Impact 10/29: Damn you, Hulkster

A couple days ago, I relayed a message — Hulk Hogan is returning to professional wrestling via TNA — and I was none too happy about it. He’s a mid-50s man with mid-80s knees, hips and back…carrying as much weight (a legit 300-plus  pounds on a 6-foot-4 frame) and doing steroids for as long as he did will do that to a brother. *inserts Hogan impression* He was damn near immobile during the last match many would have seen, his win over Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2006. He can’t get it done in the ring, and he doesn’t really do business.

Still, the son of a bitch sucked me in on Thursday night’s Impact, which ended with taped footage of his initial press conference Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. A bold move, to say the least, since MSG is the Mecca of a certain wrestling promotion he helped launch to the stratosphere in the 1980s and has a No. 3 show with ratings comparable to the show he will soon join.

He looks like he always has, which means he’s an outstanding physical specimen for 36, let alone 56…the pythons are still in full effect. He sounds the same. Most importantly, he still has that undeniable charisma that, despite the inevitable letdown in the ring, still gives fans that glimmer of hope. That belief that, just like he did when we were young(er), he can take on whatever comes and get the job done.

No matter what, if only for a few moments, he makes you a Hulkamaniac all over again.

Obviously the Hogan signing was the big focus, which was good since Impact (which was taped last week) was a bit dull and needed something to prop it up.

Speaking of the show: Kurt Angle‘s face turn is complete thanks to the utter despicability (is that a word?) of one Desmond Wolfe. However, Wolfe clotheslined the shit out of Angle and ‘injured’ him. I wonder if this has anything to do with his arrest not long ago? … Chris Sabin is lucky he isn’t severely injured after taking a yurinagi (newbies read as: Rock Bottom) from Bubba Ray. He took the full force of the throw with the back of his head, which is Bubba’s fuck-up. Good to know Sabin’s OK, but his dome still can’t feel too well.  Awesome Kong spent her week just coming to the ring and beating the shit out of people. Well, the second time she wasn’t too successful (thanks to Tara), but it was still pretty sweet. I wish someone in WWE would do that. Imagine Orton just snapping and making a couple sneaky run-ins, chair swinging. … The TNA championship storyline involves A.J. Styles just chillin’ in the back, then getting jumped every week. It seems like you would use your best storylines on the strap, but clearly Vince Russo is seeing things differently (of course). … Get Rhino off the air. Hell, put Hogan in his place. This is already more ink than Rhino deserves. … Give Hernandez a belt! … Speaking of belts, Eric Young has supposedly retired the TNA Legends title and called it the TNA Global championship. He won’t defend it on American soil or against American wrestlers because we don’t deserve it. I like this guy. … But I like the Beautiful People more.

Yes…

Yes…

And oh yes.

In the words of Kevin Nash, “Stay wet, my friends.”

ECW 10/27: The perfect champ?

Christian has been in ECW for far too long…or so I thought before finally getting a chance to watch Tuesday night’s show.

After watching his ECW championship match with Yoshi Tatsu, and remembering a recent match he had with Zack  Ryder, it’s easy to understand why: Christian is the perfect ECW champion.

Does he deserve to be on one of the other shows? Of course. However, he’s ideal for this show. He’s got plenty of experience, but he’s still young enough (35, and with no extra weight or major injuries) to keep up with the new blood. He’s a big enough name (thanks to his prior work with Edge, two NWA titles and now two ECW titles) to bring instant credibility to a show that somehow gets ratings near the level of TNA Impact.

Most importantly, he’s savvy enough to make the young guys look good.

His latest gem was against Yoshi Tatsu, who was hyped non-stop in promos leading up to, and during, the show. A few minutes before the match, it would’ve seemed impossible for Yoshi to lose.

He did, but not before an entertaining match that undoubtedly will elevate both guys. Yoshi took a multiple-time world champion to the wire. Christian maintained his reputation as a fighting champion and continues the WWE’s longest current major (OK, so that’s used a little loosely) title reign.

Then, he got the living shit kicked out of him by the Round Table — Ezekiel Jackson, Vladimir Kozlov and William Regal. Wonder who’s getting the next title shot? (And, face it. Regal deserves it.)

