Oh boy, have we got a lot to discuss following this week's TNA Impact!
First things first: In his tag match with Cowboy James Storm, Jeff Hardy, along with Bobby Roode and Austin Aries, built the TNA World title feud to a fever pitch, all while selling tickets for the Genesis main event.
We also had Kenny King and Zema Ion in an exciting X-Division match that was way too short. We had a decent comedy, inter-gender tag match that could have larger ramifications down the road.
We had what may have been the first truly competitive and legit professional wrestling match since the 1930s. We had another Impact wrestler taken out by Aces & Eights, the return to action by Sting and the in-ring debut of Mike Knox. I give the show a B-, maybe a C (depending on how you feel about the last segment).
We also had what I'm sure is the most talked about moment in TNA's recent history: Bully Ray's proposal to Brooke Hogan. Oh yeah, it went there.
All that and some news about the company's restructuring of its pay-per-view format and we had a very informative night.
So sit back and stop freaking out over Bully's transformation. I have a feeling it's leading somewhere awesome.
Thursday, Kenny King faced Zema Ion in the ring for the second semifinal match in the X-Division Tournament. The winner of the tournament is to face Rob Van Dam at Genesis for the title.
King shined for two reasons. One, he looked as good as always. His moves looked sharp, he had great timing, nothing looked choreographed, and his swagger was off the meter. King was at the top of his game. The second reason King shined was because he made Zema Ion look great.
There are two basic skills to wrestling: performing a move and selling a move. People like working with Dolph Ziggler because he can sell a move; he can make whomever he's working with look like a million dollars.
King is made of the same cloth. There were several moves that Ion did that I've never seen him do before. This is probably because most people in TNA he's worked with couldn't sell the moves or help him perform them safely.
This is a very important skill to have, and King has it in Spades (no pun...okay, yeah...lots of pun intended).
Thursday, King showed that not only can he perform exciting moves, but he can have his opponents perform exciting moves on him. This is the type of skill the X-Division has been missing from its young wrestlers for quite awhile.
Abyss needed Joseph Park.
There's no gray area, it's really that cut and dry. As a masked character, Abyss had a limited shelf life. It is thanks to Joseph Park that Abyss still lives and will do so for a long time.
Look, I get that people want Abyss back, but they have to understand the limits that a masked character puts on wrestling creative teams—this is especially true when the character is a monster heel.
The masked monster rarely talks or interacts with his fellow wrestlers, so storylines are truncated. He or she can never be more than an avatar for fear or whatever emotion is immediately generated from his or her appearance (hint: it's mostly fear).
For this reason, monster heels eventually need a character overhaul. The Undertaker became the American Badass, Kane lost his mask and Abyss became Joseph Park.
It has to happen. No one can be a monster forever.
There are a myriad of upsides to Abyss' transformation. One, it gives his character a much needed makeover.
Abyss is one of only four members on the roster involved in the very first episode of TNA Impact. He was due for a re-imagining. Second, this character gives Abyss the opportunity to flex his acting chops, and boy, does he have them.
Most people aren't going to give Chris Parks this credit, but he is a relatively good actor, apparently. When Joseph Park steps onto the screen, I challenge anyone to find a semblance of Abyss in his mannerisms and speech.
He sweats, shakes, stumbles and stutters. When he gets beat up, I feel bad for the guy, and when he triumphs, I feel a swell of satisfaction.
This is a totally different character, and he's been fleshed out by a very patient TNA creative and a very talented actor in Christopher Parks.
Even when Abyss finally does come back, having a character like Joseph Park adds another layer that can be exploited if ever the monster grows stale again.
Hopefully, fans can just sit back and enjoy him without being too caught up on the fact that his "brother" hasn't been around for a while.
The Robbies were never much of a tag team.
Although Robbie E is a great worker and Robbie T looks incredible, the team just never seemed a threat to the tag team titles and were used more often as comic jobbers.
It didn't help that they were saddled with a Jersey Shore gimmick that had grown old some time before they actually started using it.
The two were just never taken seriously.
However, if this Thursday was a sign of things to come, the two may be headed for an overhaul.
For the past few weeks, Robbie E has been growing increasingly jealous of bigger Robbie's newfound popularity.
First, it was the bro-off that Robbie T crashed and ended up winning. Then this Thursday, Brooke Tessmacher chose Robbie T as her inter-gender tag team partner, much to smaller Robbie's dismay.
Slowly the pieces are being put into place for the two to finally split. This is a long time coming if you're a Robbie E fan.
The guy is actually very good. It's the tag team and the gimmick that have been holding him back. If he loses both, I wouldn't mind seeing him go for the Television title again.
Robbie T is another story. The guy just never impressed me. He's a great body with no personality. Hopefully a feud with Robbie E will help bring more out of him.
