I really went to start this on a high note, so I want to talk about a few new things that have popped up on the front page of WNW today. First off Shawn, otherwise known as Big Van Blitzko, started a new weekly WAI Bonus that's more of a 'Did You Know?' type article. He started with Antonio Inoki, bio and some amazing matches of his. I'm blown away and can't wait to see who he will be next week's Bonus! Dan 'The Frontman Haase started his WrestleMania Series today. He's taking an in-depth look at each WrestleMania as we follow the Road to WM, starting with WrestleMania #1. Dan's doing a great job and I can't wait to learn about each WrestleMania as he writes them. Please make sure you check out both of their new series as they're wonderfully written and terribly informative.
I know there's been a little hub-bub about the Celebrity Wife Swap article I wrote, but I stand by it as it was a show about a very famous wrestler, and this is a wrestling site. One last thing, I will be starting my Taker's Steak series soon, so if there's anything you're looking for, please let me know. After WrestleMania I'll be tackling King of The Ring.
I was talking to the Professor (late) last night on IM and he brought up something that I had missed mentioning here on the BZ last week. Actually, it was something I was planning on hitting on, but it slipped my mind. Last week during the main event Tag Team Tables Match, Bully Ray did something so absolutely disgusting and vulgar that I had blocked it out of my mind, until Prof brought it back up. While I know ECW had its own seedy, gritty charm, I like to thin that TNA/IW is at least a tiny step up from some of the ickiness that went down there. I'm not talking the ring work, as that was usually jaw dropping. I'm not talking about the mic work as that was usually interesting and creative, if not shocking, and even sometimes good. I'm talking about boys being boys. Sorry guys, but Samantha and I are out numbered in this house and there's nothing more grody than guys when they're not trying to impress. I've heard some rather disgusting things about the ECW locker room, and what Bully Ray did last week should have been left in the ECW locker room.
If you actually watched the main event you know exactly what I'm talking about. Bully Ray, while not getting pummeled or pummeling someone else, decided it would be great fun to hawk a loogie in the air, than catch it in his mouth and swallow it. I've seen him do that in the ring before, as if it's such a wonderful feat and not chunk blowing disgusting. But Ray took loathsome to a whole new level when he decided to blow snot rockets at the fans. Now, he wasn't over by the four girls who are usually together in the front row, who were split into pairs last week, but blew his rockets at the fans on the camera side of the ring. It's one thing to be sitting in the front row and get sprayed with Triple H's bottled water spit, or even sweat from Henry, or even HBK's gum getting slapped out of his mouth. Those things happen, and are usually semi-accidental. What Bully Ray did on the last Impact was not at all accidental and completely revolting. While TNA/IW might not be the classiest of wrestling companies, I expect more than this. Further, Bully Ray is forty years old, you'd think he'd have grown up a bit by that age! I know some people will say that he's a heel and living up to his character doing these offensive things, but someone can't just blow a successful snot rocket, or hawk a loogie, spit it in the air and catch it, on the first try. That tells me that Mark LoMonaco (Bully Ray) is foul like this in his daily life.
Further, it tells me that TPTB (the powers that be) in TNA/IW don't have a problem with such distasteful displays. I'm further baffled by how things are run in that company and why they let their roster get away with some of the things they do, such as what I stated above. I lose more and more respect for TNA/IW every week.
Video > B+
They're in London, so that's a GREAT reason to start the show with a video! I have been hearing on WNW about how wild the fans are for TNA/IW over there.
In Ring Segment > B
Interesting to see that the above ring lighting is a six sided piece! Does that mean they haven't changed it due to cost, or that they really don't need to? I loved Roode saying they were in Ireland to get the cheap heat. He handled it really well. Roode is a pro on mic! Calling Hardy a good-for-nothing embarrassment, I have to agree!
Even better was the reaction for Storm! They sure love him over there, for good reason. But the best was Sting! It was great to see how they explained away Hardy not being there (likely legally couldn't get out of the USA), that he's recovering from going through the table on last week's show. Actually, of the group, it was Sting who knew how to handle that huge rowdy crowd. It's like he stepped back into the last 90's as if it hadn't been a day!
