Written by: Arnold Furious
The opening hype focuses on the things the company are doing well (Sting comeback, Kaz push, women’s division) and the stuff that’s not going quite so well (Nash comeback slow burn, Dudleys aim to destroy X division). The big hype ahead of this show was that Sting had a mystery partner and it was a “former colleague” of Kurt Angle.
We’re in Orlando, Florida at the Impact Zone. Hosts are Mike Tenay & Super Shill Man; Don West.
BACKSTAGE the old wrestling limo has arrived. Tenay speculates the person inside is Sting’s partner. Oh gee, ya think? And why is it that mystery wrestlers always sit around in a limo backstage instead of arriving later or being in a locker room. It doesn’t really make any sense.
Shop of Horrors – Black Reign v Abyss
Speaking of not making sense; Abyss should surely be in a more high profile feud than Dustin Rhodes. Think about it; Abyss just crushes everyone outside of the main event guys so surely he should be going after one of the main event guys. Build it up so Abyss is impossible to beat in his hardcore environment. Job done. Shop of Horrors means no DQ and Dustin has all his garbage out here. Tenay takes a page out of the Tony Schiavone playbook and talks about the main event instead of this. Abyss is in his world; the garbage match and dominates because of that. Dustin has a mystery key to a port-a-cabin on the ramp. That’s your Vince Russo booking for the match so nobody pays attention to the actual wrestling and instead focuses on “who or what is in the box”. An old favourite of his and wrestling’s in general and was something WCW did wrong for years before Russo turned up. Dustin gets a surprising chunk of offence based on the mystery box angle. That’s until Abyss punts him in the nuts and slams his head into a chair. Abyss has the barbwire bat. Maybe he wants a game of Batty Bat Bat?
Up the ramp and Rhodes gets chokeslammed off the stage. Nighty, night! Tenay calling the crash mat “concrete” is laughable but the crowd appreciate the bump regardless. Having fallen back first on an icy road I can appreciate how much it sucks to land flat on your back off any height let alone off a stage. Abyss preps a vice channelling Nicky Santoro…
Only with Dustin’s hands. James Mitchell runs out here and saves both Dustin and Misty who Abyss wants to chokeslam into rat traps (yes, really). Dustin gets the opening and pedigrees Abyss on the rat traps…for 2. H’s will NOT be pleased. Dustin has brass knuckles but runs into the BLACK HOLE SLAM and its over. **1/2. Surprisingly well constructed match that didn’t dip into the need for a ridiculous or overbooked finish. I also like that Abyss tried to chokeslam a rat.
POST MATCH Abyss opens the mystery box and gets beaten down by the dude that’s in there. The mystery man is former Johnny “The Bull” Stamboli dressed as Muta and called Crimson Blood although that would later get changed to Rellik. They chuck Abyss in the box and push it off the stage. Instead of focusing on the carnage and the mystery man Tenay immediately throws it to Borash in the back. I hate it when they do that…
BACKSTAGE Jeremy Borash wants to know who’s in the limo but security kick him out. The announcers run down the card and we still have heard nothing from Abyss. Which is something TNA needs to work on if we’re to believe in the storylines and big angles. You can’t just push a guy off a stage and say something like “oh my God, he’s dead” and then throw it to Borash doing comedy. Its fucking stupid. We then cut over to the Machine Guns who say the following match isn’t about size its about tag team wrestling and the evolution of professional wrestling.
