Before we get there I feel that I should give my thoughts on the show. As is always the case with TNA they got some stuff right and some stuff very wrong. Falling firmly into the latter camp was the use of Hulk Hogan. After months of not appearing on TV at all Hogan made his return to the promotion on the previous week’s IMPACT, accepting the job of General Manager that had been vacated by Sting.
On paper having Hogan as an on-screen authority figure is a fine idea. It allows Hogan, a big name, to appear on the show each week to put over babyface acts without needing to wrestle. That’s exactly the sort of role Hogan should have been in from the beginning of his TNA career instead of embarking on his spotlight-stealing heel run alongside pal Eric Bischoff. He appeared at the beginning of the show to set up matches for the show as well as Lockdown, TNA’s next pay-per-view. That was the logical thing to do seeing as ‘The Hulkster’ had only just accepted the GM position. There wouldn’t have been a problem had things ended there.
That wasn’t to be: Hogan came out for a second segment later in the show to bicker with Eric Bischoff and set up a Lethal Lockdown match for the PPV. That could have been done during his show opening address. He closed the show too, reversing the decision of the main event to favour Mr Anderson. This was all in addition to the numerous backstage videos he appeared in. Hopefully in the coming weeks TNA will realise that less is more and limit Hogan’s screen time.
The only other negative that sticks with me was the treatment of Austin Aries. His brawl with Bully Ray saw him presented as ‘Calfzilla’s’ equal for a few seconds before getting wiped out with a powerbomb. ‘A Double’ should have been able to counter that and sent Ray retreating up the aisle. If the two are going to feud then Aries has to be presented as Ray’s equal during physical confrontations, despite the significant size difference. If that doesn’t happen then interest in their eventual match won’t be what it should be. TNA clearly want Aries to get over as a babyface. For that to occur he needs to be able to tackle guys bigger than him.
Thankfully the rest of the show was very enjoyable. The six way Knockouts match was superb, far better than anything you’re going to get in either WWE or ROH (TNA’s two main rivals). For that reason alone TNA needs to keep working hard on the Knockouts division: it’s something you won’t get anywhere else in mainstream US wrestling. The only bad point of the match was that the entrances were shown in full directly before an ad break. Could the air time that the six entrances received not have gone to the match instead?
Chris Sabin looked excellent in his return match alongside Alex Shelley and while their post-match promo was a little stilted it did at least make it clear that the Guns have a goal: they want the TNA tag team titles back. The Hardy v Angle and Roode v Anderson matches were both good in terms of quality but could have been far better without the disappointing finishes. Storm v Styles was an excellent display that showed ‘The Cowboy’ deserves the push he’s currently getting.
A mostly positive show. I hope that trend continues.
Hulk Hogan promo with the roster at ringside
Tweet 1: A Hulk Hogan promo opening a wrestling show? Is this Nitro?Tweet 2: I like Hogan's gimmick of mixing metaphors.
Tweet 3: I miss the days of commissioners in wrestling. It's all about GMs these days.
Tweet 4: The wrestlers Hogan's talking about are at ringside. Why is he addressing a camera?
Tweet 5: Flair's piping up. Of course Hogan looks at him, he's a star.
Tweet 6: Bobby Roode's talking. All I can think about is how great this show would be without Hogan, Sting and Flair.
Tweet 7: Anderson v Roode on TV. Nah, don't save big matches for pay-per-views. There's no point.
Tweet 8: A ten minute Hulk Hogan promo is not the way to open a wrestling show in 2012. It wasn't a great idea in 1988...
TNA's new General Manager: Hulk Hogan
Kurt Angle v Jeff Hardy
Tweet 9: Brian Hebner annoys me. Referees are not meant to draw the eye but he wears the most ridiculous blue trainers ever.Tweet 10: Angle v Hardy on free TV is fine. It's a good match that should keep people watching. They're feuding too, so it makes sense to book it.
Tweet 11: Slapdash juice job by Angle there.
Tweet 12: Jeff botches one of his top rope moves. Tazz refers to it as "classic Hardy." The sad part is that he's not wrong.
Tweet 13: Twist of Fate, Tenay? That was a Stunner and you know it.
Tweet 14: Count out finish aside that was a good match. Shouldn't have opened the show though. Non-finishes set the wrong tone.
Assorted backstage vignettes
Tweet 15: Ric Flair making a call to Bischoff is getting TV time? C'mon...Tweet 16: Great! Bischoff is on his way! He wouldn't have come had Flair not rung him, you know.
Tweet 17: Bully Ray next world champion? I don't see it somehow. It's not impossible though.
Bully Ray and Austin Aries confrontation
Tweet 18: A backstage Ray promo followed up with an in-ring Ray promo. Odd way of doing things...Tweet 19: 'A Double'. Awesome stuff. My favourite TNA performer right now.
Tweet 20: That was a hefty powerbomb.
Tweet 21: Great way to make Austin Aries look like a jobber, TNA.
More backstage stuff
Tweet 22: The Joseph Park, Man of Mystery push continues.Tweet 23: Roode v Storm video package. Angle looks OLD.
