TV REPORTS KELLER'S TNA IMPACT REPORT 10/1: Ongoing "virtual time" analysis of Spike TV debut
Oct 1, 2005 - 11:01:00 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
OCTOBER 1, 2005 (Taped 9/27)
ORLANDO, FLA. AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS
-The show opened with a video package with the narrator saying the wrestlers in TNA have been in relative obscurity, but that is about to change. It touted A.J. Styles as perhaps the greatest athlete in pro wrestling history. It put over America's Most Wanted as a great tag team of this era. It also touted Jeff Jarrett as someone who holds a World Title everywhere he goes.
-The opening montage then aired featuring Rhyno, Sabu, Jarrett, Styles, Monty Brown, Christopher Daniels, Abyss, and other quick shots of other TNA regulars.
-Mike Tenay introduced the show as "your new wrestling alternative." They showed a new camera angle of the TNA logo hanging from the ceiling and the entrance stage in the far background. Then they went to an on-screen graphic pushing Jeff Hardy vs. Rhyno and a tease of the "Controversy in Canada" when the NWA Title changed hands. Then they went right to the entrance stage of Styles making his entrance.
1 -- A.J. STYLES vs. RODERICK STRONG
Tenay said it's only appropriate that TNA's debut on Spike kick off with Styles who epitomizes "the no limits athleticism of the X Division." Roderick Strong was already inside the ring. No on screen graphics with a clock or crawling like they featured on Fox Sports Net. No big loss. It was a nice touch, but not needed. Don West chimed in with commentary, of course hyping Styles like he was selling a one-of-a-kind baseball card. Tenay pointed out the six-sided ring that he says doesn't just catch the eye but provides wrestlers more options. Styles and Roderick went all-out in what was actually a re-do of a match they taped earlier in the evening, but which didn't give the first impression they were looking for. Styles flip-dove onto Strong at ringside at 1:45. The enthusiastic crowd broke into a chant of "TNA, TNA." Christopher Daniels walked out and distracted Styles, giving Strong a chance to hit Styles from behind and take control. He applied a camel clutch. Styles came back with a Pele kick, then hit a reverse DDT and a sudden Styles Clash for the win.
WINNER: Styles at 4:01.
STAR RATING: * -- A bit frenetic. Styles didn't look bad, but he didn't shine like he can, either.
-Tenay and West were shown on camera for the first time at their announce desk. West talked about being around for four years and what a great chance it is for TNA to be on Spike. Tenay again plugged Jeff Hardy vs. Rhino later, which is a good hook to get viewers to stay tuned since both are known names, with Hardy particularly likely to hook viewers since he was a very big name who just disappeared from WWE without a trace.
[Commercial Break - Including a UFC Fight Night Live commercial]
-A video profile aired on Monty Brown. Tenay said he's "legit." They showed footage of Brown playing for the Buffalo Bills and new England Patriots. Larry Zbyszko talked about the energy he can release in a small space. Don West and Jeremy Borsh also complimented him.
-Shane Douglas interviewed Monty backstage. Brown began signing like a mad-man and said, "Spike TV has just become Serengeti Television. The Alpha Male will not be stopped, will not be denied." Monty manages to go from cool looking to a complete idiot to really funny and cool again all within the first 30 seconds of watching him. He has the charisma to pull lit off.
-They cut to another place backstage where Raven was KO'ing everyone in sight with a trash can. Good way to reintroduce Raven to national viewers since they're going to see more of the trash can in his matches.
2 -- MONTY BROWN vs. LEX LOVETT
Tenay said that NFL Films footage of Brown should "legitimize" Brown. He said his Pounce is one of the most devastating finishing moves in wrestling. Brown has that something special about him in his mannerisms that is going to make someone (along with himself) a lot of money. This show is without question faster paced than Raw and Smackdown (in fact, it makes Smackdown feel like the Charlie Rose on PBS by comparison. It works well to a point, but it can also leave a viewer too breathless to the point of feeling on edge rather than entertained. It's a delicate balance, but in TNA's attempt to create a high-energy tight hour of programming and stand out as different from WWE, it's a good strategy.
WINNER: Brown at 1:01 with the Pounce.
