Well hello! Oh look, it’s Friday again. Shall we do another Impact report? Before we get started:
– Are you reading the Best and Worst of NXT? You should. William Regal does stuff. As does Canadian import Renee Young, whom I am ever so proud of, and want to be as famous as can be. So do that!
– You can follow me on Twitter here, With Leather here, and Uproxx here. We like follows as much as we like gifs of people getting hit in the groin with stuff, so, you know, make it happen and make us happy!
This week on Impact: Secrets, lies, and big reveals! The big reveal is that this episode is terrible. Let’s find out why!
By bringing back the Main Event Mafia, one can take the negative road and assume that Impact writers think we’re all stupid goons with short-term memories who don’t actually remember how bad it was, and why it was so awful. In this case, we’ve been forced onto that road with giant blinking detour signs because oh my god Kurt Angle, what are you even talking about. Glorifying the fact that the MEM took all of the power and belts they could, and did what they want when they wanted it is exactly the kind of short-term memory loss that TNA is relying on. Comparing Aces & Eights to the Main Event Mafia demonstrates that Kurt Angle is the perfect person to join up with Sting’s Stable of Sadness and Senility™.
Sure, Aces & Eights are a stable. Sure, they’re heels who took some titles. They may have some members of questionable talent, but they’re not systematically trying to destroy any young talent and hold TNA back from being a successful wrestling company with a future full of up-and-comers, digging folks like Kevin Nash and Booker T out of their wrestling graves to add (lol) legitimacy to things, and forcing Scott Steiner on us. I’m not saying Aces & Eights haven’t been their own special brand of Aces & Garbage, but come on. If my options are “the thing with Mike Knox hilariously sneaking up on people” and “Kurt Angle failing to accurately remember something he was a part of four years ago,” I guess I’m going to start dressing like an extra from Sons of Anarchy and jerking off beer bottles because holy jeepers I want no part of this.
Worst: Canned boos
I guess if you’re going to manipulate crowd reaction, at least make sure that you pan away from the people who clearly give zero f*cks that Sting can no longer wrestle for the World Heavyweight Championship. I guess isn’t your fault really, because, oh right, that’s everyone. Well…except the guy in the mask and white t-shirt opposite hard camera who spends the entire show acting like an extra in a Step Up 2: The Streets dance battle scene.
I know, bro. I thought C-Tates would be in it way more as well.
Worst: “Real family – we stick together.”
Yup. Just like that time you didn’t come out to help Sting against Bully Ray. Or that time you attacked Sting, beat him up, and kicked him out of the original Main Event Mafia. If only they were still at Universal Studios, because the “witless escapees from a senior’s tour of the studio” jokes are right there. RIGHT THERE.
Worst: El Hijo de Kid Kash
When your qualifications are “muscles,” “looks like the product of an unholy union ‘twixt Kid Kash and Wes Briscoe,” and “probably hurts people,” you….well, okay, you’re more than likely exactly what TNA is looking for.
Double Worst: C’est le pire
Bon rétablissement, Lufisto.
Worst: More like the Wretch Division, amirite?
To be fair, the match didn’t start off that bad. The front flip dive to the outside from “Suicide” was real pretty, but everything after the break? Woof. Consummate Best-getter Kenny King isn’t even a blip on the radar screen of “Things Danielle Enjoyed About This Match.” He actually seems to be getting worse as each week goes by. It’s slow and plodding, and pretty much the opposite of anything that should get you excited about the X-Division. Suicide is a whole other issue in and of itself, but more on that later.
The finish of the match is almost as bad as that time RVD forgot to kick out of a pin, so the ref had to run his hands over RVD’s face at the last second so he wouldn’t have to finish the three count. Watch as Kenny King desperately flails his hands around like Velvet Sky pretending she’s in pain so he won’t touch the ropes and jack the finish. Upon further inspection I am wearing loafers, and this match is a mess.
Worst: Revisionist History, Part Deux
Okay. I can get through this.
*more deep breaths*
As someone who desperately clings to kayfabe as much as possible in a so-called “post-kayfabe” era, unmasking someone is a pretty big deal. I mean, I am a girl who is writing this under the watchful gaze of an UltraMantis Black poster. It’s not something to be taken lightly, and really, unless it’s part of an apuesta de mascaras, I get real nervous when someone starts reaching for those mask strings. All week long Impact Wrestling has been hyping the reveal of Suicide’s identity. Obviously that was my first signal to ready all of the table-flipping gifs I can find.
