“English Bluffins” ~Or~ “I Willoways Love You”
Greetings, “True-Believers”! I hope everyone’s had a great week. I’m sitting here typing this recap while battling a cold, watching the Samuel L. Jackson “Shaft” movie and recovering from my Valentine’s Day festivities. You know, love is a crazy emotion. It can bring out the best in us as well as the worst. Sometimes it drives us to do incredibly romantic things. While other times it drives us to hire a German female bodyguard and order said bodyguard to attack our ex-girlfriend on national TV… but we’ll get into that later. Onto the show!
This week, TNA continues it’s UK tour with show #1 from Manchester, England. The good news is the Manchester crowd is red-hot. The bad news? Taz is back on commentary, so… yeah. The show kicks off with the “Royal Family” in the ring. I know that’s not what they’re officially called… but you try writing “Dixie Carter, TNA World Heavyweight Champion Magnus, Rockstar Spud and Ethan Carter III for EVERY segment these guys are in. Yeah…”Royal Family” works.
Anyhoo, the Royal Family are in the ring and Dixie is batting leadoff on the mic. She said she is not scared of MVP because she has something that he will never have – the World Heavyweight Champion on her side. ECIII reminded Dixie that she also has a nephew that ended the career of Kurt Angle. Magnus got on the mic next and said it’s good to be back in Manchester because he knows it’s one whole year before he has to come back. He said Manchester is a dirty city and he’s glad he’s not from the North. He then talked up Dixie for bringing him into TNA before running down MVP. This brought out the new investor along with the new #1 contender, Samoa Joe. MVP fired a few insults at Magnus & Dixie before officially making the Magnus/Joe Title match for Lockdown.
Then Gunner came out with his briefcase and challenged Magnus to a title match next week. Dixie then said Gunner will face ECIII tonight with his briefcase on the line. MVP interrupted Dixie saying that two can play that game. He said that if Gunner’s briefcase is on the line, then so should ECIII’s TNA Tag Title shot briefcase. Dixie agreed while ECIII freaked out.
And that takes us to our first match of the night: Gunner vs. Ethan Carter III (Briefcase Vs. Briefcase ladder match). Early on, Gunner and ECII battled back-and-forth over the ladder. ECIII hit a nice dropkick from the ring apron into Gunner & the ladder. putting both men down for a bit. While the ref was checking on Gunner, Magnus hit the ring and the heels began double-teaming on Gunner. James Storm came down to help his partner & all four men began brawling. MVP then came out and ordered the match be restarted as a winner-take-all tag match as we went to break. In addition he told Magnus and ECIII that he was not messing around.
Back from break, Gunner & Storm took early control of the match. Magnus & ECIII were able to reverse the momentum by throwing Storm to the floor. The heels bat down Gunner while keeping Storm at bay. Magnus threw Gunner out of the ring as ECIII started to climb the ladder. Magnus pulled him down, further teasing dissention between the two. A shoving match broke out between the heels, allowing Gunner & Storm an opening to take them out. Gunner then climbed to the top rope and hit ECIII with a diving headbutt, before climbing the ladder and pulling down both briefcases (as well as the chain that was holding said briefcases). Winners: Gunner & Storm in 9:00. Gunner & Storm now have a TNA Tag Title shot and Gunner retains his TNA World Title shot. Thoughts: An okay ladder match… but one that should have been built up over the course of the program. I still don’t buy Gunner as a World Title contender, but I think he’s a serviceable one-off challenger that can afford to give Magnus a (hopefully) clean win next week.
Up next, we head backstage to Dixie & MVP’s shared office. Here we find Spud taping a line down the center of the room ala Ricky & Lucy. Just then The Bro-Mans & D.J. Zema Ion barge in upset that Gunner & Storm now have a Tag Title shot. MVP walked in and told the champs to stop complaining. He proceeded to book the three of them into a six-man tag match against The Wolves and a mystery opponent.
Back from the break, The Bro-Man’s and The Wolves were in the ring awaiting the mystery partner when Samoa Joe’s music hit. And that takes us to our next match, The Bro-Mans & D.J. Zema Ion vs. The Wolves and Samoa Joe. Early on, the heels focused on isolating Davey Richards, who eventually hit the hot-tag to Samoa Joe. Joe came in with a lot of fire and dominated D.J. Zema for all six men ended up in the ring. The Wolves hit double suicide dives onto the Bro-Mans, which allowed Joe to catch D.J. Zema in the Kokina Clutch for the submission win. Winners: Samoa Joe & The Wolves in 5:35. Thoughts: A solid debut for The Wolves setting up an eventual title match with The Bro-Mans. Joe continues to be booked strong heading into his showdown with Magnus at Lockdown.
We head back to MVP & Dixie’s office where Velvet Sky walks in and asks Dixie to call off her match with Chris Sabin tonight. Dixie tells Vel-Vel that she built the Knockouts Division and that Velvet had an obligation to compete tonight. Velvet left the office and MVP voiced his displeasure with Dixie’s decision. Spud then bowed up to MVP (although he made sure to stay on Dixie’s side of the office). Spud said MVP is a washed-up former wrestler, so MVP proceeded to book himself in a match against Spud for later on in the evening.
