Thursday, March 31, 2011

TNA iMPACT! 3/31/11 --- Early Review

TNA iMPACT! 3/31/11
March 31st, 2011
Impact! Zone, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: ???


Well it's once again that time of week kids, time for another edition of "How Will TNA Fuck Up Tonight?" iMPACT! on Spike TV. To be fully honest, I've already read the spoilers for the next few shows so keep that in mind if you disagree with my analysis or whatever. Anyways, let's get to the show. Oh and one more note, there may be a few backstage interviews I mention here that don't make the American broadcast on Spike TV, as I'm watching a pre-aired version of the episode that aired in Australia earlier before the American start time.

Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz

We open the show with (who else?) Mr. Anderson coming out, shoving Earl Hebner to the ring with him. I'll give you one guess as to what he's going to say. If you guessed "Bitch and moan about his title shot", you win the grand prize! Your prize? You get to shut off Impact right now! Go on, read a book, go for a walk, learn a foreign language, do something constructive while I waste my time with this show. Okay, okay, I'm being way too negative and the show's barely started, I apologize. Back to the ring. Anderson moans about Hebner's decision in the main even last week, but Earl is like that senile old grandpa who walks around without his pants on, fully aware he's nude, but he's just too old and grumpy to care. He tells off Anderson in a way that makes me think maybe Hebner should be a valet for a heel. Hebner calls him an asshole, so Anderson tries to him a mic check as boos reign in on him. This is your number one babyface ladies and gentlemen. Hebner's son hits the ring and breaks it up as Anderson is just coming off like a total heel in this segment. Sting's music hits and the Icon comes down to the ring to talk some sense into Anderson. Sting talks with his fists though, so we get a little brawl in the ring until security breaks them up. Since this is the opening segment of Impact and we need to have atleast 3 main eventers come out to interrupt one another, RVD's music hits and he walks down the ramp. RVD says he doesn't want the tainted win, so he asks Hebner to reverse the decision and make the title match at Lockdown a three-way, but Earl doesn't have the power. Cue Hogan and Bischoff, who by god actually seem to be getting some boos for once. They book the three-way for Lockdown (I think?) and then decide to book tonight's main event, which is Mr. Anderson, Sting, and RVD against Abyss, Matt Hardy, and Bully Ray...IN A STEEL CAGE! Yes, we're having a main event cage match three weeks before a PPV dedicated entirely to cage matches.

After a quick commercial break we get some backstage comments from Anderson ("No comment"), RVD ("Blah blah blah, Rob Van Dam"), and Sting ("I'm gonna git him!"). Elsewhere backstage Shannon Moore of Ink Inc cuts a lame promo on Scott Steiner, trying to claim he's "young and hip". Maybe ten years ago Shannon. Steiner responds by calling him a little bitch and threatening to impregnate his girlfriend. Pure over-the-top, unintentionally hilarious Steiner promo gold here.

Elsewhere backstage Jeff and Karen Jarrett try to reason with Hogan and Bischoff about the Jarrett-Angle match at Lockdown. Karen's rack looks extraordinary in HD, by the way.

Scott Steiner vs. Shannon Moore

Eric Young and Orlando Jordan are our guest commentators, for some reason. Young's big announcement is that he and Orlando are going to be in a four-way tag match against Steiner/Crimson, Ink Inc and another mystery team at LockDown. Shannon does a lot of running and stalling to start until Crimson throws him back in the ring to eat a Steiner beatdown. Tons of lame gay innuendo jokes on commentary right now with OJ and Young while Moore eats a back elbow. Belly-to-belly suplex from Steiner gets a close two count. Young and Taz are actually pretty amusing here, listing off old school tag teams trying to figure out who the mystery team at Lockdown will be. Something tells me it won't be the Beverly Brothers EY. Moore gets a cheap shot and tries choking Steiner for a bit. He mocks Steiner with some push-ups of his own and kicks away at him in the corner. Dropkick from Moore and he picks up Steiner's mesh chain headdress, puts it on, and misses a moonsault off the top rope. Overhead belly-to-belly and a big clothesline from Steiner. Frankensteiner off the top finishes it for Steiner at 4:28. After the match Doug Williams and Brutus Magnus run down and jump OJ and Young, presumably setting them up as the fourth team at Lockdown. Certainly a better use of Williams than what they were doing with him currently (which is nothing). Oh, right, the match. It was mediocre at best.

Backstage Anderson has a conversation with a poster of himself. This guy's character becomes more and more of a joke with every passing week. Elsewhere Jeff Jarrett laments over Anderson getting to be on the Lockdown poster.

Max Buck vs. Jeremy Buck

We get a little video package before the match, showing the growing dissension among the brothers since their disagreement during the Ultimate X match at Victory Road. You probably wouldn't know there was any dissension unless you watch Xplosion, but whatever, that's what the video package is for. Max wants Jeremy to lay down for him, but Jeremy will have none of it and they lock-up. Nice nearfall trading sequence with both men zipping around and getting a huge pop from the crowd for the sequence. Jesus, they're talented and over, no wonder they're being split up. Nice twisting wristlock sequence sends Max to the floor for a breather. Jeremy tries to be the gentleman and hold the ropes for his older brother to get in the ring, but Max counters Jeremy's offer of a handshake with a side headlock. Another nice roll-up trading sequence. Jeremy springboards into an armdrag and is fired up now, hitting a series of dropkicks on his brother Max. Hurricanrana gets a close two for Jeremy. He tries a waistlock but gets thrown out of the ring and lands badly on his elbow. Max offers to hold the rope for Jeremy to come back in, but he just gives him a superkick as he comes in and then delivers a big powerbomb into the turnbuckle. Springboard ace crusher by Max and it's enough for the win at 4:01. This was just starting to get good when they ended it. I really don't get why they couldn't give these kids another 3 or 4 minutes out there so people don't forget this match five minutes after it's over. Good fun while it lasted though. **½

Backstage Winter caresses Angelina Love's hair while she drinks what I guess we're supposed to assume is brainwashing Kool-Aid of some kind. Love looks like a robot, so I guess she looks like she always does.

Velvet Sky vs. Winter

Velvet looks like every wrestling fan's fantasy girl, as usual. Winter is creepy, as usual, with her weird silk blindfold thing. Velvet is feisty to start, laying in kicks and punches into Winter in the corner and hitting a dropkick for an early two count. Velvet tries for a monkey flip but Winter moves and slams her head back to the mat with force a few times. Scoop slam from Winter and she chokes Sky for a bit with her boot. Velvet hits a clothesline and follows up with a bulldog while Angelina Love slowly walks down the ramp, distracting Velvet. Winter chokes her on the second rope and then hits a big backbreaker before locking Velvet into a crossface submission of sorts, which might be a new finisher for her as Velvet taps almost immediately to end it at 3:47. Not terrible thanks to Winter, and it did its job of showcasing Winter and pushing this "brainwashed Angelina" storyline, as stupid as it may be. *

After the match Anderson's music hits and he comes out once again, immediately grabbing a mic and calling out Sting, who answers immediately by joining him in the ring. Sting wants Anderson to apologize to him, but Anderson just gives him a right hand instead and once again they start brawling. Security doesn't seem to care this time as both men begin brawling into the crowd and up the stairs. This goes on for way too long honestly until finally Matt Hardy, Bully Ray, and Abyss come out to beat both of them down. RVD ends up making the save eventually.

Backstage Velvet Sky says shes going to "cleanse" Winter. I do believe that phone ringing is the genocide awareness group that's going to be hatemailing you.

Kurt Angle's music hits and he makes his way out to the ring and grabs a mic, calling out Jarrett immediately. Jarrett comes out, with Rob Terry at his side, which I guess leads us right into our next match...

Kurt Angle vs. Rob Terry

And the Rob Terry push is officially dead after last week. Don't worry, I couldn't be more apathetic either. Jarrett distracts Angle and Terry jumps him from behind to start. Terry knocks Angle around some more while he tries clawing at Jarrett at ringside, but Angle quickly regroups and locks Terry into the ankle lock. Angle grapevines the leg and it's all over as Terry taps at 1:35. Total squash for Angle. If I actually gave a shit about Rob Terry in any way I might be upset at how quickly his push has been killed over the last few weeks, but I don't, so I'm not. Standard squash fare. ¼*

After the match Kurt tries attacking Jarrett but the cops show up and arrest Angle. I wonder if this was taped before he was arrested for drunk driving? Let me check...yep. Funny how life imitates art.

We get some weird video package with the official TNA voice-over and everything as Karen tries to paint Kurt as a piece of shit and Kurt just comes off like a broken man who just wants to see his kids. I'm not nearly as upset about the exploitation of this entire feud as I was when it started, but I still really don't like how they're dragging real life events into this thing. No matter what front Angle might put up, you know inside he can't be enjoying his children being exploited in an angle with his ex-wife and Jeff. This is a really long video by the way, nearly 10 minutes. It does make you want to see the blow-off at Lockdown though, so kudos to the TNA production crew.

