The Best And Worst Of TNA Impact Wrestling 1/9/13: Rise of the BlokeMans

Hello Impact friends! Thanks for stopping by. I treasure our time together. A few things before we get to some very important puns:

Have you watched the trailer for our dear Brandon’s movie Meet Me There yet? Are you hype? Well, as someone who doesn’t get hype, but rather stays hype, I can say this reinforces my hype state tenfold.

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This week on Impact: Jump to the left, roll to the right, AJ Styles is going to try to unify the belts tonight!

Worst: AJ Styles’ hair

I’m perplexed at how one achieves and maintains such monumental hat-head on a regular basis. Do you sleep in a baseball cap? Put it on over wet hair? Do you go to the barber and ask to look as unemployable as possible? Inquiring minds want you to brush your hair, AJ.

Worst: The rest of AJ Styles

Dixie is trying to convince AJ to sign a one-match contract – a winner take all, no disqualification championship match between him and Magnus to settle this title dispute (even if the title isn’t even really AJ’s I mean he doesn’t even work there). AJ says that winner take all means that he’ll be the undisputed champion. No more tournaments, no more “stupid Dixieland matches,” one man, champion forever.

AJ, sweetie darling, sweetie, that’s not exactly what undisputed champion means. You don’t just get to keep it forever and ever with no challengers. You also don’t have the authority to ban Dixieland matches and I swear to god I’m gonna get a f-cking tuxedo match out of this company if it kills me.

The downside to how stellar Dixie has been (and continues to be throughout the episode) is that when she’s next to someone who is just kind of okay (promo delivery is a sliding scale on Impact), if they can’t rise to her level, they look foolish. AJ is…not great on the mic by any stretch of the imagination, but next to Dixie, someone who has improved exponentially with each appearance, it’s really quite sad, especially when you consider how long AJ Styles has been speaking on television. Reacting to everything like someone just asked him about the gay community, then bugging out his eyes and yelling a bunch is not exactly great form, but hey, it’s what he’s been doing for…um…*checks watch* ever. But people still cheer his white pants and dumb pele kicks, so I suppose there’s something to be said for accessorizing with matching gloves and mediocrity.

As I’ve written a dozen times before, in theory, the story is great. All of the reasons that forced me to stop writing about Magnus are all of the reasons that AJ Styles has an issue with him. Styles has been a company man for over a decade, and won the World Heavyweight Championship once prior to this. He’s fought and feuded kicked around, but he’s always been there. Of course he takes issue with someone like Magnus having HIS title in HIS company, but at the end of the day, his issue is with the company and Dixie and her motivations, not really Magnus himself. It’s an interesting story, but the delivery is shoddy, and relies heavily on the notion that TNA would be good if they the storylines to match their talent. Now his talent is at the forefront of something intriguing that actually has a modicum of continuity, and he’s falling short. Magnus, for all of his faults, has the chance to play the role of the undeserving puppet in a Big Bad’s machinations, and he’s almost there. But AJ stands, not as a martyr, but a lumbering dinosaur of a previous age. Someone who’s now settled into the category of a Sting or Kurt Angle, something to move away from as the company has a chance to evolve into something better, younger, fresher. I should be on the side of AJ Styles, given my predilection for making fart noises and wanking motions in Magnus’s general direction every time he’s on screen, but the more he wants to be king, the more I want to see him be the first against the wall.

Worst: Magnus

My embargo on writing about Magnus still stands, so instead of watching him order (sigh, yes, order) Dixie out of the ring inisting that this is between AJ and him (even if Magnus is just a strawman), please enjoy this video of Oscar the Shiba Inu not understanding what a trampoline is:

Much better, eh?

Best: Joseph Park high-fives

It’s like he’s high-fiving my heart and oh god never leave ever please

Best: DJ Xema

I haven’t gotten to write too much about Xema Ion since his return, given the holidays and whatnot, but I think we can all agree that turning his obnoxiousness up to 11 and giving him an airhorn sound clip is what’s best for business.

My great wrestling loves are usually…well…big fat guys and disproportionately tiny ones…but aside from that, I love ridiculous characters. The most over the top heels, the silliest of gimmicks. That moment of “what on earth is even happening” that turns into “oh lord this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen let me love you” makes me giddy. It’s why, aside from a few moments of misogyny, I can get behind the Bromans. It’s why I will forever treasure Magnum Robbie T for giving me the posedown I longed for, and then some. It’s why I have an Akeem the African Dream action figure (see also guy, fat). All of these things are a crucial part of my wrestling happy place landscape, somewhere between Dynamite Kid in Japan Boulevard and Tommy Rich’s Beautiful Head of Synthetic Doll Hair Avenue.

