Category Archives: TNA

The Desolation of Impact Wrestling

TNA

For the first time in several months, I tuned into iMPACT Wrestling on Spike TV on the evening January 16, 2014. I really gave up on the promotion during the summer of 2012 and am now only a casual fan. Dixie Carter has gone the route of Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff, plastering herself all over TV, taking the focus off of actual professional wrestlers. Too bad she doesn’t have the presence of Vinnie Mac and Easy-E.

Dixie Carter and her loyal heel followers opened “Genesis” with a twenty minute in-ring promo. Wait, I thought this was suppose to be like a free PPV? What PPV would waste twenty minutes before the opening match?

Of course, all the lights flicker and who arrives to save the day with his trusted black baseball bat in hand… This is STING!!! Wow, how can Sting not be sick of this routine? This man never really left 1997. And is Abyss still posing as his own brother? How long has this angle been going on for? Two years? I’m sure all masked wrestlers get tired off wearing their masks, but this is ludicrous. Also, Magnus has two world championship belts and is now introduced as the undisputed champion. I wonder if any other wrestling promotion has recently unified its world heavyweight championship?

I don’t know who this new wrestler is, the one obsessed with Christy Hemme and who dresses like Dexter Morgan, but this edgy gimmick has potential even if some might take offense. What is Bully Ray doing on TV after the end of “Aces & Eights?” It is my belief that a former world champion who has lost his heel faction needs to disappear for a time. Bully’s storyline has run its course and he needs to step aside before becoming a tedious fixture on their weekly programming. Though, many already considered “Aces & Eights” tedious.

It was nice to see Madison Rayne return and win the Knockouts Championship from Gail Kim. I’m a fan of both these ladies. I got Madison’s autograph at a TNA live event back in 2010, when she had her “Beautiful People” bleach blonde hair, and she’s super cute in person. Hopefully, this is the return to form for the once prominent Knockouts division.

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Sting is #1 Contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship? I really don’t mean to disrespect Sting, but he must know that his time has passed and he should do the right thing and put Magnus over cleanly, even if Magnus is a heel.

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Legends of Wrestling: Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan

Long before he rose to prominence, “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan arrived in the WWWF (World Wide Wrestling Federation) in 1979. He dubbed himself “The Hulk” after the Marvel Comics character – without permission – and was given the surname “Hogan” by Vincent J. McMahon. Hogan was managed by “Classy” Freddy Blassie and competed in several matches against his greatest foe, “The Eighth Wonder of the World” Andre the Giant. Hogan was unceremoniously released from the promotion in 1981 when he was cast in the film “Rocky III” because Vincent J. McMahon did not want any of his wrestlers to double as actors. Hogan then moved on to Verne Gagne’s AWA (American Wrestling Association) where “Hulkamania” was born thanks in large to his appearance in “Rocky III.” Gagne – not unlike Vincent J. McMahon – was a wrestling traditionalist and reluctant to showcase Hogan as his World Heavyweight Champion. Hogan defeated reigning AWA Champion, Nick Bockwinkel, who was managed by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, on at least two occasions, but the decisions were reversed both times due to the behind the scenes financial disputes between Hogan and Gagne.

History was made when Vincent K. McMahon purchased his father’s promotion, which was now known as the WWF (World Wrestling Federation). Vince Jr. saw the potential which The Hulkster possessed and resigned him in late 1983. It did not take long for Hogan to reach the zenith as he defeated The Iron Sheik for the WWF Championship on January 23, 1984. Over the next several years, the WWF went from a mere regional promotion to a national promotion to a global phenomenon. This expansion was known as “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling” and Hulk Hogan was its figurehead.

1985 was especially a landmark year for both Hulk Hogan and the WWF. First, Hogan defended his championship against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper at MTV’s War to Settle the Score in a match that ended in a No Contest and setup the main event of WrestleMania. Hogan teamed with “Rocky III” costar Mr. T in a match against Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff. Boxing legend Muhammed Ali was the guest enforcer. Both these events were held at Madison Square Garden. Hogan and Mr. T were victorious at WrestleMania, but the rivalry between The Hulkster and The Hot Rod continued. They squared off one more time at The Wrestling Classic and Hogan retained his title by DQ.

