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1/17 Impact Review by Wilkenfeld: Lots of Shark Boy but a Phenomenal main event

Jan 17, 2008 - 10:55:12 PM
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By Daniel Wilkenfeld: PWTorch Contributor

Where We've Been: Following AJ Styles much delayed moment of choice, Christian came out of Final Resolution mad and looking for vengeance. Joe came out mad, and, well, pretty much just mad. So last week TNA showed some nice forward momentum, and in so doing built a lot towards tonight's show. We have a triple threat match to determine the top contender for Kurt Angle's title, with AJ having the option of buying Kurt a couple months off. It's a little soon to sow dissention in the newly formed Angle Alliance—TNA has a longstanding tradition though of starting teams' breakups before their first match (see Seratonin and The Rock & Rave Infection). Unfortunately, as if to balance what should be a stellar main event, we have promised for tonight the reveal of who BG James's partner will be for his tag team title shot and the reveal of Abyss's big secret. For the record's sake, this is the third week out of the last six where we've been promised the reveal of Abyss's secret, which definitely gives it the edge over the Feast or Fired briefcase openings for "lamest bait-and-switch no one cared about in the first place but still annoys people who don't like being lied to for no good reason" standings. You know what would be an awesome secret for Abyss? If it turned out he was just a wrestler who TNA made put on a mask in order to get a job, and really his parents are nice vacuum cleaner salespeople in Wisconsin. I was joking when I started typing that, but seeing it in print I kind of like it.

The Show

The Angle Alliance arrives in black tie, and JB's insulted that no one told him. Angle says today's a celebration because when you ride with the Angle Alliance every day is Christmas. Eric Young pops into the picture, excited by the prospect of an everlasting Christmas featuring year-round sales and Shrek as Santa Claus (nice continuity there). Angle tells Young that Santa's in the limo, and then locks him in. He goes on to say how tonight AJ's going to win him a two month break from title defenses, but JB mentions that he could just as well take a title shot himself. Karen says AJ's made his decision already. Eric Young yells helplessly from the limo.

[Opening Pyro]

Black Machismo comes down to the ring alongside The Motor City Machine Guns. Alex Shelley has the mic, which is probably a good idea. Apparently they're now The Motor City Machismo Guns, which should save me some typing. He recaps 3D's challenge to a street fight for the existence of the X Division. Shelley reasons that he and Sabin are good enough to win the Tag Titles, and Lethal beat Kurt Angle so he can always win the World Title. Remember when the X Division Title was worth more than the tag team gold? No? Okay. Shelley says something about how if they win they'll get to establish a weight limit of 275 lbs., but I can't tell if he means for the X Division or just for Team 3D. I'm hoping it's the latter and thus just a joke, cause the idea of a weight limit in the X Division would be bad for all sorts of reason I won't bother complaining about till I find out if it's actually a possibility. Team 3D hit the ramp, and Ray says that he already weighs under 275 lbs. Devon doesn't, but that's only because he's training to be Mr. Olympia. He says they're in the best shape of their lives. JBL used to say that about Taker on Smackdown—I wonder if they ever say that about people who actually are in the best shape of their lives (no disrespect to Taker—he's still better at 80% then just about anyone else at 100%). You never hear them say that about John Cena. Anyway, 3D hit the ring and offer to shake over the stipulations for their match at Against All Odds. The Machismo Guns confer for a minute before shaking hands. When 3D turn around though the Guns jump them and tee off a bit with a kendo stick. Tenay says that the weight limits are only going to apply to 3D, so that's cool.

Crystal is in the back with Abyss, who says that his secret will only be revealed over his dead body.

[Commercial Break]

They show a recap of Shark Boy getting beaten up over the last couple of months. Apparently we're going to be getting a series of updates on his condition from Jeremy Borash. He's surrounded by his family, who are a bunch of people in shark masks. They make some fish-related puns before saying that he might never wake up from his coma. You know what this show needed more of? Shark Boy and puns. Also mocking wrestling injuries.

(1) Tomko def. Eric Young

Eric Young is still locked in the limo, but Sonjay Dutt throws some rose petals and Young opens it up. I couldn't follow whether the joke was that Eric hadn't tried the handle or that Dutt's rose petals have super powers, but it doesn't much matter. EY comes to the ring bearing James Storm's drinking championship, and the crowd is riotously behind Tomko. After some quick escapes by Young he offers the handshake, but then pulls it back at the last second. That gets Tomko annoyed, as he slams Young to the mat and locks in some sort of Chin Lock. EY counters by lifting Tomko up and nailing him with an FU. He tries to follow up with a Moonsault, but Tomko dodges and hits a big clothesline for the win.
After the match, Storm comes down to the ring and makes a beeline for Young. He nails him with an Eye of the Storm as Tomko watches on, bored. Storm offers Tomko a beer, but after taking it Tomko appears annoyed by the whole affair and tosses Storm from the ring. He lifts EY back up and gives him a beer, all the while looking like he'd rather be anywhere else. We have the official face turn.