New stuff

Though we didn’t see the trifecta, there were a couple new elements in ECW. The first was Tiffany’s new music, which was a long time coming. At first, ECW recycled the music of a certain former Diva from Idaho:

First off, if you don’t know, you really better ask somebody. Second, if you *do* know, Google her with SafeSearch off, scroll through a couple pages and thank me later. Anyway, moving right along…yeah, Tiffany has new music. Cool.

Another addition was Byron Saxton, who joined Josh Matthews on the announce team and held his own. Though I was a fan of Bryon’s work, one question came to mind: WHERE THE FUCK IS MATT STRIKER?! Well, the answer is here, courtesy of PWTorch.com. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, go to MyNetwork on Friday night, watch/listen, and enjoy.

NEXT BLOG: TNA Impact (surely featuring far too much news on the Huckster)

Hulkamania is gonna hobble wild on TNA! Woooooooooooo!

Some earth-shattering news from Total Nonstop Action wrestling, which apparently wants to cease any and all action. In an attempt to draw attention upon itself and boost meager ratings, TNA has signed 56-year-old Hulk Hogan. Oh, and Ric Flair, 60, could also be on the way.

So sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy WCW Monday Ni…I mean, TNA Impact!

Seriously, these moves could straight-up kill TNA. Though he retired in the perfect fashion, Flair can still physically get it done at some level. However, at this point he’s taking a spot from someone younger and better. Hopefully, he would use that spot to elevate some guys and show them a thing or two. Or he could become one of the best managers of all time.

As for Hogan…fuck.

I grew up a Hulkamaniac from about age 6, and I marked the fuck out when he returned and reformed the nWo. But he showed he was washed up then…SEVEN YEARS AGO. Now he’s just gonna get back to being buddy-buddy with Kevin Nash, wrestle guys like Scott Steiner, Flair and Sting, and try to destroy an entire organization in the name of his own personal gain.

Where, pray tell, have I seen this before. Wait, I think I’ve got…nope, maybe it was…oh yeah, that’s right.

RAW 10/26: Storyline starters (feat. gimmick infringment, paint and cockblocking)

The WWE enters this week in a weird place, mainly because there’s a major pay-per-view coming (Survivor Series), and basically all the major storylines ended Sunday night at Bragging Rights. As a result, it’s scramble time to set up compelling angles in a matter of weeks.

SmackDown! has its money rivalry set, we hope: Batista vs. Rey Mysterio in the classic ‘best friends until one turns on the other’ angle. Undertaker will defend Goldie against Big Show, which the latter claimed was his reason for turning on the RAW team in the 7-on-7 Bragging Rights match.

After Monday night, RAW has three semi-decent angles it can run with heading into Survivor Series, in reverse order of importance:

The Miz vs. Jack Swagger

This angle has been there for a few weeks, but it appears WWE finally is deciding to run with it. Over the course of the night, Miz and Swagger competed for Eve’s attention…though after hearing her dreadful voice announce the Miz’ match, I’m not entirely sure why. Oh yeah…she’s hot. Carry on…

Anyway, Miz loses his match to Evan Bourne via countout because Swagger straight-up cockblocks him during the match. He walks down the ramp, grabs a mic, stands with his back to the ring, tells the Miz nobody is watching his match and stares at Eve the whole time while doing so.

Pros: Puts two solid upper-mid guys together, gets someone besides Kofi Kingston in the U.S. title picture

Cons: Ummm…both these guys are heels, and pretty despicable ones at that. While I personally will love this angle, the majority of fans will have trouble picking someone to root for, which means they’ll have trouble being interested. Count on Swagger to get the cheers, since he’s the lesser of the two evils here.

Kofi Kingston vs. Legacy

The seeds were planted at Bragging Rights, when Cody Rhodes blamed Kofi for the 7-on-7 loss and attacked him. Kofi then broke up Rhodes and DiBiase’s run-in during the ironman match between Randy Orton and John Cena.

You won't like Kofi when he's angry...

Fast-forward to Monday. After Kofi defeated Chris Jericho, who was proudly toting the Bragging Rights trophy all night, Orton attacked Kofi on the ramp. A few minutes later, Orton’s cronies give him a present as a token of their appreciation (or something like that). Since Kyle Busch and Joey Logano (two NASCAR drivers, if you’ve been living under a rock) were guest hosts and brought their cars to the arena, it only made sense for Rhodes and DiBiase to buy Orton a car with a kick-ass Orton paint job.