TNA changed the format for its Gut Check segment this Thursday, and two things occurred to me.
One, the change was definitely for the better. Instead of having the Gut Check competitors wrestle in squash matches with TNA veterans, the company put two competitors in the same ring and told them to work a match. The TNA judging panel will then choose a winner and award him or her a TNA contract.
My second thought while watching the match was: Did the TNA just inadvertently make professional wrestling a legit sport again?
This Thursday, Jay Bradley and Brian Cage met in the ring, and they wrestled in a very competitive and stiff match. Both men tried to outperform each other, outsell each other and all around outdo each other—all in an attempt to score points with the judges.
Brian Cage performed an impressive second rope suplex, bringing Bradley off the apron and onto the mat with authority. Jay Bradley has one of the most devastating lariat's I've seen since JBL.
Sure, the match was predetermined, but the two were still competing, and unless this turns out to be some hugely unnecessary work, what we witnessed was a real, legit sporting event.
Of course, this doesn't change much about the segment. I still feel Gut Check winners should be seen more, so the segments don't seem entirely useless in the grand scheme of things.
But still, the change makes the matches more watchable from a purely wrestling fan point of view.
Last week TNA made a major announcement about its pay-per-view programming.
TNA IMPACT WRESTLING today announced a new worldwide Pay-Per-View programming initiative for 2013. The 52 annual episodes of IMPACT WRESTLING on SpikeTV will lead to four, live epic Pay-Per-View events commencing with “Genesis” on January 13th, “Lockdown” on March 10th, “Slammiversary” on June 9 and “Bound For Glory” on October 13th.
This is great news for fans of the promotion. Finally, TNA has taken the necessary steps to trimming the fat and making a more lean and efficient product.
No longer will PPV-builds be truncated and rushed affairs. Now, storylines will get months of build time that will hopefully culminate in pay-per-view events that will undoubtedly mean more.
The article also goes on to say that to supplement the loss of pay-per-view events, beginning in April, TNA will run its One Night Only series.
In addition, seven Pay-Per-View specials that will be branded as “TNA Wrestling: One Night Only,” series will debut in April 2013 and continue throughout the year during the additional months. The 3-hour taped Pay-Per-View specials will premiere on the first Friday of each month. The first two “One Night Only” specials will be “Joker’s Wild Tag Team Tournament” and “X-travaganza” which will feature the X-Division.
This is a good idea for many reasons, not least of which is because TNA was never big enough for the 12 pay-per-view events per year.
That was a WWE idea but only after the WWE became big enough to support it. In its infancy, the WWE employed the four pay-per-views a year model as well. It's good that TNA is recognizing its limitations and is working, seriously, to build its brand.
This also means the company will be saving a lot of money. Hopefully, the extra funds can go to other projects, better production and bigger venues—maybe even a second show, but let me not get my hopes up.
Okay, I'm sure everyone's talked about it. I'm sure you've all read about it from multiple sites. Bully proposed to Brooke Hogan, and she said yes.
A lot of people are saying it's a stupid angle, but no one can really explain why they feel that way. It's an old angle that's been done before and in way dumber ways. Some say it wastes Bully's talents, yet he's on screen more now than he's ever been in his whole career.
Being that all of these statements and articles have already been written, I'll focus on something no one seems to want to touch: Bully is the protagonist for this storyline. Bully is the focal point, he's the star—not Hulk, not Brooke, not Aces & Eights, it's Bully.
That's a good thing.
The question now is, what is Bully going to do? Is he going to turn on Hulk? Is he going to to turn on Brooke? Will Brooke have been a part of it all along. This is called intrigue, and it is also a good thing. I have my theories, but I'll keep them to myself, in case I turn out to be right and ruin the whole experience for everyone.
All I will say is that, for all the people complaining that this angle isn't going anywhere, there was a point in the show's last segment Thursday when Bully, after receiving a "yes" for his proposal and in Brooke Hogan's embrace, turned to the camera and stared.
It was deliberate, menacing and not a mistake.
This angle is going somewhere, and I suggest people just relax and laugh at how ridiculous this is. Trust me, you'll enjoy yourself.
Maybe it's just me, but I was laughing my ass off when Bully got down on his knees. I almost lost it when he actually popped the question, and Hulk and Sting both jumped like someone shot them with a pellet gun. It's so over the top, it's hilarious.
The difference between this and the Claire Lynch story is that Claire Lynch was a horrible actress. Conversely, for this storyline, everyone (yes, Brooke included) is decent if not great on the mic.
Another difference is that the Claire Lynch story never seemed like it had a specific goal. When it was about A.J. Styles and Dixie Carter, it was fine, but then it swerved to the land of no return...and we got a crackhead.
Again, this angle is going somewhere, and it's going somewhere pretty awesome. I can almost guarantee it.