TNA Impact Review
May 20, 2005
Taped May 17, 2005 in Orlando, FL at Universal Studios
Aired on Fox Sports Net
Report by James Caldwell, Torch Team Contributor
Before we begin, I would like to send out a special Happy Birthday to my wonderful mom today. She may not always understand my passion for pro wrestling, but she's always been 100% supportive. Thanks mom! With that said, let's jump into this week's "fresh off P-P-V" edition of Impact.
- We opened with a still shot photo recap from Sunday's Hard Justice PPV when Tracy turned her back on Chris Sabin to reunite with her former managerial talent, Michael Shane. We went to clips of Abyss winning the 20-man Gauntlet for the Gold match to become the next #1 Contender. Finally, we saw Tito Ortiz "ensure that justice was served" by keeping Jeff Jarrett in check to give A.J. Styles the opportunity to capture the NWA Title and end Planet Jarrett's dominance over Planet TNA.
- From the Impact Zone, a very excited Mike Tenay and a very reflective Don West welcomed us to the show where Tenay said he would hear from the new NWA World Champion, A.J. Styles, later on in the broadcast. West said Jarrett had finally been de-throned as NWA Champion, pushing TNA into a new time and era. Tenay said we would see Abyss in action in the broadcast, and determine the next #1 Contending team to the Tag Titles when America's Most Wanted and Team Canada square off.
(1) "Alpha Male" Monty Brown defeated Sonny Siaki at 0:53. Brown attacked Siaki at the opening bell with stiff right hands to the face. Brown shot Siaki across to the opposite corner then ran into a big boot to the face. Brown missed with a clothesline then was dropped to the mat via a stiff clothesline from Siaki. Siaki delivered a few right hands and chops then tried to shoot Brown off the ropes, but Brown stopped and caught Siaki for a high impact overhead suplex. Brown laid into Siaki with a chop then ran off the ropes and connected with the Pounce. Siaki flew off his feet and crashed into the corner turnbuckle. Siaki didn't take the move in full, so he tried to sell the finisher as best he could. Brown made the cover for the three count as Siaki seemed to be tempted to kick out since he wasn't fully blown away from the finisher.
Nuggets from Tenay & West: Don West tried to stir the pot by reminding viewers that Monty Brown accidentally delivered the Pounce to Jeff Jarrett at Hard Justice when Brown was trying to hit Styles with his finisher. West hinted that Jarrett might not be so quick to forgive Brown for the misgiving since Brown indirectly helped Styles take the NWA Title from Jarrett.
Match View: For approximately three straight months during the initial period of TNA Impact broadcast, Monty Brown was the king of the quick and short squash as a way to establish heat on Brown. Nearly one year later, Brown went back to his roots with the standard squash match formula to get over the devastation of his power offense – most notably the Pounce. As was the case back in 2004, a quick squash match isn't the most effective means for building up Monty Brown because fans have been trained to tune out those who win quick squash matches (see: Chris Masters and Matt Morgan). Fans see these types of matches as amateur hour and not a legitimate means for establishing heat on a potentially major act. It didn't work in 2004 and it won't work again, if that is indeed how TNA is looking to rebuild Brown in the very current period.
- Backstage, Terry Taylor was with the newly reunited Michael Shane and Tracy. Tracy was hanging all over Shane as if she would rather be at the hotel room than at Universal studios. Taylor asked Shane and Tracy if they were proud of themselves for their actions at Hard Justice. Shane said the forces behind the scenes were trying to play a political game in keeping himself and Tracy apart for all these months. Shane said he and Tracy did "just a little bit better" in outplaying TNA management. On the topic of Chris Sabin, Shane said Sabin must have been kidding himself if he thought Tracy wanted to be with "a low life loser like himself." Shane said Trinity should be happy because, "I took a nobody stuntwoman and let her hang out in the presence of super stardom." Shane said he and Tracy had a plan from the beginning and it all came to fruition at Hard Justice. Tracy said Shane's super kick to Trinity "improved her face." Shane and Tracy shared a mischievous smile and hug then Tracy wrapped her arms around Shane's neck. Someone check that man's heart rate! Taylor asked Tracy if she had any remorse for turning her back on Sabin. Tracy said she's with Shane rather than Sabin because, "he's bigger, he's more muscular, more talented in the ring, and he's way sexier than Chris Sabin will ever be." Shane looked like he was about to explode as Tracy looked at him like she wanted to jump his bones. Tracy, like a demanding spoiled brat heel, suggested Shane needed to capture the X Division Title so he could be exactly what Tracy wanted in a man. Shane turned to Taylor and told him, "I've got some business to take care of."
