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January 4, 2008

Styles cliffhanger falls flat

When I got a look at the TNA script for last night’s Impact broadcast that was leaked on the Internet, I knew the A.J. Styles segments were going to be bad. It turns out that they were even worse on screen than they seemed on the pages.

The past two episodes have centered around whether Styles would back Kurt Angle or Christian Cage in their match at the Final Resolution pay-per-view on Sunday. TNA left us hanging last week, and after teasing viewers for two more hours last night, Styles said that he would announce his decision at the pay-per-view.

That’s right. For the low, low price of $29.95, you can find out which side A.J. is on. This must be one of those insane deals that Don West shills, because TNA is crazy if it thinks this angle is going to increase its modest buy rates.

Angle and Cage are the two biggest stars in the company, yet the TNA creative team actually believes the “Who does A.J. Styles have the bigger man-crush on?” cliffhanger is the best way to promote their world title match.

Even if I bought into the premise, the vignettes that supposedly took place at Styles’ grandmother’s house were just too silly for a main event angle.

Styles plays his role well, but as I’ve said before, he’s too talented to be playing an Eric Young-type character. Since we all know Vince Russo likes swerves, my hope is that Styles reveals at the pay-per-view that his country bumpkin act was just that – an act – and that he only did it to lure Cage into a false sense of security so that he could stab him in the back when he least expected it.

Other thoughts on last night’s show:

All of the matches were gauntlet style. I didn’t mind that, but it was a little unclear what exactly was at stake. Jim Cornette announced that the four gauntlet matches would determine the rankings for the heavyweights, tag teams, X Division wrestlers and women. Cage won the heavyweight match, but he already is the No. 1 contender, so what is the significance of his win? What did he gain? Awesome Kong didn’t win the women’s match, but she still is wrestling for the title at the pay-per-view, so what did she lose? …

In one of the Styles segments, his third-grade teacher was introduced. Her name was Miss McGillicutty. Wasn’t that the name of the teacher on The Little Rascals? And people criticized JBL for making dated references on Smackdown. Miss McGillicutty pointed out that Styles had acne as a kid. Does anyone get acne in third grade? …

I do like what TNA has done with Tomko. He is playing a character very similar to Batista when he was in Evolution and starting his slow babyface turn. For months, Tomko has stood by and just shook his head or rolled his eyes at the antics of the egomaniacal Cage and Angle. Like Batista, Tomko has the strong, silent thing working for him, although he did cut a nice promo on Angle. He explained that he is his own man, and the crowd got behind him. Tomko’s ring work has greatly improved since his WWE stint, and he has main-event potential in TNA. …

I’m having trouble following the Samoa Joe-Kevin Nash angle. They had heat at the Turning Point pay-per-view, but then it was never acknowledged on television and they were hugging each other. Last night, they had heat again at the beginning of the show, but then they shook hands at the end.

By the way, what exactly was the point of Nash saying that Scott Hall has more problems in an hour that Joe will have in a lifetime? If that’s really the case, why in the world did TNA book him in a pay-per-view main event? More importantly, how long will it be before TNA brings him back? …

Best line on the night: “Hey, I don’t swing that way, Adonis.” – “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal to Sonjay Dutt after Dutt tried to kiss him.

Worst line of the night: “Did you ever think you’d see Scott Steiner and Booker T. work together?” – West, after Steiner and Booker formed an alliance in the heavyweight gauntlet match. Yeah, that was a shocker. Steiner and Booker haven’t been on the same side since … two weeks ago.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 5:35 AM | | Comments (5)


The teacher on the Little Rascals was Miss Crabtree. On I Love Lucy, Lucy's maiden name was McGillicutty. I don't doubt Vince Russo thought he had it right, though. Next thing you know, TNA will feature a team of wrestling lawyers named Dewey, Cheatem and Howe...

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: I actually researched this. Miss McGillicutty was the Little Rascals' first teacher. Miss Crabtree was the second.

A few random thoughts on TNA iMPACT…

I watched the second half of iMPACT. The wrestling matches were decent. The X Division Gauntlet was probably the best part of the show. The matches were called Gauntlets, but weren’t they Battle Royals? I thought a Gauntlet was when a single wrestler attempts to defeat several opponents in a row.

I didn’t see all of the AJ Styles skits, but the ones that I did see were kind of goofy. I’m not a fan of the TNA segments that feature someone’s “house”, when it’s painfully obvious that they’re filming in a cheap Orlando TV studio. What’s next? A Halloween show from Abyss’ house in “Parts Unknown” where Abyss, Black Reign, Rellick, and Judas Messias throw broken glass and tacks at each other while spitting blood for two hours straight? Give me a break.

Also, how long are they going to stretch out the “JBL Junior” gimmick with Robert Roode? Hasn’t this angle been going on for months with virtually no changes in direction? In the time it takes for a storyline to pick up some steam in TNA, WWE can start and finish an entire angle. For example, does anyone even remember Hornswoggle? At this point he seems like a distant memory, whereas TNA still has Jay Lethal doing practically the same thing he was doing back in April of 2007. I guess time moves a little slower in TNA. OOOOH YEAAH!!!

for once i Disagree with you kev. what was up with all the gauntlet matches ? i hated them . the A.J . act is getting old i agree .and finally what WAS up with all the early Scott Hall references by wrestlers and announcers both ?!?!

Kev, isn't it seriously time that TNA cut Russo and company? Isn't it seriously time for TNA to make the play for Paul Heyman? I mean, I just don't get it. Pay The Dudleys! No increase in business. Pay Christian! No increase in ratings, buy rates, anything. Pay Angle! Bring in his wife, pay her too! No increase at all. Samoa Joe pushed to the back burner. Bring in Booker! Pay his wife, too! There comes a time where you allocate the necessary funds for the right purpose. Funding a finding of such a purpose for these performers is the most important thing they can do. Or they can just keep being a b-level version of WWE.

Well, what do i have to say about TNA, its just another copy of the old wcw!! bringing in old wrestlers who cant praciclly wrestle anymore like HALL!!! Cancel the
show for the better goods!

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.

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