For Your Consideration…Hulk Hogan Presents TNA Nitro
by Andy Wheeler on January 5, 2010

For Your Consideration…Hulk Hogan Presents TNA Nitro

Well, the war has begun. I figured since I covered RAW live, I would cover the TNA show the next night. I took some potshots at TNA on my Twitter page (twitter.com/awheeler316), but I figured I would try to give them a shot. Chances are I’m going to bury the product, but maybe they’ll shock me and pull out a great show. Before I begin, I wanna plug my “Defining a Decade” column that can be found in my archive or at http://tinyurl.com/yl57nyx.

TNA wisely starts out their broadcast by reliving all of their great moments. They make big deals about the fact that Angle, Sting, Foley and Nash have shown up, which is fantastic. The hype new eras and revolutionary matches. Unfortunately, they say the letters WWE in the opening, which just inevitably makes them feel like the lower level.

The program is branded “Time for a change”, but is that really true? TNA seemed over the past few months to be getting their act together, so to immediately discredit their direction is a bit unwise.

Tenay and Tazz (in a bright orange jacket) open the show, complete with 5 Hour Energy bottles in front of them. Tonight we have a Steel Asylum match, ODB/Victoria, Rhyno/Abyss in barbed wire and Beer Money/British Invasion in Full Metal Mayhem. With that, we go to the back where apparently earlier today, Bubba the Love Sponge is interviewing fans. The dumbass fans talk about wanting to see wrestling like they used to have, while at the same time demanding change. One midguided fan even said that WWE sucks compared to TNA. One guy has a TNA tattoo, which is just sad. Fans keep saying that Vince McMahon doesn’t know what’s coming. I’m pretty sure he does, since the bulk of the roster consists of people he fired or passed on.

First out are the Motor City Machine Guns. Next is Kiyoshi and Homicide, and Tazz is wisely re-introducing us to everyone and what they stand for. Lethal Consequences come out third, and apparently this isn’t a tag match but there are three teams. Suicide gets the spooky music and the smoke, because nothing says this isn’t kiddie wrestling like a guy in a mask. Look, I’m not trying to bury them, but you can’t have a video package with someone bitching about kiddie style wrestling and then show a guy in a costume. Last out is Amazing Red, who exemplifies everything that the X-Division is all about.

If TNA were smart, they would spring their first surprise here. Maybe toss out Shannon Moore?

The match itself starts, but the structure is so poorly designed that you can’t really see anything from the hard cam. The structure that should create amazing moments is blocking us from seeing any of them. That really doesn’t help when you want new fans to be able to identify who everyone is. Being completely objective for a minute, this is a foolish move. I get that they want to show us their crazy spots that the X-Division can pull out, but if you can’t really SEE it, you’re in trouble.

TNA should have probably started this show with actual wrestling between some of the X-Division stars. Hell, give us Black Machismo versus MCMG and let them do some wacky spots. Instead, all I see is a bunch of folks wrestling in a giant birdcage. If TNA is going to draw in Old School fans, they aren’t going to get it with a ridiculous looking gimmick.

As for the match, the spots that I clearly see have looked pretty good, but then Homicide pulls out a weapon and attacks everyone. They call for the bell and I have yet to see how this is “different”. Why the hell did they just not let them go balls to the wall here? Seriously, this is illogical.

The fans are chanting “This is bullshit” as Homicide climbs out of the ring, and this company deserves to die. All of the potential goodwill they had going into this is dead and gone.

Homicide tries to climb out and then everyone goes after him but it looks like he botched it and fell, so now we have organized chaos and stalling. Then, out of the crowd, it’s Jeff Hardy. Oh I hope he isn’t clean. I hope he’s completely drugged out and screws them over the same way he screwed over Vince. Guess Jeff needed some cash to hire a lawyer to bail his ass out again.

Well, TNA gave us a pretty awful opening match but they gave us our first “surprise”. Jeff Hardy is back, and how many times do fans need to get screwed over by a guy before they abandon him?

On an unrelated note, Hulk Hogan will be on the show tonight.

Commercial.

We get a replay of Jeff Hardy returning and laying out Homicide with a chair before perching on top of the birdcage. Well, if they had 100% of the eyeballs, they certainly got a little bit of a twitter across the wrestling world. Jeff walks to the back and high fives his Brutus Beefcake, Shannon Moore.