- Mike Tenay stood in the center of the Impact zone ring to narrate clips from this past Sunday at Hard Justice "when history was made." Tenay said Jeff Jarrett's NWA Title reign finally came to an end when the special referee, Tito Ortiz, raised A.J. Styles's arm in victory. Tenay welcomed the "new NWA World's Heavyweight Champion, A.J. Styles." Boy, that has a good ring to it. Styles came to the ring in a very crisp outfit of dress pants and a dress shirt. The NWA Title was slung over his shoulder as the new Champ walked to the ring with a bold look of confidence. He sure looks like the Champion. Styles saluted the fans, who were going bananas for Styles. Styles's music stopped and a thunderous, "A.J." chant went up in the Impact zone. Styles soaked it all in before Tenay congratulated Styles on fulfilling his dream at Hard Justice. Styles said it's difficult to believe the reality of holding such a prestigious title such as the NWA Title. Styles said he might sound a little cheesy, but he wanted to thank the fans for their outstanding support. Tenay brought Abyss's victory in the 20-man gauntlet match at Hard Justice, meaning he is the new #1 Contender to the NWA Title. Styles said he had one of the most grueling matches he's ever had at Lockdown against Abyss. Styles paused and Jeff Jarrett's music interrupted the interview.
Jarrett came to the entrance ramp with mic in hand. Jarrett said Mike Tenay and the fans should be ashamed of themselves for applauding Styles. Jarrett said Styles should be ashamed of holding the NWA Title because it took two men to dethrone the King of the Mountain. Jarrett said, "I earned that belt, not like you." Jarrett said he was exercising his rematch clause for Slammiversary by challenging for the NWA Title. Styles asked if Jarrett was serious in interrupting him to cry about losing the Title. Styles issued an open challenge to come take the NWA Title belt back, and he proceeded to lay the Title down in front of his feet in the center of the ring. Jarrett dropped the mic and slowly began walking to the ring. However, Monty Brown ran in from behind and clotheslined Styles to the mat. Brown ran over Styles with another clothesline then an overhead suplex. Jarrett laughed from the entrance ramp. Styles ducked a clothesline then laid into Brown with stiff right hands to the face. Jarrett ran in and received some right hands to the face for good measure, as well. Jarrett reversed a whip to the ropes and ducked a flying cross body attempt by Styles, with Brown catching Styles in mid-air. Brown turned a fallaway slam into a lift up powerbomb – a very good spot – and stomped on Styles's fallen body. Abyss's music hit and the monster ran into the ring. Abyss shoved Jarrett to the corner then stared down Brown. As Jarrett looked on with pensive concern as to Abyss's intentions, I couldn't help but notice the face of a two-year-old child staring straight into the ring with the blankest look of concern I've ever seen. The facial expression really sold the turn of events without the child even knowing it!
After staring down Jarrett and Brown, Abyss picked up Styles and delivered the Black Hole Slam in the center of the ring. That led to Brown and Jarrett stomping away on Styles's fallen body as Mike Tenay screamed that Abyss was with Jeff Jarrett. From backstage, Sean Waltman and America's Most Wanted ran into the ring. Waltman, wielding a steel chair, chased off the new trio as James Storm and Chris Harris checked on the condition of Styles.
Impact Note: A.J.'s first promo as NWA Champion came off as an inauspicious start to a new Championship reign. Styles seemed a little flustered on the mic, but should have been given more of an opportunity to work through the speaking qualms to get across a vibe of superiority as the new NWA Champion. That said, Styles played his role nicely by not backing down against any odds. It appears TNA is setting up Styles to take on severe odds then overcome those odds at Slammiversary to solidify himself as a legitimate, long-term Champion. The heel beat down was effective in giving him that heat to draw from in future weeks in building towards the eventual Title match on June 19. Good segment that established the roles of the main players in the top-level storyline.
