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KELLER'S TNA IMPACT REPORT 12/23: Foley makes surprise return and discusses his negative influence on concussion frequency in wrestling

Dec 23, 2010 - 11:54:19 PM

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

DECEMBER 23, 2010


-The show opened with a highlight package on last week's storyline with Matt Morgan and Mr. Anderson.

-The NWO throwback music played signaling the arrival of Immortal as Mike Tenay and Taz introduced the show. Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair led the way and entered the ring where two scales stood. Rob Terry joined A.J. Styles, Jeff Jarrett, Beer Money, Abyss, and Kaz. Flair said everyone is staring at greatness and then said, and I quote: "Fortune, Immortal, eck-cetera, eck-cetera." Besides mispronouncing etcetera, who else was in the ring besides Fortune and Immortal that qualifies for a flippant "eck-cetera, eck-cetera" comment?

Flair said there is a stranger among them whom "the girls mostly call The Freak." Actually, it's gym rats who call him The Freak. He said he has a chance to show Immortal and Fortune that he can be a bodyguard and has their back. He said he has to prove that to himself and to them.

Bischoff stepped up and said they have a weigh-in scheduled, but it's not a typical weigh-in because it regards the World Hvt. Championship. He said doctors are on hand because there are questions about Anderson's concussion condition. Morgan interrupted Bischoff mid-sentence, which upset him. Morgan strode to the ring. Flair told Morgan the first thing he should do is wipe the smile off his face and listen to Bischoff.

Morgan said judging by the circumstances in the ring, the entire thing is a sham and everyone knows it. He told Bischoff: "Being a glory whore, wanting all the power, that's a certain kind of low, but to continue to put an athlete's health at risk knowing he had a concussion and still has brain trauma is a new low for you, and that's saying something." He said job or no job, he doesn't give a crap anymore.

Bischoff said he thinks he's reading the situation entirely wrong. He said he brought in two doctors to make a medical assessment and authorize them to wrestle. Flair said nobody is him, that's a real doctor right there. Morgan suggested he take Flair's temperature with his size 18 straight up his ass.

Mick Foley walked out with a mic in hand to his music. Tenay made sure we knew this was "surprising" by going into his puberty voice-cracking mode. Foley told Flair the last time he was on TV, he got his hand raised after beating Flair, but he didn't feel quite right. He said he was a victim in that match of yet another concussion and his kids' laughter sounded muted. He said he suffered too many concussions and they're learned that the healing time between concussions makes all the difference. He said Anderson wants a shot at the TNA Championship, but after watching him wrestle last week, it's clear he is in no condition to wrestle for the title. He said he will make sure that match doesn't happen as long as he's breathing.

Flair handed Terry his jacket and said his first official job is to hold that. He got in Foley's face and said he is a whiny pathetic human being. "You're the one that raised the bar so high that kids are jumping off roofs, breaking their necks. You're the reason kids are stepping on nails, rolling around on glass. The whole business suffered because of what you did. We all got the heat. Every company in wrestling had to suffer from what you started. You didn't have the balls or the skill to be a man and wrestle. That's right, that's you. You started it. You raised the bar." Flair told Foley he wouldn't be a hair on his ass. He said he wrestled for hours 365 days a year, hit in the head a thousand times, and he never whined or cried. "You're the reason kids are in hospitals," Flair said.

Foley said he doesn't disagree with everything Flair said. He said he understands he was part of the problem, but he asked to be part of the solution. Flair said, "The solution is kiss my ass." Foley said he and Morgan haven't always seen eye to eye, but they have reached the same conclusion without even knowing it. He said they know what happens to them when they die, a man comes into the room and cuts off the top of their heads and takes their brains out because they have donated their brains to science.

Flair shot back, "When I die, it'll be here or on top of a wild woman. I'd rather it be here, but I'll take it either way." Foley said they made mistakes and they need to learn from them. He won't let Anderson make the same mistakes. He said he wants to make sure he has a full career because he won't let that match take place.

Bischoff said Foley convinced him. "What I see is you out here trying to redeem yourself now that you can't wrestle anymore, now that nobody is buying your books, now that nobody is going to your stand-up comedy gigs. Now that you've had time to reflect, you want to become a hero and you want to become some sympathetic icon and stand up for the wrestlers. You know what you're doing, this is a professional wrestling version of eating your dead because you're living off of the corpses and the injuries of the people you forced to try to keep up with you, and that's what you need to live with. And you ain't stopping any match in this company or anywhere else. Now hit my frickin' music." Everyone left without doing a weigh-in or getting examined by a doctor.

