It’s match stipulation overload time again, as Total Non-Stop Action returns to the Impact Zone in Florida for their latest pay-per-view offering, Sacrifice, headlined by a triple threat match featuring Kurt Angle, Scott Steiner and World Champion Samoa Joe, and shown on a three day delay here in Britain on Bravo 2. As always, our hosts and announcers for the evening are “The Professor” Mike Tenay, and the fat guy with the awful shirt/tie combinations, Don West.
Big news to start off the show, as the neck injury Kurt Angle suffered in Korea means that he’s out of the main event.
So with that news out of the way, we start off with the first quarter-final of the Deuces Wild Tag-Team Tournament, featuring established teams against unlikely duos, with the winner becoming TNA Tag-Team Champions. This one features Team 3-D against James Storm and Sting. You could tell from the start how this one was going to play out. Some good exchanges early on from both teams, before Sting took a beating at the hands of the former Dudleys, while his partner sat on the ringside apron drinking a couple of beers. Then, as Devon and Ray got their customary table, Storm urged them to put Sting in it. That’s when the face-painted on went mad, attacked Storm, and put him through the table, with Team 3-D getting the pin. A good way to open the show, showing that this tournament should be very interesting.
The second quarter-final features Robert Roode and Booker T taking on Rhino and Christian Cage. The drama began before the match even started in this one, with Roode and Booker almost coming to blows before their opponents came to the ring. When the match got underway it was Roode who did the donkey’s work for his team, refusing to tag Booker in, especially when he had Cage under his control. It was only when Cage fought back that Booker was able to tag in as Roode crawled to his corner. His time in the ring wasn’t that long though as Booker, after going toe-to-toe with Christian, was quickly tagged by Roode. But this proved to be their downfall, as Rhino soon got the upper hand, and took him out with the gore to get the winning pin. But that wasn’t the end of it. After shaking hands with Rhino and Cage and raising their arms in the middle of the ring, Booker got a steel cage and clobbered them both with it. A second good match in a row, with Booker turning heel in the process.
The third quarter-final sees Kip James and Matt Morgan facing the Latin American Xchange. Homicide and Hernandez are accompanied by Hector Guerrero for this one. Unlike the other unlikely duos, James and Morgan went into this one deciding it would be best to work together, and it made for a good match. LAX did their signature moves and looked good doing so, but a miscommunication between Morgan and James saw their downfall. As James prepared Hernandez for his fame-asser, Morgan also prepared for his big boot, so as Hernandez moved out of the way, Morgan connected with James, and after the big Hispanic took care of Morgan, he covered James for the pin.
The final quarter-final sees Super Eric and A.J. Styles against B.G. James and Awesome Kong, who, as always, has Raisha Saeed with her. Interesting to note here that Kong outweighs both Styles and Eric. This certainly was a very interesting match, and I must admit that I had my doubts as to how Kong would come out in this one. I needn’t have worried, as she more than held her own in there, and he brief exchanges with Styles were very good. But the end here was interesting, and whether it was planned or not I don’t know. As Eric took out Kong with a suicide dive to the outside, Styles climbed to the top while James was lying prone on the mat, but slipped and fell flat on his face. As James picked him up you could see a smirk on his face, making me think that it was an actual mistake. The match finished shortly afterwards, with Styles pinning James with a small package. Very entertaining stuff here.
With the first round of the tournament out of the way, it’s on to TNA’s newest gimmick match, the Terror Dome. Basically it’s a cage match with a roof on, but the roof has a whole in it, and the first one to climb through the whole wins. So, with the explanations out of the way, this one sees Curry Man, Sonjay Dutt, Consequences Creed, Shark Boy, Jimmy Rave, Kaz, Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, Johnny Devine and Jay Lethal. Now, originally the winner of this match was going to get a shot at X Division Champion Petey Williams. But then Jim Cornette made the announcement - not only would they get an X Division title shot, but the chance to replace Kurt Angle in the three way for the World title later on. So basically what you’ve got here is another one of those multi-man X Division spot fests with plenty of fast-paced, high-flying and high-risk action. Don’t get me wrong, some of these can be damn good, but this kind of match seems to be on a TNA pay-per-view each and every month now. Good performers and performances they may be, but you can have too much of a good thing. Now I’ve had my say, the end came when Kaz climbed the cage, shimmed up the underside of the roof and climbed out of the whole to earn shots at two titles. Kaz in a pay-per-view main event? Who would have thought it!
After all that, it’s time for the tag-team tournament to continue, with Team 3-D facing Rhino and Christian Cage in the first semi-final, with the question being how would Cage and Rhino fair after the attack of Booker T. As expected, 3-D focused their early attack on Cage’s head and neck, and used the same tactic when Rhino tagged in moments later. Cage and Rhino had their moments, and looked like they would get the win after Rhino gored Devon from the ropes, but the intervention of Johnny Devine changed the momentum. After giving Ray a kendo stick, he distracted the referee as he made the count after Rhino gored Devon again, and with the referee distracted, Ray clobbered Rhino with the offending weapon, allowing Devon to get the pin a few seconds later to advance to the final. This tournament continues to impress.
