It’s the first wrestling pay-per-view of the year, and A.J. Styles has a decision to make - Angle or Cage? So what will his decision be? It’s all in this review of TNA’s Final Resolution, shown on a three day delay here in Britain on Bravo 2. As usual, our hosts for the evening are the professor himself, Mike Tenay, and the man of a thousand wardrobe catastrophes, Don West.
We begin with tag-team action, as Christy Hemme’s Rock and Rave Infection, Jimmy Rave and Lance Hoyt, go up against LAX, Homicide and Hernandez, with complaints about male v female violence following various attacks on Christy by a member of LAX’s Latino nation. Another impressive outing for LAX here, they literally take Hoyt and Rave apart. Rock and Rave did their bit, but for me LAX looked the far more polished team as they dismantled their opponents. It was Hernandez who got the winning pin as he took Rave out with his version of the razor’s edge - from the second rope - for the winning pin. Then, after a brief scuffle, it was revealed that Christy wasn’t being attacked by a man, but a woman, as she revealed her true identity. A good match to start the show, although it’s a shame it wasn’t a little longer.
Next, Dustin Rhodes’ awful gimmickry continues as Black Reign takes on Kaz. See, I’m calling him Kaz now, even though he’ll always be Frankie Kazarian to me! Now I know this is going to sound repetitive, but this was another impressive outing for Kaz, as he was able to pull out all of his signature moves. Reign/Rhodes had his moments, but as I’ve said before I still can’t take to Dustin’s dark persona. Hey, it’s not Goldust after all. So, after an impressive comeback from Reign’s beating, Kaz took him down with a full-face DDT for the pinfall victory. Then, for good measure, he walked off with the rat as well. Good match, shame about the gimmick though, eh Dustin?
Women’s action follows, as Gail Kim defends her Knockouts title against Awesome King. Now this was one match I was really looking forward to, especially after last month’s great match, and the no disqualification rule was just what the doctor ordered. Now this is what women’s wrestling should be about. Picking up where they left off last month, Kim and Kong put on a match that had everything, a great storyline, perfect execution on everyone’s part, and a ton of drama throughout. The no disqualification rule gave us the monthly brawl through the crowd, and the drama came with Gail getting seven sorts of you-know-what out of her, and still kicking out of all of Kong’s pins attempts. Nothing put her away, and Kong’s anger boiled over as she took out the first referee after he failed to make the three count. Then Kong took Kim down with a choke slam, but still couldn’t get the pin, so as she was about to take out the second referee with another power bomb, Kim came up on her from behind with a roll-up, the weight of the referee helping her get Kong over, and a three count later Kim had retained her title, much to Kong’s annoyance. A hell of a match here, and from the way things ended, it seems we haven’t seen the last of these two against each other - thankfully.
It’s monster against monster time next as Abyss faces Judas Mesias, who is apparently James Mitchell’s son. I must make mention of Mitchell’s pre-match interview. I’ve said this before, but Mitchell is definitely one of the best promo men in the business right now, and if he ever read the shipping forecast on Radio 4 he’d make it a hell of a lot more interesting. After the previous excellent contest, this one had to keep up the momentum. Sadly, it didn’t. This was little more than a brawl, and even thought it was okay in it’s execution, it just failed to grab my attention, probably because the last match was so good. After Abyss failed to put Judas away with the black hole slam, Mitchell tried to get into the ring, giving his son the opportunity to clobber him with a steel chair while the referee was distracted, before taking him down with his straight into hell finisher, executed on to a chair wrapped in barbed wire, a chair that Abyss had tried to use moments earlier. With the win obtained, Mitchell and Judas then drenched Abyss in petrol, and Mitchell was about to torch his former prot�g� when security stepped in to stop things. So what we have is match okay, but suffered a little from it’s placing on the card.
