Photos (c): Impact Wrestling & Hecziaa

The show opens up this week with an Eric Young promo.  The gist of Eric’s time on the mic is that he’s calling out MVP, so we get the classic TNA face-off segment with the heel on the ramp and the babyface holding court in the ring.   I won’t give a blow-by-blow account of the dueling dialogue, but generally speaking it was a good segment, easily better than anything on last week’s show.  Eric pushes to get MVP to promise him a “fair fight,” but MVP smugly points out that nothing in life is fair and they sort of go from there.  MVP tells Eric that if he he can beat MVP, Lashley and Kenny King in one night then Eric will get his wish for Slammiversary.  Kenny King interjects and dumbs down the challenge, so that now Eric only has to beat two of the three heels to get his pickings at Slammiversary.  I generally hate the idea of a babyface working his challenger opponent on a go home show before a pay-per-view, and the logic behind this segment was horribly flawed, but the execution of it was good.  MVP and EY were both good on the mic.  Kenny King was appropriately dressed this week, and his hubris gimmick is a reasonably good use of him.  Lashley as the silent muscle head, who EY has to go through first on the show to get to MVP and loudmouth Kenny is effective in his role.  So yeah the premise is stupid, but it’s probably less stupid than most TNA decisions, and the delivery of everything was strong.  By universal standards, this segment was decent at best, but by modern TNA standards this was epic stuff.

Eric Young vs. Bobby Lashley: I cringed when MVP announced Lashley as the opponent and they immediately went to commercial, as I figured that meant this would be joined in progress.  Instead, TNA did the right thing and started the match at the bell, though maybe they would have been better off plugging a commercial in here to disguise how horrible the booking of this was.  Here you have your world champion, wrestling in an opener on the TV before a pay-per-view, and he loses clean in the ring, in a five-minute match, to a guy who’s not even the number one talent in the top heel stable.  WCW booking was often terrible, but can you imagine Sting wrestling Arn Anderson on an episode of Saturday Night right before a pay-per-view and losing clean to a spinebuster in five minutes?  Tenay and Tazz tried to cover for this idiocy by pointing out that Young’s back had been targeted earlier in the bout making him easy prey for Lashley’s finisher, but that just served to draw attention to how stupid all of this was, as the back work was pedestrian and Lashley’s powerslam isn’t even one of the twenty best powerslam’s used by modern performers.   Then to make matters worse, Samoa Joe comes out post-match in order to save Young from a beatdown Lashley was about to put on him.  I realize that the whole point of Young’s reign is that he’s an unlikely, underdog champ, who even knows himself that he’s not necessarily the top guy, but this was ridiculous.

Terrible, terrible Willow promo talking nonsense about taking the fight to Bram and Magnus.  Just horrific stuff.  I realize Jeff Hardy is the biggest star currently under contract with the company, but this is the sort of thing that you absolutely can not allow to go on air.  If I wasn’t committed to reviewing these shows I would have turned it off as soon as this came on, and not tuned in for another six months or so.

Back from commercial there is a backstage segment with Eric Young talking to a trainer who advises him not to come back out for the other two matches because of the condition of his back.  I understand what they are shooting for, but this doesn’t work when EY took so little damage in the match where he was allegedly injured.  EY is supposed to be an underdog, not a wimp.

Brief Samoa Joe promo follows.  Typical TNA filler segment.

Great more talking!  TNA is really short on awful, pointless, talking segments, especially ones where the heels and faces confront each other, so I’m really glad that we got a segment here with Magnus and Bram in the ring, only to be interrupted by Willow.  This show absolutely benefited from a boring Magnus promo where he said nothing of note, only for Willow to come out and cut a promo so embarrassing that it makes Jimmy Valiant’s  punches look good.  Even better Magnus and Bram were so foolish they fell for Willow’s trap, as he’s not going to wrestle them on his own at Slammiversary.  Nope, instead we are going to get Willow and Abyss vs. Bram and Magnus at the pay-per-view, and this segment ended with that announcement and Abyss running to the ring to put a beatdown on the heels.  Awesome stuff, especially if you hate good promos and good matches!

Very brief backstage segment with Ethan Carter III.  He’s got a bandage on from the cut he received at the end of last weeks main event.  This was a decent enough promo setting up the match at the pay-per-view with Bully Ray.

Knux vs. Robbie E: I actually like both of these guys.  I also kind of like The Menagerie gimmick, or at least I think it would have potential in a half way decent promotion.  Having said that this was very hard to watch.  For some reason they have decided that The Menagerie’s highly annoying music has to play from beginning to end during all of their matches, which is really, really dumb.  This isn’t New Jack running around in the crowd like a maniac, leaping off scaffolds and hitting people with weapons, while a hugely popular song that accurately depicts his gimmick plays.  This is two guys working a by the numbers, mid-card match, while a song that is universally loathed plays over and over on repeat.  The match was brief, silly and ridiculous, and really just done to advance the “Robbie E. is afraid of clowns!” storyline, which I want to believe is TNA’s answer to Torito vs. Hornswaggle, only because that means we might get an insane spot fest involving Crazy Steve and Robbie and/or Robbie E having his head shaved.   Anyhow, this was pretty bad, and ended with Crazy Steve creepily stuffing balloons into Robbie’s tights.  Maybe Steve has been studying the courting strategies of Sam Shaw.  This promotion badly needs a 3MB invasion angle to add spice to the comedic undercard.

