TV REPORTS 12/20 Impact Review by Wilkenfeld: Fun and mostly harmless
Dec 21, 2007 - 12:48:08 AM
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By Daniel Wilkenfeld: PWTorch Contributor
Where We've Been: Christian Cage has been getting his ass handed to him by the Angle Alliance as AJ Styles looked on and Tomko made sure he was elsewhere. At some point they need to pull the trigger on the face turn for Styles and/or Tomko, as neither has any particularly good reason to stay aligned with Angle. Tomko has been his usual golden self on the mic, being detached and reasonable. Christian-Angle has the potential to be TNA's signature feud for months, so I have no real problem with them taking it nice and slow. The other major story is that Joe was back to his angry persona on Thursday, which means that hopefully someone in TNA has found a way to channel his seemingly genuine frustration into a viable wrestling angle. Personally I'd like to see him start recruiting TNA's old guard one by one, starting with someone angry and underutilized—I'm thinking LAX is a perfect fit, as they're supposedly being held back because they lack a mouth piece anyway. Also, LAX & Joe would be quite possibly the coolest wrestling stable since the original nWo. Up for tonight are a series of undefined gimmick matches and the Angle family Christmas party. The first could be fun, if likely pointless. The second is certain to be pointless and significantly less likely to be fun, but every once in a while TNA can make these random segments worth watching. Also Abyss might have another secret, but I'm willing to ignore that if you are.
Apparently Kaz and AJ Styles are scheduled to compete in a ladder match. Cool.
We start with Eric Young hosting a Christmas party with two redneck-looking folks who, he introduces as his cousins. Uncle Leo comes in and is either one of the Bushwhackers or else doing a fairly good impression thereof.
The loser of the AJ Styles vs. Kaz match will have to wear a reindeer suit, which doesn't bode well for AJ Styles. Jim Cornette is apparently not there this week, and so Matt Morgan has assumed control. Tenay runs down the other gimmick matches for the night: Robert Roode, James Storm, Lance Hoyt & Jimmy Rave vs. Booker T., LAX & Scott Steiner in a steel cage, Team 3D & Johnny Devine vs. The Motor City Machine Guns and "Black Machismo" Jay Lethal in some sort of pole match, a bunch of knockouts in a street fight, and a hardcore match between Abyss, Black Reign, Rellik, and…Shark Boy? I'm confused.
Matt Morgan is in the ring, which is surrounded by a cage covered with Christmas lights. He doesn't say much.
(1) LAX, Scott Steiner & Booker T. (w/Sharmell) defeat James Storm (w/Jackie Moore), Robert Roode (w/Ms. Brooks), & The Rock 'n Rave Infection (w/ Christy Hemme)
I'm not normally such a Ms. Brooks sort of guy, but she pulls off a Santa suit pretty well. I can't remember if I mentioned before how much I'm digging LAX's remixed theme music. We're over 10 minutes in before the match starts, which is impressive when you consider that we haven't had another match or a real promo. The announcers keep talking like Morgan made all the whacky matches tonight, but they announced at the end of Impact last week that these matches would be taking place. LAX start the match for their team, and wow they're good. Hernandez hits the Gringo Toss on Jimmy Rave over the ropes and into the cage. He tags in Homicide, who gets in a bit of offense before Roode catches him.
We come back to Lance Hoyt taking it to Homicide. Storm comes in and takes over, hitting a cool spinning Diamond Cutter maneuver. Eventually Homicide gets in the tag to Booker, who cleans house. When he goes for the cover the match breaks down. Christy tries to pass something in to her team, but the mystery member of the Latino Nation, who from now on I'll just refer to as "Melly Shartinez", pulls her down off the apron. Booker T hits a Bookend on Jimmy Rave for the win.
