So tonight I was invited along to the Impact Wrestling TV tapings at Wembley Arena. Obviously the two shows I saw being filmed won’t air for a couple of weeks yet, so this report is slightly spoilery, but I’ll try not to give too much away.
Without further ado, some facts about the shows:
1. TNA are returning to the UK next year, and doing shows at the same venues (Manchester, Nottingham, London) plus Glasgow Braehead.
2. Dixie Carter made a guest appearance at the beginning – she has her own minion to follow her around and hold the ropes for her.
4. The show opened with Bobby Roode flaunting his title at us, with enforcer Bully Ray doing his usual yelling. They called out James Storm, who was followed by Sting, who promptly set up two matches for the Cowboy against each of his adversaries.
5. James Storm is SO over. Seriously, seriously over. I’ve rarely heard anything like it.
6. Magnus and Samoa Joe’s feud with Crimson and Matt Morgan featured on both shows. For the British crowd, Magnus is a returning hero, and Joe is basically a god. I hope they keep in the raucous chants of “JOE’S GONNA KILL YOU!” because it was amazing to hear.
7. Speaking of returning heroes, Mark Haskins was included on the card, and was an utter delight in his match against Austin Aries. Haskins doesn’t seem to be as familiar to the crowd as one might have expected, but he did a great job. Doug Williams also featured in a triple threat X-Division match with Aries and Alex Shelley.
8. Christy Hemme may be beautiful, but she had no idea what was going on. Jeremy Borash was constantly reminding her what matches were up next. It was the ring announcer equivalent of calling moves.
9. Eric Bischoff’s arrival triggered possibly my favourite sequence of events. He was attempting to cut a promo and was first interrupted by “BOOOOOORING! BOOOOOOOOOORING!” chants, which were swiftly followed by the epic “SHUT THE FUCK UP”. You couldn’t hear him over it. I so hope they keep that in.
10. TNA are trying ever so hard to push Garett Bischoff. He was not well received. Regardless, he informed his dad that his Mystery Trainer would be in the ring later to meet him. WHO COULD THIS MYSTERY TRAINER BE?
11. The first Knockouts match of the evening was Tara v Gail Kim, filled with botches and Mad Madison interference.
12. When James Storm faced Bully Ray in his first singles match of the evening, Sting kept Bobby Roode in line by threateningly waving a cricket bat. Because he is in ENGLAND. Do you see?
13. Bully Ray was about to attempt a pin on Storm but was stopped mid-offense by a very, very noisy concerted chant of “YOU FAT BASTARD!”
14. Frankie Kazarian is now apparently Chris Daniels’s lapdog.
15. At the start of the second show, Bully Ray demanded that Bobby Roode answer some questions. Ironic bearing in mind that Roode’s default promo-mode is “rhetorical questions pouring out of mouth in scattergun fashion”. The crowd shouted, “What?” at the end of each sentence by both men. Eventually they made up, hugged, and Bully grabbed Roode’s arse. Which was quite funny, I suppose, for a bald fat shouting man.
16. Velvet Sky wore very little, wiggled her backside and strange breasts, and got a huge crowd reaction. Oh, men. You and your testosterone. Meanwhile, Mickie James played the heel, and got a moderate cheer. She deserves better. Obviously I couldn’t hear what was being said in ring or on the ramp, but it looked like there is a feud building between these two, which could be interesting.
17. Hulk Hogan was revealed as Garett Bischoff’s Mystery Trainer. Who knew? Who could have guessed? The arena roof nearly exploded with the pop he got, which was sweet. Then they got into the promo, which consisted of Hogan trying to tell the crowd to cheer Garett (reasoning being that he’s a HULKAMANIAC like US! And NOT like Eric!) and failing utterly. The only time Garett got anything other than a boo all evening was when he punched Eric, and I think we can all agree that’s a cheap pop.
18. Main event for the second show was Roode & Ray v Sting & Storm. The bell rang but the match couldn’t start because everyone was singing, “You’re a legend!” at the Icon. At the end of the match, Sting took the mic to thank everyone; he also said that he’d blown his right heel out, which seemed to be legit rather than kayfabe, but added that he hopes to be back in the UK again in the future. So much for “last UK tour ever”.
19. The show ended with the traditional TNA clusterfuck, with Roode and Ray attacking Storm and Sting, then with Kurt Angle thrown into the mix, and then obviously Hogan staggered out to squash everyone and prove that he is the faciest face that ever was.
So it was a fun night, all in all. I’m no great Hulkamaniac myself, but it was lovely to see the crowd reaction to him, even if he can barely stand and needed Christy to hold the ropes so he could climb in. I am a big fan of Sting and I was so glad that we got to see him in action – and that he can actually still cut the mustard. Kudos also to Jeremy Borash – the man is tireless, and great at working a crowd.
Have you been to any of the TNA shows this time round? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.