Oh you didn't know? Your ass better CAAALLLLL SOMEBODYYYYY!
That's right folks, tonight I am proud to bring to you the return that you've all been waiting for. The only fair voice amongst a mob of critics. The only column that can make the best of an often terrible situation. The one, the only, THE TNA TRIBUTE!
For those of you who may not know what on Earth I'm referring to, the Tribute is a weekly iMPACT review column I used to run before I had to take a little break due to some personal reasons as well as the fact that I got sick of not being able to just watch a show without analyzing the shit out of every part of it. But I'm back and ready to rumble, so let's not delay any longer. Are you ready for this?
DISCLAIMER: I missed the opening segment to tonight's show, but apparently Jeff Hardy got his ass whooped by Roode and Bully Ray before James Storm and Sting made the save. Would have been cool to see, but oh well. Life goes on.
Match 1: Velvet Sky VS Tara VS Mickie James
Starting iMPACT with an actual match? That's a nice change of pace. Especially since the lovely Velvet Sky is on her way out to the ring. Don't know if it's just me, but it looks like Mickie's actually been hitting the gym lately. She looks to have lost some of the weight she put on before debuting with TNA a while back.
Hard to say who's going to win this one since an argument could be made that each of them (except maybe Mickie) deserves a title shot. I'd like to see Tara take it, but given how TNA tends to use her I won't hold my breath. It always pleases me to see TNA taking at least a small effort in making their Knockouts title appear important. They could easily just throw away a title match on iMPACT, but instead they're having a #1 Contenders match weeks before the PPV that the title match is going to take place on. WWE should be taking notes about how to run a Women's division.
It hurts me to say this, but Velvet is easily the worst performer in this match right now. She's clearly missed multiple spots already, and her timing is just atrocious. #Sad. Fuck yes! Tara takes the win and becomes the new #1 Contender for Gail Kim's title! That match is going to be one of the better women's matches we've seen in quite some time.
Result: Tara wins via pinfall to become the NEW #1 Contender for the Knockouts Championship(5:06)
Segment 1: Gail Kim (Backstage)
Gail Kim needs to stick to looking hot as hell instead of trying to cut an edgy promo. She's just not cut out for that. Sorry love.
Segment 2: Sting, James Storm, Jeff Hardy (In-Ring)
Looks like we're getting an explanation about what happened at the top of the show. Sting looks pissed off. Sure enough, he calls both Roode and Ray out to the ring. Apparently Bully Ray couldn't be bothered to clean the blood off of his face in the time between his fight backstage and right now. I usually don't let an open wound sit unattended for that length of time, but that's just me I guess.
Hey Sting, just a little tip for you here bud. If you want guys to calm down and stop fighting, choking your ally with a baseball bat, thereby allowing the bad guys to get the upper hand, probably isn't the best way to do it. Not surprisingly we're getting a tag team match tonight between Storm/Hardy and Ray/Roode. Had to know that was going to happen. Although in something I did NOT see coming from a mile away, it's going to be a tables match. That could prove to be very good.
Segment 3: Alex Shelley (Backstage)
Words don't describe how happy I am to see Shelley back in a TNA ring. Especially in the X-Division Championship hunt. It's sad that Sabin is still out for a bit, but at least they're giving his partner something to do in the meantime.
Segment 4: Eric Young (Backstage)
Holy shit, is that my English professor? Nope, just Eric Young. All kidding aside though, my professor could pass for Young's twin, complete with the beard. It's creepy as hell. "Is she gonna put a spell on me?" If I was EY I'd be more worried about popping a boner around Winter than whether or not she was going to put a spell on me. Just sayin.
LMFAO! EY apparently anticipated Angelina's bitchiness and was wearing a cup, causing her to hurt her knee when she tried for the low blow. And…apparently that cup was ODB's. Excuse me while I vomit.
Match 2: Zema Ion VS Alex Shelley
With every week that goes by, this Zema Ion kid continues to impress me more and more. It's not often a guy that green develops such a strong character that quickly, but he's quickly becoming one of the more talented and entertaining guys on the roster. "NOT MY FACE NOT MY FACE! CUT THE CAMERAS!" - Zema Ion is also perfecting the in-match mic work. That kind of thing fits his character perfectly. Well done kid.
I don't know if it's just because I haven't seen him wrestle regularly in some time, but Shelley looks to be working a much more aggressive style now. It's good, because he's looking like less of a spot-monkey and more like a legitimate contender. I don't know how people can see a match like this and still accuse TNA of having no talented wrestlers. RAW and Smackdown usually don't have matches as entertaining as that one just was. Suck it haters.
And Shelley continues his momentum with a big win over one of TNA's rising stars. I wouldn't be upset to see these guys work a full program against each other, even if it was just a best-of-three series like Ion did with Tony Neese a little while ago.
Result: Alex Shelley wins via pinfall (4:24)
Segment 5: AJ Styles (Backstage)
Quick little promo from Styles here, but if I didn't know any better I'd say he was turning heel soon. He was basically complaining about people accusing him of changing and becoming dangerous, so I could see him embracing the hate and whooping ass again. I'd pay to see it happen.
Segment 6: Eric Bischoff (Some Gym Somewhere)
Oh for fuck sakes, is this garbage still going on? What was the point of Eric confronting his son in the gym just now? I still say that if Garrett gets anywhere close to a World Championship I'm flying to Orlando and kicking somebody at TNA in the nuts. If anyone wants to donate some coin to help me buy a plane ticket I wouldn't complain. I'll videotape it of course. No Taz. No one gives a shit about who is training Bischoff Jr. The only reason anyone wants to know who it is is so we can all mock him for being an idiotic waste of time.
