Wrestling’s 4R’s Friday Edition 3.12.10: Raw, Impact and NXT Reviewed!
By: Jeremy Thomas
Eve, Triple K & Gail Kim d. Maryse, Katie Lea Burchill and Alicia Fox [*]
John Morrison & R-Truth went to a no-contest with Show Miz [DUD]
Legacy d. Randy Orton [* ¾]
Evan Bourne d. William Regal [¾*]
Vince McMahon and Everything But The Kitchen Sink d. John Cena [* ¾]
RAISING THE STAKES: Raw kicked off in my hometown of Portland, Oregon with the ominous sounds and smoke-filled entrance of the Dead Man. Sadly, by the time he was done there was only ten minutes left of the show. Seriously though, this was actually a pretty quick entrance for Taker as he hit the ring and got on the mic. He talked about what happened last week with Shawn losing for DX and how it was a symptom of what had happened to Shawn since he lost at ‘Mania XXV. Taker stumbled a little early on in the promo, which of course I’m never happy to see, but he recovered quickly and talked about how this year there would be no celebration and no victory, but a dark cloud that would hang over him for the rest of his life. Before he could get the full “Rest in Peace” out though, Shawn came down to the right in serious mode and said Taker hadn’t earned the right to finish his line. Shawn said that after last week, the cloud was gone because he’d had an epiphany. He did what he had to do at the Chamber, but what Taker did, he didn’t have to. That proved to Shawn that the Dead Man had fear. Taker warned Shawn to choose his next words carefully, and Shawn busted out with “Fear!” I like how Shawn’s playing the unafraid guy, the guy who’s been revitalized by his obsession. He talked about proving how nothing last forever this year, and Taker questioned the confidence, asking whether it was desperation. This led into them setting a stipulation: No Countout, No Disqualification. I like this, because it means that most of the ways for them to cheat the ending are done and that definitely raises the stakes. Of course, it also means that outside interference could come into play. Outside of the Dead Man’s early gaffe, this was another great promo from the two of them. They both showed intensity—Taker was more animated and more passionate than I’ve heard him be in a while, and Shawn was his usual awesome self. Neither man really got one over on the other man here and the bar remained even between them, but it was certainly raised. Did this top last week’s promo? No, not at all. But it was still very well-done and kept things building nicely to ‘Mania. That’s all I ask for.
SHOW MIZ vs. JOHN MORRISON & R-TRUTH: This match was coming on the heels of Truth and Morrison getting the shot at Show Miz’s tag titles for ‘Mania last week on SmackDown. We mercifully got very little of the terrible mashed-up Show Miz theme before Miz got on the mic and ran down the challengers in awesome fashion. Come on, you had to love him calling them the worst tag team title contenders since the Allied Powers. I did, at least. Miz said he’d rather face the Bushwhackers who were at least a “real team.” Nice touch of hypocrisy there. The crowd was solidly behind the challengers as usual, before we settled into the match and Morrison came out of nowhere while Truth and Miz were in in order to basement dropkick Show off the apron. This wasn’t a match, really; it was an opportunity for Morrison and Truth to get some credibility as a team so there was some actual heat to the ‘Mania match. If I were rating this in terms of wrestling, it would obviously be a wRong, but this built heat and credibility, and did it in the ring instead of via promos and the like. This was just what the feud needed and I’m okay with that.
SHORT & SWEET: Midway through the first hour, Josh Matthews was backstage with John Cena and mentioned that for the first time in his career, someone left him speechless last week. Cena said it was because Big Dave was correct; John can’t beat him. Or at least, he hasn’t. Cena ran down the broken neck and the other ways Big Dave has had his number, and said the only thing he could do is go out there and beat him. Josh asked if Cena anticipated Big Dave getting involved tonight, and Cena said he was counting on it. I really appreciated this promo from John and wanted to let it stand on its own, because it was a very different promo than we usually hear from the champ. Cena typically has two speaking modes: joking around or super-intense yelling. This was a different Cena. He was quieter and calmer…almost reserved and unsure. It really sold the story of this feud, that Cena hasn’t beaten Big Dave yet and doesn’t know if he can. This, of course, means that the Champ is becoming the champ at ‘Mania, because that’s how the story should play out, but it’s helping make the build interesting. I appreciate that.