Team 3D v Motor City Machine Guns
This stems from Team 3D hating the X division but the Guns are the premier X tag team so this makes sense. Crowd LOVE MCMG. I mean rabid crowd heat on them. MCMG clear the ring and the Duds get the cheap heat. Bubba does a great job of selling Sabin’s offence, which is good of him. Imagine the Steiners having the same match? Rick would try and sell but it’d look like crap and they’d give up on it. Speed Vs Power then and it’ll be the superior teamwork that wins it and people forget how good Team 3D is at teaming. But this isn’t about Team 3D its about the future of TNA and the future of tag team wrestling. If this was Japan the Duds would go over BUT they’d also be tag champs instead of, erm, AJ & Tomko. You’d want to build up the big win with a series of challenges with the Guns learning from every failure. But TNA probably would have gotten shit for not putting over the hot team. Sometimes you just can’t win but you’d love to milk this for all its worth. Especially with Bubba being a total jerk and getting that awesome heat he generates. 3D isolates Shelley and keep knocking Sabin off the apron. I keep saying that tag team formula is dead but as I live and breathe these guys are getting formula over! Behold wrestling fans; a hot tag! In a match with no main event superstars. In fact the Guns have toned themselves down here in an attempt to not make this about flashy moves and more about the formula. They still have great teamwork although it relies on the referee ignoring the 5 second rule. Oh, and the rule where people have to tag in and out and do stuff. Half the Guns offence seems to rely on them just strolling in there and doing whatever they want. The Dudleys promptly do the same; diving headbutt, get the tables and Sabin cuts that off. TOTAL ELIMINATION! D-Von pulls the ref out to save his partner. Bubba pulls out the belt for a whuppin’ on Sabin. Dudley Device gets 2. Table in but Sabin flips off it and the ASCS RUSH finishes! The Guns beat 3D. ***1/2. Good formula.
BACKSTAGE Angle is all pissed off but Nash is all chilled out. Angle gets all paranoid and says Nash is in on it. They’re doing a fine job of selling the angle and they have a wrestler that lives up to that hype, which is handy.
TNA Knockouts title – Gail Kim (c) v Roxxi Laveaux v Angel Williams v ODB
No Kong makes me sad. It makes me laugh that Road Dogg & Billy Gunn can only get on the PPV by being valets for Roxxi. Gail pinned Roxxi to win the title a month ago. Once again; kudos to TNA for attempting an actual women’s division even if the WWE has better looking chicks. Its Gail Vs everyone to start but Angel is quickly eliminated by the rail. Kip James interferes and gets ejected. Wow, he really earned that PPV bonus huh? Roxxi puts a curse on the ref. Hahaha. What? If I draw on someone’s forehead with magic marker it doesn’t mean they’re in my power it means they’re drunk, passed out and now have an amusing drawing of a penis on their face. Angel fluffs something and the crowd are all over her. ODB goes on a spanking rampage. She’s already been at the liquor. Angel makes amends for her earlier goof with a YAKUZA KICK on Roxxi. Gail wipes out Roxxi with a plancha and they talk right on camera. Subtle. Watching Angel Williams is like watching a WWE diva just dropped into the real world. But on the flipside she’s pretty fucking hot. You’d think her inexperience and lack of ability that would be the story in this one as she’s the weak link but instead the match is just a bunch of stuff tacked together and it suffers from the usual period of multiple competitor overselling. The wrestling isn’t bad though, which bodes well for the title as these aren’t the best challengers. Just the ones to let Gail establish herself as champ before they unload their money match. I’ll give the ladies points for effort but they need more structure to their matches. This is just a clusterfuck but I’ll say there weren’t a lot of mistakes, which is nice. Gail eventually picks off ODB for the win. *1/2. Kinda meh and lacking in structure. They need someone like Dean Malenko to put some matches together for them until they’ve got the structure down. That said it felt more like a wrestling match than the usual divas stuff.
POST MATCH Awesome Kong is out here to lay down a challenge.
BACKSTAGE Karen Angle tries to find out who’s in the limo because Borash failed. Karen gets the limo open but its James Storm & Eric Young who are getting drunk. Storm says this isn’t the “Mystery limo”.
