Hey there, space cowboys! A few things before we get to the show:
– I was on Aubrey Sitterson’s Straight Shoot after Raw this past Monday. If you want to hear me SHOOT STRAIGHT on Dolph Ziggler and maybe also hear my head explode a bit, check it out!
– King of Trios is so, so, so soon. If you haven’t considered coming to the three-day event, Juan Francisco de Coronado is going to wrestle Rockstar Spud, and I am going to sit in my seat with stars in my eyes and baby birds with hearts in their beaks flying around my head. You really need to see that.
– Like, share, comment, tweet, and tumbl this report. Impact still has a lot of crummy things to it, but there are also some really wonderful things in there. Make sure your friends don’t miss those.
This week on Impact: Clowns are gross, kissing ladies without their permission is grosser. Also, a tables match!
Awkward And Very Careful Worst: The introduction of Chris Melendez
I am going to try to choose my words very carefully. Here’s the thing: I am happy to see more diversity in wrestling always, but I wonder if – based solely on his performance and the retakes they had to do during filming – if this was maybe too soon in his training to debut him.
A real problem I have is just that: the timing of his debut. Remember that before their very sudden move to Wednesdays, TNA was going to air this today, the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11. I am not ever really in favour of using the events of 9/11 as a marketing gimmick. I’m sure this fellow is very proud of his country, himself, and his accomplishments, and I’m happy that TNA is giving him this opportunity, but there’s an air of crassness to it all.
My biggest problem is how to approach any of this. I’ve already noted that I’m trying to be extremely careful with my phrasing, but all of this leaves no room for criticism whatsoever. That’s a problem going forward. If you want to celebrate the equal opportunity you’ve given to someone, don’t paint yourself so far into a corner that you can’t treat them just like anyone else in the future. Don’t book everything going forward as a David vs. Goliath situation. Give him a character and personality outside of the one thing you’re highlighting. It damages all of his future interactions with the rest of the roster, and doesn’t breed an organic fandom. Let him train and be good at what he does so that he looks decent in the ring, instead of like a prop you can pat yourselves on the back for. Either he’s a wrestler operating in a fully functional universe, or you’ve shoehorned in a disabled war hero for cheers harder than John Cena cutting a promo about how awesome he is.
TNA, you do enough offensive things as it is. Don’t let this be one of them.
Worst: The Network is going to be so unhappy with this commentary
The ‘Professor’ Mike Tenay has long since had his tenure revoked for heralding the Vince McMahon commentary method. “What a maneuver!” has been replaced by “Taryn Terrell does A MOVE!” “Bobby Lashley with A SUBMISSION!” We know those are moves and submissions. What are they called, professor? Why are you pointing them out of you’re not going to say what they are? What they do? How they effect their opponent? On the flip side, what is Tazz bringing to the table besides a boatload of misogyny and a pair of sunglasses straight out of the Guy Fieri “It’s Always Sunny In Flavortown” bargain line? Now, I’m not saying Tenay should go full on Gordon Solie (he should), or Tazz would do well to be more like ECW throwback Cyrus the Virus at Guilty as Charged (holy shit he absolutely should), but they have to do better than this. Tazz spends so much time talking about how awesome Bobby Lashley is at his MMAs and his real big boy fights, but then Eric Young gets out of a triangle hold but picking Lashley up and slamming him to the ground. But oh, there’s something special about Eric Young, says Tazz. Which is it? Is Eric Young’s fake fighting better than Bobby Lashley’s real fighting that you’re trying to put over and cross-promote? Better yet, if Lashley is supposed to be this BIG SCARY MMA MONSTER, why isn’t he clearing through everyone? If you want Bellator to be A Thing™, why isn’t he ripping Eric Young’s head off like a Barbie doll’s? Tearing off one of Bobby Roode’s legs and beating Samoa Joe bloody with it? Real talks: I might not have the best grasp of MMA. What I do know, however, is that regardless of when this was taped, if you knew Lashley had a big fight coming, why wouldn’t you do your best to make him look like the toughest sumbitch on Spike? “4, 6, or 8 sides, Lashley kills it in every ring!” not “He’s so big and tough and can get the job done cleanly but whoa hey look how much better that guy who fishes is!”
Worst: Proving the MMA experts wrong
As I said, I am really no MMA expert. I like my fights fake and my bro culture…well, I don’t like bro culture at all. What I do like is Jessica Hudnall, our resident MMA expert and crustacean mafioso of note. Mobsy was lovely enough to give us wrestling-inclined a rundown on exactly how Lashley proved everyone wrong by being both a wrestler and dominant in the art of mixing martials:
This past Friday, TNA heavyweight champion Bobby Lashley made his return to the world of mixed martial arts, as he stepped into the Bellator cage against Josh “The Hammer” Burns. Burns was, at the time 8-7, though it should be noted that those eight victories came against opponents with a combined 3-14 record, so it’s not like Lashley was thrown in against anyone with a chance of winning.
