TNA GENESIS 2011
Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the most electrifying reviews in blog entertainment, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight as we head on down south to a nice little hacienda down Orlando way, to review TNA’s first pay per view offering of the year, TNA Genesis 2011. A lot has changed in the world of action since this time last year when Hulk Hogan had just made his arrival and AJ Styles made his dramatic heel turn. Since then lots has gone down, but nothing so important as the rise of Immortal and our heel World Champion Jeff Hardy. He isn’t actually wrestling on this show, but his presence will be felt in not one but TWO number one contendership matches (we will call them number 1a and number 1b). Not only that but we have a mystery debut and rumors of a mysterious end of show shocker on our hands, so buckle up, cowpokes, its time to get this rodeo started.
Cewsh: “My name is Matt Morgan and I will be the next World Heavyweight champion.”
“My name is Ken Anderson and I will be the next World Heavyweight champion.”
And with those words, TNA kicks off a PPV built around the crowning of a new top babyface in TNA. The winner will get a shot at Jeff Hardy in a feud that will likely dominant the space between here and Lockdown, the second biggest show of the year, and this video does a fantastic job of showing that these two want this title so bad they can taste it. They talk about how long they’ve been working for it and all the tribulations they’ve gone through, all the while clips of Hardy taking them lightly are aired. One of these guys is going to get the chance to tear Hardy apart, but which one? Only time will tell…
Cewsh: As you may know, there aren’t too many people in the world who have been as harshly critical of Jay Lethal than I have been this past year. I have called him boring, spotty, uninspiring, a terrible babyface, a waste of a push and Ric Flair, a total failure in his matches, and a gerbil murderer. All of these are still true obviously (though I’m not really sure about that last one) but as has become occasionally necessary here at Cewsh Reviews, I have to admit that I was wrong about something. In a past review I said, and I quote “…look, I get that people like him and everything, but his ability to have an interesting match is totally dependent on who he’s wrestling, and frankly I’m not sure he can have a good match with anybody”
Bah. I hate being wrong.
Here, Lethal and Kazarian have what can only really be described as a good match. They flip around and do their usual moves with an unusual crispness and an unusually large response from the crowd. This bothered me a tad, since they were having a blood feud over some particularly inappropriate things that Kazarian said about Lethal’s upbringing and, ahem, some racial stereotypes, but I wont go into those lest this review dissolve into me shouting until I’m hoarse and you’ve all left.
Despite the anger of the feud, this match never really feels like it has any urgency or hate to it, and is really just a match standing on its own. But AS a match standing on its own, its not bad at all, and for me to say that about a match featuring LETHAL AND KAZARIAN, you’d best believe it must be true.
74 out of 100.
Vice: As boring as Kaz can be the majority of the time, he always goes 125% on PPV. Sure it’d be nice if he was always that determined, but hey, it’s good to know that he’ll consistently put on very good performances when you really need him to. Same goes for Lethal to an extent. If this was an Impact match, I could see these two completely mailing it in and having a fairly dull match, but the two went out and had a very good opener to this PPV.
I like Lethal, but he peaked very early into his career and then immediately plateaued when it came to the actual wrestling side of things. He surprised the hell out of me with the amount of character/personality he showed when he was doing the impressions of people as Black Machismo, though. If only he could show some real personality while regular ol’ Jay Lethal, and would smarten up in the ring a bit. I’ve basically been watching this kid’s career from the start and it was seriously amazing how quickly he went from a nobody to someone to not take your eyes off of. So much potential, but things just aren’t clicking like they should.
So because of that, I’m kind of happy that Kaz took the title from him.
