Impact Wrestling Results & Report 06-16-11

June 17, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

anderson vs. gunnerImpact Wrestling was quite explosive Thursday night as upsets were abound, new faces were featured, and plans for future pay-per-views were unfurled, including next month’s TNA Destination X and Fall’s Bound For Glory.

Thursday marked the start of Mr. Anderson‘s second reign as World Heavyweight champion, and the opening segment featured him coming out to a ring adorned like a high school kegger (more on that theme later). He called it his “A$%hole Championship Reception” and no one showed up to celebrate except the uninvited Immortal hitman Gunner. Because he helped take out Sting last week on Anderson’s behalf, Gunner wanted return payment of one title shot, which Anderson replied in kind with a pitcher of apparently strychnine and fiber glass laced beer. Seriously, it looked like all he did was splash beer in his face and Gunner’s eyebrow and nose looked like they were on the receiving end of Cain Velasquez hammer fists.

Needless to say, this opened the door for a match later that night, just not a title match. As much as I thought the whole Rob Van Dam/Mr. Anderson/Sting series was pretty weak because it lacked a strong heel, I’m starting to love the writing of this current heel vs. heel series. Eric Bischoff clearly stated that he wouldn’t call off the suddenly pushed Gunner because Anderson refused to join Immortal. It may rub wrestling traditionalists the wrong way, but I like when there is a gray area and that’s probably why Anderson has been able to battle both sides so convincingly.

The match itself was okay and neither guy really showed us anything special—in fact, I dare say that Anderson looks a bit out of shape, especially for a World champion. Spoilers be damned, I was reading and listening to a few takes of the raw result of this match and how it makes no sense for a mid-card guy to pin the World champ but this ending was great. After Anderson took clear control, he actually called for the microphone mid-match, announced himself as TNA’s champion, went to pick up Gunner but Gunner quickly reversed and hit his fireman’s carry facebuster for the upset win on the champ.

I know when you compare him next to the booking of titans like John Cena and Randy Orton, it may seem silly that Anderson lose while champion, but the idea that the title holder is beatable and just had a bad night, or has become too cocky for his own good, is progressive and appreciated from fans who want different things in their squared circle.

Anderson’s clearly not a huge guy—he’s more of a class clown who outsmarts his enemies, but not this time. Gunner actually wasn’t bad on the mic this week and got a chance to cut his first real promo, but I’m just not sure fans will buy into him being outwitted by Eric Young just weeks ago for the TV title and now being pushed to the front of the Immortal line. Bully Ray must have really pissed someone off.

In huge PPV news, TNA announced their Bound For Glory series, which on paper sounds amazing. In a nutshell, the BFG series goes like this: 12 TNA wrestlers will all wrestle each other in a round robin format across all venues…PPV’s, Impact, Xplosion, live tour events, and each match’s outcome gives that wrestler so many points (10 for submission, 7 for pin, 3 for DQ win, -10 for DQ loss, etc.). These matches can be tag team matches, triple threat affairs, steel cage matches, but at the end of the series, the top four in points standings move on to some sort of four corners match at No Surrender, the PPV before Bound For Glory. The twelve competitors are: Rob Van Dam, AJ Styles, Gunner, Robert Roode, James Storm, Bully Ray, Crimson, Matt Morgan, Samoa Joe, Devon, Scott Steiner, and The Pope.

This seems like a fun, unique way to get all the guys involved and carry the program through the dog days of summer. As a sports nerd, I love anything with standings and this almost has a fantasy game feel to it. I do like how the format is not too stringent, because do we really need to see James Storm and The Pope in a singles match on Impact or a PPV? The points system is a little weird…minus 10 points for someone interfering in your match? That should allow for some breezy writing.

Handicapping the field, I think I can almost eliminate Devon, James Storm, The Pope right away. Crimson, Bully Ray, Matt Morgan, and Scott Steiner are good dark horses, but I wouldn’t make that bet. That leaves, RVD, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Gunner, and Robert Roode, who is looking more and more like a singles competitor by the hour. I’d say it’s a good bet that three of those five make it to the final four.

The first match in the BFG series saw Rob Van Dam best Samoa Joe with the Five Star Frog Splash. Nothing was too exciting from the RVD camp, but Joe went all out and did a suicide dive through the ropes on his opponent. Impressive stuff, but RVD still won and captured seven points.

Pertaining to the more recent future, Destination X is coming back next month and TNA promises to bring back a bunch of ex-employees for the gimmick PPV. How nice of them, don’t ya think? It was also announced that the entire PPV would happen inside the old 6-sided ring. Personally, I can’t really stand the hexagon but then again I never watched TNA with much conviction when they had the odd looking ring. On paper, it gets the old guard excited again, so the changeup is welcome in my household.

The first match leading into Destination X featured three guys I believe I’ve never seen before—Kid Kash, Jimmy Rave, and Austin Aries. Their high flying exhibition prevented you from looking away and was easily the most exciting match of the night. Rave looked to be the most technically sound and Aries had a nasty double suicide dive to the floor, but either way it looked like both were a cut above Kid Kash. Coming off as a bit clunky, Kash’s moves were slow developing, including his backflip off the top rope to the floor where both Aries and Rave were waiting for several seconds. Aries eventually hit a series of nasty kicks on Rave before finishing him off with the brainbuster for the win. Based on that match alone I hope they give Aries or Rave that X Division money left vacant by the released Jay Lethal.

In case you missed Slammiversary Sunday night, the Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett feud was supposed to end but that mess flared up again the very next event because while Angle was announcing that he’s training for a 2012 US Olympic run on the wrestling team, Jarrett came out to challenge Angle to one last fight. What?! Fortunately, Angle called Jarrett out on the same crap and said he had no honor by continuing the feud, which Angle clearly won and ended. Regardless, Angle accepted the parking lot fight, with odd stipulations about Angle taking back his kids and Jarrett moving to Mexico if he lost. Seriously. I can’t make that up.

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In what was straight from a high school coming of age film, Angle and Jarrett brawled in the parking lot around a circle of peers, at night, with headlights lighting up the fighting space. I seriously thought I was watching a modern adaptation of The Outsiders or something. Angle pretty much destroyed Jarrett in what devolved into an MMA style fight, even though Jarrett did hit his Stroke finisher at one point. Kurt started choking him out with a shirt, Jeff mumbled something and the fight was over. There appeared to be no definite winner..again, so expect this series to prolong.

Rosita and Sarita defended their Knockout Tag titles against Velvet Sky and Miss Tessmacher in what ended up being a thankfully busy night for Mexican America. I like the team of Velvet and Tessmacher, who could reform Beautiful People, because it’s a bleak, bleak time in TNA without money making factions like the Beautiful People and Beer Money. Hernandez and Anarquia were quickly thrown out by ref, leaving us with a par for the course Knockouts match which saw Sarita and Tessmacher with very similar outfits, which seemed like a bad wardrobe snafu.

Eventually, TNA wants us to think that Velvet has OCD because ODB appeared in the crowd, causing Velvet to completely lose focus and chase after her, leaving Tessmacher to get dominated and pinned by Rosita. Afterward, ODB and a black woman from the crowd, later announced as a returning Jackie, jumped Velvet and beat up male security guards. Cool security, Impact Zone.

Hernandez and Devon opened up the wrestling portion of the program. I thought I would have nothing to say about this match but Devon hit a spectacular spear on a jumping Hernandez that I’m calling the move of the night. Even though we haven’t seen much of the former Team 3D member, Devon looked particularly jacked for this match, so hopefully management rewards him with some sort of fruitful mid-card program. In a lame finish, Mexican America runs in for interference, ending the match and causing The Pope to come out and help Devon to standing cheers. Now Pope is a face again? What the hell is going on out there?! You should only be allowed two turns every two years, but Pope pulls the old 180 on the same schedule you change out your Brita filter. Really weak—I hope he goes 0-for in the BFG series.

Sting continued his cries for Hulk Hogan to turn back to his old ways and showed him he was serious by yelling random crap about “Stinger’s not done!” and smearing Hulk’s face in snapdragon facepaint. I guess this is what happens when you lose your title but still have months to go on your contract.

Eric Young was creeping around backstage asking guys to wrestle him for this TV title. Or wrestle for him…it wasn’t clear what the dude was asking. Eventually, he caught up with Austin Aries being interviewed after his match, but “wrestled” the unsuspecting interviewer and had Aries count the three for the win. While not one of his finer comedic performances, Young is still killing it with his 70’s and 80’s TV show references…”I’m coming for you, Scott Baio!”

Scott Steiner and Bully Ray cut promos against each other for next week’s BFG series match, including Steiner hilariously ranting about Ray wanting donuts, sugar, and burgers. It was amusing seeing a steroid-ridden, chain link wearing, sun glasses sporting man yell “I AIN’T GOT NO SUGAR!!” but your mileage may very. Once again, a match featuring an Immortal member against a non-Immortal heel will strengthen the field as a whole and make future results more unpredictable. On a side note, I always loved the idea of a guy innocently cutting a promo and then for no other reason the crew goes over to the other guy and says, “hey, look what he said” and causes the reaction promo. Such trouble makers, those cameramen.

VERDICT. Six decent matches tonight if you count the Sharks vs. Jets showdown in the parking lot between Angle and Jarrett a match. This was one of the more original, well thought out and tightly executed Impacts in a while. Anderson may not gotten off to an extremely rocky start as champ, but the stage has been set and I would think it would be hard to screw up foolproof plans of a Bound For Glory series and the setup for fan favorite Destination X. Even if half the performers tonight were from the B-Team, it was still an exciting show. 9/10

Full Impact Wrestling Match Results
Devon def. Hernandez, Interference DQ
Austin Aries def. Kid Kash and Jimmy Rave in a Triple Threat, pinfall
Sarita and Rosita def. Velvet Sky and Miss Tessmacher, pinfall
Rob Van Dam def. Samoa Joe, pinfall
Gunner def. Mr. Anderson in a non-title match, pinfall
Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett brawled to a no decision

Joe Leininger lives in Gainesville, FL and writes for The Playing Field and Destigeddon.

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TNA Slammiversary 2011 Results – Anderson Wins Gold, Angle Bests Jarrett

June 13, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Mr. Ken Anderson won the TNA championship at SlammiversaryI really thought Slammiversary had the makings of an instant classic, but thanks to continued head-scratchers like having your world title match not be the main event, TNA remains in a post Lockdown mini-slump. And to think I missed an NBA Finals clincher because of this nonsense.

Sting’s last PPV bout with Rob Van Dam exceeded expectations, so I had similar feelings towards a bout with Mr. Anderson, who bless his heart is genuinely trying to be the bad guy despite management fumbling with his psychology. When they started running previews for the title match and Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett still hadn’t fought yet I was surprised in that now I was almost positive that Sting was walking away champion.

