Written by: Arnold Furious
We’re in Orlando, Florida. Hosts are Mike Tenay & Don West.
The hype reminds us that Christian lost the title without ever being pinned and now challenges Kurt Angle for the title. Meanwhile the tag champs are both involved (AJ & Tomko) with AJ being potentially in the corner of either main eventer. That’s the big angle for this show; where do AJ’s loyalties lie.
Rock N Rave Infection w/Christy Hemme v Latin American Xchange
Rock N Rave is Lance Hoyt, Hemme’s boyfriend and Jimmy Rave. They have a truly horrible name for the team. One can only assume the infection is somewhere in Christy Hemme. The big story behind this is a Latino masked mystery attacker who keeps assaulting Christy Hemme. Much like the main event the storyline is in danger of overwhelming the match. I like storyline as much as anyone but sometimes just having a match is fine. Even the WWE knows that!
Sidenote; having a mystery woman (oops, spoiler!) attack an established female in TNA is an angle they just did. They had Robert Roode’s “fan” Peyton Banks attacking Ms Brooks. And that was like 7 weeks before this. Are they really that short of ideas?
Hernandez dominates the early going in this match. Whether he’s throwing RNR around or hitting a dive over the top rope. Sadly no tag teaming takes place here. It breaks down early and stays a mess. It has less discipline than Slick Johnson’s shorts. Referees wear trousers Slick! Hernandez continues to dominate and its clear that neither RNR are in his league. Rave eats a big sitout powerbomb. Hoyt eventually stops the assault with a moonsault press and the big guys sure been flying a lot. Homicide takes Hoyt out with the tope con hilo. Which leaves Rave isolated against Hernandez. Christy stops the Border Toss and earns her managers cash. Rave goes up top but gets pushed off into the ring post and Hernandez hits the BORDER TOSS OFF THE TOP. That’s your three count! **. Messy.
POST MATCH The mystery “man” runs in and nut-shots Hoyt. Christy goes to kick him in the balls but its Shelley Martinez so it doesn’t work. Why didn’t Shelley figure into the finish seeing as Christy had already interfered once. This just writes itself and yet TNA does a weird post match thing instead. This just seemed dumb to me.
LAST NIGHT we get footage of the Eric Young-James Storm drinking contest. Storm claims to have killed a lion with his bare hands, been responsible for 1967 Detroit riots and gone to the moon. Because Eric is stupid he loses. Or something.
BACKSTAGE Interview Girl gets words with AJ Styles. He’s not yet decided whose side he’s on tonight. Tomko tells him he needs to make his decision sooner rather than later. We cut to an interview where Dustin Rhodes claims he doesn’t know anything about Black Reign’s actions. Thus suggesting he has a split personality. Hey, that’s better than having Dustin Rhodes just walking around dressed like the world’s ugliest tranny. The character needed more depth and there it is.
Black Reign v Kaz
Despite the growth of Dustin’s character its still frustrating to see Kaz, a month off a title shot, stuck in the second match of the night. This match doesn’t suit Kaz who’s only ever really been involved in good high flying/technical bouts. Dustin has made his matches increasingly garbage based under the Black Reign character. He still works in some of his trademark moves, which from a psychology point of view is wrong. If he has a split personality then he should be switching his offence to be a different guy. Not doing that sliding uppercut. It doesn’t help that when he tries to work in new moves, like a weird looking running Stunner, he’s not able to hit it clean. He doesn’t look at a good psychical level. Kaz comes back with a lot of fun stuff at speed. His slingshot DDT looks pretty sweet. He reminds me of a young RVD. He doesn’t have a moveset that you see every match but a bunch of kick/high flying based moves that appear seemingly at random. Which makes him entertaining but hard to deal with on a psychological front. There’s a lot to be said for WWE style where wrestlers work moves in deliberately and there are counters based on that. It was lacking here. Kaz finishes with Wave of the Future. *1/4. This was just a bunch of stuff tacked together. It didn’t seem to go anywhere. Finish was out of nowhere.
POST MATCH Kaz steals Misty, Dustin’s rat, and that means the feud MUST CONTINUE! Even though the babyface just soundly beat the heel. That makes this the second match of the night that’s been overwhelmed by poor booking.
