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4/3 Impact Review by Wilkenfeld: A decent story underneath a whole lot of mediocrity

Apr 3, 2008 - 10:53:01 PM

By: Daniel Wilkenfeld, PWTorch Contributor

Where We've Been: Last week marked the return of Sting to TNA and the return of James Storm to relevance. Okay, so maybe James Storm was never all that relevant in the first place, but in any event he's there now. Of course, based on the precedents set by Kaz in November and Eric Young almost weekly, the forays of ridiculously athletic and/or talented young performers into the main event picture tend to last about three weeks before they're forcibly ended by Team 3D, but we can hope. Since America's Most Wanted turned heel two and a half years ago Storm has consistently proven himself to be the more personable character and all-around bankable performer of what was then perhaps the best tag team in the world, so his push is really long overdue. He's scheduled to fight Sting tonight, so most likely they're just giving him the appearance of importance so it seems like a bigger deal when he jobs, but if the Stinger is in a giving mood there would be worse ways for him to contribute than losing to Storm in relatively clean, upset fashion.

The Show: "Morgan's Mess"

JB is outside Cornette's office. He informs us that in addition to Sting vs. Storm we'll also be seeing Traci Brooks vs. Payton Banks and Styles & Tomko vs. Christian & Rhino. Cornette storms out, furious at "that Neanderthal" Matt Morgan for, in Cornette's absence, telling Team Tomko that they could have a fifth member at Lethal Lockdown. Morgan comes out, and JB wants to know why Morgan would have granted that—he says because Tomko asked him, and he stepped up. This fifth person business has interesting possibilities.

[Opening Credits]

Team Tomko's out, and Tomko has the mic. He says that while Christian always used to try to think for the whole team, he's willing to let everyone think some for themselves. The crowd is for some reason going nuts for AJ Styles, which is random but cool. Tomko hands Brother Ray the mic, who says that the tag team champions and the greatest tag team of all time cannot be beaten. He wants to give a shout-out to Matt Morgan for letting them have a fifth member, and that fifth person, James Storm, for making history last week by turning the tables on Sting. Storm comes to the ring accompanied by Ms. Jackie and a beer bottle. He shares a swig with Brother Ray and takes the mic, but before he can say anything Christian's music hits. Team Cage comes out, and they're wearing matching "Team Cage" shirts. Storm wants to know if Christian's stupid, interrupting his interview time. Christian assures him that the crowd doesn't want to hear some lush slur his words. On the other hand, while Storm might like to blame his slurring on the beer, Christian's betting that he's just "semi-retired", as evidenced by the fact that he picked a fight with Sting last week. He runs down their matches for later and then calls out Matt Morgan. Morgan comes out the heel entrance and high fives Team Tomko in the ring. Christian says that since Morgan's busy fetching dry-cleaning he'll just cut to the point—he wants to know what Morgan will do for Team Cage to counter the five-four advantage he's given Team Tomko. Morgan says that if Christian's such a genius he should have figured out by now that he can get his own fifth partner anywhere he wants. Christian replies that he's confident in all four members of his team, and regardless of whether there's a disadvantage there is still going to be a fight at Lockdown. He says that he might just have an ace up his sleeve.

Angle's arriving in the back, and JB wants to know if he was serious last week about the two of them having a sparring match, and whether he and AJ are cool. Angle assures him that he won't have to fight tonight, and that he and AJ are fine. JB wants to know what is on tap for tonight then, and Angle says that he's here to make sure that Joe keeps his word and quits after Lockdown, or else. Young pops onscreen and says that he has a feeling Super Eric's in the building. Kurt calls him an idiot and says that the only superhero around here is Kurt Angle. After Kurt storms off Young rightly points out that Kurt doesn't even wear a cape.

[Commercial Break]

We see footage from earlier today of Steiner driving a car around with Petey Williams on the hood. He says that tonight he's going to cash in his title shot. Well, at least they dropped the torture motif.

Crystal is in the back with "The Monsters of Rock", which consists of Black Reign, Rellik, Jimmy Rave, and Lance Hoyt. Reign seems freaked out by Rave and Hoyt, which is probably the first time Reign's amused me in TNA. I forgot that he can actually be pretty funny when he isn't, you know, sucking.

(1) LAX & The Motor City Machine Guns defeat The Monsters of Rock

Eric Young starts the match in the crowd. Rave and Sabin start things off in the ring. There's some quick back-and-forth before Sabin nails a jumping Reverse Kick. He tags in Shelley and we get their usual sweet double-team action on both Rave in the ring and Hoyt on the outside. They tag in Homicide and set Rave up in a Bow and Arrow like maneuver while Homicide hits him with a Senton Splash off the top rope. Black Reign comes in and the heels take control as we go to break.

