March 11, 2011

There's a PPV this Sunday... wait, what?

If TNA has proven one thing over the past 2 months or so, it's that their current PPV model just doesn't work, and if it does work, then by God, they're going to do everything in their power to break it.

Lately they've been shifting away from hyping PPVs and focusing more on building up big iMPACT specials like the 2/03/11 show and the Fayetteville tapings. And give credit where it's due -- this strategy has garnered them some of their strongest ratings to date. The only problem is this resulted in Against All Odds and now Victory Road feeling like total throwaway shows because, let's face it, that's exactly what they were/are.

While I definitely agree that TNA running 12 PPVs a year really isn't working and they need to drop some of them, and this business of hyping up the big iMPACTs instead has lead to more ratings growth than any PPV buyrate increase they've had recently that I'm aware of, I really don't understand why they have to do one or the other. Why are these things mutually exclusive? Can't they do both as long as those PPVs are happening whether they want them to or not?

Obviously they have a contract with the PPV provider to produce a certain number of shows a year, and I guess they'll continue doing so until they can renegotiate this deal (if that's where they plan on going with this), but as long as you're doing the shows, wouldn't you want them to be a financial success? To be honest, it kind of seems to me like they don't because I'll be damned if they haven't thrown these last 2 PPVs under the bus big time.

With the exception of Hardcore Justice, I can't remember being less excited for any TNA PPV than I was for Against All Odds because of how little attention was payed to it. I suppose Victory Road has a bit more intrigue with the uppercard matches, but the rest of the card was slapped together so hastily, I'm wondering if the writers even cared about what they were doing. Granted, I get the same feeling from watching iMPACT most of the time these days, but that's another column for another time.

As with last month, I'm doing away with my usual PPV preview format and will continue to do so until TNA put some honest-to-God effort into hyping one of these things.

So let's take a look at this card...

Sarita & Rosita vs. Angelina Love & Winter (c)

How did this match happen? I imagine it was booked because Sarita/Rosita (who I call Spanish Fly) are the only other Knockout tag team in the company, but seriously, how did it happen? Where was the build up for this? Rosita shows up, they have a few multi-person tag matches, the writers throw in some excruciating Jersey Shore publicity stunt, and now her and Sarita are getting a title shot without any indication that they even wanted one. And frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't, seeing as how the Knockout tag titles mean about as much as the old world heavyweight title belt currently around the waist of Eric Young.

If TNA are finally looking to do something with these tag championships, I'm all for it. It's either that or scrap the titles altogether, and I'd be fine with either at this point. But to make those belts relevant, the first step is taking them off Angelina & Winter, who won them months ago, and to this date, have not defended them even once. By virtue of that alone, I'm expecting a title change here.

Spanish Fly can be packaged as a tag team, which Angelina & Winter really can't. Plus, Winter has shown me absolutely nothing in the ring so far. If they have the faces lose due to a miscommunication with Velvet Sky, they can kill 2 birds with one stone here. I say the heels should win this one.

Ink Inc vs. Beer Money (c)

Quick question: if Beer Money were going to face Ink Inc at the PPV, then why were they feuding with the jobber security guards at first, only for this match to be thrown together in the last 2 weeks? The only explanation I can come up with is that someone in management realized that Gunner & Murphy are lousy workers and bland characters, and a feud with them was only going to drag Beer Money down. Ink Inc are an upgrade in that regard, but the fact remains that these guys have been off TV for months and now they've been shoehorned into a title match at the last minute with no build up, which doesn't make them very compelling opponents for Storm & Roode either.

Something has to change here and I suspect it will. Beer Money were heaping so much praise on Ink Inc on the go home show that I'll be stunned if Moore & Neal don't turn heel this Sunday. I'm really hoping for a turn too, not only because Beer Money need a decent heel team to feud with, but because this would finally give them a reason to debut Christina Von Eerie and it would be an impetus for Ink Inc to come up with something new to say other than the same exact damn promo they've been cutting since they became a team.

I say yes to a heel turn for the mohawk boys, but not a title change. The tag division has really stalled since the MCMG lost the titles, but that's the fault of the writers, not Beer Money. Besides, I'm sick of the hotshotted title changes.

Bully Ray vs. Tommy Dreamer

I really don't care about this at all. Few things in this company bore me as much as the former EV2 members fighting with each other. I didn't care when they were doing it with Rob Van Dam and I don't care about it now. This will be my piss break.

Max Buck vs. Jeremy Buck vs. Robbie E vs. Kazarian (c)

Wow. This one sure came out of nowhere, didn't it? Based on the non-existent build up for this match and the fact that all 3 challengers were jobbed out or made to look like fools in matches that had nothing to do with the X-division on the go home show while the champion didn't even make an appearance, I can only conclude that the writers decided to add this match to the card after all the television leading up to the PPV had been filmed. That sucks.

I really miss the days when the Ultimate-X match was treated like something special that TNA would make a big deal out of. Now it's just a place-filler to pop the crowd at 8:00 pm that gets no hype whatsoever. Thanks a fucking lot, Russo.

I'd be a lot more interested in this if it were a triple threat. We saw with Williams/Kendrick last summer exactly what happens when you put non-high fliers in the Ultimate-X and it wasn't pretty. Robbie E has no place in this match -- he's going to do nothing but drag it down, and I shudder to think what could happen if and when Cookie gets involved. Hopefully, their role here will be as small as possible and afterward Robbie's annoying ass goes back to jobbing on Xplosion until his contract runs out.

Kaz is the only one of these guys that's even been on TV consistently for the last month and the only one the writers seem to have anything even resembling a plan for right now, so there's no point in taking the belt off him. Hopefully he'll retain here.

Hernandez vs. Matt Morgan

Wait... so TNA sent Hernandez to Mexico for months, only to bring him back so he could feud with the same guy he feuded with before he left? Whatever...

It seemed like Morgan was on the virge of breaking through the glass ceiling a few months ago, and after feuding with Jeff Hardy for the world title, this is a big step down for him. Hernandez as one half of LAX was money, but Hernandez as a singles competitor has always been lacking something and it doesn't seem like his time in AAA did anything to change that. Plus, we already saw this feud not that long ago, and there was nothing about it that made me eager for an encore.

There really hasn't been much time devoted to this at all and the first blood gimmick just feels tacked on. This is nothing but a let's-get-both-guys-PPV-spots match. The feud doesn't interest me so I'll just say give the win to Morgan since he needs it more.

Matt Hardy vs. AJ Styles

I've taken some flack recently for my comments about Matt Hardy. Let me clarify something -- I don't think Matt sucks. I think he's more or less a good, reliable, solid talent. Having said that, there's nothing extraordinary about the guy. There's a reason why he was a midcarder in WWE and it's not because he was being punished for Jeff leaving. TNA certainly have much worse talents on their roster (Orlando Jordan, Rob Terry, etc.) than Matt, but he's not a top star and he's no AJ Styles.

What does AJ, a 4 time world champion, get from feuding with Matt Hardy? I really don't see the point of this. If he were feuding directly with Ric Flair, at least AJ would be getting some kind of rub, but Flair has a torn rotator cuff, so instead we get Matt. This just feels like a time-filler until Flair is healthy, and an unnecessary one at that. AJ really should be higher on the card than this.

Fortune said in no uncertain terms that they weren't taking a back seat to anyone anymore, and pretty much the very next thing they did was get depushed back into the midcard so the spotlight could be aimed squarely at Sting again. Something or someone has to kickstart Fortune's face push, and if not AJ Styles, then who? He absolutely needs to go over here.

Ken Anderson vs. Rob Van Dam

This one's easy for me. You can already see the wheels in motion setting up Sting vs. Anderson at Lockdown, and IMO, that's the much better option. We already saw Sting vs. RVD at Slammiversary last year and it didn't deliver a damn thing. Van Dam's real beef is with Jeff Hardy, and Anderson clearly wants the world title more than he does, in and out of kayfabe, so there's no point in deliberating this. Give it to Anderson.

Jeff Hardy vs. Sting (c)

Jeff as the champion was hit and miss at the best of times, but he still has a better track record than Sting at this point. However, there's already been 3 hotshotted world title changes this year, and it's only March! For that reason alone, I say keep it on Sting for another month. Besides, giving it back to Hardy would do nothing but continue to drag out the incoherent clusterfuck this Immortal storyline has become when TNA really just need to end it as soon as possible.

It's not a perfect scenario, but I say Sting should win so he and Hardy can go on to finish their business with Anderson and Van Dam respectively. That being said, if Sting is still the world champion after Lockdown, I'm going to strongly urge every single member of TNA management, including Dixie Carter, to drive to the nearest hospital immediately and get a freaking CAT scan.

For a PPV that was mostly thrown together at the last minute, the card could be worse, I suppose, but the build up has just been embarrassing for the most part. And one really has to wonder why in the blue hell the writers spent so much goddamn time on the Jarretts vs. Kurt Angle if they were going to be left off this show; I'm definitely not complaining about this, but you have to admit, it's pretty questionable.

Anyway, another month of phoned in PPV hype by TNA. It's saddening that this has become the norm, rather than the exception, but what else can we really expect from a company that has one of the best talent rosters ever assembled, but has absolutely no clue what to do with it, and instead decide to promote a broken down, unmotivated, 52-year-old man as their top star?

No comments: