Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Ring of Impact #7

Back with some more of that RoI and we don’t mean Return on Investment … we’re talking Ring of Impact, BAY BAY~!
TNA Impact Wrestling #657 2/16/17
1. Brandi Rhodes & Moose vs. The Decay (Crazzy Steve & Rosemary) - 3
2. Kingston vs. Jessie Godderz - 3
3. Brooke vs. Sienna (w/Maria) - 2
4. Davey Richards vs. Eddie Edwards - Street Fight - 6
Average score: 3.5
Not a great show. Tons of pre-taped, backstage, and in-ring segments. There were several bits at Braxton Sutter’s bachelor’s party put on my Mike Bennett with a bunch of schlubs in a small apartment .. looked like those Nitro Parties that WCW would highlight sending Lee Marshall to college campuses where sausage fests were occurring with Nitro airing in the background on an old CRT set. Then there were several bits on the Broken Hardyz invading Tijuana and beating Psicosis and Super Crazy, Eli Drake and Tyrus’ friendship dissolving, lengthy in-ring interview where former Strikeforce and UFC vet Josh Barnett interrupted Lashley and challenged him, etc.
In-ring we didn’t get much. Brandi looked silly doing the “Moose” arm pump bit he and the crowd regularly do while she rifled off some of the worst punches in da biz, Kingston current ROH champ and recent champ in NJPW and AEW, losing clean as a sheet back then to a horrendous “flying forearm” the announcers called it, but looked the furthest thing from AJ Styles’ by talentless Godderz. Main event was payoff to last week’s major angle of Davey breaking up The Wolves and he and wife Angelina Love humiliating Edwards and his wife Alisha. Glad they gave it the Street Fight stip as this was a plain clothes brawl. Props to Eddie for taking page out of Richards’ old book and doing a suicide dive with such velocity he blew right over him and recklessly crashed into the first row of fans.
TNA Xplosion #648 2/18/17
Mahabali Shera vs. Eli Drake – 2
One of these guys would be main eventing major WWE shows within six years … and it wasn’t Mahabali.
Ring of Honor ROH TV #283 2/18/17
1. Silas Young (w/The Beer City Bruiser) vs. Bull James - 2
2. Colt Cabana vs. The Boys (Boy 1 & Boy 2) - Two On One Handicap Match - 1
3. Christopher Daniels (w/Frankie Kazarian) vs. Jay Briscoe (w/Mark Briscoe) - Decade of Excellence Final Match - 6
Average score: 3.0
Sometimes mood plays into how we interact with a piece of art. In a great mood and stumble upon Monet’s “Women in the Garden” (1866) at the museum you may be extra bewildered by its beauty. In an awful mood and stumble into a matinee of Scorsese’s The Irishman and you may be scornful and nonplussed. I was exhausted after a stressful evening at home, demanding puppy, dinner woes, kids sick, etc. and the “comedy” the first two-thirds of this show offered up were met with a leaden sigh by yours truly. Main event was good but not great, which is really only an issue because it was the finals of the Decade of Excellence tournament, so hopes were higher. Both guys had better matches in the semi-finals (Daniels with Sabin, Briscoe with Lethal) and this win is what secured Daniels a shot at the ROH World title at the upcoming 15th Anniversary Show which has been the company’s major storyline. The finish being an Angel’s Wings off of the top was pretty tight though.
Who won?
Doesn’t bring me pleasure to say this was a weak sauce week. I’ll give TNA the slight nod, tying us back up at (4-4), if only because the Edwards vs. Richards street fight was the best thing that aired.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Ring of Impact #6

We’re back with those fat stacks and White Castle ten sacks.
ROH Future of Honor – 1/20/17
Mike Orlando vs. Sonny Kiss – 4
Is this a rib? Slotting it in here in Feb. because I just stumbled upon this listing in what appears to be a one and done ROH trainees show airing on YouTube. It’s held inside a tiny gym with the only bystanders being other wrestlers who are all wearing their ring gear which is giving a very Beyond Wrestling vibe to the affair. Kiss is pronounced as “Wrestling’s Cheerleader” and from her Twitter account identifies as genderfluid and uses she/her pronouns. Mike Orlando looks like a long lost member of High Velocity the WCW team with neon green and black gear. This wasn’t bad! Arguably better than most of what I’ve seen on TNA Xplosion thus far. One unreal release German suplex by Orlando had the wrestlers at rindside go gonzo like they were just transplanted to Budokan Hall for an All Japan show.
TNA Impact Wrestling #656 2/9/17

