Damn I have a lot of work to do to catch up. This is the 25th post Russo return Impact I’ve written about. If I’m right and I only missed 2 pre-Russo Impacts, that would make this the 75th episode. My 75th workrate report will be two from now and I’m not sure what I want for that diamond anniversary. If anyone wants to contract either K Thor or El Jefe to do one of those 80page super Jimmy Olsen covers for my 80th Impact Workrate Report that would be nice gift. Jeeze I’ve watched 25 Russo episodes!!!
-Spike Dudley is absolutely insane taking a shoot tazer shot and it was a pretty cool visual. It’s nice attempt to get over the electricity gimmick but I don’t think it actually works. People have seen enough goofball Mountie shockstick bullshit that unless you have actual experiences with tazers it isn’t going to register as being unique. As result it felt completely unnecessary and the booking is really stupid. Mike Tenay shouting “This time they’ve gone too far” is ridiculous. LAX have attacked Spike before. Really at this point attacking Spike is cliché. LAX already tried to gas Bubba’s uncle. They’ve attacked Johnny Rodz. Tazering just doesn’t feel like an atrocious act at this point. Not really an obscene escalation of violence. But according to Tenay “This time it’s over the line”. It probably should go on the bottom but I liked the visual enough to keep it up here.
-BLACK MACHISMO is an awesome name. Dutch Mantell is the guy who gave Steve Austin his ring name and I should’ve trusted his judgment. Having a wrestler do this type of impression gimmick is just really indy and bush league. If you do an impression of another wrestler you have under contract, than it’s a taunt. Having a guy do an impression of a wrestler that they don’t have under contract means your just second rate. Lethal is a guy who doesn’t work like Macho Man. One of the stupidest things bookers due is try to make wrestlers work style that isn’t natural to them. Lethal’s offense is built around chops and suplexes. If he is going to be given an impression gimmick it should be of someone with similar offense. Up till this episode I was in the awkward position of agreeing with Russo. But in the end names matter. Ring names can either make or break a gimmick. Dutch Mantell is a guy who comes up with great ring names while Russo is a guy who comes up with shitty ones. Dutch’s Black Machismo smokes Russo’s Nig Lad Booty Caddie. I’ve actually watched a bunch of 80s Macho Man recently and was really impressed by the work of Miss Elizabeth as a second. I didn’t remember her really bringing that much to the table but on rewatch she is just spectacular at acting the role of abused wife struggling to maintain a happy face for the outside world. Vallerie Bertenelli and Farah Fawcett have played this role a million times but have never captured the sense of struggle, the sheer will to keep up appearance despite abuse. You watch Elizabeth as a second and she is able to both convey a character who absolutely hates her lot in life, and also a character who refuses not to smile. Just a spectacular performance. Monsoon and Mcmahon are just blown away by her “acting” here. Mcmahon gets all super-queenire discussing her make up and appearance: “ Look at how nice her make up is, how careful she is to even out the rouge so no one will notice the black eye” and Monsoon will respond ” That’s the mark of a classy lady”. And you leave the match going, damn her acting really made that match work. Every match you watch you notice more and more about her performance. It comes off less as acting and more as real. Macho Man himself for guy with weird vocal inflections always comes off as though that’s his legit coked up voice. Doesn’t feel like a performance it feels real. Jay Lethal is playing an imitation and no matter how good the imitation it’s not real. . Every Macho Man match you watch you notice more and more nuances to Elizabeth’s performance. Jay Lethal’s Macho man imitation may be a funny imitation the first time but once you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it…It isn’t an Ebessan gimmick where he does lots of different imitations. He only does this one. Black Machismo is a good enough ring name that maybe there is a possibility of Lethal figuring a way to make this less an impression gimmick and do more to incorporate a “real Jay Lethal” into it. The gimmick has no potential but the name is far cooler than the gimmick. For debut of parody gimmick Black Machismo v. Chris Sabin wasn’t as good a match as Disgraceland v. Shark Boy. But there were enough things in it to entertain me: Lethal threw some nice jabs and a good elbow; Sabin did a Garvin stomp into a senton; and Don West called the top rope axe handle as “High risk move”. Really indyest part of the actual in-ring work was Lethal’s shitty backbreaker into stroke move.I’m not sure if it actually worked for the live crowd. West does a nice job covering for the crowd’s disinterest “the crowd sits in deibelief”.
