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TNA iMPACT! Results & Report 04-07-11

April 08, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Sting is heading to TNA LockDown 2011For the first time in several weeks, TNA Impact delivered a well written, intriguing, and coherent story line to bolster their headline angle between Heavyweight champion Sting and challengers Mr. Anderson and Rob Van Dam.

Throughout the first hour of the show, Anderson was finding letters strewn about the Impact Zone, telling of his certain demise and allegedly signed by Sting himself. As Mr. Anderson frantically paced the halls with a lead pipe looking for the champ, he would have comical encounters with the likes of Eric Young and Orlando Jordan, who directed him to duh, the rafters. Alas, it was RVD waiting for Anderson, who received the beating of a lifetime from The Whole F’N Show.

Real Sting, as opposed to Bogus Sting, RVD dressed up as Sting, or Fields of Gold Sting, hit the ring and demanded an apology from RVD for desecrating his good name with these shenanigans. This led to Immortal’s Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan calling for a main event between RVD and Sting, while Hogan later came through with Anderson’s wish to be the referee in that match.

Had they just left this story as is, I would have been fine. The psychology of Mr. Anderson spiraling into the anti-hero role was such an improvement that I hardly considered the tease of Anderson joining the ranks of Immortal to be the icing on the cake. Sure enough, though, Mike Tenay commented on Anderson having an uneasy alliance with Hogan and Bischoff before the main event, and that’s when I figured Anderson was switching over for good.

Or was he? The Sting-RVD match was disappointingly short, but ended when Anderson broke up a Sting finisher to deliver a Mic Check to the champ, allowing RVD to hit his Five Star Frog Splash for the win. Not soon after, Anderson grabbed the belt and planted it over RVD’s head, prompting Immortal’s goons Rob Terry and Murphy to come out as the welcoming committee and hoist the villainous ref over their shoulders. Whether the next minute played more toward his volatile, unpredictable side or his combative, moral side, Anderson basically told Immortal to shove it by lead piping both Terry and Murphy before telling Hogan, “you’re next!”

Tonight’s chapter that will eventually lead up to the title match at Lockdown between Sting, Anderson, and RVD made strides to advance the story but also may weaken the eventual showdown due to the lack of a definitive heel. I’m not complaining all that much—the past several weeks of mailed in openers leading to overstuffed matches and empty threats had my feelings toward the product near an all time low—but in a way the lack of Jeff Hardy‘s larger than life heel persona has to be somewhat filled by a guy who the fans adore, which can cause creative problems. That said, this could also be a good thing—RVD’s legitimate gripe of never losing the title combined with Mr. Anderson’s undying quest for a rematch tell me that one of them will take the belt off a place holding Sting at Lockdown…I just don’t know which one yet.

Another part of this story that they are really pushing is the network’s increasing involvement in match scheduling, much to the dismay of Hogan and Bischoff, who themselves are really coming into those overbearing, evil authority figures that ruled the nWo in the 90’s. When Hogan told Eric that “he doesn’t know the front office side of the business like you [Eric],” it really struck me as a turning point for the duo. With Immortal’s wrestlers clearly being the less talented of the bunch, TNA knows it’s going to have lean heavily on the shady booking and shifty personalities of both Hogan and Bischoff if they want any shot at convincing us that they are the top heel faction in the company.

THE OTHER STUFF

One of the earlier matches that caught my eye was the 3-on-3 X Division tag match pitting Generation Me and Robbie E against Brian Kendrick, Chris Saban, and Suicide. When the Motor City music hit, I became overly excited thinking the electric tag team was back in action, but alas, Alex Shelley must still be injured. His replacement, Suicide, really carried most of the match, starting on offense and later jobbing to the other team, particularly the in sync Gen Me boys. Toward the end of what was the longest match of the night, Brian Kendrick came in and lit everyone up with kicks before the Bucks took control. If you’ve been following Generation Me in the past few weeks, you could tell this was all a work to eventually have them fighting, ending in Max delivering a brutal top rope hanging DDT on his brother, Jeremy. Kendrick cleaned up the wreckage and pinned Jeremy for the win.

