CARTE BLANCHE (PART II)
This was really well done. Firstly, the Kendrix comment made me do a lol. Second, the idea of the fired-up babyface putting his gameface on and not having time for extracurricular bullshit like Lance Warner’s interviews is a great sell when worked correctly. Most people make the mistake of having their character come-off grumpy and unlikeable in these scenarios (usually by insulting the interviewer), but there’s none of that here. Douglas keeps the focus on the match (“this ends tonight!”) and yeah, he’s pissed-off, but he’s not being a massive dickhead. Good segment.
SHOOT THE MESSENGER
These characters’ introductions have been something else. I feel like The Storm might have flown under a lot of people’s radars this arc, but I’ve been really into it, and the swerve/ruse is super creative. There’s not much to critique with this segment, but it puts the pieces in place for the forthcoming tag, and most importantly, builds intrigue. Who are these mystery men?! I guess we’re about to find out.
MDK vs. SCOTT DOUGLAS vs. REAPER
The start is a little one the nose. I was behind Douglas after the opening segment, but the idea of him coming straight after MDK with a chair took a little bit of that away. It helps that MDK was already armed, and that he saw Douglas coming, but it definitely detracts from the idea of the babyface fighting from beneath. Douglas does show good fire here, though.
The match sets a relentless pace, which I appreciate. I have a natural aversion to triple threats as they tend to devolve into two men wrestling while another conveniently waits outside, but I feel like you guys did a tremendous job of avoiding this. At no point does this feel that way, and it’s avoided by keeping the interchanges quick, and also by the shellacking MDK took. My minor complaint aside, it does give him justifiable reason to spend extended periods away from the action.
The commentary/action balance is fantastic, particularly for two people who haven’t been in the fed all that long. I feel like you have a stronger grasp of this than handlers who’ve been here twice/thrice as long, so good job on that.
That said, sometimes the commentary feels a little too light. There’s some serious beef here, but Angus spends most of the match making puns/Nirvana jokes. It’s funny, and there’s a place for a handful of these, but it definitely detracts from the heat. I would’ve liked to have seen him get a little “real” here earlier on.
Douglas pinning MDK is the most sensical conclusion here, particularly with Reaper buggering off towards the end, which keeps him looking relatively strong. I’d like to see a little variation on the “lights out” format, however, as it feels like this happens almost every show. Other than that, this was a good three-way match that started the show off on a suitably exciting note, and if I were watching it in real life, I think I’d be thoroughly entertained.
VERY IMPORTANT PERSONS I: A NEW HOPE
This was fun. I enjoy the storyline of the PCPs gradually eroding JFK and Mikey’s patience in them by being braindead dipshits who don’t think before they speak. Every sentence seems to dig their hole deeper and deeper, and while I think that this story (so far) could have been developed slower over a greater number of weeks, it’s still working. The ending is very, very abrupt, however. Mikey’s involvement feels tacked-on and without much substance, but the rest is generally good.
This could have benefitted from more separation from the previous segment, as Kendrix goes straight from duffing around in the party to cutting a promo. It’s a little jarring. The rest of this is money. While I think it could have been improved by Kendrix playing-up the flashy side of his personality a little more, he ran through the feud’s psychology incredible well, particularly the “taking a fight away” stuff. Going back to his win over Bronson Box, a man who Natas has previously lost to, worked very well too. Textbook pre-match heel promo. Great stuff all-round.
DON’T HATE, VIOLATE
Not a lot to dissect here, but it was fun. A weird little introduction to the Masked Violators ahead of their match, and while it’s difficult to convey personality in so few words, I found this an effective setup. Nothing to criticise, really.
MASKED VIOLATORS vs. BARRIO BOYS
I wonder if MV2 got a chance to take a shit? Good selling of the Barrio Boys personalities in the introduction. Those two characters are really well-developed for a couple of NPCs - Billy and Ford did a good job with ‘em in the past, and it continued here. I always like it when people play BRAZEN characters as actually characters, not just colourless spot-fillers. Gotta use the correct formatting for entrance music though, lads.
My god, these Violators. These guys are just tremendous. I love the contracts between squeaky clean MV1 and grimy, disgusting MV2, and I was into them from the moment they came through the curtain. I don’t know who these men are and why they’re a team but I don’t even care.
Very well-paced match. It’s an absolute breeze to read and the commentary/action balance is absolutely perfect. I like how the commentary was actually used in place of the action at various points too, as it makes DDK feel more like a genuine play-by-play guy. He’s literally calling the action, not just commenting on it.
This was just bags of fun, and I don’t really have any specific criticisms to make. Bags of character came out through this match and I’m really excited to see how these two weirdos interact with other roster members now. Bloody good stuff all-round. MV2 is a disgusting bastard though.
THE FINAL WORD
I enjoy these transitional Impulse PPV segments, and this one was a little more substantial than the last one. Rightly so: this is the final battle, so the final words need to have weight. This was fine. Impulse comes off a little socially awkward sometimes, particularly when he drops lines like the “no,” which is perfect. He’s not supposed to be DEF’s blustery, fiery babyface, but a more quietly driven personality - or at least that’s how I understand him. Good stuff all-round.
