Hello, wrestling fans, and welcome to this latest edition of my WWE vs. TNA series, in which every week for (potentially) the rest of my life, I will watch and review the output of both promotions and pick the best.
This week is a rare mid-week edition, bringing things up to date after a recent lag. Today, then, we'll be looking back at the first week since the WWE acknowledged Fandangoing, while TNA gave us the promised AJ Styles vs. James Storm.
Do they just pretend that SmackDown didn't happen on Raw now? Sheamus and Randy Orton vs. The Big Show already happened last week, yet no reference was made to it. This one was better though. We got a big Electric Chair spot, a great dropkick and a great DDT. It was nice to have a clean finish, even though it wasn't my preferred result.
Paul Heyman challenged Triple H to a Steel Cage Match on behalf of Brock Lesnar. I've no desire to see that, but you can bet Lesnar will win. He's a special event guy with rare appearances, and wasting one of those appearances on a loss to Levesque's ego at WrestleMania is damage that needs repairing if Lesnar's going to retain some menace.
Antonio Cesaro lost his US Championship to Kofi Kingston in a great match. It's a shame that the interest was diminished by the woeful state of the midcard and therefore how disappointing the result is.
We were sadly robbed of the Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio World Heavyweight Championship rematch this week. I was sure it would quickly turn out Del Rio was pretending his injury was worse than it was—after all, only an idiot would ask for his guaranteed title match while he's injured with a limp—but it wasn't to be as Jack Swagger came out to beat up Del Rio some more.
Ryback delivered the best promo of his career so far. He actually used words to form sentences. It was also quite good because it traced things back over quite a long time, rather than just pretending anything before a month ago never happened.
R-Truth defeated Wade Barrett. Carrying on the theme of the slight midcard, he had several unsuccessful matches with Cesaro for the US Championship a while back. Now he could quite well be poised to take the Intercontinental title.
Fandangoing has caught on massively, a fact which the WWE is delighted to remind us. Why not make him world champion, the guy's over.
Jack Swagger did quite a lot to redeem himself by defeating Dolph Ziggler. The match was reasonable with a great finishing sequence.
Mark Henry attacked Sheamus as he was about to be interviewed backstage. Logically the words "from behind" ought to be in that previous sentence, but Mark Henry charged straight into him from the front. How could Sheamus not notice the figure of Mark Henry bowling directly toward him? Beats me.
Michael Cole had an opportunity to look clever as he corrected JBL, pointing out that one of the Bella Twins had been Divas Champion. Except, both of them have been Divas champion. Oh Cole.
Raw ended on the first interesting incursion by The Shield ever, as they came to attack John Cena but not Ryback. I was expecting the confirmation that they and Ryback are pals now, but it didn't come.
A very good show from Raw. A little light on the wrestling, but there was enough going on to keep things interesting for the most part.
Impact had an unusually long set of recaps and promos before it got going, then it opened with Kurt Angle vs. Garett Bischoff and Wes Brisco. The most interesting thing was an interference on Angle's behalf by the referee, which was never explained.
Kenny King retained his X-Division Championship against Petey Williams and Zema Ion. It was a great match and, most importantly, we got to see a Canadian Destroyer. This match also introduced a camera on the referee's head. I think we can do without it, but at least it guarantees no silly spots with the referee taken out.
Mickie James defeated Miss Tessmacher in a decent match. ODB as permanent Knockouts referee will take a bit of getting used to, but it could work.
There was a bit of a dream come true moment as Bad Influence did a promo with Austin Aries and Bobby Roode. It was very funny. I could happily watch these four play off each other for hours. Even better is the fact they're brilliant wrestlers.
Devon defended his Television Championship against Samoa Joe with interference by the Aces and Eights. The tedious regularity of these resolutions is irritating beyond belief. These are TNA titles they're holding, surely Dixie can just come out one week and announce that if they win via interference or whatever else then the titles will be forfeit. It would do a lot to move things forward.
The show closed with AJ Styles defeating James Storm and Bully Ray giving a promo.
Impact was OK, but the Aces and Eights angle is showing signs of beginning to drag again. I just hope it doesn't get as mind-numbingly stale as it was before Lockdown.
So the WWE's got on board with Fandangoing, but they're clearly bothered that his previous character traits of being a bit of a sleazy creep obsessed with the correct pronunciation of his name haven't captured the WWE Universe's imagination. As such, we got to watch him try and put these over.
Much, much worse than that though, he was interrupted by Santino Marella. At least Fandango beat him, though it took longer than I would have liked (which is around the 10 second mark).
Kofi Kingston rather irritatingly defeated Wade Barrett. Not that it matters much really, but Wade "lord of the lanes" Barrett is my fellow countryman and he's quite adorable in the same way as Matt Morgan over with the other lot.
Mark Henry got charged from the front by Sheamus, so, as with when the roles were reversed on Raw, we have to believe that Mark Henry was suffering from temporary blindness.
We were given a WrestleMania rematch in the form of Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger. I'm not sure if it was better than their first encounter, but I'm inclined to look far more kindly on it as this was on TV. With Swagger defeating Ziggler and now Del Rio defeating Swagger again, there's a very welcome bit of unpredictability in proceedings with the Big Gold Belt at the moment.
Remember when Mark Henry broke The Big Show's leg and put him out of action? Apparently they don't either, as they happily teamed up against Sheamus and Randy Orton. I remember Sheamus and Henry actually had a short and inconclusive feud immediately before Henry's World Heavyweight Championship reign back in 2011. Anyway, team heel won and once again it was poor Randal who was considered expendable enough to be pinned.
SmackDown was a good show. An above average end to an above average week for the WWE.
Show of the Week: WWE Raw
Raw flowed well and was generally enjoyable. Impact was the weakest this week, brought down mainly by samey and unimaginative Aces and Eights interferences.
Match of the Week: Kenny King vs. Petey Williams vs. Zema Ion
Not too many matches stand out this week—I find myself struggling to recall much about the supposed surefire greatness of AJ Styles vs. James Storm—but this X-Division Championship match was pacy and suitably high-flying.
Wrestler of the Week: AJ Styles
It could have been Ryback, except he hasn't actually wrestled. I'm moderately interested in what might happen with AJ, though really, what are the possibilities? Fairly limited, that's what. Either way, going clean over James Storm is a way to stay important.
Thanks for reading. I welcome all comments, agreeable and and critical alike.