We're back at the Christmas party, where Eric Young is being ogled by a stuffed reindeer. Velvet Sky and Angelina Love come to "service the guests", but Eric Young assures them that he'll be doing the servicing. That was somewhat funny. ODB shows up, and Eric Young asks her if she wants to service the guests. Heh. Awesome Kong comes in next, and no sells Eric Young telling her that she can help out as bathroom attendant. This is actually somewhat entertaining; if they don't overplay it this might be a pleasant surprise.
Team 3D come down to the ring with Johnny Devine, and Don West announces that their match will be a Double North Pole match wherein a contract for an Ultimate X match will be on one pole and a contract for a Plate Glass Table match on the other. Brother Ray wishes everyone a very merry Christmas, and he says that they want to bring out Lethal and the Guns so that they can apologize to them. I sense midgets coming, and sure enough here are mini versions of Team 3D's enemies. The guy playing Jay Lethal looks like he's 40. The crowd starts chanting "Motor City." Brother Ray takes "Little Chris Sabin" on his lap, but tosses him off when he requests something that will apparently poke his eye out. "Little Alex Shelley" asks for a new computer, so that he can put himself over to the 38 people who read his MySpace page. "Little Black Machismo" asks for one night with SoCal Val, so Brother Ray gives him $5 and says to be sure to bring back his change. Brother Ray makes a joke at the midgets' expense, and Little Chris Sabin slaps him. The heels put the beat down on the midgets, and the real Motor City Machine Guns and Jay Lethal come out to make the save. Sabin says that their match is scheduled for later, but that there's no reason not to do it right now.
(2) The Motor City Machine Guns & "Black Machismo" Jay Lethal defeat Johnny Devine & Team 3D.
Candy canes are set up on two corners of the ring, with stockings containing each of the two possible stipulations for their match at Final Resolution. The stockings are labeled, which is good, as I had assumed that this would be another TNA random-prize match. The crowd starts up a "Motor City" chant when Sabin is in and then an "Alex Shelley" chant when Shelley's in the ring. Poor Sabin. Devine starts things off for the heels, and things are good, but then Team 3D come into the ring, and things slow down dramatically. Brother Ray hits a vicious looking Rock Bottom on Jay Lethal to take us to the break.
We come back to a brawl on the outside, where Team 3D are a bit more in their element. They set Lethal up for the Wuzzap, but he rolls through and sets up Ray for a Wuzzap from Little Alex Shelley. Little Sabin comes into the ring but gets caught by Brother Devon. However, he slides away and nails Devon with a low blow, which sets him up for a High/Low maneuver from Shelley and Sabin. Brother Ray comes into the ring and eats Stereo Superkicks, and then Black Machismo and Little Black Machismo hit Stereo Savage Elbows on the two members of Team 3D. Alex Shelley climbs the pole and gets the contract for the Ultimate X match at Final Resolution.
We're back at Young's Christmas party, where Young's cousins get into a brawl with Awesome Kong. Nash arrives and is greeted warmly by Love and Sky. Young asks if he wants to be serviced by the two of them—Nash starts to protest that he doesn't have any cash, but Young tells him that it's no good here anyway. He also tells him that "Santa's coming." Nash replies "he's not the only one", to which everyone responds by whistling "whoa" middle-school style, after which Eric Young says that he doesn't know what that means. ODB starts a catfight amongst the knockouts.
The Angles finally arrive at Young's party, which is weird cause last week they implied they'd be hosting. Young seems reluctant to admit them, but says that it's Christmas so they can stay as long as they're on their best behavior. Kurt says he wants to talk to Eric, so he pulls him aside and tells him that Santa Claus doesn't exist. Young doesn't get it. Kurt tells him that Santa is like Shrek, and Young figures he means that Shrek is Santa's secret identity. Angle says he needs a drink.
(3) Awesome Kong defeats ODB, Roxxi Leveaux, Jackie Moore, Christy Hemme, Ms. Brooks, Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, and Gail Kim
Gail goes right after Kong, and the two of them fight to the back. That's a nice way to let someone else win without hurting either the champion or the #1 contender. Never mind—Kong's on her way back. Everyone else tries to hide from her until Love and Sky go on the attack. It doesn't go well for them. Ms. Brooks and Jackie Moore try next and meet a similar fate, as does Roxxi Leveaux. Kong hits an Awesome Bomb on Christy Hemme for the three count.