Mr. Anderson came out and cut a long microphone intro which was interrupted by a creepy, more sinister looking face painted Sting. From there, the two brawled outside and in the stands, which quickly became annoying because any lack of Falls Count Anywhere type of rules, but a “logical” explanation from Mike Tenay that the ref was just being extra lenient tonight. In what was quickly turning into a clone of the RVD-Sting match from last month, the match luckily came back into the ring after seven or so minutes.

From here things got a little weird as Eric Bischoff came out looking to distract Sting. After Sting kicked out of a Mic Check, he thwarted Anderson’s offense and hit him with a Scorpion Death Drop. The ref counted two, looked over at Bischoff and actually shooed him away, slammed his arm down for a third count, but got up and said the count wasn’t completed. Bischoff then ran interference again, allowing Anderson to hit a Mic Check and score the pin, winning the TNA World Title for the second time this year.

While the Anderson win was surprising, this match was unbelievably awkward to watch. From the moment Bischoff arrived you could see every offensive move from both guys a mile away, and it just seemed that whoever scored the pin was the guy who won the coin toss backstage before the match. And the 3-count snafu was just unbearable—not only did referee Jackson James count to three, but the decision was never held up and TNA ran at least five or six replays of the clear three count. The fans in the arena hated the ending as much as the approximate tens of thousands watching at home…but wait, there was still one more match.

With emerging super heel Anderson as champion, it almost became elementary that Kurt Angle was going to win, no matter what. Cool booking, guys. They also found a clever way to shoe in Karen Jarrett into the program, with a via satellite look in at her home right before the match. Initially, I thought that Karen was just being pushed aside for once, but it turns out her absence from tapings is for post breast augmentation recovery. Really, Karen, who are you trying to impress still?

Although the Angle and Jarrett matches have been good this year, there wasn’t much else they could do to finish on top, so in comes old reliable, the referee bump. Brian Hebner was run into by Angle, causing a break in the match allowing Jarrett to obliterate Kurt’s head with a baby blue colored guitar. Jarrett proceeded to motion someone ringside, which I found odd considering that a ref answered his call, not another wrestler.

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Other than that move, Jarrett was the better performer tonight and his character did well to verbally break down Angle while finding new ways to fall prey to the Ankle Lock. And go figure, the first time in the match that Angle grapevines his submission is when Jarrett taps. The match ended suddenly with no fanfare, and just like that we have a new Mr. Anderson and Kurt Angle main event to dwell on.

While both of those matches read like bogeys, the Slammiversary MVP goes to The Phenomenal One, AJ Styles and his Last Man Standing match over Bully Ray. Despite Christy Hemme jinxing the guy and introducing him from the wrong city, Styles completely stole the show and carried Bully Ray through a match that will probably end up as a top ten for the year. My only issue with these Last Man Standing matches is the really early endurance checks, sometimes five minutes in the match. Come on, guys, if this match really ends because a guy can’t get up after a couple minutes worth of bumps, did you even think they deserved to be in the match to begin with? Not all wrestling fans are dullards.

The first great moment was AJ’s “thank you sir, may I have another?” reception of repeated open palmed chest slaps from Ray. The fans ate this up and only started to kick off the most well received match of the night. Shortly after, Ray hit AJ with a huge punch that sent him reeling backwards, a motion you might see from a disorientated, about to be knocked out UFC fighter. In what should have come off as hokey, the maneuver added that much more personality to the match and AJ was the right man for the job.

After Ray was split open from a chained fist shot, Styles got a running start and leaped off the entrance stage, hitting his forearm on Ray in what was quite the long jump. He would later outdo himself when he set Ray up on a table, climbed a set tower and hit an atomic elbow from easily 25 feet up in the air. Both guys were being counted when Ray mustered his last strength and kicked Styles, propelling him through the side of the ramp, allowing Ray to answer the ten count and win the match. As I predicted, Ray took a beating but still strengthened his resume, while Styles’ credibility will almost never take a hit, allowing for an easier resolution to this match.

In X Division Title action, Abyss defended the belt against Brian Kendrick and Kazarian. Mike Tenay and Taz really hyped the 2-on-1 aspect of this match and boy, that’s what we got. Abyss had a great monster moment early on when he no sold and no caught Kendrick’s cross body attempt, allowing Kendrick’s body to just fall to mat, limp and disappointed. Eventually, Abyss singled out both guys and the match quickly escalated into a true triple threat, which Abyss used to his advantage.

This match was going great until Abyss just pulled Kendrick out of the ring and covered Kaz for the win with no finisher or anything. He totally had time for a Black Hole Slam or something, but for whatever reason they made him out to look like an undeserving, vulture champion. This is all the more odd considering that at times Kazarian and Kendrick could barely muster any 2-on-1 offense against the big man, who suddenly looked (pun so intended) immortal.

The Knockouts match came and went as Mickie James defended against Angelina Love, despite Winter trying to interfere a million times throughout. Mickie looked rough in this match, but surprisingly Angelina outclassed her with poignant promos and decent ring psychology. Before the match, Angelina refused the “medicine” from Winter, saying she understands the situation now. Hey Angelina, drugs help you win in life, so buckle down and get back on the juice.

The opening match of the evening saw Gun Money defend their tag belts against a very game British Invasion. In what was a disturbing trend tonight, the losing party looked way better in their match, and the Brits were no exception. Magnus hit a beautiful cradle into overhead slam while Doug Williams threw in some suplexes that somewhat distracted from Alex Shelley’s lethargic performance. Towards the end, James Storm accidentally spewed beer in Shelley’s eyes and Shelley mistakenly hit Storm with the superkick. But after a kickout from Storm, he hit his finisher while Shelley followed it up with a Sliced Bread for the win and title defense.

Crimson kept his undefeated streak alive as he bested Samoa Joe after a surprise sit down powerbomb for the win. Joe carried a good chunk of the offense and really worked Crimson’s knee, slowing the big man considerably. After an entertaining slapping bout, Crimson speared Joe, started to take control and caught him with the deadly powerbomb. After the match, Joe promised that the rivalry was not over. Considering management is extremely hot for Crimson right now, I can totally see this being a foreshadowing to a potential title program down the line.

Scott Steiner showed up tonight but couldn’t overcome Matt Morgan’s sheer size and athleticism. Steiner was on point with this T-Bones and belly-to-belly suplexes, but he went to the well one too many times and Morgan blocked it, boxed his ears with his crushing forearms and set him up for a Carbon Footprint and the winning pinfall. This decision caught me off guard a bit…now what do you do with Steiner?

VERDICT. While there were probably about three and a half good matches here, it didn’t make sense that the World title match would not be the main event and all but kill the suspense of the final showdown between Jarrett and Angle. TNA is mired in a slump right now and this PPV could have been the one to jump start the saga. Consider this: the last show before Sacrifice last month, Impact promised us three blockbuster reveals for their episode. Well, in a matter of three weeks, all of those big surprises, Chris Harris, Chyna, and Mick Foley, are no longer with the company. And with all three, TNA is partially to blame. If you’ve been watching lately you know that these drops weren’t really ever mentioned, either. Wow. TNA has so many story holes right now that they are sweeping some under the rug to make room for others. Not a complete waste of time, but still an abject disappointment. 3/10

Full TNA Slammiversary 2011 Match Results
Gun Money (Champs) def. The British Invasion for the Tag Titles, pinfall
Matt Morgan def. Scott Steiner, pinfall
Abyss (Champ) def. Kazarian and Brian Kendrick for the X Division Title, pinfall
Crimson def. Samoa Joe, pinfall
Mickie James (Champ) def. Angelina Love, pinfall
Bully Ray def. AJ Styles, Last Man Standing
Mr. Anderson def. Sting (Champ) for the World Title, pinfall
Kurt Angle def. Jeff Jarrett for No. 1 Contender spot, submission

Joe Leininger lives in Gainesville, FL and writes for The Playing Field and Destigeddon.

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TNA Slammiversary 2011 Preview & Predictions

June 10, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

TNA Slammiversary 2011 previewAs of Friday morning, is only showing eight matches listed for the TNA Slammiversary with a “more to be announced” blurb at the bottom. They usually never have more than nine matches on the card, so expect either a Velvet Sky/ODB match to appear, or possibly something with Generation Me or Mexican America.

MATT MORGAN VS. SCOTT STEINER. I’m not sure what management wants to do with either of these guys and maybe it’s better that way. You could justify either guy winning this match, but if the rumors of a new wave of main event guys are true, it would only make sense that a heel Steiner stay on a hot streak. Steiner wins.

CRIMSON VS. SAMOA JOE. Poor Samoa Joe. Caught up in this winning streak that TNA will undoubtedly carry into the Fall. Crimson takes this and I’d bet the farm. Although outside interference from a new Joe adversary would be welcome here, as to kick off a new rivalry and not bury Joe.

BULLY RAY VS. AJ STYLES. Last Man Standing Match. TNA really wants Ray to get over as a monster, and AJ can afford to float around the midcard for a bit longer. I’ve heard rumblings about this being the night that Chris Daniels finally turns his back on Styles, but I’ve got a better heel turn in mind for a later match. Regardless, look for Ray to score a win for Immortal.

ABYSS (CHAMP) VS. BRIAN KENDRICK VS. KAZARIAN. X Division Title. I’m sticking to my guns and saying that Abyss is only a placeholder and will drop the belt. But who takes it? After being completely buried a couple of weeks ago, Fortune needs some credibility, so look for Kaz to pin Abyss and take back the belt.

MICKIE JAMES (CHAMP) VS. ANGELINA LOVE. Knockouts Title. This match should be stellar with all the makings of Winter trying in earnest to assist Angelina in her win. Mickie is prominent, and she can win back the title in a few months, but I think Angelina wins to strengthen the somewhat intriguing saga between her and Winter.

JEFF JARRETT VS. KURT ANGLE. If Kurt loses, he forfeits possession of his Olympic gold medal to Jarrett. They briefly mentioned that this was essentially a number one contender match for the World title and Kurt is in far better position to fight for it at this juncture. In a happy ending, Kurt Angle wins and Karen Jarrett is deported to Colombia.

“GUN MONEY” (CHAMPS) VS. THE BRITISH INVASION. Tag Titles. This all depends on whether you believe Robert Roode is legitimately hurt, which seems to be eluding me at this time. In an effort to shoehorn Alex Shelley in and keep him happy, I’ll say Roode is acting, which means there is more to this story in the future. The British Invasion have absolutely nothing going for them other than that four corners win at TNA Lockdown. Look for James Storm to get back on his feet and pin someone to represent Beer Money.

STING (CHAMP) VS. MR. ANDERSON. World Heavyweight Title. I’m calling Mr. Anderson‘s heelish ways as a witty red herring for Sting to turn and join up with Immortal. Think about it, the Sting farewell tour continues, it gives the company a strong, established, main event bad guy, and sets the stage for what should be a great feud between Kurt Angle and Sting. Sting retains the belt and Anderson begins a feud with someone like AJ Styles, Crimson, or Gunner.

