The Best And Worst Of Impact Wrestling 8/1/13: We’re Not WCW! Here’s A White Hummer

Pre-show notes:

– Oh God, I wrote another Impact report. Regular Impact columnist Danielle Matheson is currently en route to a Wrestling Is Awesome show in Maine, so I volunteered to fill in for her, because I hate myself. You may remember what happened the last time I filled in. It was not pretty.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER REPRINT: If you like Impact Wrestling and are not familiar with me derisively name-dropping it in the Best And Worst Of Raw column, please know going in that Impact not a show I enjoy or watch regularly because it fills me with crazy rage and doesn’t have Daniel Bryan or Mark Henry around to bring me back down. Please excuse me if I incorrectly identify story points, move names or the like. I keep up with Impact via Danielle’s report, and even that makes me go FFFFFUUUUUU at my computer screen.

– Don’t be afraid to contribute to the discussion in our comments section, click the “like” button and share the column on your social media things.

– Follow us on Twitter @withleather, follow me personally @MrBrandonStroud and like us on Facebook.

Here goes nothing. The Best and Worst of Impact Wrestling for August 1, 2013, is after the jump.

Worst: A Serious Question Before We Begin

Why do none of the Impact episodes I review have Hot Mess in them?

Worst: You Know, That AJ Styles Heel Turn Is Less Effective When Everyone Is Crazy And Broody Because They Only Care About Winning The World Championship

Three major points about last night’s opening segment:

1. I’m not a fan of Austin Aries, but I’m going to compliment him later on in the report, so don’t get too upset on page 2.

2. A few weeks ago I wrote about how much it bothered me that CM Punk said “verse” instead of “versus” during his announcement of THE BEST VERSE THE BEAST when WWE was in Austin. Apparently it’s a south suburbs of Chicago thing. On Impact, Austin Aries took my confusion with a region’s inability to pronounce the second syllable of a two-syllable word to a new level by saying “verse” AND “versus” in the same speech. Let me see if I’ve got it straight: Versus is a word, and when you say the whole thing you pronounce both syllables. But when you are audibly abbreviating it to “vs.,” you just say verse? Is that right? Additionally, is Wisconsin a suburb of Chicago?

3. I’m not sure if the writers are bad or if the wrestlers are just bad at public speaking, but the Aries/Roode in-ring confrontation was the most idiom-and-catchphrase-laced thing I’ve ever heard. It didn’t sound like either of them meant what they were saying, because they were talking exclusively in marketable identifiers and old-timey turns of phrase. Here’s a transcript:

Aries: “AJ Styles vs. Austin Aries will be The Phenomenal One verse the Common Denominator Of Greatness. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Life is short, play hard!”

Roode: “I’m the It Factor Of Professional Wrestling! Let’s stop talking about dreams and start talking about nightmares! Destination X. Let’s face it. Everybody here. Everybody there. Everybody in the back. Everybody inside of Bobby Roode. I am the leader of the Selfish Generation. The game is gonna change. Going back to what brought Bobby Roode to the dance! It pays to be Roode!”

Aries: “If you can’t take the head, stay out of the kitchen! Bon for Glory. Suck it!”

It’s like the angry conversation version of that “achieve your dreams” SummerSlam song.

And seriously, like the bold, capitalized words say, you’re taking away from the whole “AJ Styles is a sullen, crazy loner who is taking things seriously now because he doesn’t care about these fans” when every single dude on your roster is a sullen, crazy loner who is taking things seriously now because he doesn’t care about the fans. It’s Eric Young, Joseph Park, the Knockouts and then 25 guys who are varying levels of GRR ARGH, just standing around backstage drinking and cussing until it’s time to MAKE A NAME FOR THEMSELVES IN THAT RING, or whatever.

Worst: Hernandez

I’m not sure I enjoy a move in wrestling less than Hernandez going all the way up to the stage, allowing his opponent to recover and stand up and stagger into position so he can run 20 feet or whatever, jump over the top rope and graze them with his hands.

Best: Taz Is Finally Where He Belongs: Far Away From Wrestling Shows

Good: Taz not being allowed in the building, especially not being allowed into a building where a guy who teases TNA management by escorting an auto-playing laptop to it in a hummer limo can just waltz in at the end and interrupt the main event segment of their primetime television show.


Couldn’t they have just had Taz walk up and open the door all pissed and then stuck a camera inside of it? We don’t need you to hold our hands through everything, TNA. Mike Tenay can’t let a damn moment of in-ring storytelling happen without yelling WE KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS JB and then saying exactly what it means.

Worst: Rampage Jackson, Token Black Guy

Transcript from last night:

Sting: Bully Ray is no longer the TNA ChampionBLEARRGHHHHHH

Kurt Angle: Tonight, we make the Aces & Eights an offer they can’t refuse.

