The Best And Worst Of Impact Wrestling 6/26/14: Save A Horse, Chide A Cowboy

Hey guys! We’re in New York this week…oh…wait, nevermind, we’re still in Pennsylvania, right? We made it out of England? Nothing about TNA’s schedule makes this confusing at all!

– I wrote a thing about my trip to Detroit to see Chikara. I love those guys the most, and hopefully you can understand why after reading it.

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This week on Impact: MVP loses his job, and a limo lurks outside. You won’t believe what happens next (except it is the exact thing you think would happen next).

Worst: Vel-Vel can’t sell-sell

I know I have a lot of ill will towards Velvet Sky. I can admit that. She seems likes a nice person, but also she’s terrible? She’s helped drag the idea that having your tits out and rubbing your asshole on the camera are the only things worth doing for a lady wrestler into the present, year after year, while others are fighting so hard to get over what we’re supposed to be here for: actual real-life wrestling. At this point I can’t even pretend to try to say positive things about her, so I usually just avoid it if I can. The things I’m going to be negative about are so glaringly obvious and don’t show any signs of dissipating anytime soon. Unless she’s being forced into a cage, or humiliated in a way that isn’t of her own device, there isn’t really a reason to point out how bad she is because she’s just always that bad. But then…then sometimes I just get so mad, y’know?

Like, okay. Besides her clotheslines or her bulldogs or her crummy finisher that looks bad even when the person taking it does their best to make the bump look credible, her collar-and-elbow tie-ups irrationally piss me off. Watch her in this match. Her and Gail circle the ring, like in any match, staring each other down and waiting to lock up to start it off. Gail comes at her, and we all know what she’s doing because assumedly if you’re reading a professional wrestling column this is not the only match you’ve ever seen (and if it is I’m real real sorry), but Velvet…velvet just kinda flails at her? She charges at her, sure, but the bent-elbows and locked-arm positions you’d expect her arms to be in are instead replaced by…Muppet arms? I guess that’s the best way to describe it? The skinny Muppet arms that Animal and Kermit have. I backed up and watched her come at Gail at least five times, and man, it does not get better upon closer examination.

It just kinda makes you wonder how we’ve allowed the bar to be set so low in women’s wrestling that no one is calling for Velvet to be fired after ten years of still not figuring out one of the very first things you learn in wrestling school.

But oh, be sure to pick up your copy of the 2015 Knockouts calendar as soon as you can.

Best: Taryn Terrell’s run

Now, on the other side of the coin, Taryn Terrell is also…not great. But she’s getting there. Visible effort makes a big difference (*cough smojoe cough cough*). But look at her run. Just look at it! Oh Hot Mess, I have hot-missed you.

Worst: Foil balloons? This IS important!

Wow. Look at that World Champion. Look at those three MEN. We know they’re men because they’re wearing suits and we’ve never seen those ladies before, but they sure are going to have sex with them I bet. I’m so impressed with everything that’s happening. This really does bolster my outdated ideas of masculinity and status.

I’m starting to wonder how good this roster could get if they spent less money on balloons, and more money on actual wrestlers (who also did not play with balloons).

Worst: Eric Young

You can’t fight City Hall. No really, that’s a real saying. But I don’t want to fight City Hall. I want to watch City Hall. What was up with that Anselmo guy anyways? I didn’t get that part. What about John Cusack? Some accent on that guy, huh? Remember when Bridget Fonda was a thing? Ohoohooho man, remember Single White Female? That Jennifer Jason Leigh, I’ll tell ya. You know, speaking as someone who was very recently crazy, if I weren’t a married man…wait, I’m still married, right? Is that still a thing? Anyways, Bobby Lashley, you total piece of crap, do you have a Netflix subscription, and if so, how do you think it compares to Amazon Instant Video?

Worst: But it’s okay, because Eric Young’s a real good guy

How many people screaming at us about what a passionate, important, beloved guy Eric Young is before we believe it? I’m pretty sure Impact is running out of people. Maybe next week we’ll get Daisy from marketing in the ring to shout about how one time back in Nashville one time Eric Young helped her change a flat tire, and always remembers to make more coffee when he drinks the last of it when he visits the office. I can’t wait to hear from the blonde Atlas Security guy about how one time Eric Young complimented his Hulk Hogan Halloween costume from a couple of years ago. Y’know, real solid proof that he loves wrestling more than anyone else in the history of leaving wrestling to make your own TV shows not about wrestling has loved wrestling. Or at least that he loves it more than all of these other wrestlers who have been wrestling just as long (or nearly just as long).

For people who love wrestling this much, they sure don’t do a heck of a lot of it.

Bonus lols: Bobby Roode claiming that TNA was respected before MVP showed up

Damnit, Bobby.