THE GAME AND THE CELTIC WARRIOR FACE OFF: So we’ve been shaping up the ‘Mania card since the night after the Chamber ended, and this appears to be one of the last major pieces to fully fall into place. We got a recap of Sheamus punking out ‘H last week during the H-Man’s entrance, and then Hunter got on the mic to address the issue. ‘H said he kind of respected what Sheamus did last week because if someone had humiliated and put him down, he’d want to make a statement too. That’s all he got before the Red-and-White made his way down to the ring. Sheamus got into the right and we had the traditional and necessary stare down before Sheamus took the microphone.
Aww, they’re holding hands. Sheamus said something about how he was going to make a statement off the Game at ‘Mania, and question the H-Man’s guts. Hunter then gave props to Sheamus for having one of the best years ever, but reminded Sheamus he hasn’t been to the Dance yet which means he’s accomplished nothing. Um…okay. The WWE Championship says hello, Hunts. Hunter then talked about how he was undefeated until he got reamed by the Ultimate Warrior (okay, he didn’t mention him by name, but we know who he meant). Hunter talked about the few who have beaten the Game at ‘Mania and have become something great, and the many who have lost and became nothing. Basically, this was about Hunter daring Sheamus to take the chance, and Sheamus answering back without fear. This was an important thing to do, because Sheamus does need that little extra thing to make him WrestleMania-worthy. Being unafraid of the kind of stakes that Hunter put up was that very thing, and I appreciated how it played out. Now, it wasn’t the greatest promo in the world, by either men. I don’t like Hunter putting down Sheamus’s accomplishments, and Sheamus didn’t have a lot to say here. But it accomplished what it needed to and I’m happy with that.
SIX-DIVA TAG TEAM MATCH: Our opening match after the Taker/Shawn promo had Eve, Triple K and Gail Kim taking on Maryse, Katie Lea Burchill and Alicia Fox. The poor heels didn’t even get their entrance shown. Gail started out the match with Alicia and controlled the match until a distraction from Katie Lea let her take control, upon which Maryse came in. We learned from Vintage Cole that Eve is a Rubik’s Cube expert and likes salsa dancing. What is this, the prep work for a new Playboy spread? As a Butterfly Division match, this was actually not bad at all. The Divas were mostly on their game here and outside of Alicia botching a shoulder to the gut early on, nothing was botched. Sadly, with the Raw ladies “only one botched move” makes for a pretty good match by comparison. In all honestly this was far from great but I can happily give it a pass because it got a new face in contention for the title in Eve, who is probably the best choice in terms of in-ring work besides Gail who just lost her shot. This was certainly not great and really not even good, but it put Eve over pretty well so I can go with that and give this a pass.
JOHN CENA vs. VINCE McMAHON (& VLADIMIR KOZLOV, DREW McINTYRE, JACK SWAGGER, MARK HENRY & BATISTA): Just a nice, normal one-on-one match in the main event…you know how it is. This was coming off last week’s promise by Vince that he was going to beat Bret Hart’s biggest fan in John Cena in the middle of the ring, and that’s exactly what we got. Of course, he had just a wee bit of help. Criss Angel did the ring announcing, and did a piss-poor job of it, sounding like the sixteen-year-old lead singer of a no-talent garage band, complete with his voice breaking. After Vince got the mic and Angel split, the Boss made fun of Bret and told him to watch as Vince beat Cena, non-illusory, right in the ring. And to do that, out came the Rogue’s Gallery. First was Kozlov, who started off strong against Cena before he tagged in Vince and the Boss got a two-count. I liked that they actually put the Koz over strongly, because he could have been buried here but took it to Cena nicely. McIntyre was next and he got his moment to do the same; again the Champ wouldn’t go down. Vince got pissed and called down Swagger, who didn’t fare quite as well. By the time we came back from commercial, Cena was in control and Swagger had to battle back and take over. Of course, that wasn’t enough so it was Mizark’s turn, who probably could have beat John but wasn’t feeling it and stopped Vince from using the ring bell. That brought out Big Dave, who got involved after promising not to. That brought out Kofi and he took it to Dave before he got flattened, and Cena fought back before the Manmal and Vince proved too much and Vince got the pin.
