The Best And Worst Of Impact Wrestling 5/16/13: Even Superkicking Cowboys Get The Blues

Hello lovelies! It’s been too long. I’ve returned from the land of gross and incapacitating illnesses, and I brought a Best and Worst with me! T-shirts were sold out. Sorry.

A few things:

The Mandible Claw was also on hiatus this week, given that the only things I could do were self-medicate and not move from the warm, comforting embrace of my couch. You should still check it out, though! It’s gonna be a good week next week, especially if you enjoy Chikara (you should), and me not sounding like Marianne Faithfull with post-nasal drip (you really should; it was weird).

– Everyone likes Chris Trew, yeah? And everyone likes fake sex with willing imaginary participants, yeah? Donate to the Air Sex Championship Documentary Kickstarter. Or don’t. But it’d be great if you did. Chris Trew is nice, and I want him to have nice things.

– I like Twitter. Twitter is easy. It’s also easy to follow me here. Follow With Leather, because Brandon and Burnsy are fun dudes, and UPROXX, because everyone loves Simon Pegg gifs.

This week on Impact: Joseph Park, more Joseph Park, and some other stuff I guess.

Pre-cap Best: It’s Chris! You know, Joseph Park’s brother Abyss?


I love this family SO MUCH. I didn’t get to finish watching the rest of Impact last Thursday due to my ongoing battle with staying conscious, and I was definitely the better for it. I like having my wits about me right before I COMPLETELY LOSE THEM. It was like my body couldn’t quite figure out how to react: I stood up. I sat down. I stood again. I flailed. I cheered. I finally ended up curled up in the fetal position on the couch while making happy little cooing noises. I love Abyss. I love him when he’s holding balloons. I love him when children are literally frolicking at his feet at Meet & Greets. I love him when he’s walking to the ring like Frankenstein’s monster with his arms to the sides for no reason. I love him when he’s putting people through tables. I love him when he’s Black Hole Slamming people into oblivion. And most of all, I love when TNA can actually manage to make me this happy. Yesterday while I was at work I found myself making up songs about whatever I was doing to the tune of his theme song. More of this feeling, TNA, and less of the crummy thing I have to talk about next.

Pre-cap Worst: The other end of the spectrum

As I’m sure most of you have heard Austin Aries has been fined for in-ring actions on last week’s episode. Since it was early on in the show, and when I was still awake and hoping to muddle my way through a report, I was actually going to give Christy Hemme a worst. My thoughts were genuinely “Goddamnit Hemme you have ONE JOB.” I have no issue with admitting this. At the time it seemed completely innocuous: she messed up, Aries (the heel) took offense, she got stuck in the corner and he dismissed her to continue with his entrance as usual.

In reality, Hemme expressed feelings of intimidation and harassment, and as such, it was dealt with swiftly and appropriately. And I truly appreciate that of TNA and Spike TV. Perception is not always reality, and if at any point someone feels harassed or demeaned in any way, it should be dealt with, no ifs, ands, or buts.


I’m sorry, Spike TV. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200 worth of my respect. I know that tolerance and education on issues like this have to start somewhere, but you know what? You’ve got a long way to go. If you are so terribly concerned about people feeling harassed and demeaned, perhaps you should watch the product you are televising because it has set a terrible precedent. And if you’re gearing up to say “get over it, the rest is just wrestling,” don’t. Bully Ray’s consistent physical intimidation and psychological torment of Brooke Hogan has crossed the line many times. Remember how you edited out that bit in Chicago where he almost struck her? You know all of those gay jokes? Or the racist ones? Not funny. Not appropriate. Remember how you let Tazz get away with calling Bad Influence “homos” on commentary? Remember anything Tazz has ever said ever? The verbal sexual harassment of the knockouts? The homophobic bullsh-t? Any of this, all of this – these aren’t women’s issues, these aren’t LGBTQ issues, these aren’t non-white people issues, these are human f-cking rights that you are consistently disregarding and in turn making audience members feel disgusted and demeaned. These may be part of a storyline, or to get heel heat, or whatever excuse you want to use for being sh-tty, but sorry, that is no excuse.

If you put it out there that it’s okay to call a woman a bitch or a slut, you have given your consent to call all women bitches and sluts. If you choose to use a homophobic slur against two straight people, you have made it okay to use it as a derogatory term against anyone. You may not be making that conscious decision, and you may have forgotten what it’s like to be in a real life wrestling audience, but let me tell you, you do. Here, have an example.

