Tryout: Dan Selby on TNA

TNA Impact Wrestling Review First off, I just wanted to quickly introduce myself and explain my review system. My name is Dan Selby and I’d like to thank Inside Pulse and Scott Keith for this opportunity. Secondly, here’s how I’ll be doing these reviews. Each match/segment will be scored with a positive (+), a negative (-), or a neutral (N). These will then be calculated to give a fair overall rating for the show. Impact kicks off with it’s usual opening package highlighting the main storylines going in to Bound for Glory. I have to say, I don’t get the impression this is a ‘big’ Pay-Per-View. It doesn’t have that big fight feel to it. It doesn’t help that the bout that’s been built up for a year has a largely unknown MMA fighter injected in to it (Roode summed it up best with “I don’t give a damn about some Bellator fighter!”). Either way, it looks like a poor man’s Brock, or a rehash of Austin/HBK/Tyson. But, from a business perspective, it’s cross-promotion, so… Our other main angle featured is the Aces & Eights blow-off: Who will partner The Icon? Bully Ray, apparently. I’m happy to eat my words, but this is set up for a pretty obvious turn, in my eyes. I just feel TNA has lost momentum over the past month, after they were absolutely on fire. But they have tonight to change some opinions for this viewer, as this is the last show before Bound for Glory. So tonight it will be Storm/Aries, and Roode/Hardy. Logical booking, and at least makes a change from WWE’s “tonight’s main event, is gonna’ be a Tag Team Match, playa’!” (and yes, that script still loosely applies whether it’s Booker, AJ, anyone..). It’s a stark reminder that TNA has the more talented roster right now, something which I can’t remember happening for some time/ever. James Storm Vs. Austin Aries Aries is still getting a predominantly face reaction, with a smattering of boo’s. I figure they’ll end up (Hardy/Aries) embracing after their match after the old heel turn tease spot. Aires gets the better of Storm, as Storm then returns the favour. Aries escapes. Austin re-enters and gets the upper hand on Storm once again, begins gaining momentum until Storm stops him in his tracks with a Clothesline. Aries sells like a champ (get it? Champ? Yeh!) as he jelly-legs Storm’s right hands. Storm goes for the head of steam, but Aries moves. Storm ‘skins the cat’ (he needs to cut down on his HBKisms – he’s a great talent, but don’t sell yourself short by looking like a 2 bit Michaels) while Austin slides under him to the outside. Storm goes for the Plancha, but Aries escapes once again as The Cowboy lands on his feet. Aries then nails him with his bottom rope Plancha and they both crash in to the steel barriers. Always a cool spot. Aries with a nicel Neckbreaker over the second rope. Austin then applies a standing Chinlock as the Impact Zone rallies behind the Cowboy. A Jawbreaker turns the tables as Storm pummels Aries in to the corner, but his comeback amounts to nothing. The two exchange chops, followed by Aries nailing Storm with a second rope Dropkick to the back. Near fall. Storm fights back and is this time successful, as he backs Aries in to the corner and goes for the 10 mounted punches spot, but the champ pushes him off after 5 and suckers him back in to the corner. Aries tries 10 punches of his own, but gets pushed off by Storm after 5 (oh well, at least together they made 10, right?). Storm barely connects with a big boot and quickly transitions in to a nice Russian Legsweep. The two take a breather. Exchange of blows. The Cowboy looks to hit the Eye of the Storm (Sprinning Powerbomb), but Aries slips down and tries to toss Storm over the ropes, but he reverses. Aries then drops the throat of Storm across the top rope. Aries misses a Missile Dropkick, then goes for a Codebreaker, but Aries blocks. The two exchange holds ending with a clash of heads. But here’s Bobby Roode (I still prefer ‘Robert’) who sends Storm head first in to the ring post, and posts his body right back to Austin Aries, who was conveniently chatting to referee Earl Hebner. Big time Brainbuster spells the end for this one. Winner – Austin Aries VERDICT: Storm’s kind of frustrating. Before his leave of absence, he was the hottest act in TNA. Somewhere along the line, it’s all been derailed. You sense a slip in motivation after plans were changed (Roode keeping the belt and defending against Storm). This was a good match. Nothing ground breaking, but a good PPV quality match. + So this long-haired Briscoe is leaching on to the closest big name backstage, once again. We need a reason to care about this guy soon, please? He’s now tagging along with Kurt Angle to Bound for Glory. Consider me sold! AJ Styles isn’t so elated by the news. He questions Angle’s commitments to their tag team. AJ claims his ‘head is still in the game’ despite also being attacked by the Aces and Eights. Angle reckons The World Tag Team Champions of the World are playing him and AJ against eachother. AJ walks off. VERDICT: Fine for what it was, but I like the team of Styles/Angle, and more importantly, I like tag team wrestling. TNA back in 2009-10 had easily one of the best tag divisions in some time, but that’s all fallen apart. They’re finally rebuilding, but splitting these two won’t help. – Highlight package shows Hogan/Sting from BFG ’11, in what could only be classified as ‘a match that wasn’t as bad as it should have been’. Speaking of the devils, out come Hogan and Sting. First off, I have to say, I don’t think Hogan’s got enough credit for his role as GM. Sure, he still has some of the old Hoganisms now and then, but I credit him for not using a reharsh of the WWE GM script, consisting of hogging airtime with no benefit for anyone, and creating predictable matches. Both guys basically go over the current storyline on how they have to strike a ‘deal with the devils’. They wanted Anderson (for whatever reason), but now they got Bully. Out come Daniels and Kaz. Daniels is unhappy they chose Bully over them. Daniels nearly calls Bully a ‘son of a bitch’, but stops himself at the ‘bitch’. Kaz has a solution: Cancel the Tag Team Title match on Sunday, and tell Bully ‘thanks, but no thanks’. Also, Kaz’s final suggestion is they instead pick Kurt Angle. Out comes the Bully. He agrees Angle would have been a great choice, but this ‘isn’t going to be a wrestling match. This is going to be a fight’. The dynamics of this promo basically make Bully the face. He clearly states, though, that he does ‘not need to be friends’ with either Hulk or Sting. They share a common enemy in Aces and Eights. He proposes that in order to earn their trust tonight, they should book Daniels/Kaz against the Bully and Sting. Crowd pops hard. Hogan obliges. We have our main event for the evening! VERDICT: Good segment which served its purpose without waffling on. Bully Ray is gold, and TNA did a good job resigning him. + In other news, Wrangler Jeans now use Crash Holly’s theme. Ok! Hernandez Vs. AJ Styles You have to love Chavo’s TNA theme. Generic TNA Mexican theme, then for 4 seconds turns in to the Amazing Red’s theme, then back to generic. I genuinely do like it, just find it highly amusing. It’s speed vs. strength to open things. AJ gains momentum with a big Enziguiri style kick. But AJ can’t stop arguing with Chavo. Hernandez picks up the slack. Big Bearhug from Big Mex. AJ with a false comeback. Hernandez goes for a Powerslam, AJ slips back and ends up nailing him with probably the best standing Dropkick in the business today. He then dropkicks the big man to the outside. Plancha to not much reaction from the crowd. I guess they’d seen that in the previous match. AJ’s once again distracted by Chavo (why? I havn’t specifically been told why. I was ill last week and missed a few segments – why not show us a quick clip during Hernandez’s entrance?), which leads to him getting hit with the huge shoulder tackle by Hernandez. Cool move. And that’s all she wrote! Winner – Hernandez VERDICT: Just a TV match. Nothing great, nothing awful. N Leader of the Aces and Eights is shown in their shack. Joseph Parkes is shown behind them scoffing on some food. Poor guy can’t have eaten in weeks. The leader says picking the Bully as your partner was somewhat of a ‘surprise’, but a surprise they can overcome. VERDICT: Just the same as most of the other Aces and Eights segments, which, I was a big fan of. ‘Was’ being the key word. But, you needed an appearance from them, so there you have it. N Zema Ion comes down with a belt I can’t quite make out… I’ve seen it somewhere before, I’m sure of it. Oh yeh! The X-Division Title! He says holding the X-Division Title is ‘bittersweet’, because he has no match at BFG. He has taken out the whole X-Division. Out comes RVD. Great call. The guy needs something to do and will give