Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Is TNA Not Entirely Terrible Now? A Small Sample Curiosity.

So last night (6/7) for reasons I cannot entirely explain, I watched an episode of TNA Impact. Maybe it was because we're in a TV programming lull, maybe it's because Rachel was working on something downstairs so I couldn't watch anything that we typically watch together, maybe I somehow haven't learned my lesson after 14 years (btw, TNA has existed for FOURTEEN YEARS!! When TNA started I couldn't vote. What the fuck, Time??). Probably some combination of all of those things, plus I saw on the episode guide that Matt Hardy was going to face Drew Galloway on the show, and based on my cursory knowledge of who is actually on their current roster, these two are really two of the only guys I would care to see in a TNA match. So I DVR'd it, and...

I ended up enjoying the entire show. Now, to be clear, by "entire show" I mean "I fast forwarded through any and all talking segments and paid attention to three of the matches while casually paying attention to the other three matches". So there was a lot of fast forwarding, but not nearly as much as there could have been. For a promotion who never has gotten the detail work right, this was a surprisingly well paced show (even fast forwarding through 75% of your average Impact episode would tell you whether or not the pacing was good) with a more professional look than I'm used to after 14 years of blunders and bush league presentation (I should remind you again that TNA has been around for FOURTEEN YEARS! When TNA started, Kanye West was known as "Producer of The Blueprint", or "Kanye West: Man with Fully Functioning Jaw"). I enjoyed the announce crew of Josh Matthews and Pope. For a totally insufferable human being, Matthews plays nicely off Pope, who in turn does color commentary like the best parts of Tazz and Booker T. They complement each other nicely, which I don't think I've been able to say about any TNA commentary crew ever.

The matches were surprisingly enjoyable as well. Even when TNA has had workers I enjoy, the company style always felt detrimental to match quality, and it always felt like it had that early MLW or 2000s Guadalajara (and possibly current Guadalajara?) vibe where wrestlers I like go to have matches I dislike. There was a TNA stink on even their best workers and matches, and last night I didn't smell any sort of TNA stink. The short and inoffensive matches were short and inoffensive, and the matches given time to be something more delivered.

I really enjoyed Eddie Edwards/Trevor Lee as an interference clustered cruiser match, with Lee really throwing himself into Edwards' offense, a big Lee bump where Edwards caught the apron punt and swept Lee's leg to make him faceplant on the apron, a big Edwards dive, nice Lee suplex, good nearfall based on interference, just a fun match. More noteworthy was a 10 man tag that was probably just 8 minutes, but really good. TNA throughout its history has been hilariously inept at large multiman matches. This in theory should be one of the easiest matches to lay out, as with 10 guys even the worst wrestlers should have one or two cool tricks they can do so nobody has to be exposed, and you can keep action moving with constant saves and tag ins. Yet somehow TNA multimans (specifically the always laugh out loud bad multiman cage matches where you'd end up with 80% of the guys lying around the ring breathing heavily after just a few minutes) always flopped, always turned into an awful mess, never felt like they had enough action. So here were 10 men - 5 of whom I had at least heard of before, 3 of whom I could at least pick out of a lineup - 10 men of varying abilities working a tight 7 minutes with no filler, some smart, simple spots, and a satisfying finish. Jessie Godderz had a couple nice press slams, there were a couple stocky little guys in striped tights who came in gunning low with elbows and nice aggression, Crazzy Steve seems like he might be good, even Abyss had a cool moment where he made a save by just grabbing a guy by the throat.

The main event of Matt Hardy vs. Drew Galloway was really good and with an actual conclusive finish I was already prepared to nominate it for our MOTY list. Hardy looks insane right now, like a methier and/or draggier Toecutter, which...well would actually work pretty well as a wrestling character. But these guys beat the hell out of each other, constantly lobbing nice punches and elbows, Hardy takes a backbreaker on the ring apron, Galloway takes a side effect on the ring steps, Galloway threw a big belly to belly, they found a nice way to set up some tree of woe stuff with a blocked superplex leading to some Hardy headbutts, and then when Hardy was taking too long to set something up I thought it was going to look silly when Drew took a move after hanging out for so long, but instead Drew was just playing possum and sprang up to launch Hardy across the ring. More big chops, more great Hardy punches, more great Galloway elbows to Hardy's weird head. Yeah we got a run in finish but this was a fine match, exactly what I was hoping for out of these guys.

So there I was, enjoying TNA, actually thinking about watching TNA one week from now, which is a thought I don't think I've ever had. Watching TNA has always been more of an accident, or something to throw on for a laugh when people are over and you remember it's on. I don't know if I've ever actively planned to watch TNA a week in advance. But this show won me over. There were still some silly moments, my favorite being their apparent heist of the WWE never-going-to-get-over name generator, - used here for Pepper Parks - who is now known as "Braxton Sutter". I recognize that it's entirely possible I just tuned in on the one competent week of programming they've had since joining Pop! I know I tuned in a couple of times when they were on Destination America and it was dreadful. So this could have been luck, or they may finally be onto something, 10 years too late.

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Blogger Brian said...

I've always got between 4-6 weeks worth on my DVR and catch up to it in bursts. I've actually enjoyed a lot of their run on Pop! the shows as mentioned are quite briskly paced and I've found it generally the superior show to NXT and even SmackDown! week to week. Galloway has had a real great run and I've enjoyed the EC3 versus "Miracle" Bennett feud.

9:07 AM  
Blogger EricR said...

Smackdown has certainly felt like the dregs for awhile. It's been so boring, and I'm a guy who has no problem with pre-taped wrestling. It used to at least have good matches, now it feels like a show where not only does nothing happen, but guys also work to not get hurt. It doesn't have that aspect it used to, with guys on the show working hard to show up Raw. Maybe the brand split will help that. Are there any 2016 TNA matches you'd recommend to me?

3:38 PM  

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