Ed. note – Welcome to the test-run, or “pilot episode” of the much requested Best And Worst Of TNA Impact Wrestling, a subsidiary of The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw LLC. Handling the writing duties is writer/comedian/Canadian Danielle Matheson, who could not come with a higher recommendation from me. I know part of the reason people wanted a Best And Worst Of Impact was to get my take on it, but … no, you’re better off with Danielle. My Best And Worst Of Impact would a complimentary sentence about Taryn Terrell’s diet and 75 paragraphs of complaining. You’re better off with Danielle. As an added bonus, I’m leaving in all the Canadian spellings. Your feedback here is very important, so make sure to click like, share it on Twitter, and drop a comment about the report or the show if you want us to keep doing it. Enjoy!
Well hello! I’m Danielle. I like Brian Wood comics, Tom Waits, and I’m super into TNA. No, I’m not joking.
I suppose I should preface this article with a few things, just to get it out of the way:
• While it’s hard not to take a completely sardonic approach to reviewing TNA, this will not be multiple pages of worsts.
• That said, TNA has been really, really bad lately. I am a consummate TNA apologist, but even I have to admit that the show is hitting lows I didn’t think possible. And I am saying this as someone who owns Victory Road ’09.
• Know that everything I say is because I want IMPACT to be the best it can be, and not … that it usually chooses to be.
• My current biggest non-WrestleMania fantasy booking is Kenny King vs. ACH, half out of curiosity to see how their styles would match up, and half because ACH should be a thing you all love. If you’re really into making stuff happen for Canadian girls you only know from the internet and it is within your power to do so, that would be fantastic. Just throwing that out there while I have the chance.
• As always, comment, share, like us on Facebook, or send UPROXX carrier pigeons telling them that you like IMPACT too and want this to happen more often. You can also follow me on Twitter here.
This week on IMPACT: Kurt Angle has a secret pastime you won’t believe, Brooke Hogan is allowed back on television, and Hulk Hogan tries to use a smart phone. Hold onto your butts, coconuts. This is a thing that is happening!
Worst: Velvet Sky is back, and she’s got her eyes on something that doesn’t really mean anything anymore
“There’s nothing like a good catsuit that screams the holiday season!”
This is an actual line uttered by Taz in one of his few (semi) lucid moments on the show. Let that soak in for a moment while I prepare to spill some truth about the current state of the Knockouts Division.
Once upon a time, Knockouts were the best thing about TNA. They had multiple, fleshed out storylines occurring at the same time, could main event an episode of IMPACT, and featured good-to-fantastic wrestling. But oh, those days are gone. I feel like there are two approaches to ladies wrestling. The first, and best, is not seeing them as any different from men and just letting them wrestle. The second, and worst, is to dress them up in as little revealing clothing as possible and make them scream and do submission holds that make them look like they could potentially be scissoring each other to orgasm. Guess which tack TNA is taking?
Now, without getting too soapbox-y about how great and beautiful lady wrestlers who could totally kick your butt (hello, Jessicka Havok!) should respectfully be left to wrestle to the best of their ability and not be paraded around like pieces of meat for the entertainment of a male demographic, I can safely say that approach number two is not the reason that Knockouts can and have outdrawn the rest of the roster. Bringing back Velvet Sky to rub her asshole on the camera and do terrible pedigrees while Taz does a stuttering, bumbling Jerry Lawler impression is maybe not the road they want to go down if they want their ratings back.
Speaking of catsuits, my hope is that her new look is just some of Goldust’s old gear someone bought through WWE Auctions, and she’ll keep rehashing it a la Marge’s Chanel suit. This week, a catsuit. Next week, French stockings and a halter!
Bonus worst: Pigeons – How do they work?
Alright, we’ve gotta get this straight. What are pigeons, and why does Velvet Sky have them inside of her? At one point I thought they were her breasts, and everyone just wanted her to take off her shirt. Now that I know they reside somewhere in her nethers, we should go over some theories and pick one.
1: She suffers from terrible gas and bloating but doesn’t feel comfortable saying farts, so instead she regressively calls them “pigeons.” Clearly WWE stole their Farting Natalya gimmick from TNA, but couldn’t keep it as sexy as Velvet Sky does so they gave up on it.
2. “Pigeons” means her fighting spirit, and she just wants to set her make-up gun to whore, and get out there and kick some butt.