X Division title – Jay Lethal (c) v Sonjay Dutt
So Cal Val is out here too playing the Miss Elizabeth role. Sonjay’s Guru gimmick is getting him great tips. What a fantastic gimmick. He’s like a waitress, a stripper or a televangelist. These guys are friends and usually tag team partners. Sonjay with armdrags OUTTA NOWHERE. Jay even hugs like Savage. He’s got a lot of those mannerisms down. Near falls and they’re already telling a nice story of a friendly rivalry conducted at speed. Sonjay loses it and slaps Jay but then hugs him realising he’d lost his temper. That’s cute. Sonjay gets embarrassed again and slaps Jay again. No hug this time. FLIP DIVE! Sonjay generally spends most of his time on offence doing dangerous things. In a good way. Jay has quickly learned he can get over a lot quicker by mixing up that high risk offence with the entertainment factor. Sonjay has always tried to do that with his character but the character doesn’t always come across in his style. Luckily Jay’s Savage knock-off doesn’t extend to him rapping…
Do yourself a favour and don’t listen to much of that. I hate Hulk Hogan too Mach, but you don’t hear me rapping about it. In the ring Jay & Sonjay continue to tell a nice little story but its just lacking something and I can’t put my finger on it. The wrestling is good, the characters are working for me and there are decent high spots. Maybe it just lacks that extra level of intensity associated with title matches. Dutt breaks out an awesome moonsault where Jay rolls out of the way and Sonjay moonsaults him from a standing position after adjusting in mid-air. Some of their wrestling looks a little prepared and involves too much co-operation but its crisp and fast paced so you can look over a lot of it. Sonjay starts using the ropes to help him out and its like he’s turned it up a touch but he runs right into the Lethal Combo. SAVAGE ELBOW! That’s both his finishers so you know its over. ***. Like I said earlier it was lacking an intensity but I couldn’t really put my finger on anything specifically. Outside of generalisations about overuse of moves where too much co-operation was required. But then it was never supposed to be a blood feud so maybe I’m being harsh because it worked as both a stand-alone match and as part of the ongoing relationship between the two.
POST MATCH Team 3D runs out here and lays out both guys stealing the X title in the process. For me this angle should be over because they got beaten and shut up by the Machine Guns already. Plus it takes away from the Jay Lethal-So Cal Val angle that they were working on. Bubba claims this is still going because the Machine Guns cheated and they’re going to take it out on the X division. I must admit D-Von stealing Sonjay’s collection money is a nice touch harking back to his days as a minister. Remember he debuted Dave Batista to do that for him?
BACKSTAGE More Nash! He’s wanting to get past this tag match so he can get a shot at Kurt Angle. He says Scott Hall is NOT in the limo. We move to the nearby drinking contest. Eric Young is taking on James Storm for the drinking title. At least its not in the ring but its still on PPV.
Tag titles – AJ Styles/Tomko (c) v The Steiner Brothers
I’m sure TNA thinks the Steiners are something worth holding onto but Rick hasn’t been a viable commodity for a LONG time. Eventually TNA got around to releasing him and keeping Scott. I guess TNA just milked the team for all it was worth. And this match represents the end of that worth after the Team 3D bout. AJ starts and sells like crazy for Scott despite Scott’s limitations nowadays. Tomko distracts and this is why they’re tag champs! AJ hits a pescado and barks at Rick. He does have personality. Sometimes he doesn’t get enough credit for that. Crowd are actually cheering for him and have already lost interest in the Steiners as a team. There’s a noticeable ‘slowing’ of the pace when Tomko gets in there and the crowd looks bored. Rick hits him with a DVD out of nowhere and then realises he can’t pin because that’s a finish. Oh, Rick, I can just about remember when you were good. Scott is still entertaining though…
Haha, I love this guy. The numbers don’t lie and they spell DISASTER! So yeah, back to the match. Nothing much doing. Rick is sloppy and dangerous. Which he has been for at least 10 years. Shenanigans ensue on the floor and the ref is bumped. Urgh. AJ goes low and chair shots Rick for the pin *. I did NOT enjoy that match. It felt like a speedbump on the entire show. Like everything just ground to a halt.
BACKSTAGE Another limo has turned up. We clip to Robert Roode who reminds us that he made Samoa Joe bleed his own blood and refers to Joe as a bitch before threatening his own valet.
