Back to the land of Impact! It’s the 11th January 2009 and we’re in the terribly named Bojangles Coliseum of Charlotte, North Carolina for TNA Genesis! Your main event tonight: Booker T, Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner of the Main Event Mafia take on the “Front Line” of A.J. Styles, Mick Foley and Brother Devon!
Who’s ready for some LOLTNA? Well, we are far removed from that first, mostly disastrous, PPV and the TNA of early 2009 had a very different look, but still has plenty of elements tailor-made to create nonsense. Not least of those is Vince “ISWEARTOGAWD” Russo as one of the main writers, the domination of a heel faction of old-school wrestlers over focusing on newer younger talent, Jim Cornette as an authority figure and the unmistakable feeling in booking decisions that we are slowly headed towards the dark days of TNA being WCW 2.0. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff’s ascension to basically running this company is less than a year away folks!
“Cross the Line” splash video that features Kurt Angle roaring like a T-Rex, and we’re into our opening package. The Main Event Mafia has been beating up all of the young faces, and Mick Foley. Oh and Jeff Jarrett. The MEM are part nWo, part Millionaires Club, part Evolution, and mostly suck too. The only other thing of note from this opening is that, minus Heyman, Rhino is the one shouting “GORE, GORE GORRRREEE” now.
Don “You selfish prick” West and Mike “What is XXX doing in the Impact Zone!?” Tenay on commentary. They ponder who will win in the war between the MEM and the “Front Line”, and jokes on them because the guys running the show in a few months will make that question irrelevant. Straight into our opening match.
Jimmy Rave, Kiyoshi and Sonjay Dutt vs Eric Young and the Latin American Exchange (Homicide and Hernandez) (Elimination Match)
This is an “unannounced match” so no need for a crowd warm-up dark contest tonight. This is Dutt’s last TNA PPV appearance I think, another in a long line of great talents wasted by this company. Rave, in the midst of a self-admitted battle with drug addiction at this time, out with a Guitar Hero guitar, because he’s just plain wacky. Tenay decides Eric Young’s entrance is the perfect time to announce that Christy Hemme was legit injured earlier in the week and so her Knockouts Championship match with Awesome Kong will not take place later. LOLTNA (1). He doesn’t offer a prognosis on Hemme, who would end up being out for seven months, instead outlining the details of the women’s match later, and it is a doozy.
Nice to see Eric Young in a time when he wasn’t just dumped to the sidelines by his employer. Tenay, riding high on irrelevant chatter, decides LAX’s entrance is the time to announce that “War Machine” Rhino hasn’t turned up yet, with a title match against Sting later now in doubt. Next time baby?
Dutt and Homicide to start. Dutt floored earlier with a big right. Young and Rave in. Young playing to the crowd like the lovable face he was always better at being. Wrist-lock chains, “Let’s go Eric” chants, jumping chains, and Young with a flying tackle takes Rave down. Tag to Hernandez, who gives Kyoshi a huge springboard shoulder, then back body-drops him to boot. Hernandez sporting a really bad looking mustache here. Who cares, as he flings Kyoshi onto his face with a release German. Nice start to this one.
Tag to Homicide, and he hits a Catapult/Clothesline combination, then a backbreaker/backslider combo, but only two. Kyoshi with an awkward flapjack into the corner that fails to get Homicide the required distance. Spinning heel kick and in comes Dutt. An inexplicable break from the decent action to watch Cornette pound on the MEM locker room door, and let the WWE pre-shows do that, not the actual PPV. LOLTNA (2). In the actual match, Homicide works over Dutt, hitting a double underhook powerbomb. Homicide to the top, but nobody home on a splash.
Kyoshi in for a rope choke, then a double drop-kick from his partners. Seated clothesline for two. Awkward snapmare where Kyoshi seems to let go of Homicide midmove. Homicide now firmly the face-in-peril as he gets worked over by Rave, to boos. Dutt in, Scoop Slam, apron drop, two count. Kyoshi in, another Scoop, then a big kick to Hernandez on the apron. That’s enough for Young to get the tag, and he clears house with some nice jumps, slides and a neat belly-to-back on Rave for two. Dumps Kyoshi out before getting an uranage on the apron from Rave, then Homicide OUTTANOWHERE with a Tope to those three, then Dutt with a somersault senton. Hernandez calling for something big, and flings himself out on the other five with a huge Superman plancha, years before Roman Reigns perfected it.
