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11/27 TNA Impact ALT PERSPECTIVE by Wilkenfeld: Team 3D pick a side as Rhino and Shelley step up

Nov 27, 2008 - 10:49:05 PM

By: Daniel Wilkenfeld, PWTorch Contributor

I'm writing tonight out of the home of the Cleveland Browns, without the benefit of a DVR. I apologize for any inaccuracies that result.

Where We've Been: Last week saw the elevation of Rhino to a main-event feud with Kurt Angle. Unlike Abyss, Rhino is relatively unencumbered by a crummy character and history, and so the match is likely the start of at least a moderate sojourn at the main event level. This is, in general, a great idea. Promoting a random mid-carder with a cult following is always a good way to mix things up. Historically doing so has been among WWE's best moments—Foley's first title win, Eddie's, Chris Benoit's, and even Edge's. That being said, I would usually think a stale period would be the ideal time to throw this sort of wild card into the main event. Whatever people's beef with TNA right now, it hardly seems directionless, and the direction it's going already has a pair of face main-eventers. Conversely, they could be able to get some more momentum going for their main storyline, so perhaps this is the best time to hand out a promotion. Either way, it should work out at least reasonably well. Tonight we have the second annual Turkey Bowl, which is a nine wrestler tournament consisting of four triple threat matches. The winner of the final fall gets $25,000, while the loser has to don a turkey suit. Presumably this year will not see a repeat of AJ Styles wearing funny costumes every week, so the position is open. I'd put my money on Cute Kip.
Speaking of Cute Kip, my father has pointed out that he seems to have finally found his niche. Given all the crap I give him as a wrestler, I should mention the fact that he does seem to be performing the part of "fashionist" admirably well.

The Show: The Frontline Digs In

Hernandez gets mentioned by name in the build-up for the second annual Turkey Bowl, which gives me the (presumably false) hope that he might be in line for a singles push.

[Opening Credits]

The "Front Line" led by Rhino, AJ Styles, and Samoa Joe come out. Seriously, they have another new name? I guess I have to go with "Original Front Lions" now. Rhino says he took the liberty of giving them their new name, since people on the front line bleed to protect their turf. He knows what it's be like to be the front line of a struggling company (I forget what euphemism he uses for "struggling"), and now he's willing to dig in for this company, cause he believes in it. He asks the fans if they believe in the Front Line too, and whether they'll go to war with them. Despite loud yeses emanating from the crowd, he doesn't think they heard the question, so he goes out among them. People love that. My father notes that the Motor City Machine Guns look curiously bored. Rhino says that at Final Resolution, he'll deal with Kurt Angle, but he needs AJ & Joe to take care of the rest. He reminds us that AJ & Joe will need partners, but with, all due respect to those present, no one else in the ring is ready. Whoa—I assumed Creed & Lethal were getting the nod. Now I'm genuinely curious. LAX would make a certain amount of sense. Morgan & Abyss are probably more likely though (though Rhino could hardly call Morgan more experienced than Eric Young). The MEM hit the stage, with Kurt holding the mic. He can't believe Rhino is delusional enough to think he'll win, particularly when he's standing between Kurt and Jeff Jarrett. Kurt is not worried about who Rhino's got in store for the tag match, since everyone worthwhile is already onstage. He invites Rhino to reconsider his allegiances, rather than throwing everything away. He gives Rhino three seconds to respond, but the Man Beast only needs two to tell Angle to kiss off. Angle seems tempted to interfere, but the MEM has the presence of mind to keep him from doing anything stupid.

[Commercial Break]

JB is in the back with Kurt Angle. After reminding us all of the career vs. shot-at-Jarrett stipulation, JB informs Kurt that Mick Foley has been appointed the special guest enforcer. Kurt is not a happy camper.


