So Velvet Sky and Chris Sabin are dating in real life.

Relax, I’m not embarking on a crusading bloodbath of biblical proportions. They both have excellent taste. Besides, it’s Velvet freakin’ Sky. That would be like a guy getting upset over the fact that the girl he likes fancies the Rock. I actually mention this for reasons not involving the shattering of my visions of my future love life. I mention this because TNA has steadily driven deeper and deeper into “shoot” country. They have always had their moments, but since January 4th and the “acquisition,” there’s been more and more of it. For example, last week, Velvet Sky appeared in a backstage segment with the Motor City Machine Guns for no reason, and didn’t really have much to do with the happenings. This week, she announces to Angelina Love that “I have to call Chris!” People who know that the wrestlers are dating will recognize the reference and say, “Oh.” Everyone else is left scratching their collective heads. It was as if someone in power (you decide precisely which person) just said, “Hey, since you guys are together in real life, let’s make it part of the show just because it’s REAL!” No purpose is served by doing it, and it doesn’t really advance anyone or anything, but since it’s real, it must be good for tv.

For those of you who actually watched the show or read the results, you know where this is heading. Hulk Hogan’s pathetic, obscenity-laced YouTube rant about how TNA is “real,” is going to get “more real” and “evil,” and that the “fake-ass wrestlers” and the “fake-ass storylines” are all going to go away proved that the same people in the same positions of power who destroyed one company are edging ever-closer to doing it again. And they absolutely do not care. Why should they? THEY won’t be affected by the consequences. They never have been. Hogan’s assertion ties in directly to the night’s main story, which has all of the potential to be extremely compelling. However, the point remains that if the angle were truly solid and good enough to do at all, it doesn’t have to be done now simply because it actually happened in real life. In plain English, TNA could have used the “concussion” angle at any time, and it would be just as effective, regardless of whether or not a big name like Mr. Anderson had legitimately suffered one.

Let’s move on.

Opening Knockouts brawl: Tara and Mickie James brawled through the catering area, while a number of male TNA employees stood by and looked on. When the men brawl through the back, people not in security get involved and try to separate them. When the women do it, said people stand there and look like they’re having a collective orgasm. Way to treat the Knockouts seriously. That said, it was a very intense, physical brawl by any pro wrestling standard, not just by a women’s standard. Angelina Love and Velvet Sky turned up to help Mickie James, while Sarita and Madison Rayne aided Tara. Sarita’s new haircut, shoulder-length with a bit of blonde streak in the back, looks very good on her. They fought through the catering area, the backstage area, and down to the ring. Then, because he apparently has a contract that allows him to steal focus and make himself the center of anything not deemed important enough by the Hogan/Bischoff regime to simply stand on its own merits, Ric Flair comes out with security and tries to control the women. Mickie James slaps him. In the face. Yaay! Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living makes a six-woman tag team match for later, and acts like the lot of them are foolish children or prostitutes to be condescended to. Whatever.

Trainer segment in Bischoff’s office: This is where it starts. The head trainer protests the decision to force Mr. Anderson to wrestle with a severe concussion. Bischoff and Flair play the “Who are you?” game and make him address them as “Mr. Bischoff” and “Mr. Flair.” Flair asks where the concern was when he and Foley were rolling around in barbed wire and thumbtacks, bleeding everywhere, a few weeks ago. The trainer says that head trauma is different, and refers to the NFL crackdown on concussion-related injuries. Flair and Bischoff snort that the NFL’s ratings are going down, and theirs are through the roof. Uh, right…. In short, Flair and Bischoff say that the match will happen, that this is wrestling, that TNA is “real,” and that if Anderson knows what’s good for him, he’ll comply. As the trainer leaves, he continues to protest, and Flair and Bischoff mock him. Again, this has the potential to do a lot of good things, but get over this “real” and “shoot” obsession! Doing it solely because it actually happened in real life is stupid.

Abyss steals more people: “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero wheels a casket out to the ring and speaks about sending Abyss back to Hell where he belongs. So there’s going to be a casket match between Pope and Abyss at the next ppv. In the midst of all of the Undertaker/Kane stuff going on in WWE. Frankly, I honestly think that no one outside of WWE should do casket matches anymore. They’re too closely associated with Kane and the Undertaker. With all the religious imagery of his promo, I kept waiting for Pope to make a reference to performing an exorcism, but it never happened. Homeless Man Abyss comes out through the audience, yells and spits on the mic, and grabs a guy from one side of the row and a girl from the other side. Both look young and absolutely terrified. Either TNA’s plants are getting better, or they offered random fans a chance to be part of the show. I truly regret that we are such a litigious society. In Japan, getting the daylights beaten out of you by your favorite wrestler is a badge of honor. If there were a chance of my getting kidnapped by Abyss during the show, I’d certainly be more likely to attend. The entire audience stands by with no reaction at all as Abyss drags these two off to his torture dungeon. Pope eventually takes off after them.

