So last night was the debut of the “new” TNA, err Impact Wrestling and I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the changes, the things they did right and the things they did that were very wrong.

First let me preface this by saying I am a longtime TNA fan. Unlike most of the people who criticize the product, I’ve follwed TNA since day one. I ordered almost all of the early weekly pay-per-views and followed them from Fox Sports to Spike to Destination America to Pop. I’ve seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I actually believed for a time that Hulk Hogan was a good signing for the company (to be fair I lobbied for that about 5 years before it actually happened) and I’ve been in favor of some regime change.

Secondly, I’d like to say that TNA never gets a break. When Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels were putting on 5 star matches in TNA, the mainstream wrestling audience still crapped on everything. People will tell you now that they liked TNA back when it was “good” but the truth is even when TNA was consistently putting out the best wrestling product on television, they were disliked by whole groups of people. Wrestling needs a punching bag company and no matter how many times WWE puts Roman Reigns in the main event of Wrestlemania, has Randy Orton win the Royal Rumble or does an angle like Katie Vick, they will always get a pass. TNA became the new WCW from day one (insert your own joke there) because no matter what TNA did they became the punching bag of the wrestling community. TNA could literally put on the best match EVER in pro-wrestling and they’d still get slagged off for it.

That said, there has been some optimism and speculation how the new “reboot” would work. Dixie Carter has had a hand in TNA for the past decade and a half. In the beginning that wasn’t a bad thing, but eventually Carter did become a detriment to the company. Anthem bought her out and brought in a team on paper, that’s relatively good. Jeff Jarrett not only founded TNA, but has been exposed to more wrestling knowledge than few people on the planet. Dutch Mantell and Bruce Prichard have been around the block many times and in the case of Mantell, is one of the best minds in the business.

Along with them came some familiar faces in the production end and for the most part, I have to applaud Kevin Sullivan for his mostly excellent work on this reboot of Impact. The show looked new, sleek and clean, while still retaining a familiar feel. It was nice overall, though I thought some of the lower thirds weren’t as nice as they could have been.

Unfortunately, that was probably the highlight of the show. They did a nice video package talking up the history of the company and going on about how they “used” to be the place to be. The theme is to “Make Impact Wrestling Great (Again)” which is immediately a turn off. First, it’s an ignorant slogan even when Trump used it as it doesn’t really make sense but even if TNA was hoping to use the “trendy” factor, it sort of defeated the purpose when it’s connected to the world’s most unpopular politician. More than half the country absolutely LOATHE that saying, so it’s probably not a good idea to throw that albatross around your neck. The fact that they changed it to just “Make Impact Wrestling Great” is a nice attempt to distance yourself from Trump, but it’s sort of like putting a bandaid on a gunshot. They should have rebranded with an entirely new slogan.  Continue reading

TNA Abyss, Deluxe Impact Series 4, Infinite Hollywood figure review
TNA Wrestling (Deluxe Impact Series 4)
7.5 Inch Scale
By: Jakks Pacific

Abyss is one of the best characters that TNA Wrestling has produced. The “monster” has been with TNA practically since the beginning and has continued to evolve through the years. At 6 foot 8 inches tall and over 300 pounds, he’s also one of the biggest men on the roster. For his size, he’s incredibly athletic and he has a penchant for getting involved in hardcore situations, adding another element to an already dangerous persona.

ECW's Sandman hits Abyss with a garbage can.

Whether it’s thumbtacks, barbwire or even fire, Abyss is ready to tear into his opponents and often due to his own tunnel vision, hurt himself in the process. Unlike most “big man” or “hardcore” wrestlers, Abyss is actually very technically sound and can have great matches without resorting to those tactics. Back in 2010, I reviewed the basic style of Ruthless Impact Abyss and today I’m taking a look at his first Deluxe version.

Is this monster a worthy addition to your collection or will you feel like you’ve been hit with a Black Hole Slam to your wallet if you buy him? You’ll have to read the full review to find out!

