The Best And Worst Of Impact Wrestling: Heathcliff, It's Me, Jeff Hardy

By: 03.21.14  •  23 Comments
SAD DAD ALERT!

SAD DAD ALERT!

Hey friends! It’s time to talk about Ethan Carter III! And other Impact stuff if we have to I guess.

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This week on Impact: Two title matches, a break up, and a dude who has done a million drugs and now lives in the rafters and talks like a Kate Bush song.

Page 2

Worst: JEAN FIGHT STREET FIGHT

So here we are. Sad sack Abyss in a protracted, halfhearted street fight against former best friend Eric Young while ODB tries to get in on the action and yells a bunch, assumedly killing time while they wait to insert her into a “jealous of the Beautiful People because girls amirite” angle.

What a way to start the show.

The idea, I suppose, is that Abyss will have to be chained to Eric Young (???) during the main event title match, and given his newfound nonsensical relationship with Magnus, is looking to eliminate a threat against his new boss while also exacting a measure of revenge for Eric Young not leaving well enough alone. In execution, Abyss looks tired and sad, Eric Young flops around like a freshly caught trout having a fit, and the storytelling is left in the hands of Mike Tenay and Tazz. Anything that forces you to listen to Impact commentary is generally the worst idea. This is the first in a series of events that makes you step back during the episode and ask “what’s the point?” What is the point of devoting months and months to developing the Joseph Park storyline if the endgame is…nothing. This is meaningless. Shoehorning Abyss into a storyline to put him back on television so we can play out someone’s garbage 2009 TNA e-fed?

Usually the beginning of a show is used to set the tone for the rest of it. Whether it’s Dixie or MVP, there’s enough exposition and development that most of this column comes from the first ten minutes or so of the show. I have watched far enough into the show to say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the theme of this show most definitely is “oh my god what is even the point of this.”

He is our superior

He is our superior

Best: I got a new TV…

…and 1080p Ethan Carter III is glorious.

little miss new boots

Better Best: Little Mister New Boots

White gear is an underappreciated art. White trunks can either look slick and classy (see Del Rio, Alberto), or they look like a fancy diaper. White gets grungy fast, and if it’s bad to start out with, no amount of Tide commercial magic will keep it from looking clean and professional. Big John Studd’s late-eighties gear is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be:

pants

andre

Look. All I’m saying is this show is pointless and terrible, but congratulations on your everything, EC3.

Worst: We actually have to see Bobby Lashley wrestle

The actually match isn’t technically horrible. So much is saved by EC3 (the begging, the low blow, wonderful things that live in my heel-loving heart of hearts), as is to be expected. Bobby Lashley’s UNBRIDLED ICONIC ALL-AMERICAN CHAMPION AT EVERY LEVEL (lol) RAGE is still just kind of out of nowhere. Why you so mad, Bobby? Why all the crank? Is this any way to start a new job? Are you mad that I bought an event you headlined for this Danielle Dream Match only and totally bailed on yours after two minutes because it was so awful?

I readily admit that ultimately, I’m gonna be unhappy with Bobby Lashley being back by sheer virtue of who he is and what his signing represents and him also not being Trent/Greg [GOOGLE AUTOFILL LAST NAME]. I can get over that by being presented with a logical explanation as to what his purpose is. He came back with MVP because he’s mad that these other wrestlers don’t know how to be wrestlers so a wrestler who does MMA has to show them how wrestle wrestler real man psycho garbage baby babble etc? Okay, cool. That’s fine. You are a functioning part of a greater long-term sequential narrative. As opinionated to a fault as I might be, I can come around to almost anyone (Magnus, that’s you, buddy) as long as they have an explicit purpose that serves the needs of putting on an entertaining television show that makes sense.

Spoiler alert: This is not an episode that makes sense.

Best: Speaking of, here’s Willow!

IT RISES FROM THE DARKNESS TO ATTACK THE NEPHEW OF THE MAVEN OF THE EVEN TIDE DRAPED IN GLITTER AND THE FINERY OF THE BEAST OF OPPRESSION FLARGLEDEWEEEE

We can infer that Jeff Hardy was so destroyed by the actions of Dixie Carter, the only way he could deal with it was to regress to his “alter ego” Willow, a much more vindictive and violent side of his personality. As such, he’s enacting his revenge on those closest to her because you can only physically beat up giant memorial photos of a lady (again, a real thing that happened). Spud last week, then EC3 this week. Magnus is safe because he has separated himself from Dixie in what really should be the continuance of a build towards an EC3-Magnus feud resulting in World Heavyweight Champion Mr. The Third, but I digress.

