If Dixie Carter opening Impact with Magnus at her side isn’t stale yet, it will be by this time next week. The segment does make an effort to force Magnus into being the focal point, as he did most of the talking while Dixie does what she does best, stands idly by wearing a doltish expression.
I will continue to emphasize that I am a big fan of Magnus as a talent. His natural gifts are obvious. He has charisma, athleticism and a great look. Even beyond that he is a good speaker and worker, and he is only 27 years old. He is going to be a mainstay in the main event scene in TNA for the foreseeable future. That being said, I don’t think this first title reign will be one most fans look back on fondly. His role as the corporate champion simply isn’t allowing him to properly shine. In segments he is sharing spotlight with Dixie, who from week-to-week is essentially a lock to get more screen time than the champ.
Not to mention that Magnus had a lot of momentum as a face and most people would just as soon see him performing as a good guy. TNA seems to have a fascination with heel champions and long reigns. Now granted, Bobby Roode’s 256 day reign in 2011-12 was a great time to be a TNA fan, and Bully Ray’s combined nearly 200 days as champion were fairly entertaining at times as well, but I’m just not sure I am ready for another long term heel champion.
At least with Roode he was finding entertaining ways to cheat and win matches. With Bully Ray, it became repetitive with the Aces and Eights always interfering or Anderson slipping him a hammer. Now with Magnus we get the same repetition, with Dixie booking matches that allow for interference and nearly every main event involving Magnus becomes a chaotic in-ring brawl and the champion himself simply becomes background fodder. Bottom line: face-Magnus being the centerpiece of his own reign would have been better for everyone involved that isn’t a meddling, attention whoring nepotist masquerading as the president of the company.
Now that I’ve got my anti-Dixie rant out of the way, on to some proper on screen talent: MVP. As cringe-worthy as Dixie is as the heel authority, MVP is that good as the face authority figure. His charisma is undeniable and when he comes out I am drawn in to whatever he is doing. TNA caught a LOT of flack for the names they’ve lost over the past year, but they deserve plenty of credit for acquiring a relative big name free agent and putting him to great use. Even if this simply TNA power struggle storyline #437, MVP is doing work.
Magnus calls out MVP and he comes out to great fanfare, including the usual “MVP!” chants. It comes as no surprise that he is wearing a very fine suit and looking pretty damn fresh. He gets in the ring and Magnus busts out an absolutely embarrassing impression of Randy Orton circa 2011. “My name… is Magnus…”. Probably helpful though, as Magnus is such an afterthought in the MVP vs Dixie angle that many fans at home probably need reminding of the champ’s name.
MVP and Magnus go back and forth in entertaining fashion, and it results in Team Dixie-Magnus accepting MVP’s challenge for a 3 on 3 Lethal Lockdown match for full control of the company. Magnus then tells MVP that he was going to make him his “beeee-otch” which sends MVP into a frenzy and he begins kicking the piss out of the champ. Not sure that’s how I would book my champion in a scrum with an authority figure, but I guess they want MVP to seem ultra-badass, even though I don’t think it is necessary for the character.
As MVP is whaling away, EC3 scurries down to break things up and attacks from behind. With Magnus and EC3 stomping a mud hole in MVP’s ass (and walking it dry!) help would come in the form of Magnus’ opponent for later, Mr. Intensity, Gunner. All it took was Gunner running toward the ring to send EC3 scrambling, and after one punch Magnus had seen enough and retreated for the time being. I can’t blame them. Gunner is a scary dude.
Samoa Joe vs BroMans
Yes, all 3 of the BroMans vs Samoa Joe. Joe came out saying he came to Manchester to fight, and issued a challenge to “anyone from Dixieland”. This brings out the BroMans, who surround Joe, and he responds by offering to face all 3 of them in a handicap match.
Joe handled the 3 of them quickly, staying in control throughout, and finished it by choking out Ion after a muscle buster. Some might complain that having Joe quickly beat your tag champs and former/future X Division champ makes those divisions look weak, which it probably does. But it also makes Joe look like a beast, which I am happy to see. I will definitely be pulling for Joe to take the title at Lockdown.
Bobby Roode promo
Roode’s character over the past few months has been by far the most entertaining aspect of TNA for me, especially the last couple of weeks. He seems headed toward a face turn, and the UK crowd welcomed him with a nice pop as well. A lot of people doubted Roode as a face, which is understandable considering how great he is as a heel, but he put all doubt to rest with the promo he cut.
He began by saying he was proud to have called TNA his home and to have lived his dream of being a pro wrestler for the past 17 years. He says that he hates himself for the things he did, and then announces he is retiring from wrestling, to which the crowd responds by chanting “NO!”. Roode says he wants to do something he has never had a chance to do, and that is thank the fans. You can hear in his voice he is being very genuine, something lacking most of the time in wrestling today.
