Saturday, 30 August 2014

It's a State (State) of Confusion

Character development is a funny thing.

I should know. When I'm not all about wrestling, I write fiction.

Image © niekverlaan via Pixabay.

And character development is a core part of that.

But it can be tricky to pull off.

If your characters don't change enough or at all, the reader feels cheated.

But if your characters change too much, the reader feels utterly baffled.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I'm still wondering what the hell happened to James Storm.

I know I mention this briefly every time I cover his plot, but that's because I'm still hopelessly lost.

Let's look at everything leading up to Storm and Sanada's current... kidnapping situation?

Storm and Gunner are partners. In Feast or Fired, Gunner steps over storm to get a briefcase. And over a period of weeks, Storm turns against Gunner and becomes heel.

That makes sense. Storm had a grudge, let it consume him, and became a villain. It's a natural sequence of events.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

Then Storm attempts to get a last cheap shot in on Gunner and hits Ken Anderson instead. He's ready to shrug it off, but Anderson takes offence and they feud.

This also makes sense. Storm is vindictive and would try to put the boot in. It fits with his character.

But this is where things get weird.

Suddenly, Storm starts trying to psyche out Sanada. For no reason.

He's never met Sanada before, as far as I know. He's never spoken with him. And he has no reason to go after him.

It comes straight out of nowhere.

Then Storm has a grudge against the Great Muta. Because... Storm is the real legend? Except he didn't say anything about that before.

Again, it just came out of nowhere.

And now he's got Sanada tied up in Willow's old shack in the woods and is doing... something. I don't know.

Image © 2for6 via Wikimedia Commons.

It's all over the place.

Compare this to Gunner. He comes off the feud with Storm just fine and strikes up a friendship with Anderson.

This makes sense. They're both ex-servicemen, and they both have Storm as an enemy in common.

And the conversation naturally comes to Samuel Shaw.

Gunner's a good guy, so of course he wants to help Shaw. And we see their new friendship build over several weeks.

But of course Anderson isn't going to trust Shaw so easily when he comes back.

The relationships fit. The reactions are appropriate. And it all feels connected in logical ways.

So how could we make Storm and Sanada do the same?

I don't know.

Until we find out exactly what the deal is with Storm and Sanada, I don't think there are any recommendations I can make.

It's that incomprehensible to me.

TNA, I know you sometimes like playing your cards close to your chest.

Image © Enoch Lau via Wikimedia Commons.

You like mysteries. That's fine.

But there's a thin line between "mysterious" and "what the hell is going on".

And the Storm and Sanada plot is nowhere near that line. It's just plain damn weird.

– Stark

Friday, 29 August 2014

TNA Xplosion: Air Date 27th August 2014

I don't know what to say about this episode.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Wikipedia.

Was it bad? No. But nor was it particularly gripping.

Using One Night Stand matches as the Match of the Week doesn't work for me.

I can't get invested unless I've seen the whole PPV, including interviews.

The only reason I cared about the match was because I didn't want Rob Van Dam to win.

Why? My own petty personal reasons.

So of course I was glad that Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels won.

But if you're a regular reader, you probably guessed that already.

I haven't exactly been shy about how much I like both Daniels and Joe.

Image © Jason Garber via Flickr.

Moving on, I wasn't sold on the Xplosion Xclusive either.

I'm going to be blunt and just say it.

The Menagerie are the worst tag team in TNA.

Now don't get me wrong: I do like them as a concept. I think they're a lot of fun, especially Crazzy Steve.

But they are terrible at their jobs.

It's no wonder they can't make any money for the carnival because they almost never win.

And when are TNA going to let Rebel get into a ring as anything other than eye candy? I've heard she can wrestle.

When the best part of an episode of Xplosion is Rockstar Spud being a dork in Birmingham, you know you've got a disappointment on your hands.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

Without the Spin Cycle, all Xplosion has are its matches. And they're failing to grab me.

Better luck next time.