Tazz is all excited about Hogan, and we get a shot of Hulk’s limo with a police escort.

In the back, Christy Hemme is with Kevin Nash. Kevin says that it’s a great night for Hogan and for TNA before saying that he’s the smartest guy in wrestling. Nash says that whatever company Hulks works for winds up being #1. I mean, it also winds up cannibalizing itself, but that’s beside the point. Nash says that Hulk isn’t coming alone. Duh, duh, duh….

ODB is out first and I love that TNA seems to have brought back the old WCW Thunder graphics. VicTara comes out next with her pet spider and Tenay says that she’s looking for a career resurgence. I will remind you all that she did retire from the WWE, where she could have gladly returned. Eh, that’s a moot point.

ODB wails on Tara, but Tara elbows her in the boob before hitting a clothesline. The two women trade punches before Tara hits a spinning heel kick for two. Tara then locks in the Tarantula. In the end, ODB rolls up Tara for the win and the title. Unfortunately, she pulled too hard on the trunks and revealed quite a bit of Tara’s ass, so they had to cut away and we missed the pinfall. Tara hits the Widow’s Peak and then takes out the spider as we relive “Home Alone”.

A limo arrives and Ric Flair walks out to greet the wrestlers and a little bit of me dies inside. What a fool he is. What a complete fool.

Commercial.

We’re back and apparently Flair went into AJ Style’s locker-room. We get footage of Christy interviewing not at all scripted fan comments before seeing Mick Foley wheel into the arena. Apparently there was a memo that he was banned from the arena, but he responds by saying that while he might be disruptive, he wants to be a team player. He tried to get in but security blocks him.

Bobby Lashley and Krystal are out, and they are in street clothing. Oh no, this means he might talk. Why the hell isn’t he wrestling tonight? Put the guy in the ring. What could TNA possibly be saving him for besides drawing in viewers? You have the eyeballs, sell them on Bobby.

Krystal calls this the biggest night in TNA history. Krystal sends Bobby’s message that he’s a star and that no one can match his potential. If they let Krystal do his talking for him, he will get major heat. She dresses down wrestling fans as inbred, which is fine and all, but don’t insult the fresh viewing audience. There are people who will tune in to see wrestling for the first time in years, don’t remind them that this is redneck wrasslin.

Krystal says that Bobby Lashley has asked for his release and that they have better things to do, and I’m lost.

We go to the back and see Beautiful People poker. Hey, remember when ECW did this? Apparently Vince Russo did.

Commercial.

So let me get this straight, TNA has one hour in which they have all of the eyeballs and THIS is what they give us. Instead of giving us an X-Division match, they give us a giant cage clusterfuck that even the live crowd turns on. Oh, but they showed us Jeff Hardy showing up, so it’s a SURPRISE. Then we see Tara and ODB wrestle for about three minutes in a standard Diva-style match and don’t even get to see the finish live. Then we get Ric Flair and another SURPRISE. Look, I love Flair, but was he really the ratings juggernaut for the WWE? Oh, but we follow it up with Bobby Lashley fake quitting (yes, I know it was character development, but your new fans don’t know that) and then the Beautiful People playing strip poker.

What has TNA shown us that is different from RAW? What is going to get me to not change the channel at 9pm? Seriously, what the hell is so revolutionary that is going to bring down Vince McMahon?

We’re back and Scott Hall and X-Pac are outside trying to get into the arena but denied access. They attack security and we go back to the announcers.

TNA is the #1 trending topic on Twitter. Well, Vince should just pack it up.

Commercial.

We’re back and there are limos. Wait, someone climbed out of one of the limos into the second limo. I haven’t seen this many limos since…WCW.

X-Pac and Scott Hall have stumbled through the crowd, and it’s like watching a bad cover band and we get ANOTHER COMMERCIAL! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! WE’VE HAD FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FILLER?! THIS IS INSANE!

Commercial.

And we’re back (this is turning into that awful Jimmy Fallon sketch from SNL where he was a radio DJ who just keeps throwing to commercial) and there’s Tenay and Tazz (who, with that jacket, looks like he should be covering a tournament for the Golf Channel) who call this a “rockin’” Impact Zone.

