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KELLER'S TNA IMPACT REPORT 2/7: TNA breaks every sensible booking tactic in terrible final PPV hype show

Feb 9, 2008 - 5:19:43 AM

By Wade Keller, Torch editor

FEBRUARY 7, 2008


-A recap aired of last week's show. This week's show title is "Friend of Foe."

-Jeremy Borash interviewed Robert Roode with Peyton Banks. He sipped a smoothie from a glass and mocked having his jaw wired shut to imitiate Sharmel. The he imitated Booker T in a demeaning way. He the slapped Jeremy and his glass away and looked into the camera and cut a promo saying what he did at Final Resolution was an accident. He said Booker knows he wants to thank him for what he did because "now every single day she steps on the scale, the pounds are going down" and she can't boss him around because her jaw is wired shut. He said Booker wants to say, "You're welcome" to him, but this Sunday he will find out just like his wife that it pays to be rude. He closed with, "Now I know you can dig that, sucka." That was probably the best interview I've seen Roode do. Good content - despicable and believable.

-The TNA opening aired, then Mike Tenay introduced the show. The graphic for the Against All Odds main event looks beneath TNA at this stage, just not high-end at all graphically and artistically. Tenay promoted Christian Cage vs. Judas Mesias and Don West promoted too many things in a few seconds for any to sink in with the average viewer.

-As Robert Roode entered the ring for an unnamed match, they cut to a clip of Roode hitting Sharmell, except they stopped just short of impact. The before the match began, Booker T came through the crowd and attacked Roode. It was all over in about 15 seconds as Roode escaped to the back.

-Tenay was shown at ringside saying he can't wait to see Booker get his hands on Roode. He made a cartoon angry face to show he meant it for totally real. West then rushed through more hype at too quick of a pace. It felt like being rushed by a waiter to order a meal or eat a plate of food. It was just too much. Tenay then plugged the PPV line-up with West. Information overload. Information overload. Information overload. Then that was interrupted by Tenay saying something was going on in Jim Cornette's office. The Roode promo was good, but the last three minutes was a lot of what used to be really bad about the one-hour TNA show. I feel exhausted and not entertained at all. It's like they all drank a bunch of Red Bulls before going on the air or wrote a three-hour script and found out they only had two hours.

-Matt Morgan yelled at Cornette as Crystal held a mic. He said he wanted "his boy Joe in a sling." Cornette said he's not going to do anything he asks because he needs to get Joe to sign that contract to save their jobs. He ordered him not to come near the ring or he'll have to fire him. Morgan agreed, but said he doesn't like it a damn bit. Cornette said a lot of people don't like their job, but live with it. Cornette then turned to Crystal and asked her if she had somewhere else she could go because that was a private conversation.


As Brooks entered the ring, they cut away to a replay of Brooks beating on Banks last week. This match-up just seems totally out of nowhere. Brooks is obsessed with getting revenge on Banks. Wrestling Kong is a big deal; she's the champ and a total monster. What was Brooks's motivation for wanting this match, or who forced her into it if it wasn't her request? Unless it's a squash or some new wrestlers not a feud, a TV match shouldn't be this arbitrary and ill-fitting. They cut to a commercial as Kong entered the ring. A really lousy opening ten minutes other than the opening promo from Roode. Just an example of TNA's formatting at its worst.

[Commercial Break]

-A commercial aired promoting Against All Odds. There's way too much, in total, hype for the PPV. It just seems like they're being pushy rather than making me care about it more organically.

Before the match began, a promo aired with ODB saying she's more bad and more tough and hardly another pretty face, oh yeah! Kong watched on the big screen, then Traci jump-started the match. Kong lifted and powered her down. When Traci tried a comeback, Kong brushed her off and knocked her down. Traci tried another comeback with elbows and knee, but Kong wouldn't go down. A boot to the face and a clothesline still didn't get her down. Tenay then said he's gotten word in his headset that the Roode-Booker brawl has continued backstage. He said they're going to try to get footage backstage. No wonder at this moment, as they entered the second quarter hour, they lost 20 percent of their audience. This was such a step back for TNA Impact with its worst flaws in terms of pacing and patience and cadence returning at a higher level than they've had in months. Kong then came back and finished Traci with a sitout powerbomb .