BACKSTAGE Jeremy Borash rants about AJ Styles but Kurt Angle seems unfazed. Compared to the mystery man when Kurt was totally freaked out. A funny sequence follows with JB replying to Karen Angle when she says “honey”. “You’re not honey, I’m honey” – Kurt.
Knockouts title – Gail Kim (c) v Awesome Kong
This is the feud that’s been the backbone of the Knockouts title. After a DQ last month we have a no DQ match, which sounds suspiciously like logical run-on booking. Incidentally this feud is so Vader-Sting. The plucky babyface champion and the massive overpowering heel who the crowd kinda like because she kills bitches dead. Kong is incapable of staying focused because she wants to set up evil stuff, which gives Gail her only openings. Kong abuses the lack of rules by stepping on Gail’s face. Swinging sleeper could conceivably finish but its just another murderous move. Crowd are working on a duelling chant (dudes siding for Kong, chicks for Gail). Tenay is trying to sell Kong as being trained in Japan but she actually learned her trade in California first before going to All Japan. In the same dojo as Frankie Kazarian no less but that’s less interesting. Gail just gets destroyed in this match. As the fight spills into the crowd Gail steals someone’s coke bottle and uses that as a weapon. She’s desperate and gets few openings so when Kong misses into a wall Gail goes after the arm. Thing is; Kong can beat her up with only one arm! Kong misses with a chair and Gail tries a plancha and gets caught. Uh oh. Kong continues to pound away and a spinning backfist leads to the powerbomb but Gail slips out. Gail keeps avoiding the big move slipping out of a chokeslam too and the rest of the time she just keeps kicking out. Slick gets on Kong’s case and AWESOMEBOMB ON THE REF! Chairshot for Slick! Gail steals the chair and nails Kong with it. That’s what she needs; exploitation of the rules! Another ref is out but Kong kicks out. CHOKESLAM! Kong just popped back up and Gail kicks out. New ref Rudy Charles gets slapped and Kong goes for the Awesomebomb on ref #2 but GAIL ROLLS HER UP FOR THE WIN! ***. Hey, WWE, they have a women’s match people want to see and not only have they done it but they’ll do it again! The WWE has only had one match in recent memory that was worth hyping and that was Trish-Lita. And that was just one match.
BACKSTAGE Karen Angle effectively tells AJ Styles he can fuck her if he helps Kurt Angle later. This is all done in the classy location of the men’s room. Then ODB arrives for the smelly shit gag. They’re not doing a good job of these backstage antics. Too much forced comedy.
ELSEWHERE Jim Mitchell w/Judas Mesias. Jim says that “Chris” or Abyss if you’d rather is going to be the one who reveals their secret. Judas is supposed to be Jim’s son. So having basically stolen the concept of the Undertaker for Abyss they’ve now lifted a suitably goofy back-story in an attempt to replicate the success of Kane too. But if there’s a guy who can sell the angle its Jim Mitchell. Unfortunately if there’s a wrestler who can blow the in ring pay off for it; its Judas Mesias.
Chris Abyss v Judas Mesias w/Jim Mitchell
The Kane-Undertaker storyline began in 1998 and is still going in 2010. 12 years. The Abyss-Mesias feud barely lasted 12 weeks. They had this match with Mesias going over and then another one where Abyss won to end the feud. Some very valuable lessons to be learned from this. 1. Mesias was over during this run, which goes to prove you can debut pretty much anyone and put them in against Abyss (much like WWE did with Undertaker in the mid 90s) and they’ll be over too. 2. If you’re going to debut someone with a tonne of back-story attached; make sure you hire someone reliable and/or talented. Mesias wasn’t a bad wrestler but he just wasn’t reliable. He had too many injuries and wasn’t consistent in the ring. Plus Abyss generally man-handles him when they’re on an even keel. Which isn’t much of a pay-off for 3 years of Abyss/Mitchell storyline. Mesias is just too small and unthreatening to play the role. He might scare a few kids in Mexico with eyeliner and purple gloves but without the menace to back it up he’s nothing. Abyss continues to dominate and the barbwire chair comes into play. The ref takes it away, slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly and Mesias hits Abyss with a chair. BLACK HOLE SLAM. Mitchell gets the ref and without a manager Mesias would be pinned clean after being basically squashed. Mitchell gets hauled in, slowly, slowly, slowly and Mesias mists Abyss. Sloppy Flatliner on the barbwire chair and that’s the pin. ½*. I really started disliking Mesias as the match went on. And not in a kayfabe kinda way. Guys generally don’t come out of lucha-libre and go into big feuds with top line talents for a reason. Lucha is a different style and Abyss isn’t the greatest worker in the world so he’s not going to cover for him.