Worst: You know who that is, Tazz!

Or…well, we kinda do. It’s a member of the Board of Directors! He’s here to strip MVP of his power so that Bobby Roode can assault him without consequence (a real thing that happens in real life and business). I was Voxing with Brandon during the segment, and in the middle of my thought just started shouting “who the f-ck is this white guy?” which, I’m pretty sure, should just be the real Impact Wrestling tagline from now on.

Best? Worst? What is happening?: Prelude to an X-Division Match

Knux is on the phone with…someone….they owe money to, and if they don’t get it, our mystery bad guy will dismantle the family business. Is…is Mother Nature on the phone? Does she travel around the country, insisting people call her Big Mama Nat, and bringing rain and hail down on people who can’t pay their loans? Were Auntie Em and Uncle Henry in deep over some cockfight bets?

Their plan to fix this, instead of, y’know, shoot jobs (I bet the Freak could totally hit up an LA Fitness for a personal trainer job), they decide that champions make more money because none of them have ever heard of Taylor Wilde. Crazzy Steve is set on challenging Sanada for the belt, but that draws the attention of DJ Zema and his glasses that would match my hair and that I might desperately want. He mocks that idea because it’s, you know, crazzy, but then TJ Perkins comes out? In his suit but not his mask? Man…that is wretched. I know I’ve said a lot about the unmasking of Manik and the retconning of his history, and I know TJ “becomes another person” when he puts the mask on, but ugh. Ugghhh. Stop it. Stop it! Masks are important. Masks have a tradition. You’re tacky and I hate you.

Best: Sure, why not, the X-Division match

I guess. Yeah. Okay. It’s not the best match, by a mile, but it’s not…horrible. It’s pretty fun. I like that triple dropkick a whole bunch, and Sanada’s bridge makes me feel a little funny. But it’s a title match, right? I mean, Sanada grants all of them title matches, but they’re not really…doing anything to lend it that gravitas, or tell a story. I mean, in the beginning Sanada kinda hangs back as the three challengers go at each other, and I had hoped that would be a theme throughout the match. But it’s not. Like…at some point these X-Division matches have to stop being about getting your shit in, and start being about an actual division with actual people with actual personalities and reasons to be there, yeah?

Best: Rockstar Spud

Oh, Spud. Dixie might be the heatseeker, but you are magical. How much better would Impact be if we had Spud in the background, silently reacting to everything? Or picture-in-picture Spud? Spud-o-Vision? I would pay for that. A monthly subscription service! And EC3 could show up sometimes. Maybe the BroMen…Sanada…oh shit, I just described Spin Cycle.

Oh well. Watch that too. It’s pretty great.

Worst: BEEEEEEYYYYYYOOOOOO, or however you make that firework noise

So Earl Sullivan Armstrong has let Dixie know that she will NOT be the replacement for MVP, which…seems kinda silly and weird. I mean, if Dixie is the owner, and the president, is she the CEO? Who does the board actually answer to? It’s not a publicly traded company, and if she’s the owner and has the controlling portion of the company, why doesn’t she have more power? Why do we have to bring in all of this business nonsense if we’re not going to accurately define roles and the regulations that come along with them? Anyways, it doesn’t matter, because our hero wants to put his boss through a table.

And that’s the other thing. Why is MVP suddenly so awful that he needs to be removed, but the female owner of the company you have been elected to represent is being stalked, harassed, and threatened with violence, but that’s cool? Earl Sullivan Armstrong you are right there and you aren’t doing a goddamn thing what the f-ck is wrong with you. Or were you on the phone calling a quorum about it because this is the first you’ve seen because you have literally no idea what happens in the company you help govern?

Bully tells Spud to “shut up, bitch” because again, he is the good guy who just wants to do good things, like follow a woman to her home, sneak in, and try to physically harm her. You know, ~just good guy things~.

What don’t you guys get?

Worst: The Slammiversary Rematch

If two men wrestle on a pay-per-view and nobody cares about it, do we have a rematch? As many times as possible, I guess.

Blurst: SAMGUN

Sam, I’ve got some great news! The doctors have decided that I am enough of a trained mental health provider that you can come live in my house with me. That total makes sense, seeing as I once had this friend who was traumatized because war but I fixed him and your only problem is that you’re a sexual predator but it’s no big deal right I mean you don’t have to be a sociopath to see that Christy was totally asking for it I mean do you see what she wears in the ring each week yeah man I get you let’s go home and watch Red Dawn and paint stars and bars on each other’s face but you know not in gay way in a manly America-loving way. Sorry the company got you omitted and in no way did your mom try to override their authority or get you out or come visit or anything. Ooh ooh ohhhh we should totally get burgers on the way home.

