I don’t know what’s more surprising. That TNA actually got a national TV deal or that I came out of retirement for it.
Well, it seems like after an almost 2 year hiatus, TSMers have actually clamored enough to get me to start writing again.
I’d rather not bore all of you with all the details of my hiatus, just understand that I’ll be doing this again for as long as I can and I hope I don’t have too much “ring rust” as they say.
Lets just jump right into it.
TNA’s been around for 3 years and for the first 2, they were pretty much PPV only on Wednesday night’s from 8 – 10pm. CHEAP PLUG: You can read my old reviews on early TNA in the never updated TSM Archives!
They then jumped onto Fox Sports for a show with an absolutely terrible time slot, 3pm on Fridays where…NO one was home to watch it. Oh, not to mention that they kept getting bounced around depending on the FSN schedule or the region of the US you were in. They did, however, transition from 2 hour PPV’s a week to one 3 hour PPV a month and began having blowaway shows that not too many people really knew about.
After a few months of that, they then lost their TV deal and went to PPV only again, but at least this time, it was 3 hour PPV’s once a month. They did start airing Impact on their website (an idea WWE is now utilizing with Heat/Velocity out of the picture), but TNA wasn’t sure where they were going. They almost had a deal with Chicago-based station WGN, but that deal really wasn’t beneficial to either side and luckily, they were able to wait it out and get on Spike TV. Spike and WWE parted ways and TNA saw the golden opportunity and is doing whatever they can with it, so here’s to it….
The production MVP for TNA for the last year or so, David Sahadi, gives us another reason to sing his praises as he puts together a strong intro video package for TNA’s Spike debut. He focuses on the new faces of TNA for the most part and no doubt had to have captured SOMEONE’S attention with the Elix Skipper ringwalk off the top of the cage spliced in there. The VOICE introduces TNA’s champions, AJ Styles, The Naturals and Jeff Jarrett, putting them over and somewhat killing their credibility by calling Jeff Jarrett a “World Champion everywhere he has been”. The NEW Impact opening shows that the production values of the show have improved about 200%.
Mike Tenay and Don West open the show as the Impact Zone explodes with a ton of pyro and the crowd is pretty hot tonight. They give us a brief rundown of tonight’s card and go right into the first match.
AJ Styles vs. Roderick Strong
Match Background: This will be known as the first nationally televised match TNA has produced and according to TNA’s internet preview, the first person you’ll see will be the future of TNA…and it won’t be Jeff Jarrett.
And it won’t be Roderick Strong either.
These two guys tore the house down in what was considered to be the match of the night at ROH’s 8/16 show in Woodbridge, CT which featured Matt Hardy’s in ring return after being released by WWE. Don’t expect the same tonight…
The Match: Strong doesn’t even get mentioned as AJ makes his way to the ring with pyro surrounding his entrance. The crowd chants for AJ immediately and they’re clearly hyped for this.
Strong attacks first, but AJ armdrags to start and gets the advantage quickly with these guys going at a fast pace. Tenay hypes the fact that AJ is on first since he won an internet poll on TNAWrestling.com and they’re the company that “listens to their fans”. Don West gives props to Roderick Strong, calling him the “Messiah of the BackBreaker”, as he’s supposedly able to hit them at any time.
AJ hits his signature dropkick spot and The Phenomenal One hits a tope to the outside on Strong, before throwing him back into the ring for a two count. He locks in the Muta Lock for a few seconds before letting go as the former X Division Champion, The Fallen Angel, Christopher Daniels comes down the ramp to watch the match. His presence distracts AJ and he’s NAILED with a Backbreaker by Strong for a two count. Strong locks in a camel clutch, but AJ makes it to the ropes to break it. AJ gets up and connects with an enziguiri and follows it up with the “Pele” kick as Don West officially has heart attack # 1 during the show.
AJ springboards in from apron and connects with his flying reverse DDT, hitting it PERFECTLY, which is GREAT considering I’ve seen him botch the move plenty of times. He immediately sets him up for the Styles Clash (and the camera actually missed a portion of its setup), nails him and that’s all she wrote. The announcers hype up Daniels/Styles, Iron Man II for the X Title at Bound for Glory on Oct. 23rd and the rest of the show as they segue into another segment and their first commercial break.