Cewsh: We’re backstage in Eric Bischoff’s office when Ric Flair comes in morosely with AJ Styles and informs Eric that AJ will not be able to fight Doug Williams tonight for the TV title because he has a legit injury and can’t compete. When AJ tells Eric he got the injury playing with his kid, Eric informs him that kids are for nannies and babysitters, which makes him perhaps not the best boss in the world. Then he announces that they’ll have to find a replacement. At this announcement, a weight of dread begins to grow in the back of my head. See the whole idea behind this show is that Immortal wants all of the gold and has the opportunity to get it all in one single program. Kazarian already did his part, but now AJ can’t do his. So the replacement will obviously be from Immortal, but since everyone good is already busy, who’s free to meet the challenge? The dread is telling me that I already know…
Cewsh: The backstory to this match is that Madison Rayne is the biggest heely heel who ever heeled a heel (or wore heels, come to that), and she has been avoiding having to defend her title by cleverly talking TNA bookers into making people forget that she had it. Unfortunately for her, Mickie James, fresh off her feud with Madison’s BFF Tara, DOES remember who has the title and intends to take it for herself, so now these two are going to have at it once and for all.
Mickie comes out first, doing her hardcore country thing, which appears to consist of country music and dressing like a duck hit a Native American at high speed.
Then Madison comes out with her new music and new gimmick as the Queen of the Knockouts and all I can do is sit back and shake my head at how far she’s come this year. In the space of one year she went from annoying, talentless afterthought in the Beautiful People to the single best female heel working in wrestling right now (to my knowledge). Now she’s such a stuck up bitch that its impossible not to hate her, even while I’m simultaneously loving her for being so awesome. Clearly Mickie agrees with me on the first count, as she launches right into beating Madison’s ass so hard she might charge her afterward. The match is, in fact, basically one long cathartic beating for Mickie after her troubles with Tara, with Madison trying to get her offense in, but finding it reversed on her at nearly every turn. Madison bumps around like a pinball for the raging James who, for her part, manages to not botch the vast majority of her offense. Then, as Mickie closes in on her first TNA Knockouts title reign, Tara staggers out to ringside to distract her, allowing Madison to put on a goddamn loaded MMA glove and clobber Mickie in the face with it, grabbing the quick pin before she jets to the backstage area.
Now let me make this clear, as weird as it is to give a good score to two matches in a row featuring people I genuinely dislike as performers, that is exactly what I am about to do. Madison as a heel is just so fucking fantastic here, and Mickie does a fantastic job of being a face full of fire and in control, and as bad as the ending sounds, it was actually played off fantastically, showing that shenanigan filled finishes CAN be good if they’re done well and not cluttered up too much. Great stuff, and a promising sign for the beleaguered Knockouts division in the new year.
77 out of 100.
Vice: I was absolutely blown away by just how good this match was. Not because it was an actual great match (it wasn’t), but because this had train wreck written all over it, and we got a fairly damn good contest. Rayne put in some fabulous heel work, Mickie played a great face, and both really put a lot into this. There was a pretty good story, the selling was spot on, both were fairly crisp, and it was.. good. A good match.
Madison Rayne wearing one MMA glove throughout the match and then loading it up at the end for the DEATH PUNCH was just fabulous. Sure the whole sequence was a bit overbooked, but hey, that’s what heels do. And it doesn’t matter– it was a hell of a lot better than it had any right to be and Madison retained her title. HAPPINESS.
Cewsh: Backstage, Kazarian is celebrating his title win with his buddies from Fortune and Christy Hemme asks him how he feels. He gets out about two sentences before Christy goes “Oooooookay” and turns to Ric Flair to talk to him about AJ. Jesus Christ, lady, I don’t want to hear a Kazarian promo either but he just won the X Division title. You could at least PRETEND. Sheesh.
Borash would have been happy for him, that’s all I’m saying.
Vice: I love it every time these teams wrestle each other. It is just magical in every way.
Without watching it again, I’d say that this is probably one of their worst matches together, but the worst between these two teams is better than the best of 95% of tag team wrestling in America right now. These dudes are like peanut butter and jelly. So yeah, this match was fucking awesome. That’s all there is to it.
I’m slightly disappointed to see the Guns lose the tag titles because of how awesome they are, but at least they lost them to Beer Money, because those guys are clearly equals to them– they are so evenly matched that it just takes ONE little slip-up of any kind to determine who wins or loses their matches. And tonight, Beer Money was just the better team. It works well. Hopefully the Guns get right back into the picture and aren’t just forgotten about, because that’d be depressing.
