I have a lot to say about the TNA/IW this week. Okay, actually three topics, but they're all biggies! I need to start this off with Russo as I have been a huge Russo basher since he was a small fish in a big pond back in WCW. Actually, it was in WCW that I got my first look at Russo and I didn't like him from the start. I know he was an on-screen character, but his arrogance oozed out in such a way that it was obviously not just a character for TV. Since them I have seen numerous interviews with him and I haven't grown to like him any more than I had. He thinks he's a wrestling genius when in reality he did have some solid ideas, but really needed someone like VKM to run roughshod over him to filter out those solid ideas from the mountains of crap.
The other thing that bothers me about Russo is that his stories are all over the board. Specifically when it comes to Austin 3:16 and how that all came about. In every version he makes claims that he was involved with Austin using that line, but it runs the gamut from him coming up with the idea to him pushing VKM into letting them run with it when the fans grasped onto it. He further took huge credit for many things that happened in WCW, even though much of that credit really should go to Bisch – even though almost physically hurts me to say that. The last thing about Russo that drives me batty is his booking. First off, the pole matches. For a very long time he seemed to think that any match could be made better if only something was hung from a pole for the wrestlers to try to get. In my head, no matter what it was, Russo put it on a pole. He will forever be known (to me) as the creator of the Tampon On A Pole Match, even though I have never heard of them ever hanging a tampon on a pole for any match, ever. He's known for booking some of the worst and screwiest endings to match. It's like he doesn't believe the fans can handle a clean ending in any way. Someone has to cheat, run in, so something strange, silly or absurd. Matches just cannot end cleanly in his world!
When I heard Russo was not at the Against All Odds PPV, I was excited, hoping for clean endings to matches. That brings me to my second point, the ending to the main event at AAO was a beautiful thing! We were left with questions, heck, there were even ref bumps, but we weren't left feeling gypped! I was whooping and hollering as I was chatting with Blizt and Dan about the ending to AAO because it was so fantastically booked and executed. Being a Four Way Match, there was bound to be issues and craziness, but in the end it was settled and handled with a solid ending. For that I thank whoever booked that match, because it sure was NOT Russo!
The last thing I have to touch on is the first match on the AAO card. I said in my Predicts that Ion and Sorensen would have to sell hard to get over as they're really young and green. Well, when I said it, I didn't mean they should get over by doing things they might not be ready for. While what happened between Ion and Sorensen could have been a pure accident, the fact that they're greener than goose poo didn't help them in the least. I know I keep pushing for more X Division matches, but I've also been wondering why all these new guys were brought in while guys like Williams and Kendrick are rarely if ever used. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a mix of wrestlers so the younger could learn from the more seasoned. I honestly don't see why it's so hard. Hopefully Sorensen will come through this without any lasting health issues. He really has huge promise, if handled correctly when he is able to return. My heart goes out to the young man.
Video > B+
I have to admit that this was a solid video. It was recap, but in a way that set up for so much more! Bravo!
In Ring Segment > A-
The heat Roode got was impressive. Wow, not only Ray has it out for Hemme, but guess she's going to be the punching bag for more heels. The camera work is different, more red lighting, the whole thing has a different feel from the last time we saw Impact from the Zone. While still a smaller arena than the WWE plays for televised events, the actual look of that segment was very reminiscent of the WWE. What has changed and why?
Not saying Roode wasn't good, because he was, but wow, Sting was HOT on mic! He was just great. This is such a wonderful side of Sting we've been seeing, and he's been able to keep it fresh every week.
Front Row > D
Why do we need to know that Brandon Jacobs of the NY Giants and Mike Straka of MMA Uncensored are in the front row? At least the WWE involves people in their storylines when they're trying to advertise something. I really don't like to compare the two, but here I have trouble not comparing them.