We cut to the ring where Abyss/Joseph Park is in the ring. Abyss/Park calls out his former friend, Eric Young. As EY made his way down to the ring, Abyss/Park yelled, “Are you afraid?!?” EY said he wasn’t afraid, and he was only trying to help him realize that he & his “brother” were one in the same. Abyss yelled “Who Am I, Eric?!?” over and over, before saying that he can’t be the monster anymore and that he needs help. EY offered to help, but Abyss/Park turned him down. He said he was going to find someone who truly understands him. Abyss/Park then dropped the mic & the Abyss mask at EY’s feet before leaving the ring.
Back from the break, we get our weekly dose of pre-taped Samuel Shaw creepiness. Christy Hemme was shown walking around backstage from earlier in the day. Samuel Shaw appeared and helped Hemme load her suitcase into a trailer. Shaw then said he agrees that they should keep things strictly professional. They shook hands and Sam turned to walk away… but not before SNIFFING HIS HAND! Yeah… I’m starting to hate this angle.
We head back to the ring for our next match: MVP vs. Spud. Spud attacked MVP before the bell with a series of kicks, then he got greedy and slapped MVP in the face. The new investor responded by thrashing Spud. He hit him with the Baller’s Elbow and a running boot to the head for the quick win. Winner: MVP in 1:00. Thoughts: I had a HUGE problem with this match. Why would you give away MVP’s first match advertised on TV less than a month after his debut? The crowd loved it… but I would have at least put off anything in-ring until Lockdown in Miami. It’s another example of TNA being great with long-term booking, but often fumbling the details along the way.
In other news, Jeff Har…Errr…”Willow” is coming. Really???
And now it’s time for one of my favorite parts of this episode… Chris Sabin vs. Velvet Sky (Intergender Match). Sabin started things off by grabbing the mic. He said that because he’s a gentleman, he will give Vel-Vel the first shot. Velvet threw a hesitant kick to Sabin’s leg, which prompted her ex to call her a “skank.” This led to Velvet kicking him in his “machine gun.” Sabin no-sold the kick and pulled a cup out of his trunks. He laughed at Sky and turned his back to her, which led to a forearm to Sabin’s crotch from Velvet. Sky then pounced on Sabin and started punching him. This brought out the debuting Alpha Female. Alpha put Sky in the Full-Nelson and Sabin covered her for the “win.” Alpha then hoisted Sabin on her shoulders and took him on a victory lap around the ring. Winner: No contest. Thoughts: The Chris Sabin heel character is starting to grow on me. I love the backstage segment last week and the pairing with Alpha Female makes him an even more despicable character.
We head backstage to find Bully Ray in the locker room area. Ray found Ken Anderson’s bag and began to go through it. He took out Anderson’s cellphone and called Anderson’s wife. He asked her if she knew who he was. Bully told her to tell the children that Anderson says good-bye. Good heel stuff from Bully Ray.
We then head to another locker room where the cameraman asks Bobby Roode about his actions lately. Roode says that things are too hectic for him right now. Roode said he needs time to think and get his mind right for next week. Security then came in and told Roode that he needs to go on Dixie’s orders. Roode grabbed his gear and left.
We then got an awesome video package chronicling the Bully Ray/Ken Anderson feud. That leads us into our Impact Wrestling main event: Bully Ray vs. Ken Anderson (Casket Match). The match begins with a great bit of heel work from Bully as he unzips his hoodie, revealing a Liverpool soccer jersey. This upsets the Manchester crowd and sets the tone for the rest of the match. Anderson rips off the jersey and chokes Bully with it. Bully rolls to the outside to get some separation from Anderson as we go to commercial.
Back from the break, Anderson & Ray swung chairs at each other with Anderson gaining the advantage. Anderson went outside to grab a table while Bully brought the casket into the ring. After some brawling, Bully put Anderson in the casket, but Anderson blocked Bully from closing the lid. After some more brawling, Ray caught Anderson with a powerbomb through the table. Bully taunted the crowd and went to piledrive Anderson into the casket. Anderson blocked the piledriver and countered with the Mic Check to send Ray into the casket. Anderson then worked his way to his feet and closed the lid on his former Aces & Eights brother to win the match. Winner: Anderson in 13:00. Thoughts: I guess this is the blow-off to this feud. I’ve really been impressed with Anderson as of late and Bully is among the best heels in the business. I would have loved to have seen this feud extend to Lockdown, but if it doesn’t at least they’ve done a great job rehabilitating Ken Anderson.
After the main event, we head back to Dixie & MVP’s office one last time. Dixie said she has no patience for MVP’s games and offered to buy his shares of TNA (I don’t think he can do that without the approval of his partners). She made him a huge offer, but MVP turned her down. He said he came to TNA to make a difference. Dixie calls him crazy and MVP said maybe just a little bit. He proposes a Lethal Lockdown. Dixie reluctantly agreed and MVP left the office as Dixie sold frustration to end the show.
Final Thoughts: TNA is nothing if not consistently inconsistent. This week’s show was pretty hit-and-miss, but overall more of the former than the latter. Magnus came off like a top heel once again this week, Samoa Joe continues to look strong and I really enjoyed the main event. I absolutely hated Samuel Shaw, “Willow” and burning MVP’s in-ring debut without any build. But overall, I enjoyed the episode and look forward to the next show.
In Non-TNA news, I’m very intrigued by the recent Jeff Jarrett video. As Marcus & I talked about on The Kings Of Sport podcast, I think a Jarrett-AAA America partnership could be intriguing. The association with the El Rey network combined with an underserved Latino market could combine to pose a threat for companies like TNA or ROH.
As always, any feedback/constructive criticism is certainly welcome. I’ll see you all back here next week as we talk week #2 of Impact from Manchester… Cheerio!