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5/13 TNA Impact on FSN: Caldwell's review of Gauntlet Match, Styles Video

May 13, 2005 - 5:38:00 PM

By James Caldwell, Torch Team Contributor

TNA Impact Review
May 13, 2005
Taped April 26, 2005 in Orlando, FL at Universal Studios
Aired on Fox Sports Net
Report by James Caldwell, Torch Team Contributor

- We opened with a video recap of last week's show where Mike Tenay sat down with NWA World Champion Jeff Jarrett and the #1 Contender, A.J. Styles. The video recap highlighted Jarrett doing most of the talking – specifically targeting Tito Ortiz, the special referee for the title match at Hard Justice. We saw Jarrett interrupt A.J. Styles repeatedly, trying to explain that you have to be more than just an athlete to be World Champ. We closed the video clip with a very frustrated A.J. Styles telling Jarrett, "Just bring it."

- From the Impact Zone, Mike Tenay and Don West welcomed us to the show where Tenay said Tito Ortiz would be heard from on this week's broadcast as TNA draws closer to Hard Justice in only two days. Tenay gave a generic intro by saying the last two weeks in TNA have been very eventful. Ah, the beauty of taping three weeks worth of TV in one shot. Tenay and West screamed that we should not miss Hard Justice.

(1) Prime Time Elix Skipper, Jeff Hardy, Christopher Daniels, and Eric Young (w/Scott D'Amore) wrestled to a draw at 10:00. This match was announced as a four-man elimination match featuring Daniels and Prime Time in the same ring for the first time since Lockdown when Daniels successfully defended the X Division Title against Prime Time. Daniels and Young went to work on Prime Time at the opening bell as Jeff Hardy perched himself atop the top turnbuckle. Daniels and Young threw Prime Time over the top rope to the outside then turned around and took a double drop kick from Hardy. Young recovered and scored a suicide dive through the middle rope onto Prime Time, who was still on the outside. Jeff Hardy, who brought a chair with him to the ring, set up the chair near the ropes then ran off the chair and splashed both Prime Time and Eric Young with an over-the-top rope leg smash. Daniels picked up the chair and leapt off the top turnbuckle with the chair in hand, smashing all three opponents. From out of nowhere, Raven ran to the ringside area and threw Jeff Hardy into the Spanish announce table. Raven took Hardy up the entrance ramp to the backstage area as Daniels fended off Prime Time and Young as they tried to re-enter the ring. Don West proceeded to turn a comment about Raven needing to "get right with the man" into a completely shameless plug for a CD by Van Jant titled, "Get Right with the Man." Wow, I don't believe I've ever seen that cheap of a plug on a wrestling show before. With that in mind, we went to commercial.

[Commercial Break featuring a normal commercial for Van Jant.]

We came back to see a replay from during the commercial where Daniels continued to fend off his opponents from entering the ring. We were informed that Jeff Hardy was officially eliminated by count out. Again, Young tried to re-enter the ring, but Daniels knocked him off the apron. Daniels reciprocated the treatment to Prime Time, and then repeated it two more times. D'Amore decided to try his luck by getting up on the apron, but Daniels promptly knocked him off the apron to the floor. Daniels grappled Prime Time and suplexed him from the apron to inside the ring. Following the suplex, Daniels promptly kicked Prime Time out of the ring to the outside. Prime Time recovered and flipped over the top rope and into the ring with a knock down clothesline. With 1:30 left in the ten-minute time limit match, Prime Time went to work on Daniels with hard chops to the chest. Prime Time connected with a belly-to-belly suplex and made a cover, but Daniels managed to kick out in time. Prime Time ran over Daniels with a knock down clothesline then flipped Daniels crotch-first onto the top rope. Prime Time climbed up to the top turnbuckle then walked across the top rope where he proceeded to deliver a nice huricanrana, sending Daniels crashing to the mat. Eric Young re-entered the ring and exchanged tombstone piledriver attempts with Prime Time. Eventually, Prime Time turned the final attempt into his "Sudden Death" reverse neck drop finisher. With five seconds left in match time, Prime Time covered Young and eliminated him from the match. Of course, everyone forgot that this was an elimination match, so the referee called for the bell. Just to make things even worse, Prime Time rolled up Daniels with a small package out of nowhere and appeared to have scored the victory as time expired. The convoluted mess of a match ended with Prime Time gloating about the victory as Daniels questioned how he could have lost. Since it was a non-title match, Daniels took his X Division Title and indignantly left the ring.

