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New beginnings. Those rare occasions in which we are given the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start anew. We are given so few chances to start over, that when one comes around we seize it with both hands and hang on as if our lives hung in the balance. Tonight TNA could have a new beginning; they promised us they would. We have been told the return of Sting will change the face of TNA, that it will wash away all the failures and disappointments of the past, and put TNA on the path to wrestling Valhalla. Can the weight of TNA be carried by the shoulders of Sting, will others in the company help him carry the load, or will his spine snap under the massive strain? 2006 holds the answers to these questions, and the opening paragraph of it?s thesis will be read tonight.
The show started off with a lackluster fireworks display. It was the same display they use at the start of each Impact taping, but for some reason it did not seem to have the same audible effect as it usually does. Perhaps this was just a sound/microphone problem but the explosions that are normally heard in the impact zone, were replaced with a few halfhearted pops instead. Lest we forget that we are watching a TNA presentation all the usual suspects could be found in the crowd, Towel Guy, Hardy Girl Fan #1, (who may actually be a guy), and the Hardy Girl Fan #2-3 Family were all there, (though the Hardy Girl Fan Family were out of costume).
Match 1: Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, and Roderick Strong vs. Matt Bentley, Chris Sabin, and Sonjay Dutt
If you want to start a show with fast paced action, these are the guys to send out. Everyone worked at a very quick pace and all were able to get in some of their signature moves. I expected this to be a very good match, and so I was not surprised when that turned out to be the case. They obviously were trying to ?turn it up? a notch for the PPV and did so successfully. The match ended with Shelley getting a roll up on Bentley. Not only did I enjoy this match, I learned something as well; apparently TNA wrestlers get a discount at the local Super Cuts. Last month it was Joe with the hairdo malfunction, this month both Shelley and Sabin looked like they had lost bests with the backstage stylist. This was a great start to the show, and I hope TNA can keep it up.
A video package detailing the fall out of Konnan and the 3LK is played, and we are then sent to the ring for the second match
Match 2: Primetime & David Young w/ Simon Diamond vs. The James Gang
Ok first the hair. Continuing the nights theme of styling tragedy, Kip James came to the ring sporting what I will call the palm tree look. Apparently the rubber band he used to achieve this look was so tight that it disrupted the blood flow to this brain, preventing him from counting past three. This was evidenced by his statement: ?I got three words for ya: Get it, Got it, Good?. This match was decidedly slower that the first, and did not stand out over the course of the night. I hoped to see a lot of effective double teaming from The James Gang, elevating the two beyond their individual limitations, but it just didn?t happen. They wrestled like any two wrestlers that had been thrown together. They didn?t do anything wrong, failed to do anything stellar. The match itself was standard fair, (although Primetime came out of the gate very strong), things settled into a typical pattern, and after a little simulated sodomy thrown in by BG James, Kip James got the pin on Primetime. Unless you want to pay to see BG?s ?anal penetration hold? there?s nothing here worth the bucks.
The Fallen Angel then gives an interview backstage. Although it was obvious Daniels was trying to be very passionate and emotional during the interview, his acting ability was insufficient to pull it off, giving the entire interview a fake/mediocre feel to it.
Match 3: AJ Styles vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
?Who the hell is Hiroshi Tanahashi?? That?s what I asked myself when the participants made their way to the ring. Once the match started I then asked ?Why the hell didn?t TNA show some clips of this guy before the match; he?s great?. This was a very entertaining match, AJ and Hiroshi work similar styles resulting in reversals, counters, and unique moves at every turn. There was some miscommunication/missed spots during the match, but both were working so hard, and so fast that they were easy to forgive. Hiroshi had the advantage through much of the match, however a ceremonial plaque shot to the head by Shannon Moore gave AJ the win. Tough luck for Hiroshi, but at least AJ got his Mr. TNA plaque back, that is until Moore stole it again. Matches like this are what PPV?s should be about, if TNA had let us see some of Hiroshi?s matches prior to the PPV, they might have upped their buy rate.
A video package and interview from Raven was next. He ponders this fate as only Raven can, leading us into the next match. Although Raven can give great interviews, he seems to be rather hit-and-miss of late. Sadly, I think he missed tonight.
Match 4: Raven vs.
As has been the case the past few months Larry Z, entered the ring and announced Raven?s opponent. This time however Larry informed us that this was a do-or-die match, either Raven wins and gets a title shot, or he leaves TNA. Larry then introduces Raven?s mystery opponent?wait for it? the one, the only X Pudgy! Er, I mean X Pac. I won?t spend any more time on X Pac physical appearance other than to say if you put on a few too many pounds, don?t wear spandex. For a win or leave the company match, the crowd didn?t seem to be as interested in this match as I would have thought, and frankly neither was I. X-Pac seemed a little rusty, and much of the match seemed uninspired. There was a nice bit with a shopping cart, but that was the only thing above par about the match up. A ref bump meant that Larry Z had to act as referee, and in the end he sounded the bell for X-Pac after a 3 count. At the end of the match, Raven gave a weak wave to the crowd and then walked off into the sunset, (or as we would learn later into another video segment). Loser leaves the company contests are always PPV worthy matches, I just wished the in ring work had a greater sense of importance.
Ron Killing?s interview is up next, but he had his time cut short by a reconciliatory Konnan, who was looking to mend fences. Killings would have nothing to do with it, and we are taken to the next match.