Someone apparently didn’t tell Lashley he was fighting a complete pushover, because boy, did he struggle in this one. Lashley did manage to get the fight to the ground without much trouble, but once Bobby tried to cinch up an Americana shoulder lock, he basically had no clue how to finish it. For the entire five minutes of the first round, Lashley grabbed Burns’ wrist and kind of flailed while Burns’ head just turned purple from the exertion of “laying on his back”.
The second round saw Burns look a little better (He got less purple, at least), and he defended Lashley’s takedown until his fatness sabotaged him and he tumbled to the canvas. With Burns on the ground again, Lashley pounced! Except he still had no idea of what to do in terms of finishing submissions.
Burns apparently left his iron on, so he gave up his back and stood back up, eager to get back to his apartment and take care of that problem. Lashley didn’t really have anything else better to do, so he followed Burns and leapt onto his back, hoping to hitch a ride. Based on Lashley’s prior attempts at finishing the fight, the rear naked choke was completely accidental. Anyway, Burns, illegally holding the fence to keep himself moderately vertical, succumbed to the choke and tapped out.
A winner is Lashley! Hopefully he will get to fight someone with actual skills next, like Cheick “WATER BOTTLES ARE HARD!” Kongo:
Worst: Bobby Roode, what happened to you, bro
Man, remember how easy it was to be into Bobby Roode? Remember that time he turned on EGO and got super uppity and never, ever recovered? Yeah man, I do. I remember it every single time I have to watch Bobby Roode speak or massage Eric Young’s ego or get really confrontational about how much better he is than a guy he’s never been able to beat cleanly. It’s one thing to be like hey, I miss when you would sit in a giant chair and swing your legs like me when I sit in a normal-sized chair, but my goodness is he actively getting worse at wrestling?
There’s a lot going on in this match, but once Roode gets the hot tag from EY…I mean, house of fire? More like DUMPSTER FIRE, AMIRITE? Harharhar. But in all seriousness, uhh, nope. He goes after MVP, then does a series of clotheslines with about as much force and effort as Velvet Sky. The only difference is what he’s wearing, and that he doesn’t do that infuriating little spin she does. He and MVP do this Irish Whip sequence like it’s their first time practicing it at wrestling camp, and it’s so painfully awkward and by the numbers. I think one of the things that bothers me so much is how tense he is. I don’t want to say he’s stiff, because that can mean something else entirely, but look at his body. There’s no fluidity to his movement. It’s move, stutter, TENSE, move, stutter, TENSE. It looks like the wrestling equivalent of holding in your stomach all day. It also…aw damn, it also looks a hell of a lot like everything I hate about watching Austin Aries wrestle.
Don’t do what Austin Aries does, Bobby.
Best: This gif will never not fill me with joy
Miss you, boo.
Worst: Honey, sweetie, no
Brittany wants Gunner to ask Sam Shaw if he’s single, and pass him this note, probably:
Can’t wait for her eventual self-help novel He’s Just Not That Into Kidnapping You.
Best: Okay, so maybe I kind of love this one particular thing
Stupid Bromen and their stupid being adorable and making me want to like this stupid pairing.
/whispers stupid into the wind as she mentally fantasy books their double dates
Worst: Velvet Sky and Rebel
One of these people is learning how to wrestle. The other is a ten-year veteran. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Mega Worst: If your show involves the words “clown sexual assault,” you may need to get new writers
There are a lot of problems with this from start to finish, even if you disclude the actual wrestling itself. Immediately after the Gunner/Brittany meeting, we get Tazz on commentary insisting that chicks love whackjobs. This is a problem. It’s not just that it bolsters the idea that nice guys can’t get girls because the crazy bad-boy types shove all of them into the friendzone or whatever. The problem is that it completely normalizes what happened between Christy Hemme and Samuel Shaw. And then it’s all downhill from there.
I have a problem with the very common mindset that the crowd dictates whether or not someone is a face or heel by cheering for the good guys and booing the bad guys. When you’re actively putting out the idea that doing bad things is good, is it really the crowd’s fault when they cheer? To wit, look at two fairly recent instances in Ring of Honor: When Cheeseburger was stalking Maria, he did the same thing Crazzy Steve does to Velvet Sky – grabs her and kisses her against her will. Mike Bennett therefore becomes the bad guy for defending Maria, and going after Cheeseburger. When Romantic Touch was stalking Veda Scott, there was one RD Evans match where he chased her until they disappeared under the ring for a few minutes. She crawled out frantic and disheveled, he crawled out after her and lit up a cigarette. The implication is that he sexually assaulted her under the ring, or at the very least got off on her without her consent (still sexual assault btw). She is the bad guy. He is cheered by the crowd and praised on commentary.
