wrestling / TV Reports

The Impact Crater 03.20.08

March 22, 2008 | Posted by Ryan Byers

Quick & Dirty Results

Segment #1: Booker T./Bobby Roode/Jim Cornette Interview Segment
Segment #2: Scott Steiner & Petey Williams def. Eric Young & Frankie Kazarian
Segment #3: Travis Tomko def. Rhino
Segment #4: Sonjay Dutt def. Homicide
Segment #5: Booker T. def. AJ Styles
Segment #6: ODB & Gail Kim def. Angel Williams & Talia Madison
Segment #7: Kurt Angle Interview Segment
Segment #8: Christian & Rhino def. The Dudley Boys by disqualification

The Main Stuff

Angle Numero Uno: MMAmazing

Okay, I officially declare this evening’s “Kurt Angle public workout” to be the BEST THING THAT TNA HAS DONE IN OVER A YEAR.

Seriously. As I’ve harped on time and time again in this very column, the entire purpose of a professional wrestling promotion’s free television show is to convince viewers that they should buy pay per views, live event tickets, or some kind of merchandise. I honestly cannot think of a TNA segment that has made me want to do that more in the last twelve plus months than this workout. After over a year of Kurt Angle being nothing more than a goofy comedy character or a cliched diabolical mastermind, he finally returned to the role in which he is at his best, i.e. that of a pure athlete. The training segment portrayed him as being one of the absolute best in the world, an elite level performer. That is EXACTLY what you want your World Champion to look like if you’re a wrestling promotion, because that is the kind of performer that people actually pay to see. MMA has proven it recently, boxing has proven it recently, and TNA will hopefully be awarded for taking this route with a higher-than-average buyrate for their Lockdown show. The only thing that could have made this better would have been some sort of package on Samoa Joe’s training regimen, though I at least understand what the company is attempting to do in building up fans’ desire to see him live and in person again after a several week hiatus.

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that this segment actually managed to convince me that Karen Angle will not be running in on the PPV title match. Maybe I’m too naive for my own good, but I honestly believe that, from the direction of the build, the company has become aware that they need something other than their typical over the top, Russo-esque gaga in order to make this bout stand out as something special. Karen has been completely removed from the equation in recent weeks and given almost exclusively to young AJ Styles, which makes me believe that when she does eventually return to the waiting arms of her hubby, it’ll be AJ that gets screwed over in the process and not our favorite Samoan.

So, thumbs way up to TNA this week. My only hope is that the next two weeks of main event build are as effective as this one was.

Angle Numero Dos: Sting, Stang, Stung

We also got more of the run up to War Games last week, with the heel team now presumably consisting of Travis Tomko, AJ Styles, the Dudley Boys, and Johnny Devine while the babyface team will be made up of Christian, Rhino, Sting, Kevin Nash, and a player to be named later.

We had two major plot points in the march to War Games this week, the first being the patching up of the relationship between Christian and Rhino. Why did their relationship need to be patched up, you ask? Because, almost two years ago, the two of them had a massive blood feud that resulted from Christian betraying his long-time friend. Yes, it featured some typical TNA wackiness, including the epically bad “grab things off of poles to put them in boxes that you can take to the next match and then pull things out of the boxes to use them in the match” match, but it was generally a heated rivalry that featured a brutal street fight and an encounter in a cage laced with barbed wire. That’s not the sort of thing that you just brush under the rug, even though we’ve all seen plenty of professional wrestling storylines in which that is exactly what has happened. It was great to see TNA remembering and actually playing off of their history, as doing so sends fans the message that what happened in the past was actually important. This also implicitly lets viewers know that, if things which happened two years in the company still have implications for the wrestlers now, current events are probably also important enough that they will affect the TNA universe down the road. The more significant you can make a major angle look, the better you’ll be for it in the long run, whether you accomplish that goal through overt or more subtle means, as was the case here.

Plot point number two centered around the apparent return of Sting to TNA wrestling, as his music and entrance video played during the show-closing heel beatdown of the good guys. I appreciate the effort that TNA is putting in to making Sting a “special attraction” which at least in theory will draw more eyes to their first live show next week and to their upcoming pay per view. The only problem is that they’ve tried this sort of thing with Sting in the past, and his inclusion on a particular show hasn’t meant all that much to the bottom line. I hope that changes, because, this time around, they seem to be taking all of the right steps to get fans to see him in that “special” light.

Angle Numero Tres: Booking the T’s

The only thing that left a really bad taste in my mouth this week was the direction of the Booker T./Bobby Roode feud, which is odd because, for the past several months, it’s been the highlight of the show. This week, as a result of her actions at the last pay per view, Jim Cornette decided that he was going to put Sharmell in to the ring at Lockdown, booking the T’s in a cage match against Bobby Roode and Payton Banks.

This bothers me for a couple of reasons. The first is Traci Brooks getting completely snubbed. She’s a significantly better in-ring performer than Sharmell, which means that TNA had a logical reason for booking what could be a fairly good match and passed on it for a bout that has a higher potential to be sub-par. (I know that some people will claim that Sharmell was eventually going to have to get in to the ring for this feud to be blown off, but the fact of the matter is that she could have just as easily done a spot or two in the finish of a match to make her “revenge” just as effective.) In addition to the match quality being impacted, one now has to wonder why they even bothered to do the angle with Traci being strapped by Roode on the pay per view. I know that watching that level of violence against a woman made several people who caught the show uncomfortable, and you’d think that, if TNA just had to do something like that, they’d at least play off of it further instead of letting it stand as a one-shot that may have alienated some of their base.