The six-man tag was also announced as somewhat of a preview to a nine-man X Division “Escape the Cage” match at Lockdown. While nothing on television is official yet, I can only assume the match will feature these six guys, as well as the returning Alex Shelley, Douglas Williams (assuming he doesn’t compete in the 4-way tag match), and Jay Lethal. Even though X Division champion Kazarian will be tied up in the Lethal Lockdown match, this free for all should still be one of the better bouts on the card.

Bully Ray and Chris Daniels also met in what could be the first chapter in a long, heated feud. Having not seen Daniels in action before, I was quite impressed with his move set and ability to take those devastating chest slaps from Ray. The crowd was really into this match from the start, and Daniels’ finisher, Best Moonsault Ever, put the finishing touches on a great exhibition, until a member of Immortal yanked the ref from the ring, breaking the three count. During the distraction, Hulk Hogan snuck up and nailed Daniels in the head with a thick chain, giving Bully Ray the easy win. Bonus points for the writing of this Lumberjack match—I would have bet my car that Daniels would have found a way to win in his first match in over a year.

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Luckily, the ensuing Jeff Jarrett segment was short and sweet. He started to encase himself inside the ring while the steel cage was being assembled, taking shots at Angle’s storyline restraining order arrest (as opposed to his very real, three sheets to the wind arrest a couple weeks back). I actually found Jarrett quite amusing this week, dropping lines about him and Karen both agreeing that the kids shouldn’t visit Kurt in jail due to his thuggish ways, and how they are better off around him, the “ultra-male.” While I usually find Jarrett annoying and abusive of his front office clout, I will give him credit in completely running with his characters. The fun and games ceased when Angle ziplined into the now enclosed ring, but Jarrett slithered out of harm’s way just in the nick of time.

The opening match was the first official televised debut of the newly named Mexican America tag team, consisting of Hernandez and newcomer Anarchia. Their match against Tommy Dreamer and Devon was short lived, coming to a halt when Rosita ran interference and allowed Anarchia to use a chair on the outside, leading to a win. As MA continued to beat down their opponents under the gaze of a hanging, oversized Mexican flag, Matt Morgan made the save. While I’m kind of over the Morgan-Hernandez feud, I’d love to see Mexican America thrive as the successful foreigner heels, possibly against Beer Money for tag team gold.

I’d never thought I bring this up, but the Knockouts stuff has been pretty watchable as of late. In the ring, Rosita and Sarita defended their tag titles against The Beautiful People, thanks to Winter still having a spell over Angelina, who turned on Velvet Sky at Winter’s command, costing the BP’s the match. One of the funnier scenes was when Velvet had to actually help a confused, zonked out Angelina to the ring, which also prompted Mike Tenay to report in a most professional manner that there’s “no real chance to let the pigeons loose.”

Meanwhile, in the bowels of Universal Studios Madison Rayne demanded Tara performed a hit and run with her motorcycle on Mickie James. I doubt this is a cover to excuse Mickie from the match due to her legitimate arm injury, but I wouldn’t put it past TNA to call an audible, have Tara break away from Madison’s controlling ways and challenge her for the belt at TNA Lockdown 2011.

In the lamest match coincides with the worst angle category (I’m pretty sure that’s how hurricanes are formed), Samoa Joe tapped out Murphy in under a minute while The Pope was on commentary. Joe goes after Pope, Pope bailed, end scene. At least…Murphy got some playing time? Yeah, that’s what I’ll go with.

VERDICT. As I said, the Mr. Anderson story and subsequent Immortal tease was out of sight tonight. Combined with solid performances by Chris Daniels, Mexican America, and most of the X Division guys, I’m calling this show a winner. My one complaint would be match length…the first three matches probably took all of about six minutes to complete. Other than that, this episode did a lot in selling me on Lockdown on April 17th, which up until now looked like mid-season gimmick filler. 8/10.

