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Sunday, 17 January 2010

TNA thoughts after lacklustre big Impact follow-up

Jeff Jarrett walked into Hulk Hogan’s office on TNA Impact this week. During their chat, which I will talk more about, Eric Bischoff interjected, and said that without Dixie Carter, TNA would have been a ‘blip’. Whether that sentiment is correct or not, I have to say that on the subject of blips, I have to hope that this week’s Impact was a ‘blip’.

Sorry, but I didn’t care for at all.

No, that’s not quite true. There were elements I liked.

I liked when Flair and Angle shook hands during the main event. I liked the Young Bucks v Motor City Machine Guns. I like Daniels better as heel (Huge “but” on this one, more later). I liked the intrigue about Mick Foley’s whereabouts. I liked the fact that AJ ignored the Kurt Angle handshake to lead to some actual bitterness before their world title match. I liked the Angelina face turn and how it was received. I liked Krystal Lashley on the mic again. I like Wolfe getting a win, finally. (Another huge “but” attached. I’ll elaborate, stick with me). I thought Jarrett was good in his segment with Hogan. I liked Flair on commentary.

But there was so, so much I didn’t like. These are in no particular order, they are just as they come to me, but they are things that chronically annoyed me about the booking and make-up of a follow-up edition of a show which got it’s highest ever rating last week, and is promoting a PPV this week.

“Can you hear the band, Fernando?”

The show was called “The Band”. This was a reference to Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Sean Waltman’s group now being referred to by that epithet, because they obviously can’t be the nWo any more.

I thought there were several things wrong with their portrayal. I didn’t care for the fact that Christy Hemme referred to “Syxx-Pac”. Is he “Syxx Pac” or is he Sean Waltman?

I didn’t like how Bubba the Love Sponge was dressed, since it was just like The Band. So is he a Band member? No, because he was asking them challenging questions. A petty thing, but it was unnecessary.

Mainly, though, I didn’t like a) why they are there, and b) their association with Eric Bischoff. I ought to elaborate more on Bischoff right now.

I thought Eric, in standalone segments, was great. He is a superb on-air character, and pretty much always has been so. The problem here is that we don’t know what to think of him. He has pretty much always been a heel, so anyone who is educated to know his existence is inclined to think of him as a heel. Hogan, meanwhile, is a de facto babyface, and has been since his match with The Rock, so his association with Bischoff blurs the picture.

Jeff Jarrett, possibly making up for January 4, cut a very good heel promo in my opinion. He also had a lawyer with him, which is a dead giveaway. Therefore, when Hogan and Bischoff responded to him, they were babyface. I have no problem with that.

Switch, for a second, to Beer Money. Beer Money are Over, folks. Very over. They shift more merchandise than anyone else in TNA. The fans LOVE them. They are babyfaces, and they made babyface sense when pleading their case to management for a match with Hall and Nash, who they believed attacked them last week. That’s all fine.

But Eric was seemingly opposed to them. Again, that’s fine, but it was slightly at odds with his portrayal during the Jarrett segment.

Next, you have Beer Money in a match which gets called off due to outside interference, and then The Band come down to take down Beer Money. After a beatdown, Eric Bischoff told Beer Money to be careful what they wish for, and went on to book Hall and Nash v Beer Money, but seemed to be pally with The Band.

So is Eric is a babyface or a heel? All this would actually an intriguing aspect of the storylines, but it isn’t mentioned at all. You don’t hear Tenay and Taz wondering about Eric’s status, you just hear buttlicking about how Bischoff will change the company – which makes him a babyface, surely. It’s too confusing.

On another note involving The Band and Beer Money, it was suggested by Storm and Roode that Hall, Nash and Waltman were responsible for laying out everyone backstage on Jan 4 (I thought it was Lashley, but that’s my speculation rather than TV exposition). This wasn’t confirmed, so may be twisted later on, but that was the strong inference.

So, then, it makes sense that Beer Money would demand a match. Good booking.

But why didn’t the Machine Guns demand a match? Or Rhino? They were laid out too. You’d think Rhino, being a fiery character, would at least. Why didn’t anyone come to help Beer Money when they were down 3 to 2 in the beatdown?

Finally on this, Beer Money v nash and Hall makes sense if Beer Money win. And I’m talking ultimately, not necessarily this Sunday. That said, they can’t lose clean to two old dudes, or it kills them totally.

Who’s being a chump as Champion? I am, I am!

