I have to say that TNA/IW was quite interesting to watch in 2011. First off I have to push Dan 'The Frontman' Haase's The DDT: A Year In Review For TNA/Impact Wrestling. http://www.wrestlingnewsworld.com/the-ddt-a-year-in-review-for-tnaimpact-wrestling/ While Haase and I don't agree on everything wrestling, I do agree with 99% of what he wrote there about TNA/IW. I think I can only pull three things that I don't agree with. 1) Hogan's face turn. 2) Gunner needing to leave TNA/IW. 3) Prichard needing to go away. Other than those three things Haase is on the mark and wrote it up wonderfully, as he always does. Go! Check it out, then come back to read this. I'll wait.
Actually, the third thing I disagreed with Haase about was the the thing I was already planning on writing about this week. I asked Richard if he minded me letting some Premium info through here because I find it so interesting. He told me to go for it, so here it is. I was blown away in reading that Bruce Prichard has become the man in TNA/IW after so many people have been jockeying for control backstage for the past couple years. Dixie being 100% behind Prichard is funny, especially since most of his pull came from Storm's push. Just shows what an idiot Russo is in his thinking about some wrestlers being 'too southern' to get over as a singles competitor. RatedMKD said it perfectly in his reaction to Richard's post about this. "To semi-quote the parody @WWE_Creative Twitter account (I can't remember the exactly wording): "TNA was wise to take the title off Storm. A beer-drinking southern redneck as champ will never get over."
I will honestly admit that I hadn't thought of Storm in that way, but it does make perfect sense. Storm and Austin have a very obvious correlations between them, but they're so different in so many ways. I'm not saying that Storm will reach the heights of Austin, arguably the most successful wrestler ever, but I see great things in his future. After what we saw from Storm last year, on mic and in the ring, I hope he doesn't get thrown to the side like so many home grown main eventers in TNA/IW.
D+ > Of course Impact had to start with a video about Roode. Maybe someone watched RAW and saw how a great opening recap video is made? We can only hope!
In Ring Segment
B > I have to say that Sting has really grown into his sexy. He sure wasn't when he was blond Sting, and I didn't think of him that way through WCW (might have been my watching Nash too much), but now he really seems to be comfortable in his own skin and enjoying his role in TNA/IW and it shows through. I just wish he'd stop wearing those gloves to the ring when he's not in ring gear. They look really odd with that beautiful shirt he was wearing. His role in TNA/IW fits him very well.
I don't know what's gone down between Hardy and Sting backstage, but I have to admit that Sting talking Hardy up the way he has makes me wonder if they really buried the hatchet or if Sting is really that good of an actor. I really hope it's the former. I also have to ask, am I one of the only ones (I know Gesus feels this way) that does not want to see Hardy on TNA/IW, doesn't want to see him getting a Title shot right off the bat? He sure as heck hasn't earned it! Why are the fans there chanting for him?
So, in TNA/IW if you're a full on heel and Champ, you have to wear a suit, preferably a snazzy suit. If you're a heel hanging out with the Champ, then you have to dress in a suit, or at least a nice looking dress shirt, even if un-tucked (Angle). But if you're Bully Ray, you can look like a slob no matter who you hang out with! I will say that Ray's muscled leg looks better than I've ever seen!
Why is Storm billed from Leiper's Fork, Tennessee and not from his hometown Thompson's Station, Tennessee? Looking at the stats for both places (one's a village, the other a town), they're both tiny dots on the map with very few residing in either place. I just don't see the sense behind it. And what is it about wrestlers not being able to find their mouths when it comes to drinking beer? Abyss missed his mouth as Storm, Austin and even Sandman always seem to do.
While this segment went on way too long for my taste, having Storm and Abyss on mic rounded it out quite well. Of course the tag main event was obvious, I just wish they could have reach that idea in half the time. I will say it's hard to complain as most of the mic work there was tight.
D > Okay, Madison doe look great in a bikini, but so does Traci. For that matter, so do Gail and Mickie. This brought me back to the AE in the WWE and all the odd places they had the Divas fight – pools, pudding, mud, etc. only thing that saved this segment was the eye candy.