Crystal's in the back with Christian Cage, and he lauds Tomko for being his own man. Cage points out that in tonight's match Joe will be in there for more money and AJ will be there to impress Karen Angle (insert shot at Karen here), but he's in there to prove that he's the best and get his title shot. If we didn't know, then now we do.

[Commercial Break]

Crystal is pulling Dustin Rhodes into Black Reign's workshop, and I'm wondering why he's still employed. That's not fair—he might be a perfectly respectable trainer or some such. I do wonder why he's ever on my TV though.

(2) ODB defeats Angelina Love

ODB immediately starts wailing on Love as the crowd chants her initials. Don West says "One Dirty Bitch" on television, which I wouldn't have thought he could do. ODB whiffs on some sort of shoulder block off the middle rope, which allows Love to get in a flurry of offense that includes a Spinning Leg Scissors and a big Jaw Breaker. ODB counters with a big clothesline and then hits a Running Power Slam for the win.
After the match ODB grabs the mic and says that while Kong's beaten every woman in TNA, she's never beaten her. The crowd goes ballistic. She challenges Kong for a match at Against All Odds, because she loves to fight and sometimes she even likes to get whooped. She says that ODB is not just another pretty face, which Tenay correctly points out would make a pretty good t-shirt.

Crystal is outside Kevin Nash's dressing room, where he's giving a pep talk to someone. For some reason they delayed showing Joe, which on the one hand was a bit silly since we knew who it was, but on the other hand did lead to a nice visual when we saw Nash and Joe touch fists for the first time.

[Commercial Break]

JB is back with Shark Boy, where Chris Harris is complaining that Shark Boy's getting all the attention just because he's in a coma. He says that this whole situation is ridiculous, and once again I think Harris has a point. Suddenly we hear someone yelling in Spanish, and sure enough LAX are here to check on their boy Shark Boy. Homicide does his best Eddie Guerrero impression as he walks off with some of Shark Boy's stuff, distracting JB by saying that he thinks Shark Boy is dead. Chris Harris's last line in TNA (for now)—"the only thing dead around here is my career." That's a nice touch.

(3) Kaz defeats Senshi

Poor Kaz. Tenay talks about how Kaz continued to climb the ladder by beating Black Reign at Final Resolution. Cause if there's one thing that's a step up from beating Christian in a ladder match, it's beating Black Reign and stealing his pet rat. Kaz brings the rat cage down to the ring. He and Senshi do some nifty kicking, which not surprisingly Senshi gets the better of. He goes for a Body Lock though, which just invites Kaz to power out. Senshi regains control with some Knife-Edged Chops, but when he tries to follow up in the corner Kaz dodges. He follows it up with some sort of Drop Toe Hold followed by a Springboard Leg Drop for two, a big Dropkick, a lifting Drop Kick in the corner, and a Wave of the Future for game.
After the match Black Reign comes down to get his rat back, but it turns out the cage is empty. He goes mad and starts beating and biting Kaz.

JB is in the back with James Mitchell, who acknowledges that the crowd is used to bait-and-switches, but that that's not going to happen tonight. Every time I try to remember why I like James Mitchell he does something cool like acknowledge how annoying those things are.

[Commercial Break]

JB is in the back with AJ Styles, and he says that Tomko will know what to do (presumably regarding what he'll do if he wins). Tomko comments on the crown that AJ's been wearing since his coronation last week. AJ points out that Tomko's been consistently right in the past and asks what he should do. Tomko, being his normal logical self, says that AJ won the Tag Team Championship without Kurt's help, so there's no reason he can't win the Heavyweight Championship without his help also. Tomko storms off, and AJ still looks torn.

(4) Abyss defeats Lance Hoyt (w/Jimmy Rave)

There's no mention of where Christy Hemme might be. Apparently Hoyt is out here to avenge his loss to Abyss in a reverse battle royal in late 2006 that led to Abyss's eventual title win. Well, not really, but wouldn't it be cool if they periodically mentioned stuff like that? Abyss tosses Hoyt from the ring, and then tosses Rave after him for good measure. Mitchell appears in the entranceway and asks Abyss if he's ready to reveal his secret. Abyss says no, and so Mitchell tells the cameraman to follow him. In the ring Hoyt hoists Abyss onto his shoulders for a spinning drop, which he follows up with a Moonsault attempt that reminds me why they keep giving Hoyt chances. He whiffs on the Moonsault and Abyss nails the Black Hole Slam for the win.