POST MATCH Jim Mitchell goes to torch Abyss but security runs in, barely, for the save.
BACKSTAGE Interview Girl has Kevin Nash. He says pro-wrestling is a crazy gig and it changes from day to day. Interview Girl perceptibly says that doesn’t mean anything. Nash once again dodges a question on Samoa Joe. As much as I like Big Kev as a talker, because he does it so well, sometimes he’s incredibly vague and needlessly cryptic.
ELSEWHERE Booker T & Sharmell get interview time. I really miss King Booker.
Robert Roode/Ms Brooks v Booker T/Sharmell
Booker has huge crowd support. Although if you had the choice you’d root with pretty much anyone over this incarnation of Robert Roode. The psychology in this match comes from the ladies involvement. Brooks is playing the part of abused other half and won’t cheat to help her partner because of how he’s treated her in the past. Sharmell meanwhile works the part of cheerleader on the other side of the ring. Which surely amplifies Roode’s frustration as the match goes away from him. After all, ring rust or not, Booker is by far the superior wrestler. In WWE and even WCW Booker sometimes looked quite small. Against Roode he looks enormous and has the added benefit of being just as quick and having those educated feet. Then the tide is turned by Brooks tripping Booker up but you can see her looking all broken up about it afterwards. Booker has so much going for him here though. He has conditioning, experience and the skill required to survive anything Roode has. Meanwhile Roode gets into a spot of verbal with Brooks and tags her in accidentally. Sharmell comes in, ruthlessly I might add, and we get a catfight. Brooks is actually better than Sharmell because she doesn’t let her emotions get the better off her. Its Roode who costs her the match by running into her on the apron and leaving her knocked silly for Sharmell to pin. *1/2. Not much doing here but it least it made some kind of logical sense. Even if no one really cares. The crowd are happy to just stand around chanting for Booker while the writers are trying to do something else.
POST MATCH Roode blames Brooks for the loss and she loses it slapping him. Roode roughs her up and Sharmell runs in for the save but Roode PUNCHES HER IN THE FACE. DAAAAAAAAMN! Oh, that looked like it sucked. Booker T has this look of “OH SHIT, NOW THIS IS PERSONAL” but first goes to check on his wife. Like with Jeff Jarrett in WWE though this has gotten Roode over big time as a total jerk. Just to totally sell this (although Sharmell messed her jaw up legit) Booker looks really upset, Ms Brooks looks bothered and they come away from the commentary for a bit. I don’t like to condone the angle but it has worked. I feel bad for Sharmell who took a nasty hit.
BACKSTAGE Interview Girl has Christian. He puts AJ over and says he’s given him tough love because he thinks he’s the biggest talent in TNA. Christian makes fun of Karen Angle (possibly channelling Jericho on Stephanie McMahon). These comments may upset either Karen or Kurt. Or maybe they’ll just ignore them. Oh, and TNA finally run something right and make the Sharmell angle important enough to switch to ‘serious’ voices and tell us they’ll have an update.
LAST NIGHT The drinking championship continues and James Storm pisses himself. I could have lived without this. They did some funny stuff before but there’s been nothing even chucklesome here.
