Introduction - And so we stand, the last "good" PPV TNA ever put out....or so I would spend the next seven years after this show saying. We know BFG '09 didn't live up to nostalgia, but the upper card looks so good I had to give it a shot.
Opening video package - Jarring. It goes from "Tis the Season to be Jolly" to really haunting music, but the video footage doesn't synch with this and it all seems random. Plus we get a random "BOING" to simulate Velvet Sky's boobs.
TNA World Tag Team Championship
The British Invasion (Magnus and Douglas Williams) (c) vs The Motor City Machine Guns (Shelly and Sabin) - 5.5/10
Williams and Shelly start with an exchange that makes it clear somebody's been studying Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid tapes. Then the match breaks into MOVESZZZZ, with a seemingly random hot tag. They do spend the final minutes of the match building up that the Guns could win it, but The Invasion just win clean
This was a subpar opener, given none of the gravitas that "hot young babyfaces finally collide with wormy, lazy champions"
TNA Knockouts Championship
ODB (c) vs Tara - 4/10
The girls do moves until Tara randomly elbows out of a death valley driver and rolls up ODB. This match wasn't nearly exciting enough to constitute a roll-up finish as something meaningful.
Post-match - Horrible. Tara gets an on-the-ramp interview as she had after her big cage match with Kong, but it's really weird because ODB is just skulking around the ring like a geek until Tara heads to the back, at which point she runs after her.
Hulk Hogan hype video - HAHAHAHAHA!
Feast or Fired Match
Kevin Nash (w/Britney) vs Rob Terry vs Samoa Joe vs vs Sheik Abdul Bashir vs Cody Deaner vs Consequences Creed vs James Storm vs Jay Lethal vs Robert Roode vs Eric Young vs Kiyoshi vs Homicide - 3/10
Considering 6 of the 12 guys are World Elite this is basically a 12 man tag that immediately goes haywire. These guys spend an asston of time on the floor despite this essentially being a pole match match Cody and Bashir have a Tom and Jerry esque pull apart for a case, which Shiek gets. Big Rob grabs a case with no opposition or fanfare despite their being 11 other people in the match. Now the faction decides to argue. Beer Money get their spots in on the World Elite. Kevin Nash low blows Roode to get a case. Joe and Lethal Consequences get spots in as do the rest of the guys. Homicide does his top rope cutter for fucking THIS match. Joe kicks Deaner off the top rope for the final case.
Honestly, this worked itself up from a dud in the final few minutes.
Jeremy Borasch with the case winners - This is basically a game show with everyone on a podium. Jeremy throws to
Kurt Angle and AJ Styles interview with Chirsty Hemme - Great but also bad Kurt cuts a great promo on Desmond, but it's clear that Desmond is an afterthought to the AJ/Kurt title match. AJ actually treats his shot against Daniels like the more pressing matter. AJ is a great white meat babyface promo here. Kurt and AJ take digs at each other
Feast of Fired briefcase reveal - Dumb. Why is So Cal Val a co-host? Joe has the World Title, Rob Terry has the X-Division Championship. Kevin Nash has the tag title shot, and Bashir is fired. Bashir throws a tantrum. Taz and Tenay use their serious voices. This was dumb.
8-man Elimination Tag Match (Hernandez will wrestle alone for the first 5 minutes, and if he's pinned, the match is over)
Team 3-D (Devon and Brother Ray), Rhino, and Jesse Neal vs Hernandez, Matt Morgan, Suicide and "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero - DUD
The numbers disadvantage come from the babyfaces losing an 8 man on Impact. This is dumb, even for Russo. Hernandez starts out getting beat up, all to set up Hernandez's apron flying shoulder block. I like this logic but not a minute in.Hernandez is distracted by Jesse for the heels to take control, because of course, you really want the primary antagonist to be the rookie who has no idea how to get this across without Tenay having to desperately fill in the blanks. We're at the hope spots now because your Mexican superhero should be killed in two minutes. Hernandez kicks out of The Gore and it's met with a tepid-at-best reaction. Hernandez side steps a follow up Gore and rolls up Rhino. So now the faces have the advantage. Jesse gets a chair which is super dumb. I guess he did this too early because they have to stall for time to make it appear that the babyfaces come out just as Jesse is about to wack Hernandez. Hernandez does a dive because fuck psychology. Suicide does cool moves and now it's just down to moves until Jesse gets himself DQed, except he doesn't, until Hernandez creams him unprotected with the chair, so now Hernandez is DQed, and Neal is informally DQed. I look away from the screen for five minutes and 3-D have hit the 3-D to eliminate Suicide. The commentators have to "get word" that Neal was DQed because everyone sucks. Pope gets some offense, but gets 3-Ded, leaving Morgan as the final man, as opposed to, you know, Hernandez. That would be like if you had a guy enter the Royal Rumble at 30 and arbitrarily started to big up how much of a survivor he was. A miscue by the heels leads to nothing. Devon gets eliminated but it takes the referee forever to communicate this to the ring announcer, to the point where the announcers have to "get word" on a fall again from the truck. Morgan wins, so at least they did something right
This match is like when you read a first grader's free writing project, and they rip off Harry Potter, and they have the general idea of what Harry Potter is, but they don't understand the storytelling, characters, and how those two things are meant to intertwine. Nothing about this match was handled correctly, and for something this multi-layered, this might be the most genuinely impressive dud I've ever seen.