- Jeff Jarrett, Abyss, and Monty Brown were backstage next to Dusty Rhodes. Jarrett was in Dusty's face telling Dusty he's sick and tired of Dusty trying to screw him over. Jarrett said he wanted his re-match and told Dusty he would have hell to pay if he didn't get his re-match. Dusty said he would give Jarrett his re-match, but he would get it in a King of the Mountain match. Jarrett wasn't happy as Dusty listed off Abyss, Monty Brown, NWA Champion A.J. Styles, and a wildcard participant as the other four wrestlers to join Jarrett in the match. Jarrett was indignant, then remembered the math lessons his fourth grade teacher taught him on Planet Jarrett, and figured that the odds were in his favor this time around with Abyss and Brown by his side. Jarrett turned to Abyss and Brown and proclaimed, "The belt's coming back home." Abyss merely grunted and did his "x" symbol while Brown had a look of, "I'm not so sure about that." The little facial reaction from Brown sold the possibility that maybe Brown wasn't looking out for Jarrett's interest above his own.
- We went to the broadcast position where Larry (how's it spelled?!...oh, it's written on your shirt) Zbyszko was with Mike Tenay and Don West for no apparent reason. Tenay introduced Zbyszko as a member of the Championship committee in charge of determining NWA Title matches. From the left, Raven slammed a chair into the broadcast table, startling all three men. Raven said he should be included in the King of the Mountain match without any thought put into it. Raven directed his hate speech towards Zbyszko and said, "Tell me what I want to hear; tell me I'm the wild card!" Zbyszko said Raven is going to have to wait in line with everyone else to get an opportunity at the wildcard spot. Raven said Zbyszko is in no condition to tell him other than what he wants to hear because the status of Zbyszko's frail body has put him in a position where he can't fight back against a foe. Raven screamed at Zbyszko, "The only thing holding you together is chewing gum, paper clips, and the fact that you sold out Shea Stadium against Bruno in 1980. This is 2005, Zbyszko! Tell me what I want to hear or I'll hospitalize you! Now, tell me what I want to hear." Zbyszko began to retort, "See, you couldn't even sell out-", but Raven interrupted by slapping the headset off Zbyszko's head. Raven screamed at Tenay and West before Zbyszko retaliated by slamming Raven's head into the broadcast table. Zbyszko brawled with Raven around the ringside area. Raven slammed a chair into Zbyszko then threw him back into the ring. Raven declared, "If I can't be the savior of this company, then I'll be its destruction." Raven proceeded to deliver the Raven's Effect DDT on Zbyszko, sending the Living Legend straight into the mat. Raven asked Zbyszko if he wanted some more. Raven picked up Zbyszko and delivered a second Raven's DDT. Security ran into the ring but both rent-a-security members were quickly pummeled to the floor. Raven threw both men to the outside as Dusty Rhodes sauntered to the ring. Raven told Dusty to tell him what he wanted to hear. Dusty said, "How dare you put your hands on a TNA official. As of this moment, right here, you are suspended from TNA!" The fans booed Raven's suspension. Raven picked up the mic and said, "You can't suspend me, Rhodes, I quit!" Raven dropped the mic and walked out of the ring, leaving Dusty next to Zbyszko's fallen body.
Impact Note 2: Well, I guess Raven won't be walking away with the WWE Championship Sunday night. It will be interesting to see how this storyline develops over time. Will he return? Is he gone for good? Will he make surprise appearances here and there to play mind games with Dusty? Will he appear from the rafters then vanish as quickly as he appeared? Knowing Raven's character, there's a good chance TNA has an interesting storyline in place to take advantage of Raven "quitting" while also playing into his maniacal character. Good, intense segment, despite the fact that Zbyszko seemed to be ringside for no apparent reason.
- We came back to find B.G. James and Ron Killings in the midst of an intense discussion over last Sunday, when B.G. failed to show up at Hard Justice to team up with Diamond Dallas Page. B.G. said he missed his flight. Wait, I didn't know B.G. and Jeff Hardy traveled together! Killings wasn't too pleased with B.G.'s excuse – as I'm sure management wasn't too fond with Jeff's reasoning – and asked why he couldn't have just called to give a heads up. Killings paused and asked, "You got heat with me? You got heat with Konnan?" B.G. quickly dismissed the heat and said, "We're 3 Live Kru, man!" Killings brought up what happened at Hard Justice when B.G. and The Outlaw seemed to be on the same page during the Gauntlet match. B.G. said there was nothing there. Killings claimed that B.G. was trying to break up the Kru. B.G. tried to downplay the break up and insinuated it wasn't his own fault, but Killings retorted, "You did it! Wake up, ain't no Kru! It's your fault." B.G. was indignant about the blame being placed on him. Killings walked off and B.G. punched a cheap prop.
- Mike Tenay and Don West recapped the previous two segments declaring that Raven snapped. Don West said, "Raven is just looney tunes!" Cassidy Riley came to the ring during the discussion followed by X Division Champion Christopher Daniels, who was soundly focused on his ring entrance as Michael Shane and Tracy ran to the ringside area to confront Daniels. Daniels was indignant that someone had the audacity to interrupt his ring entrance. Tracy got right up in Daniels's face and told him to give Shane a title shot. Shane pulled Tracy aside then got in Daniels's face and reciprocated Tracy's statement. Shane tried to calm Tracy down as Daniels went back into the ring. Daniels stared down Tracy and Shane before turning his attention to Riley for the second match of the show.
(2) Christopher Daniels defeated Cassidy Riley at 3:18 in a non-title match. Daniels and Riley locked up with Daniels landing a kick to the chest before landing a series of chops t the chest. Riley fought back with stiff right hands, but he was quickly dropped to one knee via a hard punch to the chest. Daniels scoop slammed Riley to the mat then dropped an elbow. Daniels delivered a knee drop then hooked Riley for a half-suplex into gut buster. Daniels cinched in a seated abdominal stretch, exposing Riley's stomach for some punches to the chest. Riley fought back to his feet, but he was quickly knocked down with another gut buster. Daniels made a cover, but received a two count only. Daniels played to the camera giving Riley the opening to fight back with right hands to the chst and face. Riley ducked a clothesline after being shot off to the ropes then connected with a nice handspring elbow smash to the face. Riley clotheslined Daniels to the mat three times then connected with a nice Michinoku Driver. Instead of turning it into a pin attempt, Riley ran over Daniels's body then bounced off the ropes with a split-legged moonsault onto Daniels. RVD would be impressed. Riley made a cover, but scored a two count only. Riley stomped on Daniels then scored a nice brainbuster suplex. Riley went for a regular moonsault, but Daniels picked up his knees in time to drive the knees into Riley's exposed stomach. Nice offensive attack by Daniels. Daniels quickly got to his feet and dropped Riley with a running face-buster across Daniels's knees. Daniels taunted Michael Shane in the camera then delivered Angel's Wings to Riley. Daniels didn't connect with the full force of his finisher, but it was enough to warrant a three count on Riley.
- After the match, Michael Shane ran into the ring and clotheslined Daniels to the mat. Shane stole the X Division Title and taunted Daniels with the belt. From the opposite side of the ring, Chris Sabin ran to the ring and leapt off the top turnbuckle with a missile drop kick aimed for Shane, but Shane ducked out of the way and Christopher Daniels took the drop kick square in the chest. Curiously, Sabin checked on Daniels's fallen body then ducked a title belt shot to the head and punched Shane in the face. From behind Shane, Daniels ran over Sabin with a clothesline. At this point, security ran to the ring to keep Sabin, Shane, and Daniels separated from each other.
Nuggets from Tenay & West & Daniels: Tenay and West spent the first minute of the match focusing on Raven's attack on Larry Zbyszko, trying to get over the severity of his actions and how shocked they are by how badly Raven snapped. Tenay said Zbyszko had been escorted out of the building and taken to a medical facility to receive treatment for the head injury he suffered as a result of suffering through two Raven's Effect DDT's. Pertaining to the match, Tenay and West described Tracy as the driving force behind Michael Shane's bold actions as of late, hinting that she may be able to carry him to success. Shocker's thwarted attempt to take the X Division Title from Daniels at Hard Justice received brief mention in passing.