[Commercial Break]

Homicide is being isolated when we come back. That seems to be his MO since LAX turned face. Rave comes off the top and gets caught in an Atomic Drop and then a Gringo Cutter, but doesn't buy Homicide enough time to make the tag. He comes close enough for Hernandez to tag himself in, and he just brutalizes the entire opposition. Eventually the numbers catch up to him and everything breaks down. The Motor City Machine Guns clear out the monsters, Homicide gets Hoyt with a Somersault Suicide Dive, and Hernadez destroys Rave with a Border Toss for the win.
After the match Rellik and Reign go on the attack. Where are the Guns? Reign's about to nail Hernandez with the Darkness Falls, when Kaz decides he'd like to get on TV this week so he comes out to make the save. Hoyt comes back and gets Kaz with a huge Chokeslam as the crowd chants for Super Eric. I told you that would get over in a hurry. They get their wish, as Super Eric comes out and clears out the opposition.

JB is in the back with Sting, who feels really good to be back. He felt like he had something left to give, so he came back to see what these new changes were with Christian Cage. Getting hit with a beer bottle wasn't what he had planned, but it wasn't a setback either. Storm might as well have poured some gasoline on the fire that still burns inside him, and tonight he's going to return the favor by making Storm famous.

[Commercial Break]

On tonight's edition of the Rough Cut we see Kip James turning on Bullet Bob. Kip admits that Bullet Bob was just collateral damage. BG says that Kip just had a hurt ego, but hopefully soon he'll have more than just his ego hurt. Kip can't understand why BG would throw away his career for a feel-good moment with his dad. BG thinks that maybe they'll be able to settle things after they beat the hell out of each other, but Kip doesn't want to settle.

We cut to a sit-down interview with Awesome Kong and Raisha Saeed. Tenay lays out the preconditions of the interview as dictated by Saeed—that Tenay could not get too personal, and that the interview could be cut off at any time and for any reason. He asks where they're from. Saeed says that she's from Syria; Kong's from the US, but has made her home in Japan. They met in the dojos in Japan. Tenay asked what's up with the Burka, and Saeed tells him that it's none of his business. He asks if there's anyone on the horizon who can take out Kong, and Saeed says no.

[Commercial Break]

We see a video hyping Consequences Creed's Impact debut next week. This is good news on many levels—I'm not sure why companies don't usually try to build-up their new talent before they arrive.

Crystal is in the back with James Storm and Ms. Jackie, and she expresses surprise that he recovered from his fall at Elevation X so quickly. Storm says that he was watching at home and saw Rhino and Cage kiss and make-up, and can't figure out why he's the one they call "Brokeback." He doesn't respect Sting. Sting said he would make him famous, but he's famous enough already. He's going to slap Sting, and shove his fist down Sting's throat, and when it's all over all Sting will hear will be that Storm's sorry 'bout his damned luck.

(2) Styles & Tomko defeat Christian Cage & Rhino

Christian has a new entrance video; amazingly it makes his entrance even more of a knockoff of Chris Jericho's, which I wouldn't have thought possible. He starts things off against Tomko, who takes some big swings but can't keep up with Christian's quickness. Cage takes Tomko off his feet with a Leg Lariat, but when he tries to follow up Tomko just powers him into a corner. He sidesteps an attempted charge from Tomko and tosses an interfering AJ Styles. He hits mounted punches on Tomko, but Tomko tosses him back after ten. Rhino comes in, and quickly gets isolated from his partner. AJ takes him down with a beautiful dropkick to the face (West, to his credit, makes note of how perfect it was). When he tries to follow up he gets caught in a Powerslam that allows Rhino to make the tag. Christian takes control, but gets distracted by Tomko and nailed by a Pele.

[Commercial Break]

Tomko is slamming Christian to the mat for two as we come back. Tomko taunts Rhino by stretching Christian's hands towards him, then pulls Cage over to his corner and makes the tag to AJ. Styles locks in a weird looking Face Stretch, and when Christian starts to power out he just tags Tomko back in. Tomko lifts Cage up for a big slam, and Cage actually makes the tag to Rhino while on Tomko's back, but the ref didn't see it. AJ tags in and gets knocked down, but catches Cage with a Leg Scissors from his back, which is pretty awesome. Tomko comes in and hits a big Delayed Vertical Suplex for a long two count. AJ locks in the Front Chancery, but Christian counters with an Impaler DDT for two. He makes the tag, but again the ref, distracted with Tomko, doesn't see it. Rhino leaves the ring, but then comes back in and Gores referee Andrew Thomas. It's an all out brawl, culminating in an Unprettier on Tomko and a GORE on AJ Styles. Team 3D attack from behind, and Nash slowly comes to the ring with a chair. Team Tomko bails. Cornette comes out and announces that Rhino has been disqualified for overtly Goring a referee, which actually strikes me as a fairly reasonable decision.

