Good morning! Or…good whatever time of day you’re reading this at! I hope you’ve had a lovely week. You look nice today. Let’s do a Best and Worst, shall we? First things first:
– Editor’s Note: This week’s Best and Worst of Impact Wrestling column is brought to you on a Monday, in an effort to get With Leather readers who are ghosts by 4 on Friday to check it out. It’s also a test to see how a Best and Worst of Smackdown report would play, but don’t tell anybody.
– We’ve got some great things happening over at The Mandible Claw. The guest contributors have been turning in some outstanding work, including With Leather favourite (except that one guy) (you know who you are) Casey/THESTINGER, Chikara’s Master of the Snake Style Ophidian, and a few more. Jojo Bravo – intelligent and articulate dude, ridiculously good looking Texan, Godzilla superfan – guested on the podcast and it’s pretty much my new favourite thing. If you’re reading this, you should also be reading that.
– The podcast we recorded for Monday ended up being so long, and also way too much fun, so as a treat we’re putting it up early! In this episode, we review half of the contenders in the With Leather Bad Wrestling Theme Lyrics March Madness Tournament. Secrets are revealed, Buffs are stuffed, and at one point I literally stop breathing because a set of lyrics is so hilariously terrible. If you’re into temporary asphyxiation, this may not be the website you’re looking for. But if you’re super into hearing me sing part of Rob Van Dam’s theme song, that’s kinda specific, but it’s your lucky day! Don’t be a ham-and-egger, click on that podcast link!
– Remember that time you followed me on twitter and it was awesome, or at least moderately amusing, or maybe even just a thing you did? No? Well, let’s fix that! Follow me here, follow With Leather here, and follow UPROXX here.
– My deepest apologies for the lateness. To make up for it, this report is super-sized, with two assists from some cool cats who went to the most recent live shows. Be nice to them!
This week on Impact: Bobby Roode and Austin Aries have matching tank tops, and….actually, is there really anything else you need to know? Follow me, friends!
Best: Hey reader, I heard you like Bests and Worsts so I put a Best and Worst in your Best and Worst
Eamon Paton – blogger, twitterer, Texas dweller – was lucky enough to attend Lockdown this past weekend, and now we are lucky enough to get a live-show recap.
Hey With Leatherers, my name is Eamon Paton and I had the pleasure (Yes you heard me, the pleasure) of attending TNA Lockdown live this past Sunday in sunny San Antonio, TX. Not only was this one of TNA’s top PPV events of the year, but also they achieved the goal of having their largest attendance ever in their over 10-year history. So, here are my thoughts in the Best and Worst of TNA Lockdown 2013.
This was my first time ever attending a TNA PPV, with my only other event I have been at being a house show back in 2008. I have to admit that I was feeling a lot of trepidation going into the event, knowing that while TNA was going to be holding Lockdown in the Alamodome, they were only using a very small portion of said dome. Many other people felt the same and I have to say, they delivered beyond my expectations. They curtained off a good 6th of the building for the event; the stage looked professional and close to all of the seats were packed. There seemed to be no gigantic holes in seating from what I could see. The only minor complaints that I could have was that the sound of the ring was very muted, meaning you couldn’t really hear when someone got slammed. Also, there was no live feed being shown on the titantron. However the PPV feed could be viewed on the televisions in the concession stand. That’s how I watched the Robbie E/Robbie T “Con-Bro-Tation” (That’s a confrontation between bros. Yeah, I know. I should write for TNA.). But other than that, the entire look and feel of the event oozed professionalism, something that TNA isn’t necessarily known for.
Best: Zero Commentary
Oh my god, I can’t even put into words how awesome it felt to watch a match in a TNA ring and not have to listen to Taz say “Yam-bag” every other word. I encourage everyone who finds TNA to be atrocious to take some time and watch a couple of matches with the commentary on mute, or at least try listening to Willie and Hector for a change. Either way, it improves the product by tenfold. The best part is that many of the wrestlers in the ring have the capability of portraying the story using their facial expressions and tiny subtleties, without the viewer needing someone to tell them “This is what they are doing and this is why they are doing it”. This was especially evident in the main event with Bully Ray, who was the king of subtleties, making what could have been an ordinary match amazingly enjoyable. It literally renders Taz, Tenay and “dude in a suit who’s name I will never care to remember” useless, which also leads me to my next point.
