Wow, TNA. After a couple of mailed in showings, you guys really bounced back nice with a soothing blend of unpredictability and a hint of ridiculousness. You not only gave us the back and forth matches that loyal TNA fans deserve, but also a shocker (to me, at least) ending.
KURT ANGLE IN RING OPENING. A bit of a rough start as Angle comes out, only to be interrupted by all 40 guys in Immortal, who rush the ring in typical Foot Clan fashion. Fortunately, Crimson comes out to somewhat even the score with a 2×4, scaring Immortal away. Immortal’s disruptive ways are getting stale fast, but what really surprised me was Ric Flair’s on point rant. He turned bright red, his veins popped, and he was on the verge of belligerent before calling Crimson “dumbass” about four times. That’s about the right level of crazy I like my Flair. Too bad for Ric he may have worn out his welcome in TNA—for more on that, read Eric’s thoughts on his recent antics.
SARITA, TARA, and MADISON RAYNE vs. MICKIE JAMES, VELVET SKY, and ANGELINA LOVE. This match is elimination style rules, and thank you for that. This is one of the best gimmicks in wrestling, so why have the big boys in wrestling run away from it? I was reading up on last year’s Survivor Series and the WWE only scheduled one Survivor Series-style match, it being a mid-card to boot. Anyway, we were treated to a pretty lengthy match this time, which surprisingly saw both Madison and Mickie eliminated early. There were some rough patches, for sure, but Angelina eventually scored the win after overcoming Sarita and a hapless Tara. Afterwards, Velvet is seen backstage holding her head, and all signs point to a jealous Winter as the assailant.
AMAZING RED vs. MAX BUCK vs. CHRIS SABIN. This match could have been so much more exciting, but it’s still ran circles around anything Jeff Jarrett or Abyss have done in months. This is the first of three matches to determine a No. 1 Contender for Kazarian’s X Division belt, who ended up being fairly amusing on the broadcast with Tenay and Taz. The producers threw us something new to chew on, as each wrestler coming to the ring cut a mini-promo that was shown picture-in-picture during their entrances. Nothing said was prophetic, but I really appreciate the curve ball.
In the end, Max Buck took the win, thanks in large part to interference run by his partner, Jeremy Buck. It was good to see the slightly older Red put over the other guys, but his arsenal seemed stunted and buried. Also, this no doubt means that we know Alex Shelley will win one of the other two qualifying matches, with Robbie E or Jay Lethal taking the other spot. Unless the writers have plans to have Jeremy winning, leading to a potential X Division schism between Generation Me. I’m in favor of the latter.
JEFF JARRETT and KAREN BACKSTAGE. Nice little package to add on to Jarrett’s heel persona. Everything from him inquiring about his wife receiving half of Angle Foods to Jarrett getting fresh with Karen and demanding a shoulder rub provided us more reason to dislike Double J. Nothing like good old spousal abuse to get the blood running.
JEFF HARDY and MR. ANDERSON IN RING. Hardy comes out looking full blown ’emo’ and delivers an angry rant that never quite settled. My guess is somewhere around that taping is when the realization sunk in that he is probably going to jail. While I don’t blame him, he was by no means entertaining nor did he legitimize the title match he is about to receive next week. Luckily, Mr. Anderson and his superb mic skills killed all the negativity Hardy brought to the table. Anderson is slowly getting better in the ring and his peripherals are among the best I see in wrestling today, so don’t be surprised if when his TNA contract is up, the boys up north blow up his phone.
VELVET SKY and WINTER IN RING. Velvet comes to ring, clearly upset and calls out Winter, who comes out and destroys the Beautiful People member. Not much to see here, but Angelina comes out to separate to two, while the crowd laughably chants “she’s a screamer!” I like Winter’s character—she often goes into banshee mode and does it ten times better than Madison Rayne. Bonus points for extended Knockouts action, which could lead to two Knockouts matches at February’s Against All Odds.
POPE IN RING. The Pope comes out and more or less says that he doesn’t like Samoa Joe. Hmm, nice development in the riveting Pope/Joe feud, TNA. This was definitely prime time to grab a beer, but at least Pope wasn’t subjecting us to his sophomoric humor.
IMMORTAL BACKSTAGE. What, more Immortal? It should be said at this point that Flair arranged a match featuring Angle and Crimson against every healthy member of the evil faction. So, as cohesive teams are wont to do, they huddle up to rally spirits, only Eric Young is there to join in. More crazy Eric Young moments like these, please, but at this point I am just feeling bad for the guy. What could he have possibly done to incur the wrath of a mentally challenged character as punishment? If it was punishment, that’s too bad; it’s working well on a comedic level (supplemental reading: Perry Saturn falling in love with a mop and why you shouldn’t piss off your boss).
DIXIE CARTER ON THE PHONE. For something that they promoted during the run down this was a huge disappointment. Carter joined us via phone for no more than 30 seconds and told us all what we could have safely assumed: by God, she’s going to take back control of this company, and those knuckleheads Bischoff and Hogan will pay. Next time, guys, don’t even bother.
MATT HARDY vs. MR. ANDERSON. This was predictably awful and awfully predictable. Not only can Hardy no longer convince us on the mic but he is mind-numbingly slow in the ring. Whereas Anderson brought Jeff Hardy up earlier, Matt Hardy tore down Anderson and brought him to his bloated level. Anderson would end up winning after a slow developing cradle, and of course Jeff Hardy came down to attack the champion. Rob Van Dam would even the score, but this was a throwaway.
VERDICT. While I enjoy the brand name of Scott Steiner, I wasn’t familiar with any of work after his late 90’s departure from WCW. I know he had a somewhat successful tenure in TNA before, so what did everyone think of the surprise ending? Without seeing his recent work, I still yearn for someone a bit younger, but maybe that promise will be fulfilled with Crimson. The writing tonight was on par with what TNA should strive to be—a smaller company that utilizes the element of surprise and splices it with in-ring results that aren’t the status quo. It wasn’t perfect, as evidenced by Mike Tenay and Taz, for whatever reason, patronizing us by reporting and reviewing the very thing we saw not ten minutes ago.
BONUS POINT: That group of girls in the front row that have seemingly become Impact Zone “regulars.” Good looking girls…who love TNA…and show up for every taping? How bizarre. Tonight gets a 7/10.
Joe Leininger is based out of Gainesville, FL and writes on The Playing Field.
Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com