I'm going to keep this short as it's school vacation week up here in Maine and I have been spending more time with the kids than in front of my netbook. While I really want to be thrilled that Russo is out of TNA/IW, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. It seems as though there's so much havoc backstage that, as much as I love to blame so much on Russo, there's more troubles in the creation of the show than just that one man. No matter who is creating the storylines, the shows, it's still Bisch who has to okay everything, D-Lo, Snow and Kenney booking the matches, and Dixie leading them all even though she, for all intents and purposes, is clueless about the industry as a whole and her own company in particular.
Then there's the whole Team Jarrett/Russo versus Team Hogan/Bisch issue backstage. Does this mean that Hogan and Bisch are in more control back there? Does this mean that Hogan is actually in contact with Dixie again? Or should I ask if Hogan is going to stay in contact with Dixie even after he gets distracted by something shiny?
I really want TNA/IW to succeed. There's a lot of amazing wrestlers who rely on TNA/IW, who give everything to the company and it seems like so many others treat this company as a plaything, not something to be taken seriously. Of course Hogan is high on this list, as well as Mr. No-Show Flair, but most days it feels like Dixie is on this list as well. If the roster was a group of talentless hacks, or aged wannabes, I honestly would care much less, but it seems like so many people in TNA/IW work so hard, yet seem to be taken for granted and aren't going anywhere, even though their talents should bring them to the top of the industry.
The one thing I will say that I've noticed about this whole thing is the shortage of screwy endings. There are still some, but not every match ends in some convoluted mess that requires a translator to figure out. For that I am very happy.
Video > C
I really want to be loving TNA/IW from the opening video, but I'm not overly thrilled. I will admit that it makes sense to start this way and it wasn't the worst they've had.
In Ring Segment > B
I really thought that Flair had rubbed off on Roode. We've seen Roode in sexy well cut suits, but this isn't one of them. The shirt and tie matched the suit well, but the suit was very much off the rack and not tailored to his unique frame, and looked pretty bad on him for it. On the other hand, Roode on mic was golden! He's had some segments that haven't been as strong, but this verbal gloating over Sting was just great. The new lighting and camera angles are very suiting for Roode. Actually, the way Roode spoke into the camera in the end of this segment, I got a young Triple H feeling. Not Trip who we saw in the ring this week with Taker, but Trip years ago. Not during his silly DX Monday Night War days, when he and HBK were being naughty in the ring for ratings, but that strong and edgy Trip who was just starting to get intense and push the envelope a bit. I know Roode has it in him to be a worldwide star, hopefully Roode won't be held back by TNA/IW. I hope Flair takes Roode suit shopping again as we've seen Roode in well tailored suits and he does look like a million in them.
Backstage Segment > C+
Problems between the big guys! We heading into a feud between Morgan and Crimson? I love the idea of that.
Joe & Magnus vs Crimson & Morgan > B-
I didn't read the spoilers, but it was obvious that Crimson and Morgan would lose and there would be more issues between them. I'm a Morgan fan and have been since before his stuttering days, but he has been so misused by TNA/IW. Wait, haven't I said that about almost every wrestler who is even semi-decent and in TNA/IW? Arg! Big problems in TNA/IW.
Anyway, I'm loving Magnus and Joe together. Joe actually seems to being giving a flying fig lately, something he hadn't been doing much of for what feels like a great while. Actually, I think that's why he's so chunky, he hasn't been caring much about his weight because of how he'd been used. But when it comes to the actual wrestling, Morgan looked horrid in there. As he was going to give Magnus a high knee, he slapped Magnus on the back for the sound, but the knee was enough behind the sound that it looked bad. Further, much of his moves were nowhere near their marks! Magnus looked good, Joe on his mark and they actually seemed to be enjoying themselves. Joe was smiling when his hand was being raised, something I'm not sure I've seen since Bisch and Hogan came into TNA/IW! This is just a pipe dream from days of yore, but the thought of what Joe could do in the WWE if he was matched up with Jimmy and Jey – and handled correctly.
