Talking Non-Stop… & Anderson – TNA iMPACT! 21/3/11

Sting and the Hulkster in a verbal duel

Sting and the Hulkster in a verbal duel

It seems only fitting that my first post for TNAUK.tk would come at a time where criticism of the company and its management, creative and talent is high. An event well built up with strong iMPACT! shows, a particularly successful show in North Carolina and a very significant title win by Sting, a 1.4 cable rating in the States, 163,000 watching the same episode on 8th March in the UK, the Victory Road Pay-Per-View shaped up superbly for a B-Grade Orlando-specific PPV. And, for the most part, it was.

Strong matches with the Ultimate-X competitors, Beer Money Inc. and AJ Styles vs. Matt Hardy completely made up for the confusing Hernandez vs. Matt Morgan finish and a slow Knockouts ending, and the action continued through the Number 1 Contenders match between Rob Van Dam and Mr. Anderson… AN-DER-SON! It surprises me how Anderson and RVD flow well, given their contrasting wrestling styles. One or two hiccups occurred, but Anderson was comically superb when it did. “I meant to do that” he exclaimed to the front row. What Anderson may lack in wrestling ability, he certainly makes up for entertainment value.

A draw adds longevity to a programme between RVD and Anderson, or, in the grand scheme of things, Anderson solely. (More on that in a moment.) And before the Main Event, you’d be forgiven for thinking “I’ll take a draw between these two, as I get to see Sting vs. Jeff Hardy.” But, I’m guessing that after the Main Event, the whole Pay-Per-View felt like a complete let-down. Hardy was unproffessional, unsporting, selfish, ignorant, embarrassing and, worst of all, a disgraceful example to the many fans, particularly kids in the audience that look up to Jeff. The fact that he chose to spend the money he earns as a wage on whatever substance he was high on this time disgusts me because much of said wage is made up of merchandise sales, ticket sales… basically money the fans pay to see guys like Jeff perform.

Personally, I’ve been a fan of Sting since 1992. His comeback in North Carolina sent shivers down my spine, just like the night of Bound for Glory 2006 where he took a guitar to the head, pounded his chest like a maniac and the crowd erupted with excitement, just as they had resigned themselves to another cheated win by Jeff Jarrett. Just like the night of Starrcade 1997 where, through the turmoil surrounding Bret Hart, Nick Patrick and Hollywood Hogan, Sting won the WCW Heavyweight Championship.

The disrespect Jeff Hardy showed his opponent on the night of TNA Victory Road nauseated me. This is the same Jeff Hardy that proclaimed he was too a fan of Sting on a WWE DVD. I wonder what it feels to have your idol look at you in disgust. I wonder if Hardy cared that night. I wonder if Hardy KNEW…

A draw in a Number 1 Contenders match and an 88 second Main Event between an Icon and a stoned idiot meant iMPACT! would have the unenviable task of picking TNA up off the mat yet again and dusting off the crap.

Opening: We begin, as always on TNA iMPACT! with an in-ring promo.

The first question that comes to mind is why every single iMPACT! has to begin with an in-ring promo. A high-octane, adrenaline-pumping X-Division bout would be a break from the norm. Alas, no.

Sting’s music hits and he walks down the ramp to a rapturous applause from the Orlando crowd.

It was particularly good to see that the Australians and Brits were still there at ring-side after what they’d seen at the Pay-Per-View Sunday night.

The first thing you notice is Sting carrying two belts. One is the Jeff Hardy-inspired TNA World Championship. The other is a rather glorious gold, classic TNA World Championship. A 21st Century design on the World Heavyweight Championship all WCW fans once knew and one the WWE-only brigade will probably say has nothing on the current World Championship they bought back in the 2001 purchase of WCW. With that, the design has clearly had High Definition in mind. TNA’s logo in a smooth silver finish and a gold surround with gold plates on the leather holder. Much better than the last, and long overdue.

Sting gains an almighty “boo” from the crowd by stating that this is “HOGAN’S show.”

