Ok I have sipped the Kool Aid, eaves dropped on the gospel and decided to watch TNA. Be forewarned I generally do not like TNA nor see do I deem anyone’s claim of its superiority or even comparability to WWE programming to be sane or rationale EXCEPT when WWE is at its worst. Which does happen plenty these days.
Here are some notes from this week’s episode, which I will note was much better than episodes I have seen in the past, most notably the week RIGHT BEFORE, which I thought was an atrocious train wreck. Here are some things that stood out with references to the previous week where relevant.
X Division match
Here I should note the marked difference in the presentation of the entire division from 1 week to the next. LAST WEEK: Everyone in the division is in the ring in a pseudo talk show segment run by Eli Drake, in which he channels his best Ken Anderson loud mouthed persona and the catch phrase ‘Yeah, Dummy’ (you can imagine who felt like the dummy allowing this continue to play on the television he was staring at…) He makes all of them look like a chump and then they take turns getting in one-liners and still looking like chumps and then someone does a Hilo to everyone on the outside of the ring. The guy who looked the least like a dummy, and not by a big margin, was Eli Drake, who I only this week realized is NOT IN the X-Division.
This week was an actual match and it was fun and exciting. There were plenty of inventive spots and they didn’t seem all that extraneous. The guys wrestling under the somewhat baffling label of the Helms Dynasty – one of them is Trevor Lee – did some excellent moves. Early in the match Trevor Lee hit an amazing looking bicycle kick from the ring apron to a guy on the floor, which had him spinning a near 360 degrees. Victory was literally snatched from the Dynasty when Zima Ion leapt impressively through the air to grab the belt. Intrigue over possible match ups in the division was left intact.
Again I should back up to last week where a pre-taped segment EC3 and Drew Galloway was thrown to throughout the show, at the top of a luxury building, everyone wearing white suits , throwing back drinks, like high rollers or a gangster and cop with a history, having one last civil talk for old times sake before ripping each other to shreds in a conflict over irreparable differences. It ended with…Galloway tossing EC3 into a pool. Hah a lighthearted rib. But then…swerve! Galloway went psycho but not on EC3….we’ll get there later. Anyway this sucked, all the more so for it trying to come off as cool.
Now we have simply, Galloway cutting a taped promo with some appropriately ominous lighting and some psychotic heel talk. He is MUCH better as a heel. I approve this direction and the less hokey way of delivering it.
Delete, Repeat, Delete
This week’s segment with Broken Matt Hardy and Brother Nero and their rivals in Decay was excellent, off kilter humor. I did not take to the Final Deletion fervor right away but it’s growing on me. To some extent. Certainly not last week.
To review, in last week’s mostly IN RING scene, Jeff was wearing a vomit inducing concoction of oily make up and freakish contact lenses, and working a confusing character that is a) subservient to Broken Matt, but B) still trying to get his crowd pleasing showiness over. He also wrestled a LONG clunky match against Abyss who, I’m sorry I know has been a reliable hitter for TNA and has some creativity but could best be described here as wrestling oafishly. Everyone was YELLING. Matt bit Crazy Steve’s ear in a segment filled with fake blood, which in a week following a lot of the real stuff, was insulting to the intelligence in its goofiness. Not good.
This week, there was a lot of humor. We are on the Hardy estate. The line ‘now it’s Rosemary;s Baby’ was uttered by Crazy Steve and there was awareness of how on the nose a reference it was and it WAS funny. Hardy using Face Time was funny. Hardy treating the drone, Vangaurd 1, as his sentient right hand man was funny. Senor Benjamin was funny. Hardy’s psycho wife going after Rosemary on the Hardy estate with a katana blade was funny. Yes, this was weird and funny, and was carried by the stronger performers of this whole off kilter angle.
Michael Bennet’s ring entrance…
with Maria, was appropriately vivid. His ring attire and entrance music stands out, unlike what is used for most of the wrestlers.
Aaron Rex is here…SILENCE! Wait, ok how could we get a little less silence…
I have not been too thrilled about the way Aaron Rex has been presented since making a somewhat surprising return to the ring, by way of signing with TNA, after the final deletion(?) of beloved WWE character Damien Sandow. And after this week I am out and out critical.