– Stark

Related Post: TNA Xplosion: Air Date 20th August 2014

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

TNA Hardcore Justice: UK Air Date 24th August 2014

I'm normally the first person to frown on Hardcore Wrestling for its own sake. So how did I find Hardcore Justice?

Surprisingly enjoyable.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Ariesk47 via Wikipedia.

Ignoring the nadir of the evening, the Dixie Carter segment, I've got little to complain about.

Incidentally, no. I'm not talking about the Dixie Carter segment. I'm done with that plot line. We're moving on.

The TNA #365 material was unexpectedly good.

The Hardys' interview was par for the course. But it was the Angelina Love and Gail Kim material that I found fascinating.

I've never seen anyone get jumped during a TNA #365 interview before, and the novelty meant a lot to me.

Mind you, they didn't need to play it twice in the same episode.

And Angelina and Gail's Last Knockout Standing match was one of the best Knockout matches I've seen in a while, too.

I love when female wrestlers get to use weapons, and this was no exception.

And speaking of weapons, Stairway to Janice was better than it had any right to be, and my favourite match.

Bram has cemented himself as my favourite TNA Brit right now.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

He takes sick bump after sick bump like a real trooper. And the fact he's beaten Abyss three times at his own game makes him an interesting guy.

Although I'm not sure what's going on between him and Magnus.

Either they were joking around with each other, or they're teasing a split already.

I hope they were joking. I want to see more of these two as a team.

A more concrete tease from TNA was a Best of Three series between the Wolves, Team 3D and the Hardys.

These matches should be good, but I'm going to reserve judgement until I see them.

Similarly, I'm reserving judgement on James Storm and Sanada until I work out what the hell is going on in this plot.

Right now? I'm lost. And I'm sure you are too.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

Equally lost is Rhino, who appears to have made a spontaneous face turn for no reason.

EC3 getting violent was interesting. And I look forward to seeing how it affects his friendship with Spud.

But TNA dropped the ball with Rhino once again. Not a surprise.

I have to admit, I also found the Samuel Shaw and Ken Anderson match a bit disappointing.

It ended far too quickly and didn't get nearly as violent as an I Quit match should.

I like the emotions behind it, but the action is lacking.

Unlike Samoa Joe versus Low Ki, which had action galore. No complaints here.

And finally, Six Sides of Steel.

It was okay.

The wrestling was fine. The moment when we had three submission moves at the same time was sweet. And the ending has potential for story.

Bobby Roode versus EY to find out the true winner should be fun.

Image © Robertlbeukema via Wikimedia Commons.

This episode was definitely better than last week.

It had some good action, some good story, and some good fun. And what more can you ask for?

– Stark

Related Post: TNA Destination X: UK Air Date 3rd August 2014

Saturday, 23 August 2014

You've Gone Too Far, You've Crossed My Line

I hate bullies.

Image © Rockstar Games via Wikimedia Commons.

And I'm sure you do too.

After all, they abuse the underdog, and we've all been underdogs at some point.

We feel for them.

Unless they're Dixie Carter, apparently.

You know I hate this plot. But here's the twist: it could have worked.

Well. Maybe not worked. But it could have been tolerable if it weren't for the three places TNA screwed up.

Do you remember how this feud started?

Dixie offered Bully Ray money to be her Lethal Lockdown ace-in-the-hole.

He accepted her offer. He screwed her over. And he kept the money.

That puts him in the wrong.

As Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation once said: "If you get sued because you were paid to do a job you didn't do, that is not tragic; that is how the world should be."

Or in other words, Bully deserved everything he got.

But what if he'd done something else with the money?

He could've made it rain in the Impact Zone. He could've put it in a sack and smacked EC3 with it. Heck, he could've returned it to Dixie entirely in pennies.

Image © Roman Oleinik via Wikimedia Commons.

Anything except keeping it. Because that makes him look like an asshole.

The second problem was Bully going after Dixie.

Revenge is one thing. But terrifying, single-minded stalking is quite another.

He broke into her home and called her from inside, for goodness' sake. That's not a hero. That's a slasher movie villain.

TNA should have had Dixie go after Bully instead.

If she'd dedicated herself to making his life a living hell, we would have sympathised with him.

