Hey guys! Are you ready for far too many words about this week’s Impact? I wasn’t, but I wrote ’em anyways!
– Thanks to Matt Wilson and Chris Sims for having me on the War Rocket Ajax WrestleMania preview show. Chris Haley was there too, and he’s a pretty rad guy. It’s a fun listen, and I actually stay on topic without rambling about UltraMantis for half an hour instead of WWE!
– Speaking of podcasts, Beyond Wrestling’s Drew Cordeiro filled in for the really very sick Brandon over at The Mandible Claw. I love Drew, and late night burrito/wrestling talks are my jam, so this one was a lot of fun.
– I won’t be at WrestleMania, but I will be at the significantly less expensive (and my birthday present from Matthew) opening round of the Tag World Grand Prix at Wrestling is Fun. You should come too! Jervis Cottonbelly will be there, as will my Jervis Cottonbelly heartsmiles.
– Follow me on Twitter here, With Leather here, and UPROXX here. Also like, share, and comment! These are all great things that take like two seconds. Maybe. I’ve never timed them, but if I say it confidently you might believe me!
This week on Impact: Ethan Carter III and Rockstar Spud hang out in the woods, and it’s even more delightful than you’re anticipating.
Best: Sad Dad Rewind
This week’s episode opens with a dramatically scored video package of SAD DAD: THE SADDENING OF GUNNER’S DAD. As forgettable as most of the matches in Impact Wrestling tend to be, every once in a while something happens that is both endlessly ridiculous, and infinitely quotable (see the entirety of the Brooke/Bully Ray wedding episode for the best example). Something you keep coming back to because it’s so stupid that it’s grown into something indelibly entertaining in your brain. Like how a mushroom becomes a really…fungi. ((pause for laughter))
I wrote about my newfound fascination with mega-ultra-asshole James Storm in the last report, but I need to take a moment to let you know that it’s a week later, and Sad Dad is still funny as heck to me. Look at the way he crumples after that beer bottle shot to the head in these four different angles Impact has lovingly provided us with. Look at his hat. Look at his stupid sad face. Look at his inability to do anything while James Storm further elaborates on his “Gunner and everyone related to him should be dead” talking point. If we have to replace #TeamDixie, I am overwhelmingly in favour of being #TeamSadDadDemise.
This was also a nice reminder of two things I should have mentioned last week, but didn’t due to mentally storyboarding the pilot episode of TRUCK SOUP:
1) Rear pocket buttons are the enemy, unless you want your butt to look as angry as you feel,
and 2) Where you been at, Sinister Minister?
MVP: Most Valuable Pedant
So here we add another layer to the stinking onion that is MVP’s takeover. He lets us know that he returned to make sure that all wrestlers were on equal footing and would “rise and fall” on their own merits. No shady alliances or backstage politics. You know, like building a team of people who would swear fealty to you instead of Dixie Carter, or aggressively wooing Austin Aries, or trying to woobledy woo THE WILLOW to your cause, or enacting a vendetta against those who were successful under a previous boss instead of wiping the slate clean and having some kind of fair and unbiased tournaments to determine champions and number one contenderships, or showing obvious favouritism towards Samoa Joe, or…you know. Really anything he’s done up until this point.
But that’s the flaw, isn’t it? You can’t be wholly unbiased in his position. Inherently everything he is saying he stands for is not the reality of how any wrestling company works. The best wrestlers aren’t always the champions, and the best champions aren’t always great wrestlers. I mean yeah, we’re talking about an organic separation of talent on a scripted wrestling television program where everything’s made up and the matches don’t matter, but also everything on your show is made up and you can make it make sense whenever you want.
You have chosen…to not do that.
