Written by: Arnold Furious
We open with Mike Tenay inside the Six Sides of Steel. He talks about tonight’s main event and how if Joe loses he’s gone from professional wrestling forever! The cynic in me is thinking there’s no way that’d happen. Even if he lost. What it does show is that Joe is so desperate to win the TNA title and beat Kurt Angle that he’s put his career on the line to do so.
We’re in Lowell, Massachusetts. Fun Lowell fact; it has the largest percentage of Cambodians of anywhere in the United States. At 10% it’s the most Cambodian city in the US.
Hosts are Mike Tenay & Don West. The latter is suitably excited. They’ve sent poor JB into the upper deck and there’s some support for Angle. Crowd is HYPED. But then this is the big main event for TNA. Their biggest heel against their biggest babyface with the title on the line. With the amount of hype its received its perhaps a bigger title match than Angle-Sting.
X title – Jay Lethal (c) v Sonjay Dutt v Curry Man v Johnny Devine v Consequences Creed v Shark Boy
Jay & Sonjay are still friends and teammates. That is labelled the X-factor in this match. To counter that we’ve got CURRY MAN DANCING! In a division where even the heels are popular Devine actually has heat for his association with Team 3D. The rules for this are that pinfalls & submissions are the order of the day until we’re down to 2; then it’s a cage match. Lethal & Sonjay team up to begin with, which pretty much makes them joint-favourites. Curry Man & Shark Boy are also a team but they perhaps lack the experience of the other team. That goes well until Shark Boy nails Lethal with a Stunner, Sonjay saves his buddy from elimination but leaves himself wide open and gets rolled up by that sneaky Johnny Devine. And Sonjay, so far the star of the show, is gone.
Shark Boy takes over with the THESZ PRESS AGAINST THE CAGE! Awesome. Mudhole stomps. SHOOTS THE FIN! Creed is in the match to prove himself. The crowd isn’t familiar with him like the others. He sneaks in to DDT Shark Boy and he’s out and the crowd do NOT like that but I guess Creed had to beat someone to show he’d got the goods.
Tenay points out that Sonjay is still out here cheering on Black Machismo. Curry Man goes up top, which is pretty stupid BUT entertaining! He sentons onto both Creed and Devine. SPICE RACK ON CREED! He’s gone.
Lethal gets a SPICE RACK TOO and Devine breaks the fall. He’s saved Lethal’s title, which is an incredibly non-heel thing to do. But the stunned Curry Man gets hit with Devine Intervention. Curry Man, a crowd favourite, is eliminated.
Now Devine has a downed Lethal and can win this. Crowd go from being pissed off to being HUGE Jay Lethal fans. Which shows how much they hate Johnny Devine. See! You create an actual heel in the X division and get a tonne of heat on the matches. Devine tapes Lethal to the ropes but SONJAY DUTT BLOCKS THE DOOR! So Devine has to go over the top. Dutt goes as far as to help Lethal cut himself loose. Devine is climbing over and the door is open; LETHAL DIVES THROUGH IT and retains! ***. Sure, it was spot heavy but you throw six cruisers in a match together and it generally is. Especially as tagging was optional. What it did do was create a tremendous atmosphere in the arena and nobody seems to mind that Lethal cheated to retain, which is rather like the same mentality of the Megapowers. So that works too. I also love how Sonjay will only take this for so long before he eventually wants the belt himself or So Cal Val. Or both.
BACKSTAGE Frank Trigg (19-6 – at the time, he returned to the UFC for 2 more losses in 2010), TNA’s big fight expert and former MMA supercard fighter, gives us the skinny on Angle & Joe. He thinks Joe lacks big match experience and thinks Angle is so capable on the mat with a mix of submission holds that he’ll retain.
Queen of the Cage – Christy Hemme v Salinas v Jacqueline Moore v Traci Brooks v Angelina Love v Velvet Sky v Rhaka Khan v Roxxi Laveaux
Oh, a quick note on Ms Brooks. It was brought to my attention that she fainted during that Roode-Joe match a few months back rather than knocked down by Payton Banks. I assumed it was Banks who knocked her out but that didn’t happen. Angelina Love & Velvet Sky are the Beautiful People and Roxxi has issues with both. The rules for this one is that the first two to get INTO the cage fight for the Queen of the Cage title, which guarantees a title match. Angelina Love gets in quite easily. Velvet almost joins her but Roxxi gets past her and wins the race.
