This is my fifth article for Geek Pride, taking a look at the success, failure and controversy of this year’s Showcase of the Immortals. Take a look and leave a comment!
This is my fifth article for Geek Pride, taking a look at the success, failure and controversy of this year’s Showcase of the Immortals. Take a look and leave a comment!
The Wrestling Review Corner
The History of WWE: 50 Years of Sports Entertainment
Thanks for checking out another review here on The Real Mid Card. You’ll note that the piece I’m looking at today doesn’t have the words “Rise and Fall” in the title. This film may be a bit self-horn tooting but rightly so in my opinion. Vince McMahon came from nowhere and dominated the entire world of professional wrestling. He didn’t let ego take control, make foolish mistakes and go out of business. Some people may not like it, but he deserves credit for that. This movie gives him that, in an abundance. Let’s take a closer look at The History of WWE: 50 Years of Sports Entertainment.
This one goes all the way back to the 1950s, which might be the earliest period of wrestling I’ve learned about in a documentary. Because of this, the interviewees were changed up significantly. Having now reconciled with the company, it was great to see Bruno Sammartino giving his thoughts. A lot of the regulars were featured as always, but we got to see some unfamiliar faces. It takes you from the very start of the promotion and looks at the pivotal roles of Bruno, Backlund and Andre respectively. Particular attention is paid to Andre The Giant, who is widely accepted as the most recognisable wrestling celebrity in history.
I got to learn a lot more about Vince’s takeover and well documented cable conquest. You get to hear of the remaining dinosaur promoters who refused to sell up and eventually went broke. Is that McMahon’s fault? I think not. Gerald Brisco speaks of how he and his brother did sell up Georgia Championship Wrestling and made an agreement with the boss. That’s why they have done well from the business since then. Nonetheless, there was a lot of friction at the time towards Vince and any wrestlers who worked with him.
Of course, there is a substantial amount of time dedicated to Hulk Hogan and the role he played as the hand-picked babyface for Vince’s revolution. He had gained a lot of mainstream exposure since his appearance in Rocky 3, and the boss wasn’t stupid. He used him as the spearhead to dominate the business. Hulk wouldn’t be anything without the WWE, and vice versa. It was, and potentially still could be, a very important relationship in wrestling history.
The invention of Wrestlemania is focused on. The stand alone documentary about the history of Mania is a corker itself. Expect a review of that pretty soon! One interesting fact that I didn’t know about the first incarnation of the Showcase of the Immortals, is that the future star of the time Bret Hart was on that card. The Wrestlemania 3 attendance record breaking event with Hogan and Andre was of course touched on.
I did not know that Saturday Night’s Main Event came from Saturday Night Live and was shown on network television in it’s place every couple of weeks. What a partnership that must have been! No wonder they penetrated mainstream culture so much.
It was great to see Jake Roberts back in good health giving his opinions on a WWE production. He was questioned about the whole steroid trial and the dramas of that time. They delved fairly deep into those dark times, when the turncoats were running out of the door or turning on and testifying against their boss. The good side of all this was the new blood that came out of it in the 90s: Bret Hart, Undertaker, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Yokozuna, Mick Foley, Steve Austin, The Rock, etc. When they sum up this progression like that, it really shows how staggering an era it was for talent.
The start of the revolutionary weekly TV show Monday Night Raw and it’s development was covered very well. This was unheard of until WCW brought Nitro into the mix and the famous wars began. Of course, more ship jumping followed. The Montreal Screwjob was given the appropriate amount of time, given the movies that have already been made about it. Vince Russo gave his two cents, by spewing them out with his increasingly annoying voice! This looked like the death-nail for the company at that time (losing Bret), but the best heel in the history of the business – Mr. McMahon – was born from that situation, and you could say that character saved the company.
The iconic and revolutionary Attitude Era was portrayed as a period of pushing the envelope in the face of competition, which it certainly was. Despite the huge success of the period, all was not great during this time, and so we got the poignant opinions of everyone on the tragic death of Owen Hart. Guys like Jim Ross, Chris Jericho and his own brother Bret gave some really insightful and emotional views on the whole thing. This part kind of choked me up a bit, I have to admit. The beginning of Smackdown was covered at length. It may seem like a boring B-Show now, but at that time, it was exciting and fresh, and represented a new frontier for the company. It’s crazy to imagine that we were treated to two equally good and equally important shows back then. Take a hint from the past!
