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Wrestling's 4Rs: TNA Impact & WWE Smackdown Reviewed
Posted by Daniel Clark on 08.11.2014



How the 4Rs of wRestling Work!
Here is a quick explanation of the 4R's. The column will run TWO times a week. We will group our feelings on the shows in various categories: The Right, the wRong and the Ridiculous. The Right is stuff that worked very well: a great promo, a great match and so on. PuRgatoRy is a section between the right and wrong. It shows equal traits from both sides that cannot be ignored and needs discussed. It is not a bad place per say, as things can get remedied or go the wrong way the very next week. The wRong is what it sounds like: bad matches, bad or boring promos and so on. The Ridiculous is stuff that had no right on TV: Stupid angles and so on. And there is always a possibility of a 5th R, which is as bad as they come. This column is supposed to be analytical, and at the right time very critical of the shows, it was the whole reason it was created. This is not a "mark" column, nor a "smark" column, our goal is to analyze the show from many different fronts, reward the good and call out the bad. We will not apologize for our opinions, they are as they are, whether positive or negative.





 photo tna_impact_zps5e9008cd.jpeg
By: Jericho Ricardi
IMPACT 8.07.14:

QUICK MATCH RESULTS:
  • Bram def. Abyss in a Monster's Ball match at 8:00 via Janice
  • The BroMans def. Mr. Anderson, Gunner, and Sam Shaw at 5:00 via Robbie E rollup on Anderson
  • Team Bully def. Team EC3 at 17:00 via 3D on Rhino
  • Samoa Joe def. Low Ki and Sanada at 6:00 via submission (Sanada taps)

    Note: On Thursday I went to a live Impact taping in NYC and it was a fantastic time. I won't spoil anything, but I saw quite a bit of what will apparently air in mid-September. The crowd in that place is amazing, with a massive amount of energy. The company would do very well to keep taping there, but they might want to consider not doing shows on Thursdays unless they're live.

    Fri/Sat tapings (with a live show on Thursday) might be a lot better than what they're doing now day-wise. I'd like to see the Impacts after BFG be filmed this way, with a live episode that Thursday from Manhattan.

    The only real downside to the show was that some of the Manhattan Center employees seemed like jerks, especially the guy who poured my beer. I can't tip you if you give me a 5-dollar bill as change and walk away muttering about my not tipping you even after I offer to leave a couple 1's if you'll split the 5.

    Guy was an ass. Hopefully he reads this. You're an ass, guy.


    THE RIGHT:
    Table For One: This was... quite a moment. I was all ready to put it in Purgatory and say nothing more than "Make up your own mind on this", but I felt that'd be a cop-out so here it is. I was okay with this segment. It was a grand finale to a storyline that has been building for a while, and it was legitimately shocking to see play out. I wish they hadn't showed half of it during the last few seconds of last week's show, I wish they hadn't aired a scary backstage promo from Bully Ray right before this, and I wish Tessmacher been the one stalking Dixie all this time (and doing the powerbomb) instead of Ray simply because it'd be a bit more civilized (and give women someone to be vicariously, ala Brie). That said, this was handled as well as it could be, got a MASSIVE crowd reaction, and was a generally fun moment to cap off a ridiculous pro wrestling storyline.

    Was I entertained by it? Sorta, though I enjoyed the crowd reaction more than anything else. I'm someone who dislikes seeing violence against women, but I can separate storyline on a TV show from reality. This is a TV show, and it's geared towards adults. It should be judged in the same manner that we judge shows like Game of Thrones and 24, where things like this happen to villains whether they're male OR female.

    I don't watch your standard wrestling match and think that it's now okay for me to run outside and hit other guys with clotheslines, and if someone watches this particular episode and thinks it's okay to hurt women... well, that's a problem with THEM, not their entertainment mediums. As far as this specific segment of the program goes, I still took this as more of a cathartic expression of vengeance from an employee against their boss, something the viewer can watch vicariously because they DON'T get to powerbomb their harpy of a boss (who fired friends of theirs) in real life.

