The Best and Worst of Impact Wrestling 5/22/14: Not All Eric Youngs

Hey you lovely little Broseph Parks! Thanks for stopping by on this here long weekend to get your Impact on. A few things:

– I had the loveliest conversation with Rachel Summerlyn, former ladies wrestler extraordinaire, about Inspire Pro’s In Their Blood, sexist tropes in women’s wrestling, and how much we both love Jojo Bravo. Check it out!

– If you’ll be at the Tag World Grand Prix, or Chikara’s triumphant return on Sunday in Easton, PA, so will I! Come say hello, get a high five, and see me at my happiest. If you can’t be there, be at the Austin Inspire Pro show on Sunday instead! Portia Perez in a main event? Jojo vs. Taduske? The best ring announcer in Texas? Yeah, you wanna get on that.

– Like us on Facebook, comment, share this column, tweet it, tumbl it, print it off and fold it into fun origami shapes.

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This week on Impact Wrestling: And lo, not a single best was given, for on that day we fully spiralled into the abyss of nonsense. And without an appearance from Abyss, I might add!

Worst: Nation of Evolution or whatever

MVP comes out to properly introduce his newly formed stable “The ROH Special,” or “Hey, we’ve got more than one POC wrestler, let’s just jam them on a team together regardless of their styles or histories or characters because, you know…” One would think that deciding to create a race-based stable and make sure their initials spelled out M.L.K. would be a thing no one in their right mind would do in this, the year of our lord two thousand and fourteen, but here we are, with literally no room to move. An all-POC stable should be progressive, because realistically race isn’t a thing TNA handles with any sort of aplomb, but without a logical context and a focus on the interpersonal relationships driving the character motivations instead of the singular unifying factor being race, how can it not appear to have an undercurrent of racism?

As this story progresses, what are the possible outcomes? The white, moneyed family bands together with the common wrestlers (also pretty much all white) to beat up and defeat a powerful stable of POC characters? If you logically add in a non-POC wrestler (or wrestlers, because the Wolves and Bram make the most sense), you look like you’re afraid to have that progression because when you start out without logic and context, the damage is already done, and you still look hella racist. By bringing rDonald Sterling and Paula Deen into everything, doesn’t any eventual defeat seemingly vilify the actions of these obviously terrible human beings, and put over that POC characters can’t come into power naturally, are basically evil, and need to be put down? Does anyone, anyone at all, think these things through?

Kenny King says that MVP called him a few months back and explained everything to him, but then…why were they all mad at one another before? Why produce all of those King Of the Nightlife, King of the Boogie, King of the Disco ‘Round videos? It doesn’t set up any kind of “swerve,” it just makes it look like they were hoping nobody paid attention. And in that case, why wouldn’t Kenny King just stay home until last week? MVP says he brought Kenny King in, despite him already working there, so why wouldn’t you just leave it at that? The answer, of course, is always “because TNA,” but it’s impossible that this didn’t come about because a racist old white guy got caught being racist, and someone in TNA though that ripped-from-the-headlines stories would garner them some kind of attention. What attention is that? That people can tune in to see weirdly racist storylines alongside their incredibly misogynistic ones? This doesn’t do anything but perpetuate the negative stereotypes about wrestling and it’s fans, and how on earth does that make your company grow business and attract new viewers?

Thankfully fans have responded to the formation in a logical, constructive way:

Worst: The Wolves of Lull Street

But no, maybe I’m wrong. Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards, while they have all the personality of homemade soap, come out as Tag Team Champions, because that’s how MVP positioned them. MVP used them as muscle in his campaign to rend power from Dixie Carter. Obviously they’re with MVP.

Oh…wait, they’re not? No, of course they’re not. Building them for months as allies to MVP and enemies to Dixie Carter is absolutely what you want to do when none of it means anything. The most indie guys on the show (except Norv and Dewey, who’ve disappeared into the ether) explain that they’re mad at him because they’re there to wrestle, and that’s all they want to do, and are now feeling betrayed by MVP because it was never about money. Without turning into a super indie nerd and side-eying Davey Richards forever for saying nothing’s about money, I’m still going to give this a worst. It ignores everything’s that’s previously happened, and it’s just another cog in the machine that brings the roster members together to forget their differences and beat up the big bad black guy holy shit does no one in TNA ever say their ideas out loud first.