This is a perfect example of what I mean when I say Impact is moving on, and is better off without some manic homophobe sputtering out pap balms. Enjoyable television is fun to watch. Who knew?

Plus if he tanks out, I can start calling him DJ Eczema. I mean come on it’s right there.

Best: I love it when a plan comes together

Prior to the match, we’re shown two quick clips of Dixie Carter first addressing Lei’D Tapa and Gail Kim, then the Bromans, asking them if they understand what they have to do. See, AJ Styles has friends (aww, friends) in the back, and with the deciding title match fast approaching, Dixie is going to distract, root out, and eliminate anyone who could possibly come to his aid. Do I like seeing Joe Park get beat up? Of course not. He should be showered with hugs and given an Andy Richter puppy suit so he’s happy all the time, but I accept it because it’s exactly what needs to happen. By beating up ODB, Kim and Tapa get to act like the assholes they are, assert their dominance, and it takes Eric Young, bearded babyface and potential Styles supporter, out of the picture. This leaves the Bromans to double team Joseph Park, get the victory, and nip any thoughts of rushing to AJ’s defense in the bud. Dixie Carter is a bad, bad lady, and she’s turning her line in the sand into a barb wire fence.

Best: Samoa Joe whoa wait what

No. Really. I am going to best the heck out of Samoa Joe, and not just because he clearly stated that he doesn’t threaten ladies instead of calling her a dumb hosebeast bitch or whatever…well, okay, yes, that’s part of it. Thank you for that. Joe simply stating his intentions and letting her know that he stands with AJ Styles (aw, friends, wrestle friends) is a good match for Dixie’s unf-ckwithable attitude. Both understand what the other is capable of, and neither is going to be intimated. Both look like strong enemies instead of one subjugating the other and making it uncomfortably gender-specific. Hooray! You did it! AND it sets up a match with consummate Best EC3. Even better!

The worst thing that ends up happening when you have a main event storyline like this is that it feels like it exists in a vacuum. You have your main players, and the rest are left to float around on their own, with no connection to the most important thing that’s going on. Dixie systematically eliminating anyone who could be connected to AJ means that those people are suddenly part of the big picture. They serve a purpose. And when was the last time that happened?

Worst: We have stuff in common, wanna fight about it?

James Storm loves to fight! So does Gunner! So does Finlay! We’ve got ourselves a match, but really, I’m just wondering how many pens you could stick in Gunner’s beard before they fell out.

Best: Ethan Carter III vs. Samoa Joe

Is this the most I’ve ever enjoyed a Samoa Joe match? No, but it’s pretty darn close. EC3 goes after Joe’s legs to take out his base for submissions, knowing full well he is a machine made of them. Simple and smart. The match is short, but well-paced, fast, and most importantly, involves puns.

Oh yes. Really.

Rockstar Spud, our intrepid bowtied minion, runs out to interfere. He successfully distracts Joe long enough for EC3 to attack him from behind with a wrench. But then, oh, then EC3 tell Samoa Joe that he’s “thrown a wrench” into his plans.



Worst: Tardiness is nowhere near godliness

See what happens when you show up to work late, Sting? Why not try setting your alarm a half hour earlier, or putting your makeup on in the car?

And now here’s Brandon, because…ugh boy, this match:

Worst: At Some Point We’re Gonna Have To Stop Pretending That Kurt Angle Is God

Last week, Danielle wrote an amazing piece about women in wrestling where she mentioned how whenever a woman wrestles a man, no matter how much credibility she’s built up, her stats and momentum reset to zero. It was a great point that I think also applies to how TNA handles ex-WWE stars. If you’re Christopher Daniels, you can win championships and be entertaining and bust your ass for years, but the second a Ken Anderson type shows up, Daniels is the first to lose to him. His stats and momentum reset at zero. Remember when Val Venis joined TNA and the only thing he did before leaving was squash Christopher Daniels? Yeah.

Kurt Angle is the ultimate ex-WWE star, the only one who ever deserved an impassioned high-five upon announcement of his signing, so he more than anyone will resent your f*cking stats to zero. This becomes less and less realistic (and acceptable) as Angle gets older and more deformed, so watching this Tony Atlas-looking muscleman with a hot dog head throw around two stars who are, I don’t know, supposed to be worth SOMETHING is depressing. Watch Daniels stagger to the middle of the ring and have to take a knee for what feels like five minutes waiting for Angle to throw Kazarian off the top rope. Watch how Angle shows no real signs of desperation in a 2-on-1 CAGE MATCH and simply destroys them one at a time until he can win. It’s terrible.

