Hola, mis gatos!
– In case you missed it, I wrote about Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano on the 20th anniversary of their iconic SummerSlam match. I’m so excited to write about more great women’s matches, so be sure and leave a comment as to who you’d like to see featured in the future!
– I’m super podcast-rusty, but I hung out with British teen pop sensation Kieran Shiach to give report cards to the TNA roster. Spoiler alert: there is a grade worse than F-. I’ll also be on Aubrey Sitterson’s Straight Shoot next Monday (September 8th) to discuss Raw and probably get mad at stuff, so that’ll be a fun thing.
– We love comments and shares and tweets and tumbls and all that good stuff. We are literally soliciting your unsolicited opinions, folks.
This week on Impact Wrestling:
Best(ish): Welcome to the Slack Parade, Samoa Joe
Bobby Lashley, as of this writing, has been champion for 78 days. We’re now approaching a three month run with this title, even if it feels like he’s held the belt for ages. Then again, TNA is a mysterious, time-displaced universe where months can feel like years, and Tommy Dreamer still actively wrestles. A run of this length comes with many challenges, especially when it seems there’s no clear end game, writing staff is transitioning, and every “challenge” to the belt has been lame duck at best. Every challenger for the belt up to this point has operated under the assumption that Lashley didn’t deserve his title. Eric Young didn’t think so, yet more than once he was beaten cleanly and proven wrong. Bobby Roode was like hey, nobody’s better than my friend Eric, except, you know, me, so I’LL beat you. He did not succeed. Kurt Angle put Austin Aries in an X-Division Championship match so that he could win, then immediately cash in the title for a chance at Bobby Lashley. He failed. So now what?
It’s pretty accepted at this point that much like in WWE, TNA faces are violent garbage pissbabies, and the heels are hated because they make too much damn sense. But from a critical standpoint, what is it that makes Bobby Lashley a bad guy? Is guilt by association literally the only thing? He shows up, he doesn’t say anything, he wins, he leaves. His victories are clean, he doesn’t go after anyone specifically. He’s never threatened to set someone’s babies on fire or jerked off with a lock of Eric Young’s beard hair in secret, so what’s up? If we hated Jeff Jarrett or Kurt Angle for walking into championships and winning titles they didn’t deserve, why is someone who consistently proves that they can defend it with, dareisay, honour such a terrible thing?
This was initially a worst, but as I think about it, I can appreciate Samoa Joe’s perspective. He supported MVP when he first arrived in TNA under the guise of putting the emphasis back on wrestling by wrestlers for wrestlers. I mean, he could have just thrown on some PWG DVDs and called it a day were that his goal, but whatever. After that he got dicked out of his world title shot by outside interference, and has been either persecuted or flat-out forgotten ever since. Now he’s got the X-Division champion, and to prove that it’s a Very Important Title, he wants to…go…after…a different title. Okay, maybe that part rubs me the wrong way a little. But I don’t think it’s necessarily that. Joe’s got Finlay syndrome – he loves to fight. This is just the shitty, drawn out version of Sheamus gleefully running down the ramp shouting OIL FIGHT ‘IM! Samoa Joe has never actually watched himself on TNA television, and fancies himself A Tough Guy. MVP says that Bobby Lashley is A Tough Guy. Joe wants to see who is tougher. Of all the terrible and moderately racist reasons Bobby Lashley has had to defend his title, this might actually be the one that makes the most sense.
Worst: TL;DR explanation
At heart, Samoa Joe is Paddy Tanninger the Caddy Manager of TNA tough guys:
Best: Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell
Guys. Guuuuuuuyyysssss. They’re trying again.
