The purpose of this column is to examine through opinion pieces, TV and PPV recaps and upcoming show previews what is happening in the world of TNA Impact Wrestling…which, let’s be honest, you probably didn’t watch this week.
Leave It In The Vault
With TNA’s 11th anniversary show just weeks away I thought it would be a good time to take a look back. I’ll have year by year reviews going up soon to lead up to Slammiversary…but today we’re going to take a look at the very first show TNA ever ran. When they began, TNA ran exclusively on Wednesday Night on PPV. Yes…even while beginning with this model they are approaching their ELEVENTH anniversary. This was originally written in March 2011.
NWA TNA Week 1 – June 19th, 2002
Mike Tenay looks roughly 30 years younger. I know it’s popular to worry about Angle and Hardy but I think we’ve found a bigger problem.
They start with a legends ceremony because their NWA ties are the most important thing to them and I assume always will be. In an omen of things to come the ring broke right before they went on the air.
This man broke it in a dark match. They let him work in the same ring again later that night.
Harley Race, Dory Funk Jr., Jackie Fargo, Corsica Joe, Sarah Lee, Bob Armstrong and Ricky Steamboat are there. Four of them would go on to become WWE Hall of Famers, two would die of embarrassment within 8 years and Jackie Fargo was never heard from again (meaning he appeared a few more times on NWA-TNA programming). Steamboat starts putting over the NWA title and Tenay talks during every breath he takes…so that’s not a new thing. Jeff Jarrett comes out and buries the Gauntlet For The Gold match that he booked for later. Jackie Fargo takes offense to this and says Jarrett has to enter the match first. Tenay concludes he has this power because he’s an “NWA representative”…thus beginning the long storied in joke of “who is running this company”. Ken Shamrock also comes out to bury the Main Event…followed by Scott Hall…who like Shamrock lets everyone watching know that the match sucks.
The dancing girls in the cages bring us back. How did this company ever get national TV deals and big name stars? The ring is fixed so it’s time for the first official match in TNA history. It appropriately features three of the most important names in early TNA history (AJ Styles, LowKi and Jerry Lynn) even more appropriately taking on…the flying Elvises.
TNA HISTORY LESSON
For those that don’t remember, the Flying Elvises were a three man group consisting of Jorge Estrada (who sucked), Sonny Siaki (who sucked but if you squinted enough kind of looked like The Rock if you left him in the dryer for too long), and Jimmy Yang (who as always was just happy to be there). They wrestled in cheap jumpsuits
They cut back to the legends watching a tiny monitor backstage and they act like they’re discussing the talent coming out. Well…most of the legends as Harley has gone M.I.A. That’s why he was an eight time World Champion. Tenay hasn’t come up with the “It’s not about weight limits, it’s about no limits” line yet…so it takes him a lot longer to explain what the fuck an X division is. Apparently all this time it stood for eXtreme style.
TNA HISTORY LESSON
For those that don’t remember, the X division was the TNA attempt to brand the high flying style that WCW had with its cruiserweight division. It is noted for giving a lot of young wrestlers a place to showcase their abilities and routinely stole the show until TNA abandoned the concept in 2007.
The announcers inform us that next week Lynn, Styles and Low Ki (along with Psychosis) will be involved in a round robin tournament to crown the first X division champion…so of course they lost here. The match was all the fast paced big moves that the X division used to be…with Jorge Estrada only almost killing someone once (Low Ki on a neckbreaker). Ed Ferrara tried to question whether the Styles team could co-exist knowing they’d be opponents next week…and Low Ki accidentally hit Styles leading to the loss…but instead of using any of that they cut to the dancing girls in the cages. Yang pinned Styles.
They go immediately to the second match and let the record show that the second ever match in the history of the promotion was…a midget match. Earlier Puppet the midget gave a promo on this match meaning that they’ve built more storyline into the midget matches than the X division title match next week. It was every midget match you’ve ever seen. Teo pinned Hollywood.
Don West and Ed Ferrara are in the ring to introduce the participants in next weeks lingerie battle royal. Francine, Shannon (Daffney with pink hair in the first of 4 different roles she’d play in TNA, 6 if you count injured and jobless), Alexis Laree (pre boob job Mickie James), Elektra, Taylor Vaughn (who was B.B. in WWE…and has the record for the saddest list of accomplishments on a Wikipedia page. Go ahead and look. I’ll wait) and a few other people who never did anything. This sucked.