Rampage: AW YEAH

He should just make “that is wack” his catchphrase and go with it.

Best: Joseph Park Doesn’t Know What Twerking Is

Joseph Park is precious. He’s Butters the pro wrestler. His “wull YEAH I trust ya!” was adorable. Also great is Eric Young actually watching f**king Impact, understanding what Joe Park’s problem is and actively working to fix it. A guy loses matches because he bleeds and flips out? Take precautions to keep him from bleeding. Sure, it’s taken them six months to have somebody figure that out and they’ll probably drag the Park/Abyss story out for another four years before revealing the big twist (Joseph Park has actually been DON FRYE this entire time!), but it’s the kind of constructive storytelling I enjoy in my easy-as-f**k-to-follow wrestling show.

Also, I will mark the hell out if Joseph Park googles twerking and breaks out the Eve Torres coochie-popping moonsault.

Worst: Chris Sabin’s Catchphrase

I apologize for the entire first page of the report being “everything these people say is stupid,” but Chris Sabin’s affirmation-threat to AKI Man was one of the most memorable parts of the show for me. Chris Sabin thinks his catchphrase is “Hail Sabin,” but it is actually “AWRIGHT???”

Sabin: I chose you because you’ve got FIRE in your heart, AWRIGHT?? And we’re gonna go out and have a match, AWRIGHT??? AWRIGHT??? And then we’re gonna see who the best man is AWRIGHT???

Manik: uh, sure bro

Sabin: AWRIGHT??? *stomps away*

Worst: Jay Bradley, TNA’s Wade Barrett

Wade Barrett is a large-ish white guy in trunks who loses all the time, but claims he can knock you out with the big elbow pad on his arm. Jay Bradley is a large-ish white guy in trunks who loses all the time and claims he can knock you out with the big sleeve on his arm. It’s like the Transformers and the Go-Bots.

I enjoyed the Bradley/Park match because I like seeing Joseph Park win, and because there are few things better than a “wrestler pretends he doesn’t know how to wrestle” match. Young’s plan to keep Park from getting bloody and freaking out worked, both in keeping Park from bleeding and by making Bradley so focused on tearing it off he lost control of the match and got squashed. That’s good stuff. TNA legitimately still has this little spherical core of good, not-what-you-see-on-WWE wrestling matches somewhere deep down inside of it, and if they just focused on having characters interact with each other and have logical matches based on who they are, what they do and what they’re trying to accomplish, I think they’d be a lot better off.

Worst: Let’s Sit Around In Suits And Have A Taped Discussion

Sting: You guys in? It’s all or nothing!

Kurt Angle: Sting, I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your home on the wedding day of your daughter. And may their first child be a masculine child.

Rampage: That is WACK!

I’ll give it to TNA, they are hustling through this Main Event Mafia story. They’ve been dragging ass on the Joseph Park reveal forever and got like four months of programming out of “who gets to be the treasurer of Aces & Eights,” but the Main Event Mafia formed, added a member every week and then instantly accomplished their goals.

Next week Aces & Eights should be abolished and vanished, and then in a month Kurt Angle’s got a long white beard, telling his grandchildren about the time he helped the guy he didn’t help get revenge on a company that didn’t help him by making biker gang full of wrestlers that company hates stop being mean to the company. Or something. They’ll just think he’s senile.

Best: Sabin And Manik Have The Most X-Divisiony Heavyweight Match Ever

Sabin taking on Manik and winning in a straight-up wrestling match is exactly the kind of thing you need to have on your wrestling show, especially when your champ has the momentum of a parked car and desperately needs to be taken seriously.

I got burned out on X-Division matches at some point — every time a wrestler pats his opponent on the back as he runs by, God kills a kitten — but it’s a type of wrestling people seem to love, so it’d behoove TNA to actually put a real focus on it again instead of outfitting it with a bunch of shitty gimmicks and rules (Ultimate X every few weeks, “every match has to be a triple threat,” etc.). You’ve got a bunch of wrestlers who can go, right? Let them go.

TNA seems obsessed with Single White Female’ing WCW at every turn, but they’ve never caught onto the fact that while WCW had old stars like Hogan and Savage and Piper at the top of the card, they had an undercard of international, “personality-less” stars going FULL F**KING THROTTLE for 20 minutes at a time. Guys like me didn’t give a shit where the meandering nWo Mauve and Chartreuse breakups and splits were going, but tuned into Nitro (and Thunder) every week to see Ultimo Dragon or Blitzkrieg or La Parka. That’s the key, isn’t it? Put something on your show that appeals to everybody. Old guys for the people who can’t get over wrestling “not being as good as it used to be,” garbage wrestling for the people who want to see blood, guys doing flips for people who wanna see guys doing flips, creepy pan shots of Christy Hemme’s legs for those assholes, and what have you.

