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Wrestling’s 4Rs: The Right, Wrong and Ridiculous of Impact Wrestling

March 14, 2017 | Posted by Jericho Ricardi
Alberto El Patron Bound for Glory
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Wrestling’s 4Rs: The Right, Wrong and Ridiculous of Impact Wrestling  

How the 4Rs of wRestling Work!
Here is a quick explanation of the 4R’s. The column will run TWO-THREE times a week. We will group our feelings on the shows in various categories: The Right, the wRong and the Ridiculous. The Right is stuff that worked very well: a great promo, a great match and so on. PuRgatoRy is a section between the right and wrong. It shows equal traits from both sides that cannot be ignored and needs discussed. It is not a bad place per say, as things can get remedied or go the wrong way the very next week. The wRong is what it sounds like: bad matches, bad or boring promos and so on. The Ridiculous is stuff that had no right on TV: Stupid angles and so on. And there is always a possibility of a 5th R, which is as bad as they come. This column is supposed to be analytical, and at the right time very critical of the shows, it was the whole reason it was created. This is not a “mark” column, nor a “smark” column, our goal is to analyze the show from many different fronts, reward the good and call out the bad. We will not apologize for our opinions, they are as they are, whether positive or negative.

* Reno Scum def. The DCC @ 2:30 via pin (Double-Team Double-Stomp)
* Braxton Sutter def. Marshe Rockett, DJ Z, and Caleb Konley @ 4:35 via pin (Rollup)
* Sienna def. Rachael Ellering @ 4:18 via pin (Silencer)
* Alberto El Patron def. Lashley @ 16:00 via pin to win the Impact World Title (Belt Shot)

Quick Backstory: I covered Impact here in the 4Rs for many moons back in 2014/2015. As a fan of the company, I’ve kept up with the show since then by tuning in every so often to see how they’re doing. This is my first time watching in several months, and I had high hopes for how the show might improve under new owners.

THE Right:
Pope Is An Okay Announcer: Seriously, he isn’t bad at all. I take his Dusty-isms more as a tribute than plagiarism. All of that said, I’d like to see him step out from behind the desk and wrestle again; as far as I know there’s nothing stopping him from getting into the ring. Yep…talented guy here, and one of the few high-level performers left from the company’s Spike era. I especially appreciated that he actually called matches. That’s where we’ll be at tonight: An announcer calling matches correctly is enough to get a Right.

Braxton Sutter and Allie: Haven’t seen much of these two characters previously, but this episode brought me up to date on the storyline. Said storyline has the potential to make not one, not two, but three stars. Allie could be a breakout for the company opposite Insane Laurel Van Ness, and Braxton Sutter has as much legit upside as any “young gun” the company has had in a while. Given the track record of start-stop pushes in this company, I don’t expect them to stick with Sutter or keep him relevant, but for now he and Allie are on the way up. Minus points for him winning with a roll-up rather than a finisher, something TNA has been terrible at for years. Plus points for Laurel coming out and screeching at them like Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Reno Scum: Not crazy about the name, but these guys impressed in their debut. I also like that the company acknowledges their titles from an indy federation. Companies acknowledging that other wrestling exists makes the wrestling world seem bigger, and is something I like. Josh Matthews very nearly pushed this down to Purgatory by repeatedly calling Reno Scum’s win a fluke, but it survives.

The Opening Video Package: This was a very well-done video that could have easily landed in The Right…if it had focused on their current talent at some point. I kept waiting for it to lead into a showcase of their current stars, and instead it just kept focusing on a bunch of guys who are now in WWE or ROH. It’s like it went out of its way to avoid spotlighting anyone from the past that they, you know, still actually have. Where was Pope? Where was Matt Morgan? How about Gail Kim?

Starting With A Brawl: On one hand, this was a fun way to open the show rather than having an in-ring promo. On the other hand, it still would have been better to start the wrestling show with a wrestling match. The TNA of the late 00’s put on better matches than any other company on national TV; let’s see some of that again.

The Hardys Fight a Kangaroo And Warp Into Space: That was zany and fun if you don’t take it too seriously. I’m just wondering why the Hardys didn’t put over The Decay on the way out. You know, missed opportunities and all that. Then again, when does anyone in Impact Wrestling put someone over on the way out? The company had AJ Styles beat half the roster at once on the way out, and I’m pretty sure Sting, Kurt Angle, and Bully Ray all left without putting anyone over. I mean, they all lost to Ethan Carter III on the way out…in screwy finishes that didn’t do much for ECIII.

Sienna Vs. Rachel Ellering, on Mute: Short but inoffensive match here. Rachel Ellering could be an asset in the women’s division for the company if they bring her back. Surprised Paul didn’t bring her into NXT instead. I will say that this match is a lot better if you watch it on mute; the announcers weren’t exactly talking about the match (aside from Pope, who By God was trying).

What Is Cody Rhodes Doing There?: I was excited to see Cody get involved briefly with the company last Fall, but now I’m wondering what the point of him being there is. It looked like he was just there to battle Moose and check off another box. What’s his goal in Impact Wrestling? Where is he going? Is he in it for the long haul? Hell if I know. This feels like it should be a big deal, but isn’t. Can you imagine if, in 1996, WCW had debuted Scott Hall and Kevin Nash the way Impact debuted Alberto Del Rio and re-debuted Cody Rhodes tonight?

Bruce Prichard’s Promo / Del Rio’s Debut: This started out well enough, with Bruce Prichard finally solidifying that the company isn’t called TNA anymore… halfway through the show. He also did a GREAT job introducing Lashley as “walking Armageddon” and “the greatest competitor in the world today”. It was Heymanesque, and made me wonder why this guy doesn’t manage Lashley. Things went downhill from there, with Prichard going on and on about how great WWE is and bringing out a former WWE champion…while the announcers talked about WWE. More about that later. Question is, are we getting boring WWE Alberto, or badass Lucha Underground Alberto? Time will tell. I do think Alberto can be a big asset to the company if used correctly and if he’s dedicated to it.

THE wRong:
”Make Impact Great”: Seriously? We’re going with a Trumpism as our new catchphrase? Also, it implies that Impact wasn’t already great. Anyone who has taken Branding 101 knows that isn’t a great idea. Lashley at least changed it to “Make Impact Greater” when he said it, so I’m glad one person gets it. That should have been the catchphrase instead.

Alberto El Patron Dethroning Lashley: As a match that has never been done before, this could have been a fun feud with a few weeks of build and a proper match with a decisive win for Lashley. Instead, El Patron winning the title from the dominant champion on his first night in the company, via cheating, made both guys look terrible. And where does this leave ECIII? We’re only a week out from Lashley decisively crushing Josh Barnett, too. The match was okay, but it never felt like it kicked into gear; I think a lot of that was the lack of build.

The Poorly-Mic’d Crowd: Supposedly there were technical difficulties during the show that made the audience noise sound lower than it actually was; fans who were there live said that the crowd was raucous during the main event but that didn’t come through on TV. This needs to be fixed, because it made large portions of the show feel lifeless. It did seem like the dead crowd came alive in the latter parts of the show, but it was hard to tell without proper audio.

The Lack of Cosmetic Changes: If the idea is to make the show great, you can start with basic cosmetic improvements that would make it more watchable. Aside from mic-ing the crowd better, livelier lighting and arena setup would go a long way. NXT has a smaller crowd than Impact, but it feels more “big time” because the color scheme and presentation are set up with warm colors and bright lights. Also, light-blue ropes remind everyone of Deathbed-Era WCW, so stop doing that. How about adopting GFW’s green ropes? Those were lively and exciting on camera. Red, yellow, and dark blue are taken, and black would invite WCW comparisons. White is available now. I’d go with green, though. Anything that isn’t Deathbed-Era WCW. How about silver ropes, better lighting, and an actual arena? Give me something here that tells me I’m watching a “new era” of the show at immediate first glance.

