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TNA: Luger aids Abyss
By DONNIE ABREU -- SLAM! Wrestling


Team Canada is ready!

Less crap, more action. That appears to be the motto of TNA from here on out. Certainly that seemed to be the case this week. We had a couple of four-star matches, the birth of the next great home-grown star, the return of extreme and the re-debut of a former WCW World Champion. That's a lot to squeeze into a two hour program.

The first match was set up to tease the second America's X Cup Tournament. It was set to feature the captains from Team Canada, USA and Mexico. However, Petey Williams was a last second replacement for Team Canada's captain Teddy Hart who apparently has suffered a knee injury.

It was also announced that despite the fact that Jeff Jarrett fired Jerry Lynn last week, TNA's new Director of Authority Vince Russo reinstated him.

Petey Williams VS. Juevntud Guerrera VS. Jerry Lynn

Williams is a third-year pro, trained in Calgary and has been making quite a name for himself on the independent circuit. Team Canada and Mexico came down the ramp to watch this match. The American team was watching from the top of the building in a box seat.

This match featured some very fast paced offence and some very innovative three-way spots. The finish came after about nine or 10 minutes. Juvi was on a roll taking out both men, but Lynn reversed a Juvi Driver and hit an F5. Lynn was so exhausted he collapsed, but Williams lept off the top with a big splash to pick up the upset win, eh.

Winner: Petey Williams

We then had some footage filmed earlier in the day where Total Wrestling Magazine editor Bill Apter presented a couple of yearly awards. Well, there's mainstream credibility. Moving on...

Mike Tenay was in the ring talking about the decision to name Vince Russo as the new DOA in TNA. He said he was skeptical about the decision to name Russo as the top man, but has been assured that Russo is back to do what is right for the company and take Jarrett down. I suppose that was the blatant attempt to make Russo a babyface. He walked to the ring to a smattering of applause, but the majority of fans didn't quite know how to react.

Russo talked about the last time he was on TNA back in October he was crushed by Jarrett and repeated cheap shots. He believes he earned everyone of those shots because of the path he had taken in this business.

He talked about how he had sold his soul in the name of TV ratings. He talked about having sacrificed the integrity of the sport for nudity, sex and sensationalism. The fans cheered that, but Russo maintained he wasn't proud of it. He talked about how it was his decision to have the Undertaker lowered on a crucifix. He told the crowd that he is now a changed man.

The crowd chanted many unpleasant things and seem to be killing this angle.

Jarrett interrupted and walked to the ring. Geez, this is a REALLY long segment. Jarrett said that Russo was about as sincere as every other promoter he's ever worked for. Jarrett talked about knowing Russo better than anyone and understood that this was all a ploy to try and earn The Chosen One's forgiveness. The World Champion offered an invitation to Russo to join his side. Russo had the best line I've heard in a while, "The curtain is about to come down on the Jeff Jarrett show". He told JJ that it was time for him to pass the torch and give someone else an opportunity. This popped the people.

Jarrett shoved Russo on his ass then screamed in his face challenging him to a fight. Jarrett slapped Russo to the ground. Russo said he had proven his point by taking the punishment and not retaliating the way he normally would. Russo ended by telling JJ to enjoy his night off and that someone else would realize his destiny this week.

Backstage Scott Hudson was talking to a couple of Juggalos: 2 Tough Tony and the Rude Boy. They explained that the Insane Clown Posse were in the recording studio this week completing a new album.

There was a recap package showing all the times that Johnny Swinger lied about not having signed with Jarrett's team, and then Simon Diamond's discovery last week that he had in fact been betrayed by his long time partner.

Johnny Swinger VS. Simon Diamond

Well it would seem that in their divorce, custody of their sweet entrance music has not yet been settled, as both men came out to it.

Swinger was chased out of the building and through the crowd. When he ran into the ring he turned the tables and put the boots to Diamond. Simon was thrown to the outside and into the guard rail. Swinger followed up by choking him with camera cable.

It was then mentioned by the announcers that there weren't any TNA cage dancers this week. Vince Russo has put wrestling first and sent the strippers home.

