Pruett’s Blog: TNA’s Bound for Glory – What it is and what TNA wants it to be

Posted in: Pruett's Blog, MUST-READ LISTING
Oct 16, 2011 - 07:45 AM

By Will Pruett

Sunday, October 16 – 7:45 A.M. (CT)

Since that fateful day in March 1985 when Vince McMahon produced WrestleMania (and most would argue since November 1983 when Jim Crocket and the NWA produced Starrcade) every wrestling company has needed it’s one special event. Even on the indies there are events that are marketed as “the biggest night in out company’s history” or as the end of a year of storylines. For TNA this event is supposed to be Bound for Glory.

I sat down today and thought about the history of this show. Since 2005 TNA has produced an October pay-per-view meant to overshadow all of their pay-per-views. Does it live up to this claim? Let’s look at it year by year to find out.

2005 – Jeff Jarrett was supposed to finally meet his maker in a showdown with Kevin Nash. TV had been building to it for months and it felt like this time Jeff Jarrett would finally meet his maker. Sadly injuries kept Kevin Nash from being able to actually appear at this event. Instead, TNA made the call to have Rhino win a Monster’s Ball match and a 10-man gauntlet match to earn the main event slot that Kevin Nash was vacating.

This strategy actually worked well. If one could get past the fact that a company’s WrestleMania-esque main event was being booked on the fly then it was actually a great night for Rhino and TNA. Sadly, the devil is in the details and the detail missing here was follow up. Soon after winning the NWA Championship from Jarrett Rhino would lose it back to him at a house show and the show that was supposed to change everything had changed nothing.

2006 – This show had a whole lot going for it, especially in the main event. Sting was scheduled to challenge Jeff Jarrett for the NWA Championship. A month earlier the biggest announcement in TNA history took place and a special enforcer was added. That man was Kurt Angle. Angle’s appearance in TNA was the biggest moment in company history (and probably still is).

This show started a tradition with Bound for Glory for the next three events. Sting would main event them all. This was the beginning of TNA’s attempt to build up a streak that would be the promotional equivalent of The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. This idea worked and did not work on various levels. In the end, fans were satisfied by the event, but one must look again at the follow up. Sting would lose the NWA Championship by disqualification to Abyss one month later.

It is worth noting that since the beginning of the company’s existence this was the first monthly pay-per-view to take place outside of the Impact Zone. This alone made the event feel more important than any they had ever put on.

2007 – TNA used their two biggest stars for this main event. Sting and Kurt Angle clashed for the TNA World Championship (TNA broke ties with the NWA in early 2007). This was a solid match, but the cracks in Sting’s armor began to show. While The Undertaker can deliver at WrestleMania every year, Sting’s matches show a constant decline in ability and quality. This show also featured a reverse battle royal and the first ever TNA Knockouts Champion being crowned.

What really set this show apart were the trends that were beginning to show. Every Bound for Glory contained the train wreck of a match referred to as the Monster’s Ball. This match, with its unbelievable “combatants are locked in cages and not allowed to eat for 24 hours beforehand” stipulation showed the absolute worst of TNA’s booking.

Another dangerous trend was the follow up. For the third year in a row the winner of the main event lost within a month of winning the championship. Sting would lose the TNA Championship to Kurt Angle on Impact weeks later. TNA tried hard before the matches to make them feel special, but there was no follow through to make sure every former Bound for Glory match felt special.

2008 – This show is notable for a number of reasons. It contained the worst performance by a special referee in history from Steve “Mongo” McMichael (who was a worse commentator than Booker T could ever dream of being for WCW in 1995), it had the debut of the Steel Asylum match (which would mar TNA’s first thirty minutes of Monday night programming in 2010) and it featured Mick Foley’s TNA pay-per-view debut as a special enforcer (which there tend to be a lot of on Bound for Glory).

This show also began TNA’s first attempt at a true year-long storyline with the groundwork being laid for the Main Event Mafia takeover of Impact. It was with that story in mind that the ending for Sting vs. Samoa Joe (the main event that year) was drawn up. Kevin Nash turned on Joe, siding with Sting and soon that side would include Booker T, Scott Steiner and Kurt Angle.