The full TNA Slammiversary 2011 card…
Sting vs. Ken Anderson for the TNA championship
Gun Money vs. British Invasion for the TNA tag team championship
Jeff Jarrett vs. Kurt Angle…The Final Battle
Mickie James vs. Angelina Love for the TNA Knockouts championship
Abyss vs. Brian Kendrick vs. Kazarian for the TNA X-Division championship
Bully Ray vs. AJ Styles in a Last Man Standing Match
Samoa Joe vs. Crimson
Matt Morgan vs. Scott Steiner

Joe Leininger lives in Gainesville, FL and writes for The Playing Field and Destigeddon.

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Impact Wrestling Results & Report 06-09-11

June 10, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Gunner vs. StingIf you missed the last Impact Wrestling before Sunday’s Slammiversary then you didn’t see guys like Gunner and Eric Young featured in the main event. Decided last week, TV Champion Eric Young would buddy up with World Heavyweight Champion Sting against their two current rivals, Gunner and Mr. Anderson.

The match wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was just nice to see some fresh faces in the center stage. After a little back and forth that was surprisingly carried by Sting for the majority, Gunner pushed a distracted Eric Young into Sting, who fell prey to an F5 type maneuver from Gunner for the huge upset victory.

Like it or not, it was a huge risk to have such an undeveloped guy pin your Heavyweight champ. Personally, I’m happy about this – I read a couple of leaks that say that management is looking to push both Gunner and Crimson in this calendar year. I know that Crimson is ready, whose move set, athleticism, and penchant for winning streaks should make him viable. But what about Gunner?

Even if the match was decent, the writing for this program between the four main eventers was suspect at best. During a Mr. Anderson and Gunner backstage look in, Anderson was requesting that Gunner hurt Sting, to which Gunner responded with a well articulated thought. What? For weeks, he was Cro-Magnon, lunatic Gunner who would grip his title belt with his teeth and brawl first, grunt questions later. I believe Gunner is prime for a big push, but TNA will more than likely find a way to make him look bad. Then, the same “smart” fans who whine and complain about all the old geezers hogging the spotlight will hit the forums and say that “Gunner is rushed” or “Gunner is stupid, bring in Carlito!” or “Dixie and Eric and Hulk and Vince need to be thrown in a Mortal Kombat acid pit, boo TNA…”

The Anderson transformation from quasi-asshole to full blown heel has been so forced that it no longer makes his character feel genuine. He randomly threatens other wrestlers and says that he never liked anything Sting stood for. Sting’s whole gimmick from last year was about not trusting authority and deception, which are a lot of the same qualities that make a skeptical, gum smacking Anderson entertaining. Explain that logic to me.

On the other side of the match, you had Sting cut a promo telling Young to “knock off the comedy!” Are they even reading their own storylines anymore? He was conked in the head and is now a lovable three shades Of Mice and Men. After the loss, Sting shoved Young away and didn’t want any part of an apology or anything. Then, to top it all off, Stinger takes a play from the How To Be an Effective Heel playbook, stalks Anderson, assaults him, and covers him in face paint. Perhaps he just snapped, but for a guy who was so adept at sneaking around rafters and messing with people, Sting should have a little more mental resolve than that.

The upsets persisted through the night because earlier on Mexican America defeated the makeshift Tag Title team of James Storm and Alex Shelley. This ended up being a warm-up for Storm and Shelley, who will be defending the belts against The British Invasion at TNA Slammiversary. This match was a whole lot of fun, especially with Magnus on commentary, who was throwing out insults left and right, with a nod to him calling Mexican America “selfish pricks” in a good light.

The team of “Gun Money” dominated early and even combined some of their signature moves, but it wasn’t long before Sarita and Rosita ran interference. James Storm, ever the gentlemen, spewed Beer Money brand beer in Sarita’s face, but this distraction was long enough for Anarquia to regain health and avoid a Shelley superkick that landed square on the jaw of his partner. Anarquia threw Shelley out and covered Storm for the win.

Afterwards, heels butted heads as Mexican America stormed Hulk Hogan‘s office and in a round about way accused management of not giving them the title shot because “they were Mexican!” Hogan proceeded to sternly, but in that classic Hogan inflection, come back with something like “you’re about to call me racist, brother, and I don’t like it!” Come on, guys, Eliminate the Hate.

This wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking moment, but combined with other factors tonight it could be foreshadowing to a potential face turn for the Hulkster. The opening segment saw Sting address Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan, reminding Hulk of his glory days when the fans loved him and he wasn’t inflicted with the cancerous Bischoff. Fans will be quick to call this an all too surreal moment of clarity, because in actuality the company can’t change for the better with both Bischoff and Hogan, but I think it’s just a nod that their characters will probably divorce in the next couple months.

Bully Ray issued an open challenge which was summarily answered by Rob Van Dam. Nothing real memorable happened, but AJ Styles appeared up close in the crowd long enough to distract Ray so RVD could set up his signatures and end with a Five Star Frog Splash for the win. TNA is really trying to ham up Ray’s bullying – he actually chased Christy Hemme from the ring, called her a useless bimbo, and told her that her Playboy cover sucked. Now he’s picking on women, too? I’m calling it right now; we will see a promo soon where he steals a little kid’s lollipop from Universal Studios. Good luck in your match against monster heel, AJ.

ODB and Velvet Sky exchanged pretty funny promos before brawling in their second-to-last match of the evening. ODB continued with her “Velvet is a prissy, made up whore” routine, but then out of nowhere let out a large, guttural “BOOOM!” to no one in particular. Careful, Mrs. B, more stuff like that and you’ll end up on The Soup, but not under the “chicks, man” segment.

Velvet then cut a response wondering why ODB has to be so dirty and telling her “there’s an ointment for that.” I think the real story here was Velvet’s mess of a rug on top of her head. Her skunk curls looked like Medusa got in a fight with Shirley Temple at the Ale House for UFC night. I normally like textured hair, but Velvet needs to stick with the straight locks.

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When their match started it was all ODB, who began brawling outside with Velvet and throwing her into guardrails and steel steps and anything else that was chained down. Looking like yet another depressing Velvet job, she caught ODB with a surprise DDT and barely escaped with the win, landing an approximate four moves of offense. I was kind of hoping for ODB to get up and tell Velvet to “go back to her home on Whore Island!”

In yet another match where a champion was pinned, Madison Rayne ran interference on behalf of Winter and Zombie Angelina Love, causing Angelina to hit Mickie James with a reverse DDT to beat James and Tara. Angelina’s ring psychology was great here, and she actually carried the match, but man was she looking super skinny tonight. I understand her commitment to fitness, but it’s becoming dangerously close to unattractive. Winter should probably woman up, stop feeding her only spiked alcohol and get a Big Montana meal from Arby’s.

My stinker of the night goes to Tara for selling out and being all buddies with Mickie James. Despite your hatred for Madison, you still also hated Mickie James enough to do things like RUN HER OVER WITH YOUR MOTORCYCLE A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO. Tara was lip syncing and dancing to Mickie’s country song like they just came down for breakfast at a slumber party or something. Sure, you can tag together, but have a little more animosity towards each other to make it believable.

The various promos of the night included a halftime in ring war of words between Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett. Honestly, all you had to do was hear what they were saying because it was pretty much the same riffraff you’ve been hearing for the better of two months. Just a way to remind fans that, “hey, yes, we are indeed fighting at Slammiversary!” Jarrett claims that Karen won’t be in attendance Sunday…wait, is TNA wising up to the fact that no one likes Karen? Probably not – she’ll be there.

Don’t forget about the Crimson and Samoa Joe match. Mike Tenay and Taz really hyped this cell phone video of the two guys brawling at what looked to be a sports bar. My money? It was the Chicago Cubs themed Friendly Confines down there in Orlando. I’d brawl a large Samoan man, too, if I had to eat their food and drink their watered down beer again. I’ll give them credit here – it was a quick, somewhat effective, and original way to bridge the gap to their match on Sunday. Although, I don’t know many cellular phones that shoot video in widescreen.

Abyss continued his quest to be the number one fanboy of “The Art of War” by running off quotes and telling Kazarian and Brian Kendrick that he will not destroy the X Division belt, but try to rename it the Extreme Division title instead. In light of semantics this was all a set up for Abyss to challenge both Kendrick and Kaz to a three way for the X Division at Slammiversary.

VERDICT. The matches were all long enough for you to grab on to something and chew a bit, but the writing confused me at times. You have one guy, Sting, who in principle should still be a destructive heel, against fan favorite Mr. Anderson, who is just now realizing that management completely blows? Why take it out on the fans? Some of the other stuff was just loony and had me asking if the past show notes were recently lost in a house fire. But since wrestling matters, and that’s what we saw, I’ll give it a pass. 6/10.

Full Impact Wrestling Match Results
Angelina Love and Winter def. Mickie James and Tara, pinfall
Mexican America def. James Storm and Alex Shelley, pinfall
Rob Van Dam def. Bully Ray, pinfall
Velvet Sky def. ODB, pinfall
Gunner and Mr. Anderson def. Sting and Eric Young, pinfall

Joe Leininger lives in Gainesville, FL and writes for The Playing Field and Destigeddon.

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Top Ten Active Pro Wrestling Hotties

June 03, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Is Kelly Kelly the hottest Diva?It’s been almost two months since Michelle McCool lost her Loser Leaves Town match against former best friend Layla at Extreme Rules, and frankly, the industry took a head shot when it lost the blonde bombshell who had finally reached the pinnacle of her career.

Not only was Michelle a great looking girl with a heartwarming accent (just ask The Undertaker), but any time I tuned into SmackDown I actually bought into her bully persona, a program she worked nicely with a decent arsenal of moves and great chemistry with her partner in crime, Layla.

Living so close to where Michelle McCool used to teach middle school classes, her domination of the WWE Divas division actually had me wondering where all the hot teachers were when I was coming up through that system, but more importantly, had me rooting for the girl. But now, the teacher turned kayfabe pro trainer turned single white Christian female turned mean girl is finished, leaving me wondering just who the most attractive ladies of the squared circle were, and who would supplant Mrs. McCool as the apple of my eye. Of course, these are all a matter of taste, so feel free to blast off on anyone I missed.

10. Rosita (TNA) Even fair-weather viewers of TNA will recognize her as the girl that doesn’t even come up to the top rope in stature, on account of her billed height of 4’11’’. I’m not sure if she is that diminutive, but the disadvantage practically makes her useless in the ring. That said, I’m buying hard into the Mexican America faction as a legitimate heel front in TNA, which could continue to propel Rosita to the top of the Knockouts division. She’s already one half of the tag team champions, but who knows how much longer her partner Sarita will stick around? It doesn’t really matter, though; as long as they keep trotting Rosita out there in her skimpy two piece, let her throw a couple of girl punches and drop a DDT or two, I’m fine.

9. The Bella Twins (WWE) What a find in The Bellas, huh? A wrestling set of twins who always outsmart their opponents and look pretty good? I’m pretty new to the sisters, but I’m not new to the long standing alpha male fantasy stereotype of twin magic. As far as their in ring ability, I’m not that impressed, but Nikki and Brie have killer bodies and when they come out on the ramp and do that hip shaking thing, that’s about all I need to see. Come out, knife edge chop, switch out with your sister, and finish up so The Miz can tell us how awesome he is.