3. Everyone just humours her, because no one knows what it means, and she is crazier than drunken, multiple-personality riddled Claire Forlani. In this scenario, the pigeons are played by her invisible friend Angus.
I implore you, dearest With Leather reading audience, to comment on what exactly they are so we can arrive at a decisive explanation and stick with it from now on.
Worst, but secretly Best: Kurt Angle, Brischoff Shipper
Wes and Garrett have to fight Robbies E and T tonight, and I am so worried. Fighting a brute as big as Robbie T is almost as hard as trying to fight their feelings for one another. They pretend they’re just friends, but I can see it in their eyes. The lingering glances, the celebratory hugs that last a little too long…it’s so obvious. I can only hope this Five Hour Energy Drink gives them the strength to beat these two, and just maybe the courage to own up to their feelings. Oh, Wes, you fool! Just kiss him already!
Faith and hope,
Let’s face it: TNA has done a lot of dumb things. It’s done some great things, but also innumerable terrible, horrible things. As wrestling fans, we’re trained to believe that the most ridiculous concepts are completely feasible: a snake in a bag can make a giant run in fear; a Steiner Recliner is actually painful; the shirtless existence of Gunner. Trying to make us believe that Garrett Bischoff and Wes Brisco are people who should be wrestling on television is something that even the most “it’s real to me!” fans can scoff at. And yet here we are.
Making Kurt Angle – Olympic Gold Medalist, All-Time Wrestling Great – act excited at the idea of these two being involved in the company in any way is something I absolutely can’t wrap my head around. At this point my brain has justified it as Kurt Angle being really into shipping these two in the most fan-fictional of manners. I can all too easily picture Kurt sitting cross-legged on his Bald Eagle-themed comforter, flooding FFNET with Brischoff stories, and occasionally Mary Stu-ing himself in as the Five Hour Energy-shilling best friend who makes them realize their staggering yet unspoken love of one another.
TNA will more than likely have them betray Kurt’s taurine-fueled friendship by being secret members of Aces & Eights, but I refuse to believe this is anything more than someone at TNA Creative bringing their M/M Fiction:MA Brisco/Bischoff drabbles to work with them, and getting them mixed up with the show’s script.
Best: Joseph Park, Attorney at LAWESOME
I don’t know about you, but to me Joseph Park is the absolute best thing about IMPACT. This week, he shows up to OVW in a Volkswagen Beetle (!), is incredulous that Danny Davis expects him to start immediately (it’s okay, so I am I), and does sit-ups in a suit. Also, this:
Hee! Yes you are, Joseph Park. Yes you are.
Worst: Brooke Hogan doesn’t understand how being famous works
Okay, real talk time. I laughed when Brooke Hogan said Tara had her plate full with signing autographs at the grocery store. Brooke would have earned her very first official (and probably only) Best during her conversation with Tara with this line alone. TNA rarely has the cognitive ability to acknowledge exactly how ridiculous the things they do are. Anyone who has waited in line to have Mickie James sign a grainy 8×10 at a car dealership, or gone to a Cincinnati Hooters just to get a mark photo with Samoa Joe can attest to this. The best moments of self-awareness in wrestling aren’t calling wrestlers by their real names or saying things like TH’BUSINESS, but rather self-deprecating jokes like this.
Of course, this being Brooke Hogan, we couldn’t keep a good thing going. She immediately jumps from “lol shouldn’t you be at a Food Lion right now?” to things like walking the red carpet and dining with the Kardashians. That’s a huge leap, especially for someone who is legitimately more famous to the non-wrestling fans of the world than anyone on this show not named Hulk (or Terry, because OH NO YOU DIDN’T). She was on television for four years. She had her own reality show. She released an album. She has a song with Paul Wall that played constantly when I worked at the mall and may or may not still be on my iPod. Even this amount of public notoriety didn’t get Brooke these things, so why would a D-grade reality star and middling former WWE wrestler not named Trish Stratus suddenly be breaking bread with Kim and Kanye? Not even Khloe would stoop so low. And she’s Khloe effing Kardashian.
Worst: Brother Devon’s Discount Title Interferences
The revelation that Austin Aries outbid Bobby Roode for the services of Aces & Eights is…a thing that happened.
