Written by: Arnold Furious
2007 was the last year I really watched wrestling. Since then its been the odd show here and there. I caught Wrestlemania this year for Shawn Michaels’ goodbye party. But that’s about it. I certainly haven’t written about wrestling since 2008. In June 2008 I did my last Raw report before handing over to someone else and I covered Smackdown at the end of the month as a last minute thing. The last PPV I covered was WWE Backlash 2008 way back in April. And the last TNA show I saw was Lockdown in 2007. The way I see it I’ve got years of wrestling to catch up on. Seeing as I can’t rent WWE PPV’s in the UK (they’re not available from either Lovefilm or Blockbuster) I’ll be doing TNA’s shows from this one onwards (where available).
I checked the 411 archives and discovered that I reviewed a TNA show in 2007. It was Against All Odds. So what do I know about TNA coming into this show?
1. I know TNA has bags of talent. Most of whom the WWE won’t sign because they’re either too flashy or the individuals in question just wouldn’t fit in. I get the feeling AJ Styles wouldn’t get far in the WWE because he’d have to change the way he worked and he’s too small and he can’t cut a promo. Samoa Joe looks like a monster until you put him alongside some of the 7ft giants Vince McMahon likes signing.
2. I know TNA’s booking has been heavily criticised for promoting stupid matches and worse feuds. Having said that most companies have been criticised for their booking at one stage or another. There are very few bulletproof booking sequences in any major company.
3. I know TNA has a habit of signing former WWE talent but has great difficulty finding them something new to do. Reinventing them, as it were. A fine example would be signing Dustin Rhodes and trying to reinvent him as Black Reign.
4. I know TNA tends to waste money on celebrities. Usually from the sporting world. Like Pacman Jones. Celebrities that get them a tiny bit of mainstream coverage but gain them no long term fans.
5. I know TNA is the only major alternative for American audiences. They run a similar set up to the WWE so for fans tired of seeing the same people get the same pushes (Cena, Batista, Undertaker, Triple H etc, etc) can watch something different.
The opening TNA video package is pretty good. The WWE’s production values are so good that they’re hard to live up to. The only downside to the opening is its all voiceover. The WWE tend to mix up commentary, crowd noise and bits of promos and soundbites. But this is professional. I can live with it. Rather than promote matches it promotes stars though. Which is kinda strange seeing as people surely bought the PPV for the matches.
We’re in Atlanta, Georgia. Hosts are Mike Tenay & Super Shill Man.
Ultimate X/Number One Contenders match – Triple X (Senshi/Elix Skipper) v Latin American Xchange (Homicide/Hernandez)
LAX now “represent the Latino American nation” and haven’t long become a babyface mainstay on TNA’s programming. Meanwhile Senshi (aka Low Ki aka Kaval) is about 2 months away from quitting the company presumably out of frustration. So it should be pretty clear who goes over here BUT this is TNA so you can never be sure. They deliberately promote this as an ‘X’ style match. Which means its not a tag match at all. Just a big mess. Hernandez is, by far, the most powerful guy but in X matches that doesn’t really count for anything. Triple X have the agility to get the X down quicker. Homicide tries to go up but Senshi kicks him back down. There’s not really any way to get the X down quickly in this match much like a ladder match. You have to wear your opponents down and create an opening. Hernandez uses his size, which is big compared to X guys, to clear the ring and Homicide adds in the TOPE CON HILO! Combined the duo are doing a great job of popping the crowd. Senshi goes after the X but Hernandez jacks him up into a sitout powerbomb. Skipper goes up to the top of the tower and hits a HIGH CROSSBODY OFF THE TOP! That was sick! Crowd think its awesome. Homicide & Skipper head along the wires so Homicide NECKBREAKERS HIM OFF THE WIRE! Homicide and Senshi fight on the buckles, Kudo Driver is blocked and the WARRIORS WAY connects. Hernandez blocks the Play of the Day and we finally have some sensible wrestling! He BORDER TOSSES Elix over the top onto the other two. That leaves Hernandez to take down to the X and LAX win. ***. All over the place until the highspots kicked in. Some great spots don’t make for a great match but it was good enough to entertain me and pop the crowd. For that it gets bonus points for starting the show in a high gear.
EARLIER…Kurt Angle arrived with his title belt. His wife arrived separately. As did The Silver Fox Kevin Nash.
BACKSTAGE Christian butts into AJ & Tomko’s promo. Christian talks about wanting a title shot and how Samoa Joe is in his way. AJ plays Tim Roth to Christian’s Samuel L. Jackson here, which isn’t a bad thing. Yanno, Tim Roth is pretty cool. AJ cuts a goofy promo afterwards. Tomko butts in this time to say the fairytale sham of a title run is over.
