Written by: Arnold Furious
Just before this show TNA announced they had signed Hulk Hogan, which I found to be highly depressing news. He’d been rumoured as a possible signing in the past but his sour relationship with Vince Russo stopped the move from happening. Hogan always SAYS the right things, depending on who he’s talking to, but he rarely ever seems to follow that through. I know he’s wanted to build a promotion around RVD for some time so at least this is his chance to do that. Problem is, TNA has AJ Styles already. Who’s a far more competent, if slightly less showy, worker than Van Dam. But that’s Hogan for you. This show is practically built around the theme of change. Dixie Carter was clearly not thrilled with the product. That’s how I read it anyway. And although I wasn’t thrilled with the product this show may just change that.
November 15th 2009.
We’re in Orlando @ the Impact Zone. Hosts are Mike Tenay & Taz(z).
X title – Amazing Red (c) v Homicide
Red has his own personal cheerleader out here in Don West. Sounds like he’s microphoned up too. West’s analysis is that Homicide will make a mistake and Red is too fast for him. But this is LOCO RUDO Homicide. I’m surprised he doesn’t Ghetto Fork Don West in the eye for getting in his bidniz. Red is generally too fast for Homicide but as soon as Homicide nails him with a lariat it slows him down. Red tries some flippy stuff but again Homicide only needs to hit one move, a backbreaker, to stop him again. Homicide’s issue is that he’s too confident. He thinks he’s got Red’s number and just nails stuff casually. If he stayed focused he’d win this, easy. Homicide is too concerned with posing like a jerk or flipping off the ref. The benefit of having Homicide in there is that he’s familiar with the lucha style so he can set up tilt-a-whirl DDT’s and co-operation stuff. Red escapes the Gringo Killer and some of their counters are a bit too loose. Red slips out of the Ace Crusher and immediately hits the standing SSP for 2. When I first saw him doing that it WAS Amazing but its just not anymore. So many people do it. They work in an EPIC spot with Red going for a moonsault and Homicide catching him an Ace Crusher but they kinda fuck it up. Difficulty level: HIGH. That gets 2. If they’d done it right it would have been the finish. Code Red finishes. **1/2. Both guys work better with technical wrestlers who can reign them in. This was good spotty fun at times but it was seriously unpolished.
Knockouts title/tag titles – ODB (c)/Taylor Wilde/Sarita (c) v The Beautiful People
All the ladies titles are at stake so if you pin the champion you win the belt. BP are Velvet Sky, Madison Rayne and Lacey Von Erich. ODB is the most over woman in this thing because she has an established personality. Beautiful People are perfectly acceptable heels though…even if none of them are great in the ring. Sarita brings the lucha to confuse Madison. Sign in crowd: “Lacey Von Botch”. Velvet sure has come a long way as a heel since Angelina Love left TNA. She’s an absolute bitch here. Crowd bag on Lacey, who’s not getting much ring time. I don’t think she’s had much training or advice. She has the size to be effective but she doesn’t use the right strikes and looks awkward. She loses a hair-piece, which a ringside fan waves around. They sure got these bastards good and rowdy! ODB picks off Madison with the TKO and this one is over. *1/2. This women’s division has promise. A few of their ladies just need a bit of seasoning. On the plus end ODB is there but you compare this to the women’s division when TNA started it and its not moved forward.
BACKSTAGE JB has Desmond Wolfe. He claims he’s been watching and studying Kurt Angle for years but Angle knows nothing about him. He says he’s out to end Angle’s career. Which is because most of his offence is on the neck. The promo made a lot of interesting points without ever getting them across emotionally. But then I wouldn’t say promos were his strong point. Lariats, yes.
