From – Orlando, Fla.
By James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor
The TNA PPV opened with a video package on Matt Morgan focusing on him being the “DNA of TNA.” Showed some training clips of Morgan. The future is now. Cue up Kurt Angle’s recent promos and Morgan being asked to help the Mafia over going after the TNA Title.
Impact Zone: I didn’t sign up for the Spanish feed. Suddenly, Mike Tenay’s voice came on while they did crowd shots. Spanish broadcast still in the background. Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin came out first for the opening Steel Asylum match. Winner becomes #1 contender to the X Division Title. Amazing Red out third, followed by Daniels. Daniels looks like Claudio Castagnoli without any facial hair or hair on his head. Tenay added that winner gets the title shot at next month’s No Surrender PPV. Jay Lethal and Consequences Creed then came out next. After a pause, Suicide came out to round out the field. Or not. Instead, Elijah Burke came out as the final participant. He was sporting some sort of gas mask to cover his face. “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero is the gimmick name. Tenay said he’s a “street creature” from the streets of Harlem, New York.
1 — X DIVISION STEEL ASYLUM MATCH — #1 contender match
Went through some “feeling out” sequences early on, then Dinero stood tall center ring. Guns then humbled him with a double-team kick to each side of his head. Nice. Dinero was then hung upside down in the corner and Sabin flipped Suicide overhead onto Dinero’s mid-section. Dinero taking his lumps early on. Crowd didn’t have an X Division match last month, so they got in their “this is awesome” chant in the first five minutes. Dinero and Daniels battled on the top turnbuckle and Dinero speared Daniels off the top to the mat below. Drew some oohs and aahs from the crowd. Suddenly, guys started crashing into each other crash-and-burn style. Guys just started climbing up top to set up spots. Chaos led to Guns standing tall in the ring as the announcers drew attention to it being nice they were back in a prominent role on TNA TV. Suddenly, a five-man Tower of Doom spot was set up in the corner with Suicide taking a powerbomb.
At 10:00, guys started hitting finishers on each other, only to have another guy sneak up behind the guy who just hit a move. One stand-out spot where Sabin took Lethal into the mat with a leaping Tornado DDT all the way across the ring. Red tried to climb out, but everyone joined him and they set up a giant Tower of Doom spot. Daniels took Dinero to the mat with an STO from the cage to the mat. Camera zoomed in as Shelley was talking to some other guys before executing a Sliced Bread that was just a mid-match move at this point. Red tried to climb out of the cage, but he fell onto everyone below. Daniels was the only one left hanging, but he was upside down. Suicide then tried to escape through the roof, but Dinero knocked him down. Dinero had a chance to escape, but he came down to the mat selling a leg injury and chucked Suicide into the cage. Meanwhile, Daniels recovered and started climbing toward the opening and he finally escaped to win the match and become #1 contender.
WINNER: Daniels in 15:00. For the most part, it was just a bunch of guys doing spots. Some were pretty darn good spots, but there wasn’t much psychology involved, just crash-and-burn action. Daniels tried to sell hunger and desire post-match, but the context of the match was guys more concerned about doing spots than winning a match. There were some mini-stories of Daniels and Dinero feuding, which changed into Dinero and Suicide feuding at the end. Dinero has a couple of feuds ready made. Crowd was hot for the opener, but they’re always hot for the opening X Division spotfest. Didn’t advance the X Division beyond the standard show-opening spot they’ve been slotted since Joe/Daniels/Styles left the division. (**)
Post-match: The announcers recapped the match, then Jeremy Borash brought in Daniels for an interview. Daniels said that was hunger and desire in the ring. He said he’s going after either Samoa Joe or Homicide and he doesn’t care which one. Daniels gets the winner of tonight’s X Division Title match next month. Daniels addressed A.J. Styles. He told Styles he’s thinking of him and told him to come on back.
Backstage: Lauren brought in Matt Morgan, who said no one controls the Blueprint, not even Kurt Angle. Morgan said he wanted to be Mafia, oh yeah, but Angle jerked him around for too long and now it’s payback. He said he’s going to reward himself with the TNA Title. Oh, Matt. Classic over-the-top promo from the big man.
Video package: They recapped the whole Abyss vs. Dr. Stevie feud. According to Stevie, it’s not about the one, two, three, but about ending Abyss for good. … In-ring: Dr. Stevie led Jethro Holliday to the ring for the $50,000 bounty match. Abyss came out representing Urban Outfitters with his vest jacket/hoodie and button down shirt.
