I am two months behind in my TNA viewing, so forgive me if posting this in September 2016 seems outdated and slow. At one point back in 2013, I was as slow as seven months behind on my TNA viewing. But I strongly believe in the patience and persistence of watching every weekly episode of Raw, Smackdown, TNA Impact, NJPW, etc.
And finally, all those years of persistence has paid off.
Something weird and magical has happened to TNA in 2016. I have blogged, and blogged, and blogged in the past about TNA’s lousy years of crap booking and poor storylines. Many times, I seriously considered quitting TNA because it was just simply unrewarding and super frustrating to watch. But since the start of the year, things have slowly changed. I find myself laughing and smiling at each Impact episode.
I laugh at Decay. Their gimmick is a much better version of Bray Wyatt’s stable. A group of dark, macabre outcasts who resort to the powers of darkness, facepaint, and Marilyn Manson to help them win matches. I laugh every time Abyss proclaims, “I AM BEAUTIFUL!!”
I used to laugh at The Dollhouse, and it’s a shame that they had to be broken up because of Taryn Terrell’s retirement. I thought that the idea behind Taryn’s stable worked and it just needed a bit more time to give all of the members their chance to shine.
I laugh at Eli Drake. Someone who is so supremely confident and charismatic on the microphone, that every time he opens his mouth, you pay attention and wait for his speech to end.
I laugh at Mike Bennett and his wife Maria Kanellis. The way Maria preaches her husband as some sort of divine saviour, followed by Bennett’s rock-choir theme song always leaves me in stitches.
I laugh at Broken Matt Hardy. His warped accent (“BROTHER NEEEEEEERO!”), his choice of eccentric vocabulary, and the way he screams “delete, delete, delete!!”
I also laugh at all the tiny little details here and there, week in and week out. The accumulation of little things like Ethan Carter III’s ridiculously catchy entrance theme; Grado and Mahabali Shera’s unusual partnership; James Storm riding out to the ring on his “boozer cruiser”.
I laugh at every episode of TNA because I am having fun. Remember when pro wrestling used to be fun back in the 1980s and early 1990s? You had wacky faces like Macho Man, Hulk Hogan, and Ultimate Warrior in one corner, and then on the other side you had equally crazy villains like The IRS Man, The Million Dollar Man, Razor Ramon, Doink the Clown, and many more.
All of the silliness and fun finally reached its climax on the 5 July 2016 episode of TNA Impact Wrestling, when Jeff Hardy faced his brother Matt Hardy in their “Final Deletion” showdown. It’s not just the match itself, but the entire build-up and skits leading up to the battle are just as bonkers:
This is why I love pro wrestling. I love to be entertained, and I love to see the effort, passion, and skills exhibited by pro wrestlers for the sake of entertaining us, the fans. Matt Hardy deserves an Academy Honorary Award for Most Nonsensically Entertaining Villain of the Year.
Acting and skits aside, at the end of the day, it is the _wrestling_ that matters and TNA has put up some decent matches for title changes and pay-per-views so far in 2016. I was not expecting Bobby Lashley to beat Drew Galloway for the title at Slammiversary. And I was not expecting Jeff Hardy to perform a Swanton Bomb off a tree.
Congratulations, TNA. When you can consistently put out above-average matches with hard-to-predict outcomes, it means you have FINALLY learned your lesson. The question now is whether it’s too late. I’ve read that Slammiversary 2016 almost did not happen because TNA almost went bankrupt. Years of crap booking and burnt bridges have come back to haunt the company. You reap what you sow.
But at the very least, for one night on 5 July 2016, I am reminded yet again why I love this sport. I will continue watching TNA to the very end. It’s a far cry from the glory years of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, Kurt Angle, and Bobby Roode (who have ALL left the company already). But I still love pro wrestling.