I'm sorry if I sound like a broken record, but Hogan has been opening his mouth, so I'm going to say something about it. I'm going to take Hogan's recent antics as further proof that Dixie Carter doesn't know what the heck she is doing in the business world. Hogan has spent much of the time he's been involved with TNA/IW he's done his best to separate himself from them in the media. I have talked many times about the perfect opportunities Hogan has had to promote TNA/IW on national TV. Between American Idol and the Today show, Hogan dropped the ball in a huge way for TNA/IW. If I'd been Dixie I would have told Hogan that he either helps promote the company he's drawing a check for, or he's not going to continue drawing a check. Even further, if you're not going to show up for work, then you're not going to be drawing a check. That goes for Bisch as well as Hogan.
If Hogan's lack of promoting TNA/IW and his lack of time to actually show up to work for all of maybe five days a month, the way he shoots down TNA/IW wrestlers further disgusts me. Yes, most recently he put over AJ and Jeff Hardy, but for me that doesn't compare to all the crap he's said about others on the roster. Basically he put over one TNA/IW wrestler and one wrestler who became a star in the WWE and has done little but screw over the wrestlers and company alike. Yes, Jeff Hardy gets solid pop from the fans, but I sure as well wouldn't trust him with a sandwich, never mind trust him with my career or life. He did put over Sting, but, hello, it's Sting and he's kick butt! Just when I think there's nothing new for him, he turns around with another facet of himself. Between the work he's doing as GM, then that wonderfully produced video he put online, Sting's just hitting his stride and we'll be seeing him for a very long time. I'm thrilled that he's getting online as he's someone I'd love to follow.
I honestly wonder why Dixie keeps Hogan on the payroll when he's not in contract with anyone of consequence in the company, then reports online that he's going on the UK tour. Further is this whole shaving his face and head thing. I have no clue why Hogan would do such a crazy thing as his look is his meal ticket. It also seems odd that they're hoping someone will talk Hogan out of shaving in a round about way, rather than addressing the issue head on. To me it sounds like there's serious communication issues on both sides of the fence.
Video > B
I will say that the production crew did a solid job with the first part of this segment, before the music started. It actually looked high quality and worth watching.
Backstage Segment > B-
I was pretty impressed at the beating Ray took there. I will give them both credit for their fight backstage. They know each other so well from so many tag feuds they had in the WWE, so they work together pretty seamlessly. After Roode joined into the fray, Ray hit Hardy with a pipe, then dropped a chunk of wall or something on Hardy who oversold it. The fight got very lame there, but picked up again with Storm got involved. The best of the bunch was Sting. He looked believable, much better than Roode did and better than Ray after Roode joined in. I will say I'm thrilled that they shook things up and started the show in a different way. If I didn't know any better I'd wonder if maybe someone was taking note of what I've been saying over and over, but we all know that they would never lower themselves to listen to what us lowly fans actually think of their product.
#1 Contender Match – Mickie James vs Tara vs Velvet Sky > C-
The handshakes between three was nice. These three in the ring could give an amazing match, but right off the block Velvet Sky was late on her mark and Tara had Mickie pinned for more than three waiting for Velvet Sky to break it up. Earl covered well. Further was Mickie flailing her arms when Tara was going for her standing moonsault. Yes, Tara was going to miss the move, but it didn't help that she tripped over Mickie's arm as she was trying to get her feet under her to flip. That could have been much worse than it was. Mickie pinned Tara and the camera went right up Mickie's crotch and I wondered how everything was staying covered.
On the positive side, they all hit some solid moves and the way Tara ended it was interesting. These three are impressive wrestlers and could have done more, but I'm thinking it was the booking more than their actual work that killed this match. I look forward to seeing what Tara and Gail will do in the ring. Just quickly looking I saw that they had about a dozen matches, mostly during the spring of 2004. Hopefully they will take what they know of each other and add in their maturity to give us a really impressive match.
Winner – Tara
Backstage Segment > B
Gail came off a little nasally and plastic here. Yes, she and tara
In Ring Segment > A
Well I spoke too soon. Sting had to hit the ring and make up for the opening segment that wasn't. I do understand why they like to have people in the ring early on to set up the entire tone for the show. Actually, I loved that segment. The front facelock on Ray in the corner was great! (Remember that I write this Blog as I want the who while I write RAW Is Blogged after the show is over and use my RAW Results as an outline as I go along.) I have had troubles writing this segment as I was enjoying the brawling so much. That Sting just as easily used his bat in his choke hold on Hardy. You can't tell me he wasn't enjoying that, just a little bit. Even if he and Hardy have completely ironed out their issues, Sting had to enjoy that hold on him.
