I’m the resident Impact! live recapper. This was a great gig; never mind the fact that I only got it because I can type reasonably well and am willing to watch TNA on a weekly basis. There was only one problem; the live part of my title became as increasingly absurd as calling the world part of the ECW World Championship, due to various factors in my personal and private life that are better left unsaid. And also a potent cocktail of Mass Effect and Fire Pro Wrestling.
So, after minutes of tortured agony, I resigned my post. Not wanting to blow my chance at writing for the Pulse, however, I pitched this as an alternative; a weekly column devoted entirely to TNA. Much like I imagine Robert Kirkman pitching Marvel Zombies to Marvel Comics, it was pretty much a joke. Much like Kirkman, however, I was shocked but pleasantly surprised when my editor accepted.
So, now that I’ve driven away a good portion of any potential audience I have with comic book references (sorry for getting nerd chocolate in your dork peanut butter, guys), I might as well get to what I have in mind for this column; think of it as an immodest response to A Modest Response, while acknowledging Pulse Glazer and ROH’s existence as little possible. I’m going to cover Impact! in an abbreviated fashion, going over anything interesting and important. Yes, I’m enough of a cock eyed optimist to think there will be interesting and important things on Impact. On a really relative scale. I’ll also link to some TNA news, and try to offer some insight on the show.
So, yeah, it may come across a lot like Eric Szulczewski’s short form. But not as insightful. Or bitter. Or intelligent. Or bitter. But still, in order to appease our surly internet demigod, I sacrificed 50 young Republicans to a shrine consisting of Hunter S. Thompson photos. Just to be safe, you know?
I should probably get to the column now.
This Week In TNA #1
The Captain Charisma Variety Hour- This was pretty much the Christian Cage show this week, but given the overabundance of Kurt Angle (I can not imagine having ever said that before now, but here we are), it was a welcome change, especially because Christian was bringing his comedy A game. While running this program ignores the log jam of fresh guys who could be main eventing instead of Angle and Christian, I can live with it if it means we get the funny Christian again, instead of the intense one we got there when he went in to default 21st Century heel mode. I do like that the opening promo and the resultant skits establish that he’s still a self centered dick who calls himself the champ despite not having gold for six months now; it’s nice that they’re going slow burn there, if they even plan on having him become a virtuous (if smartassed) babyface like he was playing during his honeymoon period when he first jumped to TNA; that’s a nice bit of slow burn, especially in the face of how quickly they blew apart the potentially interesting dominate heel group they could have had by actually letting the Angle/Christian Alliance exist beyond one show. Besides, he’s always been better as a heel, so letting him keep those qualities is a good idea, if he’s meant to be a face/tweener beyond the next PPV.
Scott Steiner pins “Canadian Muscle” Petey Williams to win the convoluted gimmick match briefcase bonanza- Okay four way, the best part being Petey and Steiner’s pose off. And seeing the Canadian Destroyer again. That was cool. To get back to all the video games I’ve been playing lately, that move (and Petey himself) are in Fire Pro Wrestling for the PS2. Even if Petey’s got their typically hilarious copyright avoiding moniker Deucy James. And hey, ROH fans, Morishima and KENTA are in there too!
Oh, yeah, there was a match. It was brief enough that BG and Steiner’s massive limitations didn’t hinder things, with Petey doing most of the heavy lifting. But, given Daniels fate, I could see why he was dogging it… Steiner decided to trade brief cases with Petey after the match, which would have hilarious results when Petey was awarded the world title match with Steiner’s briefcase. All together now: ha-ha! Anyway, they split the other briefcase reveals up over the course of the show, just so all the excitement wouldn’t kill us.