If you take away all of these elements, it would still be a worst because the execution is terrible. It’s delivered by a guy who seems to have vaguely skimmed Wikipedia articles for The Prince, The Art of War, and maybe seen a commercial for Civilization. Kenny King is manic and, after Lashley’s spear, appears to be going full Anderson.

Guys, come on. We all know you never go full Anderson.

Worst: Eric Young, you might just be THE worst

Eric Young comes out to show that he’s not afraid of MVP. In fact, he’s not even really sure who Kenny King is. You know, Kenny King. The guy who’s worked there for the last two years, has worked for the company before back in 2006, had a widely reported controversial entrance to Impact because of a handshake deal with ROH, has had multiple number-one contenderships for the X-Division title, wrestled on pay-per-views, feuded with Rob Van Dam (whom he’s surely heard of), and is a former X-Division champion?

The only thing Eric Young is out here to do is shame, it seems, because he then says the only thing he knows is what Kenny King does in Las Vegas, and that makes him a scumbag. But Bobby Lashley knows better. Bobby Lashley was in the military, and has wrestled before, and fought MMA (because no one is ever a scumbag in MMA), and what is Lashley going to tell his son when he wants to know why daddy’s a sellout?

I am…so confused by all of this. Eric Young is using these lofty platitudes of morality to cut this babyfaced promo and point out the evils of this stable’s actions. But it’s just words. It’s the vague notion that Kenny King performing in his underwear on stage is somehow different from performing in your underwear in a ring. It’s Bobby Lashley, who has had some semblance of success in WWE but has never been a top guy (nor has Kenny King) seeing an opportunity to take a top spot to help take care of said family. And who the f-ck is Eric Young? The guy who wrestles on TV, but also has multiple television shows elsewhere, yet is still the plucky underdog? How are we supposed to accept that after this ill-conceived conversation?

Worst: Angelina Love vs. Brittany

1) Is anyone getting the impression that this could all be solved by having Stiffler work a different match on the card?
2) Why’d they cut the segment where Eric Young called Brittany a scumbag for doing customs? “Girl, you know dudes jerk off to those, right? You wanna wrestle on television? Pft. Sellout.”
3) For real, f-ck you Eric Young.

Hey guys, it’s Brandon!

Worst: Heel Factions And The Allegiance-Changers That Justify Them

“I guess we probably should’ve expected that!”

So, if you haven’t watched the rest of the show, MVP has a heel faction. To show how heely and factionish they are, they beat up everybody all night.

The problem with this is … ugh, tenfold? Something fold. There’s so much wrong with it, and after 20 years of heel factions forming and running amuck on wrestling shows, nobody’s figured it out. The idea behind a wrestling show is that it should be entertaining, right? So you form these big bad guy teams and have them disrupt the status quo, causing viewers to get mad and, in theory, hate them. Want to see them get their comeuppance. Then they do, and things go back to normal, at least until the next heel faction forms.

This is how it’s gone since like, 1996. The problem is that watching heel groups beat up faces all night, sometimes every week for months, isn’t fun or engaging. Wrestling always takes way too long to get from step 1 to step 2 in their storytelling, probably because they’re afraid they don’t have enough quality steps, so you get stuck seeing the same shit on loop. When that’s guys ignoring the rules and established guidelines of your fictional sports-entertainment universe, it’s like you aren’t even watching the show.

The story is always, always that the good guys and bad guys of the wrestling universe have to BAND TOGETHER to defeat the outside threat. My problem is this: if you work for a company that has lived through as many heel faction invasions as TNA, why aren’t you banding together on day one? Why didn’t THIS EPISODE end with every single person coming out and mauling MVP’s team? Sure, he’s the director of wrestling operations or whatever, but he’s not Vince McMahon. He doesn’t own the company. Just brutally beat him and skip the billion time-consuming steps inbetween. What’s the worst that’s gonna happen, he’s gonna fire you? ALL of you? Even if that happens, doesn’t that save you months and months of being assaulted and treated unfairly at your job?

On top of that, heel factions cause established wrestlers to “change” to fit the story. Look at a guy like Austin Aries. How many times has this guy switched sides to fit a heel invasion story? How many times has he turned face and turned heel and back again? Why should we care what side he’s on if he’s on everybody’s side? Why not make that his character? TNA loves “shades of gray,” but forgets that simply doing the noble and evil thing simultaneously is not a “shade.” It’s bad characterization, and a waste of the viewer’s time. It’s eating your cake and having it too. Shitting AND getting off the pot. Shitting all over the floor, I guess.

