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COMMENT





'The Truth' is not set free on Impact!
Killings wins the battle, but loses war with Jarrett
By STEVEN JOHNSON - SLAM! Wrestling


It's hard to imagine that Monday morning quarterbacks have anything on pro wrestling buffs. Wrestling fans dissect and analyze each segment of shows like Total Nonstop Wrestling Impact! They're seldom at a loss to express their pleasures and displeasures with the implied belief that they could book the programme better, if only given the chance.

That having been said, it's hard to find fault with the direction of Impact! after three weeks. The weekly TNA show on Fox Sports Net has settled into a reasonably comfortable niche, striking an admirable balance between fast-paced matches and promotional blurbs for TNA's weekly pay-per-view events.

For example, on the June 18 show, taped June 17 at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. some 43 minutes elapsed before announcers Mike Tenay and Don West were visible on camera, a restraint that other wrestling companies would do well to mirror.

By presenting the strengths of TNA -- in-ring action -- to viewers first, and then concluding with a set-up for the PPV (next Wednesday is the second anniversary show, the company has found a nice formula that even the most finicky wrestling critic would be hard pressed to pan.

Match one: 6-man X Division match between Hector Garza, Chris Sabin, Michael Shane, PrimeTime (aka Elix Skipper), Kazarian, and Miyamoto

To their credit, Tenay and West took a long time introducing each wrestler and providing some background information on them, even though that process took almost as long as the match. As with many X Division matches, the bout was a usually interesting blur of flying heads scissors, missile dropkicks, and other high spots. The process for tagging in and out was never explained fully though, and 3-on-3 teams never developed.

Sabin delivered a nice springboard into a missile dropkick for a count of two on Shane. PrimeTime entered the ring to walk on the ropes -- unsteadily, it seemed -- to go after Shane, who had the presence of mind to shake the ropes and crotch PrimeTime. The two traded snap huracanranas before Shane tagged Miyamoto. The Japanese star was in briefly before all six men joined in the contest. In the confusion, Miyamoto blew red mist -- cherry, perhaps -- at PrimeTime. After Shane weakened Miyamoto for a two-count, Garza hit a twisting plancha off the top rope for the pin in 5:16.

Winner: Hector Garza

Match two: The Naturals (Andy Douglas and Chase Stevens) vs. Sabu and Sonjay Dutt

Before the match, America's Most Wanted attacked The Naturals in relation for making off with their ring attire at last Wednesday's PPV. Tenay noted that this represented Sabu's maiden appearance on Impact! But fans did not get to see him for several minutes as Dutt worked most of the early part of the match.

Stevens caught Dutt with a flying hammerlock, but Dutt worked himself out of trouble and hit huracanranas on both Naturals. Dutt stayed in the ring, and was laid out by a Stevens' lariat. West made a nice call here, saying that Dutt should have tagged Sabu after the huracanranas, but he was too inexperienced to recognize that fact.

When Sabu entered, he got a reverse springboard for a two-count on Stevens, then locked the blonde in a camel clutch. Given the fact that Raven is supposed to provide a 'tribute' to The Sheik, Sabu's uncle, at next week's PPV, the role of the Camel Clutch in The Sheik's arsenal probably merited attention.

Dutt threw a chair into the ring, but Sabu used it for springboards and not shots. He tagged to Dutt, who missed a Hindu press from the top rope, and was pinned in 4:54 with the double team Natural Disaster move. Sabu then used the chair to clear the ring.

Winners: The Naturals

Match three: Abyss vs D-Ray 3000

A squash match involving Abyss, called "the monster Abyss" by Tenay and West, has become a weekly fixture. This week, his victim was D-Ray 3000. "Instead of D-Ray 3000, it should be D-Ray 3000-to-1 because those are the odds of his beating the monster Abyss," West said. The match lasted 1:23 after Abyss caught D-Ray in his side slam, called the blackhole slam. D-Ray futile attempts at dropkicks and offense were, well, unusually futile.

Match four: X Division champion A.J. Styles vs. Mr. Aguila

This was a non-title match. The two very quick grapplers traded wristlocks and flips before Styles delivered what Tenay subliminally termed an "impact-ful dropkick." Styles held Aguila in a vertical suplex for about 10 seconds, before dropping him and getting a count of two. Kid Kash and Dallas were show watching the match from the top of the ramp.

Coming out of a commercial break, both were on the mat following a double collision that was shown on replay. Styles put Aguila into a cliffhanger -- a razor's edge into a DDT -- for a two-count, but Aguila kicked out. When Aguila went for a backdrop off the ropes, Styles countered with a Styles clash for the victory in 7:39 of an entertaining if occasionally telegraphed match. The pin was the cue for Dallas and Kash to beat on Styles, softening him for the Styles-Kash match at next week's PPV. D-Lo Brown made the save in street clothes, and declared he would challenge the winner of the Jeff Jarrett-Ron Killings world title match on the PPV.

Winner: A.J. Styles

At this point, Tenay and West outlined the anniversary show, presenting a video package that showed the reasons for the upcoming Trinity-Desire stretcher match; the first ladies' stretcher match, as it was billed. Jerry Lynn's efforts on behalf of Team NWA to deal with the rascally Scott D'Amore, the manager of team Canada, also earned a brief mention.

Match five: Ron 'The Truth' Killings vs Eric Young

In a throwback to WCW, Dusty Rhodes came out to add color commentary. D'Amore whacked Killings with a hockey stick, prompting the aforementioned Lynn to spring out from the crowd and chase him to the back. Coming after the PPV preview, that made booking sense and also got D'Amore out of Killings' (braided) hair.

Although Killings is dubbed as the top contender to Jarrett's crown, Young dominated 'The Truth' for the first three minutes of the match, getting two-counts with a headbutt and again with a side backbreaker. Killings caught Young off the ropes with a suplex, prompting an amused Rhodes to remark: "I used to do some of that stuff in the old days; now the ol' bionic elbow just kind of carries me through."

Young missed a right cross, and Killings hit him with a leg lariat before nailing the Canadian with the "lie detector" -- a Booker T-style scissors kick -- for the win. As soon as Killings claimed the win, the lights went dark until a spotlight focused on a tuxedo-clad Jarrett approaching the ring. Jarrett went to the announcers' table and clocked Rhodes with a guitar, before using the remnants on the instrument on Killings.

Winner: Ron Killings

Director of Authority Vince Russo then suddenly appeared in the ring -- his entrance must have been off-camera -- and reminded Jarrett that he would lose the title on the disqualification if he employs a guitar as a weapon against Killings on the PPV.

Actually, Killings might have better off if Russo had stayed out of view. Jarrett apparently took Russo's warning to mean there was no reason to wait until Wednesday, and he again battered Killings with some cat gut and plywood. Killings tumbled into the crowd -- mostly on his won, it seemed -- after another assault by Jarrett. A battered and unimpressive-looking Killings was prone on the floor as Tenay reminded us he'll face Jarrett on Wednesday.

Steven Johnson is a writer and editor in Virginia. He can be reached at blakeslee_74@yahoo.com.