After the match, Gail Kim comes back to the ring with a steel chair. She almost gets caught in an Awesome Bomb, but is eventually able to nail Kong with a trio of chair shots (including one seemingly hands-free shot to the head). Kong brushes off the shots as she and Kim brawl till security breaks it up.
Chris Harris arrives at Young's party, and Harris wants to know where all the women are. Harris wants a present, as apparently Christmas is his birthday. Young says "J.C." also has a birthday on Christmas. Harris assumes he means Jim Cornette, and complains that he never beat anyone. Jay Lethal and the Motor City Machine Guns come with their midgets in tow, followed by Sonjay Dutt and then SoCal Val. Val pulls out the mistletoe, and Lethal starts to say how long he's been waiting for this when Dutt swoops in and plants a kiss on her.
Crystal catches up with Joe, and asks if he's coming to the Christmas party. His response: "screw you." Awesome. She says that she knows he's mad at TNA management, but that's not her fault. He says the party sounds nice, as there are lights and drinks and all sorts of things that TNA bought instead of putting the money into his contract. He apologizes to her for shooting the messenger and asks where he can find Matt Morgan. When she directs him to the party, he sneers and promises to go.
Tenay reviews the troubling history between Abyss and James Mitchell, and I review the functionality of my fast forward button.
(4) Rellik defeats Reign, Abyss, and Shark Boy.
Shark Boy is all taped up, and I should probably know why. Sadly I can't remember and the announcers don't remind me, so it'll have to remain a mystery. There's a Christmas tree wrapped in barbed wire in the ring, surrounded by weapons wrapped up as presents. Abyss and Reign fight to the outside as Shark Boy gets a golf club and opens up on Rellik. Reign and Abyss come back into the ring, and Abyss does some pummeling before Rellik comes back in and catches him with a Superkick.
We come back to the match being dominated by Shark Boy…that must have been some bizarre action during the commercial break. Eventually Reign reverses and hits the Blackout (think a cross between a Pedigree and an X-Factor). Rellik turns on Reign, and I'm pretty sure I hear someone in the crowd starting a "Joe is gonna kill you" chant, which would have been awesome. While Reign and Rellik try to work out their differences peaceably Abyss comes in and takes them both out. He unwraps a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire and beats them up a bit. He then empties a bag of thumb tacks and a bag of broken glass into the ring. He finally goes to hit a Double Chokeslam, but Reign and Rellik reverse, yet Shark Boy gets involved before they can do any damage. Mitchell comes down to the ring, conveniently distracting the ref as Abyss gets a cover. The lights dim, and they come up to reveal Judas Mesias in the ring. He hits the Straight to Hell (which is that leaping Double-Armed-DDT-like maneuver he does) on Abyss on the tacks,. Meanwhile Rellik hits the "Demon Driver" (read: Jackhammer) on Shark Boy for the win.
Joe arrives at the Christmas Party and calls out Matt Morgan. Joe thinks it's funny that Morgan is throwing a party with time most people think should be allotted to wrestling. He also thinks it's funny that a company that can't afford to give him a raise can afford catering. He tells him to tell Cornette that he can shove his contract offer, and that if they want to talk they can find him at home. He apologizes to everyone for wrecking their party, but then he goes ballistic on the furniture.
Young's sitting on the floor with Borash in the wreckage of what was once his Christmas party, and apparently the crowd left after Joe's rampage. EY has faith that Santa will fix everything when he gets here, and JB asks if anything Kurt said made an impact on him. Young says how absurd it is to suppose that Santa and Shrek are the same person—"Santa's his own man." Borash tries to start over, but just then, Santa arrives.