2 — ABYSS vs. JETHRO HOLLIDAY — Bounty match
Holliday tried to slap Abyss over and over, but Abyss no-sold and then landed one big huge chop. Dr. Stevie sold that beautifully ringside. Match moved to ringside where Holliday rammed Abyss into the corner ringpost. Back in the ring, Holliday missed with an elbow drop from the second rope. Weapons became involved, then Holliday bumped Abyss off the ring apron into the guardrail. Back in the ring, Abyss blocked a chair shot and landed a boot to the face. Abyss got the entire crowd to clap along before he warmed up the train and splashed Holliday in the corner. Holliday then grabbed a tire iron-like weapon that entered the ring earlier and love-tapped Abyss over the head for a close two count. Richards ripped off his doctor’s smock in disgust, then helped set up a chair in the corner. Spot back-fired on Holliday, who ate a chair in the corner head-first. Abyss followed with a chokeslam for a close two count. He teased taking it to Richards, but Holliday grabbed him from behind for a bulldog. Richards slipped Holliday some brass knucks, then he went to strike Abyss, but Abyss ducked and hit the Black Hole Slam for the pin and the win.
Post-match: Abyss left with victory in hand, then Richards got right in Holliday’s face to reprimand him for screwing up the bounty match. Holliday turned to leave, but Richards brought him back, so Holliday punched him out. Richards sold being KO’ed.
WINNER: Abyss in 10:00. Standard fare Abyss match. Crowd had good energy and Richards was absolutely awesome with his facial expressions and over-selling the sequences in the match. Abyss still doing the same thing he does every PPV, but Richards enhanced this month’s offering. (*)
Backstage: Borash brought in Kurt Angle, who looked worn out. No hair on his face, head, and barely on his eyebrows. Just business as usual here. Right now, it appears that TNA is going to bury their head in the sand on Angle’s issue yesterday. But, we’ll wait and see. He could be off TV after tonight’s PPV storylines play out. Angle said he’s not worried about Matt Morgan tonight. He’ll be too hyped up and out of control in his first title match.
In-ring: Rob Terry came to the ring with British Invasion. He had the Feast or Fired briefcase in hand. Hernandez came in to face Rob Terry, but Hernandez took the mic. He said Terry came to his house and stole from his family. He said this won’t be a wrestling match. Two choices, Rob. Come into the ring and bring the briefcase and walk out. Or, he can take his briefcase and walk out on top of all three of them. Hernandez fought off everyone, then Terry was left alone in the ring. Ref Hebner called for the bell.
3 — HERNANDEZ vs. ROB TERRY
Hernandez nailed a big shoulderblock on Terry and scored a quick pin for the win. Hernandez retrieved his briefcase with a future World Title shot and bailed. Doug Williams and Brutus Magnus held Terry back as Hernandez left with the case.
WINNER: Hernandez in 0:05. Right finish. Terry would have had no business hanging with Hernandez if they want to turn Hernandez into a big star. (n/a)
Backstage: Beer Money cut a fiery promo on British Invasion. A video package recapped World Elite’s attack on Americans, leading to tonight’s IWGP tag title match with Beer Money vs. British Invasion.
In-ring: CEO Eric Young came to the ring representing World Elite. Young’s look was improved eight hundred times in an executive suit with a little shoulder padding along with a nice high-collar dress shirt to enhance the size of his neck. Very impressive. Young on commentary for the tag title match. Beer Money’s music hit and they slowly came out with Storm on the booze cruiser. British Invasion then came back out to defend the tag titles.
4 — IWGP tag team champions BRITISH INVASION (DOUG WILLIAMS & BRUTUS MAGNUS) vs. BEER MONEY (ROBERT ROODE & JAMES STORM) — IWGP Tag Title match
Crowd firmly behind Beer Money to start things off. Storm then cleared both opponents to the outside. Roode followed by launching Storm over the top rope onto the champs. Back in the ring, Roode ripped off a series of chops on Brutus. Brutus having a rough go of it with a few near-blown spots early on. Williams then tagged in and went to work. Beer Money then set up BI in the corner for a comedy spot of Williams falling crotch first into Brutus’s face. Ref diverted his eyes to sell the move while Young complained about the ref’s lack of impartiality. Young said he’s looking at some “really big prospects” in TNA to negotiate membership in the World Elite team. British Invasion then settled into working over Storm with double-team offense.
