Sunday, September 9, 2012

TNA No Surrender 2012

TNA No Surrender 2012
September 9th, 2012
Impact Wrestling Zone, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Well it's that time of the month again---yep, time for more coverage of TNA PPVs on 411. With the promotion on a bit of a creative hot streak the last few months the company has seemingly become the smark darling again that it once was years ago, but just how long can the goodwill last? We'll see as tonight's show, while solid enough looking on paper, was very poorly hyped and is clearly a stopgap or "filler" show before the big one next month, Bound for Glory. All that said, the company has delivered big on it's last few PPVs and I'm hoping tonight continues that trend. Let's do this thing.

Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz

Bound For Glory Series Semi-Final Match
Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe

Crazy how good booking has turned Joe from a pushover midcard act to badass main eventer again, isn't it? Joe's arm is bothering him early dating back to a steel chair attack from Magnus on Impact this past week. Hardy headscissors Joe out of the ring but Joe drags him out after him and socks him with a right hand. Jeff teases the poetry in motion off the steel steps but seeing Joe avoiding the move Hardy re-routes himself to the apron to hit the move instead. Back inside Joe hits an atomic drop/big boot combo before finishing with a back senton for our first near fall. Running spinkick in the corner from Joe. Joe works a chinlock and then sends Hardy to the floor, where he wipes him out with a big tope, clutching his sore arm in the process. Back inside Joe gets a two count. Hardy counters with some offense of his own in an atomic drop and running clothesline. Joe misses a back senton and Hardy hits a big dropkick. Whisper in the Wind out of the corner gets Hardy a close near fall. Hardy makes the silly mistake of charging Joe in the corner and he's slammed to the mat like thousands before him. Joe looks to set up a superplex but Jeff counters into a Twist of Fate! Hardy goes up for the Swanton but Joe blocks it and tries for the muscle buster. Hardy blocks that and counters into the same armbar he beat Joe with last Thursday, but Joe counters into a cradle that Hardy then counters into a cradle of his own for the win at 12:36. I would have preferred to see Joe win here to continue my dream of seeing the Aries/Joe feud renewed in TNA, but the match itself was hot stuff with bot guys working hard and busting out all the swank counters you expect. Great kick-start to the show. ***1/2

Backstage Jeremy Borash is with James Storm, who explains that he chose Bully Ray as his opponent tonight because last year they faced off in the BFG series and he couldn't get the job done and tonight he wants to right that wrong by defeating Ray.

Bound For Glory Series Semi-Finals Match
Bully Ray vs. James Storm

This is in fact a rematch from last year's No Surrender and BFG series, which Ray won. Ray gets up in Storm's face so the cowboy spits in his face and Ray throws a hissy fit outside the ring, slamming a fan's sign into the ring repeatedly in anger. Ray eats a few right hands from Storm and stalls some more. Ray rakes the eyes back inside and slams Storm into a few corners. Storm backdrops him though for a two count. Storm goes for the Last Call superkick but misses and Ray takes the upper hand with a big bear hug. Ray hits a big suplex then pounds away on Storm in the corner with right hands.Storm powerbombs Ray right ouf of the corner and both men wind up trading punches on their knees. Storm hits a spinkick in the corner and gets a two count off a flying cross body from the top rope. Ray hits a side-slam for his own near fall. Storm hits an enziguri but then accidentally wipes out the ref with a flying forearm. Bully hits a cheap shot and tries for a cover with a new ref but only gets a two count. He misses the back senton off the top rope and when Storm gets to his feet he wipes out the second ref with another forearm. Ray awakens the first ref and Storm hits the Last Call superkick and seemingly has the win, but Ray takes out the ref in the process and this all leads to Bobby Roode running out to the ring and smashing a beer bottle over Storm's head, allowing Ray to cover him finally for the pin to advance at 13:56. There was a solid match here mostly, but the beginning and end dragged it down a bit. Lots of stalling followed by a cliched ref-crazy finish, but the middle portion of the match was quite good. **3/4

Brooke Tessmacher is backstage to explain to JB that she needed to face Tara tonight to prove to herself that she can defeat her longtime mentor and friend.

TNA Knockouts Title Match
Miss Tessmacher
© vs. Tara
The former Tiffany from WWE is our special referee again. Basic lock-up to start with each women cautiously applying holds and countering out of them. Tessmacher takes a quick breather and Tara schoolgirls her for a two count, apparently bringing out Tessmacher's nasty side as she dishes out a few arm-drags. Tessmacher hits a clothesline out of te corner and tries to rally the crowd but it's piss-break time for most. Tara blocks a move with an elbow and then hits a tilt-a-whirl slam from te death valley driver position. She lifts Tessmacher to the top turnbuckle and superplexes her off for a two count. Tara is stunned that doesn't put her away so she goes for the Widow's Peak but Tessmacher counters into a roll-up to retain at 6:37. This was actually pretty good by Knockouts standards, Tara helped carry the load for most of the match but Tessmacher didn't look terrible either, and the "teacher vs. student" trope is a classic story that's hard to mess up. **1/4

Backstage Hulk Hogan berates a handcuffed Bobby Roode who is under arrest for his actions tonight apparently.

Austin Aries comes out to te ring in street clothes and tells us that there will be no capes and fancy clothes tonight for him (or as he bluntly puts it "none of that bullshit"). This isn't a wrestling match, it's a FIGHT and Aries is ready to take him on with no rules and no referee. Aries calls out the Aces & 8's again. One of the henchmen in a mask comes out to the ring and Aries nails him with a huge flying tope. He pummels away at the masked man and then slides him into the ring to kick and punch the crap out of him in the corner. Aries tries to rip off the mask but gets low blowed and dumped to the floor. Lots of heat for the Aces and 8's here, which is virtually impossible to get from the Impact Zone. The masked man goes to work on Aries outside before tossing him into the ring and calmly beating him down. The masked man goes for a big powerbomb but Aries pulls out a bag of flour or powder and blinds the big man with it. Aries hits the running dropkick in the corner and then a high cross-body off the top to the floor wipes out the villain. Aries goes to the top again but this time the masked man sends him crashing to the floor. The masked man grabs a steel chair but he misses his shot at Aries and the champ slugs him in the mouth with a roll of quarters in his hand and then drops the big man with one of the biggest brainbusters I've ever seen.

Aries goes to unmask the man and the entire Aces and 8's crew comes out to make the save and jump Aries. This clears out the entire locker room now and it's total fucking chaos as everyone on the roster is arm-in-arm trying to fight off the common enemy of the Aces and 8's. A small "TNA!" chant even starts up for the first time in seemingly years. Finally Hulk Hogan walks out and the Aces and 8's take off, clearing out of the Impact Zone. Hogan demands security lock down every door in the building and that the police are to be called. Jeff Hardy, who appears to have been injured during the fracas, limps off with some of the trainers backstage as Aries and Ray share a mutual fist-bump of respect.

This entire segment was great, creative, original and best of all it drew me into the angle. This reminded me of something you might see during the glory days of WCW and WWF in the early Attitude Era days, it felt real and unscripted and totally fresh. I was skeptical of this segment when it became clear it wasn't going to be an official "match", but TNA turned it into the best segment of the show so far. Kudos.

TNA X-Division Title Match
Zema Ion
© vs. Sonjay Dutt
There has been absolutely zero hype or build to this match, but whatever, these two are talented enough to improvise something good I'm sure. Ion and Dutt start off by trading holds but Dutt quickly clotheslines the champ to the floor. Springboard wristlock by Sonjay followed by a hurricanrana to the floor as Taz recants a tale of watching Dutt for the first time years ago on a hotel TV. Another hurricanrana on the floor by Sonjay and back inside he springboards right into Zema's knee, which demolishes Dutt's lower abdomen. Ion lays in some chops and snaps off a suplex for two. Outside we see the police have arrived to the arena just as Ion hits the backflip into a kneebreaker spot of his on Dutt. Dutt manages another nifty hurricanrana counter that sends Zema to the floor, but Ion cuts off his tope attempt. Dutt hands out some clotheslines and a big Yakuza kick before hitting a Frankensteiner off the top rope on the champ and following it with a moonsault for a two count. Dutt and Ion meet at the top rope where Dutt front-suplexes Ion right out to the floor before hitting a beautiful running moonsault off the second turnbuckle to the floor. Springboard splash from Sonjay back in the ring gets a hot two count. Dutt tries for the Electric Chair but gets powerbombed and then Ion puts in a nasty submission with Dutt's arms both grapevined around Ion's body. Sonjay lures Ion in for the Sliced Bread #2 then he rolls through a moonsault attempt and trades crazy counter cradles with the champ. Both men try for a cradle and bridge out and Ion winds up flapjacking Dutt in a nasty slam that finishes it and gives Ion the win at 11:34. This one started off slow as the crowd was drained from the last segment but both guys worked hard enough to get the match over with sheer willpower and by the last five minutes the crowd was hot for every near fall and chanting for more. Spectacularly solid title defense by Ion and Dutt looks just as great as he ever did. ***1/2

Outside Hogan tells the cops that he wants anyone who tries to get in or out to be beaten and arrested. Kinky. Elsewhere Magnus interrupts JB's update on Jeff Hardy's injury to tell us he's got RVD's number.

Rob Van Dam vs. Magnus
This match came out of Magnus reacting very poorly to losing to RVD in an earlier BFG series match and attacked RVD incessantly since. Magnus starts us off with a nice wristlock and a drop toehold but RVD feeds him a big kick and he slumps out to the floor. Rob sets Magnus up for the legdrop on the guardrail spot but nobody's home when RVD attempts it and he crashes nastily into the steel. Magnus slides him back inside and goes to work on Rob's lower body and legs in a logical move. Decent heat for Magnus as he applies the Texas cloverleaf submission on Van Dam. Van Dam escapes to the floor but back inside Magnus hits him with a big elbow drop from the top rope. Finally RVD fires off a spinning heel kick to try and cut off the momentum of Magnus. RVD hits the Rolling Thunder moments later for a two count. RVD misses a springboard kick but he launches Magnus off the top rope. Rob unleashes a pair of spinkicks and then finishes Magus with the Five Star Frog Splash at 10:07. Solid enough match as Magnus has really improved by leaps and bounds since he first arrived with the British Invasion, but I don't see why they wouldn't try and give Magnus a rub here with a win, even a tainted one, instead of just giving RVD another meaningless win. Good, but nothing you can't see on TV every week for free. **3/4

Backstage Christopher Daniels and Kazarian are upset that they aren't getting the proper respect they deserve what with having to defend the titles twice in two days, Claire Lynch defiling their good names, and Kaz not even being included in the BFG series. Daniels then just goes off on a wild rant about Romans and throws in biblical references by referring to himself and Kaz as the "Rocks of Gibraltar" of TNA. Daniels continues to be one of the most underrated guys on the mic in the business, this was a great old school heel promo.