EY back in for a two count on Rave. Going for a Death Valley Driver, Dutt leaps over him to clumsily fall into Hernandez, now that looked ugly. Young hits the Driver, but Dutt breaks up the pin. Homicide with a swinging neckbreaker to Dutt, then eats a buzzsaw from Kyoshi, then Kyoshi gets floored by a Young clothesline, then Young hit by a swinging neckbreaker from Rave, then Rave eats an uranage from Hernandez, then Hernandez takes a missile drop-kick from the guru. I do love when tags do that kind of thing, and this was a great example. Lest you get too hyped for this match, we cut again to Jim Cornette hammering on the MEM door, and that’s going to be a LOLTNA (3).
In the ring, Young gets two off a second rope elbow drop on Rave. Dutt with the blind tag, dodges a corner charge, Pele Kick, lawn-dart splash, rope assisted pin and Young is out of here. Homicide in, Gringo Cutter but Dutt out of the Gringo Killer. Rave in, the two countering back and forth, and Rave gets the pin on a roll-up, to boos. Hernandez left all on his own, but floors everyone, with a big pounce to Rave. Dutt tries for a sunset flip, nothing doing, and Hernandez tosses him across the ring. Border Toss to Kyoshi and he’s pinned. Dutt caught on a crossbody, sit-out powerbomb and he’s gone. I don’t fancy Rave’s chances. Hernandez and he go to the top, Hernandez throws him off, lands a splash and that’s the final 1, 2, 3 in just under 14 minutes.
Winners: The Young Latin American Exchange
Verdict: Fun opener, though it’s never good for the losers to be man-handled like these guys were at the end, especially if they aren’t committed to making Hernandez a big singles star. Reminds me of Summerslam 2010 in that way, but I know I am overstating things a bit.
After cutting from that match twice we go back a third time to Cornette at the MEM locker room. Now Steiner Math himself answers, and expresses his lack of care for Rhino’s absence. Steiner says Rhino is a drunk, and suggests Cornette check out gutters. Classy stuff. LOLTNA (4).
A brief rundown of the X-Division Title Tournament to find a new champion for the vacant belt follows, which has ended up with Alex Shelly and Chris Sabin facing each other, ie, The Motor City Machine Guns Implode! They try to explain why the title was vacated in the first place, but can’t get beyond unstated “controversy”.
Alex Shelley vs Chris Sabin (TNA X-Division Championship Tournament Final)
The announcer says separately that Shelly and Sabin are both representing the Motor City Machine Guns. Yeesh. LOLTNA (5).
Handshake to start. Chains, stereo kip-ups, more chains. Smooth as milk between these two guys, but immediately noticeable that the crowd is a bit dead. I suppose they don’t know who to cheer for, something the commentators mention. The jumping/hip toss/takedown chains continue, and nothing separating the two. Test of strength, dueling kicks, dueling pinning attempts and Sabin gets a bit of an advantage with a drop-kick. Prone abdominal stretch, Shelly to the ropes. Shelly dodges a corner charge, dumps Sabin out, but then misses on a springboard crossbody and then eats a big tope. Nice sequence, and the first time the crowd has been interested.
Sabin hung up on the ropes, and Shelly with a springboard leg-drop to a big reaction. Dueling chops, Sabin down, and Shelly gets two off a Lionsault. Abdominal stretch, eventually Sabin out, discus forearm, but then Shelly with a big reverse overhead suplex, but Sabin up very fast (too fast) with a big kick. Both men down. Up at a count of eight, more dueling shots, dueling corner clotheslines. Sabin to the apron, and lands a big Tornado DDT off a springboard, but only two. Sabin up for another one, but countered into an crossface. Sabin rolls out of it quick enough though. They point out that Sabin is already a four-time X-Division Champ but Shelly has never been, and you’d think they would try and work that into this match, which has been well-worked so far.
Shelly going for his own Tornado DDT, but countered into a neckbreaker by Sabin, than a double-underhook Tiger Suplex bridge for two. Shelly back with a big clothesline, Air Raid Slam, only two. Shelly to the top but intercepted. Sabin looking for a Frankensteiner, but Shelly holds on. Shelly with a powerbomb, back to the top, but knees up on a splash. Sabin to the top, but Shelly dodges, Shelly to the top and hits a splash to the back, then back to the top for a splash to the front, and after that bit of overbooked silliness it was only two. “This is awesome” chant though. Shelly laying in the strikes, but then gets floored by a huge clothesline, Cradle Shot but Sabin only gets two and 99/100th. I mean, that ref was a millimetre from a “You fucked up” chant.
