Monday, 10 March 2014 11:44
Thumbs in the middle
Best match: Muta & Sanada & Yasu vs. Daniels & Kazarian & Sabin
Worst match: Anderson vs. Shaw
For a tense moment tonight, I feared Dixie’s surprise would turn out to be Buff Bagwell. Fortunately, I don’t think TNA has $25,000 to rent him for the whole weekend.
This show was TNA in a steel-cage nutshell. Everybody except Christy Hemme always tries hard and makes the most of what they have to work with. The result is a watchable show despite a staggering amount of overbooking that smacks of desperation.
The pre-show was a big stinky dud. Guys casually cutting soft-spoken promos about the event isn’t the right way to sell three hours of hardcore extreme steel-cage violence. We want adrenaline, yelling, red meat, explosions, Affliction t-shirts, fist bumps, disclaimers, and ladies putting themselves through med school.
The opener was very good and got the show off to a strong start. Luckily, history didn’t repeat itself. The last time Muta was in a six-man cage match in the States, Sting jacked up his knee, which sent the promotion’s short-term booking plans into chaos. Fortunately, TNA has no short-term booking plans. NOW who looks stupid? Daniels, Kazarian, and Sabin are the glue that has been holding this company together work-wise for years. You could tell it was a career highlight for Kaz to be misted by Muta. It seemed like everyone in the match was having fun, which made it that much more fun to watch. Sanada hitting the moonsault for the win was perfect. I’d forgotten what it looks like when a legend passes the torch to an up-and-comer.
The Japanese team won an exciting match where everybody looked good. So Russo definitely is NOT back.
Now back to Hemme. She’s just awful. At least twice, the camera picked up a shot of her watching at ringside with all the enthusiasm of someone wondering if they remembered to change their clocks and set the DVR for “Cosmos.” I don’t expect Hemme to sell every blow at ringside a la Bobby Heenan or Jim Cornette, but for chrissake, at least pretend you give a rat’s rump when your white knight is fighting your stalker with your virtue at stake.
Anderson is playing his part in this mess well, and Shaw gets the Barry Darsow Award (TM TheWrestlingFan.Net) for throwing his all into a stinker of a gimmick and making it way more watchable than it really should be. That said, the match was a train wreck. I hated the escape-only stipulation, I REALLY hated the ref bump, and I REALLY REALLY hated the fact that there was no cameraman in the “camera hole,” allowing Hemme to be kidnapped. Again. And worst of all, because of the finish, this feud MUST CONTINUE! At least no matter how bad it gets, it will still be better than the last season of “Dexter,” a once-great show from which Shaw is clearly drawing inspiration. I wonder who gets to write up the Sam Shaw Threat Of Suicide for WrestleCrap.com? OnetwothreeNOT-IT!
A ref bump screwjob in a cage match. So Russo definitely IS back.
The EC3-Lashley thing was just strange. At least EC3’s theme music is over with fans. Careers have been built on less.
I’m glad they haven’t given up on Kenny King. The last time I saw “The King Of The Night” in TNA was at the 6/29/13 Impact tapings in Las Vegas. Despite being the hometown hero and the most over guy on the show, he did a clean job to Chavo Guerrero Jr (who is no longer with the company) for XPlosion (which may or may not still be a thing). It confused and enraged the crowd.
Tigre vs. Manik was also weird. The match was clunky and Manik came dangerously close to outshining their new star. A tip of the hat to Mike Tenay for pushing Tigre so hard as something special. Granted, I know Mike and I think very highly of him on a personal level, but dammit, the guy is an awesome announcer who busts his ass as much as the boys to make everything that much better and more educational/entertaining for the fans. Yes, I’m not exactly 100% objective on the guy. But I’m also right.
The new Mexican star wins clean and is put over by the announcer as a big deal. So Russo definitely is NOT back. I think.
Trivbit: This show had three consecutive singles matches where the opponents were former tag team champions together. (Madison and Gail held the Knockouts Tag Team Title at one point.)
I guess evil James Storm is no longer sorry about our damn luck. Thank Christ. That was the worst catchphrase since Justin Credible’s. When fans actually chanted “Whoomp, There It Is,” I thought this match was a lost cause, but damned if the former GunStorm didn’t win them back over by the end. The “Van Storminator” spot with the chair was a thing of beauty, and the superplex onto chairs finish was also well done. A good blowoff match that will hopefully elevate Gunner. The kid works hard, and who doesn’t love the story of a Marine living his dream? Gunner has solid babyface potential if he’s protected and booked right.
The Knockouts had the second best match of the night. Gail Kim is just phenomenal and should be the next inductee into the TNA Hall Of Fame. Madison held up her end, too. Gail’s corner bump and Madison’s flying spear will be looped on highlight reels for many years to come.
Magnus vs. Joe was good until that stupid finish. The match was cursed from the start when Taz couldn’t keep the damn stips straight and they felt the need to hammer home the difference between a tapout and a submission for some reason. A rare example of a promotion overexplaining a gimmick. (Sadly, I’m used to crap like Bobby Roode’s potential “ten percent” control of the company. Meaning what? He could book twelve minutes of every Impact?)
Outside interference in a cage match is reason enough to break out the Cornette Meme, but the Bugs Bunny magic portal gimmick is just embarrassing. Worse, it was horrible misuse of Abyss. The Monster is one of the few TNA success stories who fans take seriously. So every time they rehash something the Undertaker did years ago, it just makes him look like the poor man’s Dead Man. Plus, they missed a step. They forgot to have Abyss show up, then add the “shock” of him turning heel. He turned heel first, then showed up. Bah.
I am glad they’re sticking with Magnus as champion, though. Every week, Magnus gets a little better and more comfortable as arrogant heel champ and he plays his role well. The stips predictably made it so Magnus could win without Joe doing a clean job, which was the right way to go, but the inclusion of Abyss was overkill.
The Lethal Lockdown was put together well enough. It suffered from a bad case of by-the-numbers, but everyone played their part and it did pick up by the end. Jeff Hardy definitely needs something new to do, so the Willow experiment is an interesting one. Just please, no more shrieking promos. They’re not intriguing or exciting, they’re just…unpleasant. The Wolves are great workers, and the double Van Terminator was easily the spot of night. That said, the company badly needs to differentiate between Richards and Edwards. I’ve already mixed them up more times than I can remember. The shoulder tape is a good start, but I’d like to see different haircuts at the very least. Right now, they’re interchangeable, and not in a good way. MVP is a solid worker, and more importantly, a strong and confident talker. He’s a boost to the company and so far they’re using him right. Roode and Aries are more than reliable, and are also two of the elite talents holding the company together. The Bro Mans are hilarious and have edged Bad News Barrett as my favorite guilty pleasure in the business nowadays.
If anything, the main event had two surprises too many.
1. Willow has arrived in TNA.
2. Bully Ray is Dixie’s “insurance policy.”
3. Bully turned against Team Roode.
An overbooked clustershmazz with more surprises and swerves than being picked up by a transvestite driving a truck full of Crackerjacks on I-5 through the smelly part of California. So Russo definitely IS back. Maybe.
Like I said, this show was a perfect snapshot of TNA as a whole. They try and try and try, but they cram in way too much at a time. The show itself suffered from overbooking, though it does open many promising possibilities for Thursday. MVP is the new Sheriff in town. What’s the deal with Bully? Will there be friction over the fact that Magnus’ plan worked while Dixie’s didn’t? Will Christy ever give a crap about the fact that she’s being stalked? Are my eyeballs ready to be scorched by a Sanada vs. Austin Aries X Division Title match?
Now that the damage has been done, I could see myself enjoying the pairing of TNA World Champion Magnus with Abyss as his heavy. Now if the Abyss/Magnus team is given the collective name “Anus,” we’ll KNOW Russo is back.
Las Vegas, NV