Hello and welcome to my latest WWE vs. TNA article, where each week I analyse and discuss the output of both promotions and pick a winner.
While the WWE was still a fortnight away from its Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, TNA had its WrestleMania equivalent Bound for Glory. So let's see how they got on.
Isn't the rule that X-Division that competitors have to be under a certain weight meant to retain the division's high-flying element?
Rob Van Dam, as with Samoa Joe, who holds the Television Title, is a potential main eventer holding a lower card belt—indeed, he main evented in the world title match back at May's Sacrifice.
RVD defeating Zema Ion is a shame. Going over RVD at the biggest show of the year could been a big moment. Perhaps the result raises the title's prestige, but it'll lower the high-flying element—which is what makes the division special, in theory. A good match nevertheless.
Similarly, Samoa Joe vs. Magnus was a great back-and-forth match, with the old favourite coming out on top.
I'm a sucker for thumbtacks. Even if James Storm winning was so expected a result that it almost went all the way around to becoming a swerve—and even if King Mo was pointless—I liked Bobby Roode vs. James Storm. I've seen other people suggest it was TNA's best match of the year, and while it was certainly good and a decent culmination to a yearlong feud, I wouldn't go that far.
Joey Ryan vs. Al Snow was a massive step down from the previous matches. If anything, it was much worse than I expected, and no amount of head double entendres (or even a single entendre from Taz) could save it.
Christopher Daniels and Kazarian vs. Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez vs. AJ Styles and Kurt Angle was my favourite match of the show. Some great spots, quick kinetic action and it was impossible to predict. All six men put in a fantastic performance.
Tara defeated Miss Tessmacher clean, which was good. Not nearly as interesting was the Hollywood boyfriend stuff. I don't live in the U.S., meaning I wouldn't know if the guy is famous or not, but I assumed from the crowd response that it was all meant to be a big joke.
The Aces and Eights match was perfunctory, but the Devon twist was incredible. All the news I'd seen suggested he'd genuinely left TNA. We also had Hulk Hogan striding to the ring knocking four men out of the way with a single punch each and hulking up for good measure. It was all ridiculous, but entertainingly so.
Considering the whole buildup to the world title match was about Jeff Hardy as the loved face and Austin Aries's envy, the boos seemed to favour Jeff. It was a good match with a disappointing result.
I understand that really you need the winner of the Bound for Glory series to win to justify it—and for a few years in a row, the Royal Rumble winner didn't win, cheapening the WWE's version a bit—but Aries has been so great and could have done with more time to make his mark on the championship.
Bound for Glory was more good than bad. As TNA's biggest show of the year, we could well ask whether it was better than WrestleMania. I had some criticisms of the WWE's show of shows this year, but I think it was slightly better overall.
A more direct comparison will be whether WWE's coming Hell in a Cell event is any better.
I may have been disappointed with some elements of last week's Raw, but I was more excited for this episode than I have been for a TV wrestling show in as long as I can remember, so they must be doing something right. The opening video package reminded me why.
Sadly, the big show opened, instead, with the Big Show, who continued to address his situation with Sheamus. Continuing to acknowledge the fact that CM Punk and Team Hell No are the biggest (and perhaps only) things the WWE has going for it at the moment, he called out Daniel Bryan due to his quick title loss all the way back at last year's TLC.
It's tenuous, but it just about makes sense.
The match itself was entertaining while it lasted—Daniel Bryan can have a good match with just about anyone—but showed how much Bryan's relatively been depushed, compared with his recent WWE title contention days. Kane's defence of Bryan after the match was quite sweet.
CM Punk came to the ring to announce his chosen opponent for Hell in a Cell. His stalling meant Vince McMahon interrupted and said he'd be choosing instead at the contract signing later. Really, it means the segment was irrelevant, but I wasn't all that bothered—Punk as a heel could read the telephone directory out and be entertaining.
A Prime Time Players match was such complete filler that I can't think of anything much to say about it.
Ryback went over David Otunga after Dolph Ziggler fled their handicap match. Complete filler again.
Antonio Cesaro defeated Justin Gabriel in a match that broke the filler monotony slightly, just because Justin Gabriel briefly looked like he might be in with a shot.
Kane defeated Matt Striker, which wasn't very entertaining, save for Michael Cole saying "You shouldn't call AJ the c word." He meant crazy, of course, but I was briefly startled while I worked it out.
Kofi Kingston appeared on Miz TV. The Miz played it absolutely perfectly and saved what could have been another tedious segment. He may have been playing the heel, but everything he said about Kofi was still completely true, and it was hugely effective in building heat between the two.
I've heard it said that the best heels really just tell the truth (Damien Sandow anyone?), and this was a perfect example.
Wade Barrett vs. Sheamus was an interesting, if not technically great, bout with a predictably inconclusive end. It's pretty clear that Wade Barrett's next in line for the World Heavyweight Championship after Hell in a Cell, and I'm looking forward to that much more than the Big Show's match.
I've always been cynical of JR's supposed value as an all-time great on commentary, but it's true that he does have a gift for making a dull match seem better, and such was the case for Eve Torres vs. Layla.
Because Rey Mysterio was ill, the Rhodes Scholars had a match with Primo and Epico. The latter team—who, let's not forget, were recently tag team champions—had a strong showing, which was helpful considering how they were recently both squashed together by Ryback.