Neither wrestler is kayfabe rich, and those Aces & Eights strippers who dance to the groups theme song probably don’t cost that much (sorry, ladies). Even Taz is surprised that Aries outbid Roode, because clearly that would eat a large hole in his spangly circle-cape budget. This leads me to believe that one of two things has happened:
1) Devon has to financially compensate for overspending on the Thanksgiving turkey he binged on while being sad that D’Angelo Dinero stole his family, leaving him to live with a bunch of masked dudes and a bald guy who wasn’t even cool in Ring Ka King, or
2) Aces & Eights are here to sow chaos and anarchy, but since they aren’t actually gainfully employed by the company, they have to make ends meet somehow. Motorcycles (not pictured ever) don’t fuel themselves, and it’s either this or run the risk of raising Kurt Angle’s ire by running bootleg energy drinks to Kid Kash and maybe that guy whose hair probably smells like crayons.
Best: Bobby Roode and Hulk Hogan give great backstage segment
So while Devon is off somewhere, presumably eating his feelings, Hulk Hogan is backstage and in desperate pursuit of Austin Aries. This segment had some great, unintentionally hilarious moments.
• Hulk Hogan wandering aimlessly backstage like he was just released from a cryogenic freezer and is trying to figure out not where he is, but when?
• Hogan on a cell phone. While his segments are usually the worst thing about IMPACT, any instance of him trying to use the phone is amazing. Remember last week when he tried to talk about the Internet while on a cordless phone? Amazing. I love Phone!Hogan like I love my boyfriend’s 70 year old father trying to learn to use Google Chrome. And that is so much.
• Confused, bespectacled production guy fleeing in terror from Bobby Roode. Yeah, Roode is acting like he got into Kurt Angle’s stash and chased an eight ball with about 70 hours-worth of energy, but…okay, yeah. I would hustle on out of there as well. Carry on.
• Everything Bobby Roode is doing. You know how in every procedural cop drama, they’ll inevitably pick up a junkie witness who needs ‘cool down’ before they can get anything out of him? Bobby Roode’s version of irate takes from the same playbook as ‘junkie after he’s spent a few hours in holding and is ready to talk.’ The twitching, the yelling, the scratching at parts of his body while he paces around like a caged animal. And it is all fantastic. He is two minutes away from breaking down and telling Detective Logan he found the gun in a dumpster behind the bodega, but then sold it so he could buy a bunch of smack and a bottle of Thunderbird. I re-watched this segment maybe twenty times, and each time ended up in stitches. I am by no means a fan of Bobby Roode, but if he keeps breaking out moments like this and doesn’t give up on that uranage suplex, I may just be on board with him getting another title shot.
Worst: AJ Styles still has it, TNA crowd unsure of what ‘it’ is
To me, AJ Styles is the Marc Blucas of wrestling. A perfectly serviceable wrestler with the charisma and uniqueness of a stick of butter. Just like when Riley had his ‘dark turn’ on Buffy when it was revealed that he was getting off on having the meth-head equivalent of vampire hookers suck his blood, AJ Styles tries to take a page from the “How to Turn Heel” handbook by saying he’s not going to be a company man anymore, and the most menacing thing he can do is take off his shirt. Ooo, burn.
This promo was boring, awkward, and unintentionally funny, mostly in part to the crowd’s chant of “YOU’VE STILL GOT IT.” Here’s the thing. When someone comes out of retirement, throws around their signature and finisher moves, and then pauses to take in the adulation of the crowd, sure. Chant away. That person (cough, X-Pac at King of Trios, cough) probably doesn’t have what it takes to still wrestle a PPV level match against one of the best wrestlers on TV today, but you harbor some kind of nostalgia for him and want to make him feel good about himself. Whatever.
AJ Styles is 35 years old, hasn’t gone anywhere, and just wrestled to the best of his ability against Christopher Daniels four days ago. I may not care for his Pele kicks and videogame leaps, but he’s not incompetent, and chanting this at him is more than a little demeaning. I know you love him, IMPACT Zone crowd, but if you really want to show your affection, don’t put him on the same level as X-Pac. That’s just cruel.
Additional Worst: Dixie Carter is on television. But Best: She gets a new shirt!