During the podcast that I mentioned in the pre-show notes people tend to skip over I had to grade each TNA roster member on a letter scale of A-F. Taryn Terrell earned a solid B+, the definition being that she shows up, does her thing, makes an effort, and even if she’s not the best, she generally tries to maximize the time she’s given to entertain and put on a good match. This is the B+ Hot Mess that I love so much. Serious Worst with a capital W for Impact for only giving us a minute and a half of this match, because it killed. And look, I’m not gonna pretend that it’s Akira Hokuto out there busting faces, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t watch this match with nothing but glee in my heart. At one point Taryn Terrell takes a stunner on the metal ring steps and it looks nasty as f-ck from every angle. Both ladies throw themselves into every part of this match, sometimes quite literally, and it’s a joy. It’s everything that made people love their matches last year. Remember that ladder match from last July? Remember Taryn putting Gail into a modified dragon sleeper? Gail tying Taryn to the ropes with her own hair? Both women chucking everything they had at each other and it being brutal and fun and not just a set up for sexy rest holds? They’re trying to do that again and I am just swooning all over the place for it.
Best: Speaking of swooning…
To quote Bram: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Jessicka Havok is my number one lady wrestler with a bullet. I flat out love this woman. Love her. I love watching her murder people. I loved watching her and Sami Callihan beat the crud out of each other in WSU before he went off to hack people’s lighting systems in Orlando with his iPad. I love her look and and her ferociousness and being an unapologetic lady hoss. I once gave her money at WrestleCon just to tell her she was awesome and because I had all of her merch already but still wanted to support her and she’s always been the loveliest person and guys. Guys. If you think I fangirl for EC3, then how happy J-Hav makes me will blow your effing domes. She’s here to make the knockouts think about death and feel sad and stuff and I’M JUST SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW.
Worst: F-ck yourself forever, Tazz
And here’s the Air Raid Crash to my heart. See, it’s a really powerful thing to see someone like Jessicka Havok debut on television. It’s not just because she’s one of my legitimate favourite wrestlers hands down. That’s a big part of it, but it’s way more than that. I’ve written a million times over about the effect that seeing someone like Luna Vachon and Bull Nakano can have on impressionable girls; someone who doesn’t look like the idea of what we’re told we have to look like to be wanted and loved and accepted as a Real Girl being given the opportunity to be different and kick ass and reveling in it. The sad thing is that when you grow up, that pressure doesn’t stop. The culture of marketing to women is rooted in the idea that we need to fix what’s wrong with us: be skinnier, be prettier, look younger, buy this make-up, buy these Spanx, there’s always other products, you can make them like you. In wrestling, we’re only given so many role models to pick from on television, and trust me when I say their body types (and personalities) do not vary from a specific create-a-lady-wrestler mold. These feminine ideals we’re told to strive for every day also carry the stigma that if you reach whatever acceptable bar for womanhood that has been set, you can never serve any other purpose than looking “good.”
Jessicka Havok isn’t built like say, Kelly Kelly or Velvet Sky, and that’s fine. It’s totally fine. Jessicka Havok is beautiful. Jessicka Havok is powerful. Jessicka Havok doesn’t fit any mold you expect to see on television and it’s wonderful. It’s inspiring. She comes out after a baller match between two ladies who already shatter the preconceived notions of what a match should be between women who look like that, and she f-cking destroys them, and leaves them lying in the ring because she’s a goddamn monster and it’s the best thing in the world. Everything about what happened in the ring said hey, you can be great at the thing you love if you try hard enough, and it doesn’t matter one bit what you look like while doing it. But what did it say to Tazz?
That she’s a man.
Mike Tenay comments that based on the videos they didn’t know who Havok was, or whether she was a man or a woman. Tazz, watching this lady hoss take out two wrestlers bringing back the idea that Knockouts matches can be as good as/better than whatever the boys in the back can do, responds with “I’m still not sure!”
So yeah. F-ck you forever, Tazz. F-ck your outdated notions of what a female wrestler can be. F-ck the idea that women can’t be strong or powerful. F-ck your idea of gender roles in wrestling. F-ck your outdated notions of what wrestling can be in general. I don’t care who you used to be, because who you are now is a bumbling, stumbling, sexist degrading mess. Wrestling is (very) slowly but surely changing for women, and I am more than happy to fight tooth and nail to make sure people like you get left behind.