TNA Impact April 7 Results:
Mexican America def. Tommy Dreamer and Devon, pinfall
Samoa Joe def. Murphy, submission
Sarita and Rosita (Champs) def. The Beautiful People, pinfall
Brian Kendrick, Chris Saban, and Suicide def. Generation Me and Robbie E., pinfall
Bully Ray def. Christopher Daniels, pinfall
Rob Van Dam def. Sting, pinfall, non title match

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

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TNA Wrestling One Year Progress Report

March 07, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Before March 2010 if you told me something was happening on TNA, I would have responded, “isn’t that that low rent wrestling on SPIKE that looks like a game show?” That’s probably because for eight long years I never once tuned into Jeff Jarrett‘s second-tier wrestling promotion, but was hooked with the impending publicity of the return of the Immortal Hulk Hogan and the return of live wrestling on Monday night.

I wanted this article to be about the dumb brilliance that was showcased on Impact from Fayetteville, NC and how it represented the little things that TNA Wrestling does right. Instead, we were treated to a taped, bumbling program with fleeting “celebrities,” predictable spots, and an overall product that was just, well…dumb.

Thursday was supposed to be the groundbreaking episode of Impact—the New York Jets’ Bart Scott, Jersey Shore cast member Angelina, and a surprise guest marked by an ominous 3.3.11 vignette to all make impacts on a rare non-Orlando taping of the show. Hours later, ESPN was dissecting Scott’s involvement in the hazardous profession, bevies of wrestling sites were talking about a now 52-year-old Sting winning the TNA title, and no one gave two cents about Angelina. I’m not sure if that last fact is a good or bad thing for the company.

Plain and simple, the Angelina segment was atrocious. Angelina, along with Robbie E and Cookie, came out to confront the Beautiful People and gave this rambling, hackneyed diatribe about wanting to challenge current Jersey Shore member J Woww to a fight on Impact next week. Early reports said she was having cocktails before her segment, which is now totally believable considering she talked like she had never seen a microphone before.

The Bart Scott segments were interesting, but they inevitably succumb to shoddy writing in the Jeff Jarrett/Kurt Angle feud. While Scott didn’t say much, he did get to interact with guys like Hulk Hogan, Matt Hardy, and other members of Immortal, pulling off the whole “hired muscle” gig pretty well. It just sucks that the Jarrett vow ceremony was catatonically predictable…no, seriously, I actually dozed off and awoke to Sting in a bedazzled trench coat and red and white face paint.

In case your toddler couldn’t piece this out, Kurt Angle, being forced to walk his ex-wife Karen down the aisle, wasn’t going to stand for that nonsense one bit and totally smashed the cake and obliterated the ceremony set with an axe! Hold the phone, chief…Kurt seems like a reasonable, level-headed guy. You mean to tell me he was upset that he was being forced to walk his harlot of an ex-wife down the aisle, in a faux ceremony, to renew vows with a colleague he doesn’t care for?

I had someone tell me that TNA did something very similar with a wedding between Jay Lethal and ring attendant So Cal Val a couple of years ago. I guess this doesn’t surprise me the least bit—I mean, axe violence sells, right? Honestly, I wish Angle would have bided his time or played mind games with the couple, complete with the psychotic gaze of a scheming ex. I truly am sorry, Bart.

The rest of the show was riddled with sideshows and slow matches. Scott Steiner defeated Rob Terry, Hernandez and Matt Morgan ended in a count out while some MMA fighter tried his damnedest on commentary to say one thing insightful about the match, Gunner and Murphy were squashed by Beer Money for the tag titles, and Hulk Hogan dropped a line that had me do a double take and press that rewind button on the DVR.

During one of the 8,000 promos on the show, Hulk was talking to someone on the phone about the impending Jeff Hardy TNA title match against the mystery opponent later tonight. It was implied that he was talking to one of the TNA brass about SPIKE, and flat out said that big surprises don’t equal ratings, which in turn do not equal money.

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Uh, Hulk, how are those 10,000 PPV buys doing for you and Dixie Carter? How are the house shows, that at one point were drawing somewhere around 300 people, pulling in that cold, hard, green stuff?

These abysmal facts remind me that, while I still find certain aspects charming, the product as a whole alienates outside viewers, demeans younger talent, and still thinks it’s the 90’s and wrestling is the cash crop of the South. Listed are a few things I definitely think TNA should work on to boast those ratings and money things Hulk was so casually talking about.

