Hi friends! I had an amazing weekend of wrestling and fun and friends. This…is not that write up. But it does include some of the reasons I had so much fun, so I’m pretty excited to get to it! But first…
– A HUGE thank you to everyone who came out to King of Trios this past weekend and said hello/high-fived. You are all fabulous, and my new favourite people. Watching people fall in love with the wrestlers of Chikara makes my heart happier than almost anything.
– Be sure to comment, tweet, tumbl, and share this column. If you do, you are also my favourite people.
This week on Impact Wrestling: Kurt Angle totally invents Post-Its.
Best: MVP vs. Low Ki
I like this match for a lot of lengthy, convoluted reasons, and those far outweigh what I didn’t like about it, so I’m gonna go ahead and call this a Best.
The clear line between X-Division and “Main Event” if you will is a fine one to tread. The X-Division, while the only limit is no limit (and also that weight limit one time), is traditionally smaller, flippier, funner dudes with whackadoodle movesets and a distinct disdain for gravity and their own well being who aren’t named Jeff Hardy. “Main Eventers” have moved in and out, some with a fun storyline and reason for dominance (Abyss), and some who just kinda muck things up (see the current reign of Samoa Joe). When Austin Aries was recently given his shot at the X-Division belt, won, and then almost immediately cashed it in for a shot at the World Championship, it was incredibly frustrating because it devalued what the X-Division championship meant, and also sent a clear message that the X-Division doesn’t celebrate a different style, it’s where they put people who aren’t good enough to move out of it.
MVP has struggled since Kurt Angle took his job. He’s a big bad who got neutered instead of forced out, so he’s done his best to remain a thorn in the side of whomever will give him a chance. Bobby Lashley is (and should remain) silent, so while he gets to be the mouthpiece for a dominant champion, that champion is still run down and undermined at every turn. When MVP wrestles on his own, he’s all bark and no bite. He’s got everything to prove, so when he unzips his still-unflattering wrestling gear to take whatever Low Ki can throw at him, it becomes as much of an act of defiance as it does a show of strength. Low Ki manages to look strong, and it’s not a squash, which looks good on the X-Division. Both dudes have something to overcome: Low Ki and the lowering of the X-Division, and MVP in his loss of power in the company, and also in wrestling after his injury.
TL;DR: I liked when Low Ki slapped MVP a bunch.
Worst: That outside dive, though
I know Low Ki lost his footing for a second, but he looked like Yoshi flutter-jumping. All he was missing were those cartoon sweat beads and maybe also an inherent likability.
Best: The Bromen
I love you Bromans. I love you so much. They found a way to address that Robbie E will be on the Amazing Race without his kayfabe lady friend, and managed to do it in a way that is delightful. It’s perfect. Robbie E is a treasure. So good. How are they so good?
Worst: Tazz, because of course he is
Prior to the next match, Robbie E comes out to cut a promo on how he’s not just tougher than anyone in New York, he’s tougher than anyone in the US, nay the world. He’s “inter-bro-national.” I’m all about a good portmanteau, and that’s not one, but instead of pointing that out Tazz’s response is “Why is talking like Ebonics?”
There are literally zero reasons for him to still have a job, right?
Best: Robbie E vs. Tajiri
I really enjoyed this match, but it’s for almost all of the opposite reasons I liked MVP vs. Low Ki. I’ve talked a lot before about making your own inferences to get through a match. Most of what I put on the opening match probably isn’t a real thing, and they were most likely paired together because gaijin and ridiculous bodysuits, but there’s enough going for both of them that I really can get some storytelling from the match. This doesn’t have anything behind it, I just really like both of these wrestlers. It’s simple, fun wrestling. I mean, Robbie E can say that he’s interbronational, which should be a trigger in your brain to know that an actual international star is coming out to squash him, but other than that, what is Tajiri doing there? What purpose has Robbie E really served on the roster lately? What ties either of these two wrestlers together? And if Tajiri is supposed to be a face, why is he cheating? I love mist like nobody’s business, but in this context he only used it to win a match when the ref wasn’t looking. That’s what a bad guy would do. Why is everyone is TNA just awful all the time always?
It’s still a Best, though, because in all honesty simple, fun wrestling is something Impact is sorely lacking. I get that everyone hates but respects each other, sure, but it harkens back to my constant complaint over the last nearly two years of reviewing Impact: there’s gotta be some levity. Robbie E vs. Tajiri isn’t a MOTY contender by any means, but I’m going to remember it a hell of a lot more (and more fondly) than every single Mr. Anderson match I’ve already forgotten.
Worst: But wait, IS this a surprise?
So Kurt Angle invents this Gold Rush tournament that has never happened before, with nothing that anyone would ever remember happening, and the idea is that you don’t know your opponents going into it. It’s supposed to be a surprise when Desmond Wolfe and Chelsea or whoever come out from the back to face you in a match.
Impact isn’t fooling anyone when it comes to when the shows are taped vs. when they air. If you’re dubbing in commentary after the fact, why advertise surprises ahead of time? If you do a thing, do it all the way.
Best: Rockstar Spud, because of course he is
In the interest of full disclosure, I got to meet Spud this past weekend and it made my heart grow three sizes. I didn’t think it was possible for my Spud fandom to increase as exponentially as it did, but here we are. In my experiences in talking to him, or seeing him interact with fans, or wrestle the criminally underrated Juan Francisco de Coronado in the Battle of the Bowtie (sleeper MOTY candidate), it bolstered my confidence in that everything I say about him each week is completely deserved.