Roode took a hot tag at 7:00 and cleaned house. Williams super-sold a high back body drop before Roode ripped off a series of chops. Brutus accidentally dropped an elbow on Williams, then Beer Money double suplexed Brutus. Young complained about both men still being in the ring with the ref losing control of the match. Beer Money then hit a double-team move, but Williams broke up a pin. Beer Money called for the DWI, but Young slipped a tag title belt into the ring. From behind, Williams low-blowed Roode out of sight of the ref during the confusion. That allowed Brutus to roll up Roode for the pin and the win. Afterward, Young was caught in peril, but British Invasion dragged him out of harm’s way.
WINNERS: British Invasion in 10:00 to retain the IWGP tag titles. Standard tag match. Eric Young was the highlight with the suit and sharp commentary. Not a memorable match in the ring other than Doug Williams flying and bumping around the ring to get the crowd hot for the babyface team before their scheduled loss. (*1/2)
Madison Rayne accidentally cost Angelina the match with the Hairspray gimmick, which gave ODB the title victory by virtue of Cody’s pin. ODB captured her first Knockouts Title. She celebrated with a wild lip-lock on Cody. Post-match: Angelina was in a state of shock that she lost her Knockouts Title. Angelina and Velvet teased dissension as Velvet broke down into tears. Velvet and Madison then tried to calm Angelina down, but Angelina went nuts and stomped out in a fit.
WINNER: ODB to capture the Knockouts Title. What you would expect with Cody Deaner involved – match to fill a slot on the card with comedy relief. Nice accomplishment for ODB to pick up her first KO Title even though she didn’t actually win the match.
Backstage: Lauren brought in Taz, who spoke while Samoa Joe stood in the background with a towel over his head. Taz said right now is about the TNA X Division Title. He said Joe is in the zone and ready to leave Hard Justice as the new X champ. Taz said the big boy is taking it home to the Mafia.
In-ring: Samoa Joe came out first and took the towel off in center ring to flash his Tribal tattoo-covered face. Taz stood approvingly in the background. Homicide then came out to defend the X Title. West said we shouldn’t be fooled by Homicide’s size; that he really can fight. Just playing up the pro wrestling stereotype that short guys aren’t tough.
6 — X Division champion HOMICIDE vs. SAMOA JOE (w/Taz) — X Division Title match
Joe brought the fight to Homicide early, but Homicide knocked him to the outside and Joe got flustered. Taz tried to calm him down, then Joe re-entered the ring and landed a beautiful snap powerslam for a two count. Joe followed with a big powerbomb into the STF when Homicide kicked out. Nice to see him going back to his old-school Samoa Joe moveset. It’s just not the same when he’s in a ridiculous outfit. Tenay channeled Michael Cole and said it’s “vintage Samoa Joe.” West then referenced Unbreakable 2005 for the MOTY between Joe, Daniels, and Styles. Crowd rallied behind Homicide with a “187” chant. Homicide then came back with right hand chops and went up top. He knocked Joe to the floor, then hit a flip suicide dive on the floor. Taz and Homicide had a distant conversation, then Taz squared off to fight, but Homicide backed away and went back to working over Joe. Joe regained control and slapped on the rear naked choke in center ring. Homicide was forced to tap out, giving Joe the win. Joe then stood tall in the ring with Taz as Homicide sold a neck injury ringside.
WINNER: Joe in 10:00 to capture the X Division Title. Vintage Samoa Joe tonight. Fine X Division match, but not a stand-out performance. Joe looks a step slower in the big baggy pants compared to his athletically-enhancing classic look. Title switch came across anti-climatic. (**)
Backstage: Kurt Angle stormed into Matt Morgan’s locker room. Morgan snapped on him for barging into his locker. He could have been in the middle of important business. Angle apologized for things he’s said lately, but he wants Morgan as an important member of the Mafia. Morgan flew off the handle of course, name-dropped Kurt several times, and said he’s not doing anything for the Mafia anymore. Angle said there’s a contract with his name on it in the Mafia. As long as one of them keeps the belt in the Mafia, he’ll have all the money and gold he wants. Morgan thought it over, then repeated they’re all good as long as one of them wins tonight. Morgan walked off, then Angle shot Borash a look. Borash with the Furley Eyes just because.
In-ring: Team 3D came to the ring for the tag title match. It’s a No DQ, Anything Goes, Falls Count Anywhere match with two referees involved. Well, we know how this is going to go with the brawl-through-the-arena formula match. Dave Penzer: “And there must be a winner.” Well, that’s good to know we’re looking for a winner when the bell sounds. Mafia then came out represented by Booker, Steiner, and Sharmell.
