Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Poll: What has been the best PPV of 2014 so far?

Two weeks ago, I asked the question, "Which tag team would you most like to see reform?"

The results are in!

And they are that the team most people want to see reform is Beer Money.

Are you surprised? I'm not.

This week, I want to know which PPV has been the best of 2014 so far.

Did you like the first part of Genesis best? Or the second? Lockdown? Sacrifice?

Let me know!

I'll see you on Twitter this evening for the UK Sacrifice live-blog.

– Stark

Monday, 28 April 2014

TNA Impact: UK Air Date 27th April 2014

My apartment block was on fire last night, but were the wrestlers on Impact?

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Rasslor.

Starting with the Knockouts, Angelina Love pinning Madison Rayne in their tag match was good.

Both have momentum going into Sacrifice, and it gives real ambiguity to the results. That works for me.

I don't know what's happening with Brittany's possible infatuation with Madison, though. With luck, they'll clear this up soon.

And infatuation brings us to Samuel Shaw.

Ken Anderson creeping on Shaw's family seemed hypocritical, but seeing Shaw's mother was awesome.

It added a neat layer of Oedipal creepiness to Shaw's obsession with Christy Hemme, and I still want to see more.

Speaking of family, had anyone else forgotten that Knux was on this show? Still don't understand his stuff either.

Ignoring the irritation of TNA 365, the two main promos were great.

Sanada's really work to make us connect with him on an emotional level.

And well. Do I even need to say that I loved seeing the Wolves? You know I do.

Of course, we can't talk tag teams without mentioning Beer Money's reunion.

It was a shame that they didn't use their old music, but we can't have everything.

Bobby Roode continues to dominate Bully Ray. He comes off as a credible threat and it works well.

But more important, and my high point of the evening: James Storm won a match, and he pinned Gunner.

I couldn't be happier for him. He finally looks strong, and just in time for Sacrifice. Perfect.

Less perfect was Bobby Lashley versus Kenny King.

King getting counted out was aggravating. And I can't shake the idea that Lashley was only in the match because they have nothing else for him.

But a bigger problem was MVP versus Austin Aries, my low point of the evening.

A Double has been off TV for six weeks. He needed to come back strong.

And instead, MVP beat him clean.

I know MVP needs to look strong.

But The Greatest Man That Ever Lived deserved the win more.

On a more positive note, EC3 and Rockstar Spud were wonderful.

The peptalk was funny. Spud's match against Kurt Angle was a delight. And Willow foiling EC3's assault on Angle was surprising but still worked.

I haven't seen Sacrifice. But I would love it if Willow were special referee in the Angle/EC3 match.

And finally, we have Magnus, Abyss, and EY.

Magnus firing Abyss? Fine. MVP giving Abyss a chance to win a contract? Okay, although I question the wisdom of hiring a violent masked lunatic.

Then again, MVP did hire Willow.

And EY on the mic? Absolutely great.

So why didn't I like it?

Because the build-up wasn't right. The whole match felt lacklustre. And the DQ ending was just disappointing despite the fun of Magnus's more violent side.

All in all, this show was fine. Not terrible, but not spectacular either.

Hopefully Sacrifice will have a little more spark to it.

See you Wednesday with a new poll.

– Stark

Friday, 25 April 2014

It Makes Me Feel so Good to Always Tell You When You're Wrong

Former heavyweight champ Magnus made an interesting tweet the other day.

He was talking about David Moyes, ex-manager of Manchester United.

But I was more interested in this: "It's easy to be a critic".

That idea is common in society. So much so that you can even find it movies for children.

And I want to discuss it today.

I've written about criticism before. In fact, my first opinion post was me disagreeing with Matt Hardy on who gets to criticise in the first place.

Image © Robby Green via Flickr.

And as both a writer and a reviewer, I'm in the right position to ask questions about the relationship there.

So. Are Magnus and the writer of Ratatouille's Anton Ego right, and is the work of a critic easy?

Is any old piece of creation more meaningful than a piece of criticism?

And what is criticism even for?

To answer the first question, yes... and no.

