Five words I never thought I’d say: Can I smell yo’ dick?
Five more words I never thought I’d say: I liked Impact this week.
That’s right, the same iMPACT! I’ve clowned on basically since its inception, the same TNA whose dirtball antics and white-trash roster have been the butt of jokes across the Internet for years, the same company owned by a ditzy money mark who would rather Tweet about “nice surprises” than research ways to better her business and actually collect decent returns on her investment, the same company that… pushes Abyss. *shudder*
Honestly, the constant revolving of the show around this tired Abyss character — made worse by the involvement of decrepit Hulk Hogan — was the only remarkably bad part of Impact last night, and anything else I’d point out negatively is either nitpicking or something showing signs of improvement. I’ll get those out of the way now: Abyss is a big, pouting retard who shouldn’t be allowed to use a hammer and who should be suspended for his actions, whether or not the Hogan character treats him as his pet project; Jesse Neal is not marketable, and Bubba Ray Dudley is an overbearing, overweight ass who is only helping book this angle to keep himself on TV; Rob Van Dam is a former ECW wrestler, which should immediately disqualify him from being a rules enforcer, a choice seemingly made on a whim by Exasperated Eric Bischoff; and Chelsea means about as much to TNA as tits on a boar, and her abused-girlfriend angle smacks so much of Russo that I might start calling her Ryan Shamrocksabletorimarlenasocalval.
Now, onto the surprising number of positives.
My first commendation is for the timing and pacing of this episode. History shows that Vince Russo loves to cram three or four angles into each segment with little or no regard for the tone of said angles and how they’d mesh when placed back to back to back to back. The easiest way to avoid this problem and add gravity to each storyline is to separate them, to not stuff them into the same 15-minute block like so many college kids into a phone booth, to give them room to breathe. Amazingly, TNA used this approach last night, featuring at most two storylines per segment. No quick cutaways, no meth-like speeding through promos or brawls, and even a couple matches of decent length (well, by Russo standards). By the end of the show, I didn’t feel like I’d been beaten over the head with 1,000 mallets or been subjected to a strobe light at point-blank range for 120 minutes. To paraphrase Bobby Heenan, this episode of Impact *wouldn’t* have made coffee nervous.
I can imagine some arguing that the matches offered last night — Motor City Machineguns vs. Ink Inc., Jeff Hardy vs. Abyss with Rob Van Dam as special referee, Jay Lethal vs. Matt Morgan as two rising stars, and especially AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe — were near pay-per-view level in terms of star power and matchups, and while I can’t disagree entirely, I will say that these matches have either already been done on PPV, can be done again with different storylines behind them, or were presented in such a way last night that I don’t feel TNA cheated themselves out of money by airing them for free last night.
The Styles-Joe match, while wrestled like minutes 18:00 through 24:00 of a potential 30-minute classic, was fun and well-worked, it forwarded the Styles-Flair-Kazarian storyline, and it gave Joe a much-needed win with top 10 rankings implications. A serious (and necessarily so) Jay Lethal scored a key win over the much larger Matt Morgan after brief interference by Hernandez, keeping Lethal’s winning streak alive and giving Morgan something to actually be pissed about. (I also liked Morgan claiming Ric Flair contacted him first about joining Fortune, even though it’s almost a retread of Morgan’s Main Event Mafia angle, but now he’s more delusional and full of himself, which seems more appropriate for Morgan himself.)
Even Madison Rayne vs. Taylor Wilde was good for only lasting three minutes; because she’s taken leadership of the Beautiful People, I’m now fully into the Madison Rayne character that I once couldn’t stand, and Angelina Love’s return as the jilted former figurehead (and totally vengeful cunt) has me excited for their match at Victory Road. (I could have done without the sudden turn of Sarita on Wilde later on, but that’s because I don’t understand where it came from, so as Taz told Mike Tenay last night, maybe I should “watch the product.”)
Possibly my second-favorite part of the show was Dixie Carter suspending that money-draining, energy-sucking black hole of nothingness, Sting. I don’t care if it’s a storyline and that he should be fired in real life for contributing nothing to the product. This means he’ll be off my TV. And they did it in a way that wasn’t insulting: Carter, Bischoff and Hogan discussed it, she executed it (even if the confrontation happened in the rafters, whatever), and Sting didn’t even throw a fit or, like, send an impostor Sting down from the rafters or anything childish and stupid like that. Cool, I can go 30 days, 60 days or indefinite days without Sting on my TV set.
Oh, and I can’t put my finger on why, but Tenay and Taz’s announcing didn’t annoy the shit out of me last night (at least I *can* put my finger on why they usually do: because Tenay is an overscripted overactor with dorky faces and no chemistry with his partner; maybe they’re meshing better now, who knows).
And last but certainly, absolutely, positively not least, “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero is back, and I love it. As a matter of full disclosure, I didn’t see much (maybe not any) of him after his TNA debut, and whereas Jeremy Maes sang his praises because he’d actually seen his work and heard his promos, I made fun of his name once or twice and left it at that because I wasn’t fully educated on his new character. But god damn, now I’m a fan. Dinero’s promo last night was genuine, it was delivered excellently, it didn’t seem scripted, it laid out Dinero’s goals and motivations, and it had me completely transfixed on the screen. And I was even OK — more than OK, in fact — when Kurt Angle came out and challenged Dinero to a match at Victory Road. I love Angle’s run through the top 10 rankings, I love that they’re saving at least two-thirds of these matches for PPV, and I love that it gives Angle something serious to do without making him a complete Triple H-level domineering ass. In fact, because of this segment alone (with help from the Lethal-Flair angle and the improved pacing of this show)…
I might order Victory Road.
How about *those* five words? Never thought I’d say those, either.