    I understand why some people won't like this because of their personal beliefs or because they've been the victim of domestic violence or know someone who has. Also, it's totally fine if something simply isn't your cup of tea. However, to detractors and naysayers who look for something wrong with everything TNA does and act like this was a live gang rape taking place on air: This was little more than a memorable moment for the show and the company, meant to denote a very clear paradigm-shift in TNA's current era. A moment that will get (and has gotten) people talking... which is what they need at this point. Also, points go to TNA for editing out the Devon kiss. As I suspected, it was an ad-lib by him, not a company-wide endorsement of rape or whatever some writers on 411 were saying last week.

    As for the unsung heroes of this segment, the character work was BRILLIANT on the heel side. Dixie Carter perfectly portrayed a villain whose end is in sight and they know it. EC3 was great as always, angry at his minions for failing him and at the same time desperate to somehow protect Dixie as their options dwindled. Spud fainting made me laugh out loud, marking the second week in a row that Spud managed to do that. The guy really has become a part of the show that I look forward to every week.

    What Does Everybody Want?: Al Snow returned in full ECW persona, with strobe lights, frenetic music, and the crowd swinging mannequin heads. Only thing missing was the camera zooming in and out. While the Internet probably bitched about this being them "pushing an old guy" or something, I thought it was AMAZING to see him reprise this character again after all this time. It's probably the last time, enjoy it. It's my belief that Al Snow (ECW version) had one of the best entrances in wrestling history. I just wish it had gone on longer in this case, and it's too bad we couldn't get an extension of the segment with Snow exiting through the fans after the match while the arena went crazy with strobe lights and spastic camerawork. Still, so much marking out just for his being here, and mega-props to the company for giving the fans mannequin heads to swing retro-style.

    Monster's Ball: Five words: Cheese Grater To The Nuts. I'm not going to forget that image any time soon. While hardcore matches aren't my bag, this was an exciting one and Bram's win is his biggest yet. All in all, this was the bloodiest match I've seen since James Storm / Gunner back in April, and the crowd reacted accordingly... unlike the silent Impact Zone for Storm/Gunner, which even Jim Ross called out as being an atrocious crowd reaction given the match quality. That was a feud-ending match, and this one deserves to be a feud-ending match too. I wish they had made a bigger deal out of it; it seemed to come out of nowhere and something like this could easily be used to turn Bram into somebody if built correctly. I'm not as into blood as I was when I was a teenager, but this was pretty damn good regardless.

    Low Ki's Voice: Holy hell, this guy's voice does not match the rest of him. Much like Samoa Joe, he has a deep, reverberating voice that you do not expect if you haven't heard him speak before. His voice gets a Right simply for being a rad voice. I know he isn't much of a promo guy on account of being The Reason For Some Total Nonstop Action and all, but I'd like hearing him cut a promo every week just to get more of that God of War Character Voice.

    BroMans Vs. Team Gunner: What exactly is the point of these matches? This was fun, even though I feel like everyone involved is sorta running in place. Anderson not liking Shaw and Gunner trying to keep the peace is interesting on paper, but it begs the question of why they don't just stop teaming up with Mr. Anderson? I'm also afraid that Gunner or Shaw will end up turning on the other just when we start to trust them as faces. Regardless, this lands in the Right because the BroMans are just entertaining. For guys who weren't over at all a year ago, they've become a part of the show that I look forward to every week.

    EC3's Stable Promo: This was actually a bit of sheer genius. EC3 exudes star-power, Spud is amazing at everything he does, and the other guys... were actually pretty good here, showing personality across the board. What made it a bit of sheer genius, however, was EC3's citing of Big Zeke and Snitsky as representatives of The One True ECW. He also pointed out that Zeke and Rhino were the final champions of the two iterations of the company. I really like it when wrestling companies acknowledge that other companies (that they don't own) exist. Especially when they're citing the history of wrestlers who come in and their achievements elsewhere. It means that their previous work actually mattered, and it's much more interesting / better for the guy in question than putting them through the Braden Walker Name Generator.

    Save_Us H***K: Another vignette for Havok (come on, it's gonna be Havok) aired, and again it was an eerie moment. Who is this Bane-looking monster and why have they come to Earth?


    puRgatoRy:
    The Hardcore War, Head aside: Good match with an impressive effort from everyone involved, and told a good story. EC3's stable "failed him", yet Dixie placed blame on EC3 as well. All of it was logical storytelling, and the match was sufficiently brutal (continuing the theme of the night, it seems). The only reason this landed in Purgatory is because they spoiled the outcome after last week's show. Seriously, the last few seconds of that show were the worst. With no question as to who would win this match, it ended up just being a lengthy time-killer. Which is really unfortunate.

