TNA returned to pay per view for the first time since October last night. They have done their "themed" shows on Thursday nights, and they put together some mildly compelling television for those. The go-home show was fairly sound for this event, so I had some hope. In the end, this return to pay per view left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. So, here's some "in the rear view" thoughts in the aftermath.
One of the most glaring problems with this show is that it just lacked energy. A picture surfaced on Twitter showing that the hard camera side of the building was nearly empty, and playing to an empty building is difficult. There were a lot of times when you just didn't hear a reaction. Some might argue that it was how the crowd was mic'd but the visual told the story that it had nothing to do with the way the crowd was mic'd. Then you throw in that awful title match finish, and it just threw a wet blanket on the whole mess.
Sanada was presented pretty poorly as the new X-Division Champion during the inter-promotional six man tag. That should have been made a bigger deal out of, because it depresses the title value when it isn't. But, the six-man tag was a fun opener, and the TNA guys worked hard and looked a bit better than their Japanese counterparts. Great Muta just doesn't have it anymore, but it was fun to see him work in a ring in the US if only for the nostalgia.
I thought the surprise return of Bobby Lashley was good. The live crowd popped for it and he came off looking like a star by hitting a couple of his trademark power moves. They even gave EC3 something to crow about with his tumble to the floor - had it been a real match, he would have won for escaping the cage first. TNA needs to learn from how this was done. They delivered a good surprise without a lot of hype and build up that could have left fans disappointed because Lashley most likely would not have been their ideal scenario. Well played.
But not well played was the overbooked mess known as the introduction of Willow. I don't get the point of this one whatsoever. Jeff Hardy is one of the most over wrestlers in TNA and has tremendous name value with fans. When he arrived on top of the cage last night as Willow, fans had no idea how to react to him. They were confused. Then the announcers pretty much all but came out and said that "yes, Willow is Jeff Hardy." Can this act get over? Sure, I think so, but I just don't get the point.
While we're talking about "overbooked messes", let's talk about the finish to Samoa Joe and Magnus. This was a good title match, but this finish killed it. Dumpy Abyss sticking his hand up through the mat and blindly searching to grab Joe drew bullshit chants. Were there people in the back thinking that was legitimate heat? The live crowd hated it and it threw a wet blanket on the show! They had several months to set up a solid title match with a clean finish, but they went with this. I know I don't want to see Joe get a rematch, and I know for sure I don't want to see Joe feud with Abyss.
It all leads me to ask: What in the world is going on with TNA Creative? If they were outside, they would mock these kinds of finishes just as the rest of us do. Maybe it's part of their training to learn how to book these kinds of garbage finishes and swerves. The Ghost of Vince Russo lives on in TNA!
By far and away, TNA didn't present their worst pay per view ever. I think that distinction still belongs to Victory Road 2009. Right now, I am still hoping something will change from the consistent pattern they're stuck in. TNA has some talent that continues to work hard - as an example James Storm and Gunner as well as Madison Rayne and Gail Kim both had good matches. Their biggest problem continues to be their poor booking decisions and just terrible big match finishes. No matter who is sitting in the creative chair, the pattern just doesn't get broken. As a result, that just keeps holding TNA back from growing into a true alternative product.