The Orlando crowd could be on good form tonight, but you do imagine what sort of a response that would have got in another arena around the world, much less in America. Sting requests that Hogan and Bischoff come out for a confrontation. Both oblige and Hogan does his very worst at being the bad-guy, fist-bumping with a couple of fans on his way to the ring. Good job, “Hulk.”

Sting speaks about Hardy being responsible for his decisions, and blames Hogan and Bischoff for infecting his brain and turning him to the dark side. Sting says he can’t help Hardy, but speaks up for the rest of the TNA roster that deserves more than what they’re getting under Hogan’s control of TNA. Hogan retaliated with cheap shots, referring to Stings part-time dates, which is hypocritical of Hogan, who spent how many months off with back problems? He even treads thin ice why asking “who are you man?” Hogan says Hardy let Immortal down. Not the other way around. And that Hogan has plenty of people calling him from all over the world, offering to take place of Hardy. Even Sting is replaceable, says Hogan. Sting calls Hogan’s bluff. “Where are they, because every week, all I see is [Hogan] and [Bischoff] and nobody else except for a couple of punks.” To which the music hits of… Bully Ray.

Seriously? Well I wasn’t expecting that.

Ray is happy to finally have a chance, after “20 years” in the wrestling business. He states that there wouldn’t be wrestling without Hogan. Sting responds away from the mic “brown nose.” He calls Sting a side-show, background band, comparing him to Brother Devon. He says Sting is jealous, selfish and has the fans fooled.

An excellent reference to his current feud in a very good promo from Ray. He has an excellent knack for being good or bad and making the fans love or hate him. Ray claims that Sting came back because Sting knew he couldn’t one-up Hogan, which is factually incorrect, but we’ll role with it.

Bully Ray is desperate to be a part of Immortal, and will happily take out Sting and become the TNA Champion. Ray reckons if Sting takes two steps left and two steps right, he’d still be in Hogan’s shadow. Hogan takes the mic and almost gives Ray a match against Sting, but Fourtune will interrupt before Hogan gets it out. Fourtune offer their support to Sting through AJ Styles, and then AJ takes straight to the offence on Ray. He thinks that Ray aspired to be a singles wrestler, but instead chose to let Devon do his work for him in tag-team competition. Ray makes references on Dixie Carter “breastfeeding” AJ and, let’s just say “Mothering” him for the past 8 years. He thinks that without Devon, Ray could have been a 23 time World Champion. AJ is a small man in the ring with giants, according to Bully Ray, who then turns back to Hogan and requests him and Hogan get back to the matter of Ray getting a title shot. Ray receives a huge slap in the face from AJ, and as Ray advances to fight AJ, Hogan and Bischoff hold him back and Mr. Anderson makes his way down to the ring. This is going to get interesting.

I personally thought the Dixie comment was a nice touch, given Hogan was now in charge. However again, it’s not really factual, given she wasn’t booking or even an on-screen power figure until just before Hogan arrived.

Instantly, Anderson has the crowd in his hands – the sign of the perfect talker in a wrestling ring. He asks, in that typical comical yet serious way, where his rematch for the World Title is. “Is it hangin’ up there? Is it down there? Where is it?”

More and more I think Anderson is being moulded to act like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin with a mix of Jim Carrey, and it’s working to perfection.

“You know, you really are an asshole,” replies Hogan.

Another poor retort from Hogan. Can this guy even cut a promo anymore? But Anderson will save that comment with his absolutely hilarious “devastated” reaction.

Taking a stumble back in “devastation”, using the rope of leverage, he then proceeds to back-bump, reminiscent of those classic Ric Flair promos back in the days of the NWA and WCW. Back up, he admits that he’s just what Hogan accused him of being, and that he owns it, lives it and loves it. Hogan will explain to Anderson, once the laughter has died down, that he couldn’t beat RVD so he’s out of the mix, conveniently forgetting and conveniently reminded by Anderson that RVD didn’t win either. But yet again, Anderson one-ups Hogan on the mic by saying “it’s your call, TERRENCE!” This gets an “oh no he didn’t” reaction out of the crowd, who are eating up everything Anderson throws their way in the name of entertainment. Bischoff will chirp up now and be the booker. Again, the network is blamed for getting in Immortal’s business. So Bischoff makes a four-way between Bully Ray, Anderson, Rob Van Dam and AJ Styles.