The most important thing is that this title switch was meaningful and significant because of how the Guns were booked.
Cewsh: Ahhhhh, here was go. This is what I’m talking about. One of only two matches on this card that I actually expected to be good before the show started, and that seems to be rather a foregone conclusion because these two teams are, as Vice said, like peanut butter and jelly. Like marshmallows and hot chocolate. Like jumper cables and Shane McMahon’s balls. A match made in heaven.
This wasn’t the best of their 800 matches and it may not be the worst. Who cares? These two could wrestle each other forever and you’d get no complaint from me.
79 out of 100.
Cewsh: Like seriously mad as fuck. Why? Well…
Cewsh: The story behind this feud shakes out like this. Way back a few months ago, Brother Ray and Brother Devon were training a rookie named Jessie Neal as their protégé. Jesse was headstrong but learned fast, and very much respected his teachers, until one day Ray decided that Jessie had disrespected him. He then proceeded to spend a few weeks beating the unholy fuck out of Jessie much to Devon’s chagrin before Jessie finally pulled out a win over his teacher and moved on to team full time with Shannon Moore as Ink Inc. Then the whole ECW touchy feely love fest happened and Team 3D reluctantly got back together for the sake of their friends and no more was said of it. Then, after that was over, they decided they had done about all there was to do and challenged the Motor City Machine Guns to put the tag titles on the line in a Title vs. Career match. If Team 3D won, they’d go out on top. If they lost, they’d be heralding the dawning of a new era in tag team wrestling. They lost.
The following Impact, they came out and delivered a heartfelt goodbye speech, putting over the Guns and leaving their legacy untarnished. At least until Brother Ray clobbered Devon, screamed that Devon had always been holding him back, and now that he had finally gotten rid of Team 3D forever, he was free to be his own man. Newly christened “Bully” Ray, he’s here to prove he was the talented one all along, while Devon is just here to try to beat some sense into his wayward brother.
Now if you’re wondering what kind of match this is, the answer is that it is a punchy one. I mean seriously, its 10 minutes of punching before Devon grabs a chain and starts beating Ray with it until security guards drag him off and the match is thrown out.
68 out of 100.
Vice: Aaaaah this was one of those matches that was either going to be pretty good at best, or absolutely beyond dreadful depending on how they worked it. Fortunately, these two were fairly stiff and worked a surprisingly enjoyable brawl. It’s exactly what they needed to do. I’d have shaved off a minute or three, personally, but this really didn’t drag a heck of a lot.
I kind of like the DQ finish here. One because the feud continues, and two, because it made it seem a bit more legit. When two people are supposed to be feuding out of hatred, who really gives a hoot about a pin? Wouldn’t you rather just beat the crap out of the person?
I HATE YOU. I HATE YOU MORE. *roll-up*
Cewsh: And how dare you think otherwise?
I KNEW IT. I JUST KNEW IT.
Of all the goddamn rotten luck, they go and replace my beloved AJ Styles with the arbiter of my worst and deepest nightmares Abyss. And don’t let yourself think that that’s a compliment to the monster, I don’t mean that his persona is scary, his goddamn ring work is! GAHHHHH
Vice: As I was telling Cewsh while watching the show together, this was Doug William’s biggest test of his newfangled “holy crap I became amazing overnight” career. He went from super dull and quite possibly one of the most boring personalities to grace a wrestling ring to being absolutely sensational in every department, and it helped that he was always given good people to work with. He had a fantastic match with AJ Styles not long ago, and I was looking forward to the rematch here, but instead he’s taking on Abyss because Styles is down with an injury. Going up against Abyss really is the test of how good you are. AJ Styles is the only one to get consistently good, sometimes even amazing, matches out of Abyss. It’s to the point where if you’re not AJ Styles, it’s not about if you are able to get a good match out of Abyss, because it’s proven to not be possible. Instead, the test is.. can you manage to not let the match be terrible? And just how far from awful can you keep it?
