I have to start this off by saying I'm glad Kendrick is gone from TNA/IW. I'm a huge Kendrick fan, but he hasn't been seen on TV for months. There has to be a point where you just have to decide to fish or cut bait, and it was beyond that time for Kendrick.
Honestly, there are many wrestlers on the TNA/IW roster that I wonder why they're sticking around as they've been treated so poorly. As much as I love Williams, I'm shocked he hasn't told TPTB in TNA/IW to pound sand as we've rarely seen him over this past year, and he's just one of the many who appear to be getting screwed over. I know I'm on the outside looking in, but it seems as thought TNA/IW as a whole only really cares about a half dozen on the roster, and many of those are either old, or questionable in their standards.
It feels like going into every episode of Impact I get really upset about the way this person or that person is handled, but the fact of the matter is, there is no way any of these wrestlers are going to make it any further than they have, unless Dixie pulls her head out and decides to run this as a company with true aspirations and goals. She needs to chop and cut, really tighten up the roster and the company as a whole. She needs to put Hogan and Flair on a 6-10 appearances a year contract, unless they're actually willing to get out there and advertise the company, then maybe some more appearances. She needs to take the money that won't be spent on big names that do virtually nothing for the company, and spend it on advertising and setting it up that they tape on the road. I'm not saying they have to go live yet, but get out of that Impact Zone and show just how great the fans think TNA/IW really is!
When they taped in the UK the show came across on the TV 1000 times better for two reasons. The first being that the fans were hot. Those fans kept the show rolling at a much higher level because the wrestlers work harder when they're getting so much reaction from them. I had very little criticism for the ring work, or the promos because the fans weren't burnt out on seeing the same crap week after week in Orlando. The other reason those episodes of Impact were so much better was because there was more wrestling and less talking. The majority of those shows were ring work, compare that to the four screwy matches we normally get when they're in Orlando. I guess the biggest thing that ticks me off about all of this is that Dixie says she cares and listens to the fans, but if she did, then TNA/IW would be doing better as a whole.
Video > B-
Shocker, Impact starts with a video! Okay, I will (try to) stop being snide about this and really look at this video. Actually, I'm all for Sting facing Roode in a match at Victory Road. I know certain people don't agree with me (Chris Storm), but this is their way of trying to stay at all in the mix going through WrestleMania season. I understand why they're doing it and I think it could be a lot of fun. WWE gets wonky and goes in weird directions during WrestleMania season, this is just their way of trying to keep some eyes on them. This video showed how they're doing just that, and I will admit that this was a fairly well produced video compared to some we've seen from TNA/IW.
In Ring Segment > B+
While colored hair might not make you a Champion, but it sure is a fun and not dangerous way to rebel. I've had the same pink streak in my hair for 20 years. I got it on my 18th birthday. I had been dying it for years, but that's the one thing that stuck. My parents figured if all I did was dye my hair funny colors, then there was little to worry about. Sorry, just wanted to get that off my chest. I'm so sick of people judging others for having strangely colored hair, no matter the age. I understand why Angle has issues with his bald head, but get over it! I know, I'm just joking. I have a thing for bald men, just ask Stacy!
Other than Angle dragging his kid into the picture again, I really liked the way he moaned and complained about Hardy. I just wish Angle touched on the real reasons I wouldn't want my kids idolizing him.
But beyond that, Angle was solid here. He has an interesting way of cutting a promo. He goes to the beat of his own accordion player and it's something I've always liked about him. His timing and delivery are very different from guys like Rocky and SCSA, and he sure isn't Trip, or even Roode, but what he does works well for him. He's rarely failed to drag me in and keep me hooked. Also, where was D-Lo? He's almost always there when Snow and Kenney appear to break up a fight.
Backstage Segment > A-
Roode is still reminding me of an young Triple H. I'm not saying Trip during the DX years, but the serious heel Trip. On the same level as Roode, AA was quite impressive. I like how he said 140 characters rather than making huge comments about Twitter. I'm actually impressed with how TNA/IW used AA's tweets this week and ran with them. To me these tweets were obvious plants, but that's okay with me if it leads to an interesting storyline and more X Division matches on Impact. This could be very interesting.
Gauntlet Match - AJ vs Daniels, then vs Kaz > B-
Okay, Hemme said it was a Gauntlet Match, but she didn't explain what was going down, or how. AJ and Daniels looked great in the ring together, as they always do, but it felt like just moves in the ring, no heart or passion. I love the three of them, and it could just be me, but I wasn't feeling it at all. I really think AJ was better last week against Robbie E, and I was all over that match. Beat me up all you want about it, tell me why I should love this match, but please be nice about it.
Winner – Kaz
Backstage Segment > C+
I know a lot of people are loving all over Madison, even going as far as claiming Madison carried the Knockouts Division – something I really don't agree with – but I will admit that I'm loving the tension and issues between Madison and Kim. I'm not a fan of Kim as a heel, but this is bringing a nice dimension to her character and making it work better. The cattiness between them works really well and anything that keeps Madison from screeching, I'm very happy about. But I still won't agree that Madison's ring work is great, nor that she carried the Knockouts Division. Give me proof! Sway my feelings on this issue, but be nice about it. I won't even listen to nastiness, won't respond to it.