TNA Tag Team Title Match
Christopher Daniels/Kazarian
© vs. AJ Styles/Kurt Angle
Note the emphasis on these being the world tag team titles of the world as Daniels puts it. This could be seen as a re-match from their great Slammiversary title match, and though a bit lazy it's solid booking because you know these four will deliver every time together. Angle (sporting some bandaging on his upper leg and probably wrestling injured for the ten thousandth time) works over Daniels in the corner before tagging in AJ for a double clothesline. Daniels tags out to Kaz who eats a spinning neckbreaker and a powerful brainbuster from Styles. Angle tags back in and he and AJ send Kaz back to the mat with a huge back body drop. Kaz manages to break up the challenger's momentum with a monkey flip and tags out to Daniels. The champs hit some nifty double team leap-frog/leg drop combos to put over their unity and Styles is our babyface in peril tonight of course. AJ teases a tag but Kaz cuts him off and Daniels and Kaz go really old school by doing the old "tag out behind the ref's back while the babyface complains" bit as Daniels slaps on a sleeper on Styles. Finally Styles gets te ot tag and Angle explodes with SUPLEXES EVERYWHERE. First Daniels gets a suplex then Kaz gets two thirds of the Rolling German suplexes, but while Angle belly-to-belly suplexes Daniels Kaz comes in with a codebreaker on the Olympian. The champs hit a tandem leg and elbow drop combo on Angle but that won't put the gold medalist away silly. Kaz goes to the top for a moonsault but instead Angle runs up behind him and gives him an Angle Slam off the top rope. AJ tags in now and hits a suplex/backbreaker combo on Daniels. AJ hits the moonsault into reverse DDT spot but then he gets absolutely BLASTED by a nasty drop-sault from Kaz. Never fear because Angle gets the tag and frog-splashes Daniels off the top before handing out Angle Slams to both of the tag team champions. Angle puts on the ankle lock on Daniels but Kaz breaks it up with an enziguri. Styles gets monkey flipped to Daniels but turns it into a hurricanrana in mid-air in a neat spot before nailing Kaz with the pele. Angle applies the ankle lock to Daniels on the apron wile Styles hits the springboard 450 splash on Kaz, who somehow kicks out on the hottest near fall of the evening. Daniels gets dumped to the floor and now it's AJ and Kaz on the top rope as Kaz delivers the Spanish freaking Fly of all things! Angle gets in to break up any pin attempt though and wipes out Daniels again. AJ looks for the Styles Clash but Daniels throws his martini that was placed at ringside into Style's face and Kaz rolls up AJ for the cheap pin at 19:31. This was actually even better than their first encounter as we had the added backstory and more time to develop things here and god damn did they deliver in spades as all four men were busting out new and innovative double-team moves everywhere. This was absolutely fantastic, the best American tag team match I've seen this year certainly. ****

Outside the arena Hulk tells the cops not to let anyone interfere or get into the arena or ring during our most important main event. It's been awhile since a wrestling company actually gave me a sense of atmosphere and foreboding, but kudos to TNA again tonight with these segments. Elsewere backstage Ray promises to win the BFG series and go on to win the World title from Ray at Bound For Glory. He's not just bound for glory, he's destined for greatness. Considering his newly signed contract, I'm not quite sure I can disagree with him.

The BFG Series Finals match is ready to be our main event, but Jeff Hardy is injured and instead of Jeff out comes Hulk Hogan. He's a bit suspicious of Ray's intentions but Ray sticks to his story of hating the Aces and 8's but that he should still win because Jeff can't compete. Hogan says if he wants to do this the right way then he should wait until next Thursday to face Jeff Hardy in the finals. Ray doesn't seem too opposed to the idea but suddenly out comes Jeff Hardy, clearly wounded, but still willing to fight. The subtle storytelling touches here of teasing a babyface turn for Ray these last few weeks in the
midst of the Aces and 8's angle is delicious, because you really could see Ray going either way in this angle and in his face or heel status after this. What's this, complexity to our wrestler's motivations? Whoda thunk it?

Bound For Glory Series Finals Match
Bully Ray vs. Jeff Hardy

Ray extends his fist for a fist-bump of respect as the bell rings. Jeff tries for a sleeper but can't even hold onto it so Ray sends him to the corner and works over his arm a bit. The commentators put over Ray as just doing what he has to do to advance in this business. Jeff goes outside for a count and back inside Ray stomps him mercilessly before Jeff bails again for a breather. Back inside Ray goes back to work on Hardy's arm, but Jeff kicks out on sheer adrenaline. Bully continues the beatdown, stomping on Hardy in the corner and unwrapping his bandages. Suddenly Jeff fights through the pain and hits the Twist of Fate out of nowhere, followed by the Swanton bomb, but Ray kicks out at two! Ray sends Jeff shoulder-first into the corner and hits the Bubba Bomb for a close two count. Jeff hits the Whisper in the Wind suddenly out of nowhere for his own two count. Jeff misses a second Whisper in the Wind and eats the Bubba Cutter but Hardy manages to still kick out. He hits another Twist of Fate but misses the follow-up Swanton and eats the Bubba Cutter again, and again Jeff kicks out. Jeff is pissed now and hits not one but TWO Twist of Fates and he goes to the top but it takes him too long so Bully meets him up there. Jeff kicks him off though and finally nails the Swanton for a final time to win the match and the Bound for Glory series at 12:23. This one took a bit to get going and it started off giving you the implication that Bully would win quickly but begrudgingly and earn the fans respect in a way, but instead they did a total 360 mid-match and had Jeff make the whole babyface comeback and win the BFG series clean to justify his redemption story. Solid story told in the match and though it was a bit finisher-heavy, it served it's purpose well and ended the show on a high note. ***

We go off the air with Jeff Hardy celebrating his victory.

Bottom Line: I came into this show with very little expectations, seeing this as a stopgap or filler show before BFG, complete with a last-minute announced card and all. I came out of it pumped up and excited to watch Impact this week and looking very much forward to Bound for Glory next month and feeling like I got my money's worth on the show itself with solid action through-out. Throw in a possible MOTYC tag team match, a crazy segment that reeled me into the Aces and Eight's angle, and the general strength and unpredictability (in a good, non-Russo way) of this entire show and I can say this was a pleasant and rewarding surprise tonight. Another winner from TNA, who continues their hot streak with another very good show. Easy Thumbs Up.

Score: 8.5/10

Sunday, August 12, 2012

TNA Hardcore Justice 2012

TNA Hardcore Justice 2012
August 12th, 2012
Impact Wrestling Zone, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's live TNA PPV coverage with your always humble host, yours truly. We're a month removed from one of the better TNA PPVs in recent memory and the crowning of a new, somewhat unlikely World champion in Austin Aries and everything from now until October is all about the build for Bound for Glory. With the new Aces and 8's faction running roughshod over the roster and Hardcore Justice's reputation for gimmick matches we can surely expect an interesting show tonight. So sit back, keep your finger near that refresh button, and enjoy the play-by-play and analysis.

Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz

Chavo Guerrero/Hernandez vs. Kid Kash/Gunner
Nice choice for the opener. I like the pairing of Gunner and Kash too, give 'em a Briscoes-lite gimmick and they could be quite entertaining. The heels jump the faces before the bell can even ring and we're not three seconds into the match before Chavo is pulling out the Three Amigoes on Kash and looking for the frog splash. Gunner trips him up though and the heels trade quick tags, working Chavo over in their corner. Crowd is vocally behind Chavo from the start here and the heels are doing good work of getting heat. The heels take their time to build heat with Chavo in their corner, trading tags and grinding him into the mat with submissions. Chavo busts out an Electric Chair on Gunner and nearly is able to get the tag but Kash cuts him off again before he can. Chavo leaps onto the top rope from a slingshot attempt, backflips out of the corner, and clotheslines Kash in a neat moment which finally gives him enough time to get the hot tag to Super Mex. Mex cleans house on the heels and then delivers a sick Dominator to Kash for a two count. He clotheslines Gunner out of the ring and then wipes him out on the floor with a huge suicide dive. Chavo actually manages to tag Hernandez while he's soaring in mid air though, and he climbs to the top rope and leaps off to finish Kash off with the Frog Splash for the victory at 9:32. Mostly formula stuff but that's all it really needed to be, Chavo and Hernandez both looked good and the crowd was hot all the way through, solid opener. **3/4

Bound For Glory Series Falls Count Anywhere Match
Rob Van Dam vs. Pope D'Angelo Dinero vs. Magnus vs. Mr. Anderson

Pope gets jumped by Aces & Eight's backstage during his I guess he's not competing tonight. This is one of three four-way (or three way now I guess) matches for 20 BFG Series points tonight. RVD does his usual showboating to start and Magnus sends him face-first into the steel steps out of the ring for his cockiness. Magnus is only able to fire off a clothesline before RVD returns to the ring to try and monkey flip one man onto the other. RVD gets sent off the apron into the steel guardrail while trying to set up Anderson for his leg-drop spot and all three men are brawling on the floor now. Anderson grabs a chair to DDT Magnus on it but gets shoved back-first onto it instead. Anderson gives Magnus a gourdbuster up the ramp onto the guardrail and RVD comes running up to set Anderson up on the guard rail and dive off the ramp with his signature legdrop in a sick spot. These guys are going hard early. Magnus tries a sharpshooter on the ramp on RVD but Anderson breaks it up and all three men find their way back into the ring again. All three men tease going for the Tower of Doom spot but Anderson sends Magnus out of the ring and winds up eating the Frog Splash instead for a two count (cool to finally see someone block the Tower of Doom spot). Magnus grabs RVD and suplexes him nastily onto the rampway then kindly asks for a "fucking chair" from a fan. Of course bringing a chair into a fight with RVD is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy and he spin-kicks the chair right back into his face to pick up the somewhat surprising pin and 20 points at 9:06. I'm a bit surprised this didn't get more time to develop, but I guess that explains why they were so quick to start going for the spots in this one. Magnus didn't look out of place at all with two relative main eventers, which has to be seen as a success. Fun stuff. ***

Backstage JB informs us that Aces and Eights are nowhere to be found, those dastardly villains. Madison Rayne joins him to insure us that Miss Tessmacher doesn't stand a chance tonight.

TV Title Match
© vs. Kazarian
Fingers crossed for a title change here. Kaz stalls to start and gets tossed back into the ring for it. Backdrop from Devon and he sends Kaz out of the ring for a refreshing beverage to the skull. Devon sends Kaz into the steps and back in the ring Kaz wants to shake his hand, but Devon will have none of that. Finally Kaz gets a finger to the eyes and is able to mount some offense. Kaz hits a sick leg lariat and starts to get a bit cocky, so Devon sets him straight with knife edge chops. Devon hits a flying shoulder-block for a two count and then hits a nasty running neckbreaker out of the corner. Crucifix pin gets Kaz his own near fall and he tries for the Fade to Black, but Devon blocks it and hits the spinebuster to retain at 8:33. One of the better TV title matches in recent memory thanks to Kaz's involvement, and I'll give Devon credit for holding his own here tonight, but man, at the end of the day, I still can't take Devon Dudley seriously as a singles champ. **1/4

TNA Knockouts Title Match
Miss Tessmacher
© vs. Madison Rayne
Earl Hebner is our ref of course, lets see if Rayne's wiley womanly antics can persuade him to give her favor tonight. Brooke takes Rayne into the corner but has to break. Madison stalls for a moment and then works over Tessmacher in the corner with her boot. Butterfly suplex from Rayne gets her a two count. Tessmacher comes off the top with a haggard looking elbow drop but Rayne gets the ropebreak. Tessmacher doesn't see the ropebreak though and argues with Earl, which gives Rayne enough time to roll her up from behind and steal the pin and title with her hands on the ropes for leverage at 5:30. Could have seen that finish coming a mile away and I really have no idea what they're trying to do with the KO division anymore. The match itself started off decent but Tessmacher was a bit awkward and sloppy and it hurt things. *3/4

Backstage JB is with Bully Ray, whose pissed off about Aces and Eights apparently putting out the hit on him. He shows off some cards they left on his truck that morning and then promises to pick up 20 points in a few minutes by putting someone through a table, and then he'll be going on to become the TNA World champion at Bound For Glory.

Bound For Glory Series Tables Match
Bully Ray vs. James Storm vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Robbie E

Hmm, one of these things is not like the other. Crowd is very hot to start and there are tables set up all around the ring. Robbie E gets in Ray's face to start and gets the taste slapped out of his mouth. Moments later Ray works over Storm and actually convinces Robbie E to bring a table into the ring in a sign of teamwork before nailing him on the apron as soon as he does in a funny bit. Storm and Hardy try to suplex Ray through a table but E moves it (mostly) out of the way to save the match. E actually works Hardy over a bit and sets him up on a table but Storm grabs him on the top rope. Hardy meets them there and they do the Tower of Doom spot as Ray moves the table out of the way again. Hardy gives E a sitout gourdbuster and then sets him up on a table outside the ring. Robbie T comes down the ramp to intervene so Hardy flies off the top rope and wipes him out with a plancha. This gives E time to recover though and set Hardy up on the table outside the ring. He tries for an elbow drop off the top rope but Hardy moves at the last second and Robbie crashes through the table instead, which means the match continues. Back in the ring Bully slams Storm face-first into a table in the corner and sets up for a move, but here comes Aces and Eights. Storm hits the Last Call superkick on Ray and Aces and Eights give Storm the Thumbs Up as if to signify this was all a plan under Storm's order. Hardy jumps Storm from behind while he's distracted and sets a table up and then nails the Whisper in the Wind. Hardy hits the Twist of Fate but Aces and Eights distracts him again and Storm hits the Last Call only for Ray to send Storm out of the ring, sneak inside and powerbomb Hardy through a table to pick up the win and 20 points at 13:46. Ray immediately high-tails out of there as soon as the bell rings. Another entertaining BFG series match, E actually fit nicely into the scheme of things providing some comedy and they were able to work the Aces and Eights storyline into the story of the match without hindering any of the action, can't ask for much more than that. ***

Backstage Austin Aries explains again that his World title victory was not a fluke and that he will not need a rematch, hence why he waived his rematch clause for tonight's title match. Oh boy, that doesn't bode well for Austin does it?

