KELLER'S TAKE KELLER'S TNA IMPACT BLOG 1/26: Tables match main event with Hardy & Storm vs. Roode & Bully Ray, Knockouts twice, Daniels shines
Jan 27, 2012 - 6:45:03 PM
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By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
KELLER'S TNA IMPACT BLOG
JANUARY 26, 2012
TAPED IN ORLANDO, FLA.
AIRED ON SPIKE TV
-Jeff Hardy has gotten himself back into good cosmetic shape. That spare tire is gone and he looks like a professional athlete again.
-The backstage brawl was good for that type of thing. The downside is that they show important the crowd reaction is to pro wrestling. Without the cheers and boos, ohhs and ahhs, I think it loses something and tends to look more fake. It felt a little too long, too, although they didn't really overstay any scene; it's just a matter of those types of brawls wearing out their novelty quickly, I think.
-When Robert Roode drove up in the pick-up, it seemed counter to his image. He should be in a Lincoln or Lexus based on his character, but they wanted to throw Hardy in the back of the pick-up as part of the brawl. The fact that Roode was wearing a black t-shirt instead of a suit or nice button-up shirt also goes against his character. I know he wants to sell t-shirts so he wears his, but the bigger picture for him is not looking like yet another black t-shirt wearing wrestler to differentiate himself as being a level above everyone else. I don't think Nick Bockwinkel would have ever been caught in a t-shirt, and Ric Flair always arrived in a limo.
-Tara's ring entrance routine where she leans over the top rope on her tip-toes and thrusts her cleavage toward the hard camera is about as subtle as those workers at Asian fast food stands in mall food courts thrusting the piece of meat at you.
-Nice finish to the three-way women's match with Tara lifting and slamming Velvet Sky onto Mickie James and then pinning Mickie, who was stunned from the impact.
-Interesting decision by TNA to go with a pretty long women's three-way to start the show (after the backstage brawl, that is). It'll be interesting to see if Q2 ratings rise because of it. It takes away a big draw later in the show. TNA could employ a strategy of, during the Knockouts matches, really pushing one other thing coming up later on the show so those who tune in just for the women and tend to flee afterward might be tempted to stick around. It would take a compelling hard sell by the commentators during the match that really make the main event or big interview later seem "can't miss." Heck, just plug strongly including on-screen graphics that Winter & Angelina Love were wrestling ODB & EY later.
-Good sport-like backstage promos with Gail Kim, Tara, A.J. Styles, and Alex Shelley. They had the feel of interviews a competitive sports athlete would give before or after a game or fight, rather than a scripted sports entertainment recital to get a character or feud over. TNA is really differentiating itself from WWE in this regard, and it's worth sticking with. I liked Shelley talking about how he likes Zema Ion's work so far, but he's not X Division level yet and has a long way to go. I liked Tara talking reverently about Gail Kim as champion and saying she's going to have to work hard and learn some new moves to give herself the best chance against Kim in the title shot she just earned in the three-way TV match.
-Zema Ion remains a great prospect as a mainstay in the X Division. He carries himself really well as a heel, a mix of Lightning Kid from Global Wrestling Federation and "Gorgeous" Jimmy Garvin from World Class (he is his own Precious, spraying his own perfume).
-Eric Young's reaction to Winter and Sky playing with his beard and neck was funny. He looked petrified. Sniffing his protective cut after he pulled it out of his trunks and bragging about yeast infection was a little scary, though. Young was hilarious, though, when he staggered and stumbled head-first through the ropes to the floor after giving Winter an airplane spin in the ring.
-They found a way to really milk the mystery of who is the mystery person training Garett Bischoff. It was well done, though, since Bischoff was in charge of the camera so it made sense he wouldn't want to show how wrong he was about Garett having a big name trainer. The question now is why Garett is hiding the news from everyone else now that Bischoff knows.
-ODB's ability to do a kip up is still pretty amazing.
-More good work from Bully Ray backstage interacting with Robert Roode. He's so immersed and believable in being Bully Ray that he brings up Roode's believability, too. Their countdown to walking out of the room in synch because they didn't trust one another was funny, especially how they actually executed it.
-Samoa Joe jobs again. Nice enough match between Joe and Matt Morgan, but I wish they got more out of it by hyping it earlier in the show in a bigger way. Also, Joe didn't seem too upset with losing and there was no sense the finish mattered once the heels did the post-match beatdown. If TNA - and this applies to all wrestling promoters and wrestlers - want fans to care about matches, they can't downplay the finish. The roots of this approach is soften hurt feelings when a wrestler is asked to do a job, so they try to get fans to instant forget about it by having the heel who lost (Joe) get a post-match beatdown to "get his heat back." The problem is, if the pinfall doesn't matter enough to talk about or even upset Joe, why should fans care about future matches and near falls and winners and losers? This is where announcers come in by strategically talking about how Joe was so upset with losing he took it on Morgan with an unsportsmanlike attack.
-Daniels has quietly risen to be one of my favorite heels in wrestling right now. He really has found his voice and he's a great, effective heel right now for TNA. I'd compare him to Christian on Smackdown - a veteran, steady upper-card wrestler who's not someone you'd build around but someone you can rely on for good heel promos and solid matches. His storyline with Kaz and A.J. Styles is intriguing and Daniels is the star of the three in terms of how he's playing his role and driving the reactions of Kaz and Styles. He's also embraced being an agitating, annoying heel and doesn't seek at all any fans cheers or adulation. He's all-in trying to be the manipulative heel. What makes his character work all the more is that it's based on his losing to Styles in those key matches last year. That was the reason he went heel - because he couldn't beat Styles. His pride was hurt and he decided the only way to deal with it was to cheat and get under Styles's skin with heel psychology since he wasn't content to be subservient to Styles as a friend. It's a great backstory for a basic effective heel in pro wrestling.
-The main event was nice in length - 14 minutes with a commercial in the middle. They shouldn't do tables matches very often, and when they do I wish they'd hype it for a couple of weeks to really drive home it's special, but at least there was a reason for it - James Storm wanted to show he was so not at all scared of Bully Ray that he was willing to challenge him to a match that was his speciality. It wasn't just a stip thrown into a match for no reason or "a little something extra," but it made sense given the players involved. The match delivered as much as it needed to.
-A good episode of Impact. It wasn't designed to be blockbuster and game-changing, but it was entertaining start to finish with some good longer matches and strong promos and some storyline-forwarding. It's what a wrestling show needs to be most weeks. TNA is in a groove of utilizing its mix of talent better than they have at any time in the past, and the wrestlers they're featuring are good at what they do.
Wade Keller launched Pro Wrestling Torch as a print newsletter in 1987. The newsletter is still published every week. It's distributed to thousands of wrestling fans internationally via postal mail and digital PDF's online at the VIP website. He has interviewed some of pro wrestling's biggest power brokers over the years in their longest insider interviews ever done, including Steve Austin, The Rock, Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura, Eric Bischoff, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Goldberg, Paul Heyman, Jim Cornette, Mick Foley, Vince Russo, Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne, Jerry Lawler, and many many others. He writes every week for the PWTorch Newsletter and also blogs on PWTorch.com. He is also the supervising editor of MMATorch, records the Keller Hotline every day for VIP members reviewing and analyzing the news of the day, and hosts the PWTorch Livecast twice a week. Contact Keller: email@example.com.
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