Written by: Arnold Furious
Given Hogan & Bischoff’s TNA takeover and disastrous first PPV I wasn’t particularly keen to rush into the second one. Lovefilm kindly sent it me while I was away in Bournemouth with the wife so in order to get another DVD sent out I’ll have to suck it up and review it.
For those who don’t already; you can follow me on Twitter @ArnoldFurious.
We’re in Orlando, Florida @ The Impact Zone. Hosts are Mike Tenay & Taz.
BACKSTAGE Slick Ric arrives to let us know he hates Eric Bischoff. Then why even come to this company? TNA are basically teasing that Bischoff will screw AJ over because he’s aligned with Flair. Which makes you wonder if TNA realise Bischoff is a heel even though he’s supposed to be a babyface.
ON TAP a promo video airs for the 8 Card Stud tournament. I’m not opposed to a tournament but all you get is a title shot? Plus this means a lot of rushed finishes tonight.
8 Card Stud Quarter Finals
Desmond Wolfe w/Chelsea v D’Angelo Dinero
Does Wolfe need a valet? The huge pop for Pope suggests TNA are doing the right thing with him. Its just a pity its at the expense of Wolfe. Pope’s style in this one is part Dusty Rhodes part Tito Santana. Which is why he’s so over. He brings a lot of excitement from different sources. So everyone is popping him at some point. Wolfe is a good foil for him too as he can control the pace and stop Pope getting messy. Wolfe gets into his cravats but Pope’s comeback is a little sloppy. He’s very reminiscent of a cruiserweight Dwayne Johnson. Needs seasoning. If he had size he’d be WWE champion right now. He gets a little sloppy again on the counters relying on Wolfe’s technical skill to hold the match together. It probably doesn’t help that Wolfe is keen to work in his own silly spots like Tower of London and massive DDT counters and superplexes. It just adds to the sense that this is a short TV match not a PPV opener. Like they had 15 minutes worth of high spots but only 7 minutes to fit them in. DDE finishes for Pope in rather brisk fashion. **. Rushed opener, which wasn’t helped by TNA losing interest in pushing Wolfe. He’s gone from toe to toe with Kurt Angle to jobbing to Pope in the opener in 2 months. Typical of TNA to lose track of who they actually want to push from week to week.
BACKSTAGE Flair is onscreen again. This time paying a shouty visit to Bischoff. Basically Bischoff suspects Flair will bribe another ref so he’s stepped into the referee’s role.
ELSEWHERE Borash, no longer off-TV, interviews the TNA tag champs; Hernandez & Morgan. They face each other in the 8 Card Stud tournament. They say it won’t effect the team but they both want a title shot. So they’ll be competing against each other for “bragging rights”. Oh, and a title shot Matt.
Hernandez v Matt Morgan
These two have a good understanding based on their recent teaming. So they sell that recognition on countering each other’s finishers. Then it all goes wrong. Hernandez is too slow setting something up, which throws Morgan off his game and he drops Hernandez on a crossbody. Taz drops the word “supercilious” on commentary. Has he got one of those ‘word of the day’ calendars or something? Don’t get me wrong…it’s a good word. Just kinda weird hearing Taz use it. Hernandez looks like his chance in TNA has gone. His slingshot stuff doesn’t look crisp anymore. His power moves look sloppy. It doesn’t help that Morgan doesn’t seem to know what he’s bumping. As if to apologise he hits a delayed suplex with a 20 second delay. Morgan is 300lbs! Hernandez hits a dive but fucks up his shoulder and would be counted out if Morgan didn’t stop it. However he goes ahead and runs the shoulder into the corner and gets the pin regardless, hooking the tights for good measure. What a dick. Just take the countout. *1/2. SuperMex looked way off here and wasn’t helped by Morgan. I also hate the storyline with dysfunctional tag partners holding the tag titles. Especially when they have little chemistry as a team or opponents.
BACKSTAGE Christy has Kurt Angle who apologises to Hogan for doubting his agenda. He moves on to saying he’ll take out his recent frustrations on Ken Anderson.
