Hello hello hello! Welcome back to the Best & Worst of TNA Impact, alternately known as “Jesus Christ, are we still in the UK?” A few things before we get to the (thankfully) final installment under the monarchy.
– I went to 2CW’s Niagara Falls show last week, and this is a thing that happened! For those of you who regularly read this column, you’ll know that this is pretty much one of the best things that could ever happen, and it’s a miracle I am writing this week because my heart almost burst from sheer joy. As an aside, please note that I am 5’2 ¾”, and he is officially listed at a cool Danny Briere 5’9. Mmhmm. Okay Spikey.
– While I was hanging out in a wrestling ring with Spike Dudley and fangirling over Jojo Bravo at a merch table with the effervescent Rachel Summerlyn, Brandon got to go to Elimination Chamber and a WWE press conference. He did a TOTALLY CONTROVERSIAL podcast about these experiences that you should listen to here. He also got to meet Big Show and Mark Henry, and had I not done the aforementioned, I would probably ragequit the internet from blind jealousy. You can listen to his fun and less divisive podcast about that here. Chris Trew is involved, and hey, we all love that guy (we should all love that guy).
– Twitter is a nifty little thing, and if you think so too, you should absolutely follow me here. With Leather is good times and occasionally posts about cats on treadmills (the best kinds of posts), so follow them here, and our UPROXX mothership here. Like us on Facebook, rock the tumblr, and share (or whatever the verb is) on Reddit, too. We like shares and follows and likes and such, so do it as much as you can! You can even use buzzwords and get proactive and in your face about it!
– Shout-out to Wrestling Bro Prime Casey for the GIFs.
This week on Impact: A title changes hands, Joseph Park flies, and after some serious consideration, a #1 contender is picked for the World Heavyweight Championship. Onwards and upwards, my friends!
Best: Nepotism or Senility, the hot new game show that’s sweeping the nation!
Hogan comes out to kick off the show, and lets us know that after careful consideration he’s chosen the #1 contender to face Jeff Hardy for his butt-ugly belt at Lockdown. So who is it? Mecha Austin Aries? The Superkick of the Cowboy James Storm? RVD? Haha, of course it’s not RVD. It’s Bully Ray, because of course it is.
At first blush this seems…wrong…and I assure you that it is, but for the sake of the grander story being told, let’s go with it. Bully Ray is injured, and didn’t compete in the Tournament of Farts (shoutout to all of my Canadian professional women’s curling fans with that one! *wink wink*). Bully Ray comes out, just as incredulous as his acting skills will allow. Bully Ray well and truly should have been champion long before this, but TNA is now running wild down a treacherous path. With Aces & Eights finally getting some momentum, this could lead to a very big reveal that would more than justify slogging through months of leather vests and beer bottle hand-jobs. It could also just lead to Bully Ray becoming champion with no exploration of the familial politicking of Brooke Hogan and the overt nepotism of Hulk’s decision.
The problem with getting so invested in an Impact storyline like this is the precedence they’ve set for completely dropping the ball on compelling storylines, or negating any good things they’ve done by adding, say, Jeff Jarrett into the mix. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of confidence in doing something different then falling back on whatever they think a WWE audience would like or what, but I’m really glad that they’re sticking with this. Other storylines and divisions (X, Knockout) may be suffering, but thus far I think they’ve been incredibly successful in expanding the characters of both Bully Ray and Hogan, and I really want to see this through to what will hopefully be a satisfying conclusion. Heck, best friend and confidant Sting has been the most likable and relatable he’s been in just about ever. Even if this is just a long-form parody of the benefits Triple H has reaped by getting it into then putting a ring on Lady Stephanie, it’s really, really good. More of this, less #slapnuts please.
Worst: F-cking injuries, how do they work?
Bully. Bully Ray. Sweetie, darling. Stop. You can’t say you’re injured, then go dancing. You can’t point out that you’ve torn a quad and shouldn’t compete at Lockdown, then book yourself into a match involving the same guys who injured you. Oh wait, you can? And you did? Well, I guess we’ve got time for miracles, and I can notice and recognize them, so sure, let’s do this.