X-Division Title Match
Zema Ion
© vs. Kenny King
This is exactly the kind of fresh match up between two talented young guys that the X-Division made it's name off of and is exactly what I wanted to see out of this division going forward, kudos TNA. It's also nice to see the X-Division title not relegated to the opening slot like it usually is. Both men lock up and King takes advantage of a wristlock. Both men trade some nifty counters on the mat before Ion gets sent to the floor with a haymaker. Ion blocks King's first moonsault attempt but King winds up hitting it off the apron anyways. Ion sends King back to the floor and it's his turn to fly now as he hits a big tope and then nails a neckbreaker back inside the ring. Ion hits a big DDT for a two count but then misses a moonsault from the second rope. King hits a spinkick then delivers a sick cradle exploder suplex into the corner! Ion bails to the floor for a reather but King wipes him out with a corkscrew tope on the floor moments later. Springboard neckbreaker from King back inside and King evades a kick from Ion before putting him deep into a single leg Boston crab. Ion breaks it up and then flips King backwards and face-first into his own knee in a unique move I've seen him use a few times. King fires back with a rolling spinkick and another cradle that nearly gets him a two count. King gets caught by Ion out of the corner and just drops him face first onto the mat to pick up the win and retain the title at 11:09. Easily Zema's best singles match in TNA so far and another great outing from King, this was excellent stuff while it lasted and it left me wanting to see more out of what these two could do together in the future. Good old fashioned X-Division fun. ***1/4

Backstage JB is with Samoa Joe, who of course lets us know he's going to win the ladder match and the 20 points in the BFG series next. They should really add something different to these backstage segments sometimes because they're a bit formulaic and cookie-cutter. Even a change of scenery for the interviews would be nice to see. Minor quibble though.

Bound For Glory Series Ladder Match
AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe

As if this four-way wasn't already going to be awesome, they went and added a ladder into the mix to spice things up. I can dig it. Daniels is the first to be sent out of the ring as Joe hits running elbows on Angle and AJ in opposite corners. Joe and Daniels brawl outside on the floor and AJ wipes them out with a soaring tope. AJ gets absolutely nailed with a ladder by Daniels in the corner moments later and I crack up as a fan heckles Daniels by screaming "Daniels you suck! You haven't won a match in two months!". Daniels makes the mistake of charging into the corner on Joe and winds up getting an STO onto the ladder for it. He briefly attempts to climb the ladder but AJ breaks it up. Daniels tries to climb the ladder but Joe power-bombs him off of it into the corner! He turns around right into a belly-to-belly suplex from Angle though and a huge "USA!" chant breaks out. AJ just rockets a ladder right into Angle's face and somewhere Joey Mercury is cringing. AJ hits Joe with the pele kick and then unloads on Daniels in the corner with big punches. Outside the ring Joe delivers a belly to belly to Angle but eats an ace cutter on the floor from Daniels. Back in the ring AJ, Joe, and Daniels do some of their signature three-way spots before Daniels gets belly-to-belly suplexed into the corner. Joe tries for the Muscle Buster on AJ but Kurt sneaks up behind him and hits a German suplex on Joe while AJ is still on Joe's shoulders! Daniels gets put into the ankle lock briefly but Daniels breaks it off only to eat a springboard forearm from AJ. Styles climbs the ladder and nearly grabs the clipboard but Daniels dumps him out to the floor like a sack of potatoes instead. Daniels tries the same thing but Joe knocks the ladder out from under him and he and Angle decide to have a suplex-off on Daniels, delivering different variations of German and t-bone suplexes one after another in an awesome spot. Daniels gets stuck in between the rungs of one of the ladders that Kurt climbs while Joe climbs a ladder right next to him, but here comes AJ like freaking Superman springboarding onto the top of the ladders and grabbing the clipboard for the sneaky win at 16:22. Just the kind of awesome wrestling match you'd expect with these four in a ring at the same time, they didn't really work many ladder spots into things but it was fine because they worked so much nifty stuff into such a short amount of time that there was never a dull moment to be had here. I'd still like to see these four wrestle in a non-gimmick match with a good 20-30 minutes though. ***3/4

Backstage JB asks Bobby Roode a question posted on Twitter--"Are you afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Wait, no, that's not right. "Are you afraid of Austin Aries?", yeah, that sounds better. Roode makes a promise to walk into Bound For Glory the World Heavyweight champion.

TNA World Title Match
Austin Aries
© vs. Bobby Roode
Win or lose tonight Aries has had about as good of a one month run as champ so far as anyone I can remember and it's really elevated him to a whole other level. The fact that he beat Roode clean in the rematch on Impact helped alot, but kind of makes the outcome of tonight's match a bit predictable. Aries almost immediately is able to put Roode into the Last Chancery but Roode is able to escape, though he's suitably pissed now. Back inside Aries hits a dropkick in the corner and teases going for the brainbuster, but again Roode escapes to the floor to stall. Aries wipes him out with a pescado and Roode again tries to escape so he just gives him another pescado on the opposite side of the ring. Back inside he dropkicks the back of Roode's head from the corner. Roode falls out to the floor and Aries meets him with a big double axe handle. He brings him back into the ring with a suplex from the apron and gets a two count off a kneedrop. Roode counters by lifting Aries onto his shoulders and then driving his chest down into his knee in a sick gutbuster. Roode wraps his legs around Aries in a legscissors and the crowd tries to rally behind the young champ by chanting his name. Aries gets set up in the tree of woe but he manages to counter out of it with a unique stunner variation. Aries sends Roode out of the ring and hits a huge double axe handle off the top that sends Roode into a chair in the corner where Aries quickly dropkicks the everloving fuck out of his face. Ouch. Back in the ring Aries has the Last Chancery but Roode rakes Austin's eyes to break it up. Aries locks him into his own crossface instead, but Roode counters that into his own crossface. Aries is able to break that up and both men trade chops on their feet. Roode fires off the spinebuster and nearly regains the belt, but Aries kicks out. Aries blocks a superplex attempt with a sick Mongolian chop and then tries for the 450 Splash, but Roode gets the knees up. Roode goes for the spear but winds up taking out the ref instead of Austin. Roode spears Aries now as a new ref runs down but he takes too long to hit the ring and Roode only gets a two count. Aries blocks a Fisherman's buster and sets up for the brainbuster, but Roode knocks him into the second ref, knocking THAT ref out too. Aries nails Roode in the head and then hits the brainbuster just as Brian Hebner regains consciousness but Roode still kicks out at two! Damn I thought Aries might escape right there. Roode crotches Aries on another 450 attempt and then superplexes him off the top and both men wind up in a cradle with both of their shoulders down and both refs make a double-count, and we have ourselves a controversial draw of sorts it seems. Earl Hebner comes down to the ring to try and clear things up and grabs the title out of Roode's hand, and he decides instead to re-start the match! Aries goes for the tope while Roode is arguing with the refs outside the ring but Roode is still holding the title belt and he smashes Aries with it in mid-air, knocking him out. Roode puts his lifeless body into the ring...but Aries still kicks out at two! Aries turns Roode around and rolls him up and manages to sneak away with the pin to retain at 26:18! Okay I take everything back about what I said about this being predictable. TNA planted a red herring with the no rematch clause to make you think Roode would cheat him out of the title here and screw the good guy out of the title, but instead they went the other way and had Aries retain, and retain cleanly albeit after a bit of hijinx. The match itself was the usual stellar encounter these two have every time they wrestle each other, but the added drama and element of story added another layer onto this great match. Another winner from these two. ****

We close out the show with a stunned Bobby Roode storming off while Austin Aries celebrates in the ring.

Bottom Line: Another good show in a string of them from TNA lately, they've really been on a roll as of late and even a relative B-show like this wound up being worth my money with solid undercard matches abound, a fun ladder match and X-title match, and another killer main event that not only delivered the goods, but managed to surprise me in the best way possible, really can't say enough good things about the direction TNA has taken lately and this PPV is a shining example of that. Nothing extraordinary but lots of good stuff and a killer main event so an easy Thumbs Up tonight.

Score: 8.0/10

Thursday, August 2, 2012

WWE Money in the Bank 2012

WWE Money in the Bank 2012
July 15th, 2012
US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Attendance: 10,800

I know, I know, I'm weeks late on this review but you'll have to forgive me as my life has become increasingly busy and occupied with work and a social life. Wrestling shows have started to pile up on my DVR, so I've got to knock this one out and get moving because I can't let you fine readers down, now can I? Hard to believe it was just one year ago we were all in a buzz about Punk's promos and excited about the product and a year later it feels like we're back to business as usual with another fucking Cena vs. Big Show feud of all things, because we haven't seen that thoroughly dead horse beaten to shit before, right? Luckily we have guys like Punk and Bryan to save the shows and tonight's show being Money in the Bank we have the added benefit of gimmick matches, so this should be pretty fun regardless of the general malaise the WWE product has filled me with as of late.

Your pre-show hosts are Matt Striker and my main man Scott Stanford

Kofi Kingston/R-Truth vs. Hunico/Camacho

This...isn't a tag title match for whatever reason. Truth takes Camacho down with some Austin like fists after he insults Little Jimmy and then slaps him the face. Kofi tags in with a springboard splash and then fires off a big hurricanrana on the big man. Truth tags back in for a leg-drop and Hunico manages to tag in and gain the upper hand. Camacho tags back in for a sleeper but Truth breaks it up with a leg lariat and tags in Kofi, who springboards in with a clothesline. Boom Drop from Kofi on Camacho but he blocks the Trouble in Paradise. The heels work over Kofi with some dirty antics and Camacho plants Kingston with a huge back suplex and a legdrop for a two count. Camacho rolls through an armbar attempt and slams Kofi to the mat. Kofi responds with a leaping hurricanrana off the top rope. and tags Truth in. Powerslam from Truth and a big DDT but Hunico eats the Trouble in Paradise and Camacho gets finished off with another big DDT at 8:22. Decent tag match for the pre-show, they threw in a few nice bits towards the end and for a free match you can't complain. **1/4

Your real hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T

SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Dolph Ziggler vs. Christian vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Santino Marella vs. Sin Cara vs. Tensai vs. Tyson Kidd