Knockouts Tag Title Match – Madison Rayne & Gail Kim (C) vs Mickie James & Traci Brooks
D+ > How is it that Gail can come to the ring in red and look great, but Madison is back out in her nude panties looking like she's not wearing anything under that micro-mini? I know I have complained about this numerous times, but I'm just so disgusted by it! She's a cute girl with a great body (and screechy voice), she doesn't need to do something so classless. I actually thought her boob might pop out when Mickie sent her flying with that monkey flip. I will give Madison props for taking a couple of solid bumps, specifically that split and the Thesz Press!
Gail was still taking blows before they were hit, the way she did last week with Mickie's clotheslines. Even further, the way Traci set up to take Gail's finisher looked overly contemplated. The way Traci grabbed Gail's boot and had a resigned look on her face killed all of the realism – what little there was – in this Match. Honestly, the only reason this Match received the grade it did (it about kills me to say this) is because of the bumps Madison took from Mickie. She took some hard bumps and sold them fairly well compared to the way she normally works the ring.
Winners – Madison & Gail
C+ > Flair called Gunner an impact player, no pun intended? Gunner is getting THAT famous? Ugh! Okay, Sting made that fun. There's only ten years between Sting and Flair, but seeing them side by side, it looks like there's at least twenty, or more. I know Flair is cash poor, but he really needs to get out of the weekly grind of the wrestling industry or he's going to severely hurt himself. Yes, he's just 'managing' right now, but it wasn't long ago that he was in the ring and I'm willing to bet it won't be long before he's back in for one reason or another.
B- > EY is such a goon, but he sure knows how to sell his own personal variety of crazy.
D- > Why did they have to recap this Tourney? It seems like every other month there's a new tourney for something!
C > Joe and Magnus are such an odd team, but it's interesting. But the way AJ and Kaz were talking about trusting each other, I have to wonder if Kaz might be going heel at some point soon. Just felt too set up and obvious. The reason I say Kaz is because AJ just isn't the best heel. He's just a good guy and it feels organic, where as him as a heel usually feels very wrong.
D > Garett is back in the zebra suit? I have to say he just doesn't have the natural charisma his father exudes. That was a cute way to tell Garett that he's a wrestler, but how good is he really. Would he have that spot if his last name wasn't Bischoff? I'd like to highly doubt it, but this is TNA/IW. Garett's face was cute when he looked at Sting in awe, but one look doesn't mean he has charisma.
D- > Okay, EY was cute before, but going in with Gail and Madison was rather lame. I laughed at Madison being shoved in a locker, but that's just that I normally enjoy anything bad happening to her character.
Gunner vs RVD
C+ > Speaking about bad things happening to characters, why is RVD still in TNA/IW? I know I have been impressed with Gunner coming up through the ranks, but this sucked! There's no reason Gunner should have done so well against RVD, and Gunner was way off his mark for a lot of RVD's moves. It didn't look very good to me. I know that RVD isn't the best and isn't unbeatable, but this is Gunner who just didn't look good trying to beat down RVD. I know I should be happy to actually see a match on Impact, I just wish it was a decent match!
I admit that I cringed when RVD got caught up in the apron skirt. Then I cringed even worse when I saw and heard that body drop on Gunner! That sounded sick! Then Gunner moving on RVD and RVD hitting the rail. Why all of a sudden did Snow, D-Lo and Kenney finally come out when they hadn't earlier or previously. I think Snow is getting more air time now than he did during much of his time with WWE. Honestly I'm torn on grading this one. The actual match sucked, but the brutality after it was over... But I'm not grading brutality, I'm grading the segment as a whole. I will say that I got a very ECW vibe from the end of that. The last camera shot with Gunner looking all crazy eyed was really well played on his part.
B- > I love Storm, I have said that many times. He's great on mic, showing heart and passion, but he also needs to calm down now and then and not always be frantic in his delivery. Hardy was fine, Abyss was stronger. Roode is always strong on mic. Angle was a little more crazy eyed than he needed to be here, but that's just my opinion. Ray was Ray, decent, but not the best of the group by any means.
