Last night was the premiere of Impact’s Open Fight Night. Here’s a rundown of the show.
OFN opened with its own introduction. Hogan was backstage with all the champions sans Devon, because Devon already has to defend the TV title every week. He said something to the effect of every champion has to be on their guard tonight, as any of them could be called out. He also added that he will book his own title match tonight for Joe & Magnus, but hadn’t decided on challengers yet. Somehow Mr. Anderson and Jeff Hardy are a team again, by the way. I must have missed the part where they became a team. That said I think I liked this segment more than most, since pep talks are what Hogan should be used for in my opinion.
Devon came to the ring, and said since it is Open Fight Night, he can choose his challenger. He called out Bully Ray, which excited the crowd. Ray came out, but then said he’s not fighting Devon. Heel 101 folks, the bad guy balks at the equal challenge. Ray tried to leave, but Devon caught up to him and threw him in the ring.
MATCH ONE (TV CHAMPIONSHIP): Devon(c) vs. Bully Ray - They had a pretty good brawl style match, and the crowd was way into it. Ray was busted open during the match. Devon kicked out of a Cutter by Ray (Bully Cutter?) and hit a standing spinebuster for the win.
Austin Aries cut a promo on Bully Ray saying he wasn’t impressed by Bully Ray, and that he can’t win when he can’t cheat. Aries said that Ray had to pull his tights to beat him last week.
Flair was also backstage saying he was going to throw a party for Eric Bischoff, whose name was not bleeped this week for some reason. He also called Bischoff the greatest promoter of all time.
Kurt Angle was in the locker room and was approached by Kazarian and Daniels. They gloated to him about AJ Styles and how they helped him win. Angle got upset saying if any of them interfered in his matches again they would see a whole new side of him. I’m assuming this means Angle is turning face. In a funny moment, Daniels muttered “ungrateful prick” and then pretended to be on his phone when Angle heard him.
Jeremy Borash of all people came out to issue a challenge. I’m not sure why Borash is able to come out and issue a challenge on Open Fight Night and nobody else has come out to challenge, say Bobby Roode or anybody. Borash brought up that Bischoff has been chiding him and others on Twitter, so he was challenging him on his final night with the company. Apparently Borash does not know about Bischoff’s martial arts history, but Borash has never been depicted as being particularly clever on TV. The crowd started singing “Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Goodbye”. Bischoff came out, and had a few words with Borash, and then lured him so Bully Ray could get in a low blow from behind.
MATCH TWO: Jeremy Borash vs. Eric Bischoff
Winner: Eric Bischoff. This was essentially a match in name only.
Mr. Anderson cut a promo with the caption “Remembering Eric Bischoff”. He said that Bischoff is exactly what he claims to hate, in that he claims to be anti oppressive government, but is oppressive himself.
Mexican America came out to issue an open challenge, which was answered by Kurt Angle.
MATCH THREE: Anarquia vs. Kurt Angle - This was a short match which Kurt won pretty easily with the Angle Lock.
Winner: Kurt Angle. If Angle is hurt and still has to be on TV, I guess this is as good as any way to use him, as he didn’t do much in this match
Gut Check was hyped, with the debuting wrestler being Alex Silva. Not to be confused with Anderson Silva. A profile video aired depicting Silva as being a hard working, likable guy. Al Snow came out to do commentary for the match, as he was one of the judges.
MATCH FOUR: Alex Silva vs. Robbie E - A fast paced, quick match that ended with Robbie hitting his DDT finisher for the win
Winner: Robbie E. Al Snow was actually very good on commentary. I’ve always liked Tenay, but I do think that it is time to freshen up the voice of the program. Tenay is awesome as a professor, but he’s been the play by play guy for ten years now.
Hogan was backstage with all the tag teams, where they each made their pitch for getting the title match tonight. He ruled out The Guns since they lost at the PPV.
Brooke Tessmacher came out and challenged Gail Kim, because she wanted to prove that beating Gail last week was not a fluke.
MATCH FIVE: Brooke Tessmacher vs. Gail Kim - This was a pretty typical TV womens match, and was over fairly quickly. Kim missed a dropkick and Brooke was able to capitalize and get the pin.
Winner: Brooke Tessmacher. Unfortunately Brooke is not a great promo person, so this came across as flat to me.
Kazarian and Daniels were backstage saying there was a disturbance in The Force, as AJ Styles was not around. Apparently Open Fight Night does not include AJ for some reason. They promised to continue to humiliate Styles if he doesn’t show up next week.
A video package aired on Rob Van Dam challenging for the Title. I thought this was well produced, and reflected a lot of how I think wrestling should be depicted today.
Al Snow was backstage explaining to Alex Silva that he has to confer with the other judges before letting Silva know whether he earned the contract or not. Bobby Roode came in, and told how he worked long and hard to earn his spot, and told him that you always have to be on your toes. He then of course immediately gut punched Silva and walked off.