Fight for the Right – 16 Man Reverse Battle Royal
Listen; a battle royal is a perfectly simple concept. The WWE improved on it with the Royal Rumble. WCW tried to with World War III and failed. The best way to do this is keep it simple. But this is just a horrible idea. How hard is it to get into the fucking ring? Rikishi gets in there first and a bunch of people just stand around because they’re not booked in the Final Eight. Kaz gives Roode the Flux Capacitor into the ring thus qualifying both of them. Machine Guns are in. Hoyt is standing on the floor with NOTHING stopping him from getting in there and doesn’t. I don’t understand this match. Storm beats Harris into the ring thus showing the dissension in AMW. So those 8 guys qualify for the Fight for your Right tournament and this battle royal that follows…
Confused yet? Don’t worry; nobody cares! Storm is thrown out right away. Eric Young gets himself more over by goofing around with Rikishi. Sorry, his TNA name is Junior Fatu. I forgot about the name switch. Obviously Rikishi is a WWE trademark. He totally dominates this because he’s by far the biggest dude in there. Hoyt gets exposed as an idiot for the second time in this one as he takes a Stinkface and just sits there staring at a massive Samoan ass beforehand. Everyone else realises Fatu is too big to take out one on one and dumps him out. Tenay talks about the Machine Guns being able to team up in there, which gives them an advantage. Sabin goes up top but Kaz spots him and kicks him out. There goes the teamwork. Kaz himself gets thrown out by Roode. Urinage off the apron, no less. Hoyt, continuing his theme of being a complete fucking idiot, goes up top for a moonsault and Roode just pushes him out. Roode biels Young into Shelley and he’s out too. So we’re down to a 1 on 1 match apparently…
Roode v Young. Why even make it MORE complicated by turning this into a singles match after all the other bullshit beforehand. Tenay points out Sabin will face Shelley in the tournament. MACHINE GUNS COLLIDE! Why can’t we have that match now? Young small packages Roode and wins this…thing. *. Just total nonsense. At least the crowd enjoyed it but having guys go out so randomly means the tournament will have goofy seeding. A tournament that is on free TV…set up on this PPV.
BACKSTAGE the tag champs are here; Killings & Pacman Jones. Pacman isn’t allowed to wrestle because he’s a professional football player and that’s how it was always going to work. If TNA believed otherwise they’re nuts. I don’t know how on earth WCW got away with it when they hired basketball players. This isn’t the same era as when football players used to double up as wrestlers in the off-season. Killings announces Consequences Creed will take Pacman’s spot in the team tonight. The crowd goes “yaaay…who?” The camera moves and the Angle’s are arguing.
TNA tag titles – Team Pacman (Ron Killings/Consequences Creed) (c) v AJ Styles/Tomko
Tenay makes a point of selling Tomko’s role as one half of the IWGP tag champions. Why not bring in Giant Bernard too? Maybe he’d be seen as just another WWE guy but he’s more a Japan guy now. Creed has an Apollo Creed gimmick but that doesn’t mean he’s in the same league as AJ or Tomko. AJ makes him look slow and green then Tomko makes him look small. Killings & Creed have an explosive style, which actually makes this match more exciting for the fans than it has any right to be until Tomko boots Creed in the face. Match breaks down and Tomko manhandles Creed some more. Pacman drops the rope on him though and Killings dives onto Tomko. With everyone down AJ hits the SSP to the floor. Pacman breaks out the money, AJ grabs it, is distracted and gets rolled up but Earl Hebner starts pocketing the cash after Killings had it won. That leaves Killings totally exposed and he’s double teamed into the loss. Titles switch and there’s no big angle to finish this. Pacman just walks away and Killings left for the WWE. *1/2. All over the place. I think TNA was hoping Pacman could work the match but when he didn’t at least they had a Plan B. Probably for the best Plan B was just sticking the belts on someone else and trying to go in a different direction.
BACKSTAGE Karen says the title will not change hands tonight and she goes to see Kevin Nash in a last bid to get Angle to pull out of a title match with Sting. Oh, TNA, its called a MICROPHONE. You might want to look that one up.
