Written by: Arnold Furious
December 7th 2008.
We’re in the Impact Zone, Florida. Hosts are Mike Tenay & Don West.
The opening video shows us the rallying cry of TNA Frontline who are going to war with the Main Event Mafia. The main change from last month being that Rhino has joined them and is all out to kick Kurt Angle’s ass tonight. If Angle loses his match with Rhino he’s out of TNA. Sure. Meanwhile the 8-man Frontline Vs MEM main event sees Sting’s title on the line.
Feast or Fired
This is a unique, if spong-tastic, match-up that TNA dreamed up. Basically there are four briefcases on poles over the ring-posts. Three of them contain title shots (World, X & tag) while the fourth contains a pink slip. I never understood the need for someone to get fired though. What kind of a reward is that? Why not just stick to three title shots? Or even make it four with the Legends title created? Who competes in a match that might see them get fired anyway? Think about this logically. You wouldn’t want to risk losing your job over a fucking tag title shot so you wouldn’t get the briefcase at all. You’d deliberately lose or just not enter the match. It doesn’t make sense. Don West tries to explain the logic in that everyone in this match is desperate and needs to take that risk to get a shot. That’s not entirely true though. Like LAX or MCMG’s need to win this kind of match to get a title shot. For them its all to lose. One briefcase will be opened tonight. The rest on Impact. Boo!
Anyway, the contestants are Cute Kip, Sonjay Dutt, Jimmy Rave, Lance Rock (plenty of candidates to be fired so far), Alex Shelley, BG James, Jay Lethal, Chris Sabin, Consequences Creed, Curry Man, Hernandez, Homicide and Stonecold Shark Boy.
This match is ideal for MCMG as there is no need for tagging and they can just double team to their heart’s content. Sonjay Dutt actually brings the best moments though. His speed and inventiveness makes him a favourite. His jump onto Hernandez’s back almost sets up him to steal the first case. Hernandez uses his size and BORDER TOSSES Rave onto everyone else before taking down BRIEFCASE #4. Hernandez gets a title shot…or gets fired. Who knows? (In order to complete the review; Hernandez won a world title shot, which he won on DQ before taking time off to heal a neck injury).
One of the big flaws of a multiple person match where the aim is to climb (Money in the Bank, ladder matches) is that someone is always trying to climb and failing. Since when did everyone get so slow at climbing? It doesn’t happen in normal matches. Its like a logic gap that wrestling fans just accept. The next most dominant man is Lance Rock. But unlike Hernandez he’s not over nor is he able to hit a big enough move to separate himself from the others. Meanwhile Curry Man headbutts Homicide off the top to claim BRIEFCASE #3. Oh, poor Daniels, fired under two gimmicks in the same gimmick match.
Rave is looking pretty good against Lethal until Kip just comes in and destroys him. And that’s Rave’s problem. As soon as he comes up against a heavyweight he looks way too small to compete. Homicide wipes out Lethal with the Gringo Cutter and should take down a case BUT dithers too long to claim either remaining case. Dutt stops him but Homicide climbs over his back to take BRIEFCASE #1. LAX have two cases. (Homicide eventually cashing in way down the line after the mess tonight, the tournament that followed and a couple more X division belt switches).
Lance Rock starts to anger me by back bumping enzuigiri’s. Which reminds me of this one time where the exact same thing never happened in the real world. The Guns should realistically take this downtown because there’s only one of everyone else and they’re both fit and healthy. Sabin even watches Shelley’s back so he can get it but because Alex Shelley is an asshole he celebrates and Jay Lethal steals it and claims BRIEFCASE #2. Wow, the Guns sure like a couple of fucking idiots there huh? **1/2. There were some fun bumps here and there but I still don’t buy into the 75% chance of avoiding the pink slip. Why not just randomly fire one of the guys who didn’t get a case? That would make them try harder surely. Booking aside this was a fun enough way of starting the show off.
POST MATCH Borash comes out to open up a briefcase. Homicide is like a kid on Christmas Eve. ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, LETMEOPENMINENOW. Jay Lethal gets his case opened, after lengthy Borash rambling and Shelley being a prick, and he’s got a tag title shot. Which would be a DUD prize unless you were in a tag team and that’s what REALLY angers Alex Shelley. Even Borash is sick of Shelley and calls him a “total non-stop asshole” and walks away. Yeah, Alex you just got owned by the interview guy.
BACKSTAGE Sharmell tells ODB she’s “ghetto”. The Beautiful People cut a length promo in which they irritate me. I like how Billy Gunn has been reduced to hanging around in the background during a ladies interview segment.