Quite the odd bunch of participants here in this match and you can tell they have no idea what they're doing booking wise with most of these guys. Everyone tries attacking Tensai to start to little affect. He grabs a ladder and sets it up in the corner and quickly introduces Tyson Kidd's face to it with a catapult in the corner. Kidd and Christian team up to take Tensai out with ladders but Christian quickly turns on Kidd afterwards. Christian, Santino, and Kidd all try to scale the ladder but Sandow tosses them all off. Ziggler knocks Sandow off and then tosses Cody into the ladder. Cody eats a 'rana from Sin Cara out of nowhere, and Cara then kicks Ziggler in the corner and hits a really awkward DDT you could argue was botched. He tries for a splash on Rhodes on a ladder but Christian tosses him off and goes for the splash himself only for Rhodes to move out of the way at the last second. Rhodes hits Sandow with the Disaster Kick out of nowhere but eats a springboard missile dropkick from Kidd. Tensai returns to the ring and powerbombs Santino before attempting a powerbomb on KIdd that he counters into a 'rana out of the ring. Sandow tries to climb the ladder but Cara stops him briefly. Sandow succeeds but Christian climbs right over him and almost grabs the briefcase. Sandow sets up a ladder and tries a running powerslam onto it, but Christian counters into a reverse DDT at the last moment. Sandow blocks a spear attempt at first with a knee but Christian eventually spears him into the ladder in the corner. Dolph, Cody, and Christian try climbing the ladder but all get thrown off by Tensai eventually. Tensai nearly climbs to the top despite the efforts of Kidd and Cara, but Christian knocks him off with another ladder and he and Santino slam it over the big man again. Santino tries climbing the ladder but he's somewhat afraid of heights of course. Sandow climbs to meet him but eats the Cobra and Rhodes dropkicks Santino off the ladder from the top rope. Rhodes tries to climb to the top but Vickie Guerrero decides to come in to distract him long enough for Ziggler to just nail Rhodes with the Zig Zag from off the ladder. Ziggler nearly grabs the case but Christian stops him and then Kidd decides to be a maniac and uses one ladder to leap into mid air and powerbomb Ziggler onto his face off the top of the ladder. A bit sloppy but cool nevertheless. Christian nails Sandow with a ladder and takes him to the floor with the Cactus clothesline. Tensai sets up a ladder in between the ring and announce table and then powerbombs the everloving fuck out of Sin Cara onto the ladder. Tensai tosses Ziggler over the table but eats the disaster kick from Rhodes. Rhodes and Kidd climb the ladder back in the ring and Rhodes gives Kidd a gourdbuster off the top of the ladder! And then Rhodes gets speared by Christian from one ladder off of another! Christian nearly captures the briefcase but Ziggler tosses him off like a madman and grabs the briefcase for the win at 18:23! I'm so happy they actually gave Ziggler the win here and are seemingly going to finally give him that main event push he's been busting his ass and killing himself for. The match itself was pretty ho-hum to start but picked up towards the finish and they worked some nice spots into it. In the grand scheme of ladder matches this is but a mere blip on the radar, but it had it's enjoyable moments for sure. ***1/2

Backstage Sheamus talks a bit about one of Del Rio's favorite topics, cars, before threatening to leave Del Rio and Ricardo lying with some rusty drive shafts.

The Miz makes his return (I legitimately did not realize he was gone) and the crowd actually gives him a "Miz is Awesome" chant. Miz is sick of being overlooked, as usual, so he's inserting himself into the RAW Money in the Bank Ladder match. Well that should add some levity to things. Miz came off great here with the crowd even finishing his catch phrases for him, weird.

Flashback to Mick Foley winning the WWF title on RAW in 1999. Classic stuff that I'll never tire of seeing, keep the Attitude Era nostalgia coming WWE, enough of that 80s shit.

World Heavyweight Title Match
© vs. Alberto Del Rio
The match they kept trying to hold off because no one wanted to see it. Sounds promising already. Cole recounts a bit about Del Rio ripping an original Action Comics #1 in half at Comic-Con a few weeks back and as someone whose recently rediscovered their love for all things DC and Marvel related, I take offense to that. Lock up to start followed quickly by a round of brute fisticuffs. Del Rio tries for an early armbar but Sheamus blocks it. Sheamus suplexes Del Rio into the ring and hits a shoulder block off the top. He allows himself to be distracted by Ricardo though and Del Rio knocks him to the floor with a dropkick. Back inside Del Rio goes to work on the Irishman's arm. Sheamus hits a swinging neckbreaker after a vicious headbutt from Del Rio. Del Rio continues the head butt action and goes for the armbar, but Sheamus avoids it. Sheamus tries for his slingshot shoulder block but Del Rio turns it into an armbreaker in mid-air. Sheamus returns fire with a big knee and powerslam for a two count. Sheamus hits the ten clubbing forearms spot and then follows up with the Irish Curse backbreaker for a close two count. Sheamus misses the Brogue Kick and Del Rio hits a big lung-blower for a two count.; Sheamus avoids an enziguri kick and hits Del Rio with the White Noise. Sheamus finishes Del Rio off with the Brogue Kick to retain at 14:22. Maybe a little bit better than you'd think, but still very bland from two guys who just have totally different styles in the ring. There were some good bits and pieces but nothing was ever able to be strung together particularly well. **1/2

After the match Del Rio and Ricardo beat down Sheamus and out comes Dolph Ziggler ready to cash in! He gets into an argument with Del Rio first though and eats a Brogue Kick but even though he handed the case to the ref this isn't a match and Sheamus just walks off. Phew, was scared Ziggler might be the first to lose his shot there for a second.

Earlier today Josh Matthews asks Daniel Bryan about AJ and he reiterates that they're soul mates.

Epico/Primo vs. Darren Young/Titus O'Neill
I appreciate the effort to make the tag division seem more important, but man we need some fresh match ups. Primo and Titus start off and Young quickly tags in but eats a 'rana from Primo. Epico tags in and 'ranas him again out of the ring, where Primo wipes him out with a tope. Epico sends Titus outside with Young and wipes them all out with a somersault tope. Titus grabs Epico and sends him back-first into the steel post. Titus stretches him out over the post some more and the crowd is so dead right now. Titus does some dancing but Rosa's dancing efforts are much more appreciated by the crowd. Primo tags in and hits a springboard...tomahawk chop?" That was weird. He follows with a springboard corkscrew moonsault and tries another springoard but Young blocks with a Codebreaker. Primo rolls him up anyways for the win at 7:27. Not terrible but also not very good, this was exactly what it felt like---filler. *3/4

WWE Title No DQ Match
CM Punk
© vs. Daniel Bryan
With our hottest special guest referee in awhile, AJ. Odds this is anything less than awesome? Slim. Bryan tries to work over Punk's fingers to start (I love stuff like that) but Punk is primed and ready to go. Both men unload strikes on eachother and the action quickly spills to the floor where  Bryan sends Punk into the barricade. Back inside Bryan lays in some kicks and Punk responds with knees. Punk misses a legdrop from the top and eats more kicks. Once again they hit the floor and Punk sends Bryan into the steel barricade near the ramp. On his way back in Bryan sends Punk right into AJ, sending her flying. While Punk checks on her Bryan attacks Punk, tosses him into the steel steps...and then goes to check on AJ. That's devilishly dickish. Bryan just keeps delivering the kicks and then hits a nasty running knee off the apron before suplexing Punk onto the steel steps. Punk back drops Bryan into the time keeper's section and then springboards off one guardrails and clotheslines Bryan off of another. Crowd chants for tables, so Punk pulls one out. Bryan slams him though and then grabs a kendo stick. He slams it on Punk a few times and back in the ring they go into a nifty counter sequence in the corner with the end result being Punk springboarding right into a big kendo stick shot from Bryan. Bryan wails away on Punk for what seems like a good minute but only gets a two count from it. Bryan lays in more vicious kicks and hits a snap suplex on the champ. He tries for the diving headbutt from the top but Punk moves at the last moment. Punk fires back with a reverse neckbreaker and then hits the high Muay Thai knee in the corner. Punk follows with a powerslam for two. Both men tease going for their finishers with Bryan countering Punk's GTS for a hot near fall. Bryan just knocks Punk's lights out with one sick kick in response. Bryan puts Punk into the Mexican Surfboard but Punk manages to escape and grab the kendo stick and nail the hell out of Bryan with it for two. Both men scale the top rope and Bryan superplexes Punk just in time for AJ to return from the back...and skip...and grab a steel chair from under the ring. She places it in the middle of the ring between Punk and Bryan like a cruel mistress for the first one to grab it. Bryan does and waffles Punk with it several times for a two count. Bryan gets in AJ's face and gets rolled up himself. Bryan continues to kick the crap out of Punk in the corner but the champ responds by firing off a big clothesline. Punk takes his turn to waffle Bryan with the chair a few times and then sets it up in-between the turnbuckle. AJ blocks Punk from using it though and in the ruckus winds up getting dropkicked into the chair. Punk kicks Bryan and then slams him with the steel chair underneath him before missing the Macho Man elbow drop and slamming his arm into the chair! Bryan takes advantage by applying the Yes! Lock, even using the Kendo stick for leverage. Punk manages to escape the hold and drop Bryan's head on the turnbuckle before hitting him with the GTS. Punk takes too long to cover him though and only gets a two count. Punk grabs the table he pulled out earlier from outside and sets it up in the ring. Punk lays Bryan over the table and then signals for the elbow drop again, but Bryan gets off the table and nails him with forearms on the turnbuckle. Bryan gets crotched on the top and Punk lays in some vicious elbows before giving him a huge back superplex off the top through the table for the win at 27:45! Well that was one hell of a finish to another damn fine match in this feud, they managed to fit in all of their usual great stuff while embellishing on it all with the No DQ stip by introducing different weapons and gimmicks perfectly into the mix. The whole thing built up and we got the pay-off with the finish, 'tis a thing of beauty. ****

Ryback vs. Curt Hawkings/Tyler Reks
Seems like they're throwing a Ryback squash on every PPV now. Ryback launches Hawkins but he runs off and tags Reks in, who manages to clothesline the big man. Hawkins and Reks continue to trade tags in their corner, working over Ryback with double team moves and actually having a bit of success with it. Ryback manages to powerslam Hawkins and then just knocks Reks down with several shoulders. He powerbombs Hawkins twice while a mild "Goldberg" chant starts up. Ryback finishes Reks off with the Shell Shock at 4:20. This seemed like an experiment to see how the crowd would react to Ryback actually selling some moves for a few minutes. He did, and no one gave a shit.*

Layla/Kaitlyn/Tamina vs. Beth Phoenix/Natalya/Eve Torres
Say it with me kids: F-I-L-L-E-R MATCH!  Layla does a nice crossbody on Beth and misses a kick It's not long before all six women are in the ring, hair-pulling. Seriously. And they wonder why nobody gives half a shit about the divas? Layla finishes Beth off with a neckbreaker amongst the ruckus at 3:23. I hate paying to watch matches like this on PPV. 1/4*

RAW Money in the Bank Ladder Match
John Cena vs. Chris Jericho vs. Alberto Del Rio  vs. Big Show vs. Kane vs. The Miz

On paper this might be the least interesting looking ladder match in wrestling history. Usual total brawl to start with all five men outside the ring, meanwhile the Miz tries to sneak up the ladder but Cena quickly nixes that plan. Show grabs a ladder and just tosses it at Jericho. Kane and Jericho grab ladders but Show just knocks them into them. Jericho hits the Codebreaker on Show, and Miz follows with the DDT on the big man. Kane boots him out of the ring and Cena finishes off the assembly line of destruction by giving Show the Attitude Adjustment through the Spanish announcer's table! Everyone piles five or six ladders on top of Show afterwards just for good measure until Jericho comes in to break up the party and indulge in the crowd's love for him momentarily. Jericho counters a rollup from Miz into the Walls of Jericho. Miz escapes the hold but Jericho gives him a snap suplex. Miz tries climbing the ladder as we have huge dueling Cena chants again but Jericho sends him off into another ladder and makes the climb himself only for John Cena to hop up and knock him off. HUGE DDT from Miz on Cena, and he nearly nabs the case but Kane knocks him down by tossing a ladder casually at him. Kane tries to chokeslam Miz and Jericho but instead gets suplexed by both of them onto another ladder. Cena hits some shoulder tackles and then hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle on both men on a ladder before handing out another AA to Kane. Jericho tries scaling the ladder but Show finally returns and then just rips the ladder apart and sandwiches Jericho in between them. Damn. Show lays in big body shots on Cena and then slams him into a ladder in the corner Show goes underneath the ring and pulls out a special gold ladder that is huge and fortified to hold Show's massive weight. I always wonder who makes these ladders for the WWE, they have to be custom ordered. The ladder weighs a ton so it takes Show a minute to actually set it up in the ring but when he does he nearly climbs right to the top and grabs the case, but Kane meets him on the other side of the ladder Show knocks Kane off but Cena takes his place and meets the giant at the top, but he too is sent off with a headbutt. Finally Jericho takes him down with a steel chair shot to the spine. Several of them in fact. Jericho and Cena climb the ladder now and battle at the top, where Jericho hops onto Cena's back and applies a sleeper hold. Jericho won't let go of that sleeper but Cena powers up and climbs to the top with him. Finally Jericho sends Cena off the ladder with the sleeper but Miz scurries right up the other side and those two begin grappling over the briefcase, with Jericho hanging onto only the case at one point. Show knocks both Miz and Jericho off the ladder but Cena hightails it up the other side and uses the brief case as a weapon to blast Show with before unhoooking it for his first Money in the Bank win at 20:03. These guys really worked hard to make this one good as they must have known some of them weren't exactly the best candidates for a ladder match. They seemed to really hold back in this one but it actually didn't hurt the match because it felt like it was bringing the match back to it's roots---to be about the suspense and build of the climb as opposed to just having several huge spotfests. This worked surprisingly well. ***1/2

Bottom Line: There was no way they were going to live up to last year's show but they gave a valiant effort with this show I thought, Giving Ziggler the ball to run is a good choice and I can't wait to see this kid start making real money. While both ladder matches were a bit underwhelming in the grand scope of ladder matches the WWE has had over the years, they were unique and fun. Luckily we have two stalwarts of an era passed in CM Punk and Daniel Bryan to come along and drop their usual awe-inspiring four-star match. Overall the positives outweighed the negatives on this show, but they can only lean on the shoulders of guys like Punk and Bryan for so long. Overall Thumbs Up for MITB 2012

Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, July 8, 2012

TNA Destination X 2012

TNA Destination X 2012
July 8th, 2012
Impact Wrestling Zone, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411mania's monthly TNA PPV coverage! I'll be your host tonight as usual for what looks to be one of the best TNA PPV offerings in quite some time with a stacked card focusing on X-Division action and classic TNA rivalries like Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe and AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels. Of course the big match tonight is the World title match pitting Bobby Roode against challenger Austin Aries, but the whole show looks solid on paper and there's been a great build to the event, so enough with the preambling, let's start this bad boy!

Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Jeremy Borash

Last Chance X-Division Tournament Qualifying Match
Rubix vs. Mason Andrews vs. Lars Only vs. Dakota Darsow

Hmm, no Taz on commentary tonight. This match pits all of the guys who didn't advance in the last few weeks together in one match for one last shot at entering tonight's X-Division tournament to crown a new champ. Rubix (or Jigsaw as CHIKARA fans know him) starts off snapping a headscissors on Lars Only before bailing, allowing Lars to work a few armdrags on Darsow. Darsow smashes Only's head over his knee and elbows Rubix off the apron. Minor "We love Jigsaw!" chant from the Orlando faithful as Rubix hits a cross-body off the top on Darsow. Falcon Arrow from Darsow is broken up by Only and finally Mason Andrews (Scorpio Sky to longtime PWG fans) returns to the fracas. Now the fans are chanting for Rubix again as Andrews ducks Rubix and wipes out Darsow and Only outside the ring with a huge tope con hilo. Rubix follows up with a huge suicide moonsault out of the ring to take out all three men moments later! Back in the ring Andrews works a nasty armbar on Rubix until Only breaks it up and hits an awkward double STO move on Rubix and Mason. Andrews takes out Darsow with some stiff low kicks and tries for a superplex on Only in the corner but instead all three men do the powerbomb/superplex tower of doom spot and as soon as they're done with that Rubix hits a springboard dropkick to take out Darsow and ignite another HUGE "Rubix" chant. Seriously, this crowd is vocally and clearly behind the guy and it's obvious they're familiar with his background, so hopefully the boys backstage are taking note of this. Rubix hits a kick on Darsow but then eats a codebreaker from Only. Andrews counters into a TKO/stunner combo on Only moments later and picks up the surprise win at 8:23. They probably should have called an audible and put Rubix over after the huge reception for him but Andrews/Sky is a very talented guy who has long deserved a break in this business so I can't complain seeing him win here. The match itself was just what you'd want out of an X-Division opener, quick and spotty but fun and they didn't blow their loads early, saving momentum for later. I like it. **3/4

X-Division Title Tournament Match
Kid Kash vs. Mason Andrews

And moments later former X-Division champ Kid Kash runs down to the ring to kick start our first official tournament match, giving Andrews no time to rest at all. Kash tries a cocky pin inside the ring for two. Total domination early from Kash as he overpowers Andrews with a few nifty suplex and slam variations, making sure to trash talk him all the while to firmly establish himself as the heel here. Kash works over Andrews arm, doing a great job of eliciting heat from this crowd in and old school Southern kind of way, just working simple holds over, wearing Andrews down and never letting his mouth stop running all the while. Finally Andrews is able to get something going with a few dropkicks and a headscissors out of the corner. He only grazes Kash with a missile dropkick for a two count but then nails him with a running knee to make up for it moments later. Both men do the rolling bridge spot and then Andrews counters a knee strike attempt into a roll up for the upset pin on Kash to advance at 8:09. This was worked at a much slower pace than the opener but it worked because of that as Kash does a great job as a retro Southern heel displaced in the X-Division. Simple stuff, building up heat for the upset win by Andrews and they've quickly made him out to be an underdog favorite for the tournament tonight. **1/2

Backstage Christy Hemme is with Samoa Joe, who gives props to Austin Aries before promising to defeat Kurt Angle tonight "by any means necessary" to earn 10 points in the Bound for Glory series standings. Atleast I think he said 10 points. And then JB plugs Twitter. Always with the damn Twitter.

X-Division Title Tournament Match
Douglas Williams vs. Kenny King

King, whose still technically one half of the ROH tag team champions much to Cary Silkin's chagrin (and also an original Tough Enough competitor), looked impressive in his Impact debut and Williams is one of the most valuable members of the X-Division thanks to his classic, grounded technical game. Douglas dominates early with some trademark hold-for-hold grappling while Borash makes World of Sport references on commentary. Crowd seems behind King here as he takes out Williams on the floor with a twisting pescado. King shows some wrestling acumen of his own with a floatover into a headlock after a rope-running sequence. Williams hits a big clothesline but King rolls him up for a near fall. Suplex from Williams and he teases going for the Chaos Theory but King sees it coming and counters into a stiff enziguri. Spinebuster gets King another two count. Both men fight to the top rope where Williams sends King flying out to the floor before taking him out with a high knee from the top! You don't see that too often. King responds with a springboard neckbreaker back inside the ring but again Williams kicks out. King hits a TKO into a spinebuster to pick up the win and advance at 10:37. Another slower paced match to start but King looked great once again and Williams did his usual admirable job on the losing end. King also had to be considered a favorite going forward tonight with some of this momentum. **1/2

Backstage Christopher Daniels explains what kind of man he is and more importantly, what kind of despicable man AJ Styles is. And that's something we can drink to.

X-Division Title Tournament Match
Sonjay Dutt vs. Rashad Cameron

It's great to see Sonjay back in TNA but man, I had really hoped we would never have to be subjugated to a BLK Jeez match on a real, bonafide PPV. Armdrag exchange to start and both men seem evenly matched as JB hypes how over Dutt was during his recent stint in India with Ring Ka King. Dutt bails out and Cameron wipes out him with a nice suicide dive. Back inside Dutt fires off a hurricanrana and then nails Cameron with a baseball slide dropkick out of the ring. Cameron slows things down with some heel work on Sonjay in the ropes while the fans vocally get behind Dutt. Dutt hits a slingshot guillotine legdrop on Cameron then springboards in with a splash for a two count. Headscissors from Cameron out of the corner and he rolls into an armbar submission briefly on Dutt before getting in referee Earl Hebner's face. Sonjay blocks a DDT and then finishes Cameron with the moonsault into a doublestomp at 7:16. This seemed almost like a squash for Sonjay at times though Cameron/Jeez did get to a chance to work a decent amount of heat from the crowd during the match here. Weakest match so far tonight but still perfectly adequate and solid for the time and spot allotted. **1/4

JB and Tenay bring us back to Against All Odds in February this year and the tragic neck injury to Jesse Sorensen before introducing a video package to update us on Jesse's recovery. After the video package Christy Hemme introduces Sorensen himself who gets a nice reception from the fans as he comes out with a neckbrace on (I'll take a neckbrace over paralysis any day, yes sir). Big Welcome Back chant for Jesse and you can see his mom crying in the front row. He talks about how scary the injury was but tells us he knows that God wanted him to be a professional wrestler and thanks the fans and his family for the support. Finally Jesse gets to Zema Ion, the man who caused his injury, ad he tells him that he hopes he wins the title tonight so that he can come back and take the belt from him. Jesse promises to be the X-Division champion next year at Destination X 2013 and that he'll cash in that title to become the World champion. This was nice but I hope that wasn't the big surprise Dixie tweeted about having in store for us tonight.

X-Division Title Tournament Match
Zema Ion vs. Flip Cassanova

Of course Ion's match is next so he and Jesse do a staredown during his entrance. Flip Cassanova/Kendrick might be familiar to more diehard indie fans but isn't anything too special to be honest. He doesn't like Zema's cocky attitude to start so he sends him to the floor and takes him out with a tope. He tries for a back senton but Zema blocks with his knees. Cassanova is sent to the floor and Ion takes him out with a dropkick. Zema misses a moonsault back inside and Cassanova makes him pay for it with a springboard corkscrew moonsault. Flip misses a shooting star press back senton and eats the back-flip into a knee from Ion before Ion finishes him with what I can only describe as a reverse Gory Bomb at 3:55. Well that really was just a squash match this time, which makes me think they may be serious about pushing Ion for the eventual return feud and blow-off with Sorensen going forward, which I like. Quick and fun but really just a blow-out for Ion. *3/4

Backstage Christy Hemme is with Mason Andrews, Kenny King, and Sonjay Dutt who are excited about their X-Division shot when suddenly Robert Roode walks up to interrupt and mock them for being excited about the X-Division title. He says the X-Division and Austin Aries will both fail tonight and he'll walk out with his World title intact.

Bound For Glory Series Match
Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle

The first match these two had together in this company might be my favorite TNA match ever, so I was very excited to see that these two were being matched up again after a few years tonight (not counting their recent Impact match, which was solid). Crowd is hot for this one with dueling chants to start (this crowd has been great all night, where has THIS Impact Zone crowd been hiding at?). Joe quickly evades some hold attempts by Kurt to start and gives him a look as if to say "Yeah, I've seen this from you before and I know what to do". Headlock from Angle is countered by Joe into the corner, where he lays in big right hands. Joe back drops Angle over the top rope out to the floor and then wipes him out with a tope suicida moments later. Back in the ring Joe hits a spinkick on Angle in the corner and sets up for the Muscle Buster, but Kurt comes off the top with a dropkick before he gets a chance to attempt it. Belly to belly suplex from Angle and Joe fights back with a boot and a back senton. Angle grabs a hold of Joe's waist and hits his trademark trio of rolling German suplexes though. Angle looks for the Angle Slam but Joe counters and sets up for the Muscle Buster, but Angle counters out of that into the ankle lock on Joe! Sweet countering there and Joe slams Angle to the mat when he foolishly charges in on him in the corner. Joe hits the Muscle Buster, but Angle kicks out at two. They kind of treated the Muscle Buster very nonchalantly there. Joe tries for the rear naked choke but Angle counters into the ankle lock and really syncs it in until Joe manages to counter into the Coquina Clutch! Kurt manages to power out of the hold though into the Angle Slam, but Joe kicks out just in the nick of time at two. Again Angle tries for the Angle Slam but Joe counters into the Coquina Clutch and Joe is really wrenching away on the submission now, adding pressure and strain to the hold until Angle simply passes out and Hebner calls for the bell to award Joe the match at 14:37. Another simply fantastic match in the long running series between these two men, and they totally did the right move by having Joe go over here as it seems like they've finally realized how valuable he can be to them as a main event player again and a true "TNA original" as it were. All kinds of slick countering and psychology in this one, just like you'd expect, and the finish leaves the door open for a rematch down the line. With this win Joe is now atop the Bound For Glory Series leaderboard. ***1/2

Last Man Standing Match
AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels

Even though it was a bit harebrained you have to keep props to TNA for atleast attempting a dramatic soap-like angle with some actual intrigue to it, even if it did fall flat on it's face. I love Styles and Daniels but I hope this is the last they wrestle each other for a very long time, because we've seen it ten billion times. So make this one the bloody, wild blow-off boys please and thank you. Daniels stalls early for some cheap heat and then just spits in Styles face. Daniels gets sent into the steel guard rail outside the ring as both men begin brawling now. Back in the ring AJ hits a dropkick and then suplexes Daniels into the corner turnbuckle. Haven't seen that from AJ in awhile. Daniels blocks a whip into the corner and just pokes AJ in the eye in true slimy heel fashion before grabbing a steel chair from outside the ring and tossing it inside. Styles stumbles out of the ring and Daniels hits him with a knee. Back in the ring Daniels sets up the chair and then hits a reverse STO on Styles through the chair! Nasty. Outside the ring Daniels slams AJ into the floor and now AJ is busted open and bleeding from the forehead. Daniels sets up the steel steps but winds up tossing AJ into the ring instead to try and waffle him with a chairshot. AJ blocks that though and then hits a springboard forearm onto Daniels while he's holding the chair! Outside the ring AJ tosses Daniels into the steps ferociously like a lawndart and now Daniels is busted open too. Both men brawl up the ramp now and thy wind up wiping each other out with a double clothesline as both men are bleeding on the ramp while the crowd cheers on in a great, visceral image. Pele kick from AJ. AJ finds a bit of stage equipment just high enough to climb onto and then does his usual moonsault into a reverse DDT spot on Daniels in a very clever variation on a classic Styles move. Suddenly Kazarian comes running out and sends Styles flying off the ramp onto the concrete the hardway. You had to know it was only a matter of time before Kaz got involved. AJ makes it up at an 8 count from the ref but gets sent into the guardrail by a pissed off Daniels who then promptly retrieves a table from underneath the ring and sets it up back near the rampway. He brings Styles back onto the ramp and sets up for the Angel's Wings, but AJ blocks it with a low blow and hits the Pele kick again. Styles then grabs Daniels and hits the Styles Clash off the stage through a table! Styles barely makes it back to his feet at the ten count while Daniels stays down to give AJ the big win at 17:42. This was the best match these two have had together in years and was a suitably brutal and heated fight, just as it needed to be given the angle going in. In simple terms this with two highly professional veterans of their craft finding new ways to make the same old formulas fun and exciting. Hell of a match. ****

The internet polls have picked Aries to win tonight, which makes sense from a kayfabe sense given all of Aries' momentum. Backstage Christy Hemme is with the man himself, who talks about how he was beating people with brainbusters while Bobby Roode was beating people with beer bottles. Aries says he's going to walk out the new World Champion and change the industry.

TNA X-Division Title Ultimate X Match
Mason Andrews vs. Zema Ion vs. Kenny King vs. Sonjay Dutt

I love the influx of fresh talent into the company lately and that we're about to get to see this match on PPV. JB makes a very sly comment about King being a "TNA exclusive", hardy har har. Zema is quick to try and climb the ropes at the bell but he eats a trio of dropkicks from all three of his competitors instead. Dutt hits a 'rana on King while Andrews hits a missile dropkick on Ion. Ion counters with a tornado DDT and then gets to be on the brunt end of King suplexing Andrews into the corner in a neat spot.King hits a cartwheel kick on Dutt and then springboards up to the X ropes to try and make a grab at the title, but Dutt springboards into the ring and spears him off the ropes in mid-air and follows up with an elbow drop just for good measure. Ion tries shimmying across the X ropes as well but gets yanked down by Andrews and King. King hits the springboard legdrop on Ion but then eats a top rope back suplex from Dutt. King misses a tope outside the ring but moments later Andrews takes out both King and Ion with a corkscrew moonsault. Andrews shimmys across the X ropes again but King hits a nice springboard spear in mid-air to break up that attempt. Now King and Andrews are both shimmying across the X rope to the middle, where they drop off with a huge neckbreaker! Meanwhile Dutt and Ion have climbed past the ropes onto the steel structure above the ring! Suddenly  Ion sprays Dutt with his hairpsray and Dutt flies from the structure all the way down to the ring mat, allowing Ion to unhook the belt and become the new X-Division champion at 8:47! This was wild, fast, furious, and nearly impossible to cover move-for-move. I can't believe they didn't give it more time to develop as a match but what we got was absolute balls-to-the-wall craziness in the best way possible and this seems to cement the whole Ion/Sorensen angle going forward. ***1/4

After the match Ion is getting a ton of heat from the fans when he dedicates his win to Jesse Sorensen (while some absolutely incredibly unbearably annoying smarks in the front row scream "TRANSITION! TRANSITION!" at him to let him know he's only a transitional champion) to wrap up this whole thing.

TNA World Title Match
Robert Roode
© vs. Austin Aries
Kudos to TNA for doing an incredible job of hyping and building up this match for the main event tonight and even if Aries walks out without the title tonight he's clearly been put over onto another level and with how they've built the X-Division up again it's like they have a perfect feeder system to create main eventers for themselves going forward. To say Aries is over here would be like saying Madison Square Garden was fond of Hulk Hogan in the late 80s, it's a gross understatement. Aries wants to lock up with Roode but he wants nothing to do with him at the bell before grabbing a hold of Austin's wrist and going to work a wristlock. Aries works his own hammerlock and then outclasses Roode for a big pop. He hits the tope con hilo into the ring on Roode but then gets caught in a side headscissors as he tries for a side headlock. Aries does his trademark headstand and then dropkicks Bobby in the face, sending him to the floor where he wipes him out with a Macho Man like double axe handle smash off the top! Back inside Roode hits a nice vertical suplex and a knee drop. Roode misses a knee drop  from the second rope and Aries goes to work with a few kicks before attempting for the Last Chancery, but Roode gets the ropebreak. Roode gets sent to the floor and and Aries goes for his trademark heat seeking missile tope suicida but Roode has him scouted and gets out of the way, leaving Roode to faceplant into the steel guardrail! Great psychology there. Back in the ring Roode hits a back suplex,and then sends Aries into the corner for a nasty case of whiplash against the turnbuckle. This has been a perfectly crafted match so far, I must say. Roode hits a sitout Samoan Drop on Aries and then nearly takes his head off with a big lariat. Aries responds with a huge discus forearm of his own and he has the eyes of a madman as he clotheslines Roode out of the ring and successfully connects with the heat seeking missile outside the ring! Back inside Aries hits a missile dropkick off the top but Roode responds with a running powerslam. Aries counters a spear into a Last Chancery briefly but Roode counters that into a crossface and Aries simply counters back into the Chancery again. That was quite the incredible display of stamina and strength by both men. Roode tries for a superplex but Aries knees him in the head in mid-air and then sends him to the mat and comes off with the 450 splash, but he misses it and instead walks right into the spinebuster from Bobby Roode! Roode cranks on a crossface on Aries afterwards and is really working the hold over on him until finally Aries gets the rope break. Behind the ref's back Roode low-blows Aries and tries to get the cheap pin, but thankfully Aries kicks out. Roode gets in the ref's face and then Aries hits him with the dropkick in the corner. He goes for the brainbuster but Roode counters out and sends Aries into the ref, bumping him. Roode then nails Aries with the title belt and drags the referee over to count the pin...but Aries still kicks out at two!  This man isn't mortal! Aries gets a nearfall off a cradle then kicks Roode in the head and HITS THE BRAINBUSTAAAH...and WINS THE TNA WORLD TITLE AT 22:43! I wasn't sure they'd really pull the trigger here but damnit give them credit they did it Aries is now a made man in TNA. The match itself was absolutely stellar, a combination of Southern psychology and the hard hitting indy style Aries made his name off of, but throw in the story and emotion of it all and everything here was just firing off on all cylinders. Hands down our TNA Match of the Year thus far, no doubt about it. ****1/2

After the match Aries celebrates with the World title as confetti flies down on him and the crowd continues to chant his name all night long. We close out the show with Austin Aries as our new World Champion.

Bottom Line: Tonight we truly saw what TNA is capable of when they make smart booking decisions, hire fresh and hard working young talent, and build up logical, long-term angles and stars. Destination X has officially catapulted into the heavyweights of gimmick PPVs these days and I'm so happy to see all of the investment TNA is putting into this PPV and division each year going forward. Nevermind the fact that we got several absolutely stellar wrestling matches on tonight's show trumped by one of the flat out best wrestling matches I've seen all year with a fresh, over young face going over in the main event. This delivered in every way I thought it would and alongside that Silva/Sonnen fight made this weekend a hell of a good time for buying PPVs, easy and enthusiastic Thumbs Up tonight.

Score. 9.0/10

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

WWE Friday Night SmackDown! 6/8/12

WWE Friday Night SmackDown!
June 8th, 2012
Colonial Center, Columbia, South Carolina
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's WWE SmackDown report with your resident recapper. We're inching closer to the No Way Out PPV and apparently Vince has gone into panic mode again and wants CM Punk and all sorts of other bigger name guys back on Smackdown now to help that show's ratings, so let's see what we have in store for us.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T, and Josh Matthews

We open the show with Alberto Del Rio making his way out to gloat about his attack on Sheamus on last week's show. He says maybe two sentences before we hear Sheamus' music, but instead of the World champ it's Ricardo Rodriguez dressed up as Sheamus.. Ricardo falls on his ass and Del Rio mocks him a bit before the real Sheamus comes out to interrupt. Sheamus tosses Ricardo and he and Del Rio trade strikes before Del Rio tries to high tail it out of the arena. Sheamus catches him up the rampway though and tosses Del Rio into a stage structure. Ricardo comes and saves Del Rio long enough for him to attack the arm of Sheamus a bit before some refs come out to break things up. Teddy Long, who is apparently in charge again while John Laurinaitis gets ready for his job evaluation on RAW (that makes little to no sense) comes out to book Sheamus in a match against Kane later tonight as well as Del Rio against the Great Khali, and that match is up next.

Alberto Del Rio (12-10) vs. The Great Khali (9-8)

Khali should just become a modern day 911 and not actually wrestle, just come out and wreak havoc and then leave. Big chop from Khali at the bell but Del Rio quickly takes Khali's legs out from under him and targets Khali's knee like everyone does. Ricardo distracts Khali long enough for Del Rio to apply to the cross armbar and Khali taps at 3:23. Your usual "heel targets the Khali's limbs to beat him" match, which seems to be all Khali is capable of working anymore. Very dull. 1/2*

They replay the Big Show's pretaped heel promo from the last week. Afterwards we cut to Teddy Long backstage with Brodus Clay, who is informed by Teddy that he's off RAW and on SmackDown now apparently.

"The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay (5-4) vs. Derrick Bateman (0-2)

So after getting squashed by Big Show it's back to midcard jobber matches for Brodus. He's much more aggressive tonight though, taking Bateman into the timekeeper's area and brawling with him a bit before tossing him into the ring and finishing him off with a t-bone suplex and the running splash at 1:06. Your usual Clay squash and afterwards the kids hit the ring to dance with him as usual. You've seen this before. 1/4*

Sin Cara (20-5) vs. Drew McIntyre (6-18)
Glad to see Sin Cara back though I'm not sure McIntyre is the best choice of opponent for him. He does a bit of gymnastics before eating a kick to the face off the apron from Drew. Drew applies a chinlock then tries for a press slam but Cara counters with a 'rana into the corner. He takes Drew down with another headscissors and a springboard back elbow for a two count. Huge boot from Drew and he tries to catch Cara off the top rope into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, but Cara counters it into a DDT for the win at 3:18. This could have used a lot more time to develop as Drew seemed game enough to have Cara bump off him like a pinball, but what we got was fairly good anyways. Abrupt finish though. *1/2

Ryback (8-0) vs. Tony Andriotis/Kevin Mahoney
Guess what happens here. Go on, guess. If you guessed anything other than "Ryback wrecks shit up", you do not pass go and you do not get to collect $200. Ryback finishes them at the same time with the double marching Samoan drop at 1:46. I guess Ryback only does the two on one Goldberg special now. 1/4*

Cody Rhodes comes out while the production crew are still trying to set up the Peep Show interview segment for Christian and he tries to explain that Christian is pandering to the fans agains but Christian's music hits and the Intercontinental champ himself comes out to interrupt. Christian explains that when he inducted Edge into the Hall of Fame, he had a sudden change of heart in realizing that performing in front of the fans is a privilege that could be taken away at any minute. He claims he doesn't want to be the guy asking for "one more match" but rather a proud champion like his best friend. Cody scoffs at all this, proclaiming himself a future Hall of Famer in the process and Christian interrupts him again by telling him to shut his mouth and threatening to fight him then and there. Dolph Ziggler decides to come out to interrupt so we he can get to his match with Christian up next.