WINNER: Kong in 4:00.

STAR RATING: 1/4* - Lousy match. Traci isn't a good opponent for Kong in a booking sense and she's a bad fit style-wise in the ring, making Kong look green.

-Afterward, Peyton Banks jumped Traci and pounded on her. As security yanked Banks off of Traci, Tenay got word in his headset that cameras caught up to Booker and Roode. Roode ran into a car and sped off as Booker chased after him on foot. Borash watched from a few feet away.

-At this point in the show, they've pushed the PPV several times, had one match not happen, another match that was lousy in every way, had interference in both situations, a promo interrupt the start of another, Tenay talking about backstage happenings during the short match that did take place, an overzealous too-rapid rundown of too much later on the show, and an argument backstage with management, and as a result nothing stuck and the good from the Roode promo was lost. This 20 minutes could be a video presentation for how not to effectively book a start of a TV show. It wasn't exciting; it felt smothering.

[Commercial Break]

-Cornette tried to mediate a conversation between Petey William and Scott Steiner. Steiner said Cornette conned him about the potential absence of an X Title. Cornette said he told him almost the whole truth. He said next week they can wrestle and the winner gets both cases and can have both a World Title shot and an X Title shot. Steiner walked away. Petey said he doesn't know what kind of amino acids he's been taking lately, but it's making him hard. Or something like that. It was weird. He began flexing and Cornette shoed him away.

-A video aired with the James Earl Jones voiceover guy narrating a recap of the Kaz vs. Goldberg feud, centered around a rat Misty being kidnapped by Kaz. Tonight there will be a Rat in a Box on a Pole Match.

1 -- KAZ vs. BLACK REIGN - Four-corners capture the Rat match

Black Reign came out first. Then Kaz's ring intro took place and he brought Reign's black wig and Darkness Falls Weapon (that's what they call it; quite catchy) with him. Seconds into the match they cut to a break. Ugh.

[Commercial Break]

After the break, they showed Kaz climbing up to a box and pulling out a mousetrap that snapped on him. They showed replays of a bunch of offensive moves from Kaz during the break. Meanwhile, Reign took over offense against Kaz. Tenay then shifted to a plug for TNA Mobile plugging behind the scenes info for the PPV. This show hurts my head. Tenay shifted then to bragging about Impact scoring another record rating last week for the third week in a row. Then he immediately plugged two other matches scheduled for the show and the Joe contract signing. Tenay has to hate his job. He's like a Home Shopping Network shillster with a ridiculous checklist of items to cover with wrestling in the background that he has almost no opportunity to call. Kaz climbed another pole. Reign knocked him down to the floor, then reached in the box and got his hand snapped by a trap. It was down to one box at this time. Kaz pulled out the rat cage to win. As Kaz celebrating keeping the stolen rat that was officially up for grabs by TNA management, which is absurd on its face, Reign jumped him and took the rat in the cage back.

WINNER: Kaz in 8:00.


-A neck-brace wearing Borash interviewed Booker who said he's never felt hatred in his heart for a human being like he has toward Roode. He smiled and stumbled over his words as he talked about serving Sharmell. He said she requested he beat the living hell out of Roode. He told her he can do that for her. He said it's not about wrestling, it's not about winning, it's about beating the hell out of Roode. He apologized to TNA management and the fans for what he plans to do. He turned to the camera and told Roode his punk ass is his. Good promo. It's really this simple. Strip away 80 percent of the other desperate crap on this show and the Roode and Booker promos would mean five times as much to selling the PPV.

[Commercial Break]

-West plugged that tickets are still available for Against All Odds. That's not a great sales pitch for people to order it, but I guess it's the reality they're dealing with. Then he plugged TNA Destination X going to the Norfolk Scope arena.

-A commercial plugged the Team 3D tag match at Against All Odds.