Best: Ethan Carter III, always and forever
I promise I didn’t write this week’s promo. Double pinky swear. When I watched it last night, I was overwhelmed with wrestlefeelings by the Knockouts match and one of my favourite people showing up on a show that is usually reserved for my least favourite people, so I was already in the best mood. All misty eyes and clapping hands and a little overwhelmed at the potential of what was happening in front of me. I had also tuned Tazz out the first time because I wanted to actually enjoy the match, and not be brought down by what Tazz could maybe do to ruin it for me. Based on my response to what he did say, I think that was a great call on my part. I wasn’t mad or frustrated or again reminded that no matter what I or they or any lady accomplishes in the world of wrestling there is always someone ready to tear it down because we happen to be female. I was the happiest girl in the world, and THEN I get EC3? No way. It’s too much. It’s just too good. I would have been happy with almost anything he said, to be honest. He could have cold broken up with Spud and told him he had always hated him and I would have been like NO MAN THAT’S COOL THAT’S FAIR I LOVE YOUR POCKET SQUARE BTW.
Thankfully, that’s not what he said at all, and once again came out to say all of the logical things that live in my brain whenever I watch TNA. He is also way, way better at saying them than I am. All of these feelings and reactions are what I watch wrestling for. I want to be entertained and happy and ready to jump out of my seat and shouting and cringing at grimy moves and loving characters because they pay attention to who they’re supposed to be and make an effort to be good at it and do things that make sense. They also presented me with things I want to talk about after they happen. How often do you think I bring up an Eric Young match as a thing to get exited about? When I see my buddy Warren who doesn’t watch Impact on a regular basis, do you think the first words out of my mouth are “OH MY GOD LET’S TALK ABOUT MR. ANDERSON”? No. I want to tell him about how great EC3 is. I want to YouTube his match against Norv and Dewey. I want to show him The Hunt for Willow with Rockstar Spud. I want to talk about his promos and his defense of his aunt and his hair and that velvet blazer and his yellow gear and I have done all of those things because that’s what putting on a great wrestling show makes you do.
Worst: BR__K_P IS COMING
I lied. I am totally not ready for this.
Best: Rockstar Spud
So did he skin the Young Bucks to make that suit, or…
Worst: Brittany won’t stop eye-banging Sam Shaw
No. NO. YOU GO BACK IN THE HOUSE AND CHANGE OUT OF THOSE SEXY EYES RIGHT THIS INSTANT YOUNG LADY.
I like to think that they made Bram wear a shirt so you didn’t get the two of them mixed up. I’ve also decided that Bram is future Gunner, sent back in time to kill himself. Of course this means we’ll get a segment where Austin Aries or whoever wanders out to say “Looper? More like POOPER amirite??” and then I drive eight hours to throw my laptop into the ocean.
Magnus continues to remain completely and utterly invisible, but COME ON. I’m not made out of anti-friendship stone over here. He looks like my kitty when I rub under her chin. Less yelling, more friendship cuddles, please.
Worst: Speaking of Bram shirts…
The Ascension are such a dominant team, they even take over other people’s merch.
Worst: You got your Beautiful People in my Bromen :(
The Bromen make me happy, but literally zero things about this make any sense whatsoever. It’s like people only do things because they get paid, and that’s really sad.
I’ve been having a super cool fun time trying to watch a recording that looks like this:
Maybe…maybe they’re trying to protect me from Impact? Ugh, I don’t even know. Anyways, here’s Brandon to fill in the gaps:
Worst: Mike Tenay Yelling “GRINGO KILLER!”
This week’s X-Division match is basically a carbon copy of last week’s, so I’ll point out Mike Tenay yelling “Gringo Killer” and shake my damn head at it.
I wish they’d go all the way with it and turn Tenay into a Mexican revolutionary. Dress him up like one of the Three Amigos. Have him do those segments where he’s sitting at the table with Taz and all of a sudden stand up, draw a six-shooter and fire shots toward the rafters. Have a guy in cowboy clothes slowly lurch forward and fall into the ring.
“We know how THAT is, Taz, that’s Victoriano Huerta!” etc.
Worst: Manik Panic!