Instead, TNA gets into one thing at a time (Hogan, mainstream media attention, MMA, stable warz) and beats it into the ground. TNA loves hacky sayings, right? How about “a little from column A, a little from column B?”

Worst: The Problem With Chris Sabin

In the modern wrestling world, people believe that if you work hard and have passion, you are doing everything necessary to be successful.

Chris Sabin’s been really aggressive about defending himself on social media lately, because many fans responded to his big “FINALLY LIVING MY BOYHOOD DREAM” championship win with a resounding “him?” Sabin’s not a bad wrestler. He’s actually a very good wrestler. He does have some major problems, though, such as

1. He can’t stay healthy. He keeps blowing out his knees. He’s had two ACL surgeries, and doctors are telling him to stop wrestling. He’s basically TNA’s version of Christian, a guy who is great in the ring but unreliable for more than six months at a time. Also like Christian, he’s popular, but not popular.

2. That’s the other thing. Compare and contrast the reactions Chris Sabin gets for anything with the reactions Austin Aries gets for anything in HIS match. It’s night and day. Aries isn’t getting Sun Life Stadium to do his taunts in unison or anything, but when he goes for moves the crowd responds, and when he plays to them, they play back. Sabin doesn’t get that. He does his stuff and it looks great, but there’s a connection missing … probably because he hasn’t been around regularly enough for anybody to get attached and give a shit. He doesn’t have momentum as a character, sure, but he more importantly doesn’t have any momentum as a PERSONALITY. And while it’s unfair to compare somebody with one of the most popular guys in the promotion, we ARE talking about that promotion’s World Heavyweight Champion.

All that said, this is how people on the other side of the argument might respond.

I will forgive Sabin 100% if they bring back Alex Shelley and start calling him “Vargas.”

Best: Gail Kim

The thing I love most about Gail Kim (besides chef Robert Irvine) is how FAST she is. That’s missing from a lot of even the better female wrestlers out there today. They have a particular pace they have to stick to, often times because they’re wrestling somebody they have to match. I think that was Gail in WWE. She’s a natural athlete trying to take her time and lead Jillian Hall or whoever through spots, because Jillian’s got the groundspeed of a fat old man. In TNA she occasionally gets to go full speed (figuratively and literally), and watching her hit the ropes with momentum feels like a f**king revelation.

Also, she is pretty.

I can never decide whether or not I like ODB. She’s got a ton of personality and a unique look, and I love the idea of a female wrestler who is just sorta built like a tank and just throws herself at you over and over until you’re dead. At the same time, man, her mannerisms drive me nuts. If I’m Gail Kim, the first thing I’m gonna do is ground ODB and stomp her in the boobs for five minutes. That way, every time ODB builds momentum and starts wonking her boobs around, she hurts herself. Drape them over the middle rope and dig your knee into them. Just drop f**king elbows on her boobs all day long.

Worst: Take Your Time For F**k’s Sakes

I know TNA fans reading a TNA report don’t read the words “In WWE, THIS is how it works” with any sort of positive expectations, but stick with me here.

TNA is the most ADD wrestling show ever made not involving a ring announcer dressed as the guy from A Clockwork Orange. For example, the Gail Kim/ODB match ended in a double count-out (boo) that enraged both competitors, and they decided to brawl on the outside and make referees pull them apart. Now, if this happened in WWE, cameras would stay on them, follow the brawl to its conclusion and let the moment linger for a bit so fans can absorb what they’ve just seen. Create a functional memory of the moment. TNA decided to cut away from two women brawling so violently they needed a half-dozen men to pull them apart to FOOTAGE OF THE MAIN EVENT MAFIA WALKING AROUND BACKSTAGE DOING NOTHING. Why? Couldn’t that have waited a second? And to make it worse, the announcers are all “Wow, Gail Kim and ODB brawling on the outside. Look JB, the Main Event Mafia is walking backstage. I wonder what they have planned for Aces & Eights later tonight?” It’s BEAR IS DRIVING TV production and I hate it.

Worst: I Was Gonna Complain About An AJ Styles Promo, But They Followed It Up With Mr. Anderson AND A Bully Ray/Brooke Hogan Marriage Spat So Forget I Said Anything

The night of EVERYONE TALKS LIKE AN ASSHOLE continues, with Brooke Hogan passive-aggressively confronting Bully Ray in the middle of a biker wrestler drinking-in-the-boiler-room-hallway party. You know that old saying HAPPY WIFE, HAPPY LIFE? Well it’s gonna be more like HAPPY EX-WIFE … UH, HAPPY LIFE. Because I am your ex-wife!