Angelina Love Vs Roxxi Laveaux then. I don’t really understand why they had quite so many ladies out here when the focus was blatantly Roxxi Vs Beautiful People. Don West points out that you don’t get interference in a cage match. Tell that to Johnny Devine! Angelina has definitely benefitted from having a women’s division. The difference between her here and back when the Knockouts title came in is noticeable. The crowd cheer on Roxxi showing that the angle is working, big time. The match is pretty basic and Roxxi takes it in short order with the Voodoo Drop. *1/2. Nothing wrong here but the match was only here for Roxxi to get her revenge and a title shot.
BACKSTAGE New Interview Girl interviews Samoa Joe. He cuts an intense promo saying he’s not just willing to sacrifice his career for Angle’s title but his life. We then cut to a horrible Kip James promo. “That’s right Brian…a tiger. That’s what I’ll become”.
BG James v Kip James
Seems like the New Age Outlaws have spent more than a decade either teaming or feuding when the team goes wrong. The thing is; they’ve always been better as a team because that hides both their shortcomings. They try and replicate that in singles here with Kip dominating, as he did in the team, and BG getting his ass kicked, as he did in the team. BG tries to get a bit of offence in but gets levelled with the Diamond Cutter and this is over but Kip doesn’t even bother pinning. This is because Kip has always been a total jerk. BG knows you can’t throw away chances to beat someone but Kip thinks he’s so good he can beat BG at any point in this one. Its not a bad story but it does make Kip look like an idiot but he’s the heel so that’s ok. The shortcomings of Kip show up here as he goes to a long chinlock and seems short on ideas whereas BG is perfect in the ‘getting his ass kicked’ stakes and sells like a champ. Rocker Dropper and Kip finally goes for a pin…for 2. Again there was a long delay because Kip is so confident. BG punches him in the nuts to buy himself some time. BG decides to NOT use his usual moves, which Kip is familiar with, and instead throws Kip into the cage a few times to discombobulate him. It’s a nice touch from BG and he even signalled it to the crowd. Kip looks a bit blown up and misses in the corner allowing BG to roll him up for the win. **1/4. I was digging that. They brought an old school approach to the cage match and showed familiarity with each others movesets. Kip looked tired as the match went on and if they’d told that story too it could have been even better. Kip looking unbeatable until he punched himself out. Kinda like Ali-Foreman. The old ‘Rope-a-Dope’.
POST MATCH BG offers a handshake but Kip suckers him into a clothesline. I told you he was a total jerk! Logically we go to a tag feud where two younger guys get over from the same feud. I’d totally buy into it. Two Outlaw protégés duelling for a spot in the limelight.
BACKSTAGE Kurt looks super intense and namedrops the WWE. He says Joe isn’t a wrestler; he’s an animal. He says Joe is the only man with the intensity to match Angle. I really, really dig this because Angle is creating the perfect story for a main event; two top guys but who’s the best? Angle feels he has to make Joe tap out to vindicate his title run.
Cuffed in the Cage – Rock N Rave Infection v Kaz/Eric Young v Black Reign/Rellik v Motor City Machine Guns v LAX v Scott Steiner/Petey Williams
EY gets beat down backstage by Black Reign & Rellik thus creating the main storyline for this. To eliminate someone you have to handcuff them to the cage. Last man uncuffed wins for their team. Steiner cracks up some of the fans by swearing at the other ones. It’s a little congested in there. Steiner, being a main eventer, dominates the early proceedings. LAX team up to take him down, which is nice to see because the tag team is better than the singles wrestler. Rellik cuffs Steiner and he’s out!
Not content with eliminating him Rellik continues to beat Steiner down. Eric comes out here but gets scared off by the monsters again. Eric can’t cope with Black Reign & Rellik. Super Eric on the other hand is cool with it. Still congested in there. Shelley got cuffed at some point. Didn’t see that. Kaz hits the Wave of the Future on Sabin into the cage and he’s cuffed too. MCMG’s are out. Crowd do NOT like that. Black Reign & Rellik eliminate Petey, which shows them to be the monsters that TNA keep claiming they are.
