Hello everyone, and thanks for reading my first column. This is a verbose and opinionated run-down on TNA Sacrifice, which shall hopefully be followed up by several more (though, they won't all be quite as long as this one.) In it, I will discuss 8 of the night's 9 matches (technical issues meant missing the opener, but I'm sure plenty of others will share their opinions thereon.
First of all, the disclaimer: I've been passionate about wrestling since what seems like the dawn of mankind, or, to be more precise, the dawn of the grunge era. I'm fond of plenty of feds, but am blinded by loyalty to none - so, low scores that I give are not hints of being a mark to another company but of a stringent frugality that aims to award 4s and above only to matches that are barely improvable. So, onto the review:
Global Championship = Terry v OJ. A pretty pointless match, it perfectly complimented a pretty pointless feud. It was pretty slow, starting off with Terry manhandling OJ with no response from OJ for far too long, and then leading to OJ largely delivering a bunch of kicks to a dozing, recumbent Terry who seemed to be taking a rest after all the exertion. OJ takes a ridiculous amount of time – think Swagger trying to unhook the briefcase time – to dive at Terry.
Shock horror, this prolonged stay on the turnbuckle, for which OJ had to pay a parking ticket, meant that Terry had the chance to slip away, and hit OJ with another uninspired power move imported from the 80s to take the win. Who’d a thunk it? OJ has the last laugh by attacking Terry’s ‘injured’ knee on the ramp, meaning that this feud will live another day. Joy. 1.5 / 5 = Vapid
X Divison Championship = D. Williams v Kazarian. Disappointing that they did not carry on with the British-style mat-wrestling at the beginning, which could have been like a subdued and infinitely less epic, but enjoyable enough, take on Williams’ British Wrestling Masterclass with N. McGuinness back in 1PW. Instead, they realised that this is the X Division, and inevitably reverted to the usual style to get up to the prerequisite quota of typical moves.
That being said, it was a solid if unspectacular contest, and probably the best that I will see to-night. Williams did deserve the belt to be returned to him, and hitting the Chaos Theory was a nice way to do it. We may well get a feud continuing twixt the two, if TNA could ever commit to following through with storyline. 3.75 / 5 = Strong and entertaining enough.
Interlude = D. Wolfe & Chelsea. TNA always poses more questions than it ever answers. What on earth would Abyss want with a snotty girl who hates him (let me not consider it!)? And – am I dreaming – or wasn’t Chelsea ‘English?’ I wonder why has Chelsea dropped her cod accent? Who knows.
Knockouts’ Championship = Sigh, whatever happened to this division? Pretty soon it will consist only of The Beautiful People, the poorest wrestlers of the bunch. A pretty poor way to end the career of Tara, who I believe still has it in her. 1 / 5
Interlude = Hall and Nash make a big deal about invoking the Freebird rule hitherto. Amusingly, they choose not to for the following match.
TT Championship = Hall & Nash v Ink Inc. Well, I wasn’t inspecting this to be anything but disastrous, and yet, it still managed to defy my expectations for the worst. It was a slow, lumbering match, only bearable on the few occasions when poor Ink Inc had the momentum – otherwise, it was the equivalent of driving long-distance behind an arctic lorry. And the finish, even worse, with a pointless Brother Ray swerve against his protégés and in favour of people he seemed to loathe. Typical of this holiday from logic, I suppose. The Band (what a name |___|) hold onto their belts, to the detriment of us all, and to guarantee another foul, bumbling set of TT performances. Do us a favour and let some tag teams who can still go have a pop at it, 0.5 / 5 = Awful
D. Wolfe v Abyss. I sorely hope that TNA realise that we (or at least I) want Wolfe used well, in the upper card, even in the World Title race. His matches with Angle were wonderful, and his work as N. McGuinness in ROH and on the Indy circuit was outstanding. He was recently named the fans’ choice for Number 1 contender. Somehow, according to TNA management who are pledged to ‘listening to the fans,’ that equates to being given an un-built-up, rapid loss against RVD and then getting thrown into a misguided storyline with Hulked-Up-Abyss. Yes, #1 contendership vaguely equates being PPV filler.
Give him his credit, Wolfe tries his best to make something of the match, and half the crowd seems to reward him by calling for him despite being the heel in the match-up. Predictably, Abyss wins in one of the most misguided storylines of the year so far. There will be a ceremony to hand Chelsea over, as though she were a prized ox. G-d, I hope that this feud does not carry on for too long. It, like the Band’s TT reign, is a prime candidate for the characteristic TNA ‘Don’t ask’ drop, thus ensuring that it probably won’t be. 1/5 = ‘Abyss’mal
Interlude = Mr. Anderson on the mic. Priceless, and predictably so, given that he’s probably one of the best speakers in the minute. He’s another guy who should probably be in title contention.
J. Hardy v Mr. Anderson. As an aside, I really don’t get this sad clown face paint thing that Hardy is into. This could have been rather much better than it was. What it was: a solid, if somewhat stolid, exchange of moves followed by a bizarre potential double turn. 2.75/5
Sting v J. Jarrett. This match-up was badly positioned on the card at any rate, but was made even worse by it being another extended beat-down delivered via the Sting postal service, which featured no wrestling save one move, but rather a pointless assault with a range of impromptu weapons that TNA management seem convinced that we want to see. Don’t you think that there’d be plenty in the locker room who would team against Sting?
I know that his injury impedes him from wrestling, but that should mean a different match instead of this pointless insertion. Sting is a terrible heel at the minute, and a one-track beat-down has no place as the penultimate match of a PPV. The ‘match’ finished with the inevitable Hogan intervention, about 20 minutes too late to avoid him getting his derrière booted to Djibouti and back. As if the extent of time wasted to this beating were not enough, we were then treated to a macabre highlights reel that also lasted way too long. Good job, fellahs, you should set up a blood donation fund. A match between any of their under-utilised talent in its place would have been more welcome. 0/5 = Pointless and prolonged.
Interlude = RVD big ups himself.
TNA title = R. van Dam v A.J. Styles. Despite both men’s reputation for fast-paced wrestling, this one got off to a very slow start, with RVD continuing to big himself up and both men trash talking. It heats up a bit with all the trademarks of a Styles match these days – Flair messing around, Styles not pulling off his sole attempt at an aerial move, etc. I can’t help but feel that this match-up would be better if the feud were better built up, and if Styles were fully using his usual pre-Flair moveset – his few moments of brilliance and, no pun intended, flair were out-shadowed by an over reliance on slow mat wrestling.
RVD is generally the better man during the match, though I must note my chagrin at TNA’s overuse of the old ‘missing a money shot aerial move due to taking too long,’ a turning point that allows AJ to hit some more interesting moves. In my eyes, though I love lengthy matches, this one goes on for somewhat too long, particularly given my almost certainty that the win will go to RVD. And indeed, after an aborted attempt at a run-in by Flair, stopped by Jay Lethal in Flair mode, another failed aerial attempt and a flog-splash later, it is finally put to rest. 2/5
Final thoughts: (1.56 average over 8 matches)
* The Impact prior to Sacrifice may well have been better than the PPV itself. That’s bad booking.
* TNA are going way too far with this idea that they will get ratings by having their own original talent emulate faded stars of WWF past. AJ and Jay have emulated Flair, the latter far more successfully, and neither has led anywhere. What will be next – Amazing Red taking a turn as the Honky Tonk Man?
* I can’t wait until Angle gets back. Let’s hope the matches are better booked and built up to next time.