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Posted in: Column of the Month
February 2013 COTM - Wrestling Matters: IMPACT Coverage (Open Fight Night), IWC VS TNA
By Shane
Mar 29, 2013 - 12:59:41 AM

Wrestling Matters: IMPACT Coverage (Open Fight Night), IWC V. TNA



IWC V. TNA


Welcome, welcome, welcome, to the Column of the Month entry. I am Shane, aka The Writer Who Wrote Positively About TNA And Lived To Tell About It. Shane is much shorter, but the other name makes a point.

Doesn’t it?

And isn’t it a shame that there is a wrestling promotion that so-called fans of pro wrestling only seem to mention in a negative light? And, I know, you have your reasons. TNA has done things worth mocking, right? Worth ripping, eh? Worth nailing to the wall, huh?

Guess what?

So has WWE.

So did WCW.

(So on and so forth).

But I have been watching TNA almost weekly since the guy I call “The Best in the World”, the It Factor, Bobby Roode, began the longest heavyweight title reign in TNA history. And, sure, not everything has gone my way: I wanted Bobby Roode to keep the title until Bound for Glory in order to elevate James Storm, but that didn’t happen. And, of course, I wasn’t a fan of the Dixie Carter/AJ Styles story.

But neither was I too big on the one-year, Once-in-a-Lifetime build to John Cena and the Rock last year. Nor do I like storylines built like this: Rock says, I’m leaving now, but when I come back I’m going to be the WWE Champion. The twist? There is no twist. Rock leaves and when he comes back, he is the WWE Champion. I don’t like WWE building natural feuds like Ryback/CM Punk/Shield over the not-WrestleMania months, only to see CM Punk bounced from the WWE title picture in WrestleMania season and Ryback kicked out of his match with the Shield.

What am I saying?

There’s always something to bitch about. But instead of bitching about WWE, I simply began to watch more TNA. Because, no matter the good, the bad, or the ugly, TNA began to do some things that are not only good to me, but they are good for wrestling.

TNA decided to do fewer PPVs and focus instead on longer, more layered storylines.

TNA decided to do their angles and shows with a forward-lean, leaving the viewer wanting to see what happens next week.

TNA invested time and effort into a group called Aces & Eights, while the IWC bashed them every step of the way.

There isn’t proper room here for me to cover this ground, but if you want to know why the Aces & Eights story was amazing, go to this link: http://www.lordsofpain.tv/showthread.php?1838-Aces-amp-Eights-SUCK-But-So-What

I did not write the column, but I wrote the response at the bottom, which details many of the steps made by TNA to make this angle a classic. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the super-long response written by Shane.

As I say in that response, I spent nine months, like Sting in the rafters, watching the IWC comment on the Aces & Eights storyline.

The comments I read were appalling. Because TNA built this group from the bottom up, the IWC complained that it didn’t have enough big stars (even though, had it been done the other way, from the top down, everybody would have complained that it was another nWo knockoff or a Main Event Mafia). The IWC complained, of all things, that they were SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME on this angle. That it was TAKING TOO LONG.

Are you serious?

Have we all turned into a bunch of Baby-Russo’s? The best wrestling takes time. Maybe younger fans don’t know that; maybe older fans have forgotten.

Seriously, click the link and read my defense of TNA and the Aces & Eights angle.

Whether you like the product now or not, you should be worried about an IWC that so wants instant gratification that we would rather sabotage storylines than wait for the payoff.

Readers were actually DEMANDING that Eric Bischoff or Jeff Jarrett be revealed as the leader of Aces & Eights, just to have a ‘big name’.

Again: Are you serious?

Instead TNA held their own pace and gave us Bully Ray in due time. The story turned out to be awesome and was awesome all along. You don’t know that, however, if your idea of watching TNA is reading about TNA online.

I’m still waiting for any one reader who bashed TNA throughout this angle to man up on behalf of the IWC and offer an apology. Just say, simply, TNA knew what was better for pro wrestling than we did. We were wrong.

That would be enough for me.