It can be child's play to criticise. Anybody can look at TNA, find something they dislike and say, "That's rubbish. TNA sucks."

That is easy.

But being a critic isn't.

Writing reviews is hard.

You have to find the right words and the right order for them.

You have to be succinct, brief and simple, but entertaining.

You have to grip your reader.

In short, writing a good review is itself an act of creation.

Creative non-fiction, perhaps. But still creation.

Even the simplest review takes effort and hard work that you will probably never see.

Which brings me to my next point: there is nothing inherently sacred about creation.

Image © tuku via Pixabay.

Ego's argument just doesn't hold up.

"The average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so"? No.

I'm a creator. I'm a writer. And not everything I write is good, deep or meaningful.

And that is true of every creator in the world.

And finally, criticism is meaningful because of its purpose in the world.

Critics are not evil. We're not Anton-ego like bogeymen. And we don't exist solely to ruin a creator's day.

Critics exist to point out what works, what doesn't, and how we can get better.

I study Creative and Professional Writing. When I show my tutors my work, I want them to criticise it so I can become a better writer.

Without criticism, art and culture stagnate. Nobody improves. Nobody gets better.

And that's why being a critic is neither easy nor meaningless.

We need critics.

We need professional critics like news journalists. We need entertainment critics like The Spoony One, Linkara and the Nostalgia Critic. And we need bloggers like me and the folks at TNAMecca.

Because without critics, we creators don't know what we're doing wrong. We don't know how to change it. And we don't know how to get better.

And who wants to live in a world like that?

So I'm sorry, Magnus, but I disagree with you.

Image © Simon Q via Flickr.

Sure, criticising is easy.

But being a good critic? That's a trickier business by far.

See you Sunday.

– Stark

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Poll: Team Team Reformation Extension

As you know, I was on holiday last week. And because I didn't know if there would be Internet, I extended the duration of last week's poll.

This week's question is therefore the same as last week: which tag team would you like to see reform?

Keep voting and I'll see you with the results next week.

– Stark

Monday, 21 April 2014

TNA Impact: UK Air Date 20th April 2014

I'm back and my holiday was awesome. Was Impact this week as good?

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Rasslor.

First, the question you're all asking: was #MVPMakesBadDecisions relevant this week? Of course it was.

Nice as it was to see Austin Aries, MVP needs to stop picking fights with his employees. It's not good business practise.

Their match next week should be good, though.

MVP's other rival, Kenny King, was good on commentary for Tigre Uno versus Sanada.

This was a brilliant match and joint highlight of the evening. Tigre Uno evening up the score was great, and the decider match should be just as fantastic.

Oh, and the Sanada promo rocked.

Speaking of championships, the BroMans got themselves disqualified for the second week in a row. And I'm annoyed about it.

I love seeing the Wolves, but when the BroMans are blatantly abusing the rules, somebody should do something about it.

If MVP doesn't step in and close this loophole, I won't be happy.

In other championship news, Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky's street fight was good. I love that TNA will let their Knockouts fight in hardcore matches, and this was no exception.

Madison scraping the win worked too. She looks strong going into the PPV, and the Beautiful People have more motivation to cheat. Good stuff.

EC3, Rockstar Spud and Willow were glorious.

EC3's peptalk to Spud? Amazing. Willow's promos? Nonsensical brilliance. Spud's obvious fear of Willow? Hilarious.

And EC3 attacking Willow after the latter won made sense too.

Just... wonderful.

Which brings us to the return of Kurt Angle. Angle's promo was such perfection that it gave me goosebumps. Absolutely sublime. Can't wait for their match.

James Storm continues to be stunningly competent everywhere but his own matches. He cost Gunner yet another win, but still hasn't beaten him. Fingers crossed he wins next week.

The Bobby Roode Table Open Challenge worked to further his feud with Bully. And bringing Gunner and Storm's feud together with this was a great idea.

The tag match next week should be awesome. Fingers crossed that Storm and Roode bring back Beer Money...

Having said that, I didn't like Bully Ray interrupting Eric Young and Dixie Carter.

