"It was actually really brutal to watch -- a really hard fought match. These guys went savage on each other. They fought like maniacs. Really, these guys gave it everything they had and you can tell... You can really tell, they put extra effort into this match."
-Noah 'Spoony' Antwiler, www.wrestlewrestle.com.
Let no one say I only focus on the negative.
Earlier this year at Lockdown, we witnessed an amazing bout between Kurt Angle & Ken Anderson. Across the board it was considered to be a strong MOTY candidate, but what made it so memorable wasn't necessarily the stellar ring work, so much as it was the incredible animosity between the 2 men.
Kurt Angle, a man who has had multiple neck surgeries and countless other injuries did a moosault off the top of the cage because he just wanted to hurt Anderson that damn much. As Angle was exiting the cage, Anderson, already knowing he had lost the match, gave Angle the one finger salute, inviting the olympic gold medalist to stay in the cage to continue beating the life out of him... and why? Because "Fuck him!" That's why!
Regardless of what they did in the ring, it was the story the wrestlers told and their extreme mutual enmity that helped this match achieve greatness. It was a brutal, intense contest, the likes of which we haven't seen in TNA since and the product has been worse for it. That changed on 11/18/10.
That night on ReAction, we got to see something I was not expecting, but was nevertheless thrilled to see. After Generation Me cheated their way to a victory over the Motor City Machine Guns in a mixed tag match on iMPACT, the Guns challenged them to an empty arena brawl later in the night where there would be no fans, no referee and no rules.
When iMPACT had so many supposedly important angles and matches taking place, but was so overbooked, rushed and crammed full of stuff that none of it really felt as important as it should, the brawl on ReAction between these 2 teams was a real diamond in the rough. And I think it's a real testament to the Guns, GenMe and production team as well, that on a night that featured a casket match, the #1 contender for a major championship being decided, Raven losing to Jeff Hardy and subsequently being fired, a member of Fortune turning on the group, Ric Flair's return to the ring and the explanation for why Brother Ray turned on Brother Devon, thus splitting up the most decorated tag team in wrestling history, that the most memorable thing that happened the entire night was a brawl in an empty arena where there was nothing at stake and nothing on display except for the seething hatred shared between 2 young tag teams.
While Sabin, Shelley and the Bucks didn't kill themselves to the extant that Angle and Anderson did, the physicality and intensity was at the same level in that you totally bought that these men wanted to murder each other. The Guns earned another highlight in what has been a pretty terrific tag title reign, and GenMe had easily their best performance since they turned heel and probably the best performance of their TNA careers so far.
You just don't see action like this in WWE, and you never will as long as they continue marketing to kids. And it's a shame, a damn shame really, that such things have become a bit of a rarity rather than the norm in TNA these days.
I had flashbacks of Anderson flipping off Angle in the cage when Sabin & Shelley had Max Buck tied to the ring post and he was spitting in their faces, yelling at them to bring it as they kicked him in the head over and over. It was intense and violent almost to the point of being disturbing, and it was fantastic. And it was even more impressive in that I didn't think there was much more they could do with this feud -- I figured it was pretty much done, but now after this brawl, I'm excited to see it continue.
TNA, this is the direction you need to go in. This is what can make you stand out from the competition, not lockbox challenges, constant gimmick matches and (God help me) fist pump contests. I know I don't speak for everyone, but this was definitely the type of serious, hard-hitting action that I want to see more of.
Give it a shot. After all, it's not like your current direction is pulling in huge ratings.
I'm just saying...