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Heavy Impact (7/2/15): I Heard It Through the Grapevine

For weeks, the IWC had been inundated with rumors about TNA and Impact Wrestling regarding the fate of its employees & their future story lines. The general consensus (which more or less includes myself) is that if true, this is very terrible news to the already troubled TNA, and people are pretty much disappointed at how the management is running the promotion. Many predict the end of TNA very soon, most likely within the year.

With this in mind, I’d like to do this week’s review of Impact Wrestling with some portions addressing some of these rumors. This week’s show (they call it a Bell-to-Bell) is a special one, with three championships on the line. But first up…

The Rising vs The Beatdown Clan on a four-on-three handicap match

The stipulation for this match is that the losing team must disband. On the side of The Rising, we have Drew Galloway, Eli Drake, and Micah, while on the BDC side we have MVP, Kenny King, Hernandez, and surprisingly, Low-Ki.

The first to be eliminated is Micah by Low-Ki, so that’s one man down for The Rising. Then Eli Drake tweaks his knee so badly he was taken out of the match. It all boils down to a defiant Drew Galloway against the entire BDC. Drew managed to eliminate Kenny King and Low-Ki before being eliminated by MVP. Thus BDC reigns supreme over the now disbanded Rising!

Drew learns first hand that life is simply not fair.

It was a good opening match. With his good looks, tall stature, and great physique, Drew Galloway certainly fits the valiant hero role they gave him. They made the right match ending with BDC crushing The Rising. This reinforces the idea the BDC is the dominant clan in TNA (because The Revolution, that is, James Storm is too focused on Magnus and Mickie James story wise, to even be bothered with establishing dominance, and The Rising is too young to be called as such), and it forwards their rivalry with Drew Galloway (he is after all the focus of their ire, and not necessarily The Rising). Drew Galloway is further established as the courageous rebel who strives to topple the BDC no matter what. And all of this translates to great matches in the few weeks or even months. Unfortunately, this puts the other members of The Rising in character limbo. I predict that Galloway will somehow manage to create another group again (most likely with Eli Drake and Micah in it too). This time around, maybe he’ll call it The Soaring? Or maybe The Climbing? Or how about The Ascension? Oh wait, that last one is wrong on many levels.

Rumor mill: Low-Ki was missing from the celebratory post-match scene of the BDC. Story-wise, Kenny King explains that he went to the hospital for the nasty shoulder bump courtesy of Drew Galloway. As stated in last week’s review, Low-Ki has declared on Twitter that he’s now out of TNA. If that’s the case, this little incident is most likely the start of Low-Ki being gradually removed from the BDC. And as I said in my previous review, I’m cool with that. Hernandez is a very good replacement, and I predict Low-Ki leaving will not have a big impact to the dynamics of the BDC and TNA.

Magnus, Mickie James, and James Storm promo

Magnus is in the ring bad mouthing James Storm. Mickie James joins him in the bad mouthing session, but also saying that they became more united and stronger than ever because of what Storm tried to do. James Storm (with Khoya) came out, saying that he should have pushed Mickie James harder on that rail tracks. If he had done that, that would have put her in a wheelchair, and she’ll have more time for her child then. He then says he did what he did not really because he wants them in the Revolution, but more to show the world how easy it is to manipulate women. That really ticked Mickie James off. She tells Storm to find himself a woman to partner with, and then they’ll settle the situation in a mixed tag team match.

Tsk, tsk, James Storm, this woman is mine. Go find yours.

Ugh, this entire Magnus, Mickie James, and James Storm story line is all sorts of icky. Call me discriminatory, but it is white trailer trash drama, the sort that Jerry Springer would’ve loved to have in his now-defunct show. Mickie’s push onto the tracks, the fake baby being pushed from the ramp—there’s no sense of foreboding or dread, only uninspired menace. The we end up all three screaming insults and threats at each other, like guests in the aforementioned host’s show. And what’s even funnier is that WWE is using the same story line with Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns (but in defense to both promotions, the stalker trope had be used and rehashed not just by them but by others in many different times, and in many different ways; the reason why it struck me as being similar is because both story lines have cult leaders stalking a good man’s family, particularly his child)—and it is a gazillion times better than the original. Goes to show how terrible some of TNA’s writing is nowadays.