So, there was a lot I liked about this. I appreciated that they put over the undercard guys that fought Cena. Kozlov looked good, Drew looked good (if for only a brief appearance), and Swagger came back from break weakly but fought back. These guys would be crushed most of the time against a guy like Cena, even in a gauntlet match. Here, they looked—well, not like main eventers, but hardly weak either. On the other hand, I hated them teasing that the Manimal wasn’t getting involved when we all knew he was. You have to convince us that something isn’t going to happen for it to be shocking. The ‘E didn’t even make an effort at it here. Some people will bitch about Vince beating Cena, but come on. That was neither an attempt to recapture the Stone Cold/Vince era, nor was it an attempt to say Vince could beat a main eventer. It was a heat-building segment and it did exactly that. I didn’t love this one bit, because as a match it was too start-stop and didn’t really do anything and the booking was middle of the road. But I didn’t hate it either.
LEGACY vs. RANDY ORTON: Yes, all of you people who have been complaining about me calling them “Priceless” can rest easy…at least for this week. We’ll see how my mood changes next week, they may just become Flabberscnackle. This week Ted and Cody were taking on their mentor in a handicap match, and Orton got smart by coming from behind to attack them during their entrance. I liked this because it fit’s Orton’s character nicely as a guy who doesn’t play by the rules—face or not—but also gives him a chance to even the odds just a bit. Once the match came, we had a typical handicap match. The hero fights the odds and starts to lose ground due to the numbers, but always makes the comeback. Now see, this is the problem with the WWE and their use of handicap matches. They’re great for squash matches in order to build someone up. If they wanted to have Batista wipe the mat with Kung Fu Naki and Jimmy Wang Yang, I’d have no issue with it. But if you use it in a feud, you’re not doing it any favors. Because the whole point of a handicap match is to put the face over for battling the odds. That will make the heels look like bitches, guaranteed, and that’s what happened here. Legacy beat Orton, but only because it was a two-on-one fight. Clearly, they can’t beat him otherwise, and so no one wants to see a one-on-one match. Why would they? Of course, it didn’t help that the match was dull as dishwater, with Ted and Cody going at half-speed and Orton giving it a decent go but failing to make the match interesting enough on his own. What’s worse, we still don’t know where this is going—or hell, if it’s even going anywhere at this point.
EVAN BOURNE vs. WILLIAM REGAL: Christian and Heath Slater were at commentary while Evan Bourne took on William Regal for the “last” Money in the Bank shot. The crowd was actually kind of dead for Bourne as he came to the ring, and Regal had a moderate reaction at best. Christian did a good job on commentary as can be expected while the two locked it up in the ring…for less than two minutes before Bourne got the win. The story of match was basically Regal beating on Bourne until the big two-move comeback for the pinfall. Frankly, there was nothing to this match and like those of Swagger and MVP’s, it should have gotten SOME time. I’m sure Angel could have made himself disappear long enough to add some time here, but alas.
DID YOU KNOW?: Nope. And, as always, I don’t care.
MINDFREAK: Okay, I will get my bias out of the way right here and now. I hate Criss Angel. I think that he’s not all that talented of an illusionist, and I think he’s a world-class douche on top of it. He comes across to me like the Pussycat Doll of stage magic: all style, no substance. So needless to say, I was not looking forward to his appearance on the show and people who may be fans of his will probably disagree heavily with my thoughts here. Basically, he spent most of the night doing silly magic tricks backstage like pulling a string though his mouth and out his eye, and slurping his way along with it. Yeah, that’s what I look for when I want to see a wrestling segment. That brought in Jillian Hall who wanted to sing his introduction when he came out, and he made her lose her voice. Okay, I will definitely give him credit for that one. He did have a little more involvement in a kayfabe standpoint than Cheech and Chong did last week, as he apparently gave Bourne and Regal their shots in the Money in the Bank match; on the down side, it meant that Bourne got promo time. I’m sorry but I cringe whenever he tries to speak. Skip Sheffield then acted like a moron and got insulted by Regal, and then Angel played “guess the number.” Yeah, because that’s remotely exciting on a scripted show…especially when he was basically cold reading like that douche “medium” John Edwards does, except Angel did it blatantly. And then he did a cup magic trick with Santino that went on for way too long. Yeah, I can’t see how anyone is going to defend this whole thing. It was stupid and Angel is still a douche. Only this time, he’s a douche that took up far too much time on Raw.