Match View: Christopher Daniels continues to make lesser opponents look stronger in the ring. He guided Shocker to an outstanding X Division Title match last Sunday and Hard Justice and – despite only going three minutes – helped make Riley look that much more impressive in the ring. Certainly, Riley did his best to work step-for-step with Daniels, and put together a nice performance on his own. Good chemistry between the two wrestlers. Psychologically speaking, this match was very well executed with Daniels focusing his offensive attack on Riley's stomach with a series of offensive moves. Ultimately, the final attack on the stomach came as a good defense against Riley's up-start offensive attack. As they say in other sports, a good defense is a great offense. Daniels proved it with yet another solid in-ring performance.
As for the triangular X Division storyline, it appears Daniels will be put in position of being the tweener for the match with Shane anchoring the heel role and Sabin holding down the babyface role. For a moment, it appeared Daniels was going to be the babyface to Shane's heel role, creating the first opportunity to see Daniels as a true babyface in quite some time. Sabin quickly entered the picture and established himself as the babyface in the match, pushing Daniels down the scale to a tweener role. Solid storyline progression to set up the three-way match at Slammiversary.
- Dusty Rhodes was in a real office – not a pick up truck – poring over some papers. Did I see a contract with WGN on the table?! NWA Champion A.J. Styles burst into the office and demanded an explanation for the King of the Mountain match set up. Dusty told Styles to settle down. Styles told Dusty, "I'm a fighting Champion; always have been; put anybody you want in there." Yet, Styles was disappointed in Dusty's decision because it had the potential to undermine everything the two of them had worked at to make TNA great without Jarrett as Champion. Styles said he did not want to wait until June 19 to get his hands on Jeff Jarrett. Dusty told Styles to settle down because he was feeling hyperactive himself. Dusty told Styles he didn't have to wait until June 19 because he could have Jeff Jarrett and Monty Brown in a tag match next week on Impact with anyone he wants as a partner. Dusty handed over free reign to the Champion then said he was about to pass out from all the stress being placed on him. Styles thanked Dusty for being given the tag match then left. Dusty held his hands in his head as his mood ring turned colors to "I'm stressed, where's my pick up truck?" Dusty tossed his pen across the room then held his head in his hands.
(3) Team Canada (Eric Young & Petey Williams) (w/Coach Scott D'Amore & A-1 Ralphz) defeated America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) at 8:08 in a #1 Contender's Match. The match was given a special 30:00 minute time limit since it was a #1 Contender's match. AMW couldn't come to terms on who was going to start the match, with James Storm finally matching up against Petey Williams. Petey pounded Storm down to the mat with hard kicks to the back then walked into a hard right hand to the face. Petey sent Storm across the ring to the corner turnbuckle then appeared to flip up for a spot, but Storm decided to do turn around as if he was doing the hokey pokey before running back into the corner where Petey came down onto Storm's shoulders before being dropped to the mat with an Alabama Slam. Weird. Storm waited for Petey to get up then delivered an atomic drop. Storm bounced off the ropes then delivered a stiff knock-down clothesline. Petey regrouped in the heel corner before locking up with Storm in the center of the ring. Petey went for a leap frog, but Storm stopped short and delivered an release German Suplex. Harris tagged in as did Eric Young. Young delivered a stiff right hand to the face then teamed up with Petey for a double team clothesline attempt, but Harris ducked and both members of AMW teamed up to lift Petey into the air before launching him onto Young. We went to commercial with Team Canada on the mat.
