The Best And Worst Of Impact Wrestling 10/29/14 and 11/5/14: I Can’t Believe I Ate The Whole Thing

Hello Impact friends! The end of the Spike-TNA era is inching ever closer, but we’re still here, riding it out like the coattails of a mediocre WWE superstar. Due to some serious connection issues last week, we’re hitting this week with a double report. Who doesn’t love four consecutive hours of TNA? …well, pretty much everyone, probably. A few things first:

– Are you watching British Boot Camp 2? You should. It’s super fun and Spud hugs people and everyone has accents and spells things with “U”s just as nature intended and it’s great. Get caught up on the Episode 2 recap here, and the Episode 3 recap here.

– Speaking of Spud, he dropped by to do a Live Q&A because he might actually be the nicest dude ever? It was loads of fun. If you missed you chance, give him a follow on Twitter here. And be sure to buy an I’m With Spud shirt because I love him enough to shill his merchandise and also oh my god how are you not with Spud by now?!

– Be sure to like this on Facebook, share it around, tweet it, tumbl it, and absolutely comment on it. Even if your comment is just “lol TNA,” have at it, guys.

Follow me on Twitter here, With Spandex here, and UPROXX here. If you don’t have Twitter…well, get it, and then follow us. That’d be pretty chill of you.

Last week on Impact: Bobby vs. Bobby 2: Gratuitous Rematch Boogaloo!
This week on Impact: All of the fallout from the thing you’re about to read!

Worst: I’ve sat through this match twice, and it’s still terrible

So I’ve spent a good twenty minutes trying to break down this match into an easily digestible mix of recap and dick jokes, and I just can’t do it. I was at this night of tapings, and for some reason thought it would be a totally brilliant idea to make myself sit through Impact twice. I mean, I loved going and seeing EC3 and Spud and that velvet blazer, but at the same time…woof, this Slow Ki match was real bad.

So here are some fun facts! I’ve always admired TNA production for making buildings seem much fuller than they really are on camera, and that is definitely the case here. The less fun thing about that is there really weren’t that many people there, and shitty turnouts for shows people I love are working hurts my heart a lot. The Sands Casino is actually really nice, but I had to show my ID like 8 times, including once to get into the food area? Because I might indulge in some underage French Fry consumption? Either way, explaining Canadian IDs to American security guards is not my favourite thing. One of them had a big book of international IDs just in case, though, so good on you that guy.

There are a set of bleachers opposite hard camera, and my seats were in the very last row. I pretty much could have sat anywhere, but it seems like the best vantage point, and limiting my proximity to Manik seemed like the safest idea for everyone. I forgot that in this building those seats are opposite hard camera, but I might be too high up to be seen. That is probably also for the best, because oh man, I tried but I am very visibly not happy with most of the show.

The cool thing was that I got to go with British Pop Idol Kieran, whose adventures in America were many and adorable. I got to be with him the first time he saw Kurt Angle, his first (and second and third) Chikara show(s), and for his very first burrito. Guess which of those were way more enjoyable than the other. I also told Magnus in person that I miss Cool Magnus, and made real-life heart eyes at Sanada for the first time. I made a lot of heart eyes at him that weekend, and oh man, I would definitely do it again.

But yeah. THIS match. It…definitely happened, alright.

Worst: Blood Brothers, more like Crud Brothers amirite

Yes. Yes I am right. This is one of the many instances on the show wherein a tag team is likened to an actual brotherhood without any hint of actually understanding that they’re not real life brothers. Bram wants to destroy the Brotherhood of Hardcore and rewrite history. Magnus says that they’re “not brothers by blood…but brothers….by the blood [they’ve] spilled.” Like…these are things that sounds like typical wrestling things wrestlers say. I mean, wrestling is legitimately ridiculous, even when it’s just two dudes who think aggressively cuddling each other for twenty minutes will solve all of their problems, let alone when it involves, say, an Italian chef and a snow crab tag team. If you saw these kinds of statements in a really great comic book, or delivered with sincerity during a Very Serious Wartime Film, I think they’d be fine. But it just feels like words these two are trying on. Like a little kid putting on their mom’s shoes and walking around the house. Shoes go on your feet, and it makes sense for them to go there, but five-year-olds look ridiculous in stilettos and it’s probably not the best idea for them to be running around threatening old man wrestlers while wearing them.

