It has been a while since I've done this series, but after looking for an article for the day I decided to go with Impact as there stuff worth writing about. I have to praise Impact for clearly having a long term plan again as this episode focused a lot of attention on the further development of Ace Austin. Even though it is possible that Tessa will be fighting Sami in a rematch, but I believe that giving us a taste of Ace in the main event would be a step in the right direction. In my opinion, Josh said it best that his match with Dreamer showed us a side of Austin that we have never seen before and that he can get serious. I think the future will be bright for Ace Austin in Impact Wrestling.
Seeing the next step of the build between Rosemary, Susie, and Havok remained me of the reasons that I didn't like the feud at the beginning as I thought they took it to far. However, seeing things almost come full circle also peaked my interest from the long term story telling side of things. In a way I guess you can say that I'm torn between hating and liking this feud, but I will be paying attention to see where things go from here. Impact still is the category of a show I would recommend at least giving a shot to and passing on just based on their past.
As I mentioned in the first part of this article I will elaborate on some of my decision making after explaining the changes I would've made to the Hardcore Justice 2010 event. In my opinion, at the time of Hardcore Justice 2010 the last thing we really needed was another full bore nod to Extreme Championship Wrestling. At that time the amount of "reunion shows" we had seen in the nine years since ECW had gone out of business was way high then it really needed to be and what was really needed was a unique spin on an overdone idea. It is for that reason I chose to put said spin on the event by including ECW alumni on the show, but in some cases putting them up against top TNA stars. Click here for Part 1!
The first change I wanted to address was having CW Anderson win a battle royal featuring ECW alumni where the winner would earn a contract that couldn't be terminated for one year. The reason I selected CW Anderson is the fact that even to this day Anderson can still go in the ring he has a safe believable style that would elevate talent in ways that not everyone can. One thing that I feel like is missing in some cases from wrestling today is wrestlers who aren't afraid to be a little stiff like Bob Holly, Bradshaw, Anderson, Regal, etc where back in the day. Another reason for Anderson's selection is that would make a perfect bodyguard for a cocky heel needing some protection.
The next change I would make sure that Rob would have his title on the line against Sabu, because unless there is a good reason the World Title should always be on the line. I would then set up an in-ring segment on Impact with Rob Van Dam, Sabu, and Bill Alfonso to say goodbye to that chapter of his career. As far as Jay Lethal is concerned after ending his feud with Ric Flair he'd be interrupted by the Blue World Order including Hollywood Nova, Blue Meanie, and Stevie Richards. The reason for this feud would be to drop the comedic side of Jay Lethal's character and move him to a more serious character much like the character he would develop in Ring of Honor. For the most part during his career in TNA he was comedic relief and never got serious until he left for ROH.
Looking at the Dudley Boys vs Motor City Machine Guns match it would be the feud to end the Dudley Boys as an attempt to establish Motor City Machine Guns as the top top in TNA and the future of the division. In my opinion, TNA always struggled to give the stars they established the chance to run with the ball and that is the reason I made the booking decisions I've made with Hardcore Justice. Looking ahead this would change the booking for the remainder of 2010 as it is unneeded for RVD to be taken and Immortal to be formed. I would move Rob into a feud with Mr. Anderson to give him a fresh challenger and Jay Lethal into a feud with Kurt Angle to further attempt to establish Jay as possible threat to RVD and the World Title.
