In the second episode of TNA’s newly crowned Impact Wrestling, where “wrestling matters again,” fans were treated to six mediocre matches, a talk show segment, and an in ring Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan Tour de Force that almost took twenty minutes. Believe it or not, there were also three title matches tonight.
Six matches is still above their yearly average, but the Hogan, Bischoff and Mick Foley summit waddled along, arguing over semantics and eventually just revealed that Foley has plans for an Ultimate X match in a couple of months and that Abyss would defend his X Division title that night against laughably smaller Brian Kendrick. The only entertaining parts came when Kendrick came out and referred to Bischoff and Hogan as “reptilians.” Oh, and yeah-the fans chanting “we want wrestling!” at about the fifteen minute mark.
I loved the booking of this match, but hated that none of the other X Division guys tried to show solidarity and save Kendrick from the mauling he was about to receive. Kendrick mounted a few side step counters early, but for the most part jobbed before escaping to the top rope and being distracted by the ref long enough for Abyss to catch him with the Black Hole Slam and the win. Anyone who saw the ending would have been baffled as to why all of a sudden a referee would get in the way of a top rope flier and try to flag him down. Did the rules change all of a sudden? Perhaps it was an errant flaw in the recent amendments TNA Wrestling made to the “whatever wrestling is these days” constitution.
[adinserter block=”2″]The main event of the evening, and probably best match by default, pitted Kurt Angle against Rob Van Dam, who was handpicked by Jeff Jarrett to slow his nemesis down. The match was also being billed as the “first ever meeting between the two….IN TNA!” Ya don’t say? RVD’s only been in the company for 14 months, most of that time seeing Kurt Angle off and on action as a fellow face. Whatever keeps fans excited, I guess. Hey, remember when the WWF billed the first ever meeting between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker after both had been in the company for something like seven years? Now that was cool, exciting, and as an HBK super fan, life threatening all in one neat, sweaty package.
Anyway, after five minutes of entrances and MMA-style introductions, the match took off and both guys implemented their signature moves early. Nothing stood out and grabbed me in this match but at the same time it never felt lagging, either. Towards the end, Angle implemented his standing Ankle Lock finisher, which might end up going down in history as the easiest submission to escape…ever.
Seriously, anyone fighting Angle, twist your torso around and kick him off of you. This is doubly remarkable considering that Angle always has the option of getting on his back and grapevining the lock, making the hold extremely difficult to flip. I guess because Angle has it written in his contract that a minimum of one Ankle Lock and Angle Slam must be worked into every match, RVD easily broke the lock and got up, only to be bamboozled by the slam for the Kurt Angle victory.
In other action, Karen Jarrett defeated Matt Morgan using a crutch behind the ref’s back. Well, technically it was Jeff wrestling, but let’s face it, folks-every time Karen bails Big Daddy out of a match, it slowly continues to emasculate the former TNA champion. The crutch didn’t initially cause the loss, but a second Karen interference led to Scott Steiner running in and killing Morgan, which finished him off.
Morgan looked tighter and seemingly had some new moves in this match, but it never got off the ground considering the bout started with Earl Hebner arguing about where Karen Jarrett should sit during the match. Seriously, it was a difference of like, ten feet. Next to the ring or next to the ramp. Do like SmackDown did with Vickie Guerrero: ship Karen off to some other show, preferably NXT, Superstars, and I’ll even take The Bachelorette.
For the first time in what seemed like ages, a wrestling match opened up the broadcast as AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels defeated Tommy Dreamer and Bully Ray in a hardcore themed match. The match started off as a brawl around the ring and in the crowd, peeking at Styles’ ridiculous cross body on Dreamer from about 15 feet up in the stands. Eventually, everyone gathered in the ring to throw around trash cans and kendo sticks before Styles and Daniels combined for a nasty Spike Piledriver on Dreamer for the win. Cool opening, but AJ really needs to dump that lame neck brace gimmick.