All of these matches will feature one X Division wrestler, one tag team wrestler, and one heavyweight contender. Rhino and Hernandez tee off on Dutt to start, till Sonjay wisely rolls out of the ring. They turn on each other, failing to do any damage with dueling shoulder blocks. Rhino eventually gets enough momentum to take Hernandez off his feet. Sonjay then stupidly comes back in, to try to capitalize on a momentarily stunned Rhino. He lands some right hands and some slow chokes, but Rhino takes him over with a Back Body Drop. Dutt lands on his feet and tosses Rhino into a Slingshot Shoulderblock by Hernandez. Dutt tries to come off the top rope into Hernandez; he gets caught, but then reverses it back into a Hurricanrana. Rhino is back in the ring, so Hernandez takes him down with a shoulder block off the top rope. SoCal Val grabs his leg, which lets Dutt knock him out of the ring. That turns out not to be the wisest idea, as it leaves him alone to eat a GORE! GORE! GORE! for the loss.

Jeff Jarrett tells us to cross the line.

Kurt is in Jeff Jarrett's office, where he calls the TNA founder a chicken for trying to keep Kurt from having a shot at him at Genesis. Jarrett says that this isn't about rigging the match, but about keeping the rest of the MEM away from the ring. Kurt says that he won't need the backup of the MEM, but that he will have someone to keep an eye on Mick Foley.

[Commercial Break]

Not-Crystal is in the back with Rhino, Joe, and AJ, the latter of whom don't know "how we can trust them." Rhino says that if he can trust them so can AJ & Joe. Crap, Rachael's right, it's Team 3D. I didn't even record that guess, since I thought it was so absurd. They walk into a locker room, and there Ray and Devon are. Brother Ray says that he's expected them since he heard Rhino's speech. Neither side can believe that Rhino expects this to work, but he reminds Team 3D of their old days working for respect and building a company. He wants to know if they have one fight left in them. Ray asks what's in it for them, at which point Joe snaps. He says that nothing is in it for them, except that for once in their lives they'd be doing the right thing. He'll expect their answer by the end of the night. The Original Front Lions storm out. Devon is not happy about being given a deadline for anything, and Ray says that this is exactly the sort of thing the MEM have been talking about.


Shelley and Cute Kip work over Creed to start—so much for unity on the front lines. Shelley decides to take a rest, which lets Creed knock them down one by one. He clears the ring, then flies out after Shelley with a big Somersault Plancha. Cute Kip takes Creed into the steps before he and Shelley reenter the ring. Shelley floors Kip with a kick for two, then knocks him to the outside with some sort of running knee. Creed is back in the ring, and Shelly nails a chop to the chest. When he tries to get a running start for some move or other he eats a Rolling Clothesline and Neck Breaker from Creed. Kip is back in the ring, and I think he's getting cheered. Creed tries to take him down with his series of punches, but Kip has the splits scouted and knocks him down. Shelley tosses Kip from the ring and nails a weird cover (a Mahistrol Cradle maybe?) for the kill.

Not-Crystal is in the back with the Beautiful People, who she's told have a complaint to register. In fact they have two—that Cute Kip was robbed, and that they're not at the card for Final Resolution. Suddenly Angelina Love gets a letter from "The Govenor", saying that she'll take the $50,000. While she can't show up at "Final Constitution", she will be there at "Impasse" next week. There's no way TNA can afford Tina Fey, is there? I guess for $50,000 they could maybe get a cameo. That would be awesome. More likely it'll just be whoever plays Palin on MadTV. Is that show still on the air even? Sharmell walks over and informs The Beautiful People that Booker T would like an audience with them.

[Commercial Break]

Rhino is in Jarrett's office. Jeff appreciates what Rhino is doing with the Original Front Lions, but he wants him to focus on taking out Angle. Rhino assures him that after Final Resolution, Jeff will never have to worry about Angle again.

Tonight's Rough Cut is about LAX as a team. Homicide says that he's always liked and respected "Sean", and that they clicked right away. He doesn't know why Hernandez calls him the general, when he considers their team a fifty-fifty partnership. This was the weakest of the LAX segments so far.