Best: Young Fans At Wrestling Shows
I was honestly surprised how many people were in that arena that had followed TNA television for weeks upon weeks, and didn’t just show up because “Hogan, Sting and Hardy are gonna be there. Those are names I know”. People were honestly excited, especially a young girl sitting behind me who couldn’t be any older than 6. She had an absolute ball, oohing and wooing every time anyone did anything. She also was so phenomenal commentating the tag team match, that she would put a certain someone called “The Professor” to shame.
Every time Hernandez would tag in, she would be sure to note, “Here comes the powerhouse!” and was questioning why Hernandez would suplex his partner Chavo onto his opponent, if it also did damage to Chavo. What commentary team does that today? They would normally just go “Great double team offense by Chavo and Hernandez”, but this little girl was looking into it so much deeper and most definitely deserves Taz’s spot, that way he can go to the clubhouse and do whatever middle age men in biker costumes like to do.
Worst: Other Fans At Wrestling Shows
Of course, anytime you go to a wrestling show, especially one this large, you are going to encounter some not so great wrestling fans. Only two really stuck out, the first being a guy not too far from me, who I not so affectionately call the “Blurt out everything that is about to happen” fan. Every ref bump he called, every finish to a match. To me, it doesn’t matter how obvious you think something is going to be. Keep it to yourself, because there is probably a bunch of people around you who may not see what you see, and want to be surprised. If you are walking up your friends driveway with him on his birthday, you don’t just scream “There are a bunch of people in there who are gonna jump up with cake and balloons and presents as a surprise!” Just have some self-control.
The second was the fans that chanted “This Is Awesome” at just about everything. Don’t get me wrong, I think that chant is great and has its place. But, if you are doing it at the end of the Bully Ray/Jeff Hardy video package, before entrances or introductions have even happened, rethink your use of it.
Best: Getting To Yell At Taryn Terrell or Worst: Taryn Terrell
If you follow me on Twitter, you will know I am not a big fan of TNA’s “Lead Knockout Official” Taryn Terrell. Actually, “not a big fan” is putting it pretty mildly. I despise her. But unlike myself, Danielle and most competent people, there are people who enjoy Taryn and how she performs her current job in TNA. From what I can decipher, their reasoning can be sort of summarized as, “Hey, look at her boobies guyz”. However, I stand by my statement that Taryn Terrell is quite possibly the worst referee I have seen in my entire life, and I’ve been to an indie show where the referee was wearing a Dasher Hatfield mask with a coonskin cap. No joke.
So it gave me a great sense of gratification that instead of yelling, “Taryn Terrell you are the worst referee in the history of mankind!” at my screen, I got to do it live. Not only that, but I converted many others around me to jeer her for her subpar performance as well. From the way its looking, Terrell may be transitioning into a wrestler and start her feud with Gail Kim, and if that’s the case I will ease up on her. But, if she continues to not understand how rope breaks work, I will continue to ream her for not taking the time to try to be at least a functioning referee.
Seriously, Dangerous Women Of Wrestling had better officials.
Best/Worst: The “Garbage Throwing” After The Main Event
I am sort of on the fence about this whole situation because I am being pulled in two directions. On the one hand, you had a lot of people in that building who were Jeff Hardy supporters, riled up because of the end result. This led to them throwing trash into the ring, which provided for a very cool effect that raised the intensity of this feud and made the Ace’s and Eights seem more impactful (pardon my pun) and important than they ever have been. Bully Ray has a history of antagonizing crowds, so much so that a fan once decided to jump from a balcony in order to get his hands on him. Also, I have never been a part of something like that before, and while I definitely wasn’t going to risk throwing things, it was one of those things I can check off my wrestling bucket list of sorts. It will definitely look amazing in video packages and was a perfect way in which to end the show, leaving the question of “What happens next?” in everyone’s minds.