Later in the show, all three members of Legacy are in the ring and, by this point, all three have stated their cases as to why they should be the one to challenge Cena at Survivor Series. Meanwhile, Kofi wants a piece of Orton and just so happens to be standing on Orton’s new toy.

Kofi, the ‘phony Jamaican’ (as exposed by D-Generation X last week) with the perma-smile, proceeds to lose his shit and take it out on the car. He keys it, then crowbars it, then pours a bucket of orange paint on the hood. Totally unexpected, yet totally awesome.

Pros: Instantly elevates Kofi, lets him work the mic, puts him in a real rivalry besides ‘I want your belt’ for the first time, gives Orton something to do with someone new to avoid the same old boring dreck WWE has thrown at us since before WrestleMania, keeps Rhodes/DiBiase at a high level as they improve, keeps the inevitable DiBiase face turn/Legacy breakup angle on ice since they can go to that at any time.

Cons: None. Even if this is a short story, it’ll be a good one, especially in the ring.

John Cena vs. D-Generation X

No, Cena’s not turning heel or anything like that. He needed somebody to wrestle at Survivor Series, so it was decided by Hornswoggle that he will face HHH and Shawn Michaels in a triple-threat match.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Supposedly, Busch and Logano had trouble figuring out who Cena would face. Hornswoggle carries a grudge against DX, so he somehow convinced the guest hosts to put them both in the WWE title picture.

As to why Hornswoggle carries a grudge? Read on.

This man has decided the fate of the WWE title...

Apparently Hornswoggle is an HBK fan, because in recent weeks he has dressed as HBK and mimicked the DX crotch chop at any opportunity possible. HHH keeps telling him to stop, but the little bastard keeps on going.

After interfering with yet another Chavo Guerrero match in his new favorite ring attire, Hornswoggle was served papers (I know, right?!) saying he must cease and desist his gimmick infringement. Clearly this pissed him off enough to try to stick it to DX.

As a result, we actually have a major title match with some intrigue. Good job, little guy.

Pros: Shawn Michaels gets a shot at the strap, a slight change of pace from the Orton/Cena/HHH triumvirate that has plagued the title picture, the potential for great comedic promos of one-upsmanship involving all three parties, Shawn Michaels gets a shot at the strap.

Cons: WWE will inevitably find a way to screw this up. Sad times.

NEXT BLOG: ECW (featuring Yoshi Tatsu and Christian for the Ford bumper belt)

Bragging Rights (featuring a Tin Man match for the WWE title)

Earlier tonight saw the completion of Bragging Rights, a WWE pay-per-view featuring three matches between RAW and SmackDown! superstars/divas/let’s just call them ‘wrestlers’ for…you guessed it…bragging rights. The other two matches were a 4-way for the World Heavyweight title (which will be referred to as ‘Goldie’ from this point forward) and an ironman match between John Cena and Randy Orton for the WWE title.

In theory, a great card, right? Hell, I just added $40 to my cable account, and I’m broke as shit.

Unfortunately, as has been the case with WWE for quite a while now, in theory does not mean in practice.

Here’s a short breakdown of each match, for those who wisely chose to save their money:

U.S. champion The Miz def. Intercontinental champion John Morrison; RAW leads Bragging Rights, 1-0

This match should’ve been better, but it was acceptable. Plus, these two will have far more chances to compete against each other in the future, assuming one doesn’t go the Marty Jannetty route and shovel vast amounts ofThe Miz

booze, pills and who knows what else into his body.

Morrison flew around and outside the ring because he’s Young Shawn Michaels 2.0 (with a better look and better gimmick). Miz played his angry, overaggressive heel part and relied some chicanery and about as much of a power game as is believable from a professional wrestler who weighs 230 pounds.

The match revolved around Morrison’s finisher, a split-legged corkscrew moonsault from the top rope called Starship Pain. The first time he set it up, Miz rolled out of the ring. The second, Miz got up, threw off Morrison’s balance and pinned him. A better finish would’ve been desired, but it was a sneak one and, well, The Miz is supposed to be sneaky.

Women’s champion Michelle McCool, Beth Phoenix and Natalya def. Divas champion Melina, Gail Kim and Kelly Kelly; Bragging Rights tied at 1.