Dutch Mantell’s Promo: Prichard’s promo was tolerable, but this took things too far. Once again, we had a guy talking about how great a bunch of WWE performers are. ‘Member AJ Styles? ‘Member Sting? ‘Member Samoa Joe? The crux of his argument seemed to be that these guys all left because the company wasn’t good, followed by the paying customers. So…who’s been watching for the past couple of years, then?

Where The Hell Was Eli Drake?: Impact’s most exciting young star not named ECIII was nowhere to be found on a reboot show? I’d have had him showcased front-and-center, maybe in the Cody role of repeatedly coming out and interrupting the show to make a scene. He’s a couple big wins away from being a player, but it feels like the company may or may not have noticed. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t have a top-level guy like Drew Galloway put Drake over on the way out.

THE Ridiculous:
Constantly Mentioning WWE: When Josh Matthews belittled the Impact Zone and talked about how he called a WrestleMania in front of 80,000 paying fans (“as opposed to here, where they get in for free”) I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears. This is a reboot for Impact, right? As in, the goal is to get new people hooked, right? The WWE-pushing on this show was like me going on a first date with a girl and telling her that every other guy in the restaurant makes way more money than I do, while also loudly proclaiming to have a tiny manhood.

Still Being In The Impact Zone: The audience was basically a corpse for half of this show. One could make an argument that the company has little control over this, but that argument doesn’t fly with me. It has been well-documented that having the show for free in front of the same group of fans every week makes for a jaded, bored audience; yet they continue to do it. A reboot episode would be a perfect time for a road show in front of a great wrestling audience like Chicago or New York, but instead we get a repeat of the January 4th 2010 reboot where they’re still in the Impact Zone and nothing feels special. Back then the Impact Zone was a lot more exciting than it is now, too. I swear, you could have Omega Vs. Okada in front of these people and they wouldn’t be impressed.

The Announcers: The job of the announcers is to 1) Provide context, 2) Tell a story, and 3) Add to the matches. None of these three things were accomplished tonight, nor did they even seem like a priority. The announcing diminished every match and storyline on this show, and for what? A feud between announcers that no one asked for. Pope seemed legitimately exasperated to be in the middle of it as he futilely attempted to call matches. The obnoxious, droning noise emitted by Josh Matthews throughout the show added nothing and at times actively detracted from everything taking place in the ring. The announce team should be Jeremy Borash and Jim Ross (with Pope free to wrestle again, as they desperately need more high-performing main eventers now). Josh Matthews should be a heel antagonist bitter about losing his spot. Maybe that’s where they’re headed, but in the meantime what we have here is a reboot show that seemed totally intent on actively driving off the company’s remaining fanbase.

The 1143rd edition is over…

The final score: review Extremely Horrendous
The 411
This show was an unmitigated disaster on nearly every level. I’m no stranger to reboots; I’ve seen all of WCW’s various reboot episodes and the other TNA reboot episodes of the last few years. Some of them, especially the WCW reboots, felt desperate and unnecessary; however, none of them were as completely counterproductive and damaging as this episode of Impact. It almost felt like the company was actively trying to repel anyone dumb enough to be watching or sitting in that audience. Nothing was improved, and they took numerous steps backward. This show was almost entirely without any redeeming qualities, and the only good thing I can think of to come out of it is that the shock Del Rio win and buzz over how bad the show was will most likely boost the ratings. They need to fix the announcing issues going forward, though, and I’m not sure how they can even do that when the next two months of shows are already in the can. Just a completely repugnant reboot here, and if this is what we can expect going forward, then the company is going to finally earn all of the disrespect that naysayers have been throwing their way for years. Cheap plug time, support this site and this column by sharing it with your homies. Also, support my site coronajumper.com by reading my musings on classic video games, including TNA Impact for the PS2/PS3, Pokemon, Final Fantasy, and Mega Man.