There's been some good and some bad coming out of TNA this week. This is me, so I'm going to start with the bad. Might as well go into Impact on a positive note and get the bad stuff out of the way first.
First off, I am so bummed that Velvet Sky has been released by TNA. This is a huge loss for TNA, something they should feel bad about. She has proven herself over and over since she joined TNA in 2007 when they first created what is now the Knockouts Division. She might have started off as eye candy, but she sure turned herself into a force to be reconned with. Sadly now both Velvet and Love are gone from TNA. While Gail Kim is back, Kong is gone and those Knockouts are struggling. Then again, if they used the Knockouts as they're able to be worked, then everyone would be tuning into Impact to watch the Knockouts, if nothing else.
When I saw Dixie's announcement that someone would be filling in for Hogan this week, I got very nervous. After the way things went down with Bisch, I doubt it will be him, but I worry that it could be Brooke Hogan. She is an 'executive' so why not put her in control of the whole show? Dixie lets her father have too much control and we all know what little talent he has for that! I'll be thrilled if it's Sting, and he would make the most sense, but since when has TNA made sense?
On the good side, there's Chavito joining TNA. I really hope they do right by Chavito, but that will take time to tell. Some might say that this is more of TNA picking up WWE's castoffs, but I didn't think Chavito should have been cast of the way he was. He might not have the charisma that Eddie had, but he's a Guerrero and has the amazing skills that goes along with that name. They are one of the big wrestling families and should be regarded as such. I can't wait to see how Eddie's daughter does with the WWE, and how Chavito does with TNA. Hopefully TNA will be the right fit for Chavito.
Video > B
Of course they had to show their regular recap video. It wasn't that bad, and of course set up for AJ's baby and Aces & 8's.
In Ring Segment > A-
I find it interesting that Sting's face paint is mostly white and black, very little red. It's a good look for Sting. I love how Sting talking about the condition Hogan is in with screws, plates and mess. I will ay that I hope Hogan is doing well because I know how much surgery sucks, major and minor surgery. The incision they showed on Impact looked clean and wonderful. Hopefully he'll heel up fast and feel that much better after he's come back from it. I don't want to see him return, but I do hope he recovers well. I like what we had in the ring to start this segment, Sting in charge of Impact. If they need someone running the show in a GM-type role, then Sting's the man to do it.
I loved seeing AA come to the ring to join Sting. I've gone from adoring Aries in the ring to adoring his character. If he is anything like his character, he's someone I'd love to hang with.
Adding Angle to the mix makes me smile that much more. He might make me cringe when he's in the ring, but he's the man right now. Newly married, another baby on the way, he seems to glow right now and I give him huge props for returning to Impact for us fans when he could call for time off to be with his lovely new wife. For me, that spells dedication to me.
Of course Roode was going to accuse Storm of A&8's! It's who he is. Even better is that the three in the ring standing around and letting them roll around on the mat. To me they looked like little boys, really little boys, fighting. They threw hard, but it sure wasn't wrestling, that was brawling little boys and it worked really well for that segment.
Backstage Segment > A-
It's great to see Tara, Kash, and Angle talking up Chavito. He is a great wrestler and I'm thrilled to see him joining TNA. Each person who spoke about him here has a connection with him in some way. I can't wait to see what what Chavito will be doing in TNA. And let me comment here, because I've been called on it before, yes, I am calling him Chavito because that's who he is. His father is Chavo Sr, he's Chavo Jr, which makes him Chavito. I never bought into that Chavo Classic crap when he and his father were in the WWE together, and I've heard more wrestlers and family members of his refer to him as Chavito, therefore, that's how I will be referring to him here.
Backstage Segment > B-
Having Roode dash off like that makes me wonder what he's up to more than anything else. Hey, it's Roode, he's always up to something!
Gail Kim & Madison Rayne vs Tara & Mickie James > B-
Looks to me like Mickie has lost some of that extra weight she'd been carrying. Stacy thinks it makes her boobs look a bit porn star than she had when she was curvier. Beyond that, I have to say that the ring work was looking decent from the Knockouts. Even after Madison joined the match and spent time flirting with Earl, she still worked the ring. I'm still at a loss as to why the WWE let Tara go, but I guess she'd too good of a wrestler for them. Actually, the double team work Tara and Mickie hit on Madison, then Kim was lovely! I really liked what they did together.
