TV REPORTS CALDWELL'S 12/31 & 1/1 IMPACT REVIEWS: A positive outlook, but the same ole' problems
Jan 2, 2006 - 6:21:00 PM
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By James Caldwell, Torch columnist
TNA Impact Review
December 31, 2005 and January 1, 2006
Taped December 13, 2005 in Orlando, FL at Universal Studios
Aired on Spike TV
Report by James Caldwell, Torch columnist
In a nutshell: The future looks bright with Christian, Styles, and Daniels aligned together... Shannon Moore comes down from the rafters... Two non-clean AMW matches... Referee incompetence... "Bullet" Bob falls for the trap... Homicide debuts next to Apolo... The face of 2006 debuts without debuting... Jarrett opens 2006 with cliches... Solid main event match hampered by usual finish... Squash matches... The shows looked better on New Year's than on tape...
- The show began with Shane Douglas trying to get a word with "Bullet" Bob Armstrong about his intentions tonight. Bob said he's going to find Konnan and get on the same page so the Kru can dominate wrestling as one.
- We saw clips from last week where Christian Cage mocked Jeff Jarrett's wardrobe, catchphrases, and status as NWA Champion. "Could Sting be headed to TNA?" Tenay screamed. Wasn't that the announcement at the PPV only four weeks ago? We saw Jarrett get his heat back with the Stroke on Christian to close last week's show.
(1) Monty Brown & NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett (w/Gail Kim) beat Kenny King & Shark Boy at 2:03. Before the match began, Jackie Gayda interrupted Jarrett's ring entrance. Jackie took a swing and missed. Don "Scoops" West said he would get to the bottom of the issue after the match. The action predictably spilled to the outside after the opening bell. Shark Boy took Jarrett back into the ring at 1:00 and delivered a top rope dropkick. Tenay said the "huge announcement" couldn't be made until a minute after midnight. Brown had an announcement for King: the Pounce. Jarrett delivered the Stroke on Shark Boy. Dual pin for the win.
Afterwards, Jarrett and Gail had a discussion. Sting's logo and lighting flashed across the screen. West ran to the back for his scoop.
Match View: Quick tag squash to establish Jarrett and Brown as a dominant tandem before their PPV match. King picked up three television bookings, but picked up three quick losses.
- Backstage, West caught up with Jackie Gayda, who was being mildly restrained by security. West had a couple of quick questions about Jarrett. "Is this is a lover's quarrel?" West asked. Jackie said that's the furthest thing - it's about business. Jackie said Jarrett didn't keep his promise after she gave up her life and career to accept Jarrett's TV proposal. Jackie said she turned on the TV to find Gail Kim taking her spot and money on TV. "I know a little something - information that TNA management would love to have," Jackie said. "If you don't want to give me my money and make my life a living hell, well the tables are about to turn...I will make your life a living hell. You know exactly what I'm talking about." Security took her away. With all the conviction in the world, West turned to the camera and said, "This is getting really, really bizarre."
- After the whirlwind first segment of the show, we came back for the "Most Impactful Events of 2005." Based on the recent end-year videos, it seems TNA would like to forget the pre-Spike era of 2005. Don't forget there were several Match of the Year candidates and solid storylines January - September.
(2) Rhino beat A-1 Ralphz (w/Scott D'Amore) at 2:23. Rhino began his anti-Canadian campaign with a side headlock on A1 "Atom Ant." Rhino sent A-1 to the outside then connected with a slingshot plancha. A-1 came back with a hangman's neckbreaker in the ring. Rhino hit a spinebuster off the ropes. Rhino finished him off with the Gore for the quick win.
Afterwards, Scott D'Amore cracked a hockey stick over Rhino's back. Rhino no-sold. We had the predictable "babyface almost gets the weasely heel manager" spot then Abyss attacked Rhino from behind. Abyss delivered a chokeslam. On the command of James Mitchell, Abyss delivered the Black Hole Slam. Abyss stood with Mitchell and D'Amore over Rhino's body.