I’m ok with Kurt Angle v AJ Styles for the World Title at Genesis. That’s fine. Some might argue that they gave the match away last week for free, but last week was a big match on a big night, to my mind the equivalent of a PPV. TNA have to maintain their recent standard of quality wrestling at PPVs, so this is a good addition. I don’t believe this is the key selling point of a PPV that promises action from Hogan and a mystery marquee debut.

I didn’t care for a lot of how AJ v Tomko was handled. I am happy with Tomko being the masked man, and I don’t even mind his reasoning. I had a problem with the booking for that night, mainly because it made AJ look like an idiot. Eric Bischoff asked him if he was aware he had a match in a few days for the World Title, and said it didn’t matter, basically. It makes him seem daft, although I’m sure it is supposed to be an attempt to make him seem like a valiant hero. It didn’t.

And then there are the segments with Tomko explaining his dislike for AJ. I’m cool with that, but when did they do the interviews? After Tomko attacked AJ? So they did the interview, cut it, edited it together, spliced in some action shots and put in a music bed? In about twenty minutes? Wow, that’s some amazing producers TNA have.

Oh, and didn’t Kurt and AJ hate each other a short while ago. That didn’t take long to evaporate, did it? I guess they are united in dislike for Jarrett and his relationship with Karen......

Heeellllllloooooooo, Jobber!

I want to point something out – I like Sean Morley. I have long thought he is a solid, sound wrestler with a reasonable gimmick. The thing is, he has never drawn money. It might be because he wasn’t given the chance, but I suspect he wasn’t given the chance because no-one believed he’d be able to do it.

He has come into TNA basically as Val Venis, but under his own name. Even his music and entrance video sound and look like Venis. Has that been a formula for success? Not for ten years, if ever. He is known to all and sundry as a jobber, frankly.

Now I’m not opposed to them changing that status in TNA, but change the character. Hell, make him Right to Censor Val, and have him condemn TNA’s debauchery, then get his ass kicked.

Trying to make him a babyface that can hang with Daniels just feels wrong. Daniels could be used as a strong X-Div champion to raise that division’s status once again, and while I like his return to being a heel, it doesn’t seem right that he has to be on a par with Venis/Morley.

Why would the fans cheer him over Daniels? Why would the loyal fans in the Impact Zone who chant “TNA! TNA!” and then hope the blow-in Morley bests Daniels? Why should we believe he can hang with Daniels?

And the last point is the worst. I think Val Venis standing toe to toe with Daniels says “even the guys who suck in WWE are as good as some of the top guys in TNA” and that is terrifically worrying.

Joe’s gonna.......get killed?

I believe that if you polled everybody in the Impact Zone on a random week and asked for their favourite wrestlers in the company, you’d find the top three being Kurt Angle, AJ Styles and Samoa Joe. That’s pure speculation, but I don’t think it’s wildly out there.

If Kurt and AJ are main eventing and fighting for the title, what is happening to Samoa Joe? I tell you what is happening – he is losing matches with no fanfare in five minutes. That’s very worrying.

The thing is with issues like this is that we don’t know what happens backstage. There may have been major political reasons for this, and it may be Joe’s fault. My experience with him suggests otherwise, but I don’t know the man as well as I know other wrestlers in the company. But the Joe I have been around backstage at TNA is a laid-back sort of guy, albeit one that wouldn’t take any you-know-what.

So, taking to one side the fact that it may be slightly deserved (we don’t know), it cannot be right that Joe is receiving such a de-push. Admittedly his title run didn’t take off like some may have thought, but he is a highly-skilled wrestler and among the best the company has.

I don’t have an issue with him losing to Desmond Wolfe, by the way. But in a fifteen minute match, at least as a TV main event and maybe on PPV. Not without hype, in a throwaway segment used simply for Wolfe to shout at D’Angelo Dinero.

I wouldn’t mind if the show was jam packed with great stuff, but we probably spent ten minutes with Team 3D and the Nasty Boys.

This is, and I apologise for the near-profanity, SAMOA.......F’N........JOE!!

Eighteen months ago this was the TNA champion v the ROH champion. That could have been a big deal. Neither man is anywhere near washed up, so although they don’t have gold, it ought to be something meaningful. If they are doing a Pope v Wolfe feud, why aren’t they simply having a Joe v Wolfe feud? Both Pope and Wolfe are (relatively) new to TNA, and I don’t see the benefit with them feuding with each other.

