Tuesday, January 5, 2010

TNA Impact Thoughts - January 4th, 2010

Here we go friends, my first-ever review of TNA Impact! Admittedly, I wasn't planning on writing this review, my initial idea was to hand over the duties to a friend of the site who was willing to do a Guest Post. While his review will still be welcome and posted on the site if he wishes to write something up, I feel like this show was something I had to weigh in on. It was the first Impact that I watched from start to finish without fast-forwarding through anything (except commercials) in over two years, so I feel like on wrestling's big night, I had to finally give TNA a shot. So here we go, judging this show entirely on its own merits - I'll compare it to WWE on this week's Kick-Out!! Radio - here are my thoughts on the biggest show in TNA history.

I liked the hype video to open the show, though it confirmed my thoughts that they wouldn't be able to go 60 seconds without mentioning WWE, but it did a good job of explaining how TNA got to this point over the last seven years.

Bubba The Love Sponge is the newest member of TNA's broadcast team. You know, that guy who you've only heard of because Hulk Hogan goes on his radio show all the time? The guy that is clinging onto the era of the "shock jock," even though the radio business has long since moved on? Hulk Hogan crony count: 1

Starting things off with a Steel Asylum Match, featuring many (all?) of the X-Division competitors: Suicide, Homicide, Kiyoshi, Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, Jay Lethal, Consequences Creed & Amazing Red all inside one giant birdcage? Alright, I can dig that, TNA wants to showcase their exciting wrestlers who would never get a fair shake in WWE. Well apparently they don't get a fair shake in TNA either because the match ends in a no contest when Homicide brandishes a weapon and knocks everyone out. Really TNA, weapons aren't legal in a match that takes place inside a giant weapon? The flashbacks to WCW have begun and the crowd rightfully chants "THIS IS BULLSHIT!"

But hey, I know that awful music anywhere, it's Jeff Hardy in TNA! I absolutely could not believe this, because the rumors I read about it yesterday read sounded like complete BS. It appears the reasons behind Hardy joining TNA in those reports was false, but yes, it does look like Jeff Hardy, the hottest free agent in wrestling, the most popular wrestler in WWE at the time of his exit, and arguably the greatest face in the industry today, is a TNA wrestler. So how do they debut Jeff Hardy? A spirited promo about why he's in TNA?
A confrontation with World Champion AJ Styles? Nope, a Twist of Fate on Homicide and then climbing on top of the Steel Asylum. This was pretty much the equivalent of WWE debuting Chris Jericho in 1999 by having him attack Steve Blackman instead of doing the Millennium Countdown. Actually no, this is even worse than that because Jeff Hardy is a bigger star now than Jericho was in 1999. Such a waste, and I have to wonder why the hell Jeff passed up a WrestleMania payday for this.

Hulk Hogan's limo, complete with a full police escort, is on its way to the Impact Zone!

Kevin Nash backstage with Christy Hemme to discuss the impending arrival of Hulk Hogan. Nash is oddly calm here, but is excited for TNA's future and assures us that Hogan isn't coming alone.

ODB vs. Tara for the Knockouts Championship was pretty bad, and I was expecting a lot more considering how good TNA's women's wrestling is. Match probably could've been something decent, but was too short, and they cut away to a crowd shot when ODB covered Tara because ODB had the tights and showing a couple inches of a woman's ass is apparently too much for Spike TV, who pretty much sells their entire network with women's asses. ODB is the new champion though, giving the former Victoria another very short reign with the title.

A limo not belonging to Hogan has arrived, and out steps "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. I get it, Ric's got bills to pay, but if he laces up the boots in a TNA ring, it will be a huge slap in the face to not just WWE, but Shawn Michaels as well. For someone that's the living embodiment of class, let's hope Naitch doesn't do that. Flair heads into AJ Styles' locker room.

Mick Foley, who last time I checked, is the "executive shareholder" for TNA, is refused entry into the Impact Zone.

Bobby & Kristal Lashley are next up, Bobby doesn't talk, but Kristal insults wrestling fans, calling them inbred and disrespectful and demands Bobby Lashley be released from his contract. I assume this will lead to Bobby's exit since he's getting into MMA full-time, correct?

The Beautiful People's strip poker game was your typical groan-inducing TNA backstage skit, that is, until Val Venis showed up! Of course, he wasn't referred to as Val Venis, but TNA's website refers to him as "a familiar face wearing a towel." No, I'm not making that up. I've always been a fan of Familiar Face Wearing a Towel, but will this actually turn into anything for him or was this just TNA cameo-fest?

Hogan's limo is still on the way!

Scott Hall & Sean Waltman were shown outside, trying to get into the Impact Zone, but they were stopped by security. Hall responded in his own special way, disorderly conduct.

Hogan's limo again (I probably left out about 4 or 5 other shots of it), but this time it's right outside the arena, next to another limo. A mysterious figure hops from that limo into Hogan's... might as well have someone driving a Hummer too.