The second semi-final sees A.J. Styles and the ever annoying Super Eric face LAX. You know, I really can’t believe that they booked this match in this way - Super Eric matching strength with Hernandez, throwing him around like a baby! Come on! In a real fight my money would be on the big guy. Thankfully, the Latinos cleaned house with the annoying moron, and, with another good performance, progressed to the final. With Styles pinning Homicide with a small package, Salinas distracted the referee, giving Hector Guerrero the chance to sneak into the ring and reverse the pin. When the referee turned his attention back to the match, he saw Homicide pinning Styles and counted to three. LAX were now in the finals, and although Super Eric was annoying as hell, the match wasn’t that bad.
Next, it’s the Knockout Battle Royal, and yep, it’s overloaded with stipulations. Well, it is TNA, isn’t it? The rules for this one, and pay attention in case you miss something, were this - it starts off as a normal battle royal until there are two women left. Then it turns into a ladder match, with a contract for a Knockouts title shot to claim. That’s not all though, because the loser of the match isn’t just the loser, they have to have their head shaved as well. Now do you see why I introduced this review as match stipulation overload? Anyway, back to the match, which saw Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, Rhaka Khan, Salinas, Christy Hemme, ODB, Roxxi Laveaux, Jacqueline, Traci Brooks & Gail Kim, who won immunity from the head shaving bit. So, after eight of the bodies going flying over the top, Gail Kim and Roxxi Laveaux survived to fight the ladder match, although Angelina Love stayed at ringside, because if Roxxi won, she’d have to have her head shaved. What follows is an extremely good ladder match, with neither woman holding back from the crazy bumps and the hard hitting stuff, the sort of stuff you’d never see in a WWE Divas match. Love and her runny buddy Velvet Sky try to help Gail, because of her hatred of Roxxi, and end up costing her the match, pushing Roxxi off the ladder just as she was about to grab the contract. With Roxxi stunned, Gail climbed the ladder to grab the contract for herself. Afterwards Gail and Roxxi had to fight off an attack from Love and Sky, before Roxxi got her head shaved, with cries of “fire Russo” ringing out around the Impact Zone. An excellent second part to the match, but was the head shaving stipulation really needed?
Time for the tag-team tournament final, with Team 3-D against LAX, with the winners becoming the new TNA Tag-Team Champions. So with the two best teams in the final, this one promised much. Before the match again Ray and Devon tried to intimidate Hector Guerrero, a tactic which was broken up when Homicide dived through the ropes and took Devon down. This started the obligatory brawl around the impact zone, and it took a few minutes before both teams finally got to the ring, and the match began properly. Fought at a much slower pace to the previous tournament matches, 3-D dominated Homicide with a variety of moves and holds, until he managed to avoid Devon’s corner attack, following this by taking out Ray, before getting the hot tag to Hernandez, who proceeded to clean house, including his always impressive dive over the top rope. This brought Johnny Devine back down to the ring, quickly setting up a table, getting the attention of Guerrero, who dodged a kendo stick attack with a few choice punches, before putting Devine on the table, and putting the Canadian through it by jumping off the top rope. Then the brawl began in the ring, which ended up with Devon trying to superplex Homicide, only to be stopped by Hernandez, who took him down with his Border Toss. A frog splash from Homicide followed, and a three count later, LAX were the new tag-team champions. TNA saved the best match for last as far as the tournament was concerned. Great stuff here between two teams who really gelled with each other.
Main event time, a three way match as Samoa Joe defends the TNA World title against Scott Steiner and Kaz. Whenever Scott Steiner is in a main event match I tend to worry. It’s no secret that I’m not exactly a fan of the current Steiner, but I have to admit he actually didn’t look that bad in this one, even though it’s obvious that his move set is limited. Kaz was also able to put in a good performance, despite the fact that he’d competed in the Terror Dome match earlier in the evening. But for me, the most impressive man in the match was Joe. Everything Joe does just looks great, even when matched with the limited Steiner. But perhaps the most surprising thing about this match was when Steiner used his old trademark on Kaz, a Frankensteiner off the top rope. It didn’t get him the pin though. In the end the champion came out on top. After Steiner blocked Kaz’s top rope move and through him into the ringside area, Joe came back into the ring and took Steiner out with the Muscle Buster for the winning pin. A good main event match here, despite the absence of Kurt Angle. Kaz more than made up for that with his performance here.
In conclusion - it’s still another mixed bag from TNA as far as their pay-per-views go. While the tag-team tournament was clearly the highlight of the show, the Terror Dome match was just another excuse to put countless X Division guys in the ring at the same time so they can all do their big spots in one match. As for the Knockout’s contribution, that would have been better served without all the stipulations afforded to their bout. The main event was good, and Kaz did make up for the absence of Angle, but for me these shows will always be let down by the reliance of over complicated and overblown stipulation matches. If TNA could ever put on a pay-per-view that just involves normal wrestling matches then I’d be a happy man.
And if they could just get rid of Super Eric, I’d be an even happier man.