Anytime Diamond tried to mount an attack it was reversed by his former partner. Diamond did catch an attempted leap frog and turned into a short powerbomb. He followed that with the Simon Series of suplexes, a backdrop and a superkick. Swinger went into his tights for brass knuckles. He knocked Diamond, then slipped the weapon into his opponent's knee pad. Pinfall and win.

Winner: Johnny Swinger

At that moment the senior official Rudy Charles ran down and told the in-ring referee what had happened. It was ordered that the match must be re-started.

Swinger ran back into the ring and dropped knees to Diamond's head. Swinger took the foreign object back from Diamond but the referee saw it. Glen Gilberti ran in and we had a DQ.

Winner by DQ: Simon Diamond

The aftermath saw Swinger, Gilberti, David Young and Kid Kash destroy Diamond. Simon has a problem. An attempted save by Juggalos Rude Boy and 2 Tough Tony, but they weren't able to do much either. Finally the Black Shirt Security ran the heels off.

All kinds of backstage interaction followed with Jarrett talking to Shane Douglas, Kevin Northcutt and the Naturals. Basically he was looking for answers as to why Russo is acting the way he is.

The New Franchise (Michael Shane & Shane Douglas with Tracy Brooks) VS. The 3 Live Kru (Konnan & Ron Killings with BG James)

This is Konnan's first match in a long time. James joined Tenay and West for commentary. Early in the match Konnan held Douglas' legs (like the Dudleys before a Wazzup) as Killings came off the top with a leg drop in the lower region.

Michael Shane sent Killings to the outside and followed with a rolling senton. Douglas was still the legal man and went to work on Killings' neck. When Michael was tagged in, The Truth mounted a brief comeback but then was just outwrestled by the former X-Division champion.

Douglas tagged back in and hit Killings with a piledriver. Douglas slapped Killings in the face until the Sun Tanned Superman "Hulked up" and into a stare down. Twisting flying forearm by Killings and then the quick hot tag.

K-Dawg entered taking on both men with face jams, Rolling Thunder Clotheslines and kicks. This onslaught lasted about 15 seconds - at which point Konnan may have actually been exhausted.

Douglas and Killings battled on the outside as Konnan hit a face jam and locked a Tequila Sunrise half crab on Michael. Tracy ran in and nailed Konnan in the back of the head. When he stood up, he took sweet chin music and the pinfall loss.

Winners: The New Franchise

After the match Konnan went nose to nose with Killings blaming him for the loss.

Scott Hudson spoke to America's Most Wanted backstage. James Storm's arm was in a sling because of an injury suffered a couple weeks ago at the hands of the Naturals. Harris (who is babyface) screamed about having proven last week he could beat Jarrett one on one, yet this week Russo (supposedly a babyface) protected JJ (a heel) by giving him the night off, instead of ordering a rematch. Instead, Harris must face Chase Stevens of the Naturals.

Chris Harris VS. Chase Stevens

Here's the odd part about this one on one match. The Naturals haven't had a tag match on the weekly PPV since their-debut in TNA. Seems to me the story of a tag wrestler going one on one is somewhat diluted when the fans don't know anything about the team he represents.

Harris used his "hold him in the air all night" vertical suplex - but the impressive part was that Stevens was violently kicking his legs back and forth trying to shift his weight, but Harris held him in one spot. Very nice show of strength. A new twist on an old classic.

Thesz press and fists by Harris. Stevens slipped out the back door and nailed a high cross body of his own. Harris powered out and came back with a Full Nelson slam. Stevens kicked out and connected with a standing leg lariat. Harris kicked out, caught Stevens and hit a Davey Boy Smith style running Powerslam. Attempted Catatonic by Harris that was reversed by Stevens into a DVD. Stevens tried a moonsault by missed. Spear by Harris. Two Count. Harris then hit the Catatonic to pick up the win.