that belt some purpose again. I felt they should have handed the TV Title to him, but this works. RVD said he was just talking to Hogan about him not having a match at BFG, either. Van Daminator in to the belt, in to Ion! Cool spot, havn’t seen that in a while. Ion Vs. RVD for the X-Division title at the PPV! Should be good. VERDICT: This might hopefully motivate RVD again. Plus, you have to imagine Ion will be going for it in this bout, which will surely be his final X-Division title defence. + Hogan and Sting are on tenterhooks. Bully comes in and asks if Sting’s ready. Hogan doesn’t trust Bully and tells him this. Bully basically says, in kayfabe terms, you’ve been heel for ages, and so have I, so what’s the difference? Sting has enough and tells the two that we must get on the same page. He loves Hulk, but he needs his endorsement. Hulk tells Bully he has one chance tonight. Tension is well and truly in the air of the Impact Zone… VERDICT: Bully Ray is gold. That is all. + Uhhh here’s Brooke Hogan making a bad joke about ‘Tara’ing’ her hair out. Wowzers. Here comes Tara who has a ‘media list’ stating what she should be demanding after winning the title. Brooke rips it because she isn’t champion yet. Brooke looks fake stunned after a crappy insult from Tera. Yeh, I’m not keen on this angle. VERDICT: Tara’s good, I just don’t buy this angle. Brooke’s bad, and I don’t buy any of her angles. – Here’s our main event. I guess they meant main event of hour one… World Tag Team Champions of the World Vs. Bully Ray/Sting Big time match up here. Daniels and Bully start out. Daniels gets the upper hand, but Bully changes things with a big shoulder block. A plate of chops are served, and sold like hell in turn. And again. Daniels is bouncing all over the place. Bully locks Daniels in a wristlock and asks everyone if they want Sting, and begins a Sting chant. Yeh, Bully won’t turn at BFG……… Sting bumps Kaz a few times, as Bully and Sting then hit a double team Hiptoss. Bully’s back in and ‘decks’ Kaz. Big time Side Suplex gets a 2. You can hear Daniels breathing like a mother in the corner. Get this man an asthma pump. Kaz is now in the wrong side of town as Sting is tagged once again. A Suplex gets a two. Back in comes Bully. Frequent tags. Bully then says I’ll take that Suplex and I’ll double it. Massive impact. Sting’s back in and he’s looking for a Sting Splash, but Daniels catches his breath and saves his partner by dragging him out, followed by sending Sting nuts first in to the ring post. The Tag champs then double team Sting on the outside. Bully’s waving a chair around. Some great workers in the ring here. Crowd are hot as the beatdown continues now in the ring. Daniels hits a slingshot elbow, followed by Kaz. 2 count only. Cross arm lock wears Sting down in the middle of the ring. Crowd rally behind the Icon. Kaz cuts off Sting’s comeback and tags in Daniels. Daniels announces he’s going to go up top. This always ends bad… Sting chucks him off in a Flair spot. Hot tag! Bully cleans house in a big way. Over and out with a pair of back body drops. Big Samoan Drop on Kaz, but Daniels makes the save. In comes Sting. Daniels goes to hit Sting with the belt, but Bully see’s it first and nails him with a Big Boot. Sting then moves Bully out of the way of a double axe handle. They shake hands. See, they ARE on the same page! Sting demands that Bully ‘gets the tables!’. Funny stuff. Bully gladly obliges. Crowd go nuts. Scorpion Death Drop takes out Kaz. Bully goes up to the second rope. Sting mounts Daniels up. Bully Bomb from the second rope through a table! Hebner’s a party pooper and apparently didn’t enjoy this moment as much as the rest of us, and calls for the bell. Winners: World Tag Team Champions of the World VERDICT: This was really well done. You want to get behind the team of Sting/Bully, even though I’m sure we’ll see the turn. Perhaps they shouldn’t have given away Sting wrestling on Impact, but this was a fun match either way. + Highlight package for Aries/Hardy. This would be a cool angle if it weren’t for Punk/Cena’s ongoing feud. It’s not the same, but it’s close enough to notice. Still, should be a good match. Jeff Hardy does a Jeff Hardy promo about how he’ll get what he deserves, the TNA World Title, and become the best on the planet. I can’t help but feel like this would be much better if Hardy was the heel rather than Aries (whose somewhere in between merely for the purpose of this match). Hardy had the best run of his career (creative wise) as Immortal’s Jeff Hardy (the only positive to come out of that mess of a stable). The pre-taped promos were immensely effective, and suited Hardy down to the ground. VERDICT: Jeff’s sometimes been ok on the mic since he’s cleaned up. This was just a bit of a nothing segment for me, and pains me to think how much better it could be with heel Hardy. – Al Snow/Joey Ryan package. Different way of building a match, that’s for sure. Ryan makes a valid point that BFG is in the West Coast, the origins of Joey Ryan. Expect a decent reaction. He was pretty big on the indy’s there. VERDICT: I’m not 100% invested in to this one, but like I said, I appreciate the different route they’ve taken. N Magnus interrupts Joe and makes a TV Title match for BFG. But Joe wants it tonight instead. Magnus calls that swerve ‘original’. Magnus reminds Joe that the people are meant to pay for title matches, a fact often overlooked by any writer these days. VERDICT: Magnus is improving rapidly. TNA needs to hold on to this guy, as he’s one for the future. He also seems to have garnered a lot of support backstage recently. Match should be good. + We check out Christy’s hooker boots as Gail Kim makes her entrance. God, whatever happened to Gail? The KO Division has really been the red-headed stepchild over the past year, hasn’t it? We’re now treated to Brooke Tessmacher stripping. Only shedding her jacket.. Gail Kim Vs. Miss Tessmacher Gail Kim splashes Tess in the corner early on. Tess comes back with a nice headscissors as Taz patronisingly tells her ‘well done!’. She goes for a Stink Face (ok, maybe Taz wasn’t being patronising), but Gail escapes and regains control. Gail’s looking smoking tonight. Ok, so you can tell I’m not paying a great deal of attention to this match, but neither are Taz and Tenay, who are joking about Taz’s birthday. It’s kinda funny, but it does set the tone for the KO division. Backbreaker from Kim. The crowd are kinda rallying behind Tess. Gail hits the big head of steam in the corner (the one she usually misses). Gail then begins clapping to get the crowd in to the match. Not sure whether that was meant to be mocking or what, but the crowd oblige. Tess catches the legs of Gail and catapults her in to the turnbuckle. Forearm shots in the corner followed by a big clothesline. Tess then nails her with a Legsweep in to a sitout. Cool move. She then goes up top but gets the ropes shaken by Gail. She then picks her up in a DVD position, but Tess reverses in to a crucifix pin for the 2. Huge Sitout Powerbomb by Kim. Crowd and commentators are now in to this. Gail goes for a top rope move, lands on her feet, and Tess hits her finisher for the fall. Winner: Miss Tessmacher Out comes Tara who hits the Widow’s Peak. No, Tess slides down and hits her with her finish instead. The KO champ is left standing. VERDICT: Kim’s a great wrestler, but they need to dig out some sort of character for her. Tess is alright in-ring, but you can’t help but feel like she’s reaching the top of her abilities. Match ended up gaining momentum, after match angle was strange leaving Tara lying. N Roode says Hardy is in the same shoes as him last year. Here comes Storm who is not a happy bunny. He says he knows it was him that took him out in their match tonight, and asks him to do it again face to face. The two brawl. Here comes King Mo out of absolutely nowhere and breaks things up. Because he’s the ENFORCER. VERDICT: King Mo doesn’t interest me (as mentioned above), but this was fine. N Another BFG recap of yesteryear. Hardy’s absolutely mental 25ft Swanton bump. Don’t see bumps like that anymore! He says the only reason he did it was because it was Bound for Glory. Hype package for Sting’s Hall of Fame induction. Pretty cool. Shame they can’t use the WCW footage. There’s a nice clip of a chair in the middle of the ring with Sting’s attire and bat on it. Would have meant a lot more if it was legit his retirement, but still, it’s good for packages such as these. Taz sounds even more high than usual. He’s bumbling a lot of his words. Bobby Roode Vs. Jeff Hardy This one kicks off on the outside and Jeff Hardy’s got a gut full of guard rail. Roode rolls him in and the bell sounds. Crowd solidly behind Jeff. Roode works the crowd some more. Cue Hardy comeback. Jeff hits the Hardy comeback spot (Inverted atomic drop, legdrop between the legs, kick off the ropes). Jeff then slows the pace down. Odd way to start, but different. That’s the main thing. Exchange of blows. Roode takes a Flair-esque back body drop out of the corner and gets sent to the outside. Roode goes to drag Hardy out, but Hardy pushes him in to the barriers. Yet another Plancha, this time courtesy of Hardy. More Flair tributes as Roode begs off back in the ring. Hardy doesn’t care and pummels him back in to the corner. Roode ends up coming back with a big-time Clothesline to the face of Hardy. Roode ends up tossing Hardy back to the outside. Hardy nails Roode with a winding Suplex on the floor. Back from the break, we see Hardy throw Roode in to the ring post. But something must have happened between then, because we have Hardy in the rest hold/advert break spot. Crowd chant ‘Lets Go Hardy’. Jeff Hardy with a false comeback. Roode goes up to the second rope and sizes Jeff up. Sommersault Neckbreaker gets a 2. Back to the outside again. Lots of this tonight. Roode looks smugly at the crowd as they chant for Jeff. Nice touch, not enough working the crowd from heels these days. Hardy, meet the steel steps. Slow Neckbreaker back in the ring only gets a 2. Roode starts to look frustrated. Another false comeback lands Jeff in a sleeper hold. Hardy’s style is completely different to that of ten years ago, and probably a necessity to his career. Taz sells that Jeff’s passed out, but of course, this is not the case. Jeff teases breaking out of the hold, but goes back down. This is simple, but the crowd are buying it. Hardy introduces Roode to the turnbuckles, and in turn hits him with the Whisper in the Wind. Both men down. Jeff gets a near fall with his trademark caught spin kick. A cool second rope splash from Hardy. Two count only. Off the ropes and Roode nails him with a ‘Double A’ Spinebuster for the two count. Hardy fights back and ends up missing a Swanton, followed by a Spear (for whatever reason) from Roode. Close fall again. Roode looks for the Fisherman’s Suplex, but Hardy reverses in to the Twist of Fate (Stunner style). He goes for another but Roode nails him with a low blow. Ref’s not happy. DQ. Winner: Jeff Hardy VERDICT: Good match that was definitely of PPV quality. I do worry they give too much away on TV these days, though. Why am I meant to buy the PPV? Also, why should I watch the TV shows if all these big matches end in DQ’s? It’s hard. Wrestling’s got itself in to a bit of a rut. I just feel like someone needs to take a risk and shake up the format, as it’s all been done before. I don’t mean to sound negative about the match itself, though, as it was well done. + Roode isn’t done and grabs a chair. Brian Hebner snatches it away, and in turn Roode finds another Twist of Fate. Hardy celebrates as Austin Aries music hits. He says he won’t let the night end with Jeff Hardy sitting in the middle of ‘his ring’. Aries has the show format in his hand and says he will not be reading off of this, and screws it up. Aries says how he’s been directed to embrace the fans and change his direction, but that will be no more. He says he’s only jealous of one thing – People catering to Jeff Hardy. Aries says he wanted new entrance music, but they were too busy shooting Hardy videos. Nice touch. Aries says he works best against the system, and against the world. Jeff snatches the mic. He says his nuts hurt, his neck hurts, and on Sunday, he’ll ‘end his cocky ass’. Austin gives him an opportunity to have a moment with the fans, and then respectfully asks Hardy to leave so he can have a moment to ‘bask in his glory’. Hardy does so, but Aries kicks the second rope as he leaves, then nails him with the Brainbuster to end the show. VERDICT: Good ending that put heat on Aries, and was entirely necessary. Austin’s great on the mic, so much to the point where it made Jeff’s few lines (don’t snigger..) sound a little pathetic in comparison. + OVERALL – This fell in to the category of ‘just another Impact’, as it has done over the past month. It seems as though TNA almost spunked their wad a little too early, and have now realised they have to drag out angles (or create last-minute matches, somehow) until the PPV. Fortunately, this episode was boosted by another solid performance from Bully Ray, and some good PPV calibre match-ups. It wasn’t BAD by any means, but I wouldn’t consider watching it again. +