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Impact starting to get talky
By STEVEN JOHNSON - SLAM! Wrestling


With NWA-TNA Wrestling's decision to hold monthly, instead of weekly, pay-per-views, it follows that the promotion's weekly Impact! show on FoxSportsNet should change, as well.

For the most part, Impact! has featured squash matches for the last few weeks, which helped many of its middle- and upper-card wrestlers score impressive wins that they might not achieve against tougher competition. Presumably, that tactic has helped to elevate them in fans' minds, as well.

Now, though, TNA will have to build feuds more slowly to build interest in its less frequent PPV telecasts. If Friday's show is an indication, the two-year old federation is on the road to understanding how its free TV must change to support its more profitable paid viewings once the switch is made in early September. Many of the commercial and in-show plugs touted the Sept. 8 PPV, headlined by NWA champion Jeff Jarrett and Jeff Hardy, instead of next week's PPV.

But the revamped schedule does bring one unwelcome possibility. So, far Impact! has been free of the pointless backstage vignettes and interviews that afflict so much of professional wrestling.

This week's show had more than a usual dose of that tonic, featuring an ongoing verbal skirmish between Dusty Rhodes and Vince Russo. Given Russo's dazzling lack of credibility in the business, it's hard to see how anything involving him could conceivable spike PPV buy rates, especially monthly ones.

Match one: Chris Harris vs Christopher Daniels

This match was a "sudden death" continuation from Wednesday's PPV, when America's Most Wanted and The Naturals fought to a no contest at the conclusion of a three-match series to determine the top contenders for the TNA tag belts. AMW's James Storm bruised his shoulder in that melee, so TNA officials changed this bout to a singles event, announcer Mike Tenay said.

Daniels started with a dropkick and hip toss to slow the larger Storm, but a suplex and clothesline gave Storm unquestioned control of the match at the 3:00 mark. The show broke for a commercial that featured Valtrex (on the FoxSportsNet New York feed), which did not appear to be a product targeted at a male audience.

Out of the break, Daniels was staggering on the floor. Storm pulled him back into the ring and delivered a crossbody block off the top rope for a count of two. Only a timely enziguiri slowed Storm's rush, and the final indecisive minute was full of near finishes and two counts, capped by a Daniels' moonsault (ostentatiously called the "World's Best Moonsault.") Though TNA has a judge to proscribe a verdict in time limit draws, Larry Zbyszko, this week's adjudicator, said he couldn't pick a winner. Instead, he announced both AMW and XXX (Daniels and Primetime) would meet The Naturals in a three-way dance at this Wednesday's PPV.

Winner: Draw

Intermission: Dusty Rhodes showed up in the crowd in defiance of Russo's admonition to stay away from the Impact! taping. He was sipping an unidentified red beverage (cranberry juice or Mountain Dew Code Red, perhaps),

Match two: Amazing Red, Sonjay Dutt & Chris Sabin vs Cassidy O'Reilly, John McChesney and Eddie Villa.

Tenay and co-announcer Don West talked through much of this brief match as they wondered about the significance of Rhodes' appearance. Sabin started against O'Reilly with a couple of slightly sloppy spots. Villa tagged in, only to take the brunt of the punishment. Dutt dropped and elbow on him, then teamed with Red for a double dropkick that laid Villa to the mat.

Red missed a second dropkick badly, and ended up being triple-teamed by the villains. He escaped to tag Dutt. As all six men started to battle, Dutt took McChesney to the corner and felled him with a spinning corkscrew off the top rope, called a Hindu press, in 5:36.

Winners: Amazing Red, Sonjay Dutt & Chris Sabin

Match three: Team Canada (Bobby Roode, Johnny Devine, Eric Young and Petey Williams with Scott D'Amore) vs. Rod Steel, Bruce Steele, Mikey Batts and Jerrelle Clark

Rhodes once again got in the picture when he threw a bionic elbow at Team Canada members, including D'Amore, in response to a faceful of taunts.

Whether D'Amore taunts were about the aforementioned red beverage was unclear. The fracas ended when Don Harris escorted Rhodes out of the building for reasons unknown. It appears that Russo is frustrated at what he considers to be Rhodes' hot-headed nature. Maybe divinity school will teach Russo more patience with human foibles.

The match lasted just 1:32 as Williams dropped Clark with his flip piledriver.

Winners: Team Canada

Intermission: Now, Rhodes is in the parking lot, and Konnan intervened on his behalf, telling Russo, "There's more than one way to skin a cat." He did not elaborate on the additional ways, though.

Match four: Sonny Siaki vs Abyss (with Alex Shelley & Goldylocks)

Siaki had trouble with the oversized Abyss from the start, as his chops failed to move the monster from his feet. Siaki did manage a two-count after Abyss accidentally ran into Shelley, who was standing on the ring apron. Abyss countered with spinning side slam for the win in 3:38. Despite his accomplishment, Goldylocks berated him for bumping into Shelley.

Winner: Abyss

Intermission: Jeff Hammond conducted the Six Points of Impact session with NASCAR's Elliot Sadler. Sadler recalled attending Starrcade in Atlanta with the Midnight Express and the Rock 'n'Roll Express in a scaffold match. He identified it as the first Starrcade, but it wasn't clear which one he meant. Neither was on the Starrcade 83 roster, nor did they hold a Starrcade scaffold match in Atlanta (that bout was Starrcade 87 in Chicago).

Match five: Jeff Jarrett vs Frankie Capone

Jarrett savagely attacked Capone as he was on the ramp - one could see that coming because seldom does the champ enter the ring before the challenger. That kind of beating, Jarrett proclaimed, was exactly what is in store for Jeff Hardy on Sept. 8. Jarrett won with "The Stroke" in 0:49, or a tick of the second hand longer than it took Bruno Sammartino to wrest the WWWF world belt from Buddy Rogers in 1963.

Winner: Jeff Jarrett

Match six: Frankie Kazarian (with Michael Shane & Traci) vs Jeff Hardy

Tenay and West hyped Hardy heavily as Jarrett's opponent for the Sept. 8 PPV, which they dubbed "A Date with Fate." Kazarian gave a strong showing, dominating much of the early action. Hardy made a comeback and set up Kazarian for a finishing "Twist of Fate" ("A Date with Fate" ... "Twist of Fate" ... get it?) Shane tried to block the move with a superkick, but nailed his ally instead. Hardy then hit a swanton bomb for the victory. Run-ins by much of the TNA roster followed as the show faded out.

Winner: Jeff Hardy


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