The other issue that I have with the match booked at Lockdown is that its setup has unnecessarily muddied to the babyface and heel lines in this feud. Jim Cornette’s rationale behind putting the match together was that Sharmell showed a desire to get physically involved when she strapped him and other company officials during Destination X. This means one of two things: 1.) Sharmell’s actions at the pay per view warrant her being punished by Cornette, which wold seem to make her more of a heel or 2.) Cornette is screwing over Sharmell by placing her in the cage match, which would seem to make him more of a heel. If somebody was actually turning, that would be no problem, but the rest of the storyline direction seems to indicate that both Cornette and Sharmell are supposed to be faces and will continue in those roles once this feud is over.

Oh, and what happened to Corny’s hard line stance against man-on-woman violence? Why would somebody in that position book a woman in a cage match with a man who has repeatedly shown that he has no problem with striking girls?


This was, for the most part, a top notch edition of Impact. The quality of the wrestling was down from the last couple of weeks, but, quite frankly, on free wrestling TV shows I think it’s better to have stronger angles and weaker matches than it is to have stronger matches and weaker angles. (Though of course, the ideal is for both to be strong.) The booking of the top two storylines headed in to the pay per view made sense for the most part and offered a bit of diversity, with one being an old school progression of the “pure sports built” and the other focusing more on the personal grudges that exist between two factions of men. If for some reason one doesn’t float your boat you can almost certainly get in to the other, and this sort of two-pronged approach is welcome in TNA so long as the TV time being eaten up by the two big storylines doesn’t cause the promotion to resort to their old habit of putting then undercard wrestlers in to ten different angles that each get ninety seconds per week of exposure on Impact. So far, that hasn’t happened. So far, I’m more excited for Lockdown than I am the majority of this company’s shows. We’ll see how things turn out in the long run, though.

To the (Feed)Back!

Almost every comment that I got on last week’s column was about the same subject. I think that Nick Marsico‘s post is most representative of the questions I received, so we’ll use him as the jumping off point:

Ryan, did you watch the Angle/Kaz match? Kaz completely dominated it and only lost when Angle came out of nowhere with the ankle lock, and even then Kaz held out for a damn long time before he tapped.

I apparently saw this match much differently than the majority of the folks who wrote in. Yes, Kazarian got the majority of the offense, but that didn’t leave me with the impression that he was on Angle’s level. The message that it sent to me was, “Well, this Kaz kid threw everything that he had at Kurt Angle, and it didn’t matter because Kurt still put him away easily as soon as he got that ankle lock on.” To me it felt like one of the old 1990’s Hulk Hogan matches in which somebody would beat on the Hulkster for a while and he’d sell for a while, after which he would magically flip a switch, act like none of their prior offense had done a darn thing to him, and finish his opponent off with the leg drop. It made the prior dominance of the other wrestler look completely worthless, and that’s the feeling that I got coming out of the Angle/Kazarian match. On the whole, I think that a back and forth encounter between the two men would have been better for Kazarian, as that’s what made him look like a big star the first time that they wrestled.

Of course, if the vast majority of folks who watched the match saw it as another star-making performance and I’m the only one who thought that Frankie was Ari BERRIED-stein, then my opinion doesn’t mean too much.

And now for the main event. He vanished last week, but now he’s back. Yes, I’m talking about my good friend and TNA’s biggest supporter . . . austin:

ok well i didnt right 2 u last wk bc i didnt have much time i wuz 2 buzy bc my 1 st neice got born last wk so i wuz dealin wit that but now that thats over I went back an I red ur impat carter from 6 march were u talked bout me again an u sed it clear as day u sed that austin u showd me an im glad that u admittted that i showed u i guess now maybe that means ull see things my way an maybe I wont half 2 call u ryan bias nemore the mos bias man on the planet excet maybe 4 barock obamas racist pasteur. maybe now ull finall talk bout sum of the great things bout tna like the ruff cuts they r doin wit kip james an bg james i mean wut could b better uve got the greatest tag team of all time an than they split up an now there airn all there dirty alundry on tv for all of american an all of the other coutnries tna is on in 2 c i mean ppl luv watchin that kinda thing thats wut made the jrry springer show so popuar an its goin 2 make tna populra 2 i mean big james and kip james were already bigs tars but this is gonna make them even bigger an i cant weight 2 here bout the big ratins this is gunnna get 4 them. now that uve admitted that I’ve shown u I cant wait 2 read all of the great thigns that ur gonna say bout tna cuz it’s the best wreslin in the world

Yes, Austin, you did show me. I have seen the light. However, I don’t know that I can report on all of the great things about TNA with the same level of depth and insight that you are capable of providing. I mean, let’s face it, I just recently removed the blinders of my “bias,” and there may be some residual effect from my attempting to tear down this great promotion for so long.

That’s why I have a business proposal for you, Austin. I want to offer you a spot. Not just any spot . . . not a liver spot, not a spot like your dog Spot, not just any spot . . . but MY spot. That’s right. I want you to become a regular correspondent here in the Impact Crater. Every week, you’ll have an opportunity to talk about whatever you want in the wide world of TNA, and I’ll post it for the world to see. Think about it, Austin, you could be a superstar.

And that does it for this week. I’ll be back in seven days with the first ever live TNA Impact, which I can’t imagine being any different than a taped TNA Impact. Until then, be sure to check out the MySpace, where you can add me as a friend to receive a bulletin notification every time I post a new column here on 411.


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