    James Storm and Sanada: This storyline continues to be weird and I continue to not really get it. So why James Storm is Sanada's Sith Master, again? Doesn't Storm come off like he doesn't like Japanese people very much? Where is this going? If this story was only for the purpose of creating a new tag team and is largely concluded, then why doesn't it make more sense? Is Storm trying to help Sanada surpass Great Muta? Is Storm a modern Sean O' Haire, telling people what they already know so they'll follow him? If so, we need to see these things happening. All we've seen so far is Storm slapping Sanada around, calling him a bitch, and then Sanada silently being all "plz help me not be a bitch sir" before turning on his long-time mentor because Reasons.

    Samoa Joe Vs. Sanada Vs. Low Ki: This match was...there, and I was hoping for a bit more given the talent involved. Sanada's place in the match seemed unnecessary and didn't do very much to put him over. Rubbing elbows with two veterans is good in theory, but Sanada was taken out for the majority of the match. This really should have been a one-on-one between Joe and Ki. The action was good, regardless.

    The Beautiful People Explode?: Gail Kim subverting TBP's friendship could be interesting. I've actually been wondering why Vel Vel puts up with Angelina's dominance as much as she does, since Velvet's character has always been one with a big ego. This is also one-way to keep Taryn and Gail away from a one-on-one match for now. The Knockouts division is the most interesting it has been in a while, and there was nothing offensive here. It really does feel like they're killing time until whatever the BFG Knockouts Title feud is can begin to take shape, though.


    THE WRONG:
    Bully Ray's green-lit backstage promo about blood and things: This was absolutely a scary heel promo in every sense... yet it was for the guy who is debatably the #1 face in the company right now. Just a bad call to air this, and it gave the whole thing a dark, creepy vibe that wasn't in any way needed.


    THE RIDICULOUS:
    NOTHING


    The 411:

    Continuing that last train of thought... maybe it's because they turn people heel and back so often that it's impossible to have much faith in any particular good guys, but we really don't have anyone to genuinely root for in this company. Right now the top face is a guy who, last year, was trying to destroy the company while leading an ultraviolent biker gang and threatening to murder Mr. Anderson's children. Bully Ray is a great character, but he's a HEEL through and through. Right now he (and his brother, who also tried to destroy the company) are being portrayed as the heroes in a feud with a woman (a vile one, but still a woman) and the two most entertaining guys in the company. It just seems like miscasting, you know? The protagonist and the antagonist are in reverse, and the biggest hero in this whole thing is the highly punchable EC3 for trying to defend his aunt. It's backwards.

    Was this show exciting? Oh yeah, it was very exciting, and right now the show is in the creative high arc that being in existential peril can bring out (just ask Vince circa early 97). But the company as a whole still needs actual heroes as characters. Maybe now more than ever. I don't mean that they need a stale, unrealistic, Cena-esque paragon of virtue who never does anything wrong, but they need for SOME OF their flawed characters to do heroic things and be kind or unselfish despite their nature. You know, the way people work in real life. Gunner is the only character who has been heroic as of late... so they'll probably turn him heel for no reason soon. It's hard to get into a weekly drama where everyone's an asshole and some are just worse than others. All of that said, I enjoyed this show a lot, and found it to be an awesome Part 2 to last week's show. A one-two punch of exciting wrestling goodness that'd no doubt result in a ratings surge if this were the late 90's and ratings weren't largely etched in stone yet.

    Note about last week: As was pointed out in the comments, I think I actually under-rated last week's Impact by giving it a 9 (which is the highest rating I've given any Impact, by a good margin, but still). It was probably closer to a 9.5, but those last few seconds really left a bad taste in my mouth. Without that, it was easily half a point higher. This week's show was a similar level of quality (though a little lower in the match department) without any awful ending cinematic. They let the final shot of the show linger for a bit so we could actually absorb it, then cut right to the logo without a "next time". Two things I've been saying they should do for many weeks, and the change was perfect.

    Cheap plug time; support this site and this column by sharing it with your homies. Also, support my site Coronajumper.com by reading my recent posts on wrestling videogames, including TNA Impact. Featuring gratuitous Rebel.