Kaz gets ratbagged- Kazarian’s push continues in this solid bit of business against Johnny the Bull with a Darth Maul mask (I feel like a bad nerd for not making that connection before Kaz did). Goofy mask aside, I think this gimmick fits the former Italian stereotype well, as he’s not tied to a stale gimmick, and he’s shown to be a solid power guy in this new role. With Abyss about to be otherwise occupied, Kaz is apparently Dustin Rhodes newest dance partner. Fair enough; he’s still a solid worker, and enough of a name that working with (and presumably going over) him that it won’t stall the young guy’s momentum. The stuff with Dustin suddenly having a split personality again’s a little dicey, but for one, it’s Russo, and two, it is pretty funny to hear Dustin protesting Kaz’s retaliation. “It’s not me you want; it’s that guy who dresses like La Parka who broke my toys when I was a kid!” As a further tangent, I’d be really amused if Black Reign was actually a really cruel Dusty playing tricks on his kid for his own amusement when he wasn’t booking himself as the top face for Crockett. Look, I take my amusement where I can get it. Especially with mental health. Insanity is hilarious!
TNA: Now with 200% more boobs (and some of them aren’t writing the show!)- What I get out of the pretty lame use of innuendo in the Velvet Sky/Angelina Love tandem interview with JB is that, yeah, our women can wrestle, but they can be slutty, too! That’s not really subtext or anything, but I still felt like it should be said, mainly because I’m going to try and fill Slayer’s void as the guy who cares too much about the talent enhancement while he’s off doing whatever. Also, Velvet is as green on the mic as she is in the ring. And Angelina giving us the Canadian pronunciation of about is as close as we get to Trish Stratus in wrestling these days besides one offs that make Scott Keith question her eating habits (I didn’t think she was that bad looking, although Sunny’s apparent comeback made everyone pale by comparison in how great she looked; well, except Mike Shaw; looking trim there, Bastion Booger!).
I’m disappointed in the TNA booking team for using such a tired clichÃ© as teaming that drunk, brawling black woman with the bespectacled businesswoman in a cleavage bearing tank top. Geez, guys, it’s the 21st century! The best part of the interview for this segment, besides the use of alcoholism as comedy, was this exchange between Robert Roode and Tracy Brooks, after Tracy gets on Jackie Moore’s for being drunk:
Roode: Do you hear me treating people like this (disrespectfully)?
The match was okay Diva stuff. It’s nice that they’re trying to build a division beyond Kong, Kim, and new Impact Zone darling ODB (ask Lance Hoyt and Matt Bentley how much that can mean; or don’t, they might cry), but those three are far and away better than any of the rest of the women they have under contract. Still, this was okay tag formula stuff, even it was basically just the backdrop for more Roode dickishness to Tracy. This time Sharmell got to call him on it. Roode called her a whore, which if nothing else was lazy, since Christian made the same kind of joke about Karen Angle earlier in the show. Between that and his constant use of the word lookit, I can see why he’s having a hard time becoming the kind of heel TNA wants him to be. Booker made the save, so maybe that’s going to be his placeholder feud until they put him in the main event.
Cage and Nash: Funny Men- So, the main storyline of this episode was Christian trying to find a tag partner for a match against Angle and Roode, and no one wanting the job. Kaz, Booker, Nash, and Joe all turned him down in a wide variety of ways. Nash’s was my favorite, even if he didn’t use the phrase suck my dick in as many ways as Joe, who is apparently riding the wave of his “shoot” interview at whatever the December PPV was called (despite following the promotion regularly, they all kinda run together; was it Final Destination? Against All Roads? Scott Hall Will Be Here, Honest?), by being a bitter, angry guy who hates TNA a lot and bitches about his contract and how he’s being held back. Okay, maybe I should take the quotation marks off the shoot part.
That said, Nash and Christian’s interplay was great. So much so that I’d be totally happy if they fired everyone else (except Tomko, to play his role as the world’s tallest straight man) and just had these two riffing off each other for two hours. I mean, Impact! has almost been an occasionally amusing sitcom many times since Russo came back; embrace your impulse, Vinnie Ru! Anyway, Christian called Nash an 11 year old with gray hair after he did the whole “I got your partner down here!” crotch chop bit. That made my damn week right there.
I really need a more rewarding social life. Also great; Christian wandering around in the background during Booker’s intense promo about whatever. If only Angle could do as much to make me remember why I was such a huge mark for him before he came to Florida.
