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CALDWELL'S TNA REACTION TV REPORT 8/12: TNA launches new weekly "Reaction" show with Fortune vs. EV2.0 follow-up

Aug 12, 2010 - 11:01:11 PM
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TNA Reaction Report
August 12, 2010
Aired on Spike TV - Official episode #1 (pilot aired 4/12)
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


The positives outweighed the negatives on the debut episode of Reaction. That's the best way to sum up a show that was ambitiously innovative with some unique interviews and features, but needs to be trimmed down to half an hour, even if it doesn't fit Spike TV's scheduling. And TNA needs to slow down.

One hour of Reaction following two hours of Impact was simply too much. Half an hour would have been ideal. And this week's Impact was relatively straightforward (and a strong thumbs up) with six good-to-very good matches followed by one big angle. Imagine a typical Impact packed with two hours of angles, matches, skits, interviews, backstage interviews, and confusing Kevin Nash-Jeff Jarrett promos followed by Reaction. Overload warning.

By the time Tommy Dreamer was shown saying the phrase "Dixie better make it right" for the umpteenth time, he almost broke Hulk Hogan's single episode record for over-using the phrase "raising the bar." Trimming the show down to 30 minutes would meet the goal of follow-up, reinforcement, and looking ahead to next week without overloading the audience.

On this week's Reaction, the strengths were the intimate, first person interviews talking about the EV2.0 vs. Fortune angle and the profile piece on Motor City Machineguns. Regarding the Guns, TNA delivered great follow-up on their victory in the final match of the Best of Five series. The only question is whether the audience stuck around after Impact to get more insight into the Guns's characters. If they did stick around, they heard a great story on the Guns.

On the EV2.0 vs. Fortune angle, TNA included interviews from virtually every major player in the angle (and from wrestlers on the outside looking in) to play up both sides of the argument. Are the "ECW guys" taking spots from the TNA wrestlers or are the TNA wrestlers insecure about their spots? There was too much of that classic Vince Russo "worked shoot" verbiage at times, but the overall presentation enhanced the story going forward. I would prefer to see the focus remain on chasing titles and championships, which the "worked shoot" completely distracts from.

One of the drawbacks to this week's show was a sudden transition from the end of Impact to footage of TNA wrestlers and management frantically trying to aid Rob Van Dam, who was shown KO'ed by Abyss at the end of Impact. They didn't give the audience an opportunity to anticipate what was next or process what was going on.

Impact ended with camera shots of Abyss taking RVD out of the ring and over a guardrail, followed by a quick backstage shot of RVD in a pool of his own blood. Suddenly, they transitioned right into Reaction with everyone freaking out. They skipped the part of the story where the audience got to ask their own questions. Instead, TNA jumped right into "reacting" to a major angle that just played out moments earlier.

TNA didn't allow the audience to roll around in their minds what just happened; rather they changed the entire mood and feel of the show without bringing the audience along with a smooth transition. It was an example of TNA rushing from one moment to the next - or one storyline to the next - without pumping the brakes to let the stories sink in first. That has been an issue for TNA throughout company history and one reason why they have struggled to retain, build, and monetize their audience.

Reaction Report - Segment by Segment

Reaction picked up where the end of Impact left off with Mike Tenay narrating the end of the show where Fortune took out EV2.0 in a blood-filled beat down. Tenay said RVD's injuries were "very, very serious." Backstage, with the grainy handheld video footage, they showed RVD on a stretcher and Dixie Carter selling concern. The voice-over man said emotions were high. This was a good stage-setter, but they rushed it from the end of Impact to the beginning of Reaction.

They transitioned into asking questions on whether there actually is a "they?" Abyss has been talking about, whether it's Fortune, or whether it's made up in Abyss's mind. Cue up a backstage first-person video of Kurt Angle saying Abyss is a little twisted and maybe Abyss made it up. He said Dixie Carter needs to do something about it. Mr. Anderson was shown next saying too many people have been hurt lately and it has to stop. Jeff Hardy was shown backstage after RVD was taken away in an ambulance saying things are getting too extreme.

