This Week’s Review:
“Be It Ever So Humble, There’s No Place Like The Zone” ~Or~ “This Spud’s For You”
Greetings, “True-Believers.” I hope everyone’s had a great weekend! I’m writing this week’s recap while overdosing on NCAA basketball conference tournament action. Speaking of “madness,” this week TNA Wrestling returns home to the Impact Zone in Orlando for their first show after a somewhat lackluster Lockdown PPV. I went 4-for-7 with my Lockdown picks last week. Not great, but those are HOF-Worthy numbers for a baseball player! Anyways, let’s not dwell on the past. The future is now for TNA, so without any further ado… onto the show!
Impact opens up in the back with Ethan Carter III, Rockstar Spud, the Bro-Mans and Bobby Roode arguing about why they lost the main event at Lockdown (Austin Aries was conspicuous by his absence). Roode shouts them down and blames Dixie Carter for trusting Bully Ray. The group vows to find Ray and make him pay for his betrayal. We then go to a video recapping the main angles coming out of Lockdown, including MVP winning control of Wrestling Operations and Magnus retaining the title.
MVP comes out to the ring to start the show. He waits out a decent “M-V-P” chant before stating that “Dixieland” is officially closed. He says that he’s here to implement the M.V.P. System in TNA. He plans to Motivate, Validate, and if need be, Participate in the affairs of the wrestlers. He then turns his attention to Bully Ray. MVP says he doesn’t know what motivated Ray on Sunday, but Ray will be allowed to compete in TNA on equal footing just like everyone else. Just then, Magnus’ music hits and out comes the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Magnus gets in MVP’s face and ridicules the M.V.P. System. Magnus said Dixie Carter fumbled the ball, but he picked it up and scored. He then brings out his new “insurance policy,” the monster Abyss. Abyss shows up wearing new ring gear, including a Great Muta/Kane style half-mask. Magnus says unlike Eric Young or James Mitchell, he won’t try to tame Abyss. He says Abyss is a monster and a machine that is motivated only by devastation and money. MVP said that the conversation can’t continue without one more participant, the man who is still the #1 contender to Magnus’ title… Samoa Joe! Joe comes out selling the effects of Sunday’s cage match. MVP says the reason why Joe is standing here calm, cool and collected is because he believes in the M.V.P. System.
He announces that Joe will get a rematch against Magnus next week (no doubt pissing off the 10,000 people that actually paid for that match on Sunday). Then he says that he’s going to allow Joe to participate in the ring right now. And that leads us to our first match of the night, Samoa Joe Vs. Abyss. Joe starts off fast by spearing the monster and connecting with several stiff-looking shots. Abyss cuts him off with a shot to Joe’s injured ribs as we head to break.
Back from a slew of interesting ads (I love that Cuba Gooding, Jr. “Show Me The Mini” Pepsi spot), we return to Impact to find Abyss on the attack. Joe starts to make his comeback and then signals for the Muscle-Buster. He lifts abyss up, but the damage to his midsection prevents him from hitting the move. Abyss hits Joe with a chokeslam and then rolls out of the ring to retrieve Janice. Abyss rolled back into the ring and prepared to hit Joe with the weapon. All of a sudden, a homeless man (later identified as Eric Young) hit Abyss with a top-rope dropkick, prompting the DQ win for Abyss. Winner: Abyss in 9:06.
Thoughts: A decent big-man match that kept both participants relatively strong. I didn’t like the Abyss involvement at Lockdown because I thought it ruined a really good match between Joe & Magnus. That being said, I’m a little bit intrigued to see where they go with Joe, Abyss and EY over the next few weeks.
After the match, we head backstage to find Jeremy Borash riding the clock (do some work, JB!). Apparently he’s waiting for Bully Ray to arrive at the building. All of a sudden, Borash sells shock as a familiar face comes on screen. Angelina Love asks JB if he missed her and then she walks off as we go to commercial.
We’re back from break and Christy Hemme is in the ring to announce the next match (I guess she’s not scared of Samuel Shaw anymore?). Before the match we get a feature on the debuting “Brittany” (AKA Santana Garrett). This leads into match #2 of the evening: Brittany Vs. Gail Kim (w/Lei’D Tapa). Gail starts the match on the attack, selling frustration over losing to Madison Rayne at Lockdown. Brittany continued to sell for the over-aggressive Kim before surprising the former Knockouts champ with a quick roll-up for the win. Winner: Brittany in 2:27. After the match, Gail freaked out and slapped Tapa. Tapa shoved Gail away, but Kim wouldn’t stop berating her bodyguard. Tapa finally snaps on Gail and connects with a really stiff shot to the face before the girls starts tussling on the mat.
