Canton’s Corner: TNA Bound For Glory Preview – October 15
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport
Welcome to Canton’s Corner. The focus of this week’s column will be on Total Nonstop Action wrestling, or Impact Wrestling as their TV show is called. You know, those guys that are on Spike TV on Thursday nights in North America (Sundays in the UK). I write about WWE the majority of time including a recap of every Raw, most editions of Canton’s Corner, PPV previews & reviews and special columns like September’s Twenty Ideas & Roster Evaluation pieces. This time we’ll look at TNA. I’ll also tell you my own personal history as a TNA fan and tell you why I am not a hater. If you don’t watch TNA or don’t care about it that’s your call, but I hope you’ll still read about it. BTW, Laurinaitis is in the banner for the Melo Out part at the end. He has nothing to do with BFG…or so we think. First up, as always, are the polls.
Last Week’s Poll Results
The poll question was: Do you think Steve Austin will ever wrestle again?
The result: Yes 67%, No 33%
I voted no. I still vote no. However, after seeing that so many of you voted yes (2/3 of you), it tells me that even though he hasn’t had a match in over 8 years there is still a belief that he has one more match in him. I wouldn’t complain if he did. I’m a huge Austin fan. He’s my second favorite wrestler ever after Shawn Michaels. I just don’t think he needs the money unlike some people who stick around the business too long (Hogan, Flair, etc.). He also doesn’t need to risk his serious neck injury or his bad knees by working one more time. I think the majority of you know that too, but you also likely know he’s a competitor and might want to test himself one more time. I’m not saying I’d be against it. I just don’t think it will happen.
This Week’s Poll Question: How many PPVs should WWE have per year?
There are 13 WWE PPVs this year. Too many? Not enough? Have your say in the poll below.
I vote for 12. One per month is fine. The days of four are long gone. I think eight would actually lead to better storytelling, but the realist in me says there’s no way they would do less than one per month.
I’ve been watching Total Nonstop Action wrestling ever since it began in 2002. I remember it started with weekly two hour PPVs that I would watch “free” on my descrambler box. I can remember Ken Shamrock winning the NWA Title and a guy named Ron Killings (aka R-Truth) really shining with his newfound opportunity after he was released by WWE. There was also CM Punk there before he really went on to shine in ROH and eventually WWE. A few years after that the box expired (damn you digital & satellite TV!), so I was left to watching it online when I could. Then they landed a one hour slot on Spike TV (October 2005) that ended up becoming two hours (October 2007). I generally liked TNA as a small alternative company to WWE thanks to their exciting X Division as well as fresh “new” stars like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels & Samoa Joe to name a few. Things were going fine in TNA, but they didn’t seem to grow that much. They needed star power. A big name.
When Kurt Angle came into the company in late 2006 they got that star power. Angle had an immediate feud with Samoa Joe that is one of my ten favorite feuds in any company. It had great build with some epic matches. They’ve also done a pretty decent job of developing their own stars like Robert Roode, James Storm & Crimson while also utilizing ex-WWE performers like Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Mickie James & others to mix in with the old as well as the new. It’s also been cool to see a guy like Matt Morgan get a push after being released by WWE or Bubba Ray Dudley re-inventing himself into Bully Ray, who is a very entertaining heel. I’ve been to a half dozen TNA house shows in the last few years as well. They are always fan friendly, interactive and feature hardworking talents that really love what they do. I don’t question the talent at all. They have a very good roster right now. It’s the best they’ve ever had.
While I won’t admit to watching every single PPV or every single episode of Impact, I’d say that I’ve seen 90% of it. I remember a lot. I have to be perfectly honest when I say the last two years (the Hogan-Bischoff years) have soured me on the product. There’s not enough airtime for the younger wrestlers, the booking is oftentimes too rushed, heel & face turns happen way too often and there is way too much of Hogan on the show. He needs to know his place, which is behind the scenes, so that the future stars of the business can take their rightful place in the spotlight. You’d think he’d learn that by now, but instead I see him burying the likes of Roode & Styles in interviews saying they’re not ready. He wasn’t in character, either. The fact that Hogan & Bischoff have signed contract extensions doesn’t excite me about the future. I did read that Bruce Prichard (aka Brother Love, who worked backstage in WWE for many years) is head of creative with Vince Russo working underneath him, but it’s not like he’s a new voice. He’s been there too. I also believe Hogan & Bischoff are really calling the shots even though they don’t admit it. I’d love to be optimistic about change at the top although without change what’s there to be excited about?
