• Over at The Wrestling Blog, I reviewed the SMASH Wrestling event I mentioned in last week’s column. Johnny Gargano did some stuff and I had reactions, so check it out!
• If you missed last week’s report, you can find it here. Personally, I think you should read all of them, but I may be a tad biased.
• Apparently Reddit is a thing we should all be sharing this on. So go forth, red … it … nd make Brandon happy!
• While you’re sharing, like us on Facebook, follow myself, With Leather, and UPROXX on the twitters, and maybe also show how cool you are for reading this on tumblr. It’s not just for pictures of cats!
This week on Impact: Hulk Hogan makes disapproving faces, Jeff Hardy magically keeps his shirt on, and my lifelong views of Supermarket Sweep are crushed. Let’s get Besting and Worsting!
Worst: Samoa Joe, don’t front
Joe is gonna beat you down, Joe is gonna choke you out, and Joe is going to stand there casually while your fake biker friend locks you in a cage and do absolutely nothing about it. Playing yourself off as being outnumbered is one thing, but we all saw the gif last week. Don’t even.
Further worst: When Mr. Anderson is the only one making sense, you’re doing it wrong
This whole segment was pretty terrible, but Mr. Anderson raises some good points. Why on earth would he be on the side of people who abandoned him? Why would he want to support you when Sting gives such bad nicknames? It’s a perfectly cromulent question, and instead of apologizing, or saying hey, yeah, that was pretty crappy of us, Kurt issues the ‘with us or against us’ ultimatum. Now, I’m a lady who enjoys shades of grey in her wrestling personas, but this is some straight-up BS.
For some reason, Anderson is constantly a hot commodity. Spoiler alert: it is not for his wrestling ability. I think we can all remember (or google) the will-he-won’t-he Anderson and Immortal storyline. Wrestling allegiances and friendships are consistently changing with little regard for continuity (see: every wrestling show ever), but if Mr. Anderson is anything, it’s a consummate butthole. Kurt, I know your memory is probably a little hazy given that your head is about as soft as Eric Lindros’s, but come. on. He’s done this to you before. You have a roster full of people, so it’s not like it’s a numbers game, so why not just leave him alone to get handies in the stripper closet and ultimately betray them instead of you? Beating someone up is a terrible way to woo them to your side of a cause. Oh my god, Kurt. It’s like you don’t even read your own friend fiction.
Best: This was way better the last time you did it
The clip above contains my absolute favourite moment in all of TNA history. The whole things is great! Abyss doesn’t want to hold hands with Gunner, because Gunner! The guy at 2:37 shouting “I TOLD YOU! I KNEW IT!” Mr. Anderson leaps into Abyss’s arms because FRIENDSHIP! It wasn’t bookended by any great wrestling or storytelling really, but the interaction between Abyss and Anderson makes me so happy I’m almost unable to type. I’m glad to take any opportunity to rewatch it, so thanks, TNA, for making me remember one of the few times you played something perfectly.
Best: Joseph Park sighting
He studied all of that tape of wrestling matches, but none of opening doors. Hee!
Best: Robbie E. is meta as f*ck
Never in a million years would I ever have speculated that either Robbie E or Robzilla would be one the best things going on wrestling television, but there they are, another week gone, being awesome as all get out. As dismayed as I was to see Tessmacher and her Dolph Ziggler face involved in something I enjoy, I really appreciated the canonical reference to her dislike of Robbie E. from her guest spot on The List. They’re even wearing the same sweaters. Amazing. Sting and the Aces & Eights stuff might be pretty garbage, but as long as the primary focus is on them, and little things like this can slip through, I am totally fine with it.
Best: I don’t care about what happened during the tag match…
…because Robbie Bunyan as Patrick Swayze makes up for any worsts I would have given to their half-hearted attempts at Gangnam Styling. In a perfect world, they’ll throw out all of the storylines for Genesis and do a roster-wide reenactment of Dirty Dancing, culminating in all of them dancing to Time of Your Life while Al Snow asks Devon if they have sheet music for the Robbie’s terrible EDM entrance theme. Then Bruce Pritchard can finally apologize to Attack of the 50 ft. Robbie for thinking that he was the one who got Velvet Sky knocked up, when we all know it was that skeezy Ayn Rand-loving skuzzball Bobby Roode.