1. Eli Drake & Tyrus vs. The Death Crew Council (Bram, James Storm & Kingston) - Three on Two Handicap Match - 3
2. Aron Rex (w/Rockstar Spud) vs. Robbie E - 2
3. Drew Galloway (c) vs. Mahabali Shera - IMPACT Grand Title Match - 3
4. Lashley (c) vs. Eddie Edwards - TNA World Heavyweight Title Match - 6
Average Score: 3.5
Wasn’t real keen on the opener which is heel versus heel already then Eli & Tyrus worked it at a handicap disadvantage? Are we supposed to be pulling for these two who’ve been booked perennially as bad guys? Who’s the agent that staged this wet diaper? I’m not sure what this Rex character is. There’s a history of a few guys who’s talent I’ve found supersedes their outrageously bad gimmicks and I’ve quietly championed such as WCW’s The Maestro or WWE’s Simon Dean. And part of me wants to think Aron is up for this task but this gimmick is just the bottom of the barrel. Is he supposed to be Adrian Street for the YouTube makeup tutorial generation? And the lipstick and eyeliner make him look more like a ventriloquist dummy than anything. Still loving heel Galloway. Main event was good action but memorable for major storyline explosion. Ringside was Eddie’s wife Alisha and his tag team partner Davey Richards’ wife longtime TNA Knockout Angelina Love. Ending saw Davey run out and drill Eddie splintering The Wolves and their long-running friendship. Then we cut to Angelina just blasting Alisha in the face with a hard shot in the first row. Davey and Love humiliate the Edwards’ in the center of the ring for the show close. Really well done.
TNA Xplosion #647 2/11/17
Laurel Van Ness vs. Deonna Purrazzo – 2
This is one of a few episodes of Xplosion mysteriously missing from TNA+ So I watched it in my car on Dailymotion in the parking lot at work because I’m clearly a deviant. I learned that Deonna has a degree to teach schoolchildren.
ROH TV #282 2/11/17

1. Matt Sells vs. Hangman Page - 1
2. Bobby Fish & Jay Lethal vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Cole & Cody) - 6
3. Mark Briscoe vs. Sal Rinauro - 3
4. Dalton Castle & The Boys (Boy 1 & Boy 2) vs. The Rebellion (Caprice Coleman, Kenny King & Rhett Titus) - 4
Average Score: 3.5
Real quick Page squash (74 seconds to be exact). BULLET CLUB vs. Lethal & Fish was the advertised main event but it spilled from the Hangman post-match into the next segment instead. Good stuff and nice to see Lethal finally getting a victory over the CLUB. I had no idea Sal Rinuaro was still around then and popped to see him. While he was never the bumping madman that Tony Mamaluke was, he was still always fun to watch. Got obliterated here. Main event was insignificant but not without some surface pleasures.
ROH The Experience 2017 – 2/12/17

1. The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) vs. The Tempura Boyz (Sho & Yohei) - 2
2. The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) vs. The Rebellion (Caprice Coleman & Kenny King) (w/Shane Taylor) - 4
3. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) - 7
4. Cody vs. Dalton Castle - 4
5. Bobby Fish & Jay Lethal vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Cole & Hangman Page) - Falls Count Anywhere Tag Team Match - 7
6. Kelly Klein vs. Scarlett Bordeaux - Grudge Match - X
7. Shane Taylor vs. The Beer City Bruiser vs. Jonathan Gresham vs. David Starr vs. Will Ferrara vs. Damian Martinez - Six Man Mayhem Match - 4
8. Marty Scurll vs. Lio Rush - Proving Ground Best Two Out Of Three Falls Match - 5
9. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O'Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) (c) vs. Cheeseburger, Chris Sabin & Jay Briscoe - ROH World Six Man Tag Team Title Match - 4
Average score: 4.6
This took place in Columbus, OH which had me curious as I’d been to approx. 20 ROH shows in nearby Dayton, and one in Cincinnati. The venue Express Live! (it’s since changed names again) upon research was formerly PromoWest Pavilion which I had been to once for a Tenacious D concert of all things.  The other note was this show “The Experience” was kind of like ROH’s answer to WWE’s Cyber Sunday (or Taboo Tuesday) where fans got to vote on certain aspects of the show, be it choosing opponents or match stipulations, etc. based upon polls. The other interactive element was in-between every few matches they’d bring out a wrestler and take live questions from selected audience members. Some of this was cringe but a little girl named Skyler almost stole the show with a great curt promo on the Rebellion. Somebody offer her a developmental contract.
First couple bouts were definitely on house show mode, but Bucks vs. War Machine stepped it up. I don’t know if I’d ever seen that pairing before and it’s a nice contrast with the fast-paced flying and tandem offense of the Bucks versus the brute strength, size and power of War Machine. Fun angle I’m surprised they sort of wasted here instead of for TV or a PPV where Dalton was doing his trademark entrance with The Boys worshipping him adorned in their Eyes Wide Shut masks etc. when Castle senses something if off with one of the Boys. One of these boys is noticeably taller and bigger than the other. He quizzically lifts off the larger of the Boys’ weird Mardi Gras mask to reveal none other than … CODY! Fun stuff and Rhodes used the surprise to almost score a quick pinfall but then Castle fought back, and we got a good singles here with Cody wrestling bare foot and in Boys’ attire.
The Falls Count Anywhere gimmick really elevated the BULLET CLUB tag. The made use of every nook and cranny of this venue. Felt more like a traditional ECW Arena wandering brawl than anything I’d seen in a long time. The Klein match was mysteriously absent from the Honor Club version of this show. Klein is from Fairfield a town I’ve lived either right near or in for most of my life and got to meet her briefly at an outdoor concert at a nearby park because her mom took my mom’s Yoga class and made the introduction. Would have liked to have been able to see that match. It brings me no great pleasure to say Starr who I was familiar with from wXw, CZW, etc. shined here, including an impressive delayed German suplex on the massive Beer City Bruiser, but he’s a pariah after the #SpeakingOut movement so I’ll say no more.
The fans voted on 2 Out of 3 Falls for the co-main event. If Rush wins, he gets a future shot at Scrull’s TV title. Here’s what I don’t like: they re-used the same bit from a show prior here. Scrull got himself disqualified intentionally by hitting Rush with his umbrella, betting on the odds that a bludgeoned Lio Rush would be easier to defeat as a result in the proceeding falls. At their last live event Honor Reigns Supreme (which we covered last time) Jay Briscoe did something similar in a 2 of 3 Falls match blasting the Young Bucks with a chair and sacrificing a fall as a result. Otherwise, good match, and cool to see Rush booked strong, going over and even getting a further leg up on Marty post-match by dodging an attack and hitting Scrull in the face with his own championship belt. I think the fans participating in the voting were ribbing us as Cheeseburger got the most votes of the ten or so guys in the poll. Then Sabin and Jay Briscoe had to do double-duty. I noticed Romantic Touch nearly made it into the 3rd slot. Nothing match save for a couple nice Kingdom combos on offense and Jay bleeding from the head.
Who won?
A strong episode of Impact could have really stolen this edition of Ring of Impact for TNA. But that didn’t materialize. ROH had a weaker than usual episode of TV, the add-on of that wonky YouTube trainee bout I discovered, and then an unfortunately mixed bag of a live event with my experiencing of The Experience. But besides the thrill of the implosion of The Wolves there was nothing on TNA’s side that could touch the highest highs of ROH’s best output from the week. Ring of Honor now takes the shaky lead at (4-3).

Friday, February 16, 2024

Ring of Impact #5

We enter into the 2nd month of the Ring of Impact project. This month sees the start of ROH premiere live shows into the mix. In the before times, we’d have to shuffle over to the merch table and plunk down $20 per disc for ROH live DVDs. Now they’re all streaming on Honor Club with a quick click. Will this be what ROH needs to pull ahead of TNA in the rankings once and for all?
TNA Impact Wrestling #655 Open Fight Night 2/2/2017
1. Lashley (c) vs. Brother Nero - TNA World Heavyweight Title Match - 7
2. Brooke vs. Sienna (w/Maria) - 3
3. Decay (Abyss & Crazzy Steve) (w/Rosemary) vs. The Death Crew Council (Bram, James Storm & Kingston) - Three on Two Handicap Falls Count Anywhere Match - 7
4. Drew Galloway (c) vs. Rob Ryzin - IMPACT Grand Title Match - IMPACT Grand Title Match - 2
5. DJ Z (c) vs. Trevor Lee (w/Gregory Shane Helms) -TNA X-Division Title Ladder Match - 4
6. Eli Drake (w/Tyrus) vs. Ethan Carter III - 2
Average Score: 4.2
Open Fight Night implies that some of those who won briefcases in the Race for the Case match a couple weeks back will be cashing in on their opportunities. Brother Nero is the first and wants Lashley’s TNA World title. Another in a series of really good Lashley matches. While Hardy is good in tag settings he really shines here as a solo guy.  Hardy is a great sympathetic babyface as he’s not afraid to kill himself out there. There were several big bumps in this one most notably Hardy taking a powerbomb on the steel ring steps. Sienna continuing to be dominant force in Knockouts division. Crazy Falls Count Anywhere bout between DCC and Decay. Love that stip. And similar to the Monster’s Ball match from last week’s episode involving Decay member Rosemary, this one had thumbtacks (Kingston got about 60+ embedded into his back), a barbwire board (Abyss took the bump on it), a dive from the 2nd tier of the stands, and a match-ending piledriver through a table that was bridged between the ring apron and guardrail that almost killed Crazzy Steve. 