Best: Shark Boy


Worst: Bitches be crazy, amirite?

Right before the bell Tazz says to Tenay “Are you actually asking me on worldwide television to figure out females? You can’t figure out women, you know that. Especially Knockout women. Knockouts are different levels of crazy women.” So, the gross feeling of Tazz referring to women as “females” in a leering tone aside, um…you know…are you f-cking kidding me with this shit? This match makes me sad all over, and not just because it’s somehow worse than seeing it in person. Those few sentences really sum up how unfortunate and one-dimensional all of the Knockouts are. I mean, to be fair, someone like Tigre Uno doesn’t have a lot going for him other than “Mexican flippy kitty,” but if you look around there roster there are actual layers to the personalities these wrestlers have. Outside of Spud and EC3 they’re not great ones, but they’re there. Sanada isn’t just a jerk, he’s someone who came to America to prove himself and represent his heritage and his teacher, was frankly humiliated by Austin Aries, and then got caught up with a smooth-talking cowboy, a not-so-subtle allegory for the lure of Western culture over Japanese traditions. Even if what James Storm is preaching is muddled and confusing, there’s something more than “Sanada is pretty but a crazy bitch.”

Here, let’s look at everything we’re presented with for consideration in the Knockouts division:

1) Gail Kim: wants her title back, nobly wrestled injured, ????
2) HAVOK: Crazy monster, holds title, ????
3) Madison Rayne: Is suddenly a bitch to Taryn, is crazy
4) Taryn Terrell: Just happy to be here
5) Velvet Sky: Is mean and vain
6) Angelina Love: Is also mean and vain
7) Brittany: Concerningly crazy slut
8) Rebel: Is bendy

The actionable personality traits behind most women presented on wrestling television is just….crazy. I mean, Brittany was crazy and lesbian-stalking Madison. Paige is crazy and maybe kinda gay also. AJ Lee is a crazy psycho slut. Alicia Fox, when they remember to give her a personality, is also crazy. The main motivation for the majority of these women is some kind of psychological flaw. It’s exactly as Tazz points out: varying degrees of crazy. Th only secondary layer that seems to get applied is sexuality. Whether it’s licking Natalya’s face and always making sure one straddles their opponent is a pseudo-sexual manner, or just straight up dry humping Sam Shaw in the ring, that’s all they get. It’s unbelievably frustrating, but also why we treasure NXT so much. Unless they just went through a hard restart on their character (which happens, it is developmental after all), there’s a continuity to what they’re doing that makes sense. Bayley constantly leveling up until she meets her final boss in Charlotte. The transformation of Sasha Banks. These are the kinds of things that any character on television needs, let alone its women.

Putting together a wrestling show requires building a universe with fully-functioning characters who settle their disputes by physical means, but need intellectual reasons for getting there. Not everyone can be Sheamus or Finlay and just love to fight while also being very Irish and maybe secretly super racist. Someone just wrote KNOCKOUTS = CRAZY CUNTS on the TNA Creative whiteboard in permanent marker and only deviate from that when they have to go to the second thing written in permanent marker: KEEP MENTIONING RESPECT. I’ve said before that TNA needs to apply the “Yes, and” principle of improv to all of their wrestlers, but they really just need to ask “Why?” when it comes to their Knockouts. Why is Havok here? Why did Kurt Angle give this crazy monster lady a job instead of just calling security and Al Snow? Why is Rebel…? The answer to all of these things cannot keep being “crazy” and/or “respect” and/or “the splits.”

Worster Worst (somehow): Tazz and Tenay

Hey, you know the easiest way to get these women over as something that isn’t a variant of slutty/crazy? Maybe try telling a story on commentary. Maybe treat them with respect and dignity. Maybe treat them like actual human beings. Maybe try calling a match instead of telling us how crazy these women are and jerking off under the table in whatever truck you’re recording this in. Maybe fire Tazz. Maybe fire him right into the sun.

Just a few ideas to bat around.