Winner: Chris Harris

Vince Russo walked down the ramp and told ring announcer Jeremy Borash that Harris must now face Stevens' tag partner Andy Douglas. The announcers were confused by this decision but were hoping Harris could turn it into a positive by extracting revenge on both members of the Naturals.

Chris Harris VS. Andy Douglas

Harris seemed to be out of gas as Douglas attacked and took a quick advantage. Douglas hit the "Natural Selection" which is a double underhook jumping DDT. Harris kicked out. Stevens stood on the ring apron trying to run interference, but Harris ran Douglas into into his partner, and pulled a schoolboy to finish.

Winner: Chris Harris

Vince Russo then told the ring announcer that Harris must now wrestle a third consecutive match.

Handicap Match
Chris Harris VS. The Naturals

Harris looked pissed. His partner James Storm ran down the ramp trying to help but Russo told him not to interfere.

The Naturals tagged in and out quickly and went to work on The Wildcat. Harris was beaten down for five or six minutes before avoiding a double clothesline. He back dropped Douglas out of the ring and clotheslined Stevens over the top. Harris collapsed with fatigue. The ref was distracted trying to prevent Douglas from bringing a chair into the ring - as that was happening, Stevens brought a chair of his own in. Storm ran in and superkicked that chair into Chase's face. Harris fell on top of him for the win.

Winner: Chris Harris

Vince Russo didn't have anything else booked for Harris this week. Well, that series was one hell of a push for Chris, but it completely buried the legitimacy of the Naturals as a tag team.

A video montage was shown recapping the feud between Raven and The Gathering. Backstage, Hudson asked Russo why he did that to Harris. Harris interrupted and asked Russo the exact same thing screaming "CHANGED MAN, MY ASS!" Russo said he was at home watching Harris for months and doesn't think Harris is ready for the top. Harris said he'd been busting his ass for two years. Russo said that JJ has been busting his for twenty. Russo said he believes in Harris and is taking it upon himself to help Harris get to the next level. On March 17th Harris will face JJ for the World title. Russo said that between now and then The Wildcat was going to hate him, but it would make him stronger.

Raven and Sabu VS. The Gathering with Father James Mitchell

According to Tenay, this is the first time Raven and Sabu have ever been in the ring together. Raven took both men out quickly with punches and kicks, sending them over the top rope. Sabu placed a chair in the ring, and used a triple jump dive to crush Julio Dinero and CM Punk simultaneously.

Back in the ring Dinero caught Raven with a leg lariat and then put the boots to his former mentor. He and Punk worked Raven over in their corner. Punk missed a split legged splash, allowing the hot tag to Sabu.

Sabu used chair shots on Punk, then sprung off the chair to leg lariat both men - one after the other. Standing Arabian Facebuster by Sabu. Triple Jump Moonsault by Sabu. He's playing all his old hits.

There was some sort of very awkward moment where Sabu and Raven seemed to collide or something. Sabu curled up in the corner in pain as Raven hit Punk with a DDT. Quick win for the ECW icons.

Winners: Sabu & Raven

Raven told Russo that he is still after Jarrett. Sure, Harris gets a shot on March 17th - but what about him? WHAT ABOUT RAVEN?

Scott Hudson talked to AJ Styles about his upcoming match with Abyss. Each man holds one half of the NWA tag team titles, but clearly they cannot function as a team. They will face each other one on one. The winner will take both belts and choose a new partner.

The announcers hyped up the upcoming America's X Cup tournament between Canada and Mexico. They then made mention that a team from Japan has challenged the American team. More on that next week. Let the speculation begin.

Backstage, some blonde bimbo took the mic from Hudson and introduced Jonny Fairplay. Fairplay said he was the star of the show and that AJ Styles was just an extra. He mumbled some garbage about how his interview segment "Playing Fair with Jonny" would not be shown this week. Rumors that this decision was made because nobody at TNA can figure out what the hell do with this overpriced no-talent have not yet been confirmed. Stay tuned. Fairplay's segment (amateur as it was) lasted a whopping two minutes.

