Hey, I’m in New York! I’ve got a Best and Worst, let’s go to a Broadway show. But first:
– In this week’s Thread Count, we looked at the history of wrestling’s law and order. It’s fun, and features a guy named Supercop Dick Justice. You want in on that action for sure.
– I also wrote about Spike canceling Impact Wrestling, and helped sort through some of the rumours surrounding the decision.
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This week on Impact: A title match, some flippy stuff, and so many things that just don’t make any sense.
Best: I see what you did there
On the one hand, I think this is almost sort of brilliant. You’re in New York, the fans want ECW, so you give them two guys from WWECW, and an ECW original who, despite coming into the company late, is still well-associated enough to be called a turncoat. That’s cold. That’s a heel move I can get behind. On the other hand, these shows are fanservice, glorifying a company that was mismanaged and tore itself apart from the inside by a company who has been perennially mismanaged and is tearing itself apart from the inside. But that’s the overarching theme now, isn’t it? We now know that these tapings are probably the last shows to air on Spike, just as the last televised shows for the original ECW aired on TNN, Spike’s predecessor. Whether by design or not, history is repeating itself. The problem it creates is the glorification of past that wasn’t necessarily all that great, and the sad fact that the past they’re celebrating the most doesn’t even belong to them. No one is chanting AH-SY-LUM! AH-SY-LUM! They want the memories, even if those memories are false.
I’m leaving this as a best because the delivery is great, even if I don’t believe in the message. It’s equal parts knowing what’s coming thanks to the advance tapings, and not ever believing that TNA can foster and maintain something good. But I believe in EC3, and I believe in the ability of he and Spud to work through or around whatever is given them, and shine through whatever is happening around them.
Also, I SEE THAT YELLOW GEAR:
Sailor moon heart eyes dot gif, amirite guys? Spud knows what’s up.
Best: Again, then Manhattan Center
Because real talks? I actually got kind of excited for the match when the Wolves came out. I have never been excited to see either of these dudes ever in my entire life, and I have seen them…a lot. So kudos again for a great TV atmosphere.
Best, I think? Kinda?: The Wolves vs. The Hardy Boys(z)
It’s a very good thing that TV atmosphere exists, because there’s no way I would have gotten any enjoyment out of this match. I didn’t enjoy it totally, but I think this match perfectly encapsulates the spirit of a Best and Worst. It shows you the very best of what these guys have to offer, but sadly highlights the flaws in their performances.
The good news is that when Jeff Hardy is just Jeff Hardy, he’s still pretty great. There’s a reason he’s still the top babyface in the company, and clearly sells a crazy amount of merchandise. Not many wrestlers can go through what happened leading up to and during Victory Road 2011 and maintain that kind of rabid fanbase. These tapings force us to examine the pitfalls of nostalgia at almost every turn, but Jeff Hardy is a great example of how easy it is to slip back into a fandom. You watch him effortlessly throw himself around like a ragdoll and it’s…comforting. It’s what made you like Jeff Hardy in the first place, years ago and somewhere else, but it’s not shouting at you from the middle of the ring. I know we all love THE WILLOW and his wacky shenanigans, but there IS value in Kurt Angle telling him to “just be Jeff.”
On the other hand, stepping off of an immobile Matt Hardy to launch himself through the air and do something super cool is a great illustration of the Hardy Boyz entire career.
The Wolves are still just…there. They never ever change. Not on the indies, not in ROH, not in TNA. It’s fast-paced, but it’s still the same problem as with all of their matches. It’s desperately formulaic, the offense taken never of any consequence, and while I’m super glad Eddie Edwards remembered to keep his legs closed on that double headscissors, I watched it back five times and that motherf-cker still made no damn sense. The double submission looked great, but Eddie Edwards looked like he was fighting it by doing the Emma dance. If you want to not ever pay attention or attempt to understand the mechanics of wrestling and how execution elevates good matches to great, this match is perfect for you. If you concentrate on the match itself and ignore everything else, it’s a throw away match you might enjoy cheering for in person, but will come away only remembering a few fun outside dives and Matt Hardy’s swamp-ass moonsault.
IT’S A TEENY BEST I PROMISE. At one point, late in the match, Tazz points out that unlike in a traditional ring, you don’t have to walk across it to get a guy into the corner. With six sides, one is always close by. I like that way of looking at it. I don’t give two shits about the six-sided ring, but Tazz of all people making an observation that positively sells something that looks like a playpen for dumb baby fights is practically transcendent.
Worst: On Thursdays we wear SCUBA suits
This started out as a begrudging best, but I watched it a second time, and it really bugged me. At first blush the sequence at the beginning of the video is fun, but why isn’t Zema fighting out of the submission while Low Ki kicks Manik in the chest? You know he always does that. At what point are you going to try to counter it? Or just, I dunno, roll over? Fight back? Why are you just taking it while two guys do moves around you? I like the end result with the suplex that also stretches out the area affected by the submission, but the journey is so not worth the DESTINATION X, you know? I understand that with Low Ki winning we’re building to a celebration of the history of the X-Division, but the problem is that the whole company is a celebration of its past every. single. week.
Worster worst: Will I ever get the image of TJ Perkins looking like he’s going to shit himself out of my head when I watch a Manik match?
Did Low Ki stop Manik from going for the Emma Lock? WAS Eddie edwards doing the Emma dance? Is this episode secretly just one giant tribute to Emma? If Sanada comes out blowing bubbles you have no idea how much I would forgive TNA. No idea.
