In ring segment with The Main Event Mafia, Chris Sabin, interrupted by Bully Ray: Good mic work from Sabin but besides that none of this hooked me into wanting to watch the show. The Main Event Mafia continue to be dead air to me and Bully Ray trying to sue TNA because he got screwed out of the World Title is eye-rolling. The lawyer was pretty over the top ridiculous though so I found that entertaining.
Manik won the TNA X-Division Championship in an Ultimate X Match against Sonjay Dutt and Greg Marasciulo: Last week I was disappointed in the Ultimate X qualifying matches. This week, the winners of those matches put on one of the best opening I wish that we had seen more spots on the X itself, but the Jig ‘N Tonic on the ramp and Sonjay/Marasciulo brawling on top of the structure provided some memorable moments. I really enjoyed the finish sequence, and my palms were sweating with nervousness due to the dangerousness of the situation. Whenever a title becomes vacated, it’s tough to restore credibility to the belt right away. However, by having these three guys tear the house down, TNA pumped fresh air into the lungs of the X-Division immediately.
Mr. Anderson beat Hernandez by pinfall to pick up 7 points in the BFG Series: These two surprised me quite a bit. The match itself was solid, but the clever finish took it to the next level.
Mickie James beat Gail Kim to retain the TNA Knockouts Championship: It’s often difficult to gets fans into a match between two heels. However, these two ladies brought it. The action was really fast early on, and they hooked the audience with their skill rather having one of them do the obnoxious “babyface for one match” thing that tends to happen in these situations. Gail Kim continues to show that she is one of the best female workers on the planet, and Mickie James, who won the title seemingly out of nowhere, has done an unbelievable job as champion. Like I said earlier- Gail Kim is one of the best female workers on the planet. By pairing her off with ODB, TNA seems to be weakening her stock in favor of putting Velvet Sky back into a title feud. Sky doesn’t have the crowd behind her the way that she once did, and is nowhere near the caliber of worker that Kim is. It’s irritating to watch on as Sky takes over the spotlight while Kim is shoved into the background again despite clicking on all cylinders.
Christopher Daniels beat Samoa Joe by pinfall to pick up 7 points in the BFG Series: I thought these two put on a solid match, but I thought the finish was a little bit goofy. The fake interference felt hokey and unnecessary. It didn’t come across well, and it took the wind out of my sails.
AJ Styles beat Jeff Hardy by submission to pick up 10 points in the BFG Series: I may be in the minority heel, but I really liked AJ’s ring work here, and felt that it helped take this match to the next level. When Jeff Hardy is forced to sell and his high spots come in moments of desperation, his matches come across better. AJ working a slower, more physical style served in guiding Hardy. I liked the Pele Kick being reintroduced, and the roll into the Calf Killer was a great finish. Though I have taken issue with some of his promos, I have enjoyed AJ’s ring work since his turn, specifically the killer instinct that he has shown.
Sabin/Bully in a Cage: While I didn’t enjoy their initial match as much as a lot of other people, I think that the cage format will be great for these two. It will provide Sabin with an environment to innovate, and it will also allow for Bully to utilize his physical offense. The dynamic should be interesting as well, with Sabin coming in as the champion, and Bully knowing that Sabin can beat him.
I thought that this was one of the best episodes of Impact Wrestling in some time. The Ultimate X match was crazy, Anderson and Hernandez surprised me, the women put on a great match, AJ Styles continued to grow into his character, and the announcement of the Sabin/Bully cage match is intriguing. Although I am not a fan of Velvet Sky moving into the Knockouts title picture, Mickie James has been a miracle worker lately and could end up making their rivalry compelling. The BFG Series is shaping up interestingly, and although I was opposed to AJ Styles winning earlier due to his character, if they keep him off the microphone and let his ring work do the talking, I would honestly be fine with him winning the whole thing. Go out of your way to see this week’s show. 8.5/10.
Randy Orton d. Damian Sandow: This didn’t manage to be interesting for its whole run. It started off rather slowly and meandered for quite a while, but it did kick up a notch down the finishing stretch and Cody Rhodes’ appearance helped kick off an entertaining show long storyline. In an addendum to my little rant about squash matches on Raw, with a little build-up this could have made for a fine PPV match, but gets thrown away for free on Smackdown. It is almost like they aren’t listening to me. Hmph.
This Punk is a Pipe-Bomb: When CM Punk gets a microphone and talks about his hatred for Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, it invariably ends up being wonderful. Thus, this promo was wonderful, and enhanced even further. He didn’t say anything particularly new and revelatory, but it was effective nonetheless. The GTS to Fandango t the end was a tad unnecessary, but the hapless dancer’s selling of it was pretty neat, so thumbs up there.
Mark Henry & The Usos d. Wade Barrett & The Prime Time Players: The match wasn’t up to much and it was inconsiderate of WWE to sacrifice my compatriot Wade Barrett on my birthday, but it wasn’t offensive or anything and helped strengthen the status of Mark Henry and the Usos.
Alberto Del Rio d. Rob Van Dam: Well this was disappointing. I would have like a fun little sprint to set up a lengthier, meatier Summerslam match between the two, but instead we got Alberto Del Rio running away for a bit before landing a superkick and winning. Who gets over in this situation? Rob Van Dam’s been on surprisingly excellent form since his WWE return, and this was just a waste of him. What a letdown.
The State of the Mind Address: The title of this segment was creative and AJ Lee’s promo to start was really good, but as soon as Dolph Ziggler came out this descended into a painfully unfunny segment in which BITCHES BE CRAZY, which is a sure-fire way of annoying me. Ziggler had a few semi-amusing lines, but the absolute silence of the crowd, even for the conclusion in which Ziggler and Kaitlyn wiped out Langston and AJ, tells you all you need to know.
The Wyatt Family d. Tons of Funk: Bad news everyone: The Wyatt’s are just another group. Well, they still have a cool entrance and the promos have bigger words, but there’s nothing truly special about them or their targeting of Kane. Still, always nice to see Brodie Lee.
Christian d. Jack Swagger: These two have good chemistry dating back to their ECW days together. Hey, remember WWECW from around October/November 2008 onwards? It was brilliant, wasn’t it? You had new stars and consistently excellent main events and it all felt so fresh and fun. I miss it quite a lot. Anyway, this match was fine, probably around ** 3/4,.
The Long Awaited Return of the Gulf of Mexico: The Gulf of Mexico came back last night to team with Cody Rhodes and humiliate Damian Sandow, adding the Intellectual Savior of the Masses’ name to its illustrious list of victims which also includes Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero. I like show-long storylines a lot, they always make whatever broadcast they consume standout and usually prove to be entertaining. While Rhodes continues to act like the second most morally bankrupt good guy in WWE, he remains worth watching with his charm and physical charisma, and Sandow is just great.
I actually liked this Smackdown, because things actually happened on it. Sure, many of them were negative things, but it’s so refreshing to watch a blue-branded show, which doesn’t exist in a dream-like world where nothing that happens within affects the rest of the universe. It felt energetic and purposeful and the Rhodes-Sandow thing was pretty fun, so mild thumbs up! 6.5/10