    Show Rating: 9.2

    As a reminder, I will be going by the 411 scale…

    0 - 0.9: Torture
    1 - 1.9: Extremely Horrendous
    2 - 2.9: Very Bad
    3 - 3.9: Bad
    4 - 4.9: Poor
    5 - 5.9: Not So Good
    6 - 6.9: Average
    7 - 7.9: Good
    8 - 8.9:Very Good
    9 - 9.9: Amazing
    10: Virtually Perfect




    By Daniel Clark
    Smackdown 8.08.14

    QUICK MATCH RESULTS:
  • The Big Show and Mark Henry def. Rybaxel at 3.27 by pinfall
  • Sin Cara def. Mr Border Patrol (Damien Sandow at 1.51 by pinfall
  • Seth Rollins def. Dolph Ziggler at 11.40 by pinfall
  • Paige def. Natalya at 2.10 by submission
  • Rusev def. Big E at 1.48 by submission
  • Dean Ambrose def. Randy Orton at 9.11 by disqualification


    THE RIGHT:
    Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler: Although this match was not at the level that it could have been given the talent involved, it was a pretty decent match after it took a while to get going. Rollins continued to show his new found aggressive streak by looking and acting as if he actually wanted to hurt Ziggler and did so by trying to take out outside of the ring. Rollins gets the win, which he needs to be doing, and the Curb Stomp is looking like an effective and brutal finisher. Ziggler put up a good fight and tried his best but in the end found that Rollins was just a bit better than him, which gives their positions in the pecking order, is perhaps what should be happening, although the match was competitive enough that Ziggler does not too weak at the end of it.

    Paige vs. Natalya: With Paige the number one contender to the title, she needs to be winning her matches convincingly and cleanly and that is exactly what she did here. Natalya gave her a good fight, but in the end, Paige was just too dominant for her and got the win. She is moving nicely towards her match with AJ and seems to be a lot more comfortable in this gimmick at the moment than she was before she lost the title, and the subtle digs she is making at AJ are pretty good.

    Randy Orton vs. Dean Ambrose: Randy's pre-match promo was simple and straight to the point and got across instantly what it was that he was going to do to Ambrose. And then the two of them put on a good match that was befitting of main eventing the show, and although there was no clean finish to the match, it kind of made sense as neither of them really could afford the loss here. Ambrose probably had the match won before Seth Rollins caused the DQ, and that does make Ambrose look like someone who could be on the verge of the main event. Rollins gets his revenge from Monday night at the end by beating down Ambrose and pouring something over him, which furthers the desire of Ambrose for revenge, as he has not got any physical revenge on him yet.

    Brock Lesnar/John Cena promo: The video package produced to highlight the Summerslam main event between Cena and Lesnar is fantastic and sells the match perfectly. The contrast is there between Lesnar, who makes it perfectly clear what he is about, and that is a ass-kicker and very legitimate, with the language that he uses and the confidence in his voice just selling the fact he is so secure in what he is saying and knows that he is going to win. And then there is Cena who knows he is going to be in a fight, but this time, his promo has no jokes, no snide comments and just some facts, and that he knows he can beat Brock. The promo is just perfect and sets up the match brilliantly as you listen to both of them and believe exactly what they are saying. This is how to sell a PPV main event.


    puRgatoRy:
    Dean Ambrose's decision: There was a lot in this promo from Ambrose that was good, as he seemed confident on the mic and some of the stipulations that he read out as possible options were actually quite funny and humorous, before he got down to the serious business. The problem is that he eventually chose a lumberjack match as his choice which to me initially seems an odd choice. It is not quite the violent match type that you would expect Ambrose to choose and is not going to really allow him to get the vengeance that he really wants. And it is perfectly possible that the Authority, unless hand-picked by Ambrose, will buy off the lumberjacks, and thus help Rollins throughout the match. If he wanted a match choice than confined the two of them in the same ring, then surely a cage match would have been appropriate? The promo was fine. Both Ambrose and Rollins played their role in this very well. But the choice of match was not the right one really for the feud.