Rumor mill: The rumor is that Magnus, James Storm, and Mickie James are among the talents who will not be renewing their contracts with TNA. This mean that as awful as the story is, this will be their last Impact Wrestling story line. What is intriguing to me is that Magnus has taken some dates with Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling, and is even slated to work in GFW’s first TV taping. If that’s the case, it fuels the some people’s suspicion that this supposed mass exodus is all just work. More on this later.  

The Wolves vs The Dirty Heels in a 30-minute Iron Man Match for the TNA Tag Team Championships

It has been a great Best-of-Five series between these great teams, and this fifth match (not really 30 minutes, more like 25 minutes, as they shaved off five minutes during their break) was a satisfying culmination of this lengthy feud.

By putting most of the falls in the last four minutes of the match, they non-verbally told the audience how very evenly matched these two teams are. That is such smart match booking. Austin Aries gets the first pinfall on Eddie Edwards after a 450 splash. Edwards returns the favor by getting the second pinfall after a lungblower by Davey Richards. Eddie Edwards then rolls Bobby Roode to get the third and final pinfall. And with this, The Wolves get their fourth TNA tag team championship!

The match was a good finale, and everyone who was involved in it knew each other so well (they should, by this time) that they move like well-oiled machines. The match was slow but steady in the first 15 minutes. But as the clock wound down to the last ten, the Dirty Heels did some... heel... things, and the match quickened its pace. Both team earned falls at the four-minute mark, but when the Wolves earned the third one at the last minute, Roode and Aries’s faces had the mark of desperation of people who knew they had lost even before the buzzer rang. For me it was wonderful because it was like watching theater, a play done by voiceless actors acted in a six sided ring.

Did the right team win? I have to admit, I prefer the Dirty Heels over the Wolves. Aries and Roode equally share the offense and defense spots of their matches (I noticed that more often than not, it’s Eddie Edwards who takes the bulk of the punishment, while Davey Richards is the one who gets the hot tag). But personal preferences aside, yes, I believe the right team won. Whatever some people feel about the Wolves, they are definitely over with the audience, if we are going to use the Impact Wrestling crowd as measurement. And that crowd sympathy will definitely help TNA with the upheavals in the coming months.

Rumor mill: The rumor is that Austin Aries is also one of the wrestlers who will not renew his contract and is leaving TNA. Of all the rumors, this is the one that really made me sad. Austin Aries is one of the best wrestlers in Impact Wrestling and I think his exit is a great loss for the company. I hope that this roster rebellion is really just a work, because as this best-of-five feud had shown, Aries has in-ring skills and experience that translates to entertaining matches. And entertaining matches means a happy audience, which in turn means a happy promoter with a full wallet.

Awesome Kong vs Brooke Tessmacher vs Taryn Tarrell for the TNA Knockouts Championship

Sadly, this was the most disappointing match of the night. At five minutes, it was too short; Kong was in poor form, Brooke was all over the place, and Taryn was annoying me with her shrill screams. Interference by Jade, then a cutter to Kong by Taryn, and then finally a pin, and Taryn retained her championship. The reveal that the vignettes that had been showing these past few weeks were by Gail Kim didn’t help all that much in making this Knockout part of the show interesting, because they didn’t even bother to show us Gail Kim in freakin’ person! What a letdown.

Gleeful Taryn

Rumor mill: Awesome Kong and yes, even the champion, Taryn Tarrell were said to be leaving TNA. If that’s the case, it’s no surprise that Gail Kim will be taking the Knockout championship from her. TNA has been misusing Kong so I’m somewhat okay with her looking for better opportunities. As for Taryn, well, I hope her leaving will not mean the end of the Dollhouse. I really like Marti Bell and Jade, and I hope to see more of them (even better as championship contenders) in the future.