TNA tag titles – British Invasion (c) v Motor City Machineguns v Beer Money
Three good teams on show. You could argue why any of them are worthy of the belts. The fans get some rowdy pro-MCMG support on the go, which is perhaps not what TNA were hoping for. After all Beer Money is the team taking issue with the champs. The main storyline is that BI are trying to wind up Beer Money and that allows MCMG an opportunity to slip in. The Guns are able to take over with that speedy double teaming. But all these teams are good at double teaming. Admittedly Beer Money only do like 2 double team moves but they’re both over as hell. Case in point, double suplex; BEER! MONEY! Magnus gets himself isolated and quadruple teamed. Of course this would work better if the match was elimination rules. Which its not. Beer Money seem a little off the speed of this one or maybe the other two teams are just that much faster. Beer Money promptly break out two double teams I’ve never seen them do before to just mess with my theories. Eric Young runs out here and belt shots Storm. That brings out Kevin Nash who also belt shots Storm. He’s out, Roode is left alone and the Brits double team with the Hart Attack for the pin. Anyone seen the Guns? They just disappeared at the end. Like they weren’t originally written into the match. **3/4. These guys all have tonnes of potential BUT they really need to get some focus on the title matches. Get them 2 on 2. This isn’t the first time they’ve had a promising multiple team match that’s degenerated into a total mess.
CLIPS Mick Foley getting fireballed by the returning Raven. Good angle with Dr Stevie and Abyss and now Foley. I dig it. The matches are generally well booked too.
BACKSTAGE Nash acts like a jerk. He says this is about Hulk Hogan. Of course it is. Ever feel that “change” is just a thinly veiled excuse for Scott Hall to get another payday?
Cage match – Tara v Awesome Kong
Its amazing that TNA have built up a women’s grudge match that doesn’t involve EITHER a title or a man. You have to give them credit for that at least. Plus the easy route with Kong is to go with the DQ and the cage eliminates that. They use the environment well with Kong busting out a missile dropkick. That leaves Tara discombobulated. With Tara fucked up Kong is able to take the match at her pace. Which is to say, methodical. Tara comes back with spunky babyface offence culminating in the jigglesault for 2. That marks the first time I’ve ever used “spunky” and “jiggle” in the same sentence. Probably the last. As the match continues Kong just grinds Tara down. Kong decides to climb out, which is not smart and Tara POWERBOMBS HER OFF THE BUCKLES…for 2. Tara goes to climb but not out because we need a big spot in this one. THESZ PRESS OFF THE CAGE! Tara wins the match! **1/2. It might have just been two big spots but Tara put sufficient emotion into it to make it count.
POST MATCH Interview Girl, who looks delighted, gets a word with Tara. She says she’s coming after ODB and wants the belt. Either she’s living that ‘unhinged’ gimmick or she was going through some difficult things outside the ring. Everything was so emotional there. Maybe she was just *that* thrilled to get the chance to steal the show.
We get that video clip about Hogan again. Taz says he likes change. Tow that company line!
Rhino/Dudley Boys v Matt Morgan/Hernandez/The Pope
Rhino has had this big paranoia deal going about TNA management supporting the youth movement (like giving them decisions and such). It’s a terrible idea for an angle but at least Rhino has something to do. I think the worst aspect is that it’s the Old Guys Vs Young Guys feud that WCW fucked up so royally in 2000. TNA is a different company though. The fans are more willing to cheer the younger wrestlers over the veterans. The Pope takes over in the early going with highlight reel spots and a disrespect for his partners. Then, as an encore, he double legs Bubba and beats the shit out of him. The crowd are EATING THIS UP. TNA must be seeing dollar signs all over this guy. It helps him that directly afterwards Rhino and Morgan stink the place up. Pope then takes a bullet for his team, which turns him babyface with his teammates as well as the crowd. So now he’s not only the best guy on offence but the best guy for sympathy selling too. Mainly because nobody buys heat on SuperMex or Morgan. But also because he takes great bumps. He’s like a black Shawn Michaels. If he’d been blessed with another 6 inches of height he’d be set for life. As it stands he’s probably too small to be a strong world champion. Not that TNA will give him that level of push. Even though he did work for the WWE. The match starts plodding a little when Morgan gets in so Hernandez comes in and does the same thing, throwing the veterans around, only his offence is more fun. The suicide dive is the exclamation mark on that. I’m not saying Morgan should go diving over the ropes just that I find him boring. Morgan falls over and sells a fake knee injury. Pope gets crotched and D-Von sneaks in a chair shot to stop the Border Toss. Rhino adds a GOOORRRRREEEEE for the win. ***. I actually got a kick out of how strong Pope was booked here and the way the veterans have basically complained of conspiracy only to cheat to beat three young guys. Its just a pity Morgan couldn’t hold up his section or even make his ‘knee injury’ look legitimate because Pope & Hernandez both brought the goods.