Mick Foley/Abyss/Raven/Stevie video package - Raven shows up to save Stevie's career. There's fire and completely arbitrary dissension among the babyfaces because Mick would rather find Hulk Hogan than help his friend
Of course, this is TNA, so we got THE WRONG VIDEO PACKAGE, so we get
Steiner vs Lashley video package - Great actually. Steiner is lusting after Kristal Lashley (who, may the records show, is a way better mouthpiece for Lashley than she gets credit for), and is a cross between Rick Rude and rapist Kurt Angle. The hardcore brawling we see from Impact is a bit wacky but Steiner is so great it's passable.
Last Man Standing Match
Scott Steiner vs Bobby Lashley - 4.75/10
The ref sends Kristal to the back, because he cares more about her safety than her babyface husband. Scott bounds up the ramp to abduct her again, but when Lashley meets them, they're just having a heated conversation. He (somehow) uses this to distract Lashley and forearm him starting the match. I say somehow because even Taz and Tenay aren't clear on what happened
Scott has the momentum obviously, and Lashley has to fire back. Lashley's demeanor, not to mention the booking, is all wrong in my opinion. Lashley should be killing Scott, not having to fight back immediately. Dueling chants, about 80/20 Steiner. Like, I get Bobby was a Vince guy, but he doesn't deserve this. Lashley gets shoulder blocks and suplexes in, and it feels like they're in fast forward. Taz says"Steiner might get choked out or....choked out here" Scott might be shoot injured. NOW Lashley is behaving like the angry man in a no DQ match,, using weapons and brawling around the ring. Steiner gets another pipe now. Steiner drops the pipe at one point during a count, and it makes a proper "steel pipe hitting the floor" sound so props to whoever gimmicked it. Rope-drape Complete Shot got a pop out of me. Steiner is just doing moves at this point. Steiner goes up top, and you know it's going to be a 'flying nothing into a T-Bone" and that's what it is! For some reason we get a tease at Steiner 9 count after one move from Lashley and it's back to the Steiner heat. Scott hits the Frakensteiner, and props to Lashley for bumping like a boss for it. Kristal blocks Scotty from using a pipe, tosses it to Lashley (while Scott pretends to be distracted and not plainly see what happened) and Lashley just spears him.Now we get the pipe shot, which makes sense but Kristal's involvement seemed sandwiched in. which gets Lashley the 10 count and the win. Having Kristal out there to see the finish was a great touch.
I feel really badly rating this so low, because these guys tried to keep a good pace while simultaneously delivering a good Last Man Standing match. The more intense things they tried to do felt like the WCW 2000 lite definition of hardcore with barely any of the hate filled intensity of a normal LMS match, and the finish was a bit goofy, but beyond those nitpicks there was nothing technically wrong with it.
The announcers explain the Mick/Abyss vs Raven/Stevie story
Foley's Funhouse Rules Match
Raven and Dr.Stevie vs Abyss and Mick Foley - 1/10
Stevie is announced as being from "New York City's Bellevue Hospital" as if he lives there, This isn't initially a "Foley's Funhouse Rules match" as the announcers are mystified as to why the heels are coming out with weapons, and Foley just makes it one The babyfaces come out to Mick's music because Mick is the star and kills the mystique of Abyss.