Honestly, this wasn’t one of my favorite Raws at all as of late. The wrestling was crap and the segments didn’t build to ‘Mania as well as they have lately. But by the same token, they got things done. Hunter vs. Sheamus is now officially set, and Truth and Morrison look credible as a tag team and challengers to the titles. Taker and Shawn is coming along nicely and the rest…well, I could have done without it. Yes, especially the Mindfreak. This was purely a middle of the road Raw and I can’t give it a solid recommendation.
SHOW RATING: 6.0
No comment responses this time around due to an impromptu covering of NXT as Michael Bauer was tied up at work. They’ll be back next week though!
By: Chad Nevett
Hulk Hogan & Abyss wrestled Ric Flair & AJ Styles to a no contest [1/2*]
Doug Williams (C) defeated Kazarian, and Daniels for the TNA X-Division Championship [***1/4]
Velvet Sky & Madison Rayne defeated Sarita & Taylor Wilde , and Tara & Angelina Love for the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship [*1/4]
Rob Van Dam defeated Sting [DUD]
Eric Young defeated Syxx-Pac [*]
Beer Money, Inc. defeated Jeff Jarrett in a handicap match [*1/2]
– Hulk Hogan & Abyss defeated Ric Flair & AJ Styles in a no disqualification match [**]
DOUG WILLIAMS (C) vs. KAZARIAN vs. DANIELS FOR THE TNA X-DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP: This began with a lackluster promo wherein Kazarian talked about making the X-Division great, Daniels continued his ‘I’ve been doing awesome shit forever and people need to remember that’ character, and Doug Williams was sort of there before Eric Bischoff put over the X-Division big time as the engine that keeps TNA running (hoping we’d forget that these guys have been lucky to get four minutes a week for cramped, rushed matches) and booked the three in a match for the X-Division title. Ignoring that, which was passable, this segment turned out to be the best part of the show with a good match. It began a little cutesy with the repeated roll-up attempts, but took off from there. As the match progressed, the spots looked smoother and more organic, and less like everyone working together to make a high spot look cool, which is good. I love the X-Division style, but only when it doesn’t look too rehearsed and after the first minute or so, not much in this match looked that way. Doug Williams was a bit of the odd man out, but that worked with the story. In three-way matches, there are always periods where one guy is on the outside, allowing the other two to work together in a far more manageable way. Williams seemed to get sidelined a lot more than the other two, which is odd since he’s the champ, but it played into the rivalry of Daniels and Kaz, and allowed them to do some quicker, more aerobatic stuff. Williams is a bit more grounded, so isn’t ideal in that ‘let’s show off the X-Division style’ sort of match despite working well as the champ, if only because his differing style leads to more interesting matches. Williams retaining was the smart move, but the Shannon Moore run-in and subsequent title shot was really stupid. Moore got no reaction and has earned nothing. I liked his work in the WWE fine, but let’s see him prove himself a bit before getting a title shot at a PPV. After all, they did the same thing with Brian Kendrick and that didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Otherwise, the best match of the night and the best thing about the show.
DESMOND WOLFE TAKES OUT THE POPE: In preparation for their scheduled match, the Pope looked ready to cut another good promo on Ruffie… er, Desmond Wolfe, but it was cut short when Wolfe attacked the Pope, targeting his injured ankle and effectively canceling the match in the process. A short segment that made Wolfe finally look as dangerous as he’s said he is in his promos like a month or so back when he talked about injuring his opponents in matches given the chance. With the Pope needing a feud of some kind to hold him over until his title shot at Lethal Lockdown, continuing the antagonism between him and Wolfe is a smart move, especially with Wolfe being an unofficial ally of sorts to Styles and Flair.
THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE vs. SARITA & TAYLOR WILDE vs. TARA & ANGELINA LOVE FOR THE TNA KNOCKOUTS TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: So, the belts have been stripped off of Awesome Kong and Hamada for failure to defend in 30 days. I think it’s probably been quite a bit longer than just 30 days, but whatever. The real reason is Awesome Kong’s problems backstage that may or may not have led to her release (which may or may not have been at her own request). Of course, this leaves Hamada out in the cold, which is a shame because she’s great in the ring and practically carried the New Year’s Eve tournament. My biggest complaint here is that I would have liked to see them give Hamada a chance to win the belts with a new partner at the very least. Gee, if only Alyssa Flash was still with the company… Put the belts on the Beautiful People by all means, but seeing Hamada in the mix would have been great. The match as it was wasn’t anything special. Daffney’s interference made sense, but it comes off as a little lame that even with Lacey on the outside, the Beautiful People needed even more outside interference to win. Advancing the Daffney/Tara feud was a solid decision. And I imagine it will be another two months before we see Sarita and Taylor Wilde again, sadly.
ERIC YOUNG vs. SYXX-PAC: I’m somewhat surprised at how well this worked with Kevin Nash and Eric Young calling out Scott Hall and Syxx-Pac (why isn’t he just Sean Waltman?) and setting up a Destination X match where, if Nash and Young win, Hall and Pac are gone, but, if Pac and Hall win, they get TNA contracts. This led to Nash and Hall shaking hands, Young extending his hand and Pac slapping him. The ensuing brawl was broken up by security, but Bischoff came on the screen and told security to get Nash and Hall out of the ring, and he gave Young a “license to kill” and told him to “Slap that punk upside his bitch head.” The match was brief and not much of one, but Pac showed that he can still pull off some moves, while Young was nothing but rage and brutality, making him look like a million bucks. They chose the two guys wisely and teased the eventual full-length match well. Extra points for the “Hall is wasted” chants.
HULK HOGAN & ABYSS vs. RIC FLAIR & AJ STYLES TAKE 1: After hyping the first five minutes of the show, promising that something unbelievable was going to happen, that we just couldn’t miss the first five minutes of Impact, what we got was Hogan and Abyss coming out, basking in the cheers of the Impact Zone, and Hogan droning on with a promo that, once again, talked about how TNA is fantastic, how it’s a historic Impact, how people are talking, and basically saying nothing of any value or consequence. You don’t say how great you are, you show it, and, for the past two months, TNA has been much more tell than show. Having the Hogan & Abyss vs. Flair & Styles match kick things off was an interesting choice that was really just a tease as was evident from the match itself were, within a minute or two, all four men were in the ring, brawling… a great way to have Flair and Hogan return to ring, don’t you think? Then, the lights went down and there was Sting! Sting! STING! And… oh, he turned heel, because what the episode was lacking was a nonsensical swerve to kick things off. Considering that Styles and Flair had the upper hand, the point of Sting jumping in to help them eludes me. Styles and Flair did more damage before retreating and Hogan booked the match to restart later that night as a no disqualification match. The only thing that I liked about this was the promo Styles and Flair cut after the match where both men made the match restarting not seem like a big deal, because they just kicked Hogan and Abyss’s asses. An awful way to begin the show, so, of course, it’s also how the show would end…
KURT ANGLE AND SOME SOLDIERS BEAT UP MR. ANDERSON: Kurt Angle came out with a bunch of soldiers (or people dressed up as soldiers) and cut a rather cheap promo about Anderson spitting on the soldiers. This story wasn’t too bad, but bringing out soldiers took it over the top into cheesy territory. Anderson’s interruption was thankfully brief, leading to a brawl where he gained the upper hand and took off, only to be stopped on the ramp by some of the soldiers. I didn’t mind that, because it was keeping things between Angle and Anderson, but the ensuing beat-downs of Anderson by the soldiers after Angle kept tossing him out of the ring were awful. Really? Having US soldiers (or stand-ins for them) beating up an already injured man over and over again? Is that the image of the troops you want to project? I know what the goal was here, but they went too far in trying to achieve it.