Best: Call me Jerry Lawler, because I just made a sh-tty heart attack reference
In all seriousness, my heart. is full. of FEELINGS. Mecha Shiva and Bad Influence! Everyone hates Chavandez! Christopher Daniels earned his medals! They all get to be on the same side and be best friends and drink appletinis and put pictures of Chavo and Jeff Hardy in their burn book and…okay, maybe not. But hey, they’re all on the same four-man tag team, so it’s a start! Is there a way this could get better?
This couldn’t get better, right?
Best: Danielle’s Fandom Armageddon Tag Match
WELL HELLO THERE, JOSEPH PARK.
This is a real TNA Turning Point in the episode, because there is pretty much no way the show will have anything better than this tag match. It’s not perfect, but…nevermind, 5/8ths of it is. Let me put it another way. It’s a real shame that the YouTube version of the match is cut down, because this is basically ten minutes of a four-on-one handicap match of Mecha Influence vs. Joseph Park, and it is glorious. It is so good that upon watching it after it aired, a friend messaged me to make sure I was alright. And I am not alright. I am so much more than alright. I am the MOST DELIGHTED.
In this match we have:
– Legitimately great wrestling
– Four of the best heels to ever heel their way around a TNA ring
– Joseph Park showing heart and determination
– Joseph Park going top rope
– Said heels remembering that they’re actually total jerks and collapsing under the weight of their own egos and jerkitude
– Joseph Park
Even Tazz likes Joseph Park, and Tazz is an idiot.
Best: Joseph Park, high-flyer
Worst: We lie, we cheat, we steal other people’s pins
That was Joseph Park’s pin, dude. BOO, CHAVO. BOOOOOOO.
Worst: Robbie…Robbie, I told you no….don’t…
Further worst: Why aren’t you on the list, bro?
Monolithic Robbie? Where are ya, bro? You two can’t really be…I mean, no no. It’s fine. It’s just a bit of tension because you’re trying to play up to the British crowd. It’s cool! It’s totally fine. You’re just off styling your hair or letting out the sleeves on your new matching argyle sweaters or-
brb, using my official Robbie E rosary to pray for your swift and joyous reunion. ‘Cause the higher the fist-pump, the closer to god, right?
Worst: The Knockouts title change, or, this is the polite way of saying Velvet Sky, you are terrible
Because Velvet Sky, you are terrible. To your credit, you are not the worst wrestler to ever wrestle. You are slightly better than Miss Tessmacher, but…that is not saying much. Guuuuuurl, you have been wrestling for ten goddamn years. You are still working that summer grocery store cashier job you got when you were sixteen to have extra cash for the movies and to spend at whatever the American equivalent of Ardene is, while Gail Kim is already moving on to become partner in a private medical practice. Like hey, maybe take some time out from skinning muppets to make those legwarmers and refine that sh-tty finisher a little. Maybe ask for some help. You are actively employed to wrestle in a company of wrestlers who put on a wrestling television show and numerous wrestling house shows. Is no one available to help you? Here are some helpful tips on what to google:
– Christopher Daniels Angels Wings
– Triple H Pedigree
– Icarus Wings of Icarus
– CM Punk Pepsi Plunge (should you feel ambitious) (don’t get ambitious)
– How to blend blonde highlights
If the person in your company who is probably around a lot more than you who also happens to use a variation of the same finisher is unavailable, maybe ask your boyfriend. You are essentially dating at least a National semi-finalist spelling bee contestant, and your crosswords don’t make any damn sense because you think 34-Across: First day of Lent is “Ash Wennsday.”
I know, I know. It’s hard. Your face turn blows. Your gimmick is basically that you are there. You have pigeons residing in your uterus, and that can’t be comfortable at all. Your old frenemy Madison Rayne is wandering, alone and lost, somewhere in Universal Studios, living off of stale popcorn and discarded Butterbeer. But maybe, just maybe, make a wee bit more effort? Or go the opposite way, surprise us all, and own your crappiness. Run up to that camera, rub your asshole all over it, and shout THIS IS WHAT I DO. I don’t care. Just decide who you want to be, and be it. For all of our sakes.