Matt Morgan segment #1: Proving that logic and sense isn’t completely dead, Matt Morgan approaches Flair with concerns about Anderson being forced to wrestle with a concussion. Morgan says that he was a two-sport All-American, and that he’s had his share of concussions, and that with all the research and study that has been done that we now have, it’s a bigger deal than Bischoff is admitting, and the match shouldn’t happen. Back in Flair’s day, this information wasn’t available, so it wasn’t anyone’s fault, but now they know too much about it to ignore it. Flair responds that it’s ALWAYS his day. Whatever Bischoff and Hogan have planned for Anderson, Fortune will support it. They’re all a family, and Morgan should forget that they had this conversation. Morgan is left alone, looking uncertain. This was great because it was plausible. It was simple. Matt Morgan did not make a sudden, random face turn. He simply questioned the decision of the powers-that-be based on knowledge that most people easily believe that he has. It works because it’s simple, not because it’s unexpected or “real.”

“‘Jersey Shore’ Street Fight” between Jay Lethal and Robbie E (w/ Cookie): Meh. Cookie and J-Woww was given more coverage and attention than this match. Aside from the constant mentioning of the WWE (by name, no less), this is one of my biggest pet peeves in TNA. If you are going to have a character whose gimmick is ripped off from an element of popular culture, STOP acknowledging and referring to the real element of popular culture! Treat it like your personal thing that you invented. Stop reminding everyone that the real “Jersey Shore” (which can hardly be considered “real,” but I digress) even exists, let alone that one of them is coming after you for no real reason. The match itself wasn’t great, with Cookie spraying something in Lethal’s eyes for a cheap win at the end. Since Robbie E won this match, he gets an X-Division title shot against Lethal at the upcoming ppv. Oh, great. Remember when the X-Division title mattered a great deal, and wasn’t simply handed over to the latest acquisition? No? I have the proof on dvd.

The Beautiful People and Winter: Babbling in the dressing room. This is where Velvet Sky announces that she has to go call Chris, and leaves Angelina to be visited by Winter again. Daffney was already doing “dark and creepy,” so I don’t really see the4 need to do it with Winter, but that’s as may be. The crazy lesbian stalker vibe is permeating every word of this exchange, and I would honestly not be surprised to see Bischoff bring back his “Hot Lesbian Action” shirts. Don’t get me wrong, Winter could be a really neat character, but I’m not ready to jump on the bandwagon yet, as much as I loves me some Katie Lea Burchill.

EV2 in the ring: Rob Van Dam is hopelessly paranoid because of Eric Bischoff’s hint of another traitor in the midst. Tommy Dreamer tries to calm RVD by reminding him of just who Bischoff is and how he operates. RVD takes issue with Raven for laughing. Raven tells RVD to get off the weed and find another cause to support, and that Bischoff is like him – an evil genius. RVD attacks Raven as the traitor. Flair and Fortune come out. Of course they do. Flair insults EV2 to shut them up, and tells them to worry more about facing Fortune at the ppv. He tells RVD and Raven to kiss and make up, because they will be facing the team of AJ Styles and Kazarian tonight. Wait, so Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair are all free to make whatever matches they like at any time, and are basically equal in power? Ok. Douglas Williams repeatedly tries to talk to Flair, but is told that they will handle it in the back.

Fortune in the back: Whatever Douglas Williams actually said, we don’t get to hear. The rest of Fortune disagrees with him, and Kazarian in particular takes issue with British people. Flair settles them (because, of course, they’re just a bunch of unruly teenagers who require Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living to wipe their backsides for them), takes Kazarian out of the tag team match, and replaces him with Williams. Flair tells Kazarian to go put on that custom-made suit, looking as only he can look, and go out and have a good time. As long as Fortune has the power, it doesn’t matter which person is involved. Everyone accepts this. They tease another “icing,” but it doesn’t happen.

