Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The War of Complacency---the Morning After

Total Non-stop Action (TNA) has decided to reignite the "Monday Night Wars" vs. WWE, but after channel-flipping between Impact and Monday Night Raw, I can't honestly say there was a real winner.

Word filtered on the internet that TNA was going to do something within the first five minutes of their telecast. HA! It actually took them about 10-12 minutes before their first surprise was unveiled.

They decided to tease the audience and have their main event go on first. TNA World Champion AJ Styles and his new mentor, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, battling Abyss & Hulk Hogan, in the latter's first television match in 3 1/2 years. Just as Styles & Flair gained the upper hand, the lights went out, heralding the arrival of Sting. Even a blind man could see what was coming. As Hogan & Abyss staggered to their feet, Sting attacked them, and left them laid out, aided by Styles & Flair, after a series of bat & chair shots. Hogan, though, got the last word, and said the two teams would be rematched later in a no-DQ match.

Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, two former World champs, Shawn Michaels & Undertaker, met in center ring. Undertaker is risking his perfect record at Wrestlemania (17-0) vs. Michaels' career. Michaels claimed Undertaker had fear in his eyes. Riiiiiiiiight, and chickens have lips. It's now a no-DQ, no-countout match at Wrestlemania 26. Essentially, anything goes, because that may be the only way they can top their bout from last year, and some are saying this might be the last Mania for both.

In Orlando, they crowned new women's tag team champs when the Beautiful People (Velvet Sky & Madison Rayne) won a triple threat over former champs Taylor Wilde & Sarita and BP founder Angelina Love & Tara, the women's champion. This was due to an uninvited party, Daffney, using Tara's title belt against her. Clearly, Daffney, who was little more than a novelty act in WCW 10 years ago, wants the women's title. Awesome Kong ran afoul of the politics that come with Hogan being in TNA, and was let go, leaving her partner, Hamada, on the outside looking in, their reign abruptly halted after 2 months. X Division champ Doug Williams won a 3-way of his own, beating Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels in what was easily the best match on the TNA card.

WWE's co-main event saw 2-time former tag team champions, Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase, Jr., get the measure of their former partner in crime, Randy Orton, in a handicap match. This was to be expected, but the smart thing to do now, once this storyline has run its course, is to have Rhodes & DiBiase get back into the tag title hunt, but then again, logic is a foreign substance in this wacky business.

Illusionist Criss Angel was Raw's guest host of the week, but he couldn't do us the biggest favor imaginable and make Vince McMahon disappear, which would've spared us a predictable main event. The 64-year-old McMahon was matched vs. former champ John Cena in the other half of the double main event, and it went just as you'd expect, with the insane chairman changing the match at the last minute, which realistically you cannot do, to a handicap gauntlet match, recruiting Vladimir Kozlov, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, and a reluctant Mark Henry to do his dirty work. This is because McMahon can't work a match by himself as an arch-heel, but that act has long since gone stale. McMahon then decided to make it a no-DQ match, as I had suspected he might. Henry wanted no part of it, so Batista came down and took down the World's Strongest Man, then wiped out Cena, helping McMahon gain the cheap pinfall, just as I predicted he would.

In Orlando, the tag team main event was restarted, and this time, Hogan & Abyss won the match, with Abyss, a title match already in his back pocket vs. Styles for Destination X on 3/21, pinning the champ. The celebration didn't last, as Desmond Wolfe came down to attack, giving the advantage back to Styles & Flair. However, the last "surprise" of the evening was the first one on 1/4. Jeff Hardy, with a court case still pending, showed up and wiped out Wolfe with a gourdbuster, and had Styles set for a Swanton Bomb just as the show signed off.

So who won the night? I call it a draw. McMahon put himself over Cena simply because he wanted to show up Hogan. Had Hogan not booked himself into a main event, it wouldn't have changed anything, because McMahon has a Wrestlemania match vs. Bret Hart, and he felt it was more important for him to go over as opposed to Cena, the #1 contender to the WWE title, beating him, which in truth would've been the right thing to do for the sake of business!

Meanwhile, they tried making Sting a bad guy a couple of years ago, but it didn't take because it was more of a case of moral conflict. This time, Sting may actually have a legitimate beef to fuel this turn to crime. Plus, Hogan is looking to get even after Sting beat him at WCW Starrcade several years ago, thinking that two 50-somethings headlining a PPV will draw money. TNA founder Jeff Jarrett is fighting a losing battle vs. Hogan's alleged business partner, Eric Bischoff, so it's clear at the moment that Hogan & Bischoff are playing good cop/bad cop, but that won't get more people watching. TNA reeks of moldy bread and stale crackers. WWE serves up sirloin steak with a side order of cheese (comedy skits and women's matches), with the occasional pig cutting to the head of the line (i.e. McMahon) to ruin things.

Next week, Impact will be pre-recorded (taping tonight), while Raw is live in San Diego with guest host Stone Cold Steve Austin. Someone's going to be paying for last night's sins, guaranteed.

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