Hello! I hear it’s a long weekend where most of you are. Why not take the next three days off to enjoy an Impact report? A few things:
– By the time you read this, the latest edition of that crazypants Chikara conspiracy theory podcast I do with Smiths-lovin’ vegan cool guy Robert Newsome will have been posted to The Mandible Claw. Dark things are coming, guys. And I don’t just mean our extended conversation about Supermarket Sweep.
– If there’s one thing I am good it, it’s making suggestions on how you should spend some of your money. Might I recommend donating to the Air Sex Documentary Kickstarter? Or how about a brand-spanking new Dasher Hatfield shirt? Chris Trew and Dasher Hatfield make me endlessly happy. Get into them!
– You can follow me on Twitter here, With Leather here, and UPROXX here. You can also like us on Facebook! You can tumbl this column! What a world we live in, guys. Sex with air and social media. Greatest generation, shmeatest shmeneration.
This week on Impact: Senility, yelling, more yelling, terrible wrestling, and the unintentional hilarity of an angry Samoa Joe. It’s…even worse than it sounds.
Worst: This entire show
No, seriously. This week is bad. Were I TNA I would be ashamed at what I had just participated in producing. Only one segment – ONE – gets away without something tainting it irreparably. And it doesn’t even include Joseph Park. This was beyond being able to put up a few otter videos and some Jojo Bravo pictures and whatever other happy, fun things I could to distract us away from how crummy things were. Way beyond.
There have been a few times in the past where I’ve thought about just skipping a week because it is so bad, and so hard not to just write paragraph after disdainful paragraph about everything that is wrong with the show, but never as bad as this. Once I reached 800 words alone about just how infuriatingly bad the first 14 minutes were I realized that hey, this might not actually be salvageable. And I don’t want to put that out there. If you read any TNA review column, it’s usually all negative, even when the show is good. Even when, midst the bad matches or the sexist commentary, there are little jewels of greatness. Little things that make the show worth watching. That amount of sheer negativity isn’t fun to write. It’s not fun to read. If you watched the entire show, you’ve already been through enough. You don’t need seven or eight pages ripping it to shreds.
So I’m still going to write this week’s column. It probably won’t be fun. It wasn’t fun to watch, that’s for sure. I will try to be constructive. I will try my very best to make this a much better experience for you than it was for me, or anyone else who watched. The reason I do this report is because I am a legitimate TNA fan. I want the show to succeed. I want to be entertained. They’ve put on good shows before, so it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. But this is rough. This is what people point to when they say TNA is awful. This is what ensures that Impact will never, ever lose the stigma of being the second-rate company who puts on the worst-rate show. And the fact that no one, not a single person there, seems to care or have any desire to make things better? I don’t have a big enough Worst to give.
Worst: You goddamn son of a beach
I’ve expressed this fear before, and unfortunately it seems to be coming true. When Impact announced that it was going on the road each week, I thought no, no no no. You’re going to give up everything you’ve been working hard to build when it comes to continuity and storytelling for cheap pops. Well, here we are, right here in TAMPA, FLORIDA, BROTHER, talking about BEACHES and HOGAN’S BEACH and HOGAN’S MUSIC and now here’s STING and you remember him from WCW and he was a BIG DEAL when you were young and everyone loves NOSTALGIA, right? In the past I’ve pointed to Sting and Hogan’s work together as being some of the most intriguing. There was a vulnerability to Hogan we haven’t seen before. His conversations with Sting were some of the best work he’s done in his career. Heartfelt, believable storytelling. This…this is just yelling. Hogan has equated MEANINGFUL to YELLING for way longer than I’ve been alive, and here he’s reverted back to the same guy everyone can wag their finger at and say oh look, TNA is at it again. Dumb, predictable TNA, parading out the old folks like they’re more important than good storytelling and good wrestling. Normally I would disagree, but they’re right. This is…nothing. If you turn on any Top 40 radio station, it sounds like all of the songs came from the same lyrics generator sheet – you know, like a D&D name generator? YOUR LOVE MAKES ME FLY and I LOVE YOU BABY and YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL TO ME and WE COULD FLY TO HEAVEN and just nothing lyrics over nothing melodies. This is basically the same thing. There’s no effort. There’s no emotion. There’s yelling and then Brooke Hogan pretends to know how to pretend to cry. Oh, did I not mention Brooke was there?
Worst: Brooke Hogan in Being HumanSubscribe to UPROXX
The whole opening segment was Hogan trying to talk Sting out of the stipulation he reached with Bully last week at the PPV (if he loses, he can never compete for the title again), and then blaming himself. And then Sting blames himself. And the Brooke comes out, and blames herself. And then they all said no, I love YOU more, and refused to hang up the phone for twenty minutes. Well…not really, but that’s what it felt like. It was excruciating. I thought it couldn’t get worse than Hogan spoiling a surprise appearance later on in the show (I won’t, because I understand how spoilers work!), but then they gave Brooke a live mic, and it went about as well as you’d expect.