I'm sure I'm going catch grief for the grade on this segment, but if I'm more interested in watching the segment than write about it, then it's a good segment in my book. I might have even given this a good grade if it was the way the show started because it was good enough.
Backstage Segment > B+
I'm thrilled to see Shelley back and love that he's going all out X Division. He seems a bit rusty on mic, but he also doesn't have Sabin to work off. They are so good together and work so well off each other.
Backstage Segment > C
Sammy Davis Jr? That was funny. Even better was the way EY looked afraid of Winter. The turning him to stone was subtle and great! I had to twitch when EY put his cup on his nose, something I should be used to hanging out with heavy list fighters in the SCA, but I'm not. I'm glad EY is getting more TV time and it's only made better through his chemistry with ODB.
Alex Shelley vs Zema Ion> B+
Taz talked about Shelley possibly having ring rust, I'm just annoyed that this kid is in the ring with the likes of Shelley. Shelley showed right off the bat how wonderful and creative he can be in the ring. Ion can fly, but he's nothing compared to Shelley. There's so much X Division in TNA/IW, they didn't need to bring in so many new young guys. The difference in these two was so obvious. You could just see how green Ion is compared to Shelley. Beautiful sliced bread for the win and Ion sold it well, but it's Shelley who kept my attention.
Winner – Shelley
Backstage Segment > B-
AJ showed some passion, but really came off as a petulant little boy who doesn't understand why no one wants to play ball with him any longer.
Backstage Segment > C
Tara came off a little rough and almost needy here. What was the thing about her waist size? Yes, she looks great. I'm not saying Tara looks great for her age, I'm saying Tara looks great! At one point in the WWE she was extremely lean and looked too defined and sinewy. It didn't work as she had that strange body builder look without fat but implants that seem just stuck onto their chests. Now she looks more natural, more beautiful, more relatable, and like she actually eats real food. She's more like someone I'd like to hang out and have a beer with, though I admit I might ask her more about the cadaver work she did before she went to the WWE than her wrestling career.
Lucky us, more Bisch. Actually, more BischX2. I really want to like Garett, but he doesn't have the charisma that makes me actually like him. As I said in my Royal Rumble article about Brock Lesnar, he just didn't click for me. There's nothing wrong with him or his work, I just have never liked him.
Video > F
And of course they didn't show us anything about Garett's trainer – shocker!
Winter & Love vs ODB & EY > D
EY and ODB playing with Earl was fun. It's fun to watch ODB, then even Earl playing along with him. While I love EY and his own version of crazy, they wasted so much time without anything but EY playing with the crowd. Even worse is ODB getting all beaten down by just a couple of blows from Love and Winter. ODB is hardcore, but it looked more like Winter and ODB rolling around on the mat than anything. That wasn't a very good match. Actually, it was worse than that. I spent much of the match watching to see if ODB might fall out because one of her bras had moved around a bit and I thought she might have a full on wardrobe malfunction. I love that she's all natural, but when her boobs are more interesting than the actual match, there's a serious issue.
Winners – ODBEY
Backstage Segment > B-
Roode didn't keep Storm in check the way Ray kept Devon in check? That was funny. I will say I'm loving how Ray keeps making comments about wanting Roode's pretty gold belt. Definitely makes for interesting dynamics for a tag match.
Video > D
Yes, we know Magnus and Joe are feuding with Morgan and Crimson. What we don't know is where they're going next! To me this was a waste of time.
Joe w/ Magnus vs Morgan w/ Crimson > C
Joe and Morgan hit all the moves and made it all look good, but it felt off somehow. First off, Joe looks like he's put on some weight and Morgan looks like he's lost a little weight. They went back and forth with all their moves and it was a simple clothesline that finished Joe for the three? There was nothing I could put my finger on exactly, just that the match didn't feel quite right. Maybe they were just going through the motions, but their hearts weren't in it? I felt more from Joe during the after match attack than I did during the entire match. I love both Morgan and Joe and never thought I'd give either of them such a low grade for a match. It was just middle of the road.
Winner – Morgan
Backstage Segment > B
Nice short little segment. Storm, as usual lately, was great. Hardy was actually really solid there too. Please know I say this grudgingly.
