Hola, mis gatos!
– In case you missed it, I wrote about Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano on the 20th anniversary of their iconic SummerSlam match. I’m so excited to write about more great women’s matches, so be sure and leave a comment as to who you’d like to see featured in the future!
– I’m super podcast-rusty, but I hung out with British teen pop sensation Kieran Shiach to give report cards to the TNA roster. Spoiler alert: there is a grade worse than F-. I’ll also be on Aubrey Sitterson’s Straight Shoot next Monday (September 8th) to discuss Raw and probably get mad at stuff, so that’ll be a fun thing.
– We love comments and shares and tweets and tumbls and all that good stuff. We are literally soliciting your unsolicited opinions, folks.
This week on Impact Wrestling:
Best(ish): Welcome to the Slack Parade, Samoa Joe
Bobby Lashley, as of this writing, has been champion for 78 days. We’re now approaching a three month run with this title, even if it feels like he’s held the belt for ages. Then again, TNA is a mysterious, time-displaced universe where months can feel like years, and Tommy Dreamer still actively wrestles. A run of this length comes with many challenges, especially when it seems there’s no clear end game, writing staff is transitioning, and every “challenge” to the belt has been lame duck at best. Every challenger for the belt up to this point has operated under the assumption that Lashley didn’t deserve his title. Eric Young didn’t think so, yet more than once he was beaten cleanly and proven wrong. Bobby Roode was like hey, nobody’s better than my friend Eric, except, you know, me, so I’LL beat you. He did not succeed. Kurt Angle put Austin Aries in an X-Division Championship match so that he could win, then immediately cash in the title for a chance at Bobby Lashley. He failed. So now what?
It’s pretty accepted at this point that much like in WWE, TNA faces are violent garbage pissbabies, and the heels are hated because they make too much damn sense. But from a critical standpoint, what is it that makes Bobby Lashley a bad guy? Is guilt by association literally the only thing? He shows up, he doesn’t say anything, he wins, he leaves. His victories are clean, he doesn’t go after anyone specifically. He’s never threatened to set someone’s babies on fire or jerked off with a lock of Eric Young’s beard hair in secret, so what’s up? If we hated Jeff Jarrett or Kurt Angle for walking into championships and winning titles they didn’t deserve, why is someone who consistently proves that they can defend it with, dareisay, honour such a terrible thing?
This was initially a worst, but as I think about it, I can appreciate Samoa Joe’s perspective. He supported MVP when he first arrived in TNA under the guise of putting the emphasis back on wrestling by wrestlers for wrestlers. I mean, he could have just thrown on some PWG DVDs and called it a day were that his goal, but whatever. After that he got dicked out of his world title shot by outside interference, and has been either persecuted or flat-out forgotten ever since. Now he’s got the X-Division champion, and to prove that it’s a Very Important Title, he wants to…go…after…a different title. Okay, maybe that part rubs me the wrong way a little. But I don’t think it’s necessarily that. Joe’s got Finlay syndrome – he loves to fight. This is just the shitty, drawn out version of Sheamus gleefully running down the ramp shouting OIL FIGHT ‘IM! Samoa Joe has never actually watched himself on TNA television, and fancies himself A Tough Guy. MVP says that Bobby Lashley is A Tough Guy. Joe wants to see who is tougher. Of all the terrible and moderately racist reasons Bobby Lashley has had to defend his title, this might actually be the one that makes the most sense.
Worst: TL;DR explanation
At heart, Samoa Joe is Paddy Tanninger the Caddy Manager of TNA tough guys:
Best: Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell
Guys. Guuuuuuuyyysssss. They’re trying again.
During the podcast that I mentioned in the pre-show notes people tend to skip over I had to grade each TNA roster member on a letter scale of A-F. Taryn Terrell earned a solid B+, the definition being that she shows up, does her thing, makes an effort, and even if she’s not the best, she generally tries to maximize the time she’s given to entertain and put on a good match. This is the B+ Hot Mess that I love so much. Serious Worst with a capital W for Impact for only giving us a minute and a half of this match, because it killed. And look, I’m not gonna pretend that it’s Akira Hokuto out there busting faces, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t watch this match with nothing but glee in my heart. At one point Taryn Terrell takes a stunner on the metal ring steps and it looks nasty as f-ck from every angle. Both ladies throw themselves into every part of this match, sometimes quite literally, and it’s a joy. It’s everything that made people love their matches last year. Remember that ladder match from last July? Remember Taryn putting Gail into a modified dragon sleeper? Gail tying Taryn to the ropes with her own hair? Both women chucking everything they had at each other and it being brutal and fun and not just a set up for sexy rest holds? They’re trying to do that again and I am just swooning all over the place for it.
Best: Speaking of swooning…
To quote Bram: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Jessicka Havok is my number one lady wrestler with a bullet. I flat out love this woman. Love her. I love watching her murder people. I loved watching her and Sami Callihan beat the crud out of each other in WSU before he went off to hack people’s lighting systems in Orlando with his iPad. I love her look and and her ferociousness and being an unapologetic lady hoss. I once gave her money at WrestleCon just to tell her she was awesome and because I had all of her merch already but still wanted to support her and she’s always been the loveliest person and guys. Guys. If you think I fangirl for EC3, then how happy J-Hav makes me will blow your effing domes. She’s here to make the knockouts think about death and feel sad and stuff and I’M JUST SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW.
