Sunday, 16 September 2007

TNA Final Resolution on Bravo 2 - TV Review

The dawn of a new era as it were, as the first Total Non-Stop Action pay-per-view of the year is shown is shown on their new home here in Great Britain, Bravo 2. It’s Final Resolution, with our usual hosts, “The Professor” Mike Tenay, and Don West.
We begin the show which what could be a belter, as Rhino and A.J. Styles renew their rivalry with a Last Man Standing bout, where the winner is declared after he has pinned his opponent, and that opponent fails to answer a ten count. After their knock-down, drag-out brawl last month, a great deal was expected of this one. It’s a great opener here, and while not on the level of their previous encounter, it’s still a damn good match. Both men got pins on each other, with nobody able to get the ten count, until Styles threw the match away at the end. After Rhino scored with a second gore and got the pin, Styles looked like he was about to beat the ten count, but rather than continue with the beating, Styles slumped back down into the corner to take the remaining seconds of the count. As Styles walked back up the ramp, Rhino promised to continue the fight - which he did. As Tenay and West began to run down the rest of the card, the fight continued as Styles and Rhino re-emerged from the back. Rhino took Styles out with a piledriver on the stage, but missed a gore as Styles were perched up against a table, going through the wood himself.
Backstage, that blonde bird whose name I can never remember interviews X Division pioneer Jerry Lynn. References to Lynn’s age are made in what was the best Lynn interview I’ve seen during his career. Lynn promises to make Sabin and Daniels pay by showing that he can keep up with them.
Back in the arena for the first title bout of the evening, a triple threat match in which Christopher Daniels defends the X Division title against both Jerry Lynn and Chris Sabin - Lynn’s first in-ring appearance in well over a year. It’s your typical X Division fare here, which means it’s fast-paced and damn good, with all three men putting in a great showing, especially Lynn, considering the amount of time he’s been out of action. Sabin even managers to introduce a hold I’ve never seen in a wrestling ring before - the wet willy hold on Daniel’s ear. As well as the fast-paced action there’s plenty of false finishes, with Sabin sneaking up on Lynn after he’d taken Daniels down with the cradle piledriver and scoring with a schoolboy roll-up, giving him the title winning victory. Great action here, as the X Division continues to be the jewel in TNA’s crown.
Backstage, Borash interviews Kevin Nash about the final of the Paparazzi Championship Series. Nash tells us how proud he is that both of his guys have made it to the final. He then introduces his head judge, none other than Bob Backlund. What follows is a rather confusing promo from both guys, which also involves Eric Young coming in at the end, wondering when Borash is going to take him shopping. I wonder who wrote this.
We then get to the final of the Paparazzi Championship Series itself. When I saw the first round of this tournament last month, I got the impression that it would involve a series of matches. Instead we’ve had a pogo contest, limbo dancing, and a poker tournament in what has to be the most pointless series of skits I’ve seen. But in the end it boiled down to a ten minute time limit match between Alex Shelley and Austin Starr, with three judges - Bob Backlund, a masked man called Samolian Joe, and the Big Fat Oily Guy. Yep, for those of you who haven’t seen this, you read this correctly. It’s a good enough match which goes to the time limit, but it’s sadly spoiled by the constant references to the judges. As the masked man and the Oily Guy split their decision, Backlund gets into the ring and gives a long-winded and rambling judge’s decision, before announcing that the match is a draw. It’s then that Nash announces that the match will go into overtime, with Shelley getting a quick pin with a roll-through. It’s then that Starr snaps, and has a go at Nash and the rest of the PCS contestants. We then get a brief fight between Starr and Senshi, before the loser confronts the judges, pushing the masked guy and the Big Fat Oily Guy, before Backlund responds by synching in the chicken wing on Starr. All I can say is thank you Mr. Russo for a big waste of air-time.
When we finally return to normality, James Storm continues his heel turn as he takes on Petey Williams. It’s a good match, nothing special though, which sees Storm in full villainous mode with cries of “kill the cowboy” ringing out throughout the Impact zone, with Storm getting the pin with a roll-up and an assist from the ropes. Afterwards, Storm handcuffs Williams to one of the corners, and is about to clobber him with a beer bottle when Gail Kim stops him and tries to free Williams. Its then that Kim goes ape on Storm, and is about to clobber her former ally with the bottle when we get a welcome return in the form of Jacqueline. Storm and Jacqueline then take Kim out with AMW’s finishing move, the Death Sentence. While it’s great to see one of America’s best female wrestlers back in TNA, does this mean that they’re finally going to start a credible women’s division?
Then, the Voodoo Kin Mafia, B.G. and Kip James, come down to the ring and announce that their war with Vince McMahon, Triple H and Shawn Michaels is over, after all the impersonations and the visits to WWE headquarters and live events went unanswered. So what the hell were they expecting? After claiming victory in their war, the sadly under-used Christy Hemme comes down to the ring and reminds the VKM that one of the original, founding members of D-Generation X was actually a women. Christy then puts forward the case for women’s wrestling, which again makes me think that TNA are considering starting up a proper women’s division, Christy’s impassioned plea about the state of women’s wrestling is perhaps the best thing about this whole thing.