The voice-over man suggested Fortune has become the most powerful faction in TNA. The "roving reporter" asked Dixie Carter what's going on. She just walked off, saying, "I don't know." The camera followed her for a few seconds to show her selling concern with the RVD situation.

Segment Analysis: One of the weaknesses of the current storyline is how Carter is being presented. She's the president of the company. No matter the opinion of the "characters" in the show, that position should command a measure of respect. Yet, she offered no response - not even a strong front - when asked by the "roving reporter" what she's going to do about the situation. Also, Tommy Dreamer was shown pointing fingers at her and giving her ultimatums, while Ric Flair was shown cutting a promo on her with no fear of consequences. It wasn't realistic for an authority figure if she's going to become a TV character on the show.

[Commercial Break]

They came back with an Abyss promo back in the Impact Zone while stroking Janice. Abyss said he "ripped the flesh off RVD's ass" - with emphasis on the naughty word in the statement. He said "they" told him what to do and they're really happy now. They cut to Kevin Costin, the TNA trainer. He said RVD's injury was the worst he's seen in six years. He said they had to send him off to the hospital with "limited movement" in his fingers.

This was followed by more clips from the end of Impact with Fortune taking apart the EV2.0 wrestlers. The voice-over man said it was supposed to be the last call for the ECW guys. Backstage, A.J. Styles was shown bragging to Kazarian about what they did to the EV2.0 wrestlers. This is where they entered "worked shoot" mode with Styles saying TNA isn't some "rat-infested" bingo hall, but the house he built. Kaz was then "shooting" on Dixie about bringing in stars from other companies. Kaz said they never get their just due. Styles said the ECW wrestlers are "old-timers with battle wounds and kendo sticks." Kaz said they should be "working the indys" and looking for jobs. Styles said Fortune is "cashing checks and breaking necks."

Elsewhere, Brother Devon was shown trying to make sense of what just happened. This was a good recovery point to let the audience digest what was going on after a rapid-fire follow-up to the angle from the end of Impact. Devon said Dreamer was out there "putting us over," then the lights went on and off, then the TNA guys he was "up and down the road with" were taking it to them with garbage cans and weapons. They cut to another backstage shot of Dreamer in his torn up dress clothes talking to Dixie. She told Dreamer to bring the EV2.0 wrestlers to Impact next week where she would "make it right." Dreamer pointed his finger at her to make it right.

[Commercial Break]

After a frantic first 20 minutes, the show settled down with a very good feature on the Motor City Machineguns. They started with instant reaction from the Guns after winning the final match in the Best of Five series against Beer Money. They talked about finally proving they're the best tag team in the world. The show included highlights from Impact of the match against the Guns. Sabin summed up the story of the match: "You have to kick out, have to keep fighting, have to show heart."

They transitioned into recapping the Guns's journey as a tag team in TNA dating back to 2007. Sabin and Shelley were shown talking about their preference of a straight-up tag match "with no gimmicks involved." They showed clips of Detroit to add a human background element to their characters. There were more clips of Shelley and Sabin sitting down in an empty arena talking about their careers, ambitions, and goals. They talked up Generation Me, Ink, Inc., Team 3D, and Magnus & Desmond Wolfe as potential new challengers. Very good profile segment that should be the staple of each week's Reaction show.

After a commercial break, they aired a profile video on the Beautiful People, including first-person video of Angelina Love talking about her TNA Knockouts Title victory, feeling like she's in the prime of her career, and what's next for the Beautiful People. Again, they made the characters seem more relatable and human setting the stage for what's next in the storylines considering the group's problems the past few months.

[Commercial Break]

The show returned with and "RVD Injury Update." Eric Bischoff was shown backstage apologizing to Dixie and on the phone with someone. "It's a lot worse than we thought," Bischoff said, setting the stage for next week's show with the TNA Title announcement.

