Hello Impacters! I hear that basketball thing was pretty popular last night, so chances are most of you didn’t get to see the show. Luckily there’s an entire report waiting to breaking the very best and very worst of what you didn’t get to see. Personally, everything I know about basketball comes from this video. He needs those baskets back, guys. A few things!
– On Tuesday, July 25th I’ll be a guest judge at the Toronto leg of the Air Sex World Championships. If you’re in the area, stop by, say hello, and marvel at the international sensation that is Chris Trew’s beard. For more information on the show, how to participate, and how to donate towards the making of the documentary, click here. I’ll be the one in some kind of Chikara shirt not pretending to fellate an air boner.
– Have you read this week’s Best and Worst of NXT yet? You probably should. There’s good wrestling on television, Brandon writes it, and William Regal is usually there. It’s kind of a no-brainer.
– Also a thing you should do: follow me on Twitter! You can do that here. For people who know more about basketball and can make more topical jokes than myself, follow With Leather here. Follow UPROXX here, because hey, there’s something for everyone. Even people who like basketball.
This week on Impact: Joseph Park appears twice, AJ Styles broods a bunch, and the Main Event Mafia gets a second member and it’s exactly who you think it is. Some kind of Canadian joke after the jump!
Best: THAT guy
I was totally set to give Godfather Sting walking down the entrance ramp a worst, presumably because he got confused and lost and just followed a bus with Jeff Hardy’s face on it until he found an entrance, but that guy who yelled “STIIINGEEERRRRR!!”? Thanks for being close to a mic, and letting us open with a mini-Best.
Best: Joseph Park, because of course he isSubscribe to UPROXX
Look at him, standing in the ring with all of those other Impact Wrestlers, up on his hind legs like a little Rory Calhoun. He’s brilliant. He’s the Antonio Cesaro of Character Workrate. He looks nervous. He’s sweating like he’s about to cut a promo. He’s into every single thing anyone else is saying. He waved at Bobby Roode when he came to the ring. He waved. Guys. Guys. I know I don’t have to tell you about my everlasting affection for Joseph Park, but he’s precious and he’s perfect and he makes my heart soar.
Best: Christopher Daniels
I know I’ve been kind of sour on Bad Influence lately, but there’s something about how Daniels refers to Jeff Hardy as “Jefferson” that tickles my fancy. It is the opposite of how I feel when I actually look at Jeff Hardy:
That is totally the face of a dude who has never made poor life decisions ever.
Best: ACES & GARBAGE
Best: Joseph Park, Impact Wrestler
I backed it up twice just to see those baby slaps on Mr. Anderson’s head again. And that Boston Crab! My heart! Precious and perfect and DOC WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU GET AWAY FROM HIM
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I mean, you’re just doing your job and all, but your job is kicking Joseph Park and making him lose, so BOO TO YOU, SIR. You truly put the garbage in Aces & Eights.
Worst: Jay Bradley
Do not scream at me, young man. Microphones are made to amplify your voice, and I can hear you just fine. Even Bully Ray, Guy Who Yells Stuff Professionally™ is like dude, take it down a notch.
Best: But hey, this match
Jay Bradley might be more Dipstick than Boomstick, but this was a tight little match. Jay Bradley has the size advantage, but Austin Aries, though he’s more douchebag than dipstick, is still a very, very good wrestler. He constantly attacks the knees to bring Bradley down to his level, his roaring elbows are great and make me smile, and getting him up into that Brainbuster position? Yes please. And unlike last week he didn’t spend the entire match pouting and acting like a petulant child who just got scolded. Double yes please. Now if you could both stop being super shitty to women? That’s right. The coveted triple yes please is all yours.