BEER MONEY, INC. vs. JEFF JARRETT IN A HANDICAP MATCH: And here’s a ‘let’s throw a bunch of unrelated stories into one match and hope it works out okay’ while also turning Beer Money heel apparently. Eric Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett’s problems lead to a handicap match against Beer Money with Foley as the referee? Why Foley? Beer Money’s heel turn kind of makes sense, playing off of their promo two weeks back about being tired of being overlooked and underappreciated. It makes sense they’d want to go out and show that they can kick some ass, but volunteering for a handicap match with Jarrett seems excessive. The match itself was a wreck, mostly because Jarrett kept gaining the upper hand. Since it was a match where both Storm and Roode were in the ring at the same time, it needed to be quick. A token bit of offense that lasts ten seconds from Jarrett would have been enough to maintain his credibility, but by dragging it out, the number one contenders for the tag belts and, supposedly, one of the top tag teams in the business couldn’t put away a guy who’s still trying to recover after seven months on the bench? If ever there’s an excuse for a squash match, it’s this. But, no, Jarrett came back a few times until Foley decided to bring out the barb wire baseball bat as if that means anything anymore. Thankfully, Beer Money got the win after hitting DWI, but… yeesh.
STING vs. ROB VAN DAM: After his interference in the botched main event, Sting was confronted by Dixie Carter, demanding an explanation, so he goozled her and told her that he doesn’t owe her anything. As a result, she booked a match featuring a mystery opponent that they kept hinting would be Rob Van Dam. I dislike whenever Carter gets involved, because that’s what Hogan and Bischoff are for. Hell, I prefer it when there’s one on-screen boss/booker, but two isn’t too bad. Three is just… no. As for the match, this was the proper use of Rob Van Dam, oh yeah. I know that in my fantasy booking, my dream is to have him come out, hit two moves, have Sting willingly eat the pin so he can then beat Van Dam with a baseball bat until Hogan decides to come out, make the segment about him, and leave RVD in the ring, gasping for air, injured, and pretty much forgotten. But, hey, at least the surprise arrival of RVD boosted the ratings to a solid 1.07. Seriously, fans have been clamoring for Rob Van Dam to return to the WWE or TNA, for Mr. Monday Night to put on a great show every Monday night, and this is it? Sting versus Rob Van Dam is a never before seen match-up and teasing a real match with a short one is fine, but this was idiotic booking that made the segment about Hogan, not about RVD who should have been at the center of it. Yes, I know, in wrestling, surprise is more important than quality, but you know what’s more important than surprise? Money. And advertising the return of Rob Van Dam ahead of time is going to get viewers and that’s going to make money. Spike TV had the right idea by confirming his signing with TNA, but this could have been bigger than one quick, cheap pop that fizzled out into a long, dull, boring segment that focused on one guy who they spent the whole show telling us can’t wrestle anymore and a guy who didn’t even try to. Maybe it will work out with an actual Sting/Van Dam match in the future that will blow our minds, but until then… this was just bad.
HULK HOGAN & ABYSS vs. RIC FLAIR & AJ STYLES TAKE 2: NO DISQUALIFICATION: Main event time featuring a guy who apparently can’t wrestle and has the ref on notice to end the match should he not be able to take any more… who then kicked things off by kicking the crap out of Ric Flair in slow motion for the first five minutes of the match. It was a bloody mess (literally) that tried to get across passion and anger, but never did because neither Hogan nor Flair move quickly enough to get those ideas across. They could adapt their styles to suit their limitations, but that didn’t happen. That it was a no disqualification match made AJ Styles look like a moron as he stood nearby, hands in the air to show he’s not interfering while his apparent mentor was bleeding all over the Impact Zone. It’s no DQ! Why wouldn’t he attack Hogan? There’s no reason not to. Watching Hogan turn around Flair’s Irish whip was saddening. The Hulkamaniac inside of me cringed a little and a part of my childhood died. The dual Hulking out (or up or whatever you want to call it) by Abyss and Hulk didn’t bother me too much, because that was going to happen and the finish was good. That Black Hole Slam looked harsh and like something that would finish Styles off. The post-match brawl was unnecessary, though it continued the teasing of the Desmond Wolfe/Abyss feud and reminded us that, oh yeah, the Pope has something going on with Styles.