8. Kaitlyn (WWE) I’m using that affiliation with the top dog company very loosely because Kaitlyn is nowhere to be found! The girl can wrestle, has the looks to match Natalya, and even though she was worked as a heel on her season of NXT, I could totally see her reemerge as a contender for the WWE Divas title, or start a feud with Beth Phoenix when Brie Bella eventually drops the belt. I don’t normally dig women that look like they can disarm and disable me in a street fight, but there’s a certain charm about Kaitlyn that makes me wonder why the terrible Alicia Fox still gets work and the “winner” of WWE’s reality show can’t even get a two minute match anymore. By the way, if you’re still watching NXT, props to you for actually believing that the winners won’t soon be back in FCW and working at an IKEA.

7. Christina Von Eerie (Indys) I discovered this hidden gem earlier this year when she was escorting Jesse Neal into a Fatal 4-Way title match and all I can say is the girl has enough spunk, charisma, and athleticism to make it to the big time. Don’t let the sharply cut hair and punk rock tattoos fool you; up close, Christina is a great looking girl who commanded your live audience attention. If she ever does make it up north, she already has the look of someone who you would believe could be billed as Luna Vachon’s daughter. Someone pay this girl…those tats couldn’t have come cheap.

6. Angelina Love (TNA) I almost left Angelina off this list but soon remembered how much I loved her as a face, battling the Beautiful People in her alternative rock groupie attire. In my opinion, Angelina Love has one of the most impressive physiques of all the TNA Knockouts and looks to treat her body like a temple. That commitment to yourself on such low pay is admirable, but Angelina’s crisp ring work and dedication to character probably makes TNA not have to think twice about showcasing her every week on Impact. If you haven’t been watching what she’s been doing lately with her subservient, zombie character, tune in because it’s one of the better story lines management has handled this year. Oh, and she’s Canadian, so I could totally imagine her kicking off her boots, grabbing a Labatt Blue and settling in on a hockey game under a Snuggie (fan fiction alert!).

5. Eve Torres (WWE) Eve is also another Diva that I’m not too familiar with yet, but the more I see her the more I want her to moonsault everyone and everything. As for beauty, she’s probably the second prettiest girl in the company, but more on that later. I read several blogs that like to hate on Eve, but I just don’t see it. Sure, she may not be the greatest technical wrestler, but the WWE is smart. If every women’s wrestler was technically sound but had a busted face, a certain chunk of fans would tune out. Not to be sexist, but like football, I just think that the men put on a better show. So you find a drop dead gorgeous ex-dancer like Eve, teach her some gymnastics type moves, and set her free.  Eve still has to co-star in That’s What I Am 2: I’m Still Me.

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4. Maryse (WWE) The Canadian gold digger is the complete package for me: the looks, the killer body, and the personality of the girl who’s going to make fun of you, steal your boyfriend, and then probably beat you up (you don’t stand a chance, Gail Kim). This is all unfortunate because her program with Ted DiBiase has seemingly vanished and it’s really hard to find any trace of Maryse these days. I hear she’s on NXT a lot now, but the day I start watching WWE programming on my computer is the day I reevaluate my love of a business tailored for adolescence.  In a nutshell, I’d argue that Maryse is the prettiest girl in the industry today.

3. AJ Lee (FCW) If one of the coolest guys in the business, Jay Lethal, was getting down with AJ, what else more can I say? When I did record the Divas season of NXT, AJ was my personal favorite. She’s cute as a button, has ridiculously great abs, is a self proclaimed nerd, and hasn’t yet brought herself to make certain augmentations to her overall package. It’s really a shame WWE didn’t choose her as the winner, but with her innocent personality she could make a great valet while in the meantime tune her in ring maneuvers and eventually become a full time Diva. I had to work when FCW came through town a couple of weeks ago, and that really bummed me out. Along with Titus O’Neal, AJ was the other reason I would have paid out to see that show.

2. Kelly Kelly (WWE) Barbie Blank from Jackonsville, what’s up?! Of all these young ladies, Kelly Kelly is the probably the personification of “hot.” Blonde hair, fake tan, pearly whites, ear to ear grin, and the Vince mandated boob job. I also don’t know what’s funnier…that her real name is actually Barbie or that she really broke into the company as a stripper with Layla and Brooke Adams (TNA’s Miss Tessmacher). I didn’t really follow what Kelly Kelly did for the next three years after the banishment of anything R-rated, but you can tell the company is still hot for her, putting her in main events with Edge and the recent angle with Kharma. One part of Kelly Kelly’s signature moves that I always enjoy is her turnbuckle pose before her matches. She looks like she’s genuinely happy to be out there and entertaining the masses. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also a sucker for light blue eyes.

1. Madison Rayne (TNA) Right now, Madison is the most powerful heel in her company and her queen bee persona works on so many levels. She’s young, pushes older talent around, and has the build of a healthy, yet still beautiful in ring performer. Even though I only know her as a heel, it’s surprising to see that in only about six years she’s transformed herself from this to this. While I prefer the blonde skunk hair, I truly believe Rayne hits on all cylinders for me as a wrestling fan: pretty, great body, creative in ring arsenal, and the personality to get over on fans and keep us coming back for more. I’m not sure if it will ever happen, but I’m really rooting for Madison Rayne to parlay all her hard work into an eventual WWE contract. Doll her up in green and black and call her Acid Rain; she could totally be the next Kharma.

Honorable mentions: Velvet Sky, Miss Tessmacher, Karen Jarrett (as long as she doesn’t talk), Trish Stratus

Joe Leininger lives in Gainesville, FL and writes for The Playing Field and Destigeddon.

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Impact Wrestling Results & Report 06-02-11

June 03, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

eric bischoff and hulk hogan tell Impact viewers that Mick Foley is firedAs we inch closer and closer to TNA Slammiversary on June 12, it becomes increasingly important for TNA Wrestling to put on a good televised program, and by golly, I’m gonna call this one of the best Impact Wrestling episodes I’ve seen in a long time.

It wasn’t perfect by any means, but the matches were cohesive and coherent, the segments and promos were concise and intermittently funny, and Karen Jarrett injured herself so badly that she may never return…ever. Hopefully. I think this all begs the question: did Vince Russo go on vacation this week?

The main pipeline of the episode revolved around Eric Bischoff being “served” by the network and his impending firing. It wasn’t until the very end of the show that we found out that the letter was actually saying Mick Foley was being relieved of his position within the network immediately. While none of that makes much legal sense, the end results far outweighs any head scratching semantics. TNA has used the front office angle for far too long and more recently it’s been used as a crutch more so than a compelling plot thickener. Cutting a scab like Foley, who really has no vested interest in TNA anyway, is definitely welcome and should provide for less contrite legal red tape and more in ring action. It is wrestling, though, so we could easily see Foley back in action next week, wantonly making up rules and disagreeing with Eric Bischoff just for the sake of combativeness.

The main event combined two ongoing feuds and saw Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner defeat Kurt Angle and Matt Morgan, and if you thought for one second either Jarrett or Angle were getting pinned in this match, quit watching wrestling altogether because you still don’t get how these matches fool audiences into thinking they are important when in reality it means just as much as when half of the New York Mets play half of the New York Yankees and Billy Crystal down in Florida in March.

To kick things off, Karen Jarrett is ejected by three refs, because Earl Hebner can’t do it by himself and he’s just plain too old for this sh*t! For me, I’m sick of Karen to the point where I’m kind of wishing she gets the Morrie treatment from Goodfellas…except this time it’s Kurt Angle, Dixie Carter, and Velvet Sky luring her into the Buick. The match itself was a bit predictable and at no point was the feature attraction, as evidenced by the broadcast going split screen for a shot of Bischoff and Hogan looking at a piece of mail and scratching their heads. Eventually, Angle chased Jarrett from the ring, Karen comes out and BOOM! Jeff pushes Kurt who runs into Karen, knocking her off the stage and hopefully writing her off to Xplosion to mess with Desmond Wolfe or something. During the commotion, Steiner low blows Morgan and rolls him up for the win. After the break, Karen was shown being hauled off in an ambulance, so perhaps the writers are catching on and we can take a break from the harpy, albeit temporarily.

In the match of the night, Brian Kendrick and Kazarian fought to a no contest, with the winner receiving a shot at Abyss’ X Division title at Slammiversary. The bout was chock full of everything you wanted-high risk aerials, including a suicide dive by Kendrick through the second and third rope that found nothing but outside mat, submissions, slug fests, reversals and counters, and attempted finishers. Eventually, Kendrick went for the Sliced Bread, but Kaz reversed it into a running neckbreaker, followed by several rollovers that brought us to the ten minute time limit. I normally key in on the announced time limit, but this time I was really caught off guard by the intense action. TNA handled it well this time around-you didn’t see the draw coming, the announcers weren’t referencing the limit, and Jeremy Borash wasn’t leading the crowd in a lame countdown that would have all but killed the suspense. The writers have been guilty of all these things before, but alas, ten minutes passed, and after Earl Hebner went all NFL Instant Replay headset on us, he reported that Eric Bischoff had announced five more minutes.

A double cross body quickly knocked both guys out, leaving Kaz and Kendrick vulnerable to an outside attack by Abyss. The Monster delivered a Shock Treatment to Kendrick (which at this point I’m dubbing the least kayfabe move in TNA) and quickly hit Kaz with a Black Hole Slam. Although nothing was announced, I smell a triple threat match for the X Division title at Slammiversary from a mile away.

The more creative side came out tonight as Mr. Anderson continued his mockery of 90’s Sting and convinced Eric Young to fight him as one of Sting’s early WCW rivals, The Great Muta. Sure enough, Young answered the call and came out with loose black pants and Eastern themed red and black face paint. After initially playing along, Young tried to leave but Anderson assaulted him and the match really began. While most of the offense was on behalf of “AnderSting,” Young’s portrayal of The Great Muta was admirable, and it was only a matter of time before Young spewed green mist into Anderson’s face. Gunner came to run interference, causing Anderson to let his guard down and get misted, leading to an easy roll up for the huge upset victory for Eric Young. Gunner would come in after and attack Young, who then saw an onslaught by an enraged Anderson. Eventually, Sting came out to save Eric Young, setting up a tag match between the four next week on Impact Wrestling.

While the match was smartly executed, I don’t think I would have written Anderson to take a loss, considering he was being helped by another guy and still couldn’t best his opponent. At best this makes him look weak and vulnerable for the big PPV in a couple weeks and at worst this shows that Anderson can’t hang with a simpleton and tattooed Neanderthal from Gold’s Gym. Even if Anderson was unfortunately buried this week, Christy Hemme saved the day tenfold when she half-heartedly announced the match result, “and your winner, The Not So Great Muta!” I don’t care if Anderson looks like a buffoon mimicking Sting‘s rolodex of moves and has Ecto-cooler all over his face; if the impossibly cute Christy Hemme can drop at least one deadpan line like that per show, I’ll buy stock in the damn company.