The publicly traded company era began and spawned new revenue streams, like books. The victory over WCW brought with it media libraries and intellectual property from WCW and ECW. The company just went from strength to strength. The brand extension and drafts continued to add a fresh air to the product. I really miss those early days of Raw versus Smackdown. It got very stale in the end, but it was great at first, especially with Ric Flair as General Manager of Raw.
The icons of the 00s are given their due respect: Randy Orton, Edge, Batista, John Cena, etc. These guys took the torch and became the backbone of the company for that decade. The PG era was next up, and as you can imagine, only the positives were touched on. That’s not exactly surprising. Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and Bret Hart acknowledge that John Cena deserves a lot of respect and credit, for being the hero he is inside and outside of the ring. He is certainly our generation’s answer to Bruno, Hogan and Austin.
I learned that the WWE has been doing community outreach and charitable stuff for a long time. It is just much more known these days, with the whole Make-a-Wish thing. Since Wrestlemania 17, the event has been a stadium only affair, and that’s a terrific success story in itself. After Andre The Giant died, the Hall of Fame began and it has become more and more significant with each year. WWE films started after Hogan’s movie No Holds Barred in the 80s, but since the opening of WWE Studios, these projects have increased in number and quality. It’s crazy to really think about how much success they have had, and on how many different levels and fronts they seem to operate now.
The HD era (which I have never really contemplated) was discussed some, explaining the technological evolution which guys on the crew have been adapting to for decades. It was cool to hear the opinions of some of those unsung heroes in the plain black t-shirts. The use of internet and social media may be annoying a lot of the time, but it didn’t stop them from talking it up in this movie, as you would expect.
The past will be forever alive thanks to WWE’s campaign to buy up media libraries and create WWE classics. The future is also looking bright. NXT is a better show than Smackdown half the time these days, and the new performance centre can only mean good things in terms of the talent pool available.
Vince McMahon is illustrated as a 24/7 workaholic, even now at his age. He gets all the plaudits that he deserves for all the work he has put in over the decades. The boss is also sure to praise those close to him who really helped make his vision a reality. The most successful family business in history is still going strong today, and I for one am very happy to say that. I’ve always been a WWF/E guy, and that’s where my allegiances will continue to lie. Unless something legitimately comes along to challenge them, they will be recognised as the best and so they should. TNA isn’t in the same universe (pop at TNA).
This was a really good one, just for the interest value if nothing else. It was at times touching, thoughtful and emotional. However, for the most part, I give it such a high rating because I flat out loved seeing the chronology of WWE played out before my eyes. I was reminded of so many great wrestlers, matches and moments. It was like reliving everything positive about the company’s history and everything I utterly enjoyed, in a kind of two hour video medley. If you’re a WWE fan, watch this movie. Young or old, you will be left entertained and educated. That’s all you should ask for from a wrestling documentary.
Thanks for reading,
I watched another great wrestling documentary the other night, and I’d like to share it with you, through the art of the pen, or in this case, the keyboard. To add to the list of films about specific wrestling promotions, I saw one that I’ve been meaning to watch for a while.
The Spectacular Legacy of the AWA gives you a guided tour around a world you may have previously known little about, but about which all true wrestling fans should be thoroughly educated. It’s a very serious, sports orientated piece documenting the highs and lows of a territory based around technical wrestling, not sports entertainment. The film is preluded by a classy intro from it’s star, Verne Gagne. The man is known as a true legend of the business, and the reasons why are covered in this.
However, it’s not just about Gagne, it’s about a whole organisation. The film shows you the history of how it got started, and even before it existed with Verne’s life in the 40s and 50s. This is probably as far back as I’ve learned about in wrestling. It’s so much more professional and cultured than the other ones that I’m used to seeing. You feel like you’re watching an ESPN special. It’s got all the high-end production values of a typical WWE documentary, but with more of a real sporting edge. As always, a host of great interviewees make up a large bulk of the content. Regulars like Jim Ross and Mike Graham are joined by a lot of new, or I guess actually old, faces that I’ve never heard of. It’s a nice change and a real education.