Last week, Aaron played the role of special guest referee and played it right down the middle and was beaten down by Galloway for his troubles. This whole deal did not sit well with me because a) the beat down did look all that devastating, especially in the light of other beat downs in other organizations in recent angles and b) throughout the match, Rex could’ve been ANYONE in a drab pair of pants and shirt – not even a classy black and white striped shirt to my memory. It all begged the question, WHY would an exciting get from a big competing company decide the way to make an impact would be relegate himself to a refereeing role??
In this next week, after Galloway did all the heavy lifting in a verbal confrontation with the also problematic Billy Corgan as GM, Rex ran out to get a little payback, wearing slacks, a plain blue shirt, and looking rather shabby and characterless. This is NOT how you present someone or allow someone to present himself when trying to take an audience by storm. Perhaps big things await but this certainly isn’t setting the table for them.
It’s Bayley! Oh wait, it’s just Allie.
OK that may be an unfair comparison, the characters aren’t THAT similar. But I do find it a bit suspect that a bright bubbly and more than a little naïve female character is getting a spotlight on TNA programming. And in case you didn’t watch NXT back when Bayley first started, YES she did begin as a character who was not all that good at wrestling.
Nevertheless, taking this angle as it is, let’s go back to the previous week where there is a gauntlet, every woman for herself, tornado whatever match where the woman’s championship is on the line. Whip cracker Billy Corgan has decided to punish all involved in a previous altercation by putting them in the match, thus giving them a shot at becoming new women’s champion. You mean general manager you, Billy. People trip over each other, slip, spin around confusedly, and we end up with an ACCIDENTAL new champion in Maria’s personal assitent, ALLIE.
OK, here I admit a bias which may make me unfit to assess this because I do not like angles where competent wrestlers play characters who cannot wrestle, but stumble into victories and, eventually, they are probably going to ‘learn’ how to wrestle. For those that like this kind of programming, this might’ve been the greatest angle of the year. In this day and age, I find it impossible to suspend your disbelief, making it another time TNA television is insulting to the intelligence. The match in which it happened, just like the X Division segment from the previous week, made all the other women wrestlers involve look like hapless idiots.
Move on to the next show at least the direction is solid, with Maria commanding her subservient personal assistant to hand over the title. Here, a talented performer in Maria, who has in other promotions as well been playing a somewhat competent wrestler but mainly an outside the ring scheme, grabbed power by trickery, not the idiocy of others. She will now probably have a program against Allie who will miraculously learn to wrestle! Or they will much about like idiots, a far cry from the athleticism women are display in NXT and WWE proper, because – BREATH OF FRESH AIR – they are being taken more seriously.
Now even if the non wrestling wrestler act is your bag, there are other problems with the concept of Allie. Her act is she has a very annoying voice. And she uses it. A lot. Very loudly. This is not thought provoking or clever stuff, it is just a loud buzzing that is impossible to tune out. Wrestling audiences deserve and should demand better.
Walk softly, carry a big…lead pipe.
Moose’s turning was fine. His character does not fit that of someone wielding a pipe. That looked wildly out of place.
Billy Corgan is not cool.
At best he carries himself with an out of touch Millionaire’s aloofness. Think Willy Wonka. Or the warden on Super Jail. It might wrap around to somehow make him cool in a detached ironic sort of way. Otherwise, much like Stephanie McMahon on RAW, he drew so much natural heel heat while trying to cut a baby face promo, it was painful.
Most of the music…
Is very dull and unremarkable and uh, doesn’t Billy have some connections? The use of Marilyn Manson for The Decay is appropriate. But if you look at how much music figures into NXT’s success and how limp music is on most of TNA, particularly for X-Division guys who are not Zima Ion, and even his music wasn’t that great. Get on it Billy. And the same goes for the look of most of the wrestlers. Drab and colorless.
Yes this match went in the good category but it is really pretty convoluted and awkward. I know X-Division is the name most, or all TNA fans and sympathizers put out there as their high point, but matches with bizarrely gimmicked ring accessories really are not cutting it quality-wise compared to NJPW, ROH, NXT… Look at the Cruiser Weight Classic. Put wrestlers in a ring. They wrestle. Amazing results. Let’s get back to that. Keep the title, lose the weird half wrestling match, half zip line challenge.
One more thing to consider…
The Broken Matt Hardy program soared when it was mostly pretaped segments, matches even. In the middle of a wrestling ring in front of an audience it was rough stuff at best. Can it thrive or help TNA’s business if it doesn’t work in a live setting?