TNA Impact! - January 4, 2010
-This is a special LIVE edition of Impact, running directly against Raw. Tonight will feature Hulk Hogan’s Impact Zone debut, some big women’s matches, and promises of surprise debuts and developments. Somewhere in there, we might see some TNA homegrown talent too, but don’t hold your breath!
-Our hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz. They’re broadcasting from Orlando, FL.
-Bubba the Love Sponge is outside the studio interviewing the fans. This is dreadful. One guy doesn’t want “kid stuff” he wants Hogan. Wha? A woman wants sexy wrestling. Another guy wants wrestling to change, and Vince had better watch out. And more of the same. One guy actually has the TNA logo tattooed on his arm, you gotta believe he’ll regret that decision some day.
Steel Asylum match:
Alex Shelley vs. Chris Sabin vs. Homicide vs. Kiyoshi vs. Jay Lethal vs. Consequences Creed vs. Suicide vs. The Amazing Red
Red is the X Champion, but the title isn’t on the line. The winner is the first participant to escape through a small hole in the top of the cage. The bell rings and the action is every where. Lethal Consequences don’t waste time using their teamwork to gain an advantage. Lethal and Shelley race to the top but get thwarted. Suicide and Red duke it out in the ring. Everyone takes a turn hitting a finisher to get the crowd going. Suicide throws Red into a Sabin hurricarana. Suddenly Homicide pulls out a baton and cleans house... bringing on a DQ at 4:04. Unbelievable. This is TNA’s first big shot at WWE and they open their show, hyping “real wrestling” with a DQ IN A CAGE MATCH! The crowd chants “This is bullshit” and I couldn’t agree more. This is a sad way to kick off the show.
-Homicide tries climbing out the top of the cage, but can’t make it. This is truly embarrassing. The other X guys get up to pull Homicide down and salvage the segment. Everyone brawls as some music we haven’t heard in a few years plays. It’s JEFF HARDY! Hardy comes through the crowd, sporting a kick-ass Tool shirt, and brawls with Homicide! Hardy leaves Homicide down and out with a Twist of Fate on the ramp! Hardy perches on the top of the cage as the crowd goes nuts. Hardy’s return is an awesome moment, it almost makes me forget how pitiful this entire segment was otherwise.
-After a break, we see Jeff Hardy meeting up with his buddy, Shannon Moore, in the backstage area. So, does this mean Moore is on the roster?
-We see footage of Hulk Hogan’s limo, complete with a MOTORCADE, on the way to the Impact Zone. This is so hilariously typical, and feels very WCW.
-Christy Hemme interviews an “excited” Kevin Nash, who honestly couldn’t look more bored to be there. Nash is looking forward to seeing his old friend and says that Hulk was his first real mentor in wrestling. Nash mentions that he just spoke to Hogan on the phone, and he’s not coming alone.
Tara © vs. ODB
ODB should come as a shock to anyone who is used to an unhealthy diet of divas matches. ODB jumps Tara as she’s removing her shirt and wipes her nether regions with it. Tara fights back, grounding her challenger with a clothesline. Enziguri by Tara! Standing moonsault gets 2 for Tara. ODB gets stretched in the ropes and eats a springboard leg drop. The trade counters but ODB pulls the tights in a roll-up to win the match at 2:24. They switch camera shots just in time to avoid seeing Tara’s bare bottom, which is just so edgy of this company, eh? Too bad this match wasn’t very good.
Winner and new Knockouts Champion: ODB
-Tara lays out ODB and poses with her tarantula.
-A limousine pulls up to the studio and out walks RIC FLAIR! Talk about surreal, I have to admit I love the “anything can happen” atmosphere they’ve established thus far.
-We are treated to some footage from earlier, when Christy Hemme was interviewing fans outside the building. She takes a moment to speak to an arriving Mick Foley. Christy is confused because Foley was barred from the show tonight. Foley has a message for Dixie Carter and Hulk Hogan and that he doesn’t plan to be disruptive and will be on his best behavior. You know what that means...
