Hey kitty cats, welcome back! Last Friday was USA Guy’s birthday or something, so I’ve got a full recap of the previous episode of Impact Wrestling before we get to this week’s Best and Worst. The good news is that we didn’t really miss anything. The bad news is that on a televised wrestling show, we didn’t really miss anything.
– In other exciting news, With Spandex is now a real life thing in real life! David called out The Atlantic for thinking that The Rock isn’t black enough that you should read immediately, and I wrote a fashion retrospective on wrestling hillbillies because I too enjoy attacking the tough subjects head on.
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This week on Impact: Things that are loosely related to last week, but kinda not really! Oh, and some important title stuff you should probably know about.
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?
Worst: I’m Kurt Angle and I’m here to make you think about TNA and feel sad and stuff
Kurt Angle starts this week off by calling out THE WILLOW. Just like Samoa Joe, he did the old “I understand you, so let me do this thing that totally ignores and invalidates your feelings, okay? Cool.” TNA authority figures are historically problematic (until they tell us they’re not, I guess), and Kurt Angle is just another in a succession of people acting like assholes. While MVP knew better than Dixie Carter because he was a wrestler and she was not, Kurt Angle knows what’s best for everybody, because he’s Kurt Angle. Just like he knows just what Samoa Joe has gone through, he knows what Willow is going through as well. I mean, remember that time he went crazy, moved into an abandoned barn in the woods, kidnapped Bobby Roode, and only spoke in nonsense riddles for a few months? Well…I’m saying it happened, so it did. Don’t question it.
The point is that nobody likes Willow, and everybody wants Jeff Hardy back, amirite? Amirite?!
Supplementary Worst: Wait, that’s it?
So all anyone had to do was break into Willow’s barn in the woods and say to this uncontrollable rage monster “Hey man, have you tried just being Jeff?” Poor Spud. That would have saved him so much grief.
Bram’s in a match, so uhh…here’s Brandon!
Best: Paying Attention To The Legal Man
The Wolves and their “ouch I stubbed my toe” wolf hows and their carefully practiced dance routines will never be my thing, but I’m giving the match a Best for the finish. Bram goes for a gutwrench powerbomb on Davey and it’s AWKWARD AS HELL, Y’ALL, but that’s a solid reason for Davey to reverse it into a backslide. Note: not perfectly executing a move is a great way to explain a counter succeeding, and not enough guys think that through.
Anyway, Davey backslides Bram and the referee won’t count it because he isn’t legal. Edwards comes rushing in, dives over them and pulls Bram’s legs down for a three count. I know it seems like I’m easy to please or whatever, but TNA having even an imperfect idea of how pro wrestling works is an improvement.
Best: Bram Looks Like Arnold Schwarzenegger Dying On Mars
Worst: Everyone is awful, let’s just burn it all down
Okay. So that may be a strong sentiment. But everyone in the segment is just…not a good person. Let’s examine the faces: Bobby Roode was mad at Dixie Carter for not getting a title shot. He was prepared to walk out, but she convinced him to stay, and offered him a 10% stake in the company. This was the real TNA TURNING POINT for bobby Roode. He started acting more and more like a whiny baby face, and rather rudely turned his back on E.G.O, maybe the best thing he’s ever been involved in (giant chair tiny legs ahhhh). He fought on the side of Team Dixie, but was put through a table at Lockdown, thus ushering in the Era of MVP. Of course, he was justifiably mad at Bully Ray for a while, but then they united in their love of Eric Young, and once again Bully Ray got off scot-free because there are never any consequences to his actions ever. Bobby Roode was subsequently suspended by MVP, and now Roode is back and real real mad, and sees his opportunity to get even with MVP because…he’s in a wheelchair. Mind you, the gist of everything is that Bobby Roode thinks MVP is hiding behind his injury, but wouldn’t you want him at full strength? Wouldn’t you want to give it some time to prove definitively that you are the better man? Isn’t that the more noble thing to do? Or at least the Jamie Noble thing to do? No? You just wanna push his wheelchair off of the stage?
Okay. Cool. Good face stuff, good face stuff right there.
This brings out Kenny King, which in turn brings out Eric Young, WHICH IN TURN brings out Bobby Lashley. And look…I know MVP has his stable of fwiends, and it makes sense for them to be out there, but can Eric Young just give up the ghost on Lashley already? He can’t beat him clean, he got his rematch, and he lost. He wouldn’t have had a title shot if it weren’t for MVP, but he lost the resulting championship on an even playing field. He wasn’t swindled out of anything. He can’t get it done, just like MVP said. Anything after that makes him look butthurt as hell, and it’s hard to be in the side of someone that drenched in undeserved entitlement. MVP is gross but right, and the faces are wrong and awful.
Worst: Speaking of awful…
Hey, you know how I hate spoilers? You know how taping mega far in advance is a realllllyy bad idea? I went to fact check something on Austin Aries’ Wikipedia page, and was not only immediately spoiled for the X-Division match (fair, it just happened), but was also spoiled as to the outcome of Destination X: A pay-per-view that isn’t supposed to air until the end of the month. That’s great. That’s exactly how you keep people hype for PPVs. How am I legitimately supposed to care about the X-Division championship, the WHC, or Austin Aries? That last one is just kind of a general, all-the-time question, but still. How is anyone supposed to have any kind of an organic reaction to anything you do when everyone knows what’s going to happen? Impact is predictable, but this is cold hard fact. You can’t go back and change this. You can’t fix this. If it weren’t my job to watch and write about this show every week, how would I be expected to pay attention to any buildup over the next couple of weeks? I feel like Bram right now. Just…AHHH. AHHHHHHHHHH. *stomps* AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Fine, whatever:: Austin Aries vs. Sanada
Austin Aries wins, and talks a whole bunch about “Option C.” Man, do you remember what Option C was originally about? Also, where did Option A and B go? Did you try to find them? I mean, I guess Option A would have been to try to win the battle royal later in the night. But solely referring to the X-Division title as Option C pretty much demeans everything about it. Again. It holds no meaning other than a means to an end in July.