TNA/IW World Heavyweight Championship – Bobby Roode (C) vs Jeff Hardy > B
I have to say that Hardy sure can flop around like a fish! I know a lot of wrestlers do, but Hardy is so slim, and he has a distinctive look when he does so. On the other hand, something about Hardy's look here - his face paint is solid, an actual pattern that is interesting, his clothes are neat, his hair not ratty looking and his face has a slightly fuller look to it, as does his body. When Jeff Hardy is in a bad way, he looks gaunt with his eyes and cheeks sunken. I'm not saying I that Hardy looks clean(er) (to my eyes) and he should be back in the ring fighting for the TNA/IW World Heavyweight Championship, not what I am saying at all! What I am saying is that Hardy looks crisper in his work than I've seen from him since before he left the WWE, and he looks physically healthier than he has since then. If he is, then more power to him, but I don't want to see it on my TV screen.
These two worked around the ring in a really solid way. The snap suplex hit on Roode outside was nice looking. The way Hardy hit poetry in motion off the stairs was impressive. On the other hand I don't like how Roode was made to look rather weak through the early part of the match. Only when Roode threw Brian into the ropes to drop Hardy up top did Roode get any control over the match. Hardy sold well, possibly better than Roode in some ways, but he's so overly dramatic about it that I can't help but roll my eyes.
Roode's shoulder block that went awry into the front of the announce stage looked and sounded great, Roode sold beautifully, but the camera angles were a total mess. Then there was Angle. I understand that they want to show that Roode can't beat Hardy clean without help from someone, but that whole match made Roode look weak. Making your World Heavyweight Champion look THAT weak is just terrible. So while it was a solid match until the end when Angle came in, I just can't give it as good of a grade because of the overall detriment to the Champ and the Title he carries.
Winner – Roode
Backstage Segment > B+
I have to agree with Roode about Hardy getting so many chances. Bull that Roode's proven over and over that he can beat Hardy, but I'm more than over Hardy in the Title run. Boy is Roode a solid heel Champ working off the over the top Sting in charge.
Backstage Segment > C+
I love the way EY throws comments out, like them taking his license and he doesn't know why, like they're nothing. I wish EY had more respect for all the work he's done and does do, but at least he's getting TV time, that's more than a lot of other guys, and girls, on the roster are getting.
Backstage Segment > C-
Okay, who took a large barrel curling iron to Storm's hair? Yes, the man has beautiful hair, and it's something I love about him, but it looks as though someone was trying to go all Mickie James on his do and it's just wrong for a redneck to be styled so fancy! I'm not saying redneck as a bad thing, at all, but the pink polo shirt the other day, now this, I'm wondering if the redneck side of Storm isn't as redneck as some of us might like. Beyond that, I didn't like the way they played this segment. Of course Sting was talking to Ray and Storm! Who else would he have been talking to? If you're going to set up a question like that, make the answer interesting or unexpected.
Video > A
I am very impressed with the video they put together for Jesse Sorensen. They could have simply said something about it, that he's doing better and move on, but they showed the video, both of the accident from a couple angles, but also everything from the X to getting Sorensen rolled, strapped and removed from the arena. That they spoke about how it's a miracle that Sorensen is doing so well and how bad this really could have been. Some might see this as propaganda, but we all know the show must go on and wrestlers really seem to be stubborn about that, and this was a wonderful video for that.
Austin Aries & Zema Ion vs Shannon Moore & Alex Shelley > B
I have to admit that when I saw Ion coming to the ring, I was wondering if his confidence might be shaken. He seemed to be working well off AA's arrogance, but is his ring work off because of the accident? He didn't have that scared little boy look that he had in his eyes right after he won the match at AAO due to countout.
Moore looked great coming over the top onto AA, and the announcers talked about how it looked effortless and how good Moore is. Was that a jab at the WWE and Miz, or am I so used to them taking jabs at the WWE that I see them even when they're not there?
Moore with Ion's hairspray was just too funny. Ion just has this little boy look about him, even though he is 25 - barely older than my oldest. I think a big part of it is the Dragon Ball Z look he has going on with the orange and blue pants and the Goku hair.
