Saturday, 20 September 2008

TNA No Surrender on Bravo 2 - TV Review

Despite suffering from my annual bout of tonsillitis, your favourite British writer has decided to carry on and give you his opinions on TNA’s latest pay-per-view offering, No Surrender, shown on a three day delay here in Britain on Bravo 2. It’s the usual hosts for the evening, Mike Tenay and Don West, and can someone tell the professor that his normal tie/dinner suit combination just doesn’t go!

After Sting cuts an in-ring promo, talking about respect in the wrestling business, and after the announcers tell us that Booker T is a no-show because of Hurricane Ike, it’s on to the first match, a six-person tag match featuring the Rock and Rave Infection taking on the Prince Justice Brotherhood. So just when I thought we’d finally got rid of Eric Young, he’s back on pay-per-view, and he’s dragged Curry Man and Shark Boy down with him. Okay, so the action in this one was good, and the exchanges between Christy Hemme and Curry Man were quite funny, but that still doesn’t stop Super Eric being annoying as hell. I’ve never been a fan of the guy, no matter what gimmick he uses. Thankfully, he didn’t get the pin, Curry Man did, pinning Christy after she’d been taken out by Shark Boy’s stunner. The Japanese star then made sure she was okay.

The first woman’s match of the night follows, a falls count anywhere match with Awesome Kong taking on ODB. This was one of those matches that looked good on paper, one that I was really looking forward to. This didn’t disappoint. Great brawling from beginning to end, with the obligatory fight through the crowd (well it wouldn’t be a TNA PPV if we didn’t have one), and Raisha Saeed getting her licks in throughout the match as well. Only one slight bodge for this one though, when the table that ODB power bombed Kong onto didn’t break properly. A second table did break though, when Kong barged ODB through one which was perched into the corner to get the win. Apart from the slight mishap with the first table, I really can’t fault this match at all.

Tag-team action follows, with Team 3-D facing the monster Abyss, and America’s answer to Nick “Oblivion” Aldis, Matt Morgan. (For those who don’t know, Aldis/Oblivion is on the British version of Gladiators, and, like Morgan, is also a professional wrestler. I also know him quite well, but as my mother used to say, if you can’t say anything nice….). A small part of me has actually missed seeing Abyss in a TNA ring, and I’m not talking about when he’s been doing his knight in shining armour bit. As a match, it was okay, nothing really special happened that set this writer’s pulse racing, although I must say that Morgan did look impressive at times, showing that he was perhaps brought through a bit too soon during his WWE stint. Of course, we got a brief appearance from Ray and Devon’s mate Johnny Devine, but not even his interference was enough to put the big men away. As with the previous match, there was one dodgy moment when Ray tried to lift Abyss onto his shoulders so Devon could execute a top rope clothesline. They managed to pull off the move, but only just, and it was as ugly as hell. The ending of the match saw Morgan punch a steel chair into Devon’s face, followed by Abyss taking him out with the black hole slam. We then got the extra curricular activity which saw Ray clobber Morgan and Abyss with a chair, and then giving the chair to the monster, so the blueprint thought that his partner had hit him. Not pretty, and not the best tag-team match I’ve seen, and one I won’t remember in the next few years.

Then it’s on to the first title match of the evening, a three-way affair in which Petey Williams defends the X Division title against Consequences Creed and Sheik Abdul Bashir. Why they just couldn’t keep calling this guy Daivari I’ll never know. Nice to see TNA using the anti-American gimmick, something that’s never been seen before (and in case you didn’t realise, I’m being sarcastic.) Some nice spots in this one, but there were quite a few moments when things seemed very messy and very disjointed. Apart from that, it’s the usual X Division fare here, and to be honest with you this division is now starting to get quite repetitive. It just doesn’t seem that fresh anymore. A new champion was crowned here, with the impressive Bashir picking up the win, which saw Williams take Creed out with his Canadian Destroyer, and Bashir pulling him out of the pin attempt to get the pin for himself. I don’t really need to say anymore about this match, do I?

The second title match of the evening follows immediately, with Taylor Wilde defending her Knockouts title against Angelina Love. So can someone please tell me why Kip James now seems to be a fashion consultant? Just another gimmick for Monty to add to his ever growing list. Before the match begins, Taylor evens the sides up by bringing Rhino out as her corner man. This just wasn’t a patch on the Kong/ODB match. Like many other matches on this show, it was okay, and technically it can’t be faulted, but it failed to get me emotionally involved in any way, to a point where I just didn’t care who won. Rhino and Kip got involved, of course, and Taylor got the pin with a bridging suplex. Another one that probably won’t be remembered this time next year.