The weak link tonight came when Crimson barely beat a sluggish Matt Hardy to keep his win streak alive. I don’t like to nitpick, but did they not even consider some sort of Crimson and Scott Steiner blow off? A month ago, those guys were best buds, with Steiner training Crimson to be the next wrestling supernova. Now, Steiner is awkwardly shoehorned in as a heel and Crimson plays keep away with Matt Hardy long enough to not completely convince me that Samoa Joe will steamroll him at Slammiversary. After a new near falls, Crimson countered Hardy’s Twist of Hate and hit his own finisher, the Sky High for the win. Afterwards, Joe came down to attack Crimson but was met with a spear to ward off the ambush.

I usually like everything Crimson does, but this chapter was weak. Guys who have undefeated streaks definitely need to be tested, but they mostly need to squash guys like Hardy. Matt should have been the one landing a move or two as Crimson hits every high impact signature move at his disposal, getting over and showing us that he will continue the streak against Samoa Joe. Now I’m thinking TNA is planning on Samoa Joe getting DQ’ed for their match, keeping the streak alive yet at the same time telling Joe that he’s still a top dog. Or, at the very worst, there are discussions of killing the streak and having Joe win the match. Either way, Crimson underperformed tonight on a highly competitive broadcast.

AJ Styles called out Bully Ray towards the end of the show and Ray absolutely killed it with his one liners and rebuttals. It started out rocky as he went for cheap heat and called the Impact Zone fans a bunch of inbred rednecks, followed by disowning Tommy Dreamer as a tag partner. Then, Styles starts to lay into Ray, who explains why he’s a man and AJ’s a boy: “after the show, AJ, you play video games on your computer, while I go to the strip club and get a whisky and a lap dance!” Not to be outdone…by himself, Ray loosely compares himself to God and says, “if God was a bully, he’d be me.” All of this showmanship allows AJ to point out that Ray’s recent transformation is due to Ray’s own insecurity about his penis size, which leads to Ray receiving random assurance from a blonde in the front row that he indeed “does not have a small penis.” It wasn’t wrestling, but the verbal seesaw was damn entertaining, and it led to an announcement that Styles and Ray will fight in a Last Man Standing match at Slammiversary.

Earlier in the show, Bischoff called out Beer Money and asked them to forfeit their titles due to Robert Roode’s arm injury. After they rudely decline, Alex Shelley comes out to inform us that fellow Motor City teammate Chris Sabin tore two ligaments in his knee and will legitimately miss the rest of the year. Shelley then threw down the proposal that he take Roode’s place on the team to defend the titles at the PPV, which Beer Money accepted. You could tell right away what was about to happen and at that point I was really hoping to call the union of James Storm and Alex Shelley the “Motor City Beer Guns,” but was only slightly disappointed when Shelley dubbed themselves “Gun Money,” which comes off more like a episode feature on Gangland rather than a face tag team.

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The Knockouts portion of the show featured Miss Tessmacher valiantly fighting Zombie Angelina Love. While Tessmacher looked like HBK compared to last week, she still came up short when Angelina dropped her on her tailbone and hit her with a double knee back breaker for the win. After the match it was announced that Angelina would be vying for Mickie James’ title at Slammiversary. An odd choice, considering Winter is the ringleader and Angelina thinks she’s in a 16th Century lesbian relationship. It’d be like if The Ministry of Darkness sent Mideon to defeat The Rock for his belt back in the day.

If you qualify my passing analogy with the argument that BP Angelina Love was more dominant than Phineas I. Godwin ever was, I’ll come back and tell you that you’re over analyzing the situation. They’re the knockouts, not the reason you just dropped 35 bucks on a PPV or spent three hours of your life watching Impact and reviewing it. They are the tacky sh*t on the wall of the fish camp or steak house you love, but you came for dinner my friend. In fact, by deduction the Knockouts division should make the least sense at all times. Have everyone ream Velvet until she’s an emotional shell, have Angelina morph into an Echidna and devour Winter because she sucks anyway, and maybe hire back Taylor Wilde but pay her a tenth of what you paid for Chyna’s forty minutes of work.

The show actually opened up with a brawl between my new favorite jobber (is it jobbess?) Velvet Sky and ODB that eventually spilled out into the Impact Zone and finished in the ring. For all intents and purposes, ODB demolished Velvet, took out three adult men with forearm smashes and kicks to the groin, and really, really enjoyed dominating Velvet. I mean, it got downright saucy at some points. ODB slapped and spanked Velvet’s butt on multiple occasions, poured water on her, mounted her, and even fireman carried her with her fingers dangerously nestled near the pigeon coop.

VERDICT. This episode was pretty much entertaining from start to finish, regardless of how bad they tried to make the final match. As for your “Wrestling Matters News Watch,” we saw five matches but none in the first 28 minutes of Impact…Wrestling. This doesn’t bother me that much, but TNA should probably kick off the next ten or twenty episodes with a match of some form to really drive home the point. You garner a lot of detractors when during the first quarter of your show no match has taken place.

It’s kind of like when the Boston Red Sox dropped their first seven or eight games of the season-even though everyone freaked out and ESPN reported it as the fall of Red Sox Nation, they failed to grasp that every team will at some point endure a similar losing streak during the season. TNA apparently does not subscribe to the hype, but more power to them if they continue showcasing Kaz’s skills, having Velvet groped and beaten for reasons unknown, having Bully Ray and his floating sideburns calling people punks for not enjoying topless venues, letting Eric Young do anything, whenever he wants, and hopefully eluding to AnderSting bringing back more of Sting’s old buddies. Com’monnnn, Vader! 9/10

Full June 06 TNA Impact Wrestling Results…
Crimson def. Matt Hardy, pinfall
Angelina Love def. Miss Tessmacher, pinfall
The Not So Great Muta (Eric Young) def. (Ken Anderson) AnderSting, pinfall
Kazarian and Brian Kendrick fought to a no contest, X Division No. 1 Contender match
Scott Steiner and Jeff Jarrett def. Matt Morgan and Kurt Angle, pinfall

Joe Leininger lives in Gainesville, FL and writes for The Playing Field and Destigeddon.

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Impact Wrestling Results & Report 05-19-11

May 20, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Ken Anderson as StingIn a landmark televised program put on by TNA, Thursday marked the first episode of the new look, new format, “wrestling matters” Impact Wrestling. Like it or not, not only was the set drastically different, but the booking was overhauled, seeing Knockouts matches bookend the program with every match in between featuring X Division competitors.

Beside the new, streamlined name of the program, it looked as if The Blue Man Group from across the lot got their hands on the Impact Zone and in the production truck, because everything was some shade of blue. Frankly, it put me in a time warp back to 1998 and made me feel like I was watching La Parka and Glacier fight it out on an episode of WCW Thunder. In a show of commitment to the TNA rebranding, the title card was also completely changed, reeling through close to all the wrestlers on the roster, essentially telling us that yes, more wrestling is about to happen.

The biggest angle of the night came at the beginning when Eric Bischoff announced the complete squash of the X Division, prompting guys like Generation Me, Brian Kendrick, and Amazing Red to call out the bigwigs and continue their push into the spotlight. Immortal answered in kind by setting up disadvantageous matches and eventually brawling with the X Division. Fortune, minus AJ Styles, rushed the ring for the save. I normally don’t care for these cheesy brawl openings, but the high flyers were involved this time, so you were able to see Gen Me and Red use guys like Gunner and Abyss as landing pads for their aerial assaults.

The match of the night was easily Kazarian dropping the X Division belt to Abyss. Kaz, now outfitted with the post-Sacrifice pants look, totally controlled the match, with Abyss doing his best ogre impersonation. I initially thought this match wouldn’t work, but it was lengthy, without commercial interruption, and aside from a ridiculous Kaz hurricanrana, set the table for what should have been wall-to-wall wrestling.

In an ending that completely caught me off guard, Abyss was favoring his knee after a failed splash, causing Kaz to take his eye off the monster long enough for Abyss to catch him with a bone crushing Black Hole Slam and the win. Kaz would later be announced as kayfabe injured, but after what I saw, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kaz takes the month off.

It was definitely time for Kaz to drop the belt, but to Abyss? I’ll get to the complete dismantling of Fortune later, but I can only hope that Abyss is keeping it warm for one of those other guys in that division. It made sense for Abyss to hold the TV title, and lord know he leaves it out there each and every night, but this could set a dangerous precedent for defining exactly what the X Division is if Abyss holds it for more than a couple of weeks. I’m predicting someone like Kendrick gets his shot at the title, with the other guys from the locker room, heel and face, running interference and taking back the belt.

While the first episode of Impact Wrestling was very enjoyable, I found it mindboggling that a show that’s really driving home the point of wrestling being main attraction books the last two segments as in ring promos. The first came when Ric Flair called out Robert Roode to talk about respect or some nonsense. In case you missed it, Flair’s arm surgery was written as Roode putting that nasty armbar on him at Lockdown and shelving him indefinitely.

I like Roode’s look as a potential main event guy for the company, and lately his mic work has been decent, but tonight he crashed and burned going on about it “just being business, Ric.” It wasn’t just business…he betrayed you and the rest of Fortune. Therefore, the booking called for you guys to murder his ass. Roode and Flair exchanged blows before Immortal came out and destroyed Roode.

The very brief closing segment saw Sting address the crowd and congratulate Rob Van Dam on their match last Sunday at Sacrifice. As a teaser for the entire episode, low cut shots of someone dressed as early 90’s yelling Daytona Sting paced through the backstage, and after Sting’s music hit again and the lights went out, it’s revealed as Mr. Anderson impersonating Sting, who gets dropped with ease. Instead of the tease throughout the episode, couldn’t this have been booked as a preliminary, feeling out type of match that gave the fans at home and in the arena a taste of what they could expect at Slammiversary? Give both guys five or six minutes, and at the end, BAM, show Anderson for the first time in the Sting gear and let them wrestle. That’s the kind of show I’m watching, right? Wrestling?

The other plans to rid TNA completely of the X Division included sending Amazing Red against Samoa Joe and have Generation Me fight the laughable team of Matt Hardy and Eric Bischoff. The Red match lasted all of a minute as Joe quickly overpowered the little guy and ended it with a brutal Muscle Buster finisher. Afterwards, Joe stuck around and continued attacking Red in what smells like another terrible heel turn until Crimson came out for the save.

Mike Tenay couldn’t have said it better when he described the night as featuring a “very rare Eric Bischoff in ring match.” On paper this looked like a throwaway disaster, but it turned out to be a well paced match where all the characters were used effectively and the match finish was clean. Matt Hardy dominated both Buck brothers early, but he really needs to nix that stupid, no leverage headlock he’s been using. If someone stood directly to my side and put my neck in between their forearms, I might piss myself laughing so hard. Throughout the bout, Bischoff was clearly avoiding the tag in, but eventually came in after Hardy incapacitated Max with the Icepick. Hardy held up Max for a couple of soft Bischoff karate blows, leading to Bischoff cleaning pinning Max for the win. Oy, that’s not gonna look good on the Buck brothers resume.