Originally Jakks had a clever six sided ring package, but when TNA dropped that ring, Jakks had to adjust to make it a four sided ring package. The red and silver coloring is a bit dark, but it does catch your eye to a degree. Jakks has since changed the packaging (yet again) to reflect the Impact Wrestling branding banner.

The back shows off the rest of the figures in Series 4. Nothing exciting or revolutionary going on here. Just the basics, but that’s okay.

Usually the Deluxe Impact style is thrown under the bus for being too big, muscled and bulbous. Scale is often wonky on these figures too. Thankfully, Jakks actually spent a little time on Abyss and have produced one of their finer figures as a result.

TNA Series 4 Abyss

The body is reasonably big and they’ve managed to capture the size of Abyss well. He’s not overly muscled, but he’s not a big fat guy either. He’s just a massive brute of a man. No wonder they call this guy a monster!

The detail is much better on things like the tattoos, compared to the rather cheap basic version. The body is just a much better fit too. Although Jakks has used some recycled parts here, it fits for Abyss really well.

Of course the big victory for this guy is the head sculpt. The previous version had this ridiculous cartoon screaming head scan, but this one has a much more sedated look. I prefer my figures to look neutral, so I like this. The details on the mask are impeccable as well. The yellow stitching and other small details just show that when Jakks wants to, it can be a major player in the toy aisle.

“Nice tattoos!”

All of Abyss’s tattoos are accurately represented as well. This is a drastic improvement over the basic version, as you might imagine.

There’s also a great attention to detail to give Abyss spots on his tattoos where they look “scratched out”. That’s because in real life his arm tattoos have several spots that look like that because of his various barbwire matches where he ended up with scarring there. He’s a hardcore dude. Unfortunately that gnarly gash on the arm is NOT supposed to be there and he came out of the package that way. I mentioned back in my Deluxe Impact Series 5 Rob Terry Review that the plastic felt cheaper on these toys. This appears to be a case of that.

It’s not the end of the world, because for Abyss is sort of fits into his character… But I shouldn’t have to make excuses for why my action figure has a big chunk of plastic taken out of it. It’s a real bummer, in general.

The rest of the details are good, including the full Abyss anarchy logo on the back of his shirt. This is the red and yellow version that he wore for a while when he was under the tutelage of Hulk Hogan… In an angle I’d rather forget.

The shirt is rubber and technically removable, but I didn’t take it off all the way because it looks like it might be a pain to get back on. Underneath is the same chunky body mold we’ve seen before in this line. The shirt may impede the articulation a bit, but in general I think it’s the best course of action. It’s soft and pliable enough, unlike the rock hard rubber clothing in Mattel’s WWE line.

His scale isn’t perfect to be used with WWE figures, but it’s workable, I think. Since Abyss is supposed to be huge.

The scale for the actual line that he’s supposed to fit in, the TNA Deluxe Impact line is… Decent. He’s bigger than most figures, but that can vary some. Basically, Abyss is the right size, it’s a lot of other guys who aren’t.

The Deluxe Impact style has a ton of articulation. Abyss is hindered some by his design though and the rubber shirt.

He can flex in a variety of ways and can do a fair amount of wrestling moves as a result. There is some minor hindrance in the ab crunch due to the shirt, but as I said before, it’s nothing too bad.

The legs are not super poseable, although he has double knees. The feet are restricted by his pants legs and his legs sort of want to go out to the side when lifting them up. However, he can do a decent big boot to smaller figures.

Abyss comes with absolutely nothing.

In a perfect world Jakks would have made a plastic version of Abyss’ old weapon of choice and his favorite girl, Janice… The 2×4 with nails in it. Although to be fair, I don’t think Abyss had started using Janice when this figure was first developed. Still, it’s something to think about for the future. He should come with SOME sort of weapon.