At the end of the X-Division match, Hogan brings out TJ Perkins, well known independent wrestler, and helpfully explains that he is the REAL Suicide, and has always been Suicide. This is where it gets tough. We can accept that at face value, knowing full well that is very much false thanks to any working knowledge of either Perkins’ career or, I dunno, the ability to use Google (or Bing, if you’re that person). As hamfisted as it was, Hogan just did something to establish canon and every part of me wants to go along with it. But why reveal who he is in the first place? If you’ve already worked to establish a character’s backstory through numerous shows and an entire goddamn video game, why suddenly pull the rug out from underneath all of that? Why not just get your graphics fellow to have a big flashing Titantron sign that says WRESTLING IS FAKE through this whole segment?
Clearly this Suicide moves and wrestles differently than the previous shows he’s appeared on. Even without the reveal, it’s pretty easy to figure out who is under there. Had TNA spent longer than five minutes thinking through how this was going to play out, I’m sure they could have come up with a way to do this without basically shitting on the entire concept of masked wrestlers or wrestlers with characters or wrestling in general. The worst part is that this in no way had to happen. The reveal later on ensures that. Were I an actual anime character, instead of just having hair like one and constantly having a piece of toast hanging out of my mouth as I write, this is where I’d be comically slamming my face into my desk shouting “BAKA! BAKA!” over and over again.
Best: The previous Worst, but for the TL;DR crowd
Best: TJ Perkins, Hilariously Injured Dude
What is it, TJ? Are you hurt? Is it appendicitis, brother? It’s appendicitis, isn’t it? *cut to a slow motion dive offstage as TJ Perkins explodes into a shower of checkerboard shorts behind him*
Thanks for reminding us all that this was a thing that happened:
Worst: More like Gut Wretch, amirite?
Now, I get a lot of blowback regarding my assessments of the previous Gut Check matches. I have rarely, if ever, enjoyed one based on the merits of the wrestling alone. This is not an exception.
The guitar-licking fellow seems competent enough, but any offense he’s trying to throw at Mr. Muscles is met with more no-selling than an ROH pay-per-view. I know he’s supposed to look big and strong, but we can’t all live in good intentions, and it makes him look like he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I watched this match three times in an attempt to be fully objective and explain why I don’t care for it, and it went from hilariously bad to just hilarious. Mr. Muscles looks lost half of the time, his ring awareness is questionable at best, and his fall down-stand up-fall down-stand up-fall down-stand up sequence is unintentionally the funniest part of this entire show. Look, I fully believe in supporting independent wrestlers. If I had my druthers I would have turned this entire column into a hype article about tonight’s Saint Louis Anarchy Circus Maximus show as soon as TJ Perkins came on screen (and also have a legit reason to flood you with pictures of Jojo Bravo). But these Gut Check segments, if anything, don’t demonstrate that TNA has picked out the best of the best. It makes most of these wrestlers look silly and weak, and like independent wrestling is a dumb joke. You want a dumb joke? Big O, your O-Zone is making me want to Climate Change the channel.
Best: Oh Mickie, you’re so fine
You’re so fine that you are beyond a shadow of a doubt the best part of this show. Your mic work is spot on, your pigtails are super cute, and I am so, so sorry for what happens next.
Worst: There’s no crying in baseball
As Craig Finn would say, lord, I’m discouraged. Whenever you stand up and say “I am a person on the internet, and I have an opinion,” the doors opens for people to discuss (shout) why they think you are wrong. A number of people have disagreed with my assessments of Velvet Sky in the past, which is fine. I disagree with your opinions of Magnus. We are all different people. However, this match is indefensible. At this point I’m not sure if TNA is trying to sell her as a legitimate wrestler still, or if someone in the writer’s room is really into publicly humiliating her. I guess we won’t know for sure until she shows up performing lewd acts in a bakery in Budapest.