X title – “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal (c) v Christopher Daniels
Lethal won the title off Kurt Angle in one of ‘the’ big upsets in TNA history. He’s in the midst of doing a Randy Savage impression that made him stand out. Hey, Flair basically ripped off Buddy Rogers to get his gimmick. If he makes it his own its all good. Meanwhile Daniels is answering to a “higher power” and frequently makes gestures at the heavens. Which suggests they’re trying to recreate Wrestlemania VII. Except with WOYAH as the heel. They structure a decent match with Daniels largely dominating, as he should as the superior and more experienced wrestler, and using underhanded tactics to keep the plucky Lethal down. I like Lethal using Savage’s moves amongst his moveset. The Savage Hangover doesn’t really get a big pop though. Lethal springboards into the running Death Valley Driver (known as the Spellbinder in the UK) and Daniels adds the BEST. MOONSAULT, EVER for 2. Lethal counters out of the Last Rites and dumps Daniels on his head with the dragon suplex. Double down. Crowd chants “TNA”. Savage Elbow misses. They’ve done a good job of building this up and teasing the crowd with near falls. To the top rope and Lethal hits a backbreaker off the top into the Flatliner. Looked really, really sloppy. **3/4. Good match with an ambitious finish that he probably shouldn’t do again.
BACKSTAGE the Steiner Brothers are back as a team. Scott rambles about “fat asses”. He could have planned that promo out a bit.
Tables match – Steiner Brothers v Team 3D
This would have been a great match like 10 years ago. Or at least a match people would want to see. This is 2/3 falls or tables if you’d prefer. Seeing as this match would have been better suited to ECW in the mid-90s that’s how they wrestle it. Lots of crowd interaction and brawling and plunder. Scott in particular gets into it and starts drinking beer. This is certainly a 90s fad I hoped would never return; the old “crowd brawl”. ECW overused to the point where it wasn’t funny and then the WWE did the same. It hasn’t just ruined matches but whole shows! Steiners gets 99% of the match until 3D isolates Rick for a 3-D through the table. 1-0 Dudleys.
Perhaps not a surprise that they booked the first fall for Team 3D but its disappointingly predictable. The Steiners started so fast it wouldn’t have been a shock for them to get the first fall then have something go wrong and tell a different story. Odd how Scott sells being thrown over the top rope like he’s spent an hour wrestling. They set up a second fall immediately and Scott hits the FRANKENSTEINER on Brother Ray through the table. 1-1.
So now we’re predictably at one fall each and so far they’ve not really done anything. Rick has been lying around on the floor ever since the first fall. Brother Ray takes it up a notch by taking his belt off and whipping Scott in a huge sign of disrespect. Team 3D, despite their long experience of dealing with shitty tables, set up a broken one and Scott falls through it. Erm, THAT DOESN’T COUNT says Tenay. Scott gets laid very, very gingerly on another table. They go to Pillmanise the neck on the table and the MACHINE GUNS run in for the save. And by save I mean standing around outside the ring so that Team 3D throw away the opportunity to finish the match. Morons. Horrible miscue follows with Ray taking a chair shot off Devon. Suddenly Rick Steiner is fine again the Steiner Bulldog through the table finishes. Urgh. ½*. I just don’t get this at all. What was Rick doing just lying around for 7/8 minutes? Why did the Machine Guns running out here stop Team 3D from just winning the match? Why did Scott Steiner switch his fatigue on and off when it suited the match? I did NOT enjoy this.
BACKSTAGE JB has ODB, Shelley Martinez, Talia Madison and Angel Williams. ODB takes over the segment until Kong shows up and scares everyone away. Including JB.
TNA Knockout title/Gauntlet match
This is to determine the first champion. Awesome Kong is the favourite because she kills bitches dead. This is basically a Royal Rumble with a pinfall/submission when we get down to two ladies. Ms Brooks and her awesome cleavage start. Jackie Moore is second out. Normally they’re both valets but Jackie has a history of being signed when a company wants to start a women’s division. Brooks tries too hard. 3rd out is Shelley Martinez. Shelley & Brooks is really fucking sloppy. #4 is Awesome Kong. Everyone else shits themselves. She takes so long to get to the ring that #5 is almost out by the time she gets there. That’s ODB. Shelley & Brooks go out while the camera is on ODB. Good work chaps! Kong destroys Moore and throws her out. ODB gets nothing. #6 is Angel Williams. She kinda reminds of Maryse. Kong destroys both of them. #7 is Christy Hemme. She’s a valet too and has been trying to get TNA to treat women seriously. Kong destroys her too and sees how flexible her back is. The screaming is disturbing. POWERBOMB! #8 is Gail Kim. She moves Kong with a missile dropkick. Christy Hemme is out of this with a broken spine. Probably. Gail gets everyone else to gang up and dump Kong out, which the camera also misses. Jesus fucking wept. #9 is Talia Madison. Gail gets people organised again and Angel is out. #10 is Roxxi who has a voodoo gimmick. ODB has dominated since Kong went out. Gail throws Talia out. Roxxi dumps out ODB. Time for one on one.