Sabin sets Shelly up on the second rope, looking for an Avalanche Cradle Shock, but Shelly out. Super-kick, Sliced Bread, only two. “TNA” chants, and I’ll admit that this one is pretty good. Sabin with his own super-kick, goes for another Cradle Shot, Shelly out and going for the Sliced Bread but Sabin out. Shelly suddenly clutching his right foot, ref checking, Sabin comes over and Shelly with the roll-up. That’s it in just over 16 and a half.
Winner (and new TNA X-Division Champion): Alex Shelly, that sneaky sneak.
Verdict: They faced an uphill battle with this one, but they got the crowd going with big moves. It had a feeling of being spot spam, but there was a decent story of waiting for the first guy willing to resort to heel tactics. Shelley winning the best choice.
Sabin not too pleased looking, but shakes Shelley’s hand regardless.
A very sudden, amateur cut backstage to Cornette with Jeremy Borash. I mean, I’ve seen early 80’s promotions do it better. LOLTNA (5). Still no sign of Rhino. Even worse, they outline that Kevin Nash is in hospital with a blood infection, so he’s out of the main event. Mick Foley shows up, ahead of his in-ring TNA debut, doesn’t accept Cornette’s excuses, and demands the six-man main event go ahead, with it either a handicap match or with the MEM getting a sub. Nash had a legit staph infection, so can’t really blame TNA for their second injury-induced change to the card.
West and Tenay run down the rest of the card for tonight, minus the women’s match which presumably they had no time to make a graphic for. We also get a video package for the next match, which involved Sheik Abdul Bashir beating up TNA ref Shane Sewell. When Sewell had the temerity to defend himself after repeated assaults, Cornette fired him. LOLTNA (6). Eventually Cornette relented and gave Sewell this match. OK then.
Sheik Abdul Bashir vs Shane Sewell
Bashir is Daivari for anyone who isn’t aware, a guy shamefully underused in WWE. Sewell is a guy who has wrestled here and there, especially in Puerto Rico, but best known as a ref. Ref’s being put into matches routinely results in disasters, ala Earl Hebner vs Nick Patrick, but Sewell at least is trained.
Bashir taking a powder but Sewell throws him into the ring. Elevated punches and then a head bite, and we go to the outside. Slamming Bashir into the barricade and the apron, and Hebner, the ref, has to pull Sewell off. Sewell with a roll-up for one, shoving match, Bashir with a slap and Sewell back with an arm drag. It appears he can go. Bashir with a shoulder charge but Sewell straight back with a crossbody. Bashir taking another powder and they brawl on the ramp. Bashir crotches Sewell on the barricade, then demands Hebner count Sewell out. Sewell back in at a count of eight.
Bashir laying in a beatdown. Neckbreaker, mounted punches, elbow drop, two. It’s been basic but OK so far. The Sheik with strikes and chops, but Sewell gets pumped and rallies back with his own strikes and chops, but then walks into a spinebuster for two. To the rest-holds! Sewell out of a waist-lock after a while, and lands a big running elbow. Sewell with shots, then a back body-drop, then an elbow drop to the groin area (maybe too low), then a bulldog, but only two after that not insignificant sequence. Sewell to the top, another crossbody, but only two. Sets up Bashir, and to the delight of the Charlotte crowd puts on a Figure 4, but Bashir to the ropes quick enough.
Bashir fights back with a flapjack onto the ropes. Hebner stops him from laying in a series of constant strikes, Bashir gives him a shove, and goes for a clothesline. Hebner ducks, gives Bashir a slap, and when Bashir chases after him he walks into a clothesline from Sewell. Sunset flip, and that’s it in just under ten and a half.
Winner: The world’s bestest ref
Verdict: A competent affair. The idea that Bashir can assault any ref that he pleases but if they fight back they get sacked is a bit dumb.