The remaining events of 2010 top matches would be as followed:
#1 Contender Match to fight Rob Van Dam
Mr. Anderson vs Kurt Angle vs Jeff Hardy vs Jay Lethal
(c) Motor City Machine Guns & Dudley Boys vs Fortune
Bound For Glory:
TNA World Championship Match:
(c) Rob Van Dam vs Mr. Anderson
Fortune (Kazarian & Daniels) Vs (c) Motor City Machine Guns
TNA Television Championship Match:
(c) AJ Styles vs Brother Ray
Kurt Angle vs Jay Lethal (Draw)
Loser Leaves Town Triple Threat for TNA World Championship:
(c) Rob Van Dam vs Tommy Dreamer vs Jeff Hardy (Dreamer is gone)
2 out of 3 Falls Match:
Jay Lethal vs Kurt Angle
One More Match: TNA World Tag Team Championship
(c) Motor City Machine Guns vs Team 3D (If Team 3D loses they will never team together again *Brother Ray turns into Bully after this event)
AJ Styles vs Douglas Williams
TNA World Championship Match:
(c) Rob Van Dam vs Jay Lethal
Lethal celebrates with other faces from TNA Locker Room ending the year in tears as champion
AJ Styles & Motor City Machine Guns vs Beer Money & Douglas Williams
Kurt Angle vs Christopher Daniels
(Post Match handshake with Daniels & Angle raises questions of who Daniels is with in Fortune fractured)
TNA Television Championship Match:
(c) Bully Ray vs Brother Runt (Devon runs into save Runt after Bully tries to beat him down post match)
Note: I'd go the long way for a pay-off with Devon vs Bully Ray, because they had been a team for almost twenty years at that point and it shouldn't just immediately develop into a blood feud. At first there should be resist on Devon's side to want to fight Bully until he has all he can take and they finally come to blows which would likely happen in April just before Lockdown letting them have their first meeting inside a Cage. Fortune Fractured would give the members of Fortune some substance to what was actually a disappointing break-up to team that had a ton of talent in it's ranks. As for the World Champion seeing Jay Lethal on top of TNA would make TNA unique again and erase some of the bad taste they had left fans mouths earlier in the year, because it would make TNA seem like an alternative again. Remember in 2010 someone like Jay Lethal many thought could never have been champion in WWE little did we know.
Since the end of Extreme Championship Wrestling a number of both wrestlers and promotions have attempted to sell tickets using ECW's legacy. In my opinion, one or two shows would've been enough by the end of the tribute show craze fans were burned out. One of the last ECW tribute were from Impact Wrestling called Hardcore Justice in August 2010. The card for the event is featured below:
Hardcore Justice 2010
The FBI (Tracy Smothers, Little Guido, & Tony Luke) (w/ Sal E. Graziano) defeated Kid Kash, Simon Diamond, & Johnny Swinger (10:43)
2 Cold Scorpio defeated CW Anderson (6:46)
Stevie Richards (w/ The Blue Guy & Hollywood Nova) defeated P.J. Polaco (6:31)
Rhino defeated Al Snow & Brother Runt in a Three Way Dance Match (5:49)
Team 3D (Brother Ray & Brother Devon) (w/ Joel Gertner) defeated Axl Rotten & Kahoneys in a tag team Street Fight (11:55)
Raven defeated Tommy Dreamer (16:59)
Rob Van Dam (w/ Bill Alphonso) defeated Sabu (w/ Bill Alphonso) (17:12)
This event is one of the embodiment's of why 2010 is one of the worst years in the history of pro-wrestling and it wasn't just in TNA as 2010 in WWE was just as bad in TNA or in some cases even worse. At the time of this event Rob Van Dam was TNA World Champion and defending the World Title against Sabu in the main event could've added an extra wrinkle to the event. The month before at Victory Road we saw Jay Lethal gain the biggest victory of his career against Ric Flair, but his momentum halted for this show. Seeing Jay Lethal go head to head with either Rhino or Stevie Richards would've been a nice use of his talents to get him on this show and keep building forward momentum.
The last change I would've made is moving some ECW Originals into a battle royal where the winner would receive a contract with TNA that could not be terminated for one year. I'd let CW Anderson take the win as having a veteran presence on the roster is never a bad thing and it would've helped having fresh veteran on programming who in my book still seems like a bad ass. I would've kept Raven vs Tommy Dreamer, because this was the last time these two fought and it was a good match to end a legendary feud on. The other match I would've kept is Rob Van Dam vs Sabu, but I would've put the World Title on the line instead of making it non title. Overall if I had the chance to redo this event I would've mixed in a lot of the current stars of TNA Wrestling at the time to give the "reunion show" a different and unique feel instead of making it similar to One Night Stand or the other reunions that had happened. Also no offense to Tazz and Mike Tenay, but I would've also tried to have Don Callis making at least a guest appearance during the show even if it was to manage Rhino. Below is the card I would've had for this event:
Hard Justice 2010:
ECW Originals Battle Royal: Winner Recieves a Contract with TNA that can't be terminated for one year
Winner CW Anderson
Jay Lethal vs Stevie Richards w/ Hollywood Nova & Blue Meanie
X-Division Championship Four Corners Match:
2 Cold Scorpio vs (c) Doug Williams vs Little Gudio vs Kid Kash
TNA Tag Team Championship Match: Street Fight
(c) Motor City Machine Guns vs Team 3D (Brother Ray & Devon) with Joel Gertner
Rhino vs Al Snow
One Final Match:
Raven vs Tommy Dreamer
Mick Foley as Special Guest Referee
TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match:
(c) Rob Van Dam w/ Bill Alfonso vs Sabu w/ Bill Alfonso
Note: Stay tuned for Part 2 as I attempt to explain where I'd go from there and why I made the choices I did with the talent. For the most part I will be going through the show to explain the background behind the matches I made and how this would be different from the "Reunion show" we got, but still be able to be considered a "reunion show."
