Friday, 16 September 2011

TNA No Surrender on Challenge - TV Review

It’s time to step into the Impact Zone once again as we take a look at TNA’s latest pay-per-view offering, with Kurt Angle, Sting and Mr. Anderson fighting it out over the World title in the main event of No Surrender, shown this past Wednesday on Challenge here in Britain.

The show began the X Division number one contenders match as Kid Kash faced Jesse Sorensen.

I have to admit that I have no idea who Jesse Sorensen is, except that he’s an American football player of some kind. Well, he gave a signed ball to some kid in the front row!

As far as openers go this was okay, but there were a few moments when it veered away from the usual X Division standard, and these things kind of detracted from the action.

Sorensen came out on top here, taking Kash down with a dodgy looking front suplex type of thing. Like my old school reports used to say, could do better.

The Bound for Glory series continued next as Bully Ray, who seems to be getting thinner by the month, but thankfully not in a Dazee Haze sort of way, went up against one half of Beer Money, James Storm.

There was a ton of stalling at the beginning of this one, with Ray unwilling to lock up with Storm, frustrating him in various ways.

Once the match started in earnest Storm went for the submission he needed, using a variety of arm submissions and even a sharpshooter to try and get the job done.

But each and every time Ray kept coming back, and even used Storm’s trick of spitting beer into the Cowboy’s eyes.

When Storm went to use his own trick Ray ducked out of the way and the beer ended up in the referee’s face. Storm then locked in another arm breaker, and as Ray tapped the referee called for the bell.

He wasn’t giving the win to Storm though, he was giving Ray the DQ win because of Storm’s supposed attack, ending what was a pretty decent encounter.

The ladies were up next as Winter, accompanied by Angelina Love, challenged Mickie James for the Knockouts title.

This was pretty decent, if a little overlong. James looked great in her Wonder Woman outfit, and for what seemed like the first time in ages it seemed to inspire here to have a decent match without any blown spots.

Miss Love, of course, tried to interfere every now and then, and she even saved Winter from James’ tornado DDT by dragging her out of the ring.

My fellow Brit then invoked the spirit of the Great Muta again, not once but twice. The first came when Angelina held Mickie, with the champion ducking out of the way and Angelina taking one for the team.

The second came while the referee was checking on Angelina at ringside when Winter sprayed even more of the red stuff into Mickie’s eyes. A three count later and Winter was the champion, again.

The title action continued as Brother Devon and D’Angelo Dinero challenged the Mexican America team of Hernandez and Anarquia, accompanied by Rosita and Sarita, for the Tag Team titles.

You know what? This was pretty entertaining. Devon and the Pope looked pretty good as a team, doubling up to good effect against the champions, looking like they’ve been together for years.

The Mexicans, and Hernandez in particular, were also pretty good, and it was great to see big Super Mex take to the skies again. One must also make mention of the sparkplugs at ringside for their interference.

The ending was one of the oldest in the business. As Dinero was about to suplex Anarquia back into the ring Sarita tripped the Pope and held his leg as the referee counted the pin.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I first saw that particular finish over 22 years ago.

It was back to regular action next as Samoa Joe went up against Matt Morgan.

This has to be the best performance I’ve seen from Morgan. The guy just seemed really up for this, and it told in his display here. Add in a Samoan submission machine that seems to be slightly more invigorated and you’ve got a pretty good match here.

It was one of those back and forth, knock down, drag out affair that you couldn’t take your eyes off, and it looked like it could go either way. Both men came out with their big moves, but they couldn’t put the other away until Morgan finally took Joe down with the carbon footprint. Nice stuff.

The second Bound for Glory Series match saw Gunner taking on the other half of Beer Money, Bobby Roode.

With Bully Ray on top both men went into this one needing a submission win to draw level with him at the top of the table.

Like his partner before him Roode centred his attack on his opponent’s arm, but when Gunner took his man down with a DDT he went after Roode’s neck.

So with this becoming a submission match both men put on great displays. It wasn’t exactly the best technical match I’ve seen but it was pretty good.

The end came when Roode, having tried a series of Fujiwara arm bars, changed tactic and went for a cross face. Gunner could stand the pain no more and eventually tapped out, giving Roode the points he needed to tie with Ray at the top of the table.

Eric Bischoff then made an appearance, announcing an extra match for the show, with Roode facing Ray later on to find out who would get the World title shot at Bound for Glory.

The penultimate title match saw Austin Aries challenging Brian Kendrick for the X Division title.

This battle of Ring of Honor alumni proved to be very entertaining. It was your typical X Division fare, plenty of fast paced back and forth action with quite a few high spots and a couple of big bumps mixed in for good measure.

As always Aries put in a hell of a performance, but then again that’s something I’ve been saying for a few years now. He was the perfect match for Kendrick.

It may have dragged on a times but the action was taken up a notch towards the end with several false finishes. Kendrick looked like he was going to get the pin when he began to go for sliced bread, but Aries was able to counter because the referee was in the way.

Then, while on the referee’s blind side, Aries connected with a low back kick that doubled Kendrick over. A trademark brain buster later and Aries had won the title.

The penultimate match was basically the final of the Bound for Glory series as Bully Ray faced Bobby Roode.

This was billed as the biggest match in the careers of both men, and it was certainly contested in that way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen these two looking more intense, and it made for a very good match.

Right from the moment when Roode no-sold Ray’s open handed chops you knew what kind of match this was going to be, one of those proverbial knock down drag out affairs, a masterful piece of storytelling. In short, it was the best I’ve seen from these two.

The ending saw the Bully missing his back splash from the ropes, with Roode getting the pin after a spine buster. Roode’s celebrations afterwards said it all.

The main event saw Sting and Mr. Anderson challenging Kurt Angle for the World title.

Is it me or was this the shortest match on the show?

Now although this was entertaining, and I can’t fault it’s actual execution, I could help but get the feeling that we’ve seen it all before. It seems as if all of the big TNA shows have featured these three in the main event in one form or another, and after a while it gets kind of boring.

Add to that the appearance of Hulk Hogan as they continue to advance the battle of the ageing veterans and you’re got a main event that feels a little unflattering.

Hogan’s appearance came when he appeared in the crowd and sprayed a mystery substance into Sting’s eyes, blinding the insane icon. Sting somehow managed to stumble back into the ring, and when he thought the referee was one of his opponents and went to take him out with a scorpion death drop Angle came up from behind and connected with a low blow before getting the winning pin after an Olympic slam.

In conclusion - I’ve gone back to my old routine of not reading any online reviews before writing my own, and it’s probably for this reason that I found this year’s No Surrender pretty entertaining.

Okay, the X Division opener looked pretty botched and wasn’t a good way to open the affair, but overall this was a good show, with the Bully Ray/Bobby Roode encounter the match of the night for me.

Sadly the main event failed to deliver again, and it’s another example of how TNA really need to try and elevate more of their roster so we don’t constantly see the likes of Angle, Anderson and Sting in the final match all the time. Let’s hope it’s a positive start with Roode challenging Angle next month at Bound for Glory.

So apart from that gripe No Surrender gets the thumbs up from me.

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