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan had also made the jump from the AWA to the WWF and sought to bring an end to Hulkamania. Almost every member of “The Heenan Family” would challenge Hogan for the his title at some point. King Kong Bundy lost to Hogan in the main event of WrestleMania II in Los Angeles, a Steel Cage Match for the WWF Championship, but Heenan scored a coup when he convinced Andre the Giant, who had become a friend and mentor to Hulk Hogan in recent years, to join The Heenan Family and turn his back on The Hulkster and his fans. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant for the WWF Championship in the main event of WrestleMania III was the absolute biggest match in pro wrestling history. Over ninety three thousand (alleged) fans set an indoor attendance record in Pontiac, Michigan’s Silverdome to witness this epic clash of titans. Hogan was the underdog for the first time ever, but he pulled off the upset win with the body slam heard around the world and his signature atomic leg-drop. The torched had officially been passed.

Later in 1987, on Saturday Night’s Main Event, Hulk Hogan came to the aid of “Macho Man” Randy Savage at the behest of Savage’s valet, the lovely Miss Elizabeth. This new alliance was dubbed “The Mega Powers.” In 1988, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase offered to buy the WWF Championship from Hulk Hogan, who flatly refused. DiBiase then recruited Andre the Giant to win the title on his behalf, which he did on The Main Event. Andre was not permitted to relinquish the belt to DiBiase and the title was declared vacant. Hogan and Andre squared off again at WrestleMania IV in Trump Plaza, but this rematch is less heralded because it ended in a double DQ. Randy Savage defeated Ted DiBiase that same night for the WWF Championship. The Mega Powers bested the duo of Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant at the inaugural SummerSlam. Jesse “The Body” Ventura was the guest referee in that match.

The Mega Powers eventually exploded as a result of Hulk Hogan’s grandstanding and Randy Savage’s manic paranoia. Hulk won the WWF Championship for a second time by defeating The Macho Man in the main event of WrestleMania V, also held in Trump Plaza. Hogan then spent the latter part of 1989 feuding with Zeus, his co-star from the film, “No Holds Barred.” At the 1990 Royal Rumble, The Hulkster crossed paths with The Ultimate Warrior, reigning WWF Intercontinental Champion. The main event was soon announced for WrestleMania VI in Toronto. Hulk Hogan vs. The Warrior, title for title. The ultimate challenge was unique with two fan favorites battling each other. The Skydome jinx established itself and The Warrior won the title, but Hogan was gracious in defeat. Hulk then filmed “Suburban Commando” while recovering from the injuries he suffered at the hands of Earthquake.

The Hulkster returned and won his second consecutive Royal Rumble in 1991, then he won his unprecedented third WWF Championship at WrestleMania VII in Los Angeles from Sgt. Slaughter, who was an Iraqi sympathizer during the Gulf War. Hogan lost the title to The Undertaker at Survivor Series 1991, then was announced to compete against “Nature Boy” Ric Flair at WrestleMania VIII in Indianapolis, but his opponent ended up being Sid Justice instead. The Hulkster won that match via DQ with some help from The Ultimate Warrior, then apparently retired from the WWF. He made his return one year later and competed twice at WrestleMania IX in Las Vegas. First, in the WWF Tag Team Championship match, then he defeated Yokozuna for the WWF Championship in an impromptu match. Hulk Hogan’s new record of five title reigns would last for eight years.

