TNA Impact Wrestling Review 7/25/13 & WWE Smackdown Review 7/26/13

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

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WWE Impact Wrestling Review 6/27/13, WWE Smackdown Review 6/28/13

Suicide” beat Chris Sabin and Kenny King to win the TNA X-Division Championship: A really fun and entertaining match to open the show but the finish seemed lost on the crowd. Interesting way to end it and I love the way Sabin sold the loss; man looked like he was going to bawl (***).

Adam Ohriner beat Ryan Howe: TNA’s fan voting for the Gut Check was a creative idea. However, in this scenario, it led to Adam Ohriner, also known as “The Big O,” getting a match and winning. I don’t blame Ohriner for leveraging his popularity from Zack Ryder’s internet show into a great opportunity. That said, I don’t feel that he is ready to compete on such a big stage. Howe didn’t fare much better, showing off little more than his hokey character, and I’m hoping neither guy is back (DUD).

Mickie James Beat Velvet Sky: This match was better than the previous one between these two, but it was still a bit clunky. Though Velvet is over, she really struggles in the ring. I’m hoping that she doesn’t get the title back at any point in the near future. Mickie is a better in-ring worker with the most interesting character in the division. TNA should move her onto something new soon so that she isn’t wasting her efforts in a feud that creates nothing but awkward matches. TNA pride themselves on being an alternative product, and part of that is their women’s division. Just a week ago, Brooke Hogan talked about how proud she was of the division’s competitors and the buzz that they had generated for their ring work. TNA built on that this week by having Velvet Sky cry after losing her match. This didn’t make me pity Velvet; it just made her look like a whiny bitch. Instead of having her act like a grown woman, TNA had her act like a child. It’s hard to hold their women’s division in high regard when you can tell that the people writing it don’t hold women as a whole in a high regard (*1/2).

Magnus beat Bobby Roode: Though it was at the expense of Bobby Roode, who hasn’t been able to catch a break as of late, Magnus picked up another win and is still on top of the Bound for Glory Series standings. While I feel that he will most likely fade off a bit as the tournament progress, I like that TNA is making him a focal point. He can talk, wrestle, and carry himself well, and this run on top of the standings will be a good litmus test to determine if he can be a top guy (**1/2).

LOL UR GAY: Robbie E and Jessie Godderz appear to have formed an alliance, dubbing themselves “The Bro-Mans.” While I can’t imagine them having any five star matches any time soon, I think this idea would be okay for an undercard jobber tag team. However, instead of being showcased that way, they were in a promo with the TNA Tag Team Champions, James Storm and Gunner. James Storm inferred that Robbie E and Gooderz are gay with subpar delivery, which is great comedy in 2013. The reason this ends up in “The Wrong” is because it showcases just how badly the tag team division has gone into the shitter. Not long ago, Bad Influence and Roode and Aries were putting on great matches every week. Now we have James Storm making gay jokes and a bunch of guys who could disappear forever without fans even noticing.

Samoa Joe beat Ken Anderson: I felt a little torn when Samoa Joe joined The Main-Event Mafia. On one hand, Samoa Joe has been great recently. He’s been wrestling with intensity and showing some fire on the microphone. It appears as if he is motivated once again. If this means that Samoa Joe’s work is being rewarded, and he will be a focal point of the company, that’s great. However, a large part of me worries that instead, Joe will be lost in the shuffle as merely another guy who is in a stable. This is one of those wait-and-see issues, so we’ll do just that (*1/2).

Austin Aries is Suicide: First off, let me through this out there: I like unpredictability. When watching a wrestling show, the “anything can happen!” element is a good thing. However, I like unpredictability to be founded in logic and to make sense. Austin Aries beating up a guy backstage prior to a match and presumably stripping him naked with no one noticing is a bit out there. On top of that, we are now left with more questions than answers. For example, what will happen to Aries’ spot in the Bound for Glory Series? Though this was surprising, it now seems like TNA’s X-Division has gone nowhere in the last year. Austin Aries already got his rub. TNA could have given a chance to someone new, but they didn’t. Instead, they’ve gone with Aries for the second straight year. The idea of Aries finding a way to insert himself in the title picture is fine, but this was the wrong way to go about it, and it most likely took away a big opportunity from someone else. This is the kind of convoluted trash that made me stop watching TNA from 2008-2011.

