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THE SPECIALISTS
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE - 4/16 TNA IMPACT: A hardcore reunion in the works, Tommy Dreamer's Sunday plans, X Division Title confusion, World Title gimmickery stats

Apr 17, 2009 - 10:55:15 AM
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By Curtis Shanks, PWTorch Specialist

Welcome to the TNA Impact edition of Under the Microscope. We're here to review all those little observations and tidbits you may have missed. This is not a detailed recap of the show, but a review for those of you that saw the show but didn't actually "watch" it.

After last week, we know that Alex Shelley still remembers Thanksgiving, The Beautiful People are Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake fans, and a former talent is due back tonight. But what else is there to notice? Let's see what we can spot. Cue the opening pyro.

Impact is under way and Styles and Jarrett are in the ring working out their differences when ... what's this? The Main Event Mafia? It wouldn't be an opening segment in TNA without a Mafia member present to cut a promo. This week marks the seventh show in a row and eleventh of the last twelve to feature some type of Mafia mic time before the first commercial break hit.

The February 26 edition of Impact started with a Knockout tag team match that saw The Beautiful People defeat Taylor Wilde and Madison Rayne. Before that, you have to go back to January 22 when a four-way X Division title match opened Impact.

TNA has been teasing that they are in negotiations with a "former champion" from another promotion, but that statement has been updated tonight. I received a TNA Mobile text to start this week's show saying TNA has signed a former champion, and he will be part of Lockdown this Sunday. Best guess is Tazz, who recently left his Smackdown commentating position with WWE. I can't see Tazz doing any type of in-ring work, but he could still add to the company in a character-only role. This seems a little more likely than the other past champion/announcer to recently depart WWE, JBL. Or I could be way off base and Eugene will make his triumphant return to wrestling television.

TNA has been teasing the former champion, but I doubt it is one of the two individuals we saw making a surprise appearance tonight. Spike Dudley and Balls Mahoney are back in TNA, at least for this week. We've seen both in TNA before, and they may start an ECW storyline with Steven Richards, 3D, and company here in TNA. Spike followed in Team 3D's footsteps and joined TNA as Brother Runt after being fired from WWE. He was a member of the TNA roster for over a year, mostly participating in hardcore style matches with Abyss and Raven.

Mahoney's TNA experience is not quite as extensive as Brother Runt's. Mahoney has only one match in his TNA past, a tag loss with Sandman vs. Julio Dinero and C.M. Punk (Raven's lackeys) in January of 2004. Both are former champions in another promotion, as Mahoney has held the ECW tag title three times (twice with Spike). Spike can also add WWE title reigns as he has previously held the Cruiserweight, European, Tag Team (with Tazz) and Hardcore titles during his run.

Team 3D were surprised to see Runt and Mahoney in their locker room (obviously they didn't see earlier in the show when the two arrived via a taxi cab). Mahoney says they are rooting for 3D in their match this Sunday, and threw out names of some other supporters. Raven, Tazz, Tommy (Dreamer), and Sandman are among the names mentioned. Dreamer is of course currently employed by WWE, but that does not mean he doesn't follow the TNA product.

TNA posted an article on their website in February of last year stating that Tommy Dreamer was backstage at their house show in New York City. Tommy did not appear on the show as he was employed with WWE at that point, but was still a presence backstage at a rival promotions show. The article was later removed from the TNA site, although we don't know if WWE or Dreamer himself had anything to do with that.

Tazz was also mentioned by Mahoney, which further adds to the speculation that he may be the mystery person TNA has just signed. Lockdown is in Philadelphia, ECW's old stomping grounds, and a reunion of sorts seems to be in the works. Team 3D, Runt, Mahoney, and Tazz are all pieces of the puzzle that could be assembled this Sunday. Add in Foley, Stevie Richards, and Rhino and a lot of the history of ECW could be in the same ring in Philadelphia.

