I have to admit that I'm not overly impressed with the signing of Rampage. I have not been one to follow the UFC, so I know very little about the man, but his age alone has me worried. When Brock returned to the WWE he was coming from the UFC, but he had a huge amateur and pro wrestling background. Rampage has his MMA history, and his kick boxing history, but he's never worked professional wrestling, and that's a whole other entity unto itself. I worry that trying to train Rampage, especially at his age, could be a lesson in futility. I could be absolutely wrong, and I hope I am, but I worry that this could end badly. That's all I'm going to say about that at this time.
Doug Williams was released by TNA and I'm quite sad about this. I'm a huge Williams fan, as I've said many times before, so I'm really bummed that we won't be seeing him on TV any time soon. Until his release I was still holding out hope that he would return to TNA TV. Now I have to hope that he's booked in a local show so I can see him live. This release really feels like a finishing move to my hopes of seeing Williams again.
Speaking of finishers, I didn't really closely watch a lot of Slammiversary. I missed the first couple matches because I took Sam to the local WWE house show (if you didn't read about the fun we had, and who we got to meet, check out this week's RAW Is Blogged). It was the right decision to hit the house show over Slammiversary, both because of the great time Sam had, but also because of how my health has been these past couple weeks. There's no way I could have driven back that distance with how I've been feeling, so I'm glad I did right by Sam. But the finisher I was most floored by at Slammiversary was Taryn. I didn't see the whole match, but I saw the end of the match and I'm completely blown away. I have been talking about how impressive she's been recently, and even spoke to Alex and Richard about how to get an interview with her, but what she pulled out at Slammiversary left me in shock. That young lady has come so far from being GM for WWECW. Keep your fingers crossed that I can land an interview!
Video > B-
Recapping a PPV like this deserves a better grade than the average C I usually give opening videos. This was a really solid opening video, I'm impressed.
In Ring Segment > B+
Hogan as Michael Jackson! Honestly, it took me a moment to remember why he was wearing the glove, but once I remembered it made complete sense. I loved the verbal interaction between Hogan and Bully. Normally I complain about Hogan taking up way too much time on mic, but this one didn't bother me at all. In fact, I really enjoyed him in this segment. Yes, I really enjoyed Hogan here. I wonder what was different – him or me? What didn't make sense was why they're running with a Russo-esque match!
Video > B
This was a great setup for the BFG Series. As long as they don't overplay the video, I'll be thrilled.
Backstage Segment > D+
This was not a great segment between Chavo and Hernandez. Chavo came off a bit stiff, and Hernandez was just terrible.
Video > A
Okay, it was more of a commercial than a video, but I need to say something about it. I rip on what some of the Knockouts and Divas wear from time to time (and will later in the BZ), but those women looked stunning in the photos shown here. I ran across some pictures of Mickie from this shoot online this past weekend and was somewhat impressed, but seeing more of the Knockouts really pulled the shoot together for me. Kim looked better than I've ever seen her – dang! But it was ODB who looked really soft and pretty, not her normal raunchy self, and I think it's really cool to see her look so different, almost sweet.
BFG Series Qualifier - Chavo vs Hernandez > C+
I have to admit that I wasn't overly impressed, but I haven't been overly impressed with how these two have been booked. I really feel for both of them, but especially Chavo. I expected them to do so much more with Chavo when he came into TNA, yet here he is going under his own partner to be kept out of the BFG Series. I hope things get better for Chavo because he's really been booked to look lackluster recently, that this match looked that much worse.
Winner – Hernandez (4:58)
Backstage Segment > B
That was a nice little segment with Rampage coming in and seeing some of the boys. I have to admit that it worked well.
In Ring Segment > B+
Devon just doesn't come off as a heel anywhere near as well as Bully. I was floored when Joseph attacked Devon the way he did. Actually, I'm loving how they're booking Joseph and Abyss, but I've loved this storyline and how Chris has worked the characters all along. Jesse said he thought Joseph was going to blade when he went down outside after hitting the post, but maybe he didn't need to as he was bleeding from the mouth when he stood. That Joseph was bleeding, saw the blood, then started changing, it's obvious that he will be changing into Abyss later in the show.
