First off, Thanks to everyone who had kind words for my RAW recap this past week. And I didn’t get one complaint about the DVR botch that prevented me from watching the last 20 minutes of the show, save the bit where A.J. Lee pushed CM Punk and Daniel Bryan through a table. So either you don’t care, or accepted it as first-time nerves – like your first job interview, your first kiss…
Oh wait, I’m talking about things none of you would know anything about. But I digress.
Anyway, for my Impact reviews, I’m going to continue with the DVR theme with the “Fast Forward” review. For all of you who follow me on Twitter (all 57 of you), you know that for a long time I had boycotted TNA on moral grounds. When your so-called superstars quit the company because they make squat or need to make money in retail, then I’m not sure you can call yourself major league. And if so, tying people to contracts which restrict their ability to work in wrestling elsewhere seems a bit indentured servitude-ish.
So this latest string of better-than-usual shows has convinced me to give TNA another try. But when I watch Impact, I take great care to not watch the commercials. And sometimes (ok, many times) I’ll fast forward through segments that I think suck or have no interest. So the “Fast Forward” review only discusses segments that I thought were worthy of actually watching.
Show starts with a recap, which I fast forward because I already know what happened and because that dude that voice over these recaps really annoys me.
Bully Ray starts the show, and it’s awesome because he’s on Twitter and is live tweeting in the middle of the ring in a completely obnoxious, yet realistic way. It would be the thing an obnoxious jerk who used to make fun of Twitter would do. He calls out Joseph Park, whose Twitter is also awesome, and the crowd goes nuts. And it’s real nuts, not the fake Smackdown/taped Impact nuts where the crowd is going crazy while everyone sits on their hands. Bully accepts Park’s challenge from last week and turns his back on him while he’s speaking, which is another awesome touch.
Park almost makes me fast forward with an explanation about legal precedents, but his delivery keeps me involved. And when he stands up to Ray and tells him “shut up”, the crowd is absolutely rabid and I can’t believe I’m watching the same crappy show this was a year ago. It’s apparently an “anything goes” match, with one exception – Ray getting a restraining order against Abyss, which was yet another nice twist. This segment was one of the best, hottest segments I’ve ever seen on Impact and was one of the best hype segments on the year. Only question – why the hell is this match not on PPV?
Hulk Hogan and Austin Aries talked backstage using some stilted dialogue which I fast forwarded through, but I think the point was that Aries had to hand the belt over by the end of the night.
Fast forward through a recap and Dixie Carter interview about the “Claire Lynch” situation. From what I gathered she said nothing useful anyway.
Crimson faces off with Devon for the TV title. Fast forward because it’s a Crimson match and Devon kinda bores me. Devon wins, and I guess the new gimmick is that Crimson is going to have a losing streak instead of a winning streak. Madison Rayne comes in and makes out with Earl Hebner after the mach, which I guess is an ok payoff to the “secret admirer” storyline. Earl’s facial expressions afterwards were almost the same as CM Punk’s after AJ made out with him on Smackdown, though – is there a rule that people in wrestling are nerds who never get kissed?
Chris Sabin is in the ring and says some stuff I fast forward through because his voice annoys me. Bobby Roode comes out and says some other I fast forward through, not because Roode’s bad on the mic but because they’re basically telegraphing where this is going. And after a couple of minutes, Roode kicks Sabin’s leg out from his leg and taunts him until Austin Aries can make the save. Roode is great as an unredeemable jerk more than when he’s channeling Ric Flair. Didn’t need Tenay asking the stupid “will Aries prove that all X-Division wrestlers are the same?” question. Mental note to stop listening to Tenay’s scripted lines.
X-Division qualifying match. Flip Cassanova (Flip Kendrick from DGUSA) and Dakota Darsow had a match that was typical second-tier indy wrestling from the get-go. Darsow lost and got busted open but I didn’t care enough to find out why. Complete fast forward.
Fast forward through Miss Tessmacher promo. She needs to be seen and not heard.
Fast forward through Gut Check recap from last week. It is a good idea to have these recap segments, though, if you want to make Gut Check seem like a big deal.
Gail Kim & Madison Rayne vs. Tara & Miss Tessmacher. Fast forward through the match until the finish, which was wacky in the sense that Tara did all the work and gave the pin to Miss Tessmacher. Why exactly would she do that, unless it was foreshadowed in the segment I skipped.