[Commercial Break]

JB is in Cornette's office, where Cornette is blaming Morgan for elevating the situation to all-out war. I'm not sure how any of this is Morgan's fault. Morgan says that to make sure that things stabilize later tonight he'll be the referee in Sting vs. Storm to make sure neither Team Cage nor Team Tomko intervene. Cornette says that if he doesn't keep his word then next week there will be a trained chimp doing his job. That would be an awesome, awesome show. Cornette goes off to try to find a referee's shirt big enough to fit Morgan. Morgan tells JB that while Christian might have threatened him, they'll see who has the last laugh later tonight. He pulls out his convenient, custom-made referee's shirt.

Jay Lethal and SoCal Val are sharing a romantic date in a Jacuzzi, and Lethal thinks that they should take their relationship to the next level. Before she can answer Sonjay Dutt pops out of the water in scuba gear and comments on her snake-patterned bikini. Black Machismo is rightly panicked that Jake the Snake is trying to sabotage another one of his relationships.

(3) Shark Boy defeats "Primetime" Skipper

Elix Skipper would like us all to know that yes, he's still employed, and yes, he's about to job to a guy in a fish suit doing a Steve Austin impression. Such is life. This match is for a spot in the X-Scape match at Lockdown. Primetime tries to take it to Shark Boy, but SB quickly starts running through his bionic arsenal. He whiffs on an elbow off the second rope and eats a Back Kick and a Belly-to-Belly Suplex from Skipper for two. Skipper hits a nice Butterfly Suplex and then takes Shark Boy to the outside. He rolls Shark Boy back in and crotches him on the ropes, but when he tries to walk them Shark Boy knocks him off. Shark Boy comes back with a Lou Thesz Press and an Elbow Drop. Skipper goes for another kick but it's reversed into a Neck Breaker for two. He hangs Shark Boy up on the ring-post and then hits a jaw-dropping Guillotine Leg Drop from one ring-post onto Shark Boy on the other for two. He goes to the top again, but Shark Boy cuts him off with a dropkick and a Hurricanrana. A Stunner—check that, a "Chummer"—later it's over.

Crystal is in the back with Traci Brooks, and she wants to know how Traci's back is doing. Traci asks if she can't see the marks? Crystal can't, and Traci says that's because bruises heal, but what they did to her at Destination X will be seared into her mind forever. Payback's a bitch, and so is Banks. Before she can walk away Angelina Love and Velvet Sky come on camera, mocking her for whining. They're sick of how she's always bossing people around like she's some kind of veteran. They'll give her a pass tonight, but if she keeps it up she'll end up like Roxxi.

[Commercial Break]

Crystal is in the back with Shark Boy. She relates the rules of the X-scape match and asks his opinion of Consequences Creed. Shark Boy starts to say how he's going to beat everyone at Lockdown, when suddenly the lights flicker and Curry Man's music hits. He starts to say something about "Lockdown…champion…Curry Man…" as Shark Boy "What?"s him and storms off. Curry Man shakes his head and says "every time Shark Boy angry…", but then his music starts up again and he dances with Crystal. I guess we'll never know what Shark Boy thinks of Mr. Creed.

(4) Traci Brooks defeats Payton Banks

I think Traci has new music, though I couldn't tell you what her music used to be. Brooks immediately attacks Banks, and they're trading stiff strikes. Banks hits a Backstabber for two, and then lays in with some forearms to Traci's head. She sets Traci up in the corner, but eats a boot for her troubles and then a Spear. Traci roughs Banks up for a minute, and then hits some sort of hair-pulling Facebuster off the top rope for three.
After the match Love and Velvet Sky go on the attack, and the save is made by…Selinas? Why? Ms. Jackie comes out to attack Selinas, but I don't think anyone can keep track of who's on what side. Roxxi Leveaux and Christy Hemme come out next, before Sharmell comes out and cleans house with her leather strap. Booker's music hits, and he doesn't seem happy to see his wife out there.

[Commercial Break]

Crystal follows the bickering Booker and Sharmell. He doesn't want to see her get hurt, but she says that he knew he was marrying a wildcat. She welcomes him to the jungle.

We see some more of Joe's MMA training. Joe points out that while Angle's training for freestyle wrestling, Joe is learning to use everything he has to counter. He wants everyone to know that Angle's medals mean nothing to him.