A couple of weeks ago at Ring of Honor’s Border Wars, Seleziya Sparx and Scarlett Bordeaux were paraded out as Hoopla Hotties, the overtly sexualized female companions to manager Truth Martini. They weren’t there to wrestle, they were there to pretend to fellate the television champion and bend over a lot. Audience reaction? Cat calls. People yelling that they were sluts and bitches and whores. Disgusting monetary offers for various sex acts. The most uncomfortable experience as a wrestling fan I have had since the Resistance Pro debacle at National Pro Wrestling Day (the one that involved a “Domestic Violence” chant). Were these women presented as empowered ladies in charge of their sexuality and equal to their peers? Oh jeepers, no. The point is, as soon as you make it okay to treat a woman like that, you make it okay to treat ANY woman like that. Sparx, Bordeaux, Veda Scott, MsChif, me, any other female in attendance, on the street, on the subway ride home. Anyone. And pardon me if I’m mistaken, but that’s not f**cking wrestling.

These? Not wrestling.

I don’t care how you personally feel, how Dixie feels, or how Panda Energy feels about equality. It’s is 2013. This is bigger than your personal stance. You have a responsibility, as a network, as producers of a product, to educate yourself. Your employees. Even your fans. A responsibility to not make someone feel bad simply because of their race or their gender/sexual make-up. None of us are perfect, but not being awful to people is pretty easy. I promise. You’ve started something with Aries, now goddamn finish it.

Worst: I take it back

I really don’t like Twitter.

Best: That Wrestling Buddy totally does not belong to that kid


(Sub-best: omg those kids beside him)

Worst: Hogan’s Evening Itinerary

More AJ Styles-Kurt Angle nonsense! A contract signing! That’s not enough? Let’s all go for root canals!

Worst: Where’s Abyss?

I want Abyss!


Joseph Park! I’ve missed you so much! I had to read horrible things on the internet, and then talk to Jojo Bravo and look at cats on treadmill gifs to make myself feel better (it worked). Oh jeepers, you’re so out of breath. Wipe that brow! It’s okay! You’re here and everything’s gonna be okay, right?

The Aces & Eights Field Guide: The Sergeant at Arms

Aces & Eights, or ferus porci, are most commonly found in the southern United States, but have been known to travel as far north as Canada. In recent months, migrations as far as England have been reported, though their time in residence has been grossly exaggerated. A key member of the Aces & Eights social grouping, or “club,” of the ferus porci is referred to as the “Sergeant at Arms.” Spotting one can seem tough at first. Look for calm, passive behavior in the presence of the alpha male, but a more aggressive demeanor when faced with non-club members. Telltale markings include a shiny gold band around the neck or waist, not unlike the club leader. So as not to confuse them, look for the distinct layering in the upper body. Two or more vests is considered a symbol of status, and a desirable trait for females during mating season.

Best: Joseph Park sticks up for himself

Yeah, you tell 2Vestz what’s up! I’m so proud. Ilu, Joseph Park. You are the very best thing about this show, and as much as I love your brother Chris, you know, Abyss, I really hope you stick around.

Worst: The Superkick of the Cowboy, Occasional Referee, and Potentially Dangerous Alcoholic James Storm

You know, it’s getting to the point where we should probably be concerned about James Storm. If what he does at work includes sitting in an empty hallway, drinking alone and looking sad, that’s a huge red flag. He’s moody. He’s alienated himself from his friends. He’s lashing out and starting fights. And guys, we haven’t seen his horse in months. Red flag.

Worst: A match that happened

I mean, I guess this is a worst. Usually if something is boring or inconsequential I’ll skip it. It’s not a best, it’s not a worst, and the format of the column isn’t “some stuff happened and I watched it.” Unfortunately, if I were to stick to that, this week’s report would be JOSEPH PARK RULES SEXISM SUCKS I HATE YOU TAZZ BYEEEEE. And if I can’t get away with turning this into 6 pages of sea otter videos and Dasher Hatfield gifs, I highly doubt I can get away with that.

