The Best and Worst of Impact Wrestling 9/13/13: The High And Strong Will Never Surrender

Hey ho howdy, folks. Another week, another Impact report. It’s just a job, but I do it for YOU PEOPLE. If I’ve learned anything in THIS BUSINESS, it’s that AJ Styles should maybe probably not be my mentor. A few things:

-This week over at The Mandible Claw, Brandon laid out his WWE/Chikara crossover theory before we read some anatomically incorrect wrestling smut, Drew Cordeiro joined me to talk Americanrana and this Sunday’s Point of No Return, and the ever so Handsome Dan Barry did the same. He also talked about wrestling at Riker’s Island which is a must listen because seriously…Riker’s Island.

-If you’re anywhere in the New England area/within five hours away from Rhode Island, you have to get out to Beyond Wrestling’s Point of No Return on Sunday. Trust me. I can’t make it, but I can live vicariously through YOU PEOPLE.

-I myself will be at Smash Wrestling’s CAN-USA Classic in Etobicoke to cheer on the lovely Veda Scott. If you’re in the Toronto area and haven’t decided to road trip to Rhode Island, come out, say hi, and see some women’s rasslin’. LuFisto will be there, hopefully being super careful so I don’t have to see her destroy her knee again like at WrestleCon.

-Follow me on Twitter here, With Leather here, and UPROXX here. Twitter friends forever, or at least until some other form of social media becomes the cool new thing. Then we can be friends there, k?

This week on Impact: It’s the Bound for Glory series finale! Who will win? The guy who wants it more than anyone else, the guy who wants it more than anyone else, the guy who wants it more than anyone else, or Magnus?

Best: AJ Styles vs. Austin Aries

I wasn’t actually hugely thrilled with this match, but I feel like these two did enough good things that warrant giving this a best. If you’ve read the report before, you’ll know that I’m not in any way a fan of AJ Styles. His barfy pele kicks, his video-game style wrestling, his Mickey Mouse gloves, the way he kicks back his legs (a perfect example of this being the cross body to Aries outside of the ring), it just doesn’t jive with me. When he first started going full Sh-t Donst, that toned down a little, and he benefited. His calf slicer looked mean and great, and there was more of an edge, and urgency if you will, to win instead of hitting his moves, rolling to the left, rolling to the right, flying high and all of that. Now, just like his entrance, he’s caught somewhere in between. Instead of blending together, it seems a little incongruous.

Aries also didn’t look as sharp as he usually does. I liked the forearms back and forth, but there were times where it felt less like two people shoot fighting each other to get what they want, and more than a little sloppy. If there’s one thing that drives me bonkers, it’s someone just patiently putting their head between the others legs and waiting to have a move done. Absolutely bonkers. Aries does this at one point, and the camera angle showing him forcing himself between the legs of Styles and waiting for him to play out to the crowd before the move is…incredibly frustrating. I know TNA does absolutely nothing in terms of camerawork to enhance a match, but come on.

That said, there are a lot of things I did like: Styles countering Aries’ crucifix attempt into a nasty looking backbreaker. Aries countering the Styles Clash by holding his arms in so he couldn’t hook his legs, AJ trying to pin him in that position, then lifting him up to powerbomb him only to get caught in a headscissors from Aries. Aries putting Styles into the last chancery, then AJ getting out of it by kicking at Aries’ legs to make him fall out of the bridge. The pin looked a little awkward (mostly because AJ had to scoot his butt like a dog with a sh-tty asshole), but the Styles Clash from the second rope, while still having the wherewithal to pin him from the legs so he doesn’t get a chance for a rope break? Great, great stuff.

Worst: Your first reminder than no one at TNA watches their own show

One of the most hilarious and truly “TNA” things about this match is how often it’s pointed out that these two know each other, and how well-scouted the match is. Remember when Magnus was all “I don’t really know this guy” about Samoa Joe not too long ago? Aries and Styles have wrestled each other in some capacity ten times in the past eight years. Magnus and Samoa Joe, prior to the formation of the Main Event Mafia, wrestled twenty-eight times in two years, mostly as tag team partners. Magnus is the pits.

Best: Speaking of…

Backstage, Sting tries to give Magnus a pep talk by reminding him that everyone (with the unnamed exception of Hercules) in the Main Event Mafia is a former World Champion, but they took a chance on Magnus. It’s not about who Magnus is, but it’s who he will be. Magnus, ever the worst, stops Sting to say that with all due respect, he IS super awesome, but he’s sick of being called the future, and tonight, the future is now.” Yes. Really. What turns this into a worst is Sting’s responding with “Yeaah, the future is now!” like that one time Uncle Alec realized that the medium is the message. Personally I would think that Sting would make a much better Aunt Hetty, but it’s still pretty hilarious. Note: If you got any of that, thank you for also being super-duper Canadian. Together we can turn this into the Road to Avonlea crossover fanblog it should have been from the beginning.

(Note: Yes, Joseph Park would be a smashing Jasper Dale.)

Best: Mike Tenay

I would not love you if crocodiles bit off your face. Your wonderful, wonderful lizard face. My love for your lizard face is a love that will echo through the ages.

Worst: Magnus, because today is a day that ends in Y

Bobby Roode tries his very best to get a good match out of him, but…god, it just does not work. We’ve talked about the barely-there adequacy of Magnus before, and I feel like I’ve written enough paragraphs to fully convey why post-Ring Ka King Magnus is the aforementioned dog’s butthole, but you really can’t argue with the disingenuousness in everything that he does. Look at the way he speaks, ever, be it to the crowd, or to someone in the back. Look at the way he plays to the crowd. The way he sells a move. My arthritic grandmother can drop a better elbow, and some days she can barely bend her arm. I will give one minor best for Bobby Roode not tapping out to the most constipated cloverleaf yet. Even Tazz is yelling for Magnus to sit into it, because there’s no way that could possibly be successful. He’s just holding his legs. There’s no pressure on anything. Just look at it:

The future is now, and it sucks.

