Good time of day to you, sunshines! I’m typing this in the morning. I’m full of granola. It kinda tasted weird. Whatever. Let’s do this!
-Last week it was Beyond Wrestling Week over the The Mandible Claw. We’ve got some great minicasts with Anthony Stone, Drew Cordeiro, The Handsome Dan Barry, and Drew Gulak. If you’ve never heard of those people, get over there, get to know someone new, and pre-order Americanrana as soon as you get the chance because holy heck it seems like it was one heck of a show.
-Don’t forget to like this on Facebook, tweet it, tumbl it, and be generally social with your media. New readers means new friends, and me explaining why I feel how I feel about Samoa Joe each week.
This week on Impact: TWO VERY SPECIFIC GUYS I MARK FOR, and I dunno….some flippy stuff or title bouts or something.
BEST: HOLY SH*T
BEST: HOLY POOP
Worst: When Worst doesn’t cover it
If you’re one of those people who likes to complain about “Stroud politics” or “tumblr white knight social justice BS,” you should probably just skip ahead the next page now. This whole opening segment, from start to finish, is basically what the Worst portion of this column is designed for. We can jokingly give worsts for AJ Styles hair or Petey Williams dick flap or things that are dumb but inconsequential because that’s the point of this column, but come. the. f*ck. on.
Bully Ray basically broadcasts how the rest of the show will go, and that’s fine. It’s boring, and it’s more yelling, but being over confident in this situation is appropriate given how things go for Aces & Eights during this show.
Last week I was….I don’t want to say surprised that TNA would use Brooke Hogan’s real life engagement, because at this point I’ve been conditioned to never be surprised at how far they’ll go in plumbing the depths of poor decisions and bad taste. It’s more of a begrudging acceptance that this can lead to no good. So here we are, Brooke waving her engagement ring in Bully’s face, and him shouting that she can move on when he says she can move on, because if women aren’t props, they’re possessions.
It was once mansplained to me by someone in the wrestling industry that running a domestic abuse angle is perfectly alright because there are more people who act like that than don’t. That’s a real thing someone said. Not that “Domestic abuse is a prevalent yet oft ignored epidemic in today’s society that needs more awareness.” That a lot of people do it, so instead of looking at it as a problem, it’s looked at as a demographic.
Hulk Hogan comes out, presumably to Brooke’s rescue, to explain how Aces & Eights has raped and pillaged the company and his family, and….wait. Goddamnit Hulk, really?
For those of you who are curious or maybe simply unaware, you are welcome to peruse very real life statistics on rape and domestic violence here and here. This isn’t a story. This is what happens in real life, and only based on reports by people who have come to terms with being able to admit it. Think about these for a second. Realise that in the time it takes you to read this page, someone will have been sexually assaulted.
It was argued to me that “raped and pillaged” is a very common phrase, and I shouldn’t be addressing it at all. Just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s okay to treat without any kind of gravitas towards the word that you’re using. Being flippant and casual about its use further normalizes a terrible thing we should never view as normal, or acceptable in any capacity. If you’re going to outright use instances of domestic violence and liken a group of wrestlers who like to sit on parked motorcycles and run around your rented arena to being raped, well, first, don’t. But if you do, make sure that it’s addressed as a problem. And not just “Oh, he’ll probably lose a wrestling match and Brooke will slap him in the face or something and that will be his comeuppance,” either. With the statistics linked to above, I can guarantee someone who works for TNA or Spike TV has been affected by a situation like this in real life, and was not okay with it. If you’re not raising awareness but instead trying to raise ratings, you’re doing a bad, bad thing.
I know it’s just another scummy thing in a long list of scummy things that wrestling is issued a permission slip for because everyone needs to lighten up, and it’s just wrestling, and it’s always been that way. But come on. It’s 2013. It’s time to adjust your privilege and look at things from someone else’s point of view. It’s time to look across the wall that’s been built between people who don’t care enough to see that something is in bad taste to the side that understands this isn’t entertaining or alright, and educate yourself until there is no more wall.
It’s not time to lighten up, it’s time to smarten up.
Best: Remember this?
Remember when Austin Aries was just a regular douchebag and this happened and it was momentous and awesome and there was confetti? That was pretty rad. Nothing on the show gets as rad as this. Sorry.
