Impact Wrestling was quite explosive Thursday night as upsets were abound, new faces were featured, and plans for future pay-per-views were unfurled, including next month’s TNA Destination X and Fall’s Bound For Glory.
Thursday marked the start of Mr. Anderson‘s second reign as World Heavyweight champion, and the opening segment featured him coming out to a ring adorned like a high school kegger (more on that theme later). He called it his “A$%hole Championship Reception” and no one showed up to celebrate except the uninvited Immortal hitman Gunner. Because he helped take out Sting last week on Anderson’s behalf, Gunner wanted return payment of one title shot, which Anderson replied in kind with a pitcher of apparently strychnine and fiber glass laced beer. Seriously, it looked like all he did was splash beer in his face and Gunner’s eyebrow and nose looked like they were on the receiving end of Cain Velasquez hammer fists.
[adinserter block=”2″]Needless to say, this opened the door for a match later that night, just not a title match. As much as I thought the whole Rob Van Dam/Mr. Anderson/Sting series was pretty weak because it lacked a strong heel, I’m starting to love the writing of this current heel vs. heel series. Eric Bischoff clearly stated that he wouldn’t call off the suddenly pushed Gunner because Anderson refused to join Immortal. It may rub wrestling traditionalists the wrong way, but I like when there is a gray area and that’s probably why Anderson has been able to battle both sides so convincingly.
The match itself was okay and neither guy really showed us anything special—in fact, I dare say that Anderson looks a bit out of shape, especially for a World champion. Spoilers be damned, I was reading and listening to a few takes of the raw result of this match and how it makes no sense for a mid-card guy to pin the World champ but this ending was great. After Anderson took clear control, he actually called for the microphone mid-match, announced himself as TNA’s champion, went to pick up Gunner but Gunner quickly reversed and hit his fireman’s carry facebuster for the upset win on the champ.
I know when you compare him next to the booking of titans like John Cena and Randy Orton, it may seem silly that Anderson lose while champion, but the idea that the title holder is beatable and just had a bad night, or has become too cocky for his own good, is progressive and appreciated from fans who want different things in their squared circle.
Anderson’s clearly not a huge guy—he’s more of a class clown who outsmarts his enemies, but not this time. Gunner actually wasn’t bad on the mic this week and got a chance to cut his first real promo, but I’m just not sure fans will buy into him being outwitted by Eric Young just weeks ago for the TV title and now being pushed to the front of the Immortal line. Bully Ray must have really pissed someone off.
In huge PPV news, TNA announced their Bound For Glory series, which on paper sounds amazing. In a nutshell, the BFG series goes like this: 12 TNA wrestlers will all wrestle each other in a round robin format across all venues…PPV’s, Impact, Xplosion, live tour events, and each match’s outcome gives that wrestler so many points (10 for submission, 7 for pin, 3 for DQ win, -10 for DQ loss, etc.). These matches can be tag team matches, triple threat affairs, steel cage matches, but at the end of the series, the top four in points standings move on to some sort of four corners match at No Surrender, the PPV before Bound For Glory. The twelve competitors are: Rob Van Dam, AJ Styles, Gunner, Robert Roode, James Storm, Bully Ray, Crimson, Matt Morgan, Samoa Joe, Devon, Scott Steiner, and The Pope.
This seems like a fun, unique way to get all the guys involved and carry the program through the dog days of summer. As a sports nerd, I love anything with standings and this almost has a fantasy game feel to it. I do like how the format is not too stringent, because do we really need to see James Storm and The Pope in a singles match on Impact or a PPV? The points system is a little weird…minus 10 points for someone interfering in your match? That should allow for some breezy writing.
Handicapping the field, I think I can almost eliminate Devon, James Storm, The Pope right away. Crimson, Bully Ray, Matt Morgan, and Scott Steiner are good dark horses, but I wouldn’t make that bet. That leaves, RVD, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Gunner, and Robert Roode, who is looking more and more like a singles competitor by the hour. I’d say it’s a good bet that three of those five make it to the final four.
The first match in the BFG series saw Rob Van Dam best Samoa Joe with the Five Star Frog Splash. Nothing was too exciting from the RVD camp, but Joe went all out and did a suicide dive through the ropes on his opponent. Impressive stuff, but RVD still won and captured seven points.
Pertaining to the more recent future, Destination X is coming back next month and TNA promises to bring back a bunch of ex-employees for the gimmick PPV. How nice of them, don’t ya think? It was also announced that the entire PPV would happen inside the old 6-sided ring. Personally, I can’t really stand the hexagon but then again I never watched TNA with much conviction when they had the odd looking ring. On paper, it gets the old guard excited again, so the changeup is welcome in my household.
The first match leading into Destination X featured three guys I believe I’ve never seen before—Kid Kash, Jimmy Rave, and Austin Aries. Their high flying exhibition prevented you from looking away and was easily the most exciting match of the night. Rave looked to be the most technically sound and Aries had a nasty double suicide dive to the floor, but either way it looked like both were a cut above Kid Kash. Coming off as a bit clunky, Kash’s moves were slow developing, including his backflip off the top rope to the floor where both Aries and Rave were waiting for several seconds. Aries eventually hit a series of nasty kicks on Rave before finishing him off with the brainbuster for the win. Based on that match alone I hope they give Aries or Rave that X Division money left vacant by the released Jay Lethal.
