I know it’s a little last minute thanks to the holidays but this is the last week of build to the Monday Night Conflict so we can’t just skip it. Raw’s big push is simply to announce that wrestling legend, WWE Hall of Famer Bret “Hitman” Hart will appear as guest host on January 4th. Impact featured a 4 hour New Years Eve special, featuring a one night Knockouts tournament and the 3 “best matches” of 2009. Which show had a better lead in to the biggest wrestling night in the last 8 years? Let’s let the action speak for itself…
I know it’s a little last minute thanks to the holidays but this is the last week of build to the Monday Night Conflict so we can’t just skip it. Raw’s big push is simply to announce that wrestling legend, WWE Hall of Famer Bret “Hitman” Hart will appear as guest host on January 4th. Impact featured a 4 hour New Years Eve special, featuring a one night Knockouts tournament and the 3 “best matches” of 2009. Which show had a better lead in to the biggest wrestling night in the last 8 years? Let’s let the action speak for itself….
Bell to Bell Action
21 minutes Impact: 44 ½ minutes
TNA smoked raw this week more than doubling bell to bell wrestling time. I did not even count the 3 full payperview matches that Impact replayed. Granted Impact was 4 hours (a new years eve special event) but when Raw ran three hours versus Impact they barely had 4 full minutes of extra wrestling.
Raw Nominee: Ted Dibease Jr. VS. Evan Bourne
This match had more time than people
(a rarity) and two young guys looking to prove themselves. Teddy
and Bourne are both hungry and it shows in their performances every
week. The match told a good story and the action was above and
beyond with Bourne being a walking highlight reel.
Impact Nominee: Roxxie VS. Hamada
This match clocked at 8 minutes and played
like a payperview match. There were high spots and false finishes
but I’d almost say it was too much. Like they were trying too
hard. How can I penalize them for trying to hard though?
There was something missing but they certainly put in the work.
I wasn’t exactly on the edge of my seat but I was interested.
Match of the Week goes to Teddy vs. Bourne, because it wasn’t missing anything!
Raw Nominee: John Cena VS. Shaemus
It’s not that this match was bad just
that it did not go anywhere. Neither Cena nor Shaemus put in much
work. It was a throw away match to keep the feud going and everyone
knew it, even Cena and Shaemus.
Impact Nominee: ODB VS. Traci
Traci is just not good. ODB has
been impressive in recent weeks but even she was not able to work well
with Traci. I don’t want to be too hard on Traci and yet I feel
perfectly justified in saying she ruined this match.
ODB vs. Traci was hands down this week’s worst match. The work was sloppy and there was no story or flow to it. Just plain garbage.
DIVAS: The divas accomplished
nothing this week except just escaping a worst match nomination.
Maryse vs. Kelly Kelly was awful but at under 2 minutes it never had
the chance to get atrocious (which it undoubtably would have).
Elsewhere the Bella twins assumed the roles of Timbaland groupies.
All in all it seems every week the Divas get more and more superfluous.
Knockouts: TNA put the Knockouts on display giving them a whole show almost entirely their own. Need more be compared?
His vignettes were sloppily shot and
poorly written. He gave off the distinct stench of someone who
is not a wrestling fan. His delivery was adequate but so
many of the guest hosts have set such a high bar that you have to be
on your game. I wouldn’t call him the worst, after all Vern
Troyer hosted once, but he definitely brought the crowd down leading
into Bret Hart.
Impact: lack of testosterone
I don’t want to come off like too much of a chauvinist here but I have to say it, wrestling is a testosterone-fueled machine. Not that women can’t do it but when it comes down to it they tend to lack that killer instinct edge, that aggression that makes it exciting and believable. I can get into one or two matches, hott girls throwing down, yeah there’s a modicum of testosterone in that. Lots of women are great performers and attain that intensity through other means. However when I try to watch 3 hours of womens’ wrestling, it putters out. Women just don’t generate the intensity to carry a full show and deliver what most fans tune in for.
RAW: some unexpected developments
Raw and WWE are still riding the wave
of intrigue. Shaemus still having the title. Kofi Kingston
handing the Miz a one way beating that seemed certain he would get the
title. The announcment that Bret Hart is returning. It all
brings back that ere that anything might happen! Just having that
atmosphere once again makes the entire show more enjoyable to watch.
Impact: showing payperview matches on free TV
Replaying Wolfe/Angle and Joe/AJ/Daniels
2 and AJ/Sting was a great move. Each of those matches could have
been match of the year candidates. With those kinds of matches
being a rarity right now its good to get some mileage out of them.
Final Thoughts: This seemed
an awkward week to lead into the Monday Night Conflict. TNA featured
replay matches and an all woman tournament and Raw seemed to feature…
time killers before Royal Rumble, even though the Rumble is weeks away
yet. Timbaland was an awful choice to host A) because he’s a
B list celebrity at best and B) he’s a music producer not any kind
of real performer so he did not bring anything to the table except his
name. I know the WWE is not showing any concern to TNA’s little
Monday foray but there is nothing to bring in fans for next week except
Bret Hart. Maybe no more is needed but Raw in general was lacking
anything to look forward too.
Impact dropped the ball by not featuring
any of their normal programming. Payperview matches are a great
way to display your best but they offer no draw to what happens next.
The Knockouts tournament built to a Knockouts Championship match for
the 4th but lets be honest does TNA management really think
ODB vs. Tara will draw a crowd? Not to mention that they did not
even have a show last week. So they are going into their biggest
battle to date with WWE with 2 weeks of basically nothing. Hogan
hype is playing everywhere which is smart but that hype will draw people
to watch Impact too. TNA needed to have their best foot forward
every moment during this time. Every segment needs to be an attention
grabber, designed for anyone flipping past to stop and take notice.
Instead they’ve had one week with nothing and one week with only women
and none of their big draws or top performers. They have literally
put the entire burden of drawing on Hogan.
Monday night Impact looks to be the better
show over all on the 4th but I think Raw has the advantage
because everyone is in the habit of tuning in already. Here is
my other observation though. This whole thing is backwards.
TNA is a brand for smart marks and young fans, featuring largely unknowns
whose ability is based on athleticism and action, sounds more like Bret
Hart doesn’t it? Bret Hart definitely appeals more to that demo,
always has. WWE is the house that Hogan built, big guys, bodies,
matches based around physicality and charisma. Not to mention
how much better would Hogan play as guest host on Raw than the new driving
force of TNA? How much more fitting would the heir to the Hart
Family Dungeon be as the guy brought in to shape the TNA superstars
Anyone tuning in to see Hogan will be
disappointed to see the TNA product, lazy veterans like Team 3D, and
the bland X Division stars are not the product Hogan fans want to see.
Conversely all the TNA fans who go over to see Bret Hart are going to
be bored and unimpressed by the big body, slow moving, short lived matches
of the Raw superstars.
My next report will be on the Monday Night Conflict and as an all inclusive wrestling fan and critic I’m actually very excited!!