After the match, James Storm and The Great Sanada show up and drag Manik away by his feet. Two things:
1. Sanada spends his entire ring entrance holding the front of his hood up like AJ Styles. I don’t think this is a stylistic choice, I think TNA’s tailor sucks and doesn’t know how to make hoods. Has that been AJ’s problem all along? If you can’t see with your hood down, put your f*cking hood up. Or just walk forward in a straight line.
2. I hope James Storm takes Manik to his wooded shack and turns HIM into a Great Muta. Just regular Manik with Muta paint on the front of his mask. Not stitched into it, painted on. Have him spit mist, but since he doesn’t have a mouth hole the chin area of the mask suddenly turns green and he passes out.
Best, I Guess: A Perfectly Cromulent Wrestling Match
Eric Young wrestles Bobby Roode. It’s fine. It’s perfectly fine. They move at half-speed for most of it, look very upset when their secondary signature moves don’t get three counts, and Roode eventually wins with the ROODE BOMB, which is the worst-named finish in TNA. THE ROODE BOMB. You didn’t even put a SECOND of thought into that.
Worst: Brian Hebner
My main problem with the match is Brian Hebner. Dude’s garbage. If his last name wasn’t “Hebner,” he wouldn’t have a job. He doesn’t know how to help pace the match. Watch how he counts. Roode and Young are doing these slow, deliberate moves and then Hebner slides in and counts ONETWO as fast as he can. Most of the time he’s not even looking at the pins, he’s just falling down and counting as fast as he can. Look at this picture:
HIS EYES ARE CLOSED and he’s still coming down for that near-three. He’s just turning and closing his eyes and going ONETWO NO, ONETWO NO, ONETWO NO. He’s already in position for the next pinfall attempt before it happens. Is there a different ex-WWE ref we can sign to replace him? What’s Black Ref #2 doing? Is there a Mike Chioda Jr.?
LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU AND YOUR LAME KALE JOKES AUSTIN ARIES ALL I HEAR IS MY HEART SINGING FOR TAJIRI LA LA LA
Best: But no, for real, Tajiri
Okay, so this weekend I saw Mötley Crüe. I’ve never sen them live before, but if there’s one thing I love unabashedly that also happens to be full of misogyny and the shittiest people on the planet, it’s wrestling. The second thing is what most people refer to as hair metal. I listened to a lot of different, definitely not age-appropriate things as a kid, but I was super into Gun ‘n’ Roses, Cinderella, et al. My dad had this bog box of cassingles, and I would drag it out into the living room and play tape after tape, sometimes rewinding and listening to the same ones over and over. Fun aside: I remember the packaging and clear cassingle for the Humpty Dance the most vividly because I was forbidden to listen to it, even if I wouldn’t figure out why not until years later. Anyways, one of the cassingles I played the most was Doctor Feelgood. Now, my opinions on Nikki Sixx and the two who aren’t Mick Mars are super strong, and the show itself was a bit all over the place at times, but as soon as Mick started into the Doctor Feelgood solo I was transported back to every time I had listened to that song. Being way too young and sneaking off to listen to rock music and read Alan Moore comics because I was a complicated child. Road trips on sunny days with the wondows down and the CD player as loud as possible. It was everything that’s good about that feeling of nostalgia I’m constantly talking about in regards to a show who refuses to give that up.
That, for me, is what it’s like to watch Tajiri. It’s watching VHS tapes of his matches against Super Crazy and falling in love with the great parts of ECW. It’s being sad and putting on one of those matches and forgetting everything because they just make me happy. It’s the relief in talking to friends who have wrestled him and finding out he’s not a terrible guy.
That’s the dead horse TNA keeps beating, but I’d be a liar if I said they hadn’t gotten me with this one.
Worst: Tazz, again, always and forever
Speaking of Mötley Crüe, can we talk about how Tazz likening Rhino to a rhino is like Nikki Sixx rhyming ass with ass?