Worst: And while we’re chatting…
‘Sup, TNA. Remember that time you had the chance to sign LuFisto? We’ll call it every second you don’t sign LuFisto? Maybe now is a good time to seriously assess this match, scrap the Gut Check voting shenanigans, get her on board, and have her clear out the riff raff in stunning fashion.
Worst: But no seriously, that Knockouts Match
I understand that Velvet Sky’s title win is a means to an end when it comes to advancing the storyline between Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell, but this is well and truly a useless title change. The only possible reason I could see for taking the belt off of her is the idea that Brooke whispered to Terrell at the beginning of the match that Tara had to lose, because she doesn’t like her and they’re gonna have a thing. Regardless, Velvet is just a bit player achieving something she really has no business having, and we get more Brooke Hogan on TV. Does anyone win in that scenario? No.
The fact that it could lead to two storylines for a division at an incredibly low point where most ladies don’t even get one is a good thing, but I’m still going to keep this as worst, because the primary storyline is “Taryn Terrell doesn’t know what the eff she’s doing, and Gail Kim is a big ol’ b word for pointing it out.” Really? I know Gail Kim has a talent for effective, snarky heelishness, but I’m sorry, someone please take Taryn aside and literally show her the ropes. Tell her how they work in relation to pin attempts and submissions. Unless you’re about to get incredibly meta and point out that you hired someone because she’s cute, made her shrink her outfit and get her tits out because “women’s wrestling,” and in reality she has no idea what the hell she’s doing…well, even then that’s still kind of bad, but I’ll accept it if you stay confident and run with it.
Tune in next week when my skepticism is fully vilified by Taryn appearing in a regulation referee thong revealing that she has #slapnuts tattooed on her left buttcheek.
Worst: Mike Tenay
When you’re giving Taryn a lesson on those pesky ring ropes, maybe have Mike Tenay tag along. “Clean win” my pigeon-free fanny, Mike!
Worst: Kurt Angle doesn’t watch his own television show
Hey Kurt, remember when D-Lo, aka Voice Modulator guy, aka most obvious unrevealed Aces & Eights member, subbed in for the mysteriously absent Al Snow in Wes Brisco’s Gut Check decision? And remember when Tazz, the other person involved in that decision, revealed himself to be a member of Aces & Eights? You know how Wes Brisco is also a member of Aces & Eights? These things are kind of sort of definitely related. So when you say that you’re responsible for Wes Brisco being a part of this company, you are super duper wrong.
Best: RVD vs. Kenny King
No, really! This wasn’t a bad match by any means, and I think it played out exactly like it should have. RVD is lazy and slow as molasses, and Kenny King is neither of those things. King spends most of the match getting in a lot of offense and carrying the match, RVD comes back at the end so he doesn’t exert too much energy and get gassed by the end of it and gets the win. Kenny King looks great and crazy fast, and RVD doesn’t look like the weakest champion since….twenty minutes ago. It’s not the best, and is nowhere near the match level of what the X-Division should be doing, but it was fun, I didn’t hate it, and there was no Christian York. I can dig it.
Best: Whatchoo gonna do, when Hulk Hogan bails on you?
The match is…whatever, but hey, look, story progression! I enjoyed this for a few reasons, but I fully admit that number one is “Hulk Hogan didn’t get attacked, Mike Knox just showed him a picture of Moamar Ghaddafi and sh-t got real.”
UGGGGH LIBYA STILL MAKES HIM SO MAD
Number two is that it plays into the idea that maybe Hulk Hogan is the one behind Aces & Eights. In the interest of not actually sitting through this match again, and because TNA has had four weeks to ruminate on where to go with the Aces & Eights storyline, let’s go over some popular (and not so popular theories as to who the “Higher Power” is. Put on your speculatin’ spectacles and let’s lethally lockdown some guesses!