Worst: Why did I rewatch the tag match?
Tessmacher, I straight up don’t care how many watermelons you carried. For the love of god, please stop rubbing your lower lady parts in other people’s faces. I know TNA is rumoured to pay their talent terrible wages, but do you really need to get noticed for that lucrative Monistat campaign? This is the wrestling version of Sean Young’s catwoman outfit and it is weird and gross.
Worst: That guy vs. that guy who looks like that other guy but with sideburns
I’m not going to get too down on these guys, and the worst is really more for booking them against each other than the serviceable match itself. I feel like TNA’s scouting process is just going through Vince McMahon’s Boner Jams ’08 and picking the most swole white guys they can find. But hey, if their chances in TNA don’t work out, they’ve always got their careers at Extensive Enterprises to fall back on.
Worst: Mr. Anderson, Masturbating Gollum
You’re making it really hard to be on your side, you creeper.
Best: Welcome home, Joseph Park
Every morning Joseph Park woke up the same way, gosh-darning Crimson under his breath for claiming the top bunk. It wasn’t his fault he was late on the first day of camp! Park, Park, & Park is a big firm, and it takes a lot of paperwork before you can just hand off all of your cases and spend the summer at Wrestling Camp.
Joseph looked at his alarm clock. 11:30am? Oh no! He was late! Careful so as not to hit his head again, he rushed to the chair beside his bed, grabbed the track suit he had laid out the night before, and ran for the bathrooms. Punctuality is an asset, but it’s not meant to take away from proper hygiene!
As Joseph painstakingly brushed his teeth, up, down, side to side, his thoughts began to drift. Ever since Taeler arrived, Joseph started paying less attention to his collar and elbow tie-ups and spandex macramé, and more attention to his physical presentation. He was bound and determined to become a wrestler, but something about the way she looked at him made his knees wobble.
“PARK! What in the name of Eugene are you still doing in the bathroom! Get yer goddamn ass OUT of this bathroom and INTO MY RING!”
Danny Davis. The meanest sonofabitch this side of Rob Conway you could ever meet. He could make your blood run cold just by looking at you. If he told you to move, you moved. And move Joseph did!
As he broke into a run, Park realized that his carefully side-parted hair was getting mussed in the wind, and regretted it almost immediately. She’d be there waiting, with her neon hoodies and five different colours of eye-shadow, and he’d show up looking like he had already been working out for hours. Gosh darnit!
As the summer wore on and the days grew longer, so did the training. In-ring work twice a day, cape & robe bedazzling before lunch, international object wood carving afterwards. Being a wrestler was hard work!
Joseph walked along the pathway, past the fire pit and Proctologist Memorial Dining Hall, into the woods. Moments before, Davis had yet again proved why he earned the nickname “Nightmare,” cruelly berating Joseph in front of everyone for not cutting an impactful enough promo on Sam Shaw.
“Aw, what does he know, anyways?” said Joseph, kicking a cluster of mushroom that had grown next to his favourite thinking stump. “Sam is barely even articulate enough to say his own name, let alone make me think he’s going to take me on in the squared circle! Why, Danny Davis is just a mean, no good-“
Joseph wheeled around to see two big brown eyes meeting his gaze.
“Taeler! Wh-uhh…what are you doing here?”
Hendrix smiled, making Joseph immediately feel like he had to lie down. “Oh, you own these woods now?” she said as she hopped up on the stump, challenging him face to face. “What are you going to do…sue me?”
Of the great many things Joseph Park could think of doing with Miss Hendrix, instituting legal proceedings against her was the last thing on his mind.
“Oh…oh no, Miss Hendrix. I could never! Besides, I’m not that kind of lawyer. You see, at the firm of Park, Park, & Park, we specialize in…well…it doesn’t matter. I’m a wrestler now! Or at least I’m trying to be.” Joseph cast his eyes to the ground. “I must confess, I don’t think I’m doing a very good job at it.”
