The first Impact of the new year and I'm already a bit worried. I read on WNW that there was going to be another tournament on TNA and I have to admit that I cringed loud enough for Stacy to question what I had read. I know that tournaments can heighten excitement when organized and executed correctly, such as the WWE's use of King of The Ring. I know it was at the end of a KOTR tourney, but that's where SCSA became 'the man' with one simple line, "Austin 3:16 says, I just whipped your ass!" The problem is that only one of TNA's tournaments has been at all inspiring, and that was the 2012 BFG Series.
On the other hand, Sting's returning and that always brings a smile to my face. I will admit that Sting, though a very different man, brings me happiness in the same way Taker does. I'm not comparing them in any way, just saying that they bring me a certain type of happiness. Please don't read into it that I think they're similar, the same in any way, that they've had the same impact on the industry, just that they both bring me the warm and fuzzies. I know too many people read too much into what I say in my blogs. It's obvious in the way I mention something and suddenly something I mentioned in an off handed way is in Ask WNW. Don't get me wrong, I love everyone who is willing to take the time to read what I have to say about this industry that I love so dearly, I just find it interesting what part people pick up on to question, or get mad about. Now that I've dug myself into a hole, why not just jump into the show?
Video > B
I think they did a solid job of setting up the storylines for this first Impact of 2013. I would have expected more about Sting, but what they did worked well.
TNA Wrestler of The Year > C+
I have to say that the camera angles, and the way that they showed the fans in the Zone with all the signs and looking as wild as they were, was just wonderful. It felt like wrestling from the 90's when things were absolutely wild and out of control in WCW. Now, if TNA could actually make the company work the way the better parts of WCW worked, and they'd really have a leg up, and everyone would benefit from it. Wishful thinking for a new year.
The top five guys for TNA Wrestler of The Year? Okay, a bit much like all other award shows, but they are just ripping off overused formulaic crap. I have to say that I agreed with all the top guys. Bully has had a stellar year. Storm also had a great year and is still growing. Aries is just awe inspiring. Roode really became the man. And Hardy is loved by the average fan, even all the disrespect he's shown us through most of his career.
I wasn't at all surprised that Hardy won this. It's just like Cena winning Superstar of The Year in the WWE. The people who vote for these thing are of the type who love that type of wrestler. I thought it was great to see how Roode and Aries acted before Borash announced Hardy the winner.
Aries hit the nail on the head saying it's rigged. Even if TNA didn't actually rig the results of the voting, they sure pushed who they had the hard on for, rather than who is actually the best wrestler. I believe that Aries would still be as over with the fans if he hadn't turned heel to fight Hardy. Yes, he's still over, but not the way he once was before the golden boy was again pushed to the top. Bitter? Yes, I am, a little. I guess it goes back to the days of the Hardy Boyz when Jeff was only there because it was Matt dragging his bum out of bed and to the arena. There was years of this, of Jeff not really caring, being great in the ring, but really just going through the motions. After too many years of that, and then all the crap that's gone down the past couple years with him, I'm worn out and bored by him suddenly being the golden boy who can do no wrong. He proved himself this past year, proven that he's clean, but after all those years prior, why should we care about Mr. Deep-and-Brooding-Wannabe-Artist-Boy? Yes, he's given us some solid matches, but I still don't believe, or believe in, Jeff Hardy.
Backstage Segment > B
Wow, Daniels actually sounded like a cross between Storm and Austin. It was kind of interesting to watch, but he will never be Lethal. What I didn't like about this was that it felt forced. The actual mic work was decent, but why should Storm give a flying fig about these two? Yes, he's a hot head, but their little whining should have meant nothing to him. If they're starting a feud, it just doesn't feel real in any way. And doesn't anyone actually use MySpace these days?
Storm vs Kaz > B
The first couple minutes of this match were really boring, but then they picked it up with some solid moves. Storm off the corner with that elbow way across the ring. Then Kaz's drop kick sending Storm hard into a corner and the match really picked up. The quick back and forth from there looked great, and while it was cliched that Daniels got involved, if he hadn't I'd have been wondering if someone should check his pulse. All in all it worked, but continued to make Kaz look weak. He did get some solid moves in, but Storm flattened him in barely over four minutes, and that's not good for anyone wanting to move forward.