I know Bully was trying to help, but EY was doing just fine. He doesn't need somebody to speak for him. All Bully ended up doing was stealing EY's thunder, and that didn't sit well with me.

Probably my low point of the evening.

EY stole the show back with the main event, though: a Monster's Ball match against the Monster Abyss himself. All EY's idea.

This was my other highlight of the evening. It was brutal, it was fun, and EY triumphed against the odds again.

Finally, the obligatory rant: enough with the TNA 365 already, we're sick of it.

I enjoyed this episode. Yes, it could have done with a little less conversation, a little more action. But otherwise, it was fun, solid, and drove the story lines well.

See you on Wednesday with the poll results.

– Stark

Friday, 18 April 2014

Isn't It Strange? Feels Like I'm Lookin' In the Mirror

I want you to imagine somebody.

This man is an underdog in the company he works for. He's been waiting a long time, but has struggled to get anywhere. People have treated him like a joke.

But then, after so long, he's got his chance. He's gone through two gruelling matches in one evening. He's sustained an arm injury. He's suffered and struggled. But at last, he has the World Heavyweight Championship.

Oh, and he also has an awesome beard.

When you read this description, who do you imagine?

Eric Young? Or Daniel Bryan?

Image © Krystal Bogner via Flickr.

I'm not a WWE fan nowadays, but I still watched Wrestlemania XXX. I saw Daniel Bryan's story from that show. I saw Eric Young's story last week.

And they resemble each other a lot. Perhaps a little too much.

Other people have mentioned this already. Caustic Internet critic and wrestling fan Noah "The Spoony One" Antwiler has complained about it. And Ring Rust Radio even asked Eric Young himself about it in a recent interview.

Now I've got nothing against EY. I love him as a character and he seems like a pleasant enough dude outside the ring as well.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

But from a writing perspective, I have to tilt my head because there is no way that this is an accident.

Daniel Bryan is huge news right now. Fans have tried to hijack shows in support of him. Twitter buzzes with his name. He is over in a huge way.

So I can understand why TNA would want to try to grab some of that for themselves by putting over a similar-looking underdog.

My problem is that they seem to have copied too much. Having EY fight two matches in one night is suspect enough. But giving him an arm injury as well? When that was such a big part of the Daniel Bryan story?

I'm sorry, but it just looks desperate and underhanded, TNA.

And the saddest part is that while I loved EY becoming champion, Daniel Bryan's matches were just better.

Why? Because his opponents actively went after his injured arm, and Magnus didn't seem to bother.

After all, why have EY get hurt if you're not going to do anything with it?

But what would I have done?

It's hard to say. I don't know how the WWE built up to Daniel Bryan's Wrestlemania. I could easily suggest something they did by accident.

What I would have done is separate out the title shot and the 10 Man Gauntlet so that the parallels were less obvious.

And perhaps have given EY a different injury. A leg injury, perhaps.

Because right now, the similarities are just too many for comfort.

It's like fashion. Everything's been done before and you just add your spin to it.

Except that in this case, the WWE and TNA have turned up in the same frock. One of you is going to have to change outfits. And well. The WWE was here first...

Image © The Heart Truth via Flickr.

See you on the Sunday Crew.

– Stark

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Poll: Which tag team would you most like to see reform?

Last week, I asked "Who has the best feud in TNA?"

The people have spoken and the winners are Eric Young and the Monster Abyss.

Joint runners up were Samuel Shaw and Ken Anderson, and the Wolves and the BroMans.

Good stuff.

This week, I want to know which tag team you'd most like to see reform in TNA.

Would you like Beer Money, Inc? Or Team Canada? Or even the Hardy Boyz?

Cast your vote before next Tuesday and let me know.

See you Friday.

– Stark

Monday, 14 April 2014

TNA Impact: UK Air Date 13th April 2014

Another week, another Impact. How was it?

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Rasslor.

The "Wrath of Dixie" was a disappointment. She called out Bully Ray, snapped at MVP and was mean to Rockstar Spud. Predictable, unexciting, and the low point of the show for me.

Also, we know why Bully betrayed Dixie, and that he and Bobby Roode don't like each other. Please progress this plot a little faster.