Hulk Hogan was in his office again with the remaining teams. I kid you not, Eric Young offered Hogan a night with ODB if he chose them. Hogan ruled out ODB and Eric Young right away. Hogan then said he will make his decision at bell time. Obviously Hogan puts less thought into tag title challengers on Open Fight Night than regular episodes of Impact.
Garret Bischoff was giving his thoughts on remembering Eric Bischoff. he said Impact will be better without him.
Joseph Park finally caught up to Bully Ray, and asked about Abyss’s whereabouts. Ray’s cut from his match earlier in the night somehow magically healed. Ray told him to shove it and walked off.
Joe and Magnus made their way to the ring, followed by both potentially challenging teams. All teams got their full intros. Hogan then appeared to his music, and announced that Anderson and Hardy have the title shot.
MATCH SIX (TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP) Samoa Joe & Magnus(c) vs. Jeff Hardy & Mr. Anderson - Both teams went back and forth, and Hardy took a beating to set up the hot tag to Anderson. The finish was Anderson tapping out to Joe’s Clutch, while Hardy was held at bay by Magnus.
Winners: Samoa Joe & Magnus. Far and away the best match on the show. It felt title match worthy, as well as TV main event worthy. After the match Joe and Magnus were jumped by Daniels & Kazarian. The good of this is the better on paper match is being set up for the PPV in Joe/Magnus vs. Daniels/Kaz. The bad is they cut to commercial right after the attack happened.
The main event segment was Ric Flair’s tribute to Eric Bischoff. Flair came out with Gunner, Daniels, Kazarian, and Bully Ray. This means that Kazarian has effectively joined, left, and re-joined Immortal. They had a throne set up for Bischoff to sit on. Flair tried to give his tribute speech, but the crowd kept singing “Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Goodbye”. Flair ripped on the fans. Bischoff made his way to the ring. Flair put over Bischoff’s accomplishments, and even asked if there was a woman in the audience that would want to go home with Bischoff (No I am not joking). They presented Bischoff with a Rolex watch as a farewell gift.
Inevitably, the tribute was broken up by Garret Bischoff, who showed up with Borash, The Machine Guns, Austin Aries, and RVD. Garret said they pitched in for a gift of their own. The NFL has a Hall Of Shame, so they made the Shed Of Shame. Val played presented as they wheeled out an outhouse. Yes an outhouse. Welcome to 2007 + WWE level potty humor. Literally. A brawl broke out and Eric was of course thrown into the outhouse and tipped over. Eric came out drenched in poop and other fluids. It was as bad as it sounds. This concluded Impact.
As a deviation from the normal review, I will present a Good and Bad of the show as separate bullet points, as there is a lot about this show I want to address.
-The concept of Open Fight Night. There is some bad stuff here in the execution, and I will get to that. But I do think TNA needs to be commended for at least trying an innovative concept. This show had a special feel as a result, and that is always a good thing.
-The Tag Title Match. This gives Jericho vs. Kofi a run for its money in the Best TV Match Of The Week category. Plus the finish was free from any run-in. Which brings me to my next point
-Clean Finishes. With the possible exception of the makeshift Borash vs. Bischoff “match”, each match had a clean as a whistle finish. Even Borash vs. Bischoff had Ray low blow before the match officially started. And nobody wanted to see an actual match between those two anyway.
-Open Fight Night still has a lot of clarifications that need to be made. For example, why was it nobody was interested in challenging Bobby Roode? Hogan seemed to imply that only one champion would defend the title tonight, aside from Devon because he will defend every week. Based on that I would have assumed that the champions that aren’t chosen to defend would have the night off. But Brooke Tessmacher then challenged Gail Kim to a clearly explained non-title match. That still doesn’t explain why nobody would want to challenge Roode, because even making a good showing against the world champion theoretically could warrant a title match. Also, are the wrestlers that issue challenges drawn out of a hat? Because I find it difficult to believe that only four or five people would step forward to issue challenges on an “open Fight Night”.
-The Bischoff main event segment was almost downright unbearable. If you’re going to have a poop joke, at least make it a good poop joke. This was the type of segment that would normally just get blamed on Vince Russo. But since that can’t be done anymore, it’s maddening to think somebody else on the planet actually thought throwing Bischoff into a port-a-potty was an entertaining idea.
-The pacing to the show was back to the lightning “cram 17 things into a segment” speed that winds up making little stand out to this viewer at the end of the night.
Conclusion: The jury is still out on Open Fight Night, as I’m willing to give Impact the benefit of the doubt when trying out a new concept for the first time. Overall I still give the show a barely passing grade, mainly based on the interesting concept, and two matches (Devon vs. Ray, and the tag title match). While the main event segment was terrible, it did at least write out Eric Bischoff for the immediate future. Bischoff’s screen time has been widely criticized, and that will at least make a step toward curbing that criticism.
Overall Grade: 6.5 out of 10