Worst: Bald on Bald violence
Bless you and your Brujah LARP coat, Christopher Daniels, but this was less than fun. Much less than fun. Hernandez is the kind of guy who should be fun to watch, like say, Sheamus. He’s big and strong and both his back and his butt are emblazoned with his own name. But he’s not. One of the most frustrating things to see, and this goes for a lot of wrestlers, are people who make no effort to work the entire match. To wit: Watch as Christopher Daniels runs into the ropes. Hernandez bends over and waits for him to spring back and kick him in the face. Just stands there. It’s like when a wrestler has their opponent in the Pedigree position. Most of the time they’ll just bend over and wait for their cue to do the move, then sell the impact. They don’t struggle, they don’t try to break it. Their head is positioned in between the other’s thigh muscles, and they’re standing around like it’s the only hold in wrestling that can’t be broken. Struggle a little. Waiting to take that kick in the face? Stagger. Give your position some kind of reason. Always be moving, and always make sure that movement has meaning. Watch a William Regal match. Or all of them. Or put another Texas graphic on your shorts. Whatever you think helps, dude.
Worst: That Bad Influence logo
It’s like the Metallica logo and a jagged metal Krusty-O had a baby. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see on a knockoff Pog slammer to try to make it look hip and appealing to a young demographic. It makes Magnus look cool, and he’s the wrestling equivalent of weak tea and Melba Toast. It did, however, distract me from that crummy promo you cut Francois. If you’re going to continue this downward spiral to the mediocre comfort zone you’ve nested in for so many years, I’m gonna need at least five more of those on your gear. Or maybe one big one that lights up. Or maybe don’t be crappy. Again, whatever you think helps, dude.
Worst: He’s not even half the girl she…ow!
Had Brandon not already used the “Going Through the Motions” from Once More With Feeling joke I’ve been saving for this dude, it would go here. That’s the kind of best friend hive mind that leaves us with an unintentional matching wardrobe and jokes about Corey Graves cosplaying Christina Von Eerie without the wrestling skills. But to extend the use of food metaphors, Magnus is a piece of undercooked spaghetti. He gets rebranded and regimmicked and thrown up against the wall to see if he sticks. He was great in Ring Ka King as the Jerkwad Imperialist, but unless your audience is full of hundreds of booing Indians, it doesn’t work here. So now he’s the Young Gun Magnus, fresh-faced, hungry, and ignorant of his decade of experience. But it’s not sticking. He executes his moves, but there’s no feeling or gravitas to anything he does. His cloverleaf is terrible and looks like he’s tentatively squatting in the bushes because he’s never been camping before, and taking a dump in the woods is a scary and foreign concept. It’s like being behind someone at the grocery store who hands a cashier $20 for a bill of $14.37, and watching the cashier struggle to figure out what the change should be. All you want to do is pay for your tofu and lentils and go home, but you have to watch the brain cogs of some teenager grind out a number so the customer can just take their purchase and get out of the store and out of your way. It’s uncomfortable and frustrating and no, I haven’t had lunch yet. Why do you ask?
Worst: Brooke Hogan
I’ve Worst-ed her before for this, but goddamnit Brooke stop motioning for your music to be cut off. Act like you’ve been on television before. And maybe take a math class while you’re at it. Now, I’m not the best when it comes to math, but I do remember when you showed up in TNA, and the date the tag belts were won by Eric Young and ODB is easy to look up. There are numerous reasons you could have revoked the championship from those two. Eric Young, as he pointed out, is very much not a lady. They haven’t been defended in just about ever. Instead of giving a clear and concise explanation, Brooke referred to a conversation they had “a year and a half ago.” The belts were won in February 2012, and Brooke has been in TNA for a year. Even if you had a brief aside with EY at a house show expressing your confusion over how a dude could be one half of the Knockouts Tag Champions, you still had zero authority for the first four months he held that belt, and none of this had happened a year and a half ago. Miss Tessmacher and Tara (arguably the one who has been carrying the Knockouts division the longest) are conspicuously absent, and you fail to notice that two ladies in the division you’re so very proud of aren’t there? Did you know that television shows have these crazy things called fact-checkers and producers? I know you occupy your time by getting your hair done (it looks very nice tonight), but come on. Just try. Try a little. Pretty please.