BACKSTAGE Interview Girl talks to Scott Steiner. His match with Bobby Lashley is now falls count anywhere. Steiner’s misogynistic promo suggesting Kristal wants to fuck him and Lashley is useless in bed shows not only his confidence on the mic but also the effort he’s put into this angle. He finishes by saying he’ll pin Lashley on his own front lawn so he can take Kristal inside and “cover her too”. Steiner has been selling the shit out of this feud to get it over.
Scott Steiner v Bobby Lashley
Weird hearing Steiner come out to the sirens. He’s been stuck with the MEM for so long. Oh yeah, I totally forgot the MEM was disbanded. Oh well, it’d pretty much run its course with AJ taking the title. Shame they had to ruin Joe to get from A to B. They start on the floor but Lashley totally misreads the crowd and takes it back inside. Lashley tries some power moves, which only work because he’s so muscular. It looks dangerous. They do another weak section on the floor with Steiner hitting a chair shot. Back inside Steiner starts popping off suplexes. A small but audible section of the audience chant “break his back” and FRANKENSTEINER! Like everything else in this match that was sloppy but entertaining. Lashley finally brings some anger and dumps Steiner on the ropes to show how angry he is. I think he’s finally got it. He wails on Steiner and then hits a really weak chair shot. Urgh. They lose them for a bit where I grumble about production values and when we rejoin them Steiner has bladed. Steiner takes a suplex through a table for 2 before Lashley goes nuts with a piece of lumber. HOOOOO! Steiner dodges a charge sending Lashley into some wood, which Taz explains as leftover pieces used for building sets. Sure! Steiner breaks off a piece of scaffold and nails Lashley in the head with it for the surprisingly clean pin. **1/4. Some decent, if limited, hardcore stuff with a bit of wrestling mixed in. Finish is a swerve with Lashley taking a shock job.
BACKSTAGE Steiner says Wolfe is operating under prison rules where you take out the biggest badass in the yard to prove yourself as a newcomer. Angle says he doesn’t need to know Wolfe to beat him because he’s the greatest wrestler in the world.