Match Purpose: Considering that Prime Time Elix Skipper had not received any time to regain his heat after losing to Christopher Daniels at Lockdown last month, this match served as an opportunity to finally give Prime Time some TV time and regain momentum before the 20 man "Gauntlet for the Gold" match at Hard Justice. Indirectly, the match served the purpose of showing his disorganized TNA's decision-making is when it comes to booking the finish of a match.

Nuggets from Tenay & West: Before being counted out, thanks to Raven, Tenay and West discussed the sudden re-birth of Jeff Hardy, stemming from Jeff having to dig up a new (M)attitude to stand up against the crazy and destructive nature of Raven. The use of a cheap plug for a CD during the middle of a match is just mind-boggling. There are times to recognize sponsors and "pay the bills," but turning the action into a segue for a sponsor's product is unheard of. Do it before the match or after the match or just don't do it all.

Match View: This was a convoluted mess of a match that lacked a finish that made any sense. In addition, the match lacked any real intrigue because Daniels simply stood in the ring and knocked Prime Time or Eric Young off the apron to the floor for a few minutes. The tension in the audience was obvious because the fans were becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of action in the ring. Daniels, sensing the frustration, merely played it off as part of his heel character, continuing to build up heat until Prime Time eventually re-entered the ring to get a pop. Nevertheless, the finish was absurd with two quick pins coming at the very end of the match, with the official match decision merely being brushed off by Tenay after the commercial.


- We saw a video clip highlighting Shocker's accomplishments in the X Division, including a victory at Lockdown when he was victorious in a four-man Xscape match.

[Commercial Break]

- Mike Tenay and Don West took us through a replay of the finish of the previous match. We saw that Prime Time did not score the final pinfall on Daniels before time expired, meaning he did not officially win the match. Tenay relayed word from TNA officials that they were over-ruling the official decision made by referee Slick Johnson and declaring the match a draw. (See my "Closing Thoughts" at the end of the report for a discussion on the inconsistent nature of the match decision.) Tenay, seemingly unfazed by the decision, quickly sent us to a video clip highlighting A.J. Styles.

- We saw a video package highlighting A.J. Styles's rigorous training leading into his match against Jeff Jarrett at Hard Justice this coming Sunday. The TNA voice over man (VOM) declared Styles as "the ultimate athlete who revolutionizes his sport forever." Mike Tenay said, "He's one of those athletes that comes along once in a lifetime." Jerry Lynn indicated, "He basically can do anything in the ring. Just when you think you've seen everything he can do, he surprises you and pulls out something new that you've never seen before in wrestling." We saw video clips from some of Styles's high-risk high spots mixed in with clips of Styles doing push-ups and cardio work as part of his training. We saw a clip that highlighted Styles's grit and determination from "Against All Odds" in February when A.J. Styles decided not to tap out to Christopher Daniels in the 30 minute Iron Man Match, eventually going on to victory in overtime.

The VOM indicated Styles "slayed the mightiest dragon in TNA – the monster named Abyss." We saw clips from Styles's offensive outburst against Abyss at the most recent Lockdown PPV. "Many people felt A.J. was the underdog because it was held inside the six sides of steel. People were saying that it was going to limit his offensive attack and take away from his high-risk ability," Tenay said. "Instead, what we saw was A.J. being able to adapt. He's able to improvise; to change things on the fly depending on what's happened during that match and who the opposition is in that bout." Jerry Lynn said Abyss dished out a tremendous amount of punishment, but Styles still found a way to overcome those odds. Jimmy Hart said, "Abyss had the height advantage; Abyss had the weight advantage, but somehow, someway, A.J. got the one, two, three." We saw the finish from the Abyss vs. Styles match where Styles scored a sunset flip powerbomb off the top of the steel cage to secure the victory.

The video package transitioned to a clip of Jeff Jarrett, Styles's foe at Hard Justice. "Jeff Jarrett is a tremendous performer, and a great Champion. He's proven that time and time again," said Shane Douglas. VOR man eloquently stated the basis of the match as, "One desperate man still wants it; one man desperately wants it more." Tenay said this is the best opportunity for a challenger to defeat Jeff Jarrett because of the presence of an equalizer, Tito Ortiz, who will make sure both Jarrett and Styles have an equal chance to win the match. Tenay said, "I think under those terms and under those circumstances, you'll see the Phenomenal A.J. Styles become NWA World Heavyweight Champion." We saw more clips from Styles involved in training, while also seeing clips from him some in-ring action featuring Styles. The closing shot displayed Styles leaping onto a wooden platform and screaming out in sheer desire.

