Hello there and welcome to the latest article in my WWE vs. TNA series, where each week I analyse the main output of the two promotions and pick the best.
We're into November now, and while the WWE continued to build towards Survivor Series, TNA had its last Impact before its Turning Point pay-per-view. Let's see what happened.
It seems the Impact-style opening recaps are here to stay on WWE television. I don't like them no matter who does them; they're too soap opera-like and hint too closely at the artifice of the show.
Raw was from Birmingham in England. I'd considered going when I heard a couple of months ago that it would be in my country. We'll see tonight whether I'll regret not attending or happily have saved money.
The opening tag team match of Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara and R-Truth vs. The Prime Time Players and Antonio Cesaro looked like it would be quite ordinary until Cesaro and Titus O'Neil did some interesting manhandling of Mysterio. It was OK, but we've seen the two tag teams face each other such a lot recently, and an Cesaro vs. R-Truth feud isn't especially interesting to me.
Probably to get it out of the way near the beginning of the show, next came the Vicki Guerrero/John Cena/AJ Lee segment. I'm embarrassed that this storyline is happening, embarrassed to be watching it and embarrassed to be the same species as those involved. Only Dolph Ziggler redeemed it slightly right at the end. It's not just moves he can sell; maybe he could even sell this rubbish.
The crowd blew hot or cold throughout the night and there was no constant buzz. Show them Wade Barrett or Daniel Bryan and they'd be very lively—yet for Kane vs. Damien Sandow, not nearly as much. Of course, Kane's never leant himself to chants easily. His name has one syllable, and while "Big Red Machine" has enough, it'd be hard to get it going. This difficulty was shown as they confusedly tried to start a "Yes! Yes! Yes!" chant during the match instead.
Brad "The Lad" Maddox's promo justifying his actions followed next. I'm not sure if it was good or bad, but it was undoubtedly there. A million-dollar contract if he beats Ryback next week could make a big star out of him. More likely it'll be a karmic squash.
Vince McMahon put right what was shaping up to be a terrible wrong and made a WWE Championship match for Survivor Series: CM Punk vs. John Cena vs. Ryback. It's an intensely interesting idea for sure, being as none of them could afford to lose—or worse, be the one pinned.
Sheamus defeated The Miz in a far more hard-fought contest than I expected. The Big Show was also quite funny on commentary.
Kofi Kingston defeated Alberto Del Rio with a roll up pin as Del Rio was distracted by Randy Orton's music. I despise this kind of thing. It's so predictable and happens practically every week in one feud or another.
Santino Marella and Zack Ryder (Team Cobro, though I prefer the name Team Cretins) defeated Primo and Epico, who weren't helped by a new and much inferior entrance theme.
Hometown hero Wade Barrett put away Brodus Clay, though not as quickly as I would have liked.
Heath Slater defeated one of The Usos. It's not like he's defeated Randy Orton, but it's good to see him looking slightly credible at least.
The closing tag match did a good job of building suspense for Ryback's eventual tagging in. And Ziggler looked good. That's about it though.
Raw wasn't the absolute disaster of the previous week, but it wasn't spectacular either. Average is the word.
SmackDown opened with the news that The Big Show had attacked Sheamus in a bar the previous evening. They also ran Barrett as a heel in his own country by putting him in a tag match against the even more beloved William Regal.
Kofi Kingston defeated The Miz in a pointless Intercontinental Championship match which Kofi won with a relatively unspecial diving crossbody. Afterwards, Kofi responded to Miz's offer of a handshake with a dropkick. I doubt it was meant to be anything more than adding a bit of edge, but imagine what a heel Kofi might be like.
The Prime Time Players defeated Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara in a match I'm sure we must have seen about a half dozen times now. The following promo by the victors was fun though.
Poor William Regal was the one who took the pin as he teamed with Sheamus against The Big Show and Wade Barrett. I suppose my hope that this would elevate Regal to world title level was a bit optimistic.
The main event of Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio was pretty dull to me. I'm not a big fan of no disqualification-type matches in the WWE, because the rules on no headshots and such means all the attacks seem a bit unnatural. It's not as if the result of this one was in any doubt either. Ultimately it was two men wandering around pretending to punch each other, and that's not what I watch this for.
I might be wrong, but I think this was the first live SmackDown for about a year—I remember a show last November that Mick Foley presented as a Christmas special, and I remember it as it stood out as dire during a time when the show was on a great roll and usually better than Raw. Hard to believe these days I know.
SmackDown is of course shorter than Raw, but this show felt almost empty. They always give over quite a lot of time to Raw recaps, so if what remains doesn't make an impact then it's as if there was hardly a show at all—and with just a few matches which we've basically seen before anyway, such was the case with SmackDown this week.
Impact opened with a match, Bobby Roode vs. AJ Styles as announced last week, which I had eagerly looked forward to. It didn't disappoint. Roode's shaved head makes him look a little bit like Kazarian.
ODB defeated Tara and Jesse in a handicap match and quickly too. It takes a lot for me to dislike Tara—I cheered her all the way against Miss Tessmacher—but TNA have found a way to turn me against her with this storyline.
The tag team bout of Sting and Kurt Angle vs. Devon and Doc (Luke Gallows to you and me) ended with disqualification and the pure entertainment of Sting being whacked multiple times with a hammer. Quite terrific.
Christian York won his Gut Check contract. Well done him, I guess. It's not as if we see any of these people on Impact again though.
Further enjoyable wrestling was provided with Chavo Guerrero, Hernandez and Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels, Kazarian and Magnus. The standout among these great wrestlers was, once again, Hernandez. I've said it before, and I'll reiterate it: Chavo coming to Impact has given us a real gift in Hernandez's push.
Impact closed with Austin Aries and Jeff Hardy brawling. Aries ended with the upper hand, which is one reason among many that Jeff's likely to win at Turning Point. I prefer Aries though, of course.
Impact was a lean and pacy show with some good matches. A huge improvement on last week's catastrophe.
Show of the Week: TNA Impact
Impact wins convincing this week with a genuinely good show, rather than its win last week by being the marginally least awful. Raw and SmackDown were average and fairly forgettable.
Match of the Week: Bobby Roode vs. AJ Styles
A good week of TV wrestling overall, with Sheamus vs. The Miz and the six-man tag match from Impact as runners-up. I suspect some people will rate Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio, but I don't.
Thank you for reading and all comments are appreciated.