Interview with Jeff Jarrett, Part I

This is a pretty short interview. It basically boils down to Mike Tenay asking what all of it (Jarrett’s return, him winning the King of the Mountain match at Slammiversary) means for the future of TNA and GFW. Jeff Jarrett replies that with a 100% guarantee, there is a future between Global Force and TNA wrestling, and it’s going to be a shock to some people, and he’s excited in more ways than one.

Rumor mill: The rumor is that we are going to see a GFW invasion angle in Impact Wrestling very soon. Another rumor going around is that the mass exodus going on with the TNA roster is actually all just work in preparation for this invasion angle. Just as it seems with Magnus’ case, some of the TNA talents are being “transferred” to the GFW roster for the said invasion.

First of all, I feel a bit stupid. I really thought his return was just a one-time thing for Jeff Jarrett, and we just needed to give him the closure he wants. I should have known better. This supposedly upcoming angle will be a big opportunity for his Global Force Wrestling. He’s going to use the second largest pro wrestling promotion in the US to market his own business. He has every right to, given that he still holds his portion of TNA shares.

Honestly, my first instinct is to be livid. The talents leaving TNA is indicative of its decline, the GFW invasion is stupid, and Jeff Jarrett is a selfish bastard. Then I realized that TNA is desperate. People are losing faith in them, they are not in a good financial state, and it is rumoured that morale in the locker room is at all-time low. Heck, even their TNA World Heavyweight Championship was stripped of its recognition by PWI. So an invasion angle might be their last ditch effort to salvage themselves. I think it’s an all-or-nothing gamble on their part. It may even be that the idea may have come from TNA and not from Jarrett.

Personally, I don’t want to join in the chorus of naysayers prophesying the end of TNA. Perhaps TNA will succeed in their gamble, perhaps not. The good thing in all of this is that it shows that they are still fighting to stay alive. Yes, you can be a gullible mark, but for me, that is enough. For now.

Ethan Carter III vs Kurt Angle for the World Heavyweight Championship

It was a good, exciting match, and the crowd knows it.  EC3 gets the “EC3 sucks”and “you can’t wrestle” treatment, which I think is totally wrong. Anyway, I’m glad for the other half who rebut with the “yes, he can” chants.

The barrage of German suplexes by Kurt Angle was reminiscent of Brock Lesnar at last year’s SummerSlam, the way he used the move to dominate John Cena. (Yes, I know that suplexes of all kinds are Kurt Angle’s signature moves, but I counted 17 suplexes in the 20-minute match. That’s roughly an average of 1.1 suplex per minute. I don’t know about you but that is a LOT of suplexes to say it’s just part of his wrestling style.) But this time around, while it helped Kurt Angle look strong, it failed to help Kurt Angle dominate EC3. That tells the audience that EC3 is THAT tough. What a brilliant in-ring story detail.

I know that EC3 is a very good actor, and his performance in this match showed that. Good acting skill is a characteristic of every effective wrestler, but more particularly if you are playing the heel. And EC3’s facial expressions transmitted his thoughts and feelings to the audience, whether live or not, pretty darn well.

Stunned and frustrated

Another thing I liked about this match was how it managed Tyrus’s shenanigans. First, it was good that interference was kept to a minimum and mostly to the last third of the match. Secondly, it was so satisfying that the referees had their revenge on Tyrus by swarming him and ejecting him from the ringside. But the best thing I liked about the match conclusion was that it was a clean pin. That tells us that when backed into the corner, EC3 has the ability and strength to win on his own.

So all in all, we have a new TNA (World) Heavyweight Champion, the undefeated Ethan Carter III!

It was a very good Impact Wrestling show. Better than the last two episodes. Except for the Magnus-Mickie-Storm storyline, they created good, solid booking. I guess they finally realized that this is a do-or-die situation. While Slammiversary felt like the end of an era (particularly for the supposedly leaving wrestlers), this Bell-to-Bell Impact Wrestling episode feels like the beginning. On surface, yes the beginning of  the Carter era, as Josh Matthews said. But with all these rumors, it is obvious that something big, something even bigger than EC3, is on the horizon.

Will Jeff Jarrett and the invasion angle be the beginning of a new life for TNA? Or will it be the beginning of the end for the promotion? I cannot say. What we can only do is watch and wait.


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