Being the cheap bastard that I am, I've never had the opportunity to catch any of the weekly TNA PPVs--I don't even have the converter to get PPVs, so when they did the one cent thing I tried to get it but couldn't. Happily, though, I'm staying for a few days in a place where I can get free PPV stuff, so I've had a welcome chance to check out their two year-end best-of shows, one devoted to the X division and the other a general best of. I must say that overall I was pretty impressed with the product.
The X Division show was clearly the more impressive of the two. I miss the days where I was getting to see luchadors and and other high-flying and innovative workers cut lose on a regular basis. While WWE has some great workers and certainly can put on a great match when they want to do something big (e.g. a ladder match), they generally don't let their guys show what they can do all that often. The X Division show had a lot of young guys who really did some wild stuff. The highlights of the show for me were a great Juventud Guerrera/Chris Sabin match from the Super X tournament, and the Ultimate X match with Sabin, Michael Shane, and Frankie Kazarian. I was a big Juvy mark from the WCW days (Finally...the Juice has come back to my TV!), but the rest of the guys on this special were pretty much all new to me, although I knew their names from reading recaps and indie results and such.
The other show, which premiered tonight, was more of a mixed bag. The first match was terrific, a tag title match between those old ECW favorites Simon and Swinger, and "America's Most Wanted", James Harris and Chris Storm (who, again, I only knew from reading). That match featured a four man top rope powerbomb spot that was out of this world (as were any number of spots on the X Division show). Most of the rest, however, wasn't as strong, and part of the problem was overbooking. Three matches *in a row* had spots where half the locker room ended up doing run-ins--a heel or two come in to cheat, then a face or two come out to even the odds, then another heel, and so on and so on. These spots were hard to follow (especially for someone who doesn't know the wrestlers that well and isn't up on the storylines) and generally detracted from the matches. And there's a guy named Abyss who came off as such a lame attempt to ripoff Mankind that I wanted to call him Mankindof. On the more positive side, I saw enough to be very impressed by AJ Styles, and it was certainly a treat to see (relatively) fresh matches from such old favorites as Sting and Raven. It wasn't as exciting as the X Division show, but it was still a pretty good way to spend a couple of hours and take my mind of the fact that I don't have a date to kiss tonight.
Of course, they were heavily hyping next week's new show, which will feature a second Ultimate X match that I'm sure will be well worth seeing. OTOH, you'll have to sit through a whole lot of nonsense about Jeff Jarrett wanting to win the "Mr. TNA" Award, and a live musical performance from Road Dogg, K-Kwik, and Konnan. [shudder] (Yes, I know, the first two don't use those names anymore. Sue me.)
By then, of course, I'll be back home and won't be watching. It's frustrating that I have a cable system that carries NO channels with ANY non-WWE wrestling, apart from PPVs--and, no, it doesn't carry WGN either, so TNA getting on there won't solve the problem. It would really be nice to have someone in the New York area at least pick up TNA Xplosion. Oh, well. At least I got to enjoy these shows; maybe I'll end up back here again for the Best Of TNA 2004. B^)
I'd be very curious,if anyone who does follow TNA somewhat regularly saw the shows, to know what you thought of the shows and whether they were putting their best foot forward. And whether there's any more value to Abyss than I perceived in the short time I saw him.
I watch TNA every week, with the exception of these compilation shows.
The run-ins -- yeah, that's a booking solution that they are a little too reliant on. It can get pretty frustrating.
Abyss -- He's actually a pretty good "Big Man." But his gimmick is tired -- when he first showed up, the fans chanted "You're not Kane" at him. He's got a couple of good finishers and he moves pretty well. He's probably on Vince's list of guys to keep an eye on.
Man i'm salivating at the upcoming Ultimate X 2. Hey I like Sabin a lot, Kazarian too, and Michael Shane is beginning to be one of my favorites. But you throw Daniels and Low Ki in there too and it's guranteed to be awesome. Just out of curiousity though, could anybody maybe tell me, or point me in the direction of a webpage that said what matches are on these shows? As awesome as the X Division special probably was I wouldn't mind seeing the other one too if it has the Raven/Mitchell feud the tag team cage match, and AJ/Raven, AJ/Jarrett or AJ/Raven/Jarrett.
Speaking of the upcoming show with Ultimate X 2. Isn't Jarrett supposed to defend his title? Who is getting the shot since Raven, AJ, and D'Lo all lost their last matches? Sting?
In the timeframe before I gave up on TNA, Abyss was one of my favorite spots of every single show. For a big man, the guy could *go*, including a ****1/4 match with AJ Styles. (That I apparently didn't recap...doh!)
I am still convinced with the proper booking the guy could become a modern day version of Vader.
That said, it's going to be difficult to mould him into that with the pussy-foot booking they use. They generally run 3-4 bullshit finishes PER SHOW, and 9 times out of 10 at least one of those finishes is in the main event. Nobody will EVER get over without anyone going over decisively. TNA seems afraid to truly get behind anyone whose name isn't Jarrett and that is the most frustrating part of watching the federation.
I'm also bitter than Brian Lee's still gone. Bring back the Killdozer and they may get my money again.
Jeff Jarrett seriously needs to be reigned in, but that isn't news to anyone at this point. And with him being part-owner, he's not about to be cast aside anytime soon.
But that doesn't mean I don't have confidence in the fresh faces. The company obviously has very high hopes for AJ Styles, as they continue to tout him as one of the franchise players. I'm very confident that Abyss will be a main event player in 2004. Dutch Mantell helped put him on the map in IWA and with Mantell booking in TNA, I'm very confident that Abyss will be in the main event spotlight sooner than later.
At this point, I'm thankful that Abyss is signed to a long-term deal with TNA, otherwise Vince would have snatched him up. Yes, he could be a big player in WWE, but I shudder to think that Vince would toss away his awesome "monster" persona in favor of something far lamer. (See Batista, Dave for past precedent)
Admit it. You laughed too when you found out Brock was feuding with Sparky Plugg.