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Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Pro Wrestling--- My Review of TNA's Bound for Glory Pay-Per-View
Bound for Glory was the first TNA pay-per-view event that I have purchased since December 2002, when I stopped watching because the shows completely stunk at that point. I started the watching the product again when they got the weekly show on Spike TV, and I don't regret a penny of the 30 dollars that I spent to buy the Bound for Glory PPV, which I felt was one of the best pro wrestling PPVs so far this year. I would give the show an overall score of 9.5 out of 10.
The four-way Monster's Ball hardcore match with Rhino, Sabu, Abyss, and Jeff Hardy was absolutely insane, as all four wrestlers carried their end of the match and Jeff Hardy threaded the needle and successfully pulled off one of the riskiest stunts I can remember seeing.
It wasn't just the height, it was the fact that he was so far away from the table that had Abyss on it. My thoughts as he was about to jump were, "There's no freakin' way he's going to be able to jump that far," and my thoughts immediately afterwards were similar to the crowd's thoughts, as this was the biggest of many "Holy S--t!" moments on this event. The move seems even riskier when you think about it a little bit more. Coming up just short of the target would have resulted in Hardy landing on his head and neck on the entrance ramp, while jumping slightly past the target would have resulted in Hardy landing on his head and neck right past the table. I think that match deserves somewhere between four and four-and-a-half stars, as it was an excellent showcase that was far from a one-spot match.
Immediately following one of the hardest matches any two wrestlers could possibly have to follow, there was AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels in a 30-minute Iron Man Match. The crowd was exhausted from having collectively crapped its pants over the course of the previous match, but Styles and Daniels were still faced with the task of keeping the crowd entertained for 30 minutes. Not only did they do that, but they had one of the damnedest matches I have ever seen. I would put this match at just short of five stars, and I'd say it was right up there with the Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels classic from WrestleMania earlier this year.
Unlike some Iron Man Matches over the years, this match actually told a story. You had Styles dominating the first ten minutes while being unable to put Daniels away; then Daniels dominating the second ten minutes while being unable to put Styles away; and then both wrestlers fighting through exhaustion and doing a brilliant job of selling moves over the last ten minutes, before Styles got the pinfall in the final seconds.
AJ Styles crying in joy after the match also added to the atmosphere, because the only matches that come to mind from the past couple of years which have been that emotionally draining to watch were Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels from this year's WrestleMania, and Chris Benoit's title win from last year's WrestleMania. It's time for everyone to wake up and smell the coffee, and the "coffee" in this case is that AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels are just as good or better than anyone on the WWE roster outside of Angle, Michaels, and Benoit.
The biggest surprise of the night for me was the four-way match with Austin Aries vs. Roderick Strong vs. Alex Shelley vs. Sonjay Dutt. I just expected a "decent to good" match out of this, and instead a "very good to excellent" match ensued. Even more than the other three guys in this match, Austin Aries is just so crisp and believable in every move he does. Note to Vince McMahon: Look at Sonjay Dutt and how incredibly talented he is, and how over he is with the live crowd. Wow, it's a wrestler from a foreign continent who is able to get over without some kind of racist, exploitative, tasteless gimmick! I'm sure that fact would surprise Vince McMahon, but it wouldn't change his policies because he wouldn't get his jollies from pushing a foreigner in a non-racist, non-exploitative way.
The biggest disappointment of the night for me was the Samoa Joe vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger match. It's not that it wasn't a very good match, because it was. Instead, my disappointment stems from a combination of the sky-high expectations and the inexcusable fact that the match was only booked to last seven minutes.
You can't tell me that they were short on time and had to cut the match to seven minutes, because they could have easily cut more time from the seven-minute Diamonds in the Rough jobber match, or the seven-minute Team Canada formula match. Being the first match on the PPV portion of the card also made Samoa Joe look bad. You can be elevated by being in the opening match of a PPV if it's a showcase match, but seven-minute PPV openers are normally reserved for jobbers, not someone who has the potential to be the future of pro wrestling in the United States.
The Ultimate X Match with Petey Williams vs. Matt Bentley vs. Chris Sabin was an excellent match that is probably going to be under-rated because of the clearly botched finish. I can understand the frustration that was obvious in all of the wrestlers after the match, because they were 12 or 13 minutes into a match that was a few more minutes' worth of incredible action away from being a four-star-plus match, only to have it end so awkwardly and abruptly. It looked like Williams caught the "X" thinking that the ref was going to order it to be lifted back up again, but instead the ref said that the match was over and Williams was the winner. That was clearly not the planned finish.
Having never seen Monty Brown in a singles match on PPV, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of his match against Lance Hoyt, who looked pretty good himself as a more talented version of Andrew "Test" Martin. Just based on the past few weeks of TV shows, I could see that Monty Brown had the charisma, the in-ring intensity, the power moves, and the connection with the live crowd, but this match showed me that he can actually have a quality wrestling match, too, which is more than I can say for Batista unless he's in there with a solid hand like Triple H to carry him. Brown would never get the push that he deserves in WWE since A) They have a long and storied history of institutional racism and B) They didn't "create him," but it's nice to see that he appears to be on the verge of getting a huge push in TNA.