She enters the ring and visibly motions for the sound guys to cut her music. Really? That’s…really? You self-important…ugh. Nope. Not finishing that sentence. Finishing that sentence would be just as disrespectful as obviously instructing people who do the same job week in and week out on just how to do it, and on air at that. These people had to earn their jobs by being good at something, a concept that is clearly foreign to someone whose primary talent is having the last name Hogan. At the height of her expository segment she says “Sting, you shouldn’t have to fight him because I was a dumb girl.”
That is a thing you just said.
Brooke continues on saying that she’s basically to blame for everything, and as much as she’s proud of the Knockouts (um), and how much they’ve grown the division (…um), she feels like she should resign. Yes Brooke. Yes you should. Get into your hybrid car fueled by gasoline and nepotism and drive as far away from anything to do with wrestling as possible.
Worst: His name is Bully, and he loves to yell
Much like I like to imagine Sheamus, in the middle of a hoagie at craft services, running off to the ring as soon as he hears he word fight, I think Bully does the same thing every time he hears someone yelling. “Whaaaa? But *I* like to yell!” he…well….yells, as he tears down the hallway, lunchmeat and lettuce flying everywhere, desperately wiping mayo from the corner of his mouth before he makes it onscreen.
Bully lets us know that they shouldn’t blame themselves, because it’s his fault. He tore the company apart. Him and no one else. Oh, and he’s also still in love with Brooke, and she’s all he thinks about, and their special connection is why he’ll never take his wedding ring off.
This is so very bad. If Bully Ray is telling the truth? Terrible. If he’s lying and just further psychologically torturing Brooke because hey, we all love watching abusive relationships play out on national television? Terrible. I said last week that this should really be the time where TNA is taking advantage of the post-Mania lull, but they aren’t. This is not fun. This is not entertaining. This is not telling a compelling story in any way. And guys, we are only 14 minutes into the show.
Best: SUICIDE! TWITTER!
Best: No really, this wasn’t horrible
The pacing was a little weird, but hey, I didn’t hate the X-Division match. Suicide looked rad, and actually made Petey Williams keep up with him. Joey Ryan was…well, he was greasy and skeevy and I really don’t ask more from him. Kenny King, give me your hands because you’re wonderful on commentary.
“Petey Williams and his one move?” Love it. Love you. Gold star for being Kenny King.
Worst: Brooke Hogan demands to know what Bully meant
Unfortunately TNA did not upload a video of…oh, wait, here it is:
Worst: Gut Check? More like Gut Rot, amirite? Haaa….
In a tournament set to highlight all of these fresh young talents TNA has apparently scouted the globe for, instead of a match we get….Wes Brisco. Oh good. Wes is upset that he doesn’t get to participate in the tournament, so he claims to have been Sam Shaw’s scheduled opponent to a bloody pulp in the parking lot. So…let’s think about this logically. Your Gut Check was rigged to get you onto the roster so you could help a faction of miscreants run roughshod over the company. You shouldn’t even be allowed in the building, let alone in the ring (and not just because we’ve all seen your attempts to wrestle). So your natural response, instead of pointing out that, whether illicit or not, you’re still technically a winner of a Gut Check segment and should be put into the competition, you…jump a guy who actually isn’t all that bad, making you look like a giant d-bag. Yes. That really commands my respect.
Worst: Samoa Joe
Worst: Whoomp, there’s a worst
James Storm needs a tag partner, and we’ve been led to believe that this is a Really Big Deal™. He’s already turned down Chris Sabin in an incredibly awkward fashion. But he still needs a partner, because, as we all know, women love a good tag team….wrestler.
Mecha Shiva come out, and thankfully Aries let’s Bobby Roode do all of the talking. Roode is actually one of the better parts of this segment, making salient points and heeling his little Canadian face off. Bad Influence come out, and I know what you’re thinking – another best is coming, right? They’re always funny. They’re consistently the best non-Joseph Park part of the show. They…are not this time. Not even close.
Worst: Oh good, let’s make this a thing
Kazarian: “People have claimed that they’re offended, have they not? *pointed look at Austin Aries* But we’re the only ones who have a legitimate reason to be.”
