TV REPORTS 6/5 TNA Impact Review by Wilkenfeld: So-so show highlighted by the new (and improved?) AJ Styles
Jun 5, 2008 - 11:08:52 PM
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By: Daniel Wilkenfeld, PWTorch Contributor
Where We've Been: So apparently I'm the only person in the world who liked last week's Impact. My own BFG booking to the contrary, last week went a long way to reminding me why Christian Cage should never be more than a stone's throw away from the main event. As good as Joe is, his title reign should go one of two ways—it should either be relatively long, and emphasize his dominance over TNA, or it should be very short, so they can run with how he had it all and had it taken away. I had been thinking the former path made sense, but given the absence of obvious pairings for Joe (Booker feels really forced), perhaps the latter makes more sense. Christian could regain the belt in the match that's screwed him over twice before. I doubt that's the direction they're heading, but if I were TNA management I'd give it a second look after Cage's bankable performance last week.
They announce the line-up for the show: An X-Division King of the Mountain Match for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship (!), a KOTM preview tag-match, a knockouts' street fight, AJ vs. Tomko (!!), and…Karen Angle and Kurt Angle arguing? Um, is it just me or is one of those not like the others?
(1) CHRISTIAN CAGE & ROBERT ROODE defeat JAMES STORM & BOOKER T.
Rhino and Roode start things off, as I guess they're planning this match to get better as it goes along. Sure enough, Cage tags in and hits a cool Spinning Wheel Kick for two. Roode tags in Booker, who Christian lights up with chops before taking down with a Spinning Elbow off the top rope. They brawl, but Christian gets randomly distracted by Roode just long enough for the Bookerman to gain control. He tags in Roode, who works a choke till Cage fights out. Roode stuns him with a poke to the eyes, then tags in Booker. Booker hits a Vertical Suplex, then an Axe Kick for two. Roode's in, and he sets Cage up in the corner. Christian goes for the Tornado DDT, but Roode throws him off. Roode tries to follow up with The Northern Lariat, but Cage ducks and hits an Inverted DDT. Both men tag out, and Rhino hits a Spine Buster that gets two before Roode breaks it up. Things break down. Christian takes Roode out with a Seesaw Kick to the floor and then a Vaulting Body Press. Booker goes for the Scissors Kick inside the ring, but Rhino dodges and hits a GORE. Team 3D run out and break up the count at two to draw the DQ.
After the match Ray sets up a table in the corner, but before he can use it a spry AJ Styles runs down to make the save. Team 3D try to double-team him, but he's too Phenomenal for that. AJ grabs a mic, and tells Christian that they're not close to even, but maybe they can be on the same page. AJ also tells Team 3D to tell Angle that at Slammiversary he's not out to pin Kurt Angle, he's out to hurt him. And to make sure Angle gets hurt on Sunday, AJ's going to take out his new "butt-buddy" Tomko here tonight. Who are you and what have you done with AJ Styles? Cornette comes out and agrees that AJ will take out Tomko later tonight; he's been impressed by AJ's gumption the last few weeks, and so to make sure things are fair tonight he's appointing Kevin Nash as special guest enforcer.
We see an interview from earlier today, where JB asks Joe whether he trusts Nash this Sunday. Joe says he's been a good guy and a mean son-of-a-bitch, but one thing he's never been is stupid. If there's one thing Nash taught him, it's that you should respect who you have to, but trust no one. He's going to win KOTM no matter what Nash is planning, but just so he knows what to expect he'll just ask Nash later tonight.
Not-Crystal is in the back with The Beautiful People, and she doesn't think she gets paid enough to deal with them every week. Velvet Sky tells "Leather Face" to trust her, no one wants to see her face. She gives her a mock-up of their trading card to hold in front of her. Sky says it's not her fault even her pimples are more appealing than the marks who come every week and dream of being with them. We shouldn't hate them, we should hate the game. Love says that it's absurd that they put Sky in a street fight against "One Dirty Butch". Do they expect her to break a nail? She won't even break a sweat, because they might be beautiful, but they'll fight ugly. She tells ODB to bring "Kim Chi" and "Nubhead". They walk off, and Kong and Saeed come by to say that they'll find another victim in the crowd, and this time they'll cripple here.
