TNA Joker’s Wild quick & easy PPV review.

Hey all. While I’m usually Scott’s trade paperback reviewer,
I ordered this PPV and watched it on Friday. And since no one else here seems
to be reviewing it I figured I’d share my opinion since its replaying throughout
the month in case any of the readers here were on the fence on whether to order
it.

 
First things first, I am going to tell you upfront that I am not going
to write hold for hold play by play recaps or match times or star ratings; but
I will give you the basic story of the match and what I did or didn’t enjoy
about it.

I’m preface by saying I’m not a die-hard TNA fan: to witness
way back when I only ordered five of their weekly PPV’s, I own maybe 10 of
their DVDs total and Lockdown this year was the first TNA 3-hour PPV I ever
ordered. That said I love what they’ve been doing for the past year or so on
their weekly television show thus now they are starting to get my money more
often.

Also I loved the idea of Lethal Lottery when WCW introduced
it. I ordered all of those PPVs from Starrcade 91 & 92 to the standalone
one that almost no one ordered in 93 to the Slamboree remix in 96. So when I
heard TNA was reintroducing the concept and based on the quality of their
recent weekly TV offerings I bit.

Right off the bat TNA has actually improved the concept by
doing away with WCW’s goofy two-ring battle royal for the second round and
replacing it was a Gauntlet (i.e. Royal Rumble) instead. Not only is this a
better match type in a vacuum but it compliments the concept far better because
now the wrestlers have random chance in who their partners are in round 1 and
then random chance again in what order they enter the Rumble in round 2. So
without further ado we’ve got six tag matches followed by the 12-man Rumble to
review here, and that’s the whole show.

 
Match 1 – James Storm
& Christian York vs. Crimson & Gunner
. I didn’t even know Crimson
& Gunner were still in the company (and to be honest I haven’t missed them
since they fell off TV) but this was a perfectly acceptable opening match. You
don’t want to blow through the wackiness of the random tag gimmick all at once
so here were have two babyfaces versus two heels and yet the babyfaces are
still a little mismatched since Storm is a main-eventer and York is barely above jobber level. Match is
standard tag formula, which is fine: I feel about tag formula much the same way
Scott does. This goes how you’d expect: babies control the beginning, as the
weak link of the team York
takes the heat, and then hot tag to Storm. Faces hit two nice double teams (slingshot
into a DDT, and codebreaker spiked by a top rope double stomp) and then Storm
finishes with the superkick. Overall perfectly acceptable wrestling, especially
since I find the babyfaces to be likeable and able fit into the roles they are
presented in—particularly Storm, whom after he upset Angle for the belt last
year got me to buy in completely as someone who could be a top-level carry-the-company
star.

 

Match 2 – Ken
Anderson & Mr. Pectacular vs. Doug Williams & Kid Kash.
Williams is
another one who hasn’t been on TV in forever but he’s a solid technical
wrestler that I have no problem seeing again. Indeed there isn’t anyone in this
match who I don’t enjoy on at least some level. Technically this is four heels
but Anderson & Jesse Pectacular become the defacto faces. Early part of the
match sees Jesse annoying Anderson
by insisting on quick tags and not pulling his weight on the team. Eventually
the heels get heat on Jesse. Jesse makes the hot tag but then tags himself back
in before Anderson
can finish. Anderson has enough and Mic Check’s
Jesse but is then school-boyed by Kash in what in WWE would certainly be the
finish but Anderson
is able to reverse into a small package to put Jesse and him into the gauntlet.
This was a fun match with Anderson & Pectacular playing off each other’s
characters just right, which is the point of this PPV gimmick: having the
wrestlers play their characters in unusual interactions.

