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The Best And Worst of Impact Wrestling 4/10/14: Something’s Rotten In The State Of Dixieland

By 04.12.14

Worst: Knockouts #1 Contender Match

The Knockouts division is a tough one. There was a period of time where the Knockouts were genuinely better and more popular than the male components of the roster. But when that’s taken away, we are unfortunately left to grasp at straws and pretend that what little scraps female wrestlers get are something to be thankful for. How often do you see this in the Divas division as well? “Hey, at least we have TWO storylines! That’s better than nothing!” Better than nothing. That is what we’re left with, and that is what we’re forced to be grateful for. Much like the false sense of empowerment that I’ve written about before, Better Than Nothing is just as problematic.

Currently four Knockouts have a solid storyline (I am including Christy Hemme’s…stuff…in all of this). One is being stalked and assaulted and intimidated by a violent predator, two have reformed a vacuous tag team based on their appearance, and how jealous other people are of their so-called good looks, and one is the champion, feuding with these two, because…jealousy, old rivalries that should have been left behind like, five years ago, just…not great stuff. But hey, we’ve got stuff!

Better Than Nothing becomes this hollow consolation prize that we’re forced to accept, nay defend, because it’s all we get. As bad as it may be, any attention given to female wrestlers on a male-dominated show becomes this thing that we as females feel the need to protect, because we get so little of it. As such, it becomes hard to criticize, lest we lose whatever tiny morsel of representation that we have. You can criticize a storyline written by a team of male staff writers, but people you know to be at least halfway decent in the ring get elevated to a much higher status by virtue of being better than nothing, or, at the very least, better than Velvet Sky. It happens on the independent circuit all the time. Lady wrestlers who are only halfway decent morph into these ring generals because it’s all we have, and they’re better than nothing. We can’t criticize, or talk about them openly or honestly like any male wrestler because any negativity gets heaped onto the seemingly insurmountable barrier of negativity and sexism they already have stacked against them. As I’ve said before, female wrestlers start in the negative, so why would we want to make that worse?

While I can concede that Gail Kim is a technically gifted wrestler, and I am pro-Angelina Love’s DDTs more often than not, a lot of the backlash that I get when I do criticize any actual wrestling is “but it’s better than…” or “at least they got X amount of time to do…” Focusing attention on something that is sub-par isn’t something that should be rewarded, regardless of the gender of the participants. Like anyone, I want good wrestling, and this is not it. This is back to the “do as many pseudo-sexual moves as possible” approach (that slow, uncomfortable grinding bronco buster from ODB? Yikes), and we are given ample time to be reminded that these women are not here to be athletes or storytellers, but rather serve as props, as victims, as bitches, and objects of desire. To be quite frank, I would rather have nothing.

Worst: MVP still doesn’t know how things work

I greatly appreciate that someone has caught onto the fact that Dixie is still President of TNA, and didn’t lose all power or rights to her own company. MVP keeps insisting that he’s going to have Dixie Carter escorted from the building, which he can’t really do. She’s the President. She outranks him by a mile. He might get to book matches, but he still doesn’t technically get to do the hiring and firing and sassing his corporate higher-ups. And he’s still not the good guy, no matter what you all say.

Worst: MVP no seriously why won’t you stop

MVP puts the BroMans into a tag title match despite one half of the tag team not being present. He insists that DJ Z wrestle in his place, despite him only being their DJ and not actually a member of their tag team. Now look, I am a card-carrying member of the Submission Squad fanclub, if not on the board of directors with Brandon, Gma Abernathy, and Gma Gelistico. I love Freebird Rules as much as the next person who loves multi-member friendship-based stables who also compete in tag matches. But this? This is an egregious abuse of power, and one of the most blatant instances of favouritism since the last time MVP rigged something against someone he didn’t like just because he could. He does that a lot. He is not a fair and impartial boss. He is not a good guy.

This also serves to remind us that guys who get kicked in the head for long periods of time shouldn’t make important decisions. I mean, look at Davey Richards’ new hair:

Worst: No, really, Davey, what are you doing

He chose that. He looked someone dead in the eye and said “Yes. That is what I want. Make my head look like that. I have a job on national television and a modicum of fame and I would like as many people to know that this is a decision I have made with much forethought and zero regret.”

Worst: Do you know who I [got this idea from]?

I’m not one of those people who subscribe to the notion that the only thing Impact Wrestling does is crib stories from WWE and turn them into dinner theatre versions of what’s happening in the bigger company. Abyss coming out in a suit is not Corporate Kane, and Eric Young isn’t totally Daniel Bryan (in so, so many ways). One of the things that does nag at me, however, is this Man of the People Bully Ray. Bringing fans to the ring? Standing up to the big bad lady boss and getting slapped for it? ripped from the headlines or not, it stinks.

It’s hard to argue against that fact that people want to love Bully Ray. I want to love Bully Ray. People who embraced him in ECW want to love Bully Ray. He’s just that kind of wrestler. He’s gruff but likeable, good on the mic (when he wants to be), a competent wrestler, and gets to live in that sweet part of our hearts made of nostalgia and broken tables. I don’t want him to just be a guy who shouts stuff, but I also don’t want him to be a domestic violence-promoting, baby murdering, sub-par hack. I should be jumping at this opportunity to cheer for him in a role that’s supposed to be cheered, but unfortunately, I have a working memory and I’m only immediately swayed by declarations of friendship, and wishing Gunner had died in the war.

Dixie has every right to be in the ring, saying what she’s saying, but as right as she is, and as correct as both her and the McMahon-Hearst-Helmsley-Games-Of Kings were, his actions still don’t feel right. I asked this in the last column, and I’ll ask it again: why are we cheering for him? He’s a bad man who does bad things, but he’s going to do bad things to someone you don’t like as much, so whatever?

If we stick to what’s happened, say, in the past couple of years, yes, Dixie has tried to help have him fired, but he was also running rampant with a disease-ridden biker gang, beat up a bunch of those contracted wrestlers he claims to stand for today for no other reason that he could, commandeered a bunch of rooms in her place of business and filled them with cigarette smoke and sex workers, amongst a litany of other unprofessional things. If he blamed her for the dissolution of Aces & Eights, that would be one thing. It would further play into his long-established denial over his Brotherhood of the Traveling Leather Vests being torn asunder by his own hubris, and people have proven that they’re still going to cheer for him no matter his past actions. And what was he going to do to Dixie after he physically intimidated her in the ring because that’s just a thing you get to do to a lady whenever you want? Huh?

The bottom line is that this is weak, I miss the glory of Dixieland, and this show doesn’t have nearly enough Ethan Carter III.

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