Rave escapes the Border Toss but gets the CRACKERJACK into the cage instead. Hernandez has been the dominate force ever since Steiner went out. Black Reign punches him in the balls and Hernandez is out. FLUX CAPACITOR ON RAVE! He’s sure in there to take bumps. Homicide is also cuffed. Crowd is too busy chanting “that was awesome” at Kaz. He takes Hoyt up top for the Flux but gets CHOKESLAMMED OFF THE TOP. Black Reign and Rellik cuff him and they’ve been the most successful for one very simple reason; everything they’ve done has been aimed at using the rules of the match to eliminate all the threats. SUPER ERIC runs out because the other faces are out. He takes on all four heels and eliminates both of Rock N Rave. Now he’s left 2 on 1 against Black Reign and Rellik. Eric slips out and Rellik cuffs himself. Haha, that was cute. SUPER DRIVER on Black Reign and he’s cuffed; ERIC WINS! **. Kaz brought the highspots while Eric brought the pop. Its kinda weird that the Machine Guns went out so fast though and the crowd is starting to show a degree of discontent with the lack of pushes for certain wrestlers.
Tag title sidenote: its easy to forget that AJ & Tomko were holding the tag titles at this point because they were both busier with their main event pushes. TNA put the belts on Kaz & Super Eric after this show but because Eric Young refused to acknowledge that he was Super Eric they lost the titles by forfeit. TNA then ran the Deuces Wild tournament, which in terms of all-time stupid PPV booking decisions must rank pretty high up. The only positive thing about it being that when the dust had settled on the tournament LAX had the belts, which they should have just won anyway because they’re the most popular team in the company. Luckily I’m not able to rent Sacrifice; the PPV with the Deuces Wild tournament on it, so I get to skip the whole thing.
BACKSTAGE Interview Girl has Samoa Joe’s dad Samoa Pete. He says there’s no way Joe will lose. The promo is long and stilted but its another little thing to put over the size of Joe’s challenge tonight.
Awesome Kong/Raisha Saed v Gail Kim/ODB
This is logical run-on booking, which is always appreciated. Kim and ODB couldn’t take Kong’s belt because of Saed’s interference so we get a tag match. Saed wrestles in a veil so we can’t see that she’s Cheerleader Melissa. I like how ODB has gotten over through sheer effort. Saed is the wild card here because we don’t know how capable she is as a wrestler but she soon shows her skills by taking apart Gail’s arm. The veil and headgear must limit her vision though as she’s got no peripherals. Gail’s lucha style clashes with Raisha’s mat game but it’s a credit to this women’s division that it caters to so many different styles. Gail does a much better job of being in peril and Raisha stamping her head into the cage is a great visual. Considering how good Raisha has been Kong, by comparison, isn’t anywhere near as dominant as usual. Gail is all about high impact and hits the super rana on Raisha drawing a big pop. Raisha also gets in the way of a Kong spinning backfist. ODB adds in a splash off the top rope and the faces win. **. Having Raisha in the match was at first a boon for Kong but she doesn’t play well with others and her offence is so effective that when Saed copped a backfist she was out. Because they’ve got no experience of teaming together Kim & ODB’s limited experience was enough for them to take it. The big question is; where do they go from here? If it was an old school promotion you’d probably have Raisha handcuffed to Gail while ODB got her one on one title shot. Nobody wins the title and eventually one of them turns heel. But just how many women’s matches are TNA prepared to put on their shows? It makes booking that much harder.
BACKSTAGE JB has Karen Angle. She cuts a tearful promo about her husband, which makes me wonder how far along their marital issues were by this point. Either she’s doing a great job of selling the angle or she’s going through mental issues stemming from their non-storyline problems at home.
Robert Roode/Peyton Banks v Booker T/Sharmell
This is all stemming from the punch Roode damaged Sharmell’s jaw with. Its also the end of Roode’s angle with Peyton and Ms Brooks and he’d go on to form Beer Money with James Storm shortly afterwards. The match is all about Booker T. How angry he is about Roode’s abuse of his wife and how he tries to balance that with protecting his wife. Peyton is no Ms Brooks and she’d be done after this match. Although TNA are usually pretty good at finding stuff for their female talent to do, surely one of the few benefits of Vince Russo, but Peyton just didn’t fit into any angles. The match sees Booker largely dominate because he’s a superior wrestler but Roode gets more openings than usual because Booker’s mind is on his wife. I do take issue with Booker’s approach to this match as he doesn’t convey that sense of anger that he has. We know he’s mad at Roode but he doesn’t show it enough. At one point stopping off to do a Spinneroonie. Oh yeah, he’s mad now; HE’S BREAKDANCING! Sharmell does a much better job of selling everything her husband fails at. She tags herself in and goes after Roode herself. Peyton, being a complete moron, tags herself in too and accidentally slaps Roode and gets herself pinned. *1/4. The stuff with Booker & Roode wasn’t really working and, not for the first time, Sharmell was the one who came through and saved the match. I feel that Sharmell is very underrated among the IWC. I’ve always felt she was a great talent.