Sonjay Dutt and Jay Lethal renew their rivalry next with a Ladder of Love match, with SoCal Val’s engagement ring hanging high above the ring. It’s basically a ladder match. Now, I’ve been quiet about this for months now, but it has to be said. What is so good about SoCal Val? She’s not ugly, but she has to be one of the most unattractive women I’ve ever seen, and I certainly wouldn’t fight anyone for her hand in marriage. Now, if it was Christy Hemme….but back to the matter at hand. As ladder matches go, this one was quite good. Despite the fact that this rivalry is getting a bit overlong and boring, Dutt and Lethal are made for each other, and it’s a shame that they’re not in the X Division mix at the moment. Some very interesting spots involving the ladders saw Val turn on Lethal, delivering a low blow as he climbed up the ladder to stop Dutt getting the ring, this after she’d apparently sided with Black Machismo when he got his leg caught in one of the ladders. This interference gave Dutt the chance to grab the engagement ring. Something tells me that this won’t be the last we’ll see of this feud.

The re-matches continue next with Beer Money Inc defending the Tag-Team titles against former champions LAX. It was announced during the last match that Jacqueline had attacked Salinas backstage and that she was on her way to hospital. Translation: Shelley Martinez has now quit TNA. The second good match in a row. Roode and Storm are really starting to grow as a team, and you should know just how I feel about LAX, and Hernandez in particular. I was a little surprised though that it was Hernandez who took the obligatory double-teaming before the hot tag, and not Homicide, but then again I suppose it’s good to go against type every now and then. So a good match was ended with the old powder in the eye trick. As Homicide was about to take Roode out, Jacqueline came into the ring, threw powder into Homicide’s eyes, allowing Roode to get the pin with a bridging fisherman’s suplex. Thankfully, Michael Barrett wasn’t around to take the blame (and only certain WAW types will get that joke). Good stuff here.

A departure for TNA next, with the shoot fighting stylings of Frank Trigg taking on A.J. Styles in an MMA-style match. Given the match concept, this one could have turned out to be a real stinker. Thankfully it wasn’t. In fact, it was actually quite good. Styles seemed to take to the MMA concept extremely well, and it made for a very enjoyable contest, with this being the only time that I’ll disagree with the crowd and their “fire Russo” chants. But then again, Canadian fans can be a law unto themselves most of the time, can’t they? Sadly, this one was ruled a no-contest when Styles caught Trigg with an accidental low blow just a minute or so into the second round. But this wasn’t enough for Styles, as he grabbed a kendo stick from under the ring and took his frustrations out on his opponent. Hey, I don’t care what those Canadians think, I enjoyed this one!

Main event time, the Fours Ways to Glory, or rather Three Ways to Glory match for the TNA World title, with Samoa Joe defending the gold against former champions Kurt Angle and Christian Cage. Before we even got to the ring introductions we had a confrontation, as Sting made another appearance, this time to confront Joe. The champion ended up slugging the Stinger, which led to a impromptu brawl that was quickly broken up by security and A.J. Styles. So with all of that out of the way, it was on to the match itself. The absence of Booker T didn’t detract from this match at all, because as three ways go, it wasn’t that bad, with some good one-on-one encounters added to some good three-way spots, most notably when Angle applied the ankle lock to Joe and Cage at the same time. We even had the drama of Angle pulling referee Earl Hebner out of the ring as he was counting a Cage pin on Joe. He then rammed Hebner into the ringside barriers, which earned a ton of cheers from the Canadian fans. With the referee out of the way, chair shots came into play, as did Jeff Jarrett, who clobbered Angle over the head with his trademark guitar, with Joe finishing him off with the muscle buster to get the winning pin, earning an appointment with Sting at Bound for Glory.

In conclusion - well, No Surrender certainly had it’s good moments, and it certainly had it’s somewhat dodgy moments, but overall I suppose it was okay. The Prince Justice Brotherhood gimmick has been done before, and the Dutt/Lethal/Val triangle is in danger of being done to death, while the X Division is in danger of becoming stale and boring, desperately in need of a fresh injection of talent, and the Knockouts division is really going to miss Gail Kim. But then again, and I know that some people will disagree with me on this one, but the return of Jeff Jarrett is very welcome, and I’m looking forward to seeing him get back into the ring, and his rivalry with Kurt Angle.

So, if I’ve got a few spare hours, will I watch this show again? Probably not, and for me that’s how I know when I’ve seen a good pay-per-view.