Thursday Night’s Impact saw the identity of the oft-mentioned THEY unveiled, and it left some TNA fans scratching their heads, wondering what all the hype was about. As it turns out, the THEY that was promised to show up did not arrive, per se. It’s more like they just made their intentions known. In the end, it was AJ Styles and the rest of Fortune that was revealed as the mysterious group that Scott Steiner and company have been warning about. When Booker T and Kevin Nash showed up on WWE programming earlier in the week, everyone knew TNA was going to have to work fast and hard to find a suitable replacement, as the Main Event Mafia was originally slated to fill the role of THEY. Ultimately, TNA chose to use internal options to band-aid their loss rather than contracting new outside talent. So, was Fortune a suitable replacement for the originally planned stable of former World Champions?
As much as I’d like to lambast Total Nonstop Action for beginning a program without having the necessary talent contracted, things may have worked out to their advantage as a result. On the surface, it’s easy to believe WWE got one over on the folks in the Impact Zone, denying them the fulfillment of their plans and preventing them from adding bodies to their main event scene. Realistically, though, if the Main Event Mafia was revealed as the heroes who would wage war against Immortal, I think a lot of fans would roll their eyes and curse the use of the old goats. I’m as big a proponent of wrestling’s youth movement as you’ll find, and I begrudge the industry every time a twenty year veteran finds his way into the main event while a rising young star is relegated to jerking the curtain. Wrestling’s glass ceiling needs to be broken, and while THEY aren’t exactly kids, this is a step in the right direction. In other words, I’d much rather see AJ Styles leading the charge as TNA’s top face than I would Kevin Nash, Sting, or anybody else who was rumored to appear tonight. Bulleted reactions to the rest of Impact after the jump.
- The Karen Angle – Jeff Jarrett vignettes are surprisingly hilarious. The couple has great onscreen chemistry, and Daddy Jeff interacting with Kurt’s kids is a riot. While it can be a bit melodramatic at times (“I was married to Kurt Angle for 12 years, but I was alone”), there’s enough here to contribute positively to the show.
- Every time TNA officials (or WWE officials, or anybody) put a microphone into Scott Steiner’s hand, they should be fined.
- Ink Inc. went over Immortal’s Gunner & Murphy in a match that made me realize how greatly Gunner’s back tattoo resembles Brock Lesnar’s.
- Bully Ray and The Pope cut a half-decent promo (Ray contributing the decent half) before wrestling Devon and Samoa Joe to a No Contest.
- In a spiffy Triple Threat match, Jeremy Buck defeated Douglas Williams and Jay Lethal after some referee distraction and an old fashioned dong kick. Generation Me is one of the best tag teams on TV today, and it’s interesting to see them being pushed as singles stars while remaining together.
- Sarita, who lost a taped fist brawl to Mickie James, promised her cousin Rosita would debut next week on Impact.
- Mr. Anderson flexed his microphone muscles during an in-ring confrontation with Jeff Hardy. Anderson’s charisma and verbal skills are uncanny, and it’s hard to imagine why WWE ever let him out of their grasp in the first place. One of the best talkers in today’s game, his mic skills put me in mind of the Rock’s Corporation days. He is a joy to listen to.
- Despite the last ten minutes of the show being aftermath of Fortune’s turn, it’s always nice to see a main event begin with twenty or more minutes of TV time remaining. Well done.
All in all, I think it was a successful Impact. It may have disappointed those expecting big name returns or debuts, but it efficiently set the stage for the months to come. The further removed from the revelation of THEY’s identy we become, the more I’m able to accept it. A Jeff Hardy/AJ Styles main event somewhere down the line seems inevitable, and that’s a good thing.