These weren’t terribly expensive when they came out, at about $9, which is cheaper than even Mattel WWE Basics. At the price, they’re hard to complain about. TNA’s website often runs sales on these figures and I was able to pick up Abyss for about $6. At that price, I can’t really complain that much, even with the limitations of the figure and the cheaper plastic.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 8
Paint – 9
Articulation – 7
Accessories – N/A
Value – 7
Overall – 7.5 out of 10

I decided on a pretty high 7.5 out of 10 for this guy. Which is pretty amazing considering that he has a flaw and comes with no accessories. However, I based my decision on how much this figure looks and feels like Abyss. There’s no denying that this is a pretty darn good encapsulation of the character. If he didn’t have the gash in his arm, I’d probably go ahead and give him a full 8.

The TNA Deluxe Impact line is far from perfect, but there are some decent figures in there. At the price point of under $10 and often in sales for less than $8, it’s one of the more economic toy lines out there. For the value, it’s usually pretty good, if not great.

TNA Wrestling (Deluxe Impact Series 5)
Rob Terry
7.5 Inch Scale
By: Jakks Pacific

Rob Terry is a classic case of a “big guy” being pushed to the moon because of his size. Terry is a former bodybuilder who first debuted in TNA as part of the British Invasion stable. He worked mostly in a muscle bodyguard role, only occasionally wrestling in tag matches. He wasn’t a terrible worker, but he still clearly needed a few more years of seasoning.

But as if often the case, when a new creative team took over, they decided that Terry should be one of the guys the company should revolve around. To his credit, Terry tried hard to get over and did improve in the ring as best he could, but it was destined to fail. As Global Champion, Rob Terry was thrust upon the TNA fanbase during a tumultuous time when many were unhappy with the changes in creative (thanks to Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan) and they rebelled against Terry as a result.

As time has went on, Rob Terry was depushed and has slowly found his niche back in the big man bodyguard role. Rob Terry deserves some praise as he never developed an ego and continues to work on honing his craft in Ohio Valley Wrestling, while also working with TNA as Robbie T. Jakks TNA Deluxe Impact series 5 has the big man and the Global title in one package. After reviewing several WWE Mattel figures, does Terry have enough muscles to stack up?

Originally Jakks had a clever six sided ring package, but when TNA dropped that ring, Jakks had to adjust to make it a four sided ring package. It works okay, but some of the novelty is lost. The red and silver coloring is nice albeit a bit dark.

For the most part the package is just fine. Terry is displayed nicely and the belt is visible. Even though Impact doesn’t use the red color scheme anymore, TNA still does on pay-per-views and other events. Jakks has since updated their packaging to reflect the Impact Wrestling concept from TNA.

While some have critiqued the Deluxe Impact style for being too big, muscled and bulbous, it actually fits like a glove for Rob Terry. The man is built almost exactly like a Deluxe Impact figure. He’s a huge dude, so the figure reflects that well.

The likeness is pretty good too. I’m not a huge fan of screaming head scans, but this looks enough like Rob Terry that I don’t mind. At least he’s doing an angry or intense look, as opposed to smiling like the recent Big Show figure. The paint is quite good on the hair, although it does get a bit sloppy on the sides. Jakks seems to be able to do hair paint a lot better than Mattel for some reason.

The head sculpt might be a tad big, but it’s not as bad as some in the line like Hulk Hogan. My only complaint is that the head has a hard time sitting up straight on the neck. It can be done on mine, but it almost seems like there’s a bit of excess plastic flashing in there or something. I need to pop it off and check it out.

Which brings me to another point… This guy feels cheap. Not bootleg cheap, but cheaper than some of Jakks efforts. I noticed this on some of the last WWE figures from Jakks as well. They clearly have augmented their plastics a bit and as a result, some of this figure just feels cheaper overall. It’s also more prone to flashing and chipping. There is some good detail in the sculpt itself, though, with bulging veins and the like.

“He’s freaky!”

The body itself is really good for Rob Terry, as I said above. He looks just like him from several angles, including the back. Terry has one of those huge backs that you could play a movie on and it’s emulated well in this figure. He also has all of his details on his tights.

Terry wears unique boots as well and sure enough, Jakks has them. This has been something they’ve struggled with through the years, often using the wrong molds even when they have the rights ones on file. However Terry has the exact type of boots he actually wears in real life. It’s a great figure in that regard.

