PPV REPORTS TNA Hard Justice 8/16 ALT PERSPECTIVE report by Wilkenfeld: Daniel Reviews, Hypothesizes About Colossally Bad Booking
Aug 17, 2009 - 4:25:30 PM
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By: Daniel Wilkenfeld, PWTorch Contributor
Daniel Momentarily Puts Aside the Angle Issue to Comment on the Rest of the Show:
If you like TNA, you probably liked this show (at least till the finish). If you don't, you probably didn't. It was everything last month was not—high flying, pointless action with some TNA personalities. Classical wrestling was nowhere to be found. If you wanted someone to sell a move for more than 30 seconds even when they weren't bleeding, you came to the wrong place. Otherwise, you had fun—again, at least till the finish. I put this paragraph ahead of my commentary on the ending because it really would be a screw for the solid-to-very-good work of the other thirty wrestlers on the show to focus entirely on Kurt Angle.
Daniel Rants About Kurt Angle Retaining
It's probably best to just address the ending right off the bat—it was, almost certainly, a colossal screw-up. Angle retained, despite being quite probably a stalker and quite possibly a user. This is not the right play. It's bad PR, it sets a bad tone for the locker room, and in general just ticks people off. Moreover, Angle's girlfriend was on the TNA roster. Admittedly she probably shouldn't have been, but she was, and this they should take care of their own people. Moreover, I find it baffling from a business perspective. In addition to the hit they'll take from annoyed fans, it also just doesn't make sense to me to have a champion who could be distracted by a major court case. This wasn't a triumph of profit over morality—it was a triumph of stupidity over competence.
I can only come up with three hypotheses of how this went down, of which I'm pretty sure the first has to be close to the truth. The first, and most likely, scenario is that TNA management is completely incapable of competently improvising. There has been plenty of evidence of this in the past. When Scott Hall no-showed a PPV main event—hardly an unimaginable possibility—their response was something like "send out Joe to entertain the crowd." When Scott Steiner got injured before the big Steiner Bros.—Team 3D showdown they went with Road Warrior Animal. Most damningly of all, when Kevin Nash went down with a staph infection before the Genesis main event, they hyped a surprise replacement that turned out to be…Cute Kip. I don't know why this is so hard. Rachael and I took all of four minutes to come up with 74 scenarios for taking the title off Angle. They had a virtual get-out-of-jail free card in Hernandez's title shot. The main event even featured a rising young star in Matt Morgan and a seasoned veteran in Sting—neither of whom I would have wanted being the company's top star, but either of whom could have served as a perfectly good interim champion. This inability to cope with new information was likely exacerbated by whatever decision-making vacuum Jeff Jarrett's exile has left in the TNA power structure.
That is what I think happened. Another possibility that Angle really does have a friend in TNA management who thinks he's getting railroaded. He has not, after all, been convicted of anything yet—maybe Dixie Carter or some such person wants to at least see what he has to say at his hearings this week. That be an almost legitimate justification for leaving the strap on him—though I note that even if they'd taken it off him, they could always have put it back on if all the charges proved groundless. Given his history and the precarious state of wrestling's image, I would have thought a suspension pending investigation would have been justified even in the absence of a guilty verdict. My third theory is that TNA management is just composed of bloody morons who have all the booking and business sense of Vince McMahon on the board of Enron captaining the Titanic. I also toyed with the possibility that this was all the world's most elaborate work, though I'm told by people who saw the police report that that's essentially impossible.
Daniel Takes a Deep Breath and Gets Back to Reviewing the Show:
(1) DANIELS def. JAY LETHAL, CONSEQUENCES CREED, AMAZING RED, ALEX SHELLEY, CHRIS SABIN, DOMINIC D'ANGELO, & SUICIDE Steel Asylum Match
In general, I'm against pushing cast-offs from other companies, but D'Angelo might prove the exception. As good as he was on "ECW", he showed last night that they were probably just holding him back. In addition to his obvious charisma, he has the skills of a champion. Aside from him, Amazing Red and The Motor City Machine Guns were undoubtedly the stars of this match. Daniels had to win to face Joe, but Red and the Guns demonstrated that they should be in line next. This was, if you're a TNA fan, the best match of the show. There was lots of cool stuff happening, and, what's often the sticking point, they kept the flow alive between most of the big spots. As long as you didn't expect anyone to sell a move for longer than it took to set up the next one, you were fine. Bonus points go to Daniels for mentioning in his post match interview that he's had a history with Homicide in addition to Joe—I like continuity.
RATING: ***1/2 This is why you watch TNA over WWE, if you do.
(2) ABYSS def. JETHRO HOLLIDAY (w/DR. STEVIE)
All I can really say about this match is that it vastly exceeded my expectations. Admittedly they could have spent the whole time playing Pong and it would have exceeded my expectations, but it was still decent. It certainly wasn't anything to write home about one way or the other. I do have to wonder why anyone ever charges at Abyss—his finishing move really only works if you run at him. I think I could beat Abyss by just walking at a steady pace the whole match.
RATING: * At least it didn't go fractional.
(3) HERNANDEZ def. ROB TERRY
Hernandez said before the match that there wouldn't be one, and he was right. He reclaimed his briefcase in five seconds with a powerful shoulder block.
RATING: (N/A) It looks like someone in TNA finally sees in Hernandez what I've been saying was there since his debut.