-”The Boss” Bobby Lashley and his wife, Kristal, make their way to the ring for an interview. TNA is showing better judgment than WWE in that they have given Lashley a mouthpiece and guaranteeing we’ll never hear him call anyone a “bathterd” again. Kristal basically turns Lashley heel by saying that wrestling fans are animals, unlike MMA fans. She announces that Lashley is asking for his TNA release because he has “better things to do.” The crowd was nice enough to provide some good heat to an otherwise uninspiring segment.
-We are treated to the Beautiful People setting up a strip poker game in the backstage area. Nice, they cut away from Tara’s bare ass, but now they’re teasing nudity from this angle? But I digress, the segment is pretty humorous in that none of the Beautiful People actually know how to play the game.
-Oh joy, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman are threatening their way into the Impact Zone.
-Mike Tenay announces that TNA is the number one trending topic on Twitter right now. That’s actually pretty cool.
-Hogan’s limo, and motorcade, are almost there! After a commercial, we see someone getting out of a second limo and entering Hogan’s. Oooooh, intrigue.
-Hall and Waltman strut into the studio. Hall looks like he’s about to pass out. They take about a half dozen commercial breaks during this stretch too, I’m grateful for my fast-forward button.
-With about four minutes until Raw would go on the air, Hulk Hogan makes his way out to the Impact Zone! He’s entering to faux nWo music too, which is just amusing for all the wrong reasons. The fans are going nuts for this. Hogan greets the “TNA maniacs” and hypes this historic evening. Well, he’s right about the “maniacs” part. He puts over all the young guys in the back (very few of whom we’ve actually seen during this first hour) and expresses his excitement in being there. Waltman and Hall jump the guard rail and Hogan tells security to let them in the ring. Hall says he and Pac are there to party, but Hogan says it’s a different time and place. Hogan says it’s time for all of them to grow up and do the right thing for the business. Hall says things will change with or without Hogan. This lures out Kevin Nash, who accuses Hogan of turning corporate. The rising tension brings out Eric Bischoff! Bischoff thinks what we have here is failure to communicate and informs the gatecrashers that everyone must earn their position in TNA. Nash suspiciously takes this in stride and departs with Waltman and Hall. Bischoff and Hogan promise change and they are starting by shuffling the remainder of tonight’s broadcast. The camera reveals that Sting has been watching all of this from the rafters. They crammed a lot into this segment. If the follow-up to this is good, then I’ll be satisfied.
Knockouts Tag Team Championship:
Sarita and Taylor Wilde © vs. Awesome Kong and Hamada
Hamada ties up with Sarita to kick things off. Taylor tags and leaps in with a big arm drag. Hamada works the arm. We see footage from out back, where the Motor City Machine Guns have been knocked out cold. Back to the match, Kong is decimating both Wilde and Sarita. Taylor botches a kick to Hamada and but knocks Kong off her feet with help from Sarita. Sarita and Wilde dive to the floor on the challengers! That was pretty cool, but it’s time for a commercial. After the break, Hamada is working over Wilde. Kong tags in but Wilde delivers a badly executed Codebreaker. Sarita gets a hot tag but runs into Hamada’s boot. They catch Sarita in mid-air, and she botches an arm drag on Hamada. Things heat up with Wilde saving Sarita from a splash from Kong and the crowd is politely chanting “This is awesome.” Hamada leaves Wilde knocked out at ringside and assists an Awesome Bomb for the pin on Sarita at 5:37 (shown). This was rushed, sloppy, and highly disappointing.
Winners and new Knockouts Tag Team Champions: Awesome Kong and Hamada
-The Beautiful People are still playing strip poker when they are suddenly joined by the man formerly known as Val Venis. Val invites himself to the game, talking his way in by pointing out he’s only wearing a towel so the ladies would have the advantage. The women accept his offer. This was actually pretty funny.
-Mick Foley is still arguing with security. They give in and let him in if he won’t tell anyone who let them in... too bad this is live TV, eh? Things seem to be going downhill, because now the Nasty Boys want in.
Raven and Dr. Stevie (with Daffney) vs. Matt Morgan and Hernandez
The winner gets a tag title shot at Genesis. Raven starts off against Hernandez and they trade shots. Stevie tags in and gets some blows in on a fresh Morgan. Carbon foot print by Morgan ends it at 0:39. So that’s what Raven and Richards have been reduced to already? Ugh.