Not-Crystal is in the back with Team 3D. Brother Ray says that no one gives them an ultimatum. They listened to what AJ & Joe had to say, and they do know what it's like to build a company from the ground up. But in the end of the day people have to realize that this is a business, and the only way to be successful is to think about yourself. Scott Steiner comes in, and says that the MEM has an offer Team 3D can't refuse. Brother Ray says that since they listened to AJ & Joe, they should give the MEM a hearing too.

[Commercial Break]

Christy Hemme is in the back begging Traci Brooks for a shot at Awesome Kong. Traci Brooks reminds Christy of the time Kong left her lying in the ring—wasn't that like a year ago? Do they really expect us to remember that? Apparently it was only three months ago, since that's how long Christy says she's been training with AJ (which is news to me). Traci says that if this is really what Christy wants, she can show she's ready by beating Raesha Saeed later tonight.


I don't like their needlessly stereotypical handling of Bashir, but even I have to admit that he'd look funny in a turkey suit. I'm betting on Morgan though. Bashir and Rave play Rock-Paper-Scissors to figure out who has to lock up with Morgan first. Bashir loses, and Morgan squishes him. They try the double team, but that doesn't go much better. Eventually Bashir is able to clip a leg while Morgan is trying to press Rave. They start slowly working over Morgan's legs as the announcers draw attention to referee Shane Seoul. Morgan suddenly flips Bashir over with a Back Body Drop, then starts punching them down one by one. He introduces them to a Meeting of the Minds, whiffs on an attempted Double Clothesline but then comes back with a Cross Body Block on both of them at once. For some reason Bashir goes for a Waist Lock on Rave, which is pointless, but sets the stage for Morgan to nail an amazing Fall Away Slam on both of them at once. He nails a Carbon Footprint on Rave, but when he goes for Bashir he accidentally goes over the top rope. Bashir takes the opportunity to nail his finisher on Rave for the quick win.

The Beautiful People are in Booker T's locker room. Booker wants their services accompanying Sharmell to ringside. Booker says he will return the favor, and reminds them that he is a very wealthy man. Angelina Love suggests that if they help Sharmell win at Final Resolution, they'll get Booker T's locker room. Booker is outraged, but when Cute Kip reminds him of the impending slaughter, he decides to sacrifice his locker room for his wife. That's actually very sweet. How awesome will it be if he costs her the match so that he can keep his locker room? Yes, I realize that wouldn't make any sense.

[Commercial Break]

JB is in the back with Team 3D and the Main Event Mafia. Kurt Angle tries to explain how they're like a family. Brother Ray counters that they don't look much alike, which is slightly funny. He also says that in this business it's every man for himself, but Kurt says that it doesn't work that way here. Team 3D have dealt with the Motor City Machine Guns, so they understand the level of disrespect involved. They all need to stand together against the front line. Brother Devon objects to the notion that they need to do anything, and asks where the MEM was weeks ago. Kurt says that they were saving the best for last, but Ray doesn't seem to be buying it.


Christy finally has the crowd back from her ill-advised feminist turn over a year ago. Christy dominates to start, but Saeed takes control (with an eye rake?) and hits a Body Slam. She tosses Christy to the outside, where Kong does her work before rolling her back in. A cover by Saeed only gets one. Saeed hits some tentative stomps before going to the top rope. She misses with a dropkick off the top rope, which lets Christy gain the advantage with a Face Plant. Christy misses with the FFG, but when Saeed tries to hoist her up for a Power Bomb she nails a Sunset Flip for the cover.
Christy celebrates after the match, stupidly leaving her back to Awesome Kong. She gets ambushed, but is able to slide out of the ring and escape the wrath of Kong.