Best: ECW & Tyrus vs. some guys you’ve probably never heard of

omg you guys I was gonna type the exact same thing

But naw, this match was…alright? I’m still gonna give it a best even if most of it is Jeff Hardy and EC3 trying their best to make it a thing, and then Tyrus forgetting to roll over for the swanton making it all look super hinky. I like this match because even though it’s just whatever, it plays into the increasing mania of EC3 so well. He ditched the only person who was loyal to him, fired everybody else, then hired more “muscle” to rely on. Already this sub-par version of a new friend/bodyguard is letting him down. He doesn’t have Spud, he doesn’t have Aunt D, Kurt Angle is a super asshole who refuses to take him seriously, so all he has left is his undefeated streak. Now already that’s threatened, and him never losing becomes him specifically never being pinned. There’s a merit in that, but in the context of the story being told, it means he’s slowly devolving while Spud is going through this period of incredible personal growth. In turn, everything Spud and EC3 are doing, and have done up until this point, have me totally committed to what is going to happen next. They’re self-referential. They have these shifts in personality, but those are based on things that have already happened, not just deciding that they suddenly love respect and handshakes this week. They’re real people, but with exaggerated personalities and situations, which is what every wrestling character should be.

Also, look at this jerkwad:

So great.

Worst: This revolution is being televised

I…am so confused by James Storm. He says the storm is coming, and he knows because there’s always quiet before a storm. He says this while yelling. He has this thing with Sanada that, while I have no idea why he’s doing it, has something to it, as I explained above. Everything after that is…???? Like, why would you take Sanada, and then be all “huh, I’m gonna try to scoop up every shitty dude I can find to build this unstoppable revolution.” What is he revolting against? Good promos? Exciting wrestling?

I mean, come on. Davey Richards pretending to feel feelings and then verbalize said feelings is hilariously awful. HE CAN…SPEAK FOR…HIMSELF…YOU GUYS. Stop. Just stop. There’s a reason neither of the Wolves should ever, ever speak. There are people who engineered this who thought it was a good idea. Like they mixed Tenderflake and mayo together, spread it on some white bread, and expected it to taste like a vanilla cupcake.

Worst: James Storm vs. Eddie Edwards

Hey, you know what’s super cool? When indie guys get a shot at a main stage. You know what’s not cool? Indie guys on TV who still wrestle like they’re in a highschool gym in front of 60 people and not on an internationally broadcast television show. Step up your game, Eddie. Step it up 2 tha streetz.

Worst: Manik

Davey Richards watches, hopelessly torn between someone whose experiences validate his words, and the wolfkin he so desperately wants to believe. Manik approaches, his slender frame shifting beneath taught blue fabric as he walks. Davey’s face contorts into an expression of what he thinks is fear, but really just looks like he cut one and is concerned that Manik will find out. What could he possibly have to say that James Storm hasn’t already said? Would this be the TNA TURNING POINT in his partnership with Eddie Edwards?

Manik touches Davey’s arm lightly before leaning in. He takes a deep breath, then slowly but confidently whispers in Davey’s ear: “Actually, it’s about ethics in video game journalism.”

Worst: But no seriously, Manik

I literally hate you, you literal piece of shit.

…this is so not off the chain.

Best: MVP, or Worst: No, wait, no, MVP

And so begins this week’s episode. Once again it pains me to say that MVP is totally right. He’s just saying the things that I say. He says Bobby Roode didn’t deserve that title shot, and Kurt Angle is totally unscrupulous in giving it to him. I say Bobby Roode didn’t deserve that title shot, and Kurt Angle is totally unscrupulous in giving it to him! That’s my thing that I say! I bet we wear our backpacks the same way, too. But he’s right! Roode and Angle are the bad guys! Nothing about this is fair! My internal voice is so high-pitched right now!

But as much as MVP is so totally and utterly right, the response is for Kurt Angle’s glassy eyes to widen and offer MVP a shot at the title. Which…he accepts? I guess MVP can’t see that Angle is deflecting and maybe also senile and probably thinks his wrestling toys just came to life. Bobby Lashley makes the “whaddaya mean you accept?!” arm gestures in the background, because I guess Bobby Lashley and I are also on the same page. So this is what it sounds like when doves cry.

Here’s Brandon because this match is bad and makes me feel bad:

Worst: The Hardys Vs. Slow Ki

Man, this would’ve been HOT in 2003. Eleven years ago.