I actually think his scale is pretty good. He’s big, but not too big. He can even fit in with your Mattel figures, if you’re not super hardcore about scale. Terry is a big guy and the Deluxe Impact style fits him well.

The Deluxe Impact style has a ton of articulation. You can pose this guy quite freely. However, remember that cheap plastic I talked about in the sculpt section? Well it has an effect here as well. Terry’s arms are loose as a goose and it’s clear to me that the plastic is reason for it.

That doesn’t mean you can’t pose him, it just means that he won’t always hold that pose as well as he should. Mattel’s figures have been tighter for the most part overall and I was surprised that Terry was this loose, as I haven’t had this issue with other Jakks TNA figures. He also seems to have limited movement in his torso crunch, because of the cheaper plastic. It’s just odd.

The legs are a bit better, but not much. There just doesn’t seem to be anyone who can make a wrestling figure capable of a basic big boot. The Mattel Elites struggle to perform this simple move as well. C’est la vie.

One of the reasons I bought Rob Terry was for his title belt. He comes with the Global Title. Of course if you follow TNA now, you’ll note that the Global Title has been renamed the Television Title. It’s actually the third name change for the belt. Originally it was brought in by Booker T as an almost fictional belt, dubbed the “Legends” Title.

TNA always struggled with the fact that they really didn’t have a midcard title. The Legends Title worked at the time, because TNA had a decent little roster of older guys who could fight for it. Once most of those old guys were off the roster, TNA renamed the belt to be the Global Title. I liked that moniker, but someone at TNA didn’t, thinking it undercut the World Title and thus it was renamed to the TV Title.

Whatever the name, it’s a beautiful belt. Unfortunately Jakks seems to have made the strap PINK! The actual Global/TV title does have a reddish-pink hue to it, but Jakks seems to have taken it just a tad too far to the pink level. It’s annoying, as I really like the belt, but the strap color is bothersome. Trust me, I know in some photos the belt looks red. It’s not. It’s pink. There’s also no paint on the belt. There is some great detail to it, though and it even says the word “global” in very small font on the front.

These weren’t terribly expensive when they came out, at about $9, which is cheaper than even Mattel WWE Basics. At the price, they’re hard to complain about. TNA’s website is actually running a sale on these figures right now and you can purchase ol’ Rob Terry for $5.99! If you score him for that price, even with his flaws, he’s a good value.

If you pay a bit more, his value will go down a bit. The cheap plastic results in a couple of minor issues with the head and the articulation. The belt is also a little too pink for my liking. Which means he’s got a lot weighing against him, as Terry isn’t really a popular character. BUT, the style does fit him well and he’s a pretty solid entry overall. I wouldn’t want to pay $15 for this guy, but at $6-$9 he feels like a good purchase.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 8
Paint – 8
Articulation – 7
Accessories – Global Title
Value – 7
Overall – 7 out of 10

I’m torn between a 7 and a 7.5 for this guy, but ultimately I’ve decided on a 7. Something about him just doesn’t feel that great, even though he’s a pretty good value. I appreciate that this guy can be had for under $10, though, even with a few flaws. There just aren’t many toys of this size that can be bought for such cheap prices. Jakks could improve their quality a bit, but overall Rob Terry is a decent, if not amazing figure.

This past week at SDCC 2011, Jakks and TNA teamed up with the Wounded Warriors project to create a special edition Kurt Angle figure in US camouflage. The figure was designed to raise awareness to the Wounded Warriors’ cause as well as donate all the proceeds to the Wounded Warriors foundation in order to help US Soliders who return home from action with injuries. It was a very personal project for Kurt Angle, who conducted this interview:

Pro wrestler Kurt Angle always has been a warrior. And he’s dealt with his own personal demons from arrests to divorce. But he’s fought through all of this and, now with a new fiancee and the birth of his daughter this spring, he’s in a better place mentally and physically. That’s why he’s taken on “Warrior” as his nickname.

“I think I have a purpose in life and that’s to serve the wrestling fans,” said Angle, who started wrestling at the age of 6. “I love the live events and signing autographs and taking photos. To be honest, that really motivates me to entertain them. Those fans are so grateful.”