Samoa Joe v Robert Roode w/Ms Brooks
Roode isn’t in Joe’s league but at least he’s not stuck with Eric Young still. This would help elevate him as he went after our mystery main eventer in later PPV’s. Roode doesn’t really have a gimmick that feels real. You need to change that. Roode’s “fan” aka plant is in the front row. That’s Peyton Banks. There’s a lot happening here that has nothing to do with Joe. Which shows you how hard TNA find it to write for Joe. Speaking of the Samoan Submission Machine he makes himself look stupid here by falling over at ringside. This feels like a match from Impact and not a main event even. Just a filler match to get Joe on the show and progress Roode’s angle with his fan. The only good thing about this happening is Joe is a lot of fun to watch when he’s beating people up. Joe shows off his moveset and it is substantial. He focuses mostly on his kicking. Like he woke up and thought; my quads could use a workout today. When Joe eats up some heat he just lies around on the mat because Roode can’t make the heat interesting. His timing isn’t great on a neckbreaker either with Joe having to position himself. The match continues at a slow pace until Joe catches Roode with the Island Cutter. The angle becomes apparent when Ms Brooks gets laid out shortly afterwards. The camera doesn’t see it and we don’t have a replay but its clearly the “fan” that did it. Roode tries to make himself more interesting with a low blow and a DDT for 2 but the crowd has gone. Big time. They’re just not interested in Roode or his offence and this match hasn’t been good. Roode works the arm. Nobody cares. Northern Lariat. Nobody cares. Piledriver. Nobody cares. The problem here is that Roode just doesn’t know how to put together a match especially on offence and his work is all over the place. Some more stuff happens and the Musclebuster finishes. *1/2. Not a good match. At all. Joe was fun on offence but most of the match was Roode being boring and nobody cared about it. For me that would have been it. If Roode can’t work a decent match with one of the companies best wrestlers then he shouldn’t be out there.
BACKSTAGE Karen tells Kurt Angle it doesn’t matter who the mystery man is. Screaming follows. I miss funny Kurt.
So Angle wants to know who’s in the limo but Sting cuts him off and we throw to the Fight for the Right tournament. The whole tournament has been there to elevate Kaz, which its done a solid job of. Its showed him earning his spot and now he has to get by Christian. So we cut to Christian who says this is his match (the ladder match) and Kaz just isn’t prepared for it. He calls off the tag champs saying he’s going to make a point against Kaz by himself.
Fight for the Right final/ladder match – Christian Cage v Kaz
I’ve always felt Frankie Kazarian was capable of being a star. This is after his brush with the WWE and just prior to his run as Suicide. First big spot sees Christian go after the ladder and Kaz springboards onto it. That draws blood from Cage’s eyebrow. That’s a bad spot for blood loss because the blood runs right into his eye. The ladder is propped across the apron & rail and Christian splashes Kaz on it. The ladder does not move. Ouch. Its hard to find new ladder spots so they’re going for intensity instead, which is perfect with so much at stake. Both men take headers into the ladder HARD and you can really sense the stiffness. You know I was talking about intensity earlier? This match has it in spades. The slow climbing is still quite annoying but they’ve worn each other down already with ladder shots. Duelling ladders – REVERSE DDT OFF THE TOP! Cage scores big but can’t capitalise because of blood loss. Kaz monkey flips him onto a ladder and springboard legdrops him off it. Kaz shows his ladder match inexperience by setting the ladder up too far away from the contract but he uses the ropes to steady the bottom of the ladder. There’s a logic there. He misses with a legdrop as Cage rolls off the ladder. CRACK! OWW! Christian goes up but Kaz springboard dropkicks the ladder over. The contract fell off there so now they’re battling for a clipboard. AJ & Tomko come out for moral support but Christian sends them back. The ladder falls over and Christian falls onto his team. Kaz flips the ladder back up, which is FREAKISH and takes down the clipboard to get the title shot. ***3/4. Strong match with good innovation AND the right result with Kaz getting his big win. In the long run it didn’t make a big difference to Kaz’s career though, which it should have. It was stiff as hell and looked painful but I don’t think its anywhere near MOTY, which it was being touted as. If Kaz had gone on to greater things in TNA this would mean more.
BACKSTAGE Borash looks in on the drinking competition. This is not responsible drinking. Storm downs about half a pint of Jack Daniels. Erm, “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME”. He’s down! He’s down! 1032!
