I’m not even going to pretend as someone who only casually checks in on WWE that I didn’t watch that last Monday Night Raw from Anaheim. The promotion machine worked-I wanted to know the big reveal and Vince delivered a bombshell in The Rock. With that said could The Little Engine That Could, TNA iMPACT deliver the same electric shock that we all saw Monday night from The Brahma Bull? The answer is probably not; however, under these circumstances that is probably the best 15 minutes of wrestling anyone will see for a while.
IMMORTAL OPENING. Eric Bischoff and the gang hit the ring and introduce the newly crowned TNA Champion, Jeff Hardy. Yeah, that’s right…Mr. Anderson had the strap for only one month before Hardy won it back last Sunday at TNA Against All Odds. I wasn’t sure how seriously to take Immortal when they came out, seeing as how Gunner was rocking a wolf shirt and Jeff Hardy was trying for the vampire look. It’s my understanding that teenage girls go absolutely bonkers for that crap, but we are supposed to loathe Immortal. That means you too, indiscriminate Justin Bieber fan.
[adinserter block=”2″]For the most part, Bischoff talked about the main event title match that would be happening later tonight between Hardy and RVD, on orders from “the network.” He then addressed the recently absent Ric Flair and where his allegiance stood, prompting The Nature Boy to come out and do his fairly entertaining God rant. He also explained that he doesn’t take orders from anyone, thrust his hips at any and all attractive women in The Impact Zone and left. Flair was brief, convincing, and on point tonight—a great way to open the show.
JARRETTS DATE SEGMENTS. I’m usually not a big fan of non-wrestling antics on television, but the vignettes of the Jarretts on their date were entertaining enough, stretching from the first commercial break up to right before the main event. We first see Jeff and Karen relaxing to messages while talking about getting fixed for tuxedos and what Kurt (who lost at AAO) will wear to their ceremony March 3rd. Later, we join in as the couple are steaming away in a hot tub, dropping cloyingly sweet lines like “it’s Valentine’s Day every day in the Jarrett household.” Really, Jeff, it’s 24/7 V-Day in that house with all eight or so kids running around?
We catch up with the Jarretts that evening in a limo on their way to a romantic dinner. Karen said she was really excited about something called a “crab meat cocktail” and made a terribly blatant reference to her lady parts as tonight’s dessert. To conclude, the couple is partaking in the dinner, sending Jeff into a rage when the food is below satisfactory. Kurt Angle storms the joint, chef coat and all, chasing away the still cowardly Jarrett. But before that, Jeff was pretentiously asking the rattled cook if he knew about March 3rd, and he might have even thrown the food on the floor. Stay classy, Double J.
DOUGLAS WILLIAMS vs. HERNANDEZ. Fresh off his assault of Matt Morgan Sunday, Hernandez came to the ring with Sarita and Rosita…I didn’t know wrestling was bringing back Gang Wars. I’m sure if Homicide was still under employ he would have been ringside, too. Shockingly, Hernandez squashed Williams, capped off with a nasty finisher called The Border Toss (looked like Outsiders Edge). Williams landed awkwardly on the back of his neck, so I sure hope he’s okay after what looked like a botched move. I know TNA wants to build up Hernandez, but Williams is a recent champion and he barely landed a move.
THE POPE IN RING. If I thought the writing of that last match was bad, I don’t know what to call this travesty of a segment. Pope took over the ring and adorned it with tropical décor and a freshly spit-roasted pig. He called the pig a Sloppy Joe and took the whole segment trashing Samoa Joe and name dropped people like Michael Jackson, Ronald Reagan, and “you know the one you people call Jesus?” as believers in himself. Watching this unfold you would have thought that Pope was victorious over Joe at Against All Odds, but it Joe that bested him. The Samoan Submission Machine hit the ring in tee and what looked to be bordering on skinny jeans and destroyed the Pope, giving him a Muscle Buster through the table with the pig. Whatever…all I know is that this isn’t wrestling and it didn’t do much to advance the feud.
ROBBIE E vs. KAZARIAN. This was a non-title match and a rematch from the pay-per-view, ignited by a couple of nicely done in ring promos by both parties. While Kaz is much more enjoyable as a face, it’s still really hard to shake those demeaning promos he cut as a self-absorbed heel not but a month ago. The match itself actually had good pacing before Cookie ruined it by blatantly coming in and nailing Kaz with an over sized purse in front of the ref. Kazarian takes the win via DQ as the two Shore members stomp him, prompting Traci Brooks to bounce her way down and lend a hand to the Fortune pretty boy. I’d welcome a possible mixed tag thrown in later, but only if Traci purchases a better sports bra…those things were flopping around like a pair of glued on googly eyes.
FORTUNE BACKSTAGE. Ric Flair joins the guys backstage and tells them everything is on the up and up, even going so far as getting them gifts…which turned out to be the it’s-so-done-it’s-funny Iced prank. Other highlights included Flair forgetting how to throw up the Fortune hand sign and James Storm downing two malt beverages. How cute of Flair to forget something so trivial—something smells rotten in the state of Orlando.
