TNA Impact Wrestling 2012/03/08 Review

We open on a video from "earlier today", where-in Garret Bischoff arrives at Universal Studios in an open top jeep. The camera crew ask him about what happened last week with Ric Flair, to which he replies he appeciates the warning, but he's not going anywhere. Garret continues to mumble his way through promos, whether there's a crowd or not. There's no way such a green worker should be opening the show.

Entering the Impact Zone for the first time this evening, we find the trio of Ric Flair, Gunner and Eric Bischoff making their way to the ring. Eric starts off on the mic by appreciating Flair's music, saying it "warms the cockles of my heart" (a little odd, but okay). He goes on to say he's embarassed to have to confront his son in such a public forum and that he's disappointed it came to this. However, Garret has pushed them all too far and in an effort to put an end to hostilities, Eric has had a quiet word with Sting and arranged a tag team match for later tonight, putting an end to this issue once and for all (there's no way in hell this feud gets settled on a random episode of Impact a month shy of Lockdown). Just as he teases the mystery of who will be Gunner's tag team partner for the evening, Kurt Angle's music hits. Getting in the ring, Kurt hugs all three men, clearly in cahoots (because all heels are friends!). Eric postively jumps for joy as he hands the mic to the Olympic Gold Medalist. Kurt gladly offers his services for the evening in partnering with Gunner. He looks straight down the camera and says he hates Garret, riling up the crowd into a series of "Hardy" chants. Mirroring the beginning of last week's episode, he tells us why - because he doesn't respect his father! Rather hilariously, he adds that anyone who matters, hates someone with the last name Bischoff. Closing out the segment, Kurt promises to make Garret tap, tap, tap because it's real, it's damn real. The heels celebrate in the ring as we get glimpses of Garret backstage watching the in-ring events on monitor. He's visably flustered and storms out. This was a ridiculous way to open an episode, focussing on a petty familial feud with no true payoff. The segment would've tanked completely had Angle not come out and made it more about his personal issues with Jeff Hardy.

Cutting to a backstage bathroom, we find Sting looking in a mirror, applying his trademark facepaint. His frustrations with Bobby Roode boil over and he starts slipping into his Insane Icon persona. He's soon interrupted by Eric Young. For once, EY is the sane person in the room! He asks a favour of Sting. Wanting the best for his girl ODB, EY was hoping Sting might arrange something especially. Knowing how much women like gold, he offers them a shot at the Knockouts Tag Team Championships! I loved the quieter moments of this skit, such as Sting referring to absolutely everyone as Bobby and the way he psychotically painted EY's face, but ultimately Sting blew it by being too much of a goofball, channeling what can only be described as Jim Carey's The Mask.

Knockouts Tag Team Championships
Gail Kim & Madison Rayne (c) vs ODB & Eric Young

Before the match begins, Taz and Tenay recap the events of last week, replaying footage of Gail Kim making half-arsed attempts at aiding her partner Madison and eventually costing her the match. All of this building tension towards their upcoming Knockouts Championship match at Victory Road in ten days. As such, their future as Tag Team Champions doesn't look too rosey!

Kicking the match off, Eric Young locks up with referee Earl Hebner in one of his confused states. Finally figuring out it's Gail he's meant to be wrestling, the Knockouts Champion dares EY to land a punch on her jaw and pushes him around the ring. That is until he's backed into ODB's corner and she makes the tag. She works Gail over thoroughly, hitting a splash, followed by a bronco buster. Meanwhile, EY sneaks into the ring and willingly sets himself up for the same move in the opposite corner! Returning to the action, the two go back and forth until Gail is able to make a tag to Madison, who swiftly takes control. However, Madison's success is short-lived as she finds her head thrust into ODB's crotch over and over again. A press off the top rope leads to a nearfall. In the wake of this, the heels cheat to gain the advantage, as Madison distracts the referee and Gail chokes ODB. An impressive series of doubleteams by the Champions, giving away no signs of discontent in their partnership. ODB breaks away and makes the hot tag to Eric, who rather than rushing at his opponent Gail, locks up with the referee again! The miscommunication allows Eric to take the lead and get both the Tag Champs in an impromptu double airplane spin for a two count. The finish comes as Madison nails Eric with the Tag Title belt, causing him to collapse (mid-striptease) on top of Gail Kim. Failing to shift the unconscious EY, the referee counts the pinfall and we have new Knockouts Tag Team Champions!