Willow putting himself in a handicap match against Spud and EC3 because he wants revenge is amazing. Willow is completely bonkers: I can't wait to see this one.

The Tag Team Title match frustrated me.

BroMans? Boo. Wolves? Yay!

Robbie E not being there? Boo. MVP shoving Zema Ion in the match? Yay!

And then there was the ending, which highlighted an inherent problem in wrestling. If a title can't change hands on a DQ, why would any heel champ bother to fight fair?

The BroMans know that if they're disqualified, they keep the belts. So why not start every match by beaning one of the Wolves over the head with a chair?

The Wolves not winning made sense: they can have an awesome rematch at Sacrifice. But the disqualification angle fractures suspension of disbelief, and it's annoying as heck.

The Knockouts #1 Contender match was good. Brittany getting involved was awesome. Angelina winning will help to progress her feud with Madison Rayne.

And I'm hoping that Velvet Sky screwing over Gail Kim will turn into a feud between them as well.

Ken Anderson and Christy Hemme conspiring to have Samuel Shaw locked up was amazing.

For a few moments, I thought that they were writing Hemme as won over by Shaw, but I'm so happy they weren't.

But my highlight of the show? The 10 Man Gauntlet.

A battle royal is often awful, but I thought this one rocked.

Sanada's involvement, though pointless, was great. Rockstar Spud leaping from his wheelchair to help eliminate Willow was hilarious. EC3 discovering that making many enemies was unwise was awesome.

Seriously, though: Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley AND Willow? EC3 is bad at making friends.

And although the ending was awesome, the best part for me was James Storm.

Not only did Storm eliminate Gunner, but he also survived to the final three. He looked amazing.

But of course, the ending was fabulous too: Eric Young, #1 Contender, cashing in his title shot.

Pity that his match against Magnus wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be.

Don't get me wrong: it wasn't a bad match. It just didn't work as well as I'd hoped. Magnus didn't seem to take advantage of EY's arm injury as much as you'd expect.

And it felt less like a battle against the odds than it should have done.

The ending made up for it though. New world champ. #AllHailTheBeardLord

This was a good episode despite its flaws. If TNA can work out what they're doing with Dixie and get some momentum into Bully and Roode, they'll be sitting pretty.

See you Wednesday.

– Stark

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Off-Topic: Update

Hello again, everyone!

As I posted on Twitter earlier today, I do have Internet where I am on holiday.

I won't be able to livetweet Impact with you tomorrow, but I can update the poll and make new posts.

There will be a review of this week's Impact tomorrow, a new poll on Wednesday, and an opinion piece on Friday.

See you then!

– Stark

Off-Topic: Stark Remarks On Holiday

Hello all.

As you can guess from this post's title, I'm going on holiday this week.

I don't know if I'll have Internet access, but even if I do, I'm not going to be able to live-tweet Impact with you this Sunday.

I watched Impact early last night (never mind how) and I'll hopefully be able to schedule it and an opinion piece while I'm away.

If not... well. The week after will just be a very busy posting week.

I'm also extending the deadline on this week's poll to the Tuesday after next.

Thank you for your understanding. I'll see you again soon.

– Stark

Friday, 11 April 2014

Hate Could Be A Positive Emotion That Forces You to Better Yourself

Jeff Jarrett has been tweeting #ItsComing for a long time. Now, at last, #ItsHere.

What is it?

Three words: Global Force Wrestling.

Image © Global Force Wrestling.

It's not a surprise that Jarrett's started a new company. Rumours have been going around that he would ever since he left TNA.

But now that GFW is officially here, what does it mean for TNA?

Right now, it's hard to say. We don't know much about GFW. There's a logo. There's a slogan. There are a handful of nice t-shirts. But the roster beyond Jeff and Karen Jarrett? Who knows?

Heck, we don't even know if GFW will be available for international audiences.

With so little information, passing judgement is tricky.

But I think GFW could be great for TNA.

"But why?" you ask. "Won't GFW take money and viewers away from TNA? How could that be a good thing?"