Because, after all, if we are so harsh on everything done by everybody else but give ourselves a pass on every word we say, what does that make us?

Something we don’t want to be.

Best we swallow our pride and admit the truth.

TNA knew better than the IWC.

Sincerely,
The Writer Who Wrote Positively About TNA And Lived To Tell About It.


Open Fight Night


Rundown


I must admit: TNA has done so much I like since Lockdown that I forgot what I liked so much before Lockdown. Post-Lockdown they have gone on the road (something any true wrestling fan should celebrate), they have continued to build the Aces angle, continued to play on the history that led into it, and have continued to create compelling TV.

But, before Lockdown, part of what made me a fan was the attention given to each IMPACT episode. Some weeks were ‘regular’ weeks, some had Gut Check, and, some, like this week, had Open Fight Night, a night where anyone can come out and make a challenge and it has to be accepted.

It is a way to change the pace and not have each week of TV feel just like the week before. Know what I mean?

So, without further praise or ado, let’s get down to the Rundown.

8:00: Go time! We kick off with a video detailing life in TNA since Lockdown. It’s like this: it’s not gone well for TNA. It has gone well for Bully Ray and Company. That’s about all you need to know from the video.

8:01: Live from Arkansas State University.

8:02: Not a shocker, the first man out is the number-one contender for the heavyweight title, the Charismatic Enigma, Jeff Hardy.

8:03: Open Fight Night is a good night for challengers and baby faces. We expect them to want a fight, whereas most heels and champions seem to shrink from battle.

8:04: Good crowd; great energy. Hardy chants to start (A few boos?).

8:05: Jeff Hardy remains painfully horrible on the mic. They should really play up his face paint and otherworldliness and keep him quiet. Luckily, he is interrupted by a man who can handle the mic, Mr. Bully Ray and the Aces & Eights.

8:06: Bully Ray: “I’m sick and tired of hearing your voice, Jeff Hardy.” You are not alone, Bully.

“You wanna call me out, Jeff? Is that what you were getting ready to do?”

8:08: Mr. Anderson takes the mic and plays up all the second chances Jeff Hardy has had in his life. Talks about “burning buildings” and “selling merch”. Fans aren’t really feeling it, and it breaks down to a lot of rambling. Went on a bit too long.

8:09: Jeff Hardy does what a baby face has to do—he punches Mr. Anderson and takes his beating for it. Aces put a beating on Hardy, but he is saved by Team TNA (minus the Stinger).

Jeff Hardy challenges Mr. Anderson for tonight.

8:11: Hernandez and his tag team partner, Chavo (who I call not-Eddy) are in the back and pissed because Bad Influence cost them the tag titles last week. They are on their way to the ring to make a challenge.

8:16: Announcers can’t figure out who they are going to challenge even after what I just told you.

8:17: Not-Eddy: “Tonight is all about payback.”

8:18: Hernandez and Not-Eddy are challenging Bad Influence (Kaz and Daniels) and the winner will become the number-one contenders for the tag titles, which means we may soon be seeing an amazing heels v. heels program between Kaz and Daniels v. Bobby Roode and Austin Aries!

8:19: Awesome. It was just said that the Bully Ray/Jeff Hardy match will not take place until April 11th. That is what I like about TNA right now. They have a lot of time on TV between PPVs. Instead of rushing each title match, it seems they may do two or three week programs leading to the payoff of televised title matches.

8:20: Fans are hot as Hernandez and Not-Eddy take to the air. They better enjoy it because I feel like they may be getting pushed out tonight.

8:27: Not-Eddy ducked and Kaz just clotheslined Daniels. Hernandez is in and taking out both men. Bad Influence had better go dirty, fast.

8:28: Holy…Hernandez had one man on his shoulder. Not-Eddy picked up the other for a suplex and dropped the guy, back first, on Hernandez’s other shoulder. So, he has both of them across his shoulders and drops them in a double-back breaker using his shoulders. Beast.

8:30: NO! NO! NO! Your author has been fooled. Hernandez and Not-Eddy get the win. No idea why TNA did this. I wanted to see a ballsy heels v. heels program. Not this repeat. Somebody call Daniel Bryan to finish this for me:

NO! NO! NO!