The AWA wasn’t just the bedrock of technical wrestling. At one point, after many years of growth, they had a roster that the world would envy, including the likes of Andre The Giant, Jesse Ventura and Hulk Hogan. I discovered that Hogan was contemplating leaving the business altogether, before he joined Verne’s company, and subsequently gained a tonne of momentum. That did a lot of good for both parties, but that relationship eventually soured. When Vince McMahon began to monopolize the territories, he took Hogan, Ventura and even Gene Okerlund to the WWE.
Vince and Verne didn’t see eye-to-eye one bit and this started a fierce business rivalry between the two of them. Gagne had always liked McMahon’s father, but didn’t take kindly to the young upstart rebelling against every rule in the old-school book. He forged an alliance with the NWA and began putting together inter-promotional events by the name of Superclash, in a bid to counteract Vince’s dominance. This very dysfunctional combination didn’t work and was eventually disbanded, having little or no impact on the WWE’s progress.
The AWA itself boasted some of the biggest names in wrestling history. It was also made famous by some of the best workers of all time. These are the men that are often forgotten. Half of the names I learned about watching this film I had previously only ever heard from JBL on commentary, or from watching the Legends of Wrestling round-table discussions. I learned about the brilliance of Nick Bockwinkel, and the genius of Bobby Heenan. If I was teaching Wrestling 101 at a community college evening class, I would show my students this film. It’s particularly insightful to hear from Verne’s son Greg, and take in his life experience as the son born into a world of professional wrestling.
Another rather fascinating period covered in the film is the emergence of a young Eric Bischoff. Paul Heyman gets a minor mention too, because he passed through there, but it’s the future WCW owner who was more memorable in the promotion. He was a regular broadcaster there during the company’s decline, before eventually using everything he had learned there to take himself to the top of the mountain. There are just too many names to mention, when it comes to cameo appearances from people you know, in this movie.
Verne made a lot of enemies over the years, mostly for refusing to move with the times. Hulk Hogan and Jerry Lawler are two guys who had notable run-ins with him. Hogan walked out after he felt he was unfairly treated. Verne didn’t care much for him, despite his success and popularity, because he was an average worker. Lawler took off with his title, after he wasn’t paid from a Superclash gig he was booked on. Neither of them had too many kind words to say about the guy.
Nonetheless, despite these differences, the overall picture painted is one of a very successful and ultimately important product, and it’s much-loved, highly respected leader. Despite it’s legendary status, it just couldn’t keep up with the changing tide of wrestling and the increasing competition from WWE. The film is brought to a close with an emotional montage of final statements from everyone involved. Verne’s Hall of Fame speech was the perfect way to send the screen to black, as evidence of a man now at peace with former nemesis McMahon, and proud of a lifetime of accomplishments. It was a nice touch from WWE, and a splendid way to top off a very uplifting two hours.
Thanks for reading, and check it out.
Sting and Hogan at their peak – Source: The Wrestling Fans Review
The TNA Problem
This is a statement, from our resident Ring of Honor Correspondent Steven Forrester, in which he airs his grievances with TNA Wrestling. We hope you aren’t too offended.
Just to get this out of the way so there’s no confusion: I am not a fan of TNA. I have never been a fan of TNA. I watched it for about a year in 2010 and 2011 but honestly I wasn’t impressed much and when I stopped watching the weekly show, I never went back. On the other hand, I readily recognize that TNA was a great promotion in the mid 2000’s. When guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christian Cage and Kurt Angle were having amazing matches on a regular basis. I didn’t watch wrestling then, but I’ve seen a lot of those matches and they really are great. They just happened during my wrestling hiatus.
But I’m also not a TNA hater. I just think it has fundamental problems that stop me wanting to watch. The key problem is is this strange idea that TNA fans have that everything TNA does should get a pass because it’s not WWE. TNA fans seem to be blinded by pure hatred of everything McMahon produced and think that TNA is inherently superior; simply because it isn’t WWE. I think a simpler way to put this is this: I don’t understand what WWE these people are watching.