I put a lot of (Latino) heat on Chavo, and deservedly so, but I will acknowledge that he’s not a terrible wrestler. Does he wrestle in bad matches? Well…yeah. But he really is the definition of “enhancement talent.” And I don’t mean in the pandering, lol jobber kind of way. He has enough skill and experience that he should know how to compliment an opponent, especially when one is wrestling at a different level than he is. He should be there for show – the charger plate to Bad Influence/Mecha Shiva’s fine china. And much like decorative tableware, unless you are inviting me to be your guest you should not ever, ever be speaking in front of humans.

This is by no means the worst match of the show, but most of them are basically the same. Like Season Six Buffy, everyone is just going through the motions. It’s bland. It’s boring. Our options are Joseph Park, Wintergreen, and Unflavoured. Usually during WWE’s post-WrestleMania lull, TNA does the smart thing and picks up while the other slows to a crawl. That….is not happening. Sometimes TNA is fun and exciting and has great wrestling, and sometimes it is The Wrestling That is On TV™. And this episode is very much….on TV. I’m sure part of it is due to adapting to being on the road, and maintaining the integrity of their long-form storytelling format while trying to entertain an audience who is probably a much more inconsistent viewer than those of us who write about it on the internet. But you know what keeps fans who might not be excited to see a Kenny King video package interested? Good wrestling. Exciting wrestling. Wrestling. We all like wrestling, so just do it, and do it well, and allow the rest to fall into place.

Best: Bobby Roode

This week’s traditional Kenny King Best for Existing goes to Bobby Roode. I don’t hate you, and this episode is making me hate everything except Joseph Park, so uhhh…..good job?

Worst: The Interference by Superkick of the Cowboy, Occasional Referee, and Potentially Dangerous Alcoholic James Storm

Sorry about your damn cirrhosis :(

Worst: Kurt Angle

Stop. Stop it. Stop what you’re doing. There’s no need for this. This makes no sense. AJ Styles doesn’t want to fight you? LET IT GO. Hogan shouldn’t be supporting this, he should be taking Kurt Angle to task for being a disruptive member of his staff and creating a hostile work environment. So what if Styles doesn’t want to fight you? So what if he doesn’t want to fight a group of ornery dudes in leather who like to yell a lot? Either this is a silly allegory for pacifism during wartime from a right-wing perspective, or lazy storytelling. Guess where I’m placing my bet.

The Aces & Eights Field Guide: The Wild Card

The club hierarchy is clearly defined: The leader, the brains, the muscle, the enforcers, and the young ones who help to preserve the club’s future. Members adopted into the club will usually fall into one of these ontological categories in order to maintain their dominance over the weaker groupings of species within their ecosystem. The predatory nature of the ferus porci can lead to some questionable decision making when it comes to club induction, and no stronger example can be found than the Wild Card. Surly, gaunt, and potentially mentally deficient, their presence serves no greater purpose than to confound their opponents, and fill in the gaps in what experts commonly refer to as “the numbers game.”

Worst: Mr. Anderson

“You sound like a woman.” Please see page two. And then go f**k yourself.

Worst: Christian York vs. Jay Bradley

Jay Bradley comprised 1/4th of the aforementioned R-Pro match at NPWD, and half of what was most offensive. Christian York is a living TMNT, but older and mostly just a mutant. I hope the winner of the Gut Check tournament gets to hit the reset button on the whole thing, and we can pretend none of this ever happened.

Worst: The Hulk Hogan Impression by the Superkick of the Cowboy, Occasional Referee, and Potentially Dangerous Alcoholic James Storm

That was terrible. Even I can do a better Hulk Hogan impression, and my impressions are the equivalent of….whatever is slightly better than what James Storm just did.

The Aces & Eights Field Guide: The VP

The role of VP within the club falls to the wiser, more experienced member. A master of disguise, this member has a knack for camouflaging itself within the breeding grounds of its prey. The VP has a head for numbers, but when provoked can be downright certifiable. It is easily identified by its authoritative carriage, and distinct jerking motion of its head when riled.

Worst: Bully Ray

Remember when Bully Ray was awesome? I miss that. And Brooke? There are these crazy things called restraining orders. Ask your dad. Or better yet, ask Joseph Park so he can be on screen more and save us from this shmashmortion of a character arc. And TNA, PLEASE don’t ever involve anything that rhymes with shmashmortion. EVER. I know you’ve got it pinned up to your storyboard under “Uhhh, maybe?” Take it down. Crumple it up. Throw it away. Light a match. Throw it into the trashcan. Fire the person who pinned it up there. And if you’re not sure who it is, look for the one with the serial killer handwriting and penchant for donning a fedora and taking selfies in the office bathroom.