Honestly I have been watching Impact Wrestling for about a year or so at this point on a weekly basis, but I have never heard Tessa speak. In my opinion, Tessa does have some charisma, and it might be that she isn't use to getting promo time or in long drawn out segments. Now that they have gotten Tessa to the goal they need to start to develop a character and reasons why she did something or is acting a certain way instead of just going through the motions. I feel like that's the only thing that is missing from her segments as they are leaning on Sami Callahan a little to much and eventually they will have to move on from that feud.
I would like to point out how unique it is that Impact chose to actually run an episode of Impact down in Mexico City. It is stuff like that which makes them stick out from the other companies, because other than AEW nobody really does programming from obscure locations. As far as Austin & Taya appearing to confront the champion it something I don't have an issue with, but at the same time it felt they had a bit more depth and confidence then the World champion. It is for this reason that either Tessa needs a manager or just a bit more promo time to develop a character and get a little more confidence.
At the tail end of last year I was thinking up some new series ideas to change things up as we approach year five of the website. I knew that I wanted to focus on gimmicks and redo's, but I didn't know which would be the best way to handle Rob Van Dam. To explain at Bound For Glory last year Rob Van Dam turned heel for the first time in almost twenty years and the first time in Impact Wrestling. Soon after turning on Rhyno at Bound For Glory his current girlfriend Katie Forbes joined him as his manager.
For the most part all RVD and Katie Forbes have done is acted like two horny teenagers just kissing each other every chance they get. I understand that Rob likely wanted his girlfriend alongside him to help keep him sane on the road again more often. Rob has not been a heel in almost twenty years and never caught a whiff of the other side in that time. In my opinion, the heel turn could've been done a lot better with the turn giving Rob more of a reason to turn then just making out with his girlfriend.
Rob Van Dam has put his body on the line for years going back to his days in ECW and now at 45 years old it might be time for him to slow down to prolong his career a little. Changing his move set would've been the first thing I would've changed but I would've done it done it slow. For example I'd have Rob go up for the frog splash and then change his mind waving off the fans. I'd have him go for van terminator and then drop off the ropes and wave them off again. In the weeks Rob would start adding new moves to his arsenal and leaning more on karate instead of high flying.
This would build to a promo where Rob denounces his old self saying "I put my body on the line for the twenty five years for what? To get risk life altering injuries, to give a half whited moron who couldn't do half things I can do a chance to dream. Katie and I discussed it and it's time I start thinking about the only person that matters me." He'd finish by saying "For twenty years I've put you people first and it's gotten me nothing and helped me nowhere that changes now." Tommy Dreamer then pops up and points the finger at Katie for Rob's change of attitude and this enrages Rob who attacks Tommy and bloodies him badly. Setting up his first big match as a heel and raises the blame for people to hate Katie and gives her a character as well as it gives Rob a reason why he turned heel again.
A few weeks ago I spoke about this feud in detail and how it fascinating to see how Impact has kept up every detail of this feud. The easiest way to keep people interested in something that had been going on for a while is adding more depth and layers to a feud. The biggest issue with adding layers or exposition is that the layers and depth have to make sense and fit together or fans and in some cases talent will loose interest in a feud. In reality not every story can be milked for months or years at a time and others can. The best way in my opinion to figure that out is drawing out a plan and adding to it as you go.
In my opinion, there is a difference between being typecast and being fit to have a specific role and do it better then anyone else. Very few people fit the role of an evil, sinister, un-trusting person like James Mitchell who has always fit that role better from the start of his career almost thirty years ago. At this point Rosemary maybe fitting the role of an underdog as she is trying to help Suzie remember, but that help is coming at the expense of her matches and distracting her from the action. Think about this Rosemary gets to show a side of herself that she hadn't in the past using a vulnerable side to help Suzie. Suzie is showing an innocent side which is the polar opposite of where she was before this story began nearly two years ago.