While Doug has had some staggering performances in TNA and put on good matches, I honestly might say that this was truly his BEST performance right here, as he made this match watchable. It wasn’t a good match, but he actually kept it from being a complete stinker, and that’s a testament to his abilities.
Though the problem is that the second Abyss was named the replacement for AJ, and with the X and tag titles ending up in Immortal, I had that sinking feeling that Abyss was walking out champion here. And so he did. It makes me vomit a little every time I think about it, but it is what it is. If AJ was in this, surely he’d have won the belt which would have been a lot better in the present, but.. because of this injury, it almost looks like they’re going to be giving him a face run sometime in the relatively near future. Or maybe it’s just a tease. A swerve. A whatever. But hey, I like how TNA is actually making a story out of this whole thing and possibly shifting plans because of it. Even if it generally ends poorly, I respect TNA for shifting things around should something come up.
Cewsh: Okay, look. At this point it would be fair to call Abyss a decent barometer of where wrestlers are in their ability to carry people. Abyss’ talents (or lack thereof) will obviously prove a drain on the match, but degree of that drain is dependent entirely upon the skill of the performer. Kurt Angle and AJ Styles have no issue getting good matches out of Abyss, but Ken Anderson, Matt Morgan and D’Angelo Dinero did not because Kurt and AJ are skilled enough to carry people to great matches, and the other three are dependant on at least some skill in order to accomplish it. From here on this will be referred to as The Abyssmus Test (like Litmus Test? Right, let’s move on). From now on TNA wrestlers will be judged not only on their own merits, but on their ability to carry Abyss. The result will define them as wrestlers.
Here, Doug Williams proves himself absolutely capable, as he carries Abyss to a completely watchable and not at all offensive match by essentially beating the shit out of Abyss for 10 minutes and forcing him to sell. This would result in a better rating for the match had the ending not stunk to high heaven, with a hobbling AJ Styles hitting Doug with the belt (and having so much trouble walking that he actually engenders a ton of crowd sympathy) and allowing Abyss to look confused for 5 minutes and then finally hit the Black Hole Slam making Abyss, yes Abyss, your new Television champion. Ugh.
Look out TV title contenders. You’re about to get Abyssmussed.
67 out of 100.
Cewsh: RVD is backstage and he demands to know who his mystery opponent is. Before Bisch can answer, he proclaims that this is not good enough and he demands to face Hardy tonight. Eric asks if he’s sure he wants to face Hardy, and RVD confirms. So Eric agrees that tonight RVD will absolutely get to face Hardy.
Notice how I’m not using the first name here?
Cewsh: Right so the super mysterious mystery opponent is Matt Hardy, who looks like Bo Derek crossed with Raven. Let’s get that out of the way right here.
Aside from that there’s an actual backstory here. See, when RVD was World Champion awhile back, he had his title stripped from him without ever losing it because his contract ran out of dates and he, for a week or so, was not technically working for the company. This actually happened, this was not a storyline. To cover this, they had Abyss attack him with a nail stick while yelling about “They”. Fast forward a few months and it turns out that RVD’s best friend Jeff Hardy is not only the leader of “They” but he’s the one who orchestrated the attack on RVD to begin with, because he knew he couldn’t beat Rob for the title. Now Rob is out for blood, but Eric Bischoff keeps putting obstacles in his path before he can get to Hardy. But Jeff and Eric gave their word tonight that if RVD wins, he gets the next title shot.
So out comes Matt Hardy looking all crrrrrrrazy, but with some decent music and with an air of mysteriousness and menace that is actually pretty good and intriguing.
He gets no pop because everyone knew he was coming already, but still, I stir myself to be interested in where this is going. Then these two men proceed to have about the most boring match in wrestling history.