Impact Note: This was an absolutely first-rate video package featuring A.J. Styles in a very real light that helped paint a picture of how dedicated Styles is in his training for this match. Unfortunately, the video package comes as the only real build up for the match because last week's debacle of a sit-down interview did nothing to give us a glimpse into Styles's feelings, desires, or opinions going into the PPV. This is the type of video that should be used at the end of a lengthy build up to a PPV main event, not as the only build up to a PPV main event. Fortunately, for the sake of Styles as the challenger, Mike Tenay did an excellent job refuting many of the key criticisms Jeff Jarrett brought up during last week's sit-down interview when he said Styles is merely an athlete and not capable of being any more than that. Tenay pointed out Styles's match against Abyss at Lockdown when Styles was faced with a situation where his athleticism was limited by the constraints of the cage, forcing him to adapt. Tenay pointed out that Styles was able to adapt and subsequently win the match, proving an ability to be more than just an athlete. If only we were given a chance to hear those points from Styles during the sit down interview last week or at any time before this week, this video would be the perfect supplement to a solid series of build up. However, with the short turnaround between PPV's and TNA's lack of dedication to building up this match, we have to settle for a first-rate video package that built up the match as best as possible.

[Commercial Break]

- We went to a video clip highlighting the feud between The Naturals and America's Most Wanted, going all the way back to the Nashville days where The Naturals stole AMW's ring gear and the tag titles all at the same time. The video package served as a preview of the NWA Tag Title Match set for Sunday night when The Naturals defend their newly won tag titles against AMW.

[Commercial Break]

- Mike Tenay and Don West discussed the qualifications of Tito Ortiz, touting his role on Sunday as the person to "ensure justice" during the NWA Title Match at Hard Justice. West said Tito isn't afraid of anyone, and therefore, is the perfect person to ensure justice.

- We went to a video clip where Tito Ortiz answered questions on various topics of discussion. On the topic of wrestling, Tito said he grew up watching Tito Santana and Hulk Hogan. Tito said he is a fan and loves the spectacle of pro wrestling. On his rough relationship with the UFC, Tito said he hopes things will work out and envisions working with UFC in the near future. Tito said he enjoys watching the TNA wrestlers work in the ring because they attempt moves that no other company is willing to attempt. Tito said the TNA performers give fans something to cheer about and watch with earnest to have fun watching pro wrestling. On the topic of the World Title, Tito said the NWA World Title is one of the most prestigious titles in the business. Tito said he would have taken out Ken Shamrock when he held the NWA Title if he involved himself in TNA as Shamrock did. Tito said Jeff Jarrett has earned his keep as NWA World Champ, but A.J. Styles's time is now. Tito said A.J. is "awesome on his feet." Tito said Styles is a phenomenal wrestler and his time will come, possibly at the PPV. On the topic of Jeff Jarrett, Tito said Jarrett is the flag bearer for TNA and he has earned his position because he's worked hard to get to the top. If Jarrett were to bring his guitar into play, Tito said he would remove it very quickly from Jarrett's hands. Tito said Dusty Rhodes called him up and asked him if he could bring "hard justice" to the NWA Title Match. Tito said he could take care of the task at hand and deliver for Dusty and the fans.

Impact Note: Tito seemed highly knowledgeable of pro wrestling, especially the TNA product. Whether he was fed his lines, or actually knew what he was talking about is debatable, but Tito certainly came across as respectful of the pro wrestling business and understanding of what his role is for Sunday's PPV. Good promo from Tito to publicize his role in Sunday's PPV.

[Commercial Break]

- We saw a video clip highlighting the feud between Jeff Hardy and Raven, going back to when Raven proposed an alliance to Jeff on March 25, which Jeff declined. That refusal led to Raven attacking Jeff, setting off a brutal feud that was first put into the ring at Lockdown when Jeff defeated Raven in a tables match. We saw clips from Raven's promo last week where Raven warned Jeff to be prepared for a brutal match at Hard Justice, while clips of Jeff wrestling and playing to his entrance music were woven into the video.

