TV REPORTS 9/25 TNA Impact Review by Wilkenfeld: Cage's ambiguity powers stong, if unremarkable, show
Sep 26, 2008 - 12:21:06 AM
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By: Daniel Wilkenfeld, PWTorch Contributor
First, I'd like to engage in the all too rare self shout-out for writing my first column for the PWTorch online newsletter. If you're a VIP member, check it out. Also, today's my birthday, so go me.
Where We've Been: Foley Foley Foley? Foley Foley. Foley Foley Foley Foley. Foley! I realize one great superstar cannot make up for series of questionable booking decisions, but Foley is not just a great superstar. Unlike such other big names as Angle and Team 3D, the case could be made that Foley is actually at his very best. What he lacks in in-ring ability he makes up for in both sincerity and gravitas, the two areas where TNA is most sorely lacking. In fact, with Jarrett, Cage, Sting, and Foley all potentially active at the same time, this has the potential to be the deepest roster for promos since the WWE brand split. Conversely, with the likes of Styles, Dutt, Williams, Shelley, Sabin, LAX, etc., it has one of the deepest wrestling rosters in a while. There are two ways to capitalize on these facts—they could either treat wrestling as a multi-ring circus, or they could try to integrate the talkers with the doers. Christian's Coalition was a good model of how to do that earlier this year, and hopefully the coming factional warfare between Sting's Veterans and Joe's Young'uns will create another such opportunity.
Tonight we'll be seeing AJ Styles vs. Booker T (I'm sure that will end clean), LAX vs. Beer Money in a match where the losing team loses its manager, Bashir vs. Samoa Joe, and Kong killing someone.
Jarrett's out, and the crowd is glad to see him. He talks about how TNA just made its single greatest acquisition in the form of Mick Foley, who'll be in the Impact Zone next week. Kurt Angle's not going to like that "greatest acquisition" talk. Sure enough, here comes Kurt to register that complaint in person. He refers to Jarrett's having his "head up his ass" for the last 24 months—not cool. Angle says that he, not Jarrett or AJ, built this company up from being an outhouse. Jarrett tries to back off, and says that he probably said some things last week he probably shouldn't have. He thought long and hard before coming back on camera, but there was just too much going on for him to stay home. He's not just talking about Angle and Sting. Two weeks in a row AJ Styles left with Kurt's gold medals, and no matter what differences Jeff and Angle might have, nothing will change the fact that Kurt became a bona fide American hero in 1996. So Jeff went to AJ, and got Kurt's medals back for him. Kurt thanks him, but then tells him to get the hell out of his ring. Then he yells at him for leaving the ring. Huh? He tries to taunt Jarrett back into a fight, calling him a washed up quitter like his old man, and a disgrace to his kids. Rachael doesn't care for the mention of the kids. Nor, seemingly, does Jarrett. He goes back to the ring, and says that one thing he isn't is a quitter. He was trying to spare Angle from a share of the pain he's been dealing with, but if Angle wants a fight, he's got one at Bound for Glory. So are we starting a tradition of new acquisitions guest refereeing at BFG?
(1) MATT MORGAN & ABYSS defeat THE ROCK & RAVE INFECTION (w/CHRISTY HEMME)
For those who missed No Surrender, Matt Morgan and Abyss are making a run at the record books by trying to become the first team to ever break up before teaming together. Rave tries to start things off with Abyss, but after the monster no sells some shots Rave tags in Rock. He does a bit better, but eventually gets dominated too. Rave tries to help, but when he goes for a Cross Body Block he just bounces off. Abyss tags in Morgan, who hits a Cross Body Block off the top rope. He stays in control till a distraction by Christy lets Rock & Rave work the double team. It only lasts a second though, as Morgan comes back with a dropkick that's really absurdly high for a man his size. Okay, maybe we should believe the "The Blueprint" hype. Anyway, Abyss comes in and nails a Black Hole Slam for no real reason, and Morgan nails Rave with the Hellavator for the win.