In my honest opinion, WWE has never been better than in the last two or three years. Attitude Era included. Match quality is off the charts and story lines lead to true character development. Even though a lot of it is old angles being rebooted and changed (something TNA is even more guilty of), WWE in the end of 2013 feels fresh and exciting. With wrestlers like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose and Antonio Cesaro leading the charge, we’ve seen a great number of awesome matches in a short period of time. Hell, even the tag division is showing signs of growth and strength.
Meanwhile, I look over at TNA and it just seems like more of the same and like the company hasn’t grown at all in the two or three years that I haven’t been watching. If anything it’s stagnated and even gotten worse. If the dirt sheets are to be believed, TNA are still performing in front of middling and uninterested crowds and drawing in the same disappointing and mediocre ratings. I always read online that this is because they’re a young company, but even though they’ve gone on the road in the US it just doesn’t seem to have made much difference.
Another problem is the lack of a singular star. As good as AJ Styles is in the ring, he’s been doing the same act for years on end, and even his ‘badass’ character hasn’t set the wrestling world on fire. I’m sorry TNA diehards but he just isn’t in the same league as a John Cena or a CM Punk. Or even a Daniel Bryan. The same goes for other TNA stars. Bully Ray is a great heel and a great character but lets not go crazy, he’s still Bubba Ray Dudley. Kurt Angle is always going to be Kurt Angle, but even he has lost his shine in TNA. Austin Aries is a great talent but TNA doesn’t seem to want to keep him on the top. Chris Sabin looked like he was breaking out into a shining star but surprise surprise, he turned heel. I don’t even know what Samoa Joe is up to these days. But I guess there’s always t-shirt Sting, isn’t there…
Another problem is that TNA is still heavily reliant on huge stables and team vs team angles, as well as always trying to work the audience and play on the fact that wrestling isn’t actually a real sport. Through the time I was watching TNA it was Immortal and Fortune, then it was EV2.0. These days it’s Aces and Eights and the Main Event Mafia (again). It’s always another NWO rehash of some guys who are “taking over” and “running things”. This booking style worked for a while for WCW, but even those guys ran it into the ground and they had a billionaire and a genuine roster of big stars behind them.
But you see, it worked for WCW because no-one in the average wrestling audience in early and mid nineties had ever seen a rogue faction storyline like that in the United States and there was still a degree of kayfabe in effect that hadn’t yet been destroyed in the post steroid trial scandal era, before Vince McMahon finally drove the last nail in the coffin in 1997. But in 2013, we all know what’s going on. What was fresh and exciting in 1997 is passe today.
Conversely WWE has just recently started using stables again. Groups like the Shield, the Wyatt Family and the Authority have cropped up. But unlike with TNA’s Aces and 8s or Main Event Mafia, all three of these groups are small, three members max. There’s no dead wood. They’re all themed and they all have distinct goals. The Shield are a pack of mercenaries, the Wyatts are a cult and the Authority just wants what’s best for business, which seems to be babyfaces being unhappy. This is all happening after years of WWE not having any stables. The Nexus was probably the closest but even then it was mainly Wade Barrett plus entourage, the other members weren’t important at all.
There’s also this hilarious idea out there that TNA are innovative and offer something widely different than WWE. The brutal truth of the matter is that TNA are barely even in the same league as WWE. If WWE are Arsenal or Manchester City, then TNA are surely Crystal Palace. I always find this idea strange because I’m an ROH fan (who I would compare with perhaps Swansea or my own Aston Villa) who genuinely do offer a vastly different product than WWE. TNA on the other hand, offers sub-par WWE styled sports entertainment and then try to fool us all with their mantra of Wrestling Matters. Nonsense, politics matter. Until recently it was whether Hogan liked you. Now it seems to be whether Dixie Carter and Eric Bischoff likes you. Its the same as WWE: politics.
It’s also really funny to look at the “innovative” label and then tune into Impact to see a newly turned Dixie Carter as the heel authority role and AJ Styles as the anti-heroic face. This is of course hot on the heels of Triple H’s ascension to heel Godness and the likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. TNA aren’t exactly the most fresh and original promotion out there are they? At one time they definitely were ahead of the curve with the X-Division but they never really capitalized on that and even those matches don’t seem as special today as they did five or six years ago.
