Saturday, 18 October 2008

TNA Bound for Glory on Bravo 2 - TV Review

It’s multi-man gimmick match overload time again as Total Non-Stop Action travel to Chicago for their flagship pay-per-view, Bound for Glory, headlined by Sting challenging Samoa Joe for the World title, and Jeff Jarrett returning to face Kurt Angle, shown here in Britain on a three day delay on Bravo 2, with Mike Tenay and Don West, complete with a truly awful shirt/tie combination handling commentary duties.

The show begins with a Steel Asylum match, featuring the Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Curry Man, Shark Boy, Super Eric, Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt, Jimmy Rave, Johnny Devine and Petey Williams. The rules for this one are simple - you climb the big red cage and go through the hole in the roof, with the prize being a shot at the X Division title. It’s basically a spot fest here people, and entertaining as it is, I can’t help but think that I’ve seen it all before, and it’s one of the reasons that, for me, the X Division is becoming a bit stale. Sadly Curry Man didn’t come out on top in this one. That particular honour went to Jay Lethal, who narrowly beat his old rival Sonjay Dutt to climb through the hole. Time to move along me thinks.

Match two sees The Beautiful People, along with their new whatever-he-is, the man of a thousand gimmicks Kip James, taking on Rhino, ODB and Rhaka Khan, with Traci Brooks as the special referee. For the second match of the night, this wasn’t too bad, although it won’t go down in history as a memorable classic. The action involving Velvet Skye, Angelina Love and ODB was good, as were the exchanges between Rhino and James, but one thing that was apparent for all to see was that Rhaka Khan clearly needs to work on her in-ring game. The good guys won this one after Rhino gored the hell out of James.

The first title match of the evening follows, as the poor man’s Rocky nemesis Consequences Creed challenges Sheik Abdul Bashir for the X Division title. TNA play the old America v the evil enemies by having an Iraqi war veteran , Sergeant Daniel Kasara, introduce Creed. So leaving aside the blatant nationalism, this was actually a very good match, and another example of how the WWE may have missed the boat a little as far as Bashir’s ability is concerned. The match told a good story and had plenty of action which made sense. The ending made sense as well. After tons of fast-paced action, Bashir got the pin with a roll-up and an assist from the ropes, even though the ending did look a bit of a mess. The best match of the show so far.

The second title match follows straight afterwards, with Taylor Wilde defending the Knockouts title against Awesome Kong and Roxxi. Those of you who have bothered to read my recent NECW and WWW reviews will know that I’m becoming a big fan of Roxxi’s work, one of the most under-rated women’s wrestlers around at the moment. This match was once again proof that, unlike WWE, TNA know how to handle their women’s division. Three good performances in this match, and once again Kong’s was the best of them, and I’m even beginning to warm to Taylor. Her exchanges with Roxxi were great, and she was able to keep the gold her, after taking care of Kong before the awesome one could come off the top rope, and pinning Roxxi with a bridge suplex. This is now the best match of the show.

The multi-man madness continues next with Beer Money Inc defending the Tag-Team titles against Team 3D, LAX and the team of Matt Morgan and Abyss in a Monster‘s Ball match, with Steve “Mongo” McMichael as the special referee. So with a portly, perplexed looking former Four Horsemen wandering around the ring, it’s basically eight men beating the hell out of each other with whatever they could get their hands on, and it’s strangely compelling to watch, except for the part where Beer Money challenged McMichael to a football face off. We also saw the return of the flaming table, with Team 3D dumping Abyss from the stage through it. But perhaps the best performance came from Matt Morgan, who reiterated the point I made about Abdul Bashir a few paragraphs ago. Hernandez wasn’t that bad in this one either. No title change here though. After Team 3D put Hernandez through a tack-covered table, Beer Money got back into the ring , with Roode getting the pin to end the match. Good stuff here, certainly a lot better than the Steel Asylum match. As for McMichael’s performance - that certainly left a lot to be desired, especially when the wrestlers involved had to tell him when to make a pin! Didn’t he learn anything from his time as a wrestler?

So after that hectic match, it was time for another three-way, this one involving Booker T, A.J. Styles and Christian Cage. Booker is accompanied by Sharmell, who’s carrying a briefcase for some reason. This one followed the usual script for three-way matches, and saw some pretty good performances from all the participants, with Styles the stand-out here. Styles is just one of those wrestlers who can have a good match with anyone, which is what makes him so phenomenal. So after what seemed like an eternity of great action, Booker T emerged victorious. After Cage took out Styles with an Unprettier from the top rope, Booker took Cage with an axe kick from the same rope to get the pin. A good way to end a very good match.

Then it’s time for the big return, as TNA founder Jeff Jarrett returns to the ring to take on Kurt Angle, with Mick Foley acting as special enforcer. I have to admit that this was the one match on this show that I was really looking forward to, and it certainly lived up to expectations. It was great to see Double J back in the ring again, and despite a two year absence, he was more than able to keep up with Angle, putting on a good display in the process. As for Angle, well, he’s Kurt Angle, and another of those guys who can have a good match with anybody, and these two in the ring together made for an excellent contest, with great storytelling and everything making sense. In fact it got to the point where I didn’t want the match to end, and I haven’t felt that way about a match in ages. We got Jarrett’s figure four, Angle’s ankle lock, we got everything, including a referee bump, which meant that Mick Foley had to jump into the ring to take over. But all this earned him was a chair shot to the head, courtesy of Angle, who then used the same chair to clobber Jarrett. As Angle went for the pin, Foley pulled the now-recovered referee out of the ring, and then applied Mr. Socko to the Olympian. A guitar shot later, and Foley administered the three count as Jarrett got the pin on his return. This is definitely one to watch again, one of the most dramatic matches I’ve seen in ages.

Main event time, with Samoa Joe defending the TNA World title against former champion Sting. As main events go, this was pretty damn impressive. It didn’t take long to get going, and it wasn’t long before we got the obligatory TNA brawl through the crowd, where a Joe dropkick, connecting with Sting as he stood on a flight of steps looking pretty darn good, but it made me wonder if this match had a no count out stipulation, given the amount of time they spent brawling around the arena. It certainly got more dramatic as the match went on, and the no re-match clause in the contract may have had something to do with that, and things got even more dramatic when Kevin Nash went down to ringside, taking the bat from Sting before he could use it on Joe, but using it on Joe himself after the referee had jumped out of the way so he didn’t get hit. Seconds later Sting took Joe out with the Scorpion Death Drop to get the title winning pin, ending what was a great match, and the best match Sting has had in ages.

In conclusion - despite once again being overloaded with multi-man (and woman) matches, the fourth edition of TNA’s Bound for Glory proved to be a very enjoyable show, capped off by two great main event matches. Jarrett v Angle is, for me, one of the matches of the year so far, a quality outing, and Joe v Sting isn’t far behind in that respect, although a part of me is annoyed that it involved outside interference from Kevin Nash in the ending. But overall, good performances throughout the show - with the exception of a certain referee, and one that I’d definitely watch again.