Cage Match
Sting/Mr. Anderson/Rob Van Dam vs. Abyss/Matt Hardy/Bully Ray

How freaking bizarre is the heel team here? They have absolutely nothing in common really. The cage looks smaller than the one they used at Lockdown last year, but just by a bit. Ever since switching from the six-sided ring to the traditional four-sided ring the cage matches have become alot more cramped, they really need a Hell in a Cell type construction so they can give the guys some more room to work. Anderson gets jumped by Sting before he can enter the match, which really makes no sense since he's his partner and Sting just walks into the ring at a 3-on-2 disadvantage moments later. Sting cleans house quickly, hitting a Stinger Splash on on all three of his opponents. RVD waits on the apron for the tag like a bozo while Abyss and Ray double-team Sting. They can't seem to decide whether or not this match requires tags or not. Anderson pulls up a chair at ringside to watch the match. There's being a tweener, and then there's being a legit asshole heel. Anderson is being booked as the latter. Quick commercial break and when we return it's all Immortal, beating down Sting and RVD. Hogan's music hits and Hulk comes down to ringside, wearing some weird complex backbrace that may or may not also be a part of Hogan's BDSM closet. He orders Anderson to get into the cage and then rakes Anderson's eyes, tossing him back in. Again, Hogan is the heel here, but he comes off like the babyface and we even get a few fans chanting "Hogan!". Anderson gets beaten down by his own partner Sting once he enters the ring though, as this match has really become just a mess at this point. Immortal continues to beat down Sting in the middle of the ring now as RVD and Anderson are out of it. Things finally settle down into a traditional tag now as Matt Hardy works a neck cravat on Sting. Sting fights out of it but Abyss tags in and he and Ray doubleteam Sting while Hebner sits there with his thumb up his ass (not literally, that would be horrifying). Sting fights back though and hits a double clothesline on them as I guess that was our big extended heat segment and RVD gets the lukewarm tag and cleans house with spin kicks for everyone. RVD hits a thrustkick on Abyss and then goes for the Five Star Frog splash, but Anderson knocks him off (why? Sting beat you up, not Rob) and Bully Ray hits the Bubba Bomb on RVD for the pin at 8:34 (shown). Weird match with Sting and Anderson purposely screwing their own team over through out the match, to the point where it was basically Immortal vs. Sting while RVD and Anderson laid around wheezing. The cage was also unnecessary since they didn't even use the freaking thing once in this match, so why even waste the visual on free TV when you should be saving them for the PPV? As far as Impact main events go though, this was perfectly fine and better than most, it just didn't need to be a cage match. **

After the match Fortune (minus AJ Styles) hits the ring to try and help out Sting and RVD, but Immortal lays them out quickly and Kaz does a nasty bladejob that makes the pussy scratch on Robert Roode's head look silly by comparison. Ric Flair locks them all into the cage and the beatdown continues. Suddenly Christopher Daniels hops the guardrail, climbs to the top of the cage, and flies off with a huge cross body block that wipes out all of Immortal! Awesome return for Daniels and the chants of "Fallen Angel!" start up almost immediately. We take a quick commercial break and when we return Ric Flair and Immortal are going crazy over Daniels backstage. Elsewhere Daniels cuts a promo to make it all clear, saying he's here to avenge AJ Styles injury at the hands of Bully Ray. The rest of Fortune cut promos as well. Kaz is still a bloody mess. Elsewhere backstage Sting promises to show everyone who the veteran is at Lockdown. Mr. Anderson bitches some more about being screwed over and RVD jumps him in his trailer. What I don't get is why the hell did Anderson decide to screw RVD over in their match and start a beef with him after RVD was nice enough earlier in the show to get Anderson included into the title match at Lockdown as a three-way. Rob does him a favor, and Anderson screws him for it. He really is an asshole, but not the kind the fans want to cheer, because he got nothing but crickets and some boos tonight for his actions.

Bottom Line:
While this was a big step up over the last two weeks, it still wasn't exactly a perfect show. Anderson's booking continues to make little to no sense whatsoever, and you have to question the point of a cage match (where you don't use the cage) on free TV with Lockdown coming up so soon. Daniels return was a great moment and injects one of TNA's founding fathers right into the Lethal Lockdown match I'd have to assume in place of AJ, and for once there was actually a moderate amount of wrestling on the show as opposed to the slim-to-none it usually has. Jeremy and Max Buck had a fun match little match and there were no long, drawn-out horribly acted promos like there have been recently, so really this was a step-up across all boards for TNA tonight. Now let's see if they can't keep the momentum up until Lockdown. We're going with the ever so slight Thumbs Up here, based mostly on the awesome return of Daniels.

Score: 5.5/10

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