Worst: F-ck yourself forever, Tazz
And here’s the Air Raid Crash to my heart. See, it’s a really powerful thing to see someone like Jessicka Havok debut on television. It’s not just because she’s one of my legitimate favourite wrestlers hands down. That’s a big part of it, but it’s way more than that. I’ve written a million times over about the effect that seeing someone like Luna Vachon and Bull Nakano can have on impressionable girls; someone who doesn’t look like the idea of what we’re told we have to look like to be wanted and loved and accepted as a Real Girl being given the opportunity to be different and kick ass and reveling in it. The sad thing is that when you grow up, that pressure doesn’t stop. The culture of marketing to women is rooted in the idea that we need to fix what’s wrong with us: be skinnier, be prettier, look younger, buy this make-up, buy these Spanx, there’s always other products, you can make them like you. In wrestling, we’re only given so many role models to pick from on television, and trust me when I say their body types (and personalities) do not vary from a specific create-a-lady-wrestler mold. These feminine ideals we’re told to strive for every day also carry the stigma that if you reach whatever acceptable bar for womanhood that has been set, you can never serve any other purpose than looking “good.”
Jessicka Havok isn’t built like say, Kelly Kelly or Velvet Sky, and that’s fine. It’s totally fine. Jessicka Havok is beautiful. Jessicka Havok is powerful. Jessicka Havok doesn’t fit any mold you expect to see on television and it’s wonderful. It’s inspiring. She comes out after a baller match between two ladies who already shatter the preconceived notions of what a match should be between women who look like that, and she f-cking destroys them, and leaves them lying in the ring because she’s a goddamn monster and it’s the best thing in the world. Everything about what happened in the ring said hey, you can be great at the thing you love if you try hard enough, and it doesn’t matter one bit what you look like while doing it. But what did it say to Tazz?
That she’s a man.
Mike Tenay comments that based on the videos they didn’t know who Havok was, or whether she was a man or a woman. Tazz, watching this lady hoss take out two wrestlers bringing back the idea that Knockouts matches can be as good as/better than whatever the boys in the back can do, responds with “I’m still not sure!”
So yeah. F-ck you forever, Tazz. F-ck your outdated notions of what a female wrestler can be. F-ck the idea that women can’t be strong or powerful. F-ck your idea of gender roles in wrestling. F-ck your outdated notions of what wrestling can be in general. I don’t care who you used to be, because who you are now is a bumbling, stumbling, sexist degrading mess. Wrestling is (very) slowly but surely changing for women, and I am more than happy to fight tooth and nail to make sure people like you get left behind.
Best: Ethan Carter III, always and forever
I promise I didn’t write this week’s promo. Double pinky swear. When I watched it last night, I was overwhelmed with wrestlefeelings by the Knockouts match and one of my favourite people showing up on a show that is usually reserved for my least favourite people, so I was already in the best mood. All misty eyes and clapping hands and a little overwhelmed at the potential of what was happening in front of me. I had also tuned Tazz out the first time because I wanted to actually enjoy the match, and not be brought down by what Tazz could maybe do to ruin it for me. Based on my response to what he did say, I think that was a great call on my part. I wasn’t mad or frustrated or again reminded that no matter what I or they or any lady accomplishes in the world of wrestling there is always someone ready to tear it down because we happen to be female. I was the happiest girl in the world, and THEN I get EC3? No way. It’s too much. It’s just too good. I would have been happy with almost anything he said, to be honest. He could have cold broken up with Spud and told him he had always hated him and I would have been like NO MAN THAT’S COOL THAT’S FAIR I LOVE YOUR POCKET SQUARE BTW.
Thankfully, that’s not what he said at all, and once again came out to say all of the logical things that live in my brain whenever I watch TNA. He is also way, way better at saying them than I am. All of these feelings and reactions are what I watch wrestling for. I want to be entertained and happy and ready to jump out of my seat and shouting and cringing at grimy moves and loving characters because they pay attention to who they’re supposed to be and make an effort to be good at it and do things that make sense. They also presented me with things I want to talk about after they happen. How often do you think I bring up an Eric Young match as a thing to get exited about? When I see my buddy Warren who doesn’t watch Impact on a regular basis, do you think the first words out of my mouth are “OH MY GOD LET’S TALK ABOUT MR. ANDERSON”? No. I want to tell him about how great EC3 is. I want to YouTube his match against Norv and Dewey. I want to show him The Hunt for Willow with Rockstar Spud. I want to talk about his promos and his defense of his aunt and his hair and that velvet blazer and his yellow gear and I have done all of those things because that’s what putting on a great wrestling show makes you do.
Worst: BR__K_P IS COMING
I lied. I am totally not ready for this.
Best: Rockstar Spud
So did he skin the Young Bucks to make that suit, or…