ODB tosses the pitch in ODB's face to start. Love tries to get involved but gets shoved aside. ODB and Sky fight into the crowd. ODB takes a break to grab some water from a fan. It's pretty ugly, but the crowd seems pretty into the fight. ODB fights Sky back to the ring. The crowd is going oddly ballistic. This match isn't good enough to merit their response sincerely, and not bad enough to merit it ironically. Velvet Sky locks in an Octopus inside the ring, including a bite to ODB's arm. She tries a Sunset Flip, but ODB won't get powered down. ODB picks Sky up and woman-handles her around the ring. She hits the Fall Away Slam, but Love gets up on the apron. ODB approaches her, and when Sky charges from behind ODB dodges. Sky puts on the breaks, but ODB dropkicks her into Love and hits a Running Power Slam on her for the win.
After the match Love hits her jumping Reverse STO on ODB and goes for the brown paper bag. Roxxi comes out to make the save, and the crowd doesn't care. They wasted that good will quickly enough. The Beautiful People fight off Roxxi, but then Kim comes out in a knee brace and turns the tide. A new woman runs out and takes out Kim with some power moves, which allow the Beautiful People to make Kim don the brown paper bag.
We cut to Jay Lethal's bachelor party, where Curry Man is rocking the mic with Ace Young. The best man Sonjay Dutt says that he has something to say, but it'll wait till Sunday. Thankfully, he's not in the Guru gear. James Storm crashes for the free booze. BG James tells Lethal that since marriage is a sacred institution, he'll have to learn to keep his mouth closed and learn how to take orders. Shark Boy has had enough of the toasts and wants to get to the drinking.
Eric Young is still looking for Elvis at Graceland. He thinks he sees a curtain move in an allegedly unoccupied upstairs room. He thinks Elvis's jumpsuit would look good on Samoa Joe, and is amazed to see a Ferrari outside of its natural habitat in the wild. He says people claim Elvis is dead, but he has a ticket for him at Slammiversary. That was the best of these segments, but that says incredibly little.
They run down the card for Slammiversary.
We go to part three of the Sting interview. Tenay asks about Ric Flair. Sting lists his favorite three matches Flair, which he says are all in his top five over all. Sting says that Flair went out with style, and that it's got him thinking about whether it's his time.
They hype the King of the Mountain match. They emphasize the potential for a career-ending injury, apparently hoping to tap into he precious "watch-NASCAR-to-see-a-crash-instinct", which I guess makes sense. The package is pretty good all-around.
(3) KAZ defeats CURRY MAN, JIMMY RAVE (w/CHRISTY HEMME), JOHNNY DEVINE, CHRIS SABIN
This is a King of the Mountain match for a shot at the World Title match next week. I'm sure it won't go to the one of these guys who's been wrestling in the heavyweight division. The match starts in chaos. Kaz is in some control till Rave catches him with something like a Yurinagi on the apron. Sabin attacks with a Suicide Dive, and Johnny Devine tops them all with a beautiful Moonsault off the top of the cage. Is it just me, or has he gotten good since he lost the X Division Championship?
Rave and Kaz each have a ladder in the ring, and Rave rams his into Kaz's. During the break Rave became eligible by pinning Curry Man. He sets up the ladder, but doesn't have the X that they're supposed to hang from the top. He gets it, but that gives Sabin enough time to come back with a Springboard Dropkick into the ladder. He covers Rave in a Butterfly Rollup for three. He tries to climb, but Kaz throws a ladder into him. They set up competing ladders and start to climb. Before Sabin can hand it Kaz swats the X away. They come down, and Kaz hits a Wave of the Future into one of the ladders. Curry Man comes in and Monkey Flips Kaz into the other ladder. Devine comes in and takes down Curry Man with a DDT. He leans a ladder against the ring ropes and Suplexes Curry Man into it. Rave is out of the penalty box as Sabin drives a ladder into Devine's stomach. He sets Devine up in a Tree of Woe, puts a ladder in front of his face, and hits a Hesitation Dropkick into the ladder into Devine.
