Total Non-stop Action (TNA), following the WWE's old business model, pre-recorded this week's episode of Impact one week ago, allowing for plenty of post-production editing if necessary. The only editing they really need to do, however, is in getting rid of the past-his-prime hack serving as their head writer.
The only reason Vince Russo has a job is because of his long-standing friendship with co-owner Jeff Jarrett, dating back to Jarrett's 1st run in the WWE in the pre-Attitude Era 90's, and you have to believe that Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff have him on a tight leash. They'll only tolerate his nonsensical ideas for so long before giving him the hook and ending his 3rd tour of duty with TNA.
That having been said, Jarrett might have Barry Manilow's "Some Kind of Friend" playing in his head of late, considering that he's been abused and mistreated by Bischoff, looking to break Jarrett's will, if you will, in order to gain greater control of the company. Isn't that what this is all about? Jarrett was forced to officiate a handicap match pitting the mono-monickered Hernandez vs. 3-time TNA tag champs Beer Money, Inc. (James Storm, the most decorated tag wrestler in TNA history, and Robert Roode). Beer Money gained some additional momentum going into Sunday's Destination X PPV vs. Hernandez & Matt Morgan, who has developed the same me-first attitude that Beer Money has of late, a symptom of Bischoff's sleazy influence since arriving 2 months ago.
Post-show, I read some comments on a newsboard I frequent, and there were some questions about champion AJ Styles, who faces Abyss on Sunday, losing to Jeff Hardy in the TV main event. Hardy's barely been back in TNA and has a court case pending against him in his home state of North Carolina, and yet he goes over Styles, who has Pope D'Angelo Dinero (Elijah Burke) waiting for him at Lockdown next month, assuming Styles gets by Abyss. Clearly, TNA is using Hardy as much as possible now because they don't know for sure if he can really be a long-term investment, given his legal problems.
In San Diego, Monday Night Raw promised their annual Wrestlemania Rewind show, this time hosted by Stone Cold Steve Austin. Unfortunately, the rematches of Wrestlemanias past left a bitter taste in the viewer's mouth.
First out of the gate was tag team co-titlist Big Show vs. John Cena. 6 years ago, Cena won his 1st US title at the expense of the colossus, and while they've had many battles since, this was not one of their best. Current champ David Batista decided to stick it to Cena again, drawing his foe's attention, enabling Show to KO Cena for the cheap win.
Here is Exhibit A of the flawed booking. We see this over and over again. This is a scenario where you need to change things up. As long as Batista didn't make physical contact with Cena, it's OK, but in truth, it isn't. A distraction is just as good as physical interference, in my view, and thus is subject to a disqualification against the party benefiting, in this case Big Show. It's hard to enforce, I know, but as long as the company chairman behaves like he's totally crackers and won't change his methods of operation, we're going to keep having these kinds of finishes.
Current WWE World Champion Chris Jericho deliberately got himself counted out vs. Shawn Michaels, only to be ambushed by his opponent at Wrestlemania 26, Edge. In other words, the match was window dressing for angle advancement much more so than the Cena-Big Show match. Lame.
Triple H and Randy Orton headlined last year's Wrestlemania, but now, Orton's former running buds, 2-time tag team champs Ted DiBiase, Jr. & Cody Rhodes, are feuding with him, while Triple H has Irish phenom Sheamus on his case, so you knew this latest match between Orton & HHH wasn't going to end properly, either, and it didn't. Rhodes & DiBiase ran in and attacked Orton, resulting in their former boss winning via DQ. Sheamus showed up after and laid out HHH, setting up a 3-on-2 handicap for next week.
Jericho wasn't the only one visiting from Friday Night Smackdown, as women's champion Michelle McCool and her sidekicks, Layla El & Vickie Guerrero, decided to rain on the Raw "divas" parade again. After Divas champ Maryse defeated Kelly Kelly, she decided to press the attack further, drawing Eve Torres & Gail Kim into the fray. That brought McCool & Layla, with Guerrero emerging from the backstage area after the carnage had ended. Clearly, there's going to be some kind of women's tag match at Wrestlemania, and with Maryse standing with Simply Flawless (McCool, Guerrero, & Layla), or, as I prefer to call them, Simply Flawed, it's not going to be Raw vs. Smackdown in the women's division. Guerrero has fostered too much ill will across the board with her latest power trip (billed as the consultant to Smackdown, but more a corporate snitch answering directly to Vince McMahon), and needs to be taken out of play, preferably yesterday.
Austin officiated the contract signing for Vince McMahon's grudge match vs. Bret Hart, but, to the surprise of many, Austin didn't unleash his signature Stone Cold Stunners. Maybe he realizes Vince, at 64, is too old for that kind of abuse. Hart, meanwhile, ended a month of deception of his own, as it turned out the "accident" he had where he supposedly broke his leg was a scam designed to force McMahon's hand. In other words, the insane chairman got played like a fiddle, and everyone was digging.
What needs to happen after Wrestlemania, however, is rather simple. This has to be not only Hart's last match (his 1st in 10 years), but also McMahon's. He's the only one, in my view, who doesn't see that his irresponsible actions have brought much shame & dishonor to the company and his family. It's time for Vince to retire. Past time, in fact, and if it means McMahon being embarassed on national television by being led out of the arena in a straitjacket after being declared publicly as clinically insane, well, it would be the coda, the end of the persona that wore out its welcome long ago.
Raw wins going away this week, and has disgraced baseball star Pete Rose hosting next week. TNA needs a house cleaning before it can actually mount a challenge to WWE, but do Jeff Jarrett & Dixie Carter have the stones to make the necessary moves sooner rather than later, when it might be too late? All I can say for now is, stay tuned.