With the arrival of AEW on TNT starting this October, it should come as no surprise that WWE is looking to counter program and put a kibosh on any potential competition. While there’s been no discussion of moving Raw or Smackdown to start a war, sources have told this reporter that Vince & Co. have asked about the availability of a Wednesday night slot on FS1 for NXT. It seems that an all out war between WWE and AEW is inevitable.
While many are quick to harken back to the Monday Night Wars of the late 1990s, I think some are forgetting when TNA decided to take the fight to WWE at the beginning of this decade. I’ve covered that before in the 2010 Gooker Award Winning induction, but I thought it would be interesting to go back and analyze the very first match TNA put on display in an attempt to win fans over to their side.
But before we dive into that pile of crap, let’s look at just how the fine folks at Impact set the table. First things first: this was positioned as the Hulk Hogan debut episode. Since Hogan was one of the biggest draws in history, it was worth I guess a shot of rolling the bones and seeing what the Hulkster had left in the tank.
That’s all fine.
Well, except for the fact that the only sign the producers of the show got shots of for viewers at home was the horrible one above. Seriously, I remember that old photo of RANDY Hogan, and he had bigger arms than that.
I can’t be the only one that remembers Randy Hogan, can I?
As if that weren’t omen enough this may not go well for the Hulkster, soon we are introduced to Impact’s newest backstage interviewer…
Poor Terry Bollea.
So anyway, Bubba is out there talking to fans, asking them what they wanted to see in Impact. This first guy explained that he wanted the wrestlers he used to see, including Hulk Hogan and with the good Lord above as my witness and I am not making this up, Andre the Giant.
Sorry, buddy – you’re about 17 years too late for that to happen.
Amazingly, that guy was the best of the folks Bubba would talk with. Next up was this fan, gushing about how she loved hot sweaty wrestlers who were sexy.
I’ve read Penthouse letters that were less graphic than this.
But they were both Mensa candidates compared to…
…a man with a TNA tattoo on his arm.
Let me repeat that, and break out the HEADING2 code to make sure you don’t miss it:
A MAN WITH A TNA TATTOO ON HIS ARM.
I really should have saved the HOLY CRAP for that.
Making matters even worse, the combination of Impact’s awful camera work and that tattoo being more or less completely illegible made it invisible to viewers at home.
And that, kids, was the theme for the evening!
So the plan was to have the X-Division kick things off for the company. On paper, that’s not a bad idea, as this was a group of performers who made their livings putting on spectacular high risk matches. In this match, we had the likes of the Motor City Machine Guns, Homicide, Amazing Red, Suicide (Frankie Kazarian under a mask), Jay Lethal and Consequences Creed.
Bizarre to think that one third of WWE’s New Day was once in TNA for years doing an APOLLO CREED gimmick. If only Russo had brought in that robot from Rocky IV, they might still be in business today.
(I kid, I kid – I know they are still around.)
So we have all this great talent, but instead of just letting them go all out for the television audience, they are all thrown into what has to be the single worst pro wrestling cage I ever done seen. I was all set to write about how it looked like a bird cage you’d see at your Aunt Paula’s, but Mrs. Deal walked by and saw it as I was typing. She legit asked me if it was something a villain had trapped Batman in from the 1966 TV show.
Have I ever mentioned I have the best wife ever?
Look, dumb looking cages aren’t an anomaly in wrestling. I always thought the WWF’s old blue bar cage looked stupid too. But here’s the difference: while it looked like a jungle gym, I now can at least appreciate the fact that I could SEE what was happening in the match.
Which was a far cry from what we got here in TNA. The bars on the cage were so close together that even in close ups it was a real challenge to be able to tell what exactly was going on at any point in the match.
Bizarre camera angles like this didn’t really help the cause either, but in the interest of fairness, this view showcased the goal of the match: to escape a small hole at the top of the cage. So while the WWF’s old blue bar cage resembled something you’d see on a playground, this literally was the next logical extension, wherein you had to swing like a monkey over to the opening.
Maybe it wasn’t exactly wrestling, but this match appeared to be pretty good – fast paced, high flying. How do I know this? Because the crowd was legit chanting “TNA TNA TNA!” Good for them.
You know what would have been even better? If TNA had a cameraman inside the cage so we could see what was happening.
No wait, my bad – they actually DID have a camera man inside the cage.
They just never used his camera angle for like 85% of the bout!
That would be dumb enough, but this is TNA we’re talking about, and TNA gotta TNA. Want to guess how this CAGE MATCH in a division with NO LIMITS ended?
If you guessed “NO-CONTEST”, step right up and claim your prize.
Yes, it ended with no one winning as Homicide took a stick and just started hitting people with it.
Continuing the stupidity, the stick he had was so thin and small as to basically be invisible itself! No joke, I spent like 15 minutes going through this match frame by frame trying to get a good shot of the stick. That’s the best representation I can give you. If you can see it, you have better vision than this old man.
Oh, and those fans who were chanting TNA? Now they had changed to the far more common mantra of “This is bullish*t!” Continuing the rampant stupidity, despite the match being over Homicide attempted to climb out and “win” anyway. Not sure if he was supposed to just hang up there or climb out or what, but eventually he just kinda fell from the roof to the mat below.
You think the TNA camera crew caught that?
Of course not.
So the champ falls to the mat, and everyone just continues fighting everyone else. No, they don’t gang up on the guy who hit them with a stick. They just kinda battle royal about for a bit while the entire crowd is completely confused.
Speaking of complete confusion…
…Jeff Hardy decides this is a great time to make his TNA debut!
Oh what good times awaited us with Jeff’s Impact run. We got the debut of Willow and that fantastic match with Sting!
And that was how TNA decided to battle WWE.
Here’s hoping Cody and the Bucks have a better plan on October 2nd.