Match View: Good storyline set up for Rhino vs. Abyss. Otherwise, Impact's match quality continues to suffer. For a show that's supposed to be about wrestling more than Raw, there isn't too much competition on the show.
- Backstage, Bullet Bob spoke with Konnan. Bob wanted Konnan's side of the story. Konnan said he never liked Kip James. Konnan said his bottom line is addition by subtraction. Bob said things could be fixed. "Do you remember who called you the first time you had that concussion?" Konnan said it was Bob. Bob said things can be fixed because he cares about Konnan. Bob said they could be invincible. Konnan said he can be a hothead and he's willing to change himself if Bob will walk and talk with him. Smells like a nice little set up.
- We re-lived the AMW funeral for Team 3D from several weeks ago.
- We saw one of the best video packages TNA has ever put together featuring Samoa Joe. Lots of tight face shots and close ups of Joe's violence against competition. Good voice over: "Unlike any athlete we've ever seen." Great close with a tight shot of Joe's intense stare.
(3) Samoa Joe beat Roderick Strong via submission at 3:15. At least Joe's facing solid competition this week. It's just unfortunate TNA can't develop any characters in the X Division. Joe is supposedly a heel. Strong has been booked as a heel. I guess that doesn't matter. Joe no-sold three opening chops before he delivered stiff kicks to the chest. Joe dropped a knee to the face. Unfortunately, we saw Shannon Moore standing atop the Impact set. Dave Hebner stood at the entrance ramp scouting the match as a TNA consultant. Joe stalked Strong in the ring. Joe locked in a sick modified Dragon Sleeper at 1:30. Joe dropped the hold and stalked Strong. Joe missed with a clothesline. Strong delivered a kick to the face, but Joe only teetered backwards. Strong went for a back breaker across his thigh. Joe slumped to the mat and Strong sold pain after dropping all of Joe's weight across his leg. Great, realistic selling by Strong despite getting in an offensive move. Strong ripped off a chop. Strong went for a fireman's carry pick up, but Joe blocked. Strong charged Joe in the corner, but he answered with an E. Honda front slam. Joe connected with the Muscle Buster for the academic lead in to the Kokina Clutch. Strong quickly tapped out.
Match View: Christopher Daniels should have been on commentary for this match. TNA has failed to connect the dots between Daniels and Joe on camera since Turning Point in December. Daniels would have added some touch to the match. At least we got three minutes of action, but it's unfortunate how little time the X Division is being given in the ring. Strong has too much upside to be used in this role. Joe is already over as a dominant squash artist. It's over-kill at this point.
- Backstage, we saw Konnan execute his set up on Bob Armstrong. Mr. "I couldn't get over as a babyface" Apolo and Homicide were standing over Bob's fallen body. Konnan lifted up Bob by his bloodstained shirt and presented him as an example to Kip and B.G. James. Bob held his left knee as we saw a hole in his pants. Poor Bob fell for the trap.
[Commercial Break featuring a horribly stereotypical commercial for Virgin Mobile]
(4) James Storm (w/Chris Harris and Gail Kim) beat A.J. Styles at 10:07. Good to see TNA remembered the former X Division champion after three weeks of television. Styles caught Storm off the ropes with a dropsault straight to the mouth at 1:00. Storm rolled to the outside to catch his breath.
