January 23, 2010

When I said I was going to start watching Impact again in the New Year, you must have figured that my TNA rants couldn’t be far behind and sure enough it only took a couple weeks. This rant will not be as venomous as past rants because while there were a lot of things on this week’s edition of Impact that I thought were terrible, they weren’t outright blatantly wrong or as rage educing as the crap that drove me to give up on Impact all together. There was some good along with the bad this week on Impact, so I will try to look at the show as a whole and not get completely out of control with an Anti-TNA rant, but on the whole I really disliked this show.

The first thing I noticed about the show was the return to a regular wrestling ring, which I have to say, is a big positive. I never liked the 6 sided ring and thought it just screamed “Silly Gimmick”, so I welcomed the return to a conventional ring. I found the matches much easier to watch and after the initial “oh hey it’s a real ring” I quickly didn’t notice the ring any more and could focus on the product. I found with the 6 sided ring I always noticed the thing and found guys often running at a corner or rope his opponent wasn’t intending to send him toward. The square ring shoots better, and just works better on every level. As for the ramp to the ring, I’m not as big a fan of that. I’m curious if the new ramp was put in place because Hogan and some of the other older guys with hip and knee replacements found it difficult walking down hill on the old ramp.

I’m not going to say this is wrong or even a definite bad idea, only time will tell for sure, but I hated AJ Styles as the new Nature Boy. There are a ton of things that needed fixing in TNA but AJ Styles isn’t one of them. One of the reasons the Nature Boy gimmick worked so well for Ric Flair was that he lived it; he really did live this life style. AJ Styles is about as far from this gimmick in real life as humanly possible. The only person that might be less suited for this gimmick is me. I also think AJ as a heel is a terrible idea because most of the appeal of AJ Styles is all the phenomenal stuff he does. AJ does cool shit and has great matches, so why would I want to boo him? The answer is I don’t, I like and respect AJ for how hard he works and I enjoy matching his matches. AJ Styles acting like a Ric Flair wanna be is just going to make him look like a second rate worker marking out for a guy he sees as a bigger star than himself. Also, on a production note, book SHORTER girls! Why did no one notice that these girls were TALLER than the World Heavyweight Champion, and point out that this is a bad visual on TV? AJ got in the ring and stood between Flair’s two girls and they were both taller than him. Book shorter girls or make them take off their heels when they get in the ring!

To me this angle is a sabotaging push. You claim to be pushing a guy while you force him out of his own element as a character, put him in a situation (being a heel) that limits his strengths in the ring, you then over shadow him with someone who is supposed to give him the rub and do underhanded things that make him look bad (like having him look small standing beside girls) and then when he isn’t as over as he is supposed to be at the end of it all, you point out that you tried real hard, “but the kid just couldn’t get over” and put all the blame on him and then go on to push who you originally wanted to in the first place. I hope I’m wrong, but the alternative to this being a clever way of making AJ fail, is that they are actually trying to succeed and are making this many mistakes unknowingly. I’m not sure which is worse.

One other completely unrelated speculation; will TNA have to ban Ric Flair from mentioning Space Mountain, since it is an attraction at a rival theme park.

My next complaint is not a TNA exclusive by any means and it drives me just as crazy when WWE does it, but not honouring stipulations and offering immediate PPV rematches on television is a horrible business plan in my opinion. With TNA’s track record of stipulations galore, and going back on them left and right, the new regime needs to make it clear to fans that they can be trusted to deliver. What a better way to show that you are Wrestling and not bullshit Sports Entertainment, like you are claiming to be, than to actually stick to and honour the finish and stipulation of your wrestling matches; especially on the heels of WWE going something like 5 weeks in a row screwing fans over on the “Jericho off RAW for good” stipulation.

TNA bait and switched 2 matches on the PPV (not delivering Bobby Lashley or Scott Hall), then they went back on the stipulation from the main event, and also did rematches of the World and Tag Team Title matches on Impact. What message is this sending to fans? It’s telling them that we don’t deliver what we promise you, so if you spend your money to support us we will screw you, and if you don’t spend your money to support us, we will give you the key matches for free the week after on TV anyway. They are punishing their paying fans and rewarded their nonpaying ones. This is not a good business model!

I do want to give a HUGE thumbs up to Mick Foley for delivering very safe chair shots to the heads of the British Invasion. With everything we know about concussions those were the kind of chair shots the industry needs to be delivering. Guys getting killed with unprotected chair shots to the head makes me turn off a program.