On the other hand, if you are a wrestling fan, please try all you can to not throw stuff in the ring during wrestling shows. It makes us look like dumb, blubbering morons who can’t control our emotions. Not only were there cups of water and popcorn being thrown, but also thick, metal beer bottles. I was legit worried that one was going to catch So Cal Val in the back of the head, and she doesn’t deserve that. Also, there didn’t seem to be any reprimanding afterwards, so good on you Alamodome security. Let’s hope that next time TNA comes back you won’t mistake a fan jumping in the ring and wrapping his arm around Jeff Hardy as a member of Aces and Eights.
That’s also theorizing that Aces and Eights will still be a thing the next time they stop in San Antonio. I hope so, and I hope Mike Knox has all the title belts.
Well there you go, that’s my Best and Worst of being at TNA Lockdown. I thank Danielle for allowing me to contribute to this awesome column. If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, you can do so at @TheWrestlefan. Also if you like the words that I put on this page, I do more writing at http://www.wrestlefanwrites.blogspot.com. It’s normally about things other than TNA; so if you want your fill of pictures of Joseph Park with loving words next to them, keep reading Danielle’s great pieces.
Even better best: THAT’S MIKE KNOX! YOU KNOW, WWE’S MIKE KNOX!
Hee! This is the best thing, and I am super touched that is a thing that happened. I don’t think he realized that I’m in Canada, but hey, Mike Knox, I love you. Let’s hug someday, k?
Best, Worst, and everything in between: Lockdown!
Unfortunately due to real life grown up stuff (worst!), I wasn’t able to do a Best and Worst for Monday. So let’s do a quick rundown of things that were great, and assume that everything else was “Meh” to “This is literally the most boring thing I’ve ever seen” to “Wes Brisco, just….no.”
Mike Knox: see To Me, Said Hello To
Joseph Park: see Park, Joseph
Chavandez vs. the former WTTCotW vs. the current WTTCotW: This was, as Brandon often says before I make fun of him, OFF THE CHAIN. If you watch (through the most legal of methods, obvs) one match, it should be the Joseph Park match. If you want to see some really great wrestling with four of the six best things in TNA, watch the tag match.
Devon: He climbed the cage during the main event, and took what felt like forever to get the TOTALLY NOT FAKE hammer out of his pants, which led to multiple giggle fits on my part. It also led to…
Best: Bully Ray, World Champion
BULLY RAY, WORLD CHAMPION. My heart goes wooooosh every time I say that. If, for some reason, you have managed to keep yourself entirely spoiler-free, a) welcome back to the internet, there are some cats with words on them you need to catch up on, and b) Bully Ray was revealed to be the President of Aces & Eights. Not the higher power, mind you, but still, the de facto highest power we’ll see until they can find someone who’s good enough at contouring abs in fake tanner for Jeff Jarrett to come back (NO NOT JEFF JARRETT DO NOT BRING HIM BACK).
Besides the fact that Bully gets to be champion (wooooosh!), the best part is the way it happened. Devon descended the cage, struggled for a while, pulled out the TOTALLY NOT FAKE hammer and handed it to Bully. There was a brief moment where my brain went “Oh hey, maybe they won’t do what everyone who’s seen five minutes of this angle thinks will happen, and Devon will actually turn on Aces & Eights because Brotherly Love.” Then I remembered, nope, TNA, as Bully turned and whacked Jeff Hardy in the back. And I’m still okay with it!
We talk a lot about friendships in wrestling, be it Ricardo and Del Rio, the Robbies, me and Joseph Park, but the feeling I got watching Bully Ray and Devon hug in the middle of the ring, bad guys or not, is pretty much the best feeling you can get as a fan. At Lockdown 2011, I was incredibly dismayed that Bully and Devon were at separate tables, and despite how great it was meeting them individually, as a Dudley Boys fan, I want nothing more than for them to be happy and together forever. As someone who just wants all of her favourites to be BFF, and is clearly still reeling from the Great Bropression, a Dudley Boys reunion? Wooooosh.
