The following Live Report is courtesy of Will Benson, reporting at WZ:
TNA arrived in the UK and started its tour in the historic Liverpool Olympia. The arena is small compared to today’s modern arenas, however having played host to ROH and the King of Europe Cup in recent years, it clear it’s a hit with the smaller promotions. It’s very intimate style provides a fantastic atmosphere, and although I’ve never been, it’s what I can imagine the Hammerstein Ballroom was like during the old ECW. I also think it’s worth mentioning that I am not a TNA fan. I have tried to give it a chance on TV, but I’ve never been sucked in. With this event being in my hometown, I thought it was worth giving it a shot. And I was right.
Before the show, Midway games were outside with big screens showing clips of the upcoming TNA video game, as well as giving us t-shirts, lanyards and postcards to promote the game. We didn’t queue for too long, as the doors opened at almost exactly 6pm, the advertised time. Once in we took our seats and waited for the show to start. Having been to previous ROH shows in this arena, it was nice to see a more professional setup with a proper set/stage area, and of course the TNA standard 6-sided ring.
Jeremy Borash made his way out to the ring, not before tripping on the ring steps (cue huge “you f**ked up chant). After saying he meant to do that, he then welcomed us to the show, telling us how happy TNA was to be in the UK as well promising us some great surprises. He also said that the loudest fans would get backstage passes, something I believe is pretty normal when TNA operate in the USA, so it was nice to see the same in the UK too.
The first match of the night was an X Division Title match, which saw Petey Williams take on ‘Black Machismo’ Jay Lethal and Sonjay Dutt. Williams retained the title by hitting the Canadian Destroyer on Letha, ending what was a good opening match which lasted around 15:00
Next up was a mixed tag match, with James Storm and Awesome Kong taking on UK star Doug Williams and Gail Kim. At first Williams didn’t get a great reaction, but as the match went on the crowd began to get behind him. The match itself again was good, with both the women and the men exchanging moves, which eventually led to Storm getting the pin after spitting beer in Doug Williams’ face, then superkicking him. After the match Jeremy Borash announced that William’s had signed a TNA contract and would be representing the UK in the upcoming TNA World X Cup, which led to a massive pop.
Up next was a short break while they fixed the ring (the first of several occasions). While the crew did that, JB showed us the commercial for the TNA Video Game.
After that, Rhino came out and said how happy he was to be in Liverpool, but he came all the way over and was told he didn’t have an opponent, which was ‘the shits’. He issued a challenge to anyone in the back. To most people’s surprise it was Abyss who answered the challenge, and led to a decent 10 minute match, with Abyss picking up the win. Probably the worst match of the night, but it was by no means awful
Next up, AJ Styles took on Robert Roode in a great match with lots of high-flying action from Styles. Earl Hebner refereed this contest, so it was time for the now customary “You Screwed Bret” chant, to which Hebner just laughed at. Styles picked up the win with the Styles Clash after around 15 minutes of action. After the match Styles got on the mic and said this is why he keeps on doing this, and as the crowd erupted into another ‘TNA’ chant, he announced that he personally decided that the Liverpool Olympia would be one of the playable arenas in the TNA video game. Huge pop for that as you’d imagine, and we were then in a 20 minute intermission.
There was more ring-fixing during the break, as well as Earl Hebner signing autographs and posing for photos in the corner of the arena. Nice touch.
Back after the break and JB is back and he wants to put us on TV around the world. He asked us all to create the biggest ‘TNA’ chant ever which would go on TNA’s website. The crowd was as hot as ever and this was a great way to pull the fans back in after the 20 minute break.
Before the main event, JB introduced Kurt Angle who came out to a great pop from the crowd. He said it was great to be in Liverpool but unfortunately due to injuries (he didn’t say exactly what) he was unable to wrestle tonight. For some reason he decided to say that Vince McMahon could kiss his ass, which I think wasn’t needed. This was just a cheap way of getting a face reaction which he didn’t need to do as the crowd was already hot for him. As he was about to leave a “Thank You Kurt” chant started, which made Angle look pretty emotional.
The penultimate match of the night was for the TNA World Tag Team Championships, with LAX defending against the Motor City Machineguns. A great match with some great bumps from Shelley and Sabin. The biggest bump was no doubt a running dive from Hernandez to the outside, on top of Shelley/Sabin and Homicide. To see a big guy like that do a move like that was awesome. LAX got the win in about 15 minutes after Hernandez hit Shelley with a powerbomb
Next was the main event, which saw Booker T take on Samoa Joe for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Before the match started, Booker cut a heel promo, about how dirty is locker room was and how we should buy more merchandise so TNA can afford to get him a decent locker room. He also got some cheap heat by saying he preferred the Monkees to the Beatles.
The match itself was a pretty solid match, with both getting some offence in. Joe threw Booker into a barrier on the outside which caused it to fall over and injure one of the security guards. Once they got the barrier back up, Joe grabbed a chair from the crowd for the ‘Ole’ kick. The match ended surprisingly quickly, with Joe forcing Booker to tap with the rear no choke.
Joe then got on the mic and said he was happy to be back in Liverpool, to which the crowd started a ‘Welcome Back’ chant. This was in reference to his appearance at the Olympia in March 2007 with ROH for his ROH farewell match. He said instead of inviting fans backstage, lets bring backstage out to the fans. As we were sitting in the first row, we were invited to a private room where we met Gail Kim, Jay Lethal, Rhino and Kurt Angle. A lot of people were a little disappointed in this as it was quite chaotic and the autographs/photos were a little rushed, with a guy literally shouting ‘hurry up and take the photo’ at people. I guess as the Meet & Greet was an added bonus we have no reason to complain too much.
Overall it was a fantastic show. Biggest pops went to the usual suspects – Angle, Joe & Styles. I’mtold the arena was sold out, and it did look like it was. The security was handled in-house, and wasn’t used to a wrestling show, so they kept telling us to sit down quite often during the first half hour, however after that I saw the promoter Alex Shane telling them it was OK for us to stand during the entrances etc and to only tell us to sit down during the actual matches.
The following Live Report is courtesy of Will Benson, reporting at WZ: