Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Impact Report: It Happened

This visual was gross and wrong
Photo Credit:
So full disclosure, and I’m only saying this because I’ve seen what kind of response these kind of articles about wrestling get, and I want to head them off at the pass at all possible, but yes I understand that wrestling isn’t real. I understand that all parties involved in the actual performance of wrestling agree upon what is going to happen at the event before hand. I’m sure in real life that Bully Ray, Brother Devon, and Tommy Dreamer don’t actually hate women or think that women should be put through a table for whatever the impetus of this feud was in the first place. I’m okay with intergender wrestling and even valets and managers becoming a part of the actual wrestling in the ring when the storyline calls for it.

But it doesn’t change the fact that what happened on TNA the other night was the absolute most disgusting and stupid thing I’ve witnessed in wrestling in quite some time, and I’m absolutely not going to stand by and let TNA get away with it.

The thing, I get why TNA did this whole “Dixie Carter going through a table” angle. It’s Buh Buh Ray Dudley, one half of arguably one of the most famous tag teams ever. His whole thing is putting people, specifically women, through tables. He made his name in ECW for this, at a promotion already heavy with assaults on women, and when he made the transition to WWF the gimmick went with him. He even put Johnny Mae Young through a table, for Pete’s sake! So what is the difference between that and this? What makes putting one woman through a table “okay” (for storyline reasons, I’m obviously not advocating for violence against women) but putting another woman through a table so vile I’m dedicating my entire review of the episode to it?

In ECW and WWF Buh Buh Ray Dudley was a heel, the bad guy in the story. Regardless of the reactions he got he put those women through tables because he was the baddie and we were meant to boo him. In TNA Bully Ray is the GOOD GUY and is getting CHEERED for putting Dixie Carter through a table, and threatening to put her through a table for several months now, and basically stalking and harassing her for that whole time period. Do you see how that’s skewed?

Even in the typical “good vs. evil” alignment I think you can make an argument for a good guy going after a bad girl. An angle I struggled with while watching this episode of Impact was the Kevin Steen/Mike Bennett feud from Ring of Honor last year. For those of you not familiar, Bennett basically started a feud with Steen over whose piledriver was better. Over the course of the feud Steen was regularly distracted by Bennett’s long-time valet and real life fiancee Maria Kanellis. She cost Steen several matches against Bennett, and finally when it came time for the conclusion of the feud at Final Battle 2013, Steen retaliated by piledriving Kanellis and finally beating Bennett.

I was definitely made uncomfortable by this moment but I understood why it happened. It wasn’t as if Kanellis was a mere victim or forced into distracting Steen in anyway, she was clearing doing this over her own volition because she was the bad guy. Steen had clear motivations, and while the image of a man piledriving a woman outside of an intergender match nearly always makes me squirm, I understood why this was happening. The same cannot be said, however, for the Bully Ray/Dixie Carter feud which has run through TNA since Lockdown earlier this year.

Not only are Bully Ray’s motivations muddled (I know Carter put him through a table or caused him to be put through a table which cost him a match) but people on the show itself have called out how silly it is for him to have continued this feud for so long. His single-minded quest for revenge has cost him several more matches, and there is no benefit to him to actually putting Ms. Carter through a table. There’s no title on the line, and Carter isn’t a wrestler or even in power anymore on the show, so Bully Ray isn’t going to get any major rub from putting her through a table or is vanquishing any great foe. The feud and its subsequent blow-off in New York is pretty much just there to give the fans who loved Buh Buh Ray Dudley the chance to shout for tables one more time and watch him do the stuff they loved from the Attitude Era. The one guy that could benefit from this feud, Ethan Carter III, ends up looking like a chump because when it mattered he couldn’t even protect his aunt.

I’m very much of the old school wrestling fan mentality where if someone is going to do a long feud, and one of those wrestlers involved has a lot of credibility and a long tenure, at some point the older wrestler is going to have to put the younger one over. This is almost always how it works, even among the bigger egos in wrestling. Hulk Hogan put over Brock Lesnar. The Rock, eventually, put over John Cena. CM Punk beat the likes of Chris Jericho and John Cena multiple times, and Daniel Bryan pinned John Cena, beat Triple H, and made Batista tap out.

TNA, to its detriment, is a very different beast. Dixie Carter begged Hogan not to leave. AJ Styles and Sting both lost in an overbooked fashion on their way out. Unlike those guys, Bully Ray is here to stay, at least until TNA shuts his doors. But that may not be the best thing for the future of the company.

In a lot of ways, Bully Ray is TNA’s own version of John Cena. I mean, the crowd loves him way more than they love Cena, but he’s nigh indestructible and TNA’s biggest name. He rarely loses clean and he always gets the upper hand in all his feuds. He threatens to kill Mr. Anderson’s family and gets treated like a hero immediately after. He gets put in a long term feud with a rising star where he wins and makes the other guy look pretty bad, and the show revolves around him. Like I said before, the title doesn’t even get featured in this feud but it still gets higher billing and more mic time than any of Bobby Lashley’s title defenses have this month.

The fact that the press surrounding this episode of Impact has focused more on the image of a woman going through a table than the actual wrestling involved on the show, the fact that I spent so much digital ink talking about Bully Ray’s actions rather than about Samoa Joe being the new X Division champ, says everything you need to know about the state TNA is in right now. This feud could have been a star-making turn for Mr. The Third. Or heck, they could have tied this feud into Lashley’s current title run and had MVP and Carter have an unholy alliance to go against Bully Ray And The ECW All-Stars instead of bringing in friggin’ Gene Snitsky and Ezekiel Jackson. Instead all we get is a broken table, a broken woman, and a very broken company.