We came back at 5:00 with Storm attacking Styles with forearm blows to the back. Styles came back with a scoop slam and scissors knee drop to the face. Styles checked on his ripped lip after Storm fired back with a desperation right hand. Storm hit the Eye of the Storm after spinning Styles in the air. Styles caught his breath on the mat as Storm stalked Styles. Storm caught Styles off the ropes with a knee to the gut. Storm called for a superkick at 8:00, but Styles blocked it and hit a soccer kick to the head. Styles ran over Storm with a series of clotheslines. Styles went for the back flip reverse DDT, but struggled to execute as Storm was out of position. Styles lackadaisically picked up Storm and Storm hit a jawbreaker. Storm took Styles to the top turnbuckle at 9:15. Styles fought him off. Chris Harris predictably tried to interfere, but Styles hit a dropkick on Storm. Styles had a near visual three count, but the referee was distracted by Harris on the apron. Gail Kim tried to enter the ring with a huricanrana, but Styles caught her for an attempted Styles Clash. The "babyface almost got his hands on the weasely valet" spot was thwarted by Storm, who entered the ring with a beer bottle and cracked it over Styles's head. Styles staggered around the ring before walking into a superkick from Storm. Harris jumped off the apron allowing the referee to make the three count. Referee incompetence lives!
Match View: Well, it's only fitting that 2005 end with AMW scoring a cheap victory thanks to TNA booking its officials to have the competence of an unborn child. It was only last week where AMW won in similar fashion. Apparently, TNA's referees don't have authority to send valets and tag partners to the back unless they provoke someone despite a continued pattern of interference. Otherwise, decent action interrupted by a three-minute commercial.
- After the match, Christopher Daniels ran to the ring and called out the referee. Storm pulled out a perfectly intact beer bottle as evidence he didn't break a bottle in the ring. Storm said the shards of glass came from the stands. The referee didn't know what to do. What a surprise. Larry Zbyszko ran to the ring. Cue Morphoplex commercials!
- We came back to sort out the mess in the ring. Zbyszko confirmed Daniels's complaint. And he did nothing about the referee's decision. Zbyszko promised non-stop action to start the New Year. Zbyszko put the tag titles on the line between AMW and Styles and Daniels. AMW was indignant. Styles reluctantly stuck out his hand to Daniels. The long-time rivals shook hands. AMW hit the ring and attacked Daniels and Styles. The camera conveniently zoomed in on Gail Kim's posterior as she directed the AMW beat down. Christian Cage ran to the ring and cleared the heels with a chair. The Future - Christian, Styles, and Daniels - stood in the ring. Christian said A.J. and Daniels would take the straps from AMW. Christian promised an announcement on the midnight show. Christian said he's not going anywhere. For three hours? Tenay and West promised a huge announcement to kick off the New Year.
- The midnight show began with Christian in the ring counting down the seconds until the stroke of midnight. Confetti and fireworks filled the Impact zone. Mike Tenay stood in the ring with Christian to announce Sting as the face of 2006. Tenay did heavy build up for several seconds before Christian made his own announcement. Christian said the main event of Final Resolution will be Christian and Sting vs. Brown and Jarrett. We couldn't even go five minutes into 2006 without hearing the Jeff Jarrett music in the Impact zone. Jarrett talked about battle lines being drawn and wars being won. Jarrett was greeted by chants of "boring" only 30 seconds into his promo. Jarrett said Christian will never climb to the top of the mountain because he doesn't have what it takes to become NWA Champion. He doesn't have investors eating out of his hand? Yeah, true. Christian said Jarrett finally grew a set of nuts between backstage and walking out to the ring. Christian said he would physically abuse Jarrett. Jarrett charged the ring and blows were exchanged. Jarrett and Christian teased finishers before Monty Brown hit the ring. Brown attacked Christian. Rhino made the save. AMW attacked Rhino and Christian. Team 3D slowly ran to the ring and evened the score. Schmoz to start 2006!
(1) America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm w/Gail Kim) beat A.J. Styles & Christopher Daniels at 16:03 to retain the NWA Tag Titles. Storm and Daniels started things off. Storm ran over Daniels with hard clotheslines early on. Daniels momentarily fired back, but Harris caught him from behind with a forearm to the back. Styles entered the ring and dropped Harris with a dropsault. Daniels and Styles clotheslined Storm over the top rope to the floor. They stood tall in the ring as we went to commercial at 2:00.