The babyfaces have the momentum most of the time, except when the heels work over Abyss' burned leg. This is very much a rated PG hardcore match, as there's no blood, but we still somehow got a lot of the signature weapons shots for the babyfaces to pick up the win.
I can't rate this a dud because a story was told, but like, why even have this match? You could've really put over Abyss in a regular match, because Stevie has been made to look like a schlub, and at this point Raven just is one.
Samoa Joe interview with Jeremy Borasch - AWESOME! Joe is truly in another universe in terms of promos, especially when given generic Money in the Bank-esque fodder. This is the highlight of the show thus far.
Desmond Wolfe vs Kurt Angle video package - AWESOME! Goddamn, Desmond Wolfe is so cool.
Three Degrees of Pain (1st fall is pinfall, 2nd is submission, and 3rd (if necessary) is a steel cage match with escape only rules
Desmond Wolfe vs Kurt Angle - 9.75/10
The cage is around the ring the whole time, which would actually add to the embarrassment of losing two straight falls and your opponent walks out uncontested .We also learn cage usage can result in a DQ in the first two falls
They start out chain wrestling. Then, when Kurt goes to more American style, Wolfe stays steadfast in his European looking offense. Then Wolfe goes to his more American looking stuff, but it still looks distinctly Desmond. Desmond wins the 1st fall after two Tower of London's, which I suppose gets over working Kurt's neck, but I didn't like Desmond's finisher being diminished so soon into his run.
Desmond works the arm, which he's been working all match to start. Kurt gets a Figure 4 out of nowhere, Wolfe gets the momentum back and we're back to working body parts. All of Angle's offense results in being countered into an arm hold. Now they're swapping, Desmond has an Ankle Lock which Kurt counters into an armhold, but Desmond is back to the arm. A heel hook nets Angle the second fall.
Now the guys can use the cage. Wolfe is selling his damage and also working over old targeted body parts. Same with Angle. We get the step up top rope Belly to Belly, and it works super great in this context. The camera almost catches Wolfe gigging but they cut away just in time. They do a GREAT frogsplash spot, where Wolfe gets his knees up on a Frog splash, but it was the bad leg. He also counters Angle stopping him getting to the door with the door itself. Angle gets Desmond in the Ankle lock who taps and screeches like a demon. He finally passes out. Desmond revives and army crawls his way to the door while Angle is on the outside of the cage. Angle barely escapes before Desmond before the win.
This match was AWESOME! Near perfect, but some confusing psychology in the first fall. Special props to Tenay and Taz for upping their commentary game for this.
Mick Foley interview with Jeremy Borasch - Bad. Oh God, the reason why Foley didn't bleed is so that he could talk about Hulk Hogan. It's not clear what his beef is with Hulk.
AJ Styles vs Daniels video package - Good We've got a mystery man attacking AJ, a heel who thinks the company is against him, and the old, "I didn't lose because I wasn't pinned in a multi-man" chestnut. I feel like the later alone could've worked, with the other two being future installments in a multi-month feud. Luckily AJ and Daniels' delivery is good so one can't dwell on it too much, and plus Daniels brings up being kayfabe fired for a year and AJ not doing anything.
TNA World Heavyweight Championship
AJ Styles (c) vs Daniels - 8.25/10
JB gives us boxing style intros. I wish Wolfe vs Angle had gotten that, but I understand only the main event getting it. This match has two phases, Daniels working the arm and then when AJ fires back, Daniels working the neck, with a hardcore spot that allows Daniels to still play the role of an old school heel. Daniels goes back to working the back, AJ does an exquisite job selling, not being able to follow up when he counters moves and et cetera. AJ hulks up. BRUTAL springboard Huricanrana countered to a powerbomb on the outside, and now AJ is fighting like someone who's angry. Then we get begging off, and then more moves, and another big heel rally by Daniels. More moves, but now we get some cool nearfalls and desperation offense from Daniels. AJ gets some nearfalls now.including off of his finisher. TOP ROPE STYLES CLASH TO NET AJ THE WIN.
This was a great match, but there were some elements such as the hardcore spot and Daniels begging off) while awesome, weren't consistent with the things that were happening before or after. And the story could've been told without that.
While this wasn't as desperate as BFG, I can see how, with the top two matches, I thought the looming change could really push TNA over the top. But, looking at the stuff Russo had his hands beyond the big stars the show, and TNA in general, looked horrible, and Daniels/Styles have had more coherent matches. . Pick up Angle vs Wolfe, but skip the rest.