Come to Judas Moment- So, they had a big face to face between Abyss and James Mitchell. Now, Mitchell’s one of the best (and certainly most underrated) promo guys in the business and all, but not even he can elevate this dumb ass “secret origin of Abyss” crap above– well, crap. They’re still referencing his mom shooting his dad, although at least they seem to have dropped Mitchell holding this horrible secret he revealed on cable television over his head. The whole thing was just a set up for Judas Maciasâ€™s comeback and yet another gory beat down, including three unprotected chair shots to the head for Abyss. Did they not get the Benoit toxicology reports in Orlando? I mean, I thought the choking out with razor wire got over how evil Macias is and everything without scrambling the big guy’s brains some more. Hope the build up for this match is worth potentially giving the guy an Alzheimerâ€™s patient’s brain.
More funny Christian stuff. After his aforementioned wandering around during Booker’s promo, he pitches a team up with this gem: Let’s you, me, and Beyonce go out there!
After Sharmell reacts like he farted in Church: It’s a good thing! Booker still wouldn’t go for it. Jerk.
And, playing the part of pre-screw job whiney bitch Bret Hart is…- Chris Harris. I find it really sad that he’s in this role when, a few months ago, he looked poised to become an upper card babyface. That’s TNA for you. I say that not having to deal with him backstage, which is apparently what led to him getting this gimmick. Anyway, Booker pretty much squashed him. I know I risk stating the obvious, but hey, it’s another ex-WWE guy going over a homegrown talent. I’m not saying Harris should have won, mind you, but they could have at least made him look like a bit of a threat. Maybe the direction he and Storm have right now will at least lead to an AMW reunion. I could go for that.
And now, back to Gold Case!- Despite fervent wishes from, pretty much everyone I can think of really, BG James didn’t even get pretend fired. Instead, he won the tag team title shot. But he may not cash it in with Kip James. Tension between the hetero life mates! Will the New Age– James Gang– err, VKM, explode? And, more importantly, will anyone care outside of people who still think it’s 1999? Worst of all, this gives them an excuse to bring back Sean Waltman if they so desire.
They’re lumberjacks, and they’re okay- So, Jay Lethal (and his tights made entirely of tassels) got revenge on Johnny Devine. By the way, is anyone else so underwhelmed by Devine that they yawn just thinking about him? By smacking him on the back repeatedly with leather straps. Even in something as inherently homoerotic as wrestling, that’s pretty gay. Or BDSM, I guess. Some sort of weird, non-traditional sex that would make a red blooded American male such as myself uncomfortable with his otherwise completely safe viewing of oily men in Speedos groping each other, if not for all the boobs they’ve brought in to balance all that. And touches like Shark Boy’s neck brace/bandaged mask combo.
Wait, did that sentence make me sound gayer than I tried to make strap matches sound? Also, on a completely different note, Senshi in a flannel shirt cracked me up. Post match, Team 3D gingerly walked to the ring (wouldn’t want Bubba to blow up by doing a run in), but failed to avenge their new little buddy by pussying out instead of facing all the oily guys with leather straps. And also Shark Boy.
Will do the BME for food- So, in a shocking twist, Steiner won the X-Division title shot and Daniels was fired. To quote Bender “Now that, is irony!” See, because you wouldn’t expect a big guy who’s all about ground and pound to fight for the X-Division title. Except that one guy. Also, Daniels screwed over his friend to get the case that got him fired, so that’s kind of ironic, right? Poetic justice maybe? Litotes? I know there’s something literary I can pin on there if I try hard enough.
Anyway, I’m too damn tired to think of how this is meant to lead to something good for Daniels, since fake firings are usually undone in really lazy ways. I will posit that it would be hilarious if Daniels pulled a Pillman and used this as an opportunity to really leave and go to WWE (or back to ROH, I guess). Well, except for the whole dying part after a year of being there. Although in Pillman’s case, he was able to get away with it because of Kevin Sullivan’s masterfully booked work shoots, while Daniels could do so because everyone was too busy watching Angle and Jeff Jarrett fight over Dixie Carter’s affection while Joe angrily complained about the lack of poi in the backstage spread and Senshi asked really nicely to really be fired for the 37th time this month. Otherwise, very similar.