Ultimate X – Team 3D/Johnny Devine v Motor City Machine Guns/Jay Lethal
Was Spike Dudley busy or something? I guess TNA figures they owe Devine after he got stabbed working in that dump in Nashville. Hanging over the ring is the X division belt. Regardless of the outcome Jay Lethal will still be the X division champion so this match is almost entirely pointless. Bubba gets a rambling pre-match promo, which would have been better positioned during the setting up of the X. We start with brawling on the floor until the Dudleys get the tables. The Guns picked up hand injuries during the contract signing and can’t climb the X. Which means Black Machismo has to go it alone. The Guns dump Devine on his head. Duds try some comedy routines to get the belt down including running commentaries on how fat they both are. Black Machismo makes fun of Bubba’s lack of agility but both guys fall off. Bubba lifts the Savage Elbow but misses. They’re doing a lot more comedy than 2 months ago. Seems the battle for the reputation of the X division has been given up for shits and giggles. The Duds return to the point and both MCMG’s take kendo sticks to the hands. Devine gets dropped on his head, AGAIN. Damn, he’s getting treated badly out there. Ref is bumped and Bubba pulls out a ladder, which isn’t used in Ultimate X usually. Duds don’t care. Devine goes up the ladder but gets shoved off and BOUNCES off those set up tables. 3-D ON SABIN! Machismo eats ladder. Devon goes up and pulls the belt down. But doesn’t win it so the match is largely pointless. **. The ref was down so didn’t see the ladder but what does it matter? Some nice high spots and the Dudleys were fun in their involvement bringing some comedy. I wouldn’t have jobbed out the X’ers in their own match but hey, I’m not booking.
BACKSTAGE Joe says he didn’t start off on good terms with Nash but he’s learned a lot about mind games from him (or not, as we’ll see in a bit). He’s here for the titles tonight. Tenay updates us that Sharmell has gone to the hospital (not medical facility) and may have a broken jaw. I know it took a legitimate injury to force them into doing this but they never follow up on big injury angles. This all helps to get Roode’s actions over more. Like Black Reign & Rellik needed when they shoved Abyss off the stage.
Tag titles – AJ Styles/Tomko (c) v Kevin Nash/Samoa Joe
AJ & Tomko have brought some much needed stability back to the tag titles and yet I question why it wasn’t either Team 3D or the Motor City Machine Guns (which they didn’t do for THREE YEARS) as they’re the top two teams and they have a grudge against each other. But then tag team wrestling has been booked as inferior for some time. You’ll notice the challenging team is two main eventers thrown together. Joe & Nash get along early but AJ takes Nash’s knee out. Tomko and Nash is somewhat methodical. Nash and his 13 knee surgeries just can’t move around the ring anymore. He’s a 17 year pro at this point and pushing 50 years old. Joe-AJ is a different story. They know what to expect from each other. Meanwhile Joe’s lead allows the team with Nash to work. Joe does all the hard work so Nash only has to lay in the big moves. Like when he teamed with HBK. Joe has to take heat too and AJ gets a nice Mutalock on. AJ tries his usual high risk stuff but gets planted with a powerbomb. The idea being that although AJ has all these crazy moves Joe’s seen them already and has ready made counters in mind. Which is neat storytelling because it shows us how familiar these two are with each other. But Joe is smart and AJ is dumb. So not only does it play on their past experiences but also on their characters. Nash then walks out on the match leaving Joe to get picked off 2 on 1. AJ still takes a Musclebuster but Tomko saves. Crowd chants “thank you, Tomko” suggesting they don’t want another singles wrestler as tag champ. Amen to that. Tornado-Plex finishes Joe off. **. It was going ok until Nash’s nonsensical walk-out. But then I’m sure Nash has some bullshit reason for turning on his partner and walking away from the titles. Why even book him in the match in the first place?
LAST NIGHT we get the final segment of Eric Young & James Storm. Jackie flashes everyone to distract and Storm slips some powder into Young’s drink. He passes out and Storm is the World Drinking Champion. Or something.
BACKSTAGE Kurt gets bad news about Karen Angle pulling the Mrs Robinson move on AJ. Kurt seems happy because no one can resist Karen Angle.
