The Best And Worst Of Impact Wrestling 6/19/14: Right In The Dreamers

Hi hi hi! Did you enjoy Slammiversary? Are you excited for what happens next? It definitely happened and there’s no turning back! Let’s do this! …after the following:

– Due to technical difficulties, last week’s episode of The Mandible Claw went up today. The good news is that a semi-companion piece with Silver Ant (formerly Green Ant, currently awesome) also went up. Download at the source to hear us talk Inspire, Chikara, and what the dang happened to Soldier Ant.

I’ll be at the Chikara show in Detroit on Sunday. Hellos and high-fives are highly encouraged! Well, unless you’re Jolly Roger. He an have a high-five when he gives The Shard his belt back. That jerk.

– Like, comment, tumbl, tweet, and share this column. The more you share, the more people care, and I get to keep writing about what not to do on a televised wrestling show.

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This week on Impact: Yelling, some more yelling, the same guy yells, and then, swerve, MORE YELLING.

Worst: Oh boy, they really did SLAM that VERSARY! But now what?

So. Guys. I’ve been thinking. Yes, yes, a dangerous pastime, I know. I’m sitting here, half an hour into this show, and there’s…really nothing worth talking about. There’s nothing overwhelmingly bad, but there certainly isn’t anything good happening either. We’re three quarters into the show and most of it has just been yelling. Kenny King had a lackluster match against Eric Young, because of course he did, and Bobby Lashley will wrestle Eric Young later in the show, because no one making the decisions for Impact knows the meaning of diminishing returns.

It seems like Slammiversary, the biggest pay-per-view of the year that isn’t any of their other biggest pay-per-views of the year, should leave us with plenty of show material. But alas, outside of a handful of Worsts that show that nobody cares about producing a television show but do care the most about hitting nostalgic sensors for a show whose time has long since passed (and no, I really don’t mean TNA in this case), nothing entertaining is happening. MVP is all butthurt that the Board of Directors has given him a slap on the wrist for his behaviour instead of immediately terminating his contract due to egregious human resource violations and abuses of power, so he’s gonna yell a bunch. Eric Young remains the champion, which means he has to come out and yell about how THESE FANS RIGHT HERE want to see him take a dump in MVP’s mouth or whatever. Kenny King goes off on his own to the point that Tawny Kitaen is blowing up his phone, makes a match his butt can’t cash, and further cracks appear in the foundation of…whatever the least-racist stable name the internet has decided to call them.

MVP decides that since he’s been accused of abusing his power, he’s just going to abuse the heck out of it, because why not? He has seen literally zero consequences to his actions, is still doing and saying the exact same things, can hire and fire at will, and nothing has changed except the volume of his voice and the amount of spittle flying around the ring. Earl Hebner is fired for the seventy billionth time [citation needed], but it’s okay because he loves these fans right here, and it’s fine because people like MVP make him hate the business he loves. You know, people who would help Jeff Jarrett cheat, would screw Bret Hart and AJ Styles for money, would fix matches because of a romantic relationship with Madison Rayne… But hey, if you’re gonna go ahead and retcon a bunch of things, you might as well retcon all of the things, right?

Should you not feel like sitting through, well, any of it really, let here’s a handy video that summarizes everything quite nicely:

Best: Sup Lehigh Valley

I love you. I love you so hard. Lehigh Valley is like my Narnia. You go through a tunnel, and on the other side are fantastical people, anthropomorphic ants, a dude with a baseball face old enough to regret not voting for Abraham Lincoln, a weird little broken glass man (who is currently inspiring my blood feud with a pirate), a Smiths-loving punk rock vegan insect overlord with Christmas tattoos and body glitter, his pumpkin-based friends, goblins and demons and swamp monsters and Dan Yost. Also, Vegan Treats and LVAC. You’re a magical place, Lehigh Valley, and seeing you in September is not soon enough.

You also kinda deserve better than this show.