This was the worst episode of Impact that I can remember in some time. Most of the booking made me want to put my head through a wall, and while the in-ring action was okay, there wasn’t one match in particular that stood out. While there were a lot of things of consequence that took place, my reaction to them was either, “let’s wait and see” or “this is not good.” The main storyline for the episode (Aries is Suicide) was hokey and ridiculous. Let’s hope that things get back on track next week.

Show Rating: 4.5

Sheamus d. Damian Sandow: This was rather stupid, and not always in a good way, but on the whole it was an entertaining enough brawl to make the right section. The spots with the beer-keg and the sack of potatoes and the green weaponry weren’t really that funny, but the match improved once it became more heated, and both wrestlers appeared to be enjoying themselves throughout the bout. The finish was pretty darn cool as well. Hopefully everyone involved in this feud can move on to more meaningful matches from here (***).

MizTV w/ Paul Heyman: This wasn’t great. The verbal sparring between the Miz and Paul Heyman was strangely limp and heatless; Heyman had a few nice moments, but Miz was awkward throughout, though the lack of fire on display was appropriate for the lifeless Miz-Axel feud. I wonder if this segment would have had a bit more purpose if it was based around the approximately 231 times more interesting Punk/Lesnar/Heyman love triangle, or whether both men were just having an off night. On the plus side, the Miz saved an abysmal Star Wars joke with the “Luke, you’re not your father” line to Curtis, which was genuinely clever. Hooray for that!

Natalya d. AJ: HAHAHAHA AJ HAD SEX WITH MULTIPLE PARTNERS AND ONE OF THEM MIGHT HAVE BEEN A GIRL!!!!!!!!! JBL’s appalled “OH NO!” when Kaitlyn insinuated AJ and Mark Yeaton had been together made me laugh, but the promo very much didn’t. Since about 2006 the women’s division has been a black hole of creativity, and this AJ-Kaitlyn feud has been sucked into it after an initially promising start (DUD).

Randy Orton d. Kane: I’m starting to have serious concerns that my confident prediction from last week that Daniel Bryanis turning heel might prove to be humiliatingly inaccurate, though his performance on commentary and bungled interference during this bout certainly wasn’t that of your conventional fan favorite. Anyway, this Orton-Kane match was hugely enjoyable, very nearly as good as the Orton-Bryan match from last week, with some surprisingly fluid sequences, close near-falls, and an enjoyable D-Bry cameo. I wouldn’t object to further matches between these two (**3/4).

Ryback d. Justin Gabriel: A Ryback squash is a Ryback squash is a Ryback squash. Jericho’s promo was fine but the feud isn’t anything to get worked up about.

Christian & The Usos d. The Shield: Remember when the Shield were nigh on invincible? Now they’re losing to Christian and the Usos on Smackdown. The match was good fun, with a suitably chaotic finishing sequence, but you get the sense WWE are slowly winding the Shield down, which is a real shame. Still, maybe this was a blip, and a very watchable one at that (*3/4).

Fiesta Del Rio: Del Rio’s such a great heel isn’t he? He manages to be sleazy, slimy, and quietly intimidating all at the same time, and while I couldn’t understand much of his promo, I’m sure it was excellent. The Ziggler Piñata was a nice touch, as was Ziggler commandeering the mariachi band. The segment felt a bit rushed and anti-climactic (WHY DID NO ONE GO FACE FIRST INTO THE SALSA?) but it was a nice concept and enjoyable enough.

This was one of the most painfully average episodes of Smackdown I can remember; nothing really bad happened, but nothing all that good occurred either, which in my eyes is worse than a show that makes the effort to be something, even if that something is awful. Two decent matches and an entertaining, if forgettable final segment aren’t enough to make this a worthwhile use of two hours.

Show Rating: 5.5