MICHELOB UNLICKABLE vs. “IMPACT” RANDY KNOX-ORTON
THE FINAL ACT. I dig that title. I dig when anything’s given a sense of finality like this, in fact. It really helps build suspense when you know that this is the last time these guys are ever going to do battle, and they’re not going to pull a WWE and wreck it by having another match 3 weeks later.
This was the best Mikey Unlikely entrance yet. SO GOOD. The Star Wars text was legitimately funny and the big lightsabre fight was just a unique way to kick things off. It’s also timely, with Rogue One, etc. How do you come up with this shit? It wasn’t as downright stupid as some of his other entrances but I definitely preferred this, and his pre-match promo leading into the sudden start was also nicely played. The microphone getting stashed under the turnbuckle suggests something’s gonna happen with it later, too.
I have to mention the incorrect formatting on the counts/pinfalls, even if it seems nitpicky. Come on, lads…
I also have to mention my usual chestnut: the commentary/action balance. Huge chunks of action without anything from DDK and Angus, here. This interrupts the flow, and makes the match a stodgier read. I’ve rambled about this enough in the past, though.
I’ve always liked the “Mikey gets better at wrestling” story, but what I like even more here is his escalating brutality. When he’s torturing Impulse in front of Cally… that’s something we’ve never really seen from him before. A match like this is the perfect place for such an escalation, and this made for some great character work. Real good.
It’s also great to have a cage match without a shitty escape stipulation. Props.
The match tells a good story with Mikey’s increasing frustration at his inability to put Impulse away, but I was left wanting more by the end. The escalation feels quite sudden, and the match feels a little on the short side, particularly for a final battle. With a slower build and greater patience, the payoff would’ve been that much greater. Ultimately, it felt like these two finished the match without leaving everything on the table, and that, for me, finishes a strong feud on an anticlimactic note. Still, this was a good all-round match.
Jesus christ, this was SEARING. When Evan gets seriously locked into his character, there isn’t a more compelling voice in the fed. I thought this was absolutely brilliant. Short, sweet, and utterly chilling. It fits perfectly in with the story we told in the match, and I think it plays perfectly to the cold start Box made to said match as well. Ultimately, everything ties into Eric Dane, and Cayle vanquishing him from DEFIANCE. Cayle may have “won” that particular war, but Dane’s ghost continues to haunt him through Box’s body.
VERY IMPORTANT PERSONS II: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO
This is a strong escalation from the previous segment, and it builds on Mikey’s failure to defeat Impulse. The divide is starting to widen, and I’m looking forward to seeing the changes it brings in the PCPs in particular. Mikey will always be a complete arsehole, but it’ll be interesting to see how Elise and The D evolve around this new challenge. The Drake stuff completely removed the weight of the situation, however, and ended things on a distractingly daft note.
CURTIS PENN vs. LINDSAY TROY
Really great introduction from the commentators, providing a nice summary for those who might have lost track of where we are. I beat this into the ground every PPV, but it’s vitally important to set big matches up like this. Not everyone’s going to remember every single detail, but all you need is a few paragraphs of announcer chit-chat to refresh those foggy memories. Bingo.
It’s quite refreshing that these two start out with some more traditional feeling-out after the mania on the roster of the card. Makes sense, too: it’s a bitter feud, but it’s not a blood feud, and they both have to be careful with the FIST on the line. Recklessness would be stupid in this scenario. Nice to see Curtis work some of his trademark fuckery in nice and early, though, particularly when he pats Troy’s cheek.
The early stages are very well laid-out. It goes from feeling-out process to shine very smoothly, and the escalations feel warranted and not at all rushed. Great job in piecing this part together. I loved the Marty Scurll fingersnap spot too. Half-expected Penn to go for a CHICKENWING after, though. It moves into the heat logically from there, with Penn going right after the hand/fingers. Good stuff, and it’s good to see Troy fight with an impediment. Sometimes, LT does feel a little immaculate (overprotected, even), so I enjoyed this change of pace.
I feel like the heat could have gone on a little longer, however. Penn got a nice little chunk of sustained offence, but it went back to 50/50 quite quickly. The problem with such a short heat is that it neuters the babyface comeback, and diminishes that big “HURRAH” when the good guy finally overcomes the evil bastard’s torrential offence with a game-changing move. The longer it goes on, the more tension you build, and the greater the release when the comeback arrives.
I knew the chickenwing was coming. Long live The Villain.
My main complaint is the restart/finish, because I feel like it makes Curtis Penn look unbelievably weak, particularly after such a 50/50 back-and-forth match. Standard match psychology suggests that the heel cannot out-wrestle the babyface in a fair, one-on-one environment, thus he needs to cheat and take shortcuts to gain an advantage. There are exceptions, of course, but I feel this is particularly true of Penn, who is defined by being a cheating little prick. That’s not to say he can’t win on his own ability, but it’s just who he is.
Evans’ restart removes one of his biggest weapons: his willingness to cheat. Yes, his “win” was illegal, and yes, nobody wants to see a match end this way, but this really neuters Penn, and sets a dangerous precedent for future matches. He has a win overturned, then loses after 2/3 moves when the match is restarted, which makes him look even weaker. A very, very damaging defeat, IMO, particularly as his dominant spell in the match was so short-lived, and it removes a lot of juice if this rivalry is to continue. Curtis has a lot of work to do if he’s to recover this heat.
This match made an excellent start, but dropped-off towards the end, IMO.