Finally, those of us keeping up with the saga will finally see a worthy adversary to Immortal, and TNA Wrestling promises it will happen at this TNA Impact taping, Main Event Mafia or not. Sitting just two more episodes away from Against All Odds, I believe folks in the golf world would call this “moving day,” so let’s see what brass cooked up for us.
IMMORTAL OPENING. Like any fully functioning, football team sized unit, Immortal stomps to the ring, calls out Mr. Anderson and demands Scott Steiner come out and face the group. Sans lead pipe, Steiner trudges to the ring and shoots down an offer to join forces with Immortal. There was nothing out of the ordinary here, but the mention of Hulk Hogan not making an appearance was pretty disappointing. Also, Eric Bischoff touched on the recent WWE signings of Kevin Nash and Booker T, which came off as appropriate for this situation. Bischoff dismissed the issue, almost as if saying that Steiner had no backup and his last card to play would be to join him and his army. I like where they are going with this angle, but I really like the fan rocking the Anderson airbrushed shirt. I thought those only came in Tupac and church flavors.
VARIOUS BAD SPOTS. We learn that “reporter” Christy Hemme is staking out a courthouse in Dallas to get the scoop on the Hogan v. Carter hearing. Snore. She mentions the case has been held up and will be resolved March 3rd, but I’m really thinking Hulk can’t get out of bed and they are stalling. Afterwards, Eric Young joins the announce team, frantically talking about “They.” Surprisingly tame for the punch drunk grappler.
After the break, Karen and Jeff Jarrett invite us into their home in Tennessee, a la Cribs. While interesting, they brought their small children into the whole Angle v. Jarrett rivalry, which rubbed me the wrong way. At least a couple of those kids were fathered by Kurt and the whole thing came off as tasteless. A nice touch was the framed, mounted photo of Jeff smashing a guitar over Kurt’s head; I hope that it was made just for this segment, but I severely doubt it.
BULLY RAY and THE POPE vs. DEVON and SAMOA JOE. This is what crash-and-burn, Russo style booking is all about. We had a match that was never really a match, bad grammar, unexplained characters and family members. The Pope and Bully Ray came out first, talking junk about Devon and Pope dropping gems, and I quote, “like true men does.” Enough was enough as Devon and Joe storm to the ring, but when Joe and The Pope shuffle backstage because Joe’s cameraman, Okada, scares Pope, it’s left to the two former, slow moving Dudleys to entertain the crowd. At least the fans had fun—when Okada came out in what looked like a chauffeur’s outfit, the crowd asked, “Where’s the Green Hornet?”
As the action came to a head, Devon had Bully Ray beached among the fallen Pope dollars on the ramp, which led to Ray spitting a drink in the face of two of Devon’s kids. What is this, bring your child to work day? This was actually a solid use of time addressing two lame feuds with one stone.
JEREMY BUCK vs. JAY LETHAL vs. DOUG WILLIAMS. Once again, this was a somewhat tame X Division qualifying match but featured decent aerials and an awesome Russian leg sweep DDT combination. Max Buck started out on commentary, but joined us ringside and ran interference, leading to a Jeremy Buck win and something I was hoping for later down the line: a split between Generation Me. I thought this was TNA at its finest, combining innovative writing and the foresight to not completely job Williams and Lethal.
MR. ANDERSON and JEFF HARDY IN RING. Further proof that women love the bad boys, the Impact Zone sounded off like an Oprah taping as Hardy hit the ring, replete with nasty dripping hair and his Southern drawl occasionally coming out, doing nothing to sell his “Antichrist” character. The purpose of the summit was to call off all outside interference, which would be welcomed with open arms.
JARRETT IN HOUSE, PART TWO. The huge family is sitting down to an Italian dinner when Jeff announces a surprise. This is a smart move dragging the segment along, but you didn’t miss anything riveting, except for maybe that baller house he lives in.
MICKIE JAMES vs. SARITA. Billed as a Taped Fist Match, this had to be one of the most non-influential gimmicks I’ve ever seen. I guess they were going for a brawling boxer theme, but luckily it was more wrestling than antics. For the majority, Sarita did a swell job targeting Mickie’s hand and arm, but the match was called when Mickie landed a straight left to Sarita’s jaw and referee Mills Lane called a TKO. Madison Rayne appeared from the crowd and ambushed Mickie, adding to their feud.
JARRETT IN HOUSE, PART THREE. Again, not much substance here besides the corny surprise that Jeff and Karen will renew their vows next week on Impact. Hmm, I wonder if Kurt Angle will run in and break it up somehow. Place your bets now.
Just then, the ref gets knocked down and to my utter surprise Immortal storms the ring. As AJ Styles is about to land a punch on Anderson, he throws up the trademark Fourtune gesture and all of a sudden Beer Money and Kazarian start knocking out the remaining members of Immortal. The resulting betrayal leads to AJ helping Mr. Anderson defeat Jeff Hardy, officially ending the alliance of the two factions.
Eric Bischoff comes out to confront Styles, who informs us that Fourtune is the “They” Crimson and Co. have been hyping. This led to some heated verbal jabs between Styles and Bischoff, highlighted by Styles ridiculing Bischoff for being the reason WCW was run into the ground. Hey, them’s fightin’ words, and this is war.
VERDICT. The next few weeks should be really interesting because this scenario can play out several ways. When Ric Flair returns, who will he side with? While I hoped for at least one new face to show up at this taping, I can’t really criticize TNA’s fast response to the Booker T and Nash debacle. A few tiny holes show through, such as Crimson mauling AJ a couple of weeks ago, but do wrestling fans really care? AJ Styles deserves to be a fan favorite; his moves are innovative and fun and he is an overall ambassador for the TNA brand. While the upcoming pay-per-view is starting to solidify in ways I’m not too fond of, the episode served its purpose: advance the stories and deliver on the massive swerve. 8/10.
Joe Leininger is based out of Gainesville, FL and writes on The Playing Field.
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