Interesting that both Madison and Mickie had their shoulders down and kicked out at the same moment, but it was Madison who got the win. Does this mean Earl is returning to his roots and going back to being the heel ref? Anyone doesn't know Earl's history? He worked for Jim Crockett Promotions in the 80's but joined the WWF in 1988. Earl's identical twin brother Dave was supposed to be the ref for a match between Hogan and Andre, but Ted DiBiase (Andre's manager) 'paid' off this 'unknown' guy to have plastic surgery and ref this match. Andre won, even though Hogan's shoulders were clearly off the mat. Andre immediately 'sold' the Title to DiBiase, but Dave had escaped the closet he was locked in and made his way to the ring. Dave and Earl fought in the ring and Hogan figured out what had happened. Hogan picked up Earl and gorilla pressed him over the top rope and out, but DiBiase dodged out of the way of the flying ref who hit the floor. So, more than the Montreal Screwjob, Earl has tried his hand at being a heel in the past.
Winners – Kim & Madison (3:49)
Backstage Segment > B
I like Sting and Aries together. They could make a sick tag team right now, but I like Aries being involved with the X Div. Okay, I like him being involved in a way that akes sense, not going in and pulling a Hogan talking through the whole show about who should be cut and who should face Ion.
Video > C
This is the video I expected from Sam Shaw last week. Of course they didn't do it so that A&8's could attack him, but it's nice to see him getting his moment, even if he came off terribly boring here.
Video > C+
Interesting to see what the heels have to say about Chavito coming into TNA. Hernandez and Gunner were interesting, Bully was just Bully.
Gut Check – Sam Shaw vs Douglas Williams > B-
I wasn't overly thrilled about this match, then I saw it was going to be Williams fighting and I lit up. Williams deserves to be so much more than the Gut Check abuser, but at least we get to see him on TV!
Again, not thrilled with Sam's ring gear, but he sure looked good in that ring! He can move, is quick, seems to be able to handle the ring, until distracted by Joey Ryan. Snow got his TV, getting a cheap shot to the face. As soon as I saw the signs saying 87%, I knew this would turn into a Ryan mess rather than giving these wrestlers their due in the ring. While the moves were really good, this match, given a bit more time and a lot more attention, could have been stellar. Sam impressed me, and I always love Williams in the ring, but TNA had to screw up something that would have been good if left alone. Again Williams is screwed of his TV time.
Winner – Williams (2:34)
Backstage Segment > C-
Haven't we seen enough of this crappy talking about who should face which Champ? We watched Hogan do it, then Brooke do it, now Aries has been put in this crappy role? Not cool in any way! Yes, the Rashad Cameron bowel movement was funny, but I still have to give that guy props for being on WWE TV and TNA TV in the same bloody week! As much as this segment ticked me off, I had to agree that Rashad had to be out of that mix.
Video > C+
They are really pushing Chavito, but where is this footage from?
In Ring Segment > A
Yay, Chavito! Chavito saying that he knows where he should have been the past few years. I have to admit that I was a bit surprised to see how long it took Chavito to get to TNA. Interesting how he said that the Guerreros have been Champs all over the world and in all promotions, except TNA. Not sure how true that is, but it sure sounded good. Chavito sure sounded like a beloved Guerrero in that ring and held his composure in a beautiful way.
I honestly wasn't expecting a team to be formed and a feud to be started in this segment, but they sure did a lovely job of it. Kash has been skating on the top edge of that fence. I wouldn't have put him as a face, but also wouldn't have said he was a straight up heel either. Joining with Gunner and attacking the Guerrero name, especially calling Chavo Sr. a drunk, how better to start a feud? When I saw someone was on the stage heading for the ring, I didn't get a clear first view, but I knew it had to be Hernandez. Hopefully Chavito and Hernandez can bring back the feel of LAX, but as a team uniquely their own. I see big things coming their way and very soon. I'm very impressed at how Chavito's first appearance went down, and I agree with Taz that Chavito hit a pretty serious drop kick in a suit.
