It's amazing what one episode can do for wrestling. After the hype that surrounded the Jan. 4 episode of Impact, what followed in the weeks leading up to TNA's permanent debut on Monday's starting tonight on March 8 was somewhat underwhelming.
Indeed, if you read other articles on Bleacher Report regarding this Monday's night's Impact, you would've seen phrases like "blown surprises" and "low morale."
Well, as someone who watched this event from start to finish, let me be the first person on here to say that this Impact, as a snap shot in the time line of this company, will go down as one of the best of all time.
It wasn't any one match, though there were a few stand outs and a few that left me wanting more, but the overall pacing of the night, and that old "anything can happen" mystique that pro wrestling had back in the late 90's was in full force tonight.
The return of RVD? The return, and subsequent (apparent) heel turn of Sting? The debut of Shannon Moore and the return of Jeff Hardy? How about all of the matches that began as fights?
Perhaps it was live TV, but TNA, probably more so than I've ever seen before, had this aura of "we can't keep control of this!" Several matches/fights ending in bloody messes, security out there nonstop. It didn't even have a pay per view atmosphere.
It was something else entirely.
Now, before you call me a TNA mark, know that I've been one of the people scratching my head at some of the recent personnel changes, angles and what had appeared to be the demise of both the X Division as well as the Knockouts Division.
Yet I was more than pleased to see that TNA seems to be hearing the critics, as both were prominently displayed.
It looks like Moore will be an X Division player, and while we saw nearly every relevant Knockout in the ring at the same time, one can only hope that newly christened tag champs might signal the resurrection of a traditional high point in TNA shows.
New additions following in the near future? One can only hope!
Of course, not everything was perfect. Some of the camera work seemed amateur at best (especially during the opening promo from Hogan, which nearly had me reaching for an air sickness bag).
A few moves seemed to backfire here and there (Eric Young's clothesline against Syxx over the top rope that wasn't immediately jumps to mind).
My main beef, and some will agree or disagree, but there was WAY too much Hogan time tonight. Opening and closing the show, several vignettes... I know that he's supposed to be the main player in TNA, the fulcrum around which the company is turning right now and while there was a lot of face time for the rest of the roster, Hogan took up a lot more than what was necessary.
The discussion with Brooke in particular felt both forced and lengthy and could've been used as an interview segment for some of the talent that didn't make it on to tonight's show like MCMG or Generation Me, who got zero promo time for their upcoming pay per view match.
Oh, and I know that Samoa Joe is doing this whole "kidnapped" thing, but the guy is one of the franchise players in TNA and you leave him off of the biggest episode in the history of the company for the sake of some nonsensical angle?
But honestly, a lot of those complaints are minor in comparison to the successes.
The Daniels/Kaz/Williams match was a solid example of that side of TNA and hopefully a harbinger of future success for both the X Division and these athletes.
The ladies proved that they're still the cream of televised female wrestling crop. Some might not like the Beautiful People, but the more they wrestle, the better they seem to get and I'm honestly fine with seeing gold around their collective waists.
The Angle/Anderson feud just went to another level, which was both enjoyable to watch and necessary to see after how many times Anderson seems to get over on Kurt. That beat down was a great set up going forward.
I also enjoyed the segment with Nash/Young and Hall/Syxx that led to the match between Young and Pac.
Hate The Band all you want, but I personally love watching 3 of the best guys from one of the best angles in the history of wrestling help put over Eric Young.
I think back to his stumbling, bumbling, whiny character from a year or so ago and to think how far he's come. Just awesome.
Am I crazy or did Ric Flair bleed about a gallon of his own blood tonight? I sincerely hope that was a capsule (or five).
Either way, seeing the two old timers all fired up and putting it all out there, even if the actual wrestling was more than a little old school, the theater made for an entirely satisfying event.
In spite of knowing the surprises, they were still a joy to behold. The crowd was absolutely insane from start to finish and the energy, from the fans, to the announcers to the wrestlers, everything was on another level and about ten levels above what we've seen on recent episodes of Impact.
As far as the Monday night war is concerned, I don't care who beats who. TNA has a long way to go and everyone knows it. Personally, I think that TNA has the talent to stand tall and proud as an alternative to WWE, even if they're nowhere close in terms of production value, money and public brand acknowledgement.
I only care that TNA is raising it's game to take on the WWE and maybe, just maybe the WWE will raise their game as well.
If Impact has even a 10th of the energy next week that this weeks episode had, they'll be in good shape going forward.
Let's hope for more surprises in the coming weeks and hopefully the start... The VERY beginning of what could become an interesting competition some ways down the road.