Tag for the title – Kurt Angle (c)/Kevin Nash v Sting/Mystery Man
This has a worryingly WCW like feel to it. Singles title defended in a tag match? Two old timers in the same match? Much hyped “mystery partner” turning up a limo? This is all very WCW. This is also Nash’s comeback match, which figures. Has he got the book too? If he did he’d probably powerbomb Angle and win the title himself. Sting gets backstage interview time. Of course his mystery partner is Booker T. This wasn’t one of the best kept secrets in pro-wrestling. Crowd pop is strong and Angle’s reaction sells it. Angle finds himself friendless to begin with. Isolated and abused by Sting. The technical stuff still isn’t great from Sting and Angle runs scared to tag Nash in. Tenay talks about ring rust but I don’t think it even applies to Nash because he’s got no mobility at the best of times. Sting-Nash is methodical. If I’m being polite. Crowd isn’t interested; they want Booker and when he tags in Angle runs again. He’s showing a lot of ass for the world champion. Angle-Booker is very, very WWE style. We soon head into the usual main event tag holding pattern with nobody getting a big advantage until Angle cheats and Sting gets isolated. Kurt has to break a pin that Nash has because if Nash wins the fall he wins the title. God, that’s a stupid stipulation. Why not just make it a 4-way if those are the rules? Karen Angle joins us at ringside. Sting counters the Angleslam into a DDT in an awkward spot. Sting isn’t looking quite as crisp as he did at Bound for Glory. Booker’s psychology is a bit weird. He remembers after a while that the Spinneroonie is really over and does a move just to set it up. AXE KICK and Nash slowly, slowly, slowly saves. Booker & Nash make a total mess of a spin kick. That was UGLY. Angle nut shots Booker and Nash hits the Jacknife. Sting sneaks in and hits the Scorpion Deathdrop, which Nash makes a complete mess of too. AJ & Tomko run in while Karen distracts the ref. That brings out Sharmell T. CATFIGHT, CATFIGHT, WIFEFIGHT! Nash slowly, slowly, slowly goes for the powerbomb but Angle knocks him out with the title belt and Angleslams Sting. Amazingly Angle has to go and get the referee from the floor and STILL gets the pin in a lame duck finish. *. Oh what a mess this was. Booker had ring rust, Sting looked off and Nash just sucks. They tried to book heavily to compensate but not heavily enough for my liking. Also the main event scene seems to be going nowhere good. Horribly frustrating stuff.
November 15th Impact.
Jim Cornette welcomes Booker T to TNA. Shame Booker had to go back to his old character because I loved his King Booker character (eventually) and he put real effort into that. Cornette asks Booker about his plans but that brings out Christian Cage to make fun of his royalty gimmick. He claims he’s the only King around here but makes the mistake of insulting Sharmell and gets himself laid out. I’d have rather seen a Cage feud than the Robert Roode one that they went ahead with.
We also see Kurt Angle v Kaz on Impact. Its annoying that Kaz spent so long earning a title shot and winning the shot on PPV to have the match on TV. But I guess it counts as run-on booking. Sadly Kaz’s performance in the title match just isn’t that great. He tries to control with basics and Angle doesn’t seem into it. I notice Tenay talking about the next PPV Turning Point where they stupidly signed Scott Hall again and he no showed the PPV. Why do you keep hiring this guy? Why does anyone? Angle tries to have his standard match with Kaz and they even work in the anklelock to kickoff into the ropes spot that he did with Eddie Guerrero. It works well for the most part when they get into the “Angle Match” (you know the one) and Kaz gets a great armdrag out of the Angleslam. Angle armdrags out of the Wave of the Future but Kaz counters back and gets 2. Karen Angle saving. Angle goes low and the Angleslam gets 2. I thought that was the finish. Angle goes up but Kaz kicks him in the jaw and the Flux Capacitor gets 2. So there ya go; Kaz just can’t get the win over Angle. Angle counters another Wave of the Future into a pin even though Kaz kicked out. Did nobody see that? Guess not. ***1/4. Nice to have this on here for completions sake. Kaz put up a good fight but I’m sure the company just sees him as another guy with potential rather than someone they’d consider putting the title on.
Final Thoughts: The show was going fine until the tag match and after that the show felt weak. Like the main event scene was a mess. Christian-Kaz saved the upper end of the card from total failure with a fine ladder match. The worrying thing for me is the lack of direction at the top end. Nash, Sting and Booker are not long term solutions and shouldn’t all be in the same match. The obvious solution is Samoa Joe or AJ Styles and TNA would eventually go to both. But here Joe was saddled with midcard talent and did nothing with it. Compare that to Angle’s great match with Kaz on Impact. Sure Kaz is the better wrestler of the two but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good match with a midcard guy just because he’s not technically good. Find a different approach that suits him. Anyway, if I were a TNA fan this kind of show would worry me. It feels like the company is running on hype and strong undercards. Which is very reminiscent of WCW.