One of the difficult things about being tasked with writing about TNA is trying to make sense of the character exposition that is intended to make sense of whatever is currently happening on the show. The explanation that bridges this episode from the one prior to it, so if you’ve missed some, you’re up to speed, but if you haven’t, helps serve the narrative of what you’ve been watching. A televised wrestling show has the benefit of being able to insert recap footage whenever they want, as opposed to an independent promotion that has to rely on the ability of performers to cut explanatory promos and boil down a feud that could be six-months in the making into one concise bit of speaking time. Both are necessary on a show like Impact, but it is especially frustrating when the explanations we’re given are contradictory at best, and verbal diarrhea mixed with unbelievable tough guy posturing. Like right now.
MVP is supposed to simultaneously be a) a man of the people (fans), b) a man of the people (wrestlers), c) an engaged leader acting in the name of fairness and equal opportunity (a man wrestling a woman? Pfffffffft), d) a real cool guy (did you see his entrance), e) a brilliant businessman (he made investments!), f) the savior of pro wrestling (remember when he signed Bobby Lashley), g) an unbeatable wrestler. Those are a lot of hats to wear at once. You’d think he’d be able to pull it off because his head is so big ((pause for laughter)), but in fact, none of these things really work.
Magnus explains that Abyss is in his employ alone, and is not a contracted employee of TNA. For the sake of this…whatever it is we’re doing here…let’s go ahead and assume that Abyss’s contract expired while he was having his Joseph Park identity crisis, was never re-signed, and they just totally forgot to take him off of the roster page or stop designing new shirts for him. Joseph Park’s contract…we’ll pretend it was rendered null and void by him not actually having any documentation to prove that he was his own person and not Abyss, which is so weird considering that you would at least have to provide some form of government-issued photo identification, or at least the American equivalent of a social insurance number, or something for tax purposes, to be hired in the first place. Assumedly this is why Joe Park drove everywhere, as he wouldn’t be able to make it through airport security, but I digress.
MVP saying that he’s not going to fire Abyss immediately after we establish that in no way is he employed by the company that MVP holds termination rights for is…insane. This is insane to me. If he walked into that ring with the intention of firing Abyss, shouldn’t someone have mentioned that Abyss isn’t employed by their company? And if MVP is under the impression that Abyss is under contract, what stops him from firing anyone at will? What did Abyss do that is outside of the realm of what anyone else in your wrestling company does? James Storm clearly wants Gunner’s entire family dead if they aren’t already, and assaulted someone in the audience, but that’s cool? He gets video packages instead of a sit down with Human Resources and a police officer, but Abyss may have taken something too far?
MVP’s solution to the problem at hand is to offer Abyss a shot at the World Title. If Abyss can only be in the ring with Magnus, then he’ll just book them in a match together. That’s great. You’re so smart and clever, Mr. P. But if Abyss isn’t under contract, that puts you in the same position of AJ Styles being an unemployed champion (in more than looks alone), and do we really need to play that out again? He then puts Samoa Joe into the match, because he is passionately committed to being as fair to everyone as possible. Again, if Abyss doesn’t work for TNA, how does MVP have the authority to book him into a match with his established employer, let alone against a TNA wrestler? How is it fair to Samoa Joe to, as he correctly points out, put him in a handicapped match? Why does MVP think this crazy monster with identity issues who suddenly has a character flaw of only caring about money will forget his established driving need because the top prize in a company who doesn’t pay him is on the line? Why doesn’t MVP simply turn to Abyss and say “you don’t work here get out?” Why…why? Why? Why why why? ((pause to pull hair from head, gnash teeth, start drinking heavily))
At heart, this is supposed to spotlight the ineffectiveness of MVP’s management, but look at all of the nonsensical garbage we have to sort through to get to it. When you’re playing the real-life business angle, at least something has to be grounded in reality. The legality of Aces & Eights’ behaviour was a total clusterf-ck, and here we are, balls deep in the grey area of contracts and business law, and all it would take is the person who is supposed to be explaining it make some goddamn sense.