Mitchell appears on the big screen as Abyss tries to get the cameras off. Mitchell begins a story about how Abyss's mother was abused and abusive. He says that he can't stand when Abyss whines because all he can remember is the time Abyss stood by as his bipolar mother shot his father three times in the back. And the reason he can't forget that is because Abyss's real last name is Mitchell. Huh. You know that was the obvious payoff when they ran this angle the first time last year, but I have to admit I hadn't thought of it in recent weeks till about 20-minutes ago. Mitchell says that no matter how hard he tries Abyss can't shake his father's genes, which is just as well, because they're the only good genes he has. You know, this segment was unmitigated crap, but James Mitchell sells crap better than anyone this side of a fertilizer salesman.

[Commercial Break]

Crystal is in the back with Abyss, who's just freaking out. Crystal seems to have that effect on guys lately.

(5) Robert Roode (w/Peyton Banks) defeats Sonjay Dutt

In case the X Division didn't have enough problems, we might as well feed one of our most talented wrestlers to Robert Roode. On his way down the ramp Dutt leans in to kiss SoCal Val, but she turns away, so he grabs her ass instead. He starts things off trying to keep away from Roode, but gets caught with a clothesline and a high kick. He comes back with a Drop Kick that takes Roode out of the ring, and then follows up to the outside with a Somersault Plancha. Peyton interferes when before Dutt can follow up, which enables Roode to regain control. Ms. Brooks comes down to ringside.

[Commercial Break]

Dutt is taking it to Roode but gets caught in a big Spine Buster. Sonjay dodges a Splash in the corner and follows up with a Seesaw Kick, a Leg Scissors, a Springboard Clothesline and a Slingshot Senton Splash. He goes for one Springboard too many, however, which lets Roode knock him down and nail the Payoff for the win. Robert Roode taunts Ms. Brooks into the ring, which gives Peyton a chance to jump her. Ms. Brooks turns things around, and slaps Roode when he tries to pull her off. She gets Peyton with a Spear, but then gets caught by Roode. Banks removes her shoe and is about to strike when Matt Morgan hits the ring to make the save.

JB is in the Angles' locker room with AJ and Karen Angle. He wants to know what AJ will do if he wins. AJ starts to say that he's thought about, but Karen interrupts and says that he decided to do the right thing. She calls him the Prince of Phenomenal, which is actually a pretty good nickname. She gives him a kiss on the cheek and leaves him flustered.

Kip is in the back with BG James, who says his tag team partner will be here shortly.

[Commercial Break]

We're back with JB in "the shark tank", where Angelina Love and Velvet Sky have arrived to wish him well. Love says that the only way to help him is mouth to mouth, but before they can start Shark Boy's brother jumps onto the gurney looking for some love.

VKM are in the ring, and Kip says that he's going to beat down whoever BG's partner is. The crowd starts a "DX rejects" chant, which I love every time. Kip says that he handed BG the title shot, and has been a good partner for ages. BG says that he's given him the best 10 years of his life, and now Kip needs to give him five minutes. He says that he's always had a hero, who's been a pro wrestler his whole life, and one of BG's dreams has been to be in the ring with him. I have no idea. It gives him great pleasure to introduce his partner, his hero, and his father, Bullet Bob Armstrong. If I remember correctly from his last run in TNA he's actually entertaining, so we'll see how it goes. Bullet Bob offers Kip his hand, but Kip waves it off in order to give him a big hug. It didn't seem like it made any sense to break up VKM, and this was actually a perfectly logical yet unexpected way for this plot to resolve. Score one for TNA.

[Commercial Break]

We're back in the tank, where Eric Young lists all the fish who have fought to survive (including SpongeBob, who's not technically a fish, but does live under the sea). Shark Boy sits up and says in his best Steve Austin voice that the next time the doctor shoves that thermometer up his ass there'll be wholly hell to pay, and that's the bottom line, because Shark Boy said so. That was…unexpected.

Apparently TNA is doing some sort of cross-promotion with MMA and Brock Lesnar. That could be interesting if Lesnar's willing (and legally able) to play ball.

Kurt Angle hits the ring, mic in hand. The crowd thinks he sucks. He says that tonight Prince AJ Styles is going to win him his vacation, and that on Global Impact we'll get to see Kurt defend his other World Title in Japan. He hit a nice tone when he said "other", as if obviously everyone would have more than one world title.

