Last week kicked off with the triumphant cheat sheet-toting Kurt Angle, vowing to be better than MVP was by putting people he doesn’t like into matches against people who…don’t like them…yeah. Yeah that seems really different. He then reinstates Earl Hebner, because goshdarnit, he’s just such a good guy, that Kurt Angle. And then something interesting happens. Samoa Joe comes out, and we’re told about this storied rivalry between these two – the greatest in TNA history no less! – that included such feuds as being together in the reformed Main Event Mafia…no, wait, we’re supposed to forget that, because TNA history is completely mutable, even if it’s the most recent thing that’s happened between them.
Regardless, Joe accuses Angle of being just like MVP, ready to book himself into a title match once he’s healed because that’s all he covets. And that’s fair. I mean, it is Kurt Angle, after all. But then we get into this weird pissing contest with the purpose of proving that Kurt Angle is a friend, and a benefit to the company, but it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t build him as a good or even likable guy. He says that sometimes Joe is passionate in the ring, and the rest of the time he’s half-assed. Kurt is never half-assed, because this ring is sacred to him. He questions Joe’s commitment commitment, which in turn causes Samoa Joe to point out that Kurt Angle was bought and brought into the company while he had to fight his way into it, wrestling in armories for a pittance while Kurt was being flown around in private jets. Is…is Samoa Joe’s new character just stuff I say, or is one person actually applying logic and truth and it’s freaking me out?
Kurt’s response is to get all fired up because yeah! This is the Samoa Joe he wants to see! Let’s glaze over all of the valid points you just made and not acknowledge our very different career paths because…we can! Yeah! But here’s the problem: Kurt Angle is supposed to be a face. Kurt Angle, Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle, paid exorbitant amounts of money to walk into TNA and be handed a title Kurt Angle, Too Good For ECW Kurt Angle, is insisting that he’s had the same amount of opportunities as Samoa Joe. Now, I’m not a Samoa Joe fan, we all know this, but if we take a step back, he’s a guy who has busted his ass on the indies for next to nothing. The fandom he has wasn’t made by being on television in front of millions of people. He could not and will never get a shot at WWE because he doesn’t have the right last name, and will never be in a position to say no, he’s “too good” for a major promotion.
So why are we cheering Kurt Angle in this scenario?
There was a forgettable tag team match, but then a hilarious streetfight between Bobby Roode and Kenny King (above) that is worth watching solely for the most anticlimactic balcony spot maybe ever at the beginning of the video. Brittany shows off her best impression of the Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party, and then turns on Madison (again) because the Knockouts division is a mess.
Angle booked EC3 and Bully Ray into a completely fair and unbiased tables match, which admittedly I would have Worsted last week. Bully Ray kind of goes through the motions of a wrestling match while poor EC3 tries to make it a thing. But then…then they got the Rhino!
AND LOOK HOW HAPPY IT MADE EVERYONE!
I’ve tried to remain unspoiled for the New York tapings, which is impossible when you tape so far in advance, so I knew he’d show, which…actually, it really sucks. I would have popped so hard for Rhino. I don’t much care for his ROH run, but if he’s just going to show up, gore people, never speak, and then leave, shit yes that’s a thing I’m gonna get excited for. But I knew he was there. I know who else shows up in New York. I know the pivotal moments and that’s the exact reason I try to avoid spoilers, but taping this far in advance makes that practically unavoidable.
While we’re retconning things, here’s a handy retrospective of what put Samuel Shaw into the psych ward, but without the really awful, violent, predatory stuff. Gunner then goes on to chastise Mr. Anderson for not immediately forgiving a guy who tried to choke him to death on multiple occasions and also stalked and kidnapped and threatened his ring announcer friend because, you know, Gunner’s friend who “got his leg blowed off in the military.” In case you’ve forgotten, a mentally disturbed sexual predator is the same thing as being irreparably injured and traumatized during war time. For a company that wants to put over how much they love America and the military, that seems like a pretty unforgivable insult.
Anderson of course acquiesces, and leads them both into a room alone with Christy. Victim Christy Hemme who Gunner gets visibly frustrated with when she doesn’t accept his apology. I hate this so much. I hate this with a hatred that is only reserved for special instances, such as the last time someone who was terminally abusive and awful apologized and we were magically supposed to forgive and forget that anything ever happened.
We got a new Knockouts champion in an old, worn out Knockouts match, and Eric Young got his rematch, and got beaten. Cleanly. Again. Man, this really needs to be the last conversation we have about Eric Young and Bobby Lashley. The theme of last week’s show wasn’t a red, white, and blue celebration of America with some wrestles. It was making things out to be something they aren’t, especially TNA’s past. We’re still supposed to believe that Eric Young is a good guy, and a legitimate threat to a guy he cannot beat with even odds. We’re supposed to believe that Kurt Angle is a man of the people, the savior of the boys in the back, but he’s acting like an entitled douchebag, and a carbon copy of what MVP did when he first came on the scene. Samuel Shaw got written into an institution, with no long-term plan on how to get him out and back on the roster after working so hard to establish him as a dangerous offender. So we’re just going to pretend that most of it didn’t happen, and the rest was just him being misunderstood. How many more times is Brittany going to turn on Madison? Should we give her to Gunner? And does Gunner have a friend who went through something traumatic but came out on the other side and now knows how to write a good wrestling show?