The two intermission promos saw Kurt Angle address the victory over the Jarretts and AJ Styles (with neckbrace) call out Tommy Dreamer. Nothing really to see here, other than it was announced that Jarrett and Angle would be fighting “one last time” at Slammiversary, with the winner getting the No. 1 Contender spot for the TNA World title. Also, because they apparently have been watching the Lawler-Cole segments on Raw, Jarrett asked Angle to put up or shut up and wager Angle’s 1996 Olympic Gold Medal, which he accepted. To add insult to Angle apparently not knowing how bargaining works, Karen Jarrett arrived through Kurt’s stage lift and announced that she’ll be in Jeff’s corner at Slammiversary.

What the H?!? What’s wrong with you, TNA? You had this match at Sacrifice where Chyna dismantled Karen and broke her ankle, leaving Angle free to fight Jarrett by himself. Either kill the deadweight and get Karen off TV, or let the Jarretts weasel out another win and continue humiliating Kurt. What was the point of bringing in Chyna if nothing has changed? This booking is dreadful and at this point I could care less about their blow off match at the PPV.

In the stinker of the night, AJ Styles and Tommy Dreamer had one of the more rambling, cheaply written confrontations I’ve seen in a while. Tommy Dreamer read straight from the playbook of “Cheap Heat and How to Get Fans Po’d at You!” and called them all “pieces of crap” and “crappy, unthankful fans” about a million times. A brawl eventually led to a Dreamer and Bully Ray beat down of Styles and the incoming Christopher Daniels. By golly, it was chains, low blows, and piledrivers everywhere you looked!

With Styles banged up and the announcements of James Storm having a concussion and Kazarian a hurt back (I think Christopher Daniels was assigned a random injury, too) TNA wasted no time in burying Fortune, which is one of their more marketable brands. I’m not sure where they are going with this Disabled List angle, but as much as I thought the X Division title was expendable for Kaz, the Tag Team belts are now a must keep for Beer Money in order to keep the face faction relevant.

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I hinted at a potential program between Gunner and Eric Young for the TV title and TNA came through for me. Gunner finally caught up to and assaulted Young, who was in the middle of a fake photo shoot with Miss Tessmacher. Despite the controversial character Young plays, I still think the guy is gold in the ring and working with a muscle head heel like Gunner should make for a great series of matches for the midcard.

In Knockouts action, Velvet Sky pulled the upset in the handicap match against Winter and her slave puppet, Angelina Love. Velvet absolutely killed it, utilizing her trademark Beautiful People trash talk on offense and really selling the tandem beating when necessary. As Angelina hovered over a laid out Velvet, Velvet rolled her up for the surprise win but was quickly attacked by a returning heel version of ODB. ODB is a pretty fun character to watch, so hopefully TNA inked her for a substantial contract this time.

The not so good portion came when Tara, Mickie James, and Miss Tessmacher defeated the team of Sarita, Rosita, and Madison Rayne. This match was kind of a train wreck—neither Madison nor Mickie landed much in the way of any offense and when the ball was given to Tessmacher she looked completely uncoordinated in the ring. Tara carried the end of the match, delivering a couple of high impact slams on tiny Rosita for the win.

VERDICT. While Mick Foley may claim that wrestling matters now, we still only saw five matches, two of which were Knockouts and one that didn’t break the minute mark. Universal Studios wasn’t built in a day, so it’s probably going to take a couple of months for the promise of a new, energized product to grab us by the thoughts and tell us how different they are from the boys up north. This is what I’m hoping happens. However, we could easily see the demise of civilization and see someone like Eric Bischoff and his “karate robe” win a belt in the near future. Paul E. Dangerously, save us all. 6/10

Impact Wrestling 05-19-11 Results
ABYSS def. KAZARIAN for the X Division title, pinfall
VELVET SKY def. WINTER and ANGELINA LOVE in a handicap match, pinfall

Joe Leininger lives in Gainesville, FL and writes for The Playing Field and Destigeddon.

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Shocking Story on TNA Wrestling Working Conditions

April 18, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Shocking allegations about TNA Wrestling Working has a fascinating look at the inner workings of TNA Wrestling. This well documented report exposes TNA Wrestling as anything but the family friendly company that you would expect being run by a 46 year old mother of two.

Camel Clutch Blog contributor Brett Clendaniel alerted me of a very interesting article that has popped up online about TNA Wrestling and its working conditions. Ironically Tom just recently wrote a piece about TNA’s questionable working conditions here for Camel Clutch Blog. S. Bruce over at Cage Side Seats goes further, documenting a nine year history of working conditions that would make Kathie Lee Gifford proud.

I don’t want to re-write the entire article, but I do want to touch on a few major points of the piece. The piece documents numerous discrepancies between TNA’s policy in paying for their wrestler’s medical expenses and not. The article also documents the incredible differences in pay between men and women in the company and the hypocrisy of the company when it comes to working conditions. It is a heck of a piece and well worth going out of your way to read.

A few of the highlights that Mr. Bruce uncovers is for one, the settlement in the Konnan lawsuit. Former TNA star Konnan sued TNA Wrestling a few years back for racial discrimination and refusing to pay his medical bills. According to this article TNA actually settled with Konnan for a rumored $1 million (hope he paid back some of those donations) because of initial findings that the company did not want to get out.

Another big topic of the piece is the safety of the pro wrestlers in TNA Wrestling. According to the piece, Alex Shelley and Brian Kendrick were encouraged to perform a more high risk style, even though the company refuses to pay for most wrestlers’ medical bills. The company paid for Ron Killings’ surgery for an injury he received through a TNA booking and then demanded their money back, while the company reportedly paid for Scott Steiner’s surgery on the house. Dixie Carter allowed Eric Bischoff to pressure Rob Terry into taking an unprotected chair shot to the head, even though there is plenty of medical evidence pointing to chair shots to the head causing concussions. Angelina Love who is one of the biggest stars of the company says she worked a few days after receiving a concussion on a TNA show because she couldn’t afford time off. OSCHA, I think we have a problem.

The subject of pay is also brought up and whether the girls who wrestle in TNA are the victims of discrimination. The article points out that while the girls are consistently the highest ratings draw in the company, they are also some of the least paid girls on the roster. According to the piece, Awesome Kong was being paid $400 a match while Survivor star Johnny Fairplay made $300,000 for 40 minutes of work and Sting was being paid $10,000 per appearance. As unfair as that may sound, I don’t think the girls would have a case because I can almost bet Mickie James is making a nice nickel and Christy Hemme reportedly signed a $150,000 year contract a few years back. Sorry ladies.

One of the most humorous anecdotes and I am still laughing at this one goes back to the Voodoo Kin Mafia’s DX challenge a few years ago. To refresh your memories because if you are like me you barely remember what happened on TNA Impact last week, Brian Armstrong and Kip James issued a $1 million challenge to Triple H and Shawn Michaels to come to TNA and “fight them.” The kicker is that Dixie Carter allegedly set $1 million aside and was surprised that Degeneration X never showed up. Ah, to be a fly on the wall in Hogan and Bischoff’s office after a Dixie Carter booking meeting.

There is also a real interesting story regarding Ric Flair’s shenanigans a few weeks ago when he missed the bus on the European tour. According to the story, Flair told a friend that the company pressured Kurt Angle to stay on the tour after Kurt found out that his pregnant girlfriend went into labor and both she and the unborn baby were in serious danger. While Angle made it home in time, the company allegedly held him up from leaving which forced Kurt to arrive home much later than expected.

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Hey, it’s a horrible story but it was just last week that Kurt Angle announced on Twitter that he is re-signing with TNA Wrestling and that he loves Dixie Carter. If it doesn’t bother Kurt I guess it shouldn’t bother anyone, but the Nature Boy wasn’t very happy to say the least.

The article goes on and on and chronicles other issues like reported drug use within the company, harassment, drug testing, the road schedule, and a lot more. It is certainly a scathing piece and one of the most comprehensive looks at the inner workings of TNA Wrestling over the last nine years.

I will conclude by saying this. While I think a lot of what is reported in the story is terrible, nobody is holding a gun to anyone’s head to work there (although Vince Russo must have pictures on someone). At the end of the day everyone in TNA Wrestling knows what they are getting into when they step into the TNA rings and if they want to work under those conditions, I really don’t sympathize too much with them. I can’t imagine anyone in TNA Wrestling being surprised the next time they get injured and receive a medical bill or shocked that Sting makes more than them.

There are other options out there. What did Gail Kim, Ron Killings, and Awesome Kong do? They left the company. Only Kim had a deal in place when she left, as the other two just had enough. I guess the thought of losing $400 a week wasn’t too terrifying for Kong. Point being, that there are other options out there for pro wrestlers besides TNA. Even if the WWE isn’t an option, there are international and independent options. And believe it or not, there are other options other than being a pro wrestler. It may not be fair, but again you know what you are getting into when you join TNA.

The medical bills issue has been a point of contention for some time in TNA. The WWE does pay the medical bills of injured WWE superstars. However, I never understood why none of the professional wrestlers from either company went ahead and pursued insurance through AFTRA. Heck, you have the WWE now calling themselves entertainment television and TNA wrestlers are performing on television every week. There are people that make a living doing television extra work sitting in the background that get AFTRA insurance so why can’t a professional wrestler who puts in hours of television time per week?

The author of the piece sent TNA Wrestling a few emails for comments. He got a very quick response from Terry Taylor but nothing more. I think it would be to TNA Wrestling’s benefit to either a) respond to the story or b) acknowledge it and improve their working conditions. Keep in mind that this is not your average independent pro wrestling company here. This is a company funded by Panda Energy, a multi-million or even billion dollar energy company. Heck, they found $1 million to pay two WWE wrestlers that don’t even wrestle there!

If you don’t believe any of this and while the writer backs up all of his claims with citations, just check out what Hulk Hogan wrote last week after Edge retired. Keep in mind that Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff probably work closer with Dixie Carter than anyone else in the company. When he signed with the company, Dixie Carter referred to him as a partner.

WWE superstar Edge retired last week because he was told that if he wrestled again, he could be paralyzed. Like Edge or not, that is pretty serious stuff and it was enough for Edge to hang them up. This is how “Dixie’s assistant” Hulk Hogan responded to the news on Twitter.

if any of the guys like me,Flair,Hardy,Andre,AA,Blanchard,orndoff,Henning would have listened to doctors we would have quit15yrsago – @hulkhogan4real

I don’t know Edges working environment because they are a media company not a wrestling company. HH wrestlers work hurt! – @hulkhogan4real

What about Foley! I bet EDGE still wants to keep wrestling,he’s one of the boys big time!!! – @hulkhogan4real

Think there is any pressure in TNA to work hurt? “Wrestlers work hurt!” This coming from the guy who now has to walk around with rods in his back while Edge is planning on climbing Mount Everest.