TNA IMPACT SHOULD BE LIVE. Even if the early 2010 shows didn’t get great ratings, it takes a little while for new fans to get accustomed to your brand. Thursday should have been the last straw; for Hardy to drop the belt to Sting on a taped telecast is laughable and grounds for a new business model. TNA could still capitalize on their house shows if they tape live on Thursday, and then have next week’s Impact tape the following day. This means every other Impact would be live and they would still have two full weeks to tour, promote, and rest. These live shows are where the big turns, title changes, and new arrivals should happen.

YOU’RE NOT WWE, DON’T TRY TO BE. It’s fair to think that because TNA is second fiddle to WWE that they should be comparable, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The WWE is a global phenomenon that breaches the worlds of cinema, music, and mainstream sports. Vince McMahon brought his brand of entertainment to network television, gobbled up every territory and competitor, and created a monopoly Bill Gates could appreciate. For all intents and purposes, TNA is a taped, Universal Studios version of a violent Double Dare. Shows are taped in front of a studio audience and packaged back to us on cable. The wrestlers aren’t compensated well, and in some cases have to pay for their own flights and lodging.

I don’t have a problem with the independent feel of the company, but the truth is that TNA is financed by a large energy conglomerate, buys up aging wrestlers with name recognition, and valiantly strives for the “wrasslin” of WWE, when it should be trying to be it’s own brand with it’s own specialties (too bad the X Division is MIA). I bet if independent companies such as Chikara and Ring of Honor had the money TNA plays around with, they wouldn’t waste it on slugs like Matt Hardy and various reality show rejects.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD, DAMMIT. For some odd reason, TNA writes in that someone’s forehead will be busted open worse than a Christmas chestnut on a regular basis. Whether you call it blading or juicing, it should remain a thing of the past. If used sparingly, a guy gushing crimson can add an exciting, enthralling element to a match, representing the absolute brutality of worked feud. But when guys are cutting themselves up almost every show it’s just cheap and disgusting, and it was no more evident than in the Knockouts division when a wrestler named Roxxi tore open her forehead and wrestled Madison Rayne for a good seven minutes, drenched in blood. Come on, TNA, Sean Waltman and his Hepatitis C thinks that is vile.

TWO HOURS AIN’T CUTTIN’ IT. I’m not going to suggest bringing back Reaction in its previous format, but TNA really needs some more American air time. They have a supplemental show, Xplosion, but that’s only broadcast overseas and nothing really important ever happens on it, save for Eric Young banging his head and creating a new character with a couple of screws loose.

What I would suggest is to bring back a third hour, but disguise the exact time when the broadcast ends and the recap show begins. Too often main events are squished into ten minute forays of bad acting and predictable endings, when in reality Spike would stand to gain from extra programming that could see Impact last its normal two hours and five minutes or go for two and a half hours. Reaction can be a great promotion vehicle, but an hour of it every week was a bit grating. Which brings me to my next point…

ANOTHER TNA PAY PER VIEW ALREADY?!. I don’t know if prices are universal, but Cox cable charges me $34.95 USD per TNA PPV…all twelve of them suckers. This is a lot to ask of fans who can barely follow the patchwork storylines crammed into three or four weeks of action. It’s embarrassing when Beer Money is out of teams to wrestle for the tag teams belts, so you have to have Ink Inc. come out on stage and in a mere two minutes of talking you have a match at the next PPV. People aren’t buying and I don’t blame them; either lower the price or only have six PPV events a year. I’m in favor of the latter—it allows for more complex storylines and genuine payoff for a fan to finally see which main event wrestler will come out on top. With the right promotion, timely rivalries, and specific dates, I believe TNA could achieve more buy rates for one PPV every two months than two throwaways every month.

While all of this is from a fan’s perspective, it should really hit home with TNA that guys like Scott Steiner are airing their grievances on Twitter with stuff like this: “On the road -did Tv tapings in Fayetteville NC on thursday-TNA needs to go live on Thursdays.”

For a company that is in grave need of much younger talent, it says a lot when an example of an entirely different problem is exposing the root of another.

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

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