Moving back to what I was saying earlier, the issue with TNA is not talent. They have talent up and down the roster. The issue is with their identity. Who are they? What are they? I think the fact that most people don’t know if they’re called TNA or Impact Wrestling is a bad thing too. They pushed this “Wrestling Matters” campaign down our throats yet where is it now? Dixie Carter appears to be a really nice woman. I’ve never heard a story of people hating her or her yelling at talent. However, she’s taken more than a few missteps along the way. For as much as they can say they are growing, their lowest rated Impact of 2011 happened two weeks ago with a 1.01 rating and this week they pulled in a 1.05. That’s not a good sign heading into what is supposed to be your WrestleMania. The problem, in my mind, is too much Hogan. I’m not sure if others agree, but I think he’s been a big turnoff for a lot of people rather than a valuable draw like he was 15 or 25 years ago.
Now, time for an important statement: I don’t hate TNA. I never have. I never will. I like that there’s an alternative to WWE on national TV. I just wish the product was better. If WWE is my favorite sport, the NFL, then TNA is my second favorite sport, the NBA. I still enjoy it more often than not. It’s just that I don’t like it as much as the other one. Understood? I think it’s pretty simple.
This Sunday is TNA’s annual biggest PPV of the year, Bound for Glory. It’s being held at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, which as most know is a generally vocal wrestling crowd. There are hardcore wrestling fans there. Are there hardcore TNA fans there? I’m not sure, but we’ll find out on Sunday. By the way, don’t ask me why James Storm is on the BFG graphic when he’s been left off from the card. I can’t explain it. Maybe we’ll see him at the end of the night.
Here are all the matches on the card. I’m taking the matches off TNA’s website, which is ImpactWrestling.com by the way. See, they don’t even know what their website should be because TNA is presenting Bound for Glory right? They are not expected to add anything to the card although there will be some kind of confrontation with ex-con Jeff Hardy and Jeff Jarrett. It’s nice to see a focused Jeff Hardy again. Okay, onto the show.
WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: Mexican America (c) vs. Ink Inc
This will be on the pre-show. The tag division isn’t as good as it once was, but at least Ink Inc is over as a babyface team. The Mexican America team isn’t as good as LAX was. They rely on cheap heat, which is one of Russo’s favorite things to book in wrestling. I think they’ll drop the titles to Ink Inc because it would be a way to get the crowd hot at the beginning. Interesting to note that Jesse Neal’s real life fiancée (Christina Von Eerie) is now on screen with him and Shannon Moore to combat the Rosita & Sarita duo of the MA’s. The Pick: Ink Inc
X DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP: Austin Aries (c) vs. Brian Kendrick
Aries won the title recently and is one of the five best performers in the company. He’s not dropping the belt here to Kendrick, whose gimmick is being eccentric. Kendrick’s fine in the ring although he’s yet to have a truly great singles match in TNA. They can talk all they want about bringing the X Division back to prominence, but it’s rare to see them get more than ten minutes anymore. Aries wins clean and moves on to feuding with Jesse Sorensen, who is a star on the rise. The Pick: Austin Aries
KNOCKOUTS CHAMPIONSHIP: Winter (c) vs. Mickie James vs. Velvet Sky vs. Madison Rayne
The promo on Impact on Thursday when Karen Jarrett was berating the women, calling them ho’s (can a TNA Knockouts promo happen without a word like ho, slut or bitch?) told us who was going to win this match: Velvet Sky. Winter & Mickie said nothing while Madison was sucking up to Jarrett. Clearly, they are positioning Sky to win the title for the first time. It’s fine with me because she is a popular wrestler although to me the other three are better in the ring, especially Mickie & Winter. I’d expect something to happen where Angelina Love screws it up for Winter leading to her accidentally helping Velvet win. Then Angelina would turn face, teaming up with Velvet to re-form the Beautiful People down the road. The Pick: Velvet Sky
TRIPLE THREAT: Samoa Joe vs. Crimson vs. Matt Morgan
Here’s a match where I generally like all three guys. Crimson is the undefeated “rookie” who suffered an ankle injury at the hands of Samoa Joe, whose gimmick lately is to lose matches followed by cheap attacks to injure his opponents. Matt Morgan got thrown into the mix because he stood up for Crimson and ended up feuding with Joe as well. The feud has been built up on intensity and physicality. I think their chemistry should be really good too because they’ve been working with eachother a lot in recent months. As for the win, I have to go with Crimson because I think they will continue his undefeated streak. I’m hopeful that Joe gets booked better going forward because he’s one of my favorites in TNA. Considering how poorly he’s been booked during the last two years of the Hogan/Bischoff era I won’t hold my breath on that. The Pick: Crimson
FULL METAL MAYHEM: Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn
Full Metal Mayhem basically means weapons are allowed in the match. These two had a great rivalry in ECW in 1999, but I’m not sure about this one. RVD has become just another guy in TNA. He doesn’t have the awe inspiring offense that made him famous anymore. Part of it is age while part of it is him probably not caring as much as he used to. As for Lynn, he’s a part timer that is 48 years old although he’s always been an above average worker. His heel turn on RVD was very basic and the feud hasn’t had much heat. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of fire here. I’d expect a 10-12 minute match with RVD winning clean most likely with a Van Terminator, which was a huge deal back in ECW. The Pick: Rob Van Dam
I QUIT MATCH: AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels
I can’t count how many times these two have gone from friends to enemies, but they are back to being enemies again. Styles won clean at Destination X in a four star main event match, then Daniels won after Styles botched a top rope spot and he turned heel in the process. Most of us know he’s heel. The announcers are still asking if Daniels is in the Fortune group. They are so observant, huh? Anyway, Styles always wins their feuds and this won’t be any different. I’m a little disappointed that Styles has been stuck in the midcard as a babyface performer because he’s really the face of TNA more than anybody else. What to expect here? The usual greatness from them. Styles will make him quit after 15-18 minutes of great action that will likely be a four star match or better. It will likely be the second best match of the night. The Pick: AJ Styles
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE: Mr. Anderson vs. Bully Ray
This is the match that will feature a lot of run ins with Bully Ray’s Immortal buddies like Gunner & Scott Steiner helping him while ex-Immortal member Abyss will help Anderson. It was set up on Impact. The faces got beat up. It’s time for them to get payback here. The Falls Count Anywhere stip will allow them to wrestle all over the building. The heat should be pretty good because they know what they’re doing and it’s been built up pretty well. I think Anderson has to go over here. It makes the most sense. Yes, I know making sense is foreign to TNA sometimes. Work with me here! The Pick: Ken Anderson
THE IMMORTAL BATTLES THE ICON: Hulk Hogan fights Sting
Look at the word between their names. Not vs. like the others. It says fights because Hogan has gone out of his way to say that this will be a fight. He actually said in interviews that he can’t take bumps anymore. That’s how he sells this fight. Does that mean weapons are allowed? No idea. Does that mean there are pinfalls? No idea. On the line in this match is control of TNA. If Sting wins, he gives the company’s power back to Dixie Carter while if Hogan wins…I don’t even know what happens. Hogan won’t win. I’d expect Sting to win here in a fight that hopefully is pretty short because the longer Hogan is out there the worse it is going to be. He’s old (58 years), he’s had eight back surgeries and there’s really no reason for him to be in the ring except that he’s an egomaniac. It’s not a gimmick, brother. I’m fine with Sting although it’s obvious he’s lost a step as well. Sting wins here, giving the company back to Dixie Carter while Hogan likely turns face sooner or later because in his mind wearing red & yellow is going to turn the company around. It won’t. The Pick: Sting
TNA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Kurt Angle (c) vs. Bobby Roode
This is your main event as well as your match of the night. I’ve liked the build for Roode in the last month although I wish there was more of a build before that. To me, it felt like Crimson was going to win the BFG Series because he had a mini feud with Angle. Then Joe took him out, which probably meant the company changed their mind about it. I think TNA dropped the ball a bit in the build because Roode doesn’t have his own theme song or his t-shirt to make him stand out as a singles wrestler. He still feels like a tag wrestler. Also, in all their video packages building him up they put over how he was a hard working family man that earned everything he ever got. Meanwhile, he was supposed to be the “Money” part of Beer Money because he apparently came from a rich family, which made him a snobby heel. I guess I shouldn’t remember that. He’s paid his dues in TNA, though. He started there in 2004, had a decent singles run and then spent the majority of the last three years as part of the Beer Money Inc. team with Storm that is arguably the best tag team of the last decade in WWE or TNA. Roode winning the title, which will happen, is the kind of feel good story that wrestling fans like to see. It’s also good to see another successful fellow Canadian reaching the World Title level.
You know what Angle can do. If you aren’t watching TNA anymore, trust me when I say that in a lot of ways he looks as good as ever. He’s a lot thinner than he used to be due to his training for the Olympics, but he’s still one of the best ever when he gets inside the ring. Of every active male wrestler in the business today, I’d say Angle is my favorite. He’s in my all time top three with Michaels & Austin. There is a concern with him because he has a hamstring injury that’s nagging him. It’s Angle, though. He’s expected to fight through it. There’s no better person to put over Roode than Angle. Sure, his heel turn didn’t make a whole lot of sense nor did the crowd really want to boo him. Remember his first heel promo where his voice was drowned out by all the fake crowd noise? It was a disaster. I doubt many fans in Philly will boo him because they have so much respect for him.