Will any of these issues change? I think it will take more than a $1 million lawsuit by Konnan or an article online to do it. It is going to take a serious and I mean serious lawsuit from a current or former TNA star, an expose’ by a major news organization, public pressure on Panda Energy, a tragedy, or an outright revolt by the roster. Unless any of the above happens, as fans and viewers there isn’t much you can do. If you disagree with it, don’t watch and make your statement through your lack of business. If you do watch, enjoy it and remember that these guys and girls aren’t forced to be there.

I would also like readers to keep in mind that I am only commenting on what is in Cageside Seats’ article. I’d recommend heading over to their site and leaving a comment if you have any issue with specifics from their article. In other words, don’t kill the messenger.

Read the full article at Cageside Seats for citations and more fun about the wonderful world of TNA Wrestling.

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TNA iMPACT! Results & Report 03-17-11

March 18, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Immortals confront Sting on ImpactAfter the Jeff Hardy debacle at Victory Road Sunday, I was really expecting TNA to put on an excellent show in the face of adversity and criticism. In case you weren’t one of the handful of people who watched the potentially great PPV, Hardy was nearly incapacitated to the point that he had to be held up on each arm right before coming out for his Heavyweight title match against Sting in the main event. He stumbled to the ring, almost tripped twice, got into altercations with fans, saw more in-ring action with his t-shirt than Sting, and was eventually pinned in a mere 90 seconds without landing an offensive move.

Once again, that was the main event at their pay-per-view, a show that ended a good 20 minutes before the three hour mark and saw the other high profile match, Rob Van Dam and Mr. Anderson, end in a double count out. Many people speculated about Hardy’s drug use, conditioning, and overall commitment to the sport, but whatever it was it led to Hardy being sent home for all three Impact tapings this week. Ouch.

So what could TNA do to make up for such a blunder? I mean, not too many people see the PPV’s anyway; Impact, however, remains the top rated show on SPIKE, so an explosive show with coherency and PPV-worthy matches should cure what ails them. It’s just too bad this show was a load of crap served on the plate Hardy uses to bump lines off of day in and day out.

STING OPENING. This was one of the silliest, most contrived openings I’ve seen in a while. Hey, did ya check out wrestling to take a break from March Madness or that tumbler of green colored Miller Lite? Switch back to UCLA-Michigan State now, because it’s about to get lame. Sting is the first out, showing off a new Heavyweight title and limply carrying the old Immortal title (that’s three different TNA belts since September, people). The champ demands that Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan join him ringside and they oblige.

The only redeeming part of this segment was the frank discussion about Jeff Hardy letting down Immortal on Sunday. Even though Bischoff spun it to sound like Hardy just had his worst, unluckiest match of all time, it was clearly an analogy for Hardy’s shortcomings behind the curtain, and all three guys justifiably teed off on the former champ. Hogan even showed his sense of humor, telling Sting, “put that in your Stinger pipe and smoke it!”

After the Hardy roast, for no apparent reason Bully Ray came out and demanded a title shot from Sting. This prompted AJ Styles and the rest of Fortune, followed by Mr. Anderson and his best Jim Carey impression, with all parties once again demanding a title shot. Like tossing a bunch of random ingredients into a crock pot, tonight’s main event came together swell—Styles, Ray, Rob Van Dam, and Anderson in a 4-way for the No. 1 Contender spot.

MADISON RAYNE vs. ALYSSA FLASH. I think they said the girl’s name was “Alyssa Flash” but you wouldn’t know otherwise because Madison came out to ambush her as she was coming down the ramp, threw a couple of punches and landed the Rain Drop, winning in a cool 20 seconds. As expected, Mickie James came out to the ring and demanded a title shot at Lockdown. Madison counters with a brilliant point about her being something like 76-0 against Mickie at TNA, so why would she deserve the match? Rayne explicitly stated that she wants Mickie’s head—more precisely, her hair. So, if Mickie loses, she’ll have her head shaved by Madison at Lockdown. As much as I love Madison, that’s just gross. Cool match TNA, now Alyssa, go back to selling Abyss masks at the merch table.

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THE POPE HEALER. In a more blatant attempt to become more heel, The Pope holds a healing ceremony and it features a blind man, a cripple, and a comically obese woman, replete with fat suit. Although this made me chuckle a couple of times, it was still gratingly corny and surprisingly ended when Samoa Joe crashed the party with Okada. Pope gained the upper hand, kidnapped Okada and tortured him backstage until Joe found them and made the save. Man, those guys are always meddling in each other’s business. They should probably settle this in a steel cage, huh, Russo?

JARRETTS IN RING. Jeff and Karen arrive and say they want to extend the olive branch to Kurt Angle after these past few turbulent months. In an event so shocking that you have to change your pants, Angle comes out with present in tow, revealing it to be a guitar. Said guitar is then smashed over Jeff’s head and he is bleeding everywhere! Clean up on aisle snore. Later, Karen would freak out and demand that Kurt be arrested.

GUNNER vs. MURPHY vs. ROB TERRY. Bischoff set up this match as a triple threat to fill the vacant TV title, last held by a very MIA Abyss. How bad has this episode been so far? This is the first men’s match and we are 75 minutes into the program. Sheesh. This match was also extremely short, ending with Gunner’s sweet overhead slam on Murphy to win the belt. I’ll give ‘em credit here…this match was so out of left field that it worked, possibly vaulting Gunner as a legitimate lunatic heel (he bent down and grasped the belt with his mouth like a dog).

HERNANDEZ, SARITA, and ROSITA vs. MATT MORGAN, ANGELINA LOVE, and WINTER. Grrr, street fight! Jeans! Mexicans! This match had it all! Dying to hear Hernandez cut a sociology-driven promo in the ring? In stock. In desperate need of another two-minute, house fire of a match? Got ya covered. Yearning to find out what four-foot-nothin’ Rosita would look like wrestling against the seven footer, Matt Morgan? Sorry, get a rain check. Winter ended up pinning Rosita, but the team’s celebration was cut short when a plant jumped the ring to assist Hernandez in what I hope Russo dubs The Mexi-vasion.

AJ STYLES vs. ROB VAN DAM vs. BULLY RAY vs. MR. ANDERSON. Star power was bountiful in this first pin four-way main event, but it just started off sloppy. Styles even tried the classic move steal by attempting the monkey flip, but to no avail. At one point, each guy hits another with a signature move and goes for the pin attempt. This was one of the better executed moments of the night, but it’s still horribly predictable as nothing more than space filler. Eventually, referee Earl Hebner saw both Anderson and RVD lying down, just kind of next to each other and decided to count a pin for no one in particular. My brother and I put on more coherent endings to matches in our living room as kids.

Because he wants people to know he’s a dick, Bully Ray smashes both Hebner and ring announcer Jeremy Borash over the head before turning his attention to Styles, who he eventually beats down thanks to an assist from Ric Flair. Flair then coerced Ray to hit Styles with a Bubba Bomb, dropping from the stage onto a table down below.

Then this stuff happened: Styles is being treated by EMTs while Ray celebrates and wants more of a lifeless AJ…the producers show almost TWENTY replays of the bomb, even while selling that someone potentially broke their neck…there is still no definitive number one contender, while I mumble something about throwing Eric Young’s name into the fold (hire me, Dixie)…while AJ is being lifted into the ambulance, Kaz gets into his car and on his phone, clearly distressed. That last part was so random and out of place, it almost makes me think that Kaz is some sort of Immortal mole, something I’d have to see to believe. While I would vehemently hate the idea, I wouldn’t put it past creative to pull a swerve like that.

VERDICT. Annnnd, that was the show. I think we saw a grand total of 12 minutes of wrestling, which couldn’t hold a candle to that last 15 minutes of awkward post-Ray clean-up. This was TNA’s chance to right the ship after an abysmal PPV, but we were treated to nothing better than the cutting room scraps. Perhaps it was already waiving the weekly white flag in the face of NCAA basketball, or perhaps this was just a sign of things to come. Whatever it was, I can guarantee you that WWE’s The Miz wouldn’t come close to calling it “awesome.” 2/10

Joe Leininger lives in Gainesville, FL and writes for The Playing Field and Destigeddon.

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TNA iMPACT! Results and Report 01-27-11

January 28, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Scott Steiner returned to TNA iMPACT with a vengeanceWow, TNA. After a couple of mailed in showings, you guys really bounced back nice with a soothing blend of unpredictability and a hint of ridiculousness. You not only gave us the back and forth matches that loyal TNA fans deserve, but also a shocker (to me, at least) ending.

KURT ANGLE IN RING OPENING. A bit of a rough start as Angle comes out, only to be interrupted by all 40 guys in Immortal, who rush the ring in typical Foot Clan fashion. Fortunately, Crimson comes out to somewhat even the score with a 2×4, scaring Immortal away. Immortal’s disruptive ways are getting stale fast, but what really surprised me was Ric Flair’s on point rant. He turned bright red, his veins popped, and he was on the verge of belligerent before calling Crimson “dumbass” about four times. That’s about the right level of crazy I like my Flair. Too bad for Ric he may have worn out his welcome in TNA—for more on that, read Eric’s thoughts on his recent antics.

SARITA, TARA, and MADISON RAYNE vs. MICKIE JAMES, VELVET SKY, and ANGELINA LOVE. This match is elimination style rules, and thank you for that. This is one of the best gimmicks in wrestling, so why have the big boys in wrestling run away from it? I was reading up on last year’s Survivor Series and the WWE only scheduled one Survivor Series-style match, it being a mid-card to boot. Anyway, we were treated to a pretty lengthy match this time, which surprisingly saw both Madison and Mickie eliminated early. There were some rough patches, for sure, but Angelina eventually scored the win after overcoming Sarita and a hapless Tara. Afterwards, Velvet is seen backstage holding her head, and all signs point to a jealous Winter as the assailant.

PROMOS. Kurt Angle is shown in his locker room, talking to someone about having his back later tonight. This should be good, considering the recent payrolls slashes the Carters have made and the opportunity to bring in cheap talent like ROH’s El Generico. After the break, Matt Hardy came on and cut a dreadful promo, threatening Mr. Anderson and talking about their match later tonight. What a haphazard investment-at this point, give the mic to Gunner or Murphy over this clown.

AMAZING RED vs. MAX BUCK vs. CHRIS SABIN. This match could have been so much more exciting, but it’s still ran circles around anything Jeff Jarrett or Abyss have done in months. This is the first of three matches to determine a No. 1 Contender for Kazarian’s X Division belt, who ended up being fairly amusing on the broadcast with Tenay and Taz. The producers threw us something new to chew on, as each wrestler coming to the ring cut a mini-promo that was shown picture-in-picture during their entrances. Nothing said was prophetic, but I really appreciate the curve ball.