(2) Abyss won a 10 Man Gauntlet at 15:31 also involving Lance Hoyt, Chris Sabin, Apolo, Trytan, A-1 Ralphz, David Young, Michael Shane, Petey Williams, and Bobby Roode. The stipulations were that the first person eliminated would be the first entrant in the gauntlet match at Hard Justice while the winner of the match would receive the final slot in Sunday's gauntlet match to determine the next #1 Contender. The match began with Michael Shane entering the ring as entry #1 followed by entry #2, Chris Sabin, who came flying into the ring with a chinstrap wrapped around his head to hold his jaw in place, stemming from Michael Shane's super kick attack at the conclusion of last week's show. Sabin obviously wanted some quick revenge on Shane for his brutal attack and teed off on him until Trinity and Traci ran into the ring leading to Traci chasing Trinity to the backstage area. Shane ripped off the chinstrap from Sabin's head then worked over Sabin's chin until Bobby Roode ran into the ring as competitor #3 at the 2:00 mark. Roode went after Sabin right away leading to a two-on-one beat down. Petey Williams came in thirty seconds later as competitor #4. Roode and Petey teamed up on Shane and Sabin until David Young came in as competitor #5. Petey and Roode focused their attack on Sabin with Roode holding Sabin's arms back while standing on the apron. This set up an opportunity for Petey to get in some licks on Sabin, but as with every well-orchestrated heel plan, it backfired leading to Sabin delivering an enziguiri kick to Roode, knocking him off the apron to the floor. With Roode being the first elimination, that means he will be the first man in the "Gauntlet for the Gold" match at Hard Justice. Trytan, making his surprise return to TNA as competitor #6, ran over everyone in the ring, eliminating every wrestler in the ring except Chris Sabin. A-1 Ralphz of Team Canada came in as #7 and slowly entered the ring, not wanting to get eliminated too quickly by Trytan. Lance Hoyt entered the match as competitor #8 and received his standard major pop. He went right after Trytan with clubbing right forearms and even eliminated Trytan with a big boot to the face just as Abyss entered the match at #9. The elimination of Trytan drew a huge pop from the faithful fans. As for Abyss, he ran into the ring and ran over A-1 and Hoyt with a big boot to the face for each one. Apolo entered the match as wrestler #10 just in time to see Abyss eliminate A-1 with a clothesline. The big man special came down to Apolo, Hoyt, Abyss, and Sabin. Apolo ran over all three opponents as we went to commercial.

[Commercial Break]

We came back to find all four men still inside the ring exchanging blows. Apolo held the advantage as the freshest man in the ring, running over everyone with clotheslines. Apolo became too aggressive and eliminated himself by missing with a clothesline on Abyss leading to him flying over the top rope to the outside. Hoyt and Abyss each tried to eliminate Sabin, but Sabin skinned the cat twice. Sabin leapt off the top rope with a dual drop kick on both men, sending both Abyss and Hoyt flying. Sabin waited for both men to re-reach their feet and then attempted a Tornado DDT on Hoyt, but Hoyt flung Sabin over the top rope to the apron. Hoyt and Sabin exchanged blows before Abyss charged Hoyt with a clothesline attempt, only to have Hoyt duck, leading to Sabin taking the brunt of the clothesline and being eliminated by flying off the apron into the guardrail. This left "Orlando's golden boy" and Abyss in the ring. Hoyt charged Abyss for a high impact move, but Abyss flipped Hoyt over the top rope to the outside. Abyss, thinking he had won, was informed the match must continue because pinfall or submission is the only way to win when the match comes down to the final two competitors.

The action spilled to the outside where Abyss sent Hoyt crashing into the guardrail ringside, moving the guardrail halfway into the stands. Abyss sent Hoyt into the ring steps then covered his ears as the eager fans ringside chanted, "Hoyt, Hoyt!" Abyss sent Hoyt back into the ring then Abyss climbed back into the ring and scored a huge clothesline in the corner on Hoyt. Abyss set up for a chokeslam, but we cut away to an extended crowd shot to hide an apparent blown spot. Eventually, Hoyt scored a modified Pounce, which Abyss no-sold. Abyss and Hoyt exchanged offensive moves then Abyss walked out of the corner right into a sidewalk slam from Hoyt. Hoyt made the cover, but scored a two count only. Hoyt leapt off the middle turnbuckle with a high-risk move, but Abyss caught Hoyt and dropped him with a chokeslam. Abyss set up for another high impact move, but Hoyt ducked and hopped up top for a top rope clothesline. Hoyt climbed up the top turnbuckle and scored a nicely executed moonsault on Abyss, who was laid out in the center of the ring. Out of nowhere, Andy Douglas and Chase Stevens of the Naturals ran into the ring, but they were promptly discarded by Hoyt. Hoyt gave Abyss fair warning for a move coming from his right side as he slapped his right knee in anticipation of connecting with a high impact move. Abyss was ready and caught Hoyt running off the ropes with the Black Hole Slam. Abyss made the cover and scored the victory as we closed the show.