Backstage, Borash chats with Team 3-D about their upcoming title match. They talk about how when LAX put Brother Runt out, they took out Konnan, now in hospital following hip replacement surgery (you should know where to send your donations to by now). They then promise to take back the one title that they’ve never been able to win. As Borahs tries to rap things up, Sting makes an appearance looking for someone.
The second title match of the evening follows, as the Latin American Xchange team of Homicide and Hernandez, sans the injured Konnan, defend their NWA World Tag-Team titles against Team 3-D, Brother Day and Brother Devon. It certainly is a highly-charged affair here, and great to see the former Dudleys back in the ring doing what they do best. It’s a good match here, with both teams, especially Ray and Devon, putting in an excellent account for themselves, and the challengers looked like they were had a good chance of winning the titles when a drunken Brother Runt comes down the ramp, climbs to the top rope, and attacks Homicide, bringing an immediate disqualification for his brothers. I really hope that we’ll see these two teams go at it again, and I have a feeling there will be a tables match somewhere down the line.
Backstage, Borash chats with Samoa Joe about his upcoming bout, his third encounter with Kurt Angle. Joe promises to torture, pummel and beat Angle into the ground, on his way to claiming the number one contenders spot.
Back in the Impact Zone, it’s time for the rubber match between Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle, a thirty minute iron man match. Of course, both of these guys have experience wrestling in this kind of bout, with Joe having gone sixty minutes with C.M. Punk before, and Angle having wrestled against the likes of Shawn Michaels and Brock Lesnar in iron man matches before. Once again, Joe and Angle prove that they are two of the best wrestlers in the business by putting on a third great match for the third month in a row, with mat action and high-impact moves second-to-none. The first score went to Joe with seventeen minutes left, as Angle tapped to the rear naked choke. Four minutes later, Angle fought back and synched in the ankle lock, with, like Angle before him, Joe tapping to save himself for later in the match. Three minutes later, Angle was able to apply a second ankle lock, taking a two-one lead into the final ten minutes. These final ten minutes were perhaps the most intense of the match, and with seven two go, Joe equalled things up after taking Angle down with the muscle buster. With just five minutes to go, Angle took the lead with a roll-up. A few minutes later, with just ninety seconds left, Joe finally managed to get the muscle buster, and looked like he was going to get the equalising fall. As the final minute counted down, Joe tried another rear naked choke, and then an ankle lock of his own, and as the final ten seconds ticked down, Angle looked like he was going to tap. In fact, he did tap, but after the time limit expired, giving the victory to Angle by three to two in an excellent contest, and definitely an early candidate for any match of the year poll.
Backstage, Borash catches up with Sting. The challenger says that despite all of his failed efforts, he’s not going to give up on Abyss. It’s then that James Mitchell and Abyss arrive on the scene; he gives another of his great promos, telling him that his crusade to save Abyss’ soul is over. Sting responds by grabbing Mitchell around the throat, telling him that he’ll soon be dancing with the devil in hell, because there’s no room for him up here.
Main event time, as Abyss defends his NWA World title in a three-way elimination match against Sting and Christian Cage. Of course, Abyss has James Mitchell along for company, while Cage has his buddy, Tomko, watching his back. Well, that was the plan until management man Jim Cornette came down to the ring and ordered that Tomko be locked inside a cage at ringside so he couldn’t interfere. After some hard fought exchanges between Abyss and Cage, in which Abyss missed a pin after a black hole slam while the referee was trying to stop Tomko choking Sting from his cage, Abyss was the first one eliminated from the match, distracted by Cage as Sting took him down with a scorpion death drop for the pin, meaning that there would definitely be a new champion crowned. Some good exchanges between Sting and Cage followed, and as Sting applied the scorpion death lock on Cage, Mitchell came back down to the ring and unlocked the cage, releasing Tomko, and while he distracted the referee, Tomko attacked Sting. But the henchman’s second attack brought Abyss back into the arena, who soon put Tomko back in the cage. Then, after the referee got clobbered accidentally, Mitchell came back into the ring, and as Sting tried to apply the death lock again, it looked like Abyss was about to help him, only for the monster to clobber the Stinger with a steel chair. This was enough for Cage, as he came down with a frog splash on the unconscious Sting, and then woke the referee up so he could make the three count and crown the new champion, and while this match may have been a little lacking at times, it certainly had a ton of drama which more than made up for it.
In conclusion - TNA continues to impress with its great wrestling action, a credible alternative to what WWE has to offer at the moment. Well, apart from Vince Russo’s pointless Paparazzi Championship Series and his Voodoo Kin Mafia shoot-style anti-WWE/Triple H/Shawn Michaels promos, and while the X Division does look a tad thin on talent at the moment, the World title scene is certainly getting interesting, and it makes me wonder where Jeff Jarrett will fit into this when, or if, he returns.
As for Bravo 2’s first ever TNA pay-per-view, there was two notable differences from TNA’s time with The Wrestling Channel, these being the far superior picture quality, and the fact that the commercial breaks were put in between the matches, and not right in the middle of them, something TWC viewers have been complaining about since the channel’s inception almost three years ago. And one other advantage that Bravo 2 has over TWC - with some of their channels having been in existence for over twenty years, there probably won’t be the sort of technical problems with Bravo 2 that we seemed to see with TWC’s TNA pay-per-views a while back.