Taeler climbed down off of the stump, brushing the dirt off of it before taking a seat. “It’s Davis, isn’t it. That guy’s just rotten! Did you know he told Sam that his tattoos were stupid? What a dick.”
Joseph fought the urge to smile. Sam’s tattoos were stupid, but any amount of schadenfreude might make him look as big of a jerk as Davis. Instead he nodded his head in agreement. “Yeah, that’s real mean. Especially since he’s stuck with them. That’s why I always make sure to carefully and thoroughly weigh the pros and cons of any major purchase. Proper research almost always helps you avoid buyer’s remorse!”
“Uh, yeah. Well. Either way, that guy’s gonna get his. Wanna help?”
Whether it was the scheming glint in her eye, or the way she threw around words like “dick” as an insult, Joseph immediately felt a tug in the pit of his stomach. Here she was -beautiful, dangerous- and looking at him like that. He would have followed her to the ends of the earth if she’d smile at him just one more time.
“What do you have in mind?”
He should have known.
Staring into the wild eyes of the Nightmare, a container of icy hot in one hand and the ragged, yellowed briefs of Danny Davis in the other, Joseph Park stood frozen in the middle of Davis’s cabin, petrified.
He should have known.
“Oh my god, Joe! I had no idea you’d actually go through with it! I mean, have you seen the stains on his sweat pants? Who on earth would wanna touch his grody underwear?”
It was lunchtime in Ohio Valley. The tables in the dining hall were filling up with budding wrestlers, currently hungrier for tater tots and jello than they were for big brand contracts. Joseph followed Hendrix through the crowd, trying his best to dodge and weave through the maze of muscles and lunch trays.
“What do you mean, Miss Hendrix? We clearly discussed, in detail, making Davis pay for being so awful to all of us. You were supposed to be there with me!”
Before she could speak, Sam Shaw sidled up to Taeler, draping one unfortunately tattooed arm around her shoulders. “Hey, Tae. Ha, that rhymes. Is this guy bothering you?”
“Totally. I mean, god, Joe, get a grip. It was a joke!”
“But…you said you would be there. And I thought…I had thought…I mean, you brought up the end of summer dance, and…”
“Whoa, hold up. You thought my girl Tae was gonna go to the dance with a fat geek like you? You’re…” Joseph could practically hear the cogs grinding against each other as Sam struggled to come up with another insult. “You’re…lunchmeat!” And with that, Sam dumped the contents of his tray over Park’s head.
Humiliated, Joseph turned to go, tears burning in his eyes. But before he could get far, his foot slipped on an errant slice of baloney from Sam’s now wasted lunch. He careened forward, smashing his nose into a nearby bench. Park looked down in horror. Blood was trickling from his nose onto the floor, onto his hands…so much blood….
“PARK! What in the name of Eugene do you think you’re doing? My office! NOW!”
Joseph shook his head, as if waking from a dream. Slowly, the realization dawned on him that everyone in the dining hall had gone quiet, and even worse, was staring right at him. Sam Shaw lay at his feet. Taeler looked at up at him, a mixture of shock and fear passing over her face.
What just happened?
Joseph Park sat awkwardly on a folding chair placed in front of Davis’s desk. “I’m sorry, sir. I…I don’t know what happened.”
Davis looked at Park, his eyes softening. “Son, have you ever heard of a lady names Missy Hyatt?”
Park racked his brain, but came up with nothing.
“Ah, well, it’s not important. The thing is, sometimes we do strange things when it comes to women. I understand. But the fact is, I haven’t seen a spinning side slam executed with that much ability and ferocity since…well, since your brother was last on TV.”
“Yeah, I think that’s what we’re ramping up to.”
Davis continued. “Look, I know I’ve been a little hard on you, but the fact is, you’ve come a long way since you first walked through my door. You’ve worked hard, and it’s paid off. I think you’re ready to graduate.”
“I….really?” Park had expected the thrashing of a lifetime for whatever had happened in the dining hall, but…graduate? Was this really happening?
“Go on, get out of here! I believe you’ve got some things to take care of back in Orlando.”
Joseph Park loaded his bag into the backseat of his rental car. For once the company had sent along the right one. He paused, taking one last look at Ohio Valley Wrestling Camp. He had come so far.
As he slid into the driver’s seat of his BMW, a smile crept across his lips. He was gosh darn Joseph Park, esq. of the firm Park, Park, & Park. He had a penthouse apartment and a bank account balance to rival any of the bigwigs at Panda Energy. But most importantly, he was now a wrestler. He could do this. And Danny Davis was right – he had unfinished business.
He tossed his glasses onto the passenger seat, replacing them with his trusty prescription shades.
“Hold onto your butt, Devon. I’m on my way.”
Worst: Brooke Hogan, Actress
You know you’re in sad shape when a man who can’t even pretend to use a phone properly is better at conveying emotional turmoil than you are. Are you sad? Are you trying not to laugh? Is it gas? It’s gas, isn’t it?
Worst: Guys, sometimes I am really dumb
It wasn’t until this moment in the show that I realized Austin Aries’ logo isn’t just weird triangle shapes, but two As. I feel almost as silly as I did a few weeks ago when I noticed, after years of dedicated watching and yelling at housewives for not figuring out anagrams as fast as I can, that the giant cheese wheels on Supermarket Sweep are actually just inflatables and not actual cheese. Also, if that’s the case, why the hell wouldn’t you load up on them, mulleted ladies of the early nineties? I know you can lift those now! No excuse!
Best: Austin Aries and Bobby Roode getting the hot tag to my heart
It continues to astound me that people will consistently and somewhat ignorantly deride Impact. Yeah, I give worsts, but oh my god, how can you watch Austin Aries and Bobby Roode argue over what they’re going to wear to the ring and not think this is an absolute Best? You’re right, Aries. This is a dream team. Or, to quote my boyfriend, “Are you going to put in the part about how you almost broke my arm clutching it in happiness over this segment?” …sorry, Matthew.
Worst: Jeff Hardy not understanding the point of competition in wrestling
I can maybe understand thinking that his methods are a little dodgy, but isn’t the entire point of competing to get the World Heavyweight Championship? I about lost my mind when Aries won, so yeah, of course the actual person who won it in stunning fashion then lost it to the guy who sells the most merch wants it back. Ugh. It’s like you don’t even watch wrestling.
Best: I have been waiting for this for what feels like an eternity
A ways back, With Leather darling M4G3RK coined the ideal name for a Hardy/Storm tag team, so please know that they are, now and forever, Team Paint Your Wagon.
(click to embiggen)
They’re gonna use an oil-based paint, because they’re painting piiiiine!
Best: This whole match
I actually had to watch it back, because I didn’t remember a single thing that Paint Your Wagon did other than the fact that Jeff Hardy didn’t take off his shirt. Aries and Roode one-upmanship dominated the focus of this match, and I was entirely caught up in the story they’re telling. When they eventually move on to separate storylines, I’m going to miss them like the deserts miss the rain. And hey, remember when CM Punk and Cena stood on opposite turnbuckles holding the belts up to the crowd to illicit dueling cheers from the audience? Well eff that, this was way, way better.
Worst: Where have you been, and why don’t you come back WTTCOTW?
Seriously, this is the most WTTCOTW we get? Really? We have to sit through Brooke Hogan failing harder at crying than Nick Saban does at smiling like a human, and all we get from Kazarian and Daniels is a run in? Boo! Hiss!
Best: Mr. Anderson’s entrance … mostly
Live, Anderson has one of the legit coolest entrances I’ve ever seen. Once he gets to the ring and starts talking we’re reminded that hey, you’re not actually all that cool and you should probably have cut it off a full minute ago, but it was kinda nice to see it again. It also led me to simultaneously playing Sting and Anderson’s themes on YouYube at the same time, and Dale Oliver, you were not stretching yourself creatively with these at all, were you. Tsk.
