TNA WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
LAX(c) (w/Konnan) vs. The Cult of Lee (Trevor Lee & Caleb Konley) - 6.25/10
Konnan caused a distraction so LAX could jump The Cult of Lee from behind. I would have hated this if not for Konnan's line that was featured prominently in the video package about jumping someone from behind being "a page out of the LAX playbook." It doesn't make me like LAX at all, but at least it's not out of character. If this is going to be a heel vs. heel feud, all I ask is that you tell me.
The match was all action, but without much of a coherent story. LAX won... which means that they have already cleaned out the entire division. TNA needs to get some new teams up and running, and quickly, too. That being said, I'd be happy to never see Lee, Konley, or OVE ever again.
BOBBY LASHLEY PROMO - Good. He doesn't care that Sami Callihan injured Eddie Edwards. He'll beat them all up on his own because he is Walking Armageddon.
GWN ARCHIVE CLIP OF THE WEEK - They asked me to sit through over two and a half minutes of a Monty Brown match and they didn't even show me once since POUNCE?! What the f*ck?!
ALBERTO EL PATRON ARRIVES - Josh is shocked because "he isn't scheduled to be here!" He then brings up the message Alberto had for both men in tonight's world title match main event on last week's show. So now I'm worried we're going to get a f*ck finish in the main event. What was the even the point of this? Even if he just shows up to attack the winner after a clean finish, at beast all you are doing by having this little bit is spoiling your own surprise, and at worst, you're convincing me that my worst fears are going to come true.
MATT SYDAL PROMO - I'm very much enjoying this gimmick
TITLE VS. TITLE MATCH:
TNA X-Division Champion Taiji Ishimori vs. TNA Grand Champion Matt Sydal - 8/10
This was a really great back-and-forth match with very good storytelling and some excellent twists and turns. Sydal won... but we never found out who his spiritual advisor is, which I thought they had promised us.
Of all of the stupid ways for an announcer to kill his/her own credibility, why does Josh Matthews insists on claiming that Ishimori's entrance music is the best wrestling entrance music of all time? Enter Sandman, Drop The Bombshell, GLORIOUS, The Final Countdown, Homicide's music in ROH (the Kill Bill intro into The Truth), Ministry Taker, Own Personal Jesus, Cult of Personality, Disposable Teens, Man in the Box, Joe's WWE theme, Joe's TNA theme, The Game, Taker's current theme, No Chance, the WolfPac theme, Abyss' theme, Sting's TNA music, Goldberg's music, Austin's music... and he is going to try to tell me that this crap is the best entrance music in wrestling? Really?
ALLIE PROMO - She says she's going to win the belt... and dedicate the win to her mentor, Gail Kim. Because everything in the TNA women's division must eventually come back to Gail Kim. I took issue with something she said here, but I'll get into what that was and why in a moment. First, though, there was the...
TNA KNOCKOUTS TITLE MATCH:
Laurel Van Ness(c) vs. Allie - 5.5/10
Josh referred to Allie as "the Vegan-Slayer," which I can only assume means that she kills Vegans. I'm no fan of Veganism, but murdering someone for their food choices is not babyface behavior. Laurel worked over Allie's head but Allie came back and won. The match was good, aside from one or two spots that looked pretty bad because of timing issues.
The announcers are basically treating this like her first title win... except it's not, and this is part of a major underlying issue I'm having with the presentation of this character. The combination of the booking and the announcing and the character's behavior feel like they are combining to send me two opposing messages about the character.
First there was the secret admirer segment where the announcing was telling me that she is a new, different, better Allie who can now outsmart Laurel, but she herself was still acting like a goof during the segment. Then we had the wedding segment, where the announcing tried to tell me the same thing and Allie herself didn't do anything problematic except that the booking of the segment did not ever illustrate that there ever was a supposed trap that Allie had outfoxed, and thus her disguising herself as a crewmember came off as weird. Now we've got this segment where she is all serious and they're trying to treat it like it's her first title win and she got inspired by Gail Kim's pep talk and all of that... but in her earlier promo when she said that if we asked her a year ago or six months ago if she thought she could win the title, she would have said no does not in any way mesh with the Allie character that they are telling us that Gail's pep talk helped her transform out of. That character was overconfident through her naiveté, and the fact that she had already won the belt well before that time.
Either there are major miscommunications going on here, which should have been fixed by the time this all aired because all of the commentary as well as the secret admirer segment were taped a while ago, or TNA is trying to have it both ways with continuity, where they want her to not stop being the comedic character that got her over but also be a new serious character, and they want me to accept their idea that she has undergone this change (thanks to Gail's speech), but the character they are trying to tell me that she has changed from is different from the character I was presented with on television up until said change.
ALIIE & GAIL KIM BACKSTAGE - Fine for what it was.
MCKENZIE MITCHELL INTERVIEWS AUSTIN ARIES - Good promo by Aries.
HANDICAP MATCH: Bobby Lashley vs. O.V.E. (w/Sami Callihan) - DUD!