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In the end, Max Buck took the win, thanks in large part to interference run by his partner, Jeremy Buck. It was good to see the slightly older Red put over the other guys, but his arsenal seemed stunted and buried. Also, this no doubt means that we know Alex Shelley will win one of the other two qualifying matches, with Robbie E or Jay Lethal taking the other spot. Unless the writers have plans to have Jeremy winning, leading to a potential X Division schism between Generation Me. I’m in favor of the latter.

JEFF JARRETT and KAREN BACKSTAGE. Nice little package to add on to Jarrett’s heel persona. Everything from him inquiring about his wife receiving half of Angle Foods to Jarrett getting fresh with Karen and demanding a shoulder rub provided us more reason to dislike Double J. Nothing like good old spousal abuse to get the blood running.

JEFF HARDY and MR. ANDERSON IN RING. Hardy comes out looking full blown ‘emo’ and delivers an angry rant that never quite settled. My guess is somewhere around that taping is when the realization sunk in that he is probably going to jail. While I don’t blame him, he was by no means entertaining nor did he legitimize the title match he is about to receive next week. Luckily, Mr. Anderson and his superb mic skills killed all the negativity Hardy brought to the table. Anderson is slowly getting better in the ring and his peripherals are among the best I see in wrestling today, so don’t be surprised if when his TNA contract is up, the boys up north blow up his phone.

VELVET SKY and WINTER IN RING. Velvet comes to ring, clearly upset and calls out Winter, who comes out and destroys the Beautiful People member. Not much to see here, but Angelina comes out to separate to two, while the crowd laughably chants “she’s a screamer!” I like Winter’s character—she often goes into banshee mode and does it ten times better than Madison Rayne. Bonus points for extended Knockouts action, which could lead to two Knockouts matches at February’s Against All Odds.

POPE IN RING. The Pope comes out and more or less says that he doesn’t like Samoa Joe. Hmm, nice development in the riveting Pope/Joe feud, TNA. This was definitely prime time to grab a beer, but at least Pope wasn’t subjecting us to his sophomoric humor.

IMMORTAL BACKSTAGE. What, more Immortal? It should be said at this point that Flair arranged a match featuring Angle and Crimson against every healthy member of the evil faction. So, as cohesive teams are wont to do, they huddle up to rally spirits, only Eric Young is there to join in. More crazy Eric Young moments like these, please, but at this point I am just feeling bad for the guy. What could he have possibly done to incur the wrath of a mentally challenged character as punishment? If it was punishment, that’s too bad; it’s working well on a comedic level (supplemental reading: Perry Saturn falling in love with a mop and why you shouldn’t piss off your boss).

DIXIE CARTER ON THE PHONE. For something that they promoted during the run down this was a huge disappointment. Carter joined us via phone for no more than 30 seconds and told us all what we could have safely assumed: by God, she’s going to take back control of this company, and those knuckleheads Bischoff and Hogan will pay. Next time, guys, don’t even bother.

MATT HARDY vs. MR. ANDERSON. This was predictably awful and awfully predictable. Not only can Hardy no longer convince us on the mic but he is mind-numbingly slow in the ring. Whereas Anderson brought Jeff Hardy up earlier, Matt Hardy tore down Anderson and brought him to his bloated level. Anderson would end up winning after a slow developing cradle, and of course Jeff Hardy came down to attack the champion. Rob Van Dam would even the score, but this was a throwaway.

KURT ANGLE and CRIMSON vs. IMMORTAL. Main event time and there is about eight minutes left so you know this is going to be one of those crash and burn matches. Seriously, what else would you expect from a 6-on-2 match? Crimson looked great and showed promise as a legit star for the company, but the match halted when James Storm “accidentally” super kicked the ref in the face. Bedlam broke loose soon enough it was nine or ten guys beating up Angle and Crimson. Cue Matt Morgan, who was also quickly detained. All of a sudden, the lights vanish and a police siren is heard….Scott Steiner appears with lead pipe in hand and chases the whole gang from ringside, clearly with some vendetta against any number of the members of Immortal.

VERDICT. While I enjoy the brand name of Scott Steiner, I wasn’t familiar with any of work after his late 90’s departure from WCW. I know he had a somewhat successful tenure in TNA before, so what did everyone think of the surprise ending? Without seeing his recent work, I still yearn for someone a bit younger, but maybe that promise will be fulfilled with Crimson. The writing tonight was on par with what TNA should strive to be—a smaller company that utilizes the element of surprise and splices it with in-ring results that aren’t the status quo. It wasn’t perfect, as evidenced by Mike Tenay and Taz, for whatever reason, patronizing us by reporting and reviewing the very thing we saw not ten minutes ago.

BONUS POINT: That group of girls in the front row that have seemingly become Impact Zone “regulars.” Good looking girls…who love TNA…and show up for every taping? How bizarre. Tonight gets a 7/10.

Joe Leininger is based out of Gainesville, FL and writes on The Playing Field.

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TNA iMPACT! Results and Report 01-13-11

January 14, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Val Venis does not like Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, or Hurricane HelmsThis week’s TNA iMPACTt! set the stage for two monster storylines right off the bat-the fallout from Mr. Anderson’s surprise victory over Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Heavyweight title and the conclusion of Jeff Jarrett’s underwhelming MMA angle.

OPENING SEGMENT. The broadcast opens with a bright-eyed Jeff Jarrett stepping out of a limo with his wife, Karen Jarrett, in tow. At this point I will take anything other than those lame and disjointed MMA exhibitions that someone in TNA corporate thinks is cool. Cut to the Impact Zone and we are treated with a well-deserved Mr. Anderson promo, his first since winning the TNA title on Sunday.

There were some high parts of the segment, including Anderson ranting about his stint in WWE and how he was asked to tone down his quirkiness at times. One particularly weak moment worth mentioning was when Anderson said the name Bischoff and he had to wait a couple of seconds for the seemingly tired crowd to begin jeering. Matt Morgan came out to claim a good chunk of Anderson’s victory, which made little to no sense. At TNA Genesis on Sunday, Morgan and Anderson wailed on each other for a good 15-20 minutes, and the only damage Morgan did to Hardy during the title match was clothesline him. Weak angle, TNA.

At some point, Eric Bischoff came out and announced a rematch between Hardy and Anderson for the belt on February 3rd at Impact!. Later, Jeff Hardy came on the big screen to talk his noise, but was quite rudely interrupted by Rob Van Dam planting a flying forearm across his dome. Cue Anderson, Matt Hardy, and the rest of Immortal to brawl backstage and you have an opening segment that’s way too long. At these Impact! tapings right after PPV’s, wouldn’t it serve TNA to start the night with a match right off the bat and have the announcers do a mini-recap of the PPV during the match? Mike Tenay and Taz already banter enough as it is about pigeons and whatnot; can’t they at least let us know who won that surprise match between Matt Hardy and RVD, or what the result of that clash between Bully Ray and Brother Devon was?

BEER MONEY Vs. MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS. Finally, wrestling, and a title match to boot. A rematch from Genesis, Motor City showed why they are still the best tag team in TNA, but not before cutting a quick Q-n-A right before the match started. In it, Alex Shelley dropped a reference to getting kicked in the mouth by his teammate, essentially costing them the belts. Sure enough, after a well scripted match between the two, Shelley accidentally returned the favor on partner Chris Sabin and delivered a superkick to Sabin’s face, leading to a Beer Money victory.

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The Pope comes out next to gather some cheap heat from Samoa Joe, who has been “spying” on Pope and claiming donated money has been going to strip clubs and gambling. The Pope rambles on about this and that before directing fans to the “Dixie-tron” (nice) and telling us he caught Joe and his wife making love, and up pops two rhinos mating. His second joke isn’t even worth mentioning, because it all but killed the humor of the first gag. Overall, this was still eons more thought out than Kazarian’s deplorable bit on Jay Lethal’s family two weeks back.

RVD and KEN ANDERSON BACKSTAGE. Throughout the evening, Rob Van Dam and Mr. Anderson had been pacing through the backstage in preparation for their tag team match against the Hardys later that night. They ended up finding Beer Money in their locker room and pulled off a somewhat comical bit where the door slammed shut and all we could hear was RVD and Anderson beating the crap out of the tag team. Good stuff.

JEFF JARRETT – KURT ANGLE SHOWDOWN. Didn’t Jarrett promise a ceremony at Genesis? As per most of the stuff Jarrett has been involved with lately, this was a waste of time. Jarrett and his Goon Squad come out to introduce his wife Karen, but when the music drops Kurt appears and demolishes all SIX guys on Team Jarrett. Before Angle can reach his target, Karen Jarrett comes out to tell us how big of a jerk Kurt is and that we will hear “her side of the story”…next week. This lame teaser and Karen’s horrible acting skills only compound my frustration over this angle. I could really care less what she has to say next week, but I’ll be damned if she didn’t look amazing in that dress.

ANGELINA LOVE and WINTER Vs. MADISON RAYNE and TARA. In other words, two-thirds of the Knockouts fighting for two of the three belts available. In what could be a volatile situation, Love’s other partner Velvet Sky, expressed her concern over Love’s relationship with Winter, which more or less came off as jealousy. You didn’t take much from this match other than that the writers continued to develop Winter’s insane personality, capped off by a sweet sleeper hold applied to Tara after Mickie James chased off Madison. By the way, this was the second match of the evening, a whopping hour and twelve minutes into the two hour show.

ABYSS with RIC FLAIR Vs. MATT MORGAN. You know right away any match with Abyss is going to be slow, so WHY IN THE HELL would you put him up against the only guy bigger than him? Snore. Morgan wins after a Carbon Footprint, but in typical TNA fashion Immortal storms the ring to beat up Morgan. Also, why do the announcers keep referring to Rob Terry as the Immortal enforcer? Isn’t that what Abyss is for?

HARDY BROTHERS and CRIMSON PROMOS. This is worth noting-before the Abyss match, Matt and Jeff cut a promo behind a chain link fence and dropped this one-liner: “our bloodline…is immortal!” Wow, fellas, you write that yourselves? After the Abyss match, the Monster is attacked by a figure who calls himself Crimson, but we recognize him as the wrestler who portrayed Amazing Red’s younger brother a couple weeks back. He tells Abyss that “They” are coming. My bold prediction: a faction of only red-headed wrestlers called “The Ginger Dead Men.” C’mon, TNA, do it.

ROB VAN DAM and KEN ANDERSON Vs. MATT and JEFF HARDY. On paper this would seem like a solid match, but before the match even starts Anderson is busted open and Matt Hardy just…is. He looks terrible and these two no longer have the cohesion that we were used to in the late 90’s. For a main event, this was disappointing. The short bout was interrupted by yet more Immortal guys coming to the ring to attack RVD and Anderson. What the hell, are these guys breeding or something?

VERDICT. 5/10. Four matches in two hours! Step it up, TNA. Television, especially Thursdays, has been getting real good lately and episodes like these are how you lose viewers.

Joe Leininger is based out of Gainesville, FL and writes on The Playing Field.

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