After the Jeff Hardy debacle at Victory Road Sunday, I was really expecting TNA to put on an excellent show in the face of adversity and criticism. In case you weren’t one of the handful of people who watched the potentially great PPV, Hardy was nearly incapacitated to the point that he had to be held up on each arm right before coming out for his Heavyweight title match against Sting in the main event. He stumbled to the ring, almost tripped twice, got into altercations with fans, saw more in-ring action with his t-shirt than Sting, and was eventually pinned in a mere 90 seconds without landing an offensive move.
Once again, that was the main event at their pay-per-view, a show that ended a good 20 minutes before the three hour mark and saw the other high profile match, Rob Van Dam and Mr. Anderson, end in a double count out. Many people speculated about Hardy’s drug use, conditioning, and overall commitment to the sport, but whatever it was it led to Hardy being sent home for all three Impact tapings this week. Ouch.
So what could TNA do to make up for such a blunder? I mean, not too many people see the PPV’s anyway; Impact, however, remains the top rated show on SPIKE, so an explosive show with coherency and PPV-worthy matches should cure what ails them. It’s just too bad this show was a load of crap served on the plate Hardy uses to bump lines off of day in and day out.
The only redeeming part of this segment was the frank discussion about Jeff Hardy letting down Immortal on Sunday. Even though Bischoff spun it to sound like Hardy just had his worst, unluckiest match of all time, it was clearly an analogy for Hardy’s shortcomings behind the curtain, and all three guys justifiably teed off on the former champ. Hogan even showed his sense of humor, telling Sting, “put that in your Stinger pipe and smoke it!”
After the Hardy roast, for no apparent reason Bully Ray came out and demanded a title shot from Sting. This prompted AJ Styles and the rest of Fortune, followed by Mr. Anderson and his best Jim Carey impression, with all parties once again demanding a title shot. Like tossing a bunch of random ingredients into a crock pot, tonight’s main event came together swell—Styles, Ray, Rob Van Dam, and Anderson in a 4-way for the No. 1 Contender spot.
MADISON RAYNE vs. ALYSSA FLASH. I think they said the girl’s name was “Alyssa Flash” but you wouldn’t know otherwise because Madison came out to ambush her as she was coming down the ramp, threw a couple of punches and landed the Rain Drop, winning in a cool 20 seconds. As expected, Mickie James came out to the ring and demanded a title shot at Lockdown. Madison counters with a brilliant point about her being something like 76-0 against Mickie at TNA, so why would she deserve the match? Rayne explicitly stated that she wants Mickie’s head—more precisely, her hair. So, if Mickie loses, she’ll have her head shaved by Madison at Lockdown. As much as I love Madison, that’s just gross. Cool match TNA, now Alyssa, go back to selling Abyss masks at the merch table.
THE POPE HEALER. In a more blatant attempt to become more heel, The Pope holds a healing ceremony and it features a blind man, a cripple, and a comically obese woman, replete with fat suit. Although this made me chuckle a couple of times, it was still gratingly corny and surprisingly ended when Samoa Joe crashed the party with Okada. Pope gained the upper hand, kidnapped Okada and tortured him backstage until Joe found them and made the save. Man, those guys are always meddling in each other’s business. They should probably settle this in a steel cage, huh, Russo?
JARRETTS IN RING. Jeff and Karen arrive and say they want to extend the olive branch to Kurt Angle after these past few turbulent months. In an event so shocking that you have to change your pants, Angle comes out with present in tow, revealing it to be a guitar. Said guitar is then smashed over Jeff’s head and he is bleeding everywhere! Clean up on aisle snore. Later, Karen would freak out and demand that Kurt be arrested.
GUNNER vs. MURPHY vs. ROB TERRY. Bischoff set up this match as a triple threat to fill the vacant TV title, last held by a very MIA Abyss. How bad has this episode been so far? This is the first men’s match and we are 75 minutes into the program. Sheesh. This match was also extremely short, ending with Gunner’s sweet overhead slam on Murphy to win the belt. I’ll give ‘em credit here…this match was so out of left field that it worked, possibly vaulting Gunner as a legitimate lunatic heel (he bent down and grasped the belt with his mouth like a dog).
HERNANDEZ, SARITA, and ROSITA vs. MATT MORGAN, ANGELINA LOVE, and WINTER. Grrr, street fight! Jeans! Mexicans! This match had it all! Dying to hear Hernandez cut a sociology-driven promo in the ring? In stock. In desperate need of another two-minute, house fire of a match? Got ya covered. Yearning to find out what four-foot-nothin’ Rosita would look like wrestling against the seven footer, Matt Morgan? Sorry, get a rain check. Winter ended up pinning Rosita, but the team’s celebration was cut short when a plant jumped the ring to assist Hernandez in what I hope Russo dubs The Mexi-vasion.
AJ STYLES vs. ROB VAN DAM vs. BULLY RAY vs. MR. ANDERSON. Star power was bountiful in this first pin four-way main event, but it just started off sloppy. Styles even tried the classic move steal by attempting the monkey flip, but to no avail. At one point, each guy hits another with a signature move and goes for the pin attempt. This was one of the better executed moments of the night, but it’s still horribly predictable as nothing more than space filler. Eventually, referee Earl Hebner saw both Anderson and RVD lying down, just kind of next to each other and decided to count a pin for no one in particular. My brother and I put on more coherent endings to matches in our living room as kids.
Because he wants people to know he’s a dick, Bully Ray smashes both Hebner and ring announcer Jeremy Borash over the head before turning his attention to Styles, who he eventually beats down thanks to an assist from Ric Flair. Flair then coerced Ray to hit Styles with a Bubba Bomb, dropping from the stage onto a table down below.
VERDICT. Annnnd, that was the show. I think we saw a grand total of 12 minutes of wrestling, which couldn’t hold a candle to that last 15 minutes of awkward post-Ray clean-up. This was TNA’s chance to right the ship after an abysmal PPV, but we were treated to nothing better than the cutting room scraps. Perhaps it was already waiving the weekly white flag in the face of NCAA basketball, or perhaps this was just a sign of things to come. Whatever it was, I can guarantee you that WWE’s The Miz wouldn’t come close to calling it “awesome.” 2/10
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