And this weekend, TNA Entertainment and JAKKS will announce the Kurt Angle action figure to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project, a charity that helps raise awareness and funds for the needs of injured service members. All the proceeds from the sale of the action figure will go toward the charity.

“I met a soldier who was a pastor who helped me recently through the difficult times in my life,” Angle said. “So I wear to the ring this dog tag he gave me. I’m a very patriotic guy and not just because I was in the Olympics.”

On Friday, Angle is heading to a military base outside San Diego to talk with the troops and watch a screening of his movie “The Warrior”, which is about mixed martial arts. And, this weekend, Angle will be at Comic-Con in San Diego for the trade show highlighting comics, toys, video games and movies. His action figure will be on display.

“Most people still don’t understand how dangerous life in the military is until you head overseas to see it first-hand,” said Angle, who has been to Iraq twice and also Afghanistan. “I have so much respect for the soldiers. I’m so honored to be helping this project.”

This sounds great, right? TNA Wrestling fans were excited for the figure and preorders were already preparing to go underway… Enter WWE’s The Rock. The Rock announced on Twitter back in May that sales of his “Team Bring It” t-shirts would see a portion of the proceeds donated to the Wounded Warriors Project. This week however, things went sour.

Someone in the WWE got word that TNA was also running a promotion with the Wounded Warriors and called up the folks at Wounded Warriors, basically threatening to take away their commitment of proceeds from the Rock’s t-shirts. Wounded Warriors quickly pulled out of their campaign with TNA (after having Jakks produce figures and doing a huge press conference at SDCC 2011) and left TNA and Jakks holding the bag.

Wounded Warriors claims that their mission is to:

1. Raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members.
2. Help injured service members aid and assist each other.
3. Provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.

Apparently that mission statement is only good, so long as rival wrestling promotions don’t offer to donate. Personally I am blown away that WWE would stoop this low and that the Wounded Warriors Project would rather kowtow to politics, than receive donations from both wrestling companies. Shame on the WWE and shame on the Wounded Warriors Project, for putting needless politics and money first, instead of focusing on helping our armed service men and women.

Hopefully Jakks and TNA can find another outlet to release this Kurt Angle figure and find an actual worthwhile charity to accept the donations. Clearly the Wounded Warriors Project is not what it promotes itself to be. If they were, they would have no problems accepting donations from BOTH wrestling promotions.

TNA Micro Impact
3 Pack (Christopher Daniels, Jay Lethal, Consequences Creed)
2 Inch Scale
By: Jakks Pacific

My obsession with micro wrestlers is back, with a look at Jakks Pacific answer to their old WWE Micro Aggression line, the new TNA Micro Impact figures. These figures are similar to the Jakks Micro Ring Starz, I reviewed a while back. The key difference being that these are based on real licensed characters.

Oddly enough, two of the three men in this three pack are no longer with TNA. That’s alright by me, because I still wanted this set. Partially because it includes those two men. In fact I suspect a lot of people will try to track down this set for the Christopher Daniels figure. These three packs can be found now in Toys R Us locations across the nation and will certainly help add some diversity to your Micro Wrestler ranks. Let’s bash this baby over the head with a steel chair and see what spills out.

The packaging here is quite nice. It’s very reminiscent to Jakks Micro Aggression packaging, but redesigned with a TNA “Flair” *rimshot*. I have to say that I like it a lot. It’s probably the best these mini packages have looked and certainly miles better than the generic Ring Starz packaging.

The six sided style ring is really stretched here, but it looks quite natural to me. I really enjoy the little red and black photo of the characters in the top corner. Each wrestler’s name is clearly displayed as well and the weapon included is visible.

The back of the package shows off the rest of series one. It also advertises a four sided TNA ring, that as of yet is not available. Older packages from the TNA line showed off a six sided ring (that is available) for those keeping score at home.