Winner – Storm (4:08)
A&8's Segment > B-
There was a lot of skirting of the issue and very little actually said. Of course Anderson is getting led by his manliness, but is he really doing what Devon and DOC thinks he's doing? While I liked the questions left hanging, even though Devon and DOC didn't seem to notice that Anderson didn't actually state he was joining A&8's against Sting. Also, I thought DOC came off as stiff and disjointed, as if he had trouble remembering his lines.
Backstage Segment > F
Kenny King is just trying too hard to get his character over. He felt fake, plastic and just plain bad. I'm wondering if Kash was acting, or totally shocked at how bad Kenny was here. I expected so much from him, and said he has to build character, and I know he has it in him, but he sucked it up big time here.
Video > C
It was a solid video for A&8's and Sting's return, but it was too long and not needed. We've seen enough of these videos, it's time for Sting to come back. Time for action!
In Ring Segment > B
I don't think DOC will ever rival the Rock on mic, but he's sure better than... well, than he was backstage. He was better than Kenny King was! He started off slow, seemed slightly not quite right, but then that bat landed in the ring and he let the entire feel of the segment take him over and it started feeling better. It started feeling more realistic and believable. I really liked the way they cut to commercial.
Backstage Segment > D-
Okay, so we're supposed to believe that Brooke hasn't seen her father since before Christmas when he saw her kissing Bully. She hasn't seen or spoken to her father in two weeks? I call shenanigans on that one! Even if we can believe she hadn't seen him in two weeks, he's had a restaurant opening, and it was the holidays! Yeah, there's no way that happened. And then there's Brooke saying it will all play out on TV the way it always does. Yes, I know they were on Hogan Knows Best, but the way she made it seem was like their private lives have been playing out on TV her entire life. Sorry sweetie, you're not a McMahon. I had been more and more impressed with Brooke recently, but this segment brought her back to the whiny pathetic mess she once was.
X Division Tourney – Kidd Kash vs Christian York > C+
Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of both York and Kash, but the X Division is starting to feel a bit old. Sorry if I sound like I can't be made happy here, I know I was complaining a while ago about how green the X Division was, but it's TNA who got rid of the big stars of the X Division for the likes of Hogan and Bisch's friends and families. Petey Williams, Doug Williams, Lethal, Amazing Red, Sonjay Dutt, Kendrick – heck, even Sabin, Shelley, Joe, Daniels, Kaz and AJ could add so much to the Division right now. AJ can't fight for the TNA WHC, why not have him go back to his roots? Better than him being a crybaby!
Honestly, it felt as though this match was a lot longer than it was because they seemed to be going a half speed at certain points. I know they're both great in the ring with young guys, but neither seemed to pull out all the stops, or even any speed for this match. Guess they shouldn't be putting these two in the ring together, and I worry about what might happen if they're in the ring with RVD as he's been slow and off his mark for the better part of this past year. I don't want to see Kenny King with his forced personality, or Ion and his green thumb facing RVD, but would York and RVD be able to give us a solid
Winner – York (3:44)
Backstage Segment > B+
It's funny that I think of Hernandez as a big man, but in reality he's never as big as I remember. Chavito was calm, but had a lovely control in this segment. He wasn't a Chavito that I'd compare to a Chavito in WCW or the WWE, but a more mature and refined Chavito that really comes off in a rather calm and zen way. I know when he gets riled up he goes back to the Chavito who ran with Eddie, but it's nice to see this side of him.
Hernandez w/ Chavito vs Morgan w/ Ryan > D
I'd love to see the Carbon Footprint in the ring against the Brogue Kick. Not just because they use the same finisher, but Sheamus' ghost like complexion in the ring with Morgan's overly fake tanned hide would have quite an interesting look. But TNA's little lawsuit put a kibosh on that!
