The Best And Worst Of Impact Wrestling 3/21/13: Be Kind While We Rewind

Hello! Is it an Impact column you’re looking for? I can see it in your eyes. I can see it in your smile. And I want to tell you so much….the following pre-show notes:

– Haven’t voted in With Leather’s Bad Wrestling Theme Lyrics March Madness Tournament? Unsure who to vote for? Might I recommend two podcasts of a combined three hour length that will tickle your funny bone and fill you with mental images of me fighting Haystacks Calhoun? No? Well, you should listen anyways, because they’re pretty great. I know it seems like a long time, but hey, toss it on during a commute. A lunch break. Take a road trip, see something fun, and listen to Brandon’s dead-on Matt Hardy impersonation. And hey, while you’re doin’ stuff, you should check out the rest of The Mandible Claw. Wrestling! Wrestlers! It’s all there!

– Another thing you should do, as I am apparently an expert on that now, is donate a little (or a lot) of money to Brandon’s movie project. It’s not often that you get to be a part of someone living their dream, and every little bit helps. I have read the script, and boy howdy is this something you should want to see come to fruition. It’s good, guys. I know you’re here for rassles talks, which some of you have made clear in some less than kind ways, however this is something that is truly important to me, and I hope you’ll help in any way you can. Even if you can’t give, or can’t give right now, sharing, blogging, tweeting – all of these will help bolster awareness, and hopefully what was once just an idea can become a fully realized piece of art.

– Speaking of sharing and tweeting, we like those a whole bunch when it comes to the Best and Worst. While you’re at it, why not make it easier by following us on Twitter? I’m over here, With Leather is over there, and off in the distance you can just make out where UPROXX is.

This week on Impact: Video packages that are way better than they have any right to be, more video packages, and maybe some wrestling in between those video packages. Roll tape!

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Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYFPIZvtbEQ

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Tcl6tbpBeA

Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8fBPTyOh90

Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91CalyYIlxE

Best: Bully Ray Explains It All

As a constant TNA apologist, knowing that buried deep in apparent mediocrity was a stroke of brilliance, this episode was incredibly satisfying to watch. To me, the most intriguing part of wrestling is when it gives into its inherent nature of being a long-form sequential narrative. Much like with Chikara, it’s the understanding that there is a plan in place, and that everything during the season, though it seems innocuous, will have greater consequences later on. A lot of the fun in this is the getting there without knowing the end game. It’s not like WWE where things are seemingly, and sometimes quite actually, changed on the fly. TNA has always felt like it’s taken the opposite tack – storylines abandoned, muddled finishes, great matches buried in poorly delivered promos and even more matches, only these ones terrible or forgettable.

A storyline, like a match, isn’t always about the end result – it’s the moves in between the bells. The psychology of a face-heel dynamic. The wordless story being told with every maneuver, every taunt, every look. Just like matches, storylines can be predictable, yes. For instance, the Sabu Chekov’s Table – If Sabu sets up a table, at some point he’s going to go through it. If you have a D-Lo-shaped member of Aces & Eights, chances are that D-Lo shape will be….well, D-Lo. While I don’t believe that the story ends here, Bully’s explanation of everything they’ve done up until now is almost vindicating. Segments that made no sense, things that seemed like careless mistakes, all lined up for the big reveal – all of the hope I’ve consistently placed in TNA has finally started to pay off.

As the song goes, “the not knowing is easy, and the suspecting, that’s okay.” Last week I posited that this could all be leading to a Hogan-as-higher power payoff. In doing so, I also made a very good case for Eric Bischoff to come back. Right or wrong, this only bolsters my hope that however it plays out (unless it’s Jeff Jarrett, oh lord, please not Jeff Jarrett), any frustrations I’ve had or Worsts I’ve given will even out in the end. And how much more fun is it to be able to speculate? To play along at home? One of the constant problems I have is the immediate dismissal of everything TNA does by people who don’t watch the show, or watched in the past and only took away the worst of what they’ve put out there. However, I fully admit that there is a consistent worry in the back of my mind that the good things will sour, and the bad things will be amplified and overused. Always waiting for the other shoe to drop is due to the precedent the show has set over the years, but it’s almost relieving to know that, as far as the Eights are concerned, things have been squared away. Being optimistic about the “Aces,” if you will, may be me suddenly becoming overconfident in Impact’s greater ambition, but moving forward with renewed enthusiasm for the shows to come is about the best feeling outside of a Joseph Park smile or a Spike Dudley appearance I could have.