In Ring Segment > C+
Brandon Jacobs is back. I guess is shouldn't be shocked, but as I am with the WWE, I'm never thrilled when footballers and other sports figured come into the show. Honestly, I am more annoyed with professional athletes coming in than actors. It always feel like they're badly trying to live out a fantasy. It also feels like TNA/IW is trying to fight with the Road to WM. There's no way they will ever compete with the Road to WM! While Jacobs is very well spoken, and he took the fans from ho-hum to being really hot for him, the only Jacobs I want to see in the ring is Glen.
I will say that Ray hit below the belt with Jacobs' yardage and that he didn't even get a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and it was great. Actually, Ray playing the wormy heel who is too good to face the footballer worked well, especially after Jacobs left the ring after Ray. So as much as I loath professional sports figures coming into wrestling for any other reason than taking pictures with the wrestlers and sitting in the front row, I honestly didn't hate this. It wasn't Dennis Rodman in the WCW, or worse Arquette – not that he would ever be professional when it comes to any sport – or even Snooki, and worked better than I wanted it to. So I am going to duck and take cover as I know I will catch heck for this grade. I know specifically Professor, Gesus, Blitz, and Chris will be throwing rotten tomatoes at me, but I stand by my grade!
Backstage Segment > B-
Of course Jacobs had to scheme with Storm, but why did Hardy have to be there? Ugh, so disgusted! And yes, this segment got a high grade because Storm was in it. Booker has his list, I have mine. We like what we like because it's who we like and Storm will always push a segment's grade up. Though I do find it interesting that I didn't give Storm a second look when he was running with Wildcat. It's like he's grown and changed over the past two years into a real contender. I'm sure his wife always found him sexy, but for me he only recently really grew into his sexy. I think it's the passion he's been showing more and more, that his character has really come into his own.
Zema Ion vs Alex Shelley > B+
Wow, that's quite the outfit on Hemme! Shelley is another guy who I wasn't high up on early on. When I first started really watching TNA/IW, Shelley was bringing a camcorder to ringside for all his matches, but I have learned to love and appreciate Shelley for his character and his skills – ring and mic. Seeing Shelley only reminds me more of how much I miss Sabin.
While Ion is still young and green, at least he wasn't seen drinking fake red wine while eating popcorn! That goes against all of my foodie sensibilities. I might have to watch what I eat because of the Crohn's Disease (popcorn and red wine are both verboten), but I appreciate great food and will both go out of my way and pay a lot for it, and AA sitting there eating and drinking like that turns my stomach!
I know, wrestling! Honestly, Shelley looked really on and did a great job of helping Ion look that much better. It seemed as though Shelley slowed Ion's pace a bit, made the match more thinking and less frenetic. I think that's part of my issue with the younger X Division guys, they seem to have this need to work fast and show off everything at once to prove they can do it. Yes, X Division is high flying and sick action, but taking a few breaths and really letting the work show is something they really need to learn from guys like Shelley, AA, KK, Kendrick, Williams, etc. Hopefully Ion is appreciating the ring time he's getting with these great wrestlers and learns from his time with them. Even more, I hope these wins don't go to his head. While Ion still looks like Goku to me, I think he could mature into a great wrestler as he work in this match with Shelley looked solid. Then again Shelley is one who could make Moppie look good in the ring.
Winner – Ion
Video > D-
Not great, but it's like trying to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. Sorry, but that storyline was all about Hogan and Bisch, little about Baby Bisch and Gunner, who it should have been about. Either put Bisch and his kid in the ring together, or let Garett and Gunner fight and leave the old people in the geriatric unit. Neither Bisch or Hogan have impressed me since coming into TNA/IW and I wouldn't shed a tear for them leaving. Sorry, tangent, hard to pull back from. Anyway, not the best produced video, about not the best produced storyline, so it was beating a dead horse from the start, but I understand why they did it.