POST MATCH Roode chews out Peyton Banks for costing him the match. This would be fine as a follow up angle if they hadn’t already done it with Ms Brooks once. Kinda sad to see Peyton standing in the ring crying as her last act on PPV.
BACKSTAGE Interview Girl has Marcus Davis (17-7) who’s been training Samoa Joe to face the shoot-style of Kurt Angle. I like that they’re trying to incorporate the success of MMA into the company, much like New Japan did, but wrestling fans like their MMA separate more often than not. MMA-style isn’t always much fun to watch. But I can see where they’re coming from and in the past I’ve even suggested wrestling should feature more realistic fighting styles. Thing is; both Angle and Joe already incorporate that more realistic style into normal wrestling matches.
LETHAL LOCKDOWN: Team Cage v Team Tomko
This is TNA’s version of War Games and one of the best matches they do that the WWE doesn’t. Christian Cage goes in first for his own team. Tomko counters by also starting the match. Their rivalry goes way back to the WWE days where Tomko was subservient to Cage. Except it’s a ruse and AJ Styles starts instead with a springboard flying elbow smash to the back of Christian’s head! Crowd is really hot for this. AJ had the element of surprise and that helps him take Christian apart during the opening segment. I’d say 90% of the opening 5 minute segment is AJ with Christian only getting any joy from counters. But then the opening segment doesn’t really count for anything except that Christian really had to get ahead as he’s about to be 1 on 2. PELE! It just comes outta nowhere!
Brother Ray is 2nd for Team Tomko. He slams the door on Christian’s head and he’s rocking a Derek Jeter shirt to wind up the Boston fans. Bubba brings the power and cheating to allow AJ to work in spots. Rhino comes in to even this out. He’s explosive but AJ dropkicks him in mid-Gore! No one really has an advantage as yet. James Storm is in next for Team Tomko. Eye of the Storm on Cage and he’s pretty much done here. Rhino is outnumbered. AJ starts using the cage Spider-Man style. Cage gets up there too and is PUNCHED OFF TO THE FLOOR! Kevin Nash comes in for Team Cage, which is now at a numbers disadvantage. Nash dominates until Bubba wipes out his knee. Cage is back up – CROSSBODY OFF THE TOP OF THE CAGE! AJ looks a bit rough. I think he knocked himself silly on the turnbuckle when Nash came in.
Next in is Brother D-Von. 3D team up to take over this thing, which makes you wonder why Tomko didn’t send D-Von in instead of Storm. Every time Nash gets up Bubba goes right after the knee. Next for Team Cage is Matt Morgan. He looks huge! 7 feet tall and he levels everyone while various team mates and opponents get a breather. Bubba tries for a chop block on him too, which is pretty smart strategy but Morgan clotheslines both of 3D. Tomko is last in for his team. He goes after Cage and here’s some intensity! Yeah! D-Von is bleeding. Last man is Sting. Roof comes down and the Lethal Lockdown is on!
Sting unsportingly goes low on both AJ and Storm. If you’ve not seen a Lethal Lockdown; the cage top lowers in and its covered in weapons. They break up into teams and everyone grabs weapons for a stand-off. Nash is smart here and uses a chair to block shots as well as dish them out. Storm is also smart as he went up on top to get the bonus weapons. Cage cuts him off and this looks DANGEROUS. The cage is breaking! Storm’s foot is through it. Were you injured in an accident at work and it wasn’t your fault? Call injury lawyers4U! In the ring Tomko lays out everyone but Sting lays him out and has the SCORPION DEATHLOCK! AJ breaks it up with the KENDO STICK! Oh shit, he’s going nuts with that thing! Christian has a table set up! AJ goes up to help and this looks INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS. AJ has a LADDER SET UP ON TOP OF THE CAGE!! He’s off the fucking chain! Oh my God, that’s SO high. Christian climbs up too. Oh no. Oh my. “Please don’t die”. Storm pushes it over and they go through the table but not the roof of the cage. “TNA”. Indeed. That spot was scary. My one quibble here is that everyone else is just lying around waiting for something to happen. BEER BOTTLE FOR MORGAN! Awesome. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEE!!!! Rhino pins Storm and Team Cage wins. ****. A great combination of old school cage action and new school extreme high spots. A little sad that it suffered from the usual overselling while high spots were being set up but other than that it was great entertainment.