Hey, Hall and X-Pac are still there. Fantastic security ya got there, TNA. You can keep out Foley, but not a drunkard and a pothead.

And here…comes…Hogan.

Hulk is wearing all black, because when I think of the Hogan I wanna see, I think of the guy hosting “American Gladiators” and not that silly wrestler from the 80’s. Hulk does some posing (complete with PYRO) and now that I see him on TNA, I’m kinda over it.

Hall and X-Pac do the n.W.o. double-finger-point-of-unity and Hulk looks quixotic. Brooke Hogan and Hulk’s Brooke doppelganger girlfriend are sitting next to each other and the ick factor just went up to a new level in wrestling (probably surpassing the Vince/Stephanie match from a few years ago). Hogan does the humble head shake at the reaction, as if he wasn’t expecting the fans to go batshit for him. Yeah, because they tuckered themselves out cheering for all the great matches so far tonight.

The crowd chants TNA for some reason before Hulk asks “Whassup TNA Maniacs?” Apparently the WWE has its Universe, but the TNA fans are now branded Maniacs. I’ve always said that you have to be certifiable to be a fan of this show, but I never really expected them to come right out and say it.

Hulkster says that he’s been in the back all day, and…wait…how the hell was he there all day but just now arrived in the building with a police escort? So what TNA is telling me is that Hulk Hogan took his own car to the Impact Zone, met all of the wrestlers, shook hands with Consequences Creed and Jesse Neal, got back in his rented Taurus, drove to his hotel, got picked up by a limo with a police escort, drove back to the arena (a drive that took over an hour…Orlando traffic is bad but not THAT bad) just to make an entrance? Screw Matt Morgan, Hogan’s carbon footprint must be HUGE.

Hulk talks about the young guys and the old faces and everyone is working to make TNA the #1 company in the world. Ya hear that Microsoft? Hulk Hogan’s coming for you!

Hogan says he spent all day dealing with the talent and hearing everyone’s ideas and said that when he walked out tonight that this was his dream. Again, I need to pause. His dream was to abandon 30,000 seat arenas to go exploit a clueless company for money and subsequently perform in front of about as many people as would pack into a bingo hall in Philly that he wouldn’t spit on if it were on fire? Sure, this completely makes sense to me. I don’t wanna overstate how brilliant this promo is, but it’s veering into the Billy Madison closing answer speech territory.

Hulk says that there are some new faces and familiar faces and power of maniacs and Knibb High Football rules, but then those damn uninvited wrasslers hop the barricade. I didn’t even know that Mean Mike Enos was wrestling tonight.

Hall and X-Pac apparently are being invited into the ring because they have something to say. So the only way to get promo time is to jump the barricade? Alrighty. Hall and Hogan do the old Wolfpack finger touch and Hulk says that if they have something to say that they should say it now.

“Say…heavy breath…hello…heavy breath…to…heavy breath…the bad guy.” Apparently when Hall and Pac heard that Bischoff and Hogan were back, they figured big paychecks, big sold out arenas and big parties. Well, two outta three ain’t bad.

Hulk says that it doesn’t work like that anymore. X-Pac says that this is the same and he’s there to par-tay. I shit you not, he said par-tay. I haven’t seen X-Pac in years and I already hate him. Hall, who just woke up from a stupor, re-repeats everything they just said. If the two of them went to the WWE and became CM Punk disciples, it would make some money (or at least be hilarious).

Hogan says that this time he’s gonna do the right thing. Ya hear that AWA, WWE, WCW, TNA (the first time), Australia Tour, American Gladiators and Linda Hogan? He’s gonna do the right thing!

Hall says that Hogan deserves all the chants and apparently Hall grew up watching Hulk. Hall says things will change with him or without him. This gets interrupted by more generic music and apparently it’s Kevin Nash. Welcome to the n.W.o. Nursing Home.

Nash says that Hulk has a role to play, but Hulk swears it isn’t a role. Hogan swore to Dixie that they were gonna make a change for the batter (that’s right, an obscure NewsRadio reference). The fans chant TNA at this. Poor lemmings.