I am heartbroken at the direction this seems to be heading in, and while I figured I would be on the side of EC3 due to the most bias that I have maybe ever, he’s doing an incredible job of making me for real think EC3 is the douchebag in this situation. During the show he was retweeting compliments and fan support, then shut it down because EC3 told him to. He’s got everything covered. During his backstage segment when EC3 is clearly dressing him down over the phone, for a moment he drops the reverence and formal speech and calls him Ethan. It’s a tiny moment fraught with meaning, but it conveys all of the emotion that we’re supposed to be reacting to. And then he runs away from the camera, because Spin Cycle cast members are secretly just smarter and better than anyone else.
Ugh. He’s so good it makes me mad.
Worst: The Menagerie
So Tazz takes a break from being as frustratingly ignorant and offensive as possible (a very, very brief break) to point out that the Menagerie are trying to earn enough money to rebuild their carnival. That’s nice, and it’s good that they’re trying to give the Menagerie a purpose again, but it still makes no sense. We moved on from that weeks ago when Knux got non-stop actioned during a threatening phonecall over money. Impact never went back to that, so if we ignore that one tiny moment of plot advancement, we need to consider this: The Menagerie have been around for coming up on seven months now and they’ve not moved on from anything that was established in the very first introductory promos. Well, we’ve established that Crazzy Steve is a female-hating delinquent who enjoys bike horns and sexual assault, but that doesn’t really progress the Menagerie forward. Like, give me a backstage huddle in the crate they all live in with The Freak motioning sadly at a drawing of a thermometer with only a third coloured in red, or Rebel crying because they just can’t fill a gigantic novelty piggy bank. They came with a clearly established goal, so let me know how they’re doing with it.
Worster Still: Some Carny Asshole vs. Knux
Big Man-Little Man matches, when enough is done to subvert the David vs. Goliath trope and make them interesting can be fantastic. This…is not that. I know we’re supposed to be impressed by how scrappy Austin Aries is, but it’s not exactly working. Tiny baby wrestler Austin Aries can’t continue to be the “underdog” if he’s held multiple championships, can walk in and take the X-Division championship whenever he wants, and can believably be put into a main event at any time. A guy cocky enough to refer to himself as the Greatest Man Who Ever Lived should either be the full-on asshole he was when he was stealing people’s movesets, or rolling out of the ring and putting on sunglasses, OR taken down a peg and proven to be a weenie in a velvet circle cape. Those are the only two contexts in which Impact Wrestling Superstar Austin Aries has ever been – or should ever be – successful.
Worst: Magnus vs. Mr Anderson
I may not have the most self-confidence in the world, but I can say with certainty that I’ve never done anything bad enough to deserve this.
Now, to be fair, this is a better match than either of them usually wrestle. It still stinks, but it’s something, you know? The problem is the entire premise of the Gold Rush tournament. If none of these matches are based on existing feuds, and they all have one common goal, they should be wrestling their brains out trying to get there. For the tournament to be successful, all of the matches have to be killer. They aren’t.
Now, if they can tell a story within that match then great, but this is so much nothing wrestling that all of it fails to matter. If we establish that Kurt Angle is the one devising these match-ups, why DON’T they mean more? He’s already proven that he has a vendetta against certain people. Use the tournament to tell THAT story. Have an “enemy” overcome impossible odds. Have a babyface go over someone the crowd despises. You can have fresh and unexpected match-ups if you utilize what you’ve already established in the past. Use the tournament to tell any story before we get six guys in a ring aimlessly trying to mic-check or bust-brain the other dudes and oh hey whoops I accidentally described the main event before we got to it. My bad.
Tazz suggests that a calendar of “hot chicks” is the perfect Christmas gift for children.
Again, TNA dubs this after the taping but still has time to edit before it airs oh my god who is in control of this
Worst: Impact removed the Gail Kim-Havok video package from YouTube
It’s the best one. Why did you do that, Impact. Is it because I’m constructively mean to you? Are you punishing me? I was nice to Magnus when I met him last week you don’t have to play me like that.
Worst: Oh, Abyss, no
I was going to say something to the effect of “if you don’t want me to miss Joseph Park every single day, stop wrestling like him,” but I think at this point Impact Wrestling Superstar Joseph Park, Esq. might be better than…whatever Abyss thinks he’s pulling off in this match? It’s a Worst because it doesn’t really make me angry, it just makes me sad. Don’t do this, Abyss. Either decide you don’t wanna be mad anymore and give me back the light of my life, or literally break Samuel Shaw in half and mail the pieces to Christy Hemme’s baby shower.
Worst: Gold Rush? More like Don’t Rush!
The YouTube video is only three minutes long, which is important because this match literally lasted seven years. I had to work last night, so this was the only thing I watched live, and it was painful. I gave it another shot today because I figured hey, maybe I was just real tired.
You’d think with the word Rush in the name it would indicate that some kind of sense of urgency is required. I mean, they made it this far, and can now challenge for any belt of their choice. ANY of them! That’s kind of a big deal. But it doesn’t really seem to matter. I mean, they’re tagging in. Why are we observing tag rules? If I desperately wanted a shot at a championship, I’d be going ham on all these dudes. None of this makes any sense and it takes so unimaginably long to get through. This match is also why those video packages at the beginning of the show work so well. It’s the best of everything distilled into one quick, impactful package that belies what it actually takes to slog through a match. This is one of the only instances where a Wolves-style match would actually be beneficial. Get all six guys in there, brutalize each other as quickly as possible, and THEN you can have Bobby Roode’s small son Austin Aries sneak a victory through.
Or just don’t let Mr. Anderson wrestle. Whichever.