Best: Gail Kim

Hey, look, I’m giving a best to a Knockouts match, and not referencing that weird and gross site that dares to be wanked to! I hate that they put ODB in shorts (though she could be more comfortable, I just really coveted those pants), and Velvet Sky’s clotheslines seem to be getting progressively worse (along with her everything else), but Kim managed to outshine that. She’s a good heel. I despise leg DDTs (I assume they hand them out at Divas’ training right after you receive your embellished hot pants), but in this context, it’s great. Gail is doing everything she can to work the fishnetitis in Sky’s knee. Nothing fancy, nothing extraneous, just finding the sore spot and making it hurt. It’s smart. It’s simple. It’s effective.

Worst: Velvet Sky, meet Chris Sabin’s knee

Oh? Oh you’ve met? You know firsthand what someone with a leg injury looks like when they’re in pain? Then wat r u doing

Worst: Your winner, Velvet Sky!

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Worst: Speaking of Chris Sabin…

On Kenny King: “King of the Male Strippers.” Really? Ohhhh, bro. Just like I’m sure you’re not winning first prize at the Cosplay Contest as Shaggy without Scooby, I’m not sure you can do this without Alex Shelley.

Best: Suicide’s (Return) is Painless

Two of the best on the roster have had Suicidal Tendencies, and I’m very curious as to what will happen when he returns. I’m also looking forward to trying to work the lyrics to Cheree into at least one column.

Worst: The TNA Impact! Videogame

Oh god, have you played that? It’s not even the fun kind of bad. It is irredeemably wretched. For those who haven’t, here’s a bit of Suicide’s origin story, via Wikipedia:

Suicide is a professional wrestler moving up the ranks of TNA Wrestling, when, prior to his match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, he is approached by The Latin American Xchange, who tell him to throw the match. Suicide doesn’t comply, goes on to win the title and is as a result beaten up beyond recognition by LAX and left for dead in Mexico. Doctors find him and aid in his recovery, offering free plastic surgery as well.

From there, Suicide (under his new identity) finds that he has a knack for professional wrestling. After success in Mexico and a U.S. Army Base, Kevin Nash recruits Suicide for the TNA roster.

That’s…a thing. It’s not even as good as a comic book fantasy.

BOOM. Nailed it.

Best: Kenny King

You exist, and your Royal Flush was pretty. Soon you’ll have enough Bests to redeem for your choice of a waffle iron, a Magic Bullet, or 70 individual Sham-Wows.

Worst, I guess?: The X-Division Match

I feel like I may have enjoyed this match more were it in front of a different crowd, or not towards the end of a boring show, or…something. I don’t know. I’m trying to justify not enjoying it because by all rights a match that has these three should be fast and fun and decent but it was slow and I was bored and I think Petey William’s superfluous dick flap is really starting to bug me. Ugh. Screw it. I know there’s Joseph Park ahead. Let’s get to the good stuff.

Best: The good stuff

Bad Influence? More like thank goodness you’re here I kinda need you on every show especially if you’re going to call Kazarian your Secretary of Offense oh god no don’t leave me James Storm or Chavo might come out and I couldn’t bear it Influence, amirite?

Worst: The Announcement by the Superkick of the Cowboy, Occasional Referee, Potentially Dangerous Alcoholic, and Future Tag Team Wrestler James Storm

James Storm gets a partner of his choice to face the entirety of the tag division at Slammiversary. Someone please explain to him that crippling depression is incorporeal, and therefore cannot score a pinfall or tag him in to do so. And then maybe hug him and take his car keys.


Me during this match:

Worst: Tazz

I guess it’s a good thing they put enough space in between the inspirational story of an aspiring wrestler who got to train in OVW in hopes of becoming a fixture on the Impact roster, and Tazz mocking Joseph Park for being an aspiring wrestler, training in OVW, and becoming a fixture on the Impact roster, huh.

Best: If Joseph Park is delusional Tazz, I guess I can be too

The show ended here. It didn’t end with Sting and Bully Ray yelling and graphically describing how they were going to hurt each other. Hulk Hogan didn’t come out and talk. There wasn’t more talking after that. That talking didn’t lead to more talking and then punching until the credits. Nope. Never happened.