Tables Match for the NWA TNA Tag Team Titles
Abyss Vs. AJ Styles

The rules in a TNA table match state that you must drive your opponent through two tables in order to win. That certainly does heighten the drama significantly. How anti-climactic is every Dudley Boy table match?

I must admit, these two do have a special chemistry against each other. Abyss is a great working big man, and AJ can work with anyone. Their matches always seem to feature something special.

With Abyss on the outside, Styles took to the air, jumping over the top rope - without touching the ropes - with a twisting 360 suicide dive. Simply awesome.

They teased both men going through tables several times, and in a great way that told a story. Abyss was trying to use his superior strength to throw the former World Champion into some wood, while the much smaller phenomenal one attempting to throw himself onto a prone monster.

Abyss used an Earthquake style splash on Styles. When he tried a second one, Styles held up a chair that caught the big man in the family jewels.

AJ then went running across the ring full speed at his opponent, who ducked and threw a VICIOUS back drop sending Styles outside the ring and threw a table. Styles flew after the back drop so quickly and violently, and hit the table so hard - I wasn't sure if he'd ever get up. Unreal spot.

Abyss 1 Styles 0.

Abyss set a table up in the ring and then brought AJ in. Abyss tried several power moves to end the match, but Styles constently wriggled free. There was a table set up right at the edge of the ring. Abyss stood on the apron looking to go outside for more weaponry, when Styles lept onto the table, and snapped a hurricanrana that sent the 6'8" beast to the outside through a second table. WOW!

Abyss 1 Styles 1.

Abyss hit a Black Hole Slam and then set Styles up for a Super Plex through another table. Styles reversed it into a Sunset Flip bomb, but Fairplay ran down and kicked the table over. AJ grabbed Fairplay and hit the Styles Clash on him.

Abyss tried to splash AJ in the corner, but instead took out the ref. AJ wiped Abyss out with a series of moves and set him up on the table. He used two 360 splashes but couldn't shatter the wood. He then came off the opposite side of the ring with a Springboard Snuka Splash.

It appeared that Styles had won, but the ref was out. Then, Lex Luger walked down the aisle. Luger, who hasn't been on TNA since AJ beat him in a tag match a couple of months ago grabbed the little guy and pressed him over head tossing him outside the ring through yet another table,

Luger revived the ref and showed him that AJ was on the outside and laying on a broken table. Apparently the ref didn't find it strange that Lex freakin' Luger was standing in the ring or that Luger was the only man that was conscious. Oh ya, it must have been clean. The referee in his delirious stupor called for the bell and awarded the match to Abyss.

Winner: Abyss

Following the match, Luger locked AJ in a Torture Rack as the show went off the air. Well, it would appear that the new Tag Team Champions are Abyss and Luger. The official announcement will be made next week as to who Abyss is teaming with. AJ will get to chose a partner and will face the new champions next Wednesday for the titles.

The lack of Jarrett's interruptions and the limited Fairplay nonsense made this a very enjoyable show. We only had one extended promo, which was used to explain the strange face turn of Russo. This show really did seem to focus a little more on action and giving the fans what they've been screaming for.

Good things TNA did this week: They've set up Chris Harris for a monster push. They've prolonged the AJ / Abyss feud, and will undoubtedly give AJ the rub by allowing him to embarrass the Total Package. Team Canada showed that they are simply the best, and Raven has been repositioned as a legitimate title threat.

The only stale part of the show for me was the Swinger - Diamond match. A split had been teased for months and to have such a weak blow off match with a pointless restart and the swarming of Simon - I think TNA fans were expecting more.

The crowd was a little more subdued without ICP on the show - but they'll be back next week. Fear not Juggalos.

Overall, I'm very happy with this week's show. Order the replay if you missed it. TNA! TNA! TNA!


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    Donnie Abreu has been a wrestling journalist for eight years and is the co-founder of IceCold Media (www.icecoldmedia.com). Visit IceCold Media for all your custom media design needs. Mention that you read Donnie's column on SLAM! and receive a 20% discount! Looking to make some extra cash? Visit www.icecoldmedia.com to find out about ICM's new Affiliate Program and how it can work for you!