An otherwise impressive Knockouts tag match, the only downside being Eric Young's involvement, as he was unable to play anything other than a comedy role for fear of striking a woman. While I enjoy the pairing of ODB and Young, I do question whether they can function as Champions, with one half being incapable of truly competing.

Winners - ODB & Eric Young to become the NEW Knockouts Tag Team Champions

After the match, EY gets down on one knee in the centre of the mat. Taking ODB's hand, he produces an engagement ring from his trunks (he wrestled with a ring in there? ouch!). Coming back from commercial, we find EY now has a mic and asks his trailer park lover to marry him. She thinks about it for a second and motions to leave. All of a sudden, she turns and proposes to him! EY happily accepts and does a victory lap around ringside in celebration. A really dopey angle, but I like the occasional cheesey segment.

Outside, at the main gate, a security guard checks the credentials of one Joseph Parks. It's clearly the Monster Abyss (aka Chris Parks), sans mask, wearing a goofy suit, looking ALOT like the magician Penn Jillette. It even looks as though they've cut his hair. I have absolutely no idea what to think of this development! Have they put the Abyss gimmick to rest or are they gearing up for a split personality angle (good luck booking the eventual match for that!)

We return to the studio to find Austin Aries checking his phone. Apparently, he's received an email from authority figure Sting. Aries takes a brilliant jab at Sting for only just discovering Twitter, now email and that it's about time he joined the 21st century. It turns out Sting has booked Aries to defend his X Division Championship tonight against Zema Ion. Voicing every smart mark's opinion, he correctly points out how stupid it is giving away such a money match on free TV, rather than wait ten days for the PPV. Rather than wait and give people a reason to buy the PPV, Sting has made yet another bad business decision. But this doesn't scare Aries, as once he successfully defends his Title tonight, he doesn't have to give Ion another shot at Victory Road! An absolutely wonderful performance from A Dub. It veered a little close to being an inside joke, but when CM Punk can reinvigorate the WWE with such terminology, I applaud Aries for being the one to try it in TNA.

X Division Championship
Austin Aries (c) vs Zema Ion

In our second title match of the night, Victory Road comes ten days early! Ion tries to get in a sneaky kick, but finds his leg caught by Aries and a swift forearm to the head. A Dub expertly runs Ion round the ring in a headlock and upon an attempt to escape, cunningly grabs his opponent's prized hair. After a particularly impressive sequence, Aries decides to take a victory lap around ringside and even bows in respect to the camera. The action finds it's way back inside the ring, with Aries dominating Ion at every turn. Ion has a brief surge where it looks as though he's winning, but a couple of nasty knife edge chops on the top rope send him crashing to the outside and prove he's clearly not. Aries attempts to follow, flying to the outside, but only finding exposed guard rail. This disorientation allows Ion a quick two count. Motioning for his finisher, Ion goes to the top rope and tries for a 450 splash, only to land flat on his face as Aries rolls away at the last second. A small moment of confusion allows Ion to grab his hairspray bottle, but is unsuccessful on attempting to use it, as Aries ducks out of the way. Grabbing the bottle from Ion, Aries retaliates and sprays his opponent in the face, only now the referee has recovered and seen everything. Despite valid protests, the referee calls for Aries to be disqualified!

