Saturday, 31 January 2015

TNA Impact Specials – Year End Awards 2014: UK Air Date 4th January 2015

We've finally done it. We've reached the last Impact Special and the first episode of 2015.

But what were the awards? Who won them? And do I agree?

Let's take a look.

Image © TNA Wrestling via IMPACTWrestling.com.

But first: who is holding the camera for the Revolution segments? And why haven't they called the police yet?

Ah well. At least they're being suitably racist by making the Indian guy change his name entirely.

Anyway. The awards.

And of course Best Feud went to Dixie Carter versus Bully Ray. You know how much I hate that feud. Everybody on Earth knows how much I hate that feud.

You know who I would have picked? EC3 versus Rockstar Spud. Because at least I had some emotional investment there.

Then we have Best Newcomer: Bram. And I'd agree with that. From what I remember, his win-loss record has been pretty impressive.

And I would have picked his Stairway to Janice match with Abyss as Best Brawl, too.

Don't get me wrong: the Hardcore War was fine. But I cared a lot more about Abyss trying to retrieve Janice than I did about the stupid Dixie and Bully storyline.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

Yes: I cared more about a stick with nails in it than Dixie Carter. Says everything, doesn't it?

As for Knockout of the Year 2014, I'm torn.

I would have gone for Gail Kim. But you know what? Taryn Terrell has had an awesome year, so I'm not gonna grudge her this one.

The Wolves won Tag Team of the Year 2014 and quite right too.

Yeah, Team 3D entered the Hall of Fame, but who spent most of 2014 with the tag team championships? That would be the Wolves then. They were phenomenal last year.

And from the serious to the light-hearted, who was Class Clown?

Well. We have a literal clown on the roster. It'd be weird if anybody BUT Crazzy Steve was Class Clown.

As for Best Dressed, it is a clear travesty that Spud didn't win.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

Sure, Christy Hemme looks beautiful, but does she wear awesome suits like Spud? I think not.

Then we have Biggest Return of the Year. Despite Bobby Lashley having a bigger effect on the title scene, I would agree that Matt Hardy's return was the biggest.

Mostly because more people care about Matt than Lashley. Just saying.

Now my Most Memorable Moment 2014 was Eric Young winning the TNA Heavyweight Championship. So to hell with Dixie and the table.

And finally, we had the TNA Wrestler of the Year 2014.

This was a difficult one. Of the nominees, there were only two I'd dismiss out of hand.

Does Bobby Roode deserve the accolade? Yeah, I'd say he does.

But at the same time, it seems a shame that EC3 didn't win anything. He still hasn't lost by pin-fall or submission in TNA, so it seems that he should have won something.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

But these are just my opinions. Who were your choices for the year?

Let me know. You've got my details.

– Stark

P.S. Havok's grandfather recently passed away and she's raising funds for the funeral expenses. If you can afford to send a little her way, please do.

Related Post: TNA Impact Specials – All Time Best, Parts 1 & 2: UK Air Dates 21st & 28th December 2014

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.

Friday, 30 January 2015

TNA Xplosion: Air Date 24th & 31st December 2014

Yep, another double post.

Why? Because both of these episodes of Xplosion were incredibly insubstantial and I can't find enough to talk about for both of them.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Wikipedia.

First, the Xplosion Xclusive matches, both of which featured DJ Z in some fashion.

The first, DJ Z versus Sonjay Dutt, was great. The second? Not so much.

Look. I'm sure Chris Melendez is a lovely bloke. But even when he's partnered with Ken Anderson, I just don't care.

If your reasons for liking him are A) he's only got one leg and B) AMERICA, you need to go back to the drawing board.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Melendez is boring. Especially when you prop him up against characters like the BroMans.

For the love of Heidegger, give the poor man a personality. The sooner the better.

As for the Matches of the Week, both were good but somehow confusing.

Maybe it's because we're looking back the history of the house that AJ Styles built, but why so much AJ?

One week a thirty minute Iron Man match against Bobby Roode. The next a TV Title match against Douglas Williams from his blonde highlight douchebag phase.

Are you planning to try to lure him back, or is it all just a strange coincidence?

Image © Tabercil via Wikimedia Commons.

Xplosion has lost a lot of its charms for me at the moment.

The Xclusives are fun enough, but there's just too little original content.

It really needs something goofy like the Spin Cycle to give it charm. And I hope TNA realise that.