We came back to find Team Canada taunting the crowd in the ring. Petey connected with a swinging Russian Legsweep on Harris then tagged in Young. Harris took stiff right hands from Young then ducked a clothesline, but ran into a hard back elbow. Young made a cover, but scored a two count only. Petey tagged in for Team Canada and slammed Harris headfirst into the heel corner turnbuckle. Petey choked Harris then tagged in Young, who stomped on Harris in the corner. Young's offensive attack was short-lived as Harris fought out of the heel corner with left fists. Harris tried to tag in Storm, but Petey ran to the babyface corner and smacked Storm off the apron. Petey turned around and took a tilt-o-whirl side slam from Harris. Storm took the hot tag and ran over Young and Petey with hard clotheslines and fists to the face. Storm dropped Young with a clothesline then took Petey up in the air before dropping him with the "Eye of the Storm." Storm covered Petey, but scored a two count only as Young broke up the pin attempt. Storm held Petey in a bear hug, positioning Petey to be dropped by Harris, but Harris inexplicably bounced off the ropes near A-1 Ralphz, leading to A-1 tripping Harris from outside of the ring. The spot came off pretty badly because Harris paused, looked at A-1 as if to say, "Time for the spot," then bounced off the ropes. Nevertheless, Petey slipped out of Storm's grasp then sunset flipped Storm to the mat. Petey slapped on a Sharpshooter then Young came flying off the top rope with a hard elbow drop to the back of the head. Petey released the Sharpshooter then covered Storm, but scored a two count only. Petey measured Harris for the Canadian Destroyer, but Harris turned it into an Alabama Slam. Young tried to clothesline Storm, but missed, and Storm knocked Young out with a stiff super kick to the chin. AMW set up Petey for a double team finishing move, but Harris released his end of the move when A-1 entered the scene. Harris quickly dropped A-1 with a spear, but in the process, left Storm hanging out to dry. With Harris out of the way, Petey quickly rolled up Storm with a victory roll for the three count and the victory.
- After the match, Team Canada celebrated their improbable victory and subsequent opportunity to challenge The Naturals for the tag team titles at Slammiversary. In the ring, Harris and Storm had a look of bewilderment as they tried to figure out how they managed to lose yet another match by fluke.
Nuggets from Tenay & West & Daniels: Tenay indicated it was strange seeing AMW without tag title belts, but even stranger that AMW was in such a funk as of late. Tenay and West put over the importance of AMW winning the #1 Contender's match because it would have been a sign that they were back on the same page working towards the tag titles. With Team Canada defeating AMW, West said that AMW was stuck in a unbelievable slump. West pointed out the look of frustration on both members of AMW's faces, hinting that the frustrations might boil over to something more powerful.
Match View: Petey Williams and Eric Young held their own in the match, working well with AMW. However, there were too many off-balance spots in the match that seemed to throw off the timing of what both teams were trying to do in the ring. There just didn't seem to be a stretch of time that was consistently crisp or fluid enough to keep the audience going for the entire eight minutes. Considering that this was an hour-long broadcast, and there were plenty of other hot storyline developments up until this match that warranted their own respective place on the show, I'm content with this match lasting eight minutes. However, the #1 Contender's implications certainly should have created a situation where at least ten minutes would have been ideal for the match.
For storyline purposes, I imagine AMW will try to build up the frustration between Harris and Storm – possibly through another fluke loss to a lesser tag team – until both men either snap on each other or snap on the fans. A heel turn by one or both men certainly would lend itself to being a good move in the right direction to allow fans to care about the team once again after being somewhat stale the last few months.
- Following the break, Tenay indicated that a camera crew picked up footage of Raven pitching a fit after quitting TNA earlier in the show. Tenay said we would see footage of Raven's hissy fit on next week's show. Tenay also indicated that A.J. Styles had selected Sean Waltman as his partner for his match against Jeff Jarrett and Monty Brown on next week's broadcast.
- Jeff Jarrett and Monty Brown came to the ringside area prior to the main event match of Abyss vs. Chris Sabin. Jarrett joined Tenay and West on commentary as Brown stood behind Jarrett to watch his back. Jarrett wanted to talk about Slammiversary where he indicated, "The numbers are with the King of the Mountain" considering Monty Brown and Abyss are on his side. Tenay quipped, "As I look at you, it seems like something's missing." Oh snap, Mike has jokes! Jarrett laughed off Tenay's snide remark about Jarrett not holding the NWA Title and told Tenay not to rub it in his face. Jarrett exaggerated Abyss's monstrosity as he came to the ring for his match. Jarrett said he won the first King of the Mountain match and was prepared to win the second one. Tenay asked Jarrett what it felt like to take Tito Ortiz's right hand to the face as well as Monty Brown's Pounce. Jarrett said they just weren't on the same page and there must have been a full moon because many things went wrong at Hard Justice. Jarrett reaffirmed himself that things would be different at Slammiversary. Nice sidestep of the tough question.