Birmingham Brawl - Joe & Magnus vs Crimson & Morgan > B
Morgan and Crimson picked heads, but it was tails, so Joe and Magnus were both allowed to be in the ring at the same time. The other team is not. Interesting rules. Magnus was involved in UG Gladiators. If you remember, Morgan was Beast in American Gladiators. More than anything in this match, the fans were wild. While this match wasn't that much better – though it was better – than their other tag matches, the fans were so wild that the match came off as immensely better. It was also nice to see Magnus get the three in his home country.
Winners – Magnus & Joe
In Ring Segment > C+
I have to say that Bisch did a great job of slowly strolling to the ring. It was interesting to see a group of guys in 'We're not worthy' mode, while others flipped him off. He actually seemed to get a bit grabby with a fan. He did get serious heat from the fans, and it was smart of them to send Bisch out for a segment in front of this crowd.
Garett finally has his own entrance music, but the cell phone was a little Johnny Ace to me. Also, it was nice to see that they dragged out 'Garett's trainer' until later in the show. Nice way of doing things.
Video > B
Mark Haskins was really well spoken, and the video clips shown were great. Why aren't we seeing him every week in the ring?
Haskins vs Aries > A-
AA was so on right from the start and the lounging in the corner was great. It's interesting to hear the AA chants considering he's heel and not local. Haskins' skinning the cat to head scissors was beautiful, but that he stopped AA from doing the same was lovely. It was hard to tell if Haskins botched hanging his knee on the top rope or not. To me that's solid ring work that I truly don't know. Haskins absolutely botched the SSP and is lucky if he didn't really hurt himself – not that I have heard about an injury. That looked like an early ending, but shocked that AA went after Haskins' neck and head to finish after the way that move was landed.
Other than that horribly botched SSP, this is what we should be seeing every week on Impact. Too many great wrestlers sitting on their asses when they should be on TV and showing how great they are. These guys are wrestlers and should be wrestling!
Video > A
Sorry, I had to give this video an A. Tessmacher is downright hot! It would be great if she won the Hooter's Dream Girl Contest, but how much would TNA/IW try to promote through through that?
Backstage Segment > B-
I enjoyed seeing Sting drag Bisch back to the show. Short, sweet, to the point.
Storm vs Roode > A-
Storm didn't come to the ring with a beer in his hand. I thought he did when he came to the ring earlier as I saw him clink bottles with a fan, but not this time. Wonder if it's something different in the rules over there. Anyone know? I'm sure there are different rules as the whole ringside area was put together differently. More space around the ring than normal, then more space between the front row and the barrier.
Nice start to their match. Storm looked strong while Roode looked like the wormy heel who was too good to actually be in that match. They really worked that match hard! Back and forth, both looking strong and gutsy. The head scissors Storm hit from up top was sick! Storm's billed at 230lbs, but he looks bulkier when standing up top about ready to fly. That elbow was both beautiful and hard hitting. And then Roode coming back with that crossface and how Storm made it to the ropes. He really looked like he could beat Roode, cleanly.
Of course Roode was trying to get Baby Hebner to call the DQ. Roode could only beat Storm with Ray's involvement. Not just that, but the fans loved this match because they love Storm. Hopefully TPTB will see how the fans reacted and realize that if anyone is to beat Roode for the Title, it should be Storm, not Hardy.
Winner – Roode
Tara vs Gail Kim w/ Madison > C+
I am absolutely a WPF(Widow's Peak Freak), as Tara calls her fans online, and she looked great in the ring here with Kim. And then there was Kim who worked just as wonderfully with Tara. They Knockouts are capable of having solid wrestling matches and it shouldn't have taken Kim's return to see this happen more often! There is some serious talent in the Knockouts Division, and these are only two of them.
Both of them hit some solid moves and sold well, but the fans just weren't in it the way they had been for the guys and I blame that on the lackluster way the Division had been booked since Kim, then Kia left. I love Kim, but there's more to the Division than just her and that creative didn't seem to believe that pisses me off to no end.