8:32: A Knockout (topless?) covering herself at the door of her dressing room as some perv announcer asks her about tonight. That might have been the former Knockouts Ref, but I honestly couldn’t tell.

8:38: Yes, that was Taryn Terrell, the former Referee. She is out in her new Knockouts wrestling gear and, my god, does she have a good body. She calls out the Knockout who cost her the referee job, Gail Kim.

Taryn Terrell is about as good on the mic as Jeff Hardy.

8:41: Gail Kim says Taryn has rubbed another Knockout the wrong way (her phrasing, not mine). Tara is out, and Gail Kim and Tara together give Taryn a beatdown.

8:43: Funny thing about hitting your entrance theme before you come out to save somebody: Velvet Sky’s music hits, but she is a few seconds behind, so Tara and Kim stop the beatdown when they hear the music but go back to kicking Taryn until Velvet finally arrives and saves the day.

8:47: By the by, Taryn has sort of a loose cannon gimmick going (how do you think she got fired from being the referee?). Velvet Sky is attempting to talk to Taryn and the camera about what happened in the ring when Taryn takes off running down the hall and attacks Gail Kim and Tara. I think Brooke made the right call: Crazy Ladies can’t be referees.

8:50: Next week is the returning Gut Check. We have a seventeen-year veteran taking on a thirteen-year veteran. Both men have gotta be saying—about damn time.

8:51: Hulk Hogan kicked Sting out of his office last week. Hogan is pissed that it was Sting who convinced him (the Hulkster) to trust Bully Ray. He even told Sting last week to do what he (Sting) does best: go hide in the rafters. This week Hogan has a bodyguard blocking Sting from entering his office. Sting yells: “I’m getting to that point.”

Sting is doing a great job and I’m not sure where this is going, but I’m intrigued.

8:56: Hogan is sitting down with Jeff Hardy, in the same exact seating arrangement that he had with Bully Ray on Lockdown when he told Bully that he preferred him to Jeff. Now, in that same position, Hogan apologizes to Jeff. Hulk Hogan says since he cost Jeff Hardy the title by stipulating the match at Lockdown as a cage match, Jeff Hardy can pick the stipulation for the match with Bully on April 11th.

8:58: Sting is in the ring. Says he can’t get to Hogan. Since this is Open Fight Night, the Stinger is calling out the Hulkster!

Sting: “I have tried to apologize a few times…if you don’t accept my apology, Hulk, things could get nuclear tonight.”

Hogan: “Because of you I didn’t listen to my gut.”

Sting: “You said it—You made the decision!”

Sting: “Man up and take ownership.”

Hogan: “As the General Manager, I’m telling you, Get the hell out of my ring, brother.”

NO! NO! NO!

Hogan ripped his shirt and said, “Don’t worry about my knee.”

Please, Hogan. Don’t try to wrestle. Just, please.

Security leads Sting to the back.

Sting is so good in angles like this. He has made a life out of wrestling with his conscience and the conscience of anyone around him. He could phone it in at this point in his career, but he seems to be invested in what is going on.

A lot of boos for Hogan, which is rare. Not a popular decision to kick the Stinger out of the building. If “Impact on the road” is proving anything, it’s how ridiculously over Sting remains after all these years.

9:10: YES! YES! YES! As Sting is leaving, Matt Morgan says, “Yet another Hogan mistake.” I am pushing for a major Matt Morgan face run around Bound for Glory. If I have to, I’ll settle for a major heel run. Just do something interesting with Matt Morgan. The seeds are planted. Execute.

9:13: James Storm, who was recently on the receiving end of the new, selfish AJ Styles, is calling out AJ.

AJ is in the crowd! My CF buddies are going to like that. Whereas I want to see a Matt Morgan run, they want AJ to be the Crow Sting to Bully’s Hollywood Hogan. This looks like another nod in their direction. Though, I will say, AJ looks a lot more badass with the beard.