– Stark

P.S. Jessicka Havok's grandfather recently passed away and she's raising funds for the funeral expenses. If you can afford to send a little her way, please do.

Related Post: TNA Xplosion: Air Date 17th December 2014

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Special Post: Progress "Chapter 17: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"

​What can I say about Progress?

Image © Progress Wrestling via Twitter.

ENDVR 8 was my first Progress show overall. But HBFS was my first chapter.

And it was awesome.

Every match was good. But the one that really hooked me was the main event: Jimmy Havoc versus Will Ospreay for the Progress Championship.

I've been to quite a few wrestling shows now. And there have been many times I've gotten excited enough to stand up. But never before have I gotten so excited that I've jumped up onto a chair.

That's how good that damned match was.

If you haven't been to Progress, you should.

– Stark

P.S. Jessicka Havok's grandfather recently passed away and she's raising funds for the funeral expenses. If you can afford to send a little her way, please do.

Related Post: Special Post: IPW:UK "Weekend of Champions" Evening Two

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

TNA Impact Specials – All Time Best, Parts 1 & 2: UK Air Dates 21st & 28th December 2014

Reviewing the "All Time Best" episodes is going to be tricky.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Rasslor.

After all, how can I really judge a series of out-of-context matches and moments?

And that's why I've decided to merge both these episodes together and give my general opinion of the whole list.

But before I do, what the hell is going on with Mahabali Shera in these episodes?

We got a series of disconnected random scenes of him running through a forest and finally meeting with James Storm.

Who was filming them? And why? What's the deal?

But that aside, the list's biggest problem was a lack of context. For long-term TNA fans, this isn't an issue.

Image © Mr Shasihinka via Wikimedia Commons.

But let's say that these are the first episodes of TNA you've ever seen. You want to find out what their greatest moments are.

So there's a man wrestling for a championship belt. So what? Why's that exciting?

Dedicated fans will know it was Austin Aries pioneering Option C. But casual and new fans won't. And how are you going to hook them in if they don't understand what's going on?

The same with the first ever Knockouts Championship match and the Last Knockout Standing match. You need to explain why they're special.

But that's not even the biggest problem.

No, what I hated most were the top two spots on the countdown.

Image © chriscoven via DeviantArt.

The reveal of Immortal and Dixie going through a table are the most memorable parts of TNA's history?

This is what we're calling the best?

My arse.

– Stark

P.S. Havok's grandfather recently passed away and she's raising funds for the funeral expenses. If you can afford to send a little her way, please do.

Related Post: TNA Impact Specials – Best of 2014, Part 2: UK Air Date 14th December 2014

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.

Monday, 26 January 2015

You'll Play Your Part

Isn't it interesting how Triple H breaking character is still such a big deal?

Image © Mshake3 via Wikimedia Commons.

I mean, think about it. Kayfabe effectively died years ago.

We know that wrestlers are playing characters. We know that the villains are play-acting.

And yet one performer breaks character to comfort a crying child and it's suddenly the controversy of the week.

Now I don't watch WWE. I don't have anything against the company or the people who like their product: it's just not my thing.

But the issue of staying in character is universal to all wrestling, so I want to talk about it.

Now do I think that Triple H did the right thing?

I say yes. Definitely.

Whether you like it or not, the WWE are making a conscious effort to be more child-friendly. And that includes making their live shows a safe place for kids to be.

Image © Nemo via Pixabay.

And if that means dropping out of character for a moment, so be it.

Imagine what would have happened if he hadn't broken character.

I'm not saying that parents would have refused to bring their kids to wrestling events in droves. But maybe a few of them would have thought twice.

After all, wrestling events could be upsetting. Why would you risk it?

But let's think about this more broadly. How far should wrestlers go when it comes to staying in character? Particularly in this age of social media?

Pick any wrestler and go to their Twitter feed or Instagram page. I guarantee you'll find that the line between character and person is hard to define.

Some parts are in character, like people in feuds sniping at each other in Instagram comments.

And then at other times, you get candid shots of wrestlers hanging out who wouldn't be around each other in character.

It's a confusing mess of acting and reality that you don't get anywhere else. Not even with the actors in Marvel movies, and I know you've seen all the jokes about how they basically are their characters. Everyone has.

Image © Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

Or how about when you just chat to a performer outside the ring? Should they be in character then?