He would have been the underdog.

And finally, they screwed up the ending.

I knew Dixie would go through a table. Anything else would have been a cop-out.

Was I happy about it? Not particularly. But it was inevitable and I'd prepared myself for it.

What I hadn't prepared for was the locker-room almost emptying to block her escape.

There were maybe ten people. Not including Team 3D and Tommy Dreamer.

All against one unarmed, defenceless Dixie Carter.

In heels.

Image © gnokii via OpenClipart.org.

It was terrifying.

Put yourself in her shoes for a moment. Imagine what it would be like to have nearly fifteen people staring you down, thirsting for your blood.

And every one is bigger, stronger and faster than you.

Yeah. Not so funny now, is it?

If you wanted people to celebrate Dixie's downfall, fine. Have that. But bring them out AFTER she's gone through the table.

That way, your top faces don't end up looking like cowards who need ridiculous numbers to deal with one civilian.

But what if TNA had made these changes? Would I have liked the storyline?

Probably not. It would still have been full of uncomfortable implications.

But I would not have downright hated it as I do right now.

Because as it was, TNA made a story about a large violent wrestler harassing and bullying a smaller, weaker civilian.

They made the bully the hero.

And I hate bullies.

Image © chriscoven via DeviantArt.

– Stark

Thursday, 21 August 2014

TNA Xplosion: Air Date 20th August 2014

I don't know what to say about this episode.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Wikipedia.

I mean. There are only so many words in the English language to say that something's average.

The highlight of this episode was Rockstar Spud hanging out with Gail Kim for British Boot Camp. And even that made no sense because Spud was being nice to her and vice versa.

So good job with character continuity there, guys.

Don't get me wrong: it was kinda cute. But it didn't make much sense.

As for the Xplosion Xclusive, it wasn't exactly a powerhouse of tension.

I love Tigre Uno. And I love Crazzy Steve. But we know that Crazzy Steve won't win because he's the most ineffective male member of The Menagerie.

Image © Tabercil via Wikimedia Commons.

And that saps all the tension out of the match in a heartbeat.

What I want is for Crazzy Steve to get an upset victory and win the X Division Championship. Because right now, the only person less useful than him is Rebel.

And that's because TNA won't let her wrestle for some reason.

And the Match of the Week wasn't much to write home about either.

An X-Division Xtravaganza match where I'd heard of half the participants. Yay.

The wrestling was fine, but the match failed to grab me.

I only know Douglas Williams well. I didn't know their stories. And I didn't know why I should care.

Image © DANZIG666 via Wikimedia Commons.

And for some reason, the match just didn't click with me.

If you haven't seen this Xplosion, don't bother.

It's dull.

– Stark

Related Post: TNA Xplosion: Air Date 13th August 2014

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

TNA Impact: UK Air Date 17th August 2014

Oh boy. This episode of Impact.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Rasslor.

Well. Let's get the good and mediocre stuff out of the way first before we dive into the sea of awful.

I liked Team 3D versus the Hardys. It was a good piece of nostalgia bait. And Jeff nearly killed himself as always.

Abyss and Bram's confrontation was a lot of fun. I look forward to their third match last week. And I appreciate that "Stairway to Janice" isn't a word salad match title.

Speaking of word salad titles, I also enjoyed the X Division match. Although having said that, I guessed within thirty seconds who the last two men would be.

And who was going to win.

The X Division is far too predictable these days.

What else...

Uh, I sorta liked Gunner, Ken Anderson and Samuel Shaw's bit.

But the match between Anderson and Gunner ended too soon. And they didn't set up the impending Shaw and Anderson match at Hardcore Justice properly.

Image © Pedrohoneto via Wikimedia Commons.

At least, I'm assuming there will be a match. The previews suggested it.

The best match of the evening for me was probably MVP's group versus EY, Bobby Roode and Austin Aries.

Don't get me wrong: the Hardys and Team 3D were good.

But, well. Austin Aries, guys.

James Storm has apparently snapped. He's kidnapped Sanada and tied him up in a shack in the woods.