Backstage segment with ECIII and Rockstar Spud.  Spud is in a neckbrace and I’m really glad he’s back.  This is just a teaser for what is coming after the commercial.

Back from commercial Ethan Carter III and Rockstar Spud are in the ring.   They call out Brooke for a sit down interview.  I have watched a lot of bizarre, ridiculous and stupid things on Impact these last two weeks, but this was incredible.  They sit down with Brooke and try and grill her about why she and Bully Ray broke up.  The whole thing falls incredibly flat, largely because Brooke is a terrible actress.  Very quickly this escalates to Spud going over the top with a Maury Povich impression, claiming that he’s got the proof and that Brooke and Bully have a baby.  Why that would matter and why that would have led to a break up he doesn’t say.  Brooke gets in Spud’s face, which leads to ECIII (“hey toots!”) threatening her before Bully comes out.  Just when you think this couldn’t possibly get any more absurd, Bully has to cut an in ring “sorry, things didn’t work out, but I’m at a different place in my life” promo directed toward Brooke.  This was amazingly awkward, wildly out of character, and the sort of thing that makes you embarrassed to be alive, let alone a wrestling fan.  This did lead to a very good Bully Ray/ECIII follow up where they set up a Texas Death match for the pay-per-view, but everything before that was just amazingly bad.  It’s crazy that TNA has three guys as good with their characters as ECIII, Bully and Spud and this is what they give them.

Eric Young vs. Kenny King: Another really short TNA match that had no chance to be good.  King did some flashy spots in this, and EY was on the defensive all match.  But the match only went three or four minutes and Young won with a flash piledriver after Kenny King’s showboating bit him in the ass.  This was inoffensive, but it didn’t help either guy, and the piledriver Young won with did not look good.

Backstage Madison Rayne says she won’t be distracted by Brittany and is ready for Slammiversary.

Back from break Eric Young is again told by the trainer not to go back out there again.  Jeremy Borash shows up with a mic (why?) and briefly interviews Young who says he’s going to come out for the main event.

Brittany vs. Gail Kim vs. Madison Rayne: A couple of minutes in the Beautiful People show up on the ramp way and they go to commercial.  No surprise that a commercial would break up a TNA match of course, but it is mildly surprising that there is a match on this show that is getting more than five minutes.  Back from the break, Velvet Sky and Angelina Love were on commentary, but I have to admit I phased it out.  This match had a couple of nice bumps, and  a good looking double superplex, but as a whole it was nothing of note.  The Beautiful People tried to run in and cost Gail Kim the match, but it backfired and Kim won.  Taken as a whole this was garbage, but there were moments in this match that felt like they belonged on a wrestling show, so that has to be considered a plus grading on the TNA curve.

They show MVP backstage with Brian Hebner, hinting that the fix is in for the main event.

Eric Young vs. MVP: On the way to the ring Eric Young gets attacked from behind by Lashley and Kenny King.  They work over EY’s back and throw him to the ring, starting the match with Young in peril.  This was actually well booked and made sense, but in textbook TNA fashion they followed this up by going straight to a commercial.  That’s right, TNA has another show with a bunch of pointless backstage segments, long winded/stupid promos, and the beginning of the main event literally starts with a commercial break.  The match itself was actually a really fun performance from both guys as MVP dished out some big shots including a good looking powerbomb and a really solid Yakuza kick, and Young was good as always bumping and selling.  I was really getting into this and then they capped off the shit storm that has been their last two weeks of television, with the ultimate middle finger to the viewing audience, ending the match when MVP purposely got DQ’ed after hitting EY in the back with a chair.

Post-match MVP announces that he doesn’t care what stipulation Young picks because he can’t beat him anyway.  MVP poses with the belt, then he leaves the ring with Lashley and Kenny King.  EY tries to save the segment by cutting a decent promo, setting the table for a cage match against MVP at Slammiversary, but it’s hard to come back from a finish that bad.

Overall Thoughts:

This show was better than last week’s almost entirely due to MVP and Eric Young.  Having said that this was a bad, bad, bad show.  Another Impact with very little wrestling, terrible finishes, mistimed commercial breaks, pointless filler backstage segments, long winded promos, awful acting, garbage commentary, no crowd heat, and segments featuring good talent that are dragged down by stupid booking decisions and/or awful writing.  On paper, Slammiversary does not look that bad, but this go home show reinforced all of the reasons why I have no faith that TNA can put on a decent wrestling show at this point.