Winner: AJ Styles
My Opinion: Strong/Styles is a match that no doubt could have gotten 20-25 minutes and tore the house down, but it’s clear that TNA was looking to focus solely on getting one of their major stars, AJ Styles, over to a new audience and allowed him to showcase some of his signature flashy offense in just a few minutes. Just keep him off the mic for a few weeks and he’ll have a much bigger following by month’s end. All in all, this was pretty much a squash, but definitely a fun one for those watching the TNA product for the first time. 1/4*
TNA comes back from a break with a slick package to hype up Monty Brown and even includes from NFL footage to state “hey…we’re not lying! He really did play football!”
“The Franchise” Shane Douglas is in the back with Monty Brown and he immediately shows the world why he’s got Ultimate Warrior syndrome. He lets out a primal scream before ranting about the Serengeti, Spike TV and killing antelopes with the POOOOOUNCE…”period”.
But WAIT…there’s a disturbance in the back as Raven nails some random production guy in the FACE with a trash can, apparently leaving the entire backstage area a barren wasteland of unimportant extras as Larry Zbyzsko kicks him out of the arena with the help of about 5 security guards. Ok…5 seconds of Zbyzsko and I already want him off the TV, his voice is just that grating. That and his last name is a bitch to spell. At least they’re showing that Raven’s pissed about losing the title.
“The Alpha Male” Monty Brown vs. Lex Lovett
Match Background: Lex Lovett, perennial TNA jobber extraordinaire, is nothing but a sacrificial lamb to Monty Brown’s strength and hilarious lunacy. Enjoy.
The Match: As he makes his way into the ring, they focus on a girl in the crowd giving Brown the thumbs down to remind us that this guy is actually a heel right now, although NO ONE wants to see him in that position. Brown’s got charisma by the spades and he lets it show immediately.
A “Fuck him up, Monty” chant starts as he hits a big exploder suplex on Lovett. Lovett gets a few punches in but Brown catches him, nails a backbreaker and then just TOSSES him with a huge fallaway slam. The crowd chants for Monty as he nails the POUNCE (although I’ve seen him hit it much better in the past) and that’s a wrap.
Winner: Monty Brown
My Opinion: Ok…now THAT was a total squash. I can see casual fans tuning in for the first time wondering why Brown is even over, as his antics and mannerisms are over the top and his finisher doesn’t seem THAT impressive, but trust me, it’ll grown on you. He’s got a hell of a lot more charisma than the guy he’ll do doubt be compared to in the next few weeks, Bobby Lashley. 1/4*
A Bound for Glory promo airs and the VOICE is actually shown during the package…and he’s a black man in a dashiki! I sure didn’t see that one coming after all this time. TNA’s first PPV after the Spike debut is Bound for Glory on Oct. 23 and apparently the “first 30 minutes are free”…but its probably just the pre-show.
Another promo is shown on the X-Division focusing on tons of high spots and brutal finishers. They mention AJ, Samoa Joe, Daniels, Sabin and Petey Williams as we go into the next X Division contest.
Chris Sabin vs. Petey Williams vs. Alex Shelley
Match Background: Both Sabin and Williams are former X Division champs and Shelly’s a relative newcomer to TNA, but he’s got a fanbase due to his work in the Ring of Honor promotion. Sabin and Williams have actually feuded for the X Title in the past, but this is once again going to be nothing but a showcase of the X-Division style.
The Match: Williams is out to the ring first with his swank Canada jersey, followed by Shelley and Sabin. West mentions that Shelley’s style isn’t all about being a high flyer as he actually tends to ground his opponents and confuse them with his unique style.