Because without competition, companies stagnate. And TNA has no real competition.

The WWE is so far out of their league that the idea of challenging them is laughable. And Ring of Honor is so different that it's easy for the two to live and let live.

But GFW could well be on TNA's level. They could be the perfect rivals.

And with competition comes creativity.

Image © geralt via Pixabay.

If you know there's another company out there doing similar things to you, you'll step up your game and make your company better. And you'll do it because you want your product to be the best.

Think of it like Marvel versus DC Comics. The two companies compete with each other to be on top and make the best products. And by competing, they push each other to be better.

GFW and TNA could do the same.

And even better, rivalry between GFW and TNA could make conditions better for the wrestlers.

Think about it for a moment. Right now, if a TNA star is unhappy, where can they go?

WWE? Not likely unless they've been there before, like Christian Cage or Kurt Angle.

Ring of Honor? Sure, but you won't get paid as much, especially if you're going match by match.

The indies? Another country? Neither are fantastic.

Now imagine that that TNA star could leave TNA and strike up a deal with another company at the same level.

That's what could happen if GFW takes off.

And if there's competition for a wrestler, he or she will have more leverage in the deal.

After all, if AJ Styles could have walked straight into a job with GFW, would TNA have let him go? I don't think so.

If Global Force Wrestling takes off, it could do great things for TNA.

The two could push each other to new heights. They could elevate each other's product. And they could create a better environment with more choice for the wrestlers we love.

And how can that be a bad thing?

So as long as I can watch it from the UK, I'm more than happy to #JoinTheForce.

Image generated via The Keep Calm-O-Matic.

See you Sunday on Twitter.

– Stark

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Poll: Who has the best feud in TNA right now?

The first Stark Remarks poll has come to an end! But what was the result?

A landslide victory for "He's made a couple of bad ideas, but overall? Pretty good.".

Looks like MVP is fairly popular with the readers, eh?

This week, I want to know which feud is your favourite in TNA at the moment.

Magnus and Samoa Joe? The Wolves and the BroMans? Or Gunner and James Storm?

Click here to visit the blog home-page and the new poll is on the top right.

Pick up to three awesome feuds and let me know what you think.

Votes close next Tuesday at 8.30 a.m. PDT.

Have fun voting – I'll see you Friday.

– Stark

P.S. Rest in Peace, Ultimate Warrior. You will be missed.

Image © keeping it real via Flickr.

Monday, 7 April 2014

TNA Impact: UK Air Date 6th April 2014

Impact was wrestling-heavy, plot-light this week. But there was still plot. So how was it?

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Rasslor.

Everyone expected the show to start with talk, so to open with a match was a great change of pace.

Bobby Roode and Bully Ray's feud is finally getting momentum. Roode putting Bully through three tables was brutal: if they keep this up, I'm happy.

But I'm less happy about Willow, EC3 and Rockstar Spud.

When Willow kidnapped Spud last week, EC3 ran to his friend's aid. But this week? EC3's too busy getting tables for Roode.

I know he's a villain, but consistency is nice.

Speaking of, I'm consistently confused by Knux's soap opera drama. A slow build is one thing, but this is confusion central. Clarification is also nice.

The Knockouts were gold again this week. The Beautiful People were the team you love to hate. And Madison trying to keep Brittany uninvolved was heart-warming in an odd way.

And I enjoyed the match, too. Booking Brittany to be pinned was risky, but I think she can still establish herself. If TNA keep her in the feud, she should go to good places.

Gunner and James Storm weren't on the show this week. But I want to compare them with Samuel Shaw and Ken Anderson anyway.

Like Gunner and Storm, Shaw and Anderson have wrestled three times. But Shaw has won twice now. He can beat Anderson and looks like a credible threat.

Storm? Is looking more and more like a joke.

Though Shaw and Anderson's feud is needlessly gimmicky. Even if the straightjacket wasn't on a pole.

The best match of the evening was Sanada versus Tigre Uno. More X Division is never a bad thing and I can't wait for bouts two and three between them.

Which brings us to Kenny King, whose reintroduction has been weird.

