Tuesday, January 5, 2010

About Last Night

Well, it wasn't perfect, and we still have a ways to go before getting that well-oiled machine back up to the par of the late-1990s (especially as last night's head-to-head TNA and WWE shows featured many of the same acts as they did back then), but I have to say TNA and WWE pulled off a fantastic, old-school night of wrestling. Objectively, there were some mess-ups (I was not a fan of the no-finish call on the first match, and I always have issues with TNA's policy of putting ALL the X-division guys into one cluster- of a match, for example), but the *feel* of both shows, minus some eye-rolling moments, was great.


  • A big enough night for this company when major starts Jeff Hardy and Ric Flair's 'jumps' from the competition were almost small-scale news; I wish that hadn't been so, given Flair's a legend and Hardy was the most popular guy on the WWE roster 4-5 months ago.
  • They addressed the elephant in the room by playing up whether Hogan was in business for himself and his cronies - the former NWO guys Scott Hal, Sean Waltman and Kevin Nash, as well as the Nasty Boys - without actually answering that question. While he seemed unimpressed with his paycheck-and-spotlight grabbing buds, he didn't entirely rebuke them, and he DID go off on face Jeff Jarrett. On the other hand, he gave high praise to TNA World Champ AJ Styles and Kurt Angle ... two of the most popular guys in the company.
  • Speaking of the Nasty Boys, above, I'm not a huge fan; they're 20 years past anything resembling a prime and one could argue they weren't that great then. But the Nastys vs. the Dudleys has more potential due to their similar styles than pretending they can hang with Beer Money or the Motor City Machine Guns.
  • With new arrivals almost every segment, some expected (the NWO, Bischoff, the Nasty Boys) and some less-so (Hardy, Flair), this show had a big-time feel to it, but also an old-time feel to it (see the names listed above); it got me intrigued for one night, using Hogan and Bischoff's old WCW formula; let's see if they've learned from the past and can add some longevity to the mix now. Hopefully Jeff Jarrett and some of the others (AJ Styles, Daniels, Samoa Joe) who've been in the mix awhile can help with that.
  • I'm not going to pretend to be anything less than a fangirl on this one; Bret Hart is my all-time favourite wrestler, at most tied with ... you guessed it ... Shawn Michaels. Their history and unfinished business has intrigued me as much as many others over the years, perhaps moreso due to my divided loyalties. To have Bret come out, and call Michaels out as well, almost immediately, addressed the elephant in the room and allowed the show to go on. I half-expected a truce might be called here (there's only one other option right?), but I didn't expect the 'hug heard around the world'. A cool, admittedly squeal-worthy moment that threw me back to being fifteen years old all over again. I wonder if this was a way of addressin the Bret-Shawn issue and bowing Shawn out of the mix, or if there might be more to it - a double cross perhaps, or some dissension about the make-up in DX (especially due to Shawn's partner Triple H's McLoyalties?). My gut is telling me this was a way of addressing the issue and moving Shawn along, but if these two were willing to continue working together I see potential there.
  • There were plenty of other opportunities over the night for Bret Hart to manifest his bitterness - he could have screwed DX out of their tag titles by helping former Calgary croney Chris Jericho out in his title match, but he didn't - yet they addressed the history there, which was rewarding to us oldschool fans (though it occurs to me as the Hart family dynasty is aging and the Hart House has been sold, that there might be some fans today with no idea what the Dungeon is ...). He also had his face-to-face with Vince McMahon, but shook his hand, even accepting his father's induction into the WWE Hall of Fame this year before Wrestlemania 26 ... before Vince low-blowed him. So THAT'S how they keep him around. We'll have to see how this plays out.
  • Yet I'm not going to complain WWE focused too hard on the older generation this show. Certainly to an extent, with Bret guest-hosting, but they also had Sheamus shine by winning a non-title match (which champions have too much of a tendency to lose) against Evan Bourne. I was sad to see Bourne lose on the one hand, but on the other hand, just getting the shot and somewhat holding his own was a good rub. And the four-way for a shot at the Miz's US title - won by MVP against Mark Henry, Jack Swagger and Carlito - was stellar as well. A very good balance, WWE at it's best, or at least certainly better than the drek of the last few weeks, with a limited dose of decent comedy thrown in - the obligatory DX/Hornswoggle shill spot, for example.
Both shows brought their A-game, although I'd say WWE gets the slight edge tonight for also showing some of their younger and newer attractions in something better than an 8-man mess, and of course for reputation going forward. Here's hoping both shows, however, bring out the best in each other, and that this truly is going to challenge both TNA and WWE to best themselves ... and each other. THAT can only be good news for wrestling fans in 2010. Let the war begin!


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