In reality, it’s like EC3 is getting beat up by a human cartoon. His punches are what I imagine Kermit the Frog going HAM on someone looks like. He is wearing old lady velvet pants. If you are grounded in the real world, this kind of display makes you watch with wide-eyed disbelief that it is actually a thing that is being allowed to happen. And I am unintentionally delighted by ALL OF IT. The bar of “this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen” is constantly being raised higher and higher in TNA (remember Black Reign?), but this bypasses any legitimate concerns because there is a crazy person wearing a mask that looks like the mallgoth teenage lovechild of an unholy Lithuanian Snow Troll/UltraMantis Black union making crazy eyes while a recording of his high-pitched cackle plays at whim. Willow makes me feel the opposite of Bobby Lashley; I don’t want any explanation as to why he’s there, I just want him interrupting Borash or popping up between Tenay and Tazz to have inexplicable crazy shout times. Popping up to yell about how THE CREATURES WHO EMBRACE THE DARKNESS ARE THE STRONGEST EEEAHAHA WAGAWOOO as he spots Robbie E while he’s lifting. I don’t need (or really want) him to wrestle, just be a minor irritating super weirdo that everyone puts up with because he’s still on the payroll and refuses to go home, so they just have to wait patiently to make copies because Willow the Office Hobgoblin was perched on the photocopier shouting nonsense again, but now he can’t get down because he got his palazzo pants stuck in the paper tray, and no one remembers Roy the Maintenance Guy’s extension.

Willow vs. Fax Machine is my ultimate TNA fantasy booking.

hall monitor

Worst: Bully Ray

Guy Who Waits Around In Hallways is only slightly better than Guy Who Shouts Stuff. The problem is it’s just as riveting. Riveting, in this instance, means it’s as exciting as a guy waiting in an office hallway without a magazine or any games on his iPhone sounds.

If this doesn’t lead to Willow the Office Hobgoblin riding past him in the mail cart, this episode is a complete and utter waste of time.

AND NOW ONTO THE LEGAL DEPARTMENT, WHERE THE DEMONS OF OUR REALITY COME OUT TO PLAY EEEEAAAHAHAHHAHAHAAAA

Page 3

waaaaah

Worst: Samoa Joe

Samoa Joe approaches MVP to let him know that he’s just so mad that Abyss attacked Eric Young, because now there’s no one to stay handcuffed to Abyss because that’s a totally brilliant way to stop a gigantic mentally unhinged dude from interfering in your aggressive cuddle match. A minor best to MVP for acting like an actual human being (and pausing between sentences!), and reacting like a real life boss presented with a real life problem (as far from an actual real life problem as it is). But oh, Samoa Joe.

Samoa Joe alternates between “oh yeah, he’s still here, put him in a match” and “this guy is machine built of violence and submissions and anger and spittle WHY DON’T YOU BELIEVE US.” There’s never really any consistency, which makes the guy who just gets so mad at everything that much more unbelievable. There’s something to be said for a big hoss type whose sole personality trait is MURDERKILLINYA (that thing is yes please), but it just doesn’t work on Joe. His quiet moments are forced and come off as trite, and those in turn make his wrestling as empty as THE CAVERNOUS HEARTS OF THE SOULESS CREATURES EXISITING ONLY IN THE TWILIGHT OF SADNESS GRIMMELDEBOOOO-uh…sorry. Once you start it’s really hard to want to stop typing like Willow.

Let me put it a different way. Take Harley Race. When Harley Race calmly sits down and explains to you that the belt is his, it belongs to him, and no one is going to take it, you know that if you get anywhere near him he is going to shoot murder you and hide your body so well no one will ever find it again. It is terrifying. Harley Race looks like someone’s unassuming, chain-smoking uncle whose ill-advised perm gets whispered about in the kitchen during family holidays. But would I want to f*ck with Harley Race? There aren’t enough briefcases full of money in the world.

Quiet moments of confidently expressing yourself and your intent without threatening to crush someone’s throat, or bust through someone’s wall, or any kind of graphic description of what you’re supposedly capable of, are what make people truly fear you. If I saw Samoa Joe’s baby punches, and then he told me he was going to machete my face until I died I wouldn’t exactly be shaking in my hypothetical wrestling boots. Unless he had an actual machete. Again. Because that happened. And even then, it would be less because BIG TOUGH SCARY Samoa Joe is doing it, but moreso because anyone brandishing a machete is intimidating by sheer virtue of machete.