Best: Meet & Beat Manifesto
This all brings us around to tonight’s Impact. The show starts out with Chavandez marching down to the ring, posing and preening, completely unaware that this segment is actually about Aces & Eights who proceed to beat them up and take over.
So let’s review: Bully and Devon reunited because Love, Smilin’ Mike Knox smiles all the time, they like beating up Chavandez, they secretly hate Taz and don’t tell him anything, and they wear a lot of plaid. Aaaaand I’m supposed to dislike them. Right. Okay. Keep going with that strategy.
Worst: Bully Ray, Guy Who Shouts Stuff
As much as how this played out makes my heart do things that should be concerning, medically speaking, I’m a little sad that Bully Ray has reverted back to “Angry Dude Who Yells Stuff.” Thinking back over everything Bully has done, and the range of emotions he has both displayed and made me feel, it really shows just how underrated a performer he is. Not wrestler, performer. How much depth has he had in the past? How long does one have to refine their skills to be able to yell stuff and then go WAAZZZZZZUP??! The emotional turmoil has been leaps and bounds beyond what he’s done in the past. Even the little things, like that sinister look over Brooke’s shoulder that back then made you think something maybe kind of is totally up, but then in retrospect makes you appreciate the subtleties he’s been able to put into his character. Gone are the nuances and layers, and dare I say, charismatic enigmas to his character, and he’s back to being completely one-dimensional. Actor Bully Ray, you don’t know you’re beautiful.
Best: Frustrated Old Man Sting
That’s right, Sting. Let the salty waves of senility crash over you.
Girl, you are killin’ it with the Chicago-themed gear tonight. +312
Worst: The Knockouts Division
Maaan. It’s hard to complain that the Knockouts have a legitimate storyline occurring other than “One has bigger boobs than the other,” but I am not into this at all. Tara, the second best wrestler they have, has been tossed out like yesterday’s garbage. Velvet Sky, who wrestles like yesterday’s garbage, is a meaningless champion who gets the pin on Tara in Chicago, which makes me just about as angry as that time Beth Phoenix didn’t beat Kelly Kelly for the belt at Night of Champions in Buffalo. Gail Kim is stuck in a dumb feud that makes no sense, and Taryn Terrell is…there. Don’t get me wrong, her spear at Lockdown was about a gajillion times better than anything Kaitlyn has pulled off lately, but unless she has somehow absorbed some wrestling prowess via osmosis in the past couple of weeks, I am not looking forward to the inevitable Taryn-Gail matches.
All of that isn’t even touching on the fact that, despite blowing calls and repeatedly putting her hands on a wrestler, she’s only on super-secret double probation. I know Brooke is “in charge” of the Knockouts division, and she’s busy practicing her sad faces in the mirror for the next time she’s on TV, but no one else in the company has any power to do anything? She’s not Teflon Taryn, guys. Come on.
Oh Brooke. Don’t ever piss off the graphics guys. Never ever ever piss off the graphics guys.
Worst: Robbie on Robbie Violence
Best: Hogan and Sting, Fallout Boys
I was a little worried when this segment began, given that Bully is back to being a shouty jerk and not much more, and Hogan seemed to have reverted to his overacting tendencies. Thankfully, it was just a rough start and my love of the Hogan saga can continue. Sting approaches Hogan in his makeshift arena office, begging Hogan not to fire Bully Ray so he can fight him on this very night. Well here go hell come, Hogan is having none of what Sting is laying down. He points out that he told Sting, from the beginning, not to trust Bully Ray. That he knew who he was, but Sting “stared all the way into his soul” and told Hogan to trust him. Now the company is being held hostage, Bully has the title, and his daughter is stuck in a marriage to Bully Ray, and it’s all Stings fault. Hogan completely turns his back on Sting, and it’s…oh guys, it’s good.
