Let’s do the Time Warp again: TNA Impact 1/4/10

Perhaps you’ve heard this before, but TNA signed Hulk Hogan.  After months of hype, Hogan finally debuted on this Very Special three-hour edition of Impact running straight through WWE Raw’s time slot.  And if that reminds you of WCW from the mid-to-late 90’s, don’t you worry – the comparisons do not stop there.  (Note – all WWE trademarked names will feature a strikethrough.)

It took an hour for Hogan to arrive at the Impact Zone, with numerous camera shots of his approaching limo led by police escorts.  Finally, Hogan arrives (with a mock of the old nWo theme as his music) and addresses the “TNA Maniacs” and promises that they will be the #1 company in the wrestling world.  His ramblings are disrupted by Scott Hall and Sean “X-Pac” Waltman who tried to get backstage earlier, but then somehow scored front row tickets and hopped the barricade.  Hogan allowed them in the ring, and after a “Hey, yo” and a “Say hello to the Bad Guy”, Hall told Hogan that they were there since it was obviously WCW again.  Hogan denied it, which brought out Kevin Nash, who said that Hogan has been telling him for months that it would be just like WCW.  This brought out Eric Bischoff who also said things would be different, which apparently was good enough for Nash who left with his boys.

Bischoff then told TNA that everything they thought they knew was gone, and that everyone in the company would have to earn their spots on the roster.  And from there on, everyone in TNA was seemingly at Hogan and Bischoff’s mercy, as the two tossed out the schedule for the show and decided to do it their way.  The main part of this was cancelling the only announced match for the PPV that’s less than two weeks away and instead having as Impact’s main event.  And it was fantastic.  AJ Styles and Kurt Angle stole the show with an epic match that saw Styles finally beat Angle and legitimize his title run.  Let’s see how long he keeps it.

As for the rest of the show (and there’s a lot)…

  • The show started with an 8-Man X-Division Horrific Hovel of Hell match in which one of the participants (Motor City Machine Guns, Lethal Consequences, Kiyoshi, Homicide, Suicide, Amazing Red) had to climb to the top of the cage and escape through a small hole.  And get this – it ended in DQ.  Seriously.  Homicide pulled out a baton and wailed on everyone in the ring (including his World Elite stablemate), then proceeded to escape the hole.  Well, that’s what should have happened, but Homicide couldn’t actually get himself through the hole.  Instead, we watched several awkward moments of him hanging until everyone else tried to salvage the bit by going to pull him down (he simply fell).  This blunder screwed up the return of Jeff Hardy, as Homicide had to get to the outside to get himself beaten up by Hardy.  Whoops.
  • ODB defeated Tara to regain the Knockouts title in a pretty quick match when ODB rolled her up and held her tights.  The ending was kind of odd, because as the ref hit the mat for the third time, the camera cut to a wide shot of the arena, and the view of the ring was obscured by the Horrific Hovel of Hell above them.  Tara (who is the face) attacked ODB with the Widow’s Peak and put her spider on her unconscious body, holding her now former title above the her.
  • Ric Flair arrived at the Impact Zone and went into AJ Styles’ locker room.  Flair would appear again during the main event, apparently interested in Styles.
  • There was a running segment where Mick Foley had been barred from the Impact Zone, and he went through every means he could to get in and talk to Hogan.  Finally he entered the area, only to be attacked by Hall and Waltman.  That isn’t too sweet (see what I did there?).
  • Kristal and Bobby Lashley entered and delivered an odd promo in which Kristal called all of TNA’s fans inbred and said that they were leaving because TNA isn’t good enough for them.  For whatever reason, Kristal then went to Eric Bischoff to get Hogan’s opinion on it, and said Lashley wouldn’t be pleased by how Bischoff was treating her.  Uh…if they’re quitting, then why does she care?
  • All three members of the Beautiful People decided to play strip poker (since poker shows are apparently still popular?), but were having trouble since all three of them are apparently very stupid.  Enter Val Venis (seriously) who decided to play, which the girls were all for.
  • Awesome Kong and Hamada defeated Taylor Wilde and Sarita for the Knockouts Tag titles.  And this pleases me.  During the match, the Motor City Machine Guns were found laid out by an Unknown Assailant.
  • In following the “new direction” of TNA, the Nasty Boys were featured trying to get into the building.  Seriously – the Nasty Boys.  They got in with help of annoying radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge and they made a mess of a locker room.  The Nasty Boys.
  • Dr. Stevie and Raven lost to Matt Morgan and Hernandez in less than a minute when Stevie got nailed with the Carbon Footprint.  That may have been the only move in the match.  Raven was not amused…nor was I.
  • D’angelo Dinero was delivering a pretty good promo when he was interrupted by Orlando Jordan.  Seriously – Orlando Jordan.  OJ told Dinero that Hogan liked him, put your Pope was not amused.  Pope went out to beat Desmond Wolfe in a short, but decent match.  Remember when Wolfe was attacking Kurt Angle a month ago?
  • The Unknown Assailant struck again, as Rhyno was found knocked out backstage, as were Beer Money, Inc. a bit later.  Bubba the Love Sponge promised to get to the bottom of it, but didn’t actually get around to it.  It did take out two of  the announced matches for the show, though, as Rhyno was supposed to fight Abyss in a barbed wire match of some sort, and Beer Money were to get tag title shots against the British Invasion (even though they were not supposed to have any more shots).  The British Invasion did not appear on the show at all.
  • Jeff Jarrett showed up to remind everyone that he founded the company.  Hogan responded to him by saying that he’s unimpressed by Jarrett and that the ‘King of the Mountain’ will have to earn his spot just like everyone else.  A little bit of 10 year old bitterness?
  • Jeff Hardy and the JF’er Shannon Moore (maybe) got something they wanted in envelopes, but before they could reveal what that was, they were approached by three screaming girls.  Hardy gave one the painting he was working on then drove away.
  • Since Rhyno was unavailable, Abyss took on Samoa Joe and lost.  It is of note that Joe was not carrying his Feast or Fired case.
  • Throughout the entire show, Sting was silently watching from the rafters.