Shockingly, “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan made the jump to Ted Turner’s WCW (World Championship Wrestling) in 1994 and won the WCW Championship from Ric Flair at Bash at the Beach. “Macho Man” Randy Savage also made the jump and he and Hogan reformed their partnership. A Steel Cage Match between Hogan and Big Van Vader at Bash at the Beach 1995 was showcased on an episode of the hit TV series, Baywatch. WCW fans were nowhere near as receptive of Hulkamania as WWF fans were because of The Hulkster’s tired catchphrases and the corny matches he competed in, such as a Monster Truck Battle with The Giant (a/k/a The Big Show) at Halloween Havoc 1995. Hulk decided to shake the wrestling world to its foundation by joining The Outsiders (Scott Hall and Kevin Nash) at Bash at Beach 1996 to found the nWo (New World Order). His signature colors changed from red and yellow to black and white. The nWo dominated WCW for the next two years and “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, as he was now dubbed, did whatever was necessary to hang onto his title, aligning with Eric Bischoff, the executive producer of the company. The nWo even hosted their own pay-per-view in 1997 called Souled Out. Two major loses suffered by Hollywood Hogan during this time period were to Sting at Starcade 1997 and to Goldberg on Monday Nitro in the summer of 1998.

After a cage match between Hollywood Hogan and Randy Savage at Uncensored 1998, the nWo splintered into two different factions, nWo Hollywood and The Wolfpack. The nWo reunited in early 1999 to knock Goldberg of his pedicel, but the fans had begun to lose interest in this renegade stable. In the summer of that year, Hulkamania walked back into our lives as Hulk Hogan again donned the red and yellow for a six man tag team match on Nitro. This “second coming” was short lived however since WCW fell into financial turmoil in 2000, during the “New Blood” angle where Hogan was relegated to a feud with Billy Kidman of all people, then Hogan was publicly fired by writer Vince Russo at Bash at Beach 2000. WCW was bought out by Vince McMahon in 2001.

The three founding members of the nWo returned to the WWF at No Way Out 2002, but despite of their heels tactics, “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan was rooted for in his loss to The Rock at WrestleMania XVIII in Toronto. Hogan was booted from the nWo after the match, but Hulkamania was still running wild. Hulk won the WWF Championship for a sixth, and thus far final time, from Triple H at Backlash 2002. The name of the title was then changed to the WWE Championship since the company was now World Wrestling Entertainment. Hulk was again defeated by The Undertaker at Judgment Day 2002, then after a brief reign as WWE Tag Team Champions with Edge, The Hulkster was put out of action by Brock Lesnar. Hulk Hogan returned in 2003 and defeated Mr. McMahon in a Street Fight at WrestleMania XIX in Seattle. He has not competed at a WrestleMania since, but did appear at WrestleMania XXI in Los Angeles, the night after his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2005. The WWE Universe was clamoring for one more match. Hogan answered the call, defeating Shawn Michaels as SummerSlam 2005 in a “Legend vs. Icon” match. Hulk made just a few sporadic appearances in the WWE over the next several years.

Once again, “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan made waves by joining TNA (Total Non-Stop Action) Wrestling in 2010, not as an active wrestler, but as an executive, though he did compete in a tag team match on Impact to help bring attention to this small promotion. At Bound for Glory 2010, Hulk and Eric Bischoff formed a group called “Immortal,” which had Jeff Hardy as its figurehead. They tried to recreate the fervor of the nWo, but lost a great deal of momentum due to Jeff Hardy’s personal “demons.” Hogan stepped back into the ring at Bound for Glory 2011 to square off with “The Icon” Sting. Sting was victorious, but more importantly, helped Hulk see the light and Hulk left Immortal immediately following their match. After that, Hogan was a strict General Manager in TNA, being tormented for most of 2013 by “Aces & Eights,” a rogue gang led by Bully Ray (a/k/a Bubba Ray Dudley).

Hulkamania will undoubtedly live forever and the red and yellow is going to be running wild in the WWE once again as The Hulkster is returning as the host of WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans.

Legends of Wrestling: Rob Van Dam

RVD WWE

Rob Van Dam – Mr. Monday Night – Mr. Pay Per View – The Whole F’N Show – was a breakout star in the hardcore promotion ECW… Extreme Championship Wrestling. He, along with the “Homicidal, Suicidal, Genocidal, Death-Defying” Sabu, held the ECW Tag Team Championships, but it was Rob Van Dam’s 23 month reign ECW Television Champion that set him above all the rest. His greatest rival may have been Jerry Lynn, who was dubbed by many as the “The New F’N Show.” Unfortunately, the promotion went out of business before RVD had the opportunity to become the ECW Champion.