Why does TNA continue to over kill angles? Russo has always been famous for having multiple people on the same show doing the same angle, but Bischoff and Hogan are smarter than this. I know this is likely leading to faction War Fare, but to me it just ends up as redundant over kill. Hogan comes out and talks about how this is going to be a wrestling company but there was so little wrestling on the show. We got 3 or 4 Jeff Jarrett / Bubba the Love Sponge radio segments (yes radio segments on TV) where Bubba and Jeff argued as equals over who should be running TNA. Who the F—K is Bubba the Love Sponge, and why is Jeff even talking to this guy? In TNA “storyline” Bubba is a rookie backstage interviewer; would HHH ever argue about the direction of WWE with Josh Matthews? So we have a power struggle argument between Bubba and Jeff. We also get a power struggle argument with Mick Foley and Eric Bischoff; add to that The Band’s dispute with Hogan over employment, Bobby Lashley has also been is a dispute over wanting to quit.

We got 5 matches on the show totaling only 17:30 (approx) minutes of action. Not a good sign for what they are pushing as a WRESTLING show. That doesn’t even take into account that one of those matches featured the Nasty Boys getting a win. No Beer Money, no MCMG, no Desmond Wolf, and no Chris Daniels wrestling on the show, instead we get the Nasty Boys, in 2010. So instead of the great wrestling matches the aforementioned names would produce we got maybe 8 or 10 segments about who does and doesn’t work for the company or who does or doesn’t run the show.

I have no idea what is going on. To my understanding Jeff Jarrett founded TNA and is a share holder. Mick Foley bought into the company and is a very significant share holder. Dixie Carter also some how runs and owns TNA, so I guess she is the majority owner (This despite the fact that not that long ago the story was that JJ and Foley were sole owners). Dixie then “restructured” the company and “partnered” with Hogan and Bischoff enabling them to run the company and somehow did all of this without the permission of either of the other two major share holders. In addition to that, this “restructuring” of the company has somehow eliminated Foley and JJ’s investment and ownership of the company and they are now just guys on the roster. I don’t even want try to understand the logic behind Dixie Carter (Hogan’s “partner”) hiring Hogan’s arch nemesis Ric Flair after he picked her up one night and slept with her.

If that isn’t confusing enough, on this episode of Impact, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman were fired (for lack of a better word) despite supposedly never being employed by TNA, even though they were advertised, booked on, or wrestled on the last PPV. Mick Foley was also fired, Kurt Angle quit, and Bobby Lashley who was trying to quit but couldn’t, because he had a contract, asked to stay and they told him they would think about it and get back to him. WTF? That’s 5 people on 1 show doing a “questionable employment” angle.

And then for the Finale we got the Montreal finish. Are you F’N kidding me? The most over done, bullshit finish in wrestling and we not only got it again, we got an exact carbon copy of it; all we needed was for Kurt to draw WWE in the air at the finish. This finish is so old and so stale it doesn’t draw heat it draws groans of disappointment. My first reaction to this (after my groan of disappointment) was: “Hey that reminds me, WWE is finally doing the conclusion to this 12 year old angle on RAW, I’ll have to be sure to watch that show on Monday!” On top of all that there were a ton of plot holes in this angle.

1) If Hebner was going to “Montreal” Kurt and screw him, why didn’t he do it when AJ had him in the Figure 4 Leg Lock earlier in the match?

2) Why did Kurt assume Hogan had anything to do with this? Hogan was the guy who gave him the second chance in the first place. If Hogan wasn’t on Kurt’s side he could have just stuck to the stipulation from the PPV and not given Kurt the opportunity of this match that he would then have to screw him out of later. This was so stupid.

3) How can anyone believe that Kurt is going to quit over this, like he threatened to do at the end of this show. Bobby Lashley has been trying to quit for weeks now but can’t because he is under contract. TNA has already established, on this very show, that guys can’t quit! Doesn’t anyone in TNA watch TNA? Maybe if they did the ratings would be better.

4) The Montreal finish makes no sense when the reigning champ is the one going over! Why bother conspiring with a ref, and fighting this whole match when you are the reigning champion? AJ could just get DQ’d, counted out; you name it, and still retain his title. The whole point of Montreal was that Shawn had to get a pin fall or submission on the existing champ in order to WIN the title. Doesn’t anyone pay attention to details anymore?

I’m going to give TNA a few more weeks, and keep my fingers crossed, because I really hope this works, but my initial optimism is really waning.

Lance Storm

P.S. I’d like to take credit for the Space Mountain observation as well as the possible reason behind the new ramp to ring side, but truth be told one of my current students pointed both out to me.