Because I can’t think of another tag line at the moment, it’s that time of the month again where we take another trip down to the Impact Zone down in Florida for Total Non-Stop Action’s latest pay-per-view offering, Destination X, headlined by Samoa Joe challenging Christian Cage for the NWA World title and shown three days later in Britain on Bravo 2. Our hosts for this event, as always, are “The Professor” Mike Tenay and Don West.
We begin the show with a Ghetto Brawl as the NWA World Tag Champion Homicide and Hernandez take on Team 3-D. Konnan is also there, being wheeled out by a guy I haven’t seen since he was replaced by Hernandez, Machete. Before they get to the ring they begin to argue with TNA’s new Spanish commentator, Hector Guerrero, last seen on pay-per-view as a giant turkey a few years ago. Ghetto Brawl was the perfect title for this one, because this is nothing more than a brawl. There’s tons of weapons shots, a brawl through the crowd (well, Jeff Jarrett hasn’t been seen for a while so I guess someone has to do it), a huge gang fight between some latinos and Devon’s “brothers”, as well as an appearance from Johnny Rodz, and interference from Alex Shelley as he Devon through a table that barely broke with a frog splash from the top rope so Homicide to get the pin and the win for his faction. Parts of this were entertaining, but am I the only one who thinks that this was perhaps a little overbooked.
Backstage, Jeremy Borash asks Rhino about his upcoming Elevation X match with A.J. Styles. The guy looks scared and concerned about his predicament.
After the Professor and Don run through the remainder of the card, it’s time for mixed tag action, with James Storm and Jackie Moore taking on Gail Kim and Petey Williams in a double bullrope match. This one starts off quite well, with Williams and Kim working well as a team together, until what could be termed as a rather comical moment, and whether it was planned or not I don’t know. Kim used the rope to tie Moore up against one of the ringpost, going in and out of the ring several times, and although this looked like a good idea in principle, they couldn’t easily release themselves, which meant they had to spend most of the rest of the match engaging in close quarters exchanges as they tried to free themselves. This meant that Williams and Storm could put on quite a good match alone in the ring. The women eventually released themselves, as Moore played a part in the ending of the match, delivering a low blow on Williams before he could unleash the Canadian Destroyer, with Storm getting the win after a super kick.
Backstage, Leticia chats with the freak himself, Scott Steiner. It’s the usual kind of Steiner promo here, until Christian Cage comes charging in asking for Steiner’s help because Tomko is in Japan. Steiner tells him he’s on his own, before he drags Leticia off with him, saying he’s got an idea.
Back in the arena as Austin Starr takes on Senshi in a Crossface Chicken Wing Submission match. Quite a good match here as Aries and Ki…..I mean Starr and Senshi go at it tooth and nail, with both men putting in good performances while being watched by the increasingly annoying Bob Backlund, who looks like he doesn’t know what he’s meant to be doing half the time. Starr almost got the win when he applied the hold to Senshi, until Backlund told the referee that Senshi’s feet were under the ropes. As Starr confronted Backlund, Senshi applied the hold himself, and Starr was soon tapping to get the victory. Afterwards, Backlund and Senshi shared a handshake until Starr knocked them over and put Backlund in the chicken wing until the referees came running down to break the hold. A good match here, but worrying that this was the third gimmick match in the row.
Backstage, Borash talks to A.J. Styles about Elevation X. He calls Rhino a coward, and promises to defeat him. Judging by the now growing chest hair and five o’clock shadow that Styles must be a fully-fledged heel now.
Back in the Impact Zone, Christy Hemme’s mystery team, the former WWE Heart Throbs, now known as the Heart Breakers, take on the Voodoo Kin Mafia. This one wasn’t too bad after Christy got carried away by Lance Hoyt, with Antonio and Romeo giving a good account for themselves, but in the end it was obvious who was going to win as B.G. got the win after his pump handle slam. Afterwards Christy, with riding crop in hand, came back down to the ring and chastises her men.
Out back, Cage drags Leticia to go and see Abyss sitting in a cage. Cage tried to get the monster to help him later by giving him a signed photo, and also by telling a few porkies. In his own way, the monster agrees to help the champion later on.
Then it’s time for the first title match of the evening, as Chris Sabin defends his X Division title against the every youthful Jerry Lynn in a best of three falls contest. This was a tremendous contest between two of the X Division’s finest, and, thankfully, the announcers didn’t spend a great deal of time harping on about Lynn’s age. I really can’t speak too highly about this one. With the score at one fall apiece, both guys were still going at it at top speed until a mystery man wearing a Sting mask disturbed the action. This gave Sabin the opportunity to take Lynn out with the cradle shock to get the winning pin. Afterwards, the masked man jumped into the ring and took out both competitors, and revealed himself to be none other than the Fallen Angel himself, Christopher Daniels, complete with new look.