Tara, Sarita, and Madison Rayne vs. Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, and Mickie James: Could we go just two minutes without harping on the history between Tara and Mickie James in the WWE? Could you not just make up something else? Do we really have to listen to the idea that Tara holds Mickie James responsible for getting her released from her WWE contract two years early? WWE gets more free publicity from TNA than TNA gives itself. This match was pretty good, but the focus was all on Mickie James and Tara, and not that much on Tara. Considering that the number of appearances that Mickie James has had on TNA television, including ppv, can be counted on one hand, she should not be so utterly dominant, and I say that as a fan. The highlight of this match was the revelation by Mike Tenay that Lacey Von Erich was conspicuous by her absence because – seriously, get ready for this – she is training Miss Tessmacher to be a wrestler. I may have ruptured the time-space continuum, so here it is again. LACEY VON ERICH is off training MISS TESSMACHER to be a really real wrestler. Add your own jokes here. They are legion. Anyway, despite the complete dominance of Mickie James, Sarita gets the win for her team when she hits Velvet Sky with a Tiger Bomb. The bad girls win.

Pope and Abyss fight backstage: A loud scream from Abyss’s female victim directs the Pope to the right place. The two kidnappees flee, while Pope and Abyss brawl around the casket. Pope gets slammed into the wall repeatedly, which looks pretty brutal. Abyss threw Pope in the casket and closed it, went hunting for Janice, and used her to demolish the casket and knock it over.

3-way match for the Tag Team Championship titles: Yeah. I’ve never been crazy about unannounced title matches that aren’t unannounced as part of a story, but that’s as may be. Generation Me is in the ring already, claiming that it’s all about them. While they aren’t there yet, Generation Me has the potential to be really good on the mic. Max Buck (the dark-haired one) is cut off by the music of Ink, Inc. Shannon Moore tells Generation Me that “Matt and Jeff from 1998 called, and they want their gear back.” The champs, the Motor City Machine Guns, enter last, as well they should. The match features a huge amount of fast-paced action for the five or six minutes that it got, and featured mainly Generation Me against Ink, Inc. Taz made the point that the MCMG could lose their titles by not being in the ring at the time. Ink, Inc. double-teams Chris Sabin with the Mooregasm, but Jeremy Buck (the blonde one) pulls the referee out of the ring before the count can be completed. Ink, Inc. would have had a clean and legit win over the champs, and won the titles. The confrontation following this allows the MCMG to hit the Skull and Crossbones on Jesse Neal and get the win. The MCMG are still the tag team champs. Team 3D comes down, applauding everyone. They praise TNA’s tag team division, and the MCMG in particular. Team 3D wants an answer from the Guns. Will the MCMG accept the challenge to be Team 3D’s last wrestling match ever at the upcoming ppv? If Team 3D wins, they retire as tag team champions for the 24th time. If the Guns win, they remain tag team champions, and have the bragging rights (see what I did there?) of retiring Team 3D. Alex Shelley says that, three years ago, Team 3D took a tag team of boys and made them men, and asks the people in the Impact Zone if they would like to see this match. The response is overwhelmingly positive. The Guns accept, and much hugging and arm-raising is done by all. Huzzah, mutual respect!

Matt Morgan segment #2: Morgan goes to Bischoff’s office, where Bischoff is on the phone with Hogan. Morgan questions Bischoff about Anderson’s match. Bischoff says that the ratings will be great. Morgan asks if it isn’t a bit irresponsible to put a concussed wrestler in the ring. Bischoff says no, that it’s all part of the job. Morgan gets all that, but this is about something bigger than ratings and money, it’s about their safety and well-being. He says that he’s be a hypocrite not to admit that he has given concussions to others. He specifically mentions Hernandez, and says that after he gave Hernandez a severe concussion, Hernandez was on the shelf for three months before he was allowed to come back and wrestle again. He wasn’t forced to wrestle a matter of days later. Brilliant! See how paying attention to what you already showed on tv can help? Bischoff blows the whole thing off, saying that it isn’t a safety issue at all, and that he doesn’t give a **** about Anderson’s safety. Business is good when people do what they’re told, when they’re told. Bischoff orders security to escort Morgan out so he can make some calls, and as he exits, Morgan tells Bischoff that he isn’t being responsible.

Matt Morgan segment #3: When we return from commercial, the head trainer who was treated poorly by Bischoff and Flair encounters Morgan backstage. Morgan just wants to talk with Anderson. The trainer disbelieves at first, but Morgan gives his word that all he wants to do is talk. The trainer allows Morgan access to Anderson, whom we never actually see.