Backstage Segment > D+
Garett really has that rockabilly thing going on with those sideburns and that shirt, doesn't he? Man, that whole segment felt like one of those after-school specials from the 80's. Maybe that's it! Maybe it's all because Hogan is still stuck in the 80's. Now that makes some sense!
Backstage Segment > D-
I will say that it was nice to hear a Madison segment without her screeching the way she normally does. I'm not saying it was a good segment, actually, it was quite boring and I had troubles watching her inflated lips moving as they just didn't look right. Is it me or has she had injections that makes it look like she can't move her lips in any discernible way, other than looking like Daffy Duck's beak? I'm not being catty here, I really want to know if anyone else thinks she's had her lips worked on, and if they look odd to anyone else. Also, as much as her screeching is annoying, it almost might be better than how boring that was.
ODB vs Gail Kim > C+
Does ODB normally have pyro? Wait, so ODB had pyro and, arguably, the best female wrestler on the roster and Knockouts Champ doesn't have pyro? I'm even more confused by TNA/IW than ever! Okay, the boob bounce to Kim made me laugh.
While Kim is playing the heel who always needs her own way, her hiding in the ropes was bad. Actually, until that point I wasn't impressed with the ring work, but they turning it around. Wait, I know Kim just kind of slammed ODB's head to the mat, but that was terribly close to Orton's through the ropes DDT there. As whiny as Angle has been about people stealing his moves, I was interested in seeing that one.
Kim slamming into ODB in the corner was nice looking. While this wasn't a classic Kim versus Kong, it was light years better than most of the matches were before Kim came back to TNA/IW. Nice to see Kim in the ring with Knockouts who can actually work the ring than the likes of, say, Madison! I really think the Knockouts Division could be something great if they continue to push them harder and book them better. Honestly, it seems as though the heart of the Knockouts returned with Kim. They're not wonderful, nothing like they were during that golden time, but I finally don't cringe at every Knockouts Match. That's a huge step up in my book.
Winner - Kim
Video > C+
Not the uber passionate AJ we love, but he was decent. Honestly, I think it's the writing and the booking that is killing him, not his talent.
Video > A
What a wonderful video. Jesse's mother, as he is so young, talking about her boy, then Jesse talking about how he felt after the accident. That he couldn't move his legs, then he felt like he was floating. The brutal honesty of that segment was heart wrenching and beautifully honest. WWE has all of their 'Don't try this at home!' videos, but to me this shows and means so much more. I know that the WWE does surgery some segments after a wrestler has been injured, but this wasn't all shined up like those. Heck, after one surgery Rey was barely conscious, but there he was with his mask on. This felt real, not like a huge production crew went in and set everything up, and that's why I liked it.
Announce Segment > D
Taz and Tenay talking about Jesse after the video, then the #GetWellJesse, that blew it for me. Yes, Taz has had to recover from a broken neck and at the end he did sound more sincere, but much of this segment made me want to blow chunks. This had all the fake polish on it that the video didn't have. It was everything that video wasn't and it should have been cut from the show as most of it was disingenuous crap!
TV Championship Match – Robbie E (C) w/ Rob Terry vs AJ Styles > B+
Tenay talked about AJ putting the Daniels and Kaz thing behind him and moving on, so of course those two would be out to mess up AJ's match. Again, I don't read spoilers, but it has to happen. It's just two obvious.
Wait! The camera zoomed in on the TV Title and that belt looked like royal crap! The crystals on the TNA in the center of the belt looked like the stick on ones that tween girls stick to their cell phones, but half of them had fallen off. Do they – Janice, Dixie, Hogan, Bisch, whoever else has any money or say in the matter of TNA/IW – really want the fans to see that TV Title belt looking like that?