Sewell beats a hasty retreat, and gets mobbed by celebrating refs. He would go on to have a limited run as a competitor I think. We cut from that to yet another Cornette vignette backstage, this time in the parking lot with Booker T and Sharmell. Sharmell insists that Booker doesn’t know anything about Rhino, and Booker eventually gets annoyed enough to grab Cornette by the coat, which Corny sells terribly. The refs, including Sewell, arrive to break it up, and Booker is annoyed enough about this to challenge Sewell to a match, for his “Legend’s Championship”. I had completely forgotten that was a thing. I presume said match occurred on an episode of Impact. Anyway.
A promo for the tag title match follows, and here’s some bullshit: “The TNA Tag Team Titles, the most desired set of bling in tag team wrestling today…teetering on the brink of extinction for nearly a decade, tag team wrestling has been returned to prominence by TNA”. Wow, that is a McMahon level re-write of history. You’d think this match coming up was TLC II the way they are going on.
Black Machismo and Consequences Creed (c) vs Abyss and Matt Morgan vs Beer Money Inc (James Storm and Robert Roode) w/Jaqueline (TNA World Tag Team Championships) (Three Way Match)
Looking at these six, who would have thought Creed would go on to make the biggest success of his career? And here’s “the Blueprint” Matt Morgan, whom I haven’t seen any bit of since 2005. Machismo is, of course, Jay Lethal, still mired in this Randy Savage pisstake character. Lethal and Creed only won the title a few days ago on the back of a Feast or Fired cash-in, Beer Money get a re-match but Abyss/Morgan are already #1 contenders, hence triple threat. Given what was said pre-match, this better be nothing less than the Young Bucks somehow travelling back in time to insert themselves into the 2000 tag title scene in WWF.
This is under silly “two men at a time, anyone can tag in” triple threat rules. Storm and Creed to start, and Storm begs off early after a shoulder charge. Jumping, flip and whip chains, and then Creed maintains the advantage with spinning kicks and clotheslines, but only two. Machismo in, and Storm flees to tag in Bobby Roooooooode. The future Glorious One carrying a knee injury apparently, and quickly gets back body-dropped. Lethal to the top for a double axe-handle for two. Creed back in for the double-team, and Abyss/Morgan just chilling out on the apron.
Jacqueline in to try and break up Creed beating down on Roode, but Machismo/Creed maintain the advantage, and get Abyss in for a bunch of corner charges to a sandwiched Beer Money Inc. This ends with the three falling in what I will only call a “suggestive” position, and it’s as stupid as it sounds. Jackie was an Attitude Era Champion you jackasses. LOLTNA (7). Beer Money dumped out, and Lethal/Creed with stereo baseball slides and then stereo topes, beautiful sequence. Morgan to the top for a plancha to the guys at the outside.
Somehow out of that Abyss becomes the legal man, and starts tossing Beer Money around. Storm/Roode back with an awkward double bulldog, and now they start working over Abyss, which is no easy task. My hot-take on Abyss: he could never really get away from the feeling he was just TNA Kane, but he was a very good asset for the company for a very long time. Creed able to tag in and starts tossing Beer Money around, including a Double DDT for two. Beer Money, with the ref totally happy for them to just both stay in the ring for as long as they like, respond with a cool-looking double swinging uranage for two.
Creed the face-in-peril I suppose as Beer Money commence a second act beatdown. Rest-holds, Roode with a spinebuster and Storm taunting Lethal. Creed dodges a Bronco Buster shortly after, and Lethal in to clear house. Big reaction off a few flips from Machismo, who accounts for Beer Money easily enough, closing with the Lethal Combination. To the top, but Morgan gets the tag and goes for the pin, no good. Abyss with a press slam to Machismo, then a backbreaking chokeslam. Gets floored by a missile drop-kick from Creed straight away, before Creed eats a “Carbon Footprint” from Morgan, which looks like a slightly botched scissors kick. Beer Money with a double Backstabber to Morgan. Awkward spot where Beer Money try to get Morgan up for another double-team move, but Storm and Morgan sort-of combine to send Roode flying?
Roode with a Blockbuster to Morgan for two, Jackie distracting the ref, and somewhere in there Abyss has one of the title belts. Goes for Roode, a duck and Abyss nails Morgan. Morgan caught on camera with his eyes open after that shot, rapidly closing them. Roode going for the pin but Jackie still distracting the ref even though it doesn’t make any sense for her to be doing so. LOLTNA (8). Lethal with the diving elbow to Roode but no ref to count. Jackie is dismissed to the back, Storm with a Last Call to Lethal, throws Roode on top of a still motionless Morgan and that’s it in just under 15 and a half.