[Commercial Break]

Earlier today, Mike Tenay had a sit-down interview with The Phenomenal AJ Styles. Tenay asks if Rhino is the guy to unify the Front Line, and AJ thinks that he has the pedigree to do it. Tenay asks about unity within "the TNA Originals." At first I'm annoyed that they can't stick with one name to save their lives, but then I realized that that might just have been an intentional nod to continuity. If Rhino was announcing their name for the first time earlier in the show, then they wouldn't have known it yet earlier today. That's a nice touch, and enough to make me give the new name a try. Anwyay, Tenay alludes to Sting's reference to AJ's being kicked out of his house at 15. AJ replies that he wasn't kicked out. He left after knocking his father out for drunkenly beating his mother. He knew his dad loved him, but that night was the night he learned about respect. He saw in his brothers' eyes that they knew that they had ended something horrible. I wonder if that's supposed to be an allegory for the current plotline.

Not-Crystal is in the back with Sting and Nash. Sting says that he wants to believe AJ, but he's not sure it all adds up. Big Kev thinks AJ's full of it. So his dad knocked him a couple of times—he probably had it coming. It just shows how they never take responsibility. Sting isn't so sure—what if AJ's right? Nash reminds him that the MEM's watch word is honor—the other side's is bullsh$t.

[Commercial Break]

Not-Crystal is in the back with The Motor City Machine Guns, and she wants to know what Shelley would do with the $25,000 Turkey Bowl prize. He suggests buying a personality for AJ Styles, but doesn't think that will cover it. Then he considers buying a singlet for Samoa Joe, but doesn't think $25,000 will cover that much material either. Finally he settles on buying Mick Foley a new wardrobe, so he looks like the owner of an organization of pro wrestlers rather than bum fighters.


This is an odd match, in that we know going in who has to win, but not who has to lose. It does mean we don't have to pay attention when Rhino's out of the ring. Bashir and Shelley attack Rhino to start, but he takes them both down with a Double Clothesline. He tosses Shelley from the ring and works Bashir over in the corner. A Belly-to-Belly Suplex is broken up by Shelley at two. Rhino nails him with a Spine Buster, but by now Bashir has recovered enough to break up the cover. You know what annoys me? When they start a match just in time for a…

[Commercial Break]

Shelley and Rhino are beating Rhino against the apron on the outside. Rhino tries to fight back, so Shelley slows him down with a Sleeper. Rhino backs him into the barricade, but Bashir rolls him into the ring and gets a two count. He goes for a Sleeper of his own. Rhino powers out, but goes right into a kick from Shelly on the outside. Shelley nails a Knee Drop, Bashir nails a Leg Drop, but then things fall apart when it comes time to figure out who gets to make the cover. Rhino tries to take advantage of their lack of unity, but they team up long enough to take him over with a double-team Suplex. Things threaten to break down again, but they calm down in time to go back to work on Rhino. Bashir starts to whip Shelley into a prone Rhino, but then turns it around and shoots him back into the opposite turnbuckles. This time things break down for real, as the two of them start trading blows. That means they take their eyes off Rhino for a second, which gives him the chance to knock Bashir down with a clothesline and take out Shelley with a GORE! for the win.
As Shelley is forced to put on the turkey suit Don West tries to sell us on the idea that Shelley lost cause of selfishness and greed, but I'm not sure what he was supposed to do aside from try to win. The referees are having a hard time getting him back into the ring, so Mick Foley moseys on down.

[Commercial Break]

During the commercial break Mick Foley presented Rhino with his check for $25,000. Now he reminds Shelley that he knew the rules of the tournament, and, though he wrestled a good match, it's time to put on the turkey suit. Shelley counters that it will upset all the women in attendance, and presumably Mick doesn't really want the female demographic to drop to zero for a Thanksgiving edition of Impact. Mick decides to shoot straight with him. He thinks Alex Shelley is one of the best performers in TNA, so he's willing to let Shelley walk away without putting on the suit. Mick reminds him though that last week he said he had not yet begun to deal—now it's time to deal. From now on when teachers ask their second graders what they know about Thanksgiving, they won't talk about pilgrims or turkeys, but about the day Mick Foley started to deal with Alex Shelley. So if he wants, he can walk out without putting on the suit, but then he'll also be walking out without his job. Mick gives him ten seconds to start putting it on. As Shelley slowly does so, Mick mocks the size of his giblets and other such things. JB announces that Shelley is turkey of the year. Shelley is upset that he thinks this will kill his shot with Governor Palin, but is glad that he should at least get a decent MySpace picture out of it. He then gets angry and flicks off Foley. Mick punches him in the face and plants him with a Double-Armed DDT. He suggests that on this day Alex Shelley give thanks that he still has a job.

