Hello and welcome to the latest hot-off-the-metaphorical-presses article in my WWE vs. TNA series, in which each week I analyse the main output by both promotions and pick a winner.
It's been a busy week for both outfits, as the WWE had its final week before Survivor Series and TNA aired its Turning Point pay-per-view. Let's see how they got on.
How many times have we seen Samoa Joe vs. Magnus? This match was great—maybe their best—but who would expect a different result? There must be someone else for Joe to face.
Rob Van Dam's defeat of Joey Ryan is the right thing for the X-Division. To give the championship to even less of a high-flier would be a bad move. The match itself was pretty good though.
Joseph Park vs. Doc was enjoyable. Park's a compelling character and I'm happy whenever he's on screen. I hope they'll develop his character more, including the change in him in his matches. And where's Abyss anyway? I know they're the same person, but what's going on there? Abyss (played by someone else) once interfered in a Park vs. Bully Ray match, and then nothing since.
Stretching back a long way (at least back to Slammiversary), the tag matches have consistently stolen the show. Turning Point's was as good as ever, if a little shorter than I'd have liked. It's a bit of a shame that it marks two losses in a row for Christopher Daniels and Kazarian, so they ought to be out of the titles picture for the near future.
The Triple Threat was fantastic. I felt really sad to see AJ Styles pinned though; I was sure it would be Bobby Roode to be kept away from the title for a year, and I'd really like to see AJ Styles face Jeff Hardy at PPV main event level.
The main event was exceptional. It was a textbook example of how to do a ladder match, with many spots taking full advantage of the match type. Of course I'd prefer Austin Aries as champion over Jeff Hardy, but both deserve huge credit for putting on such a great match.
Turning Point was pretty good overall. For the purposes of comparison it wasn't as good as Hell in a Cell, which was flawless except for its main event, but it was watchable with two or three (if we include the tag match) really fantastic matches. It'll be interesting to see whether Survivor Series is better or worse.
Raw opened not with a promo, but with a match between Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler. I like it when shows open like this, even though it never lives up to expectation. Inevitably, Alberto Del Rio interfered, only it was Orton who won with the roll-up pin. As Kofi Kingston got involved, Teddy "patron saint of impromptu tag team matches" Long made an immediate impromptu tag team match. Team Heel then defeated old friends Randy Orton and Kofi Kingston.
Next up was the weekly highlight that is the Vicki Guerrero/AJ Lee segment. AJ's seamlessly managed to carry her skill of being intolerably irritating as General Manager right into this story. How gifted.
William Regal was squashed by The Big Show, which is a great shame. Regal's terrific in every way, and ought to be used more regularly in some role—but not as a regular squashee.
Kaitlin defeated Layla easily. There's no subtle decline for ex-Divas Champions. Beth Phoenix, who was dominant and undefeatable as champion, has since been used as a jobber, and now Layla is defeated in a matter of seconds.
What seemed in danger of being a saccharine and boring segment as Jerry Lawler returned was saved by CM Punk. Before Hell in a Cell I'd often point out how CM Punk's promos were one of the biggest things the WWE still has going for it. He's not been as noticeable that way since that PPV, but he was back on form here. Things cooled a little as Mick "face of the WWE" Foley came out and joined in, but it was a good segment.
In an eight man tag team match, Rey Mysterio did a springboard moonsault, which is the most athletic and high risk thing I've seen the alleged high-flier do in a long time. The match itself had a lot of action, but there really is a feeling of having seen it all before. The WWE's gone from having no tag team division to having little else but.
No swerves and nothing creative happened in Ryback vs. Brad Maddox. You could say it wasn't entirely a waste of time as it resolved the silly ending of the Hell in a Cell, and it reminds us how dangerous and unstoppable Ryback is in his last appearance before Survivor Series. I, however, still contend it was a waste of time anyway.
But if that was a waste of time, Sheamus vs. David Otunga was a waste of spacetime. Raw's three hours long, so there surely must be time for Sheamus to have a reasonable match against a reasonable challenger.
Similar to CM Punk's diminished use as one of the best things in the show, Team Hell No hasn't been used all that memorably recently, but they had a great little promo before Kane and The Miz vs. Team Rhodes Scholars. A good time had by all. It was a really fun idea to split Kane and Daniel Bryan like this and to create that jealously; it can't be easy to come up with new things for Hell No, but they did it well here.