Look, the missing logic of that opening segment may have made me just so mad, but Magnus’s genuine offense at MVP referring to Abyss as the “world’s ugliest valet” makes my heart do somersaults. I am so into this member of the creative team’s secret interjection of their personal Magnus-Abyss non-erotic friendfiction I can’t even tell you. He’s not doing it for the money, Magnus; he’s doing it for yooooooou.
Best: Eric Young – Guy Who At Least Watches This Show When He’s On It
Eric Young now wants to insert himself into the match to “control” Abyss because he’s the one who “brought the monster out.” MVP says Eric young doesn’t deserve this, because after all, this is for the championship. Eric Young then gloriously chews MVP’s asshole out by listing all of his previous accomplishments, his fractured personalities, his entire TNA career in a nutshell, in such a way that it is impossible MVP to argue given everything he’s stated he’s in TNA to do. And he says “out” like I say “out.” At the end of the day, I’ll always get hard for accurate references to TNA’s past, even if it leads to a Samoa Joe match.
Best: Handsome Boy Hunting Trip
Just a reminder that two dudes traipsing around in the woods to hunt down the physical manifestation of the company’s top babyface’s rage is the thing that makes the most sense on this show. Bless you and your sunglasses, EC3. Bless you.
Best, but realistically a Worst: American Wolves vs. My Pet Monster
This was not a good match. Not good at all. But I can’t worst it. Not really. Abyss wrestles like he’s still Joseph Park, which is not a great thing, but also is a thing that makes me happy. I miss Joseph Park every day, and it’s all too easy to imagine that he’s still around when Abyss derps around the ring, all winded in the corner, coming out to flail his limbs and looked surprised a bunch. Big scary monster indeed!
I also enjoy that, while Magnus tapped, he blew it off because that match and the Wolves don’t matter, and why would he stress himself going into a title match next week? That is an arrogant prick response and I am so into Magnus right now what is even happening. Abyss grabbing and holding the title for Magnus is probably to show that he’s starting to think he might want that instead of the arrangement he and Magnus have, but I am in full friendship mode and am going to pretend he’s just carrying it for him because Magnus just had a match and that belt is really heavy and it’s the nice thing to do when you’re bigger and stronger than your friend. Like carrying the heavier bags of groceries, or taking your friend’s luggage when you pick them up from the airport. It’s like Willy Deville once sang: let me dream if I want to.
Worst: Uggghhhhhh nooooo
Whomever it was who decided that any of this was a good idea should be fired pretty much immediately.
Best: Uggghhhhhh yessssss
If you can sit and watch Ethan Carter III stand in a rundown barn and get lost in himself imagining little Jeff Hardy practicing his swantons off of ladders in that very spot and not come around to the realization that he is so much better than anything else on this show, then I’m sorry, but you are the most wrong. The most wrong.
Worst: Do you know who I am because I am hoping that you’ve forgotten for the purpose of my new storyline
This massive gear shift between guy who wants to murder babies and guy who is so beloved by fans (some of whom are suspiciously built and mulleted like indie wrestlers) that they will carry his tables to the ring for him is…confusing. It is a literal Table Movement ((pause for laughter, put a pin in Bowel Movement joke)). Heel turns and face turns happen all the time, but what are his motivations for this? Is he still a guy who’s into domestic abuse and baby murder, we just like him better now?
He says that he turned on Dixie Carter and by extension Bobby Roode to stop Roode from becoming just like her, but it seems to me that having nice hair, a developed presence on the mic, a spunky assistant, a caring family who’s also charming and kinda dreamy (I am absolutely not talking about Serge and his weird gun obsession), and a champion who got amazing just by being around you who you also happen to have an old lady crush on so you get to have him around all the time is a pretty aspirational life goal, n’est ce pas? Plus, you know…she still is the owner, and Bobby Roode wouldn’t have a controlling share (he was offered 10%) and therefore nowhere near the pull that Dixie had (and should still technically have), but…whatever.
Babyface Baby Murderer sounds like a good idea to someone, so we’re doing this. And this suuuuuucks.