At some point, we’re going to have to stop pretending that Kurt Angle is the “best wrestler in the world.” Kurt Angle defeating two top(ish) level tag team guys by himself with minimal effort wouldn’t have been cool in 2003 when he was ACTUALLY one of the best wrestlers in the world, so 11 years later when he’s burned himself up and whittled himself down into this living, screaming latissimus dorsi is absolutely unacceptable. If Kurt gets a few losses, the knee-jerk reaction shouldn’t be to put him over everybody as strongly as possible to get his momentum back. And if you think you can just feed Bad Influence loss after loss after loss (in HANDICAP matches even) and they’ll be fine because they’re good, why does the TIRTEEN TIME CHAMP© have such a God complex?

Best: It’s a wrestlemergency!

Or, Worst: Al Snow whisking Kurt Angle away to the airport does not lead to Angle trying to prove his citizenship to TSA with only his Olympic gold medal and the eagle on his singlet.

Worst: Old man sadness…IN A STEEL CAGE

Things that make me sad:

– When Beth (spoiler alert) dies in Little Women (book and movie)
– Steel Magnolias
– 2014 Sting’s chops
– 2014’s Sting’s clotheslines
– 2014 Sting’s Scorpion Death Lock, or “You think Magnus looks like he’s taking a dump when he does a cloverleaf? Well I’ll show you!”

While almost all of these things are practically sob inducing, they have their high points. Christian Bale as Laurie asking if Meg has misplaced a glove, a terribly important formative part of pubescent Danielle’s life. Dolly Parton, and the phrase “freezes beautifully.” Spud referring to him as “Mr. Roode” and giving me what the kids these days refer to as “feels.” EC3 climbing up the side of the cage, which is a thing I didn’t know I needed in my life until it happened.

That death lock was still way, way awful, though, and no amount of surrounding the move with delightful things is gonna stop it from looking like sad garbage.

Worst: Mr. Anderson goes to church

Worst. babyshower. ever.

And now, here’s Brandon again, because Magnus:

Best: An Overbooked, Totally-Unnecessary Clusterf*ck Main-Event That Makes Total, Perfect Sense

So, uh, remember the time Undertaker fought Yokozuna in a casket match, and the finish was 25 guys running out to beat up and literally murder Undertaker, causing him to possess the video screen from beyond the grave and rise to Heaven? This is basically TNA’s version of that.

AJ Styles and Magnus had their title vs. title main-event, and before it could even get started a bunch of Dixie Carter’s stooges ran out, Pear Harbor’d Sting and basically hit finishers on AJ until he died. The Bro Mans and Bad Influence did most of it, with AJ repeatedly kicking out of whatever they could hit him with and fighting back, occasionally using Sting as the Interceptor to his Shadow and dispatching the heels with old man chops. Magnus kept trying to sneak in pinfalls and we went through THREE REFS before Bobby Roode came out to handle business, hitting three fireman’s carry neckbreakers to put Styles away for good. Magnus is now the WWE World Heavyweight Champion (of TNA) and AJ Styles goes from being the company’s CM Punk to being their Colt Cabana.

Even that PARAGRAPH was hard to write. But you know what? I liked it. I’m giving it a Best because unlike a lot of stuff I see on Impact, it made sense.

The entire show was built around this match. Dixie sorta figured out how to systematically eliminate anybody who’d possibly run out to help Styles — people like Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle were all “removed” in one way or another — allowing her plan a more direct route to success. It’s a dirty thing to do to somebody, but from Dixie’s point of view, why wouldn’t she do it? She’s trying to run a wrestling promotion and a wrestler without a contract won her world title and took it around the world, defending it against her will, mailing her toy belts and buying advertisements on the show just to mess with her. She’s finally got AJ in a TNA sanctioned match ON HER SHOW where if he loses he has to relinquish the belt … shouldn’t she do everything short of pulling out a gun and shooting him dead herself to make sure he loses?

AJ sorta seems like the dumb one here, which I guess is why Sting, the dumbest, most naive babyface in the history of wrestling, is the only person left to help him. You know you’re walking into a death trap, right? You got one over on Dixie. Keep your belt and dance around the globe with it. Don’t be all, “sure, I’ll defend your belt in a no-DQ match which I bet will go totally by the books and be totally fair, lemme do this knucklelock to start out because this is gonna be catch-as-catch-can and nobody’s gonna Aces and Eights the shit out of me for being here.”

AJ is a good person who has done a bad thing for business and is paying for it. Dixie is a bad person doing the right thing for business and succeeding. Everybody on Impact is a horrible person, right? That’s what they’ve been building for a decade. At least this horrible person had a motivation I can understand, and did what any of us would’ve done.

Worst: AJ Styles Does The Saddest Air Jordan Of All Time

AJ, your dive is the Sting’s chops of dives. I’ll give you a pass because you’ve just eaten 60 finishers, but still.

See you crazy kids next week, when Bully Ray celebrates the engagement of a good friend by pouring lighter fluid on the bride to be, then giving them a toaster oven!