In the penultimate episode billed as big reveal after big reveal, some of the big surprises came with little theatrics while others seemed stale and begging with fresh faces. Mick Foley, Chris Harris, and Chyna were all unveiled as bit players on a night that was capped off by Mr. Anderson surviving a 25-man battle royal and ensuring a spot as No. 1 Contender for the TNA World Title.
I found it odd that TNA decided to reveal all their secrets in the first hour during a half hour span of television. The tamest of the surprises came when Matt Hardy confronted Beer Money in a nice in ring segment that was pleasantly void of any brawling. Hardy tried to rile up the Tag Team Champions by calling Robert Roode a “nobody” and James Storm an “alcoholic” (the irony being lost on everyone in that latter insult).
After both a commercial promo and Mike Tenay teased that Jeff Hardy would be Matt’s partner at Sacrifice on Sunday, Matt introduced a very bloated Chris Harris, the former tag partner of Storm in America’s Most Wanted, as his secret weapon to derailing Storm and taking the tag belts at the PPV. This had to be a cool moment for longstanding TNA fans, but I completely missed the boat on AMW when they were dominating the tag division and schooling teams, including a Canadian themed duo that used the services of Robert Roode.
Shortly thereafter, Sangriento and Suicide met in a rematch of last week’s disastrous match, which was supposed to highlight all the cool stuff Sangriento could do in his debut. Much like Sin Cara’s adjustment to American wrestling, the debut fell flat and Sangriento came off as an unpolished benchwarmer with a costume that appeared to have been designed by a six-year-old in art class. However, last night’s tilt saw the Mexican import hit on almost all his moves, including his springboard cutter finisher to seal the win against Suicide.
[adinserter block=”2″]To add insult to injury, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and Ric Flair came to the ring as Suicide was still licking his wounds. Flair, in order to reinforce the notion that he remains a heel and is definitely not the network representative, swiftly kicked Suicide in the groin and the trio demanded to know the identity of the rep. In something I can only describe as disappointingly anticlimactic, Mick Foley’s music hit and The Hardcore Legend stormed the ring, shoved Bischoff around and announced that he was indeed was network rep and the times were about to change.
Foley basically summed up Hogan and Bischoff’s reign of terror as wrestling crap and announced that this company will be about wrestling first and foremost, even calling TNA Wrestling dead and replacing it with a new, streamlined name of Impact Wrestling. While I understand the desire to rebrand yourself among stagnant ratings, Dixie Carter and Co. actually nixing the TNA anagram completely from their product could be a lethal mistake. Sex sells and the highest rated show on male-oriented Spike TV should know this better than anyone. I can only hope that their only American televised show is just getting the name change and not the entire company. Foley was right about one thing, though—it’s art imitating life as most can agree that Hulk Hogan’s run in TNA has been nothing more than flaccid.
In what ended up being a back-to-back reveal, Foley told us that Chyna was Kurt Angle’s business partner and would be tagging with Angle against the Jarretts at TNA Sacrifice. Of all these big twists, Chyna was clearly the one worth the wait. Chris Harris wasn’t a household name and I really think TNA missed the boat in not trying to encourage Jeff Hardy back for a match that could steal the show.
As for Mick Foley, what’s to say? He was hamming it up with EV2 late last year so consider me apathetic when this could have been someone more explosive like Paul Heyman (who will probably be Raw’s GM soon enough). I don’t see this move having that much of an impact on the ratings, but Foley does have decent chemistry with both Bischoff and Flair on the mic, so at least this will lessen the chances of ever having to hear people like Karen Jarrett stink up the joint.
Mick Foley’s first order of business was calling for the night’s main event to be a 25-man over the top battle royal for the No. 1 Contender spot for Sting’s World Title. In typical TNA fashion, they never once indicated that if this meant Rob Van Dam had lost his spot or if whoever won would be next in line. In many sporting venues, stipulations like this could easily be assumed, but this is TNA we are talking about and I’d never put it past them to switch up a PPV main event days before the show.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t just a handful of guys squashing the lesser talent—several mid card storylines were reinforced and possibly some were even introduced. The match started as both Hernandez and Matt Morgan started cleaning house, eliminating the likes of Douglas Williams, Magnus, Orlando Jordan, Anarquia, Jesse Neal, Shannon Moore, and Robbie E fairly quickly. While this was a nice little build up to the two big men possibly squaring off in this match, the timing was a bit odd seeing as how their feud was blown off and both had found new programs.
The Television Champ Gunner was out next, eliminated by Eric Young, who then promptly jumped out and thought he won the TV belt. Gunner chased after Young in what could be an entertaining mid card rivalry to come. Then came the payoff to the Matt Hardy-Beer Money mincing of words as Kazarian was ousted followed by Hardy and James Storm knocking each other out. As the refs tried to regain order, Hardy pulled Robert Roode over the top, eliminating most of Fortune in almost a minute.