A wonderful X Division match, with both men getting in several impressive moves. The clear victor being Austin Aries, as he dominated the match from start to finish and proved himself a champion like no other. If they're as interested in young talent as they say, TNA should take advantage of this and push Aries all the way into the World Title picture. Right now, no one deserves it more than him.

Winner - Zema Ion via disqualification (title doesn't change hands)

Backstage, the mysterious Joseph Parks enters the makeup room and finds Velvet Sky being tended to. Introducing himself, he asks if she might know where Abyss, HIS BROTHER, might be. He's been "missing" for several months (clearly someones not watching Ring Ka King!). She apologises to "Joseph", as she hasn't seen Abyss in a while either. He thanks her and leaves without incident. Not knowing Abyss had a brother in the first place, Velvet exclaims "you learn something new every day!". Two segments in and this angle is truly bizarre. I hope there's a point to all of this.

We return from commercial to find Bully Ray standing dead centre of the ring, ready to cut a promo. For the millions of Impact fans around the world, Calfzilla is here! As in a similar video package from earlier in the show, Bully harps on his success of having been the one to kick a chair into James Storm's head last week. As such, he feels he should be the number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship, not Storm, and urges Sting to come out to the ring and declare him so. Never one to refuse an invite, the creepily half-painted Stinger obliges and makes his way out. Amidst chewing the scenery, Sting points out Bully can't make matches purely because he injured somebody. However, as Bully has the best damn calves in all the world, he can have Bobby Roode...right after the break!

Non-Title Match
World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Roode vs Bully Ray

Before coming out to the ring, we see Roode arguing with Sting over having to defend his title at such short notice. Sting, not wanting to ruin the Lockdown main event, never said that this would be a title match! Roode exits towards the stage, calling Sting all different kinds of crazy and the General Manager thanks him in return.

Roode walks down the ramp sheepishly, even jumping at his own pyro. Once he makes his way to ringside, he attempts to bargain with Bully Ray, offering his hand in friendship, but is cruelly denied by the former Dudley. As the bell is rung, the rowdy Impact Zone crowd begins a "kick his ass" chant. The pair lockup and Bully backs Roode into the corner. To his credit, Roode is able to outwrestle Ray, resulting in a headlock. Shoving Roode into the ropes, Ray comes back with a fierce shoulder block. The two of them exchange shoves, until Roode takes it one step too far and slaps Ray. Maintaining control, Roode works Ray over with a sustained period of kicks and punches, showing his first signs of true aggression. A particularly scary spot sends Bully flying back off the ropes, making the entire ring visibly shake! For all his cowardice, Roode dominates Ray consistantly, getting nearfall after nearfall. However, this causes him to get cocky and begin mocking the downed Bully, who shoots back with an audible sequence of slaps to the chest that HAD to hurt. Bully takes control with a power game, flooring Roode with clothesline after clothesline. He hits a stunning powerslam on Roode, which seemed to linger forever. The crowd actually begin to chant for Bully Ray! Roode, fearing imminent defeat, goes to the outside and grabs Ray's own chain. Before he can use it, he's met with a boot to the face. Seeing that his own chain was about to be used against him, Ray picks it up and motions that he's about to nail the Champion with it. Unfortunately for Bully, James Storm appears in the ring and chases him off. This leaves the leader of the Selfish Generation open to a swift superkick from his former Beer Money partner! Taking the World Heavyweight Championship from ringside, Storm lays it over the fallen body of Bobby Roode and leaves victorious (if it doesn't bother you that he wasn't a participant in the match).

A fantastic match for Bully Ray continuing his late blooming career revival. Despite several prolonged periods taking punishment from the Champion, he showed phenomenal conviction and it's no wonder the crowd got behind him. The only thing I'd pick fault with is that being a heel vs heel match, the crowd didn't have the slightest clue what they were meant to do. They eventually settled on supporting Bully, only at the end to find him chased off by the actual face, James Storm. With Bully inspiring such a fierce reaction from the audience, it was unwise to send the Cowboy in after him. If not for the superkick to Roode at the end, they might've accidently turned their biggest hero.