Drew sarcastically challenges “this guy!” he proclaims as out walks generic Ryzin who gets squashed in the 1st round. DJ Z worked an injured wheel gimmick so held this back a bit but cool to see one of my personal faves Trevor Lee get the title. Main event, maybe it’s a me problem, but I fell asleep, rewound it, repeat multiple times, then even watched it again fresh the next morning and whatever they were going for just didn’t work. I didn’t fully understand the machinations of the plot but I think Tyrus wasted Eli's briefcase cash-in to beat up a street clothes wearing Ethan Carter? EC3 had this horrendously bad purple bruise painted on his hip that my daughter who was walking by even laughed at the preposterousness of.
ROH Undisputed Legacy 2/3/2017
1. Jonathan Gresham vs. Will Ferrara - 3
2. The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) vs. The Tempura Boyz (Sho & Yohei) - 3
3. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O'Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) (c) vs. Jax Dane & War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) - ROH World Six Man Tag Team Title Match - 5
4. Jay Lethal vs. Bobby Fish vs. Dalton Castle - 5
5. Romantic Touch vs. BJ Whitmer - 3
6. Keith Lee & Shane Taylor vs. The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) - 6
7. Cody vs. Donovan Dijak - 7
8. Jay White, Lio Rush & The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Cole, Hangman Page, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) - 7
Average Score: 4.9
Full length live shows! I think part of my investment in getting Honor Club and TNA+ was to catch up on all these ROH live events, honestly, and in TNA’s case their marquee pay-per-views, but really felt it’d be doing a disservice to not get fully immersed in the ongoing storylines etc. by following all the TV too thus here we are. I noticed afterwards I grade a bit on a curve. For TV comparatively I grade a bit higher. Live shows allow stuff to breathe and again, are really what I’m most excited to delve into, but since they have a bigger canvas I’m going to need to see stuff bypass basic to get higher, recommendable marks.
I think with these premiere live events it’s also noteworthy how they are as a whole. Because this isn’t dropping a choice single on Spotify or Bandcamp, this is releasing a whole record album and the expected way of experiencing it is playing it in full. I’ve often thought of wrestling shows in that manner like a music album or movie. They have ebbs and flows, but they are booked to give a fan a cohesive enjoyable singular experience. And this gives me a taste of where Ring of Honor was in that realm. Starts in a lower gear, gradually picks up, then ends with a full throttle drag down Main St.
Let’s look at some highlights. War Machine and Jax Dane who I was unfamiliar with but fits right in with those hoss’ and the Kingdom was good. Lots of high-impact offense and Kingdom bumping around well for the big brutes. Three-way held intrigue but wasn’t in slot to blow doors off and was surprised to see Lethal take the clean pinfall. The Romantic Touch match isn’t even listed on cagematch which is a rarity as I’ve never seen them get a listing wrong before. I really wanted to score Briscoes vs. Lee/Taylor even higher but the non-finish kind of popped that balloon. Great, physical stuff though and no surprise Keith Lee would break out in a big way in NXT in the near future. Dijak and Cody were the match/segment of the San Antonio show. I need to mention my two favorite moments. Late in the match Donovan powerbombed Rhodes over the guardrail into the first row of chairs. These were the hardest looking plastic chairs imaginable, like built for max stability and had zero give to them. I also loved the post-match sooooo much. Cody sat Dijak in a chair in the center of the ring, then got a running start, and swung a steel chair directly into his face Barry Bonds homerun style! This was so ’99 Rock/Mankind level and unnecessary and thus amazing.  Main event I may be slightly overrating. And I’m grappling with that. I’m going to be seeing a TONS of these big multi-men BULLET CLUB bouts in the next couple years. So, this style of bout may lose its luster but as a standalone match this is a hyperdrive hustle; Lio Rush actually stole the show with his blinding speed and reckless dives.
TNA Xplosion #646 2/4/2017
Andrew Everett vs. Davey Richards – 4
I liked this slightly more than the Richards vs. Kingston bout from Xplosion a couple weeks prior, but not enough here to push its score any higher.
Ring of Honor ROH TV #281 2/4/2017

1. BJ Whitmer & Damian Martinez vs. War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) - 4
2. Joseph A'Gau & The Bruiserweights (Corey Hollis & John Skyler) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O'Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) - 3
3. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) (c) vs. The Tempura Boyz (Sho & Yohei) - ROH World Tag Team Title Match - 4
4. Chris Sabin vs. Alex Shelley vs. Jonathan Gresham vs. Donovan Dijak vs. Jay White vs. Lio Rush - ROH World Television Title #1 Contendership Six Man Mayhem Match - 5
Average Score: 4
For the sake of my sanity (only a few thousand shows to go – no big deal, right? Right?) going to trim some write-ups to more capsule reviews. Call me the Jonathan Rosenbaum of the wrestling cognoscenti. War Machine on my TV reminds me of seeing Steiners squashes back in the day. You know people about to get tossed around. Bucks and Boyz was nice appetizer – surpassing pretzel bites but not quite spinach artichoke dip. Main was constructed the week prior to give mean ol’ Marty Scrull a proper contender and Dijak came out the clear winner, but everyone got a chance to SHINE and we’re not talking that ’96 mental breakdown pianist flick.
ROH Honor Reigns Supreme 2017 2/4/2017
1. Dalton Castle vs. Donovan Dijak - 5
2. Andy Dalton & Rhett Titus vs. War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) - 4
3. The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Cole & Cody)
4. Jay Lethal vs. Hangman Page - 4
5. Jonathan Gresham vs. Sho vs. Jax Dane vs. Will Ferrara - Four Corner Survival Match - 3
6. Bobby Fish vs. Lio Rush - 5
7. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O'Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) (c) vs. Jay White & The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) - ROH World Six Man Tag Team Title Match - 5
8. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) (c) vs. The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) - ROH World Tag Team Title Best Two Out Of Three Falls Match - 8
Average Score: 4.9
Good opener. Dawned on me ROH really embodies the puro style without parading it. Like in that opener you’ve got sick release Saito suplexes and stiff forearms exchanges. But its built organically into their overall in-ring presentation. It’s not ostentatious. Makes me think many took ROH for granted over the years because the in-ring work was so uniformly good over such a long span of time. First-time I’ve seen Dalton who works an angry small guy persona whose lack of fear may overpower his smarts, so think Crash Holly characterization but Pete Dunne in appearance. And sure enough, his bravado booked him and an unsuspecting Rhett Titus into a match with the massive War Machine.
Bit disappointed with the BULLET CLUB/Addiction tag. Cody was on absolute house show mode stopping proceedings dead in their tracks to do some heel 101 mic work crowd play. They’re building to main event of upcoming 15th Anniversary show being Christopher Daniels finally going for his 1st ROH World championship against Cole, yet Daniels goes down here clean to a random superkick? I thought that was more of a transitional move in the Club’s repertoire. Lethal and Page was better. Jay started the match out with six (!) consecutive suicide dives! Post-match Cody, Cole and Page are run off by the returning Addiction. Daniels cuts a weak go home promo basically calling the Bullet Club “poopy heads” or some such nonsense.
Sashaying through the back-half of this show to focus on the main event. They had an extra stip on the 2 out of 3 Falls bout where each individual fall had its own stipulation/rules. I liked how they played that out. Briscoes got the first fall then the announcer said over the PA, “The 2nd Fall will be contested under Lucha rules”. Jay was like “What’s lucha rules?” and bashed the Bucks with a steel chair to cause the immediate disqualification. Yes, that evened the score to 1-1 but the 3rd fall if needed was scheduled to be a No DQ match which led to the Briscoes’ advantage. This had all the stunts and superkicks you’d associate with the Bucks’ act, but the combined effort of both teams pushed this into something worthy of a main event slot.
Who won?
Looking at statistical data the average score per show was only marginally higher for Ring of Honor. But their tour through Texas with San Antonio and Dallas live events added a little more oomph to their offering this week. And even with a much bigger sample size, nothing on ROH was as bad as the worst aspects of Impact this week. So ROH ties it up at (3-3) on the overall scorecard. “Oh, radio, tell me everything you know” ;)

