TNA Impact returned last night (Feb. 23) with another episode from their January set of tapings. You can find the results from this episode at the live blog here.
Pro Wrestling Wedding!
Pro graps is a wild smorgasbord. You can get intense serious blood feuds on the same show as super silly comedy segments. Sometimes bouts are technical masterpieces and sometimes they’re attempts at wacky fun. But it all exists under the umbrella of professional wrestling.
And nothing illustrates how broad this world is than the rare pro wrestling wedding. On the same show where two legit MMA stars prepare to battle each other for the company’s biggest prize, the main event of the show is a wedding. And not just a wedding. A wedding where the groom is being coerced into marrying the second worst person (Laurel Van Ness) by the worst person (Maria Kanellis-Bennett).
Last night’s spectacle served to finally end Maria’s control over her assistant Allie, who has gone from a heat seeking annoyance to a sympathetic fan favorite. We’ve known all along that the groom Braxton Sutter can’t stand his betrothed Laurel, who consistently talks about herself and brags about her father’s money. But Maria had something over him concerning Allie, the woman Sutter truly cares for, that forced him to keep going along.
Impact made sure to do the tradition of the train wreck wedding proud by stacking it with some outrageous characters. We had the manipulative Maria and her broken down husband Mike Bennett who hates his life so much that he started drinking way before this wedding. In fact he came to the ring with his shirt open drinking champagne directly out of the bottle. Poor guy. (Seriously, Bennett has been a gem throughout all of this as the broken husband of the controlling Maria.) Laurel Van Ness has done great character work herself as the loathsome, shallow bride. They included Aron Rex and Rockstar Spud, who just love weddings so much they agreed to play the part of the flower girl just to attend. And Maria’s enforcer Sienna’s facial expressions helped sell the over-the-top nature of all of this.
The biggest star of this segment may have been the crowd, who was super hot for this entire segment. Honestly, outside Hardy antics, I don’t recall the Impact Zone being this into anything in a long while. From chants of “Just Say No” to of course “Delete” to “We Object” when the minister asked if anyone here objects, the crowd helped us all get into the ridiculousness that is a wedding in the middle of a wrestling ring.
Of course things broke down. Braxton refused to marry Laurel, despite what Maria had over him, which it turned out wasn’t much. Really, it was just that she’d fire Allie and he’d never get to see her again. Admittedly, that’s a bit weak of an excuse. Early on, I suppose it made sense. Allie’s a bit awkward and Braxton’s a bit shy and while they clearly both really liked each other, they weren’t able to fully express that. So if Allie was fired, it was quite possible Sutter wouldn’t get to see her again. So he played along to not lose her forever. But by the time the wedding came around, that made no sense any more. While Braxton only accidentally proposed to Laurel, there were weeks after that he could have backed out. But this is profession wrestling and it all served to get us here.
Maria made good on her promise and fired Allie but her assistance mustered all of the gusto she had and told the evil First Lady that she doesn’t want to work for a monster like her so she quit instead.
And then the fighting started. Bennett tried to attack Sutter but received a elbow for his troubles. (He was probably too drunk to fight anyway.) Allie speared Maria and laid into her as Brooke ran down to neutralize Sienna, with whom she’s been having issues. And since Aron Rex was there, Robbie E also decided to insert himself. Why not? It’s a wrestling wedding.
Then while everyone brawled and Laurel Van Ness had a nervous breakdown in the background, Allie and Braxton finally kiss in the middle of the ring.
It wasn’t the craziest pro graps wedding ever but it held it’s own. The cast of characters and a very hot crowd made this a fun end to Allie’s employment to Maria. While I hope we get a one on one match between the two, this was an enjoyable culmination to this part of the story.
The Jealous Husband
Cody Rhodes revealed himself as the jealous husband tonight. It wasn’t too surprising as it was clearly set up the last couple weeks despite Cody being there. But at least they didn’t wait any time getting there.
Cody initially invited Moose to the ring and thanked him for helping Brandi deal with Decay the last couple weeks. But when Moose said that they both have his number so call him if they ever need him, Cody focused on the fact that Brandi had Moose’s number in her phone. This quickly lead the American Nightmare to assuming that they’re going to soon sleep together.
Brandi implored her husband to tell her that he’s joking and he did. But after giving his wife a kiss, he kicked Moose square in the balls and pummeled him down as his wife screamed for him to stop.
While Cody as a heel is something I’m all for, this felt flat. Maybe because it felt predictable. Maybe because jealous Cody isn’t a character I’m interested in. Maybe it was Cody’s utterly monotone promo. But it didn’t get me excited for the dark side of Rhodes.
He did the gun hand gesture and Josh Mathews mentioned that Cody runs in a “certain circle” so there’s a bit of a Bullet Club allusion. If this is just how they kick off heel Cody that’s fine. But if his heel character is jealous husband, I’m weary of that.
This week, those of us who are unfamiliar with Josh Barnett got to learn a bit more about the man before he gets his title match against Lashley next week. They played a brief video package and more importantly, we got to see him wrestle.