Best: Austin Aries vs. Bobby Roode
A year ago I would have 100% believed that Aries and Roode would meet again at Destination X. Two weeks ago? Maybe…maybe not so much. The seemingly sudden title change between Aries and Chris Sabin left many (including myself) completely bewildered, especially after the costume theft and unmasking of Suicide and option C and what have you. Senseless at the time, especially if, in the end, a Roode-Aries matchup was what everyone seemed to want. All of that aside, holy hell what a match.
I know I criticize Impact…well, on a weekly basis, really…but those of you who have been reading for months or know me at all know that I am, if anything, a constant TNA apologist. This is why. For all of the horrible real-life business practices, offensive content, confusing and consistently needless storylines, and lack of follow through, this is the kind of match I can point to and say yes, this is the Wrestling That’s on Television, and yes, it is worth your time.
Last week I pointed out why sometimes (again, SOMETIMES TNA JEEZ) two tag partners squaring off can be great, and this elevates that reasoning to the next level. Bobby Roode and Austin Aries were united under the singular goal of proving that they are better than everyone else, and now here they are with only the other standing in their way of proving it. In the past year Bobby Roode has proven that a solid character with personality and adaptability can, and should, put you at the top. He can say he’s the best because, and I never, ever thought I’d say this, right now he is the best. His desire to prove it has turned to obsession, but loss after loss is shaking him to his core. His confidence, and, potentially, his sanity, are crumbling away. You want to see him win, but it’s fascinating to watch what happens after he loses.
Aries is no slouch, and non-kayfabe feelings aside, I really do enjoy watching him wrestle. You can make a list of the best TNA matches in 2012, and I can guarantee he’s at the top, and then the majority on down. The chemistry between Aries and Roode when they’re on the same side is undeniable, but when these two face off in the ring, it’s explosive (or Xplosive, because wrestling). Bobby Roode dropkicking Aries in midair? Yes. Yes that’s good. Do I Decidedly Not Hate his spinebuster? Yes. And as someone whose knees get week when Arn Anderson does it, Decidedly Not Hating is high praise. I have no idea the motivation as to why and how we got here, but if you watch any match from this show (the full shows are at spiketv.com), make it this one.
Best: Bobby Roode goes Full Kingston
This is the point where I’m going to be the dumb internet snob and tell you to go out and watch an independent show, but really, you should already own Chikara’s 2013 Tag World Grand Prix. Those who were there (and had their beer unceremoniously knocked out of their hands) can attest to the brilliant and terrifying meltdown Eddie Kingston had at the end of the show, and while this may not live up to that, it’s…pretty close. I mean sure, Roode looks more like a child having a tantrum than a dude who may or may not have a sudden and insane bloodlust in his heart, but it’s way better than AJ Styles affecting a character I not-so-affectionately refer to as Shit Donst. It’s a carbon copy a few layers down because you forgot to put that flap of cardboard underneath to stop it from ruining your entire notepad, but hey. Someone’s been doing their homework, and I’m more than willing to give an A for effort.
I can only assume he still goes by that name due to his ability to kill any momentum his opponents have in the ring. Woof.
Meeeeaah: Homicide vs. Petey Williams vs. Sonjay Dutt
This is the first of three three-way matches to determine who will go on to contend for the vacated X-Division championship next week and it is…meeeeeeeeeah. This is one of those matches that I watch with a deeply furrowed brow, occasionally cringing, and occasionally tensing my entire body because holy crap does it make me nervous. I have never enjoyed Sonjay Dutt, and believe me, this is not a case of “but did you see his match against ________ from __________?” Yes. Chances are I did, because I’ve watched him wrestle about a billion times. Not even the warming glow of Ring Ka King could make me enjoy him, and that….well, you know I’m being serious when I say that. I will say that there’s a kind of beauty in the curve of his body during his rana, which you can see very clearly highlighted in slow-motion as he does one to Homicide. He’s got speed, but it’s immediately negated by the noticeable amount of time he just stands and waits for someone to wrestle around him. The moonsault double foot stomp makes me wince every time, and not in a good way.
