Powell's TNA Impact Wrestling Hitlist: Open Fight Night, Bobby Roode vs. A.J. Styles, Sting returns, Hulk Hogan and the TNA Title contender elimination segments, Joey Ryan in the Gut Check match

Posted in: Powell Editorials, MUST-READ LISTING
May 25, 2012 - 03:12 PM

By Jason Powell

TNA Impact Wrestling Hits

Bobby Roode vs. A.J. Styles: The real positive of the Open Fight Night concept is that it requires TNA to spend the entire night building to the title match. Listening to four wrestlers make their cases for getting the title shot made the match and the title seem important. The match was entertaining and it was good to see Roode go over by pinfall again.

I really could have done without the pin being set up by Styles showing that he was distracted by looking to the ramp twice before he missed the move that led to the finish. It's okay that Roode is simply better than Styles, but this is a big step forward from the days of outside interference and bad ref bumps. Sting returning at the end felt flat. He hasn't been gone long enough for this to feel special. That said, I like the idea of going with Roode vs. Sting next week to start the show with the goal that it will be enough to make viewers remember the time change.

Rob Van Dam vs. Gunner: I really wish they would pick a direction for Gunner. He's been a killer heel who puts guys out and the fall guy for Garett Bischoff. He doesn't have anything going presently. Still, I liked the way they used the Open Fight Night concept to have RVD to get revenge on Gunner for putting him on the shelf. They set the match up nicely by recapping that injury angle and it immediately felt more important than just a random match.

Hulk Hogan: Hogan was much better in his role than he was on the first Open Fight Night. The tone was serious rather than the over the top reality game show host he played last time. I like the way the wrestlers made their cases and how Hogan had believable logic for eliminating the contenders. The music is overbearing and we hear too much of it due to the number of segments they did with Hogan. By the way, Kurt Angle's logic about the length of the title reign not mattering as much as how many times you win the title was baffling. We we supposed to laugh at the line or laugh at Kurt the man for actually saying something so absurd.

Overall show: Open Fight Night was much better the second time around. It helped that the TNA Title was the belt that was at stake on the show rather than one of the secondary title belts. Austin Aries and Bully Ray also shined on the show again this week. If you need incentive to give TNA another try, look no further than those two. Their work is awesome on a weekly basis. Overall, this was another solid show heading into next week's time change and the live format. TNA is in a good place heading into the live shows. If they maintain their recent show quality level, I think fans who give it a chance for the first time in a while because of the live format will be pleasantly surprised.

TNA Impact Wrestling Misses

Opening segment: I absolutely hated the way they showed the show format and threw it aside. I get the idea that they're trying to establish that what's happening is a shoot, but it's so unnecessary. The people who invest their time in a pro wrestling show obviously don't care that it's scripted. They just want to be entertained. I realize that it was a format and not the script, but I don't think the majority of the viewers at home know the difference and therefore assumed it was the script.

Gut Check: Joey Ryan's character needed to be set up going into the match a lot more than it was. As it played out, he looked awkward and indy. It's a shame because I think he could establish his character in a way that fans would accept that the look fits with what his character is about. It would also help the segments if the wrestlers in the Gut Check were given some mic time to establish who they are and whether the fans should root for or against them going into their matches. The current setup gives the Gut Check wrestlers the mic time the week after their matches. it's something that could be fixed easily. I hope the Gut Check segments play out over one show now that Impact Wrestling is going live. It seems like something that could get viewers to keep watching show, but only in special cases is it something that will truly entice them to return the following week. By the way, whatever happened to Alex Silva?

Devon vs. Garett Bischoff: I wanted to give this a Hit based on the fact that they set it up nicely in last week's battle royal. Ultimately, though, the TV Title feels like the undercard title, and I cringed when Robbie E and Robby T ran in wearing colorful sweaters. This screamed bush league. Those sweaters didn't make me dislike the heels. Those sweaters made me want to turn the channel to find something that didn't look so low budget.

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