Roxxi & Gail trade on striking and Roxxi looks surprisingly competent. There is a bit of telegraphing, which is frustrating but almost inevitable because women rarely get the chance to have high profile matches. So until they get a run of them you’ll get moments of poor quality. Gail promptly hooks Roxxi for the Emerald Flosion and wins the title. **. It was quite entertaining when with Kong or Gail Kim were doing something. That’s your division there.
BACKSTAGE Kevin Nash goes to talk to Kurt Angle. Why is Borash having to wave a mic under their faces. Just get a fucking boom mic for crying out loud. Angle calls Nash a “pussy” and says Sting is out of line rather than him. Angle sounds legitimately insane and Nash calls him deluded. What’s frustrating here is the storyline with Nash is more interesting than the one with Sting but Nash is too old and beat up to compete at a decent level. Why bother?
Samoa Joe v Christian Cage
There must be a winner according to the announcement so I presume that means no DQ or count out although this is never an issue. Special enforcer is Matt Morgan to prevent outside shenanigans. Christian has never lost in conventional terms in TNA. Both guys get in Morgan’s face. “Joe’s gonna kill ya” – Atlanta @ Christian. Joe has the basics of putting a match together down so good that he could do it in his sleep. But his aim here is just to get simple holds on because the crowd is SO psyched up he doesn’t even need to do anything. Hebner chastises him for the facewash but Christian baits Joe and dodges the big finish. Christian generally needs a good defence to protect himself as Joe will dominate him physically. Christian starts getting creative to save himself but misses with a dive and Joe gets up a head of speed; ELBOW SUICIDAAAAA! OLE OLE KICK! I think Joe broke the rail! They run a rope assisted DDT counter on the floor. Joe just signals it too much by looking up and watching the arm come into place for it. Crowd is enjoying this one! Really, really loud reactions and constant noise. Christian can’t seem to link two moves together because he goes to high risk too quickly. But that’s because he’s so scared of Joe’s ability. Christian tries a slingshot after the frogsplash misses but Joe just volleys him to the floor. Christian thinks about running but Morgan orders him back in. Joe takes another run up…CORKSCREW PLANCHA! Are you fucking kidding me? Christian goes high risk again back inside and Joe just walks out of the way. I love that. Its so perfect I can’t believe nobodies done it before. Christian avoids the Musclebuster but he’s in real trouble here. Joe avoids the Unprettier and powerbombs Christian into the buckles. Christian looks like he’s surviving out there rather than competing. He tries to use the ropes on a pin but Joe still has enough to kick out of it. KOQUINA CLUTCH! Christian gets out but Joe hits a snap powerslam for 2. He’s just owning Christian here. Christian’s shots have so little impact that Joe can just come right back. TOMKO is out here. Matt Morgan takes exception and they brawl. Now AJ is able to sneak in but Morgan cuts him off too. That was Christian’s masterplan. He punts Joe in the nuts and the UNPRETTIER has this finished but Joe KICKS OUT. Christian is SHOCKED, SHOCKED I TELLS YA! Christian puts on his own Koquina Clutch, which is wise because it can wear Joe down but Joe isn’t selling shit for Christian. He kicks his head off and MUSCLEBUSTER sets up the KOQUINA CLUTCH! Christian taps out for the first time in TNA and Joe just destroyed him. ***3/4. A little too one sided perhaps and despite Joe’s big win they just cut backstage afterwards like it means nothing. TNA has a bad habit of doing that.
BACKSTAGE Why? Because Kevin Nash needs ANOTHER segment. This time with Sting. Again this is a better story for Nash than anyone involved in the main event.
Monster’s Ball – Raven v Black Reign v Rhino v Abyss
Did I ever tell you how much I hate the Black Reign gimmick? To be fair to Dustin he’s trying hard to get it over. Its just a pity he can’t be Goldust. Abyss is TNA’s monster. He dominates until Raven hits him in the head with a wooden stick. Damn! Rhino starts bringing the plunder and he and Raven have the benefit of being ECW alumni. Rhino’s assorted plunder leaves everyone lying. I’m reminded of a match Rhino & Raven had in the WWE that was particularly good. Up to the stage and Rhino accidentally GORES his way through a wall. He was trying to eliminate Abyss from the match but eliminated himself in the process. Raven is busted. I think Dustin might be too. They both go up over the TNA sign and Raven tries to convince Dustin to dive but when he doesn’t Raven elbow drops Abyss through two tables. Looked like a bad landing and Raven stays down holding his wrist. He gets over it so Dustin punts him in the groin. Abyss has the THUMBTACKS and Rhino is standing again! GORE for Black Reign. Raven takes him out with the kendo stick and out comes James Mitchell with BROKEN GLASS to mix in with the thumbtacks. BLACK HOLE SLAM ON THE TACKS & GLASS! Raven just got maimed. The pin is academic. **1/2. Hardcore matches are like spotfests where the spots are replaced with garbage but as long as its fun I have no problem with it. Most 1PW main events ran like this.
TNA title – Kurt Angle (c) v Sad Mime Sting
I don’t appreciate Sting being shown as a technical equal when they do standing counters. He’s never been technically great. I got the same irritation when Hogan bust out that one piece of wrestling he knew and everyone was all “hey, he actually can wrestle”. No, he’s just got that one bit down. Two seconds of well rehearsed technical skill. It was like a high spot for him. Sting is passable at some of the technical stuff but as soon as he tries to take it up a gear he looks incapable of it. Horrible Irish whip reversal segment goes to pieces and they go to some neat looking near misses. Sting looks tired and the ring rust is there. He goes for the Deathdrop but Angle counters out into a swish German suplex. Sting is a signing that really paid off for TNA. He’s never been in the WWE and he’s a name wrestler. I think you need someone like that in your company. It sets it apart from the WWE where virtually everyone else has been. So he can go alongside TNA’s own talent like AJ, Abyss, Joe and Jay Lethal. Angle & Sting have somewhat limited chemistry. But Sting can work his moves in. The Stinger Splash leads to the bulldog. Sting goes up but Angle does his buckle running hip toss off the top. Angleslam is countered into a roll up for 2. Crowd are totally biting on this now. ROLLING GERMANS. Sting barely gets a shoulder up and he’s looking gassed. ANKLELOCK is on. But Sting just lies there in it before finally getting motivated and countering into the SCORPION DEATHLOCK! Good idea, decent execution. Karen Angle runs out here and Sting, because he’s the dumbest wrestler in the history of the planet, breaks the hold. The referee has to tend to Karen so Nash runs hobbles in and nails Sting. ANGLESLAM! Ref is still on the floor and Sting barely gets his shoulder up again. Angle then does something he probably shouldn’t have done; he goes up top, wobbles a lot, and hits the 450 (ish) for 2. His shins brushed Sting’s arm. ANKLELOCK. Sting runs Angle into Coach Nash. Ref bump and the SCORPION DEATHDROP. Everyone is down! We finally get a new ref and Nash pulls him out on 2. Tenay gets all over Nash’s case. Damn he’s slow now. Nash goes after Sting for spitting at him. Sting lays both heels out. Still no ref. Angle has the baseball bat. Sting shouldn’t have brought that out here. Sting takes it off him and the heels both take bat shots. BATFIGHT; IT’S A GAME OF SKILL! SCORPION DEATHDROP again and a bleeding Angle takes the fall. ***1/4. It got a little overbooked to work around Sting’s shortcomings. But it was an exciting match and the crowd loved it. It had that ‘big match’ feel to it especially in the last 10 minutes. Of course Angle won the title back on Impact but hey, at least they had the big title change here and ideally you don’t want Sting as champion for a long run because he’s too old.
The footage from IMPACT of Kurt Angle stalking Sting’s son. Angle claimed that he wanted to face Sting at his best so he made it personal. There’s then a bunch of wrestlers talking about how Bound for Glory is the biggest show of the year. We get footage of the FanFest in Atlanta. Chris Harris could have washed his hair. You’ll never get a WWE career if you don’t have that HHH hair lustre. If you don’t maintain your hair you’ve got no chance. Abyss stays in gimmick. That’s cute. Dixie Carter seems very personable. Christian looked like he was having a good time. There’s also a sneak peek of the 2008 TNA video game. The wrestlers getting their moves motion captured is pretty funny. Especially as Senshi stays in character even when he looks like an idiot. There’s about 20 minutes of extras but nothing I would have sat and watched if I wasn’t reviewing the show.
Final Thoughts: It was a good show. By and large entertaining and even though it had glaring faults in production this isn’t a million miles off the standard that you expect from the WWE. They need better production values because missing eliminations in battle royals because the director doesn’t understand wrestling is bush league stuff. But they are capable of building feuds and putting on big matches. Angle-Sting and Joe-Christian came off well and the Ultimate X match worked. On the whole the show delivered and I’m happy to say its my first thumbs up DVD since I got back on the reviewing horse.