In December, 2007, I gave up watching TNA. I had just watched their special "Christmas episode" and felt it to be the worst wrestling show I had ever watched in my life, and keep in mind that you're talking about someone who has watched G.L.O.W and 1 Night in China. The absolute nadir of wrestling on television. A Double North Pole match with a barbed wire Christmas tree featuring Rellik is killer spelled backwards. Cheap Christmas lights hung on a steel cage. Samoa Joe acting like a spoiled brat. Skits from a backstage Christmas party that made the last season of Roseanne seem like Seinfeld in its prime. I had it UP TO HERE, as they say.
And I was finished.
But in January, something happened. I was alerted to an upcoming special that would air after the regular Impact. It was a show called Global Impact and was going to be a show based on TNA's recent trip to Japan. It was getting a lot of advance praise, especially from people whose word I trust. I decided to give it a chance. And you know what? It was very good. Not great, but very good… and definitely a step in the right direction. I put Impact back on my DVR list as it showed me there is still hope in TNA, especially when you take out the unfunny "comedy," guys like Sonjay Dutt who seem to exist for no particular reason, and mix in matches that contain two guys who want to kick the crap out of each other.
Now TNA has released the Global Impact DVD. While the TV version only aired one match (Kurt Angle vs. Yuji Nagata), the DVD contains each match from the event that included a TNA wrestler. The event itself was entitled Wrestling Kingdom II and featured the stars of TNA versus wrestlers from New Japan Pro Wrestling. Taped in the legendary Tokyo Dome, the atmosphere for the show is at times 180 degrees different from the weekly TNA shows taped at the Impact Zone in Orlando, Florida. While the American fans can be rabid, their Japanese counterparts are much more quiet and reserved, although they can certainly bring a loud pop as well.
The DVD is separated into five sections: pre-match interviews, New Japan wrestling vs. TNA, Yuji Nagata versus Kurt Angle, post-match interviews, and culture. I think most viewers are going to be surprised that there is not a Play All option when it comes to the matches. Why the producers of the DVD chose not to include this feature is unfathomable, and right behind that is the question of why Yuji Nagata versus Kurt Angle is separated from the rest, as that seems more like something Vince McMahon would have done during the late '80s when Hulkamania was in full swing and putting the Hulkster in a special section. It's not the direction I would have taken, and to be fair, the matches bleed together seamlessly once you choose one, kind of like how a chapter selection works on a normal movie DVD. A small negative that hopefully TNA fixes in future releases.
Pre-match interviews: This is a 40 minute segment that has lengthy interviews with Jeff Jarrett and Christian Cage, a shorter interview with Kurt Angle, and basically sound bites from Brother Devon, Petey Williams, and Christopher Daniels. I'm always amazed at how much my respect for Jeff Jarrett grows when I see him in a non-wrestling capacity. Jarrett comes across as a smart, thoughtful, and very personable guy in everything he does, which makes why he just doesn't have "it" as a wrestling personality more confounding. I want to like Jeff Jarrett, but – like many others - I'm sure as soon as he's back on TV I'll be the first to be shouting for him to be taken off. His interview was shot in the Tokyo Dome before the event and it was pretty cool seeing Japanese guys in the background working out in the ring. Later, Jeff went backstage and described the night he showed up in New Japan ("on my own dime") to attack Hulk Hogan after a match. Jarrett shows the bathroom he hid in for 20 minutes and then the actually room where he El Kabong'ed the Hulkster in one of TNA's most oft-aired clips. Jarrett repeated the mantra that, "I didn't take Hogan to TNA, I took TNA to Hogan," several eye rolling times.
Christian once again shined as he described what it was like for wrestlers to have to make the long flight to Tokyo, and what they did with their free time while in such a densely populated country. I actually laughed out loud when Christian was asked about what he did on the plane, and he started to talk seriously about "levitating" above his seat as if he were some mystical shaman. Kurt Angle's piece only clocked in around five minutes and had him discussing what it was like to beat Brock Lesnar for the IWGP championship, along with what it felt like holding "the third belt in New Japan." A lot of this didn't make much sense to me, which is par for the course for any Angle interview, but after doing some research on the lineage of the IWGP title, I was even more confused. Brother Devon and Petey Williams had forgettable quick interviews (although Devon looked absolutely huge), while Christopher Daniels used his short amount of time to deliver a nice little interview on how nervous he was to be in such a high profile match. Daniels came across very well, although you can't help but stare at that stupid face paint on his face when he talks. It's as distracting as Lita's obnoxious tattoo on her arm.