James Storm hypes up his match with Jeff Hardy tonight. I love these segments when they’re done well, and this one was.
A.J. Styles comes out for a promo. Says that the accusation that he’s the father of Claire Lynch’s demon seed is b.s. Dialogue kinda sucked but the delivery was very strong and kept me from clicking fast forward. Kaz and Daniels came out. Kaz cut a really stupid promo, but thankfully it was short. Daniels cut a somewhat better promo repeating last week’s accusations (with awesome heel delivery) but A.J. interrupted him. And then in a moment, A.J. flipped the entire storyline away from Claire Lynch to Daniels’ jealousy of him – calling him less than a man. In politics, that’s called “pivoting”. Hated some of the scripted dialogue, but the delivery of A.J. and Daniels made this more than watchable.
Another backstage segment with Hogan. I fast forward, but later find out that Hogan got a note with some playing card in it that’s probably related to the Sting beatdown a few weeks ago. Wake me when Jeff Jarrett comes back as the mastermind.
Jeff Hardy hype video. This wasn’t as good as the Storm video, mostly because Hardy’s voiceover was boring as hell, but it got over the idea that Hardy gives a crap about the Bound For Glory Series.
Kenny King (?) vs. Lars Only in an X-Division qualifier. And yeah, it’s that Kenny King from ROH who’s one half of the tag-team champs. Because nothing says “take us seriously” like putting a title on a guy who isn’t under contract and then having him show up in another company that isn’t WWE. But anyway, Kenny King has a solid match, gets over nicely, wins clean and cuts a great promo. And yeah, Kenny, when you say “you have a lot riding on this”, you ain’t kidding.
Fantastic Austin Aries video. This looked and felt like the best of the UFC Countdown segments, which is a great compliment. And by the way, if you haven’t watched the Sonnen/Silva Countdown show, I defy you to watch it and not want to buy UFC 148.
Nice little nod to Kenny King and Austin Aries’ shared history with the embrace, even though they said nothing about ROH. It’s stuff like that that’s great for the smart fans while not going over the head of everyone else.
James Storm vs. Jeff Hardy in a BFG match. The challenge with this matchup is that because it’s Jeff Hardy, the crowd naturally gravitates towards him – which is not the best thing for the guy you’re allegedly grooming to be the next World champ. Storm played subtle heel at points, but for the most part tried to work a straight babyface match with Jeff. On second viewing the match itself was more good than great, but the hot crowd elevated it.
And no, kids, having Storm lose a close match in a tournament doesn’t hurt him – if the cowboy’s going to get on a roll it should be later in the series, not now. In two months not many people will remember this match result unless you make a point of it on TV.
Fast forwarded through Kurt Angle and Ken Anderson hype videos for next week’s BFG match. I just find Ken Anderson in particular to be insufferable, even when he’s trying to be likeable.
Fast forward to the point where Bobby Roode comes out to confront Hulk Hogan. Roode was solid here in getting over the “Aries isn’t a worthy challenger” meme, although his cadence and mannerisms still feel like he’s playing Ric Flair than being his own character. Aries comes out – and, just as an aside – I love the bits where AA tells the crowd to be quiet without berating them – it’s almost like the crowd chants just so Aries will shut them down.
It’s great stuff, and Aries is so, so good playing the role of the cocky, yet tough babyface who doesn’t back down from anyone. He’s the best of both CM Punk and John Cena. The segment ends when Roode tries to hit Aries with the World title belt, misses, and gets clocked by the X-Division title. Pitch-perfect, and five minutes of excellent wrestling television and hype for a pay-per-view main event.
-Bully Ray and Joseph Park were freakin’ great.
-James Storm and Jeff Hardy had a really good TV main event.
-Austin Aries might be the best babyface in a major wrestling company right now.
-Hulk Hogan’s trying, but his segments are mostly unwatchable without another compelling character in them.
-The less emphasis they put on the Claire Lynch storyline, the better.
-If I could bring myself to pay money to watch a TNA PPV, I’d actually buy Destination X.
Thanks for reading, and if you like what you read – or even if you don’t – hit me up with a comment, follow me on Twitter, or email me at dajerseyboy at hotmail com.