The 12/26 edition of Impact Wrestling was a really mixed bag. There wasn't a lot of wrestling and for a promotion named Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, there was a LOOOOOOOT of talking. I was amazed they got through a two hour broadcast with so little wrestling. Even Vince Russo never booked the promotion like that. It reminded me, of all things, of a Kevin Nash era WCW Monday Nitro, where the first hour had no wrestling on it whatsoever. I didn't enjoy it then and personally, I didn't enjoy this episode either.
At least one can make the argument that they were trying to kick off some new storyline arcs (Bully Ray, Jeff Hardy) and further some others (Gunner vs. James Storm, Ethan Carter III vs. Sting) but this felt like too much of one thing and not enough Total Nonstop Action Wrestling for me personally.
It's also obvious that the entire show is pretty much built around Dixie Carter now. I've nothing against Carter in the role and I think she does a good job of playing an uppity Southern bitch, but she's a 40+ year old woman with children - and at some point, the villain has to get their ass kicked. She shouldn't and she won't be getting in the ring, so TNA needs to figure out a way to balance everything out, because right now she's taking precious TV time away from talents that need it a lot more.
*Magnus video features. Whether you are a fan of the promotion putting Magnus in a World title role or not, the video features reviewing his career and building him were well produced and he came off well. I really liked them. The one thing I would have added was a series of comments from different TNA stars reacting to Magnus' turn and his victory for the title.
*Jeff Hardy's farewell promo. Hardy won't be gone forever (after all, he's working a PPV taping tonight) but will be off TV for a few months since so much is being taped overseas where he can't go, but his promo saying goodbye to the creatures was a good moment. Hardy paying tribute to Sting, who was his favorite growing up, was especially cool. It felt like a real moment, although with so many exits of late, TNA may be coming close to one too many and having the audience burn out on such developments.
*Gunner vs. James Storm. Their anger towards each other and their work against each other was good. I even liked the double countout finish since it leads issues to be resolved.
*Brooke Tessmacher and Bully Ray. I'm not really a fan of this new Ray direction (see below) but I thought the two did a really good job in the segment. Ray saying that he sometimes closes his eyes to pretend he's still with Brooke Hogan, well, ouch, that's evil. Tessmacher did a good job on the mic and really, the only issue I had with the segment is that she's not thrust into a new role out of nowhere, like a lot of others currently are, and that really jostles the fans as opposed to giving them a reason to get behind someone.
*Dixie Carter's announcement. They spent ALL THAT TIME with the first segment just so they could announce a Magnus coronation next week? LAME!
*Ethan Carter III, Rockstar Spud and Bro-Mans in the main event. It's nothing against any of the four as I think Spud is genuinely hilarious and Carter has had the best 2013 rebound ever (going from a WWE release to a TNA spotlighted performer as well as really good work creating the character of EC3) and the Bro-Mans work hard, but watching them facing Sting and Jeff Hardy...it just doesn't, well, feel right. They have been rocketed into a main event position and they may grow into it, but right now, it feels like WCW with the Natural Born Thrillaz, when Vince Russo tossed a bunch of guys from the Power Plant into a position of prominence out of nowhere. The audience doesn't know what to think, because it's too much, too quickly. TNA really doesn't have any other choice, but that doesn't mean it worked, on this show.
*Theme Music interruptions. When every single person has theme music and a live mic to stop the company President from speaking, it gets a little stupid, doesn't it?
*Bully Ray's music. Why is there ominous music playing when Bull Ray speaks on a live mic? It makes no sense whatsoever. If they want to do something moody to create and build his new direction, then do it backstage and tailor it for those segments, but to do it during a live promo just seems like something that takes you "out of the moment" as opposed to enhancing it.
*The new Bully Rayven. We'll see where this persona goes but only in TNA do you see a guy break out with his best singles career work to date and then by the end of the year, the company is apparently changing his person. That makes little or no sense to me - like they are cutting their nose off to spite their face. Yes, Aces & Eights was an Eric Bischoff creation, but Bully Ray wasn't, so why change that persona - one that works - to something else?
What We Learned:
*Joseph Park is Abyss! Well, we knew that already and so did everyone else in the match except for Abyss himself. I liked the storyline but it went a little long for my own liking. Let's move forward now, OK?
*TNA needs to really rebound in 2014. 2013 was a hard year for the company. They put all their eggs in the Hogan/Bischoff/live touring basket and it didn't pan out financially. A lot of people lost their jobs. A lot of talent were gone. They had to return to Universal. Hogan left. AJ Styles left. Jeff Jarrett left. Bischoff was placed on ice and will be leaving. There were a lot of changes. A lot of new talents were pushed into positions of prominence, some a little too quick. It was a rough year to be working for TNA, to run TNA and to be a TNA fan. The good news is that they are heading overseas soon and those fans are the most rabid TNA fans on the planet, so if there was ever a time and place for TNA to evolve and revive themselves, that was it. Let's hope they can. There are a lot of good, hard working people employed by TNA. I want to see the company around for a long, long time. Here's to hoping they make the rebound.