(4) Abyss defeated Chris Sabin at 8:40. The match was given a special 15:00 minute time limit for no apparent reason other than to make the match seem more important. Abyss and Sabin went into a stare down immediately after the bell rang. Sabin ducked an opening clothesline then laid into Abyss with right hands to the face. Sabin tried a shoulder block, but Abyss absorbed the move. Sabin went for an arm drag, but Abyss blocked it and threw Sabin into the air. Sabin used his quickness to avoid Abyss, but then he was dropped to the mat via a stiff right hand. Abyss tossed Sabin up into the air like a rag doll then stalked his prey and connected with a running splash in the corner. Abyss laid into Sabin with right hands then went for another corner splash, but found a kick to the gut from Abyss. Sabin climbed up top for a high-risk move, but Abyss shoved Sabin into the top turnbuckle. Abyss went for a chokeslam off the top, but Sabin blocked the clothesline and shoved Abyss to the floor. Sabin steadied himself then flew off the top turnbuckle with an amazing huricanrana. Sabin went back onto the apron for another aerial move, but Abyss caught him by the throat. Sabin slipped out of a chokeslam attempt and went back to the well for another huricanrana, but Abyss blocked the second attempt and swung Sabin's body into the ring steps with forceful impact. Abyss stood over Sabin's fallen body then threw him back into the ring. Abyss slowly and methodically wore down Sabin with choke holds and powerful right hands to the face. Abyss sent Sabin staggering around the ring to the corner then slapped him across the chest. Abyss dropped Sabin to the mat then wrenched the neck backwards in a painful wear down hold. Sabin used the rallying support of the fans to reach his feet and subsequently kick Abyss in the face. Sabin bounced off the ropes then ran into a huge foot to the face.
Abyss climbed out of the ring to the outside and picked up a chair from the ringside area. Abyss wedged the chair between the top and middle rope in the corner then walked into an enziguiri kick from Sabin. Abyss was staggered, so Sabin delivered another enziguiri kick, sending Abyss crashing to the mat. Sabin waited for Abyss to get up then delivered an atomic drop. Sabin bounced off the ropes and flew off the corner turnbuckle and onto Abyss for an amazing Tornado DDT. Sabin covered Abyss, but scored a two count only. Sabin bounced off the ropes then ran into a boot to the gut. Abyss went for a powerbomb, but Sabin slipped out into a sunset flip attempt. Abyss managed to slide out of the predicament then picked up Sabin for a chokeslam. Sabin couldn't block the chokeslam attempt, and Abyss followed up with a pin attempt, but only scored a two count. The fans chanted, "Black hole slam." Abyss picked up the chair from the corner and walked over to Sabin. Sabin ducked a wild chair shot then punched Abyss in the face sending the monster staggering across the ring. Sabin, who was behind the ropes and on the apron, leapt off the top rope with a springboard drop kick that sent the chair into Abyss's face. Nice spot! Sabin nipped up to his feet and went for the Cradle Shock, but Michael Shane ran into the ring under the guise of Tracy's distraction, and super kicked Sabin square in the face. Shane slipped out of the ring as Sabin fell to one knee. Abyss picked up Sabin and held him in the Torture Rack position before crunching his body with the Torture Rack Slam. Abyss made the academic cover for the victory as Jarrett left the broadcast table to congratulate Abyss.