Ken Anderson v Kurt Angle
Ever notice how Anderson looks like a Neanderthal Ed Helms? Angle tries to keep it simple so Anderson can keep up with him. Anderson clubbers away with WWE Main Event Style. Which presumably is supposed to be part of his heel act. Angle can adapt to pretty much any style so he’s at ease. Angle blades and it’s a nasty one. Anderson’s attempt to take over the match is a prolonged chinlock. Angle comes back with suplexes including the Rolling Germans. Anderson “counters” the Angleslam and falls over. Its like watching Bambi on ice. Ken has a hell of a match with the turnbuckle cover. He jobs to the one but as the ref repairs it he exposes another one. Angleslam…for 2. Anklelock is on. Anderson kicks him off. Kurt charges into the exposed buckle and the Mic Check finishes. **1/4. Yep, TNA booked heel Anderson over babyface Angle clean(ish). Will wonders never cease? This all rather begs the question; if Angle is so keen to job to help up and coming talent why didn’t he job for Desmond Wolfe?
BACKSTAGE Eric Bischoff tells Foley & Abyss that running the company is tough and in order to get the best out of these guys he’ll unmask Abyss if they don’t give 100%. Bischoff waives the DQ rule and demands the barbwire bat be used.
Abyss v Mick Foley
Final QF match. No DQ. Abyss works what could generously be called a headlock to open. Abyss can’t use weapons because he loves Mick too much so Foley slaps him in the face. So they both tease the bat without anything happening. I like the teases though because it makes the eventual bat shot mean more (even though, this being TNA, the bat is never used). Foley gives up on it and throws thumbtacks all over the mat instead. They tease thumbtack spots too. In particular Abyss not wanting to hit a spot on the tacks because he wuvs Mick too much. Chokeslam…not on the tacks for 2. Abyss gets Mr Socko instead but Foley counters him into the double arm DDT. Mick needs another sock so he steals one off the ref. Foley has it won with the Mandible Claw but gives up on it for the bat. He had the match won making Abyss look weaker. He charges with the bat; BLACK HOLE SLAM INTO THE TACKS. Abyss gets the win with a defensive move. **1/4. The psychology was good but the actual crispness of the wrestling wasn’t so good.
BACKSTAGE Christy has the Nasty Boys claiming this match was “15 years in the making”. If it was a worthwhile match it would have been done somewhere by now. Knobbs says they’re here because they’re Hogan’s friends (DUH) but they’re out to prove themselves.
Nasty Boys v Team 3D
I can’t believe TNA has the Nasty Boys on PPV. Its like a gigantic rib on everybody. Unlike many older wrestlers there isn’t a point when this would have been a good match. Maybe Nasties circa 1993 Vs Dudleys circa 2000. Even then they were both teams who worked better with teams who could take bigger bumps for them. Dudleys regarded as the better team because they can take better bumps (and other reasons). They go for formula with D-Von isolated. Hey, it ain’t broke. Nor is it interesting. 3D run through their spots to try and make this less bad. 3D on Saggs should finish but Jimmy Hart runs out here and gives Knobbs a helmet, which he knocks Bubba out with. ¼*. Jimmy Hart? “Jimmy Hart?” – Mike Tenay. My thoughts exactly. Jesus, who’s next? Ed Leslie?
BACKSTAGE Samoa Joe tells Bischoff TNA needs a champion they can believe in. And that isn’t AJ Styles. Bischoff moans about his past with Flair and his responsibilities as a referee. They come to an arrangement of sorts. Joe really should be less trusting considering his past in TNA.