Christian (18-13-1) vs. Dolph Ziggler (4-17)
Non-title affair here as Cody joins the commentary team and we're off. Christian sends Dolph out to the floor and nails him with a baseball slide dropkick, but he gets caught with a stiff knee on his way out to the floor as we take a commercial break. When we return Dolph is sending Christian chest first into the corner turnbuckle for the Bret Hart bump. Dolph spears Christian's torso in the corner a few times and then looks for the Fameasser, but Christian counters into a sitout powerbomb for a near fall. Drop toe hold/right fist combo from Christian and he tries for the sunset flip but Dolph counters out right into the Fameasser for a close two count. Reverse DDT from Christian and he looks for the spear, but Ziggler nails him with the dropkick and looks for the MAIN EVENT SLEEPER HOLD (all rights reserved Scott Keith) but Christian avoids that hits the frog splash out of nowhere for the pin at 6:04 (shown). I really would have loved to have seen this get another five minutes, but maybe Christian isn't comfortable working a long match back yet? More likely they're just cramped for time on the show and booked it short, but what we got was really good and I'd actually love to see these two wrestle on a PPV sometime after the Cody feud ends. **3/4

Raw Rebound shows Cena triumphing over evil by single handedly defeating the entire Viet Cong army on horseback Braveheart style. Wait, wrong show. No this is just Cena beating Tensai and then that incredibly long, drawn out beatdown of Cole. Afterwards Cole gets on the mic but is interrupted by JR's theme music, which the crowd pops huge for. Unfortunately for them it just turns out to be Hornswoggle dressed up as JR and not the real deal. Oh die in a raging kerosene fire Vince.

Damien Sandow comes out to interrupt all of this nonsense, because wrestling is serious business damnit! I like this guy. As the avenging sword of taste and decency, Sandow will not allow this charade to go on. Sandow informs Hornswoggle he's welcome before Tyson Kidd runs in to make the save with a springboard dropkick. Kidd challenges him to a match on the spot and Sandow pretends to take off but returns to the ring to nail Kidd with his neckbreaker anyways and gloat a bit. I demand a Kidd/Sandow match on a show like Superstars where they'll get some time to work with.

Backstage Matt Striker wants to know how Kane feels about potentially defeating the WWE and World Heavyweight champions in the same week if he beats Sheamus tonight. Kane isn't concerned with it though, just with the title match at No Way Out. Striker asks about AJ's "look" at Kane on RAW but he won't answer that one and he takes off as we see AJ lurking behind in the shadows, watching all of this from afar. Creeeeper.

Antonio Cesaro (2-0) vs. Jimmy Uso (4-10)
Teddy has to introduce Cesaro with his "lover" Aksana still, even though he's in charge for the night with Johnny nowhere in sight. Jimmy gets some feisty babyface offense in on the former King of Wrestling at the bell but it's not long before Antonio nails him with the pop-up European uppercut and then finishes him with the inverted cradle piledriver at 1:00. These short squashes against guys who can get great air for the pop-up European uppercut spot just make Claudio (excuse me, Antonio) look great. I can't wait until they book him into an actual feud. 1/2*

Sheamus (35-16-1) vs. Kane (18-14)
Non-title match here for our main event as well. Kane dominates to start with some dull brawling in the corner. Sheamus tries fighting him off but gets booted off the ring apron as we take our last commercial break. When we return Kane is working over the champ with a chinlock. Sheamus breaks it up with a boot and then hits a diving shoulder block from the top rope. High knee and clothesline get him a two count. Bodyslam from Sheamus but Kane comes back with a dropkick. Sheamus hits the Irish Curse backbreaker but again Kane kicks out. Kane gets caught in the ropes and eats the ten big hammerfists but he blocks the follow up suplex attempt. Sheamus tries to superplex Kane but he gets knocked off. Kane tries for the clothesline from the top but misses and gets nailed with the White Noise from Sheamus. Kane blocks the Brogue Kick and tries for the chokeslam but Sheamus counters out of that and out runs Del Rio for the lame DQ at 9:13 (shown). Much better than I was expecting honestly, Kane may be incredibly stale and unhelpful in his current role in the main event between Punk and Bryan but he seems to have his working boots on most nights these days so I can't fault his effort, this was a solid match that would have been even better with a clean finish. **1/2

After the bell rings Kane chokeslams Sheamus anyways and AJ comes prancing out to smile and wave at Kane a bit. Sheamus gives Ricardo a Brogue Kick and we go off the air with Del Rio and Sheamus trading angry eyes.

Bottom Line: Ho-hum show this week, really paint-by-numbers stuff. There was some good stuff on here like the Christian/Cody promo segment and the subsequent match between Christian and Ziggler and our main event was once again solid (though once again with a lame finish) but everything else was just the usual parade of meaningless jobber matches and squashes. If they want people to start watching SmackDown more, here's an idea: cut down on the 15 minute RAW Rebounds and highlight packages and fill that time with more wrestling. Fans might be more inclined to watch if they know guys like Christian and Ziggler are going to get 10-15 minutes to work with instead of 5 every Friday night. Could go either way on tonight's show, not bad but not really good either, Thumbs in the Middle.

Score: 5.0/10

Sunday, June 10, 2012

TNA Slammiversary X 6.10.2012

TNA Slammiversary X
June 10th, 2012
College Park Center, Arlington, Texas
Attendance: Early Estimates-5,000-6,000 +/-

Welcome everyone to another edition of 411's live TNA PPV coverage. I'll be updating this page periodically through-out the show tonight with coverage and analysis of all the happenings on tonight's big tenth anniversary show for TNA. Our main event tonight pits Bobby Roode against Sting in a World title match but we've also got a huge tag team title match with Christopher Daniels and Kazarian taking on the team of AJ Styles and Kurt Angle in what's bound to be a good match. Also tonight we've got a battle of former ROH World champions in Austin Aries vs. Samoa Joe as well as a triple threat match between Jeff Hardy, Mr. Anderson, and Rob Van Dam to determine the next in line to the World title. We've also got the official opening of the TNA Hall of Fame with an announced appearance by current WWE superstar Christian so it should be an interesting evening. All of this and more, so let's kick off the festivities.

Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz

We open the show with a highlights package of some of the big moments in the past ten years of TNA (the debuts of Kurt Angle, Sting, and Hulk Hogan among others) before doing the usual live open in the arena, which is legitimately packed in what has to be one of the biggest crowds in TNA history as the place looks to be just about legit sold out. Hulk Hogan makes his way out to kick off the show (of course). He talks about how excited he is with the current TNA product and then announces that we're going to open the show tonight old-school style with Austin Aries vs. Samoa Joe and it's going to be for the X-Division title instead of a non-title affair.

X-Division Title Match
Austin Aries
© vs. Samoa Joe
Good to see Joe back in the X-Division as it's certainly better than him being routinely forgotten about. Big dueling chants from the crowd to start, and boy is it refreshing to hear a hot TNA crowd. Both men are cautious to start, gauging each other with quick kicks and stiff chops before Aries sends Joe to the floor with a hurricanrana. He attempts the tope but Joe meets him with a forearm at the apron. Back inside Joe hit the facewash boot on Austin in the corner. Joe catches Aries off the top rope and tries a back senton but Austin gets the knees up. Forearm from Joe sends the champ to the floor and Joe teases a tope but tumbles to the floor and eats a tope from Aries instead. Missile dropkick from Aries back in the ring but Joe catches his cross body attempt in the corner and plants him with a running powerslam for a two count. Aries tries another 'rana but Joe counters with a big powerbomb and of course transitions into the Boston crab afterwards before transitioning into an STF. And if that wasn't enough he transitions from THAT into an abdominal stretch. Joe looks motivated tonight. Vicious headbutts in the corner from Joe and he looks for the Muscle Buster but Aries blocks it with a Mongolian chop and then hits the 450 Splash...but Joe kicks out! Forearm exchange back on their feet and Joe loosely applies the Coquina Clutch, but Aries counters into a close pin attempt. STO in the corner from Joe and he looks for the Muscle Buster again, but Aries counters into a Crucifix Bomb! Roaring elbow from Aries in the corner and he finishes Joe off with the brainbuster to retain at 11:49. Hell of an opening match between two guys intimately familiar with each other, Joe continues to look newly motivated in 2012 and Aries excellent title reign rolls on with another great title defense. Perfect way to kick off the show and both men trade a fist-bump of respect afterwards. ***1/2

Kid Kash vs. Hernandez
Talk about random, when was this match even announced? Kash is a former X-Division champ from the early days of the company though, so it fits tonight's theme. Kash shows off the speed early with a leapfrog but Hernandez sends him flying out of the ring with a shoulder block and then brings Kash back in the hardway. Kash is able to target Hernandez's shoulder with a dropkick and works it over with a submission, which is a unique strategy against the big man. Hernandez gets his face planted directly into the mat in a nasty moment after taking a top rope flying headscissors and Kash follows up with a tornado DDT. Slingshot shoulder block from Hernandez cuts off Kash's spurt of offense. Another shoulder-block sends Kash out to the floor and Hernandez takes him out with a huge suicide dive over the top rope! There's that crazy agile Hernandez we all fell in love with years ago. Kash gets sent off the top rope back inside and Hernandez finishes him off with a top rope splash at 5:52. Kind of a random match up but both guys looked good and worked in a few nice spots in the short time they had to work with. I've said it a few times now but Kash would be a perfect veteran addition to the X-Division on a more long term basis. **1/2

We flashback to another historical TNA moment, this time AJ Styles being crowned the first ever X-Division champion.

Devon/Garrett Bischoff vs. Robbie E./Robbie T.
This match screams "pre-show" to me but they're quite keen of Devon and Garrett for some reason. Garrett starts off with Robbie E with some Erik Watts-like basic babyface offense. Hey, wasn't Watts in TNA for a cup of coffee? Shudder. Robbie T tags in now and Garrett can't get anywhere with him as Madison Rayne makes her way out to the ramp all dressed up, presumably to watch her "mystery love" in this match. How funny would it be if it wound up being Devon? E tags back in and hits a clothesline for a cover and the heels double team Garrett for a bit. E works a sleeper on Garrett for a bit until the younger man gets the hot tag to Devon, who's a HOUSE OF FIRE. Where did that cliche even originate from? Bischoff takes out T with a cross body outside the ring and Devon finishes off E with the spinebuster at 5:56. Just a quick formula tag match, not bad but not particularly exciting either. Devon and Garrett bust out some of the goofiest dance moves afterwards to celebrate. **

Backstage Jeremy Borash, whose been here since before the first show, is with the tag champs Christopher Daniels and Kazarian. Kaz brags about all of his past accolades in the company while Daniels hands a fruity looking drink in a martini glass to JB and raises a glass of his own to toast to the champs.