The expository video pre-tapes of Bully Ray breaking down how and why the last nine months have transpired the way they did actually happen throughout the show, but I’m going to give all of them an early and resounding Best. I’ve said before (and I will probably say again) that the Impact narrative is often much better than the execution, so while the journey to this point has meandered and stumbled along to this juncture, a concise retelling of what has happened puts everything into a whole new context, and it does it very, very well. It’s also heartening to see that Bully Ray hasn’t completely slipped back into full Guy Who Yells Stuff, because his delivery is what really solidifies the effectiveness of these segments. I would have been perfectly happy skipping the wrestling and watching a full two-hour special on how the Aces & Eights came to be. And yeah, Joseph Park wrestled, so you know there’s no foolin’ when I say that.

Worst: Aces & Aints

Hogan comes out to say that it’s no longer a battle against Aces & Eights, it’s a war of survival. So hey, let’s bring out the guys who led the charge: Samoa Joe, Magnus, Kurt Angle, and Jeff Hardy. Yeesh. I believe in sticking to your guns, but if these were my leaders I’d be throwing on a plaid shirt and begging for a prospect cut so fast.

Best: Lady in the tank top

Jump to the 15 second mark in that video. Just look at how excited she is to get a high(low-side?)-five from Jeff Hardy! I may have some pretty staunch opinions on Jeff Hardy, and they’re not always positive, but oh, lady, I am so happy for you. Thanks for being excited for things, and not just sitting around playing with your phone. I appreciate your enthusiasm!

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Worst: My Hernandez Memento

So, you know how occasionally I will confess things in this column? Like how long it took me to realize that Austin Aries’ shirt was two As, and not just weird ugly triangles, or how I operated under the assumption that all of the cheese and meat on Supermarket Sweep was real until a few months ago? I’m not a dumb lady by any means, but my memory for Hernandez’s tattoos is apparently the worst. I don’t ever forget his terrible “Hernandez” back tattoo, because Jesus Christ that thing is awful, but watching the Chavandez-Mecha Shiva match last night, I was completely baffled by his chest tattoo. I don’t know what it is, but it’s like I’m seeing it for the first time. And I feel like this has happened before. So I’m going to document this here for the next time, because I’ll be damned if I’m tattooing Hernandez’s wretched Superman tattoo on my arm to remember. Besides, I’m running out of room what with my previous tattoos, the proper spelling of Todd Keneley’s last name, and “Lenny = White, Carl = Black.”

Best: Oh haaaay, it’s Bad Influence!

Hey guys! Nice to see you! I’m glad you remembered that I wish all of my favourites could be friends.

Worst: Oh…

You’re not friends.

Dang.

Worst: If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with Christian York

Criminy! That X-Division package. Oh, that gives me feelings. Remember when the X-Division was just about the best thing? I do. The only reason I ever got into TNA was because of the X-Division. Most of the TNA DVDs I own are specifically for X-Division matches, or are entirely X-Division-centric. So you’ll understand that when I get really down about the current state of things, it’s because I know and loved what it once was, and this is literally the worst it’s ever been. Just the worst.

Best, worst, maybe sort of?: The X-Division Evolution

The “Evolution” is explained thusly:

All X-Division championship matches will now be held under triple threat rules. The champion will have two challengers at the same time and has a thirty-three percent chance of retaining the title and runs the risk of losing the title without being pinned. The high-stakes title match has consequences for the challengers as well. The wrestler pinned in the X-Division championship match is eliminated from a future title match while the wrestler who isn’t involved in the decision gets to compete in the next X-Division title match. So where will the next contender come from?