Angle hits the ring, and says that since he knows Samoans are liars he wants Joe to sign a legal document next week to the effect that if he doesn't beat Angle at Lockdown he'll leave wrestling altogether. There's no way that could be legally binding—they couldn't even keep Brock Lesnar from wrestling for ten years. He says that if Joe doesn't sign he'll be proving that he's just a lying sack of…something we'll never hear, since Steiner's music hits. He's announcing that after the title match at Lockdown he'll be cashing in his title shot. He could use his shot at Lockdown after Joe and Angle are tired, but that wouldn't be fair, because they couldn't even beat him on their best days. So instead he's giving them a month, and he'll cash in his title shot at Sacrifice. The crowd comes alive behind Kurt Angle, who extends his hand. Steiner says he's not shaking it, cause he doesn't think Angle's going to even make it to Sacrifice with the title. Angle seems flabbergasted as Steiner walks off.

JB is in Cornette's office, and Morgan wants to have a "Queen of the Cage Match" at Lockdown. All the women will start on the outside of the cage, and the first two into it will wrestle to a pinfall. That actually sounds kind of fun. He tells Morgan to leave the wrestling promoting up to him, and to get a referee's shirt with sleeves next time. After Morgan leaves, Cornette tries to sell JB on this great idea he just had for a "Queen of the Cage Match."

[Commercial Break]

I'm pretty sure West said that last week on Impact Sting made a "heroric" return. So I turned on Closed Captioning to see if that was right, and you could actually see the poor typist hesitate when he got to that word, think for a few seconds, and then settle on "heroic." I realize I couldn't do any better, but it was still amusing.

(5) Sting defeats James Storm

Storm tries to attack before the opening bell but Sting cuts him off. Sting fights him out to the ramp and floors him with a big right hand. He brings him back down the ramp with a Hip Toss and then clotheslines him over the barricade. He whips him into a wall a couple times. He also takes the time to subtly give a fan back an Irish flag that he had dropped—I'm not sure if he was just being nice or he thought it would make a good backdrop as he pounded Storm, but either way it was a very nice touch. He finally drags Storm down to the ring, but as he comes in Ms. Jackie creates a long enough distraction for Storm to nail a Lifting DDT for two.

[Commercial Break]

Storm is still in control, but makes the mistake of pounding Sting's head into the corner turnbuckle. Sting Hulks Up and Back Body Drops Storm. Storm hits an Eye Rake on his way up, but when he goes to follow up from the top Sting reverses into a Superplex for two. Storm gets up and hits an Ensuguri, but Sting comes back with an attempted Scorpion Death Lock that is blocked. Storm hits some sort of Inverted Body Block off the top rope for two. Sting ducks an attempted Last Call and cinches in the Scorpion Death Lock. Jacqueline tries to break it up with a Cross Body Block off the top rope, but Matt Morgan catches and puts her aside. Sting releases the hold to see what's happening, and Storm nails a low blow and grabs Sting's bat. Before he can use it, however, Morgan takes it away, tosses it to Sting, and turns his back. Sting softens Storm up with the bat and then hits the Scorpion Death Drop for game. Incidentally, this entire last paragraph took place in about three extremely packed minutes.
After the match Team Tomko hits the ring. Sting bails as Team Tomko gets in the face of Matt Morgan. Brother Ray shoves Morgan from behind, when Team Cage runs down and attacks. Devon ends up in the ring with Morgan, who takes him out with a big boot as the crowd goes nuts. AJ Styles is now alone in the ring with Morgan, and AJ sees the writing on the wall. Morgan kills him with a giant lifting Rock Bottom. As Team Tomko flees Christian rips off Matt Morgan's referee's shirt to reveal a Team Cage t-shirt underneath.

Where We're Going: Tonight's episode told a nice story. There were one or two minor logic holes, but by-and-large it was good drama as Christian's plot unfolded. This sort of arcing storyline actually reminds me a lot of what was good about wrestling when I started watching about eight years ago—they would frequently have undercurrents that flowed beneath whole episodes, from Austin picking off members of DX to Foley organizing a strike against Stephanie McMahon to Vince's quest to determine the identity of Undertaker's "higher power." I actually hadn't even noticed that had been missing lately, but now that I do I'd really like to see it come back. Of course it's important to draw attention to the distinction between an undercurrent that lies beneath an entire episode and an extended routine that runs beside it (see TNA's ill-conceived holiday parties, or AJ's hiding out in Gainsville, etc.). The crucial difference is of course that the undercurrents guide and shape the angles that are central to the company, whereas things like AJ and Karen's honeymoon (though sweet) just sort of run along as a sideshow. The more they can draw disparate storylines into one central thread, the stronger they all should be as a result.

Overall: Though I liked the punch-line of the show and the last five minutes of the main event, this week had little else to recommend it. There was nothing offensively bad, but nothing particularly good either. B-

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