These two women worked damn hard. While it was fun to see Madison accidentally hit Kim, it's just more of TNA/IW's bad booking and not letting any matches end cleanly. This was the second match in a row that this happened. I'm not bitching about the matches, just that they couldn't be ended without interference. I hope to see more like this match from the Knockouts as it was really a solid match. Okay, yes, it was short, but it was hard hitting, interesting and showed that both women are not at all afraid to work hard in there for the fans! Honestly, compared to many of the prissy Knockouts Matches we've seen, this should have received a better grade, but I know there's so much more they can do to get to that A that has been reached by Knockouts in the past. Now we just have to see if creative and booking can live up to the talent of these women!
Winner – Tara
In Ring Segment > C-
I have to say Garett sold his disappointment at his father's music playing was well done. Okay, he looked a bit like a teenaged boy who just couldn't deal with his father's annoyance any longer. And, of course it had to be Hogan. I don't know who they were planning on Garett's trainer to be before Hogan announced online that he was going on the tour. Remember when Dixie hadn't heard from Hogan until he announced online that he was going to the UK, on TNA/IW's dime?
While the fan reaction to Hogan was solid, the use of Gunner as a punching bag back and forth was a bit much. I know a lot of people are not Gunner fans, but I am and he's too good for that, even from the Immortal One. Gunner sold it beautifully though. I will also say that Garett looked more confident in the ring with Hogan there, but Garett has to have known Hogan most if not all his life, so it's not like he was meeting such a big name in wrestling for the first time. Actually, he looked quite a bit more comfortable in the ring with Hogan than he ever has with his father. But the one thing we didn't need to see was Hogan ripping his shirt
Backstage Segment > C+
Hogan was Hogan, but Garett was better on mic here than he's been ever before. Seems like the guy grows more and more through the show. Actually, Hogan was Warrior! He rattled on and on and little of it made sense. I'd give Garett a B, and Hogan a D, so averaged the grade.
Storm vs Ray > B
Storm did a great job selling the rib attack from earlier in the show, but Ray's arrogance made me want to throw tomatoes at the TV. Sting's cricket bat was great! Nice way of trying to fit in with the local culture. Honestly, it was hard to pay attention to this match. Storm is great and was wonderful earlier, but I'm so burnt out and annoyed with Ray that I have trouble even watching him right now. It's more than the snot rockets and the loogies. I really think it's time for him to step back and let the younger guys shine. Some might say he's someone older for Roode to work with, but I don't think Ray is showing him a very professional way to work. I'm sure I'll catch crap for ripping up Ray so much, but I had to get it off my chest.
Other than all that, the match got great response from the crowd. Between Roode trying to get involved and Sting with the cricket bat, the fans were really into the match. It wasn't as solid as Storm's earlier match, but of course he was working this match 'exhausted' and possibly 'injured', so it couldn't have been as fast paced and hard hitting. Personally I'd have rather had Ray not work a match and have the show end with Storm facing Roode as it was so much hotter.
Winner – Storm
These Direct Auto Insurance commercials have stunk from word go, until today. Matt Morgan really did a great job (compared to the rest) with his solo commercial. He was much less wooden and kind of endearing in how he sold it. Of the group of them, I wouldn't have picked Morgan to be the best so far, but he worked it!
I know I graded this show differently, and talked about it looser because it was not in Orlando. It's amazing what a fresh crowd will do for a show. Things that were more than stale and tired in the Impact Zone, actually seem to work in a new arena because of the fan reaction. From what I could see, the arena looked filled. Of course we couldn't see all the way around the ring, but they gave wider views and different angles that showed a lot of the arena.
I know I gave both the X Division Match and the Roode/Storm match the same grade. Personally, I think both matches deserve that grade as they both were hard hitting, intense and well received by the fans in the arena. That there were two matches on Impact that deserve that grade should show TPTB that the fans really do want to see matches that are well wrestled, and that if they weren't in the Zone week in and week out, maybe the fan reaction would make the wrestlers care to work to that level. I can't imagine how hard it must be to work in front of the same crowd every month and get the same piss poor reactions. This had to energize the wrestlers and make them feel good about themselves and the work they did. Now, if we could only get TPTB to understand these things and TNA/IW might have a chance!