As she is apt to do, Dixie Carter comes down next to ruin Roode’s heartwarming goodbye. She says that TNA needs Roode (duh) and then apologizes for how she treated him. Dixie tells Bobby that she needs someone to captain her Lethal Lockdown team, and she wants him to do it. The audacity of this broad.
When Roode essentially tells her to shove it, she responds by offering him 10% of the company if he helps her team win the match. Roode still looks incredibly skeptical, but after pondering for a short moment he extends his hand and accepts the deal. Yet another interesting plot-point on the road to Roode’s face turn. The retirement attempt was great and really sold how fed up and conflicted his character is. Well done. Oh and thank God he isn’t leaving.
Bad Influence vs The Wolves
Backstage Bobby Roode is talking to Francois and CD. They are clearly psyched that he has a chance to become a minority owner of TNA, and offer to be his partners for the match. Roode is reluctant, however, and tells them to prove themselves in their match. They are confused, having thought they were still good bros with Roode.
Bad Influence is my favorite tag team in the bus-i-ness and the Wolves were a great acquisition and likely the future of the division, making this a marquee match up as far as tag matches on Impact go. At least on paper it was a marquee match up. In the ring it was a pretty pedestrian match that seemingly was only to serve the purpose of putting the Wolves over.
They won cleanly in a little under 5 minutes, which leads me to believe that the TNA is going to allow Kaz and Daniels to leave the company when their contracts expire in a couple of months. I am probably looking too far into it, as Bad Influences’s entertainment values never hinged on wins and losses, but they feel to me like they are on the way out the door.
Magnus vs Gunner- TNA World Heavyweight Championship match
I’ve been quick to praise Gunner on his rise to becoming a factor in the main event, and this match stood as a great chance to act as a proving ground for Gunner to show his merit. While few expect him to win the match, he can still showcase his abilities on a big stage for the world title.
Gunner slaps himself in the face as he is introduced and he has a fair amount of crowd support. Magnus is introduced and still has decent heat. Just before the bell rings Tenay informs the audience that this match will be contested under “Magnus rules” AKA no DQ. I don’t understand the point of waiting until the last second to announce this stipulation, but it sets up the inevitable clusterfuck to come that is apparently a requirement for any Magnus title defense.
The two square off, but before locking up Magnus rolls out of the ring and begins taunting the crowd. While neither competitor is really noted for their chain wrestling, they put on a decent display of it early on in the match, exchanging and countering a number of wrist locks, with Magnus in particular showing some impressive transitions. This is what I would like to see more of instead of EC3, Spud and the BroMans constantly gumming up the works.
Magnus stays in control early, maintaining a methodical pace and grinding away at Gunner with meticulous headlocks. I jokingly made the Orton comparison earlier, but dammit Magnus, you gotta knock it off if you want me to continue supporting you. These boring rest holds are Orton 101.
As Magnus continues to Orton away, Cowboy James Storm and The Wolves make their presence felt by coming to ringside to act as a deterrent to any and all of Dixie’s goons. For once though, Magnus was showing in the ring that maybe he doesn’t need goons after all, as he put the boots to Gunner. It wouldn’t last, though, as Gunner eventually gained the upper hand and got some momentum going, including hitting a diving headbutt. For my money Gunner’s flying headbutt is the best to come along in a while. That shit looks like it would hurt.
As Gunner gains control, the usual suspects try to interfere in the match. EC3, Spud and Samoa Joe’s personal jobbers run out, only to be rebuffed by the Wolves and Storm. Spud would find a way to slip through the cracks and save Magnus, putting his foot on the bottom rope to disrupt a would-be 3 count after Gunner’s flying headbutt.
After getting the crowd fired up with some impressive stomping about, Gunner hit a big Rock Bottom on Magnus and went back up top looking to finish. Not surprisingly, Spud once again interfered, preventing Gunner from attacking. Storm would momentarily save the day for Gunner, tossing Spud over the top rope and then encouraging Gunner to hit his flying headbutt one more time. As Gunner leaps down, Storm hits him with the Last Call Superkick, thus turning heel on his former partner and allowing Magnus to retain his title.
A slightly more creative finish for Magnus to hold on to the belt, and Storm turning is a smart move in my book. His face character was a little stale and there is more for him to do as a heel. I was a bit surprised by the turn, so a solid booking swerve to end the show is OK by me. I will be interested to see how Storm’s turn goes along with what they have in plan for Roode.
Gunner still passes my eye test as far as being a main eventer, Storm gets a much-needed character change and the Gunner/Storm team turned rivalry comes full circle along with the cashing in of the briefcase. TNA has built Gunner up well enough that he may be 1 or 2 solid feuds away from being ready for a title run.
An entertaining episode of Impact for my money, with plenty of build toward Lockdown and interesting shifts in character for key guys.