So much of this is depressing. It’s depressing to watch Samoa Joe and Low Ki flounder around helplessly while the Hardys do their moves. It’s depressing to watch the Hardys win a tag team tournament to get a shot at The Wolves, a team they just spent A MONTH wrestling in non-stop matches to see who was the better team. Did we need a tournament to justify another Hardys/Wolves match? Haven’t we established that the Wolves will give them a title shot whenever they want it?

It’s depressing to listen to Tenay and Taz defy logic to rationalize the motions the teams are going through. At one point in the match Joe grabs Matt Hardy in a choke. To break it up, Jeff goes to the top rope and Swantons MATT. The announcers are all, “OH WOW AN INNOVATIVE MOVE BY JEFF, HE HAD TO DO ANYTHING TO BREAK UP THAT CHOKE, ALL HE COULD DO WAS HIT HIS OWN BROTHER TO MAKE JOE RELEASE THE HOLD, DEVIL MAY CARE~.” And it’s like, no, dummies, he could’ve walked over and stomped Jeff in the face. He didn’t have to hit his finisher on his partner. The sell of that should’ve been Matt going unconscious, Joe winning the match, and Jeff sitting in the ring confused.

It’s all just so pointless. I guess you could put that on TNA’s tombstone. Ah well, at least this time traveler from the year 2000 made the show. He seemed to enjoy it.

Worst: Wait, what

THAT is what you were going for? Oh. Oh that wasn’t actually clear at all.

Worst: Sam Shaw explains it all

This is a parody, right? This is one of those times when when wrestlers are just like “eh, fuck it, let’s just do what we want and make it as dumb as possible.” It’s PWG in promo form, only nobody’s in on the joke. That’s gotta be it, right? Nobody sat down and wrote this out and then said it out loud to three other people and those people all went yeah no this is great stuff WAIT WHAT IF I LICK HIM

Oh my god. That totally happened, didn’t it.

Check out this exclusive IMPACT 365 where the action never stops, and that action is Brittany explaining her side of their relationship:

Worst: Christy Hemme

…girl, don’t retweet that.

Worst: Pointless hardcore match number 2,108,759,809

Okay. So. Let’s be one of those people who say things like “no no, you need to read between the lines,” or “it’s not about what they’re doing, it’s what they’re not doing.” Here’s what I’m going to go ahead and infer, because they’re getting at it, but they’re not really saying it: Bram and Magnus want to destroy the Brothers of Hardcore or whatever because they’re the new generation of hardcore wrestlers, and they want to tear down the House of Hardcore that Tommy (*cough Atsushi Onita cough*) built. By destroying these relics of the past, they’ve usurped the power from their predecessors, leaving these old men withered and impotent.

That seems valid. In fact, tearing down the shrine to ECW sounds like a fantastic idea.

But we don’t have that. Here we have a dumb match with aluminum foil trash cans and kendo sticks and all of the ephemera of a “hardcore” match. But there’s no story. It’s aimlessly wandering around in Twitter pants waiting to get hit with something and flop on the ground. It’s meaningless. The feud with Abyss, the Dudleys match at Bound For Glory, Bram yelling at Devon…it’s pointless. It’s especially pointless because Bram and Magnus don’t even win. Seriously, what IS the point of that? To prove that Devon and Tommy are great and Magnus and Bram suck? These two guys you’ve invested time and money into developing and putting on your stage only to be humiliated by a guy with a f-cking Twitter bird on his sweatpants? Come on. I don’t like dismissing something and saying that it’s stupid, but I’m gonna come right out and say it: This is f-cking stupid.

Best: This isn’t stupid

Guess what my favourite part of the taping was. Guess how much I lost my sugar over the return of the velvet blazer. Guess how much I love Spud being his own person. Guess whether or not I’m sitting here with my chin in my hands with giant cartoon hearts in my eyes. Guess who maybe secretly thinks Jeremy Borash should mind his own business a little bit kinda.

Go on. Guess.

Best: No really, that blazer though

Best: I’m with Spud every day

Best: Indian Representation! or, Worst: Ugh, Manik

Hey there, Mahabali Shera. Would you like a sip of my soda? I can get more, I know the guy who works behind the soda fountain. I’m kind of a big deal around here. Hey, take my tater tots. I’m not going to finish them. Say, while you’re here would you like to watch this video I made in between watching basketball and banging hot chicks about strawmen in feminist arguments? Or would you like to join my totally-not-a-hate-group of dudes who like to try to recruit other men to improve their lives by making them realize their own lack of empowerment? Wait, where are you going? Not all Maniks are like that! Why do you hate equal rights, Mahabali? Ugh, you’re totally fat anyways. I never even liked you in the first place, uggo.

