TNA Impact Review
April 29, 2005
Taped April 26, 2005 in Orlando, FL at Universal Studios
Aired on Fox Sports Net
Report by James Caldwell, Torch Team Contributor
- We opened with a quick tribute to Chris Candido, using the same photo and text from the message located on TNAWrestling.com.
- Mike Tenay and Don West narrated still shot photos of all the action from TNA Lockdown from five days ago. The main focal points of the short photo package were Candido breaking his leg, Trinity executing a moonsault in the Ultimate Xscape Match, the Outlaw staring down B.G. James, and A.J. Styles defeating Abyss to become the #1 Contender to the NWA Title.
- From the Impact Zone, Mike Tenay and Don West welcomed us to the show where Tenay used the same "We did it once again" line, referring to another "excellent" TNA PPV. Don West said Lockdown "had everything" and was the most brutal night of wrestling he had ever experienced. West said it's about time A.J. Styles gets his NWA Title shot.
(1) Shocker defeated Petey Williams at 3:50. Williams came out without Team Canada or Scott D'Amore, possibly hinting at some dissention within Team Canada. Shocker took Petey down with a side headlock, which led to Petey scoring a leg take down. Shocker and Petey exchanged some quick opening minute moves with Shocker running over Petey with a shoulder block before Shocker scored with a powerslam off the ropes. Shocker went for a moonsault, but missed and landed on his feet. Petey scored a drop kick then missed with a clothesline, landing on the apron. Shocker executed a sunset flip into an attempted powerbomb to the floor, but Petey blocked the powerbomb and dropped a leg across Shocker's throat. Petey locked in a neck wrench submission, which Shocker broke free from with elbow smashes. Petey flipped out of a back drop, but ran into a tilt-o-whirl back breaker. Shocker ran over Petey with a boot to the face then quickly rolled up Petey, resulting in a nearfall. Shocker missed with a clothesline and went for another tilt-o-whirl slam, but Petey slipped out and scored a Russian Legsweep. Petey called for the Canadian Destroyer, but instead turned it into a front roll up, which he converted into a Sharpshooter. Shocker inched his towards the ropes, and reached the ropes very quickly to break the hold. Petey followed up with a release German Suplex then went for the Sharpshooter once again. Shocker kicked his way out of the hold before Petey could grapevine the legs, leading to a quick roll up for the pin and the win. Petey quickly went to his knees with a shocked expression of bewilderment as to how he managed to lose in such quick fashion.
- After the match, Mike Tenay entered the ring to talk to Shocker about his X Division Title shot against Christopher Daniels at Hard Justice. Shocker said he proved himself to all the Mexican fans for the past twelve years, and now it's time for him to prove himself to the American fans by taking the X Division Title.
Nuggets from Tenay & West: Throughout the match, Tenay and West talked about Shocker's international cred, without resorting to the over-done "McDonald's commercial" discussion. Thankfully, they took a step forward and simply stuck to discussing his wrestling merit, giving us some information on Shocker's desire to prove himself as a legitimate X Division Title contender. Unfortunately, Tenay and West failed to recognize and mention that Coach Scott D'Amore was not ringside for Petey's match. Some speculation could have been made, possibly creating the storyline for Petey and/or Bobby Roode to break away from D'Amore's tutelage.
Match Purpose: The match was intended to put over Shocker as he prepares for his X Division Title match against Christopher Daniels. With Daniels being the obvious favorite heading into the match – which is roughly three weeks away – it was imperative for TNA to build up Shocker by giving him a good opponent to work with, in order to give the fans some exposure to what Shocker can bring to the table.
Match View: Shocker was quite impressive in the ring, mainly due to working with a solid worker like Petey Williams. I'm not a big fan of using Shocker on any level, much less in an X Division Title Match with Christopher Daniels, but at least he appears to be in good physical and wrestling shape to put together something that could possibly be in the three star range at Hard Justice. I certainly wish TNA would have at least made mention to the "no D'Amore" factor involving Petey Williams, because there is definitely some money to be had in building up a "Team Canada dissention" storyline. With Team Canada on a perennial losing streak as of late, it wouldn't hurt to play into that and possibly build some sort of storyline involving Petey, Bobby Roode, Eric Young, A-1, etc. If anything, it would help them break away from the same tried and true formulaic approach to the booking of their matches.
- From ringside, Tenay indicated that the Naturals would be taking on America's Most Wanted for the NWA Tag Titles later in the show. Don West and Tenay went into a discussion of Chris Candido's broken leg, with the video of how the break occurred being replayed several times.
(2) Sonjay Dutt defeated Buck Quartermain at 4:10. Dutt ducked a series of clotheslines before landing a big boot to the face. Dutt blocked a clothesline then scored a cross body block followed by a drop kick sending Buck to the outside. Dutt slingshot himself over the top rope onto Buck with a cross body splash. Dutt tried to suplex Buck back into the ring, but Buck blocked the move. Dutt tried once again and scored the suplex from the apron to the ring. Dutt rolled up Buck out of the corner, but scored a two count only. Dutt bounced off the ropes and ran into a fall away pancake slam to the mat by the larger Buck. Buck went for a hip toss off the ropes, but Dutt reversed it into release huricanrana. Buck took Dutt off the ropes and scored a tilt-o-whirl side slam, followed by a hard knee drop to the face. Buck choked Dutt instead of making a pin attempt before dropping him with a side belly to back suplex. Buck made a cover, but scored a two count only. Buck locked in a sleeper hold in the center of the ring then dropped Dutt with a vicious elbow smash to the face. Buck went for an elbow drop, but Dutt moved out of the way. Dutt hopped up to his feet and scored a drop kick to Buck's chest. Dutt sent Buck to the ropes then scored a high overhead back body drop. Dutt smashed Buck in the corner with a back elbow smash. Dutt tried to send Buck over the top rope to the outside, but Buck countered by throwing Dutt over the top rope to the apron. Dutt waited for Buck to turn around then launched himself off the apron onto Buck's head and scored an amazing huricanrana with roll up for the pin and the win. Amazing finishing spot.
Nuggets from Tenay & West: Tenay and West took the time to discuss other TNA issues, including Dusty Rhodes's big announcement, Styles vs. Abyss, and other issues. However, they did manage to put Sonjay Dutt, discussing his trip to Japan before returning home to TNA. If TNA were wise, they could really use Dutt's trip to Japan as a way to build him up as an extravagant international superstar with a great deal of international appeal.
Match Purpose: This match served as a way to get Dutt some momentum upon returning to TNA, with him scoring a victory over the larger Buck. Sure, Buck isn't exactly Kevin Nash, but the size difference between the two stars made Dutt's victory quite impressive.
Match View: Another solid athletic display with Dutt putting on a great wrestling clinic in the ring. Buck Quartermain could certainly be a good talent for TNA to utilize, but only if they actually gave him some character depth to work with. Unfortunately, Buck has zero character, leaving him a useless talent with a bland look. Dutt, on the other hand, appears to be just getting started on building up some momentum for himself in the X Division. These types of matches are exactly what TNA needs to focus on for their X Division, giving one-on-one opportunities to the wrestlers who need to have the spotlight focusing directly on them, without having to share the exposure with seven other guys in X Division spotfests. The spotfests, if used correctly, can be effective, but in order for those types of matches to be effective, one-on-one battles are necessary to get over the stars before engaging in the high spot matches. Using Dutt in this manner was an example of what they need to do on a consistent basis.
- We saw an "order the replay of Lockdown" teaser video with Mike Tenay and Don West screaming over video clips of the key high spots from the PPV. Reader quotes were sprinkled in for authenticity.
(3) The Outlaw defeated Mikey Batts at 2:19. The Outlaw came out to a significant pop, which instantly turned into boos. Outlaw shoved Batts to the mat and mockingly asked, "Is this all TNA's got for me?" Outlaw drove Batts to the corner and missed with a clothesline. Outlaw missed with a second clothesline, but didn't miss with a big boot to the face. Outlaw picked up Batts and went for another clothesline, but missed. Batts took Outlaw up and down with a wheelbarrow pick up into a bulldog. Outlaw quickly hopped up and ran over Batts, sending the younger wrestler crashing to the mat. Outlaw measured Batts and landed a punch to the face. Outlaw played to the crowd as we saw a "Get well Candido" sign ringside. Outlaw stalked Batts then slapped in a Cobra Clutch, which he turned into a huge lift up slam. Outlaw made the cover on Batts and scored the victory. Total squash.