Tweet 24: Both men are talking about proving themselves to earn their way up the card. It's not often that's true but it is for these two.
Tweet 25: Storm and Roode have both improved a lot and deserve to be in prominent spots. TNA needs to keep pushing these two throughout 2012.
Tweet 26: Who's emailing James Storm to say "kick Bobby Roode's butt"?
Tweet 27: AJ Styles is a mid-carder. He shouldn't be but he is. TNA doesn't know how to use the talent it has.
Tara v Angelina Love v Winter v Madison Rayne v Mickie James v Velvet Sky
Tweet 28: Six way Knockouts match. Get ready for Tazz to bury an entire division with casual misogyny.Tweet 29: Why aren't Angelina Love and Velvet Sky together as the Beautiful People? That's the best way to utilise them both.
Tweet 30: Velvet Sky gets the final entrance. That means she'll be booked as the star of the match.
Tweet 31: STUPID cut there. They televised six entrances then cut to a break! Show us the last woman entering and start the match instead.
Tweet 32: Good reaction for Mickie James when she tagged in. Tazz and Tenay ignored that to hype the Eric Young bachelor party video.
Tweet 33: This match is FAR better than anything the WWE Divas are going to (be allowed to) produce anytime soon.
Tweet 34: A slow-paced finisherfest ended that match. Velvet Sky got the predictable win. Sky v Gail Kim should be a good match.
Tweet 35: Still to come: a Hogan and Bischoff confrontation. Joy.
Yet more backstage chicanery
Tweet 36: Hardy and Storm at a southern music awards ceremony. Storm dressed in that gimmick hat is an embarrassment.Tweet 37: He should be doing all he can to present himself as a headliner and TNA as a credible organisation. That outing will not help.
Tweet 38: Was that the entire EY video? The commentators made it sound like it would go on far longer and be filled with all sorts of whacky antics.
AJ Styles v James Storm
Tweet 39: If I were AJ Styles I'd see how much money ROH were willing to pay me, He's done everything he can in TNA. A year away would refresh him.Tweet 40: Styles v Storm is better than I thought it would be so far. They seem to be getting a lot of time.
Tweet 41: Storm wins via a beautiful Last Call after ducking a moonsault. Good match. Good finish.
Hulk Hogan and Sting talk backstage
Tweet 42: More TV time for Hogan? Do we really need to see him talking to Sting? The answer, of course, is no.
Tweet 43: Hogan needs Sting at 120%. This is stupidity.
Motor City Machine Guns v Mexican America
Tweet 44: Chris Sabin returns. Lovely stuff.Tweet 45: Anarquia looks nondescript. Hernandez looks old. I'm not a fan of their act.
Tweet 46: Chris Sabin looks fantastic for a guy who's been off for a year.
Tweet 47: So many guys have tattoos in TNA. It's astounding.
Tweet 48: The Guns win, naturally. Short but enjoyable match. This post-match promo is slightly less entertaining.
Eric Bischoff’s arrival and Confrontation with Hulk Hogan
Tweet 49: Bischoff shows up half an hour before the show finishes. Are we supposed to believe that?Tweet 50: I love Bischoff referencing Flair being a two time Hall of Famer. To be clear that's WWE's Hall of Fame. Y'know, TNA's rivals?
Tweet 51: Time for Hogan's second in-ring segment of the night.
Tweet 52: Bischoff’s stalling is grating.
Tweet 53: Bischoff's ranting needs a direction. This is painful. Meandering, you say?
Tweet 54: Why is Hogan wearing sunglasses?
Tweet 55: Team Eric v Team Garrett. Looks like the Garrett push isn't ending any time soon. Here's why.
Tweet 56: These are some weird stipulations Hogan is laying out...
Tweet 57: If Eric's team wins Garrett Bischoff will no longer be a part of TNA. If Garrett's team wins Eric cannot use his birth name any more.
Tweet 58: Hogan even specified that Eric can't use his name at the mall if he loses. What sort of idiocy is that?!
Tweet 59: For the record I don't care who wins that match. Even if Garrett does lose he won't be going anywhere.
Mr Anderson v Bobby Roode
Tweet 60: Anderson v Roode. Anderson's act is very over in the IMPACT Zone. Pretty impressive considering he's been doing the same thing for years.Tweet 61: Nice pacey start to the main event. TNA is getting stuff right this evening.
Tweet 62: A series of matches will take place to determine who gets the "man advantage" in the Eric v Garrett bout.
Tweet 63: That series will go exactly like the traditional coin toss: the heels ALWAYS win.
Tweet 64: I am amazed by how over Anderson is. TNA should make use of that popularity. Doubt they will though.
Tweet 65: Ahhhh, a ref bump. It's a TNA classic.
Tweet 66: Bobby Roode smashes a bottle over Anderson's head. Brian Hebner makes the count despite LAYING IN GLASS to do so.
Tweet 67: Tenay described using a glass bottle as "a loophole."
Tweet 68: For the second time tonight I find myself writing that aside from the finish that was a solid match.
Tweet 69: I could have done without Hogan's third in-ring appearance of the night though.