- After the match, Abyss rocked back and forth while seated on the ground. Jarrett shoved the referee out of the ring then held up Abyss's arm to celebrate the victory. Monty Brown smiled as Jarrett stuck out his hand for a friendly handshake with Abyss. Abyss didn't know whether he should accept, so he asked the fans, who naturally told Abyss to avoid the shake at all costs. After his first handshake was no-sold, Jarrett stuck out his hand a second time. This time, Abyss shook Jarrett's hand much to the dismay of Tenay, West, and Orlando. Jarrett smiled like a Cheshire cat then looked at Brown. Abyss made sure Jarrett's attention was square on him and yanked him back to the moment before delivering the Black Hole Slam! The entire audience erupted in sheer joy as Abyss stood over Jarrett's fallen body. Monty Brown indignantly stared at Abyss as the monster signaled that he wanted the NWA Title. Abyss and Brown faced off against each other while standing over Jeff Jarrett's fallen body as we faded to black.
Nuggets from Tenay & West & Jarrett: Commentary during the match revolved around Jeff Jarrett reaffirming his standing as having the odds stacked in his favor as opposed to Hard Justice when the odds were stacked against him. Jarrett also made light of the fact that he weaseled his way into a #1 Contender's match when Abyss deserves a one-on-one opportunity because of his victory at Hard Justice. Jarrett said he was trying to look out for Abyss's own interest since Jarrett believes Abyss needs some guidance to become a great wrestler. Tenay and West badgered Jarrett throughout the match on the topic of Jarrett losing the NWA Title to A.J. Styles at Hard Justice.
Match View: Prior to the last ten seconds of the show, I would have called Abyss the ultimate lovable loser since he displayed a complete lack of awareness in trying to look out for himself rather than allowing Jeff Jarrett to walk all over him. However, that entire stigma changed when Abyss showed an ability to look past Jarrett's thinly veiled friendship to tell Jarrett exactly what he thinks of the former Champ. The thunderous impact of the Black Hole Slam set a tone for the match that no alliance is safe and every man is out for his own good because the importance of winning the NWA Title is more important than any surface-level friendship or convenient alliance. For one of the first times in recent memory, Abyss was not duped into a situation where he could have been taken advantage, and actually stood up for himself. That moment will go a long way towards changing the "lovable loser" stigma to fear and respect, something that Abyss should command on anyone who tries to befriend or challenge him.
As for the match, Chris Sabin was great in this match. I had no problem with him taking the majority of the beat down in this match because the heel beat down built towards a very important babyface comeback that drew a serious amount of heat. For instance, early in the match, Abyss dominated Sabin, working him over with his methodical offense. The methodical pacing of the heel beat down built up the heat on Sabin to a grand level to where he could make the false comeback and garner a huge pop from the audience. That was merely one spot early on in the match, but an important spot that set up the rest of the match, which drew the crowd in psychologically to where they "stayed for the entire match." Shane and Tracy were used nicely in interfering against Sabin to get under his skin once again. If Sabin can be given some opportunities in future weeks to sell his character to Orlando, there is potential to turn this feud into Sabin's breakthrough performance as an all-around act.
Matches Announced on Impact for the June 19 Slammiversary PPV.
- NWA Title Match: A.J. Styles vs. Jeff Jarrett vs. Abyss vs. Monty Brown vs. Wildcard in a King of the Mountain Match
- NWA Tag Title Match: The Naturals vs. Team Canada
Weekend Replay Factor: Four out of five hamburgers. Great storyline advancements and a solid main event match make this a show to check out this weekend.
Closing Thoughts: TNA carried the momentum of A.J. Styles's big NWA Title victory into a solid, if not spectacularly newsworthy edition of Impact. The storylines seemed to have more depth and more substance in that every aspect of the show felt important from segment to segment. The new booking committee did a nice job putting together a solid show that featured the right players in the right roles, while giving some less-used wrestlers the opportunity to shine in more expanded roles. Michael Shane was great throughout the show. Abyss played his part nicely. Chris Sabin was effectively tenacious. A.J. Styles showed some much-needed fire backstage after seeming a bit nervous in the ring. America's Most Wanted told a story of frustration. Raven was intense in selling a major storyline. Ron Killings was great after being given a more dominating role in 3 Live Kru, while also utilizing more speaking lines. The show just seemed to click from beginning to end, making this a solid show coming out of Hard Justice while setting the table for Slammiversary.
James Caldwell welcomes any and all reader feedback and comments on this week's Impact Review at the usual address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Caldwell will be back on Sunday night in the Lounge with his Sunday Brunch column.
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