Winners (and new TNA World Tag Team Champions): Beer Money Inc, because an awesome tag division is one where the titles are hot potatoed.
Verdict: Hmm, a bit overbooked really, and the ending was very messy. Morgan made to look like a chump.
The ring announcer is interrupted in the middle of his announcement by needing to hand the titles to the ref. LOLTNA (9). Roode aggressively being given a middle finger by a guy at ringside, which is hilarious to me. In the ring Morgan suddenly isn’t knocked out cold, he and Abyss remonstrate, but who cares because we have to go backstage, where “JB” is with Kurt Angle. After threatening to physically assault a receptionist – a reminder that Angle would be legit arrested for stalking a female member of the TNA roster later in 2009 – Angle confronts Cornette. He says Cornette should be more concerned about Jeff Jarrett, whom Angle plans to cripple in a bit. Angle admits that the MEM beat up Rhino earlier in the night because suspense is for losers, and stalks off. What is the point of all this?
ODB, Roxxi and Taylor Wilde vs the Kongtourage (Raisha Saeed, Rhaka Khan and Sojournor Bolt) (TNA Knockouts Championship #1 Contenders Match)
In the middle of the first entrance Tenay and West insist they can’t possibly talk about the women without talking about the situation with Angle for a bit. I suppose this match, where the first person to score a fall becomes #1 contender, is a bit throwaway. TNA’s women’s division was a bit of a mixed bag at the time, with a few standouts, a few divas and a few who had no business anywhere near a ring. Saeed is better known as Melissa in Shimmer or Mariposa in Lucha Underground, and is currently saddled with a niqab-based gimmick.
Wilde and Bolt to start, Wilde with lots of pinning predicaments on her and Saeed when she comes in. Roxxi in and now she knocks Khan around, locking in a sort of reverse octopus for a bit. ODB in, and she’s the crowd favourite for sure. Saeed able to strike her away and in comes Khan, whom ODB fondles for a bit for some reason. LOLTNA (10). Lots of quick tags here, and one wonders why anyone is making a tag seeing what the rules are. Wilde dragged out by Saeed and Bolt and beat down on the outside. Rolled back in and Khan gets two.
Wilde the face-in-peril, and worked over with a surfboard from Saeed, then an elbow drop from the top from Bolt. Kneeling crossface as an “ODB” chant gets going. Wilde gets Bolt down with a face grab spin, and ODB gets the hot tag. ODB cleans house with clotheslines and Scoop Slams, with a Fallaway Slam to Khan. Powerslam to Saeed, but the pin broken up. Things breaking down with everyone in the ring, some awkward-looking brawling. Wilde with a plancha to Khan on the outside. In the ring ODB rolls-up Saeed OUTTANOWHERE in just under eight. Tenay could not sound less interested.
Winner (and new #1 Contender): ODB, something you could see coming a mile off.
Verdict: Actually decent enough given it was thrown together last minute. The heel teams needs some more work. You can tell that Wilde was someone TNA valued, but I understand she retired from wrestling just a couple of years after thus.
Out comes Kong, who remains the best thing TNA’s women’s division ever had. A face-off with ODB, and a brawl breaks out. Some awkward back-and-forth, and the heels emerge on top. Kong gives ODB a chokeslam and stands tall. All standard stuff.
Still around half the show to go and only three matches left. Jarrett’s got enough of an ego that I can see his match going a while. Backstage Cornette is with Sting, and man I guess Jeremy Borash is just following him around. Cornette wants to know why Sting is putting up with the MEM’s tactics. Sting says he doesn’t condone what the MEM does, he’s here to defend the title, and it doesn’t matter to him if Rhino shows up or not. OK then. Why is Sting in the MEM?
A video package for Angle/Jarrett follows. Jarrett is meant to be retired (ha!), but has been goaded back into a match with Angle. I think TNA wants Angle/Jarrett to be there Rock/Austin, but epic-level it ain’t. Apparently Al Snow was involved in this feud? According to Wiki he turned up for one night to screw Mick Foley over when Foley was special reffing a match between Angle and Rhino where if Angle won he got a match with Jarrett, and man that whole set-up deserves a LOLTNA (10). These two have had some pull apart brawls apparently, but I’m just not feeling it: Jarrett is a legendary asshat, and Angle, being frank, never seemed like he was giving TNA 100%.