The women return to the ring afterwards, in the form of mixed tag action as Robert Roode and Traci Brooks take on Booker T and Sharmell, with the tension still growing between Roode and his assistant. Booker and Roode competed in the majority of this match, but Traci’s reluctance to break the rules outrage Roode, and it was sometime before his assistant did what her boss said. Then, as Roode berated Traci as she stood on the ring apron, she accidentally tagged Traci in, meaning that Sharmell had to tag in as well. After the obligatory cat fight and mis-communication, Sharmell got the pin for her team. It was then that things got really heated. As Roode and Traci argued, Traci lost it, and as Roode backed his assistant into a corner, several referees came down to the ring to stop him from hurting her. But they weren’t the only ones who went down to help. Sharmell, seeing what was happening, raced back down the rope to help Traci, but when she tapped Roode on the shoulder, he turned around and slugged her, knocking her out and shocking everyone in the Impact Zone, including Roode himself, and with TNA’s mandate against man against woman violence, this will undoubtedly continue the tensions between Roode and Booker. A well executed situation here, that will certainly make many fans wonder what will happen next.
Then it’s time for TNA’s signature match, as Team 3-D and Johnny Devine go up against X Division Champion Jay Lethal and the Motor City Machine Guns in an Ultimate X match, with the X Division title hanging high above the ring, but not on the line. The Guns went into this one with a decided disadvantage, having had their hands injured by Team 3-D, adding to the drama. And this one was certainly dramatic, as both teams pulled out all the stops, and the former Dudleys tried to use some quite inventive ways of getting the belt down from the wires. But in the end, they cheated. After the referee took an accidental clothesline from Brother Ray, Team 3-D brought a ladder into the ring, something of a no-no in an Ultimate X match, and used that to get the belt down, so when the referee came to, the first thing he saw was Brother Devon hanging off the wires, title belt on his shoulder, and no sign of a ladder, and despite the protests of the crowd, he called for the bell and awarded the match to Devine and 3-D. A very enjoyable encounter here, and it will be interesting to see where TNA take this particular angle.
More title action follows, as Tomko and A.J. Styles defend the tag titles against the odd couple team of Kevin Nash and Samoa Joe. Given that Kevin Nash was involved in this, I didn’t hold out much hope for this one. But I admit it, I was wrong, because this one wasn’t too bad. Tomko continues to improve as a wrestler, and the team with Styles is really starting to come together. Of course, Samoa Joe looked good, as always, and for the small amount of time he was in the ring, Nash didn’t look too bad either, and the team with Joe looked promising - until the former Big Sexy walked out on his partner half-way through the match, in the way that several of Hulk Hogan’s partners have walked out on him over the years. But despite the handicap, Joe put up a great fight on his own, but it wasn’t enough, and after a gutsy performance, Tomko and Styles took him down with their finishing move to retain the titles. Better than I expected, although I’m not sure what to expect for the upcoming Nash v Joe series, if that ever happens.
Main event time, as Christian Cage challenges Kurt Angle for the TNA title, with still no decision from A.J. Styles. With two heels against each other (well, I’m assuming Cage is a heel, as I don’t watch Impact that much), this certainly had the makings of an interesting match, and it certainly was, probably the best TNA pay-per-view main event we’ve seen in a while. Great execution of moves from both men gave us a perfect storyline throughout the match, showing that these two were tailor made for each other, although I was annoyed at the announcers that they didn’t even know what a Texas Cloverleaf was when Cage applied on to Angle. The importance of the bout was evident as each man kicked out of the other’s finisher, and Cage even used the ankle lock at one point, as Karen Angle was distracting the ref. It was then that Styles showed his true colours. After taking Mrs. Angle away from ringside, it looked like Styles was going back to Cage, but with Cage’s back turned, Styles came over with the springboard forearm to the back, and seconds later, Angle executed a second Olympic slam, and got the title retaining win to end what was a great main event.
In conclusion - a very enjoyable pay-per-view from the TNA crew here. Okay, there were a few dull moments (let’s not mention the drinking contest, as it bears no relevance to the actual wrestling content of the show), but these were far outweighed by the plus points, culminating in the great main event between Angle and Cage.
So it looks like the wrestling pay-per-view year has got off to a good start. Let’s hope this momentum continues with WWE’s Royal Rumble in a few weeks.