Anderson was on fire tonight, and has easily been the best wrestler on the mic all the way through this segment which, timed at around 19 minutes excluding the ad-break in between, was held back by Hulk Hogan. Bully Ray is, quite honestly, a baffling option to have come down and request a title shot. Who will it be next week? Shark Boy? Eric Young? BooBoo Stewart? Take a look at that TNA roster and question who you’d have try and get into Immortal and realistically challenge the World Champion. Desmond Wolfe anyone?

Backstage Arrival: We briefly see Kurt Angle with a massive box – a wedding present for the Jarrett’s.

The bloke who was asking questions probably needs to be substituted. He was awful. I’m interested to know what’s in the box, and what Kurt will do, as he’s been thoroughly entertaining in recent weeks.

Backstage Segment: AJ asks for Rob Van Dam to watch his back tonight. RVD refuses, obviously.

This segment didn’t make much sense to me. AJ has Fourtune behind him, and is also in a match WITH RVD.

Match 1: TNA Knockouts Champion, Madison Rayne vs. Alyssa Flash. This match was part of Madison Rayne’s Knockout Championship open challenge, and Alyssa returning for one night. Alyssa makes her entrance, and is jumped by Madison using the title belt. In the ring, the bell rings, Madison rubs Alyssa’s face in the mat and finishes her. Madison pins Alyssa in 16 seconds. A beat-down ensues, and Mickie James makes the save, taking the microphone and asking for a title shot. Madison says if she puts her title up, Mickie needs to put something up. She will shave her head at Lockdown if Mickie accepts. And she does.

Wow. Another waste of time and a good female wrestling talent buried and jobbed out for no reason. <sarc> And I wonder who’ll win that match at Lockdown. </sarc>

Backstage Segment: “The Pope” is instructing three characters on what they should do in the ring when he “cures” them of their ailments. One is blind, one is overweight and one is a paraplegic.

I believe my hand covered my face at this point, wondering if we were actually going to see some WRESTLING.

Backstage Segment: We come back to see Anderson in Hogan’s office. In the end, Hogan says that Anderson can either doing things his way, or Immortals way, with which Anderson throws the cameraman out of the office. It seems Hogan just offered Anderson a way into Hogan’s good-books.

Is “where’s my title rematch/shot” becoming a bit of a cliché now? If Anderson continues to offer excellent promos and energy, he should be okay. The sarcasm and emotion from Anderson shows why this guy is the number one man to cut promos in the company. The awkward pause and inability to stay on subject from Hogan shows why this guy shouldn’t be on TV anymore; “I don’t know who you are, but I damn sure know who I am.” He also said similar to Sting at the top of the programme; “Who are you man?” Pretty embarrassing. I consider Bischoff more capable of cutting a decent promo than Hulk Hogan. Bischoff should have done this instead of Hogan.

In-ring Segment: We’re following up on “The Pope’s” segment with the three actors. The “blind” man is “cured” with Pope’s “magic oil”, which is spit.

For a heel, Pope really isn’t doing a decent job. I think the problem with this is that Pope is just too good of a talker. It’s a likable character Pope has managed to construct. The most amusing thing about this is the blind man giving Pope a “Hallelujah” instead of an “Amen.”

Next up is the “disabled” man. Pope kicks him in the legs a couple of times to “prove” he’s disabled. A feel of both legs and a slap of the head later, the “disabled” man stands, dances and gives an “Amen.”

Awful.

Finally, the “overweight” woman. Pope tentatively wonders how he’s going to do this. He puts his hands on her waist and shakes it a bit. After a moment, he gives up, laughs and states that even Jesus Himself can’t help her lose weight. The lady starts to cry.