In Ring Segment > C-
Daniels talking smack about AJ being a thug for throwing fists? That's funny as they are in a physical line of work. Then Daniels does exactly what he accuses AJ of doing. I love heels that make no sense. And why the heck are the guys in the front row are counting? I found it interesting that two of the four girls who are usually in the front row are over on the corner rather than right in front, but I'd rather the girls be in the front row than these counters.
This is another thing that I really want to care about. I enjoy AJ, Kaz and Daniels and think this storyline could be intriguing and hold me on the edge of my seat, but it's not. Daniels is coming off fake and AJ whiny. Kaz is doing a good job of being believably torn and doing it without saying a word. It just seems like TNA/IW is missing the ball more and more lately. I think they need to let the guys have more control of their characters. Not the way they did in WCW, but enough that their characters feel organic as they're not feeling that way right now. I've not been able to suspend my disbelief enough to give a flying fig for some of these guys lately which totally sucks because I know TNA/IW could be great. I just want to shake some of these people and wake them up. It feels as thought they're fumbling around in the dark rather than working to their potential.
Tag Team Tables Match – Hardy & Storm vs Ray & Roode > B-
Ray did a beautifully piss poor job of cleaning up his wounds and the blood on his arm from the earlier brawl. All four started on each other, but they looked like they'd already been through a brawl, which they had, and didn't have much left over for this. Then Storm just happened to have more beer stashed under the ring to drink and spit in Ray's face? But then things started to pick up. Ray saved Roode by moving the table at the ring time and the match finally made its way into the ring. Storm sent Ray out over the top and he seemed to hit the apron hard on his hip.
Ray's foot through the table was well placed and left the table in decent enough shape to be used if need be. I will say something about Hardy, he sure is floppy. He's thinner than so many wrestlers and seems to easily flop around when he's being beaten down. I guess it's his way of selling things and a look that I attribute to Hardy an no other wrestler. On the other hand, Ray took Storm's kick to the back of his head when he was up top and dropped to the mat like a sack of potatoes. He didn't brace himself in any particular way, he just landed as if he was out. I guess what I'm saying is that both Hardy and Ray are taking these moves like seasoned veterans of the industry and selling them well in their own ways. I'm not saying this to take anything away from Roode and Storm, I've just been watching Hardy and Ray for many more years and have watched them grow and their ring work mature over those years. Sadly I'm not sure either of them have matured on personal levels.
While Storm looked a little tentative up top before he flew, he did a solid job of it. Then, after all the praise I gave Ray's ring work, his chair shots post-match were rather weak looking. Much of the chair hit the mat rather than the wrestler and was obviously so. I was just complaining the other day about not seeing anything like Ray putting Trish through a table lately. Ray dropped Hardy through the table in Ray's patented way, but he was a bit off the mark. If Hardy had been a bit further to one side he could have been in for a world of hurt as he would have been right over the legs of the chair. I will say he sold well and I do hope he isn't injured.
Winners – Storm & Hardy
I will admit that it could just be me, but much of this show felt phoned in. For me the X Division Match was the one good match in the show. The simple beauty of Shelley's ring work is something I didn't realize I'd missed so much. He didn't have any ring rust and should be great in the ring against AA for the Title. The only thing that would make the X Division better right now would be to get Williams back in the ring and bring back both Jay Lethal and Petey Williams to TNA/IW. The fans would tune in, and not just the fly-by-night or fair weather fans who tune in for the slight chance Hogan or Flair might show up. I'm talking about the wrestling fans who watch for the creativity and the wrestling ability. Those who like the characters and the storylines – as absurd as they might be – but want to see honest work and true talent in the ring.
The other part of the show was the brawl in the ring that Sting kept trying to control. He didn't seem to put his hands on Storm much, but he had Hardy in that chokehold and had no issue taking it to Ray with his bat. It was nice to see a brawl without fifteen people trying to hold each person back, but not able to do so. One of my biggest pet peeves in wrestling and Sting took care of it single handed.
One last thing before I go back to writing about the Royal Rumble. I received a text from Gesus during Impact saying that he saw a Royal Rumble PPV commercial on Spike just before the main event Table Match. I double checked, but I didn't see it here in Maine. I'm wondering if it was a local cable company thing or if only ran in certain areas of the country. Either way, I always find it funny to see one company's products advertised during another company's show.