Apparently Eric is none to happy to see who the trainer is as he pushes the camera guy out of the way, and we cut to our next match.
Match 3: Winter & Angelina Love VS Eric Young & ODB
Ugh, when is TNA going to give EY something better to do? Wrestling with the Knockouts now? *smh* A full 2 minutes goes by and the only action we've seen is Eric trying to lock up with the referee. I like all the competitors in this match, so it hurts me that this garbage is what I get when they're in a match together.
SOMEBODY HIT SOMEBODY! PLEASE! Finally after THREE GODDAMN MINUTES Angelina Love mans up and gets in the ring, but ODB immediately tags herself in. Oh well, at least the match is finally starting.
Aaaand EY is locking up with the ref again. You'd think he'd be disqualified at this point. Now that the match is actually going on, this is another prime example of how good women's wrestling can be. WWE could really learn a thing or two from TNA.
With the exception of the first three minutes of crap, that was actually a solid match. Yet another great example of why I'm stoked that ODB is back in the company on a regular basis.
Result: Eric Young & ODB win via pinfall (7:00)
Segment 7: Bobby Roode, Bully Ray (Locker Room)
Ray still hasn't cleaned the blood off of his face. That wound's gonna get infected if you're not careful pal. Hmmm interesting, Ray just said Roode may not be champion for long. Could my prediction of a title run for Ray be closer than I thought? I'd be down with that.
Match 4: Samoa Joe (w/ Magnus) VS Matt Morgan (w/ Crimson)
I wasn't sure what to think about the team of Joe and Magnus at first, but I'm warming up to the idea. At least it's getting both of them some TV time. I don't care what anyone says, Matt Morgan is the best big man in the business today. For a guy his size he's incredible to watch in the ring. Add to that the fact that he can cut a half decent promo? This guy needs to be a World Champion ASAP.
Joe is finally starting to show that he can still bring it as hard as ever. It's a wonder what a guy will do when his company stops treating him like a piece of useless trash. Joe and Morgan seem to have some solid chemistry in the ring. I could see see this being a PPV match someday.
It's too bad that finish came out of nowhere, because the rest of the match was great.
Result: Matt Morgan wins via pinfall (4:45)
And yet again a member of the heel team loses their singles match, but comes out on top in the post-match beatdown. I suppose it works since they stay looking strong, but it would be nice to see Magnus go on some kind of winning streak.
Segment 8: AJ Styles (In-Ring)
This feud that's brewing between Styles and Kazarian is going to make for some solid TV. As long as I don't have to see Styles and Daniels face off for the millionth time all will be well. As good as their matches usually are, they've said multiple times now that they won't ever face off again. Apparently never doesn't actually mean never in the world of wrestling. Either that or TNA really doubts the memories of its fans. In my experience, when a guy says "I'll even let you have the first shot!" it doesn't tend to end well. As predicted, the second Daniels tried to take a shot at Styles, Styles turns around and knocks him out of the ring. Damn Daniels isn't too bright.
Why are those guys in the crowd counting? Does it really matter how long it takes Kaz to get in the ring? "You've put your hands on me for the last time!" - Sure, haven't heard that one before Chris.
Kazarian vs Styles at Against All Odds? I can deal with that.
Match 5: Jeff Hardy & James Storm VS Bully Ray & Bobby Roode
I'm finding it strange that Hardy's gone the whole night without wearing a shirt, but the second he has an actual match he decides to put one on. At least he ditched the retarded face paint. So far this match is what you'd expect from a tables match. Lots of violence, lots of near-finishes, and mostly action outside of the ring at this point.
Pretty back and forth action so far. The main problem I have is that Ray is shouldering most of the work and Roode is being made to seem like the weaker partner. Shouldn't he be the dominant one considering he's the World Champion? I don't think I've ever truly noticed just how well Jeff Hardy can sell his opponent's offence. Watching this match you'd think he was actually getting the crap knocked out of him.
Certainly not a bad match, but definitely not the best of the night. And to keep the pattern from the rest of the match going, it's Roode that gets put through the table, and Ray comes to the rescue afterwards and beats down both opponents. TNA has got to be building him up for a World Title shot. Either that or they just really don't like Roode.
Result: James Storm & Jeff Hardy win via Table KO (9:55)
Damn son, power bomb off the top rope through a table? You have got to have a LOT of faith in your opponent to let them try that kind of move. One wrong move and there could be a major injury there.
Match of the Night: Matt Morgan VS Samoa Joe
No doubt about it, these guys brought it hard tonight. Both men are helping to revitalize the TNA Tag Team Division, and I think you all know how I feel about that. Kudos to both men.
Superstar of the Night: Zema Ion
Some of you might think this is a weird pick, but allow me to explain. This kid (along with other youngsters like Jesse Sorensen) are providing us with a glimpse into the now bright future of the X-Division. Considering how young Zema Ion still is but how good he's already become, he's going to be a big star in the company by this time next year. Things are looking good for the X-Division right now.
Asshole of the Night: Eric Bischoff
Simply put, I want this idiot off my TV as soon as humanly possible. He's not entertaining anymore, and he insists on having his kid be a part of the TV product, which isn't good for any of us. Why couldn't he disappear with Hulk Hogan...
Well folks, it feels good to be back. Tonight's show was actually really good, and aside from a couple of frustrating moments I think it was one of the better iMPACTS in the last little while. Definitely a good episode to review in my return column, that's for sure. This is the exact kind of show that TNA needs to put out on a regular basis if they want to get anywhere in the ratings department.
As much as I'd love to discuss the show more, I have a pile of homework to get to. Apparently my professors all decided to assign major assignments in the same week, the bastards. But I'll be back next week, don't you worry. So until then, be well.