    Rusev vs. Big E: It was only a few weeks ago when Big E was being built up as a genuine threat to Rusev and a man who could be the first person to actually beat him. Now, he is getting totally squashed inside two minutes by Rusev and is heading absolutely nowhere as the stable with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods has been forgotten about for the time being. Rusev gets the win and gets in quickly and does look impressive doing it, but he has to be at a stage where he moves on from just squashes soon, and I guess that this feud is Jack Swagger is that first step to doing so.

    Chris Jericho promo: This feud between Chris Jericho and Bray Wyatt has not really caught the imagination in the way that the WWE probably had hoped it would and even if Bray does get the win at Summerslam, it is not going to do a lot for him until they work out exactly what the end goal for Wyatt is. Jericho's promo was okay but not a lot more than that, and although it did its job in keeping the rivalry running, you get the impression that perhaps Jericho is not totally convinced by the character he is playing at the moment.


    THE wRong:
    Rybaxel vs. Mark Henry and the Big Show: At the stage of their careers, it might be the best use for the Big Show and Mark Henry to be part of a tag team, who due to their size, instantly have credibility and it will mean something for whoever manages to beat them. But, if this is their first outing in a while together, they did not look that impressive and struggled through the first part of the match. If Show and Henry are to be a tag team, then you would want them to look as strong as possible in their initial outings, and they did not do so in this performance. They got the win, but did not look like the impressive team they should be.

    Sin Cara vs. Damien ‘Mr Border Patrol' Sandow: Despite the match lasted less than two minutes, it felt as if it went on a lot longer than that and was just a pretty dull match. The promo before the match also suffered the same fate as being too long and not really doing a lot to engage the audience. Sandow's multiple persons gimmick can be quite entertaining, but this time, it wasn't and also seemed a bit of a re-hash of the kind of comments that Zeb Coulter would have been making in this past before his face turn. The gimmick is also got to lead to something in the end, and at the moment, it is just heading nowhere.


    THE RIDICULOUS:
    NOTHING


    The 411:

    The main interest in this episode of Smackdown was the decision that Dean Ambrose was to make as to the stipulation for the match against Seth Rollins at Summerslam. And the decision was a bit of a letdown as the choice was not the match that quite lived up to the hype that it had been given, but the promos that were cut on it were quite good.

    We also got two good matches resulting from it. Ambrose and Randy Orton had a really good match in the main event, which ended with Rollins getting his revenge from what happened on Raw, and Rollins himself had a pretty decent and competitive match with Dolph Ziggler that got better as the match went on, and showed what can happen when people are given time in the ring to craft a match and tell a bit of a story.

    The rest of the show though sort of passed by quickly and briefly without anything really happening that meant a lot. The other four matches averaged around two minutes each and sort of just existing on the show. Paige got a quick win over Natalya that kept her strong. Rusev got a squash win over Big E, which shows just how much and how fast he has fallen given he was a threat for Rusev only a few weeks ago, Damien Sandow lost again and seems to have no end purpose for this gimmick of his, while the Big Show and Mark Henry teamed up for the first time and won their match, although not as impressively as you would hope they would have been.

    All in all, given that Summerslam is approaching soon, not a lot really happened on this show and there is a suspicion that Summerslam, with the card it has, is going to sell itself and thus not require a big push on Smackdown to try and get people to buy the show/ network and increase the anticipation for the event. Again, an episode of Smackdown that happened, was fairly inoffensive, but in truth, meant very, very little.

    Show Rating: 6.6

    As a reminder, I will be going by the 411 scale…

    0 - 0.9: Torture
    1 - 1.9: Extremely Horrendous
    2 - 2.9: Very Bad
    3 - 3.9: Bad
    4 - 4.9: Poor
    5 - 5.9: Not So Good
    6 - 6.9: Average
    7 - 7.9: Good
    8 - 8.9:Very Good
    9 - 9.9: Amazing
    10: Virtually Perfect



    Have you checked out the Csonka Podcasting Network? If you haven't, you should We run anywhere from 15-20 shows a month, discussing pro wrestling, the world of MMA, the NBA, general sports, popular TV series of the past, bad movies, battle rap, interviews, MMA & Wrestling conference calls and more! Around 10 different personalities take part in the various shows, which all have a different feel; so you'll likely find something you like. All of the broadcasts are free, so go ahead and give a show a try and share the link with your friends on the Twitter Machine and other social media outlets! Running since May of 2011, there are currently over 500 shows in the archive for you to listen to.

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