Kevin says that his private conversations with Hogan have been of a different tune and then asks when did Hulk turn corporate. Hulk calls them his brothers 4life but they need to do this 4real.

This gets interrupted by new generic music, and it’s Eric Bischoff. I can’t make this stuff up. We’re talking about new and exciting and I’m watching the New World Order in a ring. But it’s innovative because it has six sides.

Bischoff says that this brings up memories and calls this group the group that changed the business. They sure did. Who thought these people would kill WCW where Van Hammer couldn’t?

Eric informs them that everybody has to earn their position in the company. You need to show them that you are good enough to be in the #2 wrestling promotion. Nash says that he hears them loud and clear, and the hip and young n.W.o. leave the ring. Sure, DX is pretty old and not exactly hip, but they seem to kinda embrace it from time to time.

Hulk says that the game changes now and everybody has to earn their spot. Bischoff says that they’ve done it before and they’ll do it again. That’s right, they are gonna burn this ship to the ground like they did to WCW.

Hogan says change for about a billion times and we keep getting shots of Dixie Carter trying her damndest to look like Stephanie McMahon. Bischoff demands a programming sheet…I shit you not, he’s asking for the script…and he rips it up. Hey, remember when Schiavone used to do that? Yeah, that turned the ratings around toot sweet.

“If you can’t talk and you can’t wrestle, pack your bags and head up north.”

Up in the rafters is Sting, who hasn’t been on television for months. In one segment, they brought back the ghost of WCW. I honestly can’t believe it. How the hell were they about to capture the magic of terrible Nitro and replicate it? My guess is someone spilled a bottle of Nitro Cologne.

Commercial.

We’re back and THIS is apparently the new and exciting TNA that is without a script and is going to CHANGE wrestling. How you ask? Hamada and Awesome Kong.

Their opponents are Taylor Wilde and Sarita, who do a complete dance at the top of the ramp like a bad Japanese wrestling video game. So if you’re TNA and you have all these eyeballs following Hogan’s debut, what would you put on next? An X-Division match? Samoa Joe? No, they give us a Knockout Tag Title match.

Hamada and Sarita start it out with a long collar-and-elbow lock-up before doing some standard women’s wrestling. See, this isn’t Diva wrestling folks. Unfortunately, how many people are tuning into the show in droves to see real women’s wrestling? I don’t wanna come off as rude but it’s not like Shimmer is outselling ROH.

Wait, we’re getting late-breaking news that apparently the Motor City Machine Guns have been laid out in the back! Oh man, who did it? Can you feel the drama? It’s almost like I’m watching a rerun of WCW Nitro on WWE 24/7.

Sarita hits a suicide dive onto Hamada and Kong and we go to…

Commercial.

A two segment Knockout match but a four minute X-Division match? This was the change that was going to bring down the WWE?

Kong is walloping Wilde in the ring and the fans seem to just be clapping to amuse themselves. Taylor breaks out of a powerbomb and hits a Codebreaker before tagging in Sarita. She dropkicks Kong but gets laid out by Hamada. This match just doesn’t seem to have a lot of juice from the crowd unless it’s Kong flattening one of the other women.

Kong and Sarita are in the ring and Kong sets her up for a powerbomb and Hamada dropkicks her for the pin. Kong and Hamada are the new tag champions. So both of the women’s titles changed hands.

In the back, we completely ignore the fact that four women just put on a match that showed that the ladies can work without exploiting sex and go to the Beautiful People playing poker. Still. For another segment. This gets interrupted by Val Venis. See, this was a wise signing by TNA because he can work as a great road agent for the company as well as give a dose of sports entertainment enhancement talent.

The segment goes nowhere except for a…

Commercial.

Mick Foley is still trying to get into the arena. Apparently he has failed where Hall and X-Pac succeeded, which is kinda sad. Speaking of kinda sad, the Nasty Boys show up and try to get into the arena. Words elude me at this point.

Raven, Stevie and Daffney are in the ring and apparently they don’t even get an entrance. Their opponents are Matt Morgan and Hernandez, who for a short time seemed to have a shot at being the future of TNA. Seriously, how is it that THIS is the first time we are seeing two of the bright spots in TNA, but we’ve seen The Beautiful People twice already?

Apparently Ric Flair is in AJ’s locker-room, so I guess he’s gonna pull the old Triple H on him. Hernandez bounces Richards for a bit and then Morgan hits the Carbon Footprint and it’s already over. Seriously? It’s already over? Way to spotlight your future talent guys. Change is in the air.

D’Angleo Dinero is in the back with Christy Hemme. He says that he is gonna deliver a match for the ages. When the hell did Burke stop talking like himself and start talking like Koko B. Ware? Dinero is facing Desmond Wolfe and as he’s making fun of him for being British, Orlando Jordan shows up. Yes, Orlando Jordan. If it was possible, this show came to an even louder screeching halt.

Desmond Wolfe is out first and the Thunder graphic lets us know that his finisher is called Tower of London. Why the hell didn’t they let him talk first? TNA did a great job earlier in the show of talking about who the wrestlers were, but here all we got was “he’s a great acquisition” before going back to talking about Hogan. Dinero is out next and I’d be shocked if this match goes the full ten minutes.

Nigel starts out by ripping apart Dinero’s arm but Dinero comes back with a flying shoulderblock. See, this is what TNA needs to be showing more of. One of these guys was in Vince’s stable and he let him go to waste, while the other one would have been one of his top gets but for a failed medical exam. Here is a chance for TNA to show the WWE that they can possibly beat them at their own game.

Wolfe wrenches back on Dinero’s arm but he breaks free. Wolfe goes for an elbow in the corner and misses and Dinero pulls out the vertical headstand elbow. The fans chant that this is wrestling. After all of the talking on this show, I’m surprised they remember what it looked like. Dinero out of nowhere gets a small package and it’s already over. So Desmond Wolfe went from hanging with Kurt Angle to being pinned by Elijah Burke on the biggest show of the year in about four minutes. Yeesh.

Hey, Jeff Jarrett is there. To paraphrase Paul Heyman, “Gentlemen, lock up your wives.”

Commercial.

We’re back and Rhyno has apparently been taken out in the back. Who could have donWoe this? Feel the intrigue. I don’t wanna watch Bret Hart and Vince McMahon, I wanna see who has been knocking out midcarders.

Tenay and Tazz give us a replay of Hogan’s return before showing us Jarrett walking to the ring.

Commercial.

We’re back and apparently some guy named AJ something is the TNA Champion. We are nearly two hours into the damn show and this is the first time we’re seeing Styles. Way to build around new talent.

Styles says that he can’t hold his belt with pride until he beats Kurt Angle, and at SEGA Dreamcast, he’s gonna prove it. Eric Bischoff shows up and says that he’s heard a lot about Styles and says that tonight AJ will wrestle Kurt Angle…tonight. That’s right, tonight. Look, I’m not going to overlook how cool it is to give this match away on television, but this is teetering on Hogan/Goldberg in terms of giving away the farm. Even worse, it has had zero pre-promotion because you wouldn’t want to advertise a match like that in advance lest people tune in.

Here comes Mr. Irrelevant Jeff Jarrett, who can’t even create a promotion that doesn’t try to rid itself of him. Poor guy. Maybe he shouldn’t have hit Chyna with a guitar all those years ago. Violence against women is never good, unless it involves that little orange M&M chick from “Jersey Shore” getting popped in the face. That’s classic.

Jeff says it’s great to be back in the Impact Zone. Dixie McCarter looks concerned. Jarrett says that he founded TNA despite the fact that everyone said they wouldn’t last six weeks. However, just like the war in Iraq, this giant clusterfuck that loses millions will never end.

Jarrett says that it’s a Monday Night and he’s here and that the time is right. Wasn’t that ABC’s TGIF gimmick from twenty years ago? Jeff says he’s done some good things and some not so good things, but the most rewarding thing he ever did was to give young guys the opportunity to step in the ring, get noticed and ultimately get signed by Vince McMahon. Jarrett rattles off the names of the people who are over with smart fans that he put in the ring, like MCMG, Joe, Daniels and Styles. He concludes by saying that we ain’t seen nothing yet. He’s right, I haven’t seen anything tonight with the exception of seeing a bunch of guys from the WWE jump ship.