Winner - World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Roode via disqualification

We cut to the locker room area, where Garret Bischoff is getting ready. He's sat in his supposed ring gear, otherwise known as a vest and some tracksuit bottoms (I've done PE at school in more elaborate gear than he wears to the ring!). The camera crew try to coax the reveal of his mystery tag team partner, but he point blank refuses to spoil the surprise. Firstly, we know it'll be Jeff Hardy, purely due to the fact he's feuding with Kurt Angle, who's going to be Gunner's partner. Secondly, will somebody shave those damn mutton chops off his face, they're beginning to annoy me!

In what I can only assume is another locker room, Crimson and Matt Morgan are chatting when Joseph Parks enters. He repeats the same schtick from earlier, asking whether either of them have seen his brother Abyss, only to be told they haven't seen him in several months. After Parks leaves, Crimson turns to Morgan and attempts to rationalise them having lost the Tag Team Titles, much to Morgan's dismay. Given the opportunity to correct their mistake, they've been booked in a number one contender's match against Robbie E & Robbie T. Looks like they'll set aside their differences for another time. Yawn.

Number One Contenders Match
Crimson & Matt Morgan vs Robbie E & Robbie T

Rather curiously, E & T come out wearing matching pink cardigans. Is that meant to be in style? Because they look horrendous! (Rob Terry looks none too happy about it either)

The match begins with Robbie E getting in Crimson's face and attempting a fist pump, met by a stiff clothesline from the "undefeated" giant. He follows it up with a release suplex, sending the Jersey wannabe flying back into his own corner and the arms of bodyguard Robbie T. Fresh off the tag, the pair size each other up and lock arms, until Terry takes the lead and beats Crimson down. A few power moves later, Robbie E (still on the outside) nails Crimson with a clipboard. In a rare double team, Terry hits a sideslam positioning Crimson for a knee off the top rope from E. It proves ineffective though, only getting the Jersey posers a one count. Terry ends up losing the momentum for his team, as he stands flexing for the cameras for several seconds, allowing Crimson to recover and make the tag. Upon entering the ring, Morgan runs wild on both opponents, ploughing through them singlehanded. The finish comes as Morgan hits his finisher, the Carbon Footprint, on Robbie E. Unbeknownst, Crimson makes the blind tag and covers for the win, leaving Morgan shocked and appaulled. The referee raises their hands as the two of them bicker about what just happened.

A short, silly affair that didn't really do any of the four men much good. The only thing of note was the screwy ending, setting up a probable heel turn for Crimson. I don't want it to sound as though I'm picking on Crimson and Morgan, but the two of them have consistently failed to engage me for the past six months, whether it be in singles or tag team competition. If their feud wasn't working back then, why do the bookers think it'll work now? However, I am happy to see them steer Crimson towards the dark side, as he's failed to get over as a face and the fanbase are noticably resentful of his undeserved monster push. Maybe a run as a heel will freshen up his act. Until then, we have at least one more Tag Team Championship match at Victory Road between them and the new champions, Samoa Joe and Magnus.

Winners - Crimson & Matt Morgan via pinfall to become number one contenders to the Tag Team Championships

A new segment begins as AJ Styles music hits the Impact Zone and he makes his way to the ring. He enters to rousing fan support, which doesn't go unnoticed by the Phenomenal One, as he puts over how essential the fans have been in getting TNA to their ten year anniversary. Styles takes a walk down memory lane and reminices about various angles, including an odd mention of Bully Ray being a member of the Frontline standing against the Main Event Mafia. Before he can go any further, he's interrupted by Christopher Daniels and Kazarian. Mocking AJ's nostalgia, Daniels points out that he returned to TNA last year in support of AJ. Ultimately, in all the time they've been friends, Styles has soared and Daniels has been punished. That's why he's decided to put himself first for a change and encouraged Kazarian to do the same thing. Handing the mic off to Frankie, he calls AJ transparent and gullable. He builds up to the point that with all the friends who've turned their back on AJ, maybe the problem doesn't lie with them, but with himself. Responding to that, AJ swears off any future friends, but instead will associate with...Assholes! Mr Anderson's music hits and the four men erupt in violence. Eventually, Styles and Anderson clear the ring and celebrate their new alliance! A curious confrontation that tried to explain the continued hostilities between AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, but the reasoning seemed too generic to have any real significance. Also, Styles calling in Mr Anderson for assistance seems totally random. Basically, they needed a way to get him back on television and he's been inserted into this placeholder of a feud until they can think of something better.