The follow up to Sting’s title win was for him to keep that belt until Lockdown 2009 where he lost it to Mick Foley. This long reign was what Sting needed to get over the Bound for Glory winning streak as more than a string of fluke victories. Sadly, the follow up to the Main Event Mafia story was less than stellar. The heel group gained a lot of heat, but the babyface forces that attempted to combat them were poorly realized and “The Frontline” soon faded away.

2009 – This show was the end of the previous year’s story, but it went out with a whimper instead of a bang. It was highlighted by a double main event with Kurt Angle going over Matt Morgan and A.J. Styles ending the Bound for Glory winning streak of Sting and retaining his TNA Championship. It is also notable for taking place right around when the news of Hulk Hogan signing with TNA broke.

There is a certain parallel to this year’s Bound for Glory with Kurt Angle as a major heel going into a main event against an up and coming young star. On this night it was Matt Morgan who would receive his moment in the sun with Angle. He lost to Kurt that night and at that moment his trajectory peaked. Morgan has never recovered from losing that match.

Styles also received an amazing opportunity in ending Sting’s undefeated streak (in a match that was advertised as quite possibly Sting’s final one). This was supposed to be a night that the young guns defeated the old guard in a true torch-passing moment. It was for about two months until the new old guard took over with the arrival of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and The Nasty Boys (among others). TNA tried to make this a landmark night, but less than two months later it felt like nothing changed.

2010 – This was the first year since the original (2005) that Sting was not in the main event. Instead it featured three men who made their marks outside of TNA: Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy and Ken Anderson. This show began TNA’s second attempt at a year-long story arc with “They” arriving in the form of Immortal (and the Hulk Hogan heel turn).

The main event three-way match was weighed down with gimmicks and a major Jeff Hardy heel turn. Match quality suffered, but notability was a major plus. The Hardy heel character actually began to take off as a solid act as 2011 began, but that run had to end due to Hardy’s personal issues.

The co-main event was the team of Fortune competing against EV2.0 (TNA’s awful ECW remake faction) in a Lethal Lockdown match. This spectacle was normally reserved for the Lockdown pay-per-view, but TNA has shown a tendency to load Bound for Glory with gimmick matches (2009 featured Ultimate X, Full Metal Mayhem, a Submission Match and Monster’s Ball). This was an entertaining match, but it did not make up for a lack of match quality.

The follow up to this event was a year-long story with constant re-writes based on Jeff Hardy’s personal problems, Mr. Anderson’s constantly fluctuating character and the need for Kurt Angle to be a credible heel member of Immortal (after feuding with fellow member Jeff Jarrett for most of the year). Hogan may still be a heel, but he is one of the only remaining members of the Immortal faction.

2011 – This year’s event has had a solid build up. The Bound for Glory Series was riddled with problems, but it achieved its goal of getting people to talk about the show for months beforehand. It also succeeded in making Bobby Roode feel like a major star getting his opportunity.

This show definitely suffers from gimmick overload with an I Quit match, a Full Metal Mayhem match, a Street Fight and the Hogan-Sting “fight” all scheduled to occur. It is also loaded with rematches that will hopefully end feuds, making this show a new beginning for this company.

The worry leaving this show is similar to the worries I had in 2009. Is Hulk Hogan going to overshadow everything including what should be a TNA Championship reign from Bobby Roode?

What is the legacy of Bound for Glory in the last six years? I’d say it is the same legacy that TNA’s booking seems to have. It is a show that is supposed to feel important, but it is undermined by what TNA chooses to do as the follow up to the event. TNA wants it to feel like the most important show in history, but they move on so quickly most years that it just feels like another show. This is fine with B-shows like Victory Road and No Surrender, but with their own version of WrestleMania they should be more careful.

This year is an opportunity for TNA to change that legacy. With Booby Roode ascending to the TNA Championship level, the follow up from this year’s event will be the most important that TNA has produced. The build up has been spectacular (not just by TNA standards, but by any standards). The big challenge now is succeeding where their product has constantly failed.

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