I think this is only the third time i’ve covered TNA iMPACT! on this blog. This is because twice before i’ve been drawn (when Hulk showed up to start the Monday Night Wars II, and when RVD won their Heavyweight Title) and been largely disappointed by the company’s direction. This time, talk of a ‘wild’ invasion by ECW Originals and of a great tag team match caught my attention. As i’ll go on to explain, only one of these draws turned out to be legitimately worth watching.
One of the worst things about TNA is the prominance of Abyss, and he was out first. Abyss (if you take away the mask, a blatant copy of Mankind) has a good look. When he comes to the ring, he looks like a demented Hollywood serial-killer. That’s pretty cool, but it’s completely lost as soon as he enters the ring, to talk or wrestle. This time he had a pretty manacing looking 2×4 covered in nails. He just overacts everything too much, he constantly looks like he’s going to explode, and not in a way that creates tension. Either that or create a serious hazard with all the drool he must produce. He keeps calling the 2×4 Janice (weird, and I don’t much like it, but given his gimmick, i’ll let it go) and then starts hitting a huge loin of meat. It’s all just a little too silly. Maybe it would have worked better 10 years ago, but not now. Anyway, by talking about ‘them’ he’s setting us up for the ECW invasion, so it was necessary, if not very entertaining.
The first match was a knockouts street fight between Sarita and Taylor Wilde. Now, it’s obviously a good, progressive thing that they let their female competitors compete in ‘extreme’ wrestling. However, this was, as you expect from TNA, confusing and a disappointment. The street fight was announced at the top of the show, and then we cut to it after Abyss’s promo where they are already fighting backstage, eventually making their way to the ring. I understand that they were trying to create a sense of chaos with this, but this was undermined by the fact that it was already booked. All they had to do to retain that unpredictability is to have them fight backstage towards the ring, and then have someone announce the match, as if it’s inpromptu. As for the match itself, the backstage bit was horrible, bad selling, bitty, barely watchable. It improved when they got to the ring where there was some actual use of the chair, for instance. At least this was a match though. The use of knockouts by TNA is horrible. WWE, for instance, has it’s problems in that area, but at least they don’t make their female competitors in to skanks. Knockouts look like hookers, to be quite plain. At least here there was a match, so that took a back seat. I’m not, however, interested in talking about the porn-style scene with Kevin Nash and ‘Ms. Tessmacher’, and the Jerry Springer style segment which took place later between knockouts. Again, this sort of treatment of women may have worked 10 years ago (and it shouldn’t have then, either), but now it particularly seems outdated.
Brian Kendrick then took on Douglass Williams in an I Quit match. Had this been a normal match, it would have been a fairly decent match. However, it worked neither as an X-Division match, or an I Quit match. There seems to be a needless overuse of gimmick matches on iMPACT!, and the I Quit match was probably the most ridiculous one. I Quit matches should be won after a long amount of time, when someone is facing some sort of dire jeopardy, preferably not something that directly affects them. The best I Quit matches end when the person reluctantly quite when something/someone close to them is threatened. A good example is the one between Ric Flair and Mick Foley from a Summerslam 06 when Mick quit to stop Flair from harming Melina. Here, Williams basically just tapped out, so why did it have to be an I Quit match. To be fair, WWE did this recently too with the Orton/Cena I Quit match last year, but this was even worse. It was good to see Kendrick go over, well, until Kevin Nash came out and buried him with a chokeslam …
A triple threat match followed between Desmond Wolfe, Rob Terry and Samoa Joe. My only real interest here was in Samoa Joe, but it was a decent triple-threat match. Probably the second best match of the night without being brilliant, but with a good finish, with Joe struggling to get in to the match for circumstantial reasons before finally making it in and taking the match. Wolfe and Terry are obviously decent wrestlers, but their characters are terrible, especially Wolfe, who does things like stick two fingers up and call people ‘wankers.’ I don’t know how familiar Americans are with this stuff, but it just makes him come across to me as a lout, and not one I want to watch.