Sharmell/The Beautiful People v Taylor Wilde/ODB/Roxxi
The Knockouts babyface union has a new target now that KONG is stuck with Christy Hemme. ODB started this off by bad-mouthing the MEM to Sharmell. Seeing as Sharmell is now playing a heel her character has completely changed, which is wrong. It’s Lex Luger syndrome. You shouldn’t totally change characters. Not unless you have dissociative identity disorder. Normally I care about the likes of ODB and Taylor but that’s because they’re normally working Kong. And I care about Kong enough to care about her opponents. Here, I couldn’t give a shit. Taylor doesn’t have anyone big enough to play off because all her opponents are cowards. ODB, likewise, is too tough for any of the heels. The only way they can get any heat on it is by having Cute Kip cheat and interfere. And let’s face it; when Billy Gunn is your strength…you’re in trouble. Sharmell is playing a spoilt bitch quite well but whatever happened to the same person who 6 months beforehand was trying to beat up Robert Roode? It doesn’t help that Velvet Sky is a horrible wrestler. It leaves Angelina Love with a lot of work to do. And her work with Taylor is poor. The women’s division looks badly directionless. Taylor reverses a pin on Angelina for the win. *. The worst, of many bad aspects, being that the most talented heel lost the fall.
BACKSTAGE Eric Young talks tough until the Machineguns come in to act like jerks (well, Shelley in particular). Don’t get me wrong; I like Alex Shelley the wrestler but Shelley the TNA character is unbearable.
X title – Sheik Abdul Bashir (c) v Eric Young
EY won his title shot at the X division rankings match at Turning Point but ended up failing to take the title because of the dispute between Bashir & referee Shane Sewell. Which makes you wonder why Sewell keeps getting Bashir’s matches. This is the re-match of Young’s title match with Sewell under orders to not affect the outcome of the match. Tenay claims TNA didn’t hook Sewell from this match because it was a tough decision. No, it was an easy decision. Just get rid of him. Then bump the ref and Sewell runs in to count the three. Easy booking.
During this match Young has to prove he deserves the X title. It requires a certain style of wrestling and confidence. He’s never had it before. Just because he wants it and the crowd wants him to win doesn’t mean he should win. I’m very aware that while watching this match that I’m not watching an “X style” match. Neither guy is a true X-division talent. There’s no flying, there’s no speed, there’s no technique. Its two small guys working heavyweight style. And the main theme for the match is that Young finally has the confidence to win a title. So why does he not look convincing? The secondary story is Bashir Vs Sewell and that doesn’t come into play until the end. At least Young’s goofy looking offence is unique to the company so we’re not seeing the same flippy moves over and over again. Of course the finish is as you’d expect with Bashir sticking it to the referee and deliberately baiting him into interfering until Sewell loses his temper, PAUL ORNDORFF STYLE, and kicks Bashir’s hands off the ropes allowing EY to get the roll up win. **. I’ve seen worse matches. Young didn’t exactly set the world on fire here but most of the blame must surely fall on Bashir’s shoulders as he’s been such a monumental in-ring failure as the X-division champion. He possesses only one attribute of a genuine champion; people hate him. And in the X division, with its rich recent history of classic matches and great champions, that’s just not enough.
POST MATCH Bashir continues to bait Sewell, which is a bit rich having already lost his title, and pays for it with a Flair-esque beat-down. Bashir then busts Sewell open with the belt provoking a SICK bladejob.
Sidenote: due to Sewell’s interference the belt switch didn’t stick but TNA were happy to not have Bashir as champion anymore so ran a tournament to determine a new champion. Cornette storming down post-beatdown to take the belt is an excellent use of him. “I don’t understand a God-darn word you’re saying and I don’t care”.
What’s really annoying about this show is how all the fun stuff is going to happen later. Feast or Fired is only really about finding out who has what title shot and that happens on Impact. Its not like Money in the Bank where the winner has a world title shot. People get excited about that. So the thrill is in the match. With Feast or Fired you don’t know who’s got what. Would it really hurt to reveal it on the PPV…yanno, the one everyone paid money for? Then you’ve got Bashir-Young, which has Young winning but that’s blatantly not the pay-off. The pay-off is the tournament that will follow. Why not do Bashir-Young on Impact, because it’s never going to be a good match, and get the tournament going leading to the semi’s taking place on this PPV and the final @ Genesis. Then you’re actually dropping cash for good stuff AND you have time to build to the big X-showdown between Shelley & Sabin. Just a thought.