The Team Canada match, Diamonds in the Rough match, and Tag Team Title match were the lowest points on the card, and even they were decent matches. However, I do question the decision to put the Diamonds in the Rough match on the PPV, due to the fact that they were short on time and this match hadn't even been announced as of the TV show that aired one night before the PPV.
The only reason I didn't give this event a 10 out of 10 is because of the final 30 minutes. The Gauntlet for the Gold Match to earn an immediate NWA Title Match came off to me as a complete clusterf--k. I understand that they had to scramble to come up with a back-up plan since Kevin Nash was legitimately hospitalized with chest pains on the day of the event, but it could have been handled a lot better.
First of all, why would Jeff Jarrett (and Shane Douglas, of all people), be so upset when Larry Zbyszko said that the number-one contender would be determined by a Gauntlet for the Gold Match? Instead of just naming a number-one contender who would have to face Jarrett after previously wrestling once that same night, now the number-one contender would be someone who would probably have to wrestle twice before their title match even started. And this is supposed to be unfair to Jarrett, as opposed to the challenger? That just didn't make any sense.
Another thing that made no sense in the Gauntlet for the Gold Match was Monty Brown getting eliminated so early when they had just spent so much time talking about how he was due for a title match. Also, Samoa Joe should not have been in this match if he wasn't going to win, because he is the person who everyone wants to get a World Title shot (as evidenced by the fact that when there were a half-dozen big-name wrestlers in the ring, the entire crowd was chanting, "Joe, Joe, Joe"). And what reason is there to not include Raven in the match unless Larry Zbyszko is now a heel commissioner instead of a babyface commissioner?
My biggest problem with the Gauntlet for the Gold Match was that having AJ Styles participate in the match detracted from the incredible match that he just had with Christopher Daniels. If you're not going to have the X Division Title Match as the main event, that's fine, but the least you could do is make it the separate and equal accomplishment that it's suppsed to be. The way it came off having Styles come out and vie for the World Title (unless he was booked to win it, which he wasn't) is that Styles was the equivalent of the Intercontinental Champion who wanted to come out and take a shot at the real belt. I think that severely undercut the image of the X Division in a lot of fans' eyes, just minutes after the incredible Iron Man Match had built up the division so much.
I was glad to see Jeff Jarrett lose the title to Rhino in the main event, and I think it's about time that Jeff Jarrett either leaves the main event picture or stops being an in-ring wrestler altogether. It is such BS to hear people argue the Jarrett party line of, "Who else are they going to put in that position?" Even if one hates Rhino, the answer to that question could still be Monty Brown, Samoa Joe, and AJ Styles, all of whom are ready to go right now as cornerstones of the World Title picture if they're needed in that role.
I also don't want to hear the BS line of, "Jarrett has name recognition!" because any name recognition that Jarrett has is the kind that turns people off, namely because most new viewers would associate him with the final "Death Years" of WCW, when he was at the top of a company that was putting out some of the worst pro wrestling shows in the history of the industry. That's not the kind of name recognition that the bigwigs at Spike TV and Panda Energy should be seeking.
From a storyline standpoint in the main event, I thought it was odd that putting his opponent in a casket was such a big part of Jarrett's goal on this night, because it's only going to lead to Undertaker comparisons (although maybe that's accurate because they are both over-pushed has-beens who can't work). Also, why have Tito Ortiz on the show as the special guest referee if he's barely going to have any role in the match, and then he just magically disappears when the babyface gets the crap beat out of him by the heels after the match? They could have made much better use of Ortiz.
Finally, if the booking team was serious about Rhino as a franchise-level World Champion, they should have had him win the title and then gone off the air with his big moment being the show-closing image. The Dudleys (excuse me, "Team 3D") run-in could have easily been booked to happen earlier in the match, and the way that the post-match clusterf--k took place made Rhino's title win almost seem like an afterthought by the time they went off the air.
Beyond the in-ring wrestling and booking, one thing that really stood out to me is how much Don West has progressed as a color commentator since the last time I heard him in December 2002. I suppose it wouldn't seem like that much of a difference for people who have watched TNA that entire time, but for me it was amazing to hear how much better he has gotten in the past three years.
I'd say that Don West is now just as good at what he does (color commentary) as Mike Tenay is at what he does (play-by-play), in that they're both very good, but not perfect. Tenay seems to have inherited what used to be West's biggest flaw, which is the screaming and over-selling of big moves and moments. West has gotten much better in that regard since 2002, while Tenay seems to be screaming a lot more than he was in 2002.
Overall, the last 30 minutes of the broadcast (aka, the Jeff Jarrett Show) sucked both from an in-ring standpoint and a logic standpoint. Fortunately, that was preceded by one of the best three-hour stretches on any pro wrestling PPV this year.
More than anything else, this show firmly established in my mind that TNA is the place to find the best in-ring pro wrestling action that you can get on pay-per-view. WWE is the place to go if you want to see The Adventures of the McMahon Family, lots of bad skits, and the occasional great match on a PPV, while TNA is the place to go if you want to see the best in-ring wrestling action in North America.