(5) Kaz defeats AJ Styles
The show has over 20 minutes left, so this could be something special. In fact, I think I'm going to put my computer down so that I can enjoy this one...highlights before the break include AJ hitting a Flying Clothesline off the barricade, Kaz suplexing AJ from the ring to a ladder on the outside, and AJ hitting his Flip-Over Inverted DDT from the top of the ladder.
These two move too fast for a play-by-play anyway. The crowd starts an "AJ Styles" chant—someone tries to start a "sucks" reply, but it doesn't get much traction. Highlights after the break include Kaz running up the ladder Shelton Benjamin style, AJ taking a wicked bump after being flipped onto the ladder, and an Arm Drag from the top of the ladder. The finish comes when Kurt Angle comes down and starts shouting encouragement/orders, which distracts AJ long enough for Kaz to knock him off the ladder and get the win. The match was cool, if disappointingly short. Thankfully, AJ seems fine as soon as the bell rings—he had me sold on a possible leg injury.
After the match, AJ refuses to put on the reindeer suit, but the referees forcibly prevent him from leaving the ring. Angle enters the ring, and reluctantly tells AJ that he has to put on the suit. AJ continues to drag his feet, and at one point actually shoves down Earl Hebner before Angle puts the Rudolf mask on him. Kurt says that AJ lost the match, and punks out AJ for having to dress up as a turkey and then a reindeer. AJ tries to offer a conciliatory hug, but Angle's not having it. After AJ leaves Eric Young comes down to the ring, followed by Santa Claus. I hope it turns out to be Austin in a mask. Santa throws shirts and DVDs to the crowd—I would think the corners on the DVDs could do some damage. We get a good look at Santa, and if that's really Christian I'm impressed with TNA's make-up people [note: it isn't]. Santa hands Angle something, but Kurt doesn't seem happy. Angle asks the crowd if they believe in Santa, and when they cheer he calls them idiots. Angle complains that he's gotten presents from his mother and his aunt, but never Santa. Santa says that he hadn't been a good boy, but Angle counters that he didn't even get a gift from Santa the year he won a gold medal. Angle says he's been a good boy this year, and he wants Christian Cage to grow some balls and show up tonight. He says that since that won't happen he'll show Santa what he really wants. He tosses Eric Young from the ring and puts Santa in the Angle Lock, at which point Christian emerges from a large box under a Christmas tree by the announce table. He plants Angle with the championship belt and goes for the Unprettier, but Angle blocks it and so he (Christian) locks in an Angle lock instead.
Where We're Going: So I like the angry Joe, but I don't know why they're making him seem so whiny. I guess he's going heel, but I don't know if that'll really work. First, his major complaints appear justified—TNA does import talent when they could just as well promote from within, and they do waste time on backstage segments that could be better spent on, for example, a ladder match between Kaz and AJ Styles. I know the crowd wasn't really behind him at Turning Point, but they were in a bad mood after getting screwed out of the main event they came to see. If they tone down the gratuitous whining just a bit Joe has the potential to reclaim his status as the most over man in the company, and it will be a more natural fit than whining heel Joe could ever be. As it is, people like Booker T and Christian have enough of a fan base that Joe will probably draw some boos on his own, and yet he'll always have enough of his own fans that he'll get a bunch of cheers. He's looking at a slightly mixed reaction no matter what, so they might as well let him play his character as naturally as possible. Also, my first instinct is that they should drop the talk of his contract, since most of us don't really know enough about how much any of these guys get paid to be inclined to pick a side one way or the other. On second thought though, I can think of some ways that such talk could be incorporated well, so I'll give them a pass on that till I see how it plays out.
Tonight's Show: Tonight was a step up from last week. All of the matches were fun, if none were anything more. It lacked last week's stellar main event, but it also lacked much of the stupidity, and the ladder match was certainly passable. Young's Christmas party, while admittedly overplayed, was actually pretty amusing most of the time, which is more than can usually be said for the bulk of TNA's backstage wackiness. This show wasn't anything we'll remember in a few years or even a few months, but it was still reasonably fun and mostly harmless. B+
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