Mortimer Plumtree introduces his tag team…the Johnsons. Richard and Rod Johnson. They would go on to become the Gymini in WWE. Funny story…they were the NWA tag team Champions as the Shane Twins until TNA took over and stripped them of their titles. Not content to stop there…here we see TNA stripping them of their dignity:
They face off against James Storm and his first TNA tag team partner…Psychosis. Storm’s character here is an actual cowboy (complete with firing cap guns for his entrance) and not the genius post modern version we’d come to know and love. Nothing match. Storm ate the pin. For those keeping track that means that all four participants in the X division title match next week lost. This company is nothing if not consistent. Alicia Webb (Ryan Shamrock) had come out to watch the match and afterwards referee Slick Johnson (wearing pants!) gave her money. Here it is
ladies and gentlemen…the first recurring storyline in TNA history. I can’t wait to see where this goes.
Talentless bitch Goldylocks is backstage with the Dupps (whose greatest achievement is that one of them went on to become Trevor Murdoch). I only bring it up because when they pop open a couple beers Bill Behrens comes in and tells them to put them down because “we don’t want any intoxicated wrestlers out in our ring”.
They bring out Sterling Marlin and Hermie Sadler to talk about Nascar. This brings out K-Krush (Ron Killings/The Truth/R-Truth) who hits the ground running with his first race baiting promo. The crowd is VERY into hating that he knows he’s black. Brian Christopher comes in and uses his opening match offense to take out K-Krush. Segment had way too much heat for what it was. The fucking south, right? Killings looked like the biggest star on the show.
The Dupps beat Christian York and Joey Matthews.
Toby Keith came out to sing one of his “America is great and everyone else sucks” songs. If you’ve ever watched TNA you know what happens. Jarrett comes out and interrupts the performance giving them their first clip that they’d use in every video package they’ve ever made.
This lead to the Gauntlet for the Gold for the NWA title. I’m not recapping this nonsense…just know that the big stars they had to go after the NWA title were: Jeff Jarrett, Buff Bagwell, Apolo, Brian Christopher, Steve Corino, Del Rios (nope), Chris Harris, Scott Hall, Konnan, K-Krush, Lash Leroux, Slash (Wolfie D), Norman Smiley, Rick Steiner, Malice (The Wall), Ken Shamrock, Devon Storm, Vampire Warrior, Bruce (Alan Funk) and Abyss without a mask. Toby Keith came down and suplexed Jarrett leading to his elimination…giving TNA the second clip that they’d use in every video package they’ve ever made.
It came down to Shamrock and Malice in a singles match (and really…isn’t that how every battle royal should end?). Steamboat served as ref. At one point Shamrock had Malice in a cross-arm breaker and I swear this man tapped out in every conceivable fashion but everyone ignored it. Shamrock pinned him after a belly to belly suplex.
Jarrett is still pissed about the title being won in a battle royal. After watching it I can’t say he’s wrong.
Historical Significance: Shockingly low considering it’s the first show. Sure it had the first TNA matches of guys who would become cornerstones like AJ Styles and James Storm…but Styles would win the first X title, and Storm would team with Chris Harris for the first time…the next week. Which was actually taped the same night. Yes. The same night they had Storm team with Psychosis. They crowned their first champion…but it was one of the more unmemorable champions they’ve had.
Best match: It’s like choosing between children that your wife had with another man. Styles/Lynn/Ki vs. The Flying Elvises
TNA Champion: Ken Shamrock
TNA X Champion: n/a
TNA Tag Champions: n/a
Final Thought: Show was an epic failure for all involved. I give this company 8 weeks tops.
Impact Recap 5/9
Impact was better this week. At least it seemed more focused and exciting than it has been.
The big news was the return of Abyss as a character for the first time in forever. He took out all of Aces and 8s by himself and won the main event 6 man for his team. He, of course, is not the person challenging for the TNA title at the PPV…so do with it what you want.
Bad Influence and the team of Austin Aries and Bobby Roode finally had their match. It was going good until storylines took over and James Storm laid out everyone. I just really hope this is going in a direction other than another tag title three way. Any other direction.
Magnus got a win over DOC in a match that wasn’t too bad…but was only a cheap win for Magnus. He would be taken out by Aces and 8’s for the millionth time later in the show. Hopefully this angle ends with Magnus locking them in the clubhouse and setting it on fire. He’s earned it.