After the match, Team 3D's music hits, and they're on the ramp. Devon says the win at No Surrender was a fluke, since Team 3D are the "baddest" tag team on the planet. He lists their accolades, including the fact that they've never lost in Japan. Brother Ray tells them that the tag team invitational will be this year's Monster's Ball match. If The Guns are in that match, it'll rule.
We have another Rough Cut with Roxxi, where they talk about the controversy surrounding women's hardcore wrestling. I really don't get why that's a big deal.
Not-Crystal is in the back with Beer Money Inc. She says that while their titles aren't on the line, perhaps something more important is. If I were Ms. Jackie I'd be offended by the word "perhaps". She says that the losers' manger will be leaving TNA—those are much higher stakes than they mentioned last week. Storm cuts an awesome promo about Jacqueline's history in the business, and how they prefer someone like her to a pretty face like Velvet Sky. Ms. Jackie is concerned, but Storm asserts that they're not losing her on his watch. That was really good stuff.
Awesome Kong comes out to the ring alone, clearly confused about Raesha Saeed's absence. Her opponent tonight is Mercedes Steele.
(2) AWESOME KONG defeats MERCEDES STEELE
Tenay reminds us that as much of a squash as this looks like it'll be, it doesn't look any more absurd than Taylor Wilde's debut. That's a good way to get some extra mileage out of that upset—now every squash is another Taylor Wilde waiting to happen. This one doesn't seem to be playing out that way, as I'm pretty sure that by 20 seconds into the match Steele is legally dead. Kong wins it with an Awesome Bomb as Saeed joins her with a pair of chairs in the ring.
After the match Kong goes for an Awesome Bomb on the chair, while "Raesha Saeed" blasts her in the back with a steel chair. How did I miss that? She takes off the mask, and it's Roxxi, who pummels on Kong. The real Saeed makes it to the entranceway, having apparently been tied up.
We're back with Karen's Angle, whose guest is Christian Cage. She makes explicit the division between veterans and original TNA wrestlers. Um…Samoa Joe wasn't an original. Cage says that he's somewhere in the middle, and sees both sides. AJ and Joe built this company, but they didn't get a national TV deal and two hours till people like Cage and Angle joined. When he was younger though, he took the veterans' selfishness as motivation to step up his game, so if the current young guys just expect to be given respect they're going about things the wrong way. Karen asks about his outburst at AJ last week, and he says that he was just miffed AJ answered a question for him. She asks which side he'll join, and he says that the beauty of being a free agent is that he can go with whomever has the better package. She tries to press the question, but he dodges. As Karen's Angles go, this was probably the best.
Not-Crystal is in the back with LAX. Hector is wearing a sombrero on his back, and says that Beer Money puts too much gravy on their biscuits. Huh? This was the guy they needed to talk for the relatively clear Homicide and Hernandez? Okay. He says that blood is thicker than water in the streets, and it'll be that way in the ring too. He mutters something in Spanish.
JB is in Booker's lavish locker room. The Bookerman says that "where I'm from in Africa, there's one thing that never changes in the kingdom—that is the king, and the queen." I assume that's supposed to be funny, right? He asks what "AJ" stands for, but then says that it doesn't matter anyway. He cuts this whole promo in a new weird accent—East African maybe? He hits at something about keeping friends close and enemies closer. JB tries to ask about Booker's mysterious briefcase, but that just gets him kicked out of the room.
Homicide and Storm start things off, with Homicide gaining the early edge, nailing an Overhead Belly-to-Belly Suplex for one. Storm tags in Roode, but Homicide takes him down with a Leg Scissors and tags in Hector. He jumps into the ring, surprisingly spry for an old guy. He dropkicks Storm out of the ring and nails The Three Amigos on Roode. Okay, I guess he, uniquely, is allowed to use Eddie's moves. Ms. Jackie attacks him from behind to break up his momentum, so Hector chases her out of the ringside area. At first I thought he was the legal man, but Homicide I guess just blind-tagged himself in.