Monday, February 12, 2024

Ring of Impact #4

We’re closing out the first month of this head-to-head battle and I’m as amped as James Franco would be getting a “Welcome Back to Acting” Cameo recorded by Ric Flair after an all-night bender in Gary, Indiana.
Impact #654 Genesis 2017 1/26/2017

1. The Broken Hardys (Brother Nero & Matt Hardy) (c) vs. Decay (Abyss & Crazzy Steve) (w/Rosemary) vs. The Death Crew Council (Bram & Kingston) (w/James Storm) - TNA World Tag Team Title Three Corners Match - 5
2. Drew Galloway (c) vs. Moose - IMPACT Grand Title Match - 5
3. Rosemary (c) vs. Jade - TNA Women's Knockout Title Monster's Ball Match - 6
4. DJ Z (c) vs. Caleb Konley vs. Marshe Rockett vs. Andrew Everett vs. Trevor Lee (w/Gregory Shane Helms) - TNA X-Division Title Five Way Match - 4
5. Eddie Edwards (c) vs. Lashley - TNA World Heavyweight Title 30 Minute Iron Man Match - 8
Average score: 5.6
Genesis and several of the other original TNA pay-per-view spectaculars get demoted at some point to televisions specials. Liked Broken Hardyz getting entangled into the ongoing Decay and DCC feud. Something has really clicked on these Grand Championship bouts. Instead of utilizing the round system to stretch things out what we have gotten instead are these short 3 min. (rounds) bursts of hard-hitting offense. Moose has exceeded my expectations stringing together great combos and even seen here popping off a second buckle moonsault! Really liking vile Drew too. Jade and Rosemary are arguably my picks for top two in the Knockouts division at that time. So I was into this, and it being a Monster’s Ball with thumbtacks, tables, and a few sick barbed wire board spots made it even more delectable. If surprised by my lower score on the X-Division bout, which is sort of my jam, know it’s because it barely hit 4 minutes. Still got some sick dives ‘natch.
I wouldn’t have pegged myself for being a mark for the heavyweight title scene when I jumped into this project but this first month of 2017 they’ve been delivering the goods. It may be hard to believe with what we see today of Lashley in tepid mentor role with Street Profits in WWE, but he was in amazing shape here, still as muscular as ever, but much more slim, and seemingly always down to work his butt off. And you may want to grab your lunch pail because these boys went to work! 30 min. bomb fest I won’t detail blow-by-blow but so much good stuff. The biggest highlight being perhaps my favorite moment in all of January ’17 when Lashley unearthed a scorching powerbomb on the entrance ramp! He lifted him so high like a Razor’s Edge almost then just dropped him dead weight and Edwards’ carcass bounced disturbingly. Real cool finish, Lashley was pretty much passing out unconscious in a submission when the bell rang, so despite him being a dead man walking he still won the Iron Man by one fall and reclaimed the TNA World title. Awesome stuff.
TNA Xplosion
1. Bobby Lashley vs. Mahabali Shera (Ep. #642 1/7/17) – 3
2. Jessie Godderz vs. Bad Bones (Ep. #643 1/14/17) – 5
3. Davey Richards vs. Kingston (Ep. #644 1/21/17) – 4
4. Spud vs. Mahabali Shera (Ep. #645 1/28/17) – 3
Average Score: 3.8
So little shake up of sorts here. My goal was to review all available TNA and ROH footage from 2017 until present day, lo and behold around February 1st an Xplosion section appeared on the TNA+ service. I’m like 90% sure it wasn’t there a few days prior as I’d been on there pretty much daily since I launched this project unless I miraculously missed it. Anyway, I’m adding Xplosion, their weekly show into the festivities here. Xplosion usually only features one original match (we’ll see a brief period later in ’17 when they’d feature two bouts). In the future I’ll have it chronologically placed with the other shows, but since this was a late last min. add I’m dumping all of January’s Xplosion stuff into this edition of Ring of Impact.
Shera, an Xplosion regular if ever there were to be one, featured twice. Lashley walked him around the ring leading him through a forgettable bout, but the Spud encounter at least had the bonus morsel of Shera stealing away Spud’s ridiculous Sgt. Pepper’s hat and wearing it. I’ve got to recommend this Bad Bones match. Never heard of this guy. He looks like an overstuffed sausage version of Perry Saturn fresh from a biker bar. And he kicked the ever-loving crap out of Godderz! This was presumably a Godderz squash yet Bones took easily 85-90% of the offense and he laid his stuff in. Just blistering Jessie with stiff forearms and errant kicks to the stomach. On paper this match meant the least to me of any all month yet I have a feeling it’ll be one of the ones I remember most clearly into the future. Richards vs. Kingston at one point would have been kind of an Indy dream match, no? ROH vs. Chikara? PWG vs. CZW? But this wasn’t it. Enjoyed watching Kingston selling (as I always do), less so Richards barely clearing Eddie on a leapfrog.
Ring of Honor ROH TV #280 1/28/2017

1. Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara vs. The Tempura Boyz (Sho & Yohei) vs. Coast 2 Coast (Leon St. Giovanni & Shaheem Ali) - ROH World Tag Team Title #1 Contendership Three Way Match - 4
2. Marty Scurll (c) vs. Juice Robinson - ROH World Television Title Match - 5
3. Jay Lethal vs. Jay Briscoe - Decade Of Excellence Semi Final Match - 7
Average Score: 5.3
Honor Club was down for a day and I was having withdrawals. Glad to be back. Opening tag three-way was all go all the time which can usually be fun. Young Bucks came to ringside to join on commentary. I know their shtick isn’t for everybody. But they were very good here doing some of the old Two Dudes with Attitude (HBK & Diesel) nonchalance. Post-match they enter the ring and say “we were just over there doing some sweet color with Kevin Kelly” which got a chuckle from me, then let those Tempura Boyz know they’d deemed that victory title-shot worthy and would see them next week. Juice is known for his New Japan tenure, and I think he’s really absorbed that style and implements it well wherever he performs. You’d think it’d be power and explosiveness from Robinson against cunning and deviousness from Scrull, which while true, Marty was laying in stuff too. Love how recklessly Juice flies into the metal barriers around ringside. Jay and Jay have a lot of history. I was literally just watching a month or so ago at random Best in the World ’15 I believe it was? And they were in the main event and both of their sets of parents were there in the crowd. Very cool main event program they had. So, while this is a compact version of the hits, they still sound pretty groovy like some CCR popping up on the Waffle House jukebox at 2:13A when you’re chowing down on those smothered, covered, diced, chunked hashbrowns.
Who won?
It’s not a real wide margin, but I’ll say TNA nudged out the victory this week, bringing us to a (2-2) tie in weekly rankings. The Xplosion stuff didn’t really harm or help TNA’s cause much on this entry. But the strength of their Genesis edition of Impact cemented the victory.
Who won the month?
I’d thought about making this its own post every time I finish a calendar month but think I can be succinct in my summary. It’s surprisingly, to my eyes, really quite neck and neck, so to speak. As predicted, ROH’s in-ring constituency is unparalleled, as even the “minor” matches were good. They had that great Cody promo on 1/14 and the 1/21 episode was the single best episode of TV all month with an average match score of 7. But I’m going to give the slight lean to TNA making it (3-2) as move into February 2017. My memories of this era of them on Pop TV was faint and not entirely favorable. While the shows could rightfully be called zany (tons of “Broken” Matt Hardy’s eccentric promos, Laurel Van Ness on awkward date with Braxton Sutter, etc.) and not everything sticks, they’ve been entertaining as hell and the big deciding factor were those big heavyweight showcases like the Last Man Standing and Iron Man matches we got. Genuinely surprised at how good that stuff was. I’m only a month into this years-long project and absolutely loving it! I hope you all are too.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Ring of Impact #3

It’s all tied up (1-1) in the Ring of Impact fracas. Who will pull ahead in the third week?
TNA Impact Wrestling #653 1/19/17
1. Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Tyrus vs. Eli Drake vs. Mike Bennett vs. Crazzy Steve vs. Jessie Godderz vs. Mahabali Shera vs. Andrew Everett vs. Trevor Lee vs. The Death Crew Council (Bram & Kingston) - Race for the Case Match - 4
2. Brooke vs. Deonna Purrazzo - 2
3. Aron Rex & Rockstar Spud vs. Robbie E & Swoggle - 3
Moose (c) vs. Drew Galloway - IMPACT Grand Title Match - 7
Average score: 4