(4) THE BRITISH INVASION def. BEER MONEY INC. IWGP Tag Team Championship Match
Eric Young was on commentary during this match. He was pretty good, though at times his anti-American rants were a bit generic. The match itself was strong—Beer Money seem to get more over by the day—but the conclusion was the first of many odd endings for the night. Eric Young slid a belt into the ring, everyone got all confused, and somehow Roode got rolled up and pinned. I had a bit of difficulty following this one.
RATING: *3/4. This could have been higher with a better finish.
(5) CODY DEANER & ODB def. ANGELINA LOVE & VELVET SKY Knockouts' Championship Match
Cody Deaner molested a bunch of women. Tenay, despite being the face on commentary, acknowledged that that was less than ideally cool, which was a pleasant surprise. Madison Rayne accidentally sprayed Velvet Sky in the face with some hairspray, which allowed Deaner to cover her for the win. ODB was announced as the champion, but Deaner got huffy and left with the belt. Deaner is slightly more amusing than his shtick gives him any right to be, but I wouldn't have tied up the Knockouts' Championship in a comedy act. Incidentally, ODB is listed as the Knockouts' Champion on the TNA website, which is clearly the right call. I was afraid they'd do something stupid.
(6) SAMOA JOE def. HOMICIDE X Division Championship Match
This was very good, and the first real X Division Championship Match we've had in months. It's a shame Homicide's reign had to end so quickly, but I think he proved in this match that he deserves a spot at the top. This was the sort of high paced action you always expect from Homicide and used to be able to expect from Joe. It's good to see Joe back to his old self—maybe he should stay in the X Division for a while, till he gets his groove back.
(7) SCOTT STEINER & BOOKER T def. TEAM 3D Tag Team Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match
The match started with a massive brawl through the crowd. Team 3D, for all their faults, still brawl with the best of them, and Steiner made the match when he dove off the balcony. This segment didn't play perfectly on TV, but it did get the crowd into a frenzy, which was good for the remainder of the match. The finish was, once again, an absolute mess. Devon pinned Booker slightly before Steiner pinned Ray, and so one of the refs (there were two so that they could follow the action into the crowd) had to hesitate so that they hit three at roughly the same time. They reviewed the footage, then declared Steiner and Booker the winners. In principle I like that it wasn't a draw, but it was pretty clear Devon got the pin first. West kept talking about Ray's shoulders being down, which didn't really clarify the situation, but does make me think that maybe Booker's shoulder came off the mat at some point? If so, then they didn't show it very well. Rachael actually got really excited by the finish, cause she thought they might just declare Devon & Steiner champs. While admittedly that ending wouldn't have made a lick of sense, it still would have been more reasonable than what we actually got—and significantly more entertaining down the line.
RATING: **1/2 This one would have done better with a reasonable finish.
(8) KEVIN NASH def. MICK FOLEY Legends' Championship Match
Nash beat the holy hell out of Foley, busting open his eye something fierce. By the end of the match Mick looked like Two Face, valiantly fighting on despite half his face being covered in blood. Nash was also busted open by the end. In other contexts that might have appeared pretty bad, but it just looked like a sympathy blade next to Mick's. Traci Brooks ran down to ringside, she and Mick cracked heads, and Nash somehow got the cover. I say "somehow", because the production crew stayed with Brooks and we missed whatever move actually put Mick away.
RATING: **3/4 This is absolutely how they should be using their veterans, especially Mick. He talked about his passion before the match, and that's what came out during it. He isn't the fastest or the strongest, but he just keeps on coming. Nash, meanwhile, was big, strong, and won with his wiliness.
Nash continued the beat down after the match, so Abyss made the save. This was moderately random, but has the possible upside that it might mean we're finally done with the Abyss-Dr. Stevie feud.
Before the main event, Sting talked about how honor was coming back in style, and he did "mean Styles". Given the certainty I felt that Angle had to lose the belt, and the fact that I couldn't really see Morgan or Sting as TNA's front-man, this gratuitously got my hopes for AJ someone getting into the main event. He did not. Maybe he'll win the strap on Thursday, once they have time to write some way for it to happen? Given his recent string of losses, this could be one of the rare times a Career vs. Title matches would make sense. We can hope.
(9) KURT ANGLE def. MATT MORGAN, STING, and COMMON SENSE TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match
The good news about this match is that Morgan really wrestled liked he belonged in it, which was a bit of a pleasant surprise, and Sting didn't wrestle like he was thinking about the after-party, which was also nice. The bad news was the rest. Kurt got "injured" by a Carbon Footprint on the concrete. I guess this was supposed to make us think that he was being written off, but by now we're all familiar with the "guy who gets 'injured' in a multi-person match always wins it" rule. Oh well.
RATING: **, not counting the behind the scenes actions—DUD, including that info.
OVERALL: Ignoring the Angle drama, this was a fairly good show. It wasn't great, but, since TNA's been batting under .500 for 2009, "fairly good" might have been totally satisfactory. With the Angle business, I don't know what to think. I want to take a wait-and-see attitude, but that would imply some belief that they might do the right thing over the next couple of weeks. Sadly, I don't have that. I'm going to cheat and give two grades:
"In a vacuum" Grade: B
"What the hell were they thinking?" Grade: D+
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