On this subject, I just don’t get the Pope character at all. For one, I think he’s a natural heel, not a babyface. Two, I hate the third person “faux-Rock” shtick. Three, it’s a ludicrous, borderline offensive name, and I am in no way a religious person.

Random Annoyances

Amazing Red v a mystery opponent at Genesis - ok, but that was the first time the X-Division champion (who should be the second most important champion in the company) was mentioned in the whole show. That’s poor, and there has been zero hype for a mystery opponent. I can only assume it’s Shannon Moore and the reasoning for the surprise that no-one will buy the PPV to see Shannon Moore, but might for a surprise. Or at least another surprise.

Why wasn’t Flair’s involvement on Impact hyped way before he actually appeared?

Please tell me it was just my ears playing tricks with me when I thought I heard piped cheers during Impact. Please.

I don’t like the idea that all and sundry are publicly saying “we’re going to be really good now” which actually implies that you sucked before. That’s a bit WCW-like. Scarily WCW-like.

If you are not going to mention Jeff Hardy by name, why put him in the promo videos?

Some other points – not necessarily negative. It’s not all bad!

These are mainly questions and pieces of speculation.

Firstly, we have to look at who the big surprise is this Sunday, and how they will be involved. Will they simply turn up and wave, perhaps cut a promo, or will they appear in the main event to get involved.

If the decision is the latter, then I think that’s wrong. If everybody knows that a big star is debuting, but he hasn’t appeared before the main event, then we know he is going to interfere.

That hypothesis would also point to a heel, but all the leading names seem to be a babyface......except one.

The main three candidates are surely Goldberg, Ken Anderson and Rob Van Dam. I really hope it isn’t Goldberg. That doesn’t make fiscal sense, because the money they would need to tempt him out of retirement will be big, and they won’t make that money back in the amount of people switching their TV on, buying house tickets and ordering PPVs.

That isn’t to say that the other two won’t come cheap, but they would bring different fan bases. I think Goldberg fans are watching TNA already, or they have, in their eyes, grown out of wrestling and moved into MMA. RVD fans might be more hardcore who sniff at TNA but might be attracted now their hero is there, while Kennedy/Anderson marks might be more traditionally WWE who wonder over to TNA to see what’s going on.

I think the best would be RVD, but of those three the most likely is Anderson. I thin RVD v Styles is a big draw, and that RVD v Angle, RVD v Wolfe and RVD v Joe are very interesting. I’m sure he could have fun bouts with Lethal, Daniels and others given the chance. I’m not sure Anderson has quite the same cache or quality in the ring. Plus he brings a lot of baggage.

One more shout, though – I think it could be Sid. Hogan would think he’s a major star because he headlines Wrestlemania against him. I am perfectly aware that it was 18 years ago, but that might not matter to Hogan. He has apparently been talked up by Scott Hall of late, and fits the recent trend of bringing in older talent from another era.


After seeing Jarrett and Hogan/Bischoff have a set tout, does that mean there will be a battle down the line for control of the company?

Foley was built strongly the Impact prior to this as someone who seriously hated Bischoff and didn’t care for Hogan. Now Jarrett is in the opposite corner. Eric told both men to get in line with everyone else. Jarrett could easily enlist Foley and have the two of them versus Hogan plus one for control of TNA. I’m saying would be great, but it’s possible. It happened in WCW all the time.


Does Tomko figure into the Genesis main event? I can see him attacking AJ to hand the title to Kurt. I hope not, really, because I don’t think Kurt ought to turn again so quickly.

Another suggestion is that Flair might help AJ cheat and they both turn heel, but again I don’t care for that. Ditto Flair doing the same with Angle.

I definitely think Kurt will win, since the “no more title shots” claim is ludicrous. I would like to see Kurt win, whether by fair means or foul, and then for he and AJ to have a best of (x amount) series, with a variety of different matches. Not Russo specialty “on a pole” matches, but a submission match, a No DQ bout, maybe Falls Count Anywhere, a cage, a ladder match. That would be great fun to watch, and hasn’t been done for a major belt for a long time.


Who was Bischoff on the phone to? “I’ll see you next week” – does he mean the PPV or Impact? Not being hyped so much, will it mean a lesser star debuting? You could start thinking back to his WCW days and note DDP or Bagwell or some such name turning up, but it ought to be remembered that he was in WWE for over nearly four years, so feasibly anybody that was on Raw during his tenure (2002-2006) could have been on the other end of the phone.

How about Nick Dinsmore? He was on the Hulkamania tour, and it would follow storylines where he was Eric’s nephew. Just throwing it out there.

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