Worst: How does I movie?
Despite being an entirely effective promo, and giving me all sorts of thoughts and feels, man, Hogan, haven’t you ever seen a movie before? I know you’ve been in them – my DVD shelf proves that. Unless Hogan is really into art house films and made No Holds Barred ironically, I’m pretty sure that the “good guys” will find a way to prevail because that’s generally how most movies work. Come on Hogan, on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east and it’ll all be fine. Well, either that or we’ll find out he’s been completely delusional this whole time, and he’s strapped to a chair somewhere in the Impact zone being observed by Sting and Dixie Carter, humming Real American and dreaming of escaping Orlando.
Best: The aforementioned thoughts and feelings, or, Danielle has had too much time to think about this
Now, it’s said that TNA has the next six months planned out, and this is basically how they’ve been working for the last little while. Usually I don’t trust TNA as far as I can throw Jeff Jarrett, but I feel like in this case, things might actually turn out. It’s no Quackenbush two-year half Watchmen-themed plan, but thinking back I can see little seeds of greatness planted here and there in things that, at the time, made no sense or seemed completely terrible. Maybe now they’ve realized that people do and will watch on a continual basis if presented with intriguing enough storylines and a little thing called continuity that gets ignored by…well, most television shows in general, let alone wrestling.
Mostly this just makes me want to see Hogan revealed as the higher power in Aces & Eights, because again, it makes the most sense, and thinking it through gives me warm and fuzzy storyline feelings. In no way is the biggest reveal that Bully Ray is the President of Aces & Eights. It was impactful, sure, but remind me – how does he have the power to hire and fire? Assuming Ring Ka King isn’t canon (sorry Leopard and Puma *kisses hand, touches heart, points to sky*), how is DOC there? And our jolly friend Mike Knox? And all of those other guys, like that time Xamot was so clearly in the giant group of masked men who did some damage then were never seen again? It has to be someone in a position of power who can be convincing enough for guys like D-Lo and Anderson to follow him. Jeff Jarrett has no kayfabe power, he was “fired.” Bischoff has no kayfabe power, he was “forced out.” Hogan argues that they’re taking over the whole company, but two of the last legitimate positions of power that aren’t occupied by Dixie or Panda Energy are filled by a Hogan.
Let’s think about it logically for a second. Hogan was a heel “president” of TNA up until he lost to Sting at Bound for Glory 2011. This event also kicked off his face turn when he defended Sting from an Immortal run in. He put Sting over, everyone made up, and then Hogan went on hiatus. When he came back to Impact in February 2012, he was shown to be Garrett Bischoff’s trainer. In March, he accepted a position as General Manager from his good buddy Sting. By July, they were feuding with a mysterious group of playing-card themed masked men. He took a break for back surgery (because Hulk Hogan, oh god, your spine), then came back in August, attacking Aces & Eights.
Brooke also came to TNA in July, and by November had: made some questionable leadership decisions, hired Taryn Terrell, and was outed as being in a relationship with Bully Ray by Austin Aries, that lovable scamp.
Garrett Bischoff may actually be the one of the most interesting lynchpins in this whole thing. Garrett was a referee under an assumed name during the initial Hogan-Sting feud. He also went from “some guy” to “oh, that’s Eric Bischoff’s son” at Bound for Glory 2011, which was pivotal to Hogan’s face turn. He was made a part of the TNA roster by Sting, and it was revealed that Hogan had been his trainer. In March, when Hogan became GM, Garrett made it through two Beat the Clock challenges against Kurt Angle to make it to Lockdown, where he defeated his father in the Lethal Lockdown match, thus banishing Eric Bischoff from TNA.
He was then in a program for the television championship against Devon. They then teamed up, fought the Robbies, then went for the tag belts. The only reason they split up was because Devon “left” TNA. As we all know, Devon then returned in October a member of Aces & Eights in one of the most well-kept secret storylines TNA has ever pulled off. Garrett’s good friend Wes Brisco also showed up in October. By the end of January, both men were arm in arm with the Sergeant at Arms.