Backstage Segment > C
Yay, they were looking for Abyss.
Robbie E vs Samoa Joe > C+
Robbie looks like he raided Taryn's dressing room. That's the best thing I can say about Robbie here. Joe looked fantastic, but it sucks that he was booked against such a pathetic competitor. That's the best grade I can give this match, and it's all for Joe.
Winner – Joe (1:42)
Video > F
I am really unhappy about the TNA HOF. I adore Angle, and think he absolutely deserves it, but there's others who really should be ahead of Angle on the list. Heck, Angle should be high on WWE's HOF list! I know it's all politics, but it still is really wrong.
Video > C
I hope Mickie is able to carry this heel turn.
Backstage Segment > B-
Still not sure about Mickie's turn. She still felt a bit too plastic here, and not plastic in the way that works. She just isn't digging deep enough, isn't giving it enough anything, isn't making it believable. Velvet kept the segment from nosediving.
Video > A
That was a lovely video for Angle, and don't blame Angle for how the TNA HOF announcement went down. Angle was humble, cordial, professional, and did a beautiful thing in mentioning Jeff Jarrett in his speech. Angle showed true heart when he spoke, and that's why he's so much more than one of the best wrestlers in the industry, that's why he's also a good guy. He and Jarrett have quite a history, but he did the right thing at Slammiversary.
In Ring Segment > B+
As much of a bad idea as I think this is, putting Angle in the ring to get in Rampage's face was the perfect way to do this. Even if Rampage doesn't work out, and even if Angle isn't still with TNA when Rampage makes it to the ring, they had a solid moment in the ring to look back at when and if Rampage actually makes it to the ring on Impact.
Backstage Segment > B-
I will admit that this was a solid little segment for Hardy. I think what made it that much better was we didn't have to listen to his thoughts.
Backstage Segment > B+
I have to say that I really enjoyed this segment between Bully and Anderson. I'm still not sure that Anderson isn't a mole, and that niggling thought made this segment that much more interesting. Bully said he was going to do something about none of A&8's being in the BFG Series, but he never did. Also, why would anyone from A&8's be in the BFG Series? None of them are top wrestlers who would go after the TNA Title, and how would Bully react if any of his boys came after his strap? That whole thing didn't work very well, but the chemistry between Bully and Anderson is tasty!
6 Man Tag Match – Roode & Aries & King vs Storm & Gunner & Sabin > B+
I missed this match the first time around (dealing with a troll in the Open Thread Party), so I went back to watch it again. There was no way I wasn't going to give these guys my full attention. I adore, and respect, five of the guys in this match, and I wanted to see just what they gave in the ring. The first thing I noticed in this match was how much I miss Todd Keneley! Taz and Tenay on announce were terribly annoying and distracting in this match. But then I mentally blocked them out and I was in love! Sabin looked great in the match, but it really came alive for me when Storm came in and worked with his former partner Roode. Aries looked sick from his first move. He was on his mark in everything he hit in that ring. Storm looked great working through the pain, and it was obvious that he was hurting, but his partner came in to really show why they're going to amazing together. Having Sabin tie it all up in a neat bow, or at least King into a neat bow, was a fitting end to it all.
While watching this match the first time through, Stacy commented that 'jumping DDT' was a rather lame name for the move Sabin hit just before his finisher in this match. He thought that something that looked that cool should have a much better name. I love watching wrestling with someone who's so new to it all. He brings a smile to my face and brings me back to earth when I start getting a little too absorbed in my writing.
Winners – Sabin & Storm & Gunner (6:34)
Backstage Segment > C
Still, that was all of nothing. I understand why they're showing it, but it's barely worth the time.
Video > B+
I'm still blown away by what Taryn did!
Backstage Segment > B
I liked how Brooke talked about the little ref she hired, and how she didn't know Taryn had that in her. I don't think any of us did, and I'm blown away. I wasn't thrilled when she came to TNA – boy, was I wrong! I also like the way Taryn asked Brooke about Bully. Those little moments are just setting up for what's to come. I'm loving the slow and methodical way they're going about this. Not rushing it, and the tension is fantastic!