7 — TNA tag champs SCOTT STEINER & BOOKER T (w/Sharmell) vs. TEAM 3D (BROTHER RAY & BROTHER DEVON) — TNA Tag Title match
Before the bell sounded, both teams talked trash toward each other. Bell sounded and Steiner was dumped to the floor. Devon then tossed Booker to the outside. Booker and Steiner recovered on the outside, then teased ending their night early. Team 3D jumped them on the entranceramp, though, setting up the brawl-the-crowd action for tonight. Ringside, Steiner grabbed a chair from a guy with an Amish beard and smashed Ray across the back with it. He scored a nearfall at the feet of a fan ringside. Steiner apparently had something to prove tonight, as he climbed onto the grandstand railing and jumped on Ray down below for a two count. Not a big risk, as Ray’s big frame easily broke the fall. Ray was back to life moments later with a chair shot to Steiner’s gut for a two count. Devon and Booker were having their brawl on the other side of the Impact Zone, but the camera focused mainly on Ray vs. Steiner. Crowd inexplicably chanted “This is Awesome” at the exact same formula match they’ve seen every month for the past 36 months (dating back to when Jeff Jarrett ran the same NWA Title formula match in every TNA PPV main event). Back in the ring, Team 3D hit the diving headbutt before grabbing the titles. Crowd was hot as Team 3D delivered wood in the ring. Steiner was then put in position to take a Doomsday Device through the table, but Booker moved the table out of the way. Suddenly, Booker grappled Ray and gave him the book-end through the table. Should have been the finish. SuperRay kicked out, though. Each team had nearfalls as they went into a rapid-fire pace. Became quite silly with Hebner and Slick Johnson both in the ring counting pins. You could see where this was leading. Oh, yes you could. Team 3D hit the 3D on Booker and Devon had a pin, but Steiner rolled up Ray and had a pin. Both refs counted three and the bell sounded. “Due to the uniqueness of this situation,” they’re going to review the footage. So, the zebras went under a conveniently-located hood ringside to check the footage. Slick not exactly the most credible official after he was paid off by the Beautiful People last month. That was a quick review. Mafia was then deemed still the tag champs. Team 3D sold disgust and frustration post-match as Mafia slowly walked out with the tag titles.
WINNERS: Mafia in 14:00 to retain the TNA Tag Titles. Your standard, monthly brawl-through-the-crowd TNA PPV tag match to take as many shortcuts as possible to involve the crowd in the match leading to your standard TNA non-finish where Team 3D saves face if they’re booked to lose. Looks like the program will continue on the next set of TV shows. (*1/2)
Backstage: Borash brought in Mick Foley, who quietly talked up his match against Kevin Nash. Foley said he picked up an extra $623 posing for pictures. Borash asked for real? Foley said no way. He’s not about the money like Nash. He’s about bringing the fans to their feet. Foley said it’s about truth in advertising. That’s the issue tonight. He said the Hard Justice PPV poster shows a barbed wire bat, so he’s going to make true on the advertising.
In-ring: Kevin Nash came to the ring first pumping himself up. He put on his determined face to sell the importance of the match in the context of a semi-main event title match. Foley then came out looking ready for the match-up.
8 — TNA Legends champion MICK FOLEY vs. KEVIN NASH — Legends Title match
Bell sounded and they slowly engaged in the action with a few collar-and-elbow lock-ups. Nash then rammed knees into the gut in the corner, but Foley fired back with straight right hands. Action moved to the floor where Nash shoved Foley back-of-the-head-first into the guardrail. Foley sold being dazed, then Nash met him with a straight right hand to the head. Action continued on the floor where Foley sent Nash into the guardrail. Nash sold a knee injury, which suckered Foley into an attack from the middle rope, but Nash met him in mid-air with a chair shot to the face. Foley came up bleeding like crazy from his right eye. Just a nasty cut. Back in the ring, Nash capitalized with right hand jabs that splattered blood onto the ringside camera. Ref checked on Foley, who was losing blood from his eye. Nash played it up perfectly with an evil look on his face before landing elbow smashes to the eye.
Foley then told Nash to keep bringing it. Foley knocked down Nash, then entered Mankind Mode by rocking back and forth while seated on the mat. He ripped some hair out, then went back to blasting Nash. On the floor, Foley went into Cactus Mode with “Bang Bang” toward the fans ringside. Nash then came up bleeding after a shot into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Foley went to work on Nash’s cut. Foley then told the ref to call the match, flipping the script from earlier. Ref checked on Nash, but ref was bumped in the process when Foley tried a corner splash.