The “Warmaster” fought a man named Bad Bones. (Or may it’s Bad Bonez and if that’s the case, my sincerest apologies to Mr. Bonez). Barnett’s style had a shoot fighting feel - the type of match that is a bit more sloppy than your typical wrestling matches but in a good way. Monsieur Bones got some offense in, but that was just to allow Barnett to fire back. Josh’s finishing sequence looked nasty - a jackknife powerbomb (my favorite powerbomb), followed by a cradle suplex into a Kimura for the tapout. This did a good job of convincing the initiated that we want to see him wrestle more.
Meanwhile, Lashley was on commentary continuing to sell the story that Barnett may be great in MMA but pro-wrestling is Lashley’s world.
After last week’s unimpressive roll out of Barnett, this week helped correct that. They’d still benefit from a bit more time, which is something that wasn’t available given the fact this is the tail end of the tapings. Rushed feuds, and the lack of longer builds, has been plaguing Impact since Bound for Glory. We’ll see if that leaves next week’s match more underwhelming than it could be.
King of Gold
The Hardys were back at it this week continuing their mission to teleport the world to win all the tag titles. But first, some traditional Hardy weirdness. Before going to their next destination, Matt had to travel somewhere to learn more. But he worried that he was going to lose his ability so he transferred his abilities into Brother Nero. Then Jeff had a premonition that Matt was traveling to Egypt!
Matt soon returns wearing hilarious Egyptian garb with a golden boat (Skarsgard got an upgrade!) and said that he his now part of his original vessel from 780 BC named the King of Gold.
After all of that silliness, they travel to the next promotion and take on a tag team that hadn’t been defeated in 12 years. While the match was edited heavily again as it was last week, they showed more of it and because of that it was more satisfying than last week.
They shall continue on soon to continuing winning that tag gold. Where this all ends up, I have no idea. Also, I’m not entirely sure if Jeff still has some of Matt’s powers or if he gave them back. More as it becomes available.
One More Time
Jade challenged Knockouts champion Rosemary to one more match, this time a Last Knockouts Standing match. It’s more to Jade than just the title or her personal issues with Rosemary. She wants to take back the division from Rosemary’s evil hands. The champ accepted.
While I enjoyed this segment. Watching Rosemary is always a treat and Jade is a good opponent for her, this left me a bit disappointed when looking at the entire feud. And the match will likely be baller as long as they get enough time. But once again, they just announced the match for next week meaning the match will again have minimal build.
Give these women a little more time to build up the great matches they have instead of telling us one week “Next week, it’ll be this hardcore match.” Doing that is doing these women a disservice and is denying what could be a strong, lasting rivalry.
What Goes Around
In an unannounced title match, DJ Z got his X Division title rematch against Trevor Lee. The champ Lee had Shane Helms in his corner. Z was still nursing a bum leg from the last two times he faced Lee, which allowed the champ to ground the high flying DJ for awhile.
However, DJ Z fired back up towards the end. It took a distraction from Helms and a handful of tights for Trevor Lee to retain his title.
After the match, the champ and his mentor looked to inflict more punishment on the defeated challenger. But out ran excommunicated member of the Helms Dynasty Andrew Everett for the save. Everett hit a reverse Franksteiner that straight up spiked Lee before hitting a Shooting Star Press.
Good showing last night from the X Division, building up what is surely going to be a fire match between Lee and Everett.
Eli Drake and Tyrus were set to settle their difference in the ring tonight. Instead, it was just all very weird.
Eli tried to talk his way out of it early when he realized that he was going to have a difficult time against the larger Tyrus. He told Tyrus if he lays down for Drake, he’ll start paying him again and they can be friends. When the big man wasn’t having it, Eli then punched referee Earl Hebner in the face.
Tyrus grabbed the loudmouth by the throat and Eli told him he’d give him a raise. While Tyrus wouldn’t shake his hand, he’d hug him. The segment ended with them hugging.
This was just odd all around. I suppose Tyrus was cool with a raise. But really, it didn’t do much of anything for either man. Using Tyrus as a heavy feels like an anchor for Drake, who shouldn’t be sharing the spotlight. And it continues to cast Tyrus in the role of a heavy instead of trying to succeed on his own.
This week, it was Bram’s turn to lose to Jessie Godderz and this was despite Kingston (who took the loss last week) trying to interfere as much as possible. And then after the match, Godderz was able to neutralize both men before leaving. Basically, the DCC are a bunch of chumps.
Pardon me if I never get excited for the rare instances the DCC look cool ever again.
Pros of the Show:
- Fun wedding with many characters and a hot crowd
- The Hardys were a fun time this week
- Good job showing what Barnett could do prior to the title match
- The X Division is building what looks to be a tight feud between Andrew Everett and Trever Lee
Cons of the Show:
- Cody’s heel turn was underwhelming
- The DCC are never going to be cool, are they?
- That Eli Drake/Tyrus segment just came off as weird
While there were things I didn’t care for on this show such as how Cody’s turn played out, whatever they’re doing with Eli Drake, and the lowly DCC, all the main focuses delivered. The wedding was wacky entertainment as were the Hardys and they did a much better job with Barnett this week.
Let us know what you thought below.