Hi-yo, readers. I am currently in a cocoon of allergy medication and misery, so join me as I ignore all sage medical advice and try to make the best of things by watching TNA.
-This week at The Mandible Claw, I got to podcast with Evan Gelistico, whom you may know from the Submission Squad and maybe my weird obsession with his face. I would podcast with this dude every week if I could, so give it a listen, and then get to unabashedly loving the Submission Squad like you all should. It also features a surprise appearance by Chris Sims so they could talk about Gokaiger and it’s pretty dang adorable.
-Follow me on Twitter here, With Leather here, and UPROXX here. Tweet this article, tumbl it, email it, Facebook it, make obnoxious #TeamImpactReport hashtags (or maybe please don’t), but either way let as many people you know to read this, even if it is just to tell me all of the reasons I’m always wrong.
This week on Impact: Sting is concerned! Hogan is concerned! Eric Young is concerned! Furrowed brows for everyone!
Best: Dixie Carter and her phone might just be my new OTP
Sting approaches Dixie backstage, concern emanating from his soulpatch. Dixie isn’t acting like herself, and now she’s ignoring his text messages. Dixie’s reaction is to ignore him and dismissively fuss with her phone. Say what you want about TNA being horribly out of touch with things, but they sure do have their finger on the pulse of my exact reaction to Sting whenever he’s on screen.
Worst: The HO chant
Because of course it is. Because of course it is a thing that happened. Because of course when you define a character by her ass you get this reaction in return. When Mike Knox (Knuxxy, you’re killing me) very loudly and deliberately calls Tessmacher a “ho,” they want you on his side. Look at the reaction of the goon in the front row. His sheer elation when Knox says it, and his excitement to turn it into a chant is…frankly, it’s appalling, but is it surprising? No. Of course I think this is awful, and of course it makes me feel terrible to see this played out. But what is the bigger problem? My reaction, or his? I’m a staunch supporter of wrestling and the wrestling community, but how can I, or you, or anyone defend something like this? How does this make it easier to say no, wrestling fans aren’t a bunch of basement-dwelling mutants who have no respect for women or even each other when the joy it brings most of the visible audience to jeer and insult and subjugate a woman in the ring is so painfully obvious? Of course it upsets me, and of course if I mention it it’ll bring a flood of comments telling me to lighten up, and that I’m wrong. But the next time you leap to your keyboard to put down any idea that there is something systematically wrong with the treatment of female wrestlers and female wrestling fans, look at the guy in the front row and know that is who you are defending. You are making him the exulted face of your defense. If you wanna be that guy, nothing I can say or show you is going to change your mind, but come on. Don’t be that guy.
Best: Sweet Joseph Park
Joseph Park gleefully covering his face in shaving cream while singing Sweet Caroline is the opposite of the last segment, and makes my heart swell. Eric Young, his hirsute BFF, approaches him to take the razor away, and to decree no shaving on the days he has a match. What if he cuts himself? When he sees blood he turns into a monster, and they can’t have that. I love this because 1) friendship-based wrestling is the best wrestling, and I stand by that with my whole heart, and 2) Eric Young is only person who works for TNA who also watches this show. Well, he probably only watches the Joseph Park segments which, if we’re being totally honest here, is probably the only way the show should actually be watched. Lucky you, EY.
Best: These three
No, really. Friendship-based wrestling is the best.
Referring to someone as an “incompetent gay brony” sure is top-notch commentating there, bud.
Best: Team BFF Forever vs. The Bromans and the only other Knockout who can wrestle
Tazzhole comments and clear misunderstanding of intergender wrestling by both commentators aside, this match was a lot of fun. Sure, it was hella goofy, but there was a lot of good wrestling in the mix. It played to the strengths of most people in the match. Eric Young’s crossbody and his shockingly not-sh-tty elbow drop were great, secretly-strong-as-f-ck Joseph Park didn’t seem like a joke, and Jesse’s standing dropkick shows real improvement from when he first showed up. Gail Kim and ODB didn’t really get to exhibit themselves to their full potential, but everything worked in the context of the match, and they got enough interaction to the point they weren’t just props or an afterthought. You know how house shows are usually a lot more fun than TV tapings because it seems like the wrestlers can enjoy themselves a lot more, and don’t feel so confined by the cameras? That’s what this match felt like. I, for one, will not object to decent wrestling that isn’t miserable from the get go.
Worst: The Promo Whiteboard
Assumedly this is a thing that exists backstage – a giant reusable set of Wrestling Mad Libs with “feces mouth” written somewhere in Sharpie. They’re not the worst promos, and I’m happy to see Kenny King again, even if he making Clinton marriage bed references in 2013, but….eeeehhhhhh, they are not the best. At no point does it get better than something I’d expect to see on TV every Saturday night wedged in between package pile-drivers and William Mattar commercials. But Kenny King does have a point. Amidst the bravado and swagger and dated references, he points out that he is the future of pro wrestling, and Austin Aries was the future of pro-wrestling ten years ago. I mean, Kenny King has been wrestling for eleven years and is putting himself in the same silly Young Gun box as Magnus, but man, that has got to sting a guy like Aries. Claudio and Generico are tearing it up on the biggest stage of professional wrestling there is, CM Punk has had his day in the sun and become a bonafide Superstar, and Aries will probably never climb any higher than this. Unlike Samoa Joe, Aries can’t blame the gross internal Samoan politics that form Joe’s ceiling. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see the future of wrestling turn out to be not-so-tall indie-tested guys who don’t fit the stereotypical Mason Ryan/bag of oranges look and then also Uhaa Nation, but Aries is always going to be stutter-stepping into that wall. He and Daniels will always be the “and the rest!” of wrestling’s Gilligan’s Island. The truth hurts, and “touch of honesty/sincerity” should be written on that whiteboard a whole lot more than “doodoo breath George Washington super market.”