Worst: It’s happening, and I’m still not ready, or Best: Everything makes sense so that nothing hurts
I’m still entirely mystified by people who don’t love Spud and EC3. While Spud got off to a rocky start when he first showed up, still trying to be his British Bootcamp dbag character and failing spectacularly at everything, EC3 has remained consistent in his personality since his debut. Spud blossomed under the Carters, and from the inception of their friendship until now hasn’t wavered in doing anything that doesn’t remain true to who he is. Even when he sensed that Dixie would be unseated, and was briefly tempted to abandon her for the winning side, it was still in keeping with a wormy assistant’s sense of self-preservation. Both of them are telling a story that has outlasted anyone else’s: Magnus is apparently on TV, but you wouldn’t notice if you were looking right at him. Dixie is at home nursing a broken back. MVP has moved on. Kurt Angle remembers that he hates them sometimes, but without his notes probably couldn’t say why. Jeff Hardy is like WELP OKAY GUESS I’M NOT WILLOW ANYMORE BETTER LEASE THAT SHACK TO JAMES STORM AND NEVER ASK WHY EVER. If the Joseph Park narrative was a thing to celebrate (up until it’s untimely demise at the hands of Vince Russo and terrible decision making on the part of everyone involved), then this is glorious. I’m sad all over that EC3 is punishing Spud and using his recently spurned ex-employee to do it, but the story is still moving forward.
A lot of what detracts from TNA is the storytelling. Like, okay. What’s going on with Crazzy Steve? Are they still trying to raise money for the carnival? What about those people who were threatening the Menagerie out of nowhere? Why is he the only one wrestling when The Freak looks like he could clear through just about anyone? Did he go back to his job at Arby’s? And why was he so excited to see Dixie Carter go through a table? The same Dixie Carter who presumably gave him a job, and also didn’t fire him after seeing him wrestle? If anything, she flat out ignored him and just let him wrestle and do his own thing. If your name is Crazzy Steve, you should probably be thankful for any job opportunity you get. Why is Crazzy Steve such an enigma? Shouldn’t someone who wrestles on television that often be a little more developed, or connected to their origin story, or at the very least be in some way connected to those around them? And what about Tigre Uno? I know he’s a kitty, but why is that literally all I know about him? Every week we watch matches with no story or logic behind them, or we watch terrible stories that are incongruous to past events and go why, whyyyyy, whyyyyyyyyy is this happening? In this instance, you know why. Their words and actions have meaning. They are connected to each other, and referential of things that have happened around them.
Oh my god just like EC3 and Spud already, jeez.
Worst: Bobby Lashley and Samoa Joe
There are…a lot of Worsts in here. Its slow. It’s sad. The set ups take too long and the executions are shoddy. It’s just not a good match. The very worst part though, is Kenny King.
I just don’t understand what they’re doing. I’ve mentioned over and over how Lashley can and has defended cleanly. Kenny King runs in for the distraction AGAIN, but it has no bearing on the actual outcome of the match. Lashley has been built up into a monster, but now they’re realizing that when someone says someone else doesn’t deserve a championship, they should probably do something to make that true? And Lashley’s not even mad at it. If I were built like Bobby Lashley, I would probably look pretty hilarious. I would also take hella umbrage at the idea that I needed help to beat up anybody.
So where does this go? If they wanted to continue the feud with Samoa Joe, they could have had the distraction be the reason for the pinfall. But it wasn’t. They can break up Kenny King and Bobby Lashley because King is so “hot-headed,” but Lashley is non-plussed. Now he has to face Bobby Roode in a match they’ve already had. Why not take it further? Just open challenge every night. Bring out Abyss. Bring out Gunner. Bring out the kitty or the Freak or one of the stilt walkers. Bring out Mike from accounting. *whispers into the ether* Bring out Jessicka Havok. Bring out anyone and everyone. Prove that he can barrel through anything you throw at him and remain an unstoppable beast. If you’re told that he doesn’t deserve to be champion over and over and over, when he loses it’ll be the easiest thing in the world to shrug it off and say yeah man, that dude sucked, of course he lost.
Or I dunno, ask EC3 what he would do. He seems to be pretty good at this stuff.