Kurt Angle vs Jeff Jarrett (No-DQ)
Commentators hyping this up like it’s the biggest match in years for TNA, and a reminder that there are two matches after this, one of which is a World Title match. Jarrett storms to the ring and the two exchanging shots immediately. Jarrett on top, hard whips into the corners sees Angle bounce to the mat, but up quick enough to lock on an early sleeper. Jarrett with a big low blow to get out of that, then an Electric Chair Drop that Angle basically no-sells. Angle clotheslined to the outside.
For reasons I will never understand at all, we cut to the locker room area, where Rhino has, shock of shocks, turned up and is trashing the place for some reason. This is one of your main events! LOLTNA (11). After that interlude we’re back to JJ throwing Angle around on the outside, and squirting a fan’s water bottle at him to boot. Angle back in, and knocks Jarrett into the barricade when his opponent tries to re-enter the ring. Beating up Jarrett with the help of the ring steps, back in and this crowd is red-hot right now, Snap suplex gets Angle two. Stomping the head, backbreaker, two count and to a rest-hold. Jarrett trying to rally back, but walks into a picture-perfect belly-to-belly.
More rest-holds, and even at this stage it’s clear Angle is running out of steam a bit. Tries to get Jarrett up for an Angle Slam, but JJ out of it, only not really: he just basically fell when Angle had him up, and I’m not sure who was at fault. Could have ended badly. There follows a huge back body-drop to Angle that see’s him vault out of the ring, land on his feet and fall to his side, and my own knees are sore watching that. That’s followed up with a crazy bad looking tope from Jarrett, who can’t clear the ropes properly and looks like he just avoids his head hitting the floor first. You’re not a tope guy JJ! Angle up first and flings Jarrett over the announce desk, but not before nearly slipping on something. Danger of this becoming a right botch fest.
Angle grabs the ring bell and gives Jarrett a nasty shot with it, and West reacts like Mankind’s just come off the cell. The camera sticks on Angle just long enough for Jarrett to blade, and Angle helps him along with some strikes. Fighting up the ramp, and Jarrett lands a DDT in desperation. That gives Kurt the time to blade, and then Jarrett is flinging Angle around the stage. Another botched spot for sure where Angle is teetering on the edge of the stage, falls too early to a lower step and just hops back up and repeats the spot like nothing happened. Lands an Angle Slam off the stage second later, through a table that really wasn’t that far down, but the crowd popped big. West selling this hard, describing it as “life and death”.
Dueling chants as both men crawl slowly back to the ring. Takes a while though. Back in, dueling strikes for a bit, Jarrett gets the advantage with a few clotheslines and then hits a “DDT” that is clearly just a Pedigree for two. One thing to note here is that both commentators are describing everything that’s happening to a fine detail, which is distracting, there’s no “colour”. Jarrett looking for the Stroke, countered into the Ankle-Lock. JJ to the ropes, dragged back to the centre, and Jeff rolls through and sends Angle out. Kurt grabs a chair, Jarrett dodges, lands a drop-kick through the chair, then the Stroke, but only two. Angle set-up on top, Jarrett looking for a superplex, knocked off, missile drop-kick from Kurt, Angle Slam, but only two. Some nice sequences here, but West’s rehearsed announcing is very distracting.
Angle looking for the Ankle-Lock again, Jarrett pushes out, then dodges a corner charge. Jarrett grabbing the guitar, but Angle avoids the shot with a low blow. Asks for the crowds opinion about whether to go for the guitar or the chair. Unprotected chair shot to Jarrett, but only two. A frustrated Angle remonstrates with the ref, then slaps on the Ankle-Lock again. Jarrett thinking about tapping, but then counters into a roll-up for two. Angle going for another Angle Slam, countered into a DDT. Jarrett going for his guitar but at some point the handle got broken off, so that spot is out. Chair shot again, but at least Angle gets his hands up. Jarrett very slow to go for the cover, at two Angle counters into a crucifix, and that’s it in just over 22.
Winner: The Godfather (geddit?)
Verdict: A frequently sloppy affair that devolved into soulless big move spam. Crowd and announcers played their part, but I think this one is pretty over-rated.