Well, almost. Don and Mike tell us that there are unknown developments happening in the back, and so we are once again sent backstage. Here we see a taunting Larry Z harassing Raven as he makes his way out of the building. He is interrupted by Jackie Gayda, who with her inside linebacker shoulders and two sizes to big implants seems almost seems more strapping than half of the x division. She again alludes to so sort of shocking information that she is aware of and suggests that Raven could be affected by it as well. Larry leaves with her in tow to discuss things and we are once again taken to the ring.
Match 5: Ron Killings vs. Bobby Roode
This match started of excellently, with Killings and Roode going at it hold for hold. Eventually however, their pace slowed, as did my enthusiasm for the match. Each got in their signature moves, however neither did anything to elevate the contest to a PPV worthy levels. While there was certainly nothing wrong with the match, there also was nothing special about the match. Everything seen here is available for free once a week. The match ended when Killings, distracted by a ring side Konnan was hit with Roode?s clothesline and pinned. After the match Konnan again tried to reconcile with Killings, which prompted a run-in by BG James, which brought in Homicide, which brought in Kip James and his trusty steel chair. Kip clears out the ring and special note is taken that Killings made no attempt to help either side in the scuffle. Not much to crow about here, I bet you?ll get just as good a match free on Impact next week.
Up next is my nomination of promo of the night. James Mitchell accompanied by Abyss, tells us of the impending doom that will momentary befall Rhino. Mitchell is a microphone master and it showed here. When Mitchell finished, a video package of Rhino?s recent history is played, and we are then taken to the ring.
Match 6: Rhino vs. Abyss w/ James Mitchell
I was expecting a slow plodding match through out, but I was pleasantly surprised to find this was not the case. The match started out at a brisk pace. slowed in the middle, but then picked up speed near the end, (that sounds like telling a story in the ring to me). Abyss used his usual manhandling tactics, while Rhino got in his quick power moves to level the playing field. James Mitchell however made the difference tonight as he was able to distract Rhino long enough for Abyss to hit the Black Hole Slam onto a few chairs. Although there wasn?t much new here, the finish was well done and I think this match makes the PPV cut.
Team 3D is interviewed next, followed by a video package detailing their plight, and drive for revenge.
Match 7: Team 3D vs. AMW w/ Gail Kim
What can I saw about this one? It was a typical Team 3D/AMW outing. Big guys, doing big power moves with table spots thrown in. It?s difficult for me to describe this one, perhaps the best I can do is say watch any AMW match then watch any Team 3D match and then combine the two. Sorry, but this just seemed to be a little to by the numbers for me. The only thing that wasn?t a repeat of every other performance these teams have given in the past was the finish, and the finish just shows us that just because something new/unexpected doesn?t make it good. The match ended with the ?powered in the eyes of the ref? making the 3 count, but thinking that the other team won trick. The match wasn?t that great, they make you think the good guys won, and then they take that away from you. It all just made this contest very disappointing. These two team fighting over the title is a PPV match up but, in the end your left with a very unsatisfied feeling.
Next, Jeff Jarrett and Monty Brown impart their wisdom to us in an interview, followed by a video package featuring the Fallen Angel.
Match 8: Fallen Angel vs. Samoa Joe
I don?t find it at all surprising when the phrase ?Match of the night? is paired with the name Christopher Daniels or Samoa Joe. When you put great workers together and turn them loose great things happen. As you might expect this was a very good match. Daniels held his own against Joe going back and forth throughout the match. Only when Joe exploited Daniels concussion did the tables turn and Joe?s momentum become unstoppable and the match had to be stopped. This one was definitely worth paying to see, not only for the in ring work, but also in the way the out of the ring storyline played into the outcome of the match. If only TNA could do more of this sort of thing.
Jeff Jarrett and Monty Brown greet us again, this time in a video package, where they repeat everything they just said 15 minutes ago. Christian Cage then gets some mic time backstage before the start of the final match.
Match 9: Jeff Jarrett and Monty Brown vs. Christian Cage and Sting
Ok it?s show time, Jarrett, Brown and Cage are in the ring, time for Sting to make his grand entrance. Will he come down from the rafters? Will he descend from the top of the projection screen? Will he appear in the top of the stands? No, he?ll just walk out of the tunnel like everyone else. I was hoping for a grand entrance but I guess budget and facilities didn?t allow for it. I imagine the questions on everyone?s minds were ?how?s Sting gonna look, and how?s he gonna perform?. He looked pretty good, a littler older, not as muscular, and maybe 5-10 pounds heavier than he would like to be, but he?s still a big tall guy, with an acceptable physique. He kept his in ring work very very basic. Taking great care not to try anything fancy, or task himself beyond what was necessary. He was part of a team tonight, and made no attempt to do the ?one man army? routine, in fact I think Christian logged much more ring time than he did. The match itself was average, but having Sting there definitely helped. No one did anything crazy, as they all worked well within their comfort zones. Team Canada tried a run-in to help Jarrett and Brown, but we all know you can?t keep a good mime down, and in the end Sting gets the pin on Jarrett with the help of his trusty baseball bat.
New beginnings. As I said they are few and far between and should never be squandered. TNA could have chosen to start a new chapter in the story of their company tonight, but instead it seems as if they are satisfied with releasing last years fair and changing the dates.
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