Worst: We still don’t really know what this is

At some point you’ve gotta pull the trigger on whatever is happening. We need to get to the fireworks factory. When are we going to get to the fireworks factory? And what is waiting for us when we do? If it’s not literal friggin’ fireworks, it better be just as spectacular.

If these dudes aren’t some weird MRA group running around telling Velvet Sky to stop friend-zoning Crazzy Steve, and that if she kisses other boys then she’s just asking to be kissed, James Storm can’t be the mastermind, right? This has to be a long con for one of those “higher powers” TNA loves so much. Oh god, what if it’s Dixie? Oh god, what if it’s Jeff Jarrett?

I kinda wish you guys could see my face right now, because it is the saddest, most concerned face the world has ever seen.

Here’s Brandon again, because my experience with this match was mostly being upset with the transphobic chants and also just making heart eyes at Havok:

Worst: The Look On Her Face Tells The Entire Story!

One of the worst things Mike Tenay does as an announcer is setting you up to figure out stuff for yourself, then thoroughly explaining it anyway.

Late in the match Havok pins Gail’s arm behind her in a hammerlock, slams her down onto it hard and goes for a cover. Gail kicks out at 2.9. Havok is shocked, and Tenay says “reaction on the face tells the entire story!” He then takes all the heat away from that face by TELLING YOU THE ENTIRE STORY. “She thought she had the match won at that point, I mean she DID have the match won by countout, but not satisfied, AND NOW-” The reaction tells the story, Mike. Shut the hell up and let it tell it.

Best: The Actual Match

There’s probably no woman in the world better at having intense, believable matches with larger opponents than Gail Kim. Aside from a pair of awkward WWE runs, she made her name getting mauled by Awesome Kong on the regular and fighting from underneath. Havok’s similar to Kong in every category, except maybe “has Blade Runner makeup y/n,” so of course the matches are great.

The crowd leaves a little to be desired [Danielle’s note: except me!], but that’s to be expected on this late era Pennsylvania warehouse show.

Best: And Speaking Of Havok

If TNA goes under, she should show up in Lucha Underground and team with her son.

Worst?: Gail Kim’s Ring Gear

At some point wrestling gear just becomes underpants, right? Who’d Gail get to make her gear, Fredericks Of Impact Zone?

Like, I’m not throwing shade at Gail for being confident and wearing whatever she wants to wear, and yeah, she looks amazing. If I was built like Gail Kim I’d just stand in my front yard and flex naked all day. But she is … just wearing underwear. Not even the regular Divas and Knockouts underwear gear either, straight-up see-through underwear. I’d assume she’s wearing some kind of flesh-colored getup under it, but, uh, that is butt shadow. We should not have butt shadow on the wrestling show.

To reiterate, I am a grown-ass man and Gail looks great, there’s just an uncanny valley between underpants and underpants.

Best: Jessica Hudnall

Because I know all of five things about MMA, here’s our resident crustacean mafioso to bring us up to speed on Lashley’s glorious career in mixing martial arts:

On Friday, October 24, Bobby “The Destroyer” Lashley took on then-undefeated British fighter Karl “The Wrecking Machine” Etherington. Etherington was 9-0 going into that fight, with all of his wins coming by way of first round finishes. However, it should be noted that Etherington’s opponents were a combined 11-38, with five of his victims having zero professional wins.

It was also noted by the commentary that Etherington is a black belt in judo and is also a British sambo champion. If you are unaware, sambo is roughly translated from Russian as “Dmitry, come, we must practice our judo” “Alas, Vladmir, the wolves have torn our judo pantaloons to shreds!” “Still, we must grapple”

I make fun of Karl’s skills because aside from an inadvertent low blow in the first minute, Etherington only managed to execute THE WORST THROW ATTEMPT EVER. Karl fell down, Lashley landed on top and a few ground and pound punches later, the bout had been stopped. Another win for the Lash Guy.

Only wrestling is real.

Worst: Bobby Roode vs. MVP

I can’t believe I wasted my “this is f-cking stupid” on a hardcore match when this also happened.

lol wait yeah I can