Jeff Hardy video package: This was really good. The cold, dead eyes and flat tone of voice really work well for him. What’s particularly effective is the path of “Jeff Hardy was always extreme, you people always demanded that I be extreme, and now you’re going to see extreme in a new way.” This could be much better than it first appeared. The one problem is that it’s hard to take a guy seriously as the antichrist of professional wrestling when he’s posting Tweets and such about how excited he is over the impending birth of his daughter. There’s something to be said for keeping kayfabe.

Raven and Rob Van Dam vs. AJ Styles and Douglas Williams: The quality of the match was secondary to the story. AJ and Williams entered together, while Raven and RVD entered separately. Neither used EV2 music. That should say something about the faction. AJ and Williams entered first, followed by Raven, and a two-on-one beatdown ensued. RVD entered during all this, very slowly and with little energy. He showed no interest whatever in helping Raven. After the match proper in the ring, Flair runs down and pulls Raven from the ring apron, then smashes AJ’s Television Championship title belt into Raven’s head. RVD has no one to tag when he crawls to his corner, and did not see what happened. A bloody Raven crawls on the floor, while RVD gets dropped throat-first across the top rope by AJ. AJ hits a springboard forearm and tries to pin RVD, but the referee won’t allow it, as AJ is not the legal man. Williams, who IS the legal man, goes for a top rope knee drop onto RVD, but as he lands the move, AJ tags himself in and steals the pin on RVD with a top rope splash. Williams is not amused.

TNA on “Family Feud:” My brain refuses to accept that Steve Harvey hosts this show now. It’s male wrestlers versus the Knockouts. Everyone is cheery and totally not in character, though they are all dressed in ring gear.

Main event is almost entirely on “Reaction” again: This has gotten to be a habit, and I don’t like it. Give us two hours of solid action, and then use this hour of what is supposed to be a completely separate show to fill in the gaps. Featuring wrestlers on”Reaction” who were not on the “Impact” preceding it would also be nice. Seriously!

Chain match, Jeff Jarrett vs. Mr. Anderson: Anderson’s music plays, but Matt Morgan enters. He asks Jarrett if they’re “boys.” Jarrett affirms, and Morgan says that Jarrett has wrestled since the age of 16, likely with his share of concussions. Morgan is a proud member of the Sports Legacy Institute that studies the effects of head trauma in all sports, and that he has seen the brains of former athletes in their 50s that look like the brains of 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patients. It’s up to them, the wrestlers themselves, to decide when someone has had enough, and be firm about it. Jarrett ponders this before shouting at Morgan that he doesn’t care about Anderson’s concussion, or anyone else’s. After what he already did to Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe, he’s ready to begin the massacre of Anderson right now, and there’s nothing that Morgan can do about it. Morgan starts to leave, but picks up the handcuff at the end of the chain, and says that he can’t do anything about Jarrett wanting this match, but he can just kick his ass right now. Jarrett begs off, but attacks Morgan and the match is on. Morgan dominates for a bit, before Jarrett and Morgan take turns smashing each other into the corner ring post on the floor. Back in the ring, Morgan tries a Carbon Footprint, but Jarrett ducks it and crotches Morgan on the chain. Jarrett hits the Stroke for the victory. Post-match, Morgan attacks Jarrett, but the rest of Fortune makes the save. Fortune make a noose of the chain and hang Morgan over the top rope.

In closing: Does anyone else feel that all the Matt Morgan stuff should have been spread out over a month or so instead of all taking place in one night of tv? Perhaps it’s just me, but this would have been more effective as a slow burn. Of course, the last successful slow burn that anyone in power in TNA did was the “Sting becomes ‘The Crow’ and stalks Hogan from the rafters for a year” bit, and we know how long ago that was. This angle has the potential to be very intriguing and very effective, particularly if Matt Morgan, Kurt Angle, and Samoa Joe are all on the same team. I’m reserving judgment here, and don’t find this episode of “Impact” as horrible as the previous two were.

Peace out,



  1. As per usual, this is why I am glad you review this show here. Excellent coverage, with a healthy dose of editorial observation. To be honest, I am actually happy that the concussion angle is out, and hope it is regarded seriously. The pessimist in me has little faith in it doing much more than advance a couple storylines, but it is a legit issue in professional sports (and fake ones too!).

  2. I absolutely love the concussion angle. In fact, I voted for Matt Morgan in this week's Power Poll for that reason. In fact, idk if you guys caught this, but Chris Nowinski actually praised the angle.

    Morgan is a legit member of the Sports Legacy Institute, so bravo to TNA for doing this – hopefully it was done with the intention of bringing awareness of the severity of concussions to the TNA fans, rather than with the intention of "hey, let's make fun of the NFL!"

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