KELLER'S REAX: Well done and it drew on legitimate history in a largely forthright and reflective manner, with the right people slotted as faces and heels and everyone playing their parts well. That said, I'm not convinced that many people care to have a 15 minute debate about concussions with personalities in their 40s, 50s, and 60s doing most of the talking. If they're doing this for PWTorch Newsletter readers from 1995-2000, it's pretty compelling to see the stars of that period reflecting and digesting the impact of that era in the context of a worked storyline, but it doesn't strike me as something the masses are especially interested in seeing debated - at least at this length with older characters looking so far back. It does tie into the Anderson concussion storylines, so it's not superfluous in that respect, but it comes across to a degree what Bischoff said - a way to get the Mick Foley brand repositioned for marketing reasons with a certain group of fans (who have grown tired of his act lately) as a new-era hero who is repenting and taking responsibility for his past, while also giving Flair a chance to "shoot" on Foley regarding his lack of traditional wrestling skills and giving TV time for Bischoff to vent also about the concussion issue which he legitimately believes is overblown. In other words, the more that TNA seems to be working hard to make retired wrestlers and executives seem important or relevant in order to give them TV time and less time spent focusing on younger wrestlers who can "go," I think no matter how good the material, it sends a message to viewers that is going to stunt TNA's growth because they're still trying to relive the past and be a soft landing place for "those who paved the way" to keep earning paychecks.

-The TNA Impact opening then aired followed by a formal introduction by Tenay and Taz. They hyped the scheduled matches including the finals of the TNA Tag Team Title Tournament.

[Q2] [c]

-Matt Morgan asked Jeff Hardy what he was doing there. Hardy told him to sit down because he had to get something off his chest. Hardy said like it or not, they're two of the best, and he understands him wanting his TNA World Title. He warned him about Anderson being someone he can't trust to tell him to his face what he intends to do. He told him to listen to his heart and create his own destiny. "May the best team win," he concluded.

-Jeremy Borash introduced Jeff Jarrett. Taz said a lot of people will do a lot for 100,000 dollars, but those accepting Jarrett's challenge lately haven't fared well. He said he is disappointed in every one of the fans because it's painfully obvious no one can make him tap or submit. He said he would like to open it up to the professionals. He said there's a guy in the back who impressed the hell out of him last week after facing one of the meanest toughest SOBs by taking on Brother Ray. He said Amazing Red impressed him and he deserves a second chance. He said he was giving him an opportunity of a lifetime to get some of Double J's money. Taz said that was nice of Jarrett.

Red walked out with a smile on his face, inviting fan cheers. When he tried to step into the ring, Earl Hebner called him back down to ringside and insisted he check him for foreign objects. Taz said it's like the TSA's at the airport. Tenay said a body scan is up next.


Jarrett went after him aggressively at the start, mounting his back and pounding him, then adding an anklelock. Red held off as long as he could, but tapped out.

WINNER: Jarrett in 1:00.

-Afterward Jarrett helped Red to his feet and told him to he gave him a good shot. He asked him if he has any cousins or brothers or sisters or kids who could give him another challenge. Red says he has a baby brother. Jarrett told him to bring him next week. The crowd chanted "Angle! Angle!"

-Tara chatted with Madison Rayne backstage about their tag match later. They shared a laugh and examined each other's make-up.

-Tenay hyped the eight-man tag team main event. [c]


-RVD smiled backstage and said finally after three months of waiting patiently and playing his games and going through his obstacle courses, he's going to be looking across the ring at Jeff Hardy.

2 -- MAX BUCK vs. JEREMY BUCK vs. ROBBIE E. (w/Cookie) vs. KAZARIAN - X Division Contendership Match

Jay Lethal joined Taz and Tenay on commentary. Tenay asked Lethal which wrestler of those four he'd like to defend his X Title against. Max and Jeremy tagged in against each other and postured together in the ring, then yanked Robbie E. into the ring as he gyrated on the ring apron for Cookie. The Bucks worked together even though it was officially a four-way. Kaz tagged in at 4:00 and finished Jeremy almost immediately with a reverse tombstone piledriver. Lethal stood up and invited Kaz to try to take it from him and do what Ric Flair couldn't.

WINNER: Kaz in 5:00.[c]


-Backstage Sarita attacked Velvet Sky in a trailer. Tenay said Sky was scheduled to compete later with Love against Tara & Madison. They called each other crazy bitches. Love finally ran in and made the save. Sky gasped for breath and said she couldn't breath. Love pulled a belt off from around her neck.

