By Jason Powell
TNA Bound For Glory Hits
Broken Matt and Brother Nero vs. Decay for the TNA Tag Titles: The big question going into the match was whether they could bring the magic that the big Cameron, North Carolina shoots had to the live setting. They found a way to give us the best of both worlds by filming scenes the night before and inserting them into this match. It’s a risky move because you never know how the live crowd will react to the wrestlers leaving the studio for an extended period, but they never lost the fans, who seemed just as excited when they returned to the studio as they were early in the match. We got Vanguard 1, the Lake of Reincarnation water, King Maxel, a fun live entrance, and most of the other staples from the Cameron shoots. The only thing missing was Señor Benjamin. It also would have been fun if Vanguard 1 had made an appearance in the studio. Even so, this match lived up to the hype and the Broken Universe continues to be the key reason that some fans are paying attention to TNA again.
Gail Kim Hall of Fame induction ceremony: A classy induction ceremony with Gail and her family appearing to be truly moved by the moment. The surprise returns of Awesome Kong and Taryn Terrell were great and really added to the big moment feel that the induction needed. Kim wasn’t a name that came up when we started speculating about who would be inducted this year, yet she was truly the perfect choice.
Gail Kim vs. Maria for the TNA Knockouts Title: Anyone who thought this was going to be at the level of WWE’s better women’s matches was kidding themselves. Maria is a great talker and personality. She’s not a great wrestler, nor has she been presented as one. The idea was that Maria was finally going to get hers after ducking Kim several times in the past. Kim took the title and the lovable Allie character played her part in Maria’s downfall. It was simple, short, and fine for what it was.
Cody and Brandi Rhodes debut: A satisfying debut with Cody and Brandi getting the better of Mike Bennett and Maria. I’m not sure how satisfied fans are going to feel if Cody’s run in TNA is focussed on mixed tag matches. Fans want to see him in the title picture and working with all of TNA’s top names. Let’s hope they get there soon. The important thing is that Cody received the big star reaction and the live crowd seemed to enjoy his initial appearance.
DJ Z vs. Trevor Lee for the X Division Championship: It’s still infuriating that Lee is a standout when he works anywhere other than TNA, where they cast him as just another X Division wrestler. Putting that aside, it was a real breath of fresh air to get a singles X Division Title match rather than the usual “get everyone on the show” spot-fest six-way match. They didn’t get enough time for this to feel special, but the length was probably right in that there’s no guarantee the fans would have stayed with these guys if only because their personalities have not been well established. Either way, I’ll settle getting a good, competitive singles match. Here’s hoping this becomes the norm. By the way, where was Gregory Shane Helms?
Lashley vs. EC3 for the TNA Title: A minor Hit thanks in large part to the finish. TNA delivered a straight forward match with a clean finish. It may not sound like much, but this was a breath of fresh air after years of seeing overbooked main event finishes, particularly when the heel has gone over. The other great part about the finish is that they didn’t book a title change to give the babyface the title and close their biggest show of the year on a happy note. This didn’t feel like EC3’s time. He may ultimately be the guy who ends up beating Lashley, but it will mean more the longer they wait. Lashley is doing a terrific job as champion and it should really mean something when someone finally beats him to win the championship. The actual wrestling was decent at best. Both men are capable of better than they showed here.
Moose vs. Mike Bennett: More of an “in the middle” type of match than a true Hit or Miss. I never understood the Moose and Bennett pairing. Yes, they both worked for Ring of Honor, but it’s not like they had any real history together in that promotion. TNA was wise to shift Moose to the babyface side, but their split came so soon that it didn’t feel like a big showdown match with Moose finally getting his hands on the heel. Bennett did his best to heel on Moose on the mic leading up to the match, but it all felt rushed and led to a rather forgettable match that felt like it could have been an Impact main event rather than a pay-per-view match. Am I the only one who felt like they had Robert Irvine telegraph the finishes of this match and the women’s match by telling Bennett and Maria that he had a premonition that it was going to be a very bad night for them?
Overall show: TNA Slammiversary was bogged down by too many throwaway undercard matches. This time around, TNA crammed the undercard wrestlers into the Bound For Gold match, and gave most of the show to their bigger names and the Hall of Fame ceremony. We didn’t have a bunch of ref bumps or a bunch of run-ins, meaning the show didn’t feel overbooked. All of the match finishes were clean, including when they put over the heel champion in the main event. For years, TNA had great wrestlers and poor booking. Creative has improved dramatically this year, and now they need a few more wrestlers who can deliver the type of strong matches that fans have become accustomed to seeing in WWE and NXT live specials and on Ring of Honor pay-per-views. The in-ring product isn’t poor, it’s just not as strong as it’s been in the past, nor is it living up to what competitors are delivering from start to finish inmost cases. Overall, though, this was a satisfying pay-per-view and it was refreshing to see TNA take such a straight forward approach from a booking and match finish standpoint.
TNA Bound For Glory Misses
Bound For Gold match: The best thing I can say about the match is that the right guy went over. It is concerning that some of the Impact Zone fans are starting to get behind Drake, as I fear that TNA will react by turning him babyface. It’s a risky move to turn the guy when he’s still finding himself as a character. Let him work out the kinks as a heel and turn him when the time is right. The most embarrassing part of the match was Grado’s brief appearance. Grado’s comedy has grown on me, but it was sad to see a TNA wrestler impersonate a famous WWE moment in a WWE ripoff match. If paying homage to a WWE moment in a WWE style match doesn’t scream “second rate wannabes” then I don’t know what does. This felt like a “get everyone on the show” style match. I understand the need to do that, but there really should have been at least one other guy who felt like he had a chance to win.
Aron Rex vs. Eddie Edwards for the TNA Grand Championship: The match did nothing to get me more excited about Rex’s run as a babyface or the Grand Championship. They didn’t make great use of the rounds format. It seemed like the plan was for the wrestlers to split the first two rounds, and then for Rex to dominate the first half of the third round and for Edwards to come back at the end to make it interesting. However, the Edwards comeback was light, and it really had to be because you don’t want to crown a new babyface champion and leave the crowd disappointed that the guy who lost the match wasn’t named the winner. I was hoping that Rex was going to come out of this as a heel somehow, but his post match promo included him raving about Edwards and saying he could have another title shot. Here’s hoping that Rex will turn out to be a hypocritical heel. Rex isn’t working as a babyface and I’ve seen nothing from him that makes me think he’s going to turn things around. And as much as I enjoy the work of Drew Galloway, I don’t believe he would made me feel any differently about Rex as a babyface had he been able to work this match as scheduled.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Justin Credible returning to discuss playing comedy clubs with Sandman and Shane Douglas on "The Whole F'n Truth Tour", the status of the "Credible" documentary, reviewing AEW Dynamite with Vince Russo, and much more...