Kofi Kingston's defeat of the Miz was a surprise—not just because of their relative statuses, but because with them having a title match on Wednesday, I was convinced there would be a disqualification (most likely Miz walking out).
Considering how successful the CM Punk/McMahon/Cena/Ryback storyline has been (to me at least), it was a little disappointing that the closing segment was over so quickly. But I'm hyped, so it did its job.
Ever since SummerSlam, I've thought Raw has been hugely improved. This Raw was more like the pre-SummerSlam three-hour Raws, albeit not quite as bad.
Really, it's down to the amount of irrelevant filler, and there was a lot of it this week. CM Punk and Team Hell No are still the things really keeping the shows going, but the former was used less than previous weeks and the latter wasn't used nearly as effectively as they have been.
Now that the Aces and Eights have full access, why would they not be all over the show all the time? The details of the agreement aren't clear, but whatever it means, it' should be the biggest thing going. It's raised Devon's profile, that's for sure.
Putting Tara with an absolute nobody whose claim to fame is having been on Big Brother as her "Hollywood boyfriend" is a good way of getting her over as a heel. Whether that was exactly TNA's intention in bringing this guy in or whether they thought we'd really see him as a big star, who can say.
The segment between Jeff Hardy and Austin Aries seemed to be geared towards making it clear that Aries is the full-fledged heel now and Hardy the face—quite contrary to how the crowd at Bound for Glory reacted (though they seemed to be Creatures at the Impact Zone).
Personally, I prefer Aries over Hardy all day long. Despite being nicknamed the Charismatic Enigma, Jeff is a damp rag on the mic. He looked very silly with his hair in a bun too, which may influence my thinking.
Kurt Angle defeated AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels in a great—if too short—Triple Threat match. I really thought they might actually run with Daniels. I'd love him to find his way to the world title and I'd love it even more if he took it from Jeff Hardy.
James Storm and Bobby Roode's confrontation was fairly pointless. It seems a safe bet that James Storm is next in line for the top strap.
Devon in a main event match—who would have seen that coming a week, month or year ago?
He even got some "Let's go Devon!" chants, albeit not as many as Sting. But he didn't win, of course, and the closing segment ended as did the opening one (and as we've seen a fair few times in the past)—with the roster brawling with the Aces and Eights.
Impact was actually fairly low-key for the immediate follow-up to their biggest show of the year. Nothing new or particularly important happened, but I enjoyed it mostly and it was fairly pacy, so it gets a thumbs up.
The show kicked off with the news that the Miz lost his Intercontinental Championship to Kofi Kingston on Wednesday's Main Event. Perhaps I should start watching if things are going to happen on it. Of course, really he'd lost it not long before, because Main Event is recorded before SmackDown on the same night.
Miz's guests on Miz TV were Team Hell No. The segment was OK, if you're undemanding and realistic enough to expect nothing more than the same old shtick from SmackDown. Team Hell No are still great fun, if understandably overused.
With the inclusion of the only tangentially related Big Show and Dolph Ziggler, Booker T came out to make the obvious tag match. The Miz at least pointed out how predictable this is (again, the best heels just tell the truth), but that doesn't subvert it or change the fact it's an unoriginal thing to to, it just makes you think they're being brave by mentioning the predictable nature of it.
The Miz vs. Randy Orton was quite surprising in that the Miz got a lot of offence in. There was also a very nice superplex. More interesting than that, though, was the fact that Randy Orton is growing his hair out a bit. It makes him look much younger.
How did Eve Torres overhear Teddy Long's Lumberjack match idea from such a great distance? She was miles away. Maybe it was to give the situation something obvious to nitpick, because it's the closest thing to interesting in this long-running and unrewarding angle.
Team Hell No vs. the Big Show and Dolph Ziggler was a great match. Once again, it was poor Ziggler who absorbed the loss, as the guy who can still afford to lose if someone has to. The Rhodes Scholars' attack from behind was signposted simply because Kane and Daniel Bryan never usually stand at the top of the stage yelling like that.
Antonio Cesaro's problem is that he's not over with the crowd (though I like him), but his promo before his match with Ted DiBiase (haven't seen him in a long time) was enough to get some USA chants from the crowd. Briefly.
Heath Slater got the opportunity to look like a proper wrestler against Brodus Clay. It still took the Three Man Band's distraction to win, but it's a step forward. Kind of.
The Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett Lumberjack match rather sadly had Sheamus go over. With the amount of things going on, I don't know if you could call it clean, though. Ziggler's failed cash-in count must be into double figures by now.
SmackDown was alright. Like Raw, it had a lot of inconsequential and instantly forgettable filler, but you expect it of SmackDown so it's less egregious.
Show of the Week: TNA Impact
This, of course, is just between the TV shows, as there's no direct comparison for the PPV. Impact wasn't hugely better than Raw, but I give it the slight edge. Raw's problem was all the filler—had it been two hours long it, could have been a fine show. SmackDown was satisfactory, which by its own standards, is quite high.
Match of the Week: Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels
Again, this excludes PPV matches. It's been a week of reasonable TV matches, though nothing too special. Team Hell No vs. the Big Show and Dolph Ziggler is the closest runner up.
Thank you for reading and all comments are appreciated.