TNA Impact Wrestling 2012/02/23 Review

The show opened with a nice video recap of the past several months, starting with Bobby Roode's heel turn and ending with his current problems with GM Sting. Now, this is fairly normal for the beginning of an episode, so what's to talk about, right? Well, in watching this recap, I noticed them using alot of the footage from tapings held inside genuine arenas and it makes the product look great, right from the get-go. TNA are slowly building up an impressive video library and if they can use it in video packages to put themselves over, that's great business.

We cut to the Impact Zone, where Bobby Roode's enterance music hits and the leader of the Selfish Generation makes his way down to the ring. A truly solid promo from the World Champion here, hitting just the right key points, making for a fantastic structure to his rant. He begins by recapping Sting's recent tweet "I'm done" (which sounds ominous, but if you fall for that, you'll believe anything!), then cleverly switches gears with a well timed "Now let's talk about me...". In a classic heel move, Roode runs down the list of Sting's greatest opponents, pointing out he succeeded where the likes of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair couldn't... and put the Stinger into retirement. By the time the promo came to a close, Roode built up an impressive amount of heat with the live crowd and gave the impression he's truly making traction with his new persona. Play his cards right and a few years down the line he might find himself listed right alongside all those other legends in another up-and-comer's heel promo.

Crimson and Matt Morgan have a lovers tiff in the parking lot. Morgan blames Crimson for them having lost the Tag Team titles at Against All Odds, but is quickly disuaded by some patter from his one and only. Their confidence quickly returns and they start calling themselves "the single most dominant wrestlers". I can see why someone might want to bill themselves as that, but whenever Morgan says something along those lines, I roll my eyes. He's all bluster and Crimson isn't fair behind. Two giants both attempting the same gimmick and neither of them getting over.

Samoa Joe & Magnus (c) vs Crimson & Matt Morgan for the Tag Team Championships

A short, predictable, psuedo-squash match, whereby Morgan and Crimson dominate for 99% of the time, only to lose through a last minute miscommunication ala Against All Odds. I can appreciate this match may've suffered from being booked into a corner by the Morgan/Crimson angle, but I think the teams were playing the wrong roles entirely. Morgan and Crimson are meant to be the heroes of the piece, but their jumping the Champions and subsequent domination sent a terrible message, coming off more as bullies. If the Champions hadn't scored the pinfall, this would've been an utter burial of their tag team. While Samoa Joe & Magnus are an odd pairing, especially as Champions, they seem to have gelled rather nicely as a team and I'm excited to see what they do next. Crimson and Morgan on the other hand, I couldn't care less.

Winners - Samoa Joe & Magnus via pinfall

Next up we have a lengthy exchange of words between Bully Ray and Superbowl winner Brandon Jacobs. Never having watched American Football, I didn't have the slightest clue who this guy is. So I'm judging him based entirely off of what he's achieved in the Impact Zone. Looking at his size and demeanour, I can see why TNA would be interested in coaxing him into a new wrestling career. However, he has alot of fundamentals to improve upon before I'd be willing to watch him on my television again. While he was clearly enthused by what was happening, his promo was rough around the edges. My biggest complaint was the way he refused to stand still! Throughout the entire segment, Jacobs was rocking back and forth uncontrollably. The way the camera was following him from side to side was damn near giving me seasickness. Thankfully, Bully Ray came out to interrupt. Aside from the downright perverse obsession with his own calf muscles, Ray continues to put on the best work of his career. No matter the arena or the subject, Ray is able to rile the crowd into a frenzy through his own unique brand of insults and revulsion.

