With TNA's No Surrender-themed Impact now in the rear-view mirror, the company can officially start the build toward next month's Bound For Glory pay-per-view. The build has been uninspiring to this point, but TNA has a chance to reel in some casual fans over the next few weeks.
Are you excited for this week's edition of Impact?
Last week's show saw the Bound For Glory Series come to an end as A.J. Styles beat Magnus in the finals to earn a title shot against Bully Ray, who defeated Mr. Anderson. Styles' feud with Aces & Eights figures to get started on Thursday, but TNA has placed the focus on a pair of intriguing matches.
Hulk Hogan granted X-Division champion Manik a match against Jeff Hardy, while ODB will challenge Mickie James for the Knockouts title. Although this week's Impact will be a pre-taped edition, TNA is hopeful that those bouts will be enough to generate interest.
Without the Bound For Glory Series or a TNA World Heavyweight Championship match to drive viewership, though, it's likely that Thursday's Impact will come away with some disappointing numbers.
Where: Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Mo.
When: Thursday, Sept. 19 at 9 p.m. ET (pre-taped)
Watch: Spike TV
Jeff Hardy vs. Manik
As the company's biggest star aside from Hulk Hogan, Jeff Hardy's usage as of late has been quite puzzling. Hardy's run with the TNA World Heavyweight Championship was admittedly stale, so it's nice to see him out of the picture, but he should at least be involved in some type of auxiliary storyline. That isn't the case, however, as ImpactWrestling.com is touting a match between Hardy and Manik on this week's episode.
Question on Everybody's Mind: What's Next for Jeff Hardy?
While this match should be fairly entertaining due to the fact that it hasn't been seen before on Impact, it's difficult to imagine it leading to anything. In one respect, keeping Hardy in the X-Division could provide a massive boost, as it has been totally ignored over the past few months. Ever since Chris Sabin cashed in the X-Division title to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, the X-Division has been placed on the back burner. Something needs to be done in order to make it matter again.
It wasn't exactly the golden age of X-Division wrestling when Rob Van Dam held the title several months ago, but it did help elevate younger talent like Kenny King, Christian York and Zema Ion. Hardy could do something similar for Manik and others if he begins to partake in the division regularly. With the Main Event Mafia and Styles going after Aces & Eights, and EGO feuding with Austin Aries, the pickings are slim for Hardy right now. With that in mind, perhaps now is the time to make a big change such as a heel turn.
Hype Meter: 1 out of 5 Hulkamania Comparisons
Hogan is clearly in over his head as an authority figure these days, and that was on full display last week. Hulkster was having a conversation with Manik's alter ego—T.J. Perkins—backstage, and he granted Manik the match he asked for against Hardy. Hogan then proceeded to say that Manik was on a roll, which is ridiculous considering the fact that he hadn't even been on TV for a month prior to that backstage meeting. He also said that when Perkins puts on the mask, it reminds him of Hulkamania. For some reason I don't remember a crowd full of indifference when Hogan came through the curtain, which is precisely the reaction that Manik receives.
TNA deserves some measure of credit for trying to make Manik look legitimate, but the writers have dropped the ball in a major way when it comes to the X-Division. With so much focus on Aces & Eights over the past year, TNA has neglected the things that once made it a palatable alternative to WWE. One of those things is the tag team division, and the other is certainly the X-Division. Hopefully this Manik vs. Hardy match leads to the rebirth of the X-Division, but there's little reason to believe that will happen.
TNA Rumors: TNA Considering Taking Impact Off the Road (via ProWrestling.net)
Mickie James vs. OBD Knockouts Title Match
In addition to the tag team and X-Division wrestling, TNA's Knockouts division used to set it apart from the competition. In recent months, however, plenty of talent has been sent packing. Despite that, Knockouts champion Mickie James has done her best to keep the division afloat. She hasn't been given a ton to work with, but her feud with ODB has been solid, and it's likely to culminate in one way or another when she defends the Knockouts Championship this week on Impact.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Will This Be Mickie James' Final TNA Match?
While Mickie James has been the only thing to write home about regarding the Knockouts division recently, there is some concern about whether or not her TNA tenure could be winding down. According to ProWrestling.net, James rejected a contract offer from TNA, which means that she could very well be a free agent. TNA constantly seems to have contract issues, though, so it wouldn't be surprising to see her back on TNA programming in no time.
If TNA cares at all about the Knockouts division, it will do everything in its power to retain James. Aside from her, all TNA has right now is ODB, Gail Kim, Velvet Sky and Brooke Tessmacher. Taryn Terrell is also technically on the roster, but she hasn't been seen in quite some time. After letting go of talented female wrestlers such as Tara and Taeler Hendrix in recent months, the Knockouts division has gone from a major strength to a major weakness. If a particular area is considered a weakness in TNA, that means it is very much in dire straits.
Hype Meter: 2 out of 5 Depleted Knockouts Divisions
From a match quality perspective, James and ODB are likely to do a great job on Thursday. Their contrasting styles should mesh well, as Mickie is a small, quick and elusive wrestler; while ODB brings pure power to the table. If the rumors regarding Mickie's departure from TNA are true, then ODB has to be considered the favorite to come out on top. There is still reason to doubt James' status with TNA, though, as she seems to have a pretty good deal with the company. TNA promotes her music career and allows her to put time into it. Also, she was dating Magnus at last check, so she may not want to leave because of that.
If James ultimately does decide to head for higher ground, though, WWE would be crazy to leave her on the open market. Her tenure with WWE didn't seem to end on the best of terms, but Mickie is easily one of the best female wrestlers on the planet. WWE happens to have an incredible heel champion in the form of AJ Lee, but she has nobody to feud with. James would be perfect, and she would very much revitalize WWE's moribund Divas division. As good as James has been as Knockouts champion, my preference is for her to lose to ODB, and eventually go back where she belongs in WWE.
TNA Rumors: Potential Spoiler: Popular Knockout's TNA Contract Reportedly Expires (via ProWrestling.net)
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