Worst: Continuity? Where we’re going, we don’t need continuity

Hogan tells TJ Perkins that when he puts on the mask, it reminds him of Hulkamania. Something clicked when he put that mask on.

You know, the mask he’s supposedly been wearing for years as one of the hardest working boys in the back who has worked in the ring for years trying to put food on the table of his family. The mask he’s worn as a somewhat regular fixture in the past four-ish years, yet somehow had to sleep outside of the Impact Zone and only recently was given the honour of a TNA contract. The mask he wears in the video game about him. Manik? Why, that’s we just make this sh-t up as we go along spelled backwards!

Best: I know it’s over, still I cling

No, wait, no I don’t. Dixie tells Hogan that Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz are no longer allowed to be on Impact, and will solely fight for Bellator in their November 2nd showdown that you may have heard mentioned one or a billion times. Pretty sure my sigh of relief could be heard echoing into space.

Best: Bully Ray must be taking lessons from my mom…

…because this is one heck of a guilt trip. Again, this is a perfect reminder of why Bully Ray shines the brightest in backstage segments like this, and his in-ring tirades only serve as frustratingly pale comparisons. In the ring, he’s an angry dude shouting things and showing off Miss Tessmacher’s ass, but backstage is where you get the true depth of his character. Without these segments, I wouldn’t be clinging to the “could have been” of Aces & Eights that I wrote about last week. Given Anderson’s origins in Aces & Eights, it still doesn’t make much sense that he’d be anything more than an opportunistic dude out for himself rather than the good of the club, but Bully Ray is a strong enough actor that you want to believe he feels threatened by someone trying to take away the leather-clad fellowship he built, as it’s really all he has left to help him guard his title. His brother is gone, DOC and D-Lo are gone, and he’s left with three terrible wrestlers (sorry, Knuxxy), and Tazz. That is…not the best list of people, but it’s the hand he’s dealt himself, pun absolutely intended. It really is a shame that Anderson is the one in the position to betray him and try to take it away because, history aside, in no way is he able to portray a sympathetic character. As soon as he opens his mouth you’re right back on Bully Ray’s side, hoping Bully beats the Wisconsin right out of him.

Best: Knux, must you betray me with a kiss?

Say what you want about aping the Shield triple power bomb, but Mike Knox kissing Anderson before they lay him out was a brilliant touch. That’s the buzz, that’s what’s happening.

Ken, if Brischoff suddenly invite you on a fishing trip to Lake Tahoe, you might want to stay home.

Best: He got the Rhino!

Well….kind of. This match was, on the whole, incredibly boring, but I am a super sucker for spears through a propped up table. Friendship-based wrestling wins out in the end, Brooke actually does something other than pout and suck on her finger, and tables! Lord do I love table spots. Bully Ray’s post-match pile driver after ripping Anderson off of the stretcher is a nice touch to back up his big bad persona. It’s still not enough to give the whole match a best, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.

Worst: Team Long Hair, Don’t Care

In case you’ve forgotten, and you most likely have, The Superkick of the Cowboy James Storm and the Modern Day Viking Gunner are the tag team champions. James Storm is here to talk about beer, the only non-hat part of his personality, and try to create a feud in time for Bound for Glory. Calling someone out from the back brings out Chavo and Hernandez. If that wasn’t bad enough, Gunner takes to the mic to talk about how much he loves to fight, and threaten to bash Hernandez’s skull in with the tag title belt. Sigh. I can’t even joke about this. Trust me when I say you can skip this part of the show entirely.

Additional worst: Gunner

Can we just take a second to acknowledge this whole “Modern Day Viking” thing? I mean, is it hilarious and mind-numbingly confusing to anyone else that a dude who is so overtly religious on his twitter claims to be a modern-day version of a member of pagan society of slavers/raiders/explorers whose demise was directly influenced by the legitimization of Christianity?

Gunner does more than enough to confound and anger people on twitter without my help, and as someone whose heart lies in a world of talking Mexican ice creams, vegan insect overlords, and amphibian thundergods, I understand that your wrestling persona can be drastically different from your day to day life, but…come on.

I guess this is what happens when you base your character work on a cursory google search of “dudes with cool beards.”

Ps. Freight Train rules.

Worst: These kids

No need for Crystal Lake shenanigans today, because these kids are nightmare fuel forever.

Best: Egotistical Me

I’ve never been so happy to see these three newly-minted BFF before. To the shock of no one, this main event is very specifically Not For Me, and I’ve covered why not pretty thoroughly in this report, but short as it was, this was definitely a bright spot.

Meh: AJ Styles vs. Magnus

It’s not so much AJ Styles as how he matches up against the one-two-three one-two-three Dancing with the Stars wrestling style of Magnus. I want this to be good because I want to be entertained, and I want the Bound For Glory series to carry some weight because again, it’s an idea that I love. Just Okay is Just Okay in the end, and as much as I wanted to see Roode vs. Bully Ray, if done properly and with clearly defined motivations, AJ Styles vs. Bully Ray could be (calf) killer.

Best: Dat Spiral Tap tho…

I dig it. Oh boy do I dig it. Roll to the left, roll to the right, that was definitely the move of the night.

Rhyming is fun! See you next week…un!