Sports

The Best And Worst Of Impact Wrestling 10/17/13: I Am What I Am Not

Hello from actually not boiling hot Texas! This week I’m in the land of food trucks and pot-bellied pigs with their own hashtags, writing alternately from the top of Brandon’s staircase and his guest room because he had to go to bed because he’s a real adult with a real adult sleep schedule. This week BRANMATH is stopping, collaborating, and maybe doing a little bit of listening as we bring you the report tag-team style. We have a terrible tag name (The CanAm Blognection is also not a thing we should be called), but we’re gonna beat up on the Usos and make fun of Magnus, all in the name of friendship and the need to get up early in the morning. A few things:

– As I mentioned in the last column we’ll be at a bunch of different wrestling shows this weekend. Tomorrow we’ll be in Houston so we can see Liger wrestle for the second time in a year (how is that even a thing), Saturday we’ll be in….somewhere because we haven’t figured out what show we’re going to go to, and Sunday we’ll be at Anarchy Championship Wrestling in Austin. If you’re out and about at any of these shows, come over, say hello, and maybe grab one of my fancy schmancy new business cards before I pass out from Jojo Bravo swoons.

– All GIFs courtesy of the wonderful DJ Jazzy Jess/Mobsy/Lobster Mobster. She only publicly goes by one of those things, and sadly, it is not the first one.

-Follow, comment, like, tumbl, tweet, and share this report with as many people as possible. If you are a personal friend of Magnus you should probably do none of those things, but if you’re a personal friend of Joseph Park, please tell him to call me so we can be BFF forever.

-If you want to know where we’ll be this weekend, or what our badass Halloween costumes for ACW are, follow me on Twitter here, and Brandon here. I tweet way more boner jokes, but Brandon will tweet more during the weekend because travel data plans for Canadians are super stupid and expensive. We will tweet equally about his cat. For none of these things, follow With Leather here, and UPROXX here.

This week on Impact: Zero instances of Joseph Park, multiple instances of Magnus, and one or two instances of adorable cats. Brandon’s in block quotes, I’m outside of them, let’s do this! WHOOMP, THERE [the Impact report] IS!

Best: Dixieland

Three things about Dixie Carter’s opening salvo against AJ Styles are hilarious to me:

1. TNA’s biggest storyline is THESE TWO HILLBILLIES HATE EACH OTHER. What channel is this on, TLC?

2. Dixie Carter’s big pipe bomb is that “making people rich” is what she’s good at. I can think of exactly two people Dixie Carter could make rich: Hulk Hogan, because she’s willing to pay him 4 million dollars a year because he had a cartoon 30 years ago and pay everybody else to wrestle for Bleacher Report-style “exposure” and expired foodstamps, and the MILF Hunter, because for real.

3. I don’t really understand any of this. WWE has a thousand authority figures that can overrule one another whenever, but TNA doesn’t really have checks and balances anymore, does it? It’s just Dixie Carter. If she doesn’t want AJ Styles to be in the main event at Bound For Glory and can negate the existence of the Bound For Glory tournament by paying Frankie Kazarian to punch somebody backstage, why can’t she just say “first guy’s fired, second place guy gets the shot?” Wasn’t the second place guy Austin Aries? Wouldn’t the crowd probably be okay with that? What’s the big problem here?

Also, why did Dixie wait until the opening segment of her TV show to announce this? Isn’t paying your employees to hurt each other outside of the pro wrestling ring a huge crime? Why is she openly announcing it to everybody like she’s Harley Race, and why is she imposing a two-hour deadline? Wouldn’t it have been more effective to send a clandestine e-mail to the skeleton monsters, bipolar psychopaths and evil biker gangs in your employ on a Tuesday afternoon and shown up to Impact all OH GEE GOLLY I DUNNO WHAT HAPPENED TO AJ, GUESS WE’RE GONNA HAVE TO DO SOMETHIN’ ELSE.

Okay, four things. Dixie has her own t-shirt now, which you can buy from ShopImpactZone.com. Five funny things if you count this comment from that page:

Best: JB is the new hotness

Jeremy Borash’s reaction will never take the place of my beloved Tenay Face, but holy sh-t that is wonderful.

Worst: Aces & Eights not looking at each other

Every time Aces & Eights have a discussion out of the ring it’s in this dimly-lit back room and nobody looks at each other. Knux and Garrett Bischoff stand around in the background while Bully Ray paces with his back to them, speaking up and to the left at something off screen. I don’t get it. It’s like they’re in a sound booth recording voices for a cartoon.

