With Total Nonstop Action Wrestling holding what it describes as the most important pay-per-view in its two-year history next week, it was predictable that the syndicated TNA Impact! show would focus on hyping that event.
Impact! delivered on those counts in its Sept. 3 edition, featuring a set of squash matches but keeping the storylines front and center for the PPV, which is important for the much-ballyhooed Jeff Jarrett-Jeff Hardy title match, and as a precursor of the company's shift from weekly to monthly par-per-views.
In fact, Impact! even had a couple of unacknowledged bows to successful marketing of bygone years - various wrestlers offered their predictions on the Hardy-Jarrett bout, a tactic more than 40 years old (see old videotapes of the 1961 Pat O'Connor-Buddy Rogers NWA title match). And Scott D'Amore, the opponent for Dusty Rhodes at the Sept. 8 PPV, was billed as a "slim, trim" 203 pounds. Playboy Buddy Rose, the instigator of wrestling's "slim, trim" description, must have had a smile on his face.
Introduction: Jarrett came out to begin the show with an anti-Hardy promo, saying Hardy was trying to claim title to something Jarrett created. "From day one, I have built TNA from the ground up. I have literally carried the company on my shoulders ... Jeff Hardy, you are an outsider and no outsiders will ever be welcome in TNA unless they are friends of mine."
Match one: 3 Live Kru vs Abyss, Alex Shelley and Nosawa (with Goldylocks)
Konnan started for 3LK and controlled the early part of the match, flattening both Nosawa and Shelley. Abyss entered and slapped B.G. James to the mat. James retaliated with a series of rights, but narrowly avoided a chokeslam, thanks to the aid of Ron Killings.
Killings delivered a simultaneous dropkick - one leg each to Shelley and Nosawa. Abyss entered, only to be knocked over the top rope. Killings then unleashed a finishing axe kick on Nosawa at 3:40. Afterward, Shelley and Goldylocks blamed Abyss for the loss. That suggested some problem will arise when Abyss, Shelley, and Goldylocks meet Erik Watts, Sonny Siaki, and Desire on Sept. 8.
Winners: 3 Live Kru
Match two: Romeo vs Kid Kash with Dallas
Kash will square off in a tables match against A.J. Styles on Sept. 8. Since Dallas brought a table into the ring that had "AJ X AJ" spray-painted on the top, you could see where this was headed. Kash won with his double underhook slam, called the moneymaker, in 1:04. Dallas then laid the unfortunate Romeo on the table as Kash nailed him with a frog splash off the top rope.
Winner: Kid Kash
Match three: The Naturals vs Shark Boy & D-Ray 3000
Chase Stevens of the Naturals started the match by heisting the hair pick from D-Ray 3000's afro. D-Ray responded with elbows to Stevens and Andy Douglas, reclaimed the pick, fritzed with his hair, and dropped a head butt to Stevens' shoulder.
After a tag, Douglas captured the momentum by slamming Shark Boy to the canvas, but D-Ray cleaned house and joined with Shark Boy to deliver the battering "Afro-ram" on Douglas. But when D-Ray went to the ropes, Douglas rolled out of the way of his top rope leap. The Naturals finished D-Ray with the "natural disaster" in 3:15.
Winners: The Naturals
Match four: Chasyn Rance vs Scott D'Amore with Team Canada
D'Amore's colleagues grabbed the house microphone from Jeremy Borash and insisted on introducing their mentor as somewhat more chiseled physically than he appears at first glance.
The brief match gave announcers Mike Tenay and Don West time to recount the reasons for the D-Amore-Dusty Rhodes bout on Sept. 8; both alleged D'Amore is the responsible party is stirring up a fuss between Rhodes and TNA Director of Authority Vince Russo (Rhodes must leave TNA if he loses to D'Amore. Russo is the referee, so go figure).
D'Amore hit Rance with a moonsault, causing West to question why the ring failed to collapse. The end came in 2:07 with the "demoralizer," a variation of a sitdown powerbomb.
Winner: Scott D'Amore
Match five: Monty Brown vs Adam Flash
West and Tenay touted Brown's legitimate achievements as a football All-American and All-American Academic in college (Ferris State University, a Division II school, in 1992). Fans were waiting for one moment, though - Brown's off-the-ropes shoulder bloc, called the "pounce." They had to wait just 2:09. Afterward, Brown challenged the winner of the Jarrett-Hardy confrontation.
Winner: Monty Brown
Intermission: Shane Douglas interviewed Rhodes on his animosity toward D'Amore. The American Dream suggested D'Amore stick to his day job as "a stooge of the Canadian government." Further details of the apparent trickery and deceit emanating from Ottawa were not available.
NASCAR star Elliot Sadler appeared on analyst Jeff Hammond's "Six Points of Impact" feature. A wrestling fan, Sadler said he liked to speed that the six-sided ring in TNA brings to the sport, and backed Hardy in the upcoming PPV.
Match six: The Elite Guard vs A.J. Styles and Jeff Hardy
This quick tag match put two of TNA's leading performers on the same team, though the work with Onyx and Hotstuff Hernandez, mostly consisting of high spots, was sloppy at times. Styles took the brunt of punishment early. In a deviation from the tag team norm, the referee missed a pin of good guy Styles when Hardy leaped into the fray. Hardy pinned Onyx with the swanton bomb in 4:02 to set up his match with Jarrett.
Winners: A.J. Styles and Jeff Jarrett
Steven Johnson is a writer and editor in Virginia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.