Petey and Shelley agree to team up on Sabin, only for Petey to rush in alone and Sabin catches him with a right hand. Shelley takes Sabin down hard and puts him in a convoluted submission hold, allowing Petey to gain his revenge and dropkick Shelley off. Williams sings OH Canada while on Sabin’s prone body, but it turns into a series of 3 way pinfall attempts and roll ups. Sabin springboards onto Petey Williams, sending him to the outside and gets on the apron, but gets cut off by Shelley. Shelley hits a suicide dive between Sabin’s legs and crashes onto Williams on the outside! Sabin hits an ASAI moonsault and his shins EAT the guardrail in what had to be a painful spot! We head to a commercial during the match…which always bothers me during taped shows. It’s not live…so don’t go to break there!!!
We come back to the match as Williams gets a 2 count with a DDT. The crowd starts the dueling chants for the first time (Lets go Petey, Lets go Sabin) as Shelley has Sabin under control and the heels finally start working together. Shelley wraps his legs around Sabin’s head and …rams Sabin’s head into the mat repeatedly in a move so odd looking that the fans get on Shelley for what seemed to be a “gay” move. Shelley then plays along and poses for the crowd and gets back on their good side with it.
They double suplex Sabin…and get up at the same time colliding heads in what looks to be one of the most idiotic spots I’ve ever seen. It could have seriously killed this match and shouldn’t have been done. Petey and Shelley start battling each other allowing Sabin to nail them both with a double dropkick. Sabin gets the two heels to nail each other a few times accidentally and goes for the Cradle Shock on Shelley, but Shelley gets out of it. He hits a brainbuster for a two count and Williams sees the opening and connects with his tilt a whirl into a side Russian leg sweep maneuver. He signals for the Canadian Destroyer (which gets a pop), but Sabin catches Williams and hits a running powerbomb. Shelley gets the advantage, but only momentarily as Sabin hits the Cradle Shock and gets the three count.
Williams nails Sabin from behind…CANADIAN DESTROYER~! The crowd goes nuts, as does the audience at home most assuredly as that finisher is just visually impressive.
Winner: Chris Sabin
My Opinion: The match was once again, tailor made for TV and if they had more time, this match would have been great. All 3 guys showed some impressive offense, but you just KNEW that TNA wouldn’t pass up the chance to show the Canadian Destroyer on free TV. Sabin going over on Shelley was the right move as Williams is one of the X-Division’s better heels right now and shouldn’t job on TV just yet. Sabin was outnumbered, but the heels weren’t exactly on the same page the entire time, so the match had an interesting dynamic and was definitely much more fast paced than any recent 3 way match on WWE TV lately. **1/4
Shane Douglas is talking with Zbyszko, but gets interrupted by the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Tito Ortiz, who’s there to talk to some business. It’s pretty ironic that Spike is using UFC to lead into TNA while TNA is using a star that UFC wants nothing to do with right now.
A “TNA Home Video” promo airs, focusing on the “Best of AJ”, “Best of Jeff Hardy”, “Best of Raven” and the “Best of the X Division” which is now going to be sold in stores apparently.
A video focusing on 3 Live Kru (Konnan, B.G. James and Ron “The Truth” Killings is shown next. 3LK can be entertaining as a whole, but the workhorse of the team is definitely The Truth, but sadly, the former 2 time NWA Champ isn’t anywhere near the title picture right now.
It’s announced that 3LK will take on Team Canada next week on the next IMPACT show.
Rhino vs. Jeff Hardy
Match Background: …These two guys have “name recognition” from being on WWE TV in the past few years and therefore, that’s the match!
The Match: Even Rhino gets pyro (probably for the first time EVER~) as he runs to the ring and Hardy gets audible boos from the men in the crowd as he appears. The girls in the crowd overtake the boos, but believe me…they’re there.
Rhino attacks before the bell as Tenay hypes up Monster’s Ball 2 at Bound for Glory. It’s basically a No DQ match with Hardy, Rhino, Abyss and Sabu at the PPV. Hardy takes Rhino down and hits some of his signature offense but Rhino just NAILS Hardy with a spinebuster for a two count. The young kids in the crowd chant for Hardy as the men chant for Rhino…but Rhino misses a shitty headbutt from the second rope. The front row chants “Don’t Get Up” at Hardy, which cracks me up, but unfortunately, he does and goes back to work on Rhino. Rhino counters with a belly to belly suplex and looks for the GORE, but of course, Hardy moves out of the way and hits the Twist of Fate to audible boos. He looks for the Swanton, but Abyss comes to the ring (with James Mitchell) and tosses Hardy off the top for the DQ. Hardy nails Abyss a few times, but Rhino helps out and they look to doubleteam him for a moment, but the lights go out and SABU shows up and takes out both Abyss and Rhino with chair tosses. Sabu and Hardy leap to the outside onto the heels and celebrate in the ring.
