Welcome, everyone. My name is “The Prophet” Rick Craig and I have decided to hook up with GuTTWrenchPowerBlog to bring you weekly coverage and analysis of TNA wrestling and the IMPACT TV tapings. Hopefully, all of you will continue coming back to check out the “happenings” and “goings on” of the “other wrestling promotion”.
A little background on me before we begin. I am now in my fourth decade of watching and loving pro wrestling. With that love, I chose to venture out in an effort to converse with knowledgeable wrestling fans, the world over, by writing about this passion that I have. Having done this for a few years now, I can truly say that I’ve talked with amazing people from all corners of the globe. My hope is that I can do the same with you fine readers, as well. I’m always on a quest to find new wrestling friends. Seek me out at https://www.facebook.com/#!/ProfRickCraig.
Okay…enough with that. Let’s delve into Thursday night’s edition of IMPACT Wrestling, shall we? The way I see it, TNA has been on a major upswing for several months now. With the aftermath of Bound For Glory starting to take shape, my curiosity had been piqued as to where this episode of IMPACT would take us. After watching it, I must say, I was not disappointed.
Now freshly on my mind, I want to present you with the top ten things that I took away from this show. Before I do that, with any wrestling organization and event, there are usually some negatives to be had, too. Certainly, I don’t mind throwing out some criticism when it is justified but if any of you are “haters” and are expecting a bashfest out of me, you will be greatly disappointed. Let me make one point perfectly clear…I LOVE pro wrestling! All of these promotions are prone to out and out buffoonery. I will highlight…but not dwell on…these transgressions as they occur. But for this post, I’m calling out the good that TNA has done…and continues to do. Let’s go.
01) OPEN FIGHT NIGHT
Though I was skeptical when it was first announced, I have grown to fully appreciate this concept for its originality. Actually, I consider it to be a wonderful breath of fresh air in what had been a rather stale formula for TNA IMPACT shows. It brings me back to my younger days when wrestling was all about the “fight”. Championship matches be damned…this is for grudges and all-out feuds! Last night’s show focused on these rivalries and did an excellent job of setting the stage for Turning Point…which I will get to later.
02) GUT CHECK
Another unique concept that I have enjoyed (excluding the Joey Ryan nonsense with Al Snow). Out of all of the guys (and gal) that we’ve seen compete against the TNA stars, Christian York, far and away, seems to be the most polished and poised to take that next step with the company. For those unfamiliar, York was actually on the very first broadcast of TNA IMPACT back in 2001, teaming with Joey Matthews, and hasn’t been seen since. He took Zema Ion (whose character has already grated on me) and pushed him to the limit, almost securing the first victory for a Gut Check contestant. Now 35, York has a great look and should be an excellent addition to the X-Division roster…if hired. It’s his last shot. He proved his worth to me.
03) JOSEPH PARK
There are a lot of people out there who just haven’t gotten into this character. Don’t count me among them! I have thoroughly enjoyed the transformation that Chris Park, the man, has made from Abyss to his “brother” Joseph. If I didn’t know ahead of time that they were one and the same, I would have never believed it. He has created two very different personas and made both of them his own. I applaud him for establishing depth to Joseph, something that Abyss had sorely lacked, and I’m always interested to see what happens next with him. He has taken a stand against Aces & Eights…trying to man up. Is there more than meets the eye here? Hmmm.
04) BACK FROM THE DEAD
In a column that I had posted several months back, I pretty much ripped into Samoa Joe for what I referred to as “going through the motions”. In my opinion, he was just a brooding malcontent who pouted any time he wasn’t given proper attention. Now…he looks completely rejuvenated! His match with Magnus last night was a hard hitting affair filled with emotion and intensity. “The Blueprint” Matt Morgan bashed TNA in several interviews after contract negotiations had broken off between the two parties. I really thought he was as good as gone. However, thanks to the continuing lawsuit between TNA and the WWE, he was never picked up by the Fed. So…Morgan is back in TNA…with a vengeance! He has targeted the entire roster, specifically G.M Hulk Hogan, in his pursuit of the TNA World championship. Finally, Morgan appears to be given the major push that he has always deserved.
05) “Mr. Pec-tacular” Jesse Godderz
I know what you’re thinking. Prof, are you serious? Here we have a Big Brother castoff that’s trying to make a name in this business by aligning with his “girlfriend” Tara as a Hollywood “power couple”. Worse yet, he was called out by ODB on Fight Night and proceeded to cower in the ring. Taking several slap shots to the chest by the Knockout, he managed to roll up ODB after Tara had distracted her. How can this possibly be good? Well, in all honesty, that wasn’t. Yet, I do see potential in him. If TNA could eventually move him out of the comedy bit and portray him as the second coming of Rick Rude, they could really be on to something. He has a phenomenal build with a great air of arrogance. If they could build on that, we could possibly have a fresh face in TNA worth watching. My only question is…can he actually wrestle?
