For week’s one and two, IMPACT has exceeded the interest I had in it with the quality of the show. Week one I rated my interest at a B-, and week two it was an A-.
IMPACT is the most compelling wrestling show on TV at this moment, and this week looks to be one of the most stacked weeks in recent memory.
It is the first episode that gets an A+ interest rating.
The first reason for the exceptional interest rating is a combination of two themes, actually.
The first is the on-going Bound for Glory series, which kicked off last week with a Gauntlet.
This week also happens to be this month’s “Open Fight Night.”
The examples of what TNA is currently doing right—to a TNA fan who actually watches the shows—are just flowing from week to week and month to month and even year to year.
Here is what I mean.
If you enjoy the product, you look forward to each week of IMPACT (that much is a given).
What TNA has done is place markers throughout the months and years that will make the fan who is looking forward to IMPACT look forward to it even more.
Each month, TNA hosts an “Open Fight Night” where wrestlers can come out and challenge anyone they choose. Each year, TNA has a competition known as the Bound for Glory series. What TNA will do on the June 21 edition of IMPACT is combine “Open Fight Night” with the Bound for Glory series!
This means the 12 men in the Bound for Glory series—AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, RVD, Magnus, Bully Ray, Kurt Angle, The Pope, Robbie E, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, James Storm and Mr. Anderson—will compete in six “Open Fight Night” matches throughout the night.
Now, if I were any one of the 12, I’d come out in the opening minute and challenge Robbie E, but that is just one of the many possibilities on IMPACT. Will Christopher Daniels face off with AJ Styles or Kurt Angle? How long until AJ Styles pushes Kurt Angle into an explosive situation? What will it be like to see the Pope back in action? Will somebody challenge and knock off the current favorite Cowboy James Storm?
The Bound for Glory series is a lengthy competition and this is just another way to keep it fresh and to keep the emphasis on Thursday night set to wrestling.
It also bumps the interest rating, because it receives five out of five stars.
I’m going to spoil this one up front: The Austin Aries decision also gets five out of five stars.
Last Thursday’s segment between Hulk Hogan and Austin Aries was nothing short of an instant classic. Austin Aries had only just demanded his main-event opportunity when it came knocking on his door.
But it visited with a price tag attached.
In order for Austin Aries to receive a shot at the TNA Heavyweight Championship, he must vacate the X-Division Title.
This could easily become a pin-point moment in the story that will become Austin Aries.
Here is a man who is confident without shame. Here is a man who demands when he talks. Here is a man who wants to be the main event. Here is a man…who wants to be the man.
But he has now been asked the following questions: How bad do you want it? How much do you believe it? What are you willing to risk?
This is symbolism at its very best.
Many men have gone from the Intercontinental or U.S. or X-Division titles to the top of their company. Very few are asked to do it on faith.
This is not the Ultimate Warrior forfeiting the I.C. Title because he beat Hulk Hogan for the WWF title. This is Hulk Hogan demanding Austin Aries relinquish his belt and his place when there is no other belt or place guaranteed in return.
This is a historical moment, and I cannot praise TNA enough for extending it a week, rather than moving too quickly through it.
Barring anything unfortunate, Austin Aries will one day be a world champion.
I’m pretty sure, but none of us know.
On IMPACT, Austin Aries will have to behave like what we all think or hope is a known fact.
But what if he ends up without the X-Division Title or the TNA Championship and without an entry into the Bound for Glory series?
Some moments in life are make or break. This one may well break Aries now, but one day make him later.
Go back to what I stated about the week to week and month to month. For fans of what TNA is doing, it is exciting to reach another month of what you enjoy.
How recent it seems that Joey Ryan was trying to claim a TNA contract.
This was one I had my doubts about—the Gut Check.
I still sort of do.
TNA walks a tight rope when they do the Gut Check segment.
They seek to be edgy and real, which is fine by me. But they must be sure not to do it in a way that makes the rest of the show seem less edgy or, more important, less real.
No segment is worth breaking the magic and flow of the entire episode.
That said: People were talking about Joey Ryan.
If they can continue with talent like that and segments like last month’s, Gut Check may well be a huge success and gain attention for TNA.
And—I wonder—could we see Joey Ryan this week?
Don’t you feel he is just lurking? Maybe just outside the IMPACT Zone.
Will a new star be able to gain a contract with TNA, and will Joey Ryan sit back and let it happen?
This segment gets three-and-a-half out five stars for me, mostly because I want to see more Gut Check before I make a firm ruling on how I feel about it.
Also previewed for the show is Dixie Carter coming clean about AJ Styles, more on the masked men who attacked Sting and a Knockout’s Title match decided by Brooke Hogan.
These are all continuations.
Because it is not clear what is going on or if we will see anything concrete in the stories (or who will be wrestling in the match), I will not give these a grade going in.
Stories continue and matches happen. That much is expected.
But the Bound for Glory series combined with “Open Fight Night”, the decision by Austin Aries and the potential of Gut Check are enough to give this week’s episode an A+ interest rating for me.
It clearly may not live up to that, but the fact that adding anything else couldn’t make me want to see the show more means I cannot give it anything less than an A+ based on interest.