I don't know, people. What do you even say about that? It's surreal.

As for the Knockouts, their match was mediocre. It bored me. And they're teasing a Beautiful People break-up already.

Why couldn't we have had that Taryn Terrell and Gail Kim re-match instead?

And now we come to it. The parts of the show I despised.

I'll go into this more next Saturday, but I'm convinced that EC3 is a Designated Villain and Bully Ray is a monster.

Why? Well. Remember when Bully was feuding with Anderson?

Image © KaitlinMB via Flickr.

Imagine that instead of threatening Anderson's wife, Bully put her through a table.

We'd be behind Anderson all the way and baying for Bully's blood.

"But that's different!" you cry.

Why? They're both female civilians with no wrestling experience getting put through tables.

I don't care if you think that Dixie is the worst human being to touch wrestling since Vince Russo.

EC3 is right and this storyline is freaking sick.

Oh, and Kurt getting EC3, Rockstar Spud and Rhino arrested shattered my suspension of disbelief.

Anderson and Bully trying to set each other on fire? No cops.

Bram wrapping a steel chair around Eddie Edwards' neck and trying to kill him? No cops.

Bully breaking and entering at Dixie's home and threatening her? No cops.

Three dudes refuse to leave the ring? Cops galore! Because it's not like we have security!

And finally, the #ItHappens moment itself.

Endless replays. Taz and Tenay gloating. And good people like EY yukking it up over her getting assaulted.

Image © chriscoven via DeviantArt.

What a pile of mean-spirited bullshit. I feel like a worse person for having watched it.

Thanks, TNA.

– Stark

Monday, 18 August 2014

TNA Xplosion: Air Date 13th August 2014

Hello and welcome to my final post-holiday catch-up post.

And it's time for another Xplosion.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Wikipedia.

Is there any point in me covering the interviews and Impact Wrestling Rewind any more?

I cover both elements in my Impact reviews, after all.

So let's talk about the Xplosion Xclusive match and Match of the Week in more detail instead.

Our Xplosion Xclusive picked up the Madison Rayne and Brittany feud.

I don't know why this hasn't had a proper resolution yet. After all, it has a strong emotional core, and I care about it.

And Madison and Brittany have good matches together.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

Having said that, this match felt hacked to pieces. The number of times the Xplosion logo appeared suggested heavy editing.

But why? There was plenty of space for it. Why cut bits out?

And Madison winning annoyed me too. Brittany has never beaten her, and she deserves a victory.

Moving on, JB and Rockstar Spud presenting together is still good.

And Spud grumbling about not liking girls the way a ten-year-old would is hilarious.

Finally, we come to our Match of the Week. And it's the main event of X-Division Xtravaganza 1: Austin Aries versus Samoa Joe.

With Joe as X Division Champion, there's a good chance we'll see a repeat of this.

And I hope we do because this was awesome. Good wrestling, good non-verbal storytelling, good everything.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

Even though I complained about the Xplosion Xclusive, this episode was alright. I enjoyed it.

After all, I've seen far worse.

– Stark

Related Post: TNA Xplosion: Air Date 6th August 2014

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Let It Go, Let It Go, Can't Hold It Back Anymore

ECW needs to die.

Image © Mozaika2 via Wikimedia Commons.

No, I'm not kidding. And I'm not just saying it to be controversial either.

I mean every word of that.

Is saying it going to make me popular? Probably not.

In truth, it won't surprise me if people get angry about this post. I know how ECW fans can get. You're a passionate bunch.

But I'm not scared of that.

Popularity isn't important. Truth is.

And the truth is that ECW has become like a much loved family pet so old that it's on its last legs, but you can't stand to put it down.

It's limping on to please you, suffering and miserable, and you just don't have the heart to end it.

I do. And here's why.

Extreme Championship Wrestling collapsed as a company in April 2001. You know how old I was?

I was still a month away from my tenth birthday.

I did not grow up watching ECW. I think I've watched maybe two ECW matches, both of which starred Rob Van Dam.

Image © Robert Newsome via Flickr.