You would think this may have dream match potential, or even the potential to not suck so much ass that they might get a Hoover sponsorship, but you would be wrong. Matt Hardy is completely immobile, never moving anything below his waist while doing moves, making everything super clunky and awkward, and RVD seems confused as to whether Matt is a face or a heel, so he just kind of wanders around. Matt reveals himself to be whole hog heel in the end as everyone and their mom interferes, giving Matt the victory and costing RVD his title shot, but that’s almost secondary at this point. In the past year RVD has proven himself capable of some absolutely embarrassingly bad matches in big match situations, but here he accomplished an amazing feat. He found a way to make there be a worse debut in the history of TNA than his.
Kudos, Rob. Kudos.
57 out of 100.
Vice: When you need someone to flip out and look stunned at the surprise debut of Matt Hardy, the last person you really want is Rob Van Dam. His facial expression is just.. there. He had the same reaction to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as he did when McDonald’s announced they were bringing the McRib back.
Oh right, I mentioned Matt Hardy. Here he comes to REVOLUTIONIZE professional wrestling. He finally has his freedom from the tyrannical clutches of World Wrestling Entertainment. Now he can have the character he wants. Now he can wrestle how he wants. He can look how he wants. He’s in the best shape of his career. And you guessed it.. he is exactly the same as he was, aside from rocking Awesome Kong’s hair style. And possibly an even bigger gut. YOU GO BOY! Seriously, Matt just needs to fuck off. He’s got to be one of the absolute biggest wankers in wrestling history.
The match bored me shitless, had a stupid ending, and I honestly could not give less of a shit about Hardy. However, this IS Total Nonstop Action, which is also opposite land. They can totally screw up talent that can not be screwed up, and they can take someone who is lacking in numerous departments and make them totally awesome. So as much as I hate Matt, I’m actually curious to see if TNA can make me like him.
Cewsh: Theoretically he means wrestling related business and not, say, a yarn recycling business.
Because that would just be silly.
Cewsh: Oh my god, what was this?
Vice: Why couldn’t they just have had Kurt come back and put on great matches?
Cewsh: Okay, let’s do a pros and cons list:
41 out of 100.
Cewsh: Its an improvement.
Hardy says he’ll be watching the number one contenders match closely and that they should both be prepared for “Chapter Genesis” where anything can happen.
Cewsh: This feud is over the title, naturally, but it also over the very thing that caused Matt Morgan to turn face and leave Immortal in the first place. A few months ago, Jeff Hardy gave Ken Anderson a legit concussion with an errant chair shot, and they utilized this as storyline fodder to turn Morgan face in his sympathy for Ken, who was going to be pressed into wrestling under dangerous circumstances. After Ken came back, Matt kept taking him to take it easy and let Matt handle it, but Ken would have none of it, even when Mick Foley came to Morgan’s agreement. Anderson told them both to go fuck themselves, got this match and says he’s ready to party.
Vice: This is a match between two solid, talented wrestlers who are facing each other in the main event to determine who will challenge Jeff Hardy for the TNA Heavyweight Championship, and the only thing I can think of is..
..Matt Morgan has a full head of hair now.
This was a really solid match, but it wasn’t amazing or anything. However, this was a clear case of iron sharpening iron, and in wrestling that’s always a good thing. The finish was a bit underwhelming, but Morgan came out smelling like a rose, even in defeat.
Cewsh: I…I feel bad about this, but I’m not going to be able to give this match the time and detail it deserves. These guys put on a really very good match that is far and away better than anything anyone could have expected from them in this position, main eventing this show as face vs. face and not a ton of heat in their feud. They go back and forth, each guy highlighting their strengths and, as usual, with Ken Anderson looking like the fucking superstar of a lifetime for TNA. Then Ken Anderson wins this match and becomes the number one contender, which is important because…well…
82 out of 100.
Cewsh’s Download Seal of Approval.
Cewsh: WHAT THE FUCK?! HOLY SHIT!