RECAP Kurt Angle arriving in TNA and going into an immediate feud with Samoa Joe. Joe taps in the first match, Angle in the second. Angle eventually cheats to win the rubber match after just surviving a time limit in the 3rd match. He’s 3-1 against Joe. We go to a video of people saying this match is huge as it’s the two biggest names in TNA going head to head with the title on the line.
Frank Trigg joins the commentary team providing unique MMA based commentary and keeping everything grounded. If there’s one thing Don West needs its grounding.
TNA title – Kurt Angle (c) v Samoa Joe
Trigg calls Joe nervous so Tenay weighs in with his opinion, which basically rubbishes Trigg. I guess they fed Trigg lines because of his angle with Kurt after this to make him seem deliberately pro-Angle. Samoan fire-dance to bring Joe out. WWE tends to do better entrances at big shows but this is cool. Karen is at ringside even though she’s left Kurt so Kurt wants her ejected by security. Meanie. Interesting to note that Kurt comes into this wearing MMA style shorts rather than wrestling attire. He also goes totally MMA to start trying to wear Joe down with leg kicks. Angle leaves his leg in there and Joe has the ANKLELOCK. Angle has to use the ropes to break the hold. Angle with the double leg and he tries some ground and pound. Ropes break again. Should have taken the ropes down and just gone OCTAGON on their asses. Angle goes for more mounted strikes and the ropes break again. Angle gets caught coming in for another takedown and Joe decides to take advantage of Angle’s taped feet. No boots so Joe just stomps the feet. This is something Joe is awesome at; noticing opponents weaknesses. Joe keeps trying for judo stuff but Angle hauls him over for a back suplex. Interesting to hear Trigg analyse pro-wrestling moves like they’re legit. Trigg also thinks Joe isn’t in shape, presumably because he’s doughy. Trigg does give him credit for using the rules to his advantage; countering submission holds into pins and using the ropes. Angle pulls out a Figure Four, which he used on Nagata. Joe stays in the hold for AGES before finally turning it over. Trigg suggests spending that long in the hold means he’s lost all mobility. Angle goes after the knee but he’s open for strikes so he switches to a headlock.
Joe slips out; LARIATOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Fuck me, he channelled Kobashi with that son of a bitch. Joe brings the kicks but Angle escapes the Musclebuster into the ANKLELOCK. Joe turns it over and kicks him off. S.T.JOE!! POWERBOMB WITH SLIDE…FOR 2 INTO THE BOSTON CRAB WITH EXTREME CRANK!! Angle nearly gets the ropes so Joe switches to the STF. Joe has it across Angle’s eyes so he can’t see where the ropes are. Angle slips out RIGHT INTO THE ANKLELOCK! Joe COUNTERS IT BACK into a crossface. That ankle now helping to hold Kurt’s arm in place. Its an excellent counter and Joe has been careful to not move about too much thus giving his legs recovery time. Angle charges but that leaves him totally exposed. Joe’s mobility is reduced so Kurt played into Joe’s hands. OLYMPIC SLAM…FOR 2. Back to the Anklelock and its right in the middle negating the ropes. Joe tries to switch but Angle blocks back into the ANKLELOCK but he can’t tap because his career will be over. Joe counters again with a pull on the tights and gets the KOQUINA CLUTCH. Angle pulls himself into the ropes using the ref! Trigg puts him over and Tenay isn’t happy and yet Joe pulled the tights Tenay; hypocrisy to cheer one and boo the other. SUPERKICK! Holy shit! Joe just busted out the awesome there. MUSCLEBUSTAAAAAAAAAAHHHH! Joe wins the title. ****1/4. I know people didn’t like the MMA stuff but I felt it added to the big match feeling. Plus Joe & Angle have great chemistry. It seems the best TNA title matches are the ones where Angle loses the belt. Which makes him a modern Ric Flair. I loved this match and I feel Joe was deserving of a chance with the TNA belt.
The only downside to this is that post-switch they didn’t really have a big plan for the title. Joe was supposed to defend against Scott Steiner & Kurt Angle in a 3-way at the next show but Kurt got injured and Joe found himself short on challengers, which is a nightmare for a champion in any company.
The DVD features footage from the interactive event prior to the show and Joe-Angle from Impact a few weeks later where Joe retained thanks to Steinerference. Its 20 minutes long and pretty good but not as special as the PPV match.
Final Thoughts: This is a good show. Two strong main events and a few matches down the card that delivered some interesting storyline. The right people seemed to win throughout. Whether TNA has a long term plan for any of this is open to debate but they’ve put out an entertaining show here. Enthusiastic thumbs up!