The next match was the tag ladder match between Beer Money inc. and the Motor City Machine Guns which had garnered so much hype. This hype was thoroughly deserved. It was the best tag match i’ve seen in a long time, and probably the best match of the last week or so. Though they weren’t wasted, I don’t think it was the ladder aspect of the match that made it so good, I think it was the guys in it. Both teams have obviously been together for an awful long time and the chemistry with and between them is fantastic! This match just showed great timing, ring awareness and storytelling. There was lots of great tag team chain wrestling, something which is quite rare. Fast paced, with lots of great double-teams and spots. It could easily have been a PPV match, to the point where perhaps they should have saved it for the fifth match (which I pressume will be at a PPV, where they could have the titles above the ring). Definately the highlight of the night, and I like the idea of the controvercy around the title and a best of five series to solve it. Great.
D’Angelo Dinero ( a guy who seems to really have come in to his own with his new gimmick) took on Matt Morgan (a guy who seems to have stalled somewhat) after that. It was a very short match between the two, with Pope winning with a Codebreaker (which I wasn’t too impressed with). Nonetheless, i’d like to see a substantial match with him. I think he’d look good. Mr. Anderson came out afterwards to save Pope from Morgan, setting a feud between him and Morgan, something which doesn’t garner much attention from me.
The next match pitted Jay Lethal against Jeff Hardy. It was another relatively short match, but ok. I’m not interested in Hardy any more, he looks quite out of shape too. Jay Lethal looked pretty good though, but I don’t like them putting him in Hogan’s colours. For once, lets not have Hogan the centre of attention and allow Lethal to shine on his own, like I heard he did against Flair at the previous PPV. For some reason, Hardy killed all of Lethal’s momentum by winning. I don’t understand why TNA would bury Lethal after beating Flair, but they did. Like Pope, he looked to have potential, but needs more time and a decent feud.
The end of the show seemed rushed. The Hardy-Lethal match was short, then Flair came out for a promo about Fortune, which took about one minute, before Abyss came out and had a short argument with RVD, then a short confrontation, and then a 4-minute ‘invasion’ by the ECW guys. I’ll let you make your own minds up before I talk about it:
So, Foley comes out and does nothing before they ECW originals in attendance storm the ring, attacking Abyss, apparantly siding with RVD. I’ve already posted on why this ‘invasion’ is a bad idea, but i’ll add now what occured to me after watching it. The crowd weren’t much in to it. It seemed they weren’t going to go nuts just because of the nostalgia, and right they are, because there wasn’t that much to see. A lot of attacking TNA security at first, which was completely devvoid of interest, before the lockerroom came out. Yes, they brought out the whole lockerroom right at the start of the angle – they’ve already shot their wad, so to speak. We were just watching a confusing scene with a ring full of people, and no explanation why. The points of interest came with people like Devon and Al Snow siding with the ECW guys, but that didn’t add much sense to the situation. I would have much rather have seen them just beat down Abyss and actually make some sort of statement about taking on TNA, and have the thing escalate to a full ring situation. I know not many liked the ECW/ECW invasion, but it’s one of my favourite storylines, and they did as I have suggested. It started off with the explanation of Steph and Shane taking on their father (an interesting premise) and built and built until this moment, one of my favourites ever in wrestling:
Now, that invasion wasn’t perfect in that it buried WCW/ECW talent to an extent, but then again, they were in a position to do so, being the parent company. WCW and ECW didn’t need to go over. In TNA’s case, they’re using it to bury themselves, the product they’re trying to build up. The only prominant person from TNA last night was RVD, a guy that doesn’t need to get pushed in all this. There may be some prominance for certain deserving TNA guys against the invasion, but it will be short lived, as it seems this will only lead to a one-off ECW themed PPV. It’s an exercise in nostalgia, and is pretty backward looking in my opinion. Then Dixie Carter comes out and tries to create a cliffhanger by saying ‘Stop. I invited them.’ Well, who cares if Dixie invited them, she’s hardly a Vince McMahon style figure that has some kind of on-screen wrestling credibility. Even if she did invite them, she still asked them to ‘stop.’
The whole thing was a confusing diasappointment, and may well hurt TNA when it’s over. I will watch next week, for the tag match, for Hernadez (who I really rate) against Kurt Angle, and yes, for the invasion, but I don’t hold up much hope for it after this. If that fails, I wont be watching again until it can draw me again.