Match Purpose: The match served as a preview for Sunday's "Gauntlet for the Gold" match where a new #1 contender will be determined. With Abyss already considered the front-runner heading into the match on Sunday, this match served as a nice reinforcement of Abyss as a main event player in TNA. It also affirmed Lance Hoyt as a potential big name star in TNA if he can continue to perform at a high level, continue to improve in the ring through stronger conditioning, and continue to receive a highly enthusiastic crowd response from TNA.

Nuggets from Tenay & West & Daniels: In an interesting note, Don West indicated that we will be seeing B.G. James and Diamond Dallas Page take on Monty Brown and The Outlaw. Considering that Brown and DDP were not featured on either of the three weeks of TNA Impact broadcasts in between PPV's and TNA is not planning on using them again for monetary issues, I highly doubt DDP and/or Brown will be brought in for the PPV match. Tenay claimed that Hoyt's hot crowd response began with his match at Lockdown when he stuck up for himself after Chris Candido went down with an injury. Sure, it makes for a strong fairy tale storyline, but in reality, Hoyt's popularity began at "Against All Odds" back in February when Orlando started to pop for Hoyt and Kid Kash and treated them as their fan favorites. Either Tenay or West did not notice Hoyt's popularity until Lockdown, or TNA just wanted to use Hoyt overcoming the odds at Lockdown as a springboard for putting him over as a legit babyface.

Match View: Gauntlet matches are the most basic form of lazy booking, usually reserved for when the booker cannot come up with a way to feature several wrestlers in compelling storyline situations. That certainly was the case for this gauntlet match, but the short turnaround between PPV's (only three weeks between Lockdown and Hard Justice) can certainly be attributed to TNA taking the easy way out by booking the top tier, second tier, and third tier wrestlers in a #1 Contender's Match at Hard Justice. As for the match, it was nice to see TNA capitalize on the tension between Chris Sabin and Michael Shane early on in the match, but I'm still waiting for a backstage promo from Sabin to explain himself and what he is looking to accomplish in TNA. There assuredly is more to Sabin that is waiting to break through to the surface.


Matches Announced on Impact for the May 15 Hard Justice PPV.
- NWA Title Match: Jeff Jarrett vs. A.J. Styles.
- X Division Title Match: Christopher Daniels vs. Shocker.
- NWA Tag Title Match: The Naturals vs. America's Most Wanted
- 20 Man Gauntlet for the Gold Match for the #1 Contender's Slot.
- Raven vs. Jeff Hardy in a House of Fun Match
- Michael Shane & Trinity vs. Chris Sabin & Traci

Weekend Replay Factor: One out of five hamburgers. The only "can't miss" feature on Impact was the A.J. Styles video package, which is available online as it is, so there's no need to make a special attempt to catch the weekend replay when the sole feature you need to see is online. The booking of the matches will probably make your hair turn gray, but the second match – the ten man gauntlet – was decent and devoid of any truly ludicrous booking decisions.

Closing Thoughts: The inconsistencies on this week's episode were so grandiose and obvious that anyone with common sense would have been able to make the adjustments necessary to fix some of the issues with the booking of the show. In the opening bout, there were two very obvious inconsistencies with one being a referee actually being over-ruled and the other being the declaration of a draw when draws are never allowed in TNA. The first issue comes from watching TNA officials make obvious mistakes in the ring for the last several months (missing a First Blood decision, missing Daniels stealing the X Division Title from Styles, missing Jeff Jarrett's cheap tactics, etc.) only to have a situation on this week's broadcast where Slick Johnson was over-ruled in his decision to award the match to Prime Time. Since when have TNA higher ups over-ruled a referee? If that was the case, there's no way Jeff Jarrett would be holding onto the NWA Title at this stage.

The second issue comes from the match being declared a draw. For as long as Impact has been on the air, TNA has always touted its Fox Box timer as the indicator of how long is left in the match. Tenay constantly reminds viewers that in the event that a match is not decided within the time limit (usually ten minutes), then a judge in attendance will declare a winner based on what he saw in the ring. Since TNA over-ruled Slick Johnson's decision to award the match to Prime Time because the time limit expired, a decision from a judge in attendance should have been the only decision available. Obviously, no one was around to make the decision, so TNA quickly and quietly swept the inconsistency underneath the rug and moved on to the A.J. Styles video package. Ridiculous.

James Caldwell welcomes any and all reader feedback and comments on this week's Impact Review at the usual address: Caldwell will be back on Sunday night in the Lounge with his Sunday Brunch column to provide a detailed preview of Sunday's Hard Justice PPV.

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