It's straight to the matches. First up was Petey Williams & A.J. Styles & Christian Cage vs. Milano Collection AT & Minoru & Prince Devitt. I had seen Milano Collection AT before (at a live IWA Mid South show if you can believe it, along with some ROH events), but this was my first look at Minoru and Prince Devitt. I was actually a little shocked to find out Devitt is a white guy from Ireland. It should be noted that the stage set-up for the event was incredible. Both TNA and New Japan had their own entrance sets and both looked impressive. In between them was a gigantic Titan Tron-like screen and several other large screens along the stage as well. The commentators were Don West and Mike Tenay, but you can actually select a second audio track that has two Japanese guys calling the action. Jeremy Borash split the ring announcing duties with a guy from New Japan. Match itself was packed to the gills with action as these six worked very well together. Went about 15 minutes and all the TNA guys go to hit their finishers in the ending sequence, with AJ nailing the Styles Clash for the win.
"The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels vs. IWGP Jr. Hvt. Champion Waturu Inoue was up next and got its own video package (in Japanese) which was actually fantastic. It's worth noting that in the video package, Christopher Daniels shot his promo defending TNA without wearing that ridiculous face paint. Tenay explained that even though Daniels was fired from TNA, he could appear because he had a prior contract with New Japan. Tenay went over the history of the Jr. Hvt. Title and put over Inoue big time. Daniels was on offense for the majority of the near 20 minute match, but Inoue stole the show at the end with some incredible looking cross-legged brainbusters to steal the victory. A fantastic looking move. After the match it was even better as there was a big deal made out of the win and Inoue was presented with a trophy and posed in the ring for his picture to be taken by the press. Hopefully the TNA production staff learned from this as most big TNA feuds and matches culminate with someone getting a huge win before Mike Tenay immediately, and I mean immediately takes us TO THE BACK for some dumb skit, ruining the emotional investment earned by the wrestlers.
This Inoue guy really is something and I'm looking forward to seeing more from him.
Abyss vs. Manabu Nakanishi. Fun video package to star where you got to hear the Japanese say what sounds like "American Moonster" Abyss. Nakanishi is quite the Japanese hoss. As for the match itself, it's an Abyss match, so it is what it is. You get those stupid thumb tacks (and I'm sure you'll be shocked, shocked to find out that Abyss ended up going into the tacks he brought out.) To be fair though, the crowd really got into this stuff. Mercifully short (and it's not that the match was bad, it just couldn't compete with the first two), with Abyss taking the loss after a German suplex. Afterwards Abyss terrorized the ringside photographers, who all had numbers taped to their backs like you would see on people running a marathon.
Team 3D (Brother Ray & Devon) vs. Togi Makabe & Toru Yano in a hardcore match. The pre match promo was again entertaining, even with half of it in Japanese. Brother Ray had a great line telling his opponents to, "pray to Jesus! Pray to Buddah!" Tenay put over that Makabe and Yano were Japanese hardcore wrestlers and would be right at home fighting the former Dudleys. The two Japanese guys came out to a song which sounded like a cool remix of a Led Zepplin tune, kind of like the opposite of what Jimmy Hart does. Hart takes a recognizable song and ruins it, these guys take a cool song and put a nice little tweak on it. Went about 15 minutes and was your average hardcore brawl. Acceptable action with the usual assortment of ladders and tables. Team 3D hit the 3D on Makabe for the win.
Jeff Jarrett made his way to ringside to act as a TNA WITNESS for the upcoming tag team match. IWGP Tag Team Champions Tomko & Giant Bernard vs. The Steiner Brothers. Giant Bernard is the former WWE star A-Train, a guy I have ragged on mercilessly over the years in the Curtain Jerkers. Imagine my surprise to find out A-Train's fur coat of body hair has been completely shaved. That's right, it's all gone! Wade Keller's favorite wrestler is hairless and all I can think of is the scene from 40 Year Old Virgin where the Chinese girl looks at Steve Carrell's hairy chest and yells, "we're going to need more wax! And clear all my appointments this afternoon!" Bernard also has the same type of body tattoos that Tomko has, so the two men look like some sort of bizarre "Before and After" spot for Weight Watchers. As they came to the ring, the big video screen read "Travis Tomko."