Handicapped Parking- Don’t bust my balls, okay; I’m doin’ this for free. Yeah, I just referenced Burn, Hollywood Burn. I’m– not sure what that means about me. What I got to see of this match was okay handicap match stuff. Better than the laziest use of the formula, but by the virtue of being a handicap match, it’s the worst main event of the two hour era. Given how much I’ve enjoyed all of those main events, that’s not as bad as it sounds. Our big cliffhanger is that AJ Styles (who was in total “Mom and dad, stop fighting!” mode earlier in the show) looked like he was going to save Christian from a post match beating by Angle and Roode (the Can-Am Connection 2K7?), but backed off, solidifying his place as the Switzerland of TNA. Tomko, on the other hand, is the American public about most things; he just doesn’t give a crap.
So, we have an interesting storyline here, I think. Obviously, hoping for anything for TNA to not screw it is a fool’s errand, but– maybe it won’t suck possibly why not? They could help AJ shed his buffoonish sidekick role pretty easily, if and when he finally chooses to side with Christian and Christian promptly turns on him because he’s an asshole (hey, he called himself that during the show; direct quote). I mean, I love AJ in this role, but apparently it’s awful for him, so I always figured Christian’s massive dickishness could help negate it and give us an awesome feud that even TNA would have to put a lot of effort in to screwing up. Not that I doubt their resolve in these matters, given where Joe’s at. But hey, Christianâ€™s funny again, so Iâ€™m happy for now.
News Roundup (for anyone still reading) -Maybe I should place this earlier next time? Anyway, all of these stories come from links at this very site; in an effort to be more environmentally conscious, I’m recycling. I’d link to the stories, but link to second hand links might implode the internet, and I won’t take that chance.
TNA to air one hour special about New Japan feud- With Kurt Angle vs. Yuji Nagata footage. Hey, Iâ€™ve heard of Nagata! This should be interesting, although it would be great if we could get more than clips.
Karen Angle hurt at TNA Tapings- Take all the time you need to recover Karen. Far, far away from the Impact Zone. Sure, itâ€™s a dick thing to say, but come on; I canâ€™t be the only one thinking it. I do find her less annoying lately, but thatâ€™s only because I am merely bemused by her presence instead of wishing sheâ€™d been locked in a closet at Universal Studios with a guy in a sweaty Woody Woodpecker suit.
ROH and TNA collide! Via house shows- Rejected TNA Slogan: Come see ROHâ€™s roster from 3 years ago fight Monday Night Rawâ€™s from five years ago! All this and no Karen Angle!
TNA beats ECW in the ratings- Which is like being valedictorian of summer school, but hey; a company with a roster full of former world champions and hot young up and comers beat a promotion composed of 6 guys, three of who are Big Daddy V, and needs to supplement that with Smackdown! jobbers.
Bobby Heenan to have major jaw reconstruction surgery- Okay, this one gets a heart felt best wishes, and a solicitation for thoughts/prayers. And hey, he appeared in TNA once, so it counts.
Ron Killings finally released for real- Heâ€™ll soon be hanging around with Waltman in Mexico again. Which is a step up from Pacman Jones, I guess.
Brooke Adams headed to TNA, Playboy- Thatâ€™s right; the other member of Extreme Expose will be joining TNA’s not in anyway bloated roster and bringing her unique talents; so unique, I have no idea what they might be. According to her myspace, sheâ€™s from Huston, Texas. As a Native Texa, I have to say that I didnâ€™t know John Huston had a town named after him here, but to be fair, it is a really big state, you know? Anyway, if you still remember who she is, you can look forward to seeing her naked soon apparently!
The Inside Pulse
Maybe I should have ended with Heenan thing. At any rate, for anyone I haven’t alienated, check out my column next week, where (between all my shtick) I recap some Impact! and ask one simple question: is there such a thing as a TNA fan? See you in seven! Give or take. I make no promises!