MVP didn't give him the match he promised. Yet King is an arrogant ass. Are we on his side or not?

MVP agreeing to wrestle him made sense, so #MVPMakesBadDecisions wasn't relevant. Although I'd like to think that Davey Richards was referencing the tag when the Wolves broke up the backstage brawl.

The Wolves not getting their title shot made sense, but I would have liked to see a preview singles match. Davey with Eddie Edwards versus Robbie E with Zema Ion, perhaps.

The main event was my low point of the show. Not because it was horrible, but because it was... meh.

Abyss didn't turn on Magnus. Eric Young got pinned. Magnus retained. All safe, dull and predictable.

Still. #AllHailTheBeardLord #WeLoveEY

I'm looking forward to Dixie Carter's upcoming return. Why? Because she can stop #MVPMakesBadDecisions.

And finally, my perennial complaint: keep TNA 365 off the show and online. Advertise it, by all means, but don't play it. If we want to see it, we'll go on YouTube.

All in all, this was a great, action-packed Impact and I approve.

Don't forget to vote in the poll. I'll see you Wednesday with the results.

– Stark

Friday, 4 April 2014

I Told You I was Trouble – You Know That I'm No Good

There's a rumour going around that Vince Russo is back in TNA.

Image © billy c. via Wikimedia Commons.

To be fair, the same rumour has been circulating various websites for about three months now. It could well be one of those self-feeding stories that just goes around and around for no reason.

But people believe it.

I've noticed people on the Sunday Night Twitter crew comment that the booking style is leaning towards Russo at the moment.

Their favourite piece of evidence is the Strait Jacket match between Ken Anderson and Samuel Shaw. It's not advertised as being on a pole, but would that surprise you if it were true?

Now everyone even remotely connected to the world of wrestling knows about Vince Russo. He's an infamous figure.

His TVTropes page even describes him as the Rob Liefeld of professional wrestling. And that is not a title you want to have.

So I understand why people are worried.

But I don't want to ask "Is Russo back?". I don't want to ask, "Is it a bad thing if he is?"

No. My question is this: does it really matter?

I'm sure some of you are yelling "Of course it does!" at the screen right now. But you know what? I disagree.

When all is said and done, wrestling is entertainment. All that matters is that we sit down, watch the show, and have fun.

Vince Russo is not the kiss of death. He is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander with a pen who has grand ideas that he can't pull off.

Image © Andrew Dickman via DeviantArt.

And that's his biggest problem. People say that Russo was most successful in the Attitude era when he had Vince McMahon editing and refining his work.

There are some people who can come up with ideas and execute them. There are some people who can execute ideas but not invent them. And there are some people who can invent, but can't execute.

Russo is in that final category.

Some of his ideas are good in the hands of a competent writer. For example, his love of moral complexity in the heroes and villains can be fascinating.

But Russo needs help. He cannot be the one in charge. He needs somebody to sift through the garbage to find the gold, and somebody else to turn that gold into a product that entertains.

You can be good with Russo. The WWE's Attitude Era proves that.

So does it matter if Vince Russo is back in TNA? Not necessarily.

Russo is the blunt instrument of professional wrestling. A sledgehammer, if you will. And when you've got a wall blocking your creative output, it's logical to use a sledgehammer to knock that wall down.

Image © Shakespeare via Wikimedia Commons.

What TNA have to remember is that you can't use a sledgehammer to carve Michelangelo's David. You need different tools for different tasks.

If you want to use Vince Russo, use him where he's best. Or you'll end up with a pile of rubble where your show used to be.

I'll see you Sunday on Twitter.

– Stark

P.S. If you haven't voted in this week's poll yet, why not do it now?

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Poll: How is MVP doing as the new boss of TNA?

Today is our first poll day! Are you excited? I'm excited!

This week's question is: How is MVP doing as the new boss of TNA?

Do you think he's doing well? Poorly? So-so?

Let me know!

The poll is on the top right. Pick your answer and make your voice heard.

The votes close on Tuesday 8th April at 8.30 a.m. PDT.

Vote, be merry, and I'll see you Friday.

– Stark