I really loath starting the BZ each week with some sort of bashing of TNA, but after Dixie's announcement on Wednesday, I just can't hold my tongue. Dixie is excited about sending Doug Williams to OVW to train the young 'uns? Leave the likes of Ion, Garett, E&T on the roster, guys who can't hold a candle to Williams, but send him to OVW? I'm completely baffled but this move. It further shows me that Dixie has to bloody clue what she's doing with TNA.
I'd have thought Dixie would have discover some sort of clue about the wrestling industry by now, yet the likes of Sonjay, Petey Williams, Lethal, Shelley, Sabin (?), Velvet Sky, Love, Creed and so many others have gone by the wayside when Ion is carrying a strap? I understand there will always be turnover, and that people come in needing work – even up from OVW – but to let that list of names go only to bring in Hogan, Brooke Hogan, Bisch, Garett Bischoff, and Zema Ion, seems beyond clueless and very bad business sense. Looking at Dixie's business background, she appears to understand business fairly well, and I understand a learning curve for the wrestling industry, but it seems as though some of the worst decisions have been made in the past couple years, not early on.
I honestly didn't think I'd ever catch myself saying this, because Jarrett was behind and a proponent for Russo, but I'm thinking that TNA might need need some time with JJ running the ship. He was the one who wanted to give wrestlers who were not suited for the WWE to have a place to work. Going in that direction, with the X Division being the cornerstone of the company, and a solid hardcore direction for others, they brought in a pretty big following. Sadly it seems as though many of TNA's loyal followers are more disgusted with the direction TNA has been taken the past couple years, that they're more willing to verbally abuse the company than pay out of pocket to watch, the way we used to for the weekly PPV shows, or rush home from picking up my daughter so we could watch TNA on Fox Sports on Friday afternoons – yes, I've done both.
I love TNA and have held on for all these years. I know a lot of people won't believe me saying that, but I really do look forward to Impact on most Thursdays, because I really think that TNA has the roster and all it needs to succeed, with the right direction and marketing. I believe in JJ's original vision, and the wrestlers that TNA has made into stars, and in my case, household names. I also believe that TNA should go back to their signature six sided ring, it was something that really made them stand out as a company. Flipping the channels you knew you found something different when you saw that ring. Honestly, hearing about the ring is what got my attention in the first place, because it sure wasn't JJ that did it!
Video > B+
I liked watching Aces & 8's riding in on their bikes, heading for TNA. It made quite the imposing way to open the show. At one point it looked like they were eight across, but I can't say that I've seen eight of them all together at once previously. I hope they have enough to fill those roles. And having the opening video all about them worked well.
In Ring Segment > A-
AA, AJ, Devon, Bully, Angle, Gunner, Hardy, and Sting together is an interesting group, all eight of them. I like it! The stills of what A&8's have done worked better than more video would have – smart move. But then Storm makes nine? Where's Hogan? Hogan would make ten and Storm could jump to the heel side? This is one of the reasons I like writing this as I watch the show, I can come up with mini-predicts as the show goes along. That's something I don't get a chance to do with RAW.
The fans were chanting for the old Hogan! Wait, there's even more guys outside the ring. Looks like almost all the guys are out there.
Who was that first bleeding guy? I don't recognize him. I'd have thought they would send someone recognizable out first. Not someone like JJ, but someone we might know on sight upon unmasking. I was expecting so much more after the commercial, but then the ring is cleared!
Open Fight Night – Tessmacher vs Tara > C+
Tessmacher on mic is better than I always expect her to be. I love that she called out Tara, so she could face her mentor. What I'm not sure about is Taryn being the Knockouts ref. Something about her out there in that outfit, while she's beautiful, having her in there makes the whole match look like more of a T&A show. Tessmacher and Tara took the emphasis from Taryn very quickly, but it still makes me wonder about the direction they're taking the Knockouts. Though with Earl not reffing the women, Madison is in for it.
Wow, Tessmacher really screwed up that arm drag after Tara hit some lovely ones. Then Tessmacher not jumping well over Tara made the match look like crap right off the bat. She pulled it together, and it could have been nerves due to facing Tara one on one for the first time on Impact, but she's the Knockouts Champ and should be better than that. Tara pulled it together and they finished with a great suplex from the corner, and that hug was so sweet. Though I complain about the obvious botches, this was still so much better than we normally see from the Divas on any given day, so they absolutely deserve huge props for that.