Goofiness abounds. Majority of the show was built around the Race for the Case concept. A very Russo-like match with four colored briefcases elevated high above the turnbuckles. Your aim was to grab a briefcase: yellow, red, blue, green, doesn’t matter, you don’t know what’s inside. The match itself was unremarkable but tossed it a bonus point for novelty. I don’t need po-faced solemnity in my wrestling, so it pleases me to say the backstage segment with the briefcase reveals which was done in a cheesy ’70’s game show set-up was delightful and cheesy. Deonna has fans nowadays, hoping to see that spark, wasn’t on display here. Comedy tag only slightly above mediocre due to the performance Aron Rex (the former Damien Sandow in WWE) gave chewing up the scenery. Main event was very good. Drew won the Grand Championship here and looked damn good. He hit this one nasty little compact piledriver where he dropped back down within seconds of initially lifting Moose (who’s no small man) then instantly plummeting him back right on top of his skull. Strong ending to a rather lackluster episode.
Ring of Honor ROH TV #279 1/21/17
1. Marty Scurll vs. Jonathan Gresham - 6
2. Chris Sabin vs. Christopher Daniels - Decade of Excellence Semi Final Match - 7
3. KUSHIDA vs. Will Ospreay vs. Dragon Lee - 8
Average score: 7
Holy hell … what an episode. This was fantastic. Gosh, what a breath of fresh air Gresham is. I’d forgotten how marvelous he is. I’d heard in the last few years he’s truly broken out including winning the ROH World Championship and winning a lot of awards especially around 2020. Cannot wait to get to all that stuff. And he married current TNA Knockouts champion Jordynne Grace so it’s safe to say he’s winning. But instantly seeing his smooth mat work stylings I flashed back to his work in EVOLVE when grappling was their soup du jour. Sabin and Daniels, the irony hit me that these are guys known as TNA guys, at least that’s where they arguably made their biggest impacts (pun intended) in the industry, so a chuckle from me seeing them here given the context of this project. And I’ll say, this was not done as just a basic TV bout, given that this was a tournament semi-final, they both went the extra mile to make this something of note. Sabin especially seemed motivated. He got a nasty bloody wound on his shoulder, was doing flips off the apron, jawing with Daniels’ Addiction partner Kazarian, and in the zone. Daniels’ BME (Best Moonsault Ever) truly did look like one of the best moonsaults I’d seen in forever. The last time I saw Daniels have such a spectacular match in the former ECW Arena it was an amazing encounter I wrote about here from 2011 against Eddie Edwards for the old ROH on HDNet series. Main event was just phenomenal. You’ve got KUSHIDA in the Marty McFly jacket, we’ve just seen in the past few months Dragon Lee debut on SmackDown! so this is a nice earlier peek into his work, and Will Ospreay is arguably one of the top three hottest names in the entire business currently. So, you knew this was going to deliver the goods and it most certainly did. I don’t think I’ve ever popped bigger for KUSHIDA’s gross finisher the Back to the Future (small package driver/DDT) as he absolutely murked Ospreay here.
Who won?
Ring of Honor really wiped the floor with TNA this week. I can’t sugarcoat that. One channel we’ve got Brother Nero crooning PeroxWhy?Gen lyrics, about how his enemies need to “classify themselves as obsolete”, and over on ROH TV they’re tossing out mat classics like New Year’s Eve party hors d'oeuvres. ROH takes the lead (2-1).

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Ring of Impact #2

Last time, TNA took the early lead by winning week one. Let’s see what the 2nd week of January 2017 has in store for us. Could it, in the parlance of EC3’s annoying entrance theme, spell out “trouble trouble trouble trouble”?
TNA Impact Wrestling #652 1/12/17

1. Lashley vs. Ethan Carter III - TNA World Heavyweight Title #1 Contendership Last Man Standing Match - 7
2. Decay (Abyss & Crazzy Steve) (w/Rosemary) vs. The Death Crew Council (Bram & Kingston) (w/James Storm) - 4
3. Braxton Sutter vs. Mike Bennett (w/Maria) - 4
4. The Broken Hardys (Brother Nero & Matt Hardy) (c) vs. The Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards) - TNA World Tag Team Title Match - 6
Average score: 5.3
More mayhem in the Impact Zone. Really strong opener continuing the emphasis on heavyweight title picture. It’s definitely dawned on me I love Last Man Standing matches. One of my higher scored matches in NHO blog history was an underseen Last Man Standing bout (Strong vs. Stevens in FIP) and this one delivered too. We got table spots and power offense. Very much enjoyed it. The DCC I’d forgotten were a thing. James Storm and AEW’s Eddie Kingston along with … Bram? Sure. Double countout finish was lacking. Sutter I saw live regularly early in his career as Pepper Parks in HWA. Do you read Sutter Cane? I had to make that reference at least once. More hijinks involving Allie and Maria which I noted on in the last edition would be an ongoing storyline. Main event is a bit of a dream match – is that fair to say? Got decent chunk of time but failed to really take off. Some awkward moments adjusting to each other’s style but plenty bits to enjoy and novel enough to warrant a look. Some teased dissension post-match as Richards airs his frustration at Edwards.
Ring of Honor ROH TV #278 1/14/17
1. Donovan Dijak, Jay White & Lio Rush vs. The Rebellion (Caprice Coleman, Kenny King & Rhett Titus) - 5
2. Steve Corino vs. Cody - 6
3. Jay Lethal vs. Jushin Thunder Liger - Decade of Excellence First Round Match - 6
Average score: 5.7
Really strong episode by Ring of Honor. Opening six-man had action galore and it’s something ROH does well. I’d forgotten about the former All-Night Express joining forces with Caprice Coleman and trying for a more hard-edged heel squad. Highest of marks for the segment that led to Cody vs. Corino. I happened to watch this episode a few hours before joining friends to watch WWE Royal Rumble ’24 and subsequently saw Cody Rhodes win the big Rumble match – but I was gobsmacked here at just how good he was on the microphone. He carried himself with such assurance and presence and his disdain for the crowd and ROH were wonderfully displayed. He said it should be called “Ring of Mediocrity” which I howled out. Corino came out and they had a spirited exchange regarding Cody’s father the great Dusty Rhodes and the feud Dusty and Cornio had in ’99 in ECW. This perfectly segued to a good match between the two. Main event was a treat. Always a joy to see Liger pop up especially mixing it up with American promotions. Even at his elder age he’s impeccable and they crafted something quality in a headlining spot on this show.
Who won?
ROH takes this one, I wouldn’t say handedly, as TNA had the best match of the week with the Last Man Standing bout, but ROH was solid top-to-bottom and makes their record (1-1) now.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Ring of Impact #1 (Season 1 Kickoff)

