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.
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.
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
Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com