Knockouts title – Awesome Kong (c) w/Raisha Saeed/Rhaka Khan v Christy Hemme
Hemme has been training with AJ Styles in an attempt to get over with the Zone. The camera picks up a sign saying “if Hemme wins, we riot”, which is somewhat contrary to TNA’s aims here surely. Crowd chant “Kong’s gonna kill ya”. Kong just kinda let’s Hemme do stuff and pretty much ignores it. That is until Hemme breaks out the PLANCHAAAAAA! And the camera was in a great position to pick it up. That’s as good as it gets and it ain’t gonna get that good again. Kong then destroys Hemme and breaks out the backbreaker rack that she murderised Hemme with the previous year. Hemme does have a bag of tricks. She tries kicking Kong in the head and the PRINCESS BRIDE SLEEPER. She even looks to have it won with the splits legdrop but Saeed pulls her off the cover. The ref lets it go and tries to let Hemme continue but then Saeed flat out runs in for the DQ. ½*. Hemme looked way better than I expected but that still doesn’t change that all they had was 5 minutes of stuff and Kong can do 5 minutes with a bag of potatoes. More worrying for TNA must surely be that they can’t get anyone over in this division without Kong and Kong is looking increasingly bored.
POST MATCH the biggest and most telling part of this match is the crowd reaction to the pull-apart that follows it. They kick back and chant “let them fight”. Hemme has gone from the bitch no one wants in this match to a genuine threat. But that doesn’t mean I want to see a re-match.
BACKSTAGE Borash reminds Kurt Angle that if he loses to Rhino he’s gone from TNA. Angle makes a point of stopping off in his promo to put Rhino over for lighting a fire under the Frontline but points out he is far more intense. He’s desperate to get Jarrett back in the ring at Genesis and will stop at nothing to get it. Rhino has a lot to live up to.
Beer Money (c) v Abyss/Matt Morgan
Why does Russo so love the ‘wacky tag team partners who don’t get along and end up feuding’ shit? Morgan’s heel turn is SO predictable that I’m shocked they’ve not pulled the trigger on it already. We have to wait a whole month for that scandalous revelation. Here’s an idea; why not have this as an open match for Beer Money and the winner of the tag title shot in Feast or Fired gets the shot tonight! The theme of the match is Abyss lacking self control, which pisses Morgan off. Beer Money tries to win cheap by getting themselves counted out but the ref says they’ll lose the belts if that happens. Since when does a referee have that power? Speaking of power Cornette has sent word that the X title is being held up. Meanwhile this match is all about the challengers power against the champions cowardice. Storm in particular. He keeps avoiding tags because he went and pissed Abyss off. Everything is going for the challengers and its an interesting match until they go right into formula 101 and isolate Morgan. Damn it. I don’t know if this is just me but I can smell tag team formula and it stinks. Don’t get me wrong; Beer Money are good at it but its such an easy out. It avoids having to create a storyline. Everyone is just waiting for Abyss Vs Storm where Storm takes an ass-kicking. Storm goes to the bottle but Abyss steals it, Jacqui blocks the shot and Storm gets brass knux and nails Abyss for the win. **. I like how Abyss got himself distracted with the set-up revenge. Storm almost gave him the bottle to sucker him in. It was a smart finish in an otherwise dull clash.
BACKSTAGE Mick Foley says his job is simple; keep the MEM away from Angle-Rhino. The Guns show up to complain about the finish on Feast or Fired and demand the tag title shot they’re owed. Foley tells them to wait until Thursday. Hey, something else that doesn’t pay off on the PPV and instead we have to wait until Impact. In fact Tenay runs through all the stuff that’s going to happen on Impact. WCW used to set up free TV on their PPV’s too and look what happened to them. Look; there’s nothing wrong with making people want to see your TV show but this is the PPV. People paid for this. You’d better make it good.
PROMO TIME – Motor City Machineguns. Shelley tells us because they’re out here again your PPV provider may charge you double. To be fair to Alex he’s been really funny in these last two segments but the crowd are not happy with them. MCMG stage a sit-in protest until they get their tag title shot. Jim Cornette comes out to eject them and when they refuse to go, with Shelley mocking the Midnight Express, Cornette orders security to throw them out. SUICIDE! He destroys both guys and gets a huge pop. I believe its Frankie Kazarian under the mask here and he does move like him.
BACKSTAGE Rhino gets a little moment of calm before the storm.