[Commercial Break]

We have another promo for Suicide. It's the best one we've seen yet, which makes it only slightly sillier than the average Boogeyman promo.

AJ Styles, Rhino, and Samoa Joe are in the ring. AJ calls down Team 3D. He says that their time is up, though I would think they could choose a side in well under the nine minutes they have left. The MEM come out down to the ring. Kurt says that this is just another instance of AJ making demands of well-renowned veterans. He says that if AJ, Joe, and Rhino want Team 3D, then here they are. The MEM's music hits again, and Ray and Devon come out in nice looking suits. I guess they are joining The Front Line after all. They share hugs with the members of the MEM in the ring. Ray says that they gave this a lot of thought, but that they've come to the conclusion that the MEM are right. But they've also come to the conclusion that The Front Line are right too. Both sides have merit, but Kurt said something that got them thinking. Kurt is a very smart man, and he suggested that they think about their future. The Mafia may grant them their future, and their legacy is very important to them. How does Team 3D want to be remembered? They want to be remembered as one of the greatest tag teams of all time, along with the Road Warriors, the Steiner Brothers, and Harlem Heat. Booker takes a bow. So do they want to be remembered as two warriors, two hardworking guys who left everything in this ring, two family men, and two people who built a company? (It'll be awesome if this is a double swerve and they really are joining the MEM.) Or do they want to be remembered as part of the greatest assemblage of world champions ever assembled? The Mafia have brains, whereas AJ & Joe are all guts and balls. He walks up to AJ, saying that if fighting with guts and balls is wrong…then they don't want to be right. AJ and Joe grab night sticks out of Ray and Devon's jackets and ambush the MEM. Team 3D set up a table for a fallen Angle, but Sting recovers enough to pull him out of the ring.

Where We're Going: I'm a bit confused by the Team 3D face turn. Doesn't it sort of defeat the purpose of having homegrown talent valiantly take on the invaders from another company when they're led in large part by invaders from a yet a third company? It dilutes the message that TNA can stand on its own. One could have made the case that Rhino, while a former ECW champion, had his legacy remade by TNA after spending years languishing in WWE's lower mid-card. Team 3D, however, are another story entirely. I thought they were very effective today, but what does it say about TNA's faith in their own talent that they felt the need to bolster their stars with imported ringers? It would be exactly like if WWE had felt the need to make the Invasion angle work by having WCW cast-offs headline both sides—instead, they felt so much more confident in their own talent that they had them lead both teams. One can take issue with how that panned out, but I doubt anyone would argue that Booker T leading Team WWE against Buff Bagwell at the head of Team WCW would have made for a more compelling story.

Star of the Night: Alex Shelley. A case could be made for Rhino as well, for sustaining his push with another night of rock solid mic work and decent in ring action.

Overall: I liked this show. The Team 3D storyline was moderately compelling, even if the ending was fairly predictable all along, and extremely predictable once they came out in suits. They pulled it off as well as they could, arguing for both sides, and hence making it slightly less obvious on whom they would eventually turn. Shelley stole the show again, and reminded us how great he can be around a microphone. The matches were a bit lacking, but that doesn't tend to bug me as much as most. A-

New Call and Response Section:
Daniel is a graduate student at The Ohio State University. For those who raised questions in the comments, he refers to Lauren as "Not-Crystal" because TNA chose to treat them as fungible commodities. Moreover, Crystal had a bizarre streak of asking meaningful questions, as opposed to the "how do you feel" variety? I agree that it's unfair to "blame" Lauren for how she is booked, but it's really impossible to separate the character from the booking. For the record's sake, it's the character he dislikes, not the actress, who probably does the best she can with what she's given. For those still not convinced, hate mail can be posted in the comments or sent to

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