Worst: The Superkick of the Legend The Cowboy James Storm
Maybe y’all should switch to O’Douls, Mr. The Superkick. The story is self-evident, even if it starts with James Storm suddenly being an asshole for no reason. He’s all hey Sanada, your mentor is in a totally different country, and you’re probably not good enough to be champion, and now look you just lost to Austin Aries so SORRY ABOUT YOUR DAMN LUCK WANT SOME OF MINE? Storm comes to the ring to explain that what we saw wasn’t a student turning on his teacher, it was a student being awakened (by betraying his teacher, which is obviously completely different). He keeps going on and on about revolution, but…what is that revolution?
I can understand the the grander idea that turning Sanada against Muta would make for a great feud, but The Superkick of the Super Asshole James Storm doesn’t make any sense to me. If Sanada turns on his distant Japanese mentor, why is he then turning to a guy who’s held the TNA World Championship once for like a week? The best he got out of his storyline were those videos of him crying into his horse or whatever. If Sanada had aspirations for the tag belts, sure, Storm’s got a great record there, but then why is Sanada X-Division centric? The tag belts are, at the very least, a lateral move. If he just wants to learn how to be an asshole, why not ask literally anyone on the roster? Also, why do you have to be an asshole? The bad guys are bad, the good guys are worse. Sanada was the last legitimate face outside of Tigre Uno, but the kitty only counts because he wasn’t given the benefit of a personality. The only reason acting honourably doesn’t get you anywhere because no one acts that way. The lowest guy on the totem pole is still just as rotten as the guy with gold around his waist.
Meh: Brian Cage vs. Sanada vs. Crazzy Steve
I really wanted this to be better than it was. They do, at least, acknowledge that Brian Cage has been on Impact before. While he out-wrestled Jay Bradley in the TNA Gut Check that would let us know how much Bradley loved humping stuff, for once their assessment was spot on: Cage didn’t make any sort of connection to the audience. It’s the same thing here. His wrestling is good and he’s got these crazy memorable spots, but if you’re already a fan, chances are you’re a indie wrestling fan who is already aware of his work in, say, PWG. And if he’s not going to stay around, what’s the point of bringing him back?
The underlying problem is the same as Destination X last year. I popped so hard for Trent/Greg being around, but ULTIMATE X-ly it’s guys who aren’t in the X-Division, aren’t progressing the X-Division, and won’t be around in the X-Division afterwards that are making the biggest splashes. The X-Division still isn’t an important thing, and all of this is a set-up for Low Ki and Samoa Joe to face off because they were in the X-Division before and we got that tense video of them staring at each other backstage earlier on in the show. The style, the young guys, the fresh faces, any inkling of innovation – the essence of the X-Division – doesn’t matter in the least. The point of a show entirely devoted to the X-Division is to move forward a storyline that puts Dixie Carter through a table, and everyone gets to cheer and pat themselves on the back for being cool fans who liked a cool thing once upon a time.
Best: Tommy Dreamuh makes sense, EC3 makes sense…r
A lot of what’s cheesed me off during these tapings is putting over the idea that true fans of ECW know what’s up, and Dreamer and the Dudleys are to be lauded as loyal guys who love wrestling and ECW more than anything, and Rhino is selling out. If you remember, The Dudleys were the ones were the ones who left ECW on this very television station for the “true city of hardcore wrestling, Stamford CT.” They may have loved ECW, but the Dudleys were still the bad guys who sold out. So was Tazz. Tommy Dreamer takes to the mic and explains that being hardcore has to do with your dedication and work effort when it comes to the wrestling business, not having sex with two women at the same time like we’ve been led to believe, and that’s why he has beef with EC3. FINALLY. Finally something in-character that makes sense with what EC3 has been doing all along. Stalking Dixie Carter and trying to physically injure her is stupid and awful, but a guy standing in the ring saying hey, I’ve dedicated my life to this thing that you’ve achieved through nepotism and I don’t respect you for it is totally logical.
It would make a lot more sense if World Champion Ethan Carter III was a real thing, but whatever.
Mr. The Third calls him Thomas Dreamboat and will answer the call to war…next week. If everyone is a jerk, he’s the best one.
Worst: Bully Ray
Bully Ray shouts a bunch, asks if EC3 knows where he is, tells him he’s going to die, then points out how easy it would be for him to start a riot. Kurt Angle this is a bad employee where are you why aren’t you firing this man.
Worst: Homicide vs. The Kitty vs. Samoa Joe
I tried. I tried so hard. I wanted to ignore everything and be into this match, but I couldn’t. It’s not for a lack of desire. I feel like out of all of Lashley’s title defenses, this was probably the best one, but I can’t get past circumstances enough to be fully entertained. Like the rest of the show, all of it feels like an afterthought.
Lashley is champion, and the general idea is that people are in places they don’t deserve to be, and it’s pissed everyone else off. Eric Young is all butthurt, Bully Ray is all butthurt, Kurt Angle is all butthurt…there’s more butthurt than a bad Preparation H joke that I’m not prepared (H) to make. Aries was shoehorned into the X-Division title picture so he could take the belt off of Sanada, cash it in, and get his Destination X title shot. It’s hasty and frustrating, but we’re here and we can’t stop it. So if we’re to understand from all of this that Lashley’s role is undeserving non-hardcore champion, why does he keep winning cleanly. What on earth is the point other than to have a title match at your X-Division show? And if that’s the only point, why wouldn’t you make it congruous to the rest of what’s happening? It’s not a One Night Only. It fits in with your television schedule. Other things are happening outside of the X-Division, as we’ve been made painfully aware all night. There’s no defending it. The circumstances are bad, and they should feel bad.
These New York shows have been better and more fun to watch than they have in a while, but when you break them down, they’re still a complete and utter mess.