After a little more than a year as adversaries Rosemary and Su Yang have had the longest consistent feud in current wrestling. At one point I wasn't a fan of this angle cause it wasn't my cup of tea and just was too far over the top for me. However, looking at this now and seeing the continuity and the amount of small details they have stuck to it gives the angle a different feel and something that should be praised. It isn't always easy to keep everyone on television and the interest levels high on feuds when the talent isn't always prominently featured on television like these women.
In my opinion, this seems a little on par with a Paul Heyman esque bridging story/feud which is one of the main reasons that I have taken to wrestling so much. I know every feud can't be a two year novel like this one, but the small details and continuity should be the real take away from this feud. Sometimes our wrestling companies think if they forgot a small detail then the fans won't remember either. Segments like this makes Impact seem unique and different then the other wrestling promotions. I still am not really a fan of this feud, because of how far off it is from the normal. After this segment this feud does have my attention and I'm interested in seeing where things go from here.
We are less than a month away from January 12 and "Hard To Kill!" Impact has made sure that this week the intensity level moved just a little closer to a 100. The only thing that would've changed things is if the police actually did have to break-up the street fight between Sami Callahan & Tessa Blanchard I know that's crazy, but think about how it would've looked if it did happen. The PPV continues to fill in match wise with more anticipation being added to upcoming matches. For me I am looking forward to Ken Shamrock vs Madman Fulton as this is an interesting dynamic as it could reestablish Fulton as a very dangerous man.
As far as takeaways from this episode I do think it gave enough to bring the viewers back to at least see what is going on next week for Christmas Eve, but this should be something they look at as challenge as opposed to something to avoid as this how to build upward momentum. One other point I would make is that Rob Van Dam needs to keep taking steps forward as a heel and slowly cut away the moves that made him RVD integrating a new move-set. In my opinion, the only way the heel turn or change of attitude for RVD will work is by changing his personality to being someone who doesn't believe he needs to take risks anymore and has given enough to wrestling. Other than that another solid show for Impact as they move to 2020 and a new year.
As I've mentioned in the past I don't mind the feud between Tessa Blanchard and Sami Callahan as long as Impact keeps it on the ground. For years I've heard about Tessa Blanchard more about her lineage then anything else. Being a third generation superstar she was bound get some attention from the outset, but once you get passed her lineage you see just how extremely gifted she is and that she belongs here. Wrestling has been making strides in the last few years outside of WWE with Tessa being a part of the first women's match in China.
In no uncertain terms Tessa has almost perfected her gimmick since her arrival in Impact and even though there have been some missteps and mistakes, but that happens to everyone and it's about how you get back up. This video might've been from July and the very beginning of her move to the men's division, but this perfectly shows how far she's come. For those who think that she might've had it easy think about having the shadow of your grandfather, father, and step-father (Magnum TA) hanging over you as you make strides and build your own career. I can guarantee it hasn't been easy, but she has earned every single thing that has been given to her since the very start of her career and still has a bright future.
Hard to Kill is approaching very quickly and slowly but surely the card is coming together nicely for Impact's first PPV of 2020. I know that I have my own opinions on wrestling and what I like see and in some cases this episode of Impact gave that to me and other cases it really didn't. The real question is did the positives outweigh the negatives and the answer is yes. I've said it before and will keep saying it until the feud is over between Callahan and Blanchard, but as long as Impact doesn't jump the shark of believablity then I don't have an issues with it. I have a tough time believing that Tessa can work a competitive match with Madman Fulton, but flipping the coin someone could say the same about Rey Mysterio against Brock Lesnar, Strowman, and a host of others. I'll also give Impact a pass, because of the ending of the show and making Fulton more of a monster then they ever have before.
In no uncertain terms Fulton tried to destroy Ken Shamrock to the point of making it seem like Callahan couldn't control him anymore. Imagine how dangerous Madman Fulton could be if Callahan lost control of his monster. As for other points on the show I always love an underdog story and Rich Swann's win gave that to us and now I'm curious what happens at "Hard to Kill" on January 12. I'm liking the new RVD, but he needs to stop doing the the Five Star Frog Splash to really embrace the turn. Maybe a fake retirement where instead Rob retiring he retires the frog splash. I would also think letting him and Tommy brawl where Rob bloodies Tommy like we haven't seen in years to get some real heat on the new Rob Van Dam. Either way my interest is still on a high for Impact as we wrap up 2019.
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