Being a TNA fan is not easy.
It’s a roller-coaster ride full of ups and downs and can be more confusing than Richard Simmons at a KISS concert.
And more often than not (for this fan), lying under that unflinching, devotional surrender to TNA, borne out of the dislike for funny midgets and the overdose of that cartoonish facade marketed as "sports entertainment," is the subconscious realization that TNA…has some issues.
The TNA iMPACT! show on Thursday night perfectly demonstrated what is going wrong in the company, and what is going right.
And this analysis extends further than just the mere shallow dislike for Hulk Hogan and his lackeys getting more TV time or the craving for more Beer Money and MCMG.
This analysis is the frustration that a TNA show was so close to being so spectacular, and yet ended up being just a step up from the previous one.
TNA are trying; they really are.
We saw the MCMG, Beer Money, the X-division guys, and loads of other fan favorites in action last night. The Hogan’s Office promos have reduced, and last night there wasn’t even an appearance by the Nasty Boys!
Heck, maybe a little concerned by the criticism by the Internet wrestling community, they even scripted an appearance by Rhyno, Raven, and Homicide when they came to the ring as Eric Bischoff’s henchmen and attacked Jeff Jarrett and Abyss.
They have the right ideas, they intend to push the right folks, and they have the potential to put on a great show. But the moment you watch something exciting on iMPACT!, you are afraid you’re going to see something that's less than impressive.
The show was a great one, overall.
This feud between The Pope and AJ Styles looks to be one for the ages. AJ Styles and Pope can set the ring on fire with their in-ring ability, and Ric Flair is more than capable of matching The Pope on the mic—something Styles cannot do. That’s why this pairing of Ric Flair and AJ Styles is perfect, dear internet pundits.
While the push given to Orlando Jordan seems less than pleasant to an ordinary fan, the fact that his short match with Samoa Joe was bearable and that it furthered the "Joe is getting frustrated" storyline makes it interesting.
Perhaps, it is even setting up for the unleashing of Samoa Joe as somewhat of a Stone Cold Steve Austin character.
Talking about unleashing, another thing TNA did right was forecasting the unleashing of their local monster, Abyss.
There was never a doubt that the guy has talent, but his timid gimmick (only made more unlikeable by his melody-forsaken voice), was really a no-no. Looks like The Hulkster has set the monster loose, and that’s good.
We missed out on our weekly Beautiful dose, but Daffney and Tara gave us something different with their match. It was good to see Daffney on TV after a long time. OK, maybe it’s just me, ’cause I’m freaky like that, but still.
But the show showcased perfectly what TNA’s problems were, too.
TNA can NOT script a good climax. No wonder TNA’s ratings slip by the quarters, and they lose viewers toward the end of the show.
If people know they are going to witness a segment featuring The Band at the end, chances are they would rather have that awkward conversation with their girlfriend or harvest those grapes on their Farmville farm instead.
Total Nonstop Anderson, wow! If the show had ended on that note in the Anderson-Angle segment, it would have been memorable, comfortable and powerful. But no, TNA had to give the main-event time to the Band.
Add to this the unexplained swapping of the Suicide character back to his Kazarian days, a rather mundane Rob Terry face turn, and a this-can’t-end-well storyline featuring the Samoa Joe abduction, and you understand the problem better.
This is where WWE is better, more professional. Sure, WWE has a PG-format and storylines and characters that (usually) cater to that brand, but at least they know well how to weave and link storylines, how to promote characters, and how to end shows on a high note.
On an iMPACT! show two weeks ago, there was an X-Division title match in the second hour which had zero build-up.
In most iMPACT shows in fact, viewers have to guess what the main event is going to be, or assume that it’s going to be the Band doing whatever it is they do in the ring, with Hogan coming in and giving a cartoonish pose for the cameras.
WWE makes it a point to sell their main event at the top of the show to keep their viewers glued to their seats. And then it gives them that main event.
Last night’s final match was a one-minute "let us bury Christopher Daniels further" match, which made no sense.
There is such a thing as jobbers in the industry who could have been used to show that Angle was "in the zone" and ready to take on Anderson (which he wasn’t anyway, as Anderson took the better of him with just a few blows).
The final segment featured the Band and Kevin Nash with EY. Seriously, there are competitive snail races which are more fascinating than watching Hall and Waltman in the ring. Ending the show on that note spoiled everything.
While it’s good to further the inevitable and possibly explosive showdown between Jarret and Bischoff, in no way should a match featuring Double J have lasted that long. It only took time away from what could have been at least a decent burial of Daniels in the mid-card!
While it was great to see the Hulkster coming into his own and churning out one hell of a promo with Abyss by handing him his Hall of Fame ring (take that, WWE), one can argue whether Hogan is right in assuming Abyss is TNA’s answer to John Cena.
Another thing that was unpleasant was seeing Desmond Wolfe in that group of henchmen going after Jarrett and Abyss.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s wrong to use your top-level heel as "just another guy" in that group of heels that came out to do Eric’s dirty work for a few seconds.
All in all, iMPACT! last night was the perfect two-hour mini-me version of the TNA entity. It was entertaining, it gave you hope, but it was also disappointing in certain terms and downright frustrating in others.
There is a lot to expect from the shows to come. How they play out the Samoa Joe abduction, how Pope makes a comeback, will the rift between Bischoff and Hogan increase, and what is Angle’s reply to Anderson—all great things one can look forward to.
But TNA needs more professionalism. They need to let storylines develop and characters build by themselves—and not do something extreme to spoil the thing.
They need to make their audiences stay for the entire two hours and, in fact, draw more with their main event.
Until they succeed in doing that, they cannot realistically give the WWE a run for their money.
This article was originally published here. If you like, do check it out, along with some other great articles there!