Angle grabs the chair again and commences a beatdown of Jarrett, focusing on the ankle, before stalking off. Trainers see to Jarrett while we cut backstage to see Cornette trying to convince Rhino to back out of his match tonight. Rhino refuses. We then cut back to Jarrett being stretchered away, and if that isn’t a LOLTNA (12) worthy bit of editing I don’t know what is. Tenay and West are acting like they’ve seen someone killed in front of them, and I’ll admit the replay of Angle destroying Jarrett’s ankle is effective enough as far as it goes. Tenay, with little enthusiasm, intros the recap of the main title feud.
Basically Rhino has been set-up as the leader of the “Front Line”, the face reaction to the MEM. Rhino, who got this match with a non-title pin over the champ, has no problem personally with Sting, but can’t abide that he’s chosen the wrong side in this war. They say war a lot, Sting says this is about respect, Rhino is going to gore his way to victory, etc. Perhaps I would be more into this story if it wasn’t a re-hash of angles long since done to death in WWF, and positively ancient history in WCW.
Sting (c) vs Rhino (TNA World Heavyweight Championship)
Jeremy Borash out for the introductions. He does one for Earl Hebner, and hilariously Earl gets boos. A big Montreal population in Charlotte it seems. Rhino out bandaged. Sting out to the bigger reception. Rhino attacks before Sting has his jacket off, and we’re quickly brawling at ringside. Sting sent into the barricades, then dodges a charge from Rhino. Sting now laying in the offence, slaps Rhino’s head on the announce desk and we go back in. Rhino has bladed at some point. Sting walks into an elbow and Rhino to the top, but shoved off before he can do anything.
Takes a while for Rhino to get back in, and when he does we get a bear hug spot, a battling out spot, then another bear hug spot and with that any momentum the match has is as dead as can be. After a few minutes of this Rhino battles out again and an actual match can resume, and Rhino lands a flying clothesline. Corner spear, belly-to-back, only two. Both up, a few counters, and Rhino lands the Gore, only it’s really a spear, and Sting rolls to the outside.
Eventually Sting back in, Rhino to the top, goes for a splash and, predictably, nobody home. No idea why Rhino is doing high-flying moves at this stage of his career. Sting puts in the Scorpion Death-Lock, Rhino to the rope, pulled back to the centre, Rhino gets to the rope again. Not a bit of actual selling, and it was a rubbish-looking Deathlock to boot. Sting goes for it again, pushed off and Rhino hits another belly-to-back. Goes for the Gore again, Sting dodges and Rhino is just so slow on the charge that it looks abominable. Sting hits the Scorpion Deathdrop and that’s it in just under eight and a half.
Winner (and still TNA World Heavyweight Champion): A very not-bothered Sting
Verdict: Awful. Rhino can barely go at this point and Sting looked lethargic so three quarters of the match had to be dedicated to bear hugs, dull ringside brawling and rubbish submission spots.
Despite his nominal heel status, the crowd cheers Sting’s win, and he’s got his belt and is out of the ring fast.
God this show feels long. Jeremy Borash is backstage with the Smackdown vs Raw-esque random pairing of A.J. Styles, Brother Devon and Mick Foley ahead of the main event. Foley is returning to the ring following his limited final run with WWE, and man isn’t he just the classic example of a guy who just can’t stop, even though he mocked the idea of coming back over and over again in his books. Styles says the Front Line like being underdogs and is going to win tonight for Samoa Joe, absent tonight because of his newborn son. Devon up next, and what a wonderful script moment it is when he says, about his tag partner absent through MEM shenanigans: “Brother Ray wasn’t my friend, he was my brother”. LOLTNA (12). Foley wonders which one of his personas is going to show up tonight, and I really hope it’s Dude Love.
Video package for the main event. The MEM are the bad guys. The Front Line are the good guys. Lots of people screaming. You know the drill by now.
The Main Event Mafia (Booker T, Scott Steiner and ???) w/Sharmell vs the Front Line (Mick Foley, Brother Devon and A.J. Styles)
Introduced as “the last main event”, yeesh. The MEM theme music sucks big time. Steiner looks in bad shape. Booker on the mike to remind us that Kevin Nash isn’t here tonight, but they’ve found an “exceptional replacement”. And it’s…”Cutie Zhip”? You see, for this part of his TNA run Booker’s gimmick is a “King of Africa”, so he’s got a bit of an accent. Who he actual means is Cute Kip, the latest incarnation of Billy Gunn. But because of the way they introduce him, the crowd is totally dead when he comes out, and Tenay has to scramble to cover. What a needless botch. LOLTNA (13). Kip onto the mike to try and save this, listing his titles from WWE, and give me a break. Runs down the local sports team for the cheapest possible heat and it’s a relief when the faces start coming out. Tenay says Foley is wearing “the flannel of Brother Ray”, but isn’t that what Foley always wears?