While Tazz was in place to manipulate the Gut Check votes, without someone in a position to hire on talent (and I use that term loosely in reference to DOC), the arrival of the rest of Aces & Eights doesn’t make sense. What if, after all of this putting Sting over, and saying he’s the best wrestler in the world, Hogan is actually just jealous? What if all of this, at the end of the day, is to both take over TNA and take everything away from Sting? Hogan may have had his Hulkamania glory, but maybe to him, Sting’s been the better wrestler and had the more respectable wrestling career. What if it’s to stick it to all of those little Stingers out there who chose rainbow face paint instead of the glory of red & yellow?
Guys. Seriously. I am literally a glass of wine, a skein of red yarn, and a Charlie Parker album away from going full-Carrie on this show. Either that or I am really, really good at justifying watching TNA so intently for so long. But in all honesty, while the execution may not always be the most pleasant to watch (sup Wes Brisco), you have to admit this is some top shelf narrative. And with the right people in each man’s corner, Sting vs. Hogan at Bound for Glory could actually be really, really good.
Best: Mecha Shiva, I love you so much it hurts
No, literally it hurts. I laughed so hard at this segment I actually fell off of the couch. Mind you, I was pretty precariously perched on the couch to begin with, and I was probably well on my way to falling over anyways, but you can’t put those two in matching bedazzled tank tops and not expect magic to happen or me to injure myself somehow.
Best: The return of Throwback Thursday
Hawk Daniels, Animal Kazarian… If you don’t remember that my favourite thing is wrestlers doing impressions of other wrestlers, let me remind you: it is my favourite thing.
Worst: Drunk Uncle
James Storm, stop. Stop interrupting, stop making fights out of nowhere, go home, and call your sponsor.
Best: AJ Styles, Young Lions Cup Champion
Apparently the only way to ever, ever make me interested in what’s going to happen with AJ Styles is to have him do his best Tim Donst impression. Had he shouted “WHY’D YOU MAKE ME DO THAT” after clotheslining James Storm, I would have immediately….well, I wouldn’t have spent any money, but I would have definitely thought long and hard about my past indifferences towards AJ Styles while re-watching night 1 of Chikara’s King of Trios 2012.
Worst: My DVR glitched and cut out almost the entire Joe Park segment
So I’m just going to pretend that Matt Morgan showed up, complimented Joseph Park on his progress as a wrestler, congratulated him on the Ws under his belt, told him his tie was nice and then LEFT FOREVER.
Best: ER’BODY GETTING’ PUNCHED UP IN HERE
Hogan comes out to address Aces & Eights, and says that he’s empowered everyone remaining on the roster to go after Aces & Eights. Technically, this full-roster type of melee should be reserved for the end of a show prior to the Royal Rumble, and if it goes on for too long it’s ridiculous. And this was…long. There are two takeaways from this, though:
1. My heart! I love all-out brawls/battle royals/Royal Rumbles. My favourite thing about them is when a wrestler will get totally lost, and just kind of wander around, looking for someone to punch, or try to get in on something two other people already have going on. Mr. Perfect did this a lot. In fact, one could say he did it perfectly. I love the early Royal Rumbles when guys would still try to find ways to be involved, as opposed to laying along the ropes for almost the entire thing (2006 Rey Mysterio and Triple H, I mean you), because it ends up looking so silly. And this fight is just full of silliness Look at Mike Knox wander! Joseph Park, look at your punches! lol, Chavo! Oh, it’s all so wonderful.
2. Aces & Eights completely run roughshod over the roster/ Bully Ray points out to “Dad,” as he stands tall over the broken and bent bodies of everyone who ran out, that they’ve won. Hulk’s “cavalry” has been defeated, and laughable at best. Aces & Eights look tough and unstoppable, as opposed to getting scared off by a group of guys half of what they have, and I’m really looking forward to next week.