I’ve been looking forward to this Sunday’s TNA Bound for Glory since the end of the last one.
Last year, TNA did an amazing job of building up their biggest pay-per-view of the year. Storylines were put in place months in advance. There were fresh matchups, main events to spare, suspense as to who would win, and on paper, Bound for Glory 2009 looked like a perfect showcase for TNA’s deep roster of legends, up-and-coming talents, new tag teams, and the greatest women’s division in professional wrestling.
Of course, all things being TNA, it didn’t quite turn out so well. The show was a disappointment. There were awkward finishes, quite a few “WrestleCrap” moments, and several of the matches ended out of nowhere, while the end of the event left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth.
But then Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff signed with TNA.
A lot of people foretold that they would be the end of TNA as we know it, but I was excited. As soon as the announcement was made from Madison Square Garden, my thoughts turned to Bound for Glory.
Would Hogan wrestle? What other talents would he bring along? How would the additions figure into the TNA roster? These questions swirled in my mind, and then slowly, they were answered.
By March, TNA had signed some of the hottest free agents in wrestling: Ric Flair, Ken Anderson, Jeff Hardy, and Rob Van Dam. With these four now on the roster, it seemed like there was even more potential for main event matches at the following Bound for Glory.
But as the year progressed, and I faithfully watched iMPACT!, I realized that my hopes might not be realized.
There were no epic feuds over the TNA World Heavyweight Title, no star-powered grudge matches, no showcasing of the deep roster. iMPACT! was often terrible (though there were quite a few great shows), relying heavily on only the potential for storylines (why Sting turned heel, why Tommy Dreamer was appearing in the crowds, who “they” were), but questions were never actually answered. There were only more questions. And they were great questions, but without any answers, or even clues, they might as well have never been asked in the first place.
But by August, on “The Whole F’N Show” edition of iMPACT!, my faith was renewed. TNA fans were treated to pure wrestling entertainment. The Motor City Machine Guns and Beer Money, Inc. delivered one of the greatest tag-team matches ever. Rob Van Dam and Abyss battled in a surprisingly fun match for the TNA World Heavyweight Title, and the show ended by introducing an interesting angle, with Fourtune brutally beating down the ECW alumni.
The next pay-per-view, No Surrender, even turned out to be a great show. I was excited to be a TNA fan again. My anticipation turned to Bound for Glory.
But it all soon dissipated. The iMPACT! after No Surrender teased a three-way match for the TNA World Heavyweight Title, then announced that it would be a one-on-one match, and then finally it was made a three-way after all. Rob Van Dam nonchalantly returned to television over the phone, calmly discussing his recovery after Abyss pretty much attempted to kill him. Sting was still talking in code. Everything was back off track.
There was never that feeling that we were on the road to the biggest TNA event of the year. Not like last year, or the year before that, or any year since the first Bound for Glory. It felt like the buildup to just another pay-per-view. And now that’s all the show looks like—just another pay-per-view.
Here are my thoughts on the (supposedly) final card for TNA Bound for Glory 2010.
Three-Way Match for the Vacant TNA World Heavyweight Championship: Kurt Angle vs. Mr. Anderson vs. Jeff Hardy
This will be a great match. There’s no doubt about it. Angle and Anderson have great chemistry, Anderson and Hardy are good together, and Angle and Hardy are such a clash of styles that the result will always be interesting.
You have three varying styles, but one thing they all have in common is that they can put on a great match. Expect innovative counters, near-falls, and high drama. This could be the best match of the year.
Now, with that said, I don’t think it should be the main event of Bound for Glory. Look at the main events of the past: A.J. Styles vs. Sting, Samoa Joe vs. Sting, Kurt Angle vs. Sting, and Jeff Jarrett vs. Sting. Okay, they all have one competitor in common: Sting.
And I think it’s great that TNA has finally moved on from Sting being in the main event (whether the intent was to offer a fresh main event or the realization that Sting is older and injured is unknown), but this just doesn’t feel like the main event.
Angle, of course, is a top name in the business, and Hardy was one of the most popular wrestlers in 2009. But Anderson is still on his way up.
Angle and Anderson have history from their feud earlier this year (and thanks largely to their amazing “steel cage” match at Lockdown), Anderson and Hardy have history too, but these are both threads based mostly on storylines from earlier this year. These were never great feuds; interesting, yes, but never great. Neither warranted being revisited. Not this soon, anyway. Feuds need a chance to take a breather