New contenders will be also decided via a Triple Threat match. Fresh faces, former champions or recently eliminated contenders all will battle with one winner advancing into the next X-Division title match. (via impactwrestling.com)

Huh. Okay. I guess that sounds neat. The good news is they’re forced to bring in additional people, because otherwise it’ll be the same matches we’ve been seeing for weeks, but every single one a title shot. While TNA has a terrible history when it comes to finances, if they are still paying per-appearance, it could end up being a really great showcase for a lot of up and coming talent while putting a little bit of extra money in some independent wrestler’s pockets. The bad news is TNA is horrid when it comes to finances, and it could be too much risk for little reward. But, we shall see. For now, I will take my Kenny King promos and memories of once was, and look to the future with tentative optimism.

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Best: Product Placement

Unfortunately, yet again what I hope to show you isn’t available, so let’s pretend you just sat through Kenny King’s confident and tough reaction to the X-Division changes. He’s not mad, he’s fired up. It doesn’t matter how many people he wrestles, no one is going to beat him for that belt. And now that he’s got two dudes coming at him, he’s going to need a little extra energy. 5 hr. Energy to be precise!

Hee. I love cheesy product placement like this. In fact, until ACH got there, the only reason I would consistently watch non-Bravado Brothers episodes of ROH TV was because of the awful (read: AWESOMELY ABSURD) Western New York commercials. I mean, we all know that if you’re hurt in a car, you call William Mattar. Hurt on the job? Call Cellino & Barnes. And if for some reason you weren’t convinced by the first two, you call whatever that one with the talking dog is. Aside from a slew of personal injury lawyer commercials, ROH roster members had local spots that run during breaks. I may not enjoy his matches, but I love Michael Elgin’s recycling depot commercial. Jay Lethal in a commercial for a traditional family-style Italian restaurant? You better believe I’ve got that sh-t DVRed. In a perfect world they would scrap Bellator and just go full-on Josie & the Pussycats, with Target-themed locker rooms and McDonald’s showers. Kenny King is the new Adidas, and I would never doubt his commitment commitment.

Best: Kenny King

WOW. THAT GUY IS SO ENERGETIC. I BET HE COULD KEEP THAT UP FOR AT LEAST FIVE HOURS.

Best: Hulk Hogan and Sting, take two

Like last week, Sting approaches Hogan for another shot at Bully Ray. Of course some of the best stuff isn’t up on YouTube, and I do so hate transcribing because so much is lost in the delivery, but guys. Guys.

“You know Sting, I’m glad that you’re fine. That I’m running the company. That makes me feel great. But you’re right. Things haven’t changed from last week, or a couple years ago, or even ten years ago. So I suggest you do what you do best. When things get heavy, why don’t you go sit in the rafters for a couple of years and not say anything. Why don’t you go hide in the shadows for a couple more years, and stay to yourself, because whenever you’re around, you cause problems. Now get out.”

Oof. Yes please.

Best: Seriously video guy. Seriously.

TNA needs to slice some money off of one of the bloated contracts they’ve got floating around and give whoever does their video packages a raise. For weeks I’ve lamented the goings on in the Knockouts division. Knowing this would lead to Taryn Terrell vs. Gail Kim has been like watching a glass of water fall off of the counter. You see it happening, and all of a sudden it’s like it’s in slow motion. You try desperately to make it in time to catch it, but you can’t stop it from falling. In the end, all you’ve got is one big mess.

The video package prior to Brooke’s decision, and maybe some leftover good will from the Bully Ray vignettes, actually makes me care a little. It gives Velvet Sky more than one dimension. It gives Taryn Terrell a personality. It makes Gail Kim look craaaazy. It accomplishes everything the past two months should have but didn’t. Can you watch the video online? No. Will you have to take my word for it if you missed it? That would be cool. Will it make this feud any better? Not unless we can just watch this video each week.

Worst: Brooke Hogan

You really are the worst, aren’t you.

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