RVD arrived in the WWF in 2001 when several former ECW and WCW competitors incomprehensibly banded together to form an anti-WWF “Alliance.” As bizarre as the circumstances were, RVD was instantly embraced by fans for his brazen personality and world class athleticism, eclipsing the popularity of more well known superstars. RVD won the WWF Hardcore Championship three times that year, battling the likes of Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, and The Undertaker. After the misbegotten invasion came to a merciful end, RVD won his first of six Intercontinental Championships from William Regal at WrestleMania XVIII in Toronto. The WWF was then re-branded as the WWE. RVD was drafted to Monday Night RAW and contended with Eddie Guerrero for not only the Intercontinental Championship, but to also see who the true master of the “frog splash” was.

Additionally, RVD retired the WWE European and Hardcore Championships during the transitional period. RVD was defeated by Brock Lesnar in the finals of the 2002 King of the Ring tournament and, at the time, was considered one the greatest superstars to have never won any world championships. It seemed like that injustice would finally be rectified at Unforgiven 2002 when he challenged Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship, but “Nature Boy” Ric Flair interfered in that match and cost RVD his long awaited opportunity.

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RVD formed an odd couple tag team in 2003 with the “Big Red Monster” Kane. These two raised the ire of RAW General Manager, Eric Bischoff, and were actually bumped from the WrestleMania XIX card in Seattle to make room for the Miller Light “Catfight Girls.” Though RVD and Kane eventually won the WWE Tag Team Championships, fending off many of Eric Bischoff’s hand picked challengers along the way, they never bonded and Kane turned on his partner, defeating RVD in a “No Holds Barred” Match at SummerSlam 2003.

RVD successfully defended the Intercontinental Championship against challengers such as Chris Jericho and Christian before being defeated by Evolution’s Randy Orton at Armageddon 2003. RVD then formed another partnership in 2004 with Booker T and together they defeated Evolution members Ric Flair and Batista for the tag team titles. After their successful title defense in a Fatal 4-Way at WrestleMania XX in Madison Square Garden, RVD and Booker T were drafted to SmackDown!, but their partnership did not carry over. RVD formed yet another team, this time with Rey Mysterio, and they too won tag team gold. The RVD / Rey Mysterio combo came to an abrupt end when a severe knee injury sidelined RVD for most of 2005. He made a surprise return at ECW One Night Stand and vowed to make a significant impact when he returned to the ring fulltime.

RVD Autograph

RVD fulfilled that promise in 2006, once again as a member of the RAW roster, by winning the “Money in the Bank” Ladder Match at WrestleMania XXII in Chicago. He cashed in his guaranteed title shot at ECW One Night Stand II. It was the crowning moment of his hard fought career, defeating John Cena for the WWE Championship and being awarded the ECW Championship by Paul Heyman. The man who had been branded as the greatest superstar to have never won a world championship now held two at the same time. RVD lost the WWE Championship to Edge on RAW in a Triple Threat Match which also involved John Cena, then lost the ECW Championship to The Big Show after surprisingly being double crossed by Paul Heyman. RVD never received a one-on-one rematch for either title. In 2007, RVD banded together with fellow ECW Originals and they were victorious in an 8-Man Tag Match at WrestleMania XXIII in Detroit with RVD scoring the winning pinfall. It was the final PPV victory of RVD’s WWE career for several years as he allowed his contract to expire in the spring of that year, but he was a surprise entrant in the 2009 Royal Rumble Match.

RVD signed with the “boutique” TNA Wrestling in 2010. It wasn’t too long before he won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship from “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles. He was then forced to vacate the title after being injured by “The Monster” Abyss. RVD never regained the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, but did have a reign as the TNA X-Division Champion before leaving the company in 2012. He then returned to WWE at Money in the Bank 2013. RVD defeated United States Championship Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam, but it was via a DQ, so the title could not change hands. Rob Van Dam is currently setting his sights on Alberto Del Rio and the World Heavyweight Championship.