Anyway. I could write 20,000 more words about this but I need to get to my “Dixie Carter’s entrance theme sounds like something from Chrono Cross” joke.

Best: They match!


Worst: An offer he can’t refuse (because he’ll never get to hear it)

It pains me to worst a segment involving EC3. It hurts my heart. But…I think I have to. There’s so much jammed into this convoluted seven and a half minutes that it doesn’t matter that he’s still an utter delight and had the presence of mind to pair those shoes with that colour suit. He’s fine. Let’s make it real clear that he’s fine. The rest is a straight up mess.

Dixie suddenly has an offer to make to MVP, seemingly putting them in cahoots (???), but then Big Bad Bully Ray comes to the ring having freshly remembered that he works there. These dynamics just…don’t make sense. We’re cheering the fellow whom MVP correctly points out threatens children (fist bump to whomever snuck that nugget of logic in there), has stalked a woman in her home and office because he just wants to physically harm her, and yet we’re booing the victim of said actions, and her nephew who just wants to protect his family?

I can’t even lie, I might secretly be enjoying the comeuppance people are getting at the hands of MVP and his friends, but that’s not even what it gets to be. MVP and Dixie are still “in the wrong.” Bully Ray says MVP’s only been here for a few months, and he doesn’t deserve anything, but what of Kenny King? Does no one seriously remember how long he’s been there? And by that logic, if Eric Young deserves it so bad, and has worked so hard, why wasn’t he champion sooner? Why was nobody getting mad at literally any other champion while Eric Young was sitting in the back reading chick tracts and replacing the contents of ODB’s flask with iced tea?

Impact Wrestling what are you even doing?

Worst: RIP Cool Magnus

We only had a short time with you, but what we did have will never be forgotten.

Worst: Gunner

Gunner thinks that his friend with PTSD is the same as the psychopathy of one of his coworkers because Gunner is awful, and I swear if this doesn’t lead to Samuel Shaw reenacting that scene from Silence of the Lambs so he can use Gunner’s beard to sneak out of the hospital, then I don’t have time for this at all.

Worst: Mr. Anderson

On the flip side, here we have Mr. Anderson getting James Storm nice and inebriated so he can beat him up, inadvertently proving that he can’t get the job done in the ring, and James Storm is the stronger competitor. It’s also super weird to think that James Storm exists in any state of sobriety, but I digress.

I like to think that so much time spent around Sam Shaw has made Mr. Anderson adopt his traits, and now will only violate people while they’re incapacitated in some way. I can only imagine that Mr. Anderson will do this to one mid-card roster member after another until finally we’re given an Impact 365 video of Mr. Anderson standing on the roof over Christy Hemme’s lifeless body. Samuel Shaw approaches, still covered in Gunner’s blood from his masterful escape earlier, appears confused at first, then angry that Anderson would dare hurt his precious Christy. “I…I learned it from watching you!” Anderson sobs, seconds before Shaw throws him from the roof in a fit of rage. Samuel Shaw cradles Hemme’s head in his arms as the SWAT team bursts through the stairwell exit. He charges at them, only to be brought down in a hail of bullets. Sam Shaw will go out a hero, because Impact doesn’t understand that bad guys should do bad things and be punished for said things. Later, against a backdrop of a golden Orlando sunset, Gunner gazes down at the bullet-riddled body of Shaw.

“My boy…he tried to save him, you know? I thought he could do it. He had no medical or psychiatric training whatsoever, but he loved the troops and his beard, and I thought that’d be enough.” James Storm places a comforting hand on Sad Dad’s shoulder, wincing as he does, still feeling the effects of Anderson’s brutal attack earlier. “Forget about it, Rick. It’s the Impact Zone. Let’s go get a beer.”

Worst: Don’t kayfabe us, Tenay

Tenay claims that no one is coming to the aid of Eric Young and Austin Aries because they’re so intimidated by MVP’s Kenny King of Trios. It’s an admirable idea, Tenay, but I think we all know that everyone in the back is sick to death of their sh-t.

Join us next week when none of this matters and none of it will be made to make any sense, but maybe Sanada will be there.