Knockouts Division Title Match – Mickie vs Taeler > B
I said I was going to be a bit mouthy about what one of the Knockouts was wearing, and that's Taeler. Don't get me wrong, the girl has a body that I would love! She's a great looking girl, but that outfit emphasized a few issues rather than making her look that much better. I will say that she doesn't look as fit as she did in her Gut Check match (I went and looked), but that's easy to work around. It's all about dressing for her body, and that outfit doesn't work for her. I'd love to dress the girl for the ring! Sorry, that was my dream job for many, many years, and Taeler would be so much fun to work with, and she is from up here in New England...
Since I completely trashed the poor girl's outfit on her second televised match, I have to come back and say how impressed I was with her ring work. Taeler's ring work looked leaps and bounds better than she looked in her Gut Check match. I'm very impressed with her improvement in the ring. Actually, I see no reason that she shouldn't be with the Knockouts full time at this point.
Winner – Mickie (3:46)
Backstage Segment > A-
Short, sweet, and to the point. I'm sure I will catch crap for this, but I'm so excited about this storyline and both of Parks' characters right now!
Video > B+
I can't give Taryn a solid grade for the video of her work and not give Sting the same. Sting impresses the heck out of me each time he steps in the ring. That man can go better than most men half his age!
Video > C
I can see why they recapped this video. It makes a lot of sense because of what it is.
Hanging Hammer Ladder Match – Jeff Hardy vs Bully Ray > A-
I was not thrilled about this match when it was announced at the start of the show. It was bringing me back to the horrors of Russo, but as usual, Bully and Hardy made the match fantastic! That Bully went this hard so soon after Slammiversary really impresses me. I don't know how this match continues to work at this level after all these years. They just keep pulling out these stellar matches that leave us all in awe, and that's something so few wrestlers can do after so many years and so many matches.
Normally I'm put out by comments like this, but I was about on the floor laughing when Bully was yelling, 'Taz, my balls!' I don't usually find things like that funny, but it's the way Bully did it that had me reeling. It was the perfect silliness added into all the sick work they did in that ring.
And as much as I whine and complain about Hardy, he worked dang hard in that ring. He really left it all out there, as he does almost every time he's in the ring, and every time he's in the ring with Bully. Further, Hardy proved that one thing that I think makes great wrestlers outstanding – the ability to look like you're healthy when you're hurt, and look like you're hurt when you're healthy. I'm paraphrasing, but it's something I read in Lita's book all those years ago when it first came out, right around when I first started writing about wrestling, and it's really stuck with me as something that while so small, is such an integral part of pro wrestling. Hardy nailed it here.
Winner – No Contest (16:44)
Backstage Segment > A
This was another of those perfect little moments that is just one tiny step down the path of something huge. TNA is really playing with us, taunting us, giving us this storyline in tiny little bits, and it's working. They built A&8's this way, and they're continuing on this path with the storyline and it's working beautifully.
I have to agree with the ever fantastic Alex Barie about this being a really great episode of Impact. It seemed as though most everything fell into place. Not everything was perfect as the first two matches were stinkers, but much of the rest of the show was leaps and bounds better than most of what we've seen the past couple weeks on Impact. I don't know if it's everyone working off the high of Slammiversary, or what, but I hope it stays around as they go into the BFG Series. TNA has hit upon something wonderful with that tourney, and they have brought interest to summer pro wrestling. I'm actually really excited for next week's Impact after this episode. I might even break down and read the spoiler, I'm that excited about it!
All that being said about Impact, I wanted to wait until I watched the show to respond to the release of Todd Keneley. When he first appeared on announce, I will fully admit that I wasn't at all impressed. He just didn't seem to fit in very well, but that very quickly changed and he really tempered Taz and Tenay. He made the two of them much more bearable. Watching this episode of Impact I was quickly reminded of how much I really did enjoy Keneley on announce, and he's already sorely missed.