The six men pair off and the brawling begins. I’m guessing we’re going to see a lot of this. Foley left with Kip in the ring, and sends him out with a Cactus Clothesline. Brawling at ringside, Foley to the second rope, and the MEM scatter before Foley blows out his knees with a dive. The Mafia taking a powder for a bit. “We want tables”. But of course. Styles starting with Kip. Flipping/jumping chains – and it is Styles doing the jumping – and Styles with a drop-kick. Booker and Devon in, Devon laying the punches. Foley in, and hits a running knee where he barely gets the required height on the knee. Tag to Styles very quick.
Kip in to work over Styles, but Styles takes out the MEM on the apron and gets a roll-up for two. Kip floors him with a kick, and here comes Steiner for some basic offence. Styles firmly designated the face-in-peril as he takes chops, kicks and stomps, then the same from Booker, then the same from Kip, who as I recall is only a few months from the end of his TNA in-ring run. Kip going for the Famouser, but Styles dodges out for a Pele Kick. Hot-tag to Foley, and he awkwardly clears house. Foley’s mobility issue is so obvious, and it’s a mercy when Steiner floors him.
Thinks break down into brawling at ringside, the ref is counting and he gets to ten. The bell rings, they announce that “there is no winner”, but even TNA wouldn’t be that LOLTNA. Here comes Jim “Everyone look at me” Cornette to announce that this match must be restarted. Booker complains, Mick says Cornette doesn’t have the authority to restart the match, but he does, and this is now a hardcore match. What a mess of booking this is. You know what, it does deserve a LOLTNA (14).
Steiner with a trash can straight away and nails Devon. Styles drop-kicking Booker on the inside, while Foley brawls with Kip on the ramp. Can shots for all! “We want tables” and I’m sure they are coming. Three separate brawls now so a bit hard to follow, but Booker back body-drops Foley onto the announce desk before Foley gives Booker an Atomic Drop onto the barricade. The mikes barely pick up Foley getting the “Get the table” line. Devon obliges and sets one up on the outside. Foley onto the top of the announce table setting up a leap onto a prone Kip, but gets low-blowed by Booker. That gives Styles the chance to nail a splash onto Kip, through the table, from the top, but of course the camera angle misses the impact live. LOLTNA (15). A replay gets it at least.
In the ring Steiner has Devon set-up on the top but pushed off, and Devon lands a flying headbutt. Booker nails an axe-kick to Devon, then gives us the Spinarooni. Foley in with “the sock”, Mandible Claw locked in but Steiner with a can shot breaks it up. Brawling, Steiner with a chair and gives Foley a shot to the back. Booker looking for another Axe-Kick, Foley dodges, then lays in some of his own chair shots. Booker takes an unprotected shot to the head, then Steiner takes a DDT onto the chair. That’s enough to bring this to an end in just under 16 all told.
Winners: The Front Line. Someone check on Foley’s knees, please.
Verdict: A poor effort. Steiner and Foley can barely go, Kip has no impact, and the rest had little to work with. Had one stand-out spot, that TNA botched the presentation of.
The Front Line celebrates, and that’s your lot. LOLTNA Count: A record-shattering 15.
Man, this was a long ass show. Let’s finish up.
Best Match: I suppose Shelly/Sabin impressed me the most, those two made the very best out of a difficult task.
Best Wrestler: Styles was so committed to this company that he took a crazy bump in a forgettable mess of a main event.
Worst Match: All three of the main events are up for this, but have to give it to the title match. Too short, Rhino was a mess, bearhugamania was running wild.
Worst Wrestler: Jarrett had two scary moments of sloppy technique, but at least he was only in danger of hurting himself.
Overall Verdict: For the first five matches this was a perfectly acceptable show, but once we hit main event territory it turned into a mess real fast. That was a consistent TNA problem really, with the upper-card frequently getting out-wrestled by the mid and lower equivalents. Too much Cornette, too much overbooking. Give this one a miss.
To view more entries in this series, click here to go to the index.