Finally, thirteen commercial breaks later, Hulk Hogan arrives in TNA. Obviously they were trying to get it to start as close to the 9pm hour as possible so people wouldn't switch to Raw, but ODB vs. Tara could've gotten at least another five minutes in that case. Anyway, Hogan's rocking a remixed nWo theme, which sounded really cool, but you may be wondering how Hogan can use that since WWE owns the right to the nWo. My best guess is that since the nWo theme features samples of Jimi Hendrix riffs, WWE simply can't own it outright (which is why it wasn't used in certain Smackdown video games). I was personally hoping for Voodoo Child (or Voodoo Chili as Mike Tenay calls it), but this was definitely a cool way to bring out the Hulkster.

So okay, Hogan's in the ring and he's ready to make TNA the #1 company in the world. Absolutely nothing wrong with this and I expected them to have that kind of attitude, but things got a little weird once Hogan invited Scott Hall & Sean Waltman into the ring. Hall & Waltman were ready for the party, but Hogan said things are different now and it's time to grow up, which got a huge pop from the TNA crowd. I liked this too, it's something Hogan needed to say, but then Kevin Nash came down and said Hogan's just feeding them the corporate line and this isn't what Hulk is saying privately. Cue Eric Bischoff and there we have it, the principle members of the nWo! Bischoff talked about how this "band" did great things before, "taking on the 800 lbs. gorilla, putting it in a cage and spanking it," and that they can do it again. Well Eric, you're half right there, but for someone who whines about WWE's "revisionist history," you're leaving out a pretty important part of that story, ya know, like the end of it, but whatever, I understand. Bischoff and Hogan made it clear that EVERYONE has to earn their spot in TNA and that they're turning the company upside down.

After their promo, Sting is shown in the rafters. Seriously. It's 14 years later and a wrestling promotion just ran an angle with Sting sitting in the rafters looking down on Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Sean Waltman.

Awesome Kong & Hamada vs. Sarita & Taylor Wilde for the Knockouts Tag Team Titles was a flat-out great match. No sarcastic comments, no potshots at TNA, they simply do women's wrestling better than WWE and they're miles ahead of them at this point. Probably because WWE's more interested in women with visible ribcages than talent, but TNA showcases female athletes. And not just former gymnasts, legitimate tough women who can kick ass without placing looks above all else. Awesome Kong & Hamada got the win and the titles and provided the first actual match of the show.

The Nasty Boys have arrived. When Hogan was first signed, the joke was that Brutus Beefcake and The Nasty Boys were on the way, at least it was supposed to be a joke. Sigh.

Raven & Dr. Stevie vs. Hernandez & Matt Morgan was over before it even began, Morgan nailed Stevie with the Carbon Footprint and got the instant 1-2-3, giving them a shot at the Tag Titles at Genesis. Total waste of familiar faces like Raven & Stevie, and a complete waste of Daffney's talents, who just got to stand at ringside.

Backstage, Christy Hemme was with "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero, who might be better known to you as Elijah Burke. Listening to Pope, I honestly have no idea why WWE let this guy go, he's everything they look for in a competitor and his release was a major mistake on WWE's part. Pope cuts a fantastic promo talking about showcasing his talents for Hulk Hogan tonight, but is interrupted by... Orlando Jordan?! No, really, Orlando Jordan, who was sporting a new "Predator" haircut. You know Orlando Jordan, right? Last seen jobbing to The Ultimate Warrior in Spain, before that jobbing in 25 seconds at SummerSlam 2005, and before that being a lackey for JBL? TNA, just because you can, it doesn't mean you should.

"The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero vs. Desmond Wolfe up next, and much like the Knockouts tag match, I'll be turning the sarcasm off here and applauding TNA for putting on a great wrestling match; a little short for my tastes, but completely acceptable length for TV wrestling. A bit shocking to see Pope pick up the clean win since Desmond was just hanging with Kurt Angle on PPV, but I'm happy to see TNA apparently willing to do something with Dinero.

Throughout the night, various wrestlers were shown knocked out backstage, first The Motor City Machine Guns, then Rhino and finally Beer Money Inc. Oh great. Just what TNA needs, more mystery men angles.

Good promo backstage from AJ Styles, the guy has come so far on the mic since TNA started, a dramatic improvement over seven years ago. Eric Bischoff interrupted and told AJ that his title match with Kurt Angle isn't happening at Genesis, it's happening tonight!

Jeff Jarrett came to the ring next and talked about how excited he is to see TNA at this point after starting the company in 2002. The crowd loved it, thanking Jeff, chanting "TNA!" and getting really pumped up... then Hulk Hogan appears on the TNATron and basically rips Jarrett to shreds, saying he practically ran the company into the ground, no longer has any power and will have to earn his spot like everyone else. Hogan gets booed here and I'm left wondering what the hell is going on, isn't Hogan supposed to be the good guy?

Daniels was backstage to cut a promo, but apparently Jeremy Borash having Mick Foley on the phone was more important. Just in case you don't know, Daniels just headlined a TNA PPV two weeks ago and this was the only time he was shown on the "biggest show in TNA history." Wonder if that says something about the direction of the company going forward?