- After the match, B.G. James led the 3 Live Kru to the ring. James approached the Outlaw with mic in hand, but Konnan stole the mic before James could talk to Outlaw. Konnan went nose to nose with Outlaw and said he was going to treat Outlaw like a punk. (JC's Note: My words, not his.) Konnan issued a challenge to the Outlaw for next week, which Outlaw merely acknowledged by walking away. Konnan shoved the mic into James's chest before leaving with Ron Killings. James stayed in the ring and stared down the Outlaw, as the Outlaw walked backwards up the entrance ramp, laughing in James's direction. James merely shook his head as Konnan and Killings questioningly looked in James's direction wondering what was up. With Outlaw on the left entrance ramp, James in the ring, and Konnan and Killings on the right entrance ramp, we closed with Tenay indicating Dusty Rhodes was going to make a huge announcement on the other side of the commercial.
Nuggets from Tenay & West: Even before 3 Live Kru came out for the post-match exchange, Tenay and West repeatedly discussed the relationship between The Outlaw and B.G. James, questioning what to make of the "staredown in the cage" seen at Lockdown. They continued to stir up the issue of whether James is with the Outlaw or the Kru, with the post-match discussion adding fuel to the fire. On another topic, Tenay and West verbally squashed Batts by indicating help was needed for Batts because of the total beatdown Outlaw was dishing out. Not exactly the best way to build up Batts.
Match Purpose: I'm not really sure what the purpose of making Mikey Batts look like a completely undersized vanilla midget was all about. Batts may be small and quite under-sized, but has potential if used correctly. Therefore, sticking him in a match with the grossly over-sized (by comparison) Outlaw really didn't help him in any way, shape, or form.
Match View: The storyline involving the Outlaw and 3 Live Kru continues to be a fun program where each week, TNA makes you think they're going to have the heel turn from B.G. James, yet every week, they simply tease it a little bit more and a little bit more. Next week's match between Konnan and B.G. James should be quite intriguing to see what kind of role the other members of 3 Live Kru play in deciding what the direction of all four wrestlers – The Outlaw, James, Konnan, and Ron Killings – is going to be. In my estimation, splitting up 3 Live Kru could be the best thing for all parties involved.
- We went to the "TNA Conference Room" where Dusty Rhodes was sitting at the end of a long table in front of the ridiculous Hard Justice PPV banner. Dusty opened by saying the wrestling fans were in an unbelievable position to watch another amazing TNA PPV on May 15. Dusty announced a "20 man gauntlet for the gold" match where the next #1 Contender to the NWA Title will be crowned. Dusty built up Styles as one of the greatest wrestlers around because he is the "greatest athlete I have ever seen in the ring. Period." Dusty publicized the Styles vs. Jarrett match and indicated "the Huntington Beach bad boy, Tito Ortiz" will be the special referee for the NWA Title match. Dusty told viewers not to pass up this opportunity to see the greatest athletes in the world on TNA PPV.
- Right on cue, Jeff Jarrett stormed to the ringside area and knocked over Mike Tenay and Don West. Jarrett took the house mic and said he's not afraid of anyone, whether it's Tito Ortiz or anyone else. Jarrett talked about his "victim's list" and ran down the names of former contenders to the NWA Title. Jarrett said A.J. Styles "ain't got a chance in hell against the King of the Mountain." Jarrett said he was going to slap the taste out of Ortiz's mouth and indicated, "At Hard Justice, I'm walking in the Champion, and I'm walking out the NWA World Heavyweight Champion." Jarrett screamed at fans ringside who suggested Styles would be taking the belt.
- Mike Tenay previewed the main event NWA Tag Title Match, going over the bullet points surrounding the feud between America's Most Wanted and the Naturals. Very nice effect to hype the match.
- Chris Candido, who was still playing up his injury angle from the previous two weeks – at least with his facial expressions, limped to the ring with his ankle in a cast. Tenay talked about Candido's scam of TNA and Tenay suggested it might have been a little "instant karma" for Candido to injure himself after pretending to be injured the previous two weeks. Candido took the mic and asked the crowd to show an injured man some respect. Candido said he suffered a brutal injury at Lockdown and TNA is forcing him to relive it by replaying the injury angle repeatedly. Candido said he might have nine screws in his ankle, but that wasn't going to prevent him from seeing "my boys" win the tag team titles. Candido and the Naturals shared a group hug, which drew some mock "oohs" and "aahs" from the fans. The Naturals gave Candido a chair to sit in for comfortable viewing of the match.
(4) The Naturals (Chase Stevens & Andy Douglas) defeated America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) at 17:46 to capture the NWA Tag Team Titles. Chase Stevens and James Storm locked up to begin this 30-minute time limit tag title match. Storm ran over Stevens with a clothesline leading to an all-out four-man brawl inside the ring. The action spilled to the outside where Storm went to work on Douglas by choking him on the entrance ramp. Stevens and Harris exchanged right hands ringside while Storm and Douglas went into the stands, where the brawl continued. Sitting in a chair ringside, Candido tried to waive a towel over Stevens's head to give him some air. Unfortunately for Candido's boys, Storm quickly took Stevens headfirst into the broadcast table. Harris brawled with Douglas up the bleacher steps to the top of the Impact zone while Storm slammed Stevens's head into the floor down below near the ring. Storm picked up Stevens and slammed him headfirst into the guardrail while Harris placed Douglas's throat underneath the guardrail. Harris slingshot Douglas's throat into the bottom of the guardrail as Candido looked on with intense concern. Storm grappled Stevens and suplexed him gut-first across the guardrail ringside. Harris sent Douglas headfirst into the broadcast table three times ringside, while on the other side of the stands, a fan held a steel chair in hand, leading to Storm throwing Stevens headfirst into the fan's chair. That's what you call audience participation. We went to commercial with AMW absolutely beating the crap out of the Naturals.
We came back to find Candido choking James Storm from outside the ring. As usual, the heels were in control after the commercial break, with Douglas working over Storm inside the ring with right hands to the face. Douglas sent Storm to a neutral corner, and ran into the corner, but found a big boot to the face. Harris scored the hot tag and dropped Douglas with a double sledgehammer to the face. Harris ran over Stevens with a left arm clothesline then went up top and scored a cross body block on Douglas. All four men brawled in the ring as Harris clotheslined Stevens over the top rope to the outside. Douglas countered Harris's offense with a knee lift smash to the chin before sending Harris headfirst into the corner turnbuckle. Douglas knocked Storm off the ring apron then drove a boot to Harris's throat in the corner. Douglas locked in a seated abdominal stretch, working on Harris's stomach, before tagging in Stevens. Harris reeled backwards after Stevens drove a right hand to the face, staggering back to the corner where Stevens scored a flying clothesline. Stevens locked in a Camel Clutch near the heel corner, causing Candido to tease Harris from outside of the ring. Douglas sat down on Styles's back with a butt smash, and followed up by slapping on the Camel Clutch once again. Stevens released the hold and Harris fought back with stiff right hands to the gut. Stevens poked Harris in the eye then threw him through the ring to the outside. Douglas picked up Candido's crutch and cracked it across Harris's back while the referee was preoccupied with trying to subdue Storm. Mike Tenay tried to save face by asking the truck if they were sure they needed to go to another commercial break. With the Naturals exchanging quick in and out tags to work over Harris, we indeed went to our final commercial break.
We came back to find Andy Douglas working over Chris Harris with another Camel Clutch. Douglas missed with a butt smash to the back, and found a kick to the stomach instead. Stevens ran into the ring and cut off Harris from scoring the hot tag. The Naturals pounded on Harris as the referee tried to keep Storm in his corner, while Candido smiled from ringside and led the cheerleading for the Naturals. Harris reversed a double team move from the Naturals and finally scored the hot tag to Storm. Storm came in like a House of Fire and ran over both members of the Naturals. Storm skinned the cat after Stevens threw him over the top rope and flew back into the ring for a head scissors take over on Stevens. Harris went to work on Stevens with left hands leading to AMW setting up for the Death Sentence, only to have Stevens kick Storm right in the face. Andy Douglas took a tag title belt into the ring, but referee Rudy Charles pulled the belt away. The momentary distraction allowed Stevens to take Candido's chair into the ring and crack the chair over Storm's head. Harris speared Stevens to the mat and laid next to him out of exasperation as Candido hobbled into the ring and placed Douglas on top of Storm for the pinfall victory. Harris desperately tried to break up the pin in time, but was too late.
- After the match, Candido clutched both tag title belts like a kid on Christmas morning. Candido fell to the seat of his pants and held onto the belts as all four wrestlers laid motionless in the ring. Eventually, a very shocked Chris Harris let out his frustration by pounding the snot out of Stevens. The camera continued to focus on Candido's celebration leading to Mike Tenay leaving the broadcast table to get right in Candido's face. Tenay said Candido was the difference maker in the Naturals's title victory. Candido said there's no doubt he was the difference maker and that his over-looked boys, The Naturals, are finally the tag champs. Candido said he has the brains and the smarts to be the difference maker and despite having "97 screws in my leg, I proved that my boys are better than AMW any day of the week." The Naturals dragged their own lifeless bodies over near Candido and picked him up to stand next to their man. Tenay screamed that AMW deserves a re-match out of fairness to the former champs. Candido got in Tenay's face and sarcastically asked if he was the matchmaker. Tenay backed off and Candido told him to do his job and announce that the Naturals and himself were going to celebrate the victory. Douglas took the mic and said, "Win one for the Gipper? Nah, win one for Candido!" Tenay asked Chase Stevens if he had any words on the victory. In quite possibly the funniest moment in Impact history, a lifeless Chase Stevens asked, "We won?" Douglas confirmed the revelation as Candido huddled up with the new tag champs.
- We closed with a still shot of a joyous Chris Candido holding the tag team titles with the text: "1972 to 2005" written across the photo. A fitting honor for a great man.
Nuggets from Tenay & West: Obviously, Tenay and West did not know if the potential life-threatening nature of Candido's injury during the taping of this week's Impact broadcast, so the "instant karma" comments referring to Candido's real injury following his fake injury shouldn't be taken as anything other than trying to put over a storyline.
Match Purpose: Obviously, this match was meant to put over the Naturals and Chris Candido as the next "big tag team," giving the Naturals a title victory with a little help from Candido. We were able to see Candido draw enormous amounts of heat for "his boys," doing what he does best in his role.
Match View: TNA hit a homerun with the booking of this match. Sure, there was a tainted victory for the Naturals, but the finish helped put a tremendous amount of heat on the Naturals and Candido, which was effectively achieved. With so much heat on the new tag champs, it opens up the opportunity for AMW to get some of that heat back when the re-match occurs, whenever that date and time is. The lasting image of seeing Chris Candido clutching the tag team titles was something you just can't make up. Candido's look of pure happiness – although specifically designed for his character – simply looked like an outward expression of his inner feelings of joy, despite being constrained to a cast. Sure, Candido was in pain, but you could still see joy in his face because you knew he was having fun by contributing to TNA in such a productive way. Candido is the model for overcoming personal hardship and certainly did his best to portray that through his character. The closing line from Stevens, "We won?!" might have been the best line in Impact history. After a brutal 18-minute battle, the Naturals perfectly put over the match with Stevens's closing line serving as the great "light bulb going off" moment that captured the essence of the match. Absolutely fantastic job of booking this match.
Matches Announced on Impact for the May 15 Hard Justice PPV.
- NWA Title Match: Jeff Jarrett vs. A.J. Styles.
- X Division Title Match: Christopher Daniels vs. Shocker.
- 20 Man Gauntlet For the Gold Match for the #1 Contender's Slot.
Weekend Replay Factor: Five out of five hamburgers. This was quite possibly the best edition of Impact in the history of the show. The action was hot, the wrestling was top-notch, and of course, you had Chris Candido. Candido was absolutely awesome during the main event match and truly looked to be having the time of his life despite the pain in his ankle. His tragic loss is so unfortunate, and it's worth watching him on this week's broadcast just to get a sense of how happy he was in his last moments.
Closing Thoughts: The book-end tributes to Chris Candido to begin and end the show were well done with what limited time was available to actually throw that in the tape of the show. Considering the time restrictions TNA was working with, I believe they did an admirable job putting something together to honor Candido.
I must say, it is refreshing to see some solid wrestling put on by a company like TNA, which has no shortage of solid workers to throw out every week. Now that it appears the "big names" from the December to April era of TNA have been weeded out, it's finally time to return to basics by focusing on the core TNA wrestlers. It appears that TNA made the first step towards that movement with a solid show booked around great wrestling action. That is what TNA should be aiming for and should continue to develop with the affordable talent they have on the roster. (Yeah, no more $1,000 payoffs to wrestlers who aren't going to help the overall product, please.)
The only unfortunate aspect of the show was no A.J. Styles. Sure, Dusty Rhodes and Mike Tenay did an excellent job building up Styles as the new #1 Contender, with Dusty showering Styles with words of praise, but there was definitely an opportunity to seize the momentum of Styles's big main event victory at Lockdown to keep the momentum going at full-speed. TNA filmed several vignettes involving Styles during the Impact tapings, and I believe that at least one of those vignettes should have been used on this week's broadcast. At least TNA made up for the non-Styles appearance by publicizing a sit-down interview to be conduted by Mike Tenay with Styles and Jarrett on next week's broadcast.
James Caldwell welcomes any and all reader feedback and comments on this week's Impact Review at the usual address: email@example.com. Caldwell will be back on Sunday night in the Lounge with his Sunday Brunch column to provide some more perspective on TNA as they draw closer to their next Sunday PPV offering."
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