Oh, and I've seen that clip of Mick Foley getting buried beneath steal chairs.

That's it.

I don't have the same nostalgia that older fans have for what ECW used to be. All I have is what I've seen.

Do you know what ECW is to me?

ECW is a meaningless crowd chant.

ECW is EV2.0.

And ECW is Tommy Dreamer sobbing while he asks Dixie Carter for one more night.

This is what new fans see of ECW. This is what young people see of ECW. This is ECW in a nutshell for me.

Three letters that people yell when they're not asking for tables.

The epitome of middle-age raging against youth, desperate for what came before.

And one weeping man begging for a chance to recapture his former glory, unable to let go of the past.

And let's be honest, ECW fans: you're not much better.

Sure, you're not crying into Dixie's skirts. But you're not willing to turn away from the 90s either.

Image © Lewis Lovhaug via YouTube.

You tell me that ECW was hardcore wrestling. That it was the mature, edgy answer to the WWE and WCW. That it stood shoulder to shoulder with giants.

And I believe you.

But that was back then. Things are different now. And we have to move on.

Earlier, I compared ECW to an old family pet. But that's not quite right.

No, ECW is a wrestling zombie.

It's a beloved friend who died over thirteen years ago and yet still wanders around.

No matter what we say or do, it shambles on, moaning "E-C-Dub! E-C-Dub!" and chewing on passers-by.

It may look and sound like the one you loved. But it's an empty shell. Devoid of life. A soulless husk.

It's been over a decade. Could somebody please put a bullet between its eyes Old Yeller-style and give us all a bit of peace?

Because until we do, it's going to keep going.

So please. Let ECW go, people.

Image © Disney courtesy of Fantasygerard2000 via DeviantArt.

Just let it go.

– Stark

Saturday, 16 August 2014

TNA Impact: UK Air Date 10th August 2014

I would've loved this episode if it weren't for the ending.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Rasslor.

There's not enough room here for me to fully explain my reasons, so that will probably be next week's opinion post.

But if you want a brief summary? #ItHappened. #IHatedIt.

And that disappointed me all the more because it came at the end of one of the funniest episodes of Impact I have seen in a long time.

And it's all because of Rhino.

There are no words for how ridiculous this got. So instead, enjoy this photo-and-video combination I took with my smartphone.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Stark Remarks.

Footage © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Stark Remarks.

I mean. Just look at them. What do you even say to that?

And the match itself was pretty decent too. It was fun hardcore wrestling where people got smacked with blunt objects: what more could you want?

And Monster's Ball with Abyss and Bram was fun hardcore wrestling as well. Although it involved far more sharp objects than blunt ones.

Both Abyss and Bram took punishment like troopers. Abyss getting tangled in the barbed-wire board and Bram's bump onto the tacks were my favourites.

And I can't wait to see how Abyss responds to losing at his own game again.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

As for our other big matches of the evening, the X Division Championship Triple Threat was a wonderful thing.

It is so nice to see Samoa Joe getting to do something worthwhile again. And he brought that intensity I said I wanted in my last Xplosion review.

But there is one thing that I still don't get, and that's Sanada's alliance with James Storm.

Why on Earth hasn't Sanada told Storm to shove it? Storm berates him, belittles him and assaults him, and Sanada just... goes along with it.

Has Storm promises to destroy his career? Promised to cripple him? Threatened his dog? What?

Image © Dale Leschnitzer via Flickr.

And it's all the more jarring when compared with a plot TNA is doing right: Gunner, Ken Anderson and Samuel Shaw.

And actually, I'd say that this is my favourite plot at the moment because it's shades of grey done right.

Gunner is a good guy trying to keep everything held together.

Anderson's a jerk with a heart of gold, but Shaw's prior behaviour have left him justifiably suspicious.

And Shaw himself is a wildcard: he could be a reformed man or a wolf in sheep's clothing.

It's compelling relationship drama where nobody is entirely right or wrong. And I freaking love it.

Moving on, our teased new guy is now "H***K". So I'm pretty sure it is Havok. I hope it is, anyway.

