As per the usual, Last night’s Impact opened with a ton of guys in the ring for a ridiculously long promo. Unlike most Impact snooze-fests, though, this one actually featured some good mic work, and it came from an unlikely source. Robert Roode spoke on behalf of Fortune, and he did a dandy job of it. Roode delivered a rant about the things that were important to him, his part in the building of TNA Wrestling, and the firing of Jay Lethal. Of course, he also did plenty of Hulk Hogan bashing, which is always welcome. Roode was shockingly impressive, and the speech was one of my favorite promos in recent memory from either of the big two promotions.
On the other side of the segment, Hogan was his usual annoying self. I feel like his character is falling to Michael Cole depths – he tries generates heat by repeating himself, is a legitimate backstage jerk, and gets the reaction that he does simple because fans are sick of his overexposure. It’s been years since Hogan’s been anything but irritating to watch, and that’s not because he plays a heel, it’s because his character is among the most exhausted in the wrestling world. And he punched D-Lo Brown last night, so screw him.
At any rate, the point of the promo was pretty much to let us know that the inside man (woman?) at the Network will be revealed next week. The rest of Impact after the jump.
- Karen Jarrett accused Velvet Sky once again of being Kurt Angle’s mistress, and the confrontation between the two of them led to a mixed tag main event that pitted Kurt Angle & Velvet against Jeff Jarrett, Angelina Love, & Winter. Velvet secured the win for her team after dropping both of her female opponents with a double DDT, and looked kind of badass while doing it. Earlier in the night, during her in-ring meeting with the Jarretts, Velvet Sky was pretty decent on the microphone too. All-in-all, she had a really good night in every aspect of her game. Angelina Love continues to do a phenomenal job in her zombified role. I’m still digging this story and I can’t wait to see the culmination. Angle promised to reveal his true mistress next week, and I’m sure you’re aware that spoilers are already floating around the internet for you impatient types.
- Sangriento made his Impact debut, billed as one of Mexico’s top luchadors. Pretty sure it’s Amazing Red under a mask. In addition to lying to us about the origins of the masked wrestler, Mike Tenay defined “Sangriento” as being Spanish for, and I quote, “bloody bloodthirsty in a blood sport.” Thanks, Mike, we’d be lost without your insight. The debuting superstar, whose mask bears a striking resemblance to Super Dragon’s, marked his territory with a win over Suicide. It was a good match, but it’s kind of weird to watch a Red vs Daniels match that’s billed like that.
- Matt Hardy is brining a mystery partner to Sacrifice to challenge Beer Money for the Tag Team Titles. It’s not obvious who it is, but I’ll tell you he it’s certainly not, and that’s Jeff Hardy. TNA seems to be trying to tease his return, but if and when he does come back, it most definitely won’t be as a heel or as part of a midcard tag team match.
- Mickie James successfully retained her Knockouts Championship with a win over Miss Tessmacher. It was an entertaining if not spectacular match, and at its conclusion the former champ Madison Rayne entered the Impact Zone to demand a rematch at Sacrifice. Mickie James accepted her challenge, on the condition that if she defeated Madison, Tara will be granted a release from the contract she’s under and freed from Madison’s oppression. When the match was made, Tara’s reaction looked like the Genie when Aladdin wished for his freedom.
- Sidebar: The Knockouts are infinitely better than the divas in every way. Mickie James vs Tessmacher was an OK Knockouts match, but if it was on Raw or Smackdown I’d be stunned at the superb quality because it was so much better than any of the divas matches in recent memory. Both James and Madison Rayne are decent enough on the microphone too, another thing that sets them apart from WWE’s current crop of divas, most of whom couldn’t talk their way out of a traffic violation. Lastly, the Knockouts are universally more attractive. I’d take Mickie, Madison, Velvet Sky, Tessmacher, hell, even Karen Angle over the Bellas, Eve, Alicia Fox, or Melina any day. Now if only Maryse would make the jump…
- Bully Ray continues to be one of the best heels in wrestling. He’s one of those guys who just “gets it.” Ray & Gunner went to a no contest against AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels when Tommy Dreamer interfered and gave Styles a piledriver. Initially, it was strange to see Dreamer make an apparent heel turn, but it soon became evident that he was forced into doing so by something Bully Ray is holding over his head. He was remorseful over his attack on Styles and clearly frustrated with himself and/or his situation afterwards. He may have exhibited the actions of a heel, but Tommy is a face at heart.
- Mexican America’s Cinco de Mayo celebration, as easily predicted, didn’t go off without a hitch. The foursome called the Spanish Announce Team down to the ring, and the first thought that ran through my mind was that the Maximos were debuting. Alas, it was not the case, as Hector Guerrero and his partner came to the ring to join the festivities. Naturally, Mexican America teased a beatdown of the announcers (typical cheap heel tactics), but before they could execute, Ink Inc. made the save. Jesse Neal is an American hero of sorts, so I guess the recent killing of Osama bin Laden is enough to propel him up the card. Fine by me. Glad to see these guys working as a unit again.
- Hell froze over last night and Rob Terry got popped. Why? I have no idea. He was victorious over Murphy in a “loser leaves Immortal” match, so I guess we’ll be seeing more of the Freak in the future. I really don’t see anything to like about this guy, but apparently some folks in the Impact Zone do.
- I’ve heard before that to be a successful character in the ring, you need to play an exaggerated version of yourself. If that’s the case, Eric Bischoff should be the most over guy in the world. On a weekly basis, he acknowledges the flaws in his philosophy that caused WCW to fail and presents them as if they’re good things. Last night on Impact, he told Brian Kendrick (!!!) and a couple of other X-Division guys that to be stars, they’d need to be bigger. I know that he’s a heel and that it’s just a character he’s playing right now, but hearing those words from his mouth really gets under my skin.
- The show ended with the X-Division guys mentioned above vandalizing Hogan & Bischoff’s car by spray painting “You’re Next” on the side of it. If TNA thinks teasing a Goldberg return is going to generate interest in their product, they’re sorely mistaken. Another thing to note, Kendrick was smoking a cigarette in this segment, which is semi-surprising after the heat WWE drew for having R-Truth do the same a couple of weeks ago.
For the first time in a long time, I really enjoyed Impact last night. There was actual progression in storylines, with the promise of Angle’s mistress and the Network mysteries being revealed next week. Some unexpected stars grabbed the spotlight and really excelled in their opportunity, namely Bobby Roode and Velvet Sky. In Velvet’s case, it was good to see the Angle vs Jarrett feud used to put somebody else over. There was no generic Anderson vs Sting promo. Some new feuds look to finally be forming with Inc Ink vs Mexican American and Samoa Joe vs Crimson. Brian Kendrick was on, Bully Ray is still awesome, and I love the Knockouts division. And as always, the wrestling was great. Well done, TNA. Well done.