Bubba the Love Sponge fired by TNA

TNA management has finally decided to part ways with Bubba the Love Sponge after the latest inflammatory incident in his already checkered TNA career. Bubba and Awesome Kong got into it on a radio show earlier today, months after the incident between the two that ultimately led to Kong’s departure from the company.

As those of you who read the blog or follow me on Twitter know, I can’t stand Bubba. The “shock jock” couldn’t be more played out and he was only in TNA thanks to his friendship with Hulk Hogan. He is truly the definition of more trouble than he was worth, especially since he wasn’t worth anything to begin with.

TNA released a short statement regarding Bubba’s release and Kevin Eck of the Baltimore Sun has more on the radio incident.

TNA iMPACT! replay gets higher rating than original airing

Thursday’s TNA iMPACT! replay drew a 0.69 rating, higher than the 0.5 that the original airing did on Monday.

Knowing that they can watch the entire episode of iMPACT! on Thursdays uninterrupted, many fans seem to be focusing on the live Raw on Monday and then catching the replay of the taped iMPACT! We’ll see what happens this week when TNA airs iMPACT! live and if the ratings are higher. Fans being able to read the spoilers online certainly don’t help the taped shows either.

What is also interesting is that there wasn’t anything particularly great about this week’s iMPACT! The main event featured Ric Flair once again gushing blood and making a fool of himself in a match with Abyss, with Flair and Hogan’s WWE Hall of Fame rings on the line. Not exactly riveting stuff.

Next week’s show should have a higher rating because, aside from being live, it will once again be unopposed for the first hour.

Tony Atlas released by WWE

WWE announced today the release of Tony Atlas and, as usual, wished him well in his future endeavors.

Since Mark Henry’s face turn and move from Raw to ECW last year, WWE didn’t really know what to do with Atlas. He was paired with Abraham Washington as his sidekick but hadn’t been seen since the demise of ECW.

The 56-year-old Atlas has had a storied wrestling and bodybuilding career that includes championships in the World Class Wrestling Association, World Wrestling Council and World Wrestling Federation. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.

4.27.10 WWE NXT thoughts

After watching last night’s NXT, I remembered the reason I hadn’t seen it in over a month. While the show is trying to be different and has its bright spots, it also has a lot of negatives. Last night’s show was indicative of both of those points.

– The “Seal The Deal” Challenge was just dumb but, as I said, it had its bright spot. Each rookie had the task of selling as many programs as they could, at $15 a pop, in 60 seconds. The nice thing was that the silly challenge was used to bring out more of each character and play up what we already know about them.

For instance, Daniel Bryan ignored the rules and just gave the programs away while yelling, “We don’t need your money!” and saying that he wasn’t a capitalist. This, of course, led to more negativity from Michael Cole, who called Bryan a “tool.” Josh Matthews, as expected, rebutted in Bryan’s defense.

Michael Tarver refused to participate. Him yelling, “I am the product!” and saying that WWE should be selling him was a nice touch. Wade Barrett had perhaps the best answer to the challenge, refusing to participate as well, and simply walking away with the money Matt Striker had given him to use as change.

David Otunga stayed true to his “A-List” moniker by having two kids sell the programs for him and he also netted the most money. That earned him the right to face a pro of his choosing next week and he picked his own “mentor,” R-Truth.

– Speaking of Otunga and R-Truth, the two had good interaction backstage and it really seems like Otunga has the necessary tools to at least make the full-time WWE roster. His ring work needs improvement but he’s very strong on the stick and has that look that we know Vince McMahon loves.

– Back to the Cole-Bryan dynamic for a moment, I’m not sure what the point of this is. Every week Cole rails on Bryan. My fear is that this is setting up a match between the two but hopefully WWE is wise enough to not go there. Then again, maybe it would be a smart move since 85% of the “WWE Universe” can’t stand Cole.

Bryan lost again, to fall to 0-9, when he filled in for The Miz against Skip Sheffield. The match lasted about two minutes. Again, I’m scratching my head here at how this is helping Bryan’s character, especially when he’s one of the more over rookies on the show.

– The Christian & Heath Slater v. Chris Jericho & Wade Barrett match was okay but didn’t get nearly as much time as it deserved. Cole delivered another of his signature dorky-as-hell lines during this one, saying he likes to call the team of Captain Charisma and his rookie, “Christian Slater.” Oh, Cole, you’re so witty.

TNA, WWE numbers: iMPACT! only does 0.5 rating

Preliminary reports indicate that last night’s episode of TNA iMPACT! did a 0.5 rating while WWE’s three-hour Raw drew a 3.1 rating.

The number for TNA is disappointing, to say the least. It lends credence to my earlier thoughts that maybe the company is hurting itself by replaying the show on Thursdays, taking away a sense of urgency for fans to catch the show on Mondays. It doesn’t help that the show was taped this week and many fans read the spoilers. WWE also cut into their audience by beginning at 8 o’clock.