06) Jeff Hardy
The internet wrestling community has not been overly kind to this man over the course of the last two years. After his shenanigans at Victory Road against Sting in 2011, I can rightfully say that I don’t blame them one bit. Showing up for work under the influence of any substance is outright inexcusable. He humiliated TNA and Dixie Carter…he embarrassed a legend in this business, Sting…and, worst of all, he ripped off all the hardworking fans who shelled out their precious money, whether in attendance or watching via PPV. He has earned his disgrace. Yet, everyone loves a “feel good” story and Jeff Hardy has come full circle. After not even sniffing as much as a title shot for several months after returning, he graciously lost when being put in line. Now the man has paid his debt and has been given the ultimate opportunity to soar with the eagles again. Always the top merchandise seller in the company, Hardy is on top of the mountain again as TNA World champion. It suits him well.
07) What Have You Done for Me Lately?
I was starting to get a little worried there. When Bobby Roode captured the World title last year and promptly held it longer than anyone else in TNA history, I was ecstatic that someone who had worked unselfishly for so long with this company was finally becoming a bonafide star. Then…he lost the belt to Austin Aries and the momentum completely shifted in Aries’ direction. The “It Factor” wasn’t so “it” anymore. He wasn’t go to receive anymore shots at Aries’ title and, basically, fell off the radar for a while. I’m hoping he was just getting a much needed break and is now raring to go again. Last night was a positive step in Roode regaining lost ground.
08) AJ’s and Elevators
By now, I’m sure you have all heard the rant from Kurt Angle, through Twitter, over the AJ Lee/John Cena/Vickie Guerrero storyline on WWE RAW television. Angle is accusing the Fed of stealing TNA’s storylines…and a failed one at that! Most TNA fans would love to forget the Claire Lynch fiasco of a few short months ago. Now it appears to be rearing its ugly head in the WWE. I got a hearty chuckle out of hearing AJ Styles, in his showdown with Bobby Roode in the ring, say that it seems that AJ’s and elevators are the hottest trend today in wrestling…an obvious jab at WWE. It’s moments like that that make me smile. I love it!
09) Turning Point
The two biggest gripes with TNA have always been not following through with storylines they start and…a blatant lack of promotion in regards to PPV’s. They would, mysteriously, wait until the week of the event to put their matches together. Have they learned their lesson? Maybe so! We are still a month away from Turning Point and TNA has already secured two matches for the show. Not only that, but they did it brilliantly! Austin Aries interrupted Jeff Hardy, while speaking after his victory over Robbie E., and tells the World champ that he has been “working his way back up the ladder” in TNA to get a shot at the belt. Hardy, taking it literally, pulls a ladder out from under the ring and accepts Aries’ challenge for a ladder match at the PPV! Austin, clearly peeved, marches off to the back in a fit. Also, while Roode and Styles are going at it in the ring, Hogan comes out with “Cowboy” James Storm and declares a #1 Contenders match for Turning Point. Roode vs Storm vs Styles…the one getting pinned will not get another title shot again until, at least, Bound For Glory next year. How’s THAT for a stipulation?
10) As the Aces & Eights Turn
Yes…the soap opera continues! This is another storyline that has taken a beating in the public forums. Again, not from me. Do you realize how refreshing it is to see TNA actually build a story, over the course of several months, without just abandoning it without explanation? I want to see this thing through. TNA has developed something that has intrigue and mystery to it. Has it been perfect? No…there have been several flaws along the way. Despite that fact, TNA is actually trying to give stories, and the wrestlers, more depth. I love seeing progression and, even though their have been miscues, I am more drawn to this than anything WWE is doing right now. All over the dirt sheets, it was reported that negotiations had broken off with Devon and he had relinquished his TV title. A tournament was held with Samoa Joe winning the strap. He was gone…but was he? There were very few in the IWC who predicted that Devon would be under one of the Aces & Eights masks when the reveal occurred at Bound For Glory. A swerve! TNA actually pulled the wool over our eyes! Hey…I was as surprised as most fans were. There are those who claim that it was a letdown. Why? First, Devon is NOT the main guy behind the group. Still more to come on that front. Secondly, how refreshing it is, to me, to see someone who has toiled in his craft for so long FINALLY get his shot in the big time as a singles wrestler. I hear constant complaints that we keep getting the same faces shoved down our throats in all of the big leagues. TNA has moved away from Hogan, Flair, Jarrett, Bischoff, and all of the old fogies, and have given us Roode, Aries, Storm, Bully Ray…and now Devon…in getting their opportunity to shine. Yet we moan and groan? I find it to be refreshing and TNA gets my endorsement. Another man unmasked on IMPACT…this time Luke Gallows. Who is behind this biker gang? My thoughts have wavered on the subject. I still think it could be Jeff Jarrett. I hope it’s NOT Eric Bischoff….even though his voice has been used as the President (slowed down in the videos). At one point, I thought it could be Matt Morgan but, obviously, not now. Here is my darkhorse pick. ABYSS! He has been relatively quiet for months now and he would tie in nicely with Joseph Park’s abduction. Just remember. You heard it here first!
Bask in the light that I am,
“The Prophet” Rick Craig