Being the last show before a pay-per-view, you expect a lot from a taping as a fan, including the return of AJ Styles from injury. Did TNA Impact live up to expectations? Who will show promise and valor coming into Sunday’s Against All Odds? Will Taz finally catch all those relinquished pigeons? All that and more…
IMMORTAL OPENING. Does TNA ever open up with matches anymore? What’s left of the castrated Immortal faction storms the ring, with Jeff Hardy kind of looking like that bad guy from Watchmen. Eric Bischoff starts by dressing down the four members of Fortune and basically calling them ungrateful losers. While his comparison of Kazarian being the Clay Aiken of TNA made me slightly chuckle, it’s pretty obvious he’s more of an Antonio Banderas, circa Desperado. Jeff Jarrett takes the mic and calls out Fortune, causing Robert Roode to probably cut the longest promo I’ve ever seen him do for the company. It wasn’t anything special, but it was nice hearing from someone who wasn’t pushing 50 or 60 years old.
THE POPE, BULLY RAY, and MATT HARDY vs. ROB VAN DAM, SAMOA JOE, and DEVON. In a classic TNA hurried attempt to showcase all rivalries at once, they gave us this house fire of a match. I don’t even get the match up—The Pope is a likable community figure, Ray is a loner, and Hardy is with Immortal. Any potential this match had was shot when Joe and Pope scampered off to the back almost immediately, robbing us of the only feud we really wanted and deserved. The bout was heavy with Ray and Devon, climaxing with Devon’s two sons interfering and causing Ray to go through a table, ending the match.
KURT ANGLE and JEFF JARRETT MATCH SIGNING. To officially square up the match at Against All Odds, both Jarrett and Angle came to the ring and signed a contract, but not before Karen continued to taunt Kurt about his children, possibly killing Angle a little more on the inside. Then some stipulations were thrown around—if Angle wins he gets his two kids back, but if Jarrett wins he is forced to walk Karen down the aisle when they renew their vows next month. What the hell is this, Divorce Court?! I think management will swallow the pill on this one and kill the children angle, so there is probably no way Kurt wins this match. Besides, it is much easier to write the wedding vow situation and it won’t leave the stench of forcing young children into this mess any longer.
SARITA, ROSITA, MADISON RAYNE, and TARA vs. THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, MICKIE JAMES, and WINTER. The wrestling, as per Knockout usual, wasn’t the main story as the antics between Winter and Velvet Sky stole the show. Winter tried valiantly to interject herself into the BP’s signature entrance ramp pose and later the letting loose of the aforementioned pigeons. This caused tension among the Knockout faces, leading newly signed and fresh Rosita to capitalize. The goods on Rosita: the girl is wicked cute and showcased the ability to fly around the ring with a steady arsenal of moves. The rough stuff: she is severely unrefined and rather small for a Knockout (she looked to be about three or four inches shorter than her “cousin” Sarita). At only 19 years old, Rosita would be a welcome addition to the scene and a fresh face that could provide a jolt to the often ho-hum world of Knockouts. Perhaps the brass sees something in her as well: she pinned Velvet Sky after Velvet’s tussle with Winter.
Surprisingly, there was no in-ring action with Madison Rayne or Mickie James, who, y’know, will only be fighting at Against All Odds for the Knockouts title. This was supplemented by a really lame segment between the two after the match, with Madison more or less calling Mickie old. What, no retirement challenge from Madison like she was so privy to last year? Those were classic.
BACKSTAGE. Kurt Angle, Robert Roode, and AJ Styles are shown backstage, leading to Kurt asking for Roode’s spot in their tag match against Jeff Hardy and Jeff Jarrett later tonight. Of course Roode accepted…who is writing this? Why wouldn’t they have initially made it so it was Angle and Styles in the first place? Whatever, maybe Roode wanted to hang out with Storm later on at Rachel’s or something.
MR. ANDERSON vs. MATT MORGAN. This is for the TNA World Heavyweight title…an hour into the show. In what seemed like a house show main event, this match continued to baffle me because the winner would go on to face Jeff Hardy at Against All Odds in a ladder match…for Anderson’s belt. Adding Hardy to the match seemed right, because he brought out this neon painted ladder that looked like an extra prop from Batman Forever and just sat on top of the thing, watching the match unfold. After a hilariously bad knockout of the ref, Hernandez returned and jumped Morgan, costing him the match. Later, SuperMex joined Hardy to attack Anderson, attempting to weaken him for their upcoming match.
BULLY RAY BACKSTAGE. Ray is pissed about the interference Devon’s kids ran, so he challenges the whole family to a 3-on-1 Street Fight at the PPV. Later, Devon would accept the challenge, along side his two sons, one of whom looks strikingly similar to Reggie Bush. This means he’ll probably be a bust in the match and maybe even cost the Devon gang the match.