X Division Tag Match – Kidd Kash & Austin Aries vs Jesse Sorensen & Zema Ion
A > I'm going to be a bit design-centric here, but AA needs someone to make his little capelettes as more than a square of fabric with only a basic hem around the edge. There's so much that could be done! Getting that off my chest, this match started off with a bang and only got better! Ion sold early and over-sold KK's chop in the corner. I know he's young, but it looked bad to me.
AA showed why he's X Division Champ and why all of the other three have reason to go after AA, as they will at Genesis. Sorensen needs a character repackaging, but nothing as flashy as AA and Ion, but something more interesting than the milquetoast nothing he is now! Then Sorensen on AA and KK was sick! He's not overly exciting, character-wise, but he sure works the ring in a way few can. I will give Ion huge props for that DDT and his 450 (that missed), but not for his twisting off the corner. I'm stepping up early and picking Sorensen as the X Division winner at Genesis.
Winners – Ion & Sorensen
B > I knew it! I just had a feeling that Kaz wasn't acting right earlier. Daniels in hiding shows how well Kaz acted the earlier segment. I'm impressed, but I also feel that Joe and Magnus would be a better match going after Morgan and Crimson at Genesis. Joe's been after Crimson for so long that I feel he should finish Crimson's streak very soon.
B- > I normally don't like these 'relationship' angles, but EY and ODB are so cute together. They really have great chemistry and EY sells his crazy feelings so superbly.
Wildcard Tag Tourney – Samoa Joe & Magnus vs AJ Styles & Kaz
B > Joe and Magnus worked really well together. Their double teaming was seamless and they really looked as thought they belonged tagging together. I always think of Joe as a singles wrestler and nothing more. Okay, the more being that he should be main eventing, not in a silly tourney, but we know how TNA/IW is!
I'm always impressed with how AJ lands that pele kick so perfectly. Actually, this match was better than the ending, much better than the ending. It was interesting how Kaz didn't look happy siding with Daniels. Where are they going with this? Only because there's so many questions raised that I'm not going to penalize the match for the way it all went down.
Winners – Joe & Magnus
C > Of course Joe and Magnus had to get into a fight with Morgan and Crimson, Snow and D-Lo needed more face time. I know we see WWE bookers now and then, but nothing compared to these two. As a huge Snow fan I find it kind of funny, but then I get annoyed seeing D-Lo, so it all evens out. They really did need to have this confrontation as we've seen nothing of Morgan and Crimson this past month. I wonder how Morgan will be going into Genesis since he just lost his father after such a long battle. I'm sure he will believe the show must go on, but I wonder how he's doing inside his own head.
6 Man Tag Match – James Storm & Jeff Hardy & Abyss vs Bobby Roode & Kurt Angle & Bully Ray
B+ > The showboating between these two teams as Borash announced them was hysterical! Looked like little boys puffing up in the hall before their fight at recess. Even better is how big bad Bully Ray tagged out rather than face Abyss, never mind the fact that Roode didn't want to face him either. No honor among thieves unless they're winning? I know heels always get away with so much more than the faces in a match, but Brian not forcing Ray to actually tag into the match even though he knew Ray hadn't tagged in, only admonished him, really bugs me. I know it doesn't matter in the scheme of things, but it rubbed me the wrong way, possibly more than it should.
On the other hand, the delayed vertical suplex from Ray onto Storm was beautiful! Storm isn't a tiny guy! Not saying he's huge, but he's no Daniels! Then the moves Storm was hitting on Angle, just inspired.
Of course when the match is thrown out, the other four guys conveniently leave the ring and leave it wide open for Hardy and Roode to fight it out, but then... I always say that I enjoy watching everyone hitting their finisher at the end of a match like this, but... No, actually, I enjoyed it. Okay, I enjoyed most of it. Angle hitting the low blow felt cheap and not really Angle, even though he is a heel. And while Abyss sold it well, the chain hanging through the ropes looked rather lame.
Well, I can't say it's the best go home to a PPV, but it wasn't the worst either. That X Division match was just cracking. Because of that match, I'm really looking forward to Genesis. Sadly there's a lot of things I'm not looking forward to seeing at Genesis, but the worst is the possibility of Jeff Hardy walking out Champ. Mostly I hope that the wrestling at Genesis is better than it was on this episode of Impact that only had one really good match. Keeping my fingers crossed!