Aces attack Storm and, much like Crow Sting, AJ walks away, taking neither side in the battle. TNA is definitely playing that game. I’m hoping they will swerve us before making AJ the guy to challenge Bully.

9:17: Kurt Angle and Eric Young make the save. Angle is over big here, too. Angle challenges the three members of Aces—Garrett, Brisco, and Doc—to face Team TNA. We have a six-man tag.

9:20: Big-time reaction when Angle gets in. It has to be good to these guys to go on the road and see the kind of reaction they still elicit.

9:22: Eric Young looks like he’s aged fifty years with his dark hair and beard. He is a guy who had a lot of potential, and I’m not sure it has ever worked out right with him. He’s had a lot of good moments, but that’s about it. As a character, he seems beyond lost at this point.

9:31: Angle is still a beast with the suplexes. Hits all three. Angle is distracted by D’Lo, however, and Brisco gets another win over Kurt Angle.

9:33: YES! Bully Ray is back at the head of the table in the back. These are my favorite segments when Bully Ray is narrating about the night from the head of that table. Anderson and Devon sit on his left and right. They toast the six-man victory. Anderson snaps. Yelling, pounding the table, says Jeff Hardy won’t make it to his match with Bully Ray. Bully is laughing at the outburst. Says he loves it. His boys are riled up.

9:42: Petey Williams is back! He will compete in the X-Division next week.

9:44: Jeff Hardy v. Mr. Anderson.

Anderson has a lot to live up to. Once you flip out and lose your mind, you sort of have to back it up after. But the match starts with Jeff Hardy dominating.

9:55: Not a bad main event. Hardy and Anderson turn it up from the middle onward. Though, if you want to be picky, Jeff Hardy has an arm injury on defense that seems to disappear while on offense.

9:57: After the ref goes down, the hammer is brought in for Anderson. Jeff Hardy gets it instead and goes off on Anderson.

Awesome spot off the much-loved Ramp.

See, TNA has a ramp that is the same size as the ring (like old ECW and WCW). Mr. Anderson is on the ramp with his back to the ropes. Jeff sets up a chair, runs, jumps off it and catches Anderson with his legs, knocking Anderson and himself into the ring.

Hardy brings out a ladder and a table.

No Aces & Eights!?

As Hardy prepares to jump off the ladder, Bully Ray rolls in and removes Mr. Anderson.

Jeff Hardy has made up his mind, in Corpus Christi on April 11th, it will be a Tables, Ladders, Chairs, Full Metal Mayhem match!

Show ends with Bully taking in the news.


Bonus


Joining me every Thursday in the CF is the former LOP Main Page Writer, Mizfan. The original poster of positivity is back for another bonus round.

1. What was the highlight of the night?

Mizfan: Ok, this one’s for you Newt… my friend the Mystic has asked me to pick my highlight of Impact this week. Unfortunately it wasn’t the strongest we’ve seen in recent weeks, but it’s still miles above most of Raw at the moment. They easily pack more into their two hours than WWE usually does with three. It was a show that featured Bully Ray, Christopher Daniels, and some very interesting play between Hogan and Sting, but my highlight came from an unexpected source this week. With a lot of things going on the backburner, what I enjoyed most was the unbelievably awesome antics of the man known as Hernandez. WWE is quite keen on their Rybacks and their Mark Henrys at the moment, and for my money the strongest man in wrestling is Cesaro, but there’s no denying that Hernandez can stand up high with the rest. He’s not the safest wrestler you ever saw, by my god can that big man get the job done. Not only was he strong enough to hold up both Christopher Daniels and Kazarian with one arm each (with a small assist from Chavo), but he also was throwing himself over the top rope with reckless abandon. He put on quite a damn show, and while I don’t expect to see him suddenly in the main event scene I will say that on a strong roster he still manages to stand out, and I think that’s awesome.