How to book this? Simple. Give them 25 minutes, let them craft the match how they want and have Roode make Angle tap out to the Crossface to end it. There’s no need for any kind of run-in or interference. While I do expect Storm to turn heel on Roode very soon, it shouldn’t be here. The show needs to end with Roode holding the title while on the shoulders of every other babyface on the roster as confetti comes down. Save the random heel turns and sill run-ins for Impact. Book this match clean. Let their talent shine. If it does we have a legit match of the year contender. I’m looking forward to it. The Pick: Bobby Roode
That’s it for Bound for Glory. It’s a good card for the most part. I think old TNA fans will like it, new TNA fans will like it and even those that are generally down on the company should enjoy this lineup. All I ask is that they limit the run-ins or stupid finishes that generally plague TNA PPVs. I can’t say I’m excited about Dixie Carter being back on camera because she’s got less charisma than Linda McMahon, which is saying a lot. Much like WWE, TNA thinks fans care about who is in charge. We really don’t give a shit. Let the wrestlers have the opportunity to be on TV. That’s who we want to see.
I will watch the PPV late Sunday night and have a recap posted on Monday morning. It’s the only TNA PPV where I write a recap. I hope they wow me. I really do.
Random Clip of the Week
One of the most common questions I get asked on a regular basis is: “Do you think AJ Styles will ever work in WWE?” My answer is no. He’s been in TNA since 2002. He’s the face of the company in a lot of ways. He makes good money there. I don’t see the company folding anytime soon and he’s got another good five years left, so why leave? I’m sure he has WWE aspirations somewhere, but I don’t see him ever jumping ship. I would love to see it. I just doubt it will happen. Anyway, here’s a match against The Hurricane from 2002, which is the year that TNA began. It’s from WWF Metal. That was one of their weekend shows in those days.
I like one of the most recent comments on here: “see that’s bullshit, this is how we know this shit is predetermined.” Yes, because this match is the barometer to show us that wrestling is predetermined. Apparently before this it was real to that commenter!
Last week, I freaked out on WWE not only because of the horrible walk out angle that had taken place but also because I was pissed that my intelligence had once again been insulted. I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. I could bitch and moan some more about the absolute train wreck that occurred on Monday night RAW, but why bother? John has already given us a very detailed review that pretty much sums up my exact feelings of the show and the WWE product in general and where it stands right now. Cody Dodson of TJR also vented his rage so be sure to check out his thoughts. I would also highly recommend you listen to this week’s edition of Solomonster’s Soundoff 184 podcast. I have been listening to him for years and he usually shares my opinions, is very well spoken and has been a fan of wrestling for many years. If you hated RAW with a passion then you owe it to yourself to hear it. Reading John’s RAW Deal and listening to that podcast hits the nail right on the head in regards to what is wrong with WWE right now.
In other news, Smackdown is rapidly turning into a piece of shit show as well. Can somebody please explain to me why having a 41 man battle royal and then having Randy Orton win it regardless of how it ended helps elevate new stars? Do we really need to see Henry face Orton again? They could have given that win to anybody and surprised the heck out of us fans but instead they went with the painfully obvious. If they keep up with this type of programming on both shows, the ratings will continue to drop faster than they currently are. I’m glad they are keeping the whole Sin Cara feud going even though the match at HIAC was less than stellar, but I’m curious to see how it goes, especially the crowd reaction they will get when WWE goes to Mexico for next week’s tapings. Expect shitty ratings on both shows though since RAW won’t be live. Also, having a shitty show this past Monday did not do the company any favours. But you already knew that.
There are so many problems with WWE right now that if I were to start going through all of them, we could be here for a very long time. You know storylines are rushed. You know there are more plot holes than a block of swiss cheese and you know that you can’t have logic anymore when watching WWE programming. But I can be angry, just like Peter Finch in that “Network” movie back in 1976. A classic scene that reflects the world today perfectly, which is scary considering this movie is fiction and made over 40 years ago.
Until next week, sit back, relax and Melo Out… cause that’s what wrestling is all about.
Steve “The Melo Man” Melo
I hope you guys enjoyed this column. Like I said I won’t write about TNA often, but I thought it would be fresh to look at it on the weekend of their biggest PPV of the year. Hopefully writing about TNA doesn’t make me a heel to you readers that are WWE fans haha. I’ll be back on Monday for a Bound For Glory recap, Tuesday for the Raw Deal that is hopefully about a better edition of Raw and then next weekend again for another edition of Canton’s Corner.
Have a great weekend.
Visit my 10+ year column archive at the Wrestling Oratory right HERE.