The most disheartening thing was seeing people’s reactions to it on twitter. Obviously the Impact hashtag is not always a bastion of logic and respectful wrestling commentary, but seeing someone tweet that segments like this is why they refuse to support women’s wrestling is potentially the most frustrating and infuriating thing about the entire show. Yes, it’s pretty idiotic to judge an entire type of wrestling by one thing (I don’t like the taste of Listerine, so I’m giving up on oral hygiene altogether!), but this should prove to TNA that everything they’re doing is setting back everything they managed to accomplish in the past. Remember when Awesome Kong was kicking the shit out of Gail Kim on the reg, and Gail was dishing it back as hard as she got it? Remember Raisha Saeed? If you don’t, please do not read any comments on YouTube about a woman wrestling in a hijab. Regardless, for every step forward you take, you take twenty steps back when you allow whatever the heck she just did to happen. It’s not even the crying I have an issue with, per se. Frankly, if I showed up at my real job and shit the bed as hard as she just did, I would be crying too. Indefensible.
Best: Bald Ref
Bald Ref insists that there’s absolutely nothing different about the way Suicide performed in the ring earlier in the show, then eagerly runs off to find Suicide and convey a threat from Hulk Hogan. Oh, sweet, naïve bald ref. I want to wrap you up in a blanket, make cooing noises at you, and feed you cupcakes and cotton candy.
Worst: Magnus defeats Bobby Roode
Best: Bully Ray stalks the locker room
I’m pretty sure he just walked in on an HGH deal, though.
Best: Bros, bro!
Friendship-based wrestling is the best wrestling, forever and always. I know this is a big dumb set-up so James Storm can misunderstand the meaning of the word “bromance” and call Robbie E. and Jessie gay while Gunner titters in the background, because lol gay, but come on. Let’s just take a minute to appreciate Robbie E and Jessie getting to be bros on television, and this time with Tara instead of Chavo.
Me too, Tara. Me too.
Obviously I am all over a bro tag-team. Kane and Daniel Bryan? You better believe I’ve got the t-shirt about hugging. Was there ever a time I was more emotionally distraught then when Green Ant and Fire Ant turned their back on Soldier Ant at Under the Hood? Well….yes, but it involved the complete and utter destruction of the company I loved the most. Am I completely obsessed with Uhaa Nation and Akira Tozawa listening to Motley Crue and doing flips, or just kind of in general? Well, yes, but you should be too. So as I said, let’s all take a moment to appreciate the magical adventure we’re about to embark on with these two getting more screen time together. Or watch Mad Blankey videos on YouTube. Either option is a good time waiting to happen.
Worst: James Storm is here, he thinks you’re queer, and he thinks that’s wrong so get used to it
Sorry about your damn homophobia, misunderstanding of common portmanteaus, and outdated notions of masculinity.
Worst: Three-Sux Mafia
And your newest member of the Main Event Mafia is….Samoa Joe!
Yes, that’s right! The same Samoa Joe who did not come out to help Sting fight Bully Ray, leading him to form the Main Event Mafia. The same Samoa Joe who got his hand smashed with a baseball bat by Sting, the leader of the old Main Event Mafia. The same Samoa Joe who was jumped and beaten by the Main Event Mafia, only to eventually turn heel and join up with them. The same Samoa Joe who had to be paid to become a member of the Main Event Mafia, but then helped beat up Sting and oust him from the group so Kurt Angle could take over.
Real family – they always stick together.
Best, or at least what could have been the best: Suicide revealed!
I’m not going to shed a Frankie Teardrop over how good this could have been. Now that we all know it’s Austin Aries (except Bald Ref, who I assume is still roaming the halls on his quest to deliver Hogan’s message), come on, of course it was. During the show I was chatting with someone who had already seen it, and stopped the conversation to say “oh f*ck, it’s Austin Aries, isn’t it.” That run, Austin. You can move your hands out to your sides as slowly as you want, but hoo boy you cannot disguise those teeny tiny stutter steps.
Regardless, the idea that Austin Aries would fight through the X-Division to become champ, and use that to propel him into a title shot against Bully Ray is brilliant. Thanks to TJ Perkins being dragged on stage despite the clear fact that he was about to shit himself, that story is a lot flimsier, and all he had to do was steal a costume and beat slow-as-molasses Kenny King. It’s still compelling, and I’m looking forward to their title match, but goddamnit. You were so close, TNA. So close.
Tune in next week when Velvet Sky reveals that she’s actually Old Man Withers from the amusement park, and James Storm learns that platonic love can exists between two men.
Yeah. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.