Besides, what happened to the Aces & Eights clubhouse? I know they’ve only got three members now, but they should probably still have access to their card table and beer boxes. What, is one of those strippers who gave Anderson a handy to get him into the faction standing guard at the Impact Zone, waiting like that ancient dude from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for somebody to figure out the Universal Studios traps and wisely choose the Dupp Cup?

Worst: Eric Young vs. Robbie E vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Hernandez

Since we’re doing things a little differently this week, it means I have to change up my usual writing process. Generally I prefer to have the full show at my disposal because I have a terrible memory, and also because (as Brandon can now attest to), the show the first time around usually involves me angrily shouting at my television over top of whatever is happening, and then throwing myself back against the couch cushions whining and saying “I don’t wanna!” over and over again. Because we have to be on the road fairly early tomorrow, we’re going on our first impressions and writing immediately after the show has ended. Rob Conway’s eyebrows aren’t gonna make fun of themselves, guys.

The problem with this is when you get to something like this four-corner match, anything that is mundane or forgettable is…it’s just that. Nothing stands out, and you can only remember conversing about guys who are built like Mike Awesome but wrestle like Road Block, and things like “Hey, remember Cookie?” The answer is yes, but I feel like Brandon and I might remember Cookie for drastically different reasons.

The other problem is that, aside from shouting about how awful Hernandez is, and Brandon’s sudden desire to Google Cookie, there wasn’t much to take away from this match. For the life of me, I couldn’t even remember who else was even in the match. And I feel like this is a consistent problem with Impact. There can be a really great show with memorable moments, but the rest is such throwaway garbage that’s not worth remembering that it’s barely worth watching in the first place. How many actual matches can you remember from the show where Mr. Anderson and Eric Young dressed up as Sting and Muta? Or the matches surrounded the Claire Lynch baby shower? I have seen the Brooke-Bully Ray wedding episode more times than I care to admit, but every single time I’m still like “Aw f-ck, Chavandez is on this show EXASPERATED SIGH.”

I applaud TNA for the great things they do when they do them, because it usually means someone has allowed an ounce of creativity to sneak through and, on the rare occasion that something is really special, they’ve been brave enough to break the status quo and do something original. Like Joseph Park. Like Bobby Roode sitting in a big ass chair and kicking his legs around like Kermit the Frog. Like vulnerable Hulk Hogan. Allowing themselves a moment of humour and sincerity outside of the usual NO YOU’RE A BITCH I’M GONNA KILL YOU THAT’S DIMINISHING RETURNS SPELLED BACKWARDS. But when you already have a show that is almost entirely just dudes going through the motions and recycling the same things over and over, that freshness has got to extend a little further, because otherwise, these shows really aren’t worth a damn.

Worst: The loneliness of a middle card Eric Young

Aside from the half-hearted attempts at explaining how Eric Young could be on a road trip with Joe Park, but also in a four-corners match A WHOLE WEEK after the show last week, Eric Young didn’t really stand out. I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, he can’t really stand on his own. Pre-brain scrambled Eric Young was actually pretty great sometimes. He got to be cool and mean and wear suits, and not just WUH-UH-WHADDAYA MEAN MY T-SHIRT MEANS ORLANDO JORDAN LIKES TO HAVE SEX WITH MEN? The first time I could really get back on his side was when he attacked D-Lo in a convenience store while he was buying tampons or whatever, but most of that hinged on D-Lo’s reaction. As I mentioned before, Eric Young as Muta was great, but what is a Fake Muta without a Fake Sting, even if underneath the fancy jacket that Fake Sting is comprised of a shitty reverse STO and a sentient anus? Eric Young’s relationship with ODB, as well as with Joseph Park, work because they have the aforementioned moments of humour and sincerity that are rare for wrestling on any brand, not just TNA. When you take away Eric Young’s foil, all you’re left with is a beard and a real crummy elbow drop. So basically a CM Punk Macho Man tribute in a Daniel Bryan shirt, but still not as good.

Best: But no seriously, this

I have now have two favourite wrestling gifs: this, and this one of Tim Donst pushing LF Chikarason across the room because it is the most hilarious thing in the world to me, and also because I love Donst for many wrestling, Hallowhiskers, and/or some real specific lady-based reasons.

Best: Jumbo!

Brandon has been replaced by his cat Jumbo as my writing buddy (we wrote this out of order), and he is legitimately The Best. I would steal him away to Canada if I could, but until then I will settle for him purring at my feet and preventing me from having a total boredom meltdown over Gunner.