Following the first break in the match, we came back to see Styles and Daniels working over Storm in their corner at 6:00. They exchanged tags before Daniels hit a moonsault for a nearfall. Harris decked Daniels with a clothesline from the apron. AMW began their double-team work on Daniels. Harris delivered a high-elevated suplex then walked around the ring. Daniels tried to fight back, but Harris cut him off with a knee to the gut. Time for another break.
We came back at 12:15 with AMW still working on Daniels in their corner. Daniels came back with a Death Valley Driver off the ropes. Daniels couldn't figure out where he was in the ring. Finally, Daniels reached Styles for the hot tag. Styles hit a springboard clothesline on Harris, who took a tag. Styles hit a torture rack into seated side slam on Harris for a nearfall. Storm entered illegally and slingshot Styles throat-first across the top rope. Daniels took Storm and Harris to the outside and held both men together. Styles flew over the top rope with a somersault dive on AMW. Back in the ring, Styles hit a springboard dropkick on Harris. Styles went for a corner splash, but Harris caught him in mid-air and hit the Catatonic. Harris went for the pin, but Daniels broke up the slow count. Harris ducked a clothesline from Daniels. Harris went for a splash, but Daniels moved and Harris collided with the referee. Groan.
Daniels dropped Harris on the mat then went for the Best Moonsault Ever. Harris moved and Storm entered the ring with a superkick to the face. Daniels slid to the outside. Storm went for a superkick on Styles, but he ducked and hit the Styles Clash on Storm. Styles scored a visible three count on the illegal man. Not that it matters Storm was illegal. The referee was still out cold as Shannon Moore ran to the ring and attacked Styles. Moore hit a side suplex then snapped off a top rope neck breaker. Moore slid out of the ring. Styles was still rolling around the ring and West said it was a foregone conclusion Moore cost them the titles. Storm, who is still not the legal man, draped an arm over Styles's chest. The referee came to and counted to three. The fans in the front row covered each other's eyes.
Match View: During his match against Samoa Joe at Turning Point, A.J. Styles kicked out of pin attempts following kicks to the head, a Muscle Buster, slaps to the face, vicious knees to the face, and other high-impact moves. In this match, Shannon Moore hit a suplex and a "weaker than anything Joe dishes out" top rope neckbreaker after Styles spent most of the match on the apron as the fresh man. Styles took a quick pinfall loss. Yes, AMW softened up Styles, but not anywhere near what would cause Styles to be pinned normally. Yes, TNA wanted to set up a program between Moore and Styles, but it wasn't necessary at the expense of what Joe did to Styles at last month's PPV. The "trivial kayfabe" issues that add up over time seem to matter more to people who have watched the product for several years than the decision-makers in TNA. But, it matters when TNA sends a message that Moore's offense is better than Joe's considering it took Joe 20 minutes to attack Styles unmercifully to score a victory and it took Moore two moves to cause Styles to be pinned.
2006 started the same way it ended - outside interference during an AMW match and referee incompetence. Yes, the action was good and seeing Styles in the ring is always a treat. It's just unfortunate TNA can't book a clean finish for any heavily hyped match. Let's look at the other possibilities for finishes. Styles and Daniels win the belts clean: a fresh start to 2006 with an exciting new tag team putting life into the tag division. Of course, that would upset Team 3D since their match against AMW at Final Resolution is for the tag titles. We couldn't have an uninspiring tag team take precedence over TNA's future in Styles and Daniels. AMW retains the tag belts clean: a fresh start to 2006 with an AMW tag match having a clean finish. Also, TNA sends a message that heavily hyped matches will actually contain clean finishes. There's more heat on AMW for their match against Team 3D. Styles and Daniels don't lose out because they were the underdogs in the match and they weren't expected to win anyways. Instead, Shannon Moore interferes against A.J. Styles to start a program that won't lead to a PPV match this month since Styles is facing Tanahashi at Final Resolution.
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