There’s really not a lot to say. It was dull. It was boring…it was a WWE Diva match. Beth hit her finisher on Melina for the win. Now let’s move on, but not before a gratuitous photo of Kelly Kelly…Kelly. For more, Google her real name (Barbie Blank) and thank me later.

Feel better? So do I. Moving right along…

The Undertaker def. Batista, CM Punk and Rey Mysterio to retain Goldie

The biggest part wasn’t how Taker won (or how). It was the Rey/Batista dynamic, which resulted in quite possibly the best part of the PPV that didn’t involve John Cena getting the holy shit kicked out of him. At one point, Batista hits his powerbomb finisher on Taker, then covers. Mysterio breaks up the pin, since that’s what you do when it’s a Fatal 4-Way.

Batista loses his shit.

First, he breaks up Rey’s cover then, after a brief argument, shoves him out of the ring. After the match, Josh Matthews interviews the pair in the ring. Batista says he’s tired of his friend stabbing him in the back, then beats up a man half his size to a pulp. That, my friends, is how you turn heel.

Naturally, this sets up for Batista and Rey to settle things at Survivor Series, then possibly a heel Batista facing Taker for Goldie at Whatever-the-Hell-the-WWE-December-PPV-Is-Called.

As you noticed, CM Punk wasn’t much of a factor. Oh well. I’m sure as a result of his diminshed role he’ll go have a smoke, or get tanked, or snort some…oh wait. He’s the Straight Edge (TM) dude, right? Oops!

Chris Jericho, Kane, Finlay, Matt Hardy, R-Truth and The Hart Dynasty def. D-Generation X, The Big Show, Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, Kofi Kingston and Mark Henry; SmackDown! wins Bragging Rights, 2-1, and earns a shiny trophy.

Basically, a typical example of the WWE philsophy that, since tag-team matches are cool, they should fit as many  people as possible in a tag-team match. First off: No. Second: Why not save something like this for Survivor Series, go elimination-style and avoid a clusterfuck?

It also followed the typical WWE formula: normal tag match for a while, things start to break down, bodies fly everywhere right before someone hits a finisher on the only other dude in the ring. This case was a little different. With the choice of beating up fellow tag champion Chris Jericho or RAW teammate Kofi Kingston, Big Slow did the latter and chokeslammed top-rope-perched Kofi.

SmackDown! wins and Todd Grisham seems happy that it is the ‘superior’ brand. Yay.

John Cena def. Randy Orton, 6-5, in Ironman Match to win WWE championship

John Cena. Randy Orton. No DQ. Ironman match. Even WWE can’t screw this up…right?

…right?

Wrong. Very wrong.

The first ironman match was a classic. Unfortunately, Randy Orton and John Cena are not Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels.

To put it mildly, this match sucked. It sucked so bad, I’m not even gonna waste a ton of space on it. There were some cool spots (simultaneous RKO and Attitude Adjustment, Orton DDT from apron to floor, Orton trying to blow Cena up with pyro on the stage, Cena hitting the Attitude Adjustment from the newly transported ring steps onto the announcers’ table), but a lot…I repeat, a lot of cheap pins. It was like the booking committee decided the more decisions, the better the match.

WRONG.

Hart/Michaels at WrestleMania XII was a classic, and it had zero decisions in 60 minutes. This was an ironman match intended to keep the attention span of the legion of 8-year-old Cena fans. Meanwhile, this 24-year-old Orton fan quickly lost interest because basically anything resulted in a pin. Plus, I’m sure they could have cut this match even at a semi-moderate pace and done all these spots in about 25-30 minutes.

Oh well. Get used to more of what’s below, against an opponent who likely will be instantly elevated from the middle of the card. Oh boy.

Impact 10/22: Ultimate X, ultimate fun

One of the oldest and biggest challenges in wrestling is to create matches that are more exciting than the typical two guys going at in the middle of the ring.

TNA has met that challenge to perfection with Ultimate X.

The object is similar to that of a ladder match: you have to grab the X (or belt) to win. The twist in Ultimate X (which features wrestlers from the X Division) is the X hangs from ropes that the combatants must negotiate to get to the X.

TNA Bound For Glory had an Ultimate X match for the X Division title last Sunday. On Thursday’s Impact, the No. 1 contender match for The British Invasion’s TNA tag team titles also was an Ultimate X match.