3 -- JOHNNY DEVINE vs. HOMICIDE (w/Celinas)

It's about time they realize that Homicide has the potential to be a centerpiece X Division wrestler in a properly promoted division. As Tenay hyped that this could be the last X Division match ever on Impact, it accentuated the fact that TNA hasn't even tried to define what the X Division is for ages. There's no formal classification to explain why someone qualifies to wrestle for it, other than West talks about it being exciting and high-flying and big wrestlers demean it by talking about it being full of little guys. Homicide flip-dove through the ropes onto Devine a minute into the match. It was shocking that they didn't cut to a break immediately. Tenay said one could almost sense a title change coming. What? That soon into a match he drew that conclusion? That was ridiculous, and for Tenay's sake I hope a scripted talking point he was forced to frenetically inject a mind-numbingly prematurely into his commentary. Devine came back immediately and took control. Tenay said Devine representing the X Division is a low point in its five-year history. Devine almost won with his feet on the ropes. He surprised Devine seconds later with a Gringo Stunner for a near fall. He then finished Devine with a Gringos Killer. Devon ran out to break up the pin, but he was late, which made everything terrible because there was no believable way Devine would have kicked out, but Homicide for no reason sat up from his cover before three and just sit there as Devon slid into the ring to jump him. That couldn't have played out worse. Hernandez made the save with a Border Toss. Tenay said Devine kept the belt because of the new TNA rules they talked about last week where the champ keeps the title even if disqualified. Did they have that rule still on books that titles changed hands on a DQ until last week? Great. Now they have a whole new option for lame copout finishes in title matches.

WINNER: Homicide via DQ in 5:00 so Devine retained the title.

STAR RATING: *1/4 -- Five minutes of decent action. Lousy finish if it went well. Horrible, horrible finish the way it played out with the botched timing.

-Crystal interviewed Christian. He said Sunday may be his last shot at the gold. Then he talked about Tomko wanting to be his own man, and Christian is okay with that. He said he's calling Tomko out to have one last face-to-face to see if he truly is his own man.

-Tenay plugged the Christain vs. Mesias match. Why is Christian, just days before his prestigious World Title shot, booked against a monster Mesias in a TV main event. It makes zero sense. It's transparently a vehicle to fill some TV time and lead to a post-match angle to promote the PPV match, but there has to be some sort of pretext to them being booked against each other, and once it is, Christian has to actually talk about it in his promo. Instead, his promo was briefly about his title shot (he mentioned Kurt Angle's name once, but otherwise had nothing to say about him and no apparent issue with him) and then shifted immediately to a soap opera sidebar issue with Tomko. He didn't even mention the special ref stip with Samoa Joe. This is truly in almost every way so far the worst Impact in a year. What a setback because the stuff that was getting better was missing and the stuff that wasn't as bad as usual got way worse than it's been in a long, long time.

[Commercial Break]

-The James Earl Jones soundalike narrated a video recap on the Joe-Nash relationship and contract drama. The theme was that people always want more no matter what they achieve or scheme their way into getting. It shifted to addressing Christian and Angle, also, saying that they're all driven by greed. That could have a been a theme to explore and center an entire show around, but the idea is lost in the midst of the frenetic chaos of this show where nothing is sticking.

