January 10, 2012

Now that's what I'm talking about

That's right, people. It's another column about how much better the show has been since Prichard took over creative. Am I the most innovative pro wrestling writer on the internet? I think I might just be.

-Last week's edition of iMPACT WRESTLING was nothing short of outstanding. And the crazy thing is that nothing really monumental even happened on it. It was just a normal show that was well booked, with logical storyline advancement and absolutely perfect pacing. This was the most well timed episode of this show that I can recall. You would be very hard pressed to name a single segment on that show that was too short or too long. The important things were focused on, while unimportant things, such as the ridiculously unfunny Eric Young comedy segments were thankfully kept short. They managed to effectively hype every match on the Genesis card, with the exception of Pope/Devon. But since that's a feud most people don't even like, this was a nice way of showing us that Prichard has his priorities in order.

I guarantee you, if Russo were still running things, we would never get shows like that. Sure, Russo would get lucky once in a while and manage to put together a good show despite himself, but it was painfully clear that he had very little idea about what was good, what wasn't, what deserved screen time and what didn't. This was Prichard's doing, and hopefully these improvements will continue now he seems to be finished dealing with the fallout from Russo's run.

-The Knockout division has proven to be immeasurably better since the removal of the Knockouts VP role. I understand what they were going for with it -- the idea that the Knockouts have their own authority figure was an interesting idea, but they just went so overboard with it that it became more of a hindrance than anything else and was quickly exposed as something not intended to enhance the Knockout division, but a role created just to give Karen Jarrett a reason to get more screen time than she needed.

And this was made no better when Karen was "fired" and the job passed to Madison Rayne for a mercifully brief couple of weeks. In a truly painful segment involving Tara & Brooke Tessmacher (who I really felt bad for here), Madison proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it really didn't matter who the Knockouts VP was because it was the role itself that was the problem. The storylines it spawned  never went anywhere, God knows it didn't make the matches better. Whoever was the Knockouts VP just ended up overshadowing everyone else; it needed to be done away with.

In just a few short weeks since Prichard aborted the Knockouts VP position, we were treated to better quality matches with better booking and less interference -- the frustration level went WAY down. Gail Kim was actually allowed to win a match clean, like a double champion should be able to. Madison Rayne was suddenly being booked in a way that minimized her weaknesses to a degree as tagging with Gail seemed to force her to step her game up.

BUT... then Genesis happened. Velvet Sky showed up, talking about the Knockouts VP position, and somehow this lead to Madison Rayne suspended above the ring in a cage with pink bars during Gail vs Mickie and a finish so stupid that it was almost comical how bad it was. I'm going to hope and pray that the live audience showering all the participants involved with chants of "BULLSHIT!" will cause the writers to rethink whatever their plans are and eliminate the Knockouts VP role, not just temporarily, but permanently.

-As long as Prichard is doing away with stuff that doesn't work, can we please cut the cord on the Time Traveling Lesbian Vampire thing? I can't imagine this is what fans of Winter had in mind when she signed with the company and Angelina has never meant less in TNA than she does right now, and it's all because of this stupid gimmick.

-I noticed something during the opening segment of last week's show that made me very optimistic about the direction this company is going in creatively. First of all, the heels came out to Bobby Roode's music. You may be wondering what the big deal is, so let me repeat myself: Kurt Angle (and Bully Ray) came out to Bobby Roode's music. During the days of the Main Event Mafia, did you ever think you would see something like that? I sure as hell didn't.

But it doesn't end there. Something else that was telling about this segment was who it focused on. Not counting Sting, the people who were really highlighted in this segment were Bobby Roode, James Storm and Abyss. Bully Ray didn't talk much, Angle barely said 2 words and Jeff Hardy never even opened his mouth. As a result, the up-and-coming home grown guys were the stars of this segment, and this is a trend I see continuing.

-The days of TNA relying so heavily on the crutch of aging established stars are over. Finally. It was pretty hard to suffer through at times, but it seems like this company has finally gotten it through their head that they need to build their future in order to ensure that they actually have one. They can't rely solely on the established guys anymore, and they're not. It's just a shame that they had to have this lesson beaten into them so many times before they finally got the message. They were burned by Kevin Nash, Booker T, and to a lesser extent, Mick Foley. Lord knows they were burned by Scott Hall. And so on, and so on...

And so it is that TNA seems to have finally wised up (mostly). The veterans that remain are actually in appropriate roles now, ones intended to enhance and build the young talent. Sting is the authority figure and rarely wrestles, Ric Flair is managing Gunner, Scott Steiner is pretty much being owned by Abyss, Kurt Angle has made James Storm look like a total stud, and best of all, Hogan is off TV, nowhere to be seen. We're very far removed from the days when the Main Event Mafia were burying young talent left and right, and the product is infinitely better for it.

I don't attribute that all to Prichard as those wheels were in motion before he took over creative. What I do attribute to Prichard is the fact that the young talent now in the spotlight is actually being used effectively. 'Effectively' is the key word here. Let's be honest, as members of Immortal Bobby Roode and James Storm got absolutely nothing out of standing in the background while Bischoff and Hogan talked and talked and talked, week after week. Take Bischoff and Hogan out of the equation and look at these guys now. Isn't this a much better way to allow young talent to flourish? Thank you, Prichard.

-Until Chris Sabin is cleared to get back in the ring and the MCMG return, Samoa Joe & Magnus are my new favorite tag team. The main purpose of the Wild Card tournament may have obviously been to advance various singles feuds instead of actually improving the tag team situation that it was supposed to address, but there was a silver lining, and it turned out to be a pretty big one.

I don't know if it was by design or happenstance, but Joe & Magnus have clicked in a way I don't think anyone expected them to. I think Prichard may have really hit on something when he put these 2 together. They have a surprising amount of chemistry in the ring, as well as in promos, and fans have been responding to them. Strangely enough, I see a lot of similarities between them and Beer Money -- 2 guys who management has no idea what to do with, so they get thrown together as a team that doesn't seem to make any sense on paper, but when they get in the ring, somehow it just works.

My fervent hope is that the writers continue to roll with this pairing after their program with Morgan & Crimson is finished because I really believe they're onto something here. Give Joe & Magnus a team name and some merchandise, and they could be the new top heel tag team that Mexican America failed to be so miserably.

No comments: