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September 19, 2008

Hanging on every word of Impact

If you prefer more wrestling and less talking on wrestling programs, you probably hated last night’s TNA Impact. However, if strong promos are more your thing, then you probably really liked the show.

The highlight was a great promo by the returning Jeff Jarrett. Kurt Angle, Sting, Samoa Joe and Jay Lethal also were very good on the mic. Plus, Mick Foley made his much-anticipated TNA debut in a cameo role at the end of the show.

With all the talking and just four matches, the show never dragged for me. The absence of any lame comedy skits also was appreciated.

A few years ago, Jarrett was heavily criticized by TNA fans who knew he had a stake in ownership of the company and were tired of seeing him book himself as the top guy. On last night’s show, however, the fans at the Impact Zone enthusiastically welcomed him back.

Jarrett cut perhaps the best promo of his career. The only Jarrett promo that I can remember that was even remotely close to this one was in 1997, when he cut a “shoot” promo about Eric Bischoff on Raw right after leaving WCW.

Last night, an emotional Jarrett made references to his wife, Jill, who died of breast cancer last year, and also talked about founding the company, which for years was never acknowledged on television. He called out Sting and told him that young guys such as Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles carried TNA and always showed him respect. He said all that Sting, Angle and Booker T. want to do is “take, take, take” from the company. Jarrett said that attitude took down WCW, but he’s not going to let it happen in TNA.

Angle eventually came down to confront Jarrett, and they had a compelling exchange. Earlier in the show, Samoa Joe and Sting also cut good promos about their upcoming match at the Bound for Glory pay-per-view on Oct. 12. And Lethal, in a backstage interview, delivered an intense promo about being betrayed by SoCal Val and Sonjay Dutt. It might have been the best promos that I have ever seen from Joe and Lethal.

Sting, while still not behaving like a true heel, finally got some boos from the crowd. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but this angle would be so much better if Sting just went all the way bad.

Other thoughts on last night’s show:

Oh, no. There is dissension between Christian Cage and Styles. They’ve been friends, enemies, friends and now look like they might be on their way to becoming enemies again. And this has all been within the past eight months. I know that Cage is a good heel, but I really don’t want to see him turn on Styles. Part of the reason viewers can’t get fully invested in these characters is because of the way-too-frequent turns. …

How about the shiners on Joe and Styles? Joe’s looked especially bad. …

I enjoyed Lethal versus Booker T., as well as the tag-team match between Cage/Styles and The Motor City Machine Guns. …

I wasn’t as impressed with the six-man tag match that pitted the Prince Justice Brotherhood against Petey Williams, Johnny Devine and Jimmy Rave. It wasn’t a terrible match, but I’m just not excited about any of these characters. However, I would much rather watch a PJB match than have to endure one of their backstage segments. I was more entertained by the post-match angle, in which referee Shane Sewell cleaned house again. The butt-kicking ref bit is something different, and Sewell is doing a good job with it. …

Petey Williams apparently is a babyface now. I wonder what the means for him when Scott Steiner returns. I think Williams would be a lot better off by shedding the “Little Petey Pump” gimmick. …

Velvet Sky was wearing a shirt that said: “My boyfriend is cuter than yours.” That had to be a gift from my old pal Gregory “Shane” Helms. …

There wasn’t much depth to the “Rough Cuts” segment on Roxxi, but it was good to see TNA putting her over after the way she has put her body on the line. Hopefully, future “Rough Cuts” featuring Roxxi will be better. …

That deal with Matt Morgan’s DNA being sent to a space station is just bizarre. By the way, why was Don West standing there during the “press conference” about Morgan? Is there any chance that West can be sent to a space station for an indefinite stay?

Posted by Kevin Eck at 11:52 AM | | Comments (7)


Last night's closing segment was one of the better things I have ever seen on TNA.

Having Mick Foley makes that show much more interesting. I watch every week anyway, but now I'm much more excited to do so.

Hi Kevin,
Normally I bail out of Impact around 10:00ish but last night I stayed with it waiting on Foley's TNA intro. I haven't seen Jeff Jarret that passionate in a long time and it was fantastic. When he mentioned his wife you could see the "switch flip" from "the King of the Mountain to Jeff back to "the King of the Mountain"

I remember the prematch promo he cut right after the Owen Hart tragedy. It was the exact same expression on his face.

Lastly I could watch a Sabin, Shelley Styles triple threat for the entire length of the program and never flip the channel!

Kev, didn't you think it was a bit ironic that Jarrett was cutting a promo about the old guys not putting the young guys over during the final segment that involved Sting (49), Kurt Angle (40), Jeff Jarrett (41) and Mick Foley (43)? Way to let the younger guys shine in the spot light, JJ.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: I understand what you are saying, but Joe got to speak earlier, and Jarrett was putting them over in his promo.

So it does look like it's going to be a New Blood/Old Guard redux. I'm confused as to why AJ Styles is being treated like a young guy. He's a former 3 time world champion who's been a pro wrestler longer than Kurt Angle. It's fully outside the boundaries of logic, and diminishes Styles by not giving him his due for time spent in the business. Granted it will make some sense if they make it a TNA insider vs outsider feud, but it's still shortsighted booking.

Still, there was a lot of good mic work on the show. Jay Lethal may have blown them all away, further demonstrating he doesn't need the albatross of the Black Macho Man gimmick around his neck. Ditto for Petey Williams, guys like he and Lethal are far too talented for creative to have nothing better for them than to imitate stars of yesteryear.

TNA always seems to come up with firsts, some good, and others not so good. Last night, I think we may have just witnessed the first ever press conference that didn't any press. Of all the reasons to stage a no-press press conference, Matt Morgan's DNA journeying into space might be the worst ever.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: It was the same thing when WCW did the New Blood-Millionaires Club angle. Guys like Scott Steiner, Shane Douglas and Vampiro were the "new blood." It's more about wrestlers who are overdue for a big push against established superstars.

The promos were great. Jeff Jarrett's was emotional and I thought he was going to break down after mentioning the problems dealing with his wife's passing. I was hoping that Sting would have said something when he was in the ring with Jeff. It appears to me that it was almost deja vu of the WCW/NWO situation. Hall, Hogan, Nash against WCW.
The Rough-Cuts of Roxxi was dome real good. She always puts herself on the line. I hope a push will come that will lead to a championship match.

The wrestling part of the show wasn't all that good except Cage/Styles vs. MCMG

I think your comments regarding TNA's broadcast were dead on especially about Double J .
Petey Williams should go on his way , I never liked him as Scott Steiner's sidekick - Scott Steiner needs no sidekick .
I think the best part of the show however was when Traci Brooks ......

Totally agree with you kevin. I have heard your opinions via as well and realize that though you have been very critical of TNA you do give them their due and really this feud is doing very well.

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

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