It seems all that matters to TNA fans is the fact wrestlers can swear and blade in TNA. When you look at actual match quality over the last few years then honestly TNA doesn’t even come close. Compare the Victory Road Jeff Hardy debacle with Money in the Bank 2011. It’s sad really. TNA shows are riddled with botches and blown opportunities. WWE are just so much more professional than TNA. From presentation to execution.
Thanks for reading,
Welcome back to another edition of The Wrestling Review Corner, and this week I’m going to delve into the life of Andre The Giant. I watched this brilliant little 45 minute film on his life and career on YouTube and here is what I learned.
Now I’ve never been a huge fan of the guy because he was way before my time, but I have respect for what he brought to the business. So many of the people that I idolise speak so highly of him, so it’s hard not to show him some love. I didn’t even know he was French. That’s how little I knew! I got to learn a lot about his childhood and background, fascinating stuff. He was insanely large even as a teenager, and seemed destined to work as a farm hand or a factory labourer dreaming of escape. He turned down the offer to play rugby because it didn’t interest him – there is something we have in common! He was almost drafted into the army but he was literally too big to serve.
A French Canadian star taught Andre about pro wrestling and brought him over to North America after hearing about his freakishness. However, he was made to wait as the big man took on the challenge of Japan first. He was diagnosed with an aggressive type of gigantism, and simply wouldn’t stop growing. When he joined the McMahon’s and the WWF and reached the big time, he was prone to excessive alcoholism, which was somewhat glorified in this film (probably my only criticism) – However, it was interesting to hear about just how much alcohol and food he was capable of consuming, due to his abnormal size. The overall theme of the film was heavily weighted on how inconvenient and hard day-to-day life was for Andre. He also had the knowledge of an early death weighing on his mind, so he understandably lived his life to the fullest every single day.
There were the upsides though. At his peak (and still growing) he was the most recognisable wrestler in the world. Frankly, he was, and still is today one of the most famous sports stars of all time. The disease was starting to rapidly destroy his body from the inside though by this point, and he was ageing and gaining weight noticeably. Towards the end of the story, the film focused on Hogan and Andre at Wrestlemania. I never cared for this match, but I understand the draw of it. I have more respect for it now. Despite being way past his prime, The Giant was there to perform and pass the torch to the man of the future. It was a truly timeless moment.
Andre loved being on the road, performing and having a good time. He refused to stop wrestling, despite being on borrowed time, ala Ric Flair today. His Carolina ranch provided him peace while he was off the road, and that was where he chose to spend his final days. He died at the tragically young age of 46. The many emotional interviews peppered throughout the piece were topped by his close personal friend Tim White, who many of you may remember for being a referee in the WWF during the Attitude Era. His account of their friendship and Andre’s passing was a perfect summary of the message behind this documentary.
Overall, it was a really moving education on the life of one of the biggest draws in wrestling history. I never really appreciated Andre The Giant enough until I watched this. I recommend you do the same, if you get the chance.
Thanks for reading.
TNA IMPACT REVIEW
This weeks Impact recap package consists of Wes Brisco’s exclusion from Aces & 8’s and Dixie demanding Hulk Hogan’s loyalty.
AJ Styles heads to the ring to start the show. He says he’s not here to ‘use his shovels’ when it comes to Dixie. There’s definitely a trend of wrestlers using insider terminology recently, when the promo needs a bit more fire. The champ Bully Ray and his Mrs Brooke Tessmacher interrupt him, with the cameras lingering on Brooke’s arse, fair play when your show has a male dominated demographic.
Bully annihilates AJ on the promo side of things, firing through why he’s the best at rapid fire succession. AJ stays calm and collected as Bully screams in his face, until he cracks a sly smile and tells him he has a match tonight, against Samoa Joe. Bully acts angry/scared, which is weird when you consider how TNA have wrongly booked Joe for years now.
Backstage Segment – Dixie has security throw AJ out of the building.
KENNY KING AND CHRIS SABIN VS JEFF HARDY AND MANIK
Austin Aries is on commentary, putting over every single man in the match, cool. King is busted open AGAIN! Literally two minutes into the match, come on guys. I’d really like to see Hardy taking a mentor role with the younger X-Division guys, ignoring the drug stuff he’s got a great risk-taker/tag team wrestler to world champion story. Long story short, Hardy gets the hot tag and the crowd love it, all four men fight until Manik hits his finisher on King, and Hardy gets the Swanton and the pinfall. Really good match, fast paced as you’d expect from these four.
After the bell, Sabin cheap shots both his opponents, until Aries runs him off. Aries grabs a mic and makes a challenge, but Hardy wants to do something he’s never done before. Hardy says he wants an Ultimate X match at Bound For Glory, with Aries, Manik and Sabin. Why not add King? It’s not like numbers matter in those matches.
Backstage Segment – Sting and Hulk are talking backstage, until a runner drops in a present from Dixie. It’s a watch, apparently the same watch she gave Sting last year, I don’t remember if that had any significance.
MAGNUS VS CHRISTOPHER DANIELS, KAZARIAN & BOBBY ROODE (GAUNTLET MATCH)
Daniels dances his way out wearing goggles, give this man a world title run. My first thought is that this is a good pairing, Magnus could definitely learn a lot from a veteran like Daniels. Daniels attacks the throat, using his tape, hanging him over the ropes and choking him with his legs, to absolute silence. This crowd have no idea what they’re missing. After some back and forth action, Magnus got his foot up during the BME, and nailed a Michinoku Driver for the 3 count.
Kazarian then comes out and works a decent match with Magnus, until tapping out to the Cloverleaf. I do not like how he’s beaten two men completely clean, it makes them look so weak. That’s not because I’m bias towards CD and K, it’s just too easy for him.
As Roode slowly walks to the ring, Kaz attacks Magnus’ bad knee. Roode dominates him, using technical moves and submissions on the afflicted area, until Magnus hits a Driver for a near-fall and tries the Cloverleaf, but can’t put enough pressure on. Roode holds Magnus in the Crossface for a while, until changing to an Ankle Lock with a leg-vine and getting the win. Magnus was booked so strongly in this match, almost until it was getting ridiculous. I did like how long it took him to tap however, not too long, not too soon.
He starts to have a tantrum until he’s joined by Sting who grabs a mic and says Maggo is making a display of himself. Someone in the crowd shouts ‘KICK HIS ASS STING’, must be an avid watcher. Magnus get himself a mic and says it’s just not good enough, he works hard and doesn’t get the results. Sting mentions Ric Flair giving him an opportunity back in the day, and Magnus wants to know who will do that for him. Sting says he will at BFG, and the two men shake hands and make it official. I REALLY enjoyed the back and forth between them, very passionate. Sting putting Magnus over will really help his character.
Backstage Segment – Aries brings Hulk some vegan vitamins, saying he might need them, and some prayers, for his decision later tonight.
They then show a cool promo package of Hulks history with TNA, a lot of stuff that I’d actually forgotten.
Backstage Segment – Sabin says he won’t be out for Velvets upcoming match because she doesn’t need his help. Instead he’s going to do loads of pretentious stuff backstage.
Backstage Segment – Daniels and Kaz are backstage singing ‘HE’S OFF THE CHAINNNNN’ over and over again in a deep over-American radio rock accent. They celebrate Roode’s victory and say next week he’s the first ever inductee to the E.G.O Hall of Fame. Roode looks absolutely ecstatic as Daniels calls him ‘The Prime Minister of Suave’ (he’s Canadian), and they all carry on singing. Genuinely hilarious.
BROOKE TESSMACHER VS VELVET SKY
Haven’t seen either lady wrestle for quite a while, TNA must be really feeling the lack of Knockouts. Velvet comes out dressed much more conservatory than before, I wonder if this is a conscious thing to make her popular? Lei’D Tapa, who looks like a giant Tina Turner, comes out before this match can begin and attacks Velvet as Brooke runs away. She hits a hard big boot and an enormous Samoan Drop and plays to the crowd. Last time I saw her wrestle she was terrible, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt for now. Just a shame Awesome Kong won’t come back.