 

Match 3 – Rob Van Dam
& Chavo Guerrero vs. Chris Daniels & Samoa
Joe.
Daniels is technically the only heel here, but while Tenay brings up
the Daniels & Joe rivalry from the past and whether they can co-exist,
there is never any friction between the two in the match—which is fine Joe’s
character is business like enough to not be distracted by teaming up with a
heel from getting the job done. Unfortunately the only wrestler here who
doesn’t bore the hell out of me is RVD; and Chavo is the one who takes the heat
(if taken extended chinlocks from both men counts as heat), so it felt like
6,000 years before we got to the hot tag. RVD livens things up with his usual
flippy offense. For the finish they tease a double frog splash by RVD and
Chavo, which could have made this all worthwhile but alas Daniels knocks Chavo
off to the floor giving Joe time to pluck RVD off the top into the muscle buster
for the pin. This was boring and a step down from the first two tag matches.

 

Match 4 – Joseph Park
& Bobby Roode vs. Robbie E & Zema Ion.
Here we have Park as the
only babyface but that’s fine as he is more than capable of playing his
character in any situation and keeping the crowd behind him. The heels compare hair
care tips to start in a funny bit, as is Roode’s reaction when Park’s name is
drawn as his partner. At first Roode doesn’t want to tag Park in at all but he
eventually he warms to the idea. Park ends up taking the heat. Park however
makes his own comeback rather than hot-tagging Roode, which is brilliant
booking actually since it keeps Roode heel and Park is such a sympathetic babyface
the crowd would have popped for a tag to Roode just because it benefits Park. During
his comeback Park is busted open at which point he
flips into psycho mode and destroys the heels. He snaps back into reality
unaware of what happened at which point Roode tags himself in to steal the pin.
Fun match! I admit I totally love Park’s shtick and this match made me happy.

 

Match 5 – Hernandez
& Alex Silva vs. D-Von & DOC.
If you’re like me you said “who?”
when Alex Silva’s name was announced. He’s some Gut Check kid, and a skinny
unmemorable one at that. On the one hand it’s nice to see some of the Gut Check
winners on TV, since I liked the concept in the beginning until it became clear
it means nothing since the winners never wrestle on TV. Seriously there’s been
like 8 or 9 winners so far and the only one on TV regularly is York, and then even he is barely above a
jobber. (There’s also Joey Ryan, but he technically lost Gut Check which makes
the other 8 winners not being on TV render the concept even more absurd.) And
while some of them like this guy don’t seem to have much upside so far, the
last two: Barbarian’s daughter and the dude with “Boomstick” on his arm both
seemed more or less TV ready to me in their tryout matches, heck even the punk
rock Spud guy had some personality. If you are going to run this gimmick and make a big deal of signing these guys to contracts then sooner or later some of them have to make an Impact (see what I did there?)

Anyway end of side rant, back to this match
where we have a clear face-heel alignment division. However this is a boring match. While Hernandez is more
interesting when he’s not teaming with Chavo, the Aces & Eights guys are
still dull in the ring. Not sure what happened to Doc, because I thought he was
good as Luke Gallows but he’s been nothing but a snoozefest here in TNA. Match
goes as you’d expect with Gut Check dude’s inexperience causing him to both
take the heat and later take the pinfall. 
Tenay and Tazz play up the Aces & Eights have three of the 12 spots
in the Rumble later.
 

Match 6 Rob Terry & Matt Morgan vs. Joey Ryan
& Al Snow
. And for the final tag match we get the full monty of the
Lethal Lottery tag gimmick. Before the drawing Ryan & Morgan cut a promo
together to remind us of their being a team and then of course they are forced
to be on opposite sides. Then Ryan is further forced to team with his arch
enemy Al Snow. Terry meanwhile is just playing the straight man as the babyface
who just wants to win the match and get on with the Rumble. This match is
really the Joey Ryan show, which again is fine since say what you want about
his in-ring skills but the dude knows how to play his character making this
only match worthy of semi-play by play.