Worst: The latter half of Beer? That’s Where I’m A Modern-Day Viking vs. Mike Knox

I mentioned on Twitter that I really wish Garrett Bischoff would start entering the ring on Mike Knox’s shoulders a la Prince Devitt, and I 100% stand by that. I also wish that Bischoff were actually Cait Sith, Knuxxy was a giant moogle, and I was playing Final Fantasy VII (or doing anything else) other than watching this match.

The best part of this match was when Brandon said that Gunner’s tattoos just make him look dirty, and the worst part of this match was everything else. But I suppose we should get specific here, as this match actually had a point.

The idea that Bully Ray wouldn’t come out to help Bischoff and Knux despite them being in a good position to win the match is yet another proponent of the idea that Bully Ray is just in it for himself, and he doesn’t give a toss about anyone else in the club. It’s another piece pulled out of the Jenga tower of the “oh god make it cool or end it” saga of Aces & Eights, so while the actual wrestling didn’t really matter (I’ll give you pause to laugh at the idea that it ever matters), in the context of the story being told it’s important.

HOWEVER

If you’re going to complain about someone who is probably not even paying attention to the match not running out from wherever they are all the way in the back when you have a member of your stable sitting at the f-cking commentary table with a so-called teflon contract allowing him to do whatever the f-ck he wants oh my god there are four of you how hard is it to keep track of everyone oh my god.

Traditional Worst: Magnus vs. Bully Ray

I don’t hate Magnus with the same passion Danielle does, but I don’t like the guy, and I spent most of the match trying to figure out why (other than the obvious shit, like him thinking holding somebody’s legs and leaning forward with Brie Bella Leverage constitutes a Texas Cloverleaf). Here’s what I figured out.

Remember that weird time in early 2000s WWE where the Attitude Era had ended and the guard was obviously changing, and they KNEW John Cena and Randy Orton were going to be their big future stars, but Cena and Orton weren’t really “there” yet? Remember how they were always flanked by 30 interchangeable hairless, muscly guys who weren’t offensively bad, but weren’t anywhere in the ballpark of good? Guys like Sylvan Grenier, Rob Conway, Chris Masters, Renee Dupree, Lance Cade, etc. Just an endless stream of cookie-cutter semi-hosses. That’s what Magnus is. He’s Renee Dupree in a company that never let a John Cena bloom, so he’s “the future” because they don’t have any other options.

The other weird thing I thought about during this match was the physics of a nutshot in wrestling. I’ve been kicked in the nuts before and I know that it’s one of the most painful things a guy can go through, but I don’t think it hurts so much that having it done to you once just knocks you the hell out and renders you helpless for the next ten minutes. Aren’t you supposed to be tough? And furthermore, in addition to having been nut-shat, I have been punched in the face. That hurts like a motherf*cker. Magnus gets punched in the face like THIRTY TIMES in this match and doesn’t care. He gets the inside of a guy’s elbow thrust up between his legs and he’s instantly immobile. Horseshit. Nutshots have to be a quick thing and a flash pin because you’ve had the wind knocked out of you. They aren’t Burning Hammers.

Best: Sting’s gloves

If I can’t buy this print in a capri pajama bottom at Old Navy by this time next week, I’m gonna be so pissed.

Worst: Some Kurts wander by mistake

Uhh…I think Kurt Angle needs an adult. Seriously, he’s been wandering that hall for like an hour now. Maybe someone should go help him?

Worst: You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone to rehab for a while and the show gets better(ish) without him

Big ups to people who love Cinderella as much as I do, and stuck with me for very little payoff to that joke header.

Worst: Not THAT Legacy

Kurt Angle saying that Bobby Roode is the one who messed with his legacy, and not Kurt Angle signing and staying with TNA in the first place, is pretty darn hilarious. The best part is that Bobby Roode gets the upper hand because when he gets angry like that, it’s like he’s on a bunch of meth which is super funny to me (his bulgy eyes and spittle, not drugs because they’re bad and you shouldn’t do them). But if Kurt Angle somehow doesn’t get the victory at Bound For Glory so he can have his triumphant return and also because the heel won on the show right before it, then I will eat my hat. Well…I didn’t bring a hat, and Brandon will probably get mad at me if I use one of his as the outer shell of a breakfast taco, but I’ll just be really surprised, okay?

Best: People who typed “Kurt Angle 2003” and “Kurt Angle 2008” into YouTube after this promo

Please feel free to reference your experience in comparing the two every time I say “Kurt Angle used to be good and I loved him but now his head looks like a dick and he kinda sucks and it’s hard to say nice things about him.”