Actually, I thought the way this pseudo-match was a total mess. I understand what they were going for, but I thought they failed miserably. Ryan is a great character, but he's shown nothing in the way of ring work since joining TNA, and Morgan has barely been allowed to hit anything more than two or three moves in the ring since his return. Further, nothing like making the TTCs look like total weaklings. All around this was a debacle that did nothing to help anyone involved. Luckily it was less than a minute of ring time or I might have been brought to tears by this smelly kettle of fish. The only reason I didn't fail it is because of how great Hernandez looked between the bells.
Winner – Hernandez via DQ (0:57)
Backstage Segment > B
When are Wes and Garett turning on Angle? Or will it only be Wes? I love Joe's combative behavior toward almost everyone. It works so well for him, no matter whether he's heel or face.
Backstage Segment > C+
I understand that we all watch wrestling to see some hot bodies in the ring, but when the men are stretching out backstage before a match they're not doing it in a sexual manner. Why is it that they women can't be respected for their ring work? Okay, off my soap box. I do understand how it all works, guess I'm a bit cranky tonight. It's so dang cold up here! Being all bundled up and watching them stretch out in those tiny outfits, in Florida, is messing with my brain, sorry.
Video > D
I understand why they show these videos, they want to recap before jumping into the next storyline. The problem is that we've already seen bits about this storyline tonight, we all know what's going on, and we don't need to see it recapped from the start. TNA wastes too much time showing their production value when they could be showing us their wrestling value. They have it, when will they start using it?
In Ring Segment > B+
Lucky us, Hogan to the ring! While the whole thing was a little too mellow-dramatic for my taste – and I watch Days Of Our Lives so faithfully that I DVR it so I don't miss it – I will give them credit for playing it out. Too many times storylines get dropped or pushed aside for something else that comes along, but they have all stuck with this one. I can't say suspending Bully and Brooke makes any sense, but the pissed off father usually doesn't make much sense. I think this sets up perfectly for Bully and Brooke to be leading A&8's, but they can't just jump right into it.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I hope they don't keep Bully off TV for too long, he's really made himself invaluable to TNA. From the man I thought should hang them up to one of the men carrying TNA on his back and doing so in a better way than he could have ten years ago. So while this was a little too soapy for me, they played it out well and stuck hard to it, and I will give them credit for that.
Video > C
We just saw it, we didn't need a recap!
Video > B-
Joseph has been watching wrestling like it's going out of style. Sadly, it is going out of style! While wrestling has a tight following, it's nothing compared to what it used to be.
So, last week Davis said Joseph didn't have a chance, but this week he could be a game changer? I think that's a bit soon. I want to see more of Joseph learning to wrestle, but that's just me.
Gail Kim & Tara w/ Jessie vs Tessmacher & Mickie > B+
What happened to Velvet? She returned, it was big and exciting, and we've barely seen her since! I will say that Mickie's looking better physically each time we see her. Her middle that has gone a bit too soft for her to really looks solid in the ring is gone, and she's moving better than we've seen her since earlier in her WWE career. The match started solid, everyone looked decent, and things were really getting rolling, so they went to commercial!
Things were still looking really strong, right up through that hard forearm from Kim on Tessmacher from behind, then things started looking a bit sloppy. Tara flinging Tessmacher by her hair looked a mess! Kim came in and it cleaned up a bit, but it was still a tiny bit off. Also, Taryn's counts looked way off in this match. She counted two for what appeared to have been single counts a couple times.
Mickie came in with drop kicks, head scissors and her finishing DDT.
Even Tessmacher looked great coming off the top onto Tara and Jessie outside. I have to say it was nice to see a Knockouts match last over thirteen minutes, more than three of which commercials, but not at the expense of the male wrestlers getting their ring time. There'd barely been nine minutes of wrestling before this match. I'm not saying this was a bad match, this was a really solid Knockouts Match. Heck, this was solid compared to the better work the Knockouts have been giving us (being booked to give us) on TV lately, but it's still confusing overall booking for the show for me. Maybe the Cage Match will change my whole opinion of this episode, but so far, the Knockouts have blown it out of the water for the wrestling tonight, but it still wasn't what we had expected week in and week out from the Knockouts before Hogan and Bisch came into TNA and trashed the Knockouts Division.