Hulk Hogan: This is undoubtedly my biggest hope. Hulk Hogan had his issues with Dixie Carter, faced Sting (the former general manager), had a quick face turn, and then…Sting is gone? And now the Hulkster is in charge? Maybe he didn’t show up at the wedding to support the union of Brooke and Bully, but in fact knew what was going to happen and wanted to make sure that a) his daughter was protected, and b) to throw off any suspicion that he could ever be involved. It was a red and yellow herring all along! He carries the weight and respect to make perennial employees like Devon and Mr. Anderson follow his lead, and I truly doubt the strippers and beer are a big enough pull to abandon everything they’ve done for TNA in the past. I think Hulk has laid some serious groundwork in the progression of his character from “invulnerable dude who should shut up and get off of my television” to “genuine and conflicted father and businessman,” and the reveal, if handled with the same aplomb, could be a defining moment in TNA history.
Jeff Jarrett: See: slapnuts, #. See also: history of TNA, 11 years of
Eric Bischoff: His son is in Aces & Eights. Traditionally he is arrogant enough to believe that if he is involved in something in the back, he should be involved on television. It’s a total copout, but TNA has proved they are not above using him as a crutch to fall back on.
Bully Ray: Monster heel to doting husband and son-in-law? Doesn’t care about anyone but himself to I would do anything for Hulk Hogan’s love, and I would do that (that being Brooke Hogan)? It’s a stretch, for sure. Earning the trust of Hogan, Sting, and by extension Dixie only to join his brother and betray them all would be the ultimate dick move, but it’s not one I would be against. As a main player in the epic saga of Hulk Hogan, this is a totally understandable and acceptable option.
Sting: Maybe everything isn’t sunshine and roses and awkward nicknames at the top. Maybe he’s been bromancing the Hulk out of a secret resentment: His fame, his popularity throughout his career, the willingness of Dixie and the fans to forgive him for his Immortal transgressions. Maybe it stings (ha!) everytime Hulk calls him the greatest wrestler of all time, because in his mind it’s true, but the number of Little Stingers vs. Hulkamaniacs is so disproportionate has taken him to a dark place of jealously and anger, and if he can’t have the number one legacy, he’ll do whatever it takes to steal what little Hulk has left.
Abyss: You know, Joseph Park’s brother? The timing is right, and “he’s a crazy effed up monster who likes pain and wants to cause pain in new and creative ways” sounds legit. It’s a long shot, but we all know Abyss to be an intelligent fellow. Maybe Joseph Park is part of the long con. The odds are doubtful, but hey, it’s not Jeff Jarrett, and no one would see it coming, so sure, why not.
AJ Styles: Oh, AJ. TNA’s default wrestler. Need a guy in the X-Division? Why not AJ? Need a guy to further a storyline but not actually take anything away from it? Why not AJ? Aces & Eights started before the whole Claire Lynch fiasco, but using that as the true tipping point into madness and resentment for the company would take some creativity and continuity black spots, but if done right it could be the most brilliant move of AJ Styles’ career.
Kurt Angle: A long-shot for sure, but turning “the guy who got played” into “the guy running the game” is a viable storytelling option. It’s not one that should happen, but again, it’s not Jeff Jarrett, soooo….
Karen Jarrett: The only acceptable Jarrett. It makes little sense, but she’s nice and pretty and I miss having her on TV. And how cool would it be to have a woman avenging her husband, and being a true force to be reckoned with? When I say she is the only acceptable Jarrett, goddamnit I mean it.
Bruce Pritchard: He’s been a bit of a mysterious figure thus far. We know he’s there, we know his title, but he doesn’t really serve much of a purpose on the show he’s on all the time. He’s heavily involved in the Gut Check decisions, and as we have seen many a Gut Check participant-shaped Aces & Eights member. We already know he has a thing for ill-fitting leather outerwear. This could be the introduction of a whole new power player.
Scott Steiner: Maybe this whole “suing TNA because he’s crazy as balls” thing is just a work, and HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Just kidding.
So tell me, who do you think is the higher power? Will TNA roll this storyline into a ball, turn it sideways, and then drop it? Will we see what could turn out to be one of the most interesting and well-planned storylines in the company’s history? How crappy is it gonna be when all of this conjecture is rendered moot by the appearance of Double J because we can’t have nice things? Sometimes I wonder if Aces & Eights are getting better, or if my ideas of what could happen are just getting more and more grandiose to the point of justifying what’s happening on screen, so definitely let me know what you think of the directions this could go in in the comments below.
Until next week, keep those thinking caps on, and #VoteJosephPark!