Now that the 2013 edition of TNA’s Lockdown pay-per-view is over, it’s time to shift our focus to this Thursday’s edition of Impact! Wrestling.
This will be the first week of Impact! Wrestling being on the road permanently, and the excitement over the company’s step into legitimacy has the wrestling community feeling good about TNA’s general direction.
Add in the epic heel turn of Bully Ray and his TNA World Championship victory—not to mention the imminent return of fan-favorite A.J. Styles—and this Thursday’s Impact! from Chicago will be the perfect way to kick off TNA’s road trip.
With so much momentum built from the Lockdown PPV, TNA must use that to put on an amazing show this Thursday and moving forward. The company has a chance to be great from now on, but let’s see if it comes to fruition.
Where: Sears Centre Arena, Chicago
When: Thursday, March 14, at 8 p.m. ET
Watch: Spike TV
Bully Ray and the Aces & Eights
While there will be a contingent of fans that complains about Bully Ray turning heel—either because it was too predictable or too far along in the storyline—the truth is that this was one of the most well executed heel turns in TNA history.
Now the key will be for the company to follow through with this angle and allow the new TNA World Heavyweight champion Bully Ray to be the full-fledged heel that the fans need. Bully Ray was great as a bad guy, and now Impact! Wrestling has an interesting angle.
Question on Everybody's Mind: How Could Bully Ray Turn on Brooke Hogan?
This storyline has been a long time in the making, but the fact that this was such an intricate plan to not only fool Brooke, but Hulk Hogan as well, makes this angle amazing. Let’s hope now that Bully has the world title and is a bad guy again, we’ll start getting the awesome heel promos that the veteran cut before, but now with more authority behind them.
Everyone needs to respect the champion.
Hype Meter: 4 out of 5 Angle-Saving Reveals
The Aces & Eights angle was going nowhere fast, unveiling the vice president D’Lo Brown last week, but the hope is that a star as talented as Bully Ray is on the mic and in the ring will be enough to get fans to not only tune in Thursday, but to keep tuning in every week. Bully Ray’s reveal saved the Aces & Eights angle.
TNA Rumors: Jeff Hardy Injury Status After Losing to Bully Ray (PWInsider)
TNA Hits the Road
TNA’s weekly programming used to emanate from the Impact Zone in Orlando, but the desire to spread the word about the company and the desire to bring the product to the fans has brought the show on the road. The first episode of Impact! Wrestling after the permanent change to the road will be in Chicago; that’s a good place to start.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Will the Change Make a Difference?
While there will always be questions about the way the company books their matches and storylines, the addition of a new live crowd at every place they travel will be a difference maker to the product. Just as the shows were more enjoyable in England because the fans cared, that’s how the atmosphere should be at every Impact! from now on.
Hype Meter: 3 out of 5 Real-Life Crowds
As great as it will be to see all the new faces in the crowd, the Impact Zone also protected TNA Wrestling from itself. Most of the fans in attendance at the old Impact Zone were there to see Universal Studios, and weren’t expecting to see a TNA show, resulting in an awful live crowd experience.
Now that the fans attending the shows will be going out of their way to view a wrestling show, everything must be perfect or TNA should expect some non-pleasant chants being hurled at them from the Chicago faithful. This is a huge test for Impact! Wrestling.
TNA Rumors: Moral Drops as Impact Starts Traveling (ProWrestling.net)