CM Punk vs. John Cena was gripping, as you'd expect from the two men who put on the best match of last year and one of the best of this year. CM Punk losing and looking cowardly is something I still don't like, but it's the way things are now. I enjoyed the match anyway. The unsubtle placing of the title belt in position in the ring for the closing stand-off didn't even take me out of it.
Raw was good. I can generally tell how much I enjoyed something by how quickly it seemed to pass, and there was enough going on (even if not all of it great) to keep me engaged throughout.
Impact kicked off in fine fashion with James Storm agreeing to put his Number One Contendership on the line against Bobby Roode. Roode mentioned Storm's daughter, which was funny.
The first match was Rob Van Dam vs. Kid Kash for the X-Division title. Kash put in many of the moves the X-Division should be about, and which RVD (love him though I do) isn't about quite as much. Also, they mentioned the WWE again, making it three of the past four Impacts that they've referenced the other lot by my count.
Jesse defeated genuine wrestler Eric Young. I'll say this for Jesse: I liked his finisher.
I was a little disappointed to see a title match between Samoa Joe and Magnus announced, so was glad to see it didn't go ahead. I suppose attacking a heel shows it's more of a case of TNA as a whole against the Aces and Eights, rather than just heels against faces.
A reasonable promo became another of the absolutely risible segments in which we hear Jeff Hardy's thoughts. They should stop these now—they're very silly.
The Knockouts Battle Royal to decide the Number One Contender was great—something it's hard to imagine ever saying about a Divas equivalent. I'd have thought ODB had done enough recently to justify a title shot without this match, but the winner instead was the returning Mickie James. Madison Rayne's elimination was particularly funny.
Rather than, as I expected, a confirmation of James Storm's dominance, Bobby Roode in fact won the Number One Contendership from him in the main event—and after a pretty great match as well.
Impact was fantastic, and reminded me of the kind of show it was during its long run of consistently high quality earlier this year. Pinpointing when that was from memory now is hard, but things took a bit of a downturn around the time Bobby Roode dropped the belt to Austin Aries (a correlation and not a causation, I might add). Since then it's had good shows, but hasn't maintained a streak of top class episodes for any length of time as it did then. A few more like this week's episode and it might, however.
SmackDown kicked off with Miz TV in front of The Awesome One's receptive hometown audience and featuring guest Mick "ubiquitous" Foley—and then more interestingly, his team. Team Ziggler followed, and as matches were made we got a great segment that set up the rest of the night.
Damien Sandow defeated Kofi Kingston, securing his position in the upper midcard. He had some great matches with Sheamus, and defeating the Intercontinental Champion clean keeps his profile high.
The tag team match of The Miz and Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio had the crowd firmly behind The Miz, which was nice to watch. He won with a Skull Crushing Finale on Del Rio, in which Del Rio's head plainly made no contact with the mat.
Kane vs. Wade Barrett—one match I was really interested to see—sadly didn't last long before Team Ziggler ran in, followed by Team Foley. This kind of thing is predictable, but it has served to make a no stakes Survivor Series match sort of interesting.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Sin Cara was interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was a singles match in which Sin Cara's silly lighting wasn't implemented; secondly, he lost. When Sin Cara was being pushed as a big thing in singles competition he didn't lose much (if at all), and even since he made a sudden transition to tag teaming with Mysterio, I don't recall him cleanly losing any of his occasional singles matches either.
The Big Show clearly tried to act as though The Great Khali was a threat, but the man's as credible as Santino Marella. A mercifully quick match.
The brawl that closed the show featured some car windows breaking, so it was the best backstage brawl for about half a decade.
SmackDown was the best for a while. Not massive praise considering some recent episodes, but it was watchable and quite well paced.
Show of the Week: TNA Impact
In complete contrast to the all-time low (since this series started, anyway) of a fortnight ago, all three TV shows were pretty good. Impact was definitely the pick of them, though, with its best outing in a long time. The PPV is, of course, exempted from this.
Match of the Week: CM Punk vs. John Cena
Punk and Cena have it down to a fine art, and were once again compelling to watch. Bobby Roode vs. James Storm is the runner-up, and it was a good week for TV wrestling in general. The PPV is again exempted; otherwise, the runaway winner would be the championship ladder match.
Thank you for reading, and all comments are appreciated.