So I’ve been away for a little while seeing to some personal problems and professional matters this past month or so and just haven’t been able to get my head together to write a post for a while, so sorry about that. I’m coming out of the other end of it now, so the time felt right to shake out these old cobwebs and get my critique on. I might even get to socialise at some point before the year is out!
Anyway, it seemed appropriate to talk about an organisation that has been having it’s own problems recently, TNA wrestling (that’s Total Non-Stop Action, not the soft and pretty kind, sorry) and throw up a quick review of this past Sunday’s Bound for Glory PPV, the company’s biggest annual event.
TNA has been having it’s share of problems recently. The company once looked set to take on the wrestling industry looked to be on the brink of closing in recent weeks, with other promoters including Vince McMahon reportedly looking to acquire it. The situation was looking so bleak that Bound for Glory PPV nearly didn’t go forward due to lack of funding.
Of course we know now that Smashing Pumpkin and all around smashing person Billy Corgan has bought the company and plans to rebrand it in the near future.
I’ll be honest, I’m a WWE guy and whilst I do like to check in on other promotions from time to time I haven’t watched an episode of TNA’s weekly show Impact for quite a while now, so I’m kind of going into this blind. I apologise in advance if any of my facts are innaccurate yadda-yadda-yadda GET TO THE WRESTLING!
X Division Championship- DJZ (c) v Trevor Lee
While the X Division lacks the focus and star power of previous years this was everything an X Division match should be. Hard-hitting, flashy offence and a break-neck pace.
There were a few good spots, with the two guys trading suicide dives and planchas at one point, which was fun. Trevor Lee’s standing moonsault transitioning into a bridging German Suplex was a great spot, if not as fluid as it could have been. I don’t know if these guys had a story going into the match, but DJZ’s multiple attempts at hitting the ZDT and Lee’s many counters (including a sick stomp to the chest) made sure the match itself had some beats to it, with DJZ finally hitting it for the win.
A fun match, good way to start the show.
Following this we get an intense promo from Drew Galloway addressing his injury and Aron Rex, who he was supposed to fight tonight. What were WWE thinking letting this guy go?
BOUND FOR GOLD- 10 Man Gauntlet Match
Think the Royal Rumble, but smaller and none of the drama. Maybe it’s because I don’t follow Impact regularly, but I had no idea who was a heel or a face and the crowd seemed dead for it.
The only really noteworthy thing to say here is the Scottish-born Grado dancing down to the ring to the biggest pop of any of the entrants, being eliminated before his music stopped playing, and danced all the way back. It was kind of funny I guess, but I find myself agreeing with the crowd chanting “bullshit” for a few minutes afterwards.
Eli Drake wins and we get a short interview with- wait… THAT’S GAIL KIM’S HUSBAND?!?!
He… is married to her?
There’s hope for me yet….
Mike Bennett vs Moose
Not much to say here. An actual video package this time so we know why they’re fighting!
Moose’s entrance was reminiscent of a John Cena Wrestlemania entrance, being accompanied to the ring by people dressed in Atlanta Falcons uniforms. Unfortunately to me it just looked cheap and didn’t do much to hype me up for the match, which was fine, I guess. It was fun, there were a few good power moves, but I feel it went on just a couple of minutes too long. We also see another plancha in this match.
I’m not convinced by Mike Bennett, he seems like a pound shop/dollar store Chris Jericho, even stopping to call the crowd idiots. He had some good heel interaction with the crowd, but I’m just not that big of a fan. Anyway, Moose gets the win and we move on.
TNA Grand Championship- Aron Rex vs Eddie Edwards
So now we have the match to determine the inaugural Grand Champion. This was originally meant to be Rex (better known as Damien Sandow- what were WWE thinking?) vs Drew Galloway, with the latter getting an injury and Edwards replacing him. the Grand Championship uses a 3 round format reminiscent of the old World of Sport style, with high impact moves giving it a modern twist.
This match was slow paced and technical with a good back and forth. The crowd was quiet, but a respectful quiet, almost an air of reverence to the occasion. There were more planchas, however.
Small tangent here, planchas look amazing when they are done right, but across the industry we’re seeing them used more and more to the point where they’re becoming transitionary moves, like a rest hold. I certainly got bored of them throughout the night. I worry they’re going to have less impact and wrestlers are going to have to up the ante until it becomes ridiculous. Just a thought.
Anyway, that aside, this was a great match with Aron Rex winning via split decision. I really enjoyed it, but I felt it lacked drama because it was obvious Rex was going to win, setting up the Rex/Galloway match for the future.
The Great War: Falls Count Anywhere Tornado Tag for the TNA Tag Titles: Broken Hardys vs Decay (c)
The Hardy family manage to simultaneously be the most entertaining and most cringe-worthy tag team around today. If you haven’t seen the Final Deletion match, I recommend you do because it manages to be the best and worst thing to happen to wrestling this year, both at the same time.
This match started out in the ring, before all those involved took the fight backstage. What I’m guessing was a pre-taped vignette that featured magical transformations, fighting on a pick-up truck as it drove through the streets of Florida, Matt Hardy shooting fireballs from his hands, reincarnation, pumpkins literally being smashed and flying robots.
They all eventually find their way back to the ring where a Swanton Bomb through a table from the top of a ladder gives the Hardys the titles.
Words can’t do it justice. As batshit crazy as it was, it’s good to see Matt and Jeff as tag champs again and it was certainly interesting.
Knockouts Championship- Maria Kanellis (c) vs Gail Kim
This was a quick, fun match to punctuate Gail Kim’s induction into the TNA Hall of Fame. My biggest takeaway from this is that Maria Kanellis is the female version of The Miz- an underrated worker who does amazing heel promos.
After trying to weasel out of the match by faking an injury, Maria is dispatched quickly, making Gail Kim the new champion.
After the match we get Maria’s husband Mike Bennett (groan) again trying to hijack the show before the pair are quickly dispatched by the debuting Cody and Brandi Rhodes (what were WWE thinking?), setting up that story for the future.
TNA World Heavyweight Championship- EC3 vs Lashley (c)
Main event time, and this one definitely had a big fight feel going in. Lashley Speared EC3 during the introductions and what followed was 15 minutes of EC3 getting beaten up, somehow fighting back, then getting beaten up again.
Honestly, the super EC3 gimmick to me is as boring as super Cena from a few years back. He kicked out of 3 Spears here, and it just devalues Lashley as a powerhouse for me.
Our old friend the suicide dive makes a comeback, but apart from these small niggles the match was a functional main event with a lot of physicality. The finish of Lashley performing the Spear from the rope to EC3 for the win looked great and was unexpected, so at least it ended well.
Overall I thought his was an okay show, but not great. To be honest, the production let it down a lot. Great War aside, the sets and everything else just look cheap and uninteresting compared to other promotions like Lucha Underground, and if something looks cheap and uninteresting it just screams low quality. This gives TNA a handicap from the start unfortunately.
Gugghhh maybe I’m being harsh. The wrestling was fine, if a bit repetitive with the plancha spots. There weren’t any botches as far as I could tell, the narratives told were fine and the Grand Championship concept is truly intriguing. But it just doesn’t compare to WWE wrestling at the moment- a statement I actually can’t believe I’m actually saying.
The reality for the last couple of years has been that WWE has done the big production, but the likes of TNA and ROH have had the better wrestling. I’ve joked in this post about WWE letting talented guys go, but look at who is in WWE’s main event scene at the moment. AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens- with the likes of Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura set to step forward soon. WWE is not suffering for losing those talents.
That said, I am truly happy TNA have gotten out of their hole. As I’ve spoken about at length in my rants on games, any creative industry needs an independent element to drive it. These are the innovators, the future stars and the ones who will influence the future. Are the TNA the company to do that? They have been before, and whilst they have seen a bad batch I do genuinely hope they can reach that point again.
See you next time xx