STAR RATING: n/a -- Effective squash.
-So far so good on the show. It feels professional, slick, major league, and exciting. It doesn't feel like a WWE-wanna be, but rather an example of an entirely different way for pro wrestling to be presented. The first 20 minutes of the show would absolutely hold its own against WWE head-to-head on a Monday and not look like a mismatch to a new viewer.
-A plug aired for the Bound for Glory PPV.
-An X Division highlight video aired. Innovative, high-flying, and at times brutal featuring a new breed of superstars. Styles, Samoa Joe, Petey Williams, Chris Sabin, and Daniels were all mentioned by name. Sonjay Dutt's finisherr was shown among other X Division wrestler highlights.
3 -- PETEY WILLIAMS vs. ALEX SHELLEY vs. CHRIS SABIN
West said X Division stands for "Xtreme," which doesn't mean you do triple somersaults off the top rope. It can mean, as in the case of Shelley, that you dismantle your opponents on the mat. Tenay went into a plug for the Oct. 23 Bound for Glory PPV. Petey and Shelley agreed to team up against Sabin, but then Sabin stepped aside and let Petey got in alone. When Sabin knocked Petey aside, Shelley applied a mathold on Sabin. An aggravated Petey kicked Shelley, then put his foot on Shelley and began singing "Oh Canada." They went into a series of three-way near falls including some cool signature mat sequences from Shelley. Shelley dove through the legs of Sabin and through the ropes into Petey at ringside. Then Sabin launched off the ropes with a moonsault onto both at ringside. They cut to a break at 3:30.
Shelley and Sabin bumped heads and then began hitting each other, giving Sabin a chance to rest. Sabin began showing fire as he made a comeback. He rolled up Shelley. Shelley kicked out, sending Sabin into Petey. Shelley scored a near fall on Petey after a brainbuster. Petey came back and signalled for the Canadian Destroyer. Sabin intervened and gave his running powerbomb to Petey. Shelley re-entered the action. Sabin gave him a roundhouse kick to the head and then gave him the Cradle Shock for the win. Petey attacked Sabin after the match with his Canadian Destroyer. "It is just plain sick!" said Tenay, referring to that move.
WINNER: Sabin at 10:30.
STAR RATING: **1/2 -- Good X Division action. They key in the long run is being sure that they don't promote the wrestlers with great athleticism as one category and the wrestlers with personalities in another, with a sense that they're mutually exclusive. The X Division wrestlers need to be built into well-rounded, marketable personalities also. Sabin, for instance, needs to develop an aspect of his personality that comes to mind immediately when viewers hear his name. And no, shouting "Oh Canada" doesn't count as adequate personality development for Petey.
-They went backstage Douglas interviewing Zbyszko about a surprise he heard about. Tito Ortiz then showed up and said he wanted to talk business. He went into a back room with Zbyszko, who first mockingly told Douglas, "Surprise."
-Tenay plugged that the Controversy in Canada and Rhino vs. Jeff Hardy were both coming up later in the show.
-Tenay said 3 Live Kru provides that perfect mix of sports and entertainment. Footage aired of Konnan, B.G. James, and Ron "The Truth" Killings. Zbyszko compared them to Larry, Moe, and Curly. Tenay then hyped that they'd debut next week on Impact against Team Canada. Here's an example of TNA promoting the personality of wrestlers who aren't going to deliver in the ring the way X Division wrestlers are. There's a place for that, but not at the expense of developing the personalities of X Division wrestlers whom TNA's marketing campaign of being "an adrenaline rush" and "a new alternative' is built around.
4 -- RHINO vs. JEFF HARDY
Rhino ran to the ring with high energy. Hardy made his charismatic ring entrance to his self-created intro music. Rhino took early control of the match. Hardy fought back at 2:30. Rhino came back and went for The Gore. Hardy side-stepped it and hit the Twist of Fate. At that point Abyss attacked Hardy. Rhino joined in as Abyss's manager James Mitchell yelled encouragement. Rhino and Abyss then had a tug-o-war over a chair. The lights went out. Tenay said, "You know what that means!" Then the lights came on and Sabu was standing in the ring. He went nuts with the chair. Hardy clotheslined Abyss over the top rope to the floor, then dove onto him. Sabu then leaped onto Rhino at ringside. Tenay said, "Lock 'em in a room, don't feed 'em or give 'em water. It's the Monsters Ball II on Bound for Glory."