They transitioned into a lot of talk from Tommy Dreamer and a replay of the ending to Impact with the beat down and ECW wrestlers covered in blood. Tommy Dreamer was shown first-person backstage with a towel over his head saying they were supposed to get one more moment in the spotlight. He referenced Ric Flair leading the opposing group before saying, "Ric Flair wants to talk s--- and Dixie is going to make this right." He questioned Dixie, saying he's not sure she knows what that is. Dreamer referenced the "TNA testimonials" from A.J. Styles and Kazarian during the Hardcore Justice PPV. This was good continuity replaying Styles and Kazarian's stories on ECW that aired during the PPV. Dreamer cut a promo on them for saying what they said on the PPV, then "doing this" a couple of days later

They replayed the end of Impact again (this is where it was clear the show needed to be cut down half-an-hour). They did add bonus footage of Flair on the mic shouting at Dixie Carter. Flair said this is her fault and blood is on her hands. "This is Fortune, the best thing going today," he said. "Dixie Carter, run and hide bringing in trash before me and Hulk Hogan." They cut back to Dreamer saying they respect this business, and now their heroes have let them down. "Ric Flair, you let me down," he said. Dreamer vowed to hit harder than they hit them at the end of Impact. They cut to a shot of Dreamer and Carter talking backstage again. Back to Dreamer, who claimed ECW "single-handedly changed the business" and Hardcore Justice was supposed to be about closure. Dreamer said there's only one way to make it right after Fortune's attack.

[Commercial Break]

They returned with another recap of RVD's injury. Again, Dreamer was shown saying Dixie has to "make it right." Again, he questioned if Dixie can do this right. The show then recapped Abyss's recent destruction. They cut to a promo from Abyss saying "they" have given him instructions for another victim. Questions were posed from the voice-over man: How will Van Dam recover? Is World Title reign in jeopardy? Who will be next to challenge to the Guns for the tag titles? He also announced the Knockouts Title would be on the line next week with Angelina Love defending against Madison Rayne in a re-match.

The Guns were shown again saying they're fighting champs and standard-bearers for pro wrestling. Shelley said if EV2.0 wants to put together a team, they'll accept the competition. They cut to Brother Devon asking if the beat down from Fortune was justified just because the ECW guys had their own PPV. "If they want to sit there and be jealous and envious because it wasn't their PPV, they might have put us down, but they didn't kill us," he said. The voice-over man followed by asking if it truly was the last stand at Hardcore Justice or whether Dixie's commitment to "making this right" was only the beginning.

They cut to a first-person interview with Kurt Angle, who claimed EV2.0 popped ratings and probably did one of TNA's highest PPV buys. He failed to acknowledge his own PPV draw with Samoa Joe at Lockdown 2008. Angle followed by saying he doesn't think the ECW group should be around long-term because he wants a TNA group like Fortune to be successful in TNA. They cut to Jeff Hardy saying he's on the EV2.0 side and he's not a fan of Fortune, which was good reinforcement of TNA's storyline presentation that EV2.0 are the babyfaces in the storyline.

They recapped Flair now the "most powerful man in TNA" after assembling his "elite group." They cut to Robert Roode and James Storm backstage in their locker room sitting down after the events of the night. Roode said the EV2.0 feud is just getting started. Storm's iPhone rang with Ric Flair on the other line. Storm listened as Flair outlined a plan. Roode then said the big picture is Flair is the boss and they need to get the tag gold. Storm said they're the best team in wrestling, but just don't have the gold. Roode summed up the "worked shoot" element that they want the company to survive, but the ECW wrestlers "just want a paycheck." Storm said the instructions from Flair are to take them out "by any means necessary." He paused before saying, "'Til next week." The show closed on that note.

The credits rolled noting Eric Bischoff, Jason Hervey, and Dixie Carter as executive producers. Also, Kevin Sullivan and Vince Russo were listed as producers.

We welcome your 0-10 score and comments on this show for a "TNA TV Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on Reaction, click here.


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