-So I enjoyed Sabin vs. Lethal as rib disguised as a match. I’m not sure if Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles was also a rib or not. Felt like they were ribbing on Keller. They open with a fun K-1 section than go to 3 minute commercial break and come back to build rest of the match around a back rake. State of the art back rake. Tenay does a huge sell of the backrake on commentary: ”AJ dug his nails in Samoa Joes back” “You can see the tracks that he left with that backrake”. So this weeks show had X division workers using a top rope axe handle, Garvin stomp and a back rake. At one point in the match Samoa Joe throws a Polish Hammer!!! What the fuck?? Lately Samoa Joe has looked bored and been content to do nothing but jabs. Here he looked like he actually cared and mixed in combinations including some great uppercuts. AJ does a fun heel struggles with body slam comedy spot. The ref bump was shitty but I liked the pulling trunks roll up as a set up for Kokina clutch. I got the sense that Samoa Joe v. chickenshit heel AJ Styles could be a really good PPV match. Felt like I might like it better than their earlier TNA PPV matchups.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK:
-This wasn’t a very good show. Doesn’t WWE own the Vinnie Vegas gimmick? I always liked Vinnie Vegas. The Vegas/Mr Huges tag team were actually pretty fun and it was amusing gimmick. It might actually be a good gimmick for Sonjay Dutt. University of Maryland South Asians who wear a lot of Gucci and have deluded themselves into thinking that they’re high rollers because they do lots of internet gambling and go to Atlantic city on the weekends are a real contemporary subculture. There are a ton of South Asians pretending to be stereotypical guidos after reading too many Mario Puzzo novels and convincing themselves that there are real parallels in their immigrant experience. I imagine Dutt has enough experience with that subculture that he should be able to pull it off. But it’s TNA and they aren’t smart enough to do that. I’ve already covered the stupidity of the Jay Lethal stuff; Black Machismo is a great ring name but the actual gimmick is bad and has no legs. And covered teh stupidity of the LAX/3D angle; Spike is crazy but electricity stuff doesn't work and the violence in this angle has been escalated to a point where another attack on Spike is meaningless. Is Daniels now working a silent gimmick? Jeremy Borash tries to talk with Daniels but Daniels says nothing. I mean I’m no fan of Daniels mic work but they’re giving him a mime gimmick? Damnit when will Sting get to work someone who can do mic work? The show ends with everyone on the PPV (other than Daniels) doing mic work to hype their matches. And damnit, Angle at this point is a shittier mic worker than even Jerry Lynn. Shelley, Aries, Low Ki. Konan, Bubba, Jerry Lynn, Christian, and Angle all hype their matches. Jerry Lynn says explosion too many times but at least his stuff makes sense. Angle's mic work consists of him announcing a bunch of times that his team has five members.”We will beat them because we have five”. That’s the talking point to get me to see the match? Why not just announce“See the match because the teams have even members”!!!? Oh yeah and I almost forgot, YIKES was the Roode/Jackie vs. Petey Williams/Gail Kim match fugly. So WWE ran mixed six person Melina/MNM v Kendrik/London/ and Ashley matches to set up the Mania match between Ashley and Melina. The best parts of those matches were the MNM v. Kendrik/London stuff (but those guys weren’t booked for Mania) but the matches did a nice job of protecting Ashley and Melina. In Tna this best parts of the match are the Jackie Moore vs. Gail Kim sections. Kim has a nice knee drop and bumps well, and all of Jackie’s stuff looks good. But HOLY SHIT didn’t Petey Williams and Robert Roode train together??? For two guys who train together these two looked like they were on completely different pages This match stank because too much time was spent with the male workers. The finish with all the run-ins did nothing to hype anything. Since when did Roode start using the “It pays to be Roode” line ? Yikes that’s embarrassing.
-But all the shitty booking pales before the shitty booking of the WARGAMES match. Wargames should be an easy gimmick to book and in many ways it’s a booking machine, an assembly line operation that should be difficult to fuck up. I’ve written about how the machine works when done werl here : http://board.deathvalleydriver.com/index.p...mp;#entry690391 But lord do they fuck it up. The actual pop for the return of Jeff Jarrett’s 80s babyface hair was cool. And was kind of signature Dutch Mantell stuff. Wargames type matches are a big attraction in Puerto Rican booking (and I’m not someone who will argue that Dutch is a better PR booker than Barabas, Luke Williams, Youngblood, or Invader I); book to wargames as major event with babyface team finally getting heel turned face as last member. This requires long term booking and part of the reason that the Jarrett turn works is because he was gone for awhile. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. The show starts with Sting on the mic . Last week Sting talked about how he was going home to think his life through and then ten minutes later showed up to clean house. Real lack of absence. This weeks show starts with Sting explaining that he was able to recognize in the ten minutes that he took for contemplation that “I am who God made me and that is a pro-wrestler who loves this company”. That might work if Sting had been gone for a month, two weeks or even one week. But that decision has no meaning when you just take off for ten minutes. All of the quick swerve booking of the last month really stools all over the long term booking of the Jarrett face turn. It exposes the flaws of Dutch’s booking strategy. Three weeks ago Angle wanted Tomko to join team, Tomko turns on him at the end of show; two weeks ago Angle wanted to recruit Abyss who also turns at end, and this week Angle recruits Jarrett. Four weeks where every show ends in a surprise swerve weakens the final swerve. If you spread that story out over 6 months it might work. But when you do it in four weeks, the audience is left with the impression that there are no meaningful TNA faces. Why does Angle keep on trying to recruit heels? Angle thinks team 3D are unworthy of consideration as allies? VKM? What about Petey Williams, that young man who Tenay thinks has demonstrated real heroism? Do the angle in 4 weeks and it makes all of your faces look like second-rate midcarders. Taking a booking strategy that works for long term booking and compressing it into a month exposes all of its holes. And then of course there is the “winner gets title challenge” Elimination chamber stip grafted on the Wargames format which completely fucks up the logic behind the match. Samoa Joe rightly points out that this has now become a multiperson match where the fewer people in it, the better the individual odds of winning. Angle claims he’s trying to field a full team, but the logic of the match is that fewer people better odds. Why should Angle announcing tenth person in match mean anything when the match is essentially everyman for himself. Wargames is a machine, they’ve really fucked up that machine. As badly as the Warrior OWN Wargames? Unclear. And that's a real indictment. As Angle is a drug addeled delusional space case but there is no reason booking around his nuttiness should compare to booking around Warrior. And the bad booking doesn't feel like it was done to protect delusional druggy in the match. It feels like it was just decision of dumb writers/bookers. Russo doesn't even have painkiller addiction as an excuse.