstar Spud debuted as Dixie’s assistant. My guess is the point is to give EC3 and Magnus (let’s be honest with each other…he’s winning the title) someone to play off of that isn’t Dixie Carter. Dixie also lost her mind again over AJ Styles having a video of his travels aired during her show. She demanded AJ return the title by next week. It would be a real shame if they cut the AJ storyline short. The fact is his contract is inexplicably still up at the end of the year so their hand might be forced. Whatever his response is going to be will have to be a pre-taped insert as they’ve already taped the next two weeks and he doesn’t appear before the crowd on either show. Hopefully the play here is a video response from AJ burying Dixie again and announcing another title defense or two.
The show ended with all of the babyfaces exacting revenge on the heels who were enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner in the ring. I hate holiday themed shows. Anything that wasn’t Thanksgiving related here was fine though.
There was no further Samuel Shaw videos this week. Hopefully that is corrected next show.
Impact Preview for 12/5
This show, and the next, have already been taped.
TNA title tournament semifinals:
Jeff Hardy vs. Bobby Roode in a tables match
Magnus vs. Kurt Angle in a last man standing match
Gail Kim open challenge
EC3 vs. Earl Hebner
Bro Mans vs. Gunner and James Storm
I know I said that Magnus was definitely winning this tournament…but it’s worth noting that “The wheel of Dixie” has handed Jeff Hardy matches that he’s known for twice in a row now. Hardy’s brief heel character was a favorite of mine. If, like the 2005 funeral segment, it is also a favorite of the bookers…I suppose it is possible.
They’ll be taping the next several Impact’s from 12/3 through 12/5 so we will actually know who wins the tournament before we see the semis.
The next “One Night Only” PPV will be the World Cup themed show and debut on 12/6. Funny because of the timing…there will be an Aces and 8’s team.
TNA has put all 6 episodes of their British Bootcamp series (where Rockstar Spud came from) on youtube. Jeremy Borash produced them so they were actually very good.