And finally, we have the Knockouts.

TNA have listened to our complaints about Velvet Sky having nothing to do. So now she's part of the Knockouts Championship scene alongside Angelina Love.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

And good for her. I look forward to that match. Should be awesome.

As I said earlier, I loved everything about this episode except for the ending. It had good action, good laughs, and some good story.

But that ending. It will have its day.

– Stark

Thursday, 14 August 2014

TNA Xplosion: Air Date 6th August 2014

This episode of Xplosion was okay.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Wikipedia.

Really, I'm struggling to find enough words to talk about it. What can I say that I haven't said before?

JB and Rockstar Spud presenting was amusing, but then it always is.

The Xplosion Xclusive was bland.

Yep. A match between a pair of tanned dude-bros, and a bloke in a sparkly waistcoat with a masked strong-man was bland.

I spent the whole match wondering which of the jobber teams would end up jobbing this week.

The BroMans, if you're wondering.

Which suggests that Knux and the Freak are the effective ones and Crazzy Steve is their weak link.

Image © Tabercil via Wikimedia Commons.

And the interviews were fine.

After all, they were fine on Impact. Why wouldn't they be fine here?

And the Match of the Week was good. Don't get me wrong.

There's nothing like an Ultimate X match.

And Zema Ion and Kenny King are still in the company, so I can't complain about that.

And yet. You know who hasn't won a match in an age? DJ Z.

And you know who loses every match he's in? Kenny King.

And that doesn't work.

I'm sick of seeing the same problems playing out over and over again. TNA, I know you can do better than this.

Ah well. At least boring is better than outrageously offensive.

Let me leave you on a happy note: Austin Aries' Last Chancery is still the most beautiful submission move I've seen.

Image © Al Pavangkanan via Flickr; edited by NiciVampireHeart and Starship.paint via Wikimedia Commons.

I'll be back tomorrow with my final Impact catch-up.

– Stark

Related Post: TNA Xplosion: Air Date 30th July 2014

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

TNA Destination X: UK Air Date 3rd August 2014

Who knew having a job ate up so much of your time?

But enough of that. We've got more important things to talk about.

Like Destination X.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of JamiesAnimations.com.

And of all the plot-lines TNA could highlight, they chose Dixieland versus ECW.

This story has been going on for four months and I'm sick of it.

And I don't blame the wrestlers. I blame the writing.

Nothing but bad writing could make Bully Ray look like a heel in his own angle.

And it also gave us such gems as "Eight Man Weapons Extreme Hardcore War".

A match name like trying to punch through concrete: a bloody mess.

It's only tolerable for EC3's awesomeness and Rhino's "intense" facial expressions in the background.

So that's what I didn't like. But what did I like?

The TNA #365 interviews were decent. Although I still wish TNA would save them for Xplosion instead.

The teaser for the new performer is fascinating, and I look forward to finding out who it is.

The backstage segment with the Beautiful People set up whatever is happening in the next episode well.

Image © Mshake3 via Wikimedia Commons.

And I can't wait for Bram versus Abyss in Monster's Ball. Especially considering how Bram has grown on me as a character and performer.

Then there were the matches.

We'll start with the three X Division qualifier matches.

Was the wrestling good? Yes. Were the performers athletic? You bet.

Was there any tension?

Absolutely not.

DJ Z, Manik, Crazzy Steve and Tigre Uno are jobbers. Brian Cage and Homicide were guest stars.

It was obvious who the winners were going to be. And the moment that happens, all tension is gone.

Let's compare and contrast with my favourite match of the evening, the Hardys versus the Wolves.

This championship match was tense beyond belief. It genuinely felt like either team could win, so every near-fall was an event.

I spent this whole match shouting at the television. That's how invested I got.

Whereas the X Division? I was silent.

I'm also not invested in James Storm and Sanada's storyline.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

Apart from a weak argument that the Great Muta is a fraud, we've had no real reason for Storm to give a damn about Sanada.

Heck, they've barely interacted beyond Storm being an ass to Sanada and punching him in the face.