Welcome to the inaugural entry in the Ring of Impact series. Where I’ll be pitting TNA against Ring of Honor, in a week to week, month to month, year to year throwdown. I went overboard with backstory in the prelude posted here earlier this week – so check that out for more detail into the project’s origin and how it’ll roll out. But I’m ready to dive headfirst into thousands of hours of action (swimsuit optional)!
TNA Impact Wrestling #651 1/5/17
1. Moose (c) vs. Mike Bennett (w/Maria) - IMPACT Grand Title Match - 6
2. Rockstar Spud vs. Swoggle - 1
3. Decay (Abyss & Crazzy Steve) (w/Rosemary) vs. The Helms Dynasty (Andrew Everett & Trevor Lee) (w/Gregory Shane Helms) - 4
4. Allie vs. Sienna (w/Laurel Van Ness & Maria) - 3
5. Eddie Edwards (c) vs. Lashley vs. Ethan Carter III - TNA World Heavyweight Title - 6
Average score: 4
This felt like the kickoff to a new year. I dug that. Commentators Josh Matthews and The Pope welcomed us to 2017 right off the top and also some chatter of Anthem Sports & Entertainment being new majority stake owner. This means little to us, the viewers, save for a goofy owl emblem that now is part of the official TNA logo and adorns the turnbuckle pads, banners, and the large video screen above the entrance aisle. It’s literally everywhere. Hoot hoot. Great opener. Contested for the Grand Championship which I feel like we need to note on. I’d all but forgotten it. It was something engineered by Billy Corgan in-between writing sad songs. Kind of a European-style rounds format. Good physicality and thought Bennett and Moose worked well together. I may have hoisted an extra point upon it from my own buzz and excitement of it being the first match I saw for this massive project but think it was solid. Swoggle beating the charismatic Spud in 90 seconds clean didn’t help endear myself to the episode. On record now that I’m a Helms Dynasty mark – so hoping for lots more of them ahead. Good chaotic action but barely 3 min. thus the lower marks from yours truly. Allie is involved in a storyline where she’s the servant of Maria Kanellis who’s taken umbrage with Allie standing up for herself and beginning to train to be a wrestler. I detail it here because from what I’ve watched ahead it’s a pretty consistent for a segment or two each show. This was also the first time that it dawned on me I’d seen this as I recall this feud. I don’t know precisely when I stopped following weekly TNA TV in 2017 but this rang a bell. Really good main event. Three of the big dogs in the title picture going at it. Perfect placement to end the first episode of the new year with a rousing main event.
Ring of Honor ROH TV #277 1/7/17
1. Jay Briscoe vs. BJ Whitmer (w/Damian Martinez & Kevin Sullivan) - Decade of Excellence First Round Match - 5
2. Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser vs. Alex Reynolds & John Silver - 4
3. Cheeseburger, Joey Daddiego & Will Ferrara vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O'Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) - 4
4. Chris Sabin vs. Colt Cabana - Decade of Excellence First Round Match - 5
Average score: 4.5
Glad to have ROH TV back on my screen! I would DVR Ring of Honor TV back then and tried to stay up with it. Sometimes it had airing irregularities. It’d be delayed. It wouldn’t show up Sat. night as advertised but I could catch a Sun. morning airing. Then there’d be recap shows or re-airings of live events which I had previously seen and wasn’t keen on reliving. So, at some point in 2017 I definitely failed to maintain weekly viewership. One other fast note that may need reiterated more in the future but will air it now, the dates/show numbers on Honor Club are slightly off. Cagematch has what I’ve found to be the most comprehensive and reliable data and I know it to be accurate. So if you’re following along on Honor Club, at least for the 2017 season, the episode #’s should match cagematch listings, but the shows are listed a week later than they actually aired.
Nice to start of this ROH journey with some Jay Briscoe but bittersweet also with his tragic passing. BJ is goofier than normal running with Kevin Sullivan and company wearing white garb and having strange symbols painted on his face a la the Taskmaster himself. ROH is known for its consistency and that was on display here. The middle of the show which were patently elevated squashes still consisted of solid in-ring work including good effort from the losing parties. I like that even arguably “throwaway” matches to give some of the roster’s heels a little shine feature quality stuff from bell to bell. Main event was another tournament bout and the major highlight for me was Colt out on the floor raking at Sabin’s face while simultaneously verbally prodding Chris’ partner Alex Shelley who was doing commentary at ringside. You wanted to reach through the set and smack Cabana yourself and that’s good bad guy bonafides.
Who won?
Here’s where we can pointedly show that in-ring action alone doesn’t make a show. While the average score on this week’s ROH TV was 4.5 and TNA’s 4.0, I’m giving the nod, on this inaugural edition of Ring of Impact, to the Orlando theme park sideshow Impact Wrestling. While I don’t know if we’ll see anything as bad as Swoggle vs. Spud all year on ROH, the highs from Impact, specifically the strong opener and closer, propelled it ahead. Impact did a good job of establishing this episode as a kickoff of a new year, and brought that energy into the program, and the hot main event secured it this round. Impact now leads with a (1-0) record.