The positive thing I will say about this is that there already seem to be cracks forming MVP’s leadership. Samoa Joe points out that every time MVP tries to make things better, he just makes it worse. MVP’s story is still in it’s infancy, and while I don’t believe in killing off something before you can even start it because it contributes to the unhealthy goldfish-like attention span that televised wrestling has cultivated in its fanbase for so many years, there’s a very large part of me that wants to stand up and shout YEAAAH EAT IT at MVP because sometimes I am…not a great person.

Worst but secretly Best: That’s totally a dick

totally a penis

Hee.

yaoi

Best: Magnus and EC3, or Worst: Again, why isn’t this on YouTube

Magnus asking if “the other twelve couldn’t get out of the Volkswagon in time” in reference to that “clown” Willow made me laugh in an extremely unattractive fashion. Magnus and EC3 big-boy bickering fills my heart with unspeakable joy. Kudos to whomever slipped their tousled-hair tsundere EC3 vs. big bara Magnus fanfic into this week’s script. “Abyss is all I need. And all I’ll ever need.” That, friends, is the sound of a million headcanons going BOOM.

Worst: Needs more Willow

That Willow didn’t pop out of the open locker to defend himself because EEEHEEEAAHHHAAHAHA IN DEATH YOU ARE ALONE AS IN THE RING I AM ALONE I AM THE CREEPING DEATH AND FINE GERMAN ENGINEERING CANNOT CONTAIN THE TENDRILS OF MY SPIRITUAL BEING RIMPITY ROOOO is a damn shame. A damn shame.

Begrudging Best: DADFIGHT

Here’s the official Impact Wrestling description of what happened:

What followed was both shocking and disgusting. Storm locked Gunner against the ropes and smacked his dad around in front of him. At that point, James seemed content with leaving things there, with his former partner helplessly dangling from the ring while his pop tries to free him. Then, just as you thought the Cowboy couldn’t sink any lower – he did. Storm stopped short on the ramp, pivoted, came up behind Gunner’s dad, and smashed a beer bottle over the back of his head. Shards of glass flew through the air as Gun witnessed him crash to the floor. Yeah. For those who didn’t think this conflict could get any more personal, things just hit a new level.

Um, I dunno…I kinda feel like James Storm telling Gunner that he should have died in the war was kinda personal. Or telling Gunner he’s glad his grandfather died so early in his life so he couldn’t see him grow up. That’s…also kinda personal. And it’s also maybe awesome? I can’t tell. I really can’t.

I don’t know if this is where my Impact Stockholm Syndrome kicks in, and my brain says “welp, it’s super over the top, but he didn’t use a gay slur, and it’s not misogynitic or awful racially-motivated hate, so…is it really so bad?” There’s something so unbelievable about James Storm telling Gunner he should have died during his military service that as gross a thing it is to say to another human being, it’s entirely hilarious to me. Asshole James Storm spewing his outdated ideals of masculinity and his obsession with putting things in the trunks of other wrestlers at house shows is the pits, but I am unintentionally fascinated by Gives No F-cks Why Didn’t You Die When You Had The Chance Because You’re The Worst And I Hate You Asshole James Storm.

lol dads

Best: TRUCK SOUP – A SPIKE TV ORIGINAL

Would I watch a reality show entirely about MizDad and GunDad roadtripping across America to review the Soup of the Day at truck stop diners? Am I forever sad that isn’t a thing now that it’s entered my brain? And why do dads grow increasingly obsessed with the temperature of their soup the older they get?

Page 4

UGH

Worst: Ching Chong Bing Bong Burrito

Also not on YouTube: The two minute segment entirely devoted to The BroMans making fun of Tigre Uno and Sanada for being foreign and supposedly not speaking English, and saying a bunch of non-English words because saying arrevederci to a fellow from Mexico is HI-larious. Nothing says heyday of TNA like wholly unnecessary racism!

Early prediction: The BroMans drop the tag titles by getting caught on a flash pin they didn’t see coming because they were too busy making “slant eyes.”

Worst: A means to an end

The only reason I’m bothering to mention this snooze-fest is that it’s supposedly Tapa’s last match, which is pertinent to the show as a whole. It’s even confirmed on TH’DIRTSHEETZ, sandwiched right between WHO SHELLEY MARTINEZ IS DATING NOW and CHRIS BENOIT: IS HE INNOCENT?

Crack job, wrestling journos.

Best: Holy sugar can we just take a minute for this

MVP needs someone to handcuff to Abyss, so he approaches Willow in the rafters I guess? to ask him to step in.