Kurt Angle v Rhino
If Angle loses he’s gone from TNA so that somewhat telegraphs the outcome. Its either Angle wins or some crappy non-finish. Foley is the special enforcer. Normally this is the point on the PPV where Angle comes and saves the show. Part of the set-up of this match teases a mystery man who’ll be getting involved in it. Even without looking at the results I can guarantee you he used to work for WWE. Angle tries like hell to get something going in this match but Rhino is all over the place. Its not even a clash of styles he just doesn’t seem to know what he wants to do. He’s unfocused. Angle systematically picks his spots and the crowd is left wanting that explosive Rhino offence. What it gets is nothing at all. Every time Rhino gets away from Angle’s wrestling holds he runs right into a suplex. One thing is clearly apparent; Rhino is a better cheerleader than a wrestler. Even when he gets a potential Gore moment he stumbles and it looks terrible even before Angle moves out of the way. Anklelock is on and I just want Rhino to tap out and end this. That’s how bad this match is. Angle blocks another Gore with Rhino moving at about 1/8th of the speed required to actually hit the thing. Olympic Slam gets 2. I’m begging TNA to just pull the plug on this awful, awful match. Ref is bumped, no surprises there. Angle bails to get a chair and Foley tells Angle he’ll get disqualified if he uses it and thus lose his TNA career. Both guys go into a silly overselling mode and AL SNOW comes out here. You just knew it’d be a former WWE guy. Angle uses the distraction to hit Rhino with a chair and the Olympic Slam mercifully finishes. Angle didn’t even throw the chair out of the ring. ½*. So, so bad. Rhino looked incapable of working in any of his spots or doing anything remotely interesting. Angle phoned in his part and this match just failed on every level.
POST MATCH Angle points out he now has Jeff Jarrett @ Genesis. Angle warns Foley that he’s next after he cripples Jarrett. Snow’s appearance was a one-off and he didn’t return to TNA until their ECW tribute stuff earlier in the year (2010).
BACKSTAGE the Main Event Mafia are reminded that whoever loses the pin for the MEM Sting loses his title. Sting points out his team has the experience advantage. Doy.
ELSEWHERE TNA Frontline gets an interview. AJ gets the title if his team wins. Team 3D get asked about trust and AJ fields it by saying that 3D were in their position ten years ago. He trusts them like brothers, like family. Brother Ray teases a heel turn and that’s part of the main event’s theme. Can Team 3D be trusted to hold up their end?
Main Event Mafia (Sting/Booker T/Kevin Nash/Scott Steiner) v TNA Frontline (Samoa Joe/AJ Styles/Team 3D)
Remember during the WWE’s Invasion angle they ran out of top guys to be on the one side and just shunted the Dudleys in there? Well, its happened again. Borash brings the Japanese style in-ring introductions to make this feel like a big match. AJ starts with Booker and actually dominates with his speed and intensity, which is positive for the storyline because AJ should be beating the second-tier guys if he to be considered a title contender. Second story sees Nash not wanting to tag in to face Joe, which leaves Sting with him and Joe just dismantles him. Sting finally learns from his title victory match and CHEATS by raking the eyes and that turns the tide. He’s now smartened up and realised he can’t beat Joe if they go toe to toe. Sting isn’t that guy anymore and he’s wrestling smart. Third story sees Team 3D deliberately trying hard to disprove the suggestion that they might half-ass it as this isn’t their fight. Fourth story is about the MEM and how they operate as a cohesive unit. That’s the best thing about the booking; everyone is relevant to this match. The weird thing is that MEM run their heat on Joe, which is a little backwards as they’re going after the strongest link in TNA Frontline. But all the MEM look good in the process. Sting & Steiner look freakishly powerful. Joe gets whupped for ages until MEM’s weakest link, Steiner, runs into the STJOE! AJ gets the hot tag and cleans house, which shows you how hard TNA are into pushing AJ. I think the idea here is that they’ll keep building heat on this until the right moment to put the belt on him. Team 3D hit the 3D out of nowhere on Booker. That leads to a series of quasi-finishers. Joe looks to have Sting in the Musclebuster for the win but Nash goes low and Sting gets the Scorpion Deathdrop to win. ***. Joe must have shat in Russo’s cereal to get buried like that. Seriously he took the big heat segment and got his ass kicked by everyone and then jobs to the low blow again. Couldn’t Devon or Ray have taken the job? The whole experience just leaves a sour taste in the mouth and much like last month the young guys end up looking like losers.
POST MATCH Sting teases dissention by not celebrating with the rest of the MEM. Which is an interesting take on it because it doesn’t really suit Sting to be a heel and yet he needs MEM to keep the title. He’s having to sell his soul. Big question is whether Sting can stay in the darkness just to retain his belt. It’s a nice sub-plot that hasn’t been hammered home.
Final Thoughts: Not a good show from TNA. The main event could have been so much more and yet was merely passable. The undercard was routinely weak and when not even Kurt Angle has a good match you know its an off-night.