Velvet and Mickie James beat Gail Kim and Tara in a tag match. It was the usual “good when Velvet isn’t in” knockouts tag match. Gail destroyed Tara after the loss. Velvet really sucks.
The show long storyline (other than who will be Angle and Sting’s partner) was D-Lo Brown being demoted in Aces and 8’s. It’s fine character development to have Bully Ray verbally berating his weak links…but no one cares about D-Lo Brown.
We had the usual AJ Styles segment where someone (this time Angle) confronts him and he backs away. This one was better because the crowd was into it…but they need to do something with Styles soon.
Finally we had the first X Division match building segment in…I don’t know…ever. Kenny King called out Chris Sabin to put over his rehab efforts and then tell him he’d never beat him. King came off really well…Sabin doesn’t talk a lot for a reason. Built a singles match between the two well enough. Oh…wait..this is the X Division and they don’t do singles matches anymore. These two will actually face off next week in a 3 way with Petey Williams. Now I just feel bad for Petey. At best maybe they’ll drop the 3 way rule for a big singles match between Sabin and King at Slammiversary. At worst…hey someone remembered the X Division!
Impact Preview 5/16
Next week’s Impact is already taped so this is just a spoiler free look at the lineup.
Kenny King defends the X title in a 3 way against Chris Sabin and Petey Williams.
Joseph Park (not gone even though Abyss is back) takes on D-Lo Brown.
Christopher Daniels vs. Hernandez.
Velvet Sky vs. Gail Kim.
Christian York vs. Jay Bradley in the first of two first round matches (the other will be Sam Shaw vs. Alex Silva on a later show) to determine which Gut Check winner gets into the BFG Series. Go Sam Shaw.
The “Main Event” is a contract signing for Sting vs. Bull Ray at Slammiversary.
Speaking of Slammiversary…coming out of the tapings with only 2 shows left until the PPV…you’d still have to guess at a lineup other than the title match. One would assume an X title match with whatever 2 challengers are in the queue and yet another three way for the tag titles. Why not just throw Matt Morgan into the TNA title match and have all three ways for the titles. I’m joking of course. Never put Matt Morgan anywhere. What they should do is start the BFG series on this show and load up the card with great singles matches to kick off the tournament. Without knowing exactly who will be in the series…one could at least guess that Angle, Styles, Roode, Storm. Aries and Joe would be in there. Boom 3 awesome PPV quality singles matches without having to put any effort in. That throw away idea will beat whatever they do instead by a mile.
Impact’s time slot is going back to 9 o’clock starting on May 30th. The ratings for the 8 o’clock hour never got up to what they were doing from 10-11…so this is probably a good thing.
TNA is partnering with YouTube for a new pay channel. WWE turned them down. UFC is doing it too. For 5 dollars a month you get access to all kinds of past programming. Because you’d never be able to find that on the internet otherwise.
The next One Night Only show will air in early July (June is Slammiversary) and will be the Hardcore Justice ppv that has the reportedly excellent Bad Influence vs. Young Bucks ladder match on it. It also features LAX! vs. The New Church (Slash and Sinn), ODB vs. Jackie Moore, a six man with James Storm, Magnus and Bob Holly of all people vs. Aces and 8s, Joseph Park vs. Judas Mesias in a Monsters Ball match, a hardcore gauntlet with names like 2 Cold Scorpio, FUNAKI, Sam Shaw, Devon Storm, Gunner getting another random appearance and others. The Main Event is Team 3D vs. Spike Dudley and Jeff Hardy in a tables match. Even though these shows take place outside of the regular TNA universe…it still probably lets you know that we’ll see Jeff Hardy back by or at Slammiversary.
The list of upcoming TV/PPV tapings is as follows:
5/23- Tampa, FL (the live 5/23 show and the taped 5/30 show)
6/2- Boston, MA – Slammiversary XI
6/6- Duluth, GA – (the live 6/6 show and the taped 6/13 show)
6/20- Peoria, IL (the live 6/20 show and the taped 6/27 show)
6/29- Las Vegas, NV (taped to avoid July 4th, the 7/4 show and the 7/11 show)
7/18- Louisville, KY (the live 7/18 show and the taped 7/25 show)
8/1- Wichita Falls, TX (the live 8/1 show and the taped 8/8 show)
8/15- Norfolk, VA (the live 8/15 show and the taped 8/22 show)
8/29- Cleveland, OH (the live 8/29 show and the taped 9/5 show)