Best: EC3

oh hey look, it’s a reason for me to watch Impact

If you haven’t gotten a chance to see The Artist Formerly Known As Derrick Bateman’s TNA gimmick, he’s (as far as I can tell) a combination of pre-Crisis Alberto Del Rio and NXT’s Tyler Breeze. Hell, his music even sounds like Tyler Breeze’s. And at first I’m like, “man, I wish he wasn’t dick-biting Tyler Breeze,” and then I think NO, that’s GREAT, because if you’re TNA, the #1 thing you should be doing is seeing what works in NXT — for all intents and purposes the only WWE show “not on TV” — and do it for a mainstream TV audience.

So as it stands, Ethan Carter III (along with Trent “Greg” Marasciulo and maybe Joseph Park) is my reason for giving Impact another shot on the reg. TNA Guys, if you’re reading this (and I’m sure you are, assuming you’re literate) (I’m not sure you’re literate), give EC3 all of the fame and on-time paychecks you can. This is the best talent acquisition TNA’s made since Kurt Angle back when Kurt Angle wasn’t the literally-dickheaded skin-shell he is now.

Best: Samoa Joe vs. Chris Sabin

This is the first time I’ve gotten to watch Impact live with Danielle in my living room, so we spent a lot of the show “talking shop,” discussing how we process the show and write about it. One of the interesting things that came up was how an excessive familiarity with the show can give you an educated point of view, but how it can also make the writing process interminable because you’re having to come up with 5,000 new words about a barely re-written thing you’ve seen three times already this month.

I write about Raw a lot (a lot), so I’ve developed an eye for what I call “Raw boredom.” It’s not boring like an episode of Game of Thrones might be boring, it’s very specific to Raw … that mid-show lull where they’re just parading out recap videos and throwaway Tons of Funk matches or whatever and R-Truth keeps going for the chinlock and god dammit why won’t somebody do something exciting. Later on in the show they’ll give you a Shield match or something and you’ve got a lot of Bests to write about, but Raw boring is ever-present and ready to make your comedy column-writing last forever. It usually takes me three to four hours to crank out one of those things.

I don’t ever watch Impact. I try, don’t get me wrong. I average about 8 minutes before I get mad about something and turn it off and decide to find out what happened by reading Danielle’s column. Because of that, “Impact boredom” is relatively fresh for me. Danielle can watch a match like Samoa Joe vs. Chris Sabin where they’re going through the motions and hitting all the same stuff they always hit and doing nothing to kill time before a massive Ultimate X Participants Run-In-A-Thon with her head in her hands, but I’m like, “remember when Joe wore tights instead of shorts” with a vague smile on my face because wrestling is happening. “Vague smile” is a good way to put it. It’s not bad necessarily and it’s also not good, but at least it isn’t MizTV. Does that make sense?

My other big conversational takeaway from this match was, “how hard do you think it would’ve been for Macho Man to get over if Elizabeth was three inches taller than him.”

Best: Someone’s been playing Smackdown vs. Raw

Even though some of the storyline objectives were super terrible, I have a real fondness for those backstage video game segments. AJ Styles vs. Bounty Hunting Bad Influence wasn’t really much different, but I really wish AJ would have had to punch Kazarian until his was groggy, and then knock him out against a vending machine. Or having Christopher Daniels use a chair three times before it disappeared into thin air and he had to go find another one.

Speaking of disappearing, I love how AJ Styles grabs the fire extinguisher and then uses it to Criss Angel himself out of the hallway. I would have enjoyed it more had he gone full hilariously self-aware Spectacular Spider-Man Mysterio, but I think that’s asking way too much from a guy who has to hold his arms out to his sides for longer than usual to prevent himself from doing his up button signature taunt because he’s not wearing gloves, and it makes no sense without them.

I’m pretty sure that, unlike how Mysterio used technology disguised as magic, AJ Styles took a cue from Rey Mysterio and used real magic to cast Irrelevance; not running away but rather crossing over into the television purgatory that’s inhabited by the real Raw General Manager and Park Overall.

Worst (but also hilarious Best): Hashtag Whoopsy Daisy

Hey friends, be sure to tweet Mickie James to tell her exactly what she’s missing by not being stuck in this sinkhole of sadness anymore.

Worst: AJ Styles, Still Talkin’

There’s so much to write about here, but I’ll keep it simple: hey AJ, when you say “you aren’t Ric Flair and I’m not Dusty Rhodes,” you’re totally right, but not in the way you mean.

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