Vice: Hoooooly crap this was just awesome. Bisch is such a dickhead it’s unbelievable. Hardy comes out and SMOKES A CIGARETTE, does some stretching, and generally shows more character in this 2 minute entrance than he did in his decade in WWE. It’s just so flipping crazy how natural Hardy is in this role. He’s just amazing right now. And he’s facing Mr. Anderson, who I also find amazing. And both of these two were on my shit list when they were in the ‘E, because I thought they were just awful. It’s amazing what TNA has been able to do with some of their talent (along with butchering a bajillion things, of course).
This entire match was just very well done. It wasn’t a fantastic match since Anderson was supposed to be a corpse, and Hardy isn’t supposed to give a shit, but everything was done to perfection in its own little wacky way. Anderson simply refused to die, Hardy was having fun beating up on someone who was dead, and I didn’t even mind some of the overbooked nonsense. Anderson still refuses to die, and the crowd gets REALLY into it, and Jeff gradually goes more and more insane.
I also must say that the commentators really need to step it up more, and stop being so dumb. It’s good to have them play a bit dumb sometimes for effect, but Tenay and Tazz are just beyond retarded sometimes. Like, Jeff rolls to the outside at one point, and is waving his arm and screaming “MATT! MAAAAATT!!!” at the top of his lungs, to which Tenay asks…
“..who’s he calling for?”
So naturally with TNA main events, there is a TON of overbooked nonsense and the heels prevail, and everyone just kind of groans. In the bad way, not the good way. But this time the face prevails and the crowd goes absolutely BERSERK for Mr. Anderson getting the title. Shit was CRAZY.
On top of all that, I’m really intrigued by where this all goes. Immortal got all the belts throughout the night, but then Hardy loses THE belt. So instead of Immortal having complete power like I thought they’d go with, which would be horrendously boring I’d imagine, now there’s a new champion that mixes things up quite a bit.
What a way to end the show.
Cewsh: This was the shit. No two ways about it.
Hardy pours on the abuse, and Anderson just keeps coming back, despite the concussion, despite the tough match he just had, Hardy simply cannot put Anderson down now that Ken is so close to realizing his dream, and as the match continues it begins to steal over Hardy that he’s made an enormous mistake. Both guys play their roles so incredibly well, and I was literally on the edge of my seat, full of hopes that Anderson might actually win but not actually believing he might.
But then he did.
Holy fucking shit, what a moment. Ken Anderson, completely unexpectedly has become the king of the mountain in TNA, and has also thwarted Immortal in their ultimate goal of holding all of the gold in TNA. Immortal got too cocky and they paid for it as we crown a new champion and the man who will be the face of TNA, if they’re lucky, for as long as there is a TNA. A great moment, a great main event, and a good (not great) match to cap off a crazy night.
Oh, and then while he’s celebrating he calls a kid into the ring, whom security promptly kicks the fuck out when he actually DOES get into the ring. Every great TNA moment has an awkward random thing like this, but its wont detract from the overall.
At Lockdown, a star was born. Tonight, that star took flight.
75 out of 100.
Cewsh: Man, what a schizophrenic show. 9 matches. 5 were 74 and up, 2 were 51 and below. Arguably the good makes up for the bad, and I can’t deny that the final moments of the main event are going to make me look on this event with fondness whenever I remember it later, let the record show that if Abyss is only in your THIRD worst match of the night…well then you had yourself an interesting night.
Vice: Overall, this show was pretty darn good for TNA. None of the matches were spectacular or match of the year quality or anything like that, but there was a ton of solid stuff all around. Plus Mr. Anderson became TNA champion. Come on now, that’s worth the price of the PPV alone.
I’d feel satisfied if we got a show of this quality every month from TNA.
Alright, that’ll do it for us this week boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed the perpetual roller coaster that is TNA as always. Next week we’ll be covering the Wrestlemania of the Japanese wrestling year, as we make a beeline for the land of the rising sun to cover NJPW Wrestle Kingdom V. If you’ve ever read one of our Japanese reviews, you know this is the big kahuna, and we’ve got out puro churro Defrost on the job. So until then, be sure to keep reading, and be good to one another.