As of Friday morning, ImpactWrestling.com 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
If 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.
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
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.
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.
As 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.
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
In 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.
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
TARA, MICKIE JAMES, and MISS TESSMACHER def. ROSITA, SARITA, and MADISON RAYNE, pinfall
ABYSS def. KAZARIAN for the X Division title, pinfall
SAMOA JOE def. AMAZING RED, pinfall
ERIC BISCHOFF and MATT HARDY def. GENERATION ME, pinfall
VELVET SKY def. WINTER and ANGELINA LOVE in a handicap match, pinfall
CagesideSeats.com 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.
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.
After 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.
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