Winners – Mickie & Tessmacher > (13:13)
A&8's Segments > D-
Wait, only two of them there tonight have masks? So, that's D-Lo and Hettinga (Knox)? Where's the rest of the guys? There's been more than just the two of them, especially since D-Lo hasn't been ringside, for months, so where are they? Where's Masters? Gunner? Wes? And DOC made it sound like he was still wearing a mask, the way he said it. He also said that Angle is suddenly all about removing their masks. They've all been about removing their masks since A&8's showed up, so I don't know what rock DOC's been sleeping under.
Backstage Segment > B
Nice little segment from ODB. I'd rather see her as her raunchy self, but it's nice to see that she has more range than that. I can't wait to see EY back, even if it's to work segments with ODB. Their chemistry is great.
Video > D
More recapping? Why?
Backstage Segment > B
There's no three way Championship Matches, think of the classics! Yes, that's what Roode said, and my first thought was WrestleMania XX. That's one of my favorite Manias, and it was the main event that sealed the deal for me. Even better was the moments after the main event. I know, I'm going to piss someone off by mentioning that wrestler who shall not be mentioned, but I will always hold that as a favorite wrestling moment from a time before so many horrible things happened, and I'll leave it at that.
Wait, an Elimination Match? Even better! That's going to be a really interesting match. I give TNA credit for that one. Now, I cross my fingers for the booking of it all.
A&8's vs Angle & Joe > B+
I'll admit that I forgot that Angle isn't in perfect health when they were setting up this match earlier in the show. Actually, when they were heading for the ring I told Stacy that Sting would break up this match and unmask Hettinga. I have to say that I love that Impact is going live so I can enjoy these little predictions through the show. It's done a lot to enhance Impact's view-ability.
I am not shocked, but I am impressed with how Joe worked against both Devon and DOC. He looked great in there and really held his own. Why he was in worse shape after Angle came in and helped made no sense, but TNA has provided some confusing booking tonight. Angle went between looking really solid in the ring, and looking like he was going to keel over – it was rather strange. Though I will say I went back and watched closely to see him blade.
I will admit that this match was really solid and brought back some of my faith in TNA's creative and booking. Some, but not a whole heck of a lot. This was a really solid match, best of the men by far on this episode of Impact, even though there were a few questions I was left with. Why didn't Angle just climb in the cage? Why did DOC have the only key to the lock? If they were so determined to take out Angle, why was it only DOC out there attacking him? I know he told Garett and Brisco to stay backstage, shouldn't they have come out when everything went awry? So while the booking was better, there were too many things that just didn't make sense.
Winners – Angle & Joe (11:47)
In Ring Segment > B+
I was under the impression, because of what DOC said, that there was only two of them there under masks, yet a whole group came out after their boys lost their match. And while I understand they want Sting to look unstoppable in his return, that they so easily overpowered him before, it left me questioning the casual way he came to the ring and so easily took out A&8's one by one without any real help. It wasn't until the end that Angle and Joe were able to help out in any way, and it looked great then, but before that it was a bit lackadaisical and strange looking.
It was past time for another A&8's member to be unmasked, and it needed to be Hettinga. I will admit that I was a bit surprised that Taz straight up said it was Mike Knox from the WWE. TNA hasn't had any qualms about mentioning the WWE in the past, but I always think it's a mistake when they do it. Taz could have used the name Mike Knox without saying WWE, but I'm big on not advertising your opponent. You don't see Coke mentioning Pepsi in any of their commercials.
I have to admit that I'm happy Sting is back. He's very different from Taker in a lot of ways, but when they return I feel this peacefulness, that everything is right with the wrestling world. He adds so much to Impact with his unquenchable enthusiasm, even makes me want to go back and watch more old WCW.
I think I'm going to take most of the cruddy parts of this Impact with a grain of salt (or maybe a shot of tequila?). It's been a crazy couple weeks and sometimes it takes people a bit to get back into the swing of things after the holidays. So, I'm going to take the good and leave the bad, hoping for Impact to be better next week. Sting is back, so all will be better? If only it was that easy.