Wrestling Worth Watching: Ring of Honor (10/15/11) and TNA IMPACT Wrestling (10/20/11)

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Ring of Honor (10/15/11)

Briscoe Brothers Interview: I could listen to Jay and Mark talk about hauling 400 lbs. of dead chickens around their father’s farm all day. So far, there’s been a ton of focus on the Briscoes, which makes sense seeing as they’re probably the longest tenured guys on the ROH roster, and they’ve been a consistently rewarding presence. Them chickens smell as bad as Hass and Benjamin.

The Briscoe Brothers vs. The All Night Express: These two teams have been feuding long enough that I saw them live in Dearborn, MI back in June, but their every match, be it no disqualification, first blood, or Ladder match rules, hasn’t suffered for familiarity. Though I was under the impression that their ladder match was a feud-ender for #1 contendership to Hass and Benjamin’s Tag Team Titles, this bout was also billed as such and, as a straight, no-frills tag team match, was just as good, if not more so, than the one I saw live. Rhett Titus and Kenny King, the All Night Express, are proof that ROH can find (and find purpose for) new guys in the wake of roster-shifting events, and they’ve really grown as personalities over the past year. The finish to this was a little unintentionally funny, as Kevin Kelly begged referee Todd Sinclair to keep Titus and Mark Briscoe away from the ringside commentary table, which was enough of a distraction that Jay was able to kick King in the groin and roll him up for the win. It’s been awhile since a company has put the commentary table right next to the ring, and even longer since that placement played into the finish in some way other than having one guy put the other through it. Clever.

Michel Elgin vs. Eddie Edwards: I think, were someone new to wrestling to watch this match, that the line between “it’s fake” and “it’s real(ish)” would blur just a bit, which is as much as you can ask of an American wrestling match in the internet age. Oh sure, the matches are predetermined, but it’s tough to watch these two chop, kick, and clothesline each other silly without cringing a little bit. I’m still indifferent to Eddie Edwards and his tag partner/ROH World Champion Davey Richards, but I’m starting to warm up to Elgin, who is decidedly old-school looking and is, from the looks of things, two years of male-pattern baldness away from rocking a mean skullet. Despite that he’s only 235 lbs., he looks like an absolute freak of nature and wrestles like one, too. He’s one to watch.

Questionable Decision of the Week: Taking a commercial break during the main event of a pre-taped show. There should be a moratorium on going to commercial during a match across WWE, TNA, and ROH, to be honest. Cut two minutes away from the opening monologue or any number of hype videos, and you can show a full match, without interrupting the flow with an ad for Hardee’s Steakhouse Burger or Light Strike backyard laser tag. This is especially true of a show you’re posting in full on line. Edit out the commercial breaks and stitch the missing footage back in. Worse, during the Elgin/Edwards match, they cut away from the match as it happened to show an ad for rohwrestling.com. Create a little ad for the bottom of the screen. Don’t obscure the action. It’s the little things that will truly set a product like ROH apart from their competition.

TNA IMPACT Wrestling (10/20/11)

TNA’s Largest Audience Ever: They pulled in 2,000,000 viewers for the first time ever this past thursday, which, for the longest time, seemed as impossible as landing on the moon once did. Did TNA’s 2,000,000 viewers get enough to keep them coming back for more? Well…no.

James Storm: A whopping 23 minutes and three commercial breaks into the opening segment of IMPACT, “Cowboy” James Storm delivers the first good line of the night when he climbed into the ring and said hello to “Curtis Angle.” I’m a simple man, but that sort of disrespect gets me every time. Even after 23 minutes and three commercial breaks of talking. Also of note: “Sting, we both wear sunglasses indoors.”

Tara & Brooke Tessmacher vs. Winter and Angelina Love: If you asked me in 2007, when Extreme Expose was wasting six minutes of ECW a week, who the better wrestler in 2011 would be, Kelly Kelly or Brooke, I would have said “Well, I hope they’ll both be out of wrestling by then.” Neither of them are, and both of them are now current or former titleholders. It’s easy to point to Kelly Kelly as a person who has majorly improved, but Brooke (TNA finally dropped the “Miss”) actually makes a majority of her offense look convincing, which is something I doubt Kelly will ever master, no matter how loud she screams during the headscissors. Granted, I’d prefer seeing Sara Del Rey or Ayako Hamada (who TNA once freakin’ HAD on their roster) every week, but whoever trained Brooke did a solid job, and should be commended.