Best: Christopher Daniels and Kazarian are BFF Forever
Until the Claire Lynch storyline, I was not a fan of Kazarian (sorry, dude). I know most people hated it, but I feel like this is where he hit his stride. Holding up photographs to the camera and disgustedly shaking his head? Great. Dressing up a baby doll in AJ Styles’ entrance gear, then making it pantomime his entrance? Amazing. Calling James Storm a goatherder, and it not meaning that Storm has sex with goats? Not as amazing, but still really good, and oddly progressive for a TNA promo. Letting him pal around with Christopher Daniels instead of trying to make me buy him as a serious guy who has serious feelings that can only be expressed through serious wrestles is the best thing for him. This is his niche – let him revel in it.
I am slightly biased when it comes to Christopher Daniels, especially given that I am a huge (spoiler alert) Curry Man mark, but each week I look forward to the shiny scarves, the martinis, and the BFF banter. Like Kane and Daniel Bryan, or Tim Donst and Jakob Hammermeier, I will be devastated if they ever break up because I am way more invested in their friendship than I probably should be. And I don’t know about you, but I really want to know what Kazarian gets Daniels for Christmas.
Worst: Kenny King and Rob Van Dam get their groove back … AGAIN
When King-RVD was announced for Final Resolution, I had two thoughts. The first wondering how slow Kenny King was going to make RVD look, and the second being that oh no, Kenny King is not good enough yet to make RVD look like he should be wrestling. I like Kenny King. I fully believe that he is the kind of wrestler who fits well with the X-Division brand we’ve come to expect: young, hungry, athletic wrestlers who can fly circles around whatever slow, aging WWE wrestler TNA has lured out of retirement and put into the main event picture. The current X-Division is arguably the worst it has ever been, but Kenny King should be throwing bombs and spinebustering anyone who stands in his way of being the face of the division.
At this point I should let you all know that in no way am I anti-RVD. He’s one of my favourite wrestlers, he’s in my favourite match of all time, and ECW RVD-Jerry Lynn is the feud dreams are made of. That said, Rob Van Dam – get your act together. No one should be content to be the champion of a division of three wrestlers and Zema Ion, but that’s also no excuse to just be the slowest, dumpiest possible guy you can be. If you don’t care, fine. If TNA isn’t creative enough to find an angle for you outside of the X-Division, fine. Just don’t bring others down with you. Take your paycheque, treat yo’ self to a new airbrushed singlet, and reserve your television appearances for muddled backstage character exposition.
Best/Worst: The Smoking Butt Impression
Who’s got two thumbs, and is equal parts confused and entertained by this segment? THIS GAL. If anything, this proves that the theme of the night is definitely unintentional hilarity. I could probably write an entire Best and Worst article on these few minutes alone. You know what? Why not. LIGHTNING ROUND.
Best: When Bully Ray walks in, Phone!Hogan is in his glory, telling someone to hold on and then continuing this entire conversation without ever going back to his phone to say goodbye and hang up. Then the phone magically disappears. Phone!Hogan, you are something else.
Best: Hogan really hates that chair.
Worst: Hulk Hogan thinks that his 24 year old daughter can’t talk and be friends with someone without them asking his permission first.
Worst: I’m pretty sure he just insinuated that Bully Ray is trying to have buttsex with Brooke.
Slightly Sarcastic Best: Bully Ray, Serious Actor. Book this man into a David Mamet play, STAT!
Ultimate Worst: Hogan doesn’t want you to let seatbelts hold you back. I guess we’re supposed to pretend that his son didn’t kill someone in a car accident and just let this one slip by, huh.
Ultimate Best: Bully Ray insisting that absolutely nothing is happening with Brooke, and no one was “thrown onto the couch.” And lo, there is said couch with the world’s most distinct butt impression that could never have been made if two people were doing the horizontal butt tango. I know this was probably accidental, but part of me realllly hopes that someone in TNA had the foresight to make sure the impression was there just to back Bully Ray’s story up.
After all of this, Bully Ray asserts that his adult daughter can make decisions on her own, and lead her own life without it being any of Hogan’s business. Best. Hogan’s response? “Weak.” Ugh. Worst.
This week, the award for Best Kevin Nash Impression is unceremoniously stolen from D.O.C by the angry ‘bout stuff Austin Aries. Much like Aries this week, it’s neither a Best nor Worst, just a thing that happened.
And of course, last but not least, this week’s absolute Best:
I think I speak for all of us when I say Joey Ryan, shut up and take my money.