Impact’s introduction of Rampage Jackson couldn’t have gone better. He was treated like a big deal. Impact has correctly identified Kurt Angle as the money match. Jackson was received like a legit star by the live audience.
The big question: Will Hulk Hogan allow Jackson to be a bigger star than him?
When WWE brings in a star from the outside, they wisely isolate him and what he’s doing from the rest of the company. Mike Tyson worked very specifically with Steve Austin and DX. Floyd Mayweather worked very specifically with The Big Show. There was no bleed. They were not part of the company, per se.
That’s the same thing Impact needs to do with Jackson and Angle. The minute Jackson is just another Impact performer, he’ll stumble into Hogan’s shadow. Just like so many before him, Jackson wouldn’t even know it was happening.
This won’t pop a number because…c’mon. It’s Impact. Satan could fight Christ in a Stairway to Hell match, and it wouldn’t pop a number on Impact. But Impact needs to follow the WWE blueprint to get the most out of Jackson.
UPDATE: Impact already F'd it up. During the taping for next week's show, Angle was getting beat down by Aces & Eights and Jackson made the save. Now, instead of the two legit guys having their own little corner, the two legit guys battle the phony-ass motorcycle gang that isn't over. Is Jackson going to sell for flabby, weak-chinned Mr. Anderson? Nobody can suspend that much disbelief.
I continue to be amazed by the Impact Knockouts. Terrell-Kim and James-Sky are Impact’s two most coherent storylines. Taryn Terrell and Gail Kim had a solid match. But let’s not give Terrell too much credit for all the bruises she incurred. That happened because she doesn’t know how to work. No other reason.
BRING BACK SQUASHES
As I consider the “push” of Curtis Axel, I long for the days of the good old-fashioned TV squash match.
In WWE, all they do is trade wins. People kick out of finishing moves all the time. Nobody builds momentum. Everybody is at .500.
In a squash match, a star looks like a star. He gets in all his moves. Nobody ever kicked out of a star’s finisher on TBS Saturday Night. Tully Blanchard dominated some jobber, then beat him with the slingshot suplex.
By today’s way of thinking, Blanchard and Magnum T.A. would have a 10-minute match that ends with one winning inconclusively. The next week, Blanchard and Magnum would have another 10-minute match, with the other one winning inconclusively. Then we’re supposed to buy the rubber match on PPV. NO WAY.
Competitive matches weren’t often on television back then. You had to pay to see them, at the arenas and on PPV. And people did.
PPV matches are often disappointing. When you show so many competitive matches on free TV, you have to try and top them on PPV. The bar gets set high. With many performers and matches, it’s too high.
Squash matches create wiggle room where guys with shortcomings can become stars. Blanchard’s look was far from ideal. But he could work, and he could talk. Squash matches made him a threat. Squash matches gave him time to get over. With competitive matches on TV, look too often dictates credibility.
Follow Mark Madden on Twitter: @MarkMaddenX
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