WINNER: No contest at 4:18.
STAR RATING: * -- Okay. It did what it needed was put two nationally known names on TV and also introduce Abyss and reintroduce Sabu. I think treating Hardy without more fanfare downplays his potential impact, but I understand why they threw him out there as "just one of four eccentric monsters." Rhino's another guy TNA has to figure out in terms of finding a hook for his persona. He can't just be the sorta thick guy who does the Gore. What's he about beyond that? They can't do it all in the first hour, but if he's going to be on TV, they need to give fans a reason to care about him. Sabu and Abyss can get by on their gimmicks, Hardy can get by with his name value and innate charisma, but Rhino needs something extra to be worth being given much TV time in such a tight one-hour format.
-A video package aired of America's Most Wanted and Scott D'Amore interfering on behalf of Jeff Jarrett in his win over Raven in Canada. The risk in airing this, albeit brief, was that it conveyed a minor league atmosphere for the first time with the NWA Title being defended in a dark venue with a chandelier in the background and only a few rows of fans. A small mitigating factor is that added some credibility to the "World" aspect of the NWA World Title by taking place in Canada, helping TNA avoid the image of being regional or Southern.
-Jeff Jarrett walked out with his guitar and the NWA Hvt. Title belt, with James Storm and Chris Harris walking behind him for support. Jarrett said he vowed that when TNA debuted on Spike TV, he'd be the NWA Champion. "I built TNA from the ground up. I had a vision, I had a dream, and in TNA Wrestling, all the power lies right here with the NWA World Hvt. Title." It seemed they edited at this point the promo and showed a brief crowd shot. He then introduced Harris and Storm. Tenay asked, "Why would they do that? Why would they turn their backs on the fans?" Jarrett then introduced Scott D'Amore. D'Amore was a good on-air character, and had been off TV for a while. It was impossible to believe he'd pass up the opportunity, as booker, to put himself back on TV for the Spike TV exposure. D'Amore entered the ring and told Jarrett he made a deal and upheld his end of the bargain. He went into a fake laugh and told Jarrett he owes him one. Jarrett said for the last ten months, he's been told what to do, but now the shoe is on the other foot.
3 Live Kru's music interrupted. They strutted to the ring. Killings's body gyrations were hilarious. Konnan said it's the first week on Spike TV "and you're already boring the people half to death." He said the fans, not Jarrett, built TNA. He told him to shut up. Jarrett asked them to make him shut up. 3LK charged the ring and a six-way brawl broke out. Team Canada jumped in to give the heels the numbers advantage. Music began playing and out walked "Team 3D," the former Dudleys. They charged to the ring and beat up the heels with high-energy. They dished out some 3Ds. Jarrett bailed out. Tenay called him a coward. Then out walked Kevin Nash, backing down Jarrett. Tenay yelled, "My god! Just when you think you've seen it all." Jarrett retreated into the ring. The Dudleys gave him the split-legged diving headbutt. Nash then gave Jarrett a Jackknife. The crowd chanted "TNA, TNA." Nash said, "Looks like Planet Jarrett is a little off its axis tonight. At Bound for Glory, Kevin Nash has some unfinished business - me and him for the NWA Title." Devon then took the mic and called for a match against AMW. West shouted, "Yes! Yes! Next week on Impact."
Good final segment. Traditional booking can work. Nash's promo was the weakest aspect of the segment. He just didn't have a lot to say. Konnan was the highlight with his dig at Jarrett for "already putting fans to sleep." The Dudleys debut was okay, but their black t-shirts and mismatched pants left a lot to be desired in terms of creating a new look. Jarrett was as usual solid on the mic, but nothing special. This show closed with just enough star power with the former Dudleys, Nash, B.G. James (a/k/a Road Dogg), Konnan, and Jarrett as all former Monday Night War regulars.
We welcome your 1-10 score and comments on this show for a "TNA Impact Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on Raw, click here.
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