It’s been a long two months, but finally Abyss has returned to the Impact Zone. The masked monster had been “sidelined” since mid January after Crimson implanted his weapon of choice, Janice, square in Abyss’ back, causing him to collapse on stage and disappear up until last night.
While Beer Money and Kazarian were brawling with Ric Flair, Bully Ray, and Matt Hardy, the arena dimmed red and a new look Abyss appeared from the crowd, stormed the ring and helped destroy the Fortune members.
Say what you will about Abyss as a wrestler, but the guy has great dedication to his character and relentlessly works harder each match to serve as a vehicle to put other guys over. These past couple of months have felt slightly empty without the TNA original, and I’m sure glad he’s back. The brawl served to set up a decent match at Lockdown between Fortune and a Flair-led Immortal, now backed by the hated Bully Ray.
But will AJ Styles be there to compete at the upcoming PPV? Early indications are that Styles’ injury stunt last week was a work, instead of it being an excuse to write him off due to legitimate injuries. Even if this is the case, TNA cannot afford to keep him off television for long, especially considering his most recent time off with an abdominal injury. My prediction is that AJ makes a surprise appearance at TNA Lockdown, helping Fortune defeat Immortal in the cage.
[adinserter block=”2″]The main event angle continued to revolve around the cluttered No. 1 Contenders spot for Sting’s Heavyweight title. The opening, promos, and final match itself were up and down; the broadcast opened up with a, I kid you not, auto-tuned rant by Mr. Anderson, preaching to the choir about his lack of a title shot. Wow, TNA Creative, somebody’s been watching some Rebecca Black this past week. Anderson opened with an amusing skit featuring one of his old math teachers from UW-Green Bay, which ended in Anderson giving the poor chump a Mic Check for him telling Anderson’s object of affection that he was a homosexual. Cue tepid applause from the anti-bullying platform.
All of this show signs of promise, but TNA lazily drug out more characters (Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, Rob Van Dam, and Sting) to create the same kind of vibe in every one of their openings for the past month. After all the bitching and moaning, Hogan and Bischoff decided that RVD and Anderson would fight for the No. 1 Contender spot, while the “network” decided that Sting should be the enforcer for the match.
The match was nothing special, but it did feature your go-to motifs: the ref being knocked out for minutes on end (he might be dead, guys), Sting interjecting himself into the action and Anderson having a problem with it, and no clear winner, yet again. RVD was knocked unconscious via a Mic Check onto the ring post, and while Anderson and Sting were battling it out, the bell randomly rung and no one knew when the match was over and the aftermath was beginning. No one cared, either.
As much as I think this is more of a solution to include all of their high paid wrestlers in the spotlight, TNA can’t see the problem that these matches with no definitive ending are becoming repetitive, frustrating, and boring. You know what wasn’t boring and unoriginal, when Eric Bischoff instituted that Power Ranking system to determine the new No. 1 Contender last year. Sure, it had some flaws, but the effort and idea were solid enough to carry some incarnation of that voting system way past the two of three month run it lasted. Now I’ve gotten to the point, as a viewer, to just accept some sort of a Fatal Four Way match every PPV to determine the champion.
Other action saw The Pope continue his laughable feud with Samoa Joe, except this time The Pope would be squaring off against Joe’s lackey Okato (formerly Okada). As poorly as this random story has been handled, The Pope has taken his criticism well and really strived to become a more competent heel. You know you’ve made it when you beat your opponent mercilessly with your own shoe and the camera pans to the white women in the crowd, booing and pointing their thumbs down with haste.
Basically, the whole match was just a squash, which was fortunate because this Okato character could barely even take a back body bump correctly. In a move I don’t think I’ve seen before, Pope continued the humiliation by stuffing Okato’s head between the edge of the ring mat and the apron, choking him with the skirt. When enough was enough, Joe came out to fend off his nemesis, adding even more fuel to this combustible feud.
Later on in the show, Hernandez came out and introduced us to his friend, Anarchia, who we’ve seen interrupt matches at the past two events. Along with Sarita and Rosita, the group is slowly forming some sort of Mexican American contingency, and their first target is Matt Morgan, who comes out with Devon to battle the two in a street fight. Apparently Impact’s quota for jean-approved street fights is now one per episode.
In the middle of the match, Velvet Sky came out to fight Sarita, while Anarchia abruptly ended the fight by hitting Devon with brass knuckles behind the ref’s back. Wait, wait, wait…is this not a street fight? Aren’t implements of destruction such as brass knuckles not only legal, but encouraged in street fights? Come on, TNA, get your rules straight. Anarchia, much like Okato, didn’t impress me much in the ring, and for my money the group spouted off way too much Spanish, sans subtitles. Regardless, I love race wars in wrestling. For the most part, they are contemporary, develop easy heat, and get people talking. I just hope they don’t screw this one up.
In kind of a throwaway match, Ink Inc. lost to the team of Scott Steiner and Crimson. This would have been a decent filler match had it not been for Mike Tenay and Taz spoiling the end result. The past couple of weeks have seen a personality clash within the ranks of Ink Inc, mainly Shannon Moore disrespecting other wrestlers. Sure enough, after Crimson delivers a nasty Red Alert finisher for the win, Shannon starts pouting and wipes his ass with Steiner’s chained headpiece. But you probably could have guessed that by the way Tenay and Taz kept going on about Moore’s recent shenanigans.
Even though Crimson continued to look great in the ring, the bad execution would make it surprising if yet another tag team, Ink Inc. in this case, didn’t break up because of random personality shifts. One half of Motor City is on the shelf, guys. Can you really afford to lose another tag team and succumb to WWE’s singles-only format?
[adinserter block=”1″]There was also a Knockouts match that saw Mickie James defeat Tara, which in turn caused Madison Rayne to question Tara’s usefulness for not taking out Mickie and being an overall abject failure. While the spots were right on, the pacing was horrible—Tara owned Mickie the whole match, but the tides turned unconvincingly with one punch to the gut and a DDT for the win. The impending Hair vs. Title match at Lockdown could get a little more interesting. While I still expect Mickie to win the title (thus saving her hair), it was reported that James injured her shoulder during a house show in Jacksonville last week.
VERDICT. The return of Abyss was welcome, as was the mostly competent in ring maneuvers. However, the everlasting hodgepodge that they call the No. 1 Contender spot still doesn’t intrigue me enough to call this much of an improvement, especially considering the vast amount of time and resource the company pours into their Heavyweight title. Remember when secondary belts meant something?! 5/10
TNA iMPACT! March 24 Results:
Mickie James def. Tara, pinfall
Okato def. The Pope, DQ
Hernandez and Anarchia def. Matt Morgan and Devon, pinfall
Scott Steiner and Crimson def. Ink Inc., pinfall
Rob Van Dam and Mr. Anderson fought to a no contest
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