-Cornette called Joe to the ring. Nash accompanied him. Cornette presented Joe with the contract and a pen. He said it has the most favored nation statue. (How many viewers have a clue what that means? If the answer is almost none, why keep saying it? As an insider reference for a few dozen people who get that that was a big deal to The Clique 15 years ago?) As Joe was about to sign it, Kurt and Karen Angle walked out. Angle said Cornette brought this on himself. He told Joe he's not signing anything yet. He said when he's special ref, he is not to mess with him or it'll be the last thing he does. He said he replaced him as the very best and Joe is pissed off about it. He said the fact is, he is an Olympic Gold Medalist, the TNA World Champion, "and I am better than you." He said if there is any funny business on Sunday, he will break his ankle and make sure he never walks again. West interjected needlessly he can't wait to hear Joe's response to Angle. Joe then grabbed the mic and said he's accepted that Angle may be the greatest athlete he's ever known. He said he harbors so much respect for him, he will call it right down the middle. Tenay, playing someone so gullible it was ridiculous, said nerdily: "Well, that's all you can really ask for from a guest enforcer like Joe is going to be Sunday." Joe was soooooo obviously dripping with sarcasm, and everybody saw that, so for Tenay to buy it hook, line, and sinker made him out to be the biggest idiot to ever live. Of course, predictably, Joe changed tone immediately and slammed Angle through a table. That angle would have been ten times better had there been no announcers reading scripted lines to drive home points as if their audience wouldn't understand what was happening without them. One of the most excruciating wrestling viewing experiences in a long time. This really is worse than usual, and it's no surprise again the audience kept dropping throughout this horrible first hour, starting at 1.29 and ending at a 1.06. TNA really should be grateful 80 percent of their opening audience was so patient and forgiving.


[Commercial Break]

-This is at least the second week in a row that Impact's second hour opened with a commercial break. There are people flipping channels or selecting what to watch at this time, so being in a commercial seems counter-productive. It seems it'd be worth booking Impact as two separate one hour shows with strict attention being paid to what's on the air at the start of the second hour.

-Borash interviewed Lance Hoyt, Christy Hemme, and Jimmy Rave. Borash asked about their new rock band gimmick, with the guitars and eye-liner. Hoyt said it's not eyeliner, it's manliner. Someone stepped into the picture with a mic stand. The Christy began singing some rock ballad choruses badly. Hoyt said, "Dallas, we love you and good night!" Hoyt did the same for Houston.

4 - THE ROCK & RAVE INFECTION (Lance Hoyt & Jimmy Rave w/Christy Hemme) vs. CURRY MAN (Christopher Daniels) & SHARK BOY

Christy introduced her team with a loud screech. Rave said, "We love you San Diego!" Rave is kinda funny in this. Tenay said there is no redeemingly quality to the introduction of the Infect, but he finds Curry Man's ring intro "very entertaining." How does the Curry Man character translate for the American audience, who barely know what Curry is and have a totally different cultural sense of humor than Japan from which the Curry gag act was born. Tenay hyped the ratings record from last week again. West called it a rocket ship. Curry gave Rave his Spice Rack finisher, then let Shark Boy score the pin.

WINNER: Curry & Shark in 5:00.

STAR RATING: 1/2* - Why bother giving TV time to the Infection to establish their new gimmick, or their enhanced gimmick, only to have them job to two cartoon characters in a meaningless five minute mid-show tag match? It's all just so random.

-Crystal interviewed Tomko. She asked if "tonight could be the reunion we've all been waiting for." Who's been waiting for Tomko and Christian and reunite? Where was it established that there was any reason for anyone to have any interest in their reuniting? Tomko said it's only because of their history that he accepted his invite to meet him in the ring. He said he's curious what he has to say, but otherwise has nothing to say.

[Commercial Break]

-Crystal interviewed B.G. James and "Bullet" Bob Armstrong. B.G. said they trained until he puked and he feels like he has one foot in the grave. He said his father is his hero and role model and partner. He said they're bad blood and family fighting. He said everybody knows if you throw one punch at an Armstrong, you have eight fists coming at you. He said the James Gang is bringing the belts home to mama. This two last name deal really trips up the flow of these promos. Kip walked up and said those two have been busting their butts training and he wished them the best of luck.

-Tenay and West were shown on camera. They hyped the PPV line-up again.


Tenay proudly talked about TNA's relationship with New Japan opening the door for Tiger Mask joining TNA. The audience drops another 6 percent during the tag match and this match, and it's no surprise. Before the match Styles declared his love for Karen. The crowd chanted "Princess A.J." Tiger jump-started the match. Tenay talked about the father and son teaming together at the PPV event. Styles charged at Tiger Mask at 1:00. Tiger moved and Styles landed on the floor. Styles ran away before he could dive on him on the floor, then yanked him to the floor where he rammed his face into the ring apron. He began to untie Tiger Mask's mask. Tiger bit Styles and made a comeback with kicks. He scored a two count after an underhook suplex. The ref got crushed in the corner. Styles mule kicked Tiger Mask, giving Tiger the excuse for losing to the Styles Clash seconds later.