8 Card Stud Semi-Finals
D’Angelo Dinero v Matt Morgan
Speed Vs Power matchup. Both guys are looked upon as the ‘future’ of TNA’s main event scene. Although I don’t think TNA is particularly serious about either regardless of what Hogan says. Morgan does a great bit where he does his elbows but can’t throw the elbow pads off because he already did that against Hernandez. Crowd decides it likes Pope better than Morgan. They’re both arrogant but Pope has more exciting moves so its justified for him. He tries some flying but Morgan just keeps catching him and using the power. Taz bags on Morgan for his lack of urgency. You can play to the crowd when you’ve won. Pope starts using defensive counters to protect himself, which seems the only way he can get the job done. Besides cheating. PIMP SLAP! Morgan no sells it and kills him with a lariat. That’s better from Morgan. He needs to get mad! I’M MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! Carbon Footprint misses in the corner and the DDE (D’Angelo Dinero Express, because Elijah Express makes no sense now) finishes. Huge pop for the move and the pin. **. Not a good match but at least the right guy went over. Pope probably isn’t ready for this level of push but I’d rather they pushed him over Morgan. Or Anderson.
BACKSTAGE Ken Anderson gloats about beating Kurt Angle. Might as well. A better promo from Ken where he’s actually achieved something so it has more focus.
Abyss v Ken Anderson
On any other night that win over Angle would have been career making but Kenny is right back into the ring. Abyss uses his size effectively. Anderson bouncing off on a crossbody is a nice visual. Abyss’ happy babyface is a bit too stupid however so Anderson is able to take his leg. Abyss is game for selling it and Anderson has a secondary approach; messing with Abyss’ mask. So he’s able to confuse and injure Abyss at the same time. That doesn’t save him from Shock Treatment but the leg doesn’t hold up on subsequent assaults. Anderson blocks the chokeslam by going to the mask. The blinded Abyss takes the Mic Check and Anderson advances to the finals. **1/2. Damn, they sure went hell for leather to try and make Anderson a main eventer on this show. Putting him over both Angle AND Abyss means he can still lose the final and look great. This was a better wrestled match than the one with Angle too.
BACKSTAGE AJ Styles macks on Christy Hemme, who seems charmed by AJ’s confidence. He then goes on to cut an inspired promo talking about how great he is and how he’s “once in a lifetime”. It’s a bit worrying that they felt AJ needed to talk like Flair as well as have him as a manager. It suggests they don’t rate him on the mic, which is a pity. He’s been delivering understated and realistic promos for years.
ELSEWHERE Hulk Hogan finally turns up. The PPV started two hours ago. What the fuck? Aren’t you supposed to be running this shit? Hogan reminds Bischoff to put his Flair issues behind him and call this one straight. As soon is Hogan is out of earshot Bischoff says “damn it” suggesting he was intent on fucking Flair over.
TNA title – AJ Styles (c) w/Ric Flair v Samoa Joe
Tenay hints during the build-up that AJ’s heel turn makes no sense. Eric Bischoff, as mentioned several times on this show, is the special guest referee to ensure no shenanigans. AJ has one of Flair’s hand-me-down robes on with a special/stupid AJ hood. He looks ridiculous. He doesn’t need to be “the next Nature Boy” because he’s already the first & only AJ Styles. The annoying thing about this match is if you let them just wrestle it’d be ****+ easy. But TNA is determined to work the AJ heel angle causing him to overly stall and get over Flair as his manager at the expense of wrestling and get Bischoff over too. In a TNA title match between AJ & Joe I shouldn’t be talking about Flair & Bischoff. It should be about how great they both are and how hard they worked for this to be the title match. Joe, defacto babyface, brings the striking. Crowd randomly chant “this is wrestling” with Joe punching away in the corner. That looks more like boxing, folks. AJ takes the leg and hints at the Figure Four. Joe kicks him off and follows with the ELBOW SUICIDAAAA. He landed on his knee, which works into the psychology of the match. Intentional? Perhaps. Joe allows himself to become distracted by Flair, which is out of character. Not that TNA have ever had an idea of what Joe is. Crowd get duelling chants going, which suggests they still love AJ regardless of TNA’s booking. That’s something else TNA don’t understand, which is why Angle is