Backstage Segment > A-
After that conversation between Angle and Storm, they have numerous ways to go with these two. Angle could be playing Storm and be either the leader or part of A&8's. And then the less obvious, maybe Storm is involved in A&8's in some way, and will be turning heel when everything unravels. Just a thought, but I have to give them huge props for this segment because it could have set up for so many intriguing swerves.
Backstage Segment > C-
It's nice to see fire in Snow. I liked the interaction between these three. It's leading to something big with Ryan, but was also good for Sam. What I didn't like was all those Tweets flashing on the screen. Either do something like that, or don't but if you're going to, then do it at a speed that the fans can actually read the Tweets. Too much information in one segment, so it was really jumbled. They were trying too hard and it fell apart for me.
Video - D
I'm getting sick of seeing the Clair video over and over every time there's even a chance we'll see AJ. It's just too much and is falling flat for the lack of new information.
BFG Series Match - AJ Styles vs Storm > A
I know I just said I want the storyline to move forward, rather than just rehashing it, but I don't want it happening during a match. The last thing we need is another match being at all distracted due to something going down outside the ring. Beyond all that, these two worked that ring hard! The fans, while rather quiet, they were behind bot in this ring. I find face versus face matches hard for the fans to follow because they care about both combatants so much.
Their moves were solid, if not always crisp. They seemed to fumble around a bit more than I'd like, here and there, but still so much better than so many matches we see each week. Storm's eye of the storm was beautiful! I can't remember the last time I've seen that move hit so well. That AJ kicked out and fought back just shows how great they both are. AJ's suplex on Storm in that corner looked sick, but Storm did well to bounce back. They both just kept coming back from each others big moves, reverses and they both made it all look very real. Big moves out of nowhere, both working so beautifully
Honestly, at the ten minute mark I was worried that they could not have one of these guys go over the other because of how this match had gone down. It was at that point I knew that A&8's would be in to attack. There was no way for this match to end cleanly, even though both had just put on a PPV worthy match. Only for the way it ended did this match not earn an A+, but I have a hard time even faulting them for the ending; there was really no other place to go with it.
I will say that I find it interesting that A&8's didn't lay a hand on Storm, even though he was already down in the corner. That's going to make Angle question Storm's allegiances. The other thing I noticed is that the man who tapped the camera lens was absolutely Drew Hankinson (Luke Gallows). The camera looked him right in the face and while he was masked, the eyes told who it was. Guess it was time for him to make the jump to this country working for TNA.
Winner – No Contest (10:37)
Backstage Segment > A-
Jason Hervey keeps getting his face on Impact, even taking a bit of a bump. So, being Bisch's business partner is good for your acting career because it gets you back on TV in so form? Sorry, I really shouldn't be picking on Hervey as he and Bisch have put together some quite lucrative business deals over the years. It actually makes me giggle to see him on Impact, even in the role he's in. And then there's Storm who continued to feed the question of his possible involvement with A&8's. Very clever booking for TNA. I have to admit I'm a bit shocked at how they're skirting the issue, but leaving us with more questions than answers. It's about time!
Gut Check > C+
Well Sam sold his possible injuries on his way to the ring. He has a bit of intensity, a good look, decent ring skills, not the best mic skills, but still comes off a bit boring to me.
Snow has said no more often than not on Gut Check. Snow made a big deal of not seeing Snow's match, but why didn't he just go back and watch it? It might be a live show, but he had plenty of time to watch that short match. Unless he didn't want to see himself punched out by Ryan. But then watching Sam throw himself into Taz's arms made me smile. Of the three Gut Check judges, that he threw himself to Taz was funny. It was Taz who put him through, but it's still funny.
Backstage Segment > C+
Why did Aries care what their ethnicities are? Them giving their time to put themselves out there made sense, but not where they're from. I again agree with Aries throwing Darsow out of the mix, but that parting comment was rough! I think a Triple Threat with Dutt, King and Ion would be sick, but that's just me.
