An Evening of Wrestling and Darts

This past Wednesday evening I spent the time doing something different, something that I had never done before and probably will never likely do again, I answered the call of an open invitation and spent the evening in the company of the one and only TNA ring announcer and host of Xplosion and the Spin Cycle, Jeremy Borash.
Posing with JB

As I said this came about as JB sent out a tweet on Tuesday announcing a free event, luckily for me this event was just up the road from my house at Rileys Sports Bar, so why would I not attend? Making my way to the location I was going through possibilities in my head, World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Roode was in the Dublin the day before so why couldn't he be in Leicester the next day? 

After entering the venue and looking around all I could see was people playing darts and very little amount of people who looked like they knew anything about wrestling, but there in the corner was JB. As I made my way over there were a few other fans around him, but he took the time to talk to us all, gave us all some free merchandise, signed a personalised photo card for all of us and allowed photos, which culminated in a group shot.

After the initial meeting we were told that the Xplosion camera's would be out in a bit, but first Mr Borash needed to eat so in this time whilst darts were played in the background (and later found out PDC player Paul Nicholson was one of the people playing) I spent the time talking to fellow wrestling fans about a whole range of subjects wrestling related, with a surprisingly strong call for Mr Anderson to become the new World Champion and a non so surprising Austin Aries being everybody's current highlight of Impact Wrestling. 

You Ain't On The List Bro!  

The Xplosion camera soon came out, not so much a camera crew but JB with his camera, he called us up one at a time to ask us various questions, being the first to go I was asked for my favourite TNA wrestlers, the history of the Roode shirt I was sporting and finally my opinions on Robbie E and the list, this appeared to be a current theme from all the 'interviews' . 
With the camera away conversation was continued with JB answering any question we had for him, he did confirm that Ric Flair and Alex Shelley have left TNA among other things, but if you want to know anything else then you have to ask him yourself; and with his girlfriend also showing an excellent knowledge of the squared circle and talking about many memories from WCW and providing as good a conversation as Borash himself, especially regarding Jericho's 1004 holds. 

JB challenging The Asset 
After revealing this event had been very last minute and was essentially gate-crashing 'The Asset' Paul Nicholson's (@theasset180) darts event, JB was called into action and was soon throwing darts with the PDC star. The connection between the two started to make more sense after Nicholson hit a 180 and then when collecting his darts used the 'RVD' thumb pose, a nice show with probably half the room not understanding the reference. 
Soon after the match in which even with a helping hand JB couldn't quite win, a Q&A session was opened, with most of the questions aimed at Paul which is understandable with the nature of the evening and most people being there to meet him and not really knowing who 'the American' was. Towards the end of the questions Nicholson declared that he doesn't like Bully's and started shooting on Bully Ray, Borash then continued the theme from the questions he asked us and asked for Paul's opinions on Robbie E, which looks like it may have consequences and continue all the way to the UK tour next January if the twitter feud continues.

With Xplosion on the TV the night concluded with a few darts thrown and a few drinks downed, an excellent time was had and JB, the lovely Jade O'Malley and Paul Nicholson were all great to talk to and had time for everybody, I thank them and all in attendance for an excellent evening and if you ever get the opportunity to attend a similar event then do not hesitate to go. Finally if JB does read this - the offer of a pint still stands. 


more photos of the evening are available to see at:


OFN: Roode's Longest Yard

This week's Impact is the monthly Open Fight Night and the main focus is that Bobby Roode will be defending his title against one of either Bully Ray, Jeff Hardy, A.J. Styles or Kurt Angle; with all gunning to be the one to break the hold of Roode on the Heavyweight Championship and stop him from breaking the record of the longest title holder in TNA's history. 

Roode clutching his title
(picture by Impact Wrestling)
The reason for this title defence is due to Hogan demanding it apart of OFN, with seemingly everybody in the locker room wanting to be the one to ruin Roode's potential record breaking reign.
With the week's build up from the qualifying matches on the last episode of Impact and the promise of a PPV quality match-up  should hopefully generate a ratings bump leading into the live shows which will start the following week. 