Hogan is in the back and he says that nobody cares about Jarrett. Did they really bring Hulk in to be a heel? Seriously? Hulk says that Jeff ran the company into the ground and Dixie was the one who saved the company. The fans chant bullshit again. Hulk says that the young guys are gonna get real pushes, yet the fans didn’t chant bullshit here.

“With Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter, TNA is going all the way to the top.” Apparently if you say something enough, it’ll come true. Hulk says that Jarrett is no different than anybody else and Jeff will have to prove himself like everyone else. So at the end of the day, Hogan came back and then turned heel within the course of two hours.

Daniels and Christy are in the back but this gets interrupted twenty seconds by Jeremy Borash, who apparently is on the phone with Foley. Jeremy lets Mick into the building.

Commercial.

Jeff Hardy and Brutus Moore are in the back and Jeff is painting a picture before leaving to meet with the “big man.”

Abyss is coming out first in his flannel getup. Apparently this is the first time he’s ever wrestled Samoa Joe, so there’s no better way to do that then to give it away unadvertised.

Joe charges at Abyss and rattles off the punches and kicks that take down Abyss. He gets a full head of steam and charges into a boot. Joe grabs a chair but Abyss ducks it. He then rams Joe’s head into the steel steps and it’s not entirely clear who is supposed to be the heel and who is supposed to be the face. You can buy a limited edition Hulk Hogan trading card, because when someone turns heel in his debut, you wanna plunk down money to buy his merchandise.

Sting is in the back and we have a split cam. If I hadn’t seen TNA before and I was watching this now, I would think that Sting in the back is infinitely more important than Abyss/Joe. I thought this company was all about pushing the younger talent.

Joe leaps off the second rope and connects with a thrust kick for two. He rattles off more punches and he almost looks bored. Joe goes up again but gets caught in a chokeslam for two. Joe hits Abyss with a chair when the ref was turned around and then locks in a rear naked choke for the win.

Bischoff and Krystal are in the back talking about Lashley wanting out. Krystal demands a meeting with the all powerful Hogan. Bischoff says that she has to take a number. Apparently when Lashley hears about this, he’s gonna be pissed. What did this segment accomplish? We already knew Bobby wanted out.

We’re in the back and Beer Money have been laid out under random props. The hottest tag team in their company and this is how they get on the air?

Commercial.

The Nasty Boys are trying to get in again and Bubba sneaks them in.

Jeremy is in the back with Kurt Angle. Kurt puts over Styles as being great but says that AJ has never beaten him one-on-one. Angle says that Styles is great but he isn’t the greatest wrestler in the world. It’s real. It’s damn real. It’s still real to me, damnit! Sob, sob, sob.

Jeff and Shannon are in the back and they got what they came for. Apparently their pot dealer works out of the Impact Zone. Three random teenagers show up screaming and Jeff gives them his painting. Uh huh.

Commercial.

We’re back and the Nasty Boys are demanding Team 3D. Some random production people show up with donuts and the Nasty Boys toss the donuts at him before messing up the locker-room with spray paint. Change folks. Change. That change? We’re going back to 1995. Look for the return of the Dungeon of Doom next week as they beat Morgan and Hernandez.

It’s TNA World Title Time and Kurt doing the Gangrel thing still looks cool. Styles comes out next and this should be good. After two and a half hours of filler and crap, we are finally getting an amazing match.

AJ and Kurt lock up and AJ grabs a headlock. The fans do dueling chants, and this is what they should have been doing all along. They needed to grab the audience by the neck and show them that unlike the WWE, TNA can give you revolutionary wrestling.

Kurt goes to the outside and AJ follows with a flip-dive to the outside. Both men are back in but some masked guy attacks Styles. Kurt clotheslines him out of the rings and security escorts him out of the ring. What the fuck? Was it the giant chicken from “Family Guy”?

The match continues and Kurt hits the running powerbomb into the corner.

Commercial.

We’re back and Kurt and Styles are still putting on a great match. Kurt goes the Angle Slam but eats a clothesline. How in the hell did TNA think what they were putting on tonight was going to get fans to buy into their product? Fans don’t want two minute matches and lame angles when they can get that from WWE. They want high quality matches that highlight great athleticism. They want Angle/Styles. If TNA gave the audience blow-away matches, they would have the fans. You need to sprinkle the Sports Entertainment in with the wrestling, not douse the show in Sports Entertainment with only mere morsels of wrestling.