Ouch.

Samoa Joe’s music hits straight away. Pope hides behind the crying woman, and questions why Joe and the “Black Hornet wanna-be” keep interrupting him, soon escaping out the ring and being chased by Joe’s new side-kick, Kazuchika Okada. Pope puts a knife to Okada’s neck, and walks him up the ramp. Okada keeps stepping on Pope’s shoes, to which Pope will comically hit Okada on the head with the microphone, invoking a round of laughter from the audience. It turned out to be a Joke Knife that retracts when pressured. Pope takes Okada down the tunnel and Joe gives chase.

Joe looks up for business, as always. Any potential heat the knife could bring on Pope is soon extinguished with his comedy.

Coming back from the break, Pope has tied Okada up, and continues to beat on him with a kick, open-handed slaps to the face and stomach, beaten with a cane and his mask is removed. Pope is taunting and bad-mouthing Okada while he beats him, still bitter about the fact he was videotaped all those months back. Joe finds Okada as Pope runs into the distance. And Joe is purely pissed.

It’s an interesting way to bring in a new wrestler, which I don’t recall being done recently in TNA. However, Samoa Joe seems to be low-to-mid-carding on a constant basis, which is infuriating. If Bully Ray can get a chance to get in the Main Event at Lockdown, then this truly is a sad state of affairs for TNA’s original talent.

Backstage Segment: RVD finds Anderson. Van Dam goes straight onto the question of what Anderson’s motives are after his meeting with Hogan. Is he going to work for himself, or for Immortal? Anderson wonders if RVD is in with Hogan after refusing to watch AJ’s back. Van Dam says we’ll find out tonight.

Another poor, pointless segment, really. It doesn’t matter if anyone is in Hogan’s pocket now, because they’re all going against each other. Nobody can turn on anyone because they all have a problem with each other!

Backstage Segment: Angelina Love needs to pick her partner between Winter and Velvet for tonight. She picked Winter due to the Velvet’s cock-up at Victory Road, according to Winter.

In-ring Segment: Jeff Jarrett and Karen in the ring. Jeff wants to put aside all the animosity, as long as Kurt begs for forgiveness, for the sake of all the kids. So, Kurt enters with the massive box from earlier. Taz and Mike Tenay debate what’s in the box. Taz seems to think it’s a big fork for the lady in the Pope segment.

Taz = Class.

Kurt looks happy, and gives in to Jarrett’s taunting over the past few weeks. He admits Jarrett is the better man and gives him the present. Jeff’s eyes light up as he opens it and pulls out a guitar with an American flag design on it, greeted by a couple of “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan “Hooooo” chants from the crowd.

Yeah.

Kurt raises the hands of Karen and Jeff in the ring, with the guitar… and smashes Jeff over the head with it.

Predictable.

Karen drops down from behind and low-blows Kurt, but Kurt doesn’t sell it. He laughs! She tries again, but Kurt just stands there. He reaches into his jeans and pulls out a cup that sportsmen wear!

It’s not Bret and Goldberg, 1998, but it’s good. It bounces awkwardly towards Karens face, which is very amusing to fans in the know about Karen’s past with Kurt.

Jeff, on the other hand, is busted WIDE open on the back of the head. Kurt kicks the box out of the ring, and goes on an absolutely crazy tirade on the mic. Kurt is intense and says he’s ready to go medieval on someone. Veins are popping out and his skin is dark red. He says that he’s sick of all of it as he backs towards Karen while Jeff lies on the floor pleading. Kurt challenges Jeff for a match at Lockdown, and if Jeff refuses or tries to get it overturned by Hogan or Bischoff, Kurt will find Karen and Jeff and make their lives a complete misery.

Angle was excellent. The words ran off the tongue perfectly, and it was almost as if the crazy Kurt Angle we saw in North Carolina that put Karen’s face in cake and brought an axe to the wedding to smash the set was coming out to play at Lockdown. The wrestling talent of both of these and the intensity of Kurt on the mic here has made me anticipate this match already. Now THAT was a segment that made sense.