Then, it happened: Jeff Hardy came out. We haven’t seen him for two months (and four days), but he’s in the Impact Zone for reasons unknown and Spike cut off the feed before he could do his Swanton Bomb off the turnbuckle. It was ‘surprising,’ I guess, but in that nonsensical who gives a fuck sort of way. Why not advertise these surprise appearances in actual matches so people will watch to see them? Teasing possible appearances that are nothing more than a spot or two without any real rhyme or reason isn’t satisfying or quality. What would you be more inclined to watch: an episode that may feature Jeff Hardy in some unknown way maybe or an episode where you know he’s going to wrestle in a match? How can you expect people to tune in for these big names if you’re not going to advertise the big names? Fuck!
EVERYONE BEGS HOGAN NOT TO WRESTLE… AGAIN: Okay, when a big part of your show is people begging someone in the main event to not wrestle, because he’s too old and injured, you’re doing something wrong. When a big part of your show is people begging someone in the main event to not wrestle, because he’s too old and injured and it’s the truth? I don’t know what to call that. Every one of these segments worked to kill whatever interest anyone could possibly have in the main event, because no one wants to see Hulk Hogan go out as a feeble wreck and possibly seriously injure himself. What does reminding everyone that that’s a serious possibility gain you? It made me want to turn off Impact in case this was the night that Hogan got seriously injured and made a complete fool of himself. It’s just sad and pathetic when he’s making Earl Hebner promise to stop the match if it looks like he’s in over his head. Hogan is a goddamn legend and this is how he’s willing to present himself now?
There’s no question that Monday’s Impact was an exciting show, but the quality was severely lacking. Surprise appearances and swerves and teases and promises of explanations at a later date and needless turns do not equal quality. This was an episode that had, presumably, the full-time debuts of Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam and the closest we came to seeing either in a match was a ten-second two-move piece of shit! Where is the wisdom in relying on surprise than telling people that people they want to see wrestle are going to be wrestling and then putting them in matches? I don’t see it… and apparently neither did many people judging by the ratings. Spending most of the episode telling us that you aging legend (and supposed attraction) can’t wrestle when he’s in the main event is pure fucking stupidity. TNA keeps talking about how great the company is, how historic these shows are, and they deliver crap. Yes, there was excitement, but that quickly dissipated when 90% of the show was total crap and they spent their time building the show around Hogan instead of the fantastic young talent that can deliver stellar matches. When you’ve got the talent that TNA has, there’s no excuse for this.
SHOW RATING: 3.0
By: Jeremy Thomas
R-Truth & David Otunga d. The Miz and Daniel Bryan [** ½]
Heath Slater d. Carlito [**]
Justin Gabriel d. Wade Barrett [** ¼]
R-TRUTH & DAVID OTUNGA vs. THE MIZ AND DANIEL BRYAN: This match was put together as the “tag team match between the rookies and their pros who don’t get along.” Wacky feuding tag team partners! Vince Russo would be so proud. Truth and Otunga got their entrance first and the crowd popped for the rap of course, after which we got Striker outlining the voting process about the pros voting for the rookies and such. That brought out Daniel Bryan and the Miz, who obviously weren’t getting along by the distance they were keeping from each other; Vintage Cole pointed out that Seattle was Bryan’s hometown. This was actually smart booking as a tag match because not only was it the teams who don’t get along, as a recap showed it was also coming off John Morrison and Truth’s punking out of Show Miz on Raw. Miz got on the mic and gave Bryan a “pep talk,” which had the crowd booing hard. He pointed out that Bryan was 0-2 and hadn’t proven anything yet. Miz said that if Bryan got pinned tonight, he’d make sure the guy had no future in the WWE and would get him kicked off of NXT. Bryan started off with Truth, and we got Team Truth in control of the former American Dragon. The story here was obviously the tension between Bryan and Miz and the cohesion between Otunga and Bryan. This played out nicely and we had some good stuff from all involved. Bryan looked impressive in there once again, Otunga didn’t look bad at all and the pros led the match along nicely. The match saw Bryan look strong, but his team still lost. However, it was Miz who took the pin to Otunga thanks to the team dissention, which worked nicely. I dug this match quite a bit and like where they’ve got this going.