Honestly, I expected to see more Shelley in this match as he is the better wrestler out of his team, but Moore spent more time in the ring. Actually, I should just shut up and be happy that we saw four X Division wrestlers in the ring, and Goku had someone semi-mentoring him in this match. To be honest the vibes between AA and Ion were fun and handled well. So while this wasn't a drool in a puddle and fall into it splashing type X Division Match, it was solid, all the guys worked well, and we had an actual X Division Match, so that's always great in my book.
Winners – Ion & AA
Backstage Segment > C+
Well, Gail Kim looked really stacked in that red dress! She looked beautiful all glitzed up – the only reason for the decent grade. Now if there was a way to muzzle Madison...
#1 Contender Knockouts Battle Royal – Tara vs Tessmacher vs Love vs Winter vs Sarita vs Rosita vs ODB vs Mickie vs Velvet Sky > C-
While I'm thrilled to see some good Knockouts in the ring, having all the Knockouts in the ring together made it harder to really see some decent wrestling that they're capable of. ODB looked great, as did Tara, and Mickie held on through a couple near falls, but when it came down to Sarita, Love and Velvet, I figured it had to be Velvet winning it to have a face to go after heel Kim.
Sarita did a beautiful job hooking her foot to stay in the match. Nice to see Sarita back in the ring as she's amazing, but also great to see her unmasked. I don't know how Love was able to kick Velvet in the face the way she did. That was a stiff looking kick. But the best played of the match was Madison. I have to give extra points for this zinger. I was thinking at first that she might do something, but changed my mind part way through. I don't want to see Madison turn face, but this could turn Kim face, a role she's much better suited.
Winner – Madison
Backstage Segment > B+
Nice to see passion from Storm as some of his promos have been a bit softer lately. He's great at being fired up, so why not show him like that. The punching of the wall was a bit much, but who hasn't wanted to punch a wall? Having him this riled up helped muss up that previously quaffed hair and make him look more real.
Backstage Segment > B
Other than Joe and Magnus looked like they were being interviewed in a back alley, both Joe and Magnus were solid. Joe snorting with laughter, and them laughing about who they beat was fun and fairly well executed, if not the stellar promos we have gotten from Magnus lately.
Video > D+
When did an argument between father and son become such a convoluted mess? In understand why Gunner and Hogan were pulled into this, but what a mess!
In Ring Segment > C-
I have been slow getting through Impact this evening, but I knew Chelsea had returned as Gesus IM'd me when she appeared on the show. Yes, she has a delightful figure and a pretty face, but I don't understand why guys go so wild over her compared to other women. Please, someone enlighten me? Also, why was she on Flair's arm? Rather than with Magnus?
Wait, Bisch is talking about Garett following in his footsteps? Garett wants to be a wrestler, Bisch was never a wrestler. It might be the same industry, but that's about it! Since when is this Bisch's business? I will admit I giggled at the future endeavors comment, but in reality it's just TNA/IW making silly jabs at the WWE. I know future endeavors has been around for a very long time and has become a joke in wrestling, but especially so in the WWE. Is this another WWE jab, or am I looking too deeply into things here? No, I think that was a purposeful jab.
Wait, no Garett? No Hogan? That was completely unexpected! I guess it's just so routine that the opposing team come out during a victory party that I hadn't realized how much I had been expecting it! I think I actually have to give TNA/IW props for not following the unbreakable routine.
Backstage Segment > C
What is the big deal about Bully Ray's calves? The only really obviously muscular part of his body? I think they looked really gross, but that's just me. I also have to say that with that layer of fuzz on his face and the ball cap, he looks quite a bit younger. Not saying he should still be in the ring with fit calves and looking a bit younger, just commenting.
And since I am, I have to say that segment was terribly shot. Maybe they're going for a more polished look for the ring segments and more of a shoot feeling for backstage segments. That's fine if that's what they're after, but making the ring segments look so much cleaner just makes the shoot style interviews out back look that much more schlocky.