a babyface now. He’s not a face or a heel. He’s Kurt Angle. Joe breaks out the awesome with a flying knee off the top. “I’ll kill you, you stupid Samoan” – AJ. S.T.JOE! Bischoff gets feisty over AJ punching (despite Joe punching for half the match) and that allows Flair time to wrap Joe’s knee around the ring post. This allows AJ to go back to the knee he was working earlier. FIGURE FOUR! Naturally Flair helps but Bischoff sees him and threatens to eject him. Why doesn’t he just boot him out? AJ takes an needlessly sick bump over the top, which is a trademark of his that’ll probably shorten his career BUT makes him incredibly entertaining. Meanwhile Joe has given up on selling the knee. AJ starts popping off his trademarks; springboard forearm, QIDDT. Styles Clash is countered right into the Koquina Clutch and Joe can’t get AJ down with it so turns it into a suplex. BOOM! Taz appreciates that. Muscle Buster is blocked thanks to Flair. Bischoff gets held up by Naitch thus costing Joe the title. Bischoff decks Flair but he should have ejected him earlier and prevented this shit. Joe drags Bischoff back in accusing him of stupidity. Joe turns around into the Pele Kick and the Styles Clash finishes. ***1/2. Good wrestling, shitty TNA booking. Bischoff makes good and sure to make Joe look like shit by slow counting the babyface challenger down at the end. That’s it! Stack the deck against the heel and have him go over clean anyway. Idiots.
BACKSTAGE Christy Hemme gets a word with Mr Anderson. He’s been checking stuff off his Bucket List tonight and next he gets to send Pope back to Harlem. We cut to JB & Pope. Dinero says he’ll be referring to Ken as “Junior” from now on. He also calls JB “BJ” . He just about gets to finish his promo before Scott Hall & Sean Waltman run in and beat him up. Hall warns Hogan; “don’t turn your back on the Wolfpack”. Well, at first he was alone in his Wolfpack but then Waltman joined and his Wolfpack grew by one.
8 Card Stud Final: D’Angelo Dinero v Ken Anderson
Anderson tries to win on count out with Pope still down in the back but he crawls out here. Logically Kenny should be in charge from this point and Pope looks good as a loveable loser. This situation allows the crowd to rally behind the fallen Pope and Ken to pound on him. Pope comes firing back like Ultra Magnus on Galvatron, which goes about as well for him as it did for Magnus. Only I don’t remember Galvatron using this many chinlocks. Like pretty much every match both guys have had tonight this isn’t particularly clean. Pope running into a knee at one point at quarter speed. It doesn’t help that even the most basic of moves in the hands of Ken Anderson looks convoluted. You’d think he’d have learnt a punch or a stomp or something by now. He can’t even get the leverage right on a chinlock. He’s not holding his hands right. When your fundamentals are that bad what hope do you have? Pope is almost as messy but is far more exciting. You look better failing at difficult things than easy ones. Pope hits the DDE to the chest for 2. You’d think the DDE to the chest would be more dangerous than the one of the back but hey. Ken pops back up and starts running the ropes (ala Cena) before stopping off to cut a mid-match promo. He announces himself as the winner, hits the Mic Check and Pope kicks out. Kenton Bomb misses and the DDE gets Pope a massive main event win. *3/4. A sloppy demonstration of how TNA sometimes just doesn’t know what they’re doing. That said I applaud their attempts to push not one but two new guys to shake up their main event scene. Its just a pity that scene was shaken up just two months ago by Daniels & Wolfe, who are both better wrestlers than these two guys.
Final Thoughts: Unlike many classic King of the Ring tournaments TNA opted to give the earlier round matches short shrift thus placing all their eggs in one main event basket. That didn’t work out for them. I like that they pushed new talent here but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. I think that shows in equal parts in their non-tournament matches. Booking spoiled Joe Vs AJ while the Nasty Boys went over Team 3D. Its no longer an occasional booking snafu here. Now everything is broken because TNA tried to fix something that was already working. Its like taking the engine out of a car to make it run better. At least when they pitched Angle Vs AJ as the best Vs the best in wrestling it wasn’t Jarrett Vs Booker T when WCW attempted the same angle. Ok, I’m done. I’ll be back with the next PPV soon.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.