Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - Dixie Carter attempts her own ECW revival with Snitsky and the former Big Zeke, Roode vs. MVP, Hardy's vs. Wolves signed, Austin Aries' Option C and more!
By Will Pruett
It's July, which means TNA has randomly placed their Destination X show sometime during this month. This is usually the show where TNA tries to recreate their 2005 glory days by breaking out the six-sided ring, throwing the fans some high-paced X Division action (sometimes in an ultimate manner), and giving a smaller X Division wrestler a title shot via Option C.
Option C became one of TNA's favorite storytelling devices in 2012 when Austin Aries had been the strongly pushed X Division Champion for far too long. Aries was in an odd situation. He was unbeatable in the X Division. No one could match him. No matter who came at him as a challenger, Aries stood against them. He had outgrown the X Division and there was no viable way to take the title off of him. When he was offered a World Championship opportunity, he took it. He created his own path, guaranteeing the X Division Champion would always have the chance to trade in his title for a shot at the World Championship.
What followed was a spectacular moment with Aries ending the long title run of Bobby Roode in a major surprise, then there was a series of booking mistakes leading to Aries cooling off going into a haphazardly thrown together Bound for Glory show. Aries' Option C had paid off for TNA with a major moment, but it didn't result in an amazing path going forward.
One year later (give or take a few weeks), Chris Sabin was returning from his second major knee injury. He was presented as a young risk-taker trying to achieve his dream. He had the task of taking on the ultra-heelish biker Bully Ray and his sad gang of biker friends. It looked like Sabin was meant to fail. The goal was to get Sabin over with his heart and fighting spirit, not to make him the champion. This was in the midst of a major build for Bully Ray going into Bound for Glory and Bully needed to keep the title. Another surprise occurred and Sabin used Bully's own tricks against him to capture the title. He lost it a month later.
This year, with "Option C" on the horizon, Austin Aries was once again the X Division Champion. This wasn't a long reign, but last week he was able to defeat the entire division in one gauntlet match. Aries had the chance to hold on to his title and keep defending it, but he chose to give it up to jump up one division. This year's challenge is more formidable than any challenge in years past. This year's challenge is a true monster, Bobby Lashley.
The build up of Lashley has been fantastic since he won the TNA Championship. He's been nothing but destructive. He's hardly said a word. He has MVP cutting promos to build him up. Lashley is being presented better here than he has at any point in his career. As TNA World Champion, Lashley is a beast. It's pretty fun to watch.
Aries chose to face Lashley and try to continue the short successful history of "Option C." I don't see how Aries winning would work storyline-wise, but I didn't see him beating Roode or Sabin beating Bully Ray. I hope to see Lashley win in a competitive match, simply because a competitive match against Lashley should mean a ton right now in TNA.
Either way, the suspense around "Option C" this year shows they've built up a successful mid-Summer gimmick. I'm not crazy about the name, but "Option C" matters in TNA storytelling. The surprise wins in the last two years have built up to a major moment this year. I'm looking forward to next week and seeing if Aries can recreate his magical moment from 2012.
Picking up the pieces:
- Dixie Carter's own version of an extreme faction is fantastically comedic. I know fans are "upset" about the former Ezekiel Jackson and Snitsky being brought in, but it is really funny. Dixie is building up an army of WWE ECW warriors. It's the only new thing to be done in an ECW revival/reunion/angle since 2005. I'm going to stand back and enjoy the silliness of it for what it is: great comedy.
- Bobby Roode seems to have attended The Rock's school of Sharpshooter application. Watch a little Bret Hart on the WWE Network, friend.
- For a guy with a bum knee, MVP is putting himself out there and pushing himself really hard. I enjoyed his brawl with Bobby Roode. I hope he's healthy for the next set of tapings, simply because TNA needs him to be able to do a little more in the ring.
- Eric Young received a nice reaction from the New York crowd during his interference on this show. Scaling back Young since his odd World Championship reign seems like a successful move.
- Matt and Jeff Hardy had a nice segment meant to set up The Wolves' challenge and the dream match of Hardy's vs. Wolves being made for next week. This match announcement excites the hell out of me. Matt Hardy's work in ROH has been awesome for awhile now. He has his head on straight. I can't wait for next week's match.
- Low Ki is back and in a full bodysuit specifically created to make him look small. It's times like these when I miss Kaval and LayCool as a partnership.
- Sam Shaw has been cured of all of his crazy by playing Go Fish with Gunner. I've seen crazier things.
- I hoped Bram and Magnus vs. Gunner and Anderson would last a little longer. It's a big tag match for TNA and it should be treated as a little more than it was.
- I'll never be excited to hear Abyss' music again.
- I'm still not okay with cheering for Bully Ray to put a woman through a table. It's weird and uncomfortable.
- Taryn Terrell vs. Gail Kim will always have some weird and awesome chemistry between them. I don't know why they're so great together, but the matches speak for themselves. Even in this, their first non-gimmick match together, it was palpable. I'm not upset about the logical finish with The Beautiful People, but I hope we see a great Kim vs. Terrell program in the future.
- James Storm encouraging Sanada to turn on Great Muta is interesting. What will redneck Sanada be like? Mike Tenay did a nice job reinforcing the impact of Sanada Moonsaulting Muta.
- The main event was very ECW-esque, but more of the stereotype of ECW, not what ECW really was. It was an entertaining garbage match and I liked the comedy in the finish. I'm still not totally down with watching Tommy Dreamer on TV in 2014, so hopefully this is a short-term angle.
This show wasn't as good as last week's but it seemed geared towards building up the Destination X pseudo-pay-per-view next week. I'm all for a strong go-home-ish show and this had two strong segments pointing towards Hardy's vs. Wolves and Lashley vs. Aries. TNA has a loaded card next week. Hopefully the card delivers the way it looks like it will on paper.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter @itswilltime.
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