Look at Marty Scurll, for example. In the ring? The villain of British professional wrestling. Outside of the ring? One of the nicest human beings I have ever met.

But does that change how I see his character? Of course not.

I know that when he's playing the bad guy, we boo him. It's the unspoken contract between performer and audience.

And that I think is the heart of the issue.

We as audience members know that wrestlers are acting and we willingly buy into it. We actively suspend our disbelief.

And that's why it doesn't matter that Triple H broke character to comfort a crying kid. Or that Rockstar Spud works out with the BroMans. Or that Scurll is nice outside the ring.

Image © Stark Remarks.

In character or out of character: it doesn't matter as long as everybody is having a good time, right?

– Stark

P.S. Havok's grandfather recently passed away and she's raising funds for the funeral expenses. If you can afford to send a little her way, please do.

Related Post: The First Step in Change is Admitting You Were Wrong

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

TNA Xplosion: Air Date 17th December 2014

And here we are with (probably) the last review post of this week, and it's another episode of Xplosion. How was it?

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Wikipedia.

We all knew it was coming. We've seen every other Bootcamp match and there was only one left. And now here it is: EC3 versus Grado.

I've got to be honest: Grado's entrance is a lot better in person. It just lacks a little something without the Madonna lyrics, you know?

Although the "It's yersel!" shout was a nice touch.

But despite that, the match itself was ridiculous and it was wonderful.

Grado was... well. He was Grado. What more can you say?

For all that EC3 is a serious contender, he has a real flair for comedy matches too. And he gelled with Grado surprisingly well.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

And it was good to see that America got Grado.

Even with cultures as closely linked as us and the USA, sometimes things don't translate properly. So it was good to see that Grado did.

Awesome stuff.

Ditto the Match of the Week. A Heavyweight Championship match between AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels? You can't get much better than that.

Well. Unless you add Samoa Joe to the mix, I suppose.

Image © Jason Garber via Flickr.

And as for the flashbacks... well. Flashbacks to flashbacks: they're still pointless.

I enjoyed this episode of Xplosion. Even though the flashbacks were once again pointless, there was a lot of good in it.

If you haven't caught the EC3 and Grado match, look it up. It's worth your time.

– Stark

Related Post: TNA Xplosion: Air Date 10th December 2014

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

TNA Impact Specials – Best of 2014, Part 2: UK Air Date 14th December 2014

And we're back with the second half of 2014!

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Rasslor.

The Tag Team Championship series between the Wolves, the Hardys and Team 3D was awesome.

My only complaint was that point where Team 3D and the Hardys suddenly decided the Wolves weren't worthy. It was so out of character.

The Knockouts Championship scene worked for me. Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell's feud was great, as was Taryn picking up the belt. But I'm not sure Havok should have got it so early.

I've already spoken about Bobby Lashley's title run. And I liked Bobby Roode breaking it.

Image © Robertlbeukema via Wikimedia Commons.

The origin of Storm's Revolution still doesn't make sense to me. And he's not really taking over TNA, is he? But at the same time, I'm enjoying the strangeness.

Though I have to say, the new material with Mahabali Shera doesn't make sense. Why are we seeing from his perspective? Did they strap a GoPro to his head?

I'm not talking about Dixie Carter going through the table.

And as I said last time, the X Division got predictable at the end of the year.

Image © TNA Wrestling via Wikipedia.

If I had to sum up TNA's 2014 in two words, they would be "Slow down".

Their stories have a lot of good aspects, but they seem to run through them full tilt instead of letting them unfold organically.

And they need to focus a bit more on continuity as well.

But there's still a lot of good to find in their shows. And I definitely won't stop watching.

– Stark

Related Post: TNA Impact Specials – Best of 2014, Part 1: UK Air Date 7th December 2014

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

TNA Xplosion: Air Date 10th December 2014

You know what I really appreciate about the December episodes of Xplosion?

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Wikipedia.

That they gave us the Boot Camp matches Dixie teased us with despite the participants not being finalists.

TNA taunted us with the idea of Noam Dar versus Austin Aries, but then they gave it to us on the B-show.

It was interesting to see how much Dar came off as a heel, though. I'm guessing it's a combination of Aries being American and Aries being popular, but still.

The match was great. And now I really wish I had a ticket to see Dar wrestling Paul Robinson at the next Progress event.

Ah well.

Image © Isle of Slingers.