And then Bully Ray has to sell that shit instead of just screaming WHAT THE F**K DOES THAT EVEN MEAN, I’M IN A WRESTLING BIKER GANG, GO F**K YOURSELF in her face. Brooke Hogan is seriously the Tweety-Bird T-shirt of people. She’s yellow and orange, she’s weirdly oversized and she’s got nothing to offer but YOU SAY ATTITUDE LIKE IT’S A BAD THING.

Best: Everything About Styles Vs. Aries (Besides The Finish)

New AJ Styles The Character is embarrassing, but New AJ Styles The Wrestler is GREAT. I really enjoy what he’s doing, and while I’m not sold on the Calf Killer being this devastating Critical or whatever, I appreciate him using a finish that isn’t (1) him jumping and spinning as many times as possible before landing near the person and pinning them, or (2) the least painful thing you can do to somebody while they’re in position for a Ganso Bomb.

Aries deserves a lot of credit, too. I don’t love his wrestling (and he looks like a Russian nesting doll that should fit INSIDE of AJ Styles), but what he does works for the audience, and he’s familiar enough with AJ that they can sorta go all-out and destroy each other without it looking like they spent all day coming up with spots. The backdrop off the ramp was brutal, the dive into the ring steps worked well to bring them back to an even playing field and the finish strikes were quick and exciting.

Wait, something good was happening on Impact? QUICK, RUIN IT

Worst: Hahahaha The Finish

Aries knocks AJ out with a forearm. AJ gets back up and throws a Pele Kick (FROM OUT OF NOWHERE~) and then collapses. They fall onto each other. Actually, Aries falls onto Styles, then has to visibly pull AJ’s arm out from under his head and drape it across his own chest. The referee counts to three, and just before the three, Aries gets his shoulder up. You know, because he had enough consciousness and wherewithal to move AJ’s arm in the first place, thereby making it look like he purposefully teased a double pin just to be a jerk? And AJ had enough power left in him to BACKFLIP AND ACCURATELY KICK A GUY IN THE HEAD, but not to slightly lift his arm 15 seconds later. OKAY, SURE.

Terrible, terrible finish*.

*also describes this episode of Impact

Worst: I Sure Hope The MMA Guy Who Isn’t A Wrestler Doesn’t Get Pinned And Have To Leave TNA Forever!

The closing segment was the kind of illogical and embarrassing thing WWE usually reserves for contract signings.

Sting’s “offer the Main Event Mafia can’t refuse” is a five-on-five tag team match between the stables, wherein the wrestler who gets pinned has to live TNA FOREVER, FOR NO RAISIN. Really? Is the biker gang so worried about two wrestling stars in suits, an MMA guy who probably can’t get in and compete because of prior Real Sport obligations and a couple of jerks they’ve beaten a hundred times that they’re willing to put their CAREERS on the line?

Wait, let me rephrase that … put ONE of their careers on the line? Man, I wish TNA had kept DOC around long enough to have him take the fall in this if they wanted to run that story. As it stands now, who’s gonna get pinned? The 9 wrestlers who compete on Impact every week, or perhaps the MMA GUEST STAR who will have to take time off to train for his fights anyway? WHO KNOWS, MAYBE WE SHOULD HASHTAG ASK DIXIE.

If Sting really had any soul in his patch, he’d have challenged Aces & Eights to a “losing team ALL leaves forever” match. That’d be a win-win. In kayfabe, one side would get a decisive victory and be in “control” of the company run by a nice old southern lady and her monstrous orange cohort. The story would be over, and we could get back to booking wrestlers instead of vague wrestling teams. In real life, Aces & Eights could take the fall, we’d be done with the story, we’d never have to see Mr. Anderson or Wes Briscoe or Garrett Bischoff again and TNA could get back to their real passion: booking old WWE guys and MMA dudes who haven’t won in years.

Speaking of that …

Worst: Wake Me Up When Jenna Jameson’s Wrestling For The Knockouts Title

From my write-up of Tito’s return, posted earlier today:

If TNA’s gonna be nothing but MMA guys, Bellator should be nothing but pro wrestlers. Like, King Mo gets hurt and the Bellator announcers don’t know who’s gonna take his place in the tournament but WAIT A MINUTE FANS WHAT IS COWBOY JAMES STORM DOING IN THE BELLATOR ZONE

I hope everyone enjoyed a month’s build-up to Tito Ortiz walking out during a skirmish between two company-controlling teams, having the announcers automatically know why he’s there and what he’s doing despite no evidence to prove it, cross his arms (because he doesn’t know what to do with his arms) and stare at nothing in particular while wrestlers make OH GOD NO faces at him and NOBODY CHEERS OR REACTS WHATSOEVER.

A good match with a bad finish. A TNA episode pretends to be a TNA match. Good job, everybody.