Winner – Tara (2:51)
Video > C+
That they took a video and made it into more by showing Pope's x-ray on Twitter worked better than just showing us more clips of A&8's, something TNA needs to be careful they don't fill the entire show with.
Backstage Segment > B+
Short, simple and to the point. Sting explained why AJ, RVD and Robbie were in the room, changed everything to a Triple Threat Match, then sent them on their merry way, sans Terry. That segment was really solid.
BFG Series Match – Triple Threat Match – Robbie E vs RVD vs AJ > A-
Being who I am, I have to comment on Robbie changing up his hair. I hate to admit it, but the blond, though harsh against the black, looked much better than the caramel color he's replaced it with. Something about how the color sits on his head, it almost looks like it's plastic, or some really thick colored hair gel. He now looks like a mutant Momchhichi. (Am I showing my age again?)
While this is a bit of a HJ replay, I like that they waited an extra week to do it. AJ and RVD working so seamlessly until a handshake was exactly why I have tuned into TNA for so many years. RVD is one of the few 'older' wrestlers who can really hold his own with TNA Originals. Jerry Lynn is another of the few who can still run with these guys.
That Taz had to talk up Robbie's clothesline as if it was something so wondrous made me giggle, but it's Taz doing his job. It's not like he's yelling 'Stone Cold! Stone Cold!' but it's still solid announce work in my book.
I'll admit it, Robbie looked a little better coming back from commercial. I know he can go, I've said it before, I saw him at a local event and he was a big name, and he can go in the ring. I blame TNA for the crappy booking he's been saddled with. I won't say he's on par with RVD and AJ, but he can sure hold his own, as he did in parts of this match.
Actually, I'm pretty blown away at how well RVD can still go. He and AJ had a bit of a botch, but they covered for it so well. Okay, RVD did take a rather nasty bump, but being the veteran he is, he just troopered on like it was nothing. Further, I like Robbie stealing the win the way he did. AJ and RVD did most of the work, but Robbie being the heel he is, he stepped in and took the seven points. He's at the bottom of the leader board with all of twelve points, so his win was worth virtually nothing, but it worked pretty well and kept either AJ or RVD going over the other after all the beautiful work they put into those thirteen minutes.
Winner – Robbie +7 (13:01)
Hardy vs Terry > B-
Hardy seemed to almost bust his bum on the ramp when he stopped to slap hands with the fans. Hardy has won me back more and more, but I still have to giggle when such a graceful man almost lands on his bum, I have to smirk. Calling Terry out is rather odd. I can see why, but it seems absurd to put Terry in a match with Hardy when there's so many others who could give us so much better ring work. Then again, I can't remember the last time we actually saw Terry in a one on one match.
I have to say that Terry took some of Hardy's moves better than I expected him to. Actually, he looked like he was moving more gracefully, fluidly than I remember. I'm not saying Terry was wonderful, or even very good, but better than I remember seeing him in there previously. The ToF on Terry wasn't the best, but the rest looked pretty decent. Hardy hit that swanton really solidly on Terry. Hardy didn't roll through the way he normally does, but I think the more solid landing made his pinfall more believable. I thought this would be a C- match in spite of Hardy, instead it was better than average because of Terry. I might have to step off E&T if they keep working the ring as they have tonight.
Winner – Hardy (2:35)
Backstage Segment > C+
Redneck scrote? That's a new one for me. Have I not been hanging out in the right mens locker rooms? The argument about the appletini was better than the rest of the segment, but Daniels and Kaz are so good. I really think that Kaz can come off very flat, somewhat Orton-like (robotic, but not as bad), but someone like Daniels brings out the best in him – but only when they're heels.
Backstage Segment > A-
Sting said they patched one in, but there was actually two who made it to the ring. Are they forgetting about him already? Sting is so good when he's on like this, and he was ON! Even better is that it was very quick and to the point. Another backstage segment that was spot on for Sting!