How is this a solid foundation for a working relationship?

And finally, the main event.

Am I disappointed that Austin Aries didn't win the title? Yes, a little bit.

But at the same time, I love how TNA are managing to make Bobby Lashley look utterly unstoppable.

It leaves me wondering who could possibly beat him and how awesome that match is going to be.

Personally, I would mark the hell out if they managed to get AJ Styles back to do that, but that's just wishful thinking.

Image © Navicore via Wikimedia Commons.

Destination X was a solid TV PPV and despite some wobbles, I enjoyed it a lot.

If TNA can keep up this level of quality, I'll be happy.

– Stark

Related Post: TNA One Night Only: Tag Team Tournament

Monday, 11 August 2014

Special Post: Southside Wrestling's Retribution V

Yesterday, my friends and I went to Southside Wrestling's Retribution V.

How was it?

Awesome.

This was only my second British wrestling event, and it introduced me to several British wrestlers I'd never seen before.

Of particular note is Kay Lee Ray, my new favourite female wrestler.

She took on three men to defend her championship belt and kicked their asses. It was amazing.

And after the show, I got to meet Chris Sabin, which was too cool for words.

Southside Wrestling have my seal of approval. If you can get to one of their shows, give them a try.

You may like them just as much as I do.

– Stark

Related Post: Special Post: Revolution Pro Wrestling's Summer Sizzler 2014

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Oh My Foolish Pup, Lighten Up

NB: I wrote this article back in May and submitted it to another website, but they never published it. So I'm posting it here instead. I hope you enjoy it.

Did you know that, even now, there are people who think AJ Styles leaving TNA is a work?

Image © Tabercil via Wikimedia Commons.

Yes, I'm serious.

AJ's given interviews. He's given explanations. He's signed with another company and won their biggest title.

Doesn't matter. Fans are still asking whether it's all just some clever trick.

And people? This has to stop.

Wrestling is entertainment. We know that.

Kayfabe died with the Montreal Screwjob back in '97. And since then, we've accepted that a team of writers scripts and crafts most of what we see.

And we also know that the line between fantasy and reality in wrestling gets hazy. Sometimes, it's because Real Life Writes the Plot, but at others, the writers are doing it on purpose.

Of course, it's hard to tell the difference between the two.

So we ask questions. We speculate. We discuss.

Which is fine up to a point. But we've long since passed that point and waltzed merrily off into the realm of the insufferable cynic.

Take AJ Styles as an example.

Why did we doubt him when he told us he was leaving TNA?

Image © nicubunu via OpenClipart.org.

Was it because we didn't want him to go? Was it because wrestling has lied to us so often we can't trust it any more?

Or was it because we've stopped buying into the fantasy?

People have been telling us "Wrestling is fake" for so long that maybe we've started to take that too much to heart.

We have to lampshade the scripted nature of wrestling or they make us feel stupid for liking it.

And so we meet every single announcement that could be an attempt to fool us with intense scepticism just in case.

But enough is enough. We need to stop doing this.

After all, what do we actually get out of it?

We piss our favourite wrestlers off when we don't believe what they say. Just look at the number of frustrated interviews AJ Styles gave about leaving TNA and you'll see it.

Image © chriscoven via DeviantArt.

We suck the joy out of the process of watching wrestling because we're always looking for the lie. We're too on our guard to let ourselves go and have fun.

And finally, we get a smug sense of superiority if – and only if – we're eventually proved right.

Which a good chunk of the time we're not anyway.

It's not worth it.

We need to start getting into the spirit of wrestling again. We need to pretend that we believe, even if we don't. We need to embrace the entertainment.

AJ Styles left TNA. So what if it's a work? Express sadness that you won't see him in TNA and move on. Work on the theory that it's real and if it isn't, who cares?

What have we got to lose?

Absolutely nothing.

So why not give the smug cynicism a rest and try having a bit of fun now and then?

Maybe we'll have lightened up by the time AJ comes back to TNA.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

Here's hoping.