In case you missed Slammiversary Sunday night, the Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett feud was supposed to end but that mess flared up again the very next event because while Angle was announcing that he’s training for a 2012 US Olympic run on the wrestling team, Jarrett came out to challenge Angle to one last fight. What?! Fortunately, Angle called Jarrett out on the same crap and said he had no honor by continuing the feud, which Angle clearly won and ended. Regardless, Angle accepted the parking lot fight, with odd stipulations about Angle taking back his kids and Jarrett moving to Mexico if he lost. Seriously. I can’t make that up.
In what was straight from a high school coming of age film, Angle and Jarrett brawled in the parking lot around a circle of peers, at night, with headlights lighting up the fighting space. I seriously thought I was watching a modern adaptation of The Outsiders or something. Angle pretty much destroyed Jarrett in what devolved into an MMA style fight, even though Jarrett did hit his Stroke finisher at one point. Kurt started choking him out with a shirt, Jeff mumbled something and the fight was over. There appeared to be no definite winner..again, so expect this series to prolong.
Rosita and Sarita defended their Knockout Tag titles against Velvet Sky and Miss Tessmacher in what ended up being a thankfully busy night for Mexican America. I like the team of Velvet and Tessmacher, who could reform Beautiful People, because it’s a bleak, bleak time in TNA without money making factions like the Beautiful People and Beer Money. Hernandez and Anarquia were quickly thrown out by ref, leaving us with a par for the course Knockouts match which saw Sarita and Tessmacher with very similar outfits, which seemed like a bad wardrobe snafu.
Eventually, TNA wants us to think that Velvet has OCD because ODB appeared in the crowd, causing Velvet to completely lose focus and chase after her, leaving Tessmacher to get dominated and pinned by Rosita. Afterward, ODB and a black woman from the crowd, later announced as a returning Jackie, jumped Velvet and beat up male security guards. Cool security, Impact Zone.
Hernandez and Devon opened up the wrestling portion of the program. I thought I would have nothing to say about this match but Devon hit a spectacular spear on a jumping Hernandez that I’m calling the move of the night. Even though we haven’t seen much of the former Team 3D member, Devon looked particularly jacked for this match, so hopefully management rewards him with some sort of fruitful mid-card program. In a lame finish, Mexican America runs in for interference, ending the match and causing The Pope to come out and help Devon to standing cheers. Now Pope is a face again? What the hell is going on out there?! You should only be allowed two turns every two years, but Pope pulls the old 180 on the same schedule you change out your Brita filter. Really weak—I hope he goes 0-for in the BFG series.
Sting continued his cries for Hulk Hogan to turn back to his old ways and showed him he was serious by yelling random crap about “Stinger’s not done!” and smearing Hulk’s face in snapdragon facepaint. I guess this is what happens when you lose your title but still have months to go on your contract.
Eric Young was creeping around backstage asking guys to wrestle him for this TV title. Or wrestle for him…it wasn’t clear what the dude was asking. Eventually, he caught up with Austin Aries being interviewed after his match, but “wrestled” the unsuspecting interviewer and had Aries count the three for the win. While not one of his finer comedic performances, Young is still killing it with his 70’s and 80’s TV show references…”I’m coming for you, Scott Baio!”
[adinserter block=”1″]Scott Steiner and Bully Ray cut promos against each other for next week’s BFG series match, including Steiner hilariously ranting about Ray wanting donuts, sugar, and burgers. It was amusing seeing a steroid-ridden, chain link wearing, sun glasses sporting man yell “I AIN’T GOT NO SUGAR!!” but your mileage may very. Once again, a match featuring an Immortal member against a non-Immortal heel will strengthen the field as a whole and make future results more unpredictable. On a side note, I always loved the idea of a guy innocently cutting a promo and then for no other reason the crew goes over to the other guy and says, “hey, look what he said” and causes the reaction promo. Such trouble makers, those cameramen.
VERDICT. Six decent matches tonight if you count the Sharks vs. Jets showdown in the parking lot between Angle and Jarrett a match. This was one of the more original, well thought out and tightly executed Impacts in a while. Anderson may not gotten off to an extremely rocky start as champ, but the stage has been set and I would think it would be hard to screw up foolproof plans of a Bound For Glory series and the setup for fan favorite Destination X. Even if half the performers tonight were from the B-Team, it was still an exciting show. 9/10
Full Impact Wrestling Match Results
Devon def. Hernandez, Interference DQ
Austin Aries def. Kid Kash and Jimmy Rave in a Triple Threat, pinfall
Sarita and Rosita def. Velvet Sky and Miss Tessmacher, pinfall
Rob Van Dam def. Samoa Joe, pinfall
Gunner def. Mr. Anderson in a non-title match, pinfall
Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett brawled to a no decision
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