TNA Wrestling: Bizarro Booking

TNA

Those loyal to TNA Wrestling (now apparently being re-branded as Impact Wrestling) seem to be blaming “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff for the downward spiral of the promotion since 2010. Six sided ring or not, the creative direction of TNA has always been flawed. I will use the “Main Event Mafia” heel faction as an example of such disjointed booking. It was the biggest angle in TNA prior to the arrival of Hulk and Bischoff, which started at Bound For Glory 2008 with Samoa Joe losing the TNA World Heavyweight Championship to “The Icon” Sting. Kevin Nash, who had been Joe’s mentor, betrayed Joe by striking him with Sting’s signature black baseball bat. Later that week on TNA Impact! (emanating from Las Vegas), Sting and Nash joined with Kurt Angle and Booker T. Collectively, they would be known as the Main Event Mafia. “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner joined the group a couple of weeks later.

TNA, like WCW, has come across at times as far more interested in marketing former WWE talent as appose to any home grown stars. The die hard TNA fans all love the X-Division, but the promotion was already losing interest in the likes of “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels long before Hulk Hogan and Erich Bischoff showed up.

Booker T introduced the TNA Legends Championship, which I thought was a brilliant idea initially. Now all the former WWE and WCW competitors could contend for that title while all the X-Division athletes could be upgraded to fighting for the world title. However, the exact opposite is what occurred. “The Phenomenal” A.J. Styles won the TNA Legends Championship around the same Mick Foley, the hardcore legend, won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. It should have been the other way around. Maybe this is how they book professional wrestling in the “bizarro” universe?

A face group was eventually formed to combat the M.E.M., called “The Front Line.” Another concept which looked good on paper, but this group was short-lived and scored virtually no major victories. Samoa Joe never avenged himself upon the M.E.M. either, instead he joined them, which really made him look weak. Sting was then ousted from the group, which made some sense given how poorly he had been portrayed since the angle began. Even though Sting was the world champion, Kurt Angle was billed as the leader of the group. A world champion who takes orders from others? “Nature Boy” Ric Flair was NWA Champion and the leader of “The Four Horsemen.” “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan was WCW Champion and the leader of the “nWo.” World champions shouldn’t be taking orders from anyone. It devalues their status in the eyes of the fans.

Sting was a heel, who often checked on the condition of the wrestlers beat down by his cohorts. That is so lame. Sting never once effectively portrayed the villain. Some will argue that this was intentional, so to set up his face turn. But why bother turning him heel for eight months if you’re going to spend seven of those months explaining that he isn’t really a heel?

When the main event of Bound for Glory 2009 rolled around, the one year anniversary of the M.E.M., it was A.J. Styles defending the TNA Championship against Sting, who was no longer part of the M.E.M.. The only match on the card which was related to this group was Kurt Angle vs. Matt Morgan. Morgan offered his services to the M.E.M., but was turned down. A year of valuable TV time builds up to Matt Morgan asking to join the heels and being told “no thanks.” What the hell? What about Samoa Joe? They guy they originally screwed over? Is he getting some kind of payback? No, he was being used as a doormat for Bobby Lashley, making the past year a complete waste of time.

Not much as changed since Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff arrived in TNA. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been over three years. Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, The Dudley Boyz, and a few other WWE alumnae were pushed to a certain level while A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe continued to flounder. I’m not saying that WWE is perfect. I’m as sick of John Cena “overcoming the odds” as the next guy. It was so difficult for superstars like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan to break through the glass ceiling in WWE, but I’m not sure there is an upper echelon to aspire to in TNA. So many aborted pushes makes the effort seem futile. Robert Roode and Austin Aries taking a backseat to Bubba-Brother-Bully Ray as the world champion?

Some will say that I’m some WWE elitist who won’t give TNA a chance, but I watched TNA Impact! from 2005-2012 and ordered several of their Pay-Per-Views, so you can’t say that I didn’t give the promotion a fair chance. There was a time that The Beautiful People (Angelina Love & Velvet Sky) were the only reason to watch TNA. Some say that WWE should’ve been embarrassed that TNA had such a better women’s division, but I say it is TNA that should’ve been embarrassed that it’s women’s division made for much more compelling television then it’s men’s division.