Video > D-
I'm beyond over re-watching all this fluff! AJ, Daniels and Claire are as overly played as Trip, Brock and Heyman. I'm more than over all of these videos! Only reason I'm not failing it is because a refresher that some might need.
In Ring Segment > B+
Borash in the ring? And AJ allowed Daniels to be anywhere near the testing? I watch Days of Our Lives and Nicole just changed the results of her paternity test so that EJ would believe that Rafe is the father. As I started typing that Stacy laughed about how soap opera this whole storyline is. Stacy wasn't around during the gritty storylines from back in the day, so he doesn't know how far they used to go – Katy Vick.
Absentee fathers are the cause of overcrowding in our prison systems? Wow, that's diving deep for TNA. Florida Hospital (yes, it is in Orlando) with a placental disruption (it's supposed to be placental abruption [I did listen specifically and looked it up], which the placental lining separates from the uterus [I spend a lot of time researching medical issues for myself and a close friend of mine, so I had to check this out for myself]).
I have to say that I liked Claire's lawyer! Further, I called it very early on that Claire was in on it with Daniels. I will admit that I thought Daniels was going to be the baby daddy, so I was wrong there. I'm wondering if they went about this the way they did so they didn't have to bring Claire back in since her name and other job came out to the media after trying to hide it the way they did.
Gut Check Video > B+
Kris Lewie really seemed to speak from the heart and if his ring work is solid, he could be an interesting addition to the roster. I have to say that while he doesn't have anything unusual about his look, his heart came through in what he said (scripted or not) and for me that's a biggie. It's what endeared me to AJ, Storm, Lethal and so many others right from the start, so he's got that point up with me. I'm just wondering how Joey Ryan is going to screw up this guy's Gut Check.
Backstage Segment > A
Sting was really great here, but then there's Hogan. Hogan breathing the way he was, snarling the way he was, I was pretty fricken impressed! Honestly, I have been prepared to never be impressed with Hogan again, but he did it there. Okay, the bat across all three of the A&8's guy was total bull, but the way he caught the bat, then threatened the unconscious A&8's member was solid. It was the breathing and snarling that made this segment so good, but further than that, it was the awe on Sting's face. No matter how they had that segment set up, it looked as though even Sting was a little blown away. I'll go back to say it worked that much better because it was short and to the point, and I'm impressed that Hogan can bend down that far, but beyond that, Sting and Hogan were just dang good! Not saying that moment makes up for all the crap Hogan's pulled since3 joining TNA, but it was lovely to see. Hold on to this moment, I don't think we'll have many more like that from Hogan.
Video > C+
Silva was a little plastic here, but he can't always be pouring out his heart and crying in the ring. Hopefully he's getting trained up so when he's actually on Impact, he's ready to show us how great he can be.
Gut Check - Kris Lewie vs Gunner > D+
Lewie was on from the start, and while he looked a little sloppy, this was his first time on Impact, so I have to let that slide a bit. Gunner was on Lewie hard, and it showed that Lewie is a little flabby, and of the moves he hit looked fairly solid, but not enough in my book. I had hoped he'd tighten up, but his fallaway slam looked sloppy, as did his landing of Gunner's finisher. He looked tough, but also very green and not in the shape he needs to be in (a bit flabby and in need of cardio) to stand up to TNA's roster. Some might come back and say Joe is flabbier, but Joe works the ring like so few can – totally different leagues. Be interesting to see if they bring in Lewie, and if they do, how long will he be in OWV?
Winner – Gunner (2:59)
Backstage Segment > B
I love ODB! What's your name? How old are you? She's great and I love ODBEY, but they need to get the Knockouts TTC off them and put them on someone who will defend them! As much as I love ODBEY, time for her to move on and get back in the ring.
BFG Series Match – Anderson vs Bully > B+
When Anderson said he was facing the meanest and the baddest, I thought he meant Joe. Personally I think Joe is meaner and badder than Bully, but that's just me. Both looked really on right off the bat. They were just starting to warm up before...
That killed my momentum for the match. Bully brought me right back into the match, but thinking that this is Anderson's last match in the series, then it doesn't really matter if he makes the points. The win is always good, and the heat Bully got in this match, was great fuel for Anderson, but making such a big deal about the points was rather silly to me. Okay, it will look batter next year if he gets all the points he can get in this series, but they haven't revisited last year's series this year. I don't know, just trying to look at it from all angles.