Kurt Angle v Desmond Wolfe
They’ve debuted Wolfe as a no-nonsense, clinical wrestler. Big contrast to his punk rocker, soccer hooligan with crazy European wrestling skills. He uses those European holds and counter holds to put Angle in trouble early. “This is wrestling” chants the crowd. Odd how Wolfe is over doing this but TNA told Shelley not to do that style. Angle gets into the ropes to avoid some arm work so Wolfe kicks the ropes into Angle’s eye! The arm work doesn’t prevent Angle hitting a suplex but it does give Wolfe a target so he can quickly take back over. Angle tries a sunset flip thinking he can get into this with speed but Wolfe wrestles out using the injured arm as a target again. Taz name-drops Billy Robinson. Similar style. Wolfe is complacent for a moment and Angle slips out and grabs the ankle. Wolfe gets out but that was a warning. Wolfe tries his first stupid move; the running across the ring bit but Angle follows and hits a belly to belly. Nice. Wolfe gets desperate and swings wildly but Angle ducks into the Rolling Germans. This is all because Wolfe lost focus. His arm stuff was working. Six German suplexes later and Wolfe is in a much worse place. Wolfe armdrags out of the Angleslam. LARIATOOOOOOOOOOOOO….for 2. Wolfe thought he’d got the win there. Wolfe goes for the Tower of London but Angle counters it into the Angleslam…for 2. Nice counter. I like that Angle is specifically countering the Wolfe moves that take time to set up. The ones that have bugged me over the years to the point where I’m wanting to see counters like this. So while Wolfe is forcing Angle into changes (which will become apparent), Angle is picking apart Wolfe’s weaker offence and he ISN’T changing up because of it. This becomes crucial later. They counter again with the Anklelock leading to something similar to the Thames Barrier. Angle counters back out into the anklelock and those were superb counters. Wolfe has to get the ropes but he’s on one leg now. Angleslam is countered into a DDT. That’s the first time they’ve done something and it didn’t come out clean. But the aim is to injure the neck. It sets Wolfe for the TOWER OF LONDON. Angle kicks out. That finisher didn’t last long! Angle sees the lariat coming but misses a moonsault. This gives Wolfe an opening for the THAMES BARRIER! Wolfe wants the Tower of London again but Angle is ready for it this time, pushes Wolfe off and hits a frogsplash for 2. Again, Angle is willing to change because he knows Wolfe has him scouted but Wolfe is going back to the well already. Wolfe kicks to avoid a Tombstone, which is countered and Angle can break out his Tombstone to Anklelock spot. Wolfe turns to relieve the pressure so Angle goes after an armbar instead and when that’s blocked he counters again into the Triangle Choke and Wolfe taps out. ****1/2. Smart counters, great technical wrestling and with fun stuff thrown in for the casual viewer. This is about as good as it gets. I love that Angle switched up his offence when he realised Wolfe had him scouted so well. It’s a pity he kept using that Anklelock crutch but you could even suggest he was baiting Wolfe in with it before switching to a different submission hold. Even if you’d scouted Angle you wouldn’t expect what he did here. Which is why the match is better than a normal Angle match. It had tremendous psychology. Hands down the TNA match of the year and the first Nigel match I’ve loved him in for some time.
BACKSTAGE Samoa Joe is quizzed about the way he’s turned AJ & Daniels against each other. He says their rivalry was always there. He just shone a light on it. Been a good build to this match too. Joe sowing seeds of distrust between AJ & Daniels. I don’t like the mystery man angle but I dig the references to Unbreakable 2005 and the previous 3-way between these guys.
TNA title – AJ Styles (c) v Chris Daniels v Samoa Joe
They’ve been saying that Daniels is ‘as good’ as AJ but if that was true he’d have better matches with lesser opponents. AJ is good at working with a variety of opponents, which is how he got this title opportunity. Crowd seems fairly excited but not OTT. Mainly because of how great the last match was but also as they’re anticipating the action. Daniels sucker punches AJ to open the match. OHHHHH! AJ promptly decks him in the next two sequences. That friendship is dead then! Joe, like his game plan, is able to take over but while he’s doing the kick, chop and kneedrop Daniels catches him in mid-flow. Then AJ rolls him up. Sometimes triple threat matches can own all. AJ picks off both guys with dropsaults. Like every 3-way there’s someone just lying around doing nothing at times. In their first match they busted every possible gut to stop that. Here its less effective but they still try hard. So if AJ is lying on the apron and Joe gets a moment from beating Daniels down he can kick AJ in the ribs to give him something extra to sell. Crowd scores they’re second successive “this is wrestling” chant match. I’m so glad they’re able to identify the sport they’re watching. “This is netball…no wait”. Both Joe and AJ discover they don’t have time to apply a submission hold. They should have remembered that from the first match but hey, it was 4 years ago. Daniels gets smarter by Boston crabbing AJ on top of Joe and then camel clutching Joe. Double sub! Joe bites his way out. S.T.JOE! FACE WASH FOR AJ! BOOOOOOOOT SCRAAAAAAAAAAAAPPES! Joe bags a dropkick/senton combo so he hurts both guys. He’s starting to rule all here. But he goes for the dive on AJ, which isn’t the smartest of moves and gets nailed with the PELE KICK. AJ goes after Joe as a receipt but Joe KICKS HIS LEGS AWAY. Daniels sees an opening and hits a tope. Man, these guys are busting ass out there. Daniels tries for the Arabian press but AJ blocks it and Joe gets the choke only for AJ to wipe out everyone with the FOSBURY FLOP! AJ is feeling it now and starts popping off stuff on both men. Daniels with a monkey flip on AJ but JOE CATCHES HIM AND POWERBOMBS HIM ONTO DANIELS!