Foley then went under the ring and pulled out the barbed wire baseball bat. Suddenly, Traci Brooks stormed ringside and Foley bumped her off the apron. Nash then blasted Foley and scored the pin for the win. Post-match: Nash took the barbed wire bat and blasted Foley over the head with the barbed wire bat. Before Nash could land another blow, Abyss’s music hit. Abyss stormed the ring with a baseball bat in hand and Nash bailed to the floor with his victory already in hand. Foley gave Abyss the thumbs up and Abyss did his Eugene clap while selling concern for Foley, who seemed to be holding his eyeball in place, as West described it.
WINNER: Nash in 12:00 to capture the Legends Title. Brutal, brutal match. I’d like to see Nash justify this hardcore match after the Newsday interview. The match itself was very well done in terms of the story told. They effectively played up the fine line between reality and fiction to tell a good story with Foley selling a serious eye injury. It enhanced the story to deliver a match above expectations. (**1/2)
Backstage: Sting did a WCW 1996 interview about being the only person he can trust. He said honor and dignity is going to come back in style…and he means in Styles. Lauren sold confusion or disgust or constipation. Couldn’t tell.
Impact Zone: Matt Morgan came out first for the TNA World Title main event. Sting was shown walking down a lonely hallway on the way to the ring before they ran a video package on the Man of Mystery. Every time I hear that, I picture Rey Mysterio 1997 with those question marks all over his trunks. Sting then slowly and gingerly made his way to the ring for the main event. They cut backstage to show Kurt Angle pumping himself up in the Mafia locker room before picking up his title belt and heading to the ring. Angle had a very focused look in his eyes as he hit the ring. Jeremy Borash then handled the formal ring intros. Morgan had a mixed reaction leaning boos. Sting’s hair looked tired as they focused in on the former champ, who was all babyface. And now Kurt Angle. Heavy boos. He extended his arms as if to say bring it.
9 — TNA World Hvt. champion KURT ANGLE vs. STING vs. MATT MORGAN — TNA World Title match
Bell sounded and Morgan went to work on Sting. Seemed like the crowd was trying to start a chant about Angle being arrested, but it wasn’t clear. Sting played the pinball being bounced back and forth between Morgan and Angle. Angle then ate the ringpost going for a shoulder tackle in the corner. Action moved to the floor where Angle ate the ring steps face-first. Morgan then clotheslined Sting and stood over him. Angle rolled Sting back into the ring and went to work on him before Morgan landed a leaping leg drop. Sting then fired up with consecutive Stinger Splashes on both men. He clotheslined Morgan to the floor, but Angle took control. Angle the dumped Sting to the floor and the match moved to the floor. In the middle of this, Tenay said A.J. Styles is going to make a major announcement on Impact this week. Back in the ring, Sting teased the Scorpion Deathlock on Angle, but Morgan broke it up.
Morgan played up his cocky character and didn’t take an opportunity to finish off Sting. He nailed The Undertaker’s big leg drop across the apron, but Sting kicked out at two. Morgan then tried a move off the ropes, but Angle pulled the ropes down and Morgan landed on his feet on the outside. Morgan paused and shoved Angle, who shot him a look. Angle then slapped Morgan on the head and Morgan came back with a shove and big bicycle kick to the head. Ref Hebner checked on Angle, who sold a neck injury. Medics came over and checked on Angle as Morgan had a pin on Sting in the ring. Morgan argued with the ref as Sting hit the Scorpion death drop. Hebner counted a nearfall. Morgan then had a pin on Sting after a bicycle kick. Hebner went back into the ring to count a pin, but Angle sprung to life and pulled the ref out of the ring. Angle then wanted a chair shot on Sting, but Sting ducked and Morgan took the chair shot clean to the head. What is that, like eight weapon shots to the head on this show? Unbelievable. Angle then made the cover on Morgan and ref Hebner made a slow three count for the win. Angle retains. Sting kinda walked away with his back to the camera post-match. Angle then took his title belt and left the ring as they closed the PPV.
WINNER: Angle in 12:00 to retain the TNA World Title. They sure did a nice job of teasing a storyline write-off based on the neck injury in the middle of the match to possibly get Angle off TV following the arrest, but it turned into another case of TNA rewarding bad behavior by having Angle win the match and stand tall at the conclusion of this company’s pay event one day after being arrested. Morgan really shined in the match, while Sting appears to be on his last legs in the ring. Exciting finish based on all of the real and storyline elements in play, but TNA sent the wrong message tonight. Why should we expect anything different than par for the course from this company? (**1/2)