Bully hit a nice superplex, but that means little when the cameras were more interested in backstage. I'm thrilled that they came back for the bully bomb. That neither of them could get the pinnfall after such big moves really brought the tension up. Further that there was the question about what went down between A&8's with Gunner and Angle really brought the tension up for the ending of this one.
Winner – Anderson +7 (11:41)
Backstage Segment > B+
After the way the A&8's guys have been beaten down all night, I didn't expect much from them through the end of the night, but I might have been wrong. That they feel they have a zinger after the way this episode of Impact has gone down, then I'm very interested to see what they have left.
In Ring Segment > A-
Hear me out! First off, that there were so many 'Hogan' chants made me wonder if anyone was actually there to see anyone other than Hogan! I honestly hope he made an appearance, at least on stage, as it might have ripped the hearts out of many Hogan fans where were there to see him. There were a lot of people in Hogan gear in the audience, but that's not why the segment got such a solid grade.
I was starting to think they weren't going to show, but then the A&8's guys were out by the ring. How many of these guys were there? I was under the impression that there was eight of these guys, but it seemed like there had to be more than that to make this segment work. Or maybe they filmed it at different times and the same guys were in two places at once. I couldn't really watch through the mayhem to see if they might have been pulling double duty.
It made sense to use Hogan the way they did. He didn't have to risk injury, but could still be in the frey. But then they 'shatter' Aries' arm and the fans chant for Hogan? That's really daft! But after that specific attack on Aries, I'm again saying, even though they 'proved' he wasn't, that Storm is part of this group. It only makes sense due to him leading in points and most likely going after Aries at Bound For Glory.
Now, for the reason I'm high up on this ending segment. First off, it was fresh. We haven't seen all out brawls like this since the Invasion, and not really to this extent since nWo. Yes, I know, that's basically the direction they're going, and that they want to do War Games screams to me that we're getting WCW back in a huge and horrible way – with Bisch and the helm again!
But then there's the other side to think about. When was the last time we saw an all out brawl like this on Impact? They haven't ended a show like this since... Anyone have any ideas when the last time an Impact ended with everyone brawling? I don't. Okay, maybe it was during MEM, but that wouldn't have been as big as this. Other than the Knockouts – a group I think could have been used here, if there were some chicks in A&8's – pretty much everyone there and available were in this fight, so why not have them involved as well? Just my feeling behind it. And honestly, I was a bit surprised that we only saw one face from the entire group, and I didn't recognize him at all. I really thought we were going to see Masters, Gallows, maybe even JJ. I'm actually impressed that they didn't show us recognizable faces this early in the all out fighting. In some ways it didn't make sense that they weren't unmasked, but I like the continuing mystery behind the group. It leaves suspense for next week, or even further along. They just can't string it on for too long. We've been wondering for a while here, too much longer and fans will get upset and lose interest – like they did with nWo.
If TNA continues to end Impact with fights like this, then I will get very unhappy and start ripping on Hogan and Bisch for returning to what didn't work in WCW, but for tonight, I'm going to applaud them for going with something that did work, if only for a short amount of time. This was a good start, possibly the start of something that could really help TNA, if they handle it well. I'm hoping for the best, keeping my toes crossed, and really looking forward to what they might give us next week.
Maybe it's coming off SummerSlam, and then RAW that were so blah that Impact stood out this week, or maybe Impact was stronger than normal this week. I'm hoping it's the latter as I'd love to have more to look forward to with this storyline. So far I've been pretty impress with the flow of the storyline and the build of suspense and questions. They brought the tension higher and higher each week with who they attacked and the questions they brought about within the roster. The only worry I have after tonight is about the sheer numbers of A&8's. I understand what they were going for, but we all know how the sheer numbers in nWo was the ultimate downfall. Maybe that was just for tonight and they'll scale back – hopefully. But after this episode of Impact, I'm rather excited for next week. Hopefully TNA can keep up the good work and the forward process without turning into the horrible mess that destroyed WCW.