-Bischoff in his office addressed Fortune and Immortal with Flair next to him. He said Dixie and the attorneys have them in checkmate. He said the belts mean power and it gives them leverage. He said if things legally don't go their way, they need every belt the company has. Bischoff said Hogan is now forced to sit at home and he needs them to dig down deep. He said it's within their grasp and they can control their own destiny. He said nobody in that room can't live up to the standard Flair and Hogan and Hardy have set. He said Hardy did what he needed to do to capture the most coveted title in the company today. He said he's an icon and he begged them to do it for each other. "We're a team, dammit," he said. Everyone stood and piled hands together. Nice halftime football speech, I suppose. The good part of that segment is it makes the belts seem important. But there wasn't anything heelish about it. [c]

-Brian Kendrick began talking to the kitchen lady about deep thoughts, but she gave him a cookie and he was happy and walked away. Tenay said, "Boy, that Brian Kendrick is out there, isn't he?"

3 -- TARA & MADISON RAYNE vs. THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE (Angelina Love & Velvet Sky) -- TNA Knockouts Tag Team Title Tournament Final

Sky wasn't able to join Love at the start of the match because of the attack by Rayne minutes earlier. This week Tenay was in the middle of a plug for upcoming matches, totally ignoring a cover by Rayne on Love. Taz interrupted him to call it.


The heel tandem continued to methodically beat Love. The mystery British lady, Winter, came out and joined the mathc. The referee inexplicably counted her as a legitimate partner of Love and she quickly pounded Rayne and quickly pinned her. Taz said nobody saw this coming. Love didn't know what to make of Winter celebrating with her. She seemed confused.

WINNERS: Love & Winter in 5:00 to capture the TNA Tag Team Titles.

KELLER'S REAX: I don't get it at all. How are we supposed to take anything at all seriously that happens in the ring in TNA if Winter is allowed to come out and join the match in progress, even though she wasn't Love's partner in the tournament, and pin Rayne and become tag champs with Love? Unless I'm missing something, this is really stupid. I mean, dumber than Santino's harmless Cobra winning him matches. Why did the referee just play along and let Winter score the pin? I get they wanted to book Love & Winter as a team, but they plowed right through the traffic cones of logic to get there, and it's so unnecessary and just makes a complete mockery out of any sense that any rules or structure matters and everything becomes arbitrary.


-A candid camera caught "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero laughing on a phone call, saying he needs to make sure things go down the way he wants them to. He said if it doesn't, there will be a lot of unsatisfied people. Orlando Jordan and a reindeer mascot walked up to Pope. Eric Young's voice came out of the mascot head and he said they raised money for Pope's cause, raising money for kids. Jordan handed him a wad of cash for his congregation. Pope said it is the season to help those in need and he thanked them. Pope got back on his phone and said, "You wouldn't believe what I'm looking at." Pope said they'll have a lot of happy people this Christmas. Tenay said someone is keeping an eye on The Pope, a reference to the candid cameraman following him around. No commentary or judgment about Pope apparently spending charity money at a strip club last week, though.

4 -- DOUGLAS WILLIAMS vs. A.J. STYLES -- TV Title Iron Man Match (15 MIN.)

It's pretty sad when an Iron Man match is 15 minutes, as if that's some sort of marathon length for a pro wrestling match, but in this era where the median length of a TV match is about 4 minutes, it will seem long. Early on Williams went into side headlocks to ground Styles and then transitioned into a hammerlock. At 4:00 they cut to a break.

[Q6] [c]

Back to the match, Styles was in control. They showed a replay that during the break Styles hit a Styles Clash for the first fall. Odd to book that during the break, although the plus is that it does create the sense that things weren't planned out ahead of time. When Styles bailed out to ringside after a flurry of offense against Williams, the ref told him to return to the ring. Styles said he had all the time in the world. Taz said he doesn't disagree with what Styles is doing because it's clock management, but then said in amateur wrestling, sitting on a lead can actually leave you vulnerable to a loss. When Williams went after Styles at ringside, Styles threw him into the ringside steps and then pointed at his head to indicate how smart he is. Styles roundkicked Williams's back, and Taz called the kick by name accurately. He's the only announcer who's bothered to learn and use the proper names of karate kicks employed in matches (although he likely knew them before he got into wrestling). At 13:00 Williams hit an exploder suplex on Styles. Tenay said they were under two minutes and Williams desperately needed a pin to even the score. Williams hit Rolling Chaos Theory in the closing seconds to tie the score at 1-1. Neither were able to score another pin in the final 15 seconds, so they went to overtime.