Incidentally, I've made up 10 minutes on my DVR lead-time in the last twenty-five minutes of programming, which speaks to odd pacing. We come back just in time to see Devine hit a Stackplex on Curry Man and Rave. Kaz and Sabin are brawling on the top of the penalty box. They tease a couple falls off the top, but then Sabin comes down with a Cross Body Block on Curry Man. Johnny Devine tries to knock Kaz down with a ladder, but Kaz stomps on it like a seesaw, then rides it down onto Jimmy Rave's body. He covers Rave for three, but gets caught in a School Boy by Devine for three. Devine sets up the ladder, which is looking wobbly. He climbs with the X, but sees Sabin behind him and comes down on him with a Reverse Elbow. He traps Sabin between the rungs of the ladder and dropkicks him in the head. He tries to climb again, but Curry Man comes from behind and gets him up for a Spice Rack for three (I think it was supposed to be a Super Spice Rack, but the ladder wouldn't hold them). Curry Man tosses Sabin from the ring, but takes too long setting up the ladder. Kaz bursts out of the penalty box, climbs the ladder, takes the X, and hangs it. That was a lame ending—part of the suspension of disbelief in ladder-type matches is that they cannot just run up the rungs at the end.
The competitors recap their favorite King of the Mountain moments, which not-surprisingly do not include Raven winning the World Heavyweight Championship.
Awesome Kong, Raesha Saeed, and JB are out for the Awesome Kong Fan Challenge. JB reminds the crowd of what's going on. There are several obvious plants, which confuses me till Kong asks them down to the ring. JB acknowledges that he recognizes that they're all wrestlers. The only one I know is Daffney, who conveniently is the one Kong selects.
(4) AWESOME KONG defeats DAFFNEY
This is actually a much more logical way for this program to go than I'd expected—I wonder if they have someone cool on tap to debut? Daffney ducks and dodges, but when she tries to engage she gets knocked around and hoisted up for a Torture Rack. Kong knocks Daffney out of the ring, and brutally swings her into the barricade. She takes her back into the ring and Awesome Bombs her for game.
We have a new video from Abyss, who's getting out on Sunday. If he checked himself in, why does he have to wait to get out?
Not-Crystal is in the back with a baseball bat-wielding Kevin Nash. Joe bursts in and wants to know what Nash is up to. Kevin says that he has to take care of his investment, and Joe rightly wants to know how he's expected to pay off. Nash is annoyed, and points out that everything he's done has worked out for Joe. He's sick of hearing Joe whine, and wants him to shit or get off the pot. He hands Joe the bat and turns his back. Joe seems tempted for a half-second, but then spins Kevin around to face him and points out that if he wants to come after him, he won't need a bat and won't need to come from behind.
We're back at Lethal's bachelor party, where Dutt has a major announcement. He has telegrams from the groom's men, Koko B. Ware, George "The Animal" Steele, and…ugh…Kamala the Ugandan Giant. Sonjay Dutt says that no bachelor party is complete without a stripper, and calls out Swinging…he means Kip James. This is honestly the most fitting gimmick Kip James has ever had. I'm not even joking really—Kip as male stripper might actually work. Sonjay slips dollar bills in Kips tights as he dances.
(5) MATT MORGAN & LAX (w/SELINAS) defeat LANCE HOYT, KIP JAMES, & JAMES STORM (w/JACQUELINE).
I really hope LAX turn on the whitest of whiteys, Matt Morgan. I can't believe "whiteys" made it through spell-check. Homicide starts things off with James Storm, and takes him over with a beautiful Belly-to-Belly Overhead Suplex and that Three-Amigos-into-a-Derailer move that really needs a name. He brings Kip in with a crotch chop and they double-team Storm. He gets tripped up by Ms. Jackie at ringside, and walks into a Backstabber from Storm for two. Storm sets him up in the corner; Homicide tries to come back with a Tornado DDT, but Storm tosses him off. That's weird—we saw that exact spot in the first match. Storm hits an Eye of the Storm for two. He tags in Hoyt, who hits a Fall Away Slam for two. Storm comes back in, and we get a Double Clothesline Takedown and a tag to Matt Morgan. I don't know if this was supposed to be funny, but Hernandez just stands there as Morgan fights all three heels. Morgan hits Undertaker's Old School on Kip, but then eats a Moonsault from Hoyt. Hernandez finally decides to do something, so he just crushes everyone else. He says something to Homicide and—holy shit!—they hit a stereo Super-mex/Somersault Plancha on Storm and Hoyt. Morgan picks off Kip with an F5 in the ring for the win.