Backstage Segment: Bischoff is giving a pep-talk to Rob Terry, Gunner and Murphy. All three of these people are in Immortal and will get a shot to win the vacated TNA TV Title, due to former champion Abyss being out of action.

These three aren’t TNA originals, but they are TNA’s own, so this match is hard to criticise.

Backstage Segment: Karen and Jeff have called the Police in a brief mid-ad-break segment.

Match 2: Gunner vs. Murphy vs. Rob Terry for the TNA TV Title. Right from the off, there are problems between Gunner and Murphy. Gunner in the ring first, looking at the TV camera. Murphy steps in front to get on TV. Cracks formed in the former tag-team. Rob Terry still gets a good pop from the crowd for a heel. Rob flexes to the TV side and turns to get a spear from Gunner. Gunner then takes Murphy up for a Death Valley Driver, converting it into a DDT mid-air. The referee counts three, and Gunner is the new champ.

A short match, but Rob Terry’s usually are, sadly. Gunner after being handed the title looks like an absolute maniac. Almost Rhino-esq. Excellent character development in those few seconds. Bischoff comes out to applaud Gunner.

Backstage Interview: AJ Styles stumbles through a promo for the Main Event, given the earlier attempt to get RVD on-side. He tries to make it sound like it was a logical thing to do, but it simply wasn’t. In the end, he is satisfied that there are no allies in this match. Ric Flair cuts him off, and says that right now, he has to deal with him. So he does. By socking him in the mouth. “That felt good” says AJ, and then walks off.

Backstage Segment: Karen’s screeching voice is heard “talking” to the Police. She says she wants Kurt arresting, and explains it all. Earache. Jeff goes off solo to “sort this” and Karen goes with the Police.

Match 3: Hernandez, Sarita and Rosita vs. Matt Morgan, Angelina Love and Winter.

Matt Morgan enters wearing jeans. Strange choice of clothing. A minute or so later, Winter hits a uranage back-breaker for the win. Matt Morgan is attacked by the fan that jumped the guard rail at Victory Road. Angelina and Winter persist on telling the stranger and Hernandez to stop beating down Morgan. They both turn their attention to the Knockouts, leaving Morgan chance to recoup and he goes to get revenge, but the two run out of the ring.

A Mexican connection is the only thing that makes sense about the team of Hernandez, Sarita and Rosita. Matt Morgan, Angelina Love and Winter have nothing in common. They’ve been thrown together in a match against their Victory Road counterparts with the intention to combine the mystery man with the Mexican/American’s, keep Morgan/Hernandez’s feud going and advance the Beautiful People/Winter plot, if only slightly. Hernandez cuts a poor promo before the match, stating America is now Mexican land. The match is short, once again. Disappointing.

Main Event: AJ Styles vs. Bully Ray vs. Mr. Anderson vs. Rob Van Dam.

Towards the end, there are many, many near-falls and all competitors do excellently with the flow and the speed of it. But it’s let down my another non-sensical ending. Bully Ray exits the ring, and AJ Styles goes over the top rope to get him. Ray moves. AJ splats. Ray grabs a chair. As he raises the chair to hit AJ, Earl Hebner sees the intention and, from inside the ring, he grabs the chair from Ray and throws it INTO the middle of the ring. Earl keeps tabs on what’s happening outside the ring as Anderson back-drops Rob Van Dam onto the chair. Earl sees them both down and counts 1…2…3. Anderson is seen putting his hand onto RVD’s stomach after the 3 count. Both mens shoulders are down, but neither are covering the other.

Three out of four of these contenders deserve a title shot. One doesn’t. And that one that doesn’t is, at one point, completely on top of all three. The ending is shockingly poor and illogical. Screaming at the TV didn’t help.