Powerbomb into the Samoan crab, then the STF, then a crossface and Joe had this won. AJ has to get the ropes because Daniels is still down. SNAP POWERSLAM..for 2. Daniels is the only guy who’s not looked like winning here. Its been a combination of Joe & AJ having chances to win. As I type that Daniels hits the DDT/Flatliner combo. DVD gets 2. Does Daniels have a move that’s not a finisher? AJ counters him into the suplex/neckbreaker. Now everyone is down needing a breather. Its been hectic since the opening bell. They go to striking and Joe SLAPS SHIT out of AJ but Daniels clocks him with an Enzuigiri. AJ is back up; PELE KICK! Another 3-way breather. AJ demonstrates why he’s one of my favourite wrestlers at the moment with a slingshot hilo on Joe and then a discus lariat on Daniels in one fluid motion and both of them looked great. The flying, the striking, the technical skills. AJ really IS the complete package. AJ is up…SPRINGBOARD FLYING FOREARM for Joe. I’ve seen that live and the hang-time he gets is SICK. Quebrada inverted DDT for 2. That was FLAWLESS. One of the smoothest he’s ever done. Daniels sees his QIDDT coming and counters into LAST RITES…for 2. MUSCLE BUSTER and AJ times his save perfectly. Joe breaks out the rolling cradle but AJ pops back up and spin kicks Joe in the face. They even sold the grogginess. AJ wants the Styles Clash but Daniels clocks him with the Enzuigiri. He goes for Last Rites but its countered and they counter back and forth and Joe denies Daniels a Styles Clash with a stiff kick. That sequence was incredible. High and Low to take Joe out. Of course AJ & Daniels used to be a team. That just came back naturally. Daniels tries for another sucker punch but AJ, smarter than Sting, blocks it. AJ & Daniels trade up top but Joe CHOPS AJ TO THE FLOOR. Daniels takes Joe down with the STO and BEST. MOONSAULT. EVER. But AJ is up right after him; SPRINGBOARD 450 SPLASH! That was on top of both men and Joe, double finishered, takes the 3 spot. ****1/2. I stick by my call that the previous match was MOTY for TNA but this was very, very close. Incredible levels of effort and excitement. Plus they made it believable as a 3-way, which is extremely hard to do. And they didn’t fuck anything up. Like Steamboat-Flair in 1994 this felt like a tribute to a great match rather than a great match itself and yet, like Steamboat-Flair, they referenced earlier matches and brought boatloads of effort. I feel exhausted after watching it, which is a good sign. If there’s one criticism its that Daniels bits weren’t as good. They were that tiny bit more contrived. Slot Danielson or Ki in there and you’ve got full boat, easy.
POST MATCH Taz claims that match was 15 stars. Daniels mouths off at AJ that he had it won. “What kind of friend are you?” whines the bald midcarder. “I’m not your friend, I’m the champion” – AJ. BOOM! That’s how you roll. Naturally this sets up a singles match at the next PPV.
Final Thoughts: The undercard is nothing special but TNA put on their two best matches this year to close the show. Wolfe brought out the absolute best in an aging Kurt Angle while AJ, Daniels and Joe raised their game. You HAVE to see this show if only to see what happens when TNA hit a pair of home runs. Back to back, baby!