At the top of the show, Abyss vs. Rhino was advertised in "Barbed Wire Mayhem," but due to Rhino being attacked and Bischoff & Hogan "turning the show upside down," we instead got the first ever Samoa Joe vs. Abyss match. This would've been fine, had they not previously advertised something much cooler, if you're going to bait & switch, don't make the bait too good, ya know? Not really a good match here, not the usual awesomeness I've come to expect from Joe, but TNA's blown it with him so many times, why not keep it going here? Abyss was forced to tap out to the Coquina Clutch in a match TNA described as "physical," but in this case, I think that's a synonym for "slow." Joe did the motion for a belt around his waist after the match and said he was coming for AJ and one can only hope TNA actually follows through on that.

Backstage, Kristal Lashley confronted Eric Bischoff, who blew her off. Say what you will about Bisch, but no one plays a slimeball boss quite like him, although in this case, fiction may be mirroring reality.

Jeff Hardy & Shannon Moore leave the Impact Zone with "what they came for," contracts I presume? Maybe a couple free tickets to Universal Theme Park? While I'm thrilled for Shannon Moore and happy for Jeff to do whatever it is he wants to do, I am incredibly disappointed by his decision to go to TNA, mainly because I was really stoked about the possibility of him coming back at WrestleMania to take on CM Punk, which is infinitely cooler than him showing up to fight Homicide. I can't imagine this is a long term deal for Jeff, but I also couldn't imagine that he'd be in TNA at all, so we're just going to have to wait and see.

The Nasty Boys have made it into the arena and they trash the locker room of Team 3D, who are currently touring Japan. Yes, TNA just began a feud between the Nasty Boys and Team 3D. The fact that it's 2010 and I'm even writing "The Nasty Boys," is ridiculous enough, but there's a possibility that TNA expects me to actually watch a match between them and Team 3D? Will a simple "lol" suffice here?

Main Event Time! Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles with the TNA World Heavyweight Championship on the line! This was scheduled to be the main event for the Genesis PPV, and we got it two weeks in advance (the WCW flashbacks just keep coming), but I guess I can't complain too much when the match was as good as this one was. Good match, not "GREATEST MATCH EVAR!" that I've been hearing from some of the TNA die-hards, but definitely good. The run-in from the masked man was pretty stupid, for people just tuning in to TNA for the first time, it's just way too much "WTF?", they should've pulled the trigger here an unveiled who the guy is, would've been the perfect opportunity to do it instead of "surprising" us with things like Orlando Jordan. Ric Flair showing up to just stand on the stage was utterly pointless, I feel like Naitch would've been the best way to end the show, have him get in the ring after AJ's win and celebrate with him, giving him the Flair endorsement to those who may not be familiar with AJ, but more on the end of the show in a minute. My biggest gripe with this match was how much it started to drag towards the end, and the inability of Tenay & Taz to convey any sense of excitement. Once AJ hit his third Styles Clash and the crowd yawned, Tenay & Tazz did nothing on commentary to salvage the match for the viewers at home; a perfect example of how bad commentary can hurt a good match.

AJ scored the win though, giving him a clean victory over Kurt Angle, so what does this mean for Genesis? Expect viewers to spend $30 for the match they just saw? Spice it up with a gimmick? Change the card? Either way, TNA's replaying this episode of Impact on Thursday, giving them one show to build a card with only two matches announced, and one of those matches could (should) change. It's getting cliché to keep comparing this show to WCW, but the hits just keep on coming.

After the match, my DVR cut off, so I missed the ending, which featured Mick Foley being told he no longer has authority in TNA and then getting attacked by Scott Hall, Kevin Nash & Sean Waltman while Eric Bischoff looked on. An "nWo" beatdown of a legend to finally bring Nitr... I mean Impact to a close.

Despite all the absolute nonsense, and there was a lot, I found myself oddly intrigued by this special episode of Impact. Yeah it was Hulk Hogan & Friends, yes TNA's idea of exciting is throwing out a bunch of "surprises," yes a lot of the "new faces" were people you never wanted to see in the first place, yes they debuted twelve new people over the course of three hours, and yes, TNA failed on every conceivable level at making anything on this show besides Hogan feel special, but I still sat on my couch and watched every minute of it, which I haven't done with TNA in years. There were so many things wrong with this show, mainly the bush league production, but I still watched it and here I am willingly writing about. As bad as things got and as stupid as some of the stuff was, I can't see how this show will be anything but a success for TNA. They could've put on a normal Impact with Hulk Hogan at 9pm, quality wrestling surrounding him, then shocked the world at the end by bringing out Jeff Hardy, or even Ric Flair, and had an drastically better show than this, but the fact remains, they got the wrestling world talking, simply by putting a live show on a Monday night. Despite all the crap I give TNA and as unimpressed by the majority of this show that I was, it worked. Simple as that.

2 comments:

  1. taking a page from WWE programing: DID YOU KNOW: WWE Monday Night RAW has never had a rating below 2.4

    WOW well until TNA can score a 2.0 on a Thursday Night they better leave Monday Nights to the professionals.

    ReplyDelete
  2. REALLY TNA?! really?! really?!

    ReplyDelete