AJ goes for the Pele kick but Kurt turns it into an AngleLock but Styles rolls out and finally connects with the Pele kick for two. Kurt and AJ go back and forth again before Styles connects with the springboard flying forearm. These two seem to be the first two people all night in the ring that are looking to put on something special. Where was the fire from the rest of the roster? Hell, where were the opportunities for them to show what they have to begin with?

Angle goes for a Frog Splash but Styles roles out of the ring. AJ goes for the Styles Clash and connects but it only gets two. AJ props Kurt on the second turnbuckle but Kurt powers him off and he hits the Frog Splash for two. The fans chant “Who needs Bret?” which does nothing for anybody.

Kurt locks in the AngleLock but Styles breaks out and Kurt hits a suplex for two. Hey, where the hell is Ric Flair? He was supposedly talking to Styles, but we haven’t seen him at all tonight. TNA seems to have an embarrassment of riches in terms of “big name” talent, and none of them seem to be getting any true screen time to have any, ahem, impact.

Angle hits the Angle Slam on Styles off the top rope for two. Really? Two. Okay. AJ goes for the Styles Clash again but it again only gets two. These guys might be no-selling their finishing moves a little too much. Styles goes for another Styles Clash but he locks in an Angle Lock with the leg bar.

Flair wanders out and Styles breaks free from the hold. My disgust seeing Ric Flair here is pretty off the charts when you think about how Vince sent Flair off. Sure, I know Flair wanted the money, but come on. First off, he could have gone back the WWE who would have taken him back with open arms. Second, he could have probably lived off of his WWE Legends residuals for years. Flair seems determined to ruin his legacy, and there’s no place that specializes in tarnishing your reputation quite like TNA.

Commercial.

We’re back and Styles hits another Styles Clash but doesn’t go for a pinfall. Styles hits a Springboard 450 for the pinfall.

Hogan comes out as Angle and Styles hug. This is so surreal that they would bring in Hulk Hogan and immediately turn him heel. I mean, who the hell would wanna buy Hogan merchandise anyway?

Hulk says that AJ and Kurt are the two best wrestlers in the company, and the fans seem to just buy the face turn. Forget that they booed him to death a few segments earlier. Hogan gets someone whispering in his ear and he runs to the back.

Foley is looking for Hogan and he storms into the poker game. Seriously, how the hell is this poker game getting so much airtime?

Foley wanders into the open office looking for Hogan but he finds Bischoff instead. Eric says that Foley has no power and no control, so all he can do is get in line and fight for his job. Mick said that he vowed to never work for Eric Bischoff again but he gets jumped by the n.W.o. Hogan storms into the office and we get the world’s closest close-up ever before fading to black.

TNA had a lot of momentum going into this show. They had Hulk Hogan as a lock and everyone from Paul Heyman to Steve Austin rumored to show up. Over the course of three hours, they broke out the return of Sting and Jeff Jarrett, the reformation of the n.W.o., the debut of Val Venis, Orlando Jordan, Jeff Hardy and Ric Flair, not to mention a Styles/Angle main event for the title. In the end, did it really change anything?

Instead of looking like a directionless company that might be gaining some momentum behind a true youth movement, it looks like TNA has regressed into a 21st Century WCW. The comparisons are endless, and none of them are positive. Fans supposedly wanted their wrestling back, but when they said that, that didn’t mean the Nasty Boys.

TNA had an opportunity to strike a blow against Vince McMahon. Sure, they could do a segment with Hulk to pop ratings and sell t-shirts, but this show should have been about establishing their premium talent. We should have seen an X-Division match that would have blown the doors off the arena. We should have seen Samoa Joe, Daniels and Beer Money demonstrate why they are big players in the industry. We should have seen Jeff Hardy’s debut amount to more than just a quick run-in and some backstage nonsense. We should have gotten some mileage out of seeing Ric Flair or Sting back on television.

TNA had their chance to legitimately change pro wrestling, but instead they regressed. Shame on anyone that thought they were going to do this right. With all due respect to the TNA Maniacs, I need Bret and I need the WWE. It may not be perfect, but at least it doesn’t waste the chances it gets.

This has been for your consideration.



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