JB is in the back with Petey Williams, Steiner, and Rhaka Khan. JB wants to know Petey's thoughts on fighting Kaz, but Steiner answers instead. He wants to know who Kaz has beaten. Sure he's taken a lot of people to the limit, but who has he beaten? JB brings up the TerrorDome match, but Steiner says that that's a circus act, and not the sort of thing he and Petey do. I would have mentioned his win over Christian instead, but I guess that's just me. Petey grabs the mic and starts to agree, but JB tells him they're out of time. He doesn't like that, and says that as long as he's X Division Champion people have to listen whenever he…
We have Kurt Angle and Karen Angle live via sattelite, and I'm very glad to see that this isn't our main event. Kurt's rocking the Hollywood look on the set of some new movie. Kurt says that he's the victim. He's given Karen everything a wife could ever want, what with the cars and children and such. She agrees that she's very grateful for all the stuff, but the one thing she always wanted was his time and his love. He says that "love" is a tricky word, because while he loves her, he loves his career too. She says that the problem is that he loves his career more than his family, but he doesn't see why that's so bad, given the life it let him provide. Kurt says the real problem was her sleeping with AJ. JB points out that Kurt has no proof, but Kurt thinks that's BS. He can't put up with lying. We cut away to JB watching the interview with AJ Styles, who points out that Karen won't be Kurt's wife for long. He says that he's explained himself a hundred times, and he's had to endure bloody beatings just cause Kurt has a twisted imagination. Kurt keeps thinking he's down, but he keeps getting back up. AJ's not going to make that mistake, cause when he's done Kurt will stay down. That segment was much more relevant to their match than I would have guessed.
We go back to Lethal's bachelor party, where Ace Young announces that they have a cake handmade by Sonjay's family in New Deli. Christy Hemme pops out, and the Rock & Rave Infection come out to a chorus of boos. The next gift is from someone who's not there today, and ODB rolls out present. Sonjay opens it, and it's a snake. That's awesome. Jake Roberts has been confirmed for this Sunday.
(6) AJ STYLES defeats TOMKO
AJ doesn't wait to start things off, FLYING over the top rope to assault Tomko on the outside. That was, well, phenomenal. He beats Tomko around the ring before rolling him in. Tomko goes for a Power Slam, but AJ slips out and just continues the beating. The crowd is going nuts for AJ, who slingshots Tomko's throat into the bottom rope. Tomko creates some distance, but AJ just comes running back at him. Finally Tomko buys himself some time by Back Body Dropping AJ over the top rope and out to the floor.
Tomko is still in control, but AJ takes him down with a big dropkick. During the break Tomko worked over AJ's arm, which caught the apron when he got dumped out. Tomko gets up and goes for a clothesline, but AJ ducks and hits a Flying Forearm. AJ sets Tomko up for a Styles Clash, but he gets distracted by Roode on the ramp. Nash fights him off, but the distraction lets Tomko hit a Two-Handed Chokeslam for two. Booker T tries to interfere, but Nash wards him off as well. Tomko tries to follow up on AJ, but gets nailed with a Pele and a Frog Splash for the three count.
After the match Nash celebrates with AJ in the ring. Booker T attacks Nash with a chair, and he and Tomko start working over Nash and AJ. Roode, Cage, and Rhino all run out to brawl. Team 3D come out to support Booker T, but LAX come out to beat up Team 3D. After a minute of this Joe decides he's had enough, so he comes out and cleans house. He starts teeing off on Booker T, but Nash takes the chair and swings for Booker. Booker ducks, and Joe eats the chair shot. Nash tries to help him up, but Booker shoves him off.
They air a music video hyping Slammiversary.
Where We're Going: I guess AJ's eruption at Tomko two weeks ago was supposed to mark a drastic character change, as today he was angry, intense, and explosive. I have mixed feelings about this. I think AJ made some nice progress along the boyish-charm dimension, and would like to see more of that still in his character. Great wrestlers are all over, and what AJ's always needed has been a character hook. That being said, his explosiveness in the ring today was a sight to behold, and a reminder of why he's been near the top of the TNA roster for so long. In general it's a mistake to radically change characters when you turn a popular heel into a face—I all this the "Cena-Effect." Still, it's hard to take a silly character to the title, and I suppose them treating AJ as a potential title-holder is worth something. It's certainly enough to secure AJ Styles the spot as Star of the Night.
Overall: This was an okay show. The King of the Mountain match was fun, but lost a lot by the ending. Styles was, as already mentioned, phenomenal. I liked this show, but it wasn't anything special. B
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