Impact goes back and forth between how important and revolutionary and legendary their the X-Division is, and treating it like it’s nothing. This week, every match has title ramifications. Kurt angle is arbitrarily booking matches, which means we can infer that he thinks so little of Sanada that instead of putting someone who wrestles in the X-Division and has been trying to get the title from him, he puts in Aries. That infers that Aries can easily beat him, then cash in the title at Destination X for yet another chance to take the belt off of Bobby Lashley, assuming he hasn’t lost it by then. Again, keeping in mind that Kurt can book whatever match that he wants, and can send Lashley through a gauntlet of opponents of his choosing at any time. That’s shady, but if he says he’s a good guy, it’s not.
the other problem is how easily Aries dispatches Sanada. Sanada goes for a moonsault, a perfectly acceptable thing to lose to, and Aries kicks out of it like nothing. We’re told on commentary that Aries must have gotten a knee or a leg up to block it, but watch that video. That motherf-cker didn’t get a damn thing up.
So to reiterate, heading into Destination X: the X-Division title means nothing, the most recent champion is a loser, and nobody in the X-Division is good enough to have been given a chance to take it off of him.
Worster worst: WHERE’S THE KITTY?
Worst: Bully Ray
Quick review of the face in this situation: He calls someone a bitch, the crowd cheers.
Everything else is just sad. Just like when he turned up his COOL DAD ROCK MUSIC on the way to stalk Dixie Carter at her office, namedropping WWE is…*gulp*. He’s so real, guys. He keeps it so real. I feel like he is one more office party away from turning into the Guy Fieri of wrestling. Now that you’ve pictured that in your imagination brain, you know I’m right.
*EDIT* Burnsy is the best:
Best: Maybe everything else though?
I will give a supplementary worst for Rhino blocking Spud out of the shot, because Background Spud is amazing and makes my world go ’round. But hey, at least we have EC3. EC3 who points out that Bully isn’t his family, Rhino’s family is in Detroit, and he’s paying Rhino so he can feed them. EC3 brings logic to the conversation, and we all know when he does that, according to Impact Wrestling, he’s the most evil of them all.
Worst: DID SOMEBODY SAY COOL DAD???
Worst: They’re damn real
Angelina Love and Velvet Sky are backstage to address how ridiculous it is that they have to wrestle other wrestlers to accomplish things in wrestling, which in a roundabout way gets Velvet Sky to drop that her boobs “are real. They’re damn real.”
Sigh. I know, I know. I heard it too. Here’s some music:
If there are two things I’m not going to keep Brandon from writing about, it’s GLOW and Battles Royal. Well, and Bram, but that’s just him being nice and saving my brain from completely collapsing in on itself.
Best: A Battle Royal! And It’s For THINGS!
The funny thing about Impact is that the YouTube clip of the match starts with the final four guys in the ring, but with their roster size you could believe that’s as many people as they could spare for a battle royal. You know, unless they van’d in Balls Mahoney and The Hurricane or whoever to do a nostalgia spot.
And yes, by “nostalgia spot” I mean “win all the titles.”
(Danielle’s note: Hardcore Justice is coming up, so please don’t encourage them, Brandon)
Worst: Jeff Hardy Letting Go Of The Willow Gimmick
Danielle’s already covered this at length, but since I’m guest-writing the battle royal, I have to ask … what’s the difference between Jeff Hardy and Willow? Angle wanted him to let go of Willow and be himself, and here he is with dreadlocks, all black clothes, black armbands and his face painted like a tree. What makes him Willow? Monochrome? An umbrella? Is Willow just less of an aging 90s raver? Has Willow moved on from the reality of Gadzooks going out of business?
(Danielle’s note: Bad Umaga cosplay is my vote.)
Worst: The Worst Battle Royal Square-Off Ever
One of the best parts of any WWE battle royal is the HERE’S TWO GUYS YOU WANNA SEE FIGHT REALIZING THEY’RE ABOUT TO FIGHT moment. Sometimes it’s reserved for the huge guys like Big Show or Mark Henry. They see each other across the ring and sloooowly walk to the middle, and the crowd’s all YEAH SHIT’S BOUT TO GET HOSSY. Sometimes it’s for big stars, or for emphasis at the end of the match. Shawn Michaels and Undertaker did this masterfully. Sometimes it’s just an exciting situation … see Rusev and Roman Reigns as the final two guys on the Money in the Bank qualifying battle royal on Raw a few weeks ago.
SPEAKING OF A THING THAT WAS ON RAW TWO WEEKS AGO
The final two men in the battle royal are (surprise) Eric Young and Jeff Hardy. When it’s down to just them, they stall and walk around in circles and dance. I thought they were gonna start breaking. This is not what I want from my hossy big finish staredown. Hands are shook and shirts are removed, and Young ends up taking his Weeble Wobble bump off the apron to give Hardy the win.
Next week, ECW’s biggest match of 2006 happens! Don’t miss it!