Promo Video for a new wrestler called Ethan is shown, seemingly playing a cocky, rich type character. I have no idea who he is, which is weird in this day and age of the internet and indie circuits.
BULLY RAY VS SAMOA JOE
Joe starts the match wearing a shirt, must be having a fat day. Basic back and forth stuff, which either man taking turns to chain moves together. Bully grabs his chain but Earl Hebner takes it off him, so he low-blows Joe as the ref gets rid of it. Earl takes a bump; Joe tries to revive him as Bully sits on the top rope after regaining the chain. He leaps off an nails Joe as Earl is watching, and gets disqualified…what a waste. He teases a Piledriver on the concrete, but AJ runs through the crowd and puts a stop to it. He runs back into the crowd and celebrates with the crowd, cool image that should have ended the show.
Dixie Carter comes out and does a pretty good job of patronising the crowd before asking Hulk Hogan to join her. She’s overjoyed that he’s wearing the watch, and asks him if he’s aboard ‘the Dixie train’, which the crowd laugh at. Someone starts doing Jim Duggan ‘HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO’s in the crowd and completely distracted me. Hulk says he’s always wanted to be part of the power in this industry, but he can’t go along with her decision and quits. The crowd don’t know if this is good or bad and just look surprised. As Hulk walks up the ramp, Dixie holds onto his leg like a child. He shakes her off and leaves as Impact goes off air.
As always you can contact me with any thoughts, or even if you just want to chat about wrestling at @jrholberry on twitter. Thanks a lot!
Tonight’s show starts with Sting confronting Dixie Carter about her decisions towards AJ Styles. He says she’s not being herself, but she thinks everything is being handled.
Bully Ray and his bird Brooke Tessmacher come to the ring, and come to think of it, Bully starts a lot of Impacts with a promo, but he is the World Champion so maybe that makes sense. He says he was thinking about how to beat AJ, but now he doesn’t have to. He sucks up to Dixie and insults the crowd. Knux and the other Aces come out, and Knux repeats the ‘Bros before Hoes’ line from last week. He says the three of them are going to handle ‘club business’ tonight in a six man tag against the MEM. He says if they lose their match, they will be banished from the club (I presume he means the person who gets pinned). Why they’re dragging this out so long I have no idea, how can Bully and two jobbers comprise a stable?
Backstage Segment – Eric Young and ODB stop Joseph Park from shaving in case he cuts himself and goes mad. All I could imagine was him cutting himself on a regular day and Black Hole Slamming the postman.
INTER GENDER 6 MAN TAG – ODB, ERIC YOUNG & JOSEPH PARK VS GAIL KIM & THE BRO-MANS
I read a report recently that Mickie James’ contract had run out, so by my count the Knockouts Division is down to…4. If there was ever a time for TNA to reap the indie scene, now is the time. Even if they just get them in on a single match basis, I’d be interested to see something like that. Standard Inter Gender match, with either lady not doing much. EY really showing his skills in this match, with a beautiful belly-to-belly, which lead to a splash by Park and an Elbow Drop by Young from over half the ring away. Entertaining I must admit, but nothing you haven’t seen before.
Backstage Segment – Austin Aries tells us he’s been taking some new photos (okay mate), and Hulk Hogan tells us he’s hear to fix the AJ/Dixie mess.
Aries comes to the ring and says even though he’s not in the main event at Bound For Glory this year, his future is just fine. He’s then interrupted by a returning Kenny King. I hadn’t actually realised King had been gone, and I actually like him. He insults the other X-Division wrestlers, says something had gotten ‘under his beautiful brown skin’ and says he’s the future of the company. Nice heel promo by King, leading to AA challenging him to a match right now.
AUSTIN ARIES VS KENNY KING
When we come back from commercial, King is slumped in the corner, bleeding like a stuck pig! Weirdly, AA attacks the wound, which would make sense in a grudge match, but doesn’t really work here, just looks overly vicious. Ignoring this, AA is super over with the crowd, who go mad for the Pendulum Elbow. As this is Kings return match, he gets a lot of impressive offence in, including a second rope T-Bone suplex which sounded hard. AA eventually hit the running dropkick and brainbuster for the 3 count. I think I’d rather have had King win by cheating, so I hope TNA draw attention to how well he did against an ex-World Champ.