Match starts with Ryan trying to walk out but Snow goes
after him and tosses him back in the ring. Snow tries to attack Ryan but Morgan
makes the save and we go right into a heat on Snow with the added benefit of
Ryan jumping off the apron whenever Snow tries to tag out. Eventually Snow is
able tag when Ryan is busy jawing with a fan and has his back turned. Terry
decimates Ryan with ease but then Morgan turns on Terry to save Ryan and even
sets up Ryan to use a schoolboy pin on Terry that fails to get the job done.
Ryan tags Snow in who then tries to strike an alliance with Terry where Snow
will fight Morgan while Terry fights Ryan but Terry just stares at Snow
fighting Morgan on the apron instead. Eventually both babyfaces tag in both
heels and the faces jump off the apron so we finally get Ryan vs. Morgan. They
debate who should lie down for who before Ryan tries to sucker punch Morgan. He
literally punches himself out into exhaustion with Morgan not selling any of it
in a funny spot and the carbon footprint puts Morgan and Terry into the Rumble.

Not a perfect match primarily because Morgan & Terry’s
offense is both kind of dull especially for big men: there was a hell of a lot
of chinlocks and nerve pinches instead of power moves here. But Ryan’s
character work was gold throughout, and the other three played their roles well
too.

 
12 man Gauntlet: I
didn’t time it but it felt like full 2-minute intervals. James Storm is #1 and
Bobby Roode is #2 so we get the ex-Beer Money throw down you’d expect. D-Von is
#3 and he forms an alliance with Roode to beat on Storm, then right before the
buzzer goes off for #4 D-Von turns on Roode. That’s because #4 is Doc and we
get Aces vs. Beer Money which ends with Beer Money using some double team moves
to eliminate Doc.

Mr. Pectacular is #5 and he just gets chopped a lot as
nothing really happens. #6 is Christian York and nothing of note happens.
Joseph Park is #7 and he tries to realign with Bobby Roode based on the teaming
earlier in the night but Roode suckers him and we’re back to nothing happening.
Ken Anderson is #8 and Pectacular makes the same mistake Park just did with
Roode, which leads to Park eliminating Pectacular.

Chris Daniels is #9 and he doesn’t really do anything. Samoa
Joe is #10 and the ring is getting too crowded at this point. Rob Terry is #11.
Terry clotheslines everyone in the ring and then eliminates York, Daniels and
Anderson in succession.

Matt Morgan is #12 and he’s about to square off with Terry
when Park and D-Von break it up. Alas this leads to Morgan eliminating Park. Morgan
tosses Joe next; then low-blows Terry from behind while Terry is fighting D-Von
and tosses Terry out too.

Final Four: James Storm, Bobby Roode, D-Von and Matt Morgan.
Storm avoids the carbon footprint causing Morgan to crotch himself and then
hits the flying forearm to eliminate Morgan. Knux interferes by tossing Roode
over the second rope and then he and D-Von double team Storm. However heel
miscommunication leads to D-Von’s elimination. Storm celebrates only to be
tossed by Roode; however Storm skins the cat and when Roode turns around he
takes the Last Call Superkick over the top to give the Storm the win.

Overall it bogged down a bit in the middle but the final
four sequence was very good. Plus as I said at the top I buy into Storm as a
tippy-top baby face so I’m all for him emerging as the big winner on a PPV.
Storm reconfirms my view of him with a crowd pleasing post-match promo as well.

 
Final Thoughts: Look
if you are the type smart fan who wants every match to be an hour long
technical wrestling exhibition then this is not the show for you. If I was to
do star ratings the tag matches all range from 1 to 3 stars and the higher rated matches are for the entertainment value by guys
like Pectacular, Park and Ryan and not the actual ring work. The best pure ring
work was probably the opener since it used standard tag formula.

However, if like me you can enjoy the entertainment aspect of
pro wrestling then this is a fun show that delivers exactly what the gimmick
promised. I watched this Friday night after a long wearying work week and it entertained
me just fine for three hours. And at $15 it costs less than half a tank of gas
making it an easy recommendation. Let’s call it a B- overall.
Afterwards TNA advertised Hardcore Justice 2 as the next $15
PPV for July. The ad promises a Dudley Boys tag team reunion, Joseph Park in a
hardcore match, ODB back in the ring plus some unfamiliar faces like Shark Boy,
Hardcore Holly and James Mitchell showing up for One Night Only so that one is
guaranteed to get my money already.