2. What was the lowlight of the night?

Mizfan: I wonder if you even have to ask? After weeks of strong main events and interesting storylines, we were subjected to watching Aces & 8s let Ken Anderson take the lead in the fight against Jeff Hardy. I understand he was just a sacrificial lamb to make Jeff look stronger going into his title match, but I think I would have rather seen Garrett Bischoff get the spot. Anderson is a guy who has failed to live up to even a fraction of the potential many saw in him when he first debuted, and the fact that TNA keeps trying to make him relevant is sad evidence that their WWE-centric philosophy isn’t dead yet. I don’t mind Anderson as a minion of the stable, they need bodies after all, but putting him in a confrontation with Jeff Hardy is a recipe for disaster. Anderson seems to think simply bellowing will make a promo interesting, and his ring skills make him look just as green as he did when we first saw him in 2005. I guess eight years isn’t enough time to pick up a few new tricks. The lack of Aries & Roode was very saddening as well, and the female referee storyline continues to be hot garbage, but as usual my undying hatred must first and foremost go to Anderson.

3. Do you think we will eventually see a Bad Influence v. Roode-Aries program?

Mizfan: Would TNA have the guts to put Aries & Roode up against Bad Influence? Would they pull the trigger on what could be the best heel vs. heel feud of all time? I say YES! And I’m not convinced it would have to stay a heel vs. heel feud either. You see, if Aries & Roode are serious about pursuing every title in the company, eventually they will have to come after Bully & Devon. Team 3D vs. Aries & Roode. Oh damn. That could be amazing. But first of all, Bad Influence and the team we have dubbed the Hollywood Brunettes. I think there’s real gold waiting to be discovered in a direct feud between these guys. Hernandez may be very impressive in the ring, but his team with Chavo is a dead duck as far as character is concerned. The two heel teams are a different matter entirely though. Aries & Roode have both proved in recent title reigns that they are brilliant at inciting excitement, and Christopher Daniels is on the roll of his life character-wise. I can’t think of any negatives at all should TNA go after this feud with a vested interest, and I personally can’t wait to see it.

4. The X-Division now has a weight limit and all the matches are 3-Way Triple Threats. What is the potential or lack thereof that you see with the new X-Division?

Mizfan: As for this new X Division thing, I’m not sure what I can say except that I’m willing to give it a chance. The match back at Lockdown was sloppy and dangerous, but the title match on Impact last night was actually quite interesting. Sonjay Dutt particularly impressed, even though he ended up taking the pinfall. I think, much more than the triple threat thing, I like that they are bringing back old favorites as well as letting new faces get some attention. Did you see Petey Williams is back? Can’t wait to see another Canadian Destroyer! Kenny King is a good hand and I can’t wait to see him lead the X Division down this latest road. It may end up flopping or fading away soon, or it may lead to a revitalization of the division. Who knows? But I’m happy to wait and see. I’ll try anything once, eh?


Finale


To finish, let me say, this was not the best week of IMPACT.

But neither was it bad.

TNA seems to be gearing up for a major IMPACT on April 11th. Not only will we see Bully Ray defend the heavyweight title against Jeff Hardy, but that will also be the night where the tag titles are on the line when Batman Bobby Roode and Boy Wonder Austin Aries take on Hernandez and Not-Eddy.

This may become a trend. Using two or three IMPACT telecasts to build up to a bigger IMPACT. I don’t have a problem with that as long as the IMPACT’s in-between do not become a waste of time or overly-similar and repetitive.

The main takeaway tonight is how much Hulk Hogan has done wrong. Not only was he responsible for Bully Ray, but he has alienated Matt Morgan and now Sting. Add to that, though not necessarily by Hogan, AJ Styles is alienated from TNA, too.

Now, I said this in the first week after Lockdown: a good heel group turns baby faces against each other.

But is it Aces & Eights that are doing this?

Or is it Hulk Hogan?

Hulk Hogan is, after all, the man who told Bully Ray at Lockdown, above all, be remembered.

TNA continues to leave a lot of doors open (which I love). Everyone is always a suspect, and I’m never quite sure what might happen next.

That, above all else, keeps me watching.

And writing.

Until next time, let me leave you with this old favorite from the wrestling paranoia playbook: DTA.

Don’t Trust Anybody.

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