Best: EC3 got a haircut

***1/2 Helgas out of 5

Worst: This match sponsored by

Sometimes I really dislike a match, but I know in my heart of hearts of my gut of guts that I’m going to get a lot of flak for it. On paper it reads like a match booked in the YouTube comment section, or by…I dunno, Natalya, I guess. Let’s take the new guys who are really fast and do moves like they’re ripping off a band-aid (you know, ripping one off hurts for two seconds and then you forget that pain FOREVER), two big lumbering guys who have fallen by the wayside and look clumsy as f-ck but have been around forever so why wouldn’t they provide a nice “contrast” to that style, The CRAZY UNPREDICTABLE guy not to be mistaken for that CRAZZY UNPREDICTABLE GUY, and lol Austin Aries. I’m not one to shy away from armchair booking (World Heavyweight Champion EC3 still sounds amazing), but man…this does not work outside of internet discussions, does it.

The problem is what seems like a match that would highlight everyone’s styles seems to highlight their weaknesses even more. Samoa Joe looks like the saddest adult, just schlumping through the motions while Aries stutter steps around him. The Wolves are fast, sure, but again, being fast is useless if it doesn’t mean anything. They’re ganging up on people in the corners, but the rest of them just stand around like sorry sad sacks until one of them half-heartedly tries to get in the ring and get the attention of Brian “Probably should be fired or at least suspended pending a full review of his actions” Stiffler. Aries gets some nice looking moves in, but when put into a scenario with Richards and Edwards he falls back on that same ROH-driven tendency of meaningless rapid-fire offense. Abyss is the saddest adult since Samoa Joe, and the poor guy looks more like the bumbling beginnings of Joseph Park than a big scary monster-type monster.

“Can you imagine how crazy and unpredictable you’d have to be to do that?!” Yes, Tazz. I have seen all of these men wrestle about a billion times [no citation needed that is absolutely the amount of times]. I can imagine exactly how crazy and unpredictable any of them can get. That’s not a good thing.

Worst: MVP – still drunk with power, should probably listen to Jon Taffer and switch to water

There’s no video online of MVP ordering Austin Aries and Samoa Joe out of the building, but I was able to find this gif:

Cannot unsee.



Worst: Holy shit, this is a thing that’s happening

If you don’t pay attention to the goings on of Impact outside of the show itself, or even this report, let’s get you all caught up.

At Slammiversary, the story of the PPV was that people outside of TNA are more important than anyone in it. As such, we had The Von Erichs (actually kind of cool for a bit at the end, but a massive waste of time putting over two non-employees to pander to the Texas crowd), but we also had James Storm using a beer bottle to simulate urinating on a Dallas Cowboys helmet in order to draw the ire of legit Dallas Cowboys sitting in the crowd. To reiterate: a grown ass man used a beer bottle as his peepee in the hopes of getting a forgettable mention on TMZ. Devon Dudley even returned to further rewrite history (he left of his own volition, he didn’t lose a match and his cutte and it didn’t underscore anything happening in the “Bully Ray ruins everything he touches because he is the worst human being alive” storyline) so he and Bully could enter the TNA Hall of Fame. They were even introduced by Kurt Angle, the guy who was kidnapped by Aces & Eights, and hated them so much he had to recreate the European non-union equivalent of the Main Event Mafia to try and cut out “the cancer” that was Bully Ray and his biker bros.

These kind of desperate grabs at media attention are sad and small, and make you cringe. You know that scene in Muriel’s Wedding when her mom steals a pair of sandals and it’s this tiny moment that’s small and embarrassing but you’re so full of pity it makes your heart hurt? It’s like a fraction of that, but it’s the same sad kind of piteous feeling.

A short while ago, Bully Ray was “pulled” from a House of Hardcore show to represent Impact at Spike TV’s Guys Choice Awards, where a distinguished panel of guys they found at Myrtle Beach a little too long after spring break determined what video games are the best, and who they’d jerk off to just as much now as ten years ago. A noble cause indeed, but this caused a “shoot” war of words between Tommy Dreamer and Dixie Carter on social media. Note that I use air bunnies around everything because the debate of shoot or kayfabe is so asinine at this point I don’t even care if they’re necessary or not.

Tommy Dreamer called Dixie a bitch, and threatened her a bunch, because as a professional that’s the tack you always choose. Bully Ray was replaced in the HOH main event, but it’s been a whole schmoz. Dixie invited Tommy Dreamer onto the show, prompting the following responses from Dreamer:

(Followed by this NSWFish video I refuse to post in this report.)

Lovely, huh?