Alex Shelley vs Zema Ion

An above average X Division match with a clear purpose. The momentum was generally fair, with both men gaining control and hitting their signature moves at some point. Climaxed with Ion spraying Shelley in the eyes with his hairspray and pouncing on the blinded Machine Gun. Despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Jesse Sorensen, TNA have done the right thing and made the best of a bad situation by pushing Zema Ion as a legitimate threat to Austin Aries' X Division Championship. Speaking of the Champion, he made for a wise addition to ringside, mocking his number one contender by watching the match with a glass of wine and some popcorn! My only concern with this angle is all the potential going to waste. Alex Shelley made his grand re-debut mere weeks ago, claiming to be the one man who can put an end to Aries' reign of terror, only to find himself jobbing at every turn. I fear a similar fate will befall Zema Ion, as no matter who he defeats in the run-up to his Championship match, I don't believe for a second that he's the one to go over Aries and end the streak. Saying that, Aries seems to have landed himself in hot water backstage, making a not-so-subtle crack at the quality of the show's main event. If he's offended someone with political pull, we could very well see Aries drop the title in the near future, robbing him of the upcoming record as longest reigning X Division Champion.

Winner - Zema Ion via pinfall

Garett Bischoff was interviewed backstage, saying despite his father's actions, he'll never quit his dream of wrestling professionally. He's soon interrupted by Hulk Hogan, trying to disuade Garett from staying in the business, claiming there is a bullseye on his back and it's not safe there anymore.

Madison Rayne speaks to the camera about having won the Knockouts Battle Royal from the previous week. She claims to have taken the intiative because her "friend" Gail Kim is a fighting champion and would always want the best cotenders, even if that happens to be her.

Gail Kim vs ODB (w/Eric Young)

An impressively elaborate women's match that could put some of the men to shame. It began as both ladies entered the ring, Gail being visibly disgusted by ODB's mere presence. After insulting her opponent with a few choice twurls, Gail was greeted by a hard shove and a trademark ODB ass slap. In the background, Eric Young played up to the crowd throughout the match, occasionally climbing upto the ring and pretending he was ODB's tag team partner waiting for the hot tag. The first half of the match relied heavily upon embarrassing Gail Kim, with ODB taking as many opportunities as possible to introduce Gail to her "assets". However, the momentum soon changed and grew far more serious as Gail rallied back and took control. I was particularly impressed by the face plant off the ropes, showing shades of Randy Orton. Also, there was a nice sequence whereby Gail locked in her Octopus style submission and ODB countered by slamming her down to the mat. Around this point, number one contender Madison Rayne arrives on the scene to "help" her friend Gail Kim. In all honesty, she was out there to psyche out the Champion and create a flaw she could take advantage of in their upcoming title match. Despite the distraction, Gail manages to reverse ODB's finisher into her patented Eat Defeat for the pinfall. After the match, Madison enters the ring and attempts to support Gail, only to be met by suspicion from the Knockouts Champion.

Winner - Gail Kim via pinfall

Robbie E (c) (w/Robbie T) vs AJ Styles for the Television Championship

Before the match began, they aired a short backstage interview with AJ Styles, where he declared his goal of leaving Daniels and Kazarian behind and focussing once again on winning championships (hint - it won't happen!). This turned out to be a nice back and forth between two wrestlers you don't typically see matched up together. It gave Robbie E a quality opponent for his Television Title (something he's been sorely lacking) and AJ an opportunity to put across a new intensity and aggression in his ring work. AJ was in control for the majority of the match, dominating Robbie E at every turn. An early arching chinlock could very well have led to a quick finish, however Robbie managed to break the hold and take refuge behind his bodyguard. After a brief flare-up from Robbie, Styles took control once again and hit his signature Pele Kick out of nowhere, making the pinfall all but certain. Unfortunately, this is where Kazarian and Daniels made their enterance, Kaz pulling AJ off ringside and proceeding to ram his former best friend into the nearest ringpost. While the act itself was unremarkable given their recent history, Kazarian did display a complete and utter lack of empathy for Styles, something he'd been fighting in the weeks before Against All Odds. It even took Christopher Daniels by surprise, as he looked on in shock at what Kazarian had done. This could very well be the intriguing twist that the feud has been missing so far. Later in the night, Tenay and Taz announce that Styles has demanded a Gauntlet match next week against Christopher Daniels and Kazarian, which makes for exciting progression. I can't wait to see where it goes.