As for the Impact Wrestling Rewind, it was even more pointless than usual.

I don't know why they bothered doing flashbacks to a clip-show. It's flashbacks to flashbacks.

Would it have killed them to make a little more original content? Something like the Spin Cycle or those Rockstar Spud diaries they apparently put on YouTube? I'm just saying.

And finally, our match of the week was from Turning Point 2008 and it was awesome.

I'm always down for seeing Beer Money again because they're one of my all-time favourite tag teams. Ditto the Motor City Machine Guns.

Image © Mike Kalasnik via Flickr.

Xplosion is a show that wavers in quality throughout its runtime, despite being only an hour long.

On one hand, the good is excellent.

But when it starts repeating itself too much, it gets dull fast.

Still, I've seen worse wrestling programmes. So there you go.

– Stark

Related Post: TNA Xplosion: Air Date 3rd December 2014

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Monday, 19 January 2015

TNA Impact Specials – Best of 2014, Part 1: UK Air Date 7th December 2014

I'm back with an Impact special. But rather than comment on individual matches, I'm going to talk about the primary storylines.

Let's get going.

Image © TNA Wrestling courtesy of Rasslor.

The Kurt Angle and Bobby Roode plot from the beginning of the year was pretty good. No complaints there.

Magnus's title reign worked for me, but the parts with AJ Styles were a mess.

Kurt Angle and EC3's story never got a resolution, but I guess we're just supposed to forget about that?

Then you've got James Storm and Gunner. I still stand by the opinion that Gunner winning every match was a bad idea.

And I'm not even going to talk about Bully Ray and Dixie Carter. You know how much I hate that stupid plot. I'm done with it.

Image © chriscoven via DeviantArt.

I loved Eric Young's title reign. I'm so glad he's a serious contender once more. He deserves it.

I didn't expect the fresh material with Manik, Mahabali Shera and James Storm. And they were creepy.

The return of the Beautiful People and the plot with Brian Stiffler was lacking for me. It just recycled material.

The X Division got horribly predictable this year. Nine times out of ten, you can guess who's going to win and it's boring.

And finally, I liked Lashley's title run. I thought it was well done for the most part. The only element that didn't work so well for me was MVP.

Image © Krystal Bogner via Flickr.

They haven't left a lot for part two, though, have they? And that's where I'll summarise the year.

– Stark

Related Post: TNA Impact Specials – Dare to be a Knockout: UK Air Date 30th November 2014

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Sunday, 18 January 2015

The First Step in Change is Admitting You Were Wrong

I'm not perfect. Sometimes, I screw up and I get things wrong. It happens to everyone. And the important thing is how you respond to that.

What matters is raising your hand and admitting you were in the wrong.

And I was wrong about Vince Russo.

Image © billy c. via Wikimedia Commons.

Back in April, there were rumours that Russo was back in TNA. And I wrote this post arguing that it didn't matter as long as the shows were good.

I stand by that point. But at the same time, I made some disparaging remarks about Russo himself.

He has grand ideas he can't pull off. He can invent but not execute. Vince McMahon was his attitude era filter. That sort of thing.

But how do I know that? I was a year old at best when Russo entered the business. I was six when he became the head writer for the then WWF.

So how did I develop this opinion of him? Through what wrestling pop culture told me.

The same culture that invented the "Fire Russo" chant is the one that told me what he's like.

So as neutral as I thought I was trying to be in my post, I was anything but.

It's far too easy for that Myth of Russo to take over. It's far too easy to forget that underneath that reputation, he's a human being like you and me.

He's not a wrestling bogeyman.

He's not the death of your company.

Image © Mozaika2 via Wikimedia Commons.

He's a person doing a job.

But often, it takes something big to change how you see somebody.

For me, it was listening to Russo talk about being a wrestling writer for four hours today and finding he was nothing like what I expected.

I expected somebody with his head in the clouds, coming up with mad ideas with no rhyme or reason. After all, that's what everybody says, isn't it?

It could not be further from the truth.

But if Vince Russo isn't like the myth, what is he like? What's my opinion of him now?

Image © nicubunu via OpenClipart.org.

First of all, he's a lot smarter than people give him credit for. He's not just throwing ideas out for the heck of it. There are logic and reasons behind the things he does.

He's articulate. There aren't many people I'll listen to for hours on end, but Russo? Hell yeah. He's an interesting, eloquent human being.