Post Match: Jeremy Borash comes towards the ring to get the official word, but Earl is clocked by Bully Ray, who also clatters into Borash. Ray turns to the crowd and as he does, Borash tries to wake Hebner. Ray catches Borash and decides to kick him square in the head with some force. (Reports later came out that Borash suffered a concussion down to this incident.) AJ and Ray then battle back and forth with some very loud and strong punches and slaps to each other all the way up to the entrance way. Conveniently, there’s two tables set up at the bottom, next to the ramp, covered in a black cloth. Ray is on the floor, AJ has a chair. As he raises the chair, Ric Flair comes to low-blow AJ. Ray gets up and sit-out-powerbombs AJ through the tables.

Aftermath: Ray and AJ are tended to by paramedics. Ray pushes attention away, and Fourtune come out to check on AJ just as a stretcher and neck brace arrive for him. AJ isn’t moving, and it seems like AJ will have to be wheeled out and off to hospital. Kazarian calls AJ’s wife to inform her of the news, and the programme end.

TNA creative do an excellent job of making this look very real. It takes longer than any match tonight to get AJ out of the building.

All in all, the show is let down severely by the lack of actual fighting on the show. Eight minutes altogether is simply not good enough for a pro-wrestling show that wants to be the alternative to the WWE, and not too long ago had the motto “We are wrestling.”

While a promo to start the show does set the ball rolling and get people knowing what will happen later on, it doesn’t have to be that way every week. And it doesn’t have to be the same people. Give Amazing Red vs. Jay Lethal two minutes, and the crowd will applaud them as they exit the arena. A bit of variety and unpredictability goes a long way.

A promo lasting 19 minutes is bad at the best of times, but when the brands last match lasted 88 seconds? That defies logic to me. Many people who watched the PPV would have been tuning in to see if they were going to atone for their mistake, only to be let down by a show seemingly rewritten overnight to accommodate for Jeff Hardy’s misgivings. But that still doesn’t excuse the poor nature of this show from beginning to almost the end. And the Main Event, while being the most impressive part of the show, did not make up for the last two hours or the last two results of the PPV. This was TNA’s chance to make things right. Instead, they just talked… and talked… and talked… and wrestled for a few seconds… and talked.

I honestly believe that without Mr. Anderson, this show would have been one of the most embarrassing things TNA has ever put out on TV. Anderson produced some absolute gems throughout, and all four worked hard in the Main Event, but Anderson, for me, was the saviour of this episode.

Next weeks episode was filmed the day after last weeks. So, if THAT is all they can come up with in the nineteen hours since the PPV’s end, then what will they have for us next week. Or the week after, for that matter.

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About Mark Ashworth
Life-long Blackburn Rovers fan. Long-time wrestling fan. Passionate Juventini and Culé. 19 Year's as a "little Stinger."

2 Responses to Talking Non-Stop… & Anderson – TNA iMPACT! 21/3/11

  1. wh00ps says:

    I can’t disagree with a single word of that. I’m starting to think that this whole ‘film three weeks worth in one go’ thing is hurting them. I’m sure it LOOKS like a lot of wrestling to them, but by the time they’ve spread it out over six hours it’s pitiful. The promo/match balance at the ppvs is much better (and better than it used to be, just match-match-match) and I believe this is because they set out to make one show, not three.
    And they should make more use of Amazing Red. I’d have left by now if I were him. Waste of a huge talent.

    • he6rt6gr6m says:

      Agreed. I think the main problem is that it’s not live. They’re pushed when it’s live to put on a damn good show, otherwise the network will come down on them.

      We were treat to some truly excellent work in the North Carolina show, but once they got back to Orlando, for whatever reason, they’ve gone back to being lazy and producing a barely passable show.

      I’m really quite surprised Spike haven’t said something about it.

      Re: Amazing Red. Another casualty of the minimal X-Division match-ups the current regime consider to work. Plenty of wrestlers are getting overlooked. Jay Lethal is another, Daniels a third, Desmond Wolfe… and don’t get me started about the Knockouts.

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