BRIAN KENDRICK vs. SUICIDE vs. ROBBIE E. This is the final qualifying match for the X Division tournament, already featuring both member of Generation Me. I’ve never seen Suicide wrestle a match, so I was pretty excited when this was announced, not to mention the eccentric Kendrick and his return from injury. As with the first two qualifiers, the match itself was stunted and I would even go so far as saying this crap was pretty lackluster. Suicide didn’t impress me in any fashion, and Cookie predictably ran interference and scored Robbie E the win. This match couldn’t have been longer than four minutes—what a waste.
INK INC BACKSTAGE. Straight out of a self-esteem seminar, the two punk rockers went on about representing that one percent of society that is truly free. Are you guys a wrestling tag team or outlaw motorcycle gang members? They also name dropped Gunner and Murphy, whom they wrestled last week. I can’t tell you how excited I am for that feud. Keep it on Xplosion, boys.
JEFF HARDY and JEFF JARRETT vs. KURT ANGLE and AJ STYLES. Get ready to fly, because AJ is back in action and not a moment too soon! It wasn’t much of a surprise that Hardy and Angle carried this match and actually looked good reviving their chemistry from last fall. Taz and Mike Tenay were also talking up Styles, so hopefully this means he will soon take back the Global title from Abyss, whenever he decides to come back.
The main story here was that Jarrett was still cowardly avoiding Angle, to the point where he would refuse tags from Hardy if Angle was in the ring. The match continued to deliver with awesome spots, such as Angle giving a seamless belly-to-belly suplex to Hardy off the second rope and Styles finishing the match with a springboard Superman punch to Jarrett, followed by a pin.
The wrestling was inevitably overshadowed by post-match chaos, ignited by double low blows by Jarrett, which we’ve come to learn is Immortal’s calling card. Hardy and Jarrett continued to pound on Angle and Styles, which was broken up when Immortal, Fortune, RVD, and Anderson stormed the ring, officially converting this fracas into an all out donnybrook.
VERDICT. We saw five matches tonight, but it somehow feels like nothing was accomplished. Tired and predictable, Impact’s only saving grace was the influx of wrestlers we’ve either not seen before or have been sorely lacking—Rosita, AJ Styles, Hernandez, Suicide, and Brian Kendrick. Still, I wouldn’t have blamed you if you decided to watch one of the other fifty entertaining shows on television last night. 5/10.
TNA 2011 AGAINST ALL ODDS QUICK PICKS. I’m not particularly anticipating this pay-per-view, and I’m one of the biggest TNA fans I know, so Carter and Co. better pull something shiny and exciting out of their collective butts. Here are some predictions:
BEER MONEY and SCOTT STEINER vs. ROB TERRY, GUNNER, and MURPHY. There is no way Immortal B-Team takes this down, right? I mean, Beer Money are the champs and it would be a terrible squash. Beer Money and Steiner take the win.
MADISON RAYNE (Champ) vs. MICKIE JAMES. This is for the Knockouts belt and it’s a Last Knockout Standing match. Madison has been falling ill a lot lately (so say her Twitter) and TNA really needs to put the strap on their star acquisition from last year. Tara will probably show up, but Mickie takes the belt.
DEVON and SONS vs. BULLY RAY. This is a street fight, so look for Ray to get down and dirty, possibly hiring some goons to even the playing field. I could care less, but I feel TNA will drag this feud on for what seems like forever, so Devon shifts the momentum his way and scores the victory.
SAMOA JOE vs. THE POPE. Have we actually seen these two fight it out yet? In one of the more ill-conceived storylines I’ve seen lately, The Pope will cheat his way to a win, hopefully splattering him with some heel heat he desperately needs right now.
MAX BUCK vs. JEREMY BUCK vs. ROBBIE E. As much as I would like to see one of the Gen Me boys step up in singles, the potential for a Robbie E and Kazarian tilt is too much to ignore. One of the Bucks will inadvertently cost the other the match and Robbie E becomes the No. 1 Contender for the X Division title.
JEFF JARRETT vs. KURT ANGLE. I wonder if the Jarrett children will be in attendance…that would be classy. Like I said before, from a programming standpoint TNA stands to gain much more from a Jarrett win and a ridiculous renewing of the vows ceremony up ahead. Jarrett wins, probably with help.
MR. ANDERSON (Champ) vs. JEFF HARDY. I know it doesn’t make much business sense, but I’m expecting a curve ball from TNA and for Hardy to win this Heavyweight Title Ladder Match. Immortal was severely weakened when Fortune broke rank last week, so it would be smart to legitimize the evil faction by taking the belt, Hardy legal issues be damned. Why else would Anderson still be caring around that atrocious purple belt?
Joe Leininger is based out of Gainesville, FL and writes on The Playing Field.
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