I took two things from the match. The first is obvious…Ultimate X fucking rules. The second is how nice it is to watch guys just go work…quickly…instead of the WWE style of the same guys busting out the same 3-4 moves, then calling it a match. Lethal Consequences and the Motor City Machine Guns put on a great athletic display, and it’s cool that MMG will have a shot at the straps.

Tag team excellence

Speaking of tag teams…I almost forgot what it was like to watch great tag team wrestling until I started tuning into Impact a few weeks ago, and they were featured this week. Beer Money and the Brits had a Six Sides of Steel (read as: cage) match for the titles that featured a chain suplex/powerbomb/God knows starting at the top of the cage and involving all four people. All four appear to still be alive.

Also, there’s some mediocre-at-best angle involving Team 3D and Rhino. During Rhino’s match, in which Buh-Buh/Bubba/Brother Ray visited the announcers’ table, insert-varation-of-name-here Ray mentioned his team’s newly won IWGP tag team titles. That doesn’t seem too fascinating, except for the fact that he was discussing their 23rd world title reign. For those of you scoring at home, that’s Ric Flair plus 7. Think about it.

Parting shots: I hope the new Bobby Lashley/Scott Steiner angle involving Steiner hitting on Lashley’s wife goes away quickly. Like quicker than reading that last sentence … Title match for the next pay-per-view: A.J. Styles/Samoa Joe/Daniels. Sounds like fun. Not a huge fan of Joe, though. Not sure why…maybe because he’ll get in the way of a high-flying spotfest. … I love watching Amazing Red work. During his match with Homicide, he did a leapfrog-into-powerbomb-variation movement that…well…was simply amazing. I can’t even describe it besides wow. Just wow. … Kurt Angle. Face turn? Ummm yeah, that appears to be what’s happening. Now he respects everybody, except probably for some British dude who blindsided him twice. Angle gets cheers because of his in-ring ability, but it’ll be interesting to actually see him get them because of his character. … The Beautiful People were way too yummy to begin with. Now, they’ve got Lacey Von Erich. I’m just gonna leave you on the below note and call it good.

ECW 10/20: ‘I am the best in the world at what I do…’

“…but I still job to Christian on ECW.”

That’s how Chris Jericho should finish that sentence from now on after his ‘scouting trip’ to ECW on Tuesday night.

Since there wasn’t anything for the ECW champion to do but watch a No. 1 contender match between Yoshi Tatsu and Zack Ryder (won by the former), ECW GM Tiffany (who made her a GM anyway?) put Jericho in a match with Christian after Y2J correctly stated that, as one of the tag-team champions, he can be on any show he pleases.

Jericho claimed to be “scouting” for talent for his SmackDown! team in a 7-on-7 match against Team RAW at Sunday’s Bragging Rights PPV, which makes me wonder what the hell WWE is gonna do at Survivor Series next month. Tiffany didn’t like that, so she put him in a match that he lost after about 800 failed attempts at the Walls of Jericho, his glorified Boston Crab finishing move.

Sure, it makes sense to try to finish off an opponent, and the fans understand that. However, it is *entirely* necessary to go for the same move at least three or four times? Didn’t think so…(take note, WWE: don’t rely so much on signature moves when scripting a match.)

Christian also went for the Kill Switch unsuccessfully at least twice before finishing off Jericho. It’s something the WWE does to dilute what otherwise would be a fantastic 1-on-1 match between two veterans. Let the men call some matches, dammit!

Anyway, some other notes: I don’t know where ECW got its new ring announcer (Lauren Mayhew, I believe), but she’s actually getting better by the week. She was terrible and screechy two weeks ago, but appears to have worked hard to upgrade herself to “tolerable.” She’s still nowhere near the level of Justin Roberts, who could probably call out a Chinese takeout order and make it sound exciting. … The fans *love* them some Yoshi Tatsu…and I tend to agree. The guy’s talented and adds some exciting elements to each match. He’s got martial arts skill *and* charisma, which basically makes him a more talented, less stupid, Japanese version of X-Pac. … Zack Ryder has one of the best gimmicks I’ve ever seen, and the music to go with it. Once you hear “Ohhhh radio…” a couple times, it *will* get stuck in your head. And then you will thank me.

NEXT BLOG: Thoughts on TNA and SuperStars (if it’s worth a damn).