MATT HARDY vs. AJ STYLES. As much as I rail on Matt Hardy, the dude looks like he whipped himself into shape in the past couple of weeks, but this match was still stained by a terribly botched move. Styles went for a front flip to the outside on Hardy, but instead of catching him on the chest, most of Styles weight landed directly on Hardy’s collarbone. It looked so nasty that I wouldn’t have been surprised if both guys injured themselves, but luckily neither one came up hobbling.
Later, AJ was going for his springboard punch when Flair jumped on the apron and knocked him down, leading to a Hardy win and a Flair defection from the group he formed. Even if the swerve had been made obvious, why not save it for the end? I know the ratings are broken down by quarter hours, but TNA isn’t even trying to disguise their blatant pandering of shock and awe moments at these intervals.
MR. ANDERSON IN RING. The former champ comes out and demands to talk to Bischoff about not being the number one contender for the belt anymore. Eric Bischoff shows up and tells him that his is what the network ordered and that Anderson is just too vulgar for the main event. That makes butt loads of sense, Eric; the channel that broadcasts shows like 1000 Ways to Die, Manswers, and Gangland can be convincing as a censorship fiend? That writing is downright laughable. Anyway, Anderson is named the ref for the title match tonight, thanking Bischoff by giving him a Mic Check for his troubles. This was a nice touch as it reminded me of those old segments between Vince and Stone Cold that usually ended with a Stunner.
THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE vs. ROSITA and SARITA. Before the match, Angelina warned Winter to stay in back while Winter spouted off some creepy things and wielded a pair on concealed scissors. My guess is an Angelina voodoo doll, but I’m sure Vince Russo has something even more elaborate cooked up. This match didn’t feature much, other than Angelina absolutely towering over Rosita and Sarita cheating to get the pin on Velvet. After wards, Sarita talked a bunch of Spanish and eventually challenged Velvet to an end-all match next week. If Velvet loses, she retires. Man, the Knockouts come off as real caddy with all these career threatening matches. Just fight in what amounts to be bedazzled bikinis and call it a day.
After the break, champion Madison Rayne issued an open challenge to any woman next week on Impact. I’m taking this as a sign that a new face will emerge, pushing the staggering number of Knockouts to around ten.
BULLY RAY SEGMENT. The announce team began to talk about how Ray absolutely destroyed Devon and his sons Sunday to the point where they wouldn’t even show any stills of the match. Tenay and Taz did an excellent job hyping the pay-per-view and probably even sold a couple of replays just by themselves. That said, some matches on the card weren’t even resolved by the duo while others had you believing incorrect results. According to Bischoff, Gunner, Murphy, and Rob Terry were victorious, when in reality Beer Money and Scott Steiner dominated that match.
All this PPV talk led to Bully Ray coming to the announce table and threatening Tenay and Taz. Ray played his bully character and we ended up with some solid banter between he and Taz, who used sparingly can be a great spark plug for the program.
[adinserter block=”1″]JEFF HARDY (Champion) vs. ROB VAN DAM. I loved the idea of this match. While inconceivable that RVD would take the belt back so soon, it was just nice seeing him main event a show for a change. In all his glory, Hardy birthed himself from a chicken egg and Taz mentioned the “bad romance between Hardy and RVD.” I could say that referencing a passing pop culture moment was bad enough, but it’s inexcusable to parody an event that was happening simultaneously with your low buy rate PPV.
The match started off slow and for my money was incomplete without a patented RVD monkey flip, one of the best moves in wrestling today. Right around when Hardy began mocking his own babyface dance moves is when the match kicked into second gear and took off. RVD gained momentum with a Five Star Frog Splash and had a convincing repertoire with Anderson, who didn’t fast count RVD and even saw Hardy’s foot on the rope. The bout came to a sudden end when Hardy mule kicked RVD square in the nards and delivered a fatal Twist of Hate, with Anderson slightly hesitating on the three count. Jeff Hardy retains the belt, but Anderson keeps face, name drops Titletown, USA and gives both Hardy and RVD Mic Checks before exiting stage left.
VERDICT. The matches themselves were exciting and the Jarrett date night was, if nothing else, different. Still, Doug Williams jobbing and the throwaway match between Robbie E and Kaz are still signs of inconsistent story telling by the staff. The show seemed very disjointed from the fallout at Against All Odds and The Pope segment set back the credibility of pro wrestling at least a decade. Perhaps I’m being overly harsh, but I was spoiled on The Rock doing things like calling John Cena a giant bowl of Fruity Pebbles and telling an announcer to rectally insert a laptop. Impact, you never stood a chance, my friend. 6/10.
Joe Leininger is based out of Gainesville, FL and writes on The Playing Field.
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