Now, back to the problem at hand, why is AJ being put in a match with the likes of Robbie? AJ could wrestle circles around Robbie in his sleep with both arms tied behind his back. Then again AJ hasn't been booked to his main event level in a very long time. That this match wasn't completely one sided was just wrong. I will admit that Robbie isn't the pathetic mess he was when he first came in, but that he was able to get anywhere with AJ, before Terry's help, was terrible. Then, of course, Kaz and Daniels involved. So obvious, but better than AJ losing clean to the likes of Robbie! I will admit that Robbie looked much better in the ring with AJ than I have seen him look. Working in the ring with AJ will do that as AJ is another one for making his opponents look good. Robbie hit good moves as well as taking some of AJ's best moves and selling them well. All in all this was a solid match, no matter how much I need to complain about Robbie. I will also admit that I'm really bummed. He was supposed to be up here in Maine last weekend and I had hoped to meet him, but it didn't happen for one reason or another. I would have really liked to meet him and ask a few questions for WNW.
Winner – AJ via DQ
Bully Ray & Kurt Angle vs Jeff Hardy & James Storm > B
Ray trying to punk out a kid on his way to the ring? That was sad. Is it me or are Angle's arms even thinner? I thought facially he looked good, but then when he got ringside, I realized that it looked like no one was home in his eyes, and he seemed a bit twitchy. When Borash announced Angle he looked a bit more there, but not completely.
Storm on mic was good, but the way Ray acted, the look on his face, was great. Not a Ray fan, but he sure has been entertaining lately, something I loath to admit.
I hate to say this, but for the first time, Angle looked a bit old in the ring here. His skin had that loose look above the edges of his singlet, his body looked more barrel shaped, his arms looked scrawny, and the way he was moving made him look older somehow. He was rounding his shoulders more when he was taking his bumps on the mat. He always does that to protect his neck, but it looked more so this time, and his shoulders seemed more rounded as he moved around the ring, even when not in the middle of a move. I can't quite put my finger on everything thing about Angle that seems off, but that's some of it. I doubt it's ring rust as this is Angle and he's one of the best in the business. I just worry when someone seems as off as Angle did here.
Taz talked about Angle and Ray being main eventers who know how to get things done. Who is Hardy then? While I'm not thrilled with Hardy as a human being, he knows his way around the main event as well as Ray, if not better.
Either way, these guys worked hard and made for an entertaining main event. Some solid ring work, but also straight up entertainment. Storm looked very strong, nicely building up to facing Roode at Lockdown. Ray oversold his reactions a bit to Jacobs, but worked well with the guy. Obviously Ray worked with Jacobs and trusted him enough to let the footballer put him through a table. Honestly, I thought Jacobs did solid work of putting Ray through that table. It was also nice to see the faces get away with a little when it's usually the heels who usually get away with everything.
Winners – Storm & Hardy
In Ring Segment > B+
Sting and Roode were both so on here! Okay, Sting looked really old here. The hairline, he looked pale, age spots on his face, but he put the paint on and he bounced right back to the Sting we love! Roode with his attitude, mocking tears, but then, the look of realization on his face, he really sold it well, but not too over the top. The over the top came when he was kicked in the slats. That was a bit much, even for TNA/IW. But then Sting, the way he ended it, I really want to see Victory Road. Wow, did I really say that about a TNA/IW PPV? Guess Sting still has it, even though I know a number of you will disagree with that.
I was so shocked by that TV Title belt that I just have to mention it again. What were they thinking showing that mess on TV? This was a taped show. Someone watched that segment and thought the closeup on the belt was a good thing and included it in the show. I'm not sure who gives the final all clear on Impact being aired the way it is, but that person should not be in that position. After that, I want to know who's in charge of the belt (Robbie?), and keeping it in tip-top shape? Whoever has that job should not be in that position. Actually, there has to be a lot of people to blame for this mess, and while I rarely want to say that someone should be fired from a job, there's someone in TNA/IW who's really dropping the ball, possibly a lot more than just one someone. If nothing else that TNA/IW does, that belt screams penny-pinching amateurs without a care for their reputation.