X Division Championship Match – Zema Ion (C) vs Kenny King > C-
I really don't like Goku as the X Division Champ. He doesn't have what it takes. I was actually wondering about Dutt's shoulder and figured it was going to be King. Dutt deserves to be Champ, he's worked so long and hard for it, but his time will come.
King's first drop kick barely grazed Ion, but both sold it well. Actually, I was impressed with King on Ion from the start of the match. The fans were hot for King, and he worked them as well. And I actually saw them clapping and yelling for him – at least some were. Ion flying out on King was a total mess. Ion was way off base and landed on his feet only because of being so off his mark. Even Ion's control over King looked like King putting Ion over, not Ion being in control. The way King reversed the match proved that. Then Ion hit a terrible move, which I have no clue what he was trying to hit. I'll be surprised if Ion didn't bust his mouth open due to his own fault.
King look strong and absolutely carried this match. King showed what flying out of the ring should look like and landed it beautifully. I have to say I'm shocked that Ion was in the right spot to catch him. Even Ion's moonsault was way off the mark. King might have been the shining light in this match, but sadly I have to grade according to how crapppy Ion's work was. They were just daft strapping this kid who's more of a danger than a worker! Roode's attack on King and handed this match and the continued control of the X Division Title to Ion which totally sucks. It was obvious that Roode did it because he's pissed that Aries is the WHC now, and it was nice to see Aries come out and address that situation in the way he did.
Winner – Ion (6:05)
Backstage Segment > B
Bully is the toughest guy in pro wrestling? Well, why not claim something that can never really be gauged? Though I have to say it's nice to see him giving Angle the props he deserves.
Video > B+
I really didn't think they were going to strap Aries, but so thrilled that they did. He really does deserve it. Hopefully it won't be too short of a Title reign.
BFG Series Match – Bully Ray vs Kurt Angle > B+
Bully giving a clean break shocked me, but then their back and forth work was good. I was pretty impressed until Bully hit that sit down piledriver. I instantly thought of Stone Cold Steve Austin and that move what what broke his neck. I'm a big time book worm, but listening to SCSA's book on audio – read by him and JR – was so much better than actually reading the book. If you get a chance, you should listen to it. But back to Angle, my stomach dropped and I was directly worried about Angle who have very well known neck problems. I was really shocked that Bully would hit that move on someone like Angle.
It goes back to me cringing at almost every bump Angle takes, but you never can tell with Angle due to his drive. He proved in the Olympics what he can do, and he hasn't slowed down since. I'd like to think that Angle wasn't even phased, he hit his three German suplexes,but who knows. Angle really was impressive in this match, even for him. Guess he still is living off his wedding glow.
Seven points and these men left it all out there. They worked it hard! I have to admit that I knew Angle would be eating mat when he climbed. Certain men shouldn't go up top, Angle is one of them. Not like he's a huge guy, but he sure isn't a high flier. The thing that always floors me about finishing moves is that it doesn't matted what the finisher is, if it's hit and that's the winner of the match, it will work. Okay, sometimes it takes a couple times hitting that finisher, but usually just once. The Angle slam is not a big deal, but it still worked to finish off Bully.
Winner – Angle (11:53)
In Ring Segment > B
Now that I know which one is Gallows, it's impossible to un-see it. Taz was talking about how big the guy on Aries was, but I could only shake my head. Then there's Storm and the continuing questions floating around him. Very smart way to end Impact, quite a lot going on there.
I have to say that this show didn't suck. There really needed to be a lot more wrestling, but two of the matches were really good. Actually, AJ versus Storm was downright fantastic. Now, if they could only shut their mouths and give us more of that, Impact would be awe inspiring. Oh, yeah, and get that strap off Ion until the boy learns how to throw a move and land it! It seems as though he spends more time missing his moves and looking like the oafish brother of Goku than work the ring and make his opponent look good. If not for Kenny King in that match, there would have been another major injury. Actually, King should feel lucky that he watched out of that match in one piece. Ion is racking up the injured body parts – neck, knee, shoulder – who's next? TNA needs to get the strap off that boy and get him into wrestling school until he's not dangerous!