Look at a more recent example: Dolph Ziggler stealing the “private photographs” of the Miz on the most recent episode of WWE Raw. Instead of people being like yo, why are you stealing from people that’s creepy and wrong, he was cheered for using coded language and making thinly veiled gay jokes at Miz and Sandow. Why is anyone cheering for any of this?
These are the confrontations wrestling desperately needs to have in order to move forward and progress and leave behind it’s prehistoric mindset. When someone makes fun of a wrestler or commentator for wearing pink or sparkles, ask why that’s an insult. Question why a heel wears pink until Breast Cancer Awareness month. Question why “it takes a tough guy to wear” whatever EC3 is wearing. Question why stalking and sexual assault are for the good guys, and defending against it is for bad guys. Question why we’re told that these are the things you need to do to be praised and cheered and liked by your peers. Don’t keep playing along with institutionalized misogyny and homophobia, then have the only question you ask be “why don’t people respect me for watching wrestling?”
Super Mega Worst: For real though what the f-ck is your problem Crazzy Steve
I think I might actively hate Crazzy Steve at this point. For a guy who does virtually nothing, he seems to really go out of his way to be a shitty person. Remember when Dixie Carter went through the table, and he was at ringside jumping and cheering? He had no previous beef with Dixie. No real interactions with her. She saw the Menagerie and shrugged and said “yeah, sure, why not,” and kept signing those paycheques. Why the hate for Dixie? Now, the biggest impression he makes is assaulting Velvet Sky then gloating about it on Twitter:
Way to have a complete lack of understanding/contribute to the stigma of schizophrenia while celebrating violating a woman, bro. That doesn’t help normalize anything either:
Best: Who let EC3 make all that sense
I love EC3. I do. I also love that whenever I hit peak frustration with Impact, Ethan Carter III comes out to say the things I also totally say and make the most sense out of anyone on the show. I also love that he remains a heel beyond just questioning why bad behaviour is rewarded and the defense of women is treated like the worst offense in the world.
/whispers glorious into the wind as she mentally fantasy books a stern talking to from EC3 to Crazzy Steve
Best: I also love those pants
Yeeeeah get it, girl.
Worst: “That is why Kurt Angle is the right man for the job.”
Yes, Tenay. “I still hate you from that one other thing, and I’m going to continually punish you and lord my position over you while simultaneously celebrating the power of ‘wrestlers’ and rewarding people I like better for doing garbage things.” I might not put any of that on your resume under Special Skills, Kurt.
Best: Rhino vs. EC3
I like this a lot. Street fights seem to be what Impact considers to be Serious And Important Wrestling, and if that’s the case, it’s great for EC3 to not only have one, but win so decisively. I also love that when he’s smashing Rhino in the head with a garbage can Stiffler’s all like AW MAN NO COME ON and shaking his head derisively like it’s excessive for the type of match it is. I especially love that they keep saying “vigilante justice.”
omg EC3 is Batman now
Best: The…Beautiful People?
Again? I think this might be the most pro-TBP I’ve been basically ever. I was into this! It was dumb and funny, and the idea that literally tens of people voted for Velvet Sky to be on the cover of a calendar making Angelina envious works great as a catalyst for them breaking up. I guess if you’re gonna go hard on the idea that two people are that superficial and are only with each other because of a mutual disdain for everyone else, it’s the perfect thing to cause a jealous fracture in their relationship.
Better Best: WAIT NO WHO CARES J-HAV’S HERE
Am I going to stop clapping and squealing and nearly bursting with joy every time she comes out?
Best Best: Taryn Terrell’s “serious face”
I’ve just missed you so much.
Best: IT’S TAYBULL TAM
Maybe all this Jessicka Havok and Ethan Carter III beating people with his belts, but I liked this probably way more than I should have. It’s much longer than the minute or so the YouTube lip gives you, which is a shame. There are some really fun spots in what should be an outdated snoozefest. I also like that the teams have the presence of mind to work together. The wolves worked with the Hardys. The Hardys worked with the Dudleys. They all did whatever they could to prevent the third team from putting someone through a table, instead of what we’ve seen in past matches, especially those multi-man X-Division scrums. It’s still going as I said – the Dudleys picked a tables match, the Hardy’s picked a ladder match – but now that the three teams seem to have a little more understanding and cohesiveness, the third one might not be so bad.
I am also still amused at the idea that if Jeff Hardy is Nemo, his brother Matt is his little fin:
See you next week, everybody!