TNA World Title Number One Contender's Match
Jeff Hardy vs. Mr. Anderson vs. Rob Van Dam

Anderson does his usual pre-match promo before we start. Jeff gets a pretty lukewarm reaction surprisingly. Jeff attacks Rob at the bell and then nails Anderson (who has way more hair than I've ever seen him with) with a forearm. Hardy uses Anderson to launch himself into Rob in the corner with a leg lariat but gets caught with a swinging neckbreaker from Anderson. Anderson blocks the Rolling Thunder from RVD in the corner with a jack-knife cover attempt for two. All three men tease the Tower of Doom spot in the corner but Anderson sends Rob out to the floor and just superplexes Jeff instead., Rob tries for the Five Star Frog Splash directly afterwards but both men move out of the way. Neat spot. Rob tries a leg scissors cover on Jeff for two then hits a top rope thrust-kick for another near fall. Split-legged moonsault from Rob onto Anderson but Jeff breaks the cover up. Rob monkey-flips Anderson onto Jeff and gets another near fall. Really good timing and delivery so far from everyone. Hardy and Anderson both cover Rob at the same time in another inventive spot. Rolling senton from Anderson on Hardy and he clotheslines Rob out of the ring when he pops back up from the move. Anderson and RVD begin brawling outside the ring and Hardy wipes them both out with a big cross body off the top rope to the floor! Back inside Jeff hits the Whisper in the Wind on RVD and we've got our first "This is Awesome!" chant in awhile. Big time DDT from Jeff plants Rob and he follows up with the Swanton, but Anderson breaks up the count by pulling out the ref. Anderson tosses Hardy out of the ring into the guardrail but eats a boot from RVD. Rob tries the Rolling Thunder again but eats the Mic Check from Anderson and that's enough to give Anderson the win at 11:25. I wasn't sure this was going to work but boy was I wrong as these guys pulled out some really inventive spots and went all out for the duration of the match. They were able to avoid the cliche "knock one guy out of the ring and then do a bunch of spots with the remaining two guys, switch a guy, repeat" formula that triple threats can fall into sometimes too so extra points there. Fun stuff. ***1/2

Backstage Crimson informs JB that he doesn't care who accepts his open challenge. Heel Crimson is much more tolerable than bland babyface Crimson. He heads out to the ring to brag about his undefeated streak and talk down the crowd a bit and a "You suck!" chant starts up. Crimson waits for someone to come out and answer his open challenge...and out comes the former World champ James Storm!

James Storm vs. Crimson
Nice surprise bringing Storm back here, didn't realize he was healthy enough to wrestle. Storm immediately sends Crimson to the floor with some big right hands and we're off. He suplexes Crimson back into the ring and when he tries to finally take his jacket off Crimson is able to get some offense in. Big forearm from Storm and he blasts Crimson with the Last Call superkick to end Crimson's streak finally at 2:11. This was as good of a way as any to end Crimson's streak as that angle had more than run it's course and at this point was more of a detriment than an attribute for Crimson. The crowd really went apeshit for this whole segment and match too so this worked. *

Backstage JB is with the X-Division champion Austin Aries and wants to know what's next for him. Aries says he wants to be the man that sets the bar and in the main event, and he'll do anything to get there. Damn right, this X-Division title reign for Aries has been the perfect way to establish him as a star in the company and at this point he's above the title and deserves the push into the main event, which if you can't tell from the involvement of Sting in our main event tonight, badly needs fresh talent. For once I'm extremely happy with how TNA has handled building up a talent, but alot of that credit goes to Aries for getting over so quickly and easily.

Resident Texan Dixie Carter comes out next and receives a very warm reception despite her recent tawdry affair angle with AJ Styles. Dixie announces that tonight's crowd is the largest in the United States in TNA history. Dixie thanks her parents, Jeff and Jerry Jarrett, Spike TV, and all of the fans for bringing them to this moment. Dixie says they aren't ashamed of being a "WRESTLING company" and then decides to bring out the whole damn roster to milk in the fan's appreciation a bit. Everyone from Angle and Styles to the Knockouts and the refs come out. Dixie Carter next decides to introduce the first introduction into the TNA Hall of Fame...Sting!

We get a nice video package with members of the roster praising Sting's historic career. Sting hits the ring to a big ovation and hugs Dixie. A "Thank You Sting!" chant starts up before it's quickly replaced by a monster "YES!" Daniel Bryan chant, much to my amusement. Dixie puts over how much Sting has meant to TNA's growth as a company (which is true, they never would have gotten the Spike TV deal without him) and then makes me laugh a bit by claiming he's doing his best work ever at the current moment. She says the official induction ceremony will happen at Bound For Glory however, not tonight. Sting, always humble, thanks Dixie, the roster, and of course the fans. He claims tonight will be SHOWTIME and that wraps up our segment. Hmm, no Christian? Maybe he's involved in something else tonight?

TNA Knockouts Title Match
Gail Kim
© vs. Miss Tessmacher
Nice pop for the native Texan Tessmacher. Kim nails her with a dropkick after the bell but Tessmacher delivers an armdrag and Gail bails to the floor. Tessmacher follows her out and gets her back sent into the ring apron. Back inside Brooke hits a clothesline from the second rope and fires off a decent hurricanrana. Gail drops her throat first over the top rope from the wheelbarrow position and feeds her forearms. Shoulderbreaker out of the corner gets Gail two and she works a neat headscissors submission on Tessmacher as the smarky crowd seems more into Gail then the hometown girl. Tessmacher fires off a neckbreaker and then hits a dropkick in the corner. Tessmacher botches a move and seems legit hurt and it doesn't help that Gail bumps her off the apron, sending her into the guard rail outside the ring. Tessmacher reverses a suplex attempt into a roll-up and gets the three count and the title at 6:44. Tessmacher is over so she's not a bad candidate to take the belt off Gail even if she's not a great worker, but I figured it would be later down the line. Match was decent enough but Tessmacher was sloppy and this probably should have been a bigger "moment" in front of her hometown crowd than it actually wound up being. *3/4

Bully Ray sneaks up behind JB backstage for some promo time. He says he's from Hell's Kitchen, "God's Country", which has to be the line of the night so far. Ray reminds Joseph Park that he's not going to be legally responsible if he plays dirty with Park because "anything goes" in their match.

"Anything Goes" Match
Bully Ray vs. Joseph Park

How dumb did I feel when I realized only about three weeks ago that Park is actually Abyss without the mask, but I guess that just speaks to how well he plays the Park character. He comes out in a jogging suit and a big "Yankees Suck!" chant starts up in reference to Ray's hat. Have I mentioned I love this crowd? Park takes off his glasses and Ray wants him to take a free shot. He does and misses of course. Bully spits in his face and Joseph slaps him in the face for a big pop. Ray nails him with a forearm and Park goes down. Bully grabs a chair but Park manages to grab it from him. He teases hitting him with it but turns his back stupidly and Ray nails him with another forearm before waffling him with two chairshots. The action spills to the floor where Ray blasts Park with a water bottle. Back inside Ray misses the back senton from the top and Park HULKS UP, feeding off the crowd enough to lay in some girlish fisticuffs on Ray in the corner before Ray kicks his face off. Ray pulls a table out and sets it up in the ring as an "E-C-Dub!" chant breaks out. He grabs a kendo stick as well but Park grabs a hold of it and nails Ray with the kendo stick for a near fall. Park slides out of the ring and underneath the ring....and then Abyss slides out the other side! Abyss chokeslams Ray through the table and then disappears back under the ring, and Park conveniently returns from under the ring and covers Ray for the win at 10:25. Park played his role as a non-wrestler very well here and while this wasn't as brutal or exciting of a match as I was hoping for they did work a good story and the finish was amusing. Park was way over too. **1/2

Backstage the World champion Bobby Roode shits on the party by claiming no one cares about Sting's Hall of Fame induction and that he'll be retaining his title later tonight.

Hulk Hogan comes out next and announces his next surprise for the fans...Christian Cage! It's pretty surreal to see the current WWE Intercontinental champion rolling up into a TNA ring in the middle of a PPV. Tenay puts over his time in the company and his former NWA World title reign. He gets some "Welcome back!" and "Please come back!" chants. Christian jokes that the last time he was here there were a few more corners to the ring but even though some of the faces and venues have changed the one thing that hasn't changed is the fans. Christian says everyone in attendance and watching at home should get up and give themselves a round of applause. Christian gets down to business now though, paying off the historical moments countdown by showing us the number one moment in TNA history, the debut of Sting. We go right into the video package for the next match afterwards but this was a neat and surreal little moment to see a current WWE champion in a TNA ring for a PPV. I doubt it will lead to anything but just the fact that the two companies are working together in some way gives me hope for the future that perhaps they could work out some sort of talent exchange.

TNA Tag Team Title Match
Christopher Daniels/Kazarian
© vs. AJ Styles/Kurt Angle
I have to admit I've been really looking forward to this one. AJ hits the ring as soon as his music starts and we're off. Kaz tries a rollup but AJ hits a pair of dropkicks. The action spills to the floor where AJ is nearly sent into the guardrail but he slides underneath the rail then launches himself off of it with a flying forearm on Kaz! Off-camera Angle apparently hits Daniels with a flying forearm of his own and AJ tags Angle in for a double team suplex. Angle backdrops Daniels and then tags AJ back in, who delivers a big backbreaker. Kaz tags in and nails AJ on the top rope with a big spin kick, leaving AJ hanging from the top rope by one knee in grotesque fashion. Daniels and Kaz trade quick tags in their corner, working AJ over as our babyface in peril. They hit a nice reverse 3-D of sorts on AJ and Kaz tries for a suplex, but AJ counters into a nasty neckbreaker. Daniels tags in but AJ gets the hot tag to Angle. Kurt hands out a belly to belly to Daniels before giving both of the tag champs a German suplex. Angle Slam on Daniels but Kaz breaks the cover up. Another pair of Germans on Kaz and when Kaz tries to grab the ropes to break up the third one he winds up grabbing a hold of Daniels so that Angle delivers a double German suplex to both men! Slightly contrived but a cool spot nevertheless. Angle blocks the Angel's Wings from Daniels and tags AJ in, who cleans house on the champs and then delivers a reverse/standard DDT combo to both of them for a thunderous pop. All four men take each other out with big moves and Styles nearly wins it with a wheelbarrow facebuster. Top rope belly to belly suplex on Kaz from Angle but he gets wiped out with an STO from Daniels when he tries celebrating. Daniels misses the Best Moonsault Ever but lands on his feet only to be planted with a German from Angle! Pele kick on Kaz and AJ makes the tag to Angle, who hits a top rope splash for a two count that nearly wins it but Daniels pulls the ref out. No worries, AJ wipes Daniels out with a springboard shooting star press! Insane. Angle applies the ankle lock to Kaz in the ring and he taps out despite being two inches away from the ropes to give Angle and Styles the titles at 14:25. I could have totally used another five minutes to really flesh this one out but what we got was flat out amazing as all four men went balls to the wall just as I expected and delivered all kinds of awesome sequences and spots. Styles and Angle as tag champs should lead to some interesting stuff down the line too. ***3/4

TNA World Title Match
Robert Roode
© vs. Sting
I love Sting and am glad he's the first induction into the TNA Hall of Fame, but I really hope that doesn't mean we're in line for another Sting title run. Roode stalls for quite a bit to start but finally hits the ring and Sting nearly gets him in the Scorpion Death Lock, which sends Roode bailing out of the ring for a breather. Sting follows him out and throws him into the guardrail. Why does every modern Sting match wind up outside the ring within 20 seconds of the bell? Roode teases walking off on the match but Sting grabs him and sends him into the steel steps. Back in the ring Roode takes back the momentum with some big chops in the corner. Roode works a sleeper on Sting but Sting breaks it up and delivers a superplex. Sting locks him into the Scorpion Death Lock but Roode is able to escape the hold barely. The action spills outside once again and Sting hits a Stinger Splash on Roode on the guard-rails. Sting locks Roode into the Scorpion Death Lock on top of the announcer's table and Roode taps out, but you can't win by submission outside the ring! Roode grabs a beer bottle left over from James Storm's return and smashes Sting over the head with it behind the ref's back to get the cheap win to retain at 10:55. A fun brawl and much better than some of Sting's recent efforts, this made both guys look good (Roode winning in the cowardly heel way works perfectly with his character) and was a fine way to cap off a surprisingly fun show. ***

After the match Sting is pissed, so he suplexes Roode on the ramp. Sting winds up giving Roode a Stinger Death Drop off the ramp through a bit of staging for a big bump to close off the PPV.

Bottom Line: This show was far better than I was expecting as the card looked solid but unspectacular going in. Every match I was looking forward to delivered here though and even some of the matches I wasn't anticipating wound up being pretty good. Throw in some really cool moments like Christian showing up, the Hall of Fame announcement, and the final bump to end the show and this wound up being a pretty damn good show tonight. Easy Thumbs Up.

Score: 8.0/10