One could surmise that this is all a build to play to the ECW faithful outside of Philly and in New York at the upcoming tapings, and at some point Bully Ray will assumedly win the title because…whatever, who cares, it’s all relatively meaningless at this point. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? None of this means anything. Tommy Dreamer shows up because that dude will show up anywhere, and Impact can follow it’s tried and true formula of “Hey, remember that guy from that thing you loved? Come watch him in Impact and have that love slowly melted down and re-forged into sad, seething hatred.”

Best: Did he win for me?

Dixie is still admittedly kind of wonderful, needing to be reminded of Dreamer’s name, asking if he ever won for her when he worked there because she is a big important business lady who doesn’t have time for dudes who live in sweatpants and past glories. Chastising the ECW-chanting crowd for getting the letters wrong is glorious. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy Dixie kneeing him in the junk and calling him a publicity grabbing piece of trash while EC3 beat him up. Dreams can come true, kiddos. Dreams can come true.

Worst: But thank god you’re grabbing those headlines

More like BRAMdon, amirite? No? Stop saying that forever? Okay, cool.

Best: Bram And Magnus Have The Perfect Response To Davey Richards’ Nonsense

As we join our second Wolves match of the night in progress, Davey Richards is slapping the shit out of his own thigh and throwing that contrived, unbelievable offense that has been his calling card since (I’m assuming) birth. At one point he throws Bram shoulder-first into Magnus, so Magnus stands there holding Bram in DDT position (because you’d just do that?) until Davey dropkicks him. Then, a dropkick DDT! Get it! DO YOU GET IT. The only way it could’ve been better is if two dudes had popped in from the bottom corner of the screen ‘Toasty’ style and superkicked both sides of Bram’s head. It was so contrived that this song started playing in the background.

Anyway, Bram’s response to this (and WOLF TAUNTING~) is to grab a chair and toss it to Magnus, who just throws it in Davey’s face for the DQ. Best possible ending to a Wolves match. There needs to be a “Raven’s Rules” setup where if the Wolves get too stupid with their offense, the other team is allowed to hit them in the face with objects. Debuting a fur-lined jacket? Oh the fur’s just on one shoulder? STEEL STEPS TO THE FACE.


Willow and Abyss run out to make the save. Well, Willow runs, Abyss does that awkward shuffle run I do when I’m late for an appointment somewhere but remember I still have to run across the apartment complex and check my mail.

Best: I hope Kurt Angle and Bram team up one day

We could call them Brampa.

Best: Hot Mess is back!

Hay girlfran. We missed you. Can’t wait until you join the Beautiful People, or turn on Gail Kim, or turn on everyone, or turn into a ham and cheese sandwich with evil intentions because this company can never stop swerving ever and it gets dumber and dumber every single time.

You know what would be a CRAZY AND UNPREDICTABLE swerve? Good wrestling, storylines where women aren’t just dumb bitches to each other because WOMEN AMIRITE, and maybe a title that matters enough for you to spruce it up a bit and fix that chipping paint. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT IS, TAZZ. THAT’S EFFORT! EFFORT IS IN THE KNOCKOUTS DIVISION!

Best: Kurt Angle plugs his new show to Lashley and Kenny King

His upcoming side project looks killer:

Worst: My DVR cut off most of this title match, or, Best: My DVR cut off most of this title match!

Okay, I know you’re expecting me to shit all over this main event, and believe me, you are incredibly justified, BUT. But. I can’t believe there’s a but. But here it is. Bobby Lashley makes as champ makes sense to me.

It doesn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things, or when you say World Champion Bobby Lashley out loud and your brain starts leaking out of your ears because that combination of words is mondo ridiculous, BUT. MVP is legitimately injured, Lashley has beaten Eric Young before, and, as I pointed out last week, he really is the least offensive out of his friends. If Eric Young has to go because his Animal Planet needs him, or if someone realized that the guy who talks like a hecked-up fifth grader who still believes what he learned at bible camp that no one ever really built up because they were too busy pushing guys who already had the work done for them in other companies has totally backfired, it’s kinda fine with me. Something dumb will happen next week and the belt will change hands again because someone swerved someone else to fix the fact that they didn’t have a long-term plan for the last swerve, and if that doesn’t work they can just rewrite their own canon because this show swerves more than Lil’ Boosie and…oh. Wait. There’s Bobby Roode.