Best: Bully Ray Explains It All
As a constant TNA apologist, knowing that buried deep in apparent mediocrity was a stroke of brilliance, this episode was incredibly satisfying to watch. To me, the most intriguing part of wrestling is when it gives into its inherent nature of being a long-form sequential narrative. Much like with Chikara, it’s the understanding that there is a plan in place, and that everything during the season, though it seems innocuous, will have greater consequences later on. A lot of the fun in this is the getting there without knowing the end game. It’s not like WWE where things are seemingly, and sometimes quite actually, changed on the fly. TNA has always felt like it’s taken the opposite tack – storylines abandoned, muddled finishes, great matches buried in poorly delivered promos and even more matches, only these ones terrible or forgettable.
A storyline, like a match, isn’t always about the end result – it’s the moves in between the bells. The psychology of a face-heel dynamic. The wordless story being told with every maneuver, every taunt, every look. Just like matches, storylines can be predictable, yes. For instance, the Sabu Chekov’s Table – If Sabu sets up a table, at some point he’s going to go through it. If you have a D-Lo-shaped member of Aces & Eights, chances are that D-Lo shape will be….well, D-Lo. While I don’t believe that the story ends here, Bully’s explanation of everything they’ve done up until now is almost vindicating. Segments that made no sense, things that seemed like careless mistakes, all lined up for the big reveal – all of the hope I’ve consistently placed in TNA has finally started to pay off.
As the song goes, “the not knowing is easy, and the suspecting, that’s okay.” Last week I posited that this could all be leading to a Hogan-as-higher power payoff. In doing so, I also made a very good case for Eric Bischoff to come back. Right or wrong, this only bolsters my hope that however it plays out (unless it’s Jeff Jarrett, oh lord, please not Jeff Jarrett), any frustrations I’ve had or Worsts I’ve given will even out in the end. And how much more fun is it to be able to speculate? To play along at home? One of the constant problems I have is the immediate dismissal of everything TNA does by people who don’t watch the show, or watched in the past and only took away the worst of what they’ve put out there. However, I fully admit that there is a consistent worry in the back of my mind that the good things will sour, and the bad things will be amplified and overused. Always waiting for the other shoe to drop is due to the precedent the show has set over the years, but it’s almost relieving to know that, as far as the Eights are concerned, things have been squared away. Being optimistic about the “Aces,” if you will, may be me suddenly becoming overconfident in Impact’s greater ambition, but moving forward with renewed enthusiasm for the shows to come is about the best feeling outside of a Joseph Park smile or a Spike Dudley appearance I could have.
The expository video pre-tapes of Bully Ray breaking down how and why the last nine months have transpired the way they did actually happen throughout the show, but I’m going to give all of them an early and resounding Best. I’ve said before (and I will probably say again) that the Impact narrative is often much better than the execution, so while the journey to this point has meandered and stumbled along to this juncture, a concise retelling of what has happened puts everything into a whole new context, and it does it very, very well. It’s also heartening to see that Bully Ray hasn’t completely slipped back into full Guy Who Yells Stuff, because his delivery is what really solidifies the effectiveness of these segments. I would have been perfectly happy skipping the wrestling and watching a full two-hour special on how the Aces & Eights came to be. And yeah, Joseph Park wrestled, so you know there’s no foolin’ when I say that.
Worst: Aces & Aints
Hogan comes out to say that it’s no longer a battle against Aces & Eights, it’s a war of survival. So hey, let’s bring out the guys who led the charge: Samoa Joe, Magnus, Kurt Angle, and Jeff Hardy. Yeesh. I believe in sticking to your guns, but if these were my leaders I’d be throwing on a plaid shirt and begging for a prospect cut so fast.
Best: Lady in the tank top
Jump to the 15 second mark in that video. Just look at how excited she is to get a high(low-side?)-five from Jeff Hardy! I may have some pretty staunch opinions on Jeff Hardy, and they’re not always positive, but oh, lady, I am so happy for you. Thanks for being excited for things, and not just sitting around playing with your phone. I appreciate your enthusiasm!