Thoughts: Not a spectacular debut for Brittany. The match was just a setup for the Tapa-Kim breakup. I think they’re doing the split too soon, but we’ll see how it plays out.
We head backstage to find Bully Ray arriving at the building. Team Roode shows up and proceeds to beat down the former President of Aces & Eights. Roode then grabbed a cardboard sign and smashed it over Ray’s head. “You don’t screw with Roode,” Roode shouted! He spit in Ray’s face to end the segment.
Back from commercial, we see D.J. Zema at his D.J. Booth. DJZ brings out The Bro-Mans for their match against Seiya Sanada and Tigre Uno. Before the match, TNA played a nice video from earlier in the day where the Great Muta gave Sanada a sub-titled pep talk. Muta encouraged Sanada and reminded him that he was representing the Japanese wrestling industry. That brings us to our next match: The TNA Tag-Team Champions, The Bro-Mans Vs. X-Division Champion Sanada and Tigre Uno. The Bro-Mans had the early advantage as they worked over Tigre Uno. Uno finally makes the hot-tag to Sanada, and the X-Division champ kicks things into high-gear with some traditional X-Division style moves. Sanada & Uno string together a few nice-looking double-tam spots, culminating in stereo dropkicks from the top-rope. Sanada then goes to the top and hits Robbie E. with a Moonsault for the win. Winners: Sanada & Uno in 2:46.
Thoughts: These two are a breathe of fresh air in the X/Tag divisions. Sanada has the potential to be a minor star based solely on his in-ring work alone. Hopefully he fares better than Okada did in TNA.
After the match, we cut to the back to find Bully Ray recovering from his attack. He grabs his chain and walks off.
Back from break, we’re in the Bro-Mans’ locker room. The tag champs and D.J. Zema are trying to figure out what happened in their match against Sanada & Tigre Uno. Suddenly, Bully Ray kicks the door in and begins to attack Robbie and Jesse with the chain. He then grabs DJZ and throws him into a locker. Then just as quickly as he arrived, Bully leaves looking for his next victim. In another part of the arena, Willow was lurking in the rafters and in yet another corner of the Impact Zone, Spud and ECIII prepared for the Dixie Carter tribute, which is up next!
Back from the break, we see Spud and ECIII in the ring. There is a blown-up portrait Dixie Carter sitting on an easel. The crowd chanted “Dixie’s Lapdog,” at Spud. And then the magic began. Spud got on the mic and began to address the crowd. He said they are all here to mourn the loss of Dixie Carter’s control of wrestling operations. Spud said it is a shame that TNA is now being run by an ex-con. Spud was on the verge of tears as he continued to eulogize Dixie. Spud said that Dixie picked him up and cradled him in her arms like Mary did to the Baby Jesus. That she made him the great man that he is today. Spud thanked Dixie and asked the production truck to roll a video highlighting Dixie’s “accomplishments.” After the video, Spud took out a scroll and began reading a poem entitled “Dixieland.” This drew boos from the crowd and brought out MVP. MVP got on the mic and said he’s actually impressed with Spud. He admires his toughness and loyalty and he actually wants him to stick around… as a wrestler. Spud said he’s too small to be a wrestler, but MVP pumped him up and said he’d be facing Willow in a match later tonight. Spud freaked out and ECIII laughed. MVP told Carter not to laugh, because he’s put together a match next week between ECIII and the returning Bobby Lashley. Lashley comes out and does what he does best (which is to be physically imposing while keeping his mouth shut). ECIII said that he won’t face Lashley because he’s not on the roster. MVP said that’s an excellent point… which is why he signed Lashley to a TNA contract earlier in the day. Spud got in Lashley’s face, which prompted the former WWECW champion to grab the picture of Dixie Carter and smash Spud over the head.
The picture didn’t break, so Lashley just threw it to the mat. Spud dove on the picture and began stroking Dixie’s hair. Lashley had a brief stare-down with ECIII before the “American Icon” left the ring. We cut backstage where JB catches up with ECIII and asks him about facing Lashley next week. Before Carter could finish his statement, Bully Ray came from out of nowhere and blasted ECIII with the same sign that Roode had attacked Bully with earlier.