Winners: Matt Morgan and Hernandez
-Christy Hemme interviews Pope D’Angelo Dinero. He isn’t surprised that Hogan asked him to perform tonight. Pope keeps putting himself over until we’re interrupted by... Orlando Jordan? Really? Jordan butters up the Pope and claims he was invited by Hogan. Pope is offended that his interview time is interrupted. Jordan is sure Hogan will like the Pope since he and Jordan are so much alike. Except Pope has talent.
Desmond Wolfe vs. Pope D’Angelo Dinero
This is played up as a battle between two of TNA’s best talent acquisitions from 2009. Wolfe goes to work on Dinero’s arm. Dinero speeds things up with quick attacks. Wolfe hits a hammerlock takedown to resume the arm work. Wild sunset flip by Dinero, but Wolfe blocks. Wolfe wrenches the arm back but misses a running uppercut. Dinero drops a fancy elbow, but Wolfe retakes control as the crowd chants “This is wrestling.” Tower of London is blocked, and Dinero delivers a small package for the win at 2:38. Both men are really talented, so this was a pleasure to watch. It’s too bad they couldn’t put Wolfe in a winning match on this evening though.
Winner: Pope D’Angelo Dinero
-Bubba the Love Sponge has discovered that someone has taken out Rhino. Well, that stinks.
-Jeff Jarrett is on his way to the ring.
-Jeremy Borash interviews TNA Champion AJ Styles. AJ reminds us that he’s been here for seven years, and this is the most electric night so far. Styles feels he still has a lot to prove and he’s eager to beat Kurt Angle at Genesis. Eric Bischoff waltzes in and introduces himself. He makes Styles vs. Angle for tonight!
-Jeff Jarrett comes down to the ring to a “welcome back” chant. Jeff reminds us that he founded TNA, which earns him a “thank you, Jeff” chant. Jeff blasts the critics who said TNA wouldn’t last six weeks, let alone over seven years and he’s proud to be standing in a TNA ring on a Monday night! He gives himself credit for giving hundreds of young guys a chance. Jeff says the best is yet to come. Hogan shows up on the screen and rips Jeff a new one, saying he had actually run the company into the ground. If it weren’t for Dixie Carter making the save, this company would have been finished. Worked shoot FTW! Hogan promises to give the young guys a real chance now and that nobody cares about Jeff. Hogan says that Jeff has no power anymore and he’s got to earn his spot just like everyone else. Jeff doesn’t look pleased.
-Christy Hemme is standing by with Christopher Daniels. Daniels isn’t worried about his spot, but is irritated when Jeremy Borash interrupts. Foley storms in and demands Hogan.
-Jeff Hardy is, get this, painting on a canvas in the locker room. Moore is watching. This is kind of unsettling. They have something to do and head out.
Abyss vs. Samoa Joe
Joe aggressively jabs in the early going. Jumping kick by Joe as the crowd chants “Joe’s gonna kill you.” Joe hits the face wash but runs into a big boot. They brawl at ringside. Joe takes control as the match heads back to the ring. Senton back splash by Joe gets 2. Joe blocks a chokeslam but eats a clothesline. Side slam by Abyss gets 2. Flying thrust kick by Joe! Abyss hits a chokeslam but only gets 2.5. Joe connects with a blind chair shot and finishes things with the Rear Naked Choke at 4:50. Pretty decent outing. I’m glad to see that Joe is in better shape than the last time I watched.
Winner: Samoa Joe
-Eric Bischoff is still editing the script to tonight’s show. Kristal Lashley storms in and wants a reaction to the demand for his husband’s release. Kristal wants a meeting with Hogan, so Bischoff tells her to get in line. Kristal warns that Lashley won’t be happy and storms off.
-Bubba the Love Sponge has found Beer Money down and out. Great way to introduce this team to a new audience, eh?
-Security is trying to get rid of the Nasty Boys, so they’re my new heroes for the night, but Bubba the Love Sponge vouches for them.
