It’s weeks like these when I love TNA Wrestling. The show sneaks up on you thanks to a cocktail of bizarre title drops from last week and the absence of knowing just what in the Hell was in store for you this week. Oh, and there’s a PPV on Sunday, lest the Bracketology nerds forget.
STING OPENING. It is fitting that the new TNA champion, Sting, explain himself right off the bat, but what’s not meshing is his weird, red face paint that makes a cross or bulls-eye over his right eye. This minute distraction was quelled when Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan arrived on the scene to credit Sting for outing them as the heels back in October, but since he “took his ball and went home” Sting was no longer a viable threat in TNA.
SAMOA JOE vs. THE POPE. When you strip away all the tacky promos between these two, you forget they can have great matches. Joe looked fresh, agile, and aware while Pope worked a little harder at deepening his heel persona, capping the match with an illegal loaded fist right to Joe’s head to win the match. This was an excellent starter match and one that should be a precursor for one last showdown between the two somewhere down the line.
MADISON RAYNE (Champ) vs. ROXXI. Once again, Madison is bored with the competition here at TNA, so she is issuing another open challenge for her Knockouts belt. That’s funny…there are currently nine active female wrestlers with the company, so why the need to group them together in these factions like Madison and Tara? Yeah, Madison, I’d be uber-bored, too.
This match ended up being a complete squash of the rarely seen Roxxi, lasting somewhere between two and three minutes. Afterwards, an irate Mickie James stormed the ring, attacking Tara and chasing Madison from ringside. Interesting stuff already; two feuds featured on the go-home episode of Impact and neither one will be fought at the PPV Sunday.
BULLY RAY PARKING LOT. Earlier, Bully Ray called out Tommy Dreamer for attacking him and saving Devon. Ray goes out to the parking lot and is immediately jumped by Devon, who is still steaming mad about the unholy wrath Ray laid upon his two sons at Against All Odds. I get what they are trying to do here, but you can’t tell me a small child couldn’t call TNA’s bluff and state that Devon allowed his kids to fight. This element is a welcome addition to the feud, but the writers are promoting it all wrong.
After completing obliterating Ray (wearing a Yankees beanie, mind you), Devon pulls out a sledgehammer, but is stopped by Dreamer who tells him that Ray has had enough. In an impressive villain reinforcement tactic, Ray is shown being helped up by a friendly security guard, who he then beats to a pulp for “laying his hands on him.”
COOKIE, ANGELINA P., and SARITA vs. THE BEATIFUL PEOPLE and WINTER. Come on, you are always guaranteed at least one stinker per episode, and unfortunately it was this house fire of a match. First, is it me or does it look like Velvet’s chest is slowly growing to obnoxious proportions? Hulk is going to have a better back than her in three years. Surprisingly, Angelina P. from The Jersey Shore got the most ring time and absolutely bombed. She couldn’t take a bump, a pin, a turnbuckle to the face…it was really difficult to watch and actually reminded me that I take some of these mundane spots for granted. Robbie E came out to help Cookie and Angelina P., but caused more problems than solutions and led to Velvet scoring the pin over the Jersey Shore castoff.
The best stuff ended up being the continuing triangle saga between Angelina, Winter, and Velvet, but the throwaway match ended up setting the table for an Angelina and Winter match at Victory Road against Sarita and Rosita for the Knockouts Tag Titles.
RIC FLAIR vs. MATT HARDY vs. AJ STYLES. This was supposed to be a three-way Street Fight, but in reality it was just Immortal turning the screws to try and have Styles double teamed. Frankly, these three put on a show. Cue the Flair quotes of the night:
To crowd: “How many of your mothers have I slept with tonight?”
To Styles: “I’ve fertilized Fayetteville in my hey-day!”
As depressing as Flair has come off these past few years, you cannot deny his ability to adapt into new personas, like this recent “always in casual suits, womanizing businessman” character. I’ve come to expect this raunchy behavior from Flair, but what I didn’t expect was Matt Hardy’s ability to do anything worth a damn. He completely dressed down Styles, repeatedly referring to him as “kid” (Styles is 33, Hardy is 36) and told him about the negative aspects of the wrestling business and how the man tried to sabotage his career. I swear, I could hear Styles think in his head, “coke, dirt sheets, and Krystal.”
From there ensued the street fight, and I use that term loosely. Even though this was entertaining, it was just them in jeans and tees swinging around a couple of trash cans. For the sake of not having to navigate the ring in skinny jeans, kill the street fight gimmick unless it’s actually happening on the median of Lake Buena Vista Drive. The handicapped dynamic was fun to watch, as Styles fought valiantly to bust open Flair and somehow take a back seat to Hardy’s huge crowd pop upon bringing out a ladder. Eventually, the 2-on-1 scenario was too much as Hardy hit a Twist of Fate on a steel chair and allowed Flair to pin and get the victory. Even with the gratuitous blood loss, 4 out of 5 WOOOO’s for this match.