Worst: Kurt Angle
I know I haven’t been writing these for long, so I should at this point explain that I am actually a fan of Kurt Angle. He was a great wrestler, looked smashing in a tiny hat, and had Sensational Sherri sing an Angle-themed parody of Shawn Michael’s entrance that I’ve filed forever under “Things that make me happy.” The nicest photo my boyfriend and I have together after being together for three years features a sweaty, post-match Angle posing in a TNA ring between the two of us. I’m not sure if that’s sad or awesome, but either way, I don’t hate Kurt Angle. That said, will you shut the hell up and stop calling dudes “bitch”? Or anyone, for that matter? Remember when you were awesome and funny and a sexy Kurt who’d make people’s ankle hurt? More of that, less of everything you’re doing, please.
Best: Garrett Bischoff running
Because lol, Garrett Bischoff.
Worst: You are real terrible at your fake job, EMTs
Hey, let’s not secure the neck that we’re speculating is injured or anything. If it’s a serious injury, I’m pretty sure the beefy hand of Samoa Joe isn’t going to prevent paralysis while you’re rolling him around willy nilly.
Worst: Aces & Eights, let’s get this show on the road
Do you realize that we have been slogging through this junk since June? Eight months of fluctuating membership numbers, confusing and meandering storylines, and weird Floridian ladies of the night? Only three members have been unmasked, we have no clear and present motivations for anything, let alone the significance of said masks, and we’re already getting a rehash of a storyline 2011.
Ideally, Brooke hired Aces & Eights to pretend to kidnap her so that Bully could save the day, thus ingratiating himself into Hogan’s good graces once more. It’s twisted and dangerous, and the kind of foolish thing someone would do when the person they love the most romantically isn’t approved of by the person they love the most in their family. It doesn’t solve any of the long-term issues, but I’m oddly intrigued by the tragedy that is the Hogan father-daughter relationship, and it would, for a short time, give some meaning to the actions of Aces & Eights.
I’m sure we’re going to see this drag on until at least March, because I can easily see them having a face team vs. Aces & Eights at Lockdown, but I’m getting real tired of waiting for some kind of progression other than “We have to wait for Sting to come back, so here are more ladies fresh from the stripper farm while we basically do nothing.”
On the plus side, however, we now have Easily Bent Rubber Hammer, my favourite unmasked member of Aces & Eights.
Worst: Oh no, what if …
I swear to god, if this is a long-form lead in to Jeff Jarrett returning I am rage-quitting TNA.
Best: Yes, I am actually giving this whole thing a Best, don’t look at me like that
Okay, so it may have started out kind of crummy, and THIS BUSINESS makes me roll my eyes until they hurt, but this is the soapiest, most ridiculous segment and I am ALL OVER IT. I dare you not to giggle at Hulk Hogans Immobilized Poopies Face of Disapproval. Bully Ray is stretching himself beyond “Guy Who Shouts Stuff” to legitimate emotional depth for all of this, not to mention that he can tell Brooke Hogan that he loves her more than his storied career in professional wrestling and keep a straight face. That’s talent, guys.
Maybe the best part of this segment is Sting. I wish this would have been interrupted by a Sting internal monologue, because man is he ever uncomfortable witnessing all of this. There is literally no point in him being there, and it’s fantastic.
There are so many places they could go with this, and I can’t believe I am looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen. Is Bully Ray going to turn on all of them because he’s been working with his brother all along and the entire thing is a set up for him to turn heel again? Will Devon show up at the wedding to be Bully’s Best Man, despite the fact that he just threatened to mangle Brooke’s face, because Brotherly Love? Will Spike Dudley show up in a tie-dyed tuxedo and make the happiest girl in the world? Okay yeah, probably not that last one. Either way, once you get past the execution, the pathos of Hulk Hogan is something incredibly easy to become invested in, and may unknowingly be one of the most interesting things in wrestling right now.
Even better best: Bully Ray is thrilled to be engaged
These two are going to have the best wedding photos EVER.