Bernard actually impressed me here and I can see why his teaming up with Tomko proved to be so popular. These two work well with each other. The Steiners are, of course, limited to what they can do as long as Rick Steiner continues to be Rick Steiner. Jarrett went into the ring to interfere after a ref bump, but New Japan star Yano hit the ring and took Jarrett's guitar shot instead. Rick was a victim of the Tomko/Bernard "Magic Killer" shortly afterwards. You almost feel bad for Bernard, as he asked for a mic after they were awarded their belts and as soon as he started the talk the DVD immediately went to the next segment. Funny stuff, but is actually a sloppy move from the production crew as the cut should have come before Bernard got the mic or after he finished talking.
The last match is the one from the original Global Impact show that everyone loved with Kurt Angle vs. Yuji Nagata. Still the same great match, literally, as you even had Mike Tenay teasing commercial breaks. Easily four star action. This is the Kurt angle everyone wants to see. The ass kicking champ out to prove himself to be the best in the world.
Post match interviews: There are six post match interviews, and they are not unlike what you would see at any sporting event as the guys are brought backstage, sat at a table, and answer questions from the media. This goes about 35 minutes and has all the TNA guys involved in the show. Very interesting feature that I think should be used after big American wrestling shows such as WrestleMania and Bound For Glory to add more gravitas to the event.
Culture: was the final segment of the DVD and I was already marking out when it started off with a spotlight on "Korean Barbeque," something that Christian talked about in his pre match interview. In a documentary style feature, the camera follows the guys out of their wrestling gimmick and the first part has Tomko, Bernard, Cage, and Brother Ray going to a Korean BBQ. Later, Rick and Scott Steiner went to a sushi restaurant while AJ Styles and Tomko were filmed going to Sensoji Temple. In a great bit, Styles and Tomko took a rickshaw ride and Tomko put his arm around AJ like the two were on a date ("the gay community?!" – AJ Styles on a legendary Observer radio show). All of this went ten minutes and I could have used about an hour more. It was wonderful to see all these larger than life wrestlers interacting with the Japanese culture. It really humanized this guys and made me bigger fans of them. Production wise it was a very well done segment and is a must watch in my opinion to any TNA fan.
OVERALL THOUGHTS: Even though this DVD was reportedly rushed to make sure it got into viewers hands A.S.A.P. to capitalize on all the good buzz, I think it is hands down TNA's best DVD offering to date. That's not to say it couldn't be improved, but everyone involved did a terrific job. Even the cover has a lot of pop that makes it stand out from the average DVD. I think the addition of a Japanese audio track is amazing and really opens up the door for possible alternate audio tracks on wrestling releases, something that almost no one takes advantage of. The highlight of the DVD for me was the pre-match interviews and the short section on the wrestlers interacted with the Japanese culture because it was so refreshing to see these wrestlers out of the pro wrestling fish bowl. There certainly was some spin in the interviews, but you also got a look at the guys behind the gimmick, and the cameras following them around Tokyo could have been a whole DVD by itself as far as I'm concerned. The matches range from okay (Abyss) to very good (the six man opener and Daniels' match) to damn near great (the main event).
I think that with more releases like Global Impact, TNA will make major headway into the wrestling DVD market. There is so much potential there for TNA to make some big time money and I think they should take advantage of it by putting out more non-PPV discs. The old ECW used to have the fan cam tapes and it would be interesting to see if TNA could do an online exclusive DVD of some of their house shows. People are talking about how hot they are, but how many of us have seen them? How about another exclusive DVD that walks you through a "week in wrestling." A documentary style disc that would show parts of a booking meeting, agents meeting with wrestlers, the people setting up the lighting grid and things of that nature, all capping off with the fans going nuts during a TV taping. The Christian Cage DVD came out well, why not a Team 3D disc? Jeremy Borash already proved he can do a damn good job without WWE footage when he put together Forever Hardcore and TNA as a whole has much more resources.
Let's cut to the chase, head on over to ShopTNA and pick up your copy of Global Impact as I think you're going to enjoy this one, even if TNA has disappointed you in the past. This is a no-nonsense, action packed show with wonderful production values (especially in the Tokyo Dome itself) that really make it stand out from your average release.
TNAwrestling.com has all the information you need on Global Impact and many other DVD releases.
Derek Burgan has been reviewing wrestling DVDs, comics, books, and other miscellaneous crap for the Observer/F4Wonline Empire since October 2005. He also writes the world famous Wrestling Enjoyment Index and the Gimmick Table . He even has a MySpace page ! He can be reached at: Derek@gumgod.com
THE TWF "MENTAL WELLNESS TEST!"
With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).