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Shades of Gray #2

For those that missed last week’s column, “Shades of Gray” will explore both the positive and negative aspects of selected topics. This way, no one can say I shit on everything. Plus, it’s always good to remember, as Jack White says in the rockin’ new Raconteurs album, “There’s always another point of view.”

TNA’s Live Impact

Finally, TNA produced a live Impact, something I proposed way back when in my “How To Improve TNA” column. Live shows have a more unpredictable feel, and there were certainly a few unpredictable moments on Thursday’s show. For one, seeing Highlander Rob-, er, Dereck Graham-Couch in the audience was unexpected, but then again, what did it accomplish (other than pissing off a few of his friends in the TNA locker room)?

Admittedly, I O’d when I saw him because it was a shock, but I doubt the casual fan even knew who he was, considering the dude hasn’t been on TV for awhile. In an interesting note, TNA has since removed his name from their website after writing about his appearance on Friday.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Farrior and Detroit Tigers pitcher Joel Zumyah were also in the Impact Zone – this, in addition to the show being filmed live in the centre of the wrestling universe – gave Impact a greater sense of significance than previous broadcasts.

Overall, I liked the show, but it wasn’t without its faults. I really liked the “in media res” start of the show, with Roode and Booker brawling in the crowd. However, their match later in the show ended with Booker going over after bloodying his hated rival - - where do they go from here? In a rational world, Booker T has just exacted his revenge and now the feud should be over . . . except they have a mixed tag match at Lockdown. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Roode, with help from Peyton Banks, to bloody Booker and potentially hurt Sharmell again, making Booker even hungrier for revenge heading into the match at Lockdown?

On the positive side, I liked the Rough Cuts segment with B.G. and Kip James. It had a shoot-like feel and not only put over their match at Lockdown, but the tag titles too. Unfortunately, they cut to the segment just as Steiner was continuing his “initiation” of Petey Williams after losing to LAX. These quick cuts are actually a regular problem on Impact - they don’t allow things to develop before throwing to a backstage interview or commercial.

Speaking of LAX, though, they are OVER. They got one of the biggest reactions of the night, and they did so at the December house show in Oshawa as well. I agree with Donnie who said on Rated O Radio a few weeks back that Hernandez is a budding star - but I’d like to see LAX have a run with the tag belts first, which are being wasted with A.J. Styles and Tomko right now.

Samoa Joe’s MMA-like training video was another positive to the show, as it helped legitimize his title match at the PPV. Overall, TNA is doing a good job of giving Joe vs. Angle a “big match” feel. Angle’s sparring session helped put him over as well. But on the negative side, it made Tomko, a guy who they were building up as a future world champion and a guy who will be the captain of his own team at Lockdown, look like a chump.

On another negative note: they gave away Sting’s in-ring return for free. I thought this was going to be one of the major selling points for Lockdown? Another negative note: numerous dirt sheets are reporting that this show only drew a 1.0 rating, which is actually lower than their usual 1.1 or 1.2. I, for one, would have predicted a larger-than-usual rating as it was better than most Impact offerings and Sting’s return was heavily hyped. This has to be a huge disappointment for TNA. Perhaps Sting isn’t that big of a draw anymore.

LLW: Reloaded

Sure, the show happened a week ago, but Tha O Show is actually the LLW show, right? In all seriousness, this is “Shades of Gray” so this will be a fair assessment. On the negative side: it was really cold and the building was in its beginning stages of renovation. Also, the people sitting in front of me wofted the occasional rotten fish smell my way. I also didn’t understand Fatty’s rationale that wearing an Easter bunny costume counted as drag because people in the pride parades can wear costumes if they so choose. But from an in-ring standpoint, there were absolutely no complaints.

Tyson Dux wrestled in 3 - yes 3! - matches, ultimately winning the LLW Heavyweight Championship in another classic encounter with “Dangerboy” Derek Wylde. It was obvious to see why Dangerboy has so many nagging injuries - - for example, he took a sick bump on the concrete floor after delivering a dropkick to Dux who was placed on a steel chair. In another solid match, Michael Elgin and Josh Alexander pretty much beat the shit out of each other for 20 minutes. We also were treated with a surprise appearance by Santino Marella, who was more than gracious with the hundreds of fans who approached him.

I also finally got to see what Rico Montana looks like (he’s jacked by the way - no wonder he’s a mark for the big guys). And Dan-e-o reminded me how much managers are solely missed on TV these days. He played the antagonizing, “can’t wait to see that guy get punched out” role to perfection. Cody Deaner was OK, too. In all, the boys showed why many consider Ontario the crown jewel of indy wrestling.

WrestleMania Preview matches

"Raw", "SmackDown!" and ECW all showcased what they called “WrestleMania preview” matches this week. On the plus side, we got some good matches, such as Carlito and MVP vs. CM Punk and Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin vs. Carlito, CM Punk vs. John Morrison and Chris Jericho vs. MVP. The MITB ladder match looks a little stronger after this week, but it was overkill.

I know it’s been said before, but you can throw the whole brand extension idea out the window. All three shows were pretty much the same this week - you could have watched just one of the shows and not felt like you missed anything. The whole purpose of the brand extension was to establish two distinct brands (and three once ECW was added). It can still be done, but the fed needs to keep workers exclusive to their respective shows. What’s the incentive to watch ECW, when its two biggest stars, CM Punk and Shelton Benjamin, routinely wrestle on "Raw" and "SmackDown!"? To watch Stevie Richards and Mike Knox? Ummmm . . . no.

As always, feedback is encouraged, O-sters. Leave a comment or send me an e-mail if there’s a particular topic you’d like me to discuss. Check back next week for another edition of “Shades of Gray,” which will certainly contain some thoughts on WrestleMania.

3 comments: on "Shades of Gray #2"

D.J.B. said...

Nice article and good points. Next week how about covering Kevin Thorn with hot butter and feeding him to the animals...wait, that's just innapropriate.

Seriously though, another great article making great points.

Andrew Gray said...

Nice - I can always count on DJB to bail me out of the dreaded "0 comment" lol

Thanks, dude

I'd like to write about Kevin Thorn, but to keep up with the "Shades of Gray" gimmick . . . what is there good to say about him?

D.J.B. said...

Kevin Thorn? That's easy! There was...uhh, yeah, the thing with Ummmm.....damn you got me. Oh wait, ARIEL, but she's gone now. Fuck if I know. He did have a cool finisher but I can't remember if he still uses it.