I CANNOT stress enough why it is worth it to sit through the veritable dumpster fire of a show that is Impact Wrestling. Even though we’ve been exiled from Dixieland, Willow moments are not on YouTube, but are i n c r e d i b l e. Just shouting nonsense in his spooky voice and then suddenly alternating to the chorus of Wuthering Heights and HOLD UP JUST RELEASED EC3 HAS A SECRET ABOUT WILLOW STOP EVERYTHING LET’S WATCH THIS TOGETHER NOW

……precious and perfect.

Worst: The Beautiful People, take 37

I am sadly well-versed in Beautiful People Canon, so I’m already squicky on all three of these ladies being happy to see one another right off the bat. I will acknowledge that Madison Rayne makes a valid point in bringing up that the Beautiful People treated her poorly, but she also did get her revenge with that whole “I guess Tara and Madison have motorcycles and are gay now?” storyline. And we all know revenge negates established facts because that’s what wrestling teaches us. It’s well within reason that she should be reticent to have anything to do with Angelina Love, but Velvet Sky jumping on board? Really?

Girl, you need to read your own damn Wikipedia. Or watch some DVDs. Or use your brain because you were there you of all people should know what happened oh my god what is even the point of any of this

Best: Just like meeeee

soary

sad love

Worst: I don’t know what’s more depressing

This picture of Angelina Love, the comment section of a Funky Winterbean strip, or the website entirely devoted to photoshopping female wrestler’s heads onto the bodies of foot fetish models I found at 5am while searching for a comparison picture of Angelina.

Page 5

Best: Sanada and Tigre Uno are still a team

Can we officially start calling them Team PURRRo now?

Worst: Basically everything else

It’s a match. It happened. It was preceded by even further awkward racially motivated heel bullsh*t that, at this point, is about as half-hearted as Abyss’s victory cries. It’s the week Bad Influence got crazy racist for no reason all over again. Sometimes I feel like when a heel team gets too well-liked, it sets off an alarm in the TNA writing room, and the only way you can shut it off is by writing a racist promo.

If a heel is truly good at their job, they don’t need to make Mexican food jokes, they can get booed on their own merits. It’s a lazy copout. The other danger of making someone too real-life despicable is that people don’t want to buy the merchandise of bigoted scumbags, and if they do, this is not the audience you should be catering to. You interfere with your profit, and you look like royal douchebags. Saying “don’t be garbage humans” isn’t a thing that people who work for Impact seem to understand, but “people who are good at their job will make you money” is a thing they really, really need to catch on to.

Best? Worst? Huh?: Mike Knox, Carny

what is even the point of this

Worst: Why wasn’t Willow in that chair?

OOOOOOO YOU’VE FOUND ME BULLY RAY YOU’VE SPUN ME AROUND IN THIS CHAIR LIKE THE WHEELS OF PROGRESS SPIN FURTHER YES EVEN FURTHER INTO THE BLEAK SILK-LINED COFFIN OF OBLIVION MAN HAS CREATED FOR HIMSELF AND ALSO CAN YOU HELP ME FIGURE OUT HOW TO CONNECT LINE ONE TO LINE TWO IT IS AS IMPOSSIBLE TO FIGURE OUT AS THE DEEPEST MYSTERIES OF THE INTANGIBLE FAIRY UNIVERSE EEEEAHAHA KRIXITEE KREEEEEEE

Worst: Every time Abyss says Joe

I think he means Joe Park and my heart gets all sad.

Best: MVP because nothing in this show makes sense

I’m gonna give a best to MVP (ahhhh no who am I) for doing what an actual leader would do: stepping up to fill in for a teammate when there’s no one else who will do it. That is the nice thing I will say about MVP in the spirit of positive thinking and also because I couldn’t think of a nice thing to say about Davey Richards as promised.

Best, despite what actually happened: Magnus vs. Samoa Joe

I am going to give this a best, IN SPITE of the actual match being the drizzling sh*ts, IN SPITE of the shenanigans outside of the ring, and IN SPITE of the ref bump. Aside from Magnus retaining (so EC3 can rip that belt off of his smarmy waist and put it on his own smarmy waist that I happen to like better), there are two things we need to celebrate here:

1) Production has finally found an angle that makes Magnus’s elbow drop look good, which at this point is as momentous as splitting the atom, and

2) Samoa Joe getting caught in the face with a flying steel chair made me ugly laugh so hard I almost hurt a muscle in my throat.

Tune in next week when Robbie E discovers ganguro, Jessie pisses on a Korean flag because they’re all basically the same, amirite, and Willow learns Microsoft Word woodoolee wheeeeeeeeeee!

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