Pruett's Pause: TNA Impact Wrestling - TNA establishes their new reference point with Magnus defeating A.J. Styles and Dixie Carter becoming an evil genius!
By Will Pruett
This show was not about the wrestling taking place on it. It wasn't about putting together an epic main event for the ages. It wasn't about TNA a suddenly ushering in a new era of wrestling greatness. This show was used to establish a baseline for the next year of TNA programming. This show is the foundation they will build their new structure on. This has some good elements and some bad. Shall we break them down together? Let's!
First of all, this show was built around one singular theme and everything, except for one segment, took place to satisfy this theme. This was the show where's Dixie Carter went from a clueless southern belle to an evil mastermind. This show set her up to be the biggest villain in TNA. She systematically eliminated everyone she believed would try to thwart her plan to dethrone A.J. Styles, then used all of her minions to make sure A.J. couldn't come back himself. It was nice to see an evil plan actually work in wrestling when so many don't.
The down side of of this is how is did turn the heel roster into evil minions, capable of being disposed of by two very determined wrestlers. The Bro-Mans, Zema Ion, Ethan Carter III, Rockstar Spud, Bad Influence, and Bobby Roode all had to help Magnus dispose of Sting and A.J. Styles. It shouldn't have taken this much. It turned these heels, TNA's lead heels, into minions for the big evil boss lady.
Dixie Carter's performance on this show was one of her best. It was a very positive night for her on a night when she was leaned upon heavily. Carter was great in the opening segment. Her backstage exchanges where she intimidated some wrestlers and gave orders to others were fun to watch. Her acting in the main event segment worked for me. Carter had a very good night.
Magnus, as a champion, looked strong coming out of last week's show, but his strength was lost as a part of this story. He was almost disposed of by Styles in about three minutes. Magnus could have been the heel champion who could still get it done in the ring, but it appears TNA will book him to be subservient and cowardly. I hope this changes as time matches on.
Every babyface on this show also had a nice role to play as they were eliminated from the building one by one. TNA answered the question of why no one would run out and help Styles, the rightful champion. They gave us a reason, which is all we needed. This further established Dixie as an evil mastermind and Sting as stupidly courageous, which is exactly what a babyface should be.
The show may not satisfy fans who want great wrestling, as it didn't offer a modern day classic. It did satisfy people who watch wrestling to be told a story. It was one of the most cohesive and focused episodes of wrestling television I have ever seen. Many will say the main event was Russo-esque, but every wrestler had a reason to be out there. Every story presented on this show lead to the end. Everything came together.
It was different than what I would usually want, but it fulfilled the need for great storytelling. TNA set themselves up for a year or more based off of one night. This is the new reference point TNA will go back to over and over. They have a lot of story to tell coming out of this show. I have to like it for that reason.
Picking up the pieces:
- A.J. Styles was actually pretty good in the opening segment. I normally don't like extended Styles promos, but he did some nice work. Styles settled into his character pretty well over his last few appearances.
- Magnus taking offense to being called a paper champion was logical. What if he were an actual paper champion? I wouldn't mind a random cardboard guy being a champion sometime.
- Lei'D Tapa beating people up backstage is a nice use for her. She looks much less silly than usual.
- I think DJ Zema Ion is growing on me. This is unexpected and a little unpleasant.
- I was surprised not to see Joseph Park end up going into full-Abyss mode. Is his next story learning to control his power, like The Hulk? Maybe his secret is that he is always angry.
- Samoa Joe as one of the main members of the resistance against Dixie Carter will be fun. I hope he's strongly emphasized in this role. He's been set up well, so it could happen.
- Sting was the man who sees the world crashing down around him and tried to fix it, but couldn't. It worked well for him.
- James Storm needs to be a heel. I need James Storm to be a heel. What's the point him being a babyface any more? Are country music award shows that desperate for his approval? Storm needs to evolve (and probably lose weight).
- Ethan Carter III vs. Samoa Joe could be a pretty nice feud in the next year.
- This show didn't do much to emphasize how big of a deal cage matches should be. I wish stipulations mattered more, but TNA doesn't really do that.
- Angle vs. Bad Influence demonstrated just how far Bad Influence has fallen. TNA has booked them in an exceptionally poor manner in the last few months.
- Bobby Roode seems like he could be a reluctant member of Team Dixie. This could lead to him being part of bringing Team Dixie down when he doesn't get what he wants. I'm interested in what this story could be.
- Bully Ray's segment with Ken Anderson was the only part of the show that didn't fit into the Team Dixie narrative. It had a very creepy tone, but I enjoyed it. Bully's underscored promo was delightful. Their match next week should be delightfully intense.
- As much as I loved the main event thematically, it was overkill.
- How many referees need to go down for TNA to start protecting them? My goodness, we lost a lot of good men out there.
TNA likes to have reference points they continuously go back to for months. This is the new reference point for them. This show is what we will see replays of at the opening of every Impact episode month after month. It worked to set up a new big evil and a new big moment. The wrestling quality didn't need to be there. It was about the story and the story was well told.
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 at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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