Kurt Angle & Gunner vs Garret Bischoff & TBA

Unsurprisingly, Garret's mystery partner turns out to be...Jeff Hardy! Even Angle's son Cody could've seen that one coming a mile away.

With the heels already in the ring, Garret shakes Jeff's hand on the ramp and follows the Charismatic Enigma down to the ring. Hardy plays to the crowd in a major way, while Garret just stands there looking like a moron. After the customary introductions by Jeremy Borash, the supposed-faces unwisely turn their backs on Angle and Gunner, who take the opportunity to jump them from behind. The referee restrains Garret as the opposing team double up on Jeff Hardy. Eventually order is restored and Gunner is forced out of the ring, leaving Angle to officially compete against Hardy. Following several submissions and suplexes, Angle unsuccessfully covers Hardy for a two count. Fighting back, Hardy comes off the ropes with a clothesline to Angle. Not waiting for the hot tag, Gunner enters the ring prematurely and attacks Garret, sending him crashing to the floor. While this is going on, Angle pulls Hardy back towards his corner and applies a submission hold to Hardy's leg, isolating him from Bischoff Junior's aid. Such games go on for quite a while, as Angle and Gunner whale on the ailing Hardy and occasionally make a play for Garret in the corner. There was a brief moment whereby Hardy had Angle in a rollup, but Garret's own protests distracted the referee from seeing the count. After a solid ten minutes of Hardy being the legal man, a free leg to Angle allows him the hot tag to Garret, who rushes into the ring, hitting several sloppy clotheslines on Angle and Gunner both. He hits what I assume was a botched jawbreaker on Angle and goes for the pin, but is broken up by Gunner. Both heels grab Garret and whip him into the ropes, but after an initial duck, are met with a piss poor double clothesline from their intended victim. Angle lands in just the right position and Hardy hits the Swanton Bomb for the win. We go off the air as the referee raises their hands in victory.

A ridiculous main event that was lob-sided at best. Jeff Hardy spent an insane amount of time as the legal man, which was almost the entire match, bar a last minute tag to Garret. It's clear the match had the duel purpose of putting Garret Bischoff over and yet hiding his inadequacies in the ring, of which there are many! It's ludicrous to think TNA wasted a television main event on putting over the producer's wannabe-wrestler son. The sooner someone tells the Bischoffs that what they're doing is shameless nepotism, the better.

Winners - Garret Bischoff & Jeff Hardy via pinfall

In conclusion, this was an extremely hit and miss episode of Impact Wrestling. For every brilliant match, there was a terrible one. For every wonderful promo, there was a disasterous one. It's rather easy to pinpoint what was wrong with this week's show, namely - TOO MUCH GARRET! Hell, even when he wasn't on-screen, they were still talking about him! He lacks ring presence, promo ability and botched the most basic of moves. That this green rookie can dominate the opening, the closing and a fair percentage of what came inbetween is insane. However, that's not to say this week was a complete loss, as I thoroughly enjoyed everything involving Austin Aries, marvelled at Bully Ray's progress and even had a chuckle at EY's expense. If TNA can get their priorities straight and remember the World Heavyweight Championship is the most important thing on the show, not the producer's son, they could improve in a heartbeat. But this week, it was not to be.



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