– Stark

Saturday, 9 August 2014

TNA Xplosion: Air Date 30th July 2014

Just one more week and I should be up to date. But now? Xplosion.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Wikipedia.

First... no. I won't say it.

I want to, but you're sick of it.

So instead, let's talk about intensity.

2006 Samoa Joe had so much of it, and I'd love to see that again.

And the Ultimate X match itself?

It was Joe, Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles. What else would it be but out of this world?

Speaking of the past.

The interviews on this episode were, once again, lifted wholesale from TNA #365 on this week's Impact.

I know this is a B-show, so it recycles material. But it makes it much harder to review when they do this.

And because TNA don't care about the Dixie Carter plot either, they didn't recap it on the Impact Wrestling Rewind.

Image © Simon Q via Flickr.

But more Hardy Boyz and Austin Aries? Always a plus.

JB and Rockstar Spud presented again, and naturally they were funny.

Spud pretending to talk to Victorian Beckham was particularly amusing.

Finally, the Xplosion Xclusive match.

I can't remember the last time the BroMans won anything, and I can't help but feel sorry for them.

And no, Global Impact Japan doesn't count.

Also, I don't know why JB and Mike Tenay kept insisting Ken Anderson and Gunner don't hang out.

We've seen them hanging out on Impact.

Still. It was a good match.

I'd say this was a flawless Xplosion except for the obvious elephant in the room.

Image © Chris Eason via Flickr.

Damn I miss AJ and Daniels...

– Stark

Related Post: TNA Xplosion: Air Date 23rd July 2014

Friday, 8 August 2014

TNA Impact: UK Air Date 27th July 2014

TNA are awful with first episodes, are they?

Performance anxiety, perhaps.

Whatever the reason, this episode was miles better than the first New York Impact.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Rasslor.

First, the Knockouts.

This was my first Gail Kim/Taryn Terrell match, and I was hoping for a good long bout.

Nope.

Thanks, Beautiful People!

This was the worst part of the night because I wanted more.

And that says something about the quality of the episode.

Having said that, there was plenty of wrestling in this one. It even started with a match.

Bobby Roode versus MVP ended on a morally ambiguous note. After all, good guys don't try crippling their opponents.

But the match preceeding it was great, with effective run-ins from Kenny King and EY.

Less effective were the run-ins from Ezekiel Jackson and Snitsky in the main event. They were just disappointing.

I'm glad to see Dixie Carter has some protection now. But I'm still not buying the ECW crew as the good guys in this feud.

Moving on, Austin freaking Aries.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

Just... Austin freaking Aries.

His promo against MVP and Bobby Lashley was so good that it actually made Lashley talk.

The man is amazing and I can't wait for his Heavyweight Championship match.

Promos are, of course, vital to a professional wrestler getting over. And it seems that that's why TNA want Sanada to join up with James Storm.

The problem is that there's no reason for Storm to pick Sanada other than he thinks the Great Muta is a fraud.

Which... why did he come to this conclusion?

I have no idea.

And I also don't know why Robbie E decided to pick a fight with the Great Muta.

Nice to see him back, though.

It was also nice to see Low Ki again. TNA really need the extra man for the X Division, and here he is.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

It helped that his match was DJ Z was amazing. Although I'm still annoyed that DJ Z never wins anything.

They also need more tag teams, which is why it was amazing that the Hardy Boyz are re-uniting.

Even if it is only the one match with the Wolves, it will still be worth it. And I cannot wait to watch that match.

And finally, TNA has done the impossible: they've made Samuel Shaw likeable to me.

I didn't think it would be possible. After all the creepy stuff Shaw did, I didn't think I would ever like him.

But I do. And it's all thanks to putting him with Gunner.

This was my highlight of the evening because it just shows how character interactions can have a huge effect on the audience.

Image © Pedrohoneto via Wikimedia Commons.

I'd also like to add that to me, Bram and Magnus are Bragnus, and the team of Gunner and Ken Anderson is Army & Navy, A&N for short.

Because we need more proper teams, dammit.

This was a good episode and I had a lot of fun. I hope Destination X is just as good if not better.

– Stark