Backstage Segment – Chris Sabin and Velvet Sky run into Aries, Sabin gives AA some backhanded compliments, furthering his Heel attitude.
Backstage Segment – Sting tells Magnus to get his head in the game and starts taking his shirt off.
Hulk Hogan comes out to a huge ovation, as the camera pans over two fans- one in a CM Punk shirt, the other in a Daniel Bryan shirt, laughing to each other. Hulk talks about himself as usual, but finally mentions Dixie and TNA. He asks the crowd if they want to see AJ Styles win the title, and they don’t really care.
They then show a promo package for Kurt Angles return at BFG, and I’ve got to say, he’s urgently needed to freshen up the show.
After that the screen shows ‘ETHAN IS COMING’ in diamonds for about 10 seconds…no idea!
AFTER THAT they show the graphic for the forthcoming X-Division Title match, that they haven’t updated yet, it’s still the old belt.
MANIK (C) VS CHRIS SABIN (FOR THE X-DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP)
Manik attacks Sabin like a man possessed, I’d forgotten Sabin had sucker-punched him last week (should have reminded us TNA). I cannot stand Manik’s match, it shows no emotion AT ALL. How are we supposed to care about the guy if we can’t sympathise? Sabin feigns a knee injury, and heads to the outside to speak to Velvet. Manik wanders out to see what’s going on, and gets Velvet pretty much thrown at him. Sabin then climbs to the apron and kicks Manik in the face. Obviously this was a huge heel move, but it took so long the crowd lost interest. Velvet looked surprised at the time, but when Sabin’s knee had ‘recovered’, she went back to cheering for him. So many moves in this match I couldn’t even start to write them down. The ending came with Sabin pulling Velvet into the ring (she was protesting) and holding her as a human shield. When Manik came towards him, he attempted a roll up, but got reversed into another pin and the Champ retained.
Sabin blindsided Manik after the bell, only for Austin Aries to make the save. I’m sure AA assaulted Manik and stole his gear a couple months back?
Backstage Segment – Bobby Roode, Kazarian and Christopher Daniels are discussing Kurt Angles return, and start plotting to fuck him over. Kaz and Daniels start laughing really theatrically, but Roode won’t join in. More of this please.
MAGNUS, SAMOA JOE AND STING VS KNUX, WES BRISCO AND GARETT BISCHOFF
Lightning fast offence from Magnus against all three opponents, and then everyone jumps in about 2 minutes into the match, that’s not how hot tags work guys. As Magnus is stood on the top rope, he’s pushed off to ringside, and seemingly gets injured. Not sure if it’s a work but I saw Samoa Joe holding up the X towards the stage, and the cameras didn’t draw any attention to it. The crowd absolutely love Sting, which I can’t really relate to, I think it’s an American thing. Joe grabs Wes in the naked choke and he taps…MEM were outnumbered but still won easily, yikes.
Bully Ray walks to the ring looking super pissed off, and demands Wes takes off his Kutte (the club waistcoat). When Wes refuses, he orders the other members to take it by force. When they hesitate, Bully takes him out himself with a sloppy piledriver. He forces Knux to hand the Kutte over, which after pausing, he does. The crowd were dying to see Bully get decked but they’re obviously saving that for the coming weeks.
Hulk Hogan is in the ring, holding a clipboard, which in Wrestling means its time for a signing. Hulk talks about himself a bit more, before telling us he’s holding AJ’s new contract. They seem to be telling us that AJ has a title shot, even though he hasn’t got a contract right now. Dixie comes to the ring, and gets a ‘DIXIE SUCKS’ chant, must be a first for that one. She rips up AJ’s contract, and says the people need her, even though they criticise her daily. She says Hulk needs to decide what team he is on, and he has 7 days to make his mind up.
Dixie actually did well here, I was honestly surprised. Must be weird for her to be playing a character all of a sudden.
As always you can contact me with any thoughts, or even if you just want to chat about wrestling at @jrholberry on twitter. Thanks a lot!