When I first got into these guys, it was mostly for the love of the generic characters. That still holds true, but many of my favorite wrestlers wrestle in TNA, so I decided to pick up some of their mini guys as well. Actually I got these for Christmas, but that’s besides the point.

Some of the detail here is really impressive. While the generic guys were nice, this Christopher Daniels is the legitimate spitting image of the Fallen Angel himself. Except of course that this figure is less than 3 inches tall. Jakks can really nail a head sculpt sometimes and in the case of Daniels, they really hit a home run. It’s almost a shame that this will likely be the only Daniels figure we get from Jakks, as I’d love to see what their larger scaled head would look like.

Despite their tiny size, these guys pack a lot of detail and paint applications. Jay lethal has the word “Machismo” across his tights, Daniels has his full design on his front and back and even Consequences Creed’s colorful “Rocky” inspired attire is recreated. It’s tough to appreciate until you have these guys in your hand and realize just how small they are.

The Fallen Angel Christopher Daniels is probably the highlight of this set. Not only is his aforementioned head sculpt great, but he even has his Ankh tattoo on his sternum. It’s a little off center on mine… But that thing is tiny. It’s impressive to be there at all.

The paint work isn’t perfect, but a lot more shows up on my macro lens than it does on the naked eye. I’m more forgiving of a little slop when it’s on something so tiny. Jay Lethal has a cool bandana and it’s even got two paint applications on it. Impressive.

While Daniels is almost photo realistic, the other two seem to have more of a caricature look. That’s alright for this scale and is generally to be expected. Creed suffers the most because he has a “yelling” scan. It still makes for a pretty fun look, but I like the blander expressions myself.

My one complaint would be the skin tones. While Jay Lethal is a light skinned black guy, Christopher Daniels is a white dude. Their skin tone is different in these two figures, but the difference is very minor. I don’t know why they didn’t go with a regular Caucasian skin tone for Daniels.

Each figure has cuts at the shoulders, legs (V-crotch style), waist and neck. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but for the scale, it’s pretty darn good. Most figures this small have almost no movement.

Surprisingly you’re able to execute a fair number of moves with the limited movement. Because the figures are made of a softer plastic, it’s easier to bend the limbs to your liking. Here Christopher Daniels prepares to his his patented Angel’s Wings move.

Granted, it still requires a little imagination, but I find that’s the case with 99% of wrestling figures. Suspension of disbelief and all that. I mean, we are talking PRO-WRESTLING, aren’t we?

This three pack continues the trend set forth by the old WWE packs. Three figures and one weapon. The weapons at the moment appear to be completely reuses. I should note that I have seen some prototypes from China including a six sided ring and six sides of steel for this small scale so I hope they end up seeing release.

That note aside, you get a steel chair with these three. It’s not the most impressive piece of the sets. Actually it’s probably my least favorite micro accessory to date.

Jakks were perhaps a bit ambitious with it, so they designed it to be a legit folding chair. That makes it just a tad oversized and prone to falling apart. I kind of got tired of fiddling with it. That said you can have the figures sit in it.

Not that Pro Wrestlers are really known for sitting in chairs, are they?

Unfortunately this set won’t score near as high as the Micro Ring Starz, in this category. This set is reasonably priced at $5.99ish, but it’s not as good of a value as the generic figures. Of course these guys are legit wrestlers, so it’s expected that you would pay a bit more. I do think that Jakks could benefit by charging a little less, but for $6 it’s not a terrible value to get three mini wrestlers and a steel chair.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 7
Articulation – 6
Accessories – Steel Chair
Value – 7
Overall – 7 out of 10

These little dudes finish with a 7 out of 10. Not bad at all. I’m really starting to like the Micro Wrestlers. I’m not sure why, but I do. I guess it’s the fact that you can build up an army in a short amount of time. These guys make great opponents for my Ring Starz and the interchangeability between parts allows me millions of custom opportunities.

Obviously these TNA Micro Impact figures don’t have the M.U.S.C.L.E. appeal that the generics do, but they do allow you to get some core new parts to add to your collection. That alone could be reason for non-wrestling fans to pick them up. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter or else I’ll put you in a headlock!