Mike Tenay and Taz were promising a new talk show, Scorpion Sitdown, to debut tonight. I normally hate these talk show gimmicks, but when Mr. Anderson came out once again in WOO! Sting’s gear, I knew it was off to a good start. Anderson killed it early, dropping reasoning like “since I can no longer wrestle…” as to why the show was created.
In a blast from the past, Anderson introduced his first guest as former WCW mid-carder Disco Inferno, who still looked to be in great wrestling shape. Soon though, the fanatical, grey area Anderson unfortunately turned heel, berated Inferno and eventually beat him down, only to be saved by real Sting. While last week I felt that Sting and Anderson should have wrestled, I appreciated the cat and mouse psychology of this otherwise lame segment.
The TV title was also on the line as Eric Young coaxed an apparently simpleminded Gunner into defending his TV title against him on the pretense that Young would lay down (a la Fingerpoke of Doom), Gunner would pin him and get back his TV belt while Young would get back his faux Heavyweight belt from Gunner. I didn’t expect much from this outcome, but Young laid down as promised, but when Gunner went for the pin Young rolled him up for the easy win, capturing the belt. While Young deserved the belt at some point for enduring this handicapped gimmick for months on end, I was really hoping for a more drawn out chase program between the two.
Mickie James defended her Knockouts title against Winter while Mike Tenay was still baffled by the continuing saga between Winter wanting to control Angelina Love in every way. “Now we learn the relationship goes back centuries!” screams Tenay, who legitimately seems torn between selling the grandiose mythos of the two lovers and calling the entire thing rubbish. For Tenay’s sake, I really hope he thinks we can believe Winter is some reimaging of The Queen of the Damned. After several DDT’s by both parties, Mickie finishes Winter off with one, winning the match and summarily being attacked by Zombie Angelina.
In other Knockouts related news, Velvet Sky earned the coveted “Stinker of the Week” by jobbing it up on the mic and calling out ODB for attacking her last week. ODB wasn’t much better, rambling on about how Velvet caused her firing and later meekly attacking Velvet and accusing her of sleeping her way to the top. Poor Velvet-this is the second person in a month accusing her of using sex to advance in the company. While a fiery accusation, in what way, shape, or form is Velvet on top? Or was on top? It was even documented that she remains one of the few Knockouts left to have never won their championship.
Perhaps her segments are rated the best, but you guys need to come up with better insults. Make fun of her ridiculously over-sized funbags that are just begging to rupture upon the wrong bump. Call her out on that gaudy tribal armband tattoo. Expose her for actually dating the less talented Motor City Machine Gun. Turn her into an emotional wreck and call her Velvet Cry. Anything other than the Triple H treatment, please.
My quote of the night came during the back office segment when Eric Bischoff was proposing solutions for Beer Money and how they can defend their titles in 30 days without being stripped of them, in light of Robert Roode’s apparent arm injury. Bischoff told James Storm that he looked like some magical hick farmer, told him to spread manure on Roode to heal him faster, and in his best crazed evangelical voice, Bischoff proclaimed “sonnnnn, ya healed!” It truly is the little things that save this show from utter disappointment sometimes.
[adinserter block=”1″]VERDICT. In TNA’s hope of interjecting more matches into their card, they sacrificed quality for quantity because I probably won’t remember any of these matches in a couple of weeks. The Gunner and Abyss matches were decently booked, and AJ Styles had the moment of the night with his flying, from-the-crowd, cross body, but the show stayed consistently average with a main event that unintentionally portrayed Rob Van Dam as some sort of low rent hit man. I still believe in change and remain optimistic about an alternative product, no matter how poorly Mick Foley continues to state the obvious. 6/10
TNA Impact Wrestling May 26 Match Results
Fortune (Styles and Daniels) def. Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer, pinfall
Jeff Jarrett def. Matt Morgan, pinfall
Mickie James (Champ) def. Winter for Knockouts title, pinfall
Abyss (Champ) def. Brian Kendrick for X Division title, pinfall
Eric Young def. Gunner (Champ) for TV title, pinfall
Kurt Angle def. Rob Van Dam, pinfall
Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com