Saturday 14 May 2011

Sacrifice predictions

Last month I wrote a lengthy blog looking at TNA’s Lockdown pay-per-view. Despite being a creative dud Hulk Hogan was on Twitter in the days following the show claiming that it had set new highs for wrestling on pay-per-view. Sadly, Hogan very probably really believes that drivel and is under the impression that Lockdown is the sort of event fans want to see. I’m sure there are a few diehard TNA (or IMPACT Wrestling if that’s what it’s being called now, it’s yet to be made clear) fans who found the event enjoyable, but I can’t imagine anyone picking it as their favourite ever wrestling show. It’s hard to believe it would even be someone’s favourite ever TNA show. Even favourite TNA show this year is a stretch.

I was so unimpressed by the event that I considered not doing a write-up for the company’s next show, Sacrifice. In the end I decided that I would look at the show, but not go to the lengths I have with previous prediction blogs. TNA simply doesn’t warrant the energy.

Nine matches have been announced for the card. By far the least appealing of these is Crimson v Abyss. I’ve never really understood the appeal of Abyss and haven’t really seen anything to suggest that Crimson is someone to watch so I’m not expecting this to be anything memorable. Similarly, I don’t think we’ll see a great match from Mexican America v Ink Inc. Hernandez is a sloppy worker more concerned with looking cool than giving fans a decent match, Anarquia is new and likely won’t have enough time to make much of an impression, and Jesse Neal, while talented, has little ring psychology. The only man in the ring that means anything to me is Shannon Moore, but this match won’t get go long enough to allow him to produce anything meaningful.

On a more positive note, Mickie James v Madison Rayne should be another good match in their feud. I’d hoped that they’d start working with other people after Lockdown, but their program lasted another month and it looks as if Sacrifice will provide the setting for their blow off match. The stipulation is that if Mickie wins Tara no longer has to work for Madison. They could have Mickie win and Tara and Rayne move on to feuding with one another, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the match was marred by Tara swerve turning and helping Rayne win. As much as I’ve enjoyed the matches of these two it’s time they moved on to new angles.

Beer Money Inc v Matt Hardy and Chris Harris is going to be one of the night’s better matches. The commentary will likely feature unfocused blathering about Matt Hardy’s history of tag team wrestling with his brother Jeff and the fact that James Storm and Chris Harris used to team together as America’s Most Wanted. I think these aspects deserve a mention, but Tenay and Taz will probably witter on for the majority of the bout, only breaking the monotony to hype the main event.

I think Chris Harris’s return to TNA is far more interesting than the match itself. He was with the company for years and did some incredible work with Storm as AMW, but he reached a certain level and was never permitted to go higher. That was a shame. Harris deserved a top spot and had worked hard for it. He jumped to WWE, where he wrestled a handful of TV matches on their ECW show (wearing a singlet to disguise the fact that he’d put on weight due to not working out) before being released. I imagine he’d wanted to go there, make a name for himself (to show that he didn’t need TNA), and then head make to the iMPACT Zone for more pay than before and a lighter schedule than he’d have in WWE.

That didn’t work out for him. I hope his return to TNA does. He’s someone that should be used as a singles star.

AJ Styles is being wasted in a pay-per-view match with Tommy Dreamer. This match has been presented before and while it was okay it didn’t go so well that fans were left clamouring for more. It also doesn’t make sense to have Styles working with a man of Dreamer’s status as it makes him look like a disposable mid-carder when he should be the centrepiece of the company. It would have been better if Dreamer were booked to face Robbie E, who will clash with Brian Kendrick. Kendrick and Styles would have had a far more enjoyable match that could have elevated Kendrick, leaving Dreamer to do the inevitable job to Robbie. That second match wouldn’t have been great, but at least it would have provided a better opponent for Styles.

Kazarian and Max Buck will stand a good chance of being match of the night. There will probably be some sort of interference from Jeremy Buck or Robbie E, but even that won’t be able to stop this match from standing out in the ring. Twelve minutes would be a nice amount of time to give them. As far as a winner goes I’d go with Kazarian. He’s the best man to have the X Division belt right now.

As with Rayne v James, I’d expected Jarrett and Angle’s feud to wrap up at Lockdown. It feels like they’ve been feuding forever. Part of the problem with that may be that elements of this feud are tied to 2009’s real life revelation that Karen, Angle’s ex-wife, was living with Double J (they’ve since married). This hasn’t been helped by Joanie ‘Chyna’ Laurer being brought in as Angle’s tag partner for Sacrifice, with the storyline being that Kurt was having an affair with her whilst still with Karen. The inclusion of Chyna has made an already tricky to follow feud even more complex, made worse by the fact that Chyna and Jarrett feuded with one another in the WWF in 1999 (twelve years ago!).

This is another fine example of TNA bringing in stars from the WWF’s Attitude Era instead of giving the spot to one of their own stars or bringing in someone new for the role. It must be very disheartening as an employee. I know it’s disheartening as a viewer.

Chyna was never a great worker, but she wasn’t bad, and with Angle and Jarrett likely carrying the bulk of the match it should be okay. I’m concerned that Chyna’s involvement could mean this feud will continue for even longer, but hopefully I’m wrong. Angle is of far better use to the company as a star maker: the sooner he’s allowed to do that the better.

 Finally, there’s the main event: TNA World heavyweight champion Sting defending against Rob Van Dam. Yes, they’re expecting people to pay good money to see a match they previously gave away on free TV as RVD’s debut in the promotion (and it wasn’t even in the main event). Worse, that debut match lasted under ten seconds and showed that Van Dam could easily beat Sting. If they’d just held on then this match could have really meant something. As it is it’s going to be marred by their previous encounter.

I’m unsure what roles Mr Anderson, Hogan and Bischoff will play on the show. Presumably Anderson will be involved with the Sting and RVD match in some capacity and either Bischoff or Hogan will appear to cut a promo. It’s likely Mick Foley, revealed as a new babyface authority figure, could get involved in that too.

This show really doesn’t do anything for me. There are some matches that I’m sure will be good, but not featuring anyone that means much to wrestling in 2011. Samoa Joe, Matt Morgan and Christopher Daniels being left off the card is ridiculous, and is a perfect example of what TNA’s been doing wrong for years: focusing too much on performers with established names at the expense of creating their own. The sooner they sort their priorities out and start writing a product people can care about, the better.

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