Worst: James Storm

James Storm starts running his mouth about Sanada and “his people,” and then is surprised when Sanada reacts to him. “Oh, so you DO undertand me?” So either James Storm is super racist because he likes yelling and taunting people he thinks don’t understand English, or…suddenly he’s super racist because out of nowhere he decides to pick on the Japanese guy who in no way is involved in his non-existant-issue-based-issues with Anderson? Like, if Sanada decides to challenge for the World Title in Japan, hey, that’s pretty cool. But what on earth does that have to do with James Storm? What are we taking away from this conversation other than “hey Sanada, sorry you work with such buttholes?”

Worst: Tahmmy Dreamuh

Who the f-ck let Tommy Dreamer in the building? Atlas Security where you at? DOES ANYONE IN THIS COMPANY DO THEIR JOB?

Bonus jokes that didn’t quite make it:

– Hey Tommy, why don’t you innovate some cardio?

– Why is EC3 beating up his dad?

– Tommy Dreamer wrestling on television in 2014.

Hey, here’s Brandon to write about the same thing he always writes about because it won’t stop happening!

Worst: TNA Garbage Brawls

TNA’s hardcore matches have always been one of the most dismissive-wankworthy parts of the show for me.

When they’re asked to go easy on the hardcore elements, they can be fun. TNA’s surprisingly great at backstage brawls, and when they work hardcore instances into otherwise straight-up matches — see Gail Kim vs. Hot Mess, for example, or many of the James Storm vs. Bobby Roode fights — they can be GREAT.

The problem is that when they have a full-on garbage hardcore match, they don’t know how to do it. They either go exceedingly graphic with little reason to do so (most of Abyss’s early matches, especially the one from Lockdown against Matt Morgan where they were stabbing each other with glass, or the Ric Flair vs. Mick Foley bloodbath) or they go SUPER HOKEY PG, like last night’s Monster’s Ball.

It’s nothing. It’s literally nothing. It’s guys standing still while another guy hoists a flimsy trashcan way over his head and brings it lightly crashing down while Taz goes “LOOK AT DISSS!” It’s Jeff Hardy taking the Daffney bump off the top of the fakest bundle of barbed wire this side of Halloween at Party City. It’s Abyss being the only person that ever gets hit with “Janice,” and always in the stomach. It’s Bram blading, and having the blood dry up and be mostly gone by the time the match is over.

Man, just once I want Abyss to get hit in the stomach with Janice and have a bunch of prop zombie guts fall out of his shirt. Imagine the reaction when THAT happened.

Worst: Kurt Angle is the new MVP

Goddamnit, Kurt. See…here’s the thing. That feeling you have right now? That’s what they’re relying on. Remembering Kurt Angle when he was great. Angle vs. Benoit. KotR against Shane McMahon. Angle in a tiny cowboy hat. Happy memories. But that nostalgia is what TNA preys on. Let’s face it: Kurt Angle was in WWE for eight years. He’s been in TNA for eight years. At this pace he’ll easily surpass the first half of his career, yet so many act as if TNA is something that’s been forced on him. That Kurt Angle, he’s so put upon. How dare they do something to the Great Angle. But that works both ways. He IS Kurt Angle. Despite the fact that he’s old and broken and can only walk like a human when there’s a camera on him, he can also walk away at any time. He’s Kurt Freakin’ Angle. It doesn’t take an insider source to know that at this juncture he’s biding his time until he heads back for his Legends Contract, back to his “real home.” But we’ve gotta stop treating Angle like a martyr; the only heroic, untouchable figure in the Impact Zone. He walked into a World Championship, is shoehorned into any and every angle they can, sticks his nose in other people’s storylines for no reason other than “hey, I’m Kurt Angle. You might remember me from such WWE matches as…” and then spits a bunch. But we still pretend this isn’t who he is. That there’s that Kurt Angle we love lurking in this self-righteous asshole who runs over people like Hogan, and will stop being this lumbering dinosaur and immediately, by some magic, start throwing suplexes and angle slams like a man who’s never seen infinite sadness, DUI’s, surgeries, and more Russo swerves than…well…these past couple months of Impact, I guess.

I’m not telling you not to love Kurt Angle. Or Tommy Dreamer, or Rhino, or the Dudley’s, or whomever else TNA is gonna dredge up to make you whitewash everything with nostalgia. But at some point we have to take a step back and look at the reality of what is happening, and how our memories place these men doing gross, despicable, sometimes nonsensical things in an unimpeachable state. Being disappointed in your heroes doesn’t negate the love you once had for them, but denying that disappointment stops them from staying the people you loved, and allows them to become…well…Kurt Angle.