Looking Back
Oh, god.  Where do I begin?  My initial impression of this episode was that it was a train wreck, but really it wasn’t that bad.  Head scratching at places?  Sure.  A bit frustrating?  Definitely.  But bad?  Actually, no it wasn’t.  So let’s go at it.

  • Now the opening match was actually bad.  The bars of the Hovel were very close together, making it quite difficult to see the match unless they switched to a camera aimed through the bars or looking down into the hole.  To end a cage match in DQ is quite ludicrous, leading the crowd to start chanting “This is bullshit.”  And that’s a TNA crowd.  Homicide’s failure to escape the cage was flat out laughable, showing the perils of doing a show live.  It was just an awful opening to the one uncontested hour of the show.
  • Again, no clue where the Tara/ODB thing is going.  Tara had the title for all of two weeks and lost it back on her very first title defense.  ODB cheated to win, yet Tara definitely pulled the part of the heel in the aftermath of the segment.  The camera cut on the third count was amateurish at best.  Live TV, folks.
  • Also laughably bad was Christy Hemme interviewing fans outside the arena.  She asked a girl what she thought of TNA and received an answer about how great Hogan is.  Hemme then asked her what she thought about Hogan returning.  Good job there.
  • How do you ban the executive shareholder of the company?  Doesn’t Foley own a substantial part?
  • I really don’t think Bobby Lashley is going to work as a heel, but I’ll wait to see how it goes.  Kristal definitely works as a mouthpiece for  him, though.  You just want to smack her.
  • The running joke seems to be that Lacey Von Erich is no good at everything.  And it’s hard to argue.  The BP’s assurance that poker was a popular TV event would have been accurate about five years ago.
  • Hulk Hogan, during his rambling, mentioned that he had been in the back all day talking to people and getting a feel for the company.  Keep in mind that he spent the first hour of the show in a limo approaching the Impact Zone.  So he left and got back an hour late?  Good man.
  • The last 20 minutes of the first hour were basically spent watching commercials, waiting for Hogan to get there.  I was practically begging Raw to come on.
  • The appearances were so frequent and gratuitous, they became almost self-parodying by the end of the episode.  Jeff Hardy?  That’s a big deal.  Ric Flair?  Pretty exciting.  Scott Hall and Sean Waltman?  Sure, those are pretty big names.  Shannon Moore?  Well, he was in TNA for a little while.  Val Venis?  I suppose he was pretty popular in the late 90’s.  Orlando Jordan?  Okay, now you’re getting kind of silly.  The Nasty Boys?  Now you’ve just gone too far.  When Brian Knobbs returned to WCW ten years ago, he was five years past relevancy.
  • I wonder how many of these guys will stick around and how many of them were one-off deals.  If they all come in, that’s nine extra guys on an already decent sized roster.  Keep in mind that guys like the British Invasion, Team 3D, Eric Young and Scott Steiner did not appear on the show at all (Young had a brief cameo, actually) and guys like Matt Morgan, Hernandez and the X-Division guys were barely afterthoughts.
  • Having Jeff Hardy return to TNA in the midst of his legal battles is a questionable move at best.  Perhaps you’d like to have a big draw for your show be cleared of substantial drug charges before he perhaps is forced to leave because of jail time.  Just saying.
  • Oh, and Bubba the Love Sponge reminds me of Rob Bartlett from the opening months of Monday Night Raw.  That’s pretty much the biggest insult I can give someone in that situation.
  • It’s looking like the main storyline will be whether Hogan’s “best for the business” attitude is legit or whether he’s really in cahoots with Nash and his nWo.  Sting doesn’t trust him, and that’s why he’s all Crow-like in the rafters.  My money is also on the nWo being behind all the attacks.
  • Speaking of Unknown Assailants, the one gunning for AJ Styles attacked again, but the referee did not stop the title match because…well, I don’t know why he didn’t stop the match.  He obviously saw the attack, but no dice.  It was a needless bit in an otherwise stellar match.
  • Styles and Angle had a PPV-calibur match for free, unannounced, on Impact.  In fact, it wasn’t even announced in the first hour when there was no Raw to compete against.  Sell your show, people.  Sell your show.
  • And speaking of selling shows, we now have only one episode of Impact left before Genesis, and not a single match has been scheduled for the show.  None.  Nil.  Zip.  Nada.  The only thing TNA is advertising about it is that it will be Hulk Hogan’s return to PPV.  Doesn’t that make you want to shill out $40?
  • The “tossing the schedule out” is another way of saying “we’re pulling the bait and switch on you”.  Two of the matches (both gimmick matches) advertised at the beginning of the show did not happen.

So all in all, it was definitely a new direction for TNA, but it’s not quite clear what direction that is, nor how good it’s going to be.  It has done one thing a month ago I would have thought impossible, though.  I am actually interested in seeing where TNA is going from here.  I’m just afraid the answer is “1997”.


One Response to Let’s do the Time Warp again: TNA Impact 1/4/10

  1. caseymatthis says:

    Watching TNA’s big Monday night show had me thinking it was 1997 all over again. Not that I had the same feeling of excitement I had when I was first getting into wrestling twelve years ago (Jesus Christ), but that the show had been taped more than a decade ago and kept in a vault until last night. With the exception of Angle vs. Styles, it felt like watching an old episode of Nitro. Except everyone was a little older, a little balder, a little fatter, and a whole lot grayer.

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