Backstage Segment > D+
Straka's suit jacket over that t-shirt was just horrible! And how was he able to say what he needed to say with Hemme's tatas right there like that? Anyway, it's smart of Spike to push other shows on Impact, but are they pushing Impact on other shows?
Backstage Segment > C+
Oh no, they better be careful, EY might want to explore becoming a country singer! TNA/IW better protect their investment! Sorry, I had to go there. Way back in the day I wasn't the biggest ODB fan as she was just too raunchy and dirty. Now that side of her has been tempered just a bit and I love her. Actually, I hear a younger me saying a lot of the little comments that she makes to EY, and I have to smile. They kept this segment short and to the point while showing their personalities and the chemistry between them with humor. If they weren't going to give us a wrestling match, because they rarely do, I like little segments like this.
Bully Ray vs James Storm > B+
Storm looked on point from word go in this match. He was on Ray something fierce. Very solid and serious match until Earl was accidentally tripped by Ray and Taz had to come out with the obligatory comment of it being his first day with new feet. Honestly, it was an accidental trip, neither of them to fault, but it was kind of funny how he just ended up landing on the mat the way he did. But then right back to work as usual for all of them.
I don't think I've seen a boot removed in the ring on purpose since Eddie loosened up his boot and it was removed in an ankle lock giving Eddie the win over Angle. But then came the knee pad and everything to expose some exquisite ink. So interesting to see his whole lower leg inked with no other ink showing. I just find it very unusual, but a way that he can appear without tattoos to the fans. I also find it unusual that seeing Storm's naked leg like that gave us a much more intimate look at Storm. It wasn't just the ink, it was seeing his whole naked leg, something we rarely see of wrestlers. Sometimes wrestlers go without knee pads, as Cody did for a while, but it's rare. I'm just shocked at the intimate look at Storm, who looks so much more naked, when all he's showing us is his knee and calf.
A snot rocket on Earl? That's just disgusting and demeaning! Storm sold the leg injury well and didn't come back Super Storm to win it, he sold all the way through his final moves. That was very cool compared to a certain someone we all know.
Winner – Storm
Ringside Segment > C+
Storm did stop selling when the beer was out. It was cute to see Storm playing with SoCal Val, dumping beer on her. Just showed the fun side we rarely see between the roster (yes, I know SoCal isn't really roster, you know what I mean). Then the segment with Brandon Jacobs, he did a pretty good job with Ray, but it was D-Lo who sold the best. His eyes were about bugging out of his head when he was helping Storm, Snow, and Kenney. Of course the three of them needed their air time, but D-Lo made the most of it with that look. Not bad that it took four of them to hold Brandon Jacobs back. Even better was how scared Ray looked when they all held Brandon Jacobs back. I know I keep calling him by his full name, but there's only one Jacobs in wrestling for me and that's Glen.
Backstage Segment > B-
Storm laughing there was really cute. They really looked like they were having fun. Not loving the comments toward the Patriots, but I do understand them. I guess I have to take back my comments about Brandon not being involved in goings on.
In Ring Segment > C+
Lockdown in Nashville, Roode and Storm in a cage? That's just fabby in my book! Sting is out there supporting Hardy and Storm and so many others, but then Roode attacks Sting and there was no one running out to make the save? Sting sold it wall, the way he was sprawled out across the ring was perfect and quite the image to end the show with.
This show was really just middle of the road. There weren't any really fantastic moments, but there was also very few really low moments. I will say the overall look of the show was better. It looks as though they've either stepped up the equipment they're using, or their production staff had a crash course in WWE-101.
A number of interesting questions and ideas were posed in this episode, and a couple of very expected moments never came. I don't know what the change is, as I'm not willing to give over to Russo being gone so things are already different just yet, but I hope these little things continue and more join the party. If they continue to book Lockdown the way they booked the World Heavyweight Championship Match, then it could be a killer PPV. I'll keep my toes crossed, but I won't hold my breath