Best: The Video Star, and the rest
Velvet Sky’s presence aside, everything in this segment that wasn’t Brooke Hogan was delightful. Eric Young, his whale tail, and ODB are a wonder. Gail Kim looks good, sounds good, and gets to attempt to destroy Taryn Terell in an upcoming ladder match. Velvet Sky, though laughably referred to as the heart and soul of the division, doesn’t get handed a microphone. And Mickie James, oh Mickie, let me love you. If we’re handing out awards for Character Workrate, you deserve a whole sheet of gold star stickers.
Brandon volunteered to write up the only match he saw from Impact last night. Samoa Joe and AJ Styles is the perfect example of where that BFF Hive Mind ends, because, as you all know, I do not have the same fondness or nostalgic glow for Samoa Joe as the rest of the internet. But hey, I’ll save the rest of those thoughts for next week, because here he is!
Best: Joe vs. AJ, at least until the time limit draw
I thought I’d handle this one so Danielle wouldn’t run the risk of infuriating you with her fat jokes.
I have a soft spot for Samoa Joe. Wait, let me rephrase that … like Samoa Joe, I have a soft spot.
(This is harder than I was expecting.)
But no, I actually really dug the Samoa Joe vs. Post-Apocalyptic AJ Styles Bound For Glory series match from last night’s show, assuming you ignore the count-out finish and that weird just-before-the-countout stuff where they just kinda collapsed in the middle of the ring and waited for it. I don’t write about it often (unless I’m wanking over a Daniel Bryan match), but 2002-2006 Ring Of Honor is a really special thing to me. It’s what pushed me from “passing interest in independent wrestling via the back sections of Bill Apter magazines” to “guy who loves the indies.” It was a bunch of wrestlers I loved having matches I loved, and while Danielson was always my favorite, Samoa Joe was once undeniably one of the most enjoyable, dynamic wrestlers in the country. He was everything I say I want in a wrestler … a tough fat guy who moves like a freight train (not like Freight Train) and just beats the shit out of you, especially if you are a tiny flipping guy, and he does it with style and brutality. Mark Henry, if Mark Henry could throw elbows suicida. I have so many wonderful memories of Joe … the epic match with Kobashi in New York City, the time in Dayton when he kicked Davey Richards so hard in the back of the head it turned Davey into a shoot psychopathic rage monster, the Survival Of The Fittest match with Dragon in Cleveland where Dragon lost his gear and had to wrestle in Claudio’s trunks. I could list them for 10 pages. He was awesome.
And while we’re talking “10 years ago,” I remember AJ Styles being one of those cool, can’t-miss guys who was going to be a big deal. I loved him when he teamed with Air Paris in WCW (the WCW Cruiserweight tag division is a thing that should’ve existed longer and thrived). I was one of those nerds who bought all the early TNA shows to see guys like Styles and Low Ki on my television. The intersection of Joe and AJ was exciting and promising, and basically everything they did until that glory era of TNA PPVs in 2005 made me happy.
Now it’s 10-to-8 years later and … promises weren’t kept. Joe got sad and sorta gave up. AJ floundered as the “TNA Guy” in every “TNA Guys Are Less Important Than These New WWE Guys We Got” stories, one after another. Sometimes they’d come back together (with or without Christopher Daniels), but they’d eventually settle, and AJ would be the guy with the goofy accent and Joe’d be the fat guy with the dick drawn on his face. Here, AJ and Joe to get wrestle a too-short match filled with a lot of the stuff that made me love them so much back in the day … AJ’s crazy bumping, Joe’s intensity, fun move transitions, and, most importantly, a focus on the wrestling. That’s all TNA has ever needed to do to get me on board again: focus on wrestling, preferably without SAYING you’re focusing on the wrestling. No “WRESTLING MATTERS HERE” shit followed by Dixie signing Rampage or bringing in Toby Keith or whatever. Just guys who are good at wrestling wrestling.
I lost myself for a second and forgot how mad Impact always makes me. Then the time limit happened. Mike Tenay’s voice started registering in my ear again. I was gone, and then I was gone. Maybe one day, TNA. Maybe one day.