There was a lot of stuff about the presentation of this match that really pissed me off. The first was the handling of the Eddie Edwards thing. The announcers were just tearing into Sami and talking about what a horrible, terrible monster he was for hitting Eddie in the head with a baseball bat after the match and how he was clearly trying to end Eddie's career, etc. etc. And that's how they should react. He HIT EDDIE EDWARDS IN THE FACE WITH A BASEBALL BAT. I wouldn't have batted an eyelash if instead of claiming he was trying to end Eddie's career they told me he was trying to end Eddie's life.
The problem, however, is in the context. As I said, Sami Callihan is a horrible, terrible monster of a human being who went several thousand miles on the wrong side of the line when he hit Eddie in the face with a baseball bat. But compared to the announcers' reactions to other things we have seen, this feels like it is being blown out of proportion. How many hundred potentially career-ending assaults have we seen on this show over the years? Or even things like Decay TRYING TO KIDNAP MATT HARDY'S INFANT SON? Or Decay kidnapping and torturing Gail Kim and THREATENING TO MURDER HER while TNA sent a cameraman to film it? Or Decay ACTUALLY TRYING TO MURDER BRAM? How about James Storm TRYING TO MURDER MICKIE JAMES? Or Bram hitting Magnus in the back of the hard with a f*cking billiard ball? Or LAX going to New York City to TRY TO MURDER BUBBA RAY DUDLEY'S UNCLE BY SHOVING HIS HEAD IN A PIZZA OVEN AND TURNING IT ON? Or James Storm KIDNAPPING AND TORTURING (and, depending on how you read the scene, also possibly RAPING) Sanada and Manik? Or Abyss KIDNAPPING AND TORTURING FANS? Or Samoa Joe TRYING TO MURDER SCOTT STEINER (and Mike Tenay saying that Steiner deserved it!)? Hell, we even SAW ABYSS COMMIT SEVERAL MURDERS during Total Non-stop Deletion. And none of those things have provoked such outrage from the commentators.
So what makes this one different that the commentators are now reacting this way? Because in this case the danger was a shoot. Sami screwed up a planned spot and legitimately hit Eddie Edwards full force in the face with a baseball bat (and then was a moron about it on the internet). But the idea that Sami "screwed up a planned spot" and thus this time the injury was "a shoot" does not exist or make sense in the world of kayfabe, so it creates a disconnect.
Now factor that into the story of this match and the build surrounding it. Even before the Eddie Edwards injury, the build to this match was that "Sami Callihan will be lurking around on the outside, so it's basically going to be three-on-two! How can Eddie & Lashley ever hope to overcome such odds?" Since the injury, it has now been "it's already a handicap match, but with Sami Callihan lurking around on the outside, it's practically three-on-one!" And that's exactly how the match played out. But TNA clearly knew that Sami would get involved in this match... so why didn't they bar him from ringside? Yes, it's pro wrestling, so we let Jim Cornette manage the Midnight Express the next night even though last night we saw him hit Jimmy Garvin with his tennis racket to cause the Garvins to lose to the Midnights (although, if we're doing it the best way possible, we come up with an angle to explain why we are supposed to think such a thing will be prevented from happening in this next match, such as the fact that Precious will be in the Garvins' corner tonight)... but to have the company be hyping the match up around that point is utterly ridiculous. When Sammy Sosa got caught using a corked bat, the MLB didn't send notes to the announcers of Sammy's next games telling them to emphasize that it's even more important than usual for the pitcher to make sure that Sammy doesn't make contact because Sammy is using a corked bat! They did the exact opposite of that: they took a steps to rectify the problem (suspending Sammy to punish him for breaking the rules and to deter him from breaking them in the future). Now look at these two things right next to each other and seems utterly ridiculous that they didn't suspend Sami for his heinous attack on Eddie with the knowledge that doing so would also prevent him from interfering in this match.
Then we got Brian Cage. When Lashley was in his time of need, Cage just marched down the ramp, hopped up onto the apron, tagged himself in, and started beating up O.V.E., and the referee was perfectly fine with it. This is supposed to be a Handicap Match! That's what you advertised, what you announced it as, what all of the competitors signed up for, and what you presumably filed your kayfabe papers with the state commission for, right? So why is it Cage is suddenly allowed to decide that he wants to be in this match and that's the way it is now? I'm sure O.V.E. doesn't want him in this match, and so, but that logic, why doesn't everyone just run out and insert themselves into the world title match when they think they'll be able to run in and steal a pin on someone?
Anyway, Cage destroys O.V.E. on his own, pins them, and gets the win in a match he wasn't in. What makes this even more frustrating is that all of these problems could have been solved easily by doing the following: Instead of doing Lashley vs. O.V.E. in a handicap match, make it Lashley vs. Callihan because Lashley wants to get revenge for Eddie. Have the Crists run in for the DQ, and then have Cage just come out and make the save and beat all of the heels up. You still get Cage over, but you solve the Sami problem, don't turn the rules into a joke, and even protect the heels a bit because no one actually has to get pinned.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Lashley offered Cage a handshake but Cage snubbed him.
