Powell's Blog: Total Nonstop Talking, Eric Bischoff says they "did it right and will likely get a record rating," Jeff Hardy's heel turn, JWoww scores $15,000, and more on TNA Impact
Friday, October 15 – 1:15 P.M. (CT)
Thursday's TNA Impact was the all-important followup to the Bound For Glory pay-per-view. The show featured the first heel promo delivered by Jeff Hardy, and the company dished out a reported $15,000 to "Jersey Shore" celebrity JWoww to take part in an angle with TNA's "The Shore" act.
First, the good news. TNA got a lot of mileage out of their $15,000 marketing move. TMZ ran stories. Radar Online featured a video clip. The story was picked up by additional online celebrity sites, and most included a plug that mentioned TNA Impact airs on Spike TV at 9:00 p.m. ET on Thursdays.
Yes, there were several wrestlers bickering amongst themselves in the locker room about the money the company dished out to an apparent mid-card player (sorry, not my type of show) from the "Jersey Shore" reality show, but it looks like the move scored the intended publicity the company was aiming for. The only negative is that her segments may have served as an unofficial reminder to some viewers that the real "Jersey Shore" was airing on MTV at the same time as Impact.
The overall show, though, was odd. TNA took a talk-heavy approach on Thursday. Coming out of Bound For Glory, I assumed we would probably get more talking than usual, as they had to explain the "They" reveal.
The creative team invested a lot of time and effort into the "They" saga, and I was hoping that we'd get a segment that would connect all the dots and show us that they've been building up to the Hardy turn all along. I wanted them to explain why Hardy and Abyss have fought repeatedly.
I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt going into the show. Maybe they would say Hardy was a late addition to "They." Maybe there was a reason that Abyss couldn't know Hardy was in on it. Instead, they had Hardy claim that he was the person who told Abyss to attack Rob Van Dam.
So why did Hardy and Abyss have wild brawls on television? Why did they wrestle numerous times on house shows? I've watched pro wrestling long enough that I can look past some small logic gaps, but I can't look past gaping holes in logic.
This was TNA's big angle. This was the angle that the creative forces have been excited about for months. I wanted them to live up to the hype by delivering a strong story and then go back and connect all the dots so that viewers who have been following along closely could feel good about their investment.
Sure, they explained the obvious that Abyss has been aligned with Hulk Hogan all along. We know Jeff Jarrett was bitter over Dixie taking the company for him. We know that Hogan and Eric Bischoff manipulated Dixie Carter and stole control of the company. Those things were obvious, and I think most people have known for weeks (even months) that those four would be part of "They."
And I can't ignore the fact that the way Hogan and Bischoff stole control from Dixie was half-assed. Bischoff said it would take five or six years in court, but that's a big reach. He actually boasted that millions of people watched her sign the contract last week, but those same viewers also saw him insinuate that it was release papers. Hogan also stated last night that they screwed her. Call me crazy, but couldn't someone show this footage to a judge and have Bischoff arrested for fraud?
Spare me the "it's only wrestling" line. Again, I can look past small logic gaps and tolerate some storyline silliness, but I don't want my intelligence insulted.
As for Jeff Hardy, well, he delivered a quality promo in the ring that faded near the end, but I liked the backstage promo with the camera flashes. Unfortunately, they failed to deliver an sufficient explanation for how he got there. This was a typical Vince Russo style turn that was all about shock value. It's as if he says forget logic, the only thing that matters is that people didn't see it coming.
Speaking of Russo, I fear that if the rating for Impact is strong, he'll believe it somehow justifies his belief that viewers enjoy talk more than in-ring action. It appears Bischoff shares that sentiment based on his Facebook post this afternoon.
"What a great way to start a Friday," Bischoff wrote. "BHE TV announces a new deal with one of the most successful media companies in the world and the "wrestling experts" have started their predictable wailing and gnashing of teeth over last night's show. Means we did it right and most likely will get a record rating!"
It's a convenient week to predict a record rating. It was the first show after Bound For Glory, the first show that "They" would be revealed to those who didn't watch the pay-per-view, Hardy spoke for the first time since his heel turn, and they hired a celebrity to stir up additional interest. The rating should be strong, but Bischoff knows that the key is whether the rating shows long-term growth, and that remains to be seen.
TNA delivered a show that featured one match in the first 76 minutes of air time, and that "match" featured no actual wrestling, as Tara lied down for Madison Rayne. Again, I don't mind a talk-heavy show when wrestling companies need to set the table or explain a major storyline that played out, but this was overkill.
There were definitely aspects of the show that I enjoyed. Samoa Joe's promo was strong. Kurt Angle's exchange with Jeff Hardy was solid for those who know the backstory. Bischoff's promo on Miss Tessmacher was classic a-hole Eric and was justified given that she spilled the beans to Kevin Nash and D'Angelo Dinero. Speaking of Pope, I liked that he established himself as the guy who won't back down from the Immortals faction.
Overall, though, the explanation of "They" and particularly Hardy's heel turn left this viewer underwhelmed, and downright fearful that the Immortals merge with Fortune means this is another roster-splitting storyline similar to the NWO invasion. Here's hoping that the TNA "wrestling experts" have a better exit strategy in mind than WCW "wrestling experts" had for the NWO storyline.
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