Jeff Hardy’s Full Name: If you say “Jeffery Nero Hardy,” I’m gonna laugh. If you keep calling him “Nero,” like he’s some sort of cat, I’m going to keep laughing.

D’Lo Brown and Al Snow: I suppose TNA heard the “D’Lo” and “Head” chants at Bound For Glory and decided to give them room during the Hardy/Jarrett confrontation to appease the audience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if two Attitude-era guys are being allowed to steal the spotlight from what is probably your biggest angle, and the crowd appears to want it, you should maybe consider refocusing the angle.

Gail Kim: Awes0me, even if she’s going to be hanging around the eternal screamfest that is Karen Jarrett. Kim’s WWE output has made her fairly underrated, and now she’s back in the company she made her name in. Granted Awesome Kong is no longer around to feud with, but Kim as an active, happy competitor is good news.

Eric Bischoff Claims He’s the Man Who Made Hogan Who He Is Today: Finally, someone to blame for those Rent-A-Center ads.

Eric Bischoff’s Kid’s Tattoo: Of all the questionable tattoos in the world, few will come near Garret Bischoff’s tattoo of a surfboard that reads “Bischoff.” I know Eric is a relentless marketer and self-promoter, but this tattoo takes it to a new level.

Questionable Decision of the Week I: Devoting thirty minutes to Sting/Hulk Hogan, Sting/Dixie Carter, Sting/Kurt Angle, and Sting/Bobby Roode/Kurt Angle. You guys just had your biggest, maybe best, show of the year. How about following that up with some wrestling? Or a shorter segment that leads into wrestling? Something involving wrestling? Please?

Questionable Decision of the Week II: Roode “getting screwed.” From the way Bobby Roode whined, you’d think that Kurt Angle came down and ordered referee Kurt Angle to call for the bell, rung by timekeeper Kurt Angle, signifying Bobby Roode’s loss to Kurt Angle via phantom submission. He held the rope, dude. If anybody screwed you, it was the dude who decided to end the match that way, and the guy who decided not to mention your arm clearly hanging underneath the ropes. Besides the questionable rhetoric, I got tired of hearing people talk about screwing Roode. I didn’t even laugh when Angle said he screwed him in the ass.

Questionable Decision of the Week III: Bringing Jeff Hardy back. Granted, I suppose you could say that he’s part of the reason TNA grabbed their best ratings ever, but I feel like I’ve been down this road a million times, and not just with Hardy, who is making something like his fourth drug-or-burnout-realated comeback in six years. People…they still love him, but after firing his brother for similar reasons that should have seen Jeff out the door, after miraculously getting off light for drug trafficking charges, and based on past experience with TNA writer Vince Russo booked drug and alcohol “redemption” angles (Road Warrior Hawk and Scott Hall come to mind), I can’t help but be skeptical. Granted, Hardy is a mega-over face and won’t be treated like a joke, as Hawk and Hall were, but when the heel says “you no-showed on this company multiple times” and “you’ve got issues that probably aren’t sorted out” and “you don’t deserve to waltz back into your main event spot,” I’m going to be agreeing a lot with the heel, which is bad. Then again, who knows? Maybe Jeff is motivated, mentally ready, and still has enough of a fanbase to justify handing him a fourth of IMPACT Wrestling. If that’s the case, have him say “You’re right, I don’t deserve my spot, but I’m going to earn it,” instead of “THESE FANS WANT ME BACK!” Make him redeemable. Right now, he doesn’t deserve jack.

Questionable Decision of the Week IV: James Storm beats Kurt Angle for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship…in less than 60 seconds. I understand why, and don’t find fault with TNA for getting the title off of an injured Angle, but this swap is indicative of TNA’s utter inability to change directions as needed. As soon as Angle got injured last night, that should have sealed Roode winning. It didn’t. Then Kurt Angle came out and said that there was a no-rematch clause in their contract. This, of course, makes no sense, as an Angle/Roode rematch is pretty much the only way to go, beyond not screwing up the week before. Then, TNA’s big belt changed hands in less than a minute for the second time this year. I’m not sure that the words “title prestige” mean much in 2011, but if they did, the legitimacy of TNA’s main strap would be unable to hold. Grated, we now stand to see an ROH-lite story of a friendly rivalry between partners over the main title, but all that work TNA put into Roode’s ascension to the main event? Pretty much worthless.