Notes From A Recent TNA Convert…

After hearing all the recent praise for TNA and having long since given up on WWE, I decided to give Impact another chance. And I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. For one thing, it felt like a WRESTLING show, with folks competing and reaching for various goals rather than two dudes going through the motions between comedy segments and celebrity cameos. Every match had a point or an endgame, every segment progressed some sort of story (both good and bad) and there were no wasted moments (at least on the episode I watched). More importantly, it felt markedly different from WWE rather than a third-rate clone. The pacing, the format, even the actual in-ring action felt completely different from the average RAW or SD! telecast. Was it as perfect and polished as WWE? No, but it doesn't have to be as long as the other elements are solid, and for the first time in a long time said elements are finally coming together. The wrestlers seem more motivated, but they're also working safer and with more attention to detail. I didn't cringe or hold my breath while watching the X-Division guys or Angle as I would have done in the past, because there seems to be less of an emphasis on crazy stunts and more on actual match quality (granted, I haven't seen a PPV, so maybe they're just saving all that stuff for the paying audience). Overall, you have a sense of everyone realizing that this is a new beginning and responding accordingly, which is great to see. And, needless to say, the actual booking (not writing, but BOOKING) is vastly improved.
Now there are still some issues that need to be addressed. They've finally found the right role for Hogan, but his presence means that we could still see the likes of Brother Brutii and the Nasty Boys pop up any day now. Bischoff seems content to stay behind the scenes for now, but that could also change any day. Same deal with Jarrett. The Brooke Hogan segment I saw was fairly short and inoffensive, but she still seems unsuited for what is an unneeded role to begin with. I've also got mixed feelings about "Gut Check", but at least the segment made TNA seem big-league and a company where young wrestlers are actually fighting to join rather than a haven for WWE castoffs.  The AJ/Daniels/Dixie stuff is a bit too hokey and daytime soap for my tastes, but at least we're getting good matches out of the deal, plus Daniels seems to be having the time of his life playing a despicable, low-down bastard. But the biggest issue for me was the crowd, which seems to be in its own little world and rarely reacting to what was actually happening in the ring. It was particularly obvious during the Rude/Aries segment, where both guys did fine mic work, but the crowd was more interested in starting their own random chants than actually responding to what was being said. I completely understand the economic realities of working in the Impact Zone, but it's clear that the regular crowd is burned out and just there for a free night out. 
But those are minor complaints and overall I was impressed with the strides TNA has made. I've been watching professional wrestling long enough to know that things could change in the blink of an eye, but for now I'm willing to give Impact a chance every week. Which, quite frankly, is more than I can say about WWE right now.
The Love-Matic Grandpa

Testify!  Yeah, the Impact Zone is a major issue, but it saves them a ton of money and some of the live shows have featured a spectacular crowd, so it's hit or miss.  I actually think Hogan is being used exactly how he should be, as a legend who shows up for 2 minutes at a time and then leaves.  Although his storytelling skills leave a lot to be desired.  "We don't call out champions on Open Fight Night, so you should call out Aries for Open Fight Night."  I understood that he MEANT "we don't call out champions for TITLE MATCHES" but people at home might have been confused by that one.  
I'm not a fan of Gut Check, personally, or Open Fight Night, but it's something different and I'm willing to give them a chance.