I cant help but feel that despite providing entertaining television the emphasis is being taken away from building up the main event for Slammiversary which marks the 10 year anniversary of the company. In what should be one of the most hyped matches in the companies existence on this landmark show, we will instead be getting a match with two weeks of hype.

There are a few ways around this issue to make the main event at Slammiversary special, one of these would be to make it a rematch from OFN if Roode cheats to victory as he has done for most of his reign; the second would be if the 'Cowboy' James Storm returns at the climax of OFN or at the start of the first live Impact, the history is there between the two wrestlers and does not need to be built up as much as any other opponent would be, especially after the conclusion from Lockdown resulting in Storm taking a break from the company and despite only being away for a month his return would be generate a big buzz, especially if it was with the live crowd as was becoming the biggest baby face in the company. If Storm were to be Roode's challenger at Slammiversary the match would likely need a stipulation such as two out of three falls or no DQ due to the nature of the previous bouts between the two. 
The final possibility is the least likely and that Roode will lose his title on OFN, I know many fans want to see him lose but I think this would be the biggest throw away since Roode actually won the title all those months ago and would require the biggest build up to the PPV.

It's a shame that the timing for this has come about as the idea of Roode losing his title on the day he could become the longest ever holder is excellent and will make exciting television but would have been better suited leading up to Destination X where the title probably won't be defended. I'm sure TNA management have thought about these issues and on the back of the strong Sacrifice event we have nothing to worry about... just yet anyway.



Your Television's Champion, But Is Anyone Watching?

It's been a strange couple of years for TNA's Television Title. Since coming into being as a rebranded Global Title (which before that was a Legends Title) in July 2010, it's value has progressively fallen in viewers' eyes. To the point that it disappeared off our screen's for weeks on end...and nobody noticed. I don't know whether to blame the shoddy booking, those who held the belt or it's long sordid history as the bastard child in TNA's stable of titles.

In the first half of 2012, the Television Title saw sporadic use. Mostly being wheeled out on PPVs (rather than Television) with Robbie E issuing an open challenge to anyone on the roster. This is a major warning sign in itself. When a Champion is ignored for the entire month leading up to a PPV and has to hijack the show to defend his Title, you know you're in trouble. Especially when the only wrestlers in the back who want a shot are Shannon Moore and Devon. What exactly was stopping someone like Kurt Angle was saying "open invitational? sure, I could do with another title".

At the Victory Road PPV in March, Devon defeated Robbie E to win his first ever singles championship in his long and storied career. Some variation of this match has been booked regularly ever since. Whether it be Impact Wrestling, Xplosion or the monthly PPV, Robbie E and Rob Terry have been in near constant contention for the belt, hoping to regain their lost "glory". Not that that's entirely a bad thing. A former Champion wanting a return match for the Title he just lost is a solid booking tactic that's been in use for as long as professional wrestling has existed. What is bad, is that not a single one of these three wrestlers will help the Television Title in the long term or even bring in viewers in the short term.

For years, any TNA fan with two brain cells to rub together has been asking "why isn't the Television Title defended on Television?". Always running a little behind the curve, Hulk Hogan finally cottoned onto this and upon the debut of his grand concept of "Open Fight Night", he also instituted an obvious rule we've all been crying out for - the Television Title MUST be defended every week on Impact Wrestling. Praise the lord, someone finally gets it! Admittedly, we're still stuck in the proverbial quagmire of watching Devon and Robbie E go back and forth most weeks, but we're occasionally seeing new contenders peppered in like Devon's long time sometime ally/sometime rival, Bully Ray. What this weekly spotlight will provide the Television Title with is opportunity. While we have to let Devon's title reign run it's natural course, whoever follows him as the next Television Champion has an unbelievable chance, full of promise. A guaranteed weekly match on an already overbooked show? That TV time is worth it's weight in gold.

However, to maximise the division's chances of truly getting over with the audience, I would make a couple of changes. Most importantly, ditch that belt design. In people's minds it's associated with mediocrity. We don't think "wow, the Television Championship, golly!", no, we think "oh god, not that thing again". For every serious contender to hold the belt, there have been just as many jokes. Nobody tunes in to watch Eric Young stalk Scott Baio or Gunner chew the belt like a dog. That's not even addressing the fact the belt has failed so abismally in the past, it's been renamed...twice. Whatever that belt stands for, it's not our respect.