Styles said he wanted five more minutes. Williams said he only needed one minute. Borash, after a conference with ref Earl Hebner announced there would be a five minute overtime. I'm not sure of the way they portrayed it, as if they were making it up as they went along and didn't actually have a set rule for what happened in the not-all-that-unlikely event of a tie after 15 minutes. They cut to a break before going to overtime. [c]


Williams knocked Styles off balance on the top rope early in OT. Styles rallied with a springboard forearm and a Pele Kick and scored a near fall at 4:00. Styles fought off a top rope suplex attempt by Williams for a few seconds, and by the time Williams executed it, time expired before he could make the cover. So overtime ended without a fall.

WINNER: Draw in 20:00 so Williams retained his TV Title.

-Afterward a panting Styles said the people want a winner, so he suggested a rematch at Genesis. Williams said he already had his rematch and he didn't beat him, "so no." Styles asked, "What kind of fighting champion are you?" He said he defended his title against everyone. He said he "probably doesn't even have a set down there" and said he's probably not a man. Williams then pulled his trunks down and showed Styles his testicles. Okay, not really. Styles said, "You're no better than that stinkin' country of yours." Williams said he would give him a rematch if he's willing to put something on the line. He suggested that if Styles loses, he has to walk away from Fortune forever. Styles said that will never happen. Bischoff walked out and said there will be a rematch and if Styles doesn't win, there won't be room for him in Fortune anymore.

-Backstage Robert Roode gave Abyss, Hardy, and James Storm a pep talk about the main event. Hardy looked at the camera and told RVD if he wants him, come and get him.

-Tenay plugged that an interview with Mr. Anderson from his home in Green Bay, Wisc. was up next. [c]

-Tenay and Taz interviewed Anderson. He asked about his concussion tests. Anderson said he's been cleared by his doctors and will return to the ring (again) at Genesis. Taz asked what tests were done. Anderson said he had an MRI done and other tests. He said there were no signs of anything that would raise alarm. Taz asked if he went to more than one doctor. Anderson said he saw several and they did extensive tests and he's cleared. Taz asked about him losing his balance and not seeming 100 percent. Anderson said he doesn't see anywhere in TNA that he has to answer questions from Taz and Tenay regarding his condition. Taz said he's just trying to respectfully understand his situation. Anderson said he's cleared and nothing more needs to be said. Tenay said he assumes he'll bring proof in the form of paperwork. Anderson lost his patience and said he tried to be nice, but they just won't frickin' listen. He ripped off his mic and stormed away. Taz defended their questioning approach to Tenay, and Tenay concurred they weren't out of line.


-Backstage RVD and the Machine Guns argued with Morgan about his concern with what Anderson just said. Sabin said what about right now. Shelley played peacemaker, but Morgan seemed tense and concerned. [c]

-Ring intros took place for the main event. [c]

5 -- MATT MORGAN & THE MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS & ROB VAN DAM vs. BEER MONEY & ABYSS & JEFF HARDY - TNA Tag Team Titles on the line if Guns get pinned by Beer Money

Everyone took turns in the early minutes, then the heels settled into a sustained beating on Shelley for the body of the match.

[Q9 - Overrun]

Beer Money double-suplexed Shelley and then did their little choreographed dance and shouted "Beer! Money!" Two minutes past the top of the hour, Tenay ended Impact, then they paused for a split seconds and moved officially into Reaction. RVD hot-tagged in at 7:00 and worked Abyss, Roode, and Storm with a flurry of kicks. He scored a near fall on Roode after Rolliing Thunder. Sabin then tagged in and hit a flying clothesline Storm, but Storm countered with a face buster. Shelly and Morgan entered the ring without tags. Hardy hit Morgan with a Twist of Fate. RVD entered to go after Hardy, but Hardy avoided him, as he had all match, bailing out to ringside. Shelley and Roode battled. Sabin caught Roode with a tornado DDT for the win. Nobody seemed to care at the end that nobody was tagging in the final minutes, which makes the idea of spending more than five minutes building to a hot tag in the body of the match seem pointless if anyone could have just entered at any time anyway. Unless I missed something, that kind of arbitrary inconsistent enforcement of rules is unnecessary and undercuts the storytelling of matches in general.

WINNERS: Morgan & Guns & RVD in 9:00.

STAR RATING: **1/4 - Good main event tag team. RVD avoiding Hardy was the biggest story of the match, but otherwise it was just a nice display of wrestling action.

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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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