It made me really happy last week to see mostly positive responses to page two, and my reaction to what happened between Aries and Christy Hemme. Obviously the responses weren’t all positive, because this is the internet, and we can’t have nice things. So for those of you who think that she shouldn’t have said anything, you know what? Yes. Yes she should have. If she felt harassed or uncomfortable in any way, it is her right to stand up and say no, that should not have happened. It is also her right, however, not to be harangued or persecuted by her coworkers for making that decision. If this is what’s happening on television, I can only imagine the unpleasant environment being created for her off screen. To those who say there’s no point in complaining, or standing up because it’s wrestling, or it’s TNA, and it’ll never change, I would like to give one great big hearty middle finger to you. The rights and freedoms you currently enjoy had to be fought for, and they had to start somewhere. Being a female who has chosen a career in a male-dominated industry, is no easy task. Writing about said male-dominated industry? Also not easy. One negative word about someone means that I clearly must not know what I’m talking about. The countless hours I spend reading about or watching wrestling mean nothing compared to a male who has made the exact same point. His experiences and judgments aren’t questioned, and definitely not to the degree in which a female writer’s will be. I am 100% positive that Brandon or Bill Bicknell or Thomas Holzerman have never received slanderous emails accusing them of sleeping with wrestlers, or the insinuation that the only reason they’re involved is with the sole purpose of going to bone town with some indie dude. And lord help you if you criticize a female wrestler, because clearly, we’re all just jealous. It has nothing to do with an analysis of the skill and entertainment value being presented in a match. It’s because we wish we were famous or pretty or skinny or dating someone in the industry, or whatever other bullsh**t misogynistic opinion seeps its way out of the lizard part of your brain you use when commenting on the internet. Wrestling has always been a boys club, and like any industry dominated by men it is a struggle – for respect, for rights, and the same basic common courtesy you would deign to treat anyone else with. Whether it’s a female wrestler, commentator, announcer, writer, it doesn’t matter. Equality doesn’t happen instantaneously, and it will never happen when repulsive attitudes as demonstrated by Kazarian in this segment are allowed to prevail.
Best: SHELL YEAH
Ahhh. That’s better. Of course I love Shark Boy. I love Shark Boy so, so much. A dude pretending to be a shark who thinks he’s Stone Cold? Yes. That is a thing I love. I loved when he tagged with Curry Man. If I could turn this entire column into seven pages about how awesome Shark Boy is, I probably would. But If I can’t skip it, and I can’t fill it with this gif over and over and over, we’ll have to move on. Even if I don’t want to. DON’T LEAVE ME SHARK BOY I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU’RE GONE.
Best: Beer Bros, Bro
Robbie E? It’s…it’s like TNA knew how godawful this show was, and decided to throw me a bit of a bone. Maybe Robbie E and Shark Boy could team up. They could be Shark Bros, and just show up every time someone did something stupid or misogynistic or racist or homophobic or there was a bad wrestling match, and make me happy. In other news, Impact is proud to announce that they’ve fired the rest of the roster, retooled the show, and will now be known as the Shark Boy and Robbie E Variety Hour.
Worst: lol Gunner
Because lol, Gunner. I guess it’s not all bad. I mean, he knew he’d have to work hard to win me over, so he attached a fluffy baby otter to his face in hopes of distracting me away from the fact that Gunner is a thing on my television in 2013. Well played, sir. Well played.
Worst: The Sting Senility World Tour
Sting has been given a tag match on next week’s episode of Impact against Devon and Bully Ray. He doesn’t have a partner, and now that hot property Gunner is taken, clearly he wants to get his gloved old man hands on Abyss. Joseph Park insists that he doesn’t know how to get ahold of Chris, you know, his brother Abyss. Sting’s response? “You’re gonna kayfabe me all the way on this one.”
Do I even have to point out how infuriating this is? That a man who wears face paint, pretends to be the Crow, pretends to be the Joker, and most recently pretends to be a viable number one contender for the World Championship, is going to call someone out for kayfabing? When it’s canonically established that Joe Park and Abyss are brothers, wiping all that away by insisting that they’re the same person? Look. I’m not stupid. But if I’m going to be immersed in a kayfabe universe, I’m gonna go with it. If I’m going to throw myself 100% into loving a company currently running a time-travel story arc, that also features dudes with baseball faces, anthropomorphic ants from space, a goblin who watches YouTube videos on his crystal ball, and an insect overlord and his pumpkin-based friends, then yeah, I’m gonna go along with two people presented as brothers. Ugh. You frustrating senile old man. This table flip is for you.
Worst: Velvet Sky
Man, I wish I could be that terrible at my job. I am, in fact seething with jealousy. Maybe later today I’ll go to work, stand around awkwardly, and then knock over an entire pile of shoes. And not even clean them up.
Best: Mickie James
Mickie James is a good wrestler when she wants to be, and the only redeeming part of the match was her nasty shoulder block to Velvet Sky’s injured leg. It looked brutal and effective, and also gave us this picture which, admittedly, makes me lol forever.
Worst: AJ Styles joins Aces & Eights. OR DOES HE?
*eyeroll* He does not.
Aaaand that was the show. In summation…
Now go. Enjoy your long weekend. Pretend none of this (except Shark Boy) ever happened. Go barbecue something or watch fireworks or go to work on Monday like the rest of us here in the Commonwealth. Just…do something that doesn’t involve this episode of TNA. You’ll be much, much better off. See you next week!