By the end of TNA’s Bound for Glory PPV on Sunday, October 4th, Matt Hardy had won the Triple Threat Match over Drew Galloway and defending World Champion Ethan Carter III to become the new TNA World Title holder.
By Tuesday October 6th, the TNA World Title had been vacated and a massive tournament with 32 participants had been created to determine the new TNA World Champion.
To TNA’s credit, they seemed to generate some headlines following their big event, and I will also credit them for having an evolving storyline throughout the week to lead into their first post PPV Impact. You normally don’t see situations like that as most of the time, the show’s storylines only develop from episode to episode with very few (if any) developments during the week. I have to admit, the whole thing was initially intriguing. Looking at the storyline, ECIII had a legit gripe coming out of the main event for BFG and forced legal action to overturn the controversy surrounding the outcome. We as fans are so used to seeing screwy endings at PPVs that it probably seems weird that a wrestler would do this, but it does make sense if you think about.
ECIII’s actions then led to Matt Hardy reluctantly surrendering his claim to the title, which then led to the creation of The World Title Series tournament. I have to say that TNA’s storyline direction coming out of Bound for Glory was not what I was expecting, and right off the bat, I found it interesting.
The format of the tournament itself is different when compared to other wrestling tournaments, though not unique to the world of sports in general. It might seem confusing at first, but the format is almost exactly like that of the FIFA World Cup. Basically, you have 32 competitors separated into 8 groups of 4. The participants in each group will face each other in a round robin style series of matches with the two top point winners in each group moving on to a standard 16 entry, single elimination tournament to crown the new champion.
I even have to say that the format of Impact this week was a welcomed change with more of a sports analyst style of show while also covering all the controversy surrounding the vacated title situation. It was a break from the stagnation that TNA has been experiencing since before they got onto Destination America.
One area that has been a source of contention for some wrestling critics has been the inclusion of Knockouts in the tournament. Thus far, Gail Kim, Awesome Kong, Madison Rayne, and Brooke have been entered (all in the same group, so they are working with each other so far). The response I have seen to this is that is it is a joke. Personally, I feel like Lucha Underground has done a really good job with incorporating intergender matches into their show, and we just had two women main event the last NXT Takeover special with great success. The role of women in wrestling has greatly expanded, and if TNA wants to include the likes of Gail Kim and Awesome Kong in a hunt for the world title, I say why not? Continuing to break new ground is not a bad thing.
All of that said, I probably just made it sound like I love the tournament. Well, I love it in theory. Execution is a completely different story.
I know I just said I was okay with the Knockouts being in the tournament, but I have a sneaking suspicion that their inclusion was not out of an intent to be progressive, but rather out of necessity. Have you seen TNA’s roster lately? I highly doubt they could fill this tournament with 32 men considering how much the roster is continuously shrinking. There is also another major issue at play here. All the matches for this tournament were filmed during a massive TV taping back in July. That’s right. TNA filmed all the material for this tournament months ago, before the thing was even set up on TV. Apparently there are no new TV tapings lined up in the near future and they taped all this material in advance to make up for it. To show how far back these matches were filmed, Austin Aries is in the tournament, and his departure from TNA was a part of an episode that aired on August 5th, and the tournament matches predate even that.
The end result is an obvious cheapness that pollutes what could potentially be a really good concept to freshen up the show. Maybe if TNA was in a better state with a better roster than what they currently have, they could pull this off better. At this point, it feels like a way to cut financial corners. It also might be a sign of TNA’s demise if they don’t have TV tapings lined up in the near future. Or who knows? It could be to give TNA material while they go on their India tour. Who can tell at this point?
I guess more details will come as the weeks go on. It still doesn’t look good for TNA, but I’ll give them credit for at least capturing my attention for some brief moments this week.