Crystal's in Cornette's office with Steiner and Petey Williams. Cornette's telling Steiner that he has the wrong idea about the X Division, because it's not about being small, it's about having no limits and proving you're the best. Steiner gets psyched and takes back Petey's briefcase, apparently content with an X Division Title shot. This could be more amusing than I'd guessed.

(6) Christian Cage defeats Samoa Joe and AJ Styles

Tenay says that with each passing week Kevin Nash's motivational methods are working better and better, which is kind of funny when you consider that Nash only started coaching Joe last week. Christian goes right after AJ Styles, which Joe seems fairly content to watch. The crowd is torn between Christian and AJ, despite the fact that I think Joe is technically the only face in this match. AJ pulls Christian to the outside and Joe starts to follow up with a Suicide Dive, but AJ dodges and Joe lands on his feet. AJ goes for a Suicide Dive of his own but gets caught with a leaping kick by Joe. Christian Cage tries to hit a big Cross Body Block off the top rope to the outside. Joe, looking bored, walks away as Cage nails AJ. As they start to get up, Joe rolls back into the ring and comes back out with a Suicide Dive.

[Commercial Break]

We return to Joe beating up AJ in the ring. The crowd's finally rallied a bit behind Joe. Christian tries to catch him of guard, but Joe catches him and slams him down into AJ. He hits some strikes on both of them as they sit on the mat, but then Christian gets up long enough to catch Joe with a Double Clothesline Takedown. Joe gets to his feet first and whips AJ Styles into the corner, where Christian catches him and tosses him from the ring. He runs at Joe but gets caught in the Snap Power Slam. He gets up and tosses Joe, but gets caught with a Springboard Clothesline from the Phenomenal One. AJ tries to follow up with a Styles Clash, but Christian slides out and locks in a Texas Cloverleaf. Joe comes in and hits some offense before reversing an Unprettier attempt into a Rear Naked Choke. The ref takes a bump in the exchange, which gives AJ a chance to bring in a chair and go to town on both Christian and Joe. Joe eventually kicks the chair back at AJ, and picks it up to toss it out of the ring. The ref wakes up to see Christian and AJ down while Joe stands holding a chair, and disqualifies Joe. Joe is displeased by the call, and takes out a security guard before Matt Morgan and Kevin Nash calm him down.

[Commercial Break]

AJ and Christian are both down in the ring, which gives the folk in the truck a chance to remind us what happened "moments ago". AJ fails to hit his Inverted DDT as smoothly as he usually does, and in what I can only assume is an improvisation Cage reverses before getting caught in another. Cage gets up, but AJ catches him in a Spine Buster for two. AJ gets in his face and slaps him a bit, but Christian dodges a Running Clothesline in the corner and takes AJ down. He tries to follow up with a Frog Splash, but AJ rolls away and goes for a Styles Clash, which Christian reverses into an Inverted DDT for two. They brawl a bit before AJ goes for a Hurricanrana, only to be caught in a Power Bomb for two. Cage goes for the Unprettier, which is reversed into a Back Body Drop. Christian lands on his feet, but AJ immediately nails the Pele. He tries to follow up from the top, but Christian dodges. AJ rolls through, but gets caught by a Spear for two. Christian goes to the top rope, but AJ catches him with a big Back Body Drop and—holy shit!—I don't think we've seen a Spiral Tap in years. It misses though, but when Christian tries to get AJ with a Frog Splash AJ gets out of the way too. AJ tries to hit an Unprettier, but Christian reverses it into an Unprettier of his own for the three count. I thought AJ had it.

Where We're Going:
Apparently we're going to the same place every week, which is one prolonged backstage comedy sketch that takes up way more time than it has any business occupying. Various holiday parties, AJ holed up in Gainesville, etc. To TNA's credits, these bits usually have one or two funny moments, but they always drag at least a little. And the bigger problem is that at this point it really just feels like painting by numbers. They always crop up in the same parts of the show and usually involve the same sort of whacky antics. Why? Wrestling is about presenting the unexpected, but at least from a formatting perspective that just isn't happening. If they insist on having these prolonged backstage segments, I would recommend at least varying presentation: have some appear all in one segment, and some maybe just anchor the show. Most importantly, don't do it every week. Expected wackiness isn't whacky, it's just there.

Tonight's Show: Last week we had good progress throughout the show and then a quick main event. This week TNA went back to their usual format of having nothing happen throughout the show but trying to cover for it with a stellar final match. You'd think there'd be some way to combine the two. Entirely on the strength of the triple threat match this show gets a B


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