Worst: Baby Hebs
Hebner, Aries is not your boss. You don’t have to run out from the back every time someone says LET’S DO THIS RIGHT NOW and takes off their pants. I’m glad you did, because this wasn’t a terrible match, and it was necessary to set up what’s coming for Bound For Glory, but…dude, don’t enable.
Worst: Hogan Knows Best
Best: Oh look, Smithers. Ethan is coming!
Future Worst if they don’t come out to this song.
Best? Maybe?: Manik vs. Chris Sabin
I’m not going to lie – this has been hard show to write about. I’m plagued with allergies, my sinuses feel like they’re continually on the receiving end of Jesse’s aforementioned dropkick, non-drowsy antihistamines make me sleepy and cranky because my body doesn’t understand how to work properly, and when I feel sick I hate everything, bar none. I hated Wall-E the first time I watched it because I was in the middle of a terrible flu, and Wall-E is a goddamn treasure of a movie. TNA is consistently bad enough that the things I’m rolling my eyes at or making dismissive wanking motions at could, in fact, be garbage, but I really do want to give everything the benefit of the doubt. I want to love this X-Division match because Chris Sabin’s cowardly heel tactics are spot on, and Manik is just so flippy, but parts of it felt really sloppy. That catapult into the turnbuckle was as shoddy and forced as a piece of Magnus dialogue. Velvet Sky actually serves a purpose, but that finish? His shoulder indeed was not down (thanks, camera guy), and I don’t ever want to agree with Tazz ever. As much as I am disappointed that we won’t have Aries-Roode at Bound For Glory (because out of all of the potential match-ups I want that one the most basically all the time), I’m glad Aries and his beach towel ran in to interfere. King, Aries, and Sabin all have legitimate issues with each other that have been set out in a clear and concise fashion, and Manik, well, maybe one day he’ll have more of a personality than MANIK, THAT’S RETCON SPELLED BACKWARDS!
What I’m saying is everything is fine, I guess, and I’d really like to go back to bed.
Best: The Money Shot
Kudos to the graphic department for a) recognizing that every picture of Hulk Hogan should be of him making this face, and b) finding a photo of AJ Styles that doesn’t make him look like a perturbed sloth who just got out of the shower.
“I’m so sick of hearing about the Mafia! Sting is nothing but a dumpster fire. Joe’s a diaper explosion. And now Magnus, he’s falling apart. He’s a shambles. All he does is lose and cry and cry and lose.” – Christopher Daniels, from A Dramatic Reading of Danielle’s Personal Emails
Bonus Best for Bobby Roode no-selling maniacal laughter.
Worst: RIP Brischoff
Oh man, Kurt Angle is going to be THE MOST upset when he gets back.
Worst, but in the best way: But I just broke that vest in!
Maybe it’s the medication talking, but I’ve found myself so wrapped up in the Aces & Eights storyline that Wes Brisco being ousted from the club after a dumb match with a dumb rehashed stipulation really got to me. I don’t want to feel bad for the guys who make me feel so wretched so often, but it’s those little things I mention week in and week out that make this so effective. Mentally I’ve built the friendship between Wes Brisco and Garrett Bischoff up to make their early segments passable, but now the three remaining non-Tazz members trying to do their best to stick together (even if Knux has been a huge gross butthole) makes me want to see them triumph. At the end of the day, even though it’s come down to a battle of “who has been less sh-tty,” amongst all of the things they’ve done wrong, Aces & Eights have done something very, very right. They’ve made me care. Do I care about Main Event Mafia? No. Not in any way. They serve no purpose other than to facilitate the storylines of other people. Whether they break up or stay together is genuinely of no consequence. Aces & Eights can continue their story without them. EGO can keep picking on Magnus, but ultimately they can succeed without the Main Event Mafia, and go play spoiler to anyone they want. Sting can be removed and shoehorned into this whole Dixie Carter schmoz at the drop of a hat. Samoa Joe and Magnus can’t stand on their own, and are ultimately worthless. If I had a dime for every time I thought the Main Event Mafia was serving a useful, compelling purpose, I would have zero dimes. So basically what I’m saying is Aces & Eights is Ryan Reynolds, the Main Event Mafia are some dude standing next to a tree in the background of a wide shot, and I maybe shouldn’t let my brain make comparisons when on this much medication. Yeesh.
Move over, AJ Styles, because Dixie Carter is, somehow, the new phenomenal one. Hulk Hogan signs AJ Styles to a contract, and thankfully we don’t have to open the Signatory Rights Gate again. We do, however, get taken down a glorious mean old rich lady-isms. Dixie Carter struts out to the ring in her finest abstract outfit interpretation of a Holiday Inn Express painting, and my heart, guys. My heart. Dixie vs. Hogan of TNA past has not been great, and her “one week” ultimatum seems to be the equivalent of a fanfic’s 30 minutes later, but Dixie Carter as the oppressed, misunderstood 1%? Holy f-ck. Mickie James left a huge heel-shaped hole in the show, and, of all people, Dixie Carter is filling it, and then some. The way Carter shouts “It’s okay!” as she’s tears up Styles’ contract makes my heart flutter. The way she condescendingly uses the words “dear” and “honey,” the way she playfully tugs at Hulk Hogan’s doll hair, her AJ Styles impression…it’s just so good. I don’t know where this is going, and I’m sure it’ll involve whiny old AJ Styles becoming the hero of the people and building a wall out of folding chairs and day-glo ladders or whatever, but I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this while it lasts.
You know, unless Ric Flair tries to have sex with her again. That we can do without.