Back from break, JB was in the ring to introduce the next match. In the Lockdown re-match that nobody was clamoring for, our next contest is Ken Anderson Vs. Samuel Shaw (in a street fight). Shaw comes out first carrying a make-up mannequin with red hair. Shaw rolls into the ring and stares longingly at the mannequin. Anderson’s music hits, but before Anderson can do his intro, Shaw blindsides him on the entrance ramp and the street fight begins. Shaw had the early advantage, but he allowed himself to get distracted by the mannequin. Anderson got the advantage and had Shaw reeling. He then grabbed the mannequin, kissed it and threw it at Shaw. Samuel loses his cool and charged at Anderson, who caught him with the Mic-Check for the win. Winner: Mr. Anderson in 4:00.
Thoughts: I was not a fan of this segment for many reasons. First of all, why put Shaw over last night if Anderson was going to get the win back on Impact? Second, why book a street fight to only go four minutes? And finally, I got the Shaw character on paper… but I’m just not a fan of it at this point.
Next we get another “malt liquor commercial” vignette for the “King of the Night,” Kenny King. I can’t lie… I find these spots highly entertaining. The next segment, not so much. Angelina Love enters the ring to a “welcome back” chant. She says that her life has changed a lot over the past few years. She says she’s grown wiser and she missed everyone in TNA, especially her former Beautiful People BFF, Velvet Sky. This brings out Sky and the two former friends hug. Love says she’s always asked about reforming The BP’s and she thinks that now would be a good time. Velvet says she loves Angelina, but she hasn’t spoken to her in years. She says she had fun in the BP’s, but she needs to move on. Angelina said, “ sometimes you need to take a step back to move forward,” but Velvet says she needs time to think about it. The two hug as the segment comes to a close.
Back from the break, Rockstar Spud is in the ring awaiting the Impact debut of Willow. The screen goes to a black & white filter as Willow comes out holding an umbrella. The announcers state that Willow is “Jeff Hardy’s alter-ego,” which makes what happened at Lockdown seem quite silly. Spud tries to run away, but Willow catches him and that leads us into tonight’s Main Event: “Willow” Vs. Rockstar Spud. This match was all Willow as he beat Spud from pillar to post. Then he grabbed the umbrella and hit Spud with it, drawing the DQ. Willow gives the ref a Twist Of Fate, then goes to bring a ladder into the ring. Willow then grabs a steel chair, placed it around Spud’s ankle and “Pillmanizes” the former Chief of Staff. Then he climbs to the top of the ladder and hits Spud with a splash, ending the segment. Winner: Spud by DQ in 2:30.
Thoughts: I’m not a fan of the Willow character, as I feel it undercuts the value of Jeff hardy. Also, is he supposed to be a babyface or a heel or a tweener? He also made Spud look like the most sympathetic babyface on the show. Not a good look for the King of the I-Magi-Nation.
After the match, Bully Ray’s music hit. Bully walked past Willow and the two men shared a moment as the show went to it’s final commercial break. Back from break, Ray was in the ring listening to the Orlando crowd chant his name. Ray thanked the crowd and said he never thought he would hear them chant his name again. Ray said they say that when you die, your life flashes before you, and when Ken Anderson Mic-Checked him into a coffin a few weeks ago, his did exactly that. He said that at Lockdown, he tried to save Bobby Roode from himself because if Roode won, then he would have turned into another Dixie Carter, and the business doesn’t need that. Ray said he doesn’t want to talk anymore, he wants to fight. So he called out Bobby Roode. Roode came down to the ring and immediately the two men began to brawl. Bully then began to hit some of his classic spots, including the Dusty Rhodes elbow. Then he popped the crowd by signaling for a table. Ray setup the table in the ring, but Roode caught him with the Double-R spinebuster. Roode then went for the Roode-Bomb, but Bully escaped it then hit the Bubba-Cutter on Roode. Next he powerbombed him through the table to close the show.
Final Thoughts: This was a solid, but unspectacular show. I really enjoyed the show-long story of Bully Ray looking for revenge against his attackers, but I could have done without the babyface mannerisms in the closing segment. The stuff with Sanada was great and I think he could be a bit of a minor star in a revamped X-Division.
One of my big problems with the show (besides my continued distaste for the Samuel Shaw & Willow characters), is the amount of turns we’ve seen over the past month. If the Vince Russo rumors are legit, then this is evidence to that being true. Other than that, Impact continues to be a solid 6/10 show. Each week they take two steps forward, a step back, and three to the side. I don’t see that pattern changing anytime soon. But there’s always hope!
That’s it for the recap this week and as always, any feedback/constructive criticism is certainly welcome. I’ll see you all back here next week as we talk about the Magnus/Joe title rematch, another week of Shaw-nenigans, Willow and more!