Madison w/ Kim vs ODB w/ EY > D-
Taz started this segment talking about how smoking Hemme is. I wonder if this is right after Hemme's wardrobe malfunction. I will say that Madison's ring gear is adorable, makes her body look amazing, and I'm thrilled to see the blue panties under her micro-mini. She looked lovely, not at all skanky this week.
I have to say EY's antics ringside didn't help this match at all, but neither did Kim's inability to get on the apron. I know it was a plot element, but Kim made hash out of it. I should be focused on the ring work, but there was so much else going on. There were a couple of solid moves in there, but that the Knockouts were booked in this horrible fashion shows me that they're still not taking them at all seriously, and that ticks me off. They have some solid female wrestlers and it's about time they're noticed for all they can do!
Winner – ODB
Backstage Segment > D
What was that with Ray and that woman? It was rather creepy. Personally, it was much creepier than Abyss' mooning over any woman in the past. Roode and AA leching around like two little wannabe mobsters was kind of funny. I know that's not what they were after, but I got the giggles from them. But for me Ray's creepiness dragged that segment way down. I couldn't get past his, 'Call me!' * cringe
Backstage Segment > C
I have to say I agree with Velvet Sky, she should be treated better after all the time she's put into TNA/IW. She's worked her bum off to improve her ring skills, but she barely had a Title reign when Kim came into TNA/IW and became the savior of the Knockouts. Don't get me wrong, Kim is one of the top female wrestlers in the USA (where's Hamada?), but she needs to be challenged to have good matches, so why not Velvet? Speaking of great female wrestlers, I'd love to see more of Sarita as well. Nice to see her, if only a glimpse.
Backstage Segment > C
I know they said it was earlier, but it's still a Backstage Segment. It's about time Velvet actually do something about her role, rather than just talking and complaining about it. I know Mickie was dressed that way for the newest shopping promos, but what a hot mess she was! Either way, I want to see someone rip her way through the Knockouts Division, hopefully Velvet is pissed enough to actually do it and prove to creative/booking that the Knockouts Division are worth the time; worth a heck of a lot more than the Divas these days!
Backstage Segment > D-
I stopped this segment early on so I could finish up my feelings about the Knockouts, but when I looked up all I could see was an old man with very thin hair and at least four chins. How the mighty have fallen. Flair is a good guy? Flair is powerful and influential? Is that why he can no-show and still get TV time? I'm so disgusted with that man these days. Honestly, I'd be interested in seeing how Garett could get along in TNA/IW without Flair, Hogan and Bisch. I know he'd still be running on the family name, but he'd actually be working, not kowtowing to the fogies. Heck, I'd like to see Gunner on his own too.
In Ring Segment > B-
I really don't care about Ray's calves, and if that's all that looks decent on his body, why should be care? Okay, I will say Ray's been playing the heel wonderfully lately, I'm just so over him. I know he's had some wonderful moments and made Jacobs look great last week, I'm just burnt out on him personally and have been for quite a while.
Of course they have to blame the person in charge, that's just what the upper tier heels have to do on a regular basis. It's just the way things role in wrestling. But Ray showing us his biggest embarrassment? That's silly.
I guess is shouldn't be shocked, but the fans had no reaction to this segment. Little heat for any of them and it just proved my point. Before they sat down in the center of the ring, there was very little heat on any of the three heels. Only when the fans started to chant for Sting did they express anything. The Orlando fans are burnt out and they proved it in the face of three of the biggest heels in TNA/IW.
I was waiting for Sting to strip AA and Roode of their belts. To me that made perfect sense. I LOVE the way Sting announced 'Joe's gonna kill you' as if it was his full name. Remember, I don't read spoilers - I'm actually looking forward to this main event! I also have to say I like Sting appearing and disappearing in that perfectly Sting-esque way. Sadly a big part of the grade for this segment came from the lack of reaction to the heels. It brought the feel of it down in a big way.
Video > A
That both Jesse and his mother both want Jesse back in the ring shows a lot about the drive this boy has. I hope he succeeds in his dreams. I am really impressed with how TNA/IW is handling these videos. It would be so easy for them to brush this under the rug and move on while handling it behind the scenes. That they're not handling it that way impresses me in a big way.
Backstage Segment > B-
It looks as though Ion has stepped up his promo work. I'm more impressed with him after that. If he didn't take the injury and run with it as a heel, then he and creative should be taken out behind the barn and taken out of wrestling altogether.
Shannon Moore vs Zema Ion > C
Taz and Tenay played up Ion's comments about Jesse, doing their best to push Ion to be even bigger a heel than he already is. For me it makes sense putting Ion in the ring with a seasoned wrestler like Moore. Maybe Ion will learn some more before going into VR. I can't say Moore is always impressive in the ring, but he knows the business and how to get someone over. Their moves weren't the crispest, but they worked hard and gave the fans a solid match. It would have been better if the fans had been into the match, but that's the Zone for you.