Worst: Creatures with iPhones
That girl is filming most of the match. She is opposite hard camera and clearly filming most of the match. Come on. Rulebreaking aside, girl, this is going to be on television. You can watch the full episode on Spike TV’s website. You can watch this match on YouTube. You can DVR it. It is happening right in front of you and you have multiple ways to relive it forever and ever what are you even doing.
Best: The Bound For Glory Series
Bobby Roode-Jeff Hardy is a perfect example of why I will always be behind the idea of the Bound for Glory series. As I said before, it gives a chance for those who tend to fade into the background because they’re not involved in any storylines a reason to wrestle, and wrestle with purpose. The fact that submissions get you more points than pinfall victories plays to the strengths of people like Samoa Joe and Austin Aries (whose finisher can easily be turned into a submission). Samoa Joe can bust out more than the same three submissions and trigger those remembrances of what made you a fan of his in the first place, without just relying on that to happen regardless. I mean really, he was one lackadaisical match away from just wearing a shirt that says “I wrestled KENTA, ‘member???”
Wrestlers like Bobby Roode or Christopher Daniels are encouraged work outside of their standard movesets and bring in different submission elements that make the matches more challenging, and more exciting to watch. Impact main events usually leave me flopping around on the couch going “But I don’t wanna!” because it’s two of a handful of people basically replaying the same match they’ve had previously last week, or on the most recent pay-per-view, or what have you. Good, creative matches focused on wrestling instead of TOTALLY NOT FAKE hardware are what I want to see, and I know I’m not alone in this. Bobby Roode is streets ahead of where he was when he won the Bound for Glory series, and this will only serve to propel him forward in the best way possible. Jeff Hardy still gets to yell nonsensical things and set up his Twist of Fate and take his shirt off and all of the things Jeff Hardy is getting paid to do. I am no longer Jeff Hardy’s demographic, but I understand his role, and if he gets to not hurt people and sell merchandise and let Bobby Roode beat the tar out of him even for a little while, I’m fine with it.
And best of all, if it doesn’t lead me to want to skip the main event each and every time, we’re all the better for it.
Worst: Guy Who Yells Stuff Professionally™ should take his own advice
Lately I’ve seen a lot of people referring to Bully Ray as the best on the mic in THIS BUSINESS. Instead of blindly dismissing that assertion, I feel like I should fully explain why I disagree. Bully Ray’s character work prior to the revelation of his being behind Aces & Eights was stellar. Just top notch stuff. But he’s fallen off, and I can’t cling to things that used to be good. If I did, I would just skip the Impact report each week and tell you to watch the Hogan-Dudley wedding episode instead. His backstage segments are good, and effective, but as soon as he gets in the ring he falls back on all of his old habits from before the Brooke storyline. There is a reason he is referred to as Guy Who Yells Stuff. Because that’s it. DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM and shouting DAD at Hulk Hogan and it’s just the same thing with no nuance or depth like his backstage segments or previous in-ring promos. Look at someone like Jake the Snake. Or Nick Bockwinkel. Or Ole Anderson. They didn’t need to shout to make a point. They could be calculating and intimidating without ever raising their voice. Even someone like Mark Henry knows to speak softly with the mic in your hand, and yell when it’s not. This is entirely a difference of opinion, but this column is one of opinions, and whether I have different standards, whether I hold Bully Ray accountable for not being as good as he’s proven he can be, or whether or not I’m just really into Nick Bockwinkel, that is mine and I stand by it.
Worst: The Main Event Mafia graphic
I worry that what you heard was “Give me a lot of bad tattoo flash.” What I said was “Give me all of the bad tattoo flash you have.”
Worst: And your second Main Event Mafia member is….
Kurt Angle. Because of course he is. An original Main Event Member, sure, but also one of the guys who didn’t come out to fight alongside Sting. A guy who has done exactly what drove Sting to rehashing this awful stable. And I swear to god if this is all just a vehicle for Jeff Jarrett to return I will flip every single table in the GTA.
Best: The ACES & GARBAGE sign guy
I know he’s got a “Main Event Diarrhea” sign prepped for when this all goes south, and I eagerly look forward to that screencap. Move over Rick! There’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s not afraid to write the word “poop” on a piece of cardboard.