Pruett's Pause: TNA Bound for Glory - Live in-person perspective of A.J. Styles TNA Championship win, Sting's attempt to make Magnus, Bobby Roode winning by taking the Angle Slam, and more!
By Will Pruett
Bound for Glory is meant to be TNA's biggest show of the year. It is meant to be the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. It is supposed to contain major moments for fans of TNA to remember for years. This show didn't meet those expectations, especially from a storytelling standpoint.
One of the rules of storytelling used by Pixar when developing their (mostly brilliant) films is related to simplicity. When telling a story, if any element could be left out, and the story would remain the same, leave it out. If there is anything unnecessary, leave it out. Looking at the main event of this show, there were many unnecessary elements and they should have been left out.
A.J. Styles vs. Bully Ray was a story built on redemption. Styles had been out of the title picture for almost a year, while Bully held the championship hostage. Their match was about Styles taking everything Bully could give him, and still coming back and fighting. This was all we needed to see.
Dixie Carter did not need to be involved. She was superfluous and even with the story being told concerning her, she didn't need to be seen interfering in this match. Wes Brisco and Knux did not need to be involved. Their interference was nonsensical, especially given how quickly they were disposed of. Why didn't they come back? Couldn't they see Bully was in trouble? Brooke Tessmacher was absolutely superfluous at ringside. She never did anything of consequence and completely no-sold the beating she took earlier in the night from Lei'D Tapa.
There were at least four people involved in the main event who did not need to be. Along with the people, there were many things in this match which were unnecessary. What was the point of Bully Ray peeling back the padding on the ring? Does doing this instantly mean everything hurts more? Should I not believe anything else on show hurts because it is done on padding?
There are so many ways to tell a story and the simplest is often the best. TNA often opts for the least simple route. By adding in unnecessary complications, they deprive their fans of the best possible story. There were around 3,000 people in a half-full small arena last night. TNA is watched nationally by over 1,000,000 people on a weekly basis. Why does their biggest show of the year only draw 3,000 people? At a certain point, the storytelling strategy in TNA has to change.
Picking up the pieces:
- Production-wise, this show was disappointing. TNA did nothing to differentiate between a standard episode of Impact and their biggest show of the year. I know they cannot afford pyro or anything major like confetti, but they could always have a different big screen setup. They could also just make the arena look different. Instead, this was Impact, but with longer matches.
- The Bound for Glory preshow was pretty confusing in the area. It was completely dark, which made it hard to find our seats. It was also disjointed. We were not shown the whole preshow on the screen, so what we did get was odd. The show was weird.
- I cannot fathom why Bad Influence and The BroMan's places were not switched for this show. While the Tag Team Championship match was surprisingly good, it would have been much better with Christopher Daniels and Kazarian in it. Why not build the tag division around the best team in the company?
- Ultimate X is TNA's signature gimmick match. This edition of it included four former World Champions and was considered an "All Star" match. Why did it open the pay-per-view? If it had to do with production issues, take the time to set up the X structure during the show. TNA could have easily moved this match to the semi-main event.
- Ultimate X itself was disappointing. It seemed to barely get going when it was over. Add in the ladder being used instead of it being the ultimate athletic challenge for a wrestler to make his way across the cables, and the match ended up being among the worst Ultimate X efforts.
- The non-Ultimate X parts of the Ultimate X match were decent. The fans were into Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy. They loved their offense. The action was fast paced and exciting, right up until the climbing of the ropes actually started.
- Chris Sabin has come full circle and won the X Division Championship again. This doesn't surprise me at all. Sabin's mid-Summer push was so odd that he needed to go back and start over. This is his restart with his new heel character.
- Abyss' music and entrance received one of the bigger pops of the night. Is TNA outright admitting Abyss and Joseph Park are the same person now? It seemed terribly obvious from where I was sitting. The commentators, in order to retain what little credibility they have, have to be putting it together, right?
- There was a moment in the Tag Team Championship match where the crowd really rallied behind James Storm and Gunner. It was loud and exciting. The next moment, the crowd was instantly deflated, going into the poor finish and title change. This happened multiple times on this show. TNA would rally the crowd, then kill said rally off.
- How strange was the TNA Hall of Fame segment? Sting inducted Kurt Angle, and Angle, alluding to his personal issues, declined. Once again, the crowd was ready to give Angle a Hall of Fame ovation and they were stopped. These moments absolutely killed any momentum the show had. I respect Angle for handing his personal issues and I understand if he didn't feel right about entering a Hall of Fame right now, but people paid to see a show and this moment was awful int he context of the show. The Hall of Fame is a work anyways, suck it up and accept it.
- What about the fans who paid $100 to attend to TNA Hall of Fame dinner? The dinner happened as planned, but it has now been deemed pointless. Shouldn't they get something for their night being retroactively ruined?