Winner – Ion
Video > B+
Wait, a fan was saying that the other shows – RAW & Smackdown – don't have many matches. Yes, he was speaking about the house shows, but does he watch Impact? Anyway, I like that they show these videos of the fans. It's a great way to draw the fans in, make them feel like they're part of the show. The one thing that bothers me, that always bothers me, is that TPTB say they're listening to the fans, they pushed that in this video, yet obviously...
Mickie & Velvet Sky vs Sarita & Love > C
Where is Winter? Velvet looked on when she got in the ring. She really looked ready to fight! Seeing Mickie in the ring with these three really made Mickie look dumpy. She appears to be trying to cover some of her expanding assets. I'm not saying Mickie is fat, not at all! Compared to most of us Mickie is positively svelte! The thing is that she doesn't look ring ready and it's really effecting her ring work. Her timing is off as he body is changing.
Beyond all that, Velvet looked solid in the ring. Actually, Love and Sarita looked great too, but Velvet came off as a woman on a mission. I'd love to see her step up, make TPTB listen and really take hold of the Knockouts Division. Matches like that will do just that. I won't say it was a wonderful match, but it was fast, hard hitting and actually better than Moore and Ion in a lot of ways – mostly because the fans were into the match.
Winners – Velvet & Mickie
Backstage Segment > A-
I am really looking forward to Lockdown, seeing Roode and Storm in a cage. Both Storm and Magnus have been hitting that mic hard, and continued to prove their mettle here. I'm impressed with creative putting these three together, not just for a match, but for this promo as well.
Video > B
Abyss' family has been looking for him? Since when was Abyss involved with his family – storlyline-wise, of course. Actually, I'm very glad they showed that video as I had forgotten that Ray was the 'last one to see' Abyss. I will give TNA/IW props for continuing storylines and tying up loose ends. They handle this so much better than WWE. I'm not saying that TNA/IW's storylines are better than the WWE's, but they are better about not changing history and continuing storylines and tying everything up, even if most of the audience has forgotten about certain aspects of certain angles.
Bobby Roode & Austin Aries & Bully Ray vs James Storm & Samoa Joe & Magnus > A-
From the start of this match, everyone was on. Magnus and AA were fun, but I actually enjoyed Ray and Joe in there a bit. They were solid and hard hitting. Then that belly-to-belly on AA by Joe was sick. AA flew over like he weighed nothing and it looked beautiful! Actually, AA seemed to fly around that match a lot. Storm bringing him into the match over the top, after Roode again refused to be in the ring with Storm, showed just how small AA is compared to everyone else in that match.
I don't remember Joe's skin marking up easily. When he was in there with A Double later in the match, Joe had hand prints all over his upper chest. He looked as though someone the size of Big Show had been slapping him up all over! Joe has more olive skin, so I didn't think he marked up that obviously, but I could be wrong.
Dang! That crucifix takedown by AA on Joe was sick! I have seen him use that previously, but seeing it done on someone heavier like Joe made my jaw drop. I went back and watched it four more times just to marvel in the beauty of it. Those couple moves by Joe and A Double made this match more than worth the time to watch, and those weren't the only great moves. Roode hit a lovely snap mare that wasn't a stunning move, except in the way Roode flew through the air.
Sometimes it's the little things that make a match and this one had many of those moments. Of course every man in this match has shown us awe inspiring ring work, they're all wonderfully talented wrestlers with their own talents and styles, but not having a crowd that was going wild for their every move couldn't have helped the wrestlers in this match, but they still put on a heck of a show.
By the end of the match, when Storm was about to be tagged in, the fans were excited, but it didn't last long. They were still into the match, but only when Storm was on top, or Ray really pushed for the heat, which he did a lot in this match. Right at the very end the fans counted the three with the ref and loved getting doused with beer, but again it didn't last.
Winners – Joe & Magnus & Storm
That Marchandise Madness crap has already gotten old for me. For those who don't watch TNA/IW, at the end of almost every set of commercials they've been promoting TNA/IW merchandise by showing the Knockouts in TNA/IW gear. The little promos are usually set to music and has been following along with the seasons. The Valentines promos were kind of hot, and even the Christmas promos were good, but March Madness? I think they're taking it too far; grasping at straws. First off, Mickie looks like (more of) an idiot in her outfit, but also the rest of the Knockouts look a bit off because the basketball jerseys just are not flattering on them. It's only a couple weeks to St. Patrick's Day, why not go there? I've never been very into the color green, but this past year I've been all about wearing green, so I'd be all over that! I'm not saying the way they're doing the promos is bad, not at all, just that the whole Marchendise Madness idea is really reaching.
I think I was a little harsher grading this show. The WWE is stepping things up with the Road to WM, so it's showing just how much better they are than TNA/IW right now. If it was all about the wrestling, TNA/IW would usually win, while they have only a few matches, the ring work is usually more interesting and inventive than Cena's five moves of doom, but these Punk/D-Bry matches have been great! Really brought the level of wrestling proficiency up, even higher than TNA/IW lately, though I have to admit that Joe and A Double dropped my jaw a couple times in the main event.