A LOOK AT: JUSTIN GABRIEL: I like these promos, because they do give the audience a chance to get to know these guys, and it does so in that semi-reality show way that gives this a competition-like feel. This week it was Justin Gabriel, and you know what? Damn if that Adam Lambert comparison wasn’t true, he looks a lot like the American Idol near-winner. Gabriel did fine here and came across as a good enough guy, even if it was a bit generic outside of “I’m South African.” This probably could have been better, but I felt it did a fine job of letting us get to know Matt’s rookie.
HEATH SLATER vs. CARLITO: This played off the bit last week where Carlito spit the apple in Heath Slater’s face. Slater’s promo was…not so much. It was okay and didn’t suck or anything, I just didn’t feel it all that much. But that’s the point of NXT, is to get these guys those kind of skills so I’m okay with that. Before the match, Carlito got on the mic and told Slater he should be honored he got spat on. This was nice stuff by Carlito to get the crowd behind Slater a bit here. Slater and Carlito did some pretty decent work here; it wasn’t as good as the opening match by any stretch, but they were proficient and worked fairly well against each other. One of the things I like about NXT is that the matches are told in a different manner than SmackDown and Raw, they’re given more time to develop the talent and build a story to the match. On Raw, these guys would have been given two, two and a half minutes maximum but they got almost seven minutes and did well with it. The win by Slater gets him a bit of credibility and that’s what they should be doing. Good stuff here.
WADE BARRETT vs. JUSTIN GABRIEL: Earlier in the show we had a little promo segment where Matt put Gabriel over for being the first rookie to beat a pro. Gabriel sounded a bit unpolished, like he was reading lines, but it wasn’t terrible work. That brought in Chris Jericho and Wade Barrett. Y2J put Gabriel’s win last week over but said he was going down this week to Barrett. Good enough stuff, though hardly fantastic. I thought Barrett was very nice in terms of his promo work and I do think there’s a big upside to him.
These two battled in the main event of the evening, and they had an opportunity to make the most out of it. For the most part, I felt they did that. Barrett and Gabriel are two of the guys with the most potential and they shone here. I loved Jericho shouting at the announcers early on. The crowd was into this match and deservedly so as they worked well in there and put on a very good match. It was flashy but not just a spotfest, and was plotted out very well to boot. I have a feeling that these guys will have to tone things down a little bit when they transition to one of the other shows, but they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it. Gabriel won with the 450 before Jericho attacked him and Barrett got some heat to end the show. This match was a bit more rushed than the other two but it made up for it with flash, and I enjoyed it as a show finisher.
A LOOK AT: DARREN YOUNG: I’ll be honest, I’m not digging on Darren Young as much as I am some of the other guys. He’s got a lot of style and a unique look—if you get past the Cena lookalike thing. But he seems to be more stilted than the other guys here. A persona and a look only does so far, and I think he needs a bit more than that. After that, we got a little backstage segment where Young asked why he can’t live his own lifestyle, and Punk preached about Straight Edge and said Young had a choice to make. The segment was all right, the focus video seemed a bit lacking. Young’s certainly not a lost cause, but he could easily get lost in the pack and this didn’t convince me otherwise.
This was a great episode of NXT to really help get the talent over. We had three very good matches that pretty much blew what Raw had to offer out of the water in terms of pure in-ring wrestling. Obviously, Raw had a lot of other things to accomplish but I found myself enjoying this show a lot more. The ‘E has chosen their first class of rookies well and if this show was any indicator, we’re going to see some good things from each of them.
SHOW RATING: 8.0
Until Monday, keep on kickin’ it!