-Jeremy Borash interviews Kurt Angle in regards to his big title match against AJ Styles tonight. Angle reminds us that even though Styles won the title from him, it wasn’t in a one on one match. Styles is great, but he’s not the greatest. Angle is ready to reclaim his belt tonight, it’s damn real you know.
-Hardy and Moore are in the parking lot when a group of screaming teenage girls rush Hardy. He gives them his painting and they run off squealing. They hop into a car and take off.
-The Nasty Boys have discovered Team 3D’s locker room. Team 3D are in Japan, so it’s empty. The Nasty’s have themselves a field day trashing the room. I’m about as excited for this feud as you are.
TNA World Championship:
AJ Styles © vs. Kurt Angle
Styles locks the head and holds on through a back suplex. Styles delivers a dive to the floor! The hot start is ruined when a masked man runs in and attacks AJ. Angle dumps him from the ring and helps AJ back to his feet. They pick up where they left off with a lightning quick exchange, capped off with Angle powerbombing Styles into the turnbuckles! Commercial! Afterwards, Angle delivers a big suplex. After ten seconds of action, it’s time for ANOTHER commercial. The match has been going on for almost ten minutes when we come back, though we’ve only seen about three minutes of it. Styles is fighting back and drops Angle neck-first onto his knee! That looked painful. They start busting out the big moves and the near falls. Angle misses a frog splash but connects on a second try. The crowd chants “Who needs Bret?” Ankle lock attempt by Angle, but it’s countered. Styles eats another suplex for 2. Inverted DDT by AJ isn’t enough. Superplex attempt by Angle becomes a top rope Olympic Slam! Styles kicks out! Styles reverses the ankle lock and hits an enziguri. Second Styles Clash isn’t enough! Angle reverses another Clash into an ankle lock. Ric Flair appears on the stage! Springboard 450 splash by AJ! We head to commercial again, but Tenay says the show will stay on the air until we have a winner. Post-break, Angle is working a triangle choke. They deliver a series of counters, Flair departs, and Styles nails another Clash. Styles hits another springboard splash for the win at 15:10 (shown). Well, if that was going to be the finish, why didn’t it just end before that last commercial? It would seem that this was a fantastic match, except we missed far too much of it due to advertisements. I think it was a **** affair, but I guess I’ll never know for sure.
Winner and still TNA World Champion: AJ Styles
-Angle and Styles shake hands and embrace in the ring. They made the right call on having a clean finish for this new audience. Hulk Hogan comes out to the stage to talk some more. Hogan calls Styles and Angle the two greatest wrestlers in the business today. Security runs in and whispers something in Hogan’s ear and he rushes off.
-Backstage, Foley wanders into the strip poker game. Foley asks Venis where Hogan is, as if he’d know. Venis tells Foley to head “down the hall and to the left.” Foley storms into Hogan’s office, where Eric Bischoff is lurking. Bischoff tells Foley he has no power anymore and that he’s got to earn his spot (pretty much what he said to Jarrett earlier). Foley says he promised himself he’d never work for Bischoff again. Foley gets violent, but Nash, Waltman, and Hall storm in and lay a beating on him. Hogan storms in and the expression on his face leaves us wondering if he approves of this or not. Wow, a cliffhanger!
Final Thoughts: I’ll start with the pros. The show had a fantastic feeling of “anything can happen.” Seriously, it got to the point late in the show where I believed that just about anyone not signed with WWE could show up in Orlando. Kudos to TNA for creating that atmosphere, as it has been a long time since I felt that way watching any wrestling show. I’d like to give credit to Style and Angle for pulling out all the stops to have a great main event, but their match was robbed for time by three commercial breaks, two of which were only seconds apart. The cons are more general, as TNA needs to straighten out their production and timing, as the commercials throughout the entire show really hurt it. Also, some of the booking decisions were questionable, such as a GODDAMN DQ IN A FUCKING CAGE MATCH. I apologize for that outburst... but it sucked. The good news is that I’m actually curious to see where things go from here, so if I can avoid the spoilers, I’ll probably be watching next week.
A conditional thumbs in the middle, with the potential to be leaning up.