MCKENZIE INTERVIEWS JOHNNY IMPACT - Good promo by Johnny.
FEAST OR FIRED IS BACK NEXT WEEK - I find this gimmick to be pretty stupid, but given the situation Callis and D'Amore are in, I'll give it a pass because it is an already-existing tool in TNA's toolbox that immediately sets up one challenger for each of the male titles (I'm assuming the Grand Championship is disappearing soon) without them having to do any real work to set that person up in storyline, plus will actually give us a kayfabe reason for why someone on the inherited roster who they don't want to use anymore will no longer be appearing on the show.
TNA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Austin Aries(c) vs. Johnny Impact - 8.25/10
They had a really awesome match, and I was pleasantly shocked that we got a clean finish.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Alberto El Patron showed up and... he clapped for them, in a perhaps mocking manner. So now they've made the earlier tease of his presence even worse because not only did they have people like me dreading a f*ck finish in their main event, but they left people who were hoping that Alberto would... you know... actually do something significant here on this major show quite disappointed as well.
This show was very good. From a purely in-ring perspective, I wouldn't even fault you for calling it "great." The two matches I was most excited for delivered in the ring and all four title matches had a clean finishes.
But I don't think I'm going to keep watching Impact.
The show has enough redeeming features (mostly the in-ring work, and the promos from the top male wrestlers and Konnan) that I can't call it a "bad" show, but its weaknesses are such that I just can't find it enjoyable.
In some ways it is a lot like ROH TV. The potential exists for there to be at least one or two great matches on each episode, but the creative weaknesses of the product, combined my dislike of the portrayal of some of the featured characters pushes my buttons in exactly the sort of way where I'm going to hate the things I hate a lot more than I'm going to enjoy the things I like.
Creatively, I find the product to range from very bad to bland. I enjoy most of the male wrestlers at the top of the card either as wrestlers (Ishimori, LAX, Sami Callihan), characters (Eli Drake) or both (Eddie, Lashley, Moose, Aries, Impact, Sydal, Alberto), and I will commend the booking committee for seemingly making an effort to give us longer matches and for keeping things relatively clean... but there isn't really anything interesting going on, either. On the negative side, however, there is a lot of stuff that drives me nuts. Stuff like results of matches not really mattering and guys just being thrown into #1 contendership matches, inconsistencies in the applications of the rules, character histories not being adhered to, and logical issues being completely ignored.
Character-wise, though, I am having lots and lots of trouble caring about and connecting to most of the other characters on the show. Rosemary is comes off to me as wacky for the sake of being wacky, Laurel has pretty much run her course, and Allie annoys me. The only woman who I don't cringe when she comes on screen is Taya, who I like as a wrestler, but find her TNA character to be completely dull.
On the men's side, you have O.V.E., who have a moronic name, and are basically male analogues to Rosemary, with the emphasis on horror swapped out for an emphasis on how violent they are, plus migraine-inducing camera effects, because someone once told them that makes it more artsy. Then there is the Cult of Lee, who the announcers keep telling me are a charismatic cult leader and his brainwashed follower, but all I see is a goofball and his dumb tag-along friend. Kongo Kong is a big, mute goofball who feels like he belongs jobbing to Hulk Hogan or Jerry Lawler in the 80s, and Joseph Park is the very embodiment of everything I hate about booker's not paying attention to a character's established history.
The other major element of the show that makes it hard for me to enjoy is the announcing. Both of these guys suck. Sonjay doesn't know how to call a match as an announcer, so he's trying to call it as somewhere halfway between a fan, and a Josh's buddy who is just trying to have a good time. Josh knows to do call a match in the WWE style but also knows that that isn't very good so he doesn't want to do that here, so he e wind sup alternating between saying things in his forced "isn't this interesting?" voice, and asking Sonjay questions about barely-relevant factors, which almost always result in Sonjay giving bad answers.
Maybe I'll keep up with TNA the way I do with ROH by reading TV reports and watching highlights while still watching all of the big shows, but it's possible I'll just drop them completely again. I'm really not sure.
Joseph Park is the very embodiment of everything I hate.
Terrible announcing - Josh just asks Sonjay dumb questions.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. When Laurel made a cocky cover on Allie, Josh Matthews decided that the best way to call it would be to say "epic fail, bro." Why was he not fired?
2. In the same match where the announcers were telling me that Sami Callihan was such a monster for hitting Eddie Edwards in the face with a baseball bat, Sonjay Dutt could not keep the mirth out of his voice when telling me that when Cage hit whichever Crist he hit with his brainbuster on the finish, "he broke his neck!"
3. Sonjay Dutt "Cage just came out and evened out the odds for Bobby. Bobby had to take on three men at once."
Sonjay Dutt just failed to grasp a mathematical concept that most pre-schoolers have mastered before the end of the first week.