TNA title – Kurt Angle (c) v Christian Cage
Given the two personalities at play here its hard to know who to root for. Two former WWE superstar egomaniacs who try to manipulate others into doing their bidding. Both men are popular for their in ring and talking abilities and yet they’re both best of as heels. Angle is perhaps the bigger jerk and thus gets the heat. The big debate on tonight’s show is which side will AJ Styles take? Angle shows his superiority on the mat. Christian surely knew he’d be outmatched there. They read each other well and the reversals and near misses are nice showing how prepared they both are. The weird thing is that Angle has slowed down in order for Christian to look on his level. Its odd seeing that but otherwise Christian would look out of his league like he did against Joe. Credit to Angle; he understands he’s only as good as his challenger. Christian gets Angle mad and draws him into a fight, which Christian wins. Angle can’t focus his anger. Christian pulls the Springboard Plancha out. Christian tries the ropes again but Angle catches him and belly to belly suplexes him over the top. That’s a big move in this match. Bigger than Christian’s high spot because only Cage takes the bump. Back inside Christian takes another belly to belly. Neither of the Angle’s give him time to breathe. Karen sneaks in a slap then Kurt lays in some forearms. Angle with a sleeper w/bodyscissors. This continues to wear Christian down. Cage gets out and gets his own sleeper. Angle armdrags out but Cage gets a spear for 2. Christian has been looking to hit quick shots in there and capitalise before Angle recovers. Again he goes to the ropes but Angle backdrops him off. MOONSAULT! He hit that perfect…for 2. See, Angle might just have done that to show Cage he can hang on the ropes too. Angle goes for the Angleslam but its countered into the DDT. That’s a common occurrence when Angle goes for it too early. I have Angle ahead on points but Christian has been hanging with him.
Again Christian goes up top but takes ages and the frogsplash misses. This leads directly to the Rolling Germans. Angleslam is countered again, Unprettier, ANKLELOCK! He just dropped out of Christian’s finish into his own. COUNTERED, COUNTERED BACK. Christian again counters and gets a near fall. This time Angle lets go of the ankle. Christian up top – he’s ANKLELOCKED! Chrisian kicks off but that leads to Angle’s RUNNING SUPERPLEX. Crowd is strangely quiet considering how good this is. ANKLELOCK and Christian is now spending WAY too much time in that hold and the match has gone again. Its getting silly. Christian counters into the TEXAS CLOVERLEAF! Angle counters back into the ANKLELOCK but Christian gets out. It is irking me that he’s not selling the leg and is surviving forever in that hold. Up top again and this time the Frogsplash connects for 2. He shouldn’t be able to do that. Not with all those anklelocks. He should be struggling to walk. Angle goes low; ANGLESLAM…for 2. ANKLELOCK, which now has NO heat whatsoever. UNPRETTIER for 2. Christian with his own Anklelock and Angle taps out but Karen has the ref. Why is he tapping? Christian has had his ankle worked ALL MATCH and now Angle taps after about 2 seconds? Whoever booked this match has serious mental issues. AJ is out here to get rid of Karen. He hugs Christian then elbow smashes him in the back of the head. ANGLESLAM and Kurt retains. ***. They were shooting for epic but had nothing approaching that level. Christian looked unable to hang with Kurt and made up for it with goofy psychology and bad selling. Angle looked like he was out heel autopilot. I appreciate they threw a lot of stuff into the match but that doesn’t make it an instant classic. There was a spell before the anklelock got badly overused where this match was looking good. Shame.
Impact – January 10th
Knockouts title – Gail Kim (c) v Awesome Kong
Following the dodgy finish at Final Resolution Impact housed a re-match. The hype is so big for it they’re MAIN EVENTING! Kong weighs 272lbs. Kim 125lbs. JB tries to do the full introductions but Kong rushes Kim. DUELLING CHANTS! Kim gets caught with a SPINNING BACKFIST! They brawl outside and Kong charges her smashing through the side of the stage! Kong needs an ad break to recover. When we come back Kong is bossing the match again but Kim counters her into a DDT…for 2. Senton gets 2. A mystery woman, whose out here in Kong’s corner, tries to get at Kim. She kicks her off but gets caught in a chokeslam…for 2. PANCAKE, PEDIGREE STYLE for 2. Kong is grinding Kim down but she’s so plucky and feisty! Kim tries a rana countered into a TRIPLE POWERBOMB! 1-2-3, game over! Kong wins the title. **1/4. A bit on the short side but showed the best of both ladies regardless.
Final Thoughts: Since I started sitting through these shows they just seem to have gotten worse. Here you’ve got two pretty decent title matches (Angle-Christian & Kim-Kong) but everything else on the card isn’t PPV quality. Some of it is downright poor. I can see why people whinge about the promotion.