Winner - AJ Styles via disqualification (therefore the TV Title doesn't change hands)

Kurt Angle & Bully Ray vs James Storm & Jeff Hardy (w/Brandon Jacobs)

Jeremy Borash makes the customary main event introductions, except for Bully Ray who insists upon announcing himself. In retaliation, James Storm takes the mic and asks the crowd if there are any beer drinkers in the house. It just so happens that Storm has a friend in the back, enter - Brandon Jacobs (with a particularly disturbing look on his face...). We start off with recent rivals, Kurt Angle and James Storm locking up in the centre of the ring. Storm quickly takes control as he whips Angle into the ropes and nails him with a high knee. His momentum is broken by a distraction from Bully Ray, allowing Angle to take advantage. Storm eventually breaks away and makes the hot tag to Jeff Hardy, only for Angle to bail out of the ring as we head to commercial. We come back to find Bully Ray now the legal man, with Hardy hitting him with the Whisper in the Wind for a nearfall. Ray takes several opportunities throughout the match to taunt onlooker Brandon Jacobs, only to be met by defeaning chants from the crowd in support of the Superbowl winner. The middle of the match is defined by Jeff Hardy being worked over by both his opponents, never allowing him to make the tag back to Storm. A stray kick gives Hardy the opening he needs and before you know it, Storm hits the ring, knocking down everyone in his path. The match descends into chaos, with all four competitors in the ring at the same time. Bully Ray furthers the lawlessness by going to the outside to grab a table, met by a stern look from Jacobs. It works against the heels however, as their opponents manage to hit dropkicks on the table as it's positioned on ringside. After a mad flurry of activity, we find the table set up in the middle of the ring, Bully Ray the only man standing, except for...Brandon Jacobs, who enters the ring and hits Ray with a vicious chokeslam through the table. For some reason, James Storm is then allowed to make the cover and win the match for his team, despite outside interference and weapons being used RIGHT INFRONT OF THE REFEREE. A fun TV main event, even if the internal logic is off by a mile.

Winners - James Storm & Jeff Hardy via pinfall

We enter the final segment as Sting's music hits in the Impact Zone and the authority figure makes his solemn way down to the ring. Tenay and Taz rightfully lament the potential loss of the Icon. Taking the mic, the Stinger says what everyone has read and heard is true. He's letting too much slip through his fingers and he's finally been driven over the edge by World Champion, Bobby Roode. Most importantly - he's done. Never being one to miss a chance to gloat, our Selfish leader's music hits and he comes out on the stage, clapping at Sting's theatrics. In a hilarious move, Roode wipes a tear away from his eye and takes the mic. However, his glee is shortlived, as Sting adopts a more jovial tone akin to his Insane persona from last year. In a rather creepy move, Sting proceeds to take his sunglasses off (it's not like it's at night and he's indoors...oh wait), pull a couple of tubes worth of facepaint from his pocket and smeared it all over his face something silly. Being all black, it wasn't quite as impressive as the Sting makeup we usually see. Maybe he would've been better using the traditional white. But the point is - Roode woke the real Sting up! Chewing the scenery with the best of them, Sting paces the ring, building tension, until his big announcement - he's returning to the ring for a one on one "fight" with the World Champion at the next PPV, Victory Road. Not liking what he's hearing, Roode attempts to attack Sting again, just as he did last week. However, the Insane Icon isn't falling for the same trick twice, catching Roode's leg in mid-air and giving him a crotch shot of his own. The episode ends with Sting standing victorious on the ramp and Roode cowering in the ring.

In conclusion, this was a rather entertaining episode of Impact Wrestling, which hit a nice balance between promos and in-ring action. So often they have trouble reconciling the two, but I think this week's found a satisfying middleground. While, Bobby Roode isn't quite carrying the show as a true World Champion should, the roster has such depth, it's become more of an ensemble piece, never entirely relying on one person too much. All of the divisions seem to have their endgoals in place for Victory Road and I'm excited to see how the big night turns out. Hopefully, with solid feuds in place this time, we aren't lumbered with another transitional PPV that pales in comparison to WWE's Wrestlemania. While TNA will never be able to compete at this time of year, it doesn't mean they should slack off and wait for the competition to subside. Thankfully, they seem to be taking this to heart and serving up quality wrestling that you can't find elsewhere.



No comments:

Post a Comment