We're just talking about the old-school ECW, not the new version reformed by WWE. If that were the case we'd have to use guys like Kurt Angle and Bashir and possibly some names from the past like Chris Harris, Shannon Moore, Salinas, and Monty Brown. Not quite as memorable of a reunion.

It's the little things that matter. Before we cut backstage to the Beer Money beat down on Runt and Mahoney, Tenay asks "are the cameras in place?" It's nice to know that when shenanigans are happening backstage that a camera needs to get into place first. The camera men don't follow wrestlers around waiting for attacks to happen backstage and wrestlers don't politely wait around for a camera to show up before they dish out their punishment. Attention to detail like this is common in TNA whenever something sudden happens backstage, and it's nice to see them acknowledge that attacks don't always happen when everything to accommodate the TV viewer.

Way to sell a storyline TNA! Tonight we see the return of the Christopher Daniels character after a sixteen month absence. Daniels was "fired" on the December 13, 2007 edition of Impact. They could have brought him back one or two months after the "firing" like some other promotions would have, but by drawing out the absence TNA has made the return seem surprising and important. Daniels was never actually fired, injured, or in the doghouse, which makes TNA's determination to keep him off TV all the more impressive.

We had to suffer through runs as Curry Man and Suicide, but I'm glad the old Daniels is back. I think he is better utilized when portraying a serious character rather than the comedic characters we have seen since his departure. With the return of Daniels, it brings up an interesting question for title history nerds like myself. One would assume Kaz is close to ready to go back under the Suicide mask, or else Daniels is wrestling in two matches at this Sunday's PPV. So what is the official count on X title reigns?

Daniels is in his fourth reign with the title, so does Kaz assume possession of the title as soon as he returns? That would give Kaz three reigns with the title. It's a weird situation, as I can't recall a single instance where a title changed hands because of another individual taking over as the character holding the belt.

Why do the veterans constantly name-drop while the young guys don't take part? Sting and Jarrett both got mic time tonight, which means the name-dropping was in full swing this week. Jarrett said "A.J." seven times and "Kurt" twice during the opening segment, along with a few instances by Kurt Angle. Sting confronted Mick Foley tonight mid-show, and treated us to ten "Micks." Last week, I pointed out that Alex Shelley did not take part in the naming madness, and A.J. Styles followed in his footsteps tonight. Styles blurted out only one "Jeff," preferring to use terms such as "man" and "bro" rather than his counterparts first name.

Numbers crunched harder than an unprotected chair shot to the head: The WWE Title is on the line at Backlash later this month, but not in a one-on-one or a triple threat match. It will be a three-on-three match for the title, although these are not your normal circumstances for a PPV world title match. But many are comparing it to TNA and their reputation for overbooking a PPV title match, saying that TNA delivers too many tag and multi-person matches when the World Title is at stake. This leads me to wonder, just what kind of matches have we seen when the world title is defended on PPV?

For comparative purposes, we'll look at the past 53 WWE PPVs, as that is the same number that TNA has presented in their history. WWE has had more World Title matches (111) during that time than TNA (43) since they have three world titles, but the percentages are quite close when breaking them down by match type.

In WWE, 76.5 percent of world title matches were the standard one-on-one match-up, with TNA sitting at 69.8 percent. Triple threats are also quite common, as WWE gives us one 11.7 percent of the time compared to TNA's 11.6 percent.

Everything else is kind of lumped into the "overbooked" category that people say we see far too often in TNA. Sure you have Elimination Chamber, Championship Scramble, and King of the Mountain matches in that category, but to sum it all up we'll call them all matches other than one-on-one or triple threat contests. WWE gives us that 11.8 percent of the time compared to 18.6 percent for TNA.

Curtis Shanks is a self-described wrestling nerd. Who else understands what Matt Striker is talking about all the time. Feedback is welcome, as comments, suggestions and questions can be sent to Curtis at curtisshanks.torch@gmail.com or in the comments section below.


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