WINNER: Styles in 6:00.

STAR RATING: *3/4 -- Good action, but another match with no context or purpose. Just bring in a jobber to give Styles a clean showcase win. Tiger's involvement is totally superfluous and just took away Styles getting a clean TV win but otherwise added nothing to the ratings drawing power or selling point for the PPV.

[Commercial Break]

-A brief James Mitchell video aired highlighting last week's promo for the Mesias vs. Abyss match.

-Christian Cage walked out to the ring, followed by Tomko. Christian said he's not going to stand there and go through their whole history again, he's going to get right to the point. He said he applauds Tomko for wanting to be his own man, but he doesn't know where things stand between them. Who wants to watch two straight men have a relationship that sounds like the conversation men dread having with girls they're starting to date. "Where do we stand?" How does this make either of them the least bit cool? What's the supposed point of all this? It does nothing to promote Sunday's match. They've found a way two months in a row to totally miss the boat on promoting anything between Christian and Angle when they're wrestling each other, but instead having each of them focus on other matters (Christain-Tomko, Angle-Joe). Christian told Tomko if he wants to finish what A.J. , they might as well do it right now. He said he would turn his back and Tomko could do what's best for Tomko. He turned around and took a deep breath. West said Tomko was thinking of taking the free shot. Tomko thought about it, then walked away. Totally, completely pointless and counter productive. It has nothing to do with any reason anyone would feel compelled to watch Christian try to win the TNA World Title from Angle. I'm just flabbergasted at how utterly unbelievably horrible the hype for this PPV is this week. They lost another 12 percent of their audience during this.

[Commercial Break]

6 -- CHRISTIAN CAGE vs. MESIAS (w/James Mitchell)

Nothing good can come from this match-up. It makes no sense for a World Title challenger to be booked in this manner just a few days before his big opportunity. It cheapens everything. It seems like this show was booked by drawing names out of a hat, although if that actually would have probably worked out better than this. This is like the Patriots playing a rugby game against the dirtiest, toughest, most ruthless team in Europe a week before the Super Bowl and no explanation is given for it. West said both of these men have their biggest matches of their careers on Sunday, underlining the lingering question of why are these two wrestling each other on this show? A minute into the match, Tenay plugged TNA Mobile again. Mesias pressed and dropped Christian to the floor as they cut to a break at 2:00.

[Commercial Break]

Tenay and West hyped the promise of gory violence in the barbed wire match on Sunday. West said there's nothing better than a classic title match and the Christian-Angle rematch promised to be just that. Tenay talked about Joe's involvement in it. It all felt so scripted and forced; not at all conversational or natural. At 10:00, as Christian climbed to the top rope, Mitchell prodded Christian with his cane. That distracted Christian as Mesias yanked him to the mat. Abyss walked to the ring with barbed wire wrapped around his arm. He chased Mitchell to the back. Christian set up an Unprettier, but Mesias escaped. Christian reapplied it and scored the pin.

WINNER: Christian in 11:00.

STAR RATING: *1/4 - Wow, what a great way to build a sense of jeopardy for supposed babyface Abyss headed into his brutal match Sunday against the supposedly evil mysterious heel force of Mesias, who looked like a virtual jobber here.

-Tenay said this really shows Christian has momentum headed a Sunday. Abyss returned to the ring to attack Mesias. They brawled to the back. Styles ran to the ring and attacked Christian. Angle stopped a Christian comeback and pounded him on the mat. He and Styles took turn stomping Christian. Tomko made the save. Styles bailed out and couldn't believe what he saw Tomko do. Tomko shook Christian's hand as the show ended. Okay, they sorta ended on a note that at least clearly had to do with building the PPV main event and set up Christian as more of a babyface than Angle. What a mess leading up to this final angle, though.

-A video package hyping Against All Odds finished the show.

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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.

He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.

He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).

He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)


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