Wrestling to me is best when its a "rope opera." When storytelling and character development is constantly happening and the landscape of the show is constantly evolving is when I as a fan am most intrigued. As opposed to WWE where they really only have one major storyline (which is the same storyline they've been using for the past three or four years) while everything else is cookie cutter, things are actually happening in TNA. There are turns, moments, teases of upcoming events and characters being formed. I like that in the five weeks since TNA debuted on Pop, things are completely different. I expect that in another five weeks, the show will be different from now. The direction and the approach are consistent but the characters are constantly evolving. It makes for an interesting show.
* Matt Hardy vs Kurt Angle made sense as this could be the last time you would see Kurt challenging for the World Title. He was in Jeff's corner last week so it makes sense that he would be offended by what happened. Matt continues to spiral into the dark side. He is a very unlikable character. As a fan, you want to punch him in the mouth. You also want somebody to take out Reby. The opening promo teased the main event match while also promoting Hardcore War which would be happening later in the show.
The main event match was solid. It wasn't a MOTY contender but it continued the Matt Hardy buildup. There was a lot of teases for Kurt winning the championship including run-ins with both Drew Galloway and Lashley backstage. It didn't happen though as both Tyrus and Reby got involved to allow Matt to hit the Twist of Fate for the win.
* Speaking of Lashley, who ran through Aiden O'Shea on this show. This is really the first major look we got of Raquel, who is smoking hot. She flirted with Lashley more during and after the match. Very few match Raquel in the looks department. I am getting the vibe that Raquel is turned on by the pain of others. Between Lashley's interaction with her and his segments with Kurt Angle, I am expecting a heel turn in the very near future.
* I enjoyed the segment between Maria and Gail Kim. Maria is good on the mic and did an effective job building herself up while tearing the other Knockouts down. Gail did a good job standing up for herself. Its nice to see a new feud that isn't Dollhouse/Beautiful People or Gail Kim/Kong. This isn't finished between the two. It will be interesting to see how quickly Maria becomes and active competitor.
* Hardcore War was a fun fight between Eric Young, Bram, Decay and the teams of the Wolves and Beer Money. While many are looking at the eventual Beer Money/Wolves match, we shouldn't overlook their opponents who got the wins tonight. Decay is a dangerous force to be reckoned with. They are something you see in your nightmares and yes, they are similar to the Suicide Squad. I'm loving the Decay and am awaiting their championship match against The Wolves. You know, Monster's Ball is scheduled for one of the next two weeks in Manchester?
* Drew Galloway vs Tyrus was okay. I am pleasantly surprised how well Tyrus has done on the mic in recent weeks. I think TNA sees something in him and could see him main eventing very soon. This match didn't really have a conclusion as Mike Bennett interfered and laid out Drew with the World Title case kickstarting their feud. Its a good move to give both something to do.
One thing that I am liking is that TNA is teasing a feud between Tyrus and The Pope. I am mixed because I love The Pope on commentary but really want him to return to the ring. I would be happy for part-time wrestler status for The Pope. TNA has a good road to this by having Tyrus keep antagonizing him.
* Trevor Lee is the new X Division Champion. Gregory Shane Helms pulled a bait and switch on Tigre by goading him into a championship match and then having Trevor Lee be the one to challenge him. Helms is teasing that he will wrestle eventually in TNA, which I am okay with. I like Helms mentoring Lee even if I have some issues with Lee's look. With the injury to Davey Richards, it might be fun to see Trevor Lee vs Eddie Edwards.
* The EC3 promo was awesome. Many criticize it but I like the production techniques that TNA used here with the background music. EC3 was very level-headed, put over Matt Hardy, put himself over and promised to gain his revenge. I continue to believe EC3 will be Mr. TNA over the next few years if not longer. He could be to IMPACT Wrestling what AJ was to TNA in its early years. The difference is that he is the complete package. I look forward to seeing him back on TV in Manchester.
To me, TNA should build its PPV schedule around Lockdown (in February), Slammiversary (in June) and Bound For Glory (in October). These shows should be closely connected with IMPACT. They should be built well in advance and should have strong well-built matches. They also should look different from IMPACT with unique locales, ring aprons, turnbuckles and graphics. These major events should be consistent every year.
The remaining months should be One Night Only shows. Yes, that is kinda what they are doing now except not to their potential. One Night Only is unique for its smaller price tag, its themes and its standalone feel. Its the last element that ruins it for me. I feel that the ONO concept should remain loosely connected with IMPACT. Their results should have consequences on the product, could lightly be build up on IMPACT and even be referenced after they air.
One Night Only: Live is a perfect example of how I would handle these shows. If you remember, a few matches were hyped through segments on IMPACT. Some of the matches were higher caliber and there were elements of the show that were memorable. While it would be difficult to make these shows all live, I would do it with some of them.
Many of the themed shows would continue such as Joker's Wild, Rivals, World Cup, Hardcore Justice, Gutcheck etc. I would rebrand Xtravaganza into Destination X (a Live ONO show) and Knockouts Knockdown into a Night of Knockouts. During the months where there isn't an annual concept, you could do shows like ONO: Live. Below is an example of what I would do:
January- ONO: Genesis
March- ONO: Joker's Wild
April- ONO: A Night of Knockouts
May- ONO: Rivals
July- ONO Live: Destination X
August- ONO: Hardcore Justice
September- ONO: Gutcheck
October- Bound for Glory
November- ONO Live: Battle of New Orleans
December- ONO: World Cup
TNA is supposedly going to Mumbai this year which could be a good ONO show. There are plenty of other brands that TNA could use for the names. The point is, the shows would matter a bit more. Rely on the annual themed concepts for off-months while building the product a bit more through B-Shows like Genesis, BONO, Destination X and more. Make these shows must-see.