Homicide’s successful Gringo Killer made me legitimately hold my breath worrying that he would have, indeed, killed Petey Williams, and again, not in a good way. About the only person who had a solid outing and standout spots for the right reasons is good ol’ Dick Flap, but he lost, so uh, see you next week, Sonjay.
Worst: You have selected Suicide
If you know the name of the Kenny King currently being murdered, press 1!
Oh, that Kenny King. I like him. You all know I do. But I’m afraid the prestigious Kenny King Award for Being Kenny King may soon need to be retired. Don’t get me wrong, King is still good, but man, he has spent too much time around RVD and his special brand of not giving a shit. I still firmly believe that King is at his best when he’s paired with someone who can elevate him to their level, so obviously Chavo may not be the person whose level you want to be anywhere near. Those Three Amigos? I know Chavo is…Chavo, but dude, you gotta turn with him. King can be exciting when he wants to be, and this is very clearly not one of those times.
But hey, look, it’s Manik! That’s Winner spelled backwards, or whatever.
You know, I bet he wishes this would have gone up on Sunday. I hear that’s his fun day. His “I don’t have to run” day. But here we are, posting this on Manik Monday.
Best: TNA Special Occasion Voiceover Dude
Congratulations on being the most professional thing TNA has to its name.
Worst: Brutal Magnus
Remember when it had to be explained to Joseph Park what a “rib” is? I feel like maybe he didn’t get it, so someone is telling Magnus to wear sunglasses and spell out MEM with his hands in true Tanner Family fashion as an example so Joe Park will understand locker room terms a little better. My money is on Samoa Joe, because as much as I rag on the guy, there is no earthly way anyone thinks this actually looks cool.
Worst: The Main Event Mafia
brb, updating Urban Dictionary’s definition of circle jerk to this entire segment.
Oh, hey, dude from Chikara wrestling under the most TNA translation of an indie wrestling name since “You know, WWE’s Mike Knox!”
This is where you go ugh, great, Danielle’s gonna talk about how much she loves Chikara again and you are goddamn right because there is a dude from Chikara wrestling on my television.
The last time I saw this gentleman, he was beating 3.0 for the tag titles as one half of the Pieces of Hate. The other half is, of course, The Shard, otherwise known as the dude who doesn’t have a twitter but it’s probably for the best because telling him how awesome I think he is would become a full-time job and I might have to stay 500 feet away from any shows he wrestles in the future. The balcony of the Trocadero in Philadelphia was hotter than every circle of hell combined, I was exhausted from having spent longer traveling on a Megabus and walking around Philly than anyone should have to, and my deepest wrestling passion was about to be wrenched away from me in a way that still makes my heart clutch when I think about it. But that hadn’t happened yet, and as With Leather friend Tom Holzerman can attest, I lost my ever lovin’ mind at THIS MOMENT. So needless to say, seeing him on my weekly Wrestling That’s on Television program left me awash in a mix of pride and sadness and joy and what the kids commonly refer to as “feels.”
It may have taken me just about forever to come around to HeelSaw, but good lord, I miss the Shard, and I miss Chikara. I love independent wrestling with my whole heart, and these dudes didn’t go anywhere or stop wrestling other places, but having basically everything I love in a positive space with creative storylines and great wrestling and Dasher Hatfield hugs and scary hands with UltraMantis Black is irreplaceable to me. It is my Very Favourite Thing™, and whether this match is great or not (it’s kinda not), just like I could write paragraph after glowing paragraph about Antonio Cesaro in the NXT report, I can do the same thing about basically any moment at a show with Jigsaw. Even his match at WrestleCon that I couldn’t really see, but involved me sitting with Drew Cordeiro and Mr. Touchdown, getting Kobald to describe the match to me periodically because Steve Weiner kept blocking my view. Man, I miss Kobald, and I pretty much talk to that goblin dude every day. I miss my wrestlebros. I miss the Colony. I miss Chikara. I know I don’t have to tell you any of this, but…godammnit, what was I saying and why is it suddenly so dusty in here?
Right. Rubix. Uh….say hello to The Shard for me when you’re done?
Best: Speaking of indie dudes I love…
And he brought his other name that will take forever to get used to spelling!