GENERATION ME vs. INK INC. Just when the program is on a roll, TNA falls victim to poor writing in spite of great execution. Last week, Ink Inc. was already named the No. 1 Contenders for Beer Money’s tag team belts, so does Gen Me really stand a chance here? They should have scrapped that whole Ink Inc. segment from last week and reserved this match to be the No. 1 Contenders match. Regardless, this was a fast-paced match with little to no errors, save for James Storm on commentary stating why Ink Inc. deserved the title shot while simultaneously watching Shannon Moore take a prolonged beating. The bout ended when Jesse Neal performed a gnarly spear from the top rope on one of the spring boarding Gen Me boys.
PROMOS. Throughout the evening we were treated to backstage spots between Anderson and Hardy and RVD and Sting, with both teams showing obvious signs of disconnect. As these continued, I was slowly warming up to this match, running possible endings through my head but never really coming close to what I thought would happen. In fewer words, TNA did its job correctly. Just before the match, Sting was cutting an interview with Jeremy Borash backstage when he was attacked from behind by Anderson, who at this point was acting disappointingly heelish.
There was also a Jeff and Karen Jarrett segment in which Jeff announced their big Honeymoon plans…to Orlando! Kurt Angle won’t be in action at Victory Road (despite his face being all over the PPV banner), so what could Jeff really have up his sleeve?
MR. ANDERSON and JEFF HARDY vs. ROB VAN DAM and STING. Because of Anderson’s attack, Sting was MIA to start this match and it quickly boiled down to both Anderson and Hardy ripping apart RVD and taking jabs at one another, including hard, blind tags and slaps to back of the head. Even though the match had endless possibilities, the outcome was near meaningless, which begs the question, why couldn’t the main event be a triple threat between Anderson, Hardy and RVD, with the winner getting a shot on Sunday and the losers squaring off against each other in a No. 1 Contenders match? The timing of matches announced for the PPV was all messed up; at the beginning of Impact, Bischoff announced two set in stone matches at Victory Road involving these four, along with this match for slams and giggles. Could someone not proofread that train of thought, take two seconds and switch things around a bit? I’m sure Sting’s 52-year-old body would be in favor of my idea.
The action boiled over when Anderson Mic Checked Hardy out of frustration, followed by the lights going out and Sting finally appearing to take out Anderson and letting RVD Five Star Frog Splash him for the win.
VERDICT. I guess we can’t always get our way, but the theme of the day was controlled surprise and TNA performed this beautifully tonight. The main event was tame, but the entire body of work proved fruitful, clinching this episode of Impact into the proverbial Big Dance. 9/10.
TNA VICTORY ROAD 2011 PREDICTIONS. If I can get all eight of these matches correct, it means that TNA is failing to provide even half-assed wrestling entertainment. If I falter to a losing record, I’ve been lying to you this whole time about watching this company’s work. Therefore, I’m shooting for 5 or 6 correct picks.
BULLY RAY vs. TOMMY DREAMER. This is only watchable with the help of ill-placed tables, chairs, and trash cans, and possibly a Hooters parking lot. Other than that I don’t want to watch this nor do I care who wins…but Ray has been getting more air time of the two now behind the scenes busy bodies. Ray wins.
ULTIMATE X DIVISION TITLE MATCH – KAZARIAN (Champ) vs. MAX BUCK vs. JEREMY BUCK vs. ROBBIE E. This one should steal the show, but knowing their awful match order it’ll probably be the opening match. I don’t see Robbie E taking the belt back so soon, but I still hold out hope of a Generation Me rift, potentially caused by this title. One of the Bucks wins the belt.
MATT HARDY vs. AJ STYLES. If AJ jobs to Hardy at this PPV it’ll be a travesty. Even though Matt shows signs of life here and there, Styles deserves better. AJ Styles for the win.
KNOCKOUTS TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP – ANGELINA LOVE and WINTER (Champs) vs. SARITA and ROSITA. The Winter/Velvet/Angelina fiasco isn’t resolved and these novelty belts are the glue that keeps them together. Besides, Rosita hasn’t done enough on tapings to warrant a title. Love and Winter retain.
TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP – BEER MONEY (Champs) vs. INK INC. I’m always a fan of upsets, and with an expected AJ Styles ascent back to the top, Fourtune can afford to take the hit. In one of the better matches of the night, Ink Inc. win the belts.
NO. 1 CONTENDER MATCH – MR. ANDERSON vs. ROB VAN DAM. Even though RVD picked up the win tonight, the recent bad blood between Anderson and Sting foretells a great upcoming feud. Mr. Anderson gets his title shot and wins.
TNA CHAMPIONSHIP – STING (Champ) vs. JEFF HARDY. Would TNA really hand wrap the belt back over to Hardy for a second time amidst his legal uncertainty? Noooo. And like I said, Anderson and Stinger…it’s gonna happen. Sting finds a way to retain and beat Hardy.
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