- You know what I awful about sitting in a half-full arena? You're looking at empty seats directly across from you for the entire show. When wrestlers are cutting promos or doing their entrance poses in the ring, you are looking at their backs. It's a disservice to the fans who bothered to show up to play to the empty seats.
- I spent the entirety of the Knockouts Championship match waiting for Lei'D Tapa to come down and destroy people. This was the right choice, because she did. I was surprised to see her paired with Gail Kim, but I guess TNA knows she isn't ready to work actual matches, so she will be Kim's muscle.
- I'm not going to say TNA ripped off A.J. Lee and Tamina's story for Kim and Tapa, but I will say they should be careful. Why do this angle so close to when WWE is rolling out something very similar? I know they watch WWE's product. They should strive to not tell the exact same stories with strikingly similar players.
- Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Roode was easily the best match on the show and was very exciting. They worked a really great wrestling match together and the crowd invested themselves in Angle's quest for victory. This was basic storytelling and it worked.
- What didn't work for me was the finish of Roode and Angle. Once again, the crowd was into Angle and the Ankle Lock. When the referee weirdness happened with Roode's hand being placed on the ropes, it was awkward. When Angle lost the match by delivering his finisher to Roode, it was even more awkward. How many matches has Roode won by taking a finisher? Who thinks this is a good idea? Does Bobby Roode even have a finishing maneuver?
- As the Kurt Angle match ended, around 100 people started rushing for the exits. I'm going to assume they thought the show was over and this was the main event. It was weird.
- Also weird was the strobe light flashing in my eyes during Kurt Angle's stretcher job. I am completely unimpressed with TNA's live event production values. This was a simple fix for them to make and they just left it on. I have very little patience for poor production and this was awful. Thanks for the headache, TNA.
- The debut of Ethan Carter III was fun. His entire presentation is going to be interesting to watch develop. The crowd was silent, but they had just been deflated by the Angle and Roode finish.
- Norv Fernum was Southern California indie wrestler "Pretty" Peter Avalon. Avalon is known for being very small and his awesome comedic selling. This is basically what he did in this match and it was very fun.
- Magnus vs. Sting was disappointing to me. Given the hype for the match, I expect Sting to kick it up a notch or two above his normal match. This did not occur. Sting had his basic match which included his no-longer-effective Scorpion Deathlock effort.
- Was Sting's goal ever to defeat Magnus? He never talked about beating him, just "making" him in the match. This was an ill-defined concept and it didn't lead to investment in the match. The crowd booed Magnus when he achieved victory, but it wasn't even passionate booing.
- It seems like the plan for Magnus is a heel turn, which I fear will damage his character. He didn't play a convincing heel when he turned after his tag team with Samoa Joe dissolved. Will he have the chance to now?
- Was there a production mistake when A.J. Styles' "Get Ready to Fly" music didn't hit in the middle of his walk to the ring? This is how TNA has produced his entrance for the last couple of months. I didn't mind him sticking with the dark entrance theme, but it was an abrupt shift.
- I'm convinced Bully Ray and A.J. Styles actually entered to the exact same song. I know TNA likes the music Dixie's husband creates, but when it all sounds the same, a buffer theme song would be great.
- Jeremy Borash's ring introductions always lend a little credibility to main events. They are among the best of the little things TNA does.
- The main event was like a long wait for run-ins, and when they occurred, it was disappointing.
- Styles' 450 Splash through the ringside table was insanely dangerous. Hopefully it was all done safely and it just looked dangerous.
- The spots in Bully Ray vs. A.J. were good. They tried to give it a big-match feel, but the construction of the match was poor.
- Styles' post Spiral Tap and pin celebration was great. It was one of the moments where the show felt consequential. When A.J. went into the crowd to celebrate, it seemed like we were witnessing something important.
- Dixie Carter hung out on the ramp without direction simply looking distraught for the climax of the match and most of the celebration. This was distracting. Why was she there for so long?
- After the show, my wife asked me why Dixie could not just fire A.J. Styles. I couldn't give her an answer.
- It actually would have helped this show to have it in a smaller venue. TNA insists on running arenas they can't sell out. Why not run clubs they can? Use the same production values, make them look great, and allow the personality of the building to shine through. It's better to turn away a few people than to run a half full building.
I always enjoy live wrestling shows, but this one was a little weird. The moments where the crowd would get excited, then immediately be let down were tiring. The full show didn't feel like a major happening. From the production elements to clunky stories, the show felt like another episode and not a climax.
Bound for Glory is supposed to be the beginning and end for TNA, but this seemed like a middle. The show doesn't seem consequential, even with every title in the company changing hands. Bound for Glory was disappointing and TNA has to blame themselves and their own methods of storytelling for the failure.
Let's do some good old fashioned talking about this show! Feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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