Okay. So. I know I talk about Chikara a lot, but oh, look, a non-Chikara dude I mark for like crazy and have for a long time. He was one of the happiest surprises at WrestleCon (like an RKO, TRENT BARRETA OUT OF NOWHERE!). I love, love, love watching this guy wrestle. I paid $10 for CTWE’s Briccomania just to watch him wrestle Dan Barry in a Danielle Wrestleswoons on a Pole Match (not really, but basically). Guuuuuuuuuuuuys. Impact is trying to kill me with emotions.
This is what should be happening. Not piss-poor to mediocre dudes who make for bad Gut Check video packages and even worse wrestling. Good wrestlers who know how to work a crowd and tell a story and wrestle on television who also aren’t a million years old or so muscled out they’re just shapes repeatedly falling down in the ring in the same way despite the different kinds of targeted offense their opponent is throwing at them. Just…this is good. This is a good, good thing. I want this thing all the time and I’m gonna be so mad when you take it away.
As an aside, since Brandon’s got Derrick Bateman covered, we should probably just have an unabashed Briley Pierce fan cover Smackdown so we can get the whole Golden Gals trifecta covered.
Worst: Rockstar Spud
Let’s count the offensive moves Spud gets in in this match: seven punches, five kicks, two stomps and a roll up attempt.
Here’s the story as I’m probably supposed to see it: Rock Star Spud is a small dude who makes up for what he lacks in height with an incredibly inflated ego. He’s so arrogant, yet has to sneak in and try to capitalize on other’s offense because he’s supposed to come off as manipulative, but is really weakened by his overblown sense of self-worth, and maybe even slightly a coward. He is complex and deep, but we are supposed to boo him because he’s too cool to care what we think. He also spit in a dude’s face, which, besides being super gross, is one of the most cocky, disrespectful things you can do without physically laying your hands on another person.
Here’s what actually came across: TNA is stuck with a dude from their British reality show who looks like he can’t really hang with anyone else in the ring, has a terrible forced personality that gets more snores than boos, and is just generally a rotten little shit who keeps getting in the way of what should be a good match. Because of the way he’s trying to play it, his size comes across as a huge disadvantage and something that sticks out, rather than being easily ignored because of any kind of ring prowess. It illustrates the biggest problem with having all three-way matches in that one extra person is really slowing down the fast-paced intent of X-Division matches, and they’re not really all that fun anymore. They weren’t fun for a long time, but if Impact is going to rebuild their X-Division (please do this), I fear this may be a stumbling block on the road to renewal.
I didn’t really get what I was hoping for in this match, and it’s terribly disappointing. But hey, just in case, maybe you should just keep having that puzzle dude and Bill Murray Knee back on your show (Jig and Tonics for everyone??), and if you want someone little who can wipe the floor with almost your entire X-Division, uh…there’s this Shard guy I’ve heard good things about…
Worst: Like Tiffany said, I think we’re alone now
We being me and maybe one or two people who did not enjoy the main event. As happy as I am for Chris Sabin, the decision for him to have the X-Division title to cash in felt convoluted and rushed, and unlike last year, nothing felt important. It wasn’t special.
The great thing about Bully Ray having the title is that when he defends it, it feels like a big deal. He’s this unstoppable force that has been built up as a force to be reckoned with, and with Aces & Eights behind him, can and will do anything to keep his title. Once you add the Main Event Mafia to the Suicide debacle to the cash in, things get muddled even further and it’s just…confusing.
I didn’t particular enjoy the match itself, what with most of it feeling like it was just bully undressing
Chris Sabin like a petulant toddler who doesn’t want to put his pajamas on and go to bed. Using the TOTALLY NOT FAKE™ hammer should feel like comeuppance, but it moreso just seems like a twerpy face can’t overcome the odds to win cleanly as a face, and has to reduce himself to an ignoble action that should technically have him disqualified.
I don’t know if Sabin will still have the title by Bound for Glory, setting up Bully vs. Hogan in a Nobody Wants to See That match, or if he’s just going to be the Mountie, and lose the belt this week, or even a couple of weeks from now. I just don’t know. Motivations aren’t clear, having a non-MEMber take the most important and powerful item in Aces & Eights’ possession away seems to render the MEM useless (moreso), and…yeah. I just don’t get it, and it feels like TNA might not either.
But hey, at least Jig was on TV, right?