In closing, while I've been hugely down on the Title and it's Champions in the past, I'm only mad because it shows such promise and could be so much more. Put the right belt on the right wrestler and magic will happen. It did for Rob Van Dam in ECW in the 1990s, what's stopping TNA now...


April In Review

April has been and gone and despite not having the time to add much on here, the goings on of TNA have still been viewed and despite what was quite a lackluster month still drew up some points worth mentioning.

Hogan Knows Best
Hogan with Sting and Dixie
(Image by Impact Wrestling)

The Hulkster took over from Sting as the GM for Impact Wrestling. In doing so he has opened up various different avenues which has seen some knock on effects, such as adding the stipulation to the lethal lockdown match that the losing Bischoff would leave Impact Wrestling and announcing the end of the Crimson / Matt Morgan fued, I hope in which that promise isn't broken. 
The problem of Hogan being GM is that he now seems to appear on Impact much more than what is needed, maybe this may slow down but at the minute he's making about 5 appearances a show which is just too much 'brother' for my liking. 

Not So Lethal Lockdown

The annual pay per view for April is the much look forward to Lockdown. This year the event was the first on the road and had much to look forward to, unfortunately it all fell rather flat! 
Lethal Lockdown kicked off the event for the first time ever and in predictable fashion it came down to the two Bischoff's facing off against one another, I have no issue with this as it was the whole reason the match was being contested, but the manor it was booked was a little weak, the fact that everybody lay around the ring apron where a much better option would have been to allow them to escape the cage and be scattered around the arena. 
My main issue with this PPV was not with the ring action but with the crowd, as good as it is to see TNA out on the road Tennessee really let themselves down as the roof should have been blown off the venue but that didn't happen and you could hear the individual heckles. 
Ric Flair also got some air time on the event to everybody's embarrassment with a segment which looks like it will end in a match against Hogan at Slammiversary, not that this match is what anybody want's but if it has to happen can Flair keep his clothes on from now on and not throw his shoes!   
Angle and Hardy had a decent match that was probably the best of the night and the other worthy mention is that Bobby Roode retained the title after another gimmick ending after being superkicked through the door of the cage.

Open Fight Night 

Impact held is first Open Fight Night which was one of the few new introductions that were announced after Lockdown. Essentially this once a month special show means that anybody can challenge anybody else and no isn't an option, with a title holder having to defend against what seems to look like Hogan's selection. 
On OFN there was also the first Gut Check where an unsigned wrestler got a chance to shine and get a chance at a TNA contract. This month's was Alex Silva who didn't impress me much against Robbie E as my main enjoyment in this segment was seeing Al Snow on TV, which I didn't think would ever occur on purpose again.
Devon defends his TV title on Impact
(image by Impact Wrestling)
I like the idea of OFN and hope it develops well over the next few months as it could become the must watch Impact of the month, even if it does seem as if management have been reading through ROH's 'Code of Honor' with their 'Proving Ground' policy. The roster doesn't actually need boosting that much unless cuts are going to be made so I hope they don't give contracts out every month but it would be interesting to see well known unsigned talent given a chance, even if they only take the 5 minutes to boost their name value. 

Moving on into May we have a TV title that is finally being defended on Impact on a weekly basis, a PPV that is looking more like filler while the main happenings will take place at Slammiversary X. 
RVD has a shot at the title after winning a number one contenders match against Jeff Hardy and Mr Anderson, the losers received a tag title shot and now face each other at Sacrifice, while previous title challenger James Storm hasn't been seen since saying his luck had run out after Lockdown. We are also one step closer to finding out why Kazarian turned his back on A.J. with a photo of some sorts seeming to be something so horrific that friends will turn on one another and A.J. would rather take a beating from Angle and lose a match than risk anybody seeing what it is, obviously we will find out soon.

The final note I have for May is that the ratings have been dreadful and the buy rates for Lockdown not so great, hopefully these will begin to turn but with Lesnar making waves in WWE and Extreme Rules apparently being a top PPV, TNA will have to pull out all the stops over the next month to stop the rot and turn things around.