Storm has Homicide set up for a Superplex, but Homicide fights it off and nails a DDT/Faceplant off the top rope and gets the tag in to Hernandez. Hernandez briefly dominates both members of Beer Money, but Homicide's still weak and the numbers game is a cruel master. Storm nails a Backstabber for two. Hernandez hits a Double Clothesline in response, and tags in Homicide for a Frog Splash for two. Beer Money have a miscommunication on the outside, but when Hernandez goes to toss Homicide out after them Ms. Jackie runs right into him. Everything breaks down and gets crazy, including Hernandez nailing his Super-Mex tope to the outside, landing on his feet. Sadly, he walks into the ring just in time to eat a shot to the head from Roode, who's wielding Storm's double-beer helmet. That's enough for the three count, and the end of Hector's tenure in LAX. It might also possibly end his tenure in TNA, depending on which promo we believe.
Not-Crystal is at "The Love In" with Sonjay Dutt and SoCal Val, who have apparently been in bed since No Surrender. Val says she doesn't owe an explanation to anyone, then asks Sonjay when they'll meet his absurdly rich father who's only heir Sonjay is.
Sting hits the ring, mic in hand. He says that out of respect for Jarrett's father and, to a lesser extent, Jeff himself, last week he listened to what he had to say. Maybe Jeff has some of the twenty-somethings in the back fooled, so Sting will teach them a little history. A few years ago he got a call from Jeff begging him to come out of retirement, and, even though he had a competing offer from Vince McMahon, he chose to come here. So don't tell him he only cares about the money, cause he chose TNA because he liked what he saw in the next generation. Then he got to know them personally, and things changed. Now Jeff doesn't need him anymore? Well they'll just have to agree to disagree, since Sting has to keep his focus on Samoa Joe. Now he shifts gears, going over the veterans who shaped his career. The crowd greets Hogan with an "overrated" chant, but Sting says that he can acknowledge what was great in those who came before. Flair gets the most respect from Sting, and the most love from the crowd. He taught Sting how to travel around the world and keep on going, how to walk the aisle and keep on going, and how to bleed and keep on going. He cuts to an image of Samoa Joe, who actually draws boos from the crowds. Sting says that here is a man who doesn't know how to be world champion, because someone needs to teach him respect. He ends with a picture of himself, saying that here's the man who's going to teach it to him.
Abyss is in the back freaking out at the prospect of a match with weapons, since his therapist said he couldn't use any. Morgan is horrified at the thought of giving up a spot at Bound for Glory, so he tells Abyss that his therapist said that he has to face his fears down. Morgan promises that he's going to be okay.
They officially announce the Return of the Steel Asylum. It would probably be scarier if it weren't fire-hydrant red.
JB is in the locker room with Samoa Joe, whom he was surprised to see not interrupt Sting's promo. Joe explains that he finally appreciates what Nash was trying to teach him, since the lion is cool and collected before pouncing on his prey. He knows this isn't about respect. He's done yelling and shouting and promising; now he's going to do make everything clear in the ring at Bound for Glory. Jay Lethal and Consequences Creed come over to thank him for everything he's doing, and offer their allegiance if he ever needs it. This was good stuff too.
Suicide cuts a promo about self-destruction that I'm pretty sure was word-for-word Generic-Abyss-Promo-14532.
Sheik Abdul Bashir is out, and I don't hear the planes crashing. I'm almost tempted to think it must have badly sound-edited stock bomb noises the last time.
(4) SHEIK ABDUL BASHIR defeats SAMOA JOE
Bashir, to his credit, goes right after Joe. Joe, to his credit, smooshes Bashir like a bug. Bashir dodges a running kick in the corner, and Joe catches his knee. Quick to take advantage, Bashir dropkicks it and starts working it over with a Leg Lock. Joe powers out, but stupidly goes for a Knee Drop—Bashir rolls aside and works the knee a little more. I am not a fan of "psychology" in a five minute X Division match, at least when it's a code word for "boring rest holds". He tries to hit something off the top rope, but Joe just walks away. Joe hits a boot, and then drops a Senton Splash for two. Bashir catches him in a quick Dragon Screw, which I'm pretty confident neither announces knew the name of. He's now working the Single Leg Boston Crab, so we're at least up to a legitimate submission hold. He tries to work the knee in the corner, but the ref pulls him off. The moment's distraction is enough for Joe to come back with a Yurinagi, which he follows up with a Muscle Buster for the kill. Remember when the X Division Championship meant almost as much as the World Heavyweight Championship? No? Wait…after the match Joe takes the mic and says that he'll show Sting his respect right here. He locks Bashir in the Kokido Clutch, and when he refuses to break it the ref reverses the decision. That's…better? I'm not quite sure I see the point of giving Bashir the win while still making him seem totally outclassed—that strikes me as the worst of both worlds. It could lead to some killer Bashir promos down the road though.