Backstage, Borash chats with Jim Cornette in his office, who announces that he has a major announcement to announce in Impact. He is then interrupted by Christy Hemme, saying that the VKM haven’t heard the last of her. As she storms out of the office, Cornette offers her a job as his secretary.
Gimmick match time again, as Rhino takes on A.J. Styles in the first ever Elevation X match, which is basically a re-jigging of the old scaffold match gimmick. I have to admit that I had mixed feelings when I heard about this match. This has the potential to be either a classic or a stinker, and it was the first time I’d seen a match of this kind, and because of the gimmick, both Styles and Rhino were somewhat limited in what they could do once they were atop the platform. It seemed that all they could do was punch and kick each other, until Styles was about to throw some powder into Rhino’s eyes, which the War Machine ended up knocking into Styles’ eyes. Then, after a somewhat limited gore, Styles was hanging from the platform by his finger tips, which Rhino soon stomped on, sending him crashing to the mat. Well it wasn’t a stinker, and it wasn’t a classic, but it was a match that I didn’t really get excited about.
Backstage, Borash catches up with Kurt Angle, who says that after being a consultant last month, he’s going to end up the victim this month, and that he’ll once again prove that he’s the best wrestler in the world.
Then it’s time for the match itself, as Scott Steiner faces Kurt Angle, or as someone described it to me the other day, the worst back in professional wrestling versus the worst neck in professional wrestling, and this is one of the reasons I wasn’t looking forward to this particular match. Once again Steiner was far from impressive in this one. His offence looked really poor, his selling, especially after the first ankle lock, was virtually non-existent at times, and it was only Angle’s far superior ability that saved this match from being a total stinker. Big Sloppy Dump almost screwed up the finish as well. As he was about to unleash a belly-to-belly suplex from the top rope, Angle countered with a sunset flip, which Steiner tried to counter by holding onto the ropes, but his body positioning was all wrong, with his body way too close to the mat. He soon released his grip on the ropes, eventually allowing Angle to get the winning pin. Sorry Kurt, you may be one of the best of all time, but not even you can make wine from water.
Backstage, Borash chats with number one contender Samoa Joe. It’s a hell of a promo from the big guy as he promises to fulfil his destiny and win the title.
Back in the arena it’s time for the Last Rites match as Sting and Abyss continue their rivalry. This is basically fought under casket match rules, with the casket hanging above the ring at the beginning of the match. There’s also fake-looking candle sticks on each ringpost, which Abyss uses to bust Sting open early on. Possibly the funniest moment in TNA in ages came when, after Abyss called for the casket to be lowered, the crowd started chanting “fire Russo!” Although good in it’s own way, this one just didn’t match up to their previous encounters. Having the casket in the ring seemed to hinder the wrestlers as it basically took away half of the space they could wrestle in, and the only real highlight of this one was Sting slamming Abyss through a “tombstone” from the top rope. Sting got the win after this move by stuffing the masked man in the casket. This would be a good time to end the rivalry between these two, but I get the feeling that this feud will continue.
Backstage, Leticia catches up with Christian Cage, who is now a very worried man. The interview is interrupted by none other than The Great Muta. Cage makes Muta an offer, that if he wants to be famous again, that he should start hanging out with Cage. Muta responds by spewing green mist over a locker, before Cage backs down and leaves. Quite where this is leading to I don’t know. Muta v Cage for the title hopefully.
Main event time, as Samoa Joe challenges Christian Cage for the NWA World Heavyweight title. You know what? This was probably the best NWA World title match since TNA started their monthly pay-per-views. I really can’t speak too highly about this one. It was a hell of a match, with Cage and especially Joe putting in great performances, and unlike other World title matches, there were times when you actually thought that the challenger had a real chance. The only down-point with this one was the brawl through the crowd, which made me think that perhaps Jeff Jarrett had laid out this match for them. But back to the match itself, and Cage escaped with the title, but only just. As Joe applied the umpteenth rear naked choke, Cage rolled back and put his feet on the ropes, which the referee didn’t see, mainly because he was counting Joe’s shoulders down to the mat. An excellent match to finish the show, and I really hope that these two go at it again in a normal singles match.
In conclusion - another mixed bag from TNA here. The over-use of gimmick matches spoiled the show somewhat, especially as Christian Cage and Samoa Joe proved that you can have a great match without any crazy rules, and saved the show with their performance in the main event, because up until then, apart from the two X Division matches, I wasn’t really impressed. TNA really need to cut down on the brawl-through-the-crowd segments, as well as the number of gimmick matches they use, and they should just let the wrestlers do what they do best, and that’s wrestle.
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