For WWE, the number is also a bit disappointing but still good considering the company was coming off a less-than-stellar pay-per-view. The sad part is that even though this show featured some very solid wrestling, WWE brass might use this as more evidence that the guest hosts are drawing ratings and that heavy ring action isn’t the right way to go. Hopefully they don’t really believe that, though.

Thoughts on the WWE Supplemental Draft

The 2010 Supplemental WWE Draft came and went Tuesday afternoon. Some mid-card shuffling took place and two more divas were moved between brands.

Raw will be now be home to the Great Khali, Ranjin Singh, Ezekiel Jackson, Goldust, Tyson Kidd, DH Smith and Natalya. Chavo Guerrero, Cody Rhodes, Chris Masters, Hornswoggle, Rosa Mendes and MVP moved to Smackdown. The blue brand also picked up Tyler Reks and Vance Archer, who were still without homes after ECW ended.

The most notable moves are MVP and Cody Rhodes to Smackdown. MVP was almost invisible on Raw for the last few months and once shined as the United States champion on the blue show. For all of those clamoring for MVP to finally receive a push, this is the best chance he’ll have. It is smart to separate Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase for each of their singles careers to have a chance to flourish.

Moving the Hart Dynasty to Raw doesn’t really matter right now since they’re the Unified Tag Team champs and can defend the belts on any show. It will matter if they lose the straps, though, and I’m assuming this will keep Bret Hart appearing on Raw for a little while longer.

Who knows what the future holds for Goldust in terms of what Creative has planned for him but the guy can still work. He’s in the best shape of his life, it seems, and it would be great to see him in a legit program with someone.

Thoughts on the WWE Draft

At first glance, Raw was the clear winner of the WWE Draft. This would lead us to believe that Vince & Co. may, in fact, be thinking of TNA more as competition and stacking the deck against them. We’ll see what happens in this afternoon’s supplemental draft and if things even out a bit more.

Moving to Raw are John Morrison, R-Truth, Edge and Chris Jericho. Smackdown is now home to Big Show, Kofi Kingston, Christian and Kelly Kelly.

With Edge’s apparent heel turn last night and spear of Randy Orton, costing him the spot as number on contender to the WWE Championship, it looks like we get a Rated RKO program between the two. I have no problems with that. It’s been a while and Orton as a babyface still feels fresh. A heel Edge, also, is so much better than the babyface version. WWE tried but it just wasn’t working.
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WWE delivers best Raw in a long, long time

Last night’s three-hour Raw draft special was easily the best edition of the “longest running weekly episodic television show on cable” in quite some time. It featured no guest host, some good matches that got a lot of time and some surprises.

– The opening interaction between The Miz and Bret Hart was very good. Hart saying Miz and Big Show were the greatest tag team of all time, but then adding that The Mountie was the greatest Intercontinental champion and David Arquette was the greatest Heavyweight champion of all time were nice lines.

The match between The Hart Dynasty and ShowMiz was a perfectly executed tag team contest. The crowd was really hot for it, the pace was great, the action was good, and the Richmond crowd popped huge for the finish.

The post-match breakup of Show and Miz had been teased for a while and made sense with Show heading to Smackdown later in the draft. Putting the belts on a legit tag team will do wonders for the Unified Tag Team Titles, especially if they keep the momentum going. The only problem I see is that there aren’t any heel tag teams for THD to feud with.
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A quick programming note

I have to be honest: I didn’t watch much of TNA iMPACT! I liked what I did see, especially AJ Styles’ promo on Rob Van Dam, but it would be unfair to write a review based on just the few pieces of the show I caught.

I might have a review of the program up on Friday, after watching Thursday’s night’s replay. Speaking of that, I kept wondering last night if TNA was actually hurting itself ratings-wise by having the Thursday replay. It allows DVR-less viewers to ignore TNA completely while focusing entirely on Raw, knowing that they can catch iMPACT! on Thursday.

Then again, those viewers are watching the show regardless of when, so maybe it really doesn’t matter.

– While I have your attention, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@RingsideRants) Monday night’s are a lot of fun with plenty of WWE and TNA tweeting going on.

Cena and Swagger both retain at lackluster Extreme Rules

WWE’s Extreme Rules was a very average pay-per-view effort from the ‘E. It certainly wasn’t “extreme” in the bloody, weapons, ECW sense, but it had its moments. Cena and Batista had the match of the night, save for the finish and CM Punk and Rey Mysterio put on a great show.

A match-by-match breakdown of the show is below.

– Let me get this out of the way early: The announcing team of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker was horrible. Beyond horrible, actually. And the real reason was Striker. Granted, Cole and Lawler are also terrible, but Striker has reached a new level of annoyance.

Aside from yelling, “Ooooohhhhhhh,” “Whooooaaaaaaa” and “Yeeeeaaaaaahhhhh” at least three times per match, Striker’s wishy-washy bias was awful. One match he’s a heel commentator and the next he’s calling it down the middle. Bobby Heenan, he is not.

I used to like Striker. He clearly has a vast knowledge of professional wrestling and, at times, adds to the commentary by pointing out why wrestlers are doing certain things. Lately, though, he’s been unbearable to listen to.
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