JB is in the back with AJ Styles, who wants to know if JB really wants to hang out with a small town boy like himself. The truth is he's proud of Gainesville, and doesn't know what's up with the bizarre accent Booker has been mysteriously developing over the last month. He questions Bookers attempts to drive a wedge between him and Cage, which I hadn't even noticed. He says that the only wedge that going to be driven anywhere is his boot up Booker's…
(5) BOOKER T (w/SHARMELL) defeats AJ STYLES
Sharmell is still carrying the unexplained briefcase. Before the bell rings, Christian Cage comes down to the ring unannounced. I don't really see the need to turn him heel yet, especially when we're not even sure which faction the crowd will ultimately decide to back. This crowd starts off about 75-25 behind AJ, which is actually pretty impressive against Booker T. Booker hits a high kick to start, but AJ fights back with a leaping forearm in the corner. He Snapmares Booker to the mat, but it just gets a one count. Booker pokes the eyes as he gets up, but goes for the Scissors Kick way too early; AJ dodges and nails an Ensuguri for two.
Booker is working AJ over with knees as we get back, then floors him with a kick. He hits a Side Slam and a Knee Drop, then lights AJ up with some Knife-Edged Shots in the corner. He takes AJ to the mat for a two count, then cinches in a Key Lock. AJ powers out, only to eat a Spine Buster for two. Just when I was going to give Booker credit for a decent match, he starts working the Chin Lock. Well, it's nice to have some things in life be consistent, and nothing is more consistent than Booker's inability to maintain a match. AJ's hand drops twice before he powers out at two. Booker goes for a Bicycle Kick but AJ dodges and comes back with clotheslines. Booker tries to Back Body Drop him out to the floor, but he lands on the apron and comes back in with a Flying Forearm for two. Booker gets up, but is nailed by a Pele for another two. They get up and crack heads, knocking down the ref as they fall. The crowd starts cheering for Christian to do something. Sharmell comes in the ring with a briefcase, but Cage pulls it away from her. AJ, however, turns around to see Christian suspiciously holding a briefcase behind him, and that does not make AJ happy. He slaps the case out of Cage's hand, and while they argue Booker picks it up and nails him in the head. The ref comes around to make the three-count.
Don West thinks that Cage looks like he understands AJ's confusion (which is not how I would have interpreted Christian's impressively ambiguous expression), but wonders if he'll be able to explain to AJ what happened. Umm…THERE'S VIDEO FOOTAGE.
Where We're Going: So Christian is playing the ambiguous character who won't decide between factions—that suits him. Part of me wonder if it's supposed to be a metaphor for his decision regarding whether to re-up with TNA or move back to greener pastures in WWE, but my guess is that no sentence that combines the words "TNA", "WWE", and "metaphor" could possibly be true. (Okay, except for that last sentence, now.) This is one of their better choices—it makes a lot more sense to have him be torn than it did when AJ was torn between his good friend Christian Cage and that-guy-he-just-met Kurt Angle. Though pretty much anything they could have done that would have involved putting Christian Cage in a central role would have made me fairly happy.
Star of the Night: Christian Cage.
Overall: This was actually a more consistent show than last week, but lacked anything even vaguely close to the oomph of Jarrett's promo and Foley's first video appearance. Still, they made progress in all the points where it mattered—the main event angle moved forward nicely, and they made me care about the Jarrett-Angle semi-main-event feud. This was a good show. Most importantly, Joe's character finally seems back on track after months of aimless wandering. A-
Daniel is a graduate student at The Ohio State University. For those all offering birthday well-wishes and Amazon gift certificates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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