Winner: Hardy by DQ
My Opinion: After not seeing Jeff Hardy for quite a while…I can honestly say that I haven’t missed him one bit. His offense, while “unorthodox” to some, is completely stale to me since it’s the same stuff all the time. Rhino didn’t add much to the table aside from some intensity and a few hard slams, but then again, we never expected a 5 star classic from either of these two. Let’s be frank. The match was used to showcase two former WWE “stars” and hype up Monster’s Ball 2. Not a bad way to do it, although these aren’t the guys that should be in the upper tier at all. *1/4
The “Controversy in Canada” airs and footage from Jeff Jarrett’s NWA Title win at Border City Wrestling is shown as America’s Most Wanted turns heel for the first time and costs Raven the title. AMW and Jarrett celebrate in the back and it’s revealed that they had some help from the booker/promoter of the event, Coach Scott D’Amore: Team Canada’s manager.
JJ comes to the ring with AMW, who look pretty badass in suits, for your obligatory interview segment for the show. JJ must feel pretty damn proud in all honesty as he took his small startup and actually got it on national TV and a finance company that believes his BS enough to invest MILLIONS of dollars into it. JJ compliments AMW and brings D’Amore into the ring to give him some props for his role in JJ’s title victory. D’Amore reminds JJ that he owes him one and they hug, but they’re interrupted by 3LK who come out onto the entrance ramp. Konnan gets on the mic and a few seconds later, they’re all brawling the ring. Team Canada comes out to give the heels the advantage…but the DUDLEY BOYS…Errr…TEAM 3D come out to a huge pop and come charging in! Brother Ray and Brother Devon, as they are now known, come in and clean house on AMW and JJ as Team Canada has mysterious disappeared. They 3D AMW and look to get Jarrett, but he’s able to escape and bails out of the ring…
But then Kevin Nash appears from behind and Jarrett runs back into the ring to get the WHAZZUP headbutt. Nash comes into the ring and hits the Jackknife powerbomb. The crowd chants TNA as Nash announces he’s getting the title shot at BFG. Devon gets on the mic and challenge AMW to a match next week on IMPACT as the show comes to a close.
Overall: This show had both its positives and the negatives. The negatives are that Hardy and Rhino aren’t exactly top tier guys and really shouldn’t be presented as such, but they’re not in the title picture (yet), so I didn’t mind it as much. The matches were short and rushed and it seemed like they tried to cram too much into a 1 hour show. I understand why they did it, so I won’t hold it against them too much. Also, Jarrett and Nash on top isn’t doing them any favors either, especially when they’re trying to come across like the alternative, not WWE or WCW lite. The backstage segments weren’t great either and Larry Z needs to get off my TV now.
The positives are the X-Division and the way that was presented, with the exception of the stupid stupid STUPID headbutt spot in the 3 way. AJ and Monty were showcased well and are clear future stars. I’m sure next week, we’ll have a few more squashes from Samoa Joe and possibly Chris Daniels. The show was very fast paced and it did a good job of keeping my interest, even if the people in the ring weren’t lighting up the crowd. The crowd itself was hot the entire night, which always helps the atmosphere of the show and it really came across well on TV. Team 3D debuting on the first show was a nice surprise and the fact that they’re building towards the next show is a good mentality to have when you only have an hour to work with. The production values have improved VASTLY and that’s exactly what they needed to do the moment they went national.
Right now, I’ve just got to say that I’m proud of this promotion that pretty much was declared DOA before it began and is now starting to build some steam, albeit slowly, on a national level.
Tune in next week for another IMPACT and another Dames’ Diatribe…
“The Dames” Damian Gonzalez
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