I'll start the column by apologizing to my readers for assuming "They" were first, EV 2.0 then Fortune. TNA is keeping us guessing about the identity of "They." My new best guess is "They" will be revealed once and for all at "Bound For Glory."
This week's show opened with Abyss and Jeff Hardy brawling all over the Impact Zone. It reminded me of the Tommy Dreamer/Brian Lee brawls in South Philly years ago. Until, TNA's Springer-esque security broke it up.
Eric Bischoff's promo covered a lot. His comments to Ric Flair go way back to WCW. These two have real heat that takes little to spark into a wildfire. Bischoff's comments about Abyss appear to be setting up an Abyss/Hogan showdown if Hogan's health allows. If not, Hogan will handpick someone to face Abyss. The update on Rob Van Dam was grim and set the stage for the World title tournament.
The tournament set to conclude at Bound For Glory will get a nearly two month build. It kicked off with Rob Terry facing Jeff Hardy, who was still banged up from the brawl with Abyss. Hardy won this clash of styles and showed that Terry is not ready for main event status yet.
Hulk Hogan's promo about "not signing up for this" and possibly quitting is not like him. Is TNA too violent for the "Hollywood Hulkster?"
The second tournament match pitted Mr. Anderson against Jay Lethal. These two popular future main eventers put on a solid match that saw Anderson score the win and receive a handshake from Lethal to the delight of the crowd. I have a concern that Lethal's push may be negatively affected by the heat on Ric Flair from Eric Bischoff. If so, that is sad because Lethal has "it."
Angelina Love's promo reminds me of an edgy Trish Stratus. TNA is smart for building the Knockout Division around her.
Love's return bout with Madison Rayne kept the "bodyguard" mystery alive and saw the reunion of the original Beautiful People. Angelina Love and Velvet Sky got one of the biggest pops of the night. I hope they stay together.
The Fortune promo introduced Douglas Williams as it's newest member and Matt Morgan as Ric Flair's insurance policy. That reminded me of the late Rick Rude and DX. A.J. Styles claim that he built "this house." is partially true. He had help from Jeff Jarrett, Samoa Joe, Beer Money and Daniels, among others.
Dixie arrived and reminded him that she OWNS "this house" and brought out EV 2.0.
Dixie took the first step in making it right by giving everyone in EV 2.0 contracts and after a 10 star uber-promo betwen Ric Flair and Mick Foley, made A.J. Styles vs. Tommy Dreamer in the main event. This great feud is going to pit a group of elite wrestlers, led by Flair, against a group of passionate, never say die fighters, led by Dreamer.
Kurt Angle's tournament match against Douglas Williams was a wrestling clinic that Angle won and left me wanting to see more from these two in the future. Kurt has bested both the TV champion, A.J. Styles and the X Division champion, Douglas Williams, in recent weeks on his trek to recapture the World title. Impressive!
Sting and Kevin Nash cut a promo about respect that Jeff Jarrett and Hulk Hogan interrupted. Hogan and Jarrett spoke of the young guys being elevated over veterans like Nash and Sting and stepped into the ring to make their point. The lights went down and came back up to find Fortune beating down all four.
Just a couple of thoughts on this promo. If Jarrett and Hogan really want to put the young guys over, why do this segment with Sting and Nash? A match featuring that young talent would be better. And the lights going down only to reveal Fortune is getting predictable quickly. The effect is done for surprise. It doesn't work when we are not.
The next tournament match featured Matt Morgan against Pope D'Angelo Dinero. The push for the Pope continued as he advanced by defeating the "DNA of TNA." The semi-final matchups at No Surrender are Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Hardy and Pope D'Angelo Dinero vs. Mr. Anderson. Two former World champs and two of the brightest stars in TNA.
Tommy Dreamer faced off against A.J. Styles. The No. 1 wrestler in the world vs. "the innovator of violence." Styles got the win thanks to an Abyss assist that was followed by a brawl betwen EV 2.0 and Fortune to wrap the show and lead-in to ReAction.
Reaction had several moments that stood out to me. Kurt Angle talking about his disappointment in not being able to continue his Top 10 challenge because of Rob Van Dam's injury and the tournament. EV 2.0 saying they were the "filthiest players in the business." Brother Ray's "cockroach" quote was on the money, as was A.J. Styles comments on Abyss and "They." Mick Foley talking about Flair was classic and the Jim Cornette mention was shocking!
Next week's show shapes up to be impressive with Dixie Carter confronting Ric Flair, Samoa Joe's return [Does anyone recall his kidnapping and talking about "They" when he returned?] Plus, the Motor City Machine Guns renew their rivalry with Generation Me. If Generation Me can keep their push going the potential three way beteen them, the Guns and Beer Money would put the WOW! meter off the charts.
TNA continues to use episodic can't miss a show, creativity to build the organization. Whether you are a TNA, WCW, or original ECW fan, iMPACT! has something for you. The fact that every match means something and uses ring psychology complete with swerves and suspenseful storytelling is good for everyone in involved.
Thanks for reading.