But most importantly, he's incredibly passionate about wrestling.

You can't get as involved in the business as Russo if you don't give a damn about it. And a lot of people paint Russo as some kind of desperate hack.

He isn't. He genuinely cares about professional wrestling in a way that's inspiring and contagious.

Russo will always be a contentious figure. His history with the business makes it inevitable.

But when all is said and done, Vince Russo was and is a man doing a writing job to the best of his ability.

Image © niekverlaan via Pixabay.

And I respect the hell out of him for it.

– Stark

Related Post: Maybe This Year Will Be Better Than The Last

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.

Special Post: IPW:UK "Weekend of Champions" Evening Two

But what about Evening Two of IPW:UK's Weekend of Champions?

Image © IPW:UK via WrestleRopes.

To be honest, it wasn't as good as the first evening. But it was by no means bad either.

Again, the highlight for me was Paul Robinson versus Will Ospreay. It was less violent than the previous night, but still awesome.

But of course, the biggest shock was the ending.

Yup: Vince Russo is a villain.

Only time will tell how this will work, so I'm going to keep an open mind.

Weekend of Champions was a good, enjoyable experience for me.

So Tonbridge, I'll be seeing you again soon.​

– Stark

Related Post: Special Post: IPW:UK "Weekend of Champions" Evening One

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Special Post: IPW:UK "Weekend of Champions" Evening One

While I search for free time to watch Impact and get caught up, let's talk IPW:UK again.

Image © IPW:UK via WrestleRopes.

Last weekend, I went to both evenings of their Weekend of Champions event. First, Evening One.

This was a great show in almost every way. Every single match was enjoyable, including the pre-show match, and there was a great atmosphere.

My highlight was the brutal No Holds Barred match between Will Ospreay and Paul Robinson. And the ending was particularly wince-inducing.

My only complaint was that the show ending without a main event was a bit disappointing.

Great show; great action; excellent work.​

– Stark

Related Post: Special Post: Progress "ENDVR 8"

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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Special Post: Progress "ENDVR 8"

Last Sunday was my first Progress wrestling show.

Image © Progress Wrestling via Twitter.

I'd heard about them. I'd seen the four-way championship match between Jimmy Havoc, Marty Scurll, El Ligero and Rampage Brown on YouTube. But I'd never been there live.

Now I have.

And I freaking loved it.

ENDVR 8 was one hell of a show. Not a single match made me go "eh".

My favourites? Well, Zack Sabre Jr versus Sebastian was outstanding.

But when it came to audience participation, no match was funnier than Mason Ryan versus Pastor William Eaver.

Basically, if you haven't been to Progress, do it. You're missing out.

– Stark

P.S. I won't be live-tweeting Impact tonight as I'll be stuck on a bus somewhere between Tonbridge and home for two hours. Fingers crossed it's good.

Related Post: Special Post: IPW:UK "Tables, Ladders & Challenges"

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Special Post: IPW:UK "Tables, Ladders & Challenges"

Apologies for acting like a twit aside, how was IPW:UK's "Tables, Ladders & Challenges"?

Image © IPW:UK via WrestleRopes.

A hell of a lot of fun.

The only match I didn't enjoy was Dave Mastiff versus Mason Ryan, and even that wasn't terrible. It just struggled to get going.

But the match of the evening was, of course, the TLC match between the London Riots and the LDRS.

It was my first time seeing Zack Sabre Jr wrestle and I have been missing out, I tell you.

I recommend picking up the DVD when it comes out. It'd be worth it for that match alone.

– Stark

Related Post: Special Post: IPW:UK "Christmas Cracker"

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

I'm Sorry

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I went to IPW:UK's "Tables, Ladders and Challenges" event yesterday.

I will be reviewing the show. But that's not why I'm writing today.

You see, I was the one with the Jimmy Havoc sign. And I just wanted to say that I'm sorry for that.

I thought the sign would be funny and didn't think through what I was doing. I didn't mean to go too far or upset anybody. And I won't do it again.

Once more: I'm sorry.

– Stark

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

I hope 2014 wasn't too bad for you and that 2015 is the most awesome year it can be.

Have fun and stay safe.

– Stark

Want to let me know what you think? Want to tell me I'm wrong about something? Just want to say hi? Message me on Twitter (@stark_remarks), send me an e-mail (stark_remarks@yahoo.co.uk), or leave a comment.