Speaking of Fortune, the fat continued to be trimmed as Hernandez clotheslined Chris Daniels over the top, followed by Matt Morgan getting the last laugh as he dumped Hernandez. Morgan was then eliminated by Scott Steiner, who was quickly dumped over by Bully Ray (what a jerk!) with a little help from Morgan. I normally don’t care for the older guys, but I can’t wait for the entirety of the Morgan-Steiner program, which should be rife with verbal gems and suplexes from Hell.
Down to the last eight guys, Devon survived long enough to accidentally eliminate himself as The Pope pulled the top rope down, sending him over. Kurt Angle quickly ejected The Pope for excessive celebration. AJ Styles thought for sure he threw over Bully Ray and was distracted long enough for Tommy Dreamer to sneak up and throw Styles over. This is normally where I’d forge my soapbox about Styles jobbing, but knowing the fluidity of TNA reassures me that he’ll be back headlining in a few short months, hopefully.
Bully Ray was clearly using Dreamer as a pawn and threw him out right after AJ.
The final four saw both Ray and Mr. Anderson get knocked out of the ring, but not over the top as this gave us a preview of Jeff Jarrett and Kurt Angle. Angle was distracted by Karen and Jeff tossed him over, who amidst his celebration didn’t see Chyna enter the ring and toss him out. While I appreciate the effort, TNA writers, how many refs were out there? Six?! If I were Jarrett I would definitely push for an angle where he complains about the unjust finish and reasserts himself into the title picture.
Down to the final two, Mr. Anderson and Bully Ray squared off as Ray dominated early, but got trapped in a headlock and thrown over as Mr. Anderson won. As much as I love Anderson’s character and antics, I was kind of hoping for someone fresher like The Pope or heck, even Chris Daniels to be given the ball on this one. Either candidate could easily take a back seat in the next program to RVD or Sting, and a possible Chris Daniels underdog run could also feature a slight rift between him and the looked over, jealous friend, AJ Styles.
After the match, Mr. Anderson compared himself to a Navy SEAL and took shots exclusively at Sting. I’m still debating whether or not this was intentional, but I’m leaning towards this being a giant SNAFU by the usually reliable Anderson. His tirade at the end didn’t even mention RVD, to which TNA tried to play off as Anderson thinking very little of RVD and recording a back lot segment that suddenly included RVD in his stance of being an “equal opportunist a$$hole.” Anderson may have screwed up, but TNA isn’t that boneheaded.
Normally when someone screws up at a taped Impact, they just run it back like nothing happened. But in a world where spoilers are released that night (and this was taped nine days prior, mind you), the story of Anderson cutting two promos because he accidentally revealed that Sting was going to win at Sacrifice would be beyond embarrassing. With this mistake I find it unlikely that neither RVD nor Anderson will take the belt off of Sting at the next two PPV’s, which is really a crying shame.
In a match to continue Crimson’s ascent up the ladder, he defeated Samoa Joe and Abyss in a triple threat match after spearing Abyss and pinning Joe, fresh off a Black Hole Slam. Same as before, though, Abyss attacked Crimson and Samoa Joe walked away rambling about living by the sword and dying by the sword. Crimson is a huge body with untapped potential and any episode of Impact is better with him on the card.
[adinserter block=”1″] The Knockouts portion of the show saw one of my favorite moments of the night. Tara and Madison Rayne squared off against the hodgepodge face team of Mickie James and Miss Tessmacher. When Tessmacher was tagged in Madison was so beside herself about how little she thought of Tessmacher that Madison actually grabbed her stomach laughing and did her prom queen wave. It was short lived as Tessmacher took to the offensive and victory rolled Rayne from the top rope for the win.
VERDICT. The four matches we saw were great, including the surprise battle royal which was layered nicely. However, the meek crescendo of all of TNA’s reveals left me yearning for any number of them to storm the ring during a match, assist the appropriate party and get on the mic, explaining themselves. Instead, we could have just as well had a game show host signal for a curtain pull and say, “Oh, here’s your surprise.” Considering the show was taped over a week in advance, the timing was questionable at best. I’m beating a dead horse at this point, but these are the exact types of things you need to save for live events. Still, though, Chyna?! What a blast from the past. 8/10.
“COMING SOON, REVELATIONS!, THE PPV! FIND OUT WHO IS RUNNING TNA! IS IT D-LO BROWN? IS HE REFORMING THE NATION OF DOMINATION WITH THE POPE AND JAY LETHAL? OH, WE FIRED HIM? OH WELL. REVELATIONS!! FINALLY, THE TWO YEAR DRAMA BETWEEN KURT ANGLE AND THE JARRETTS WILL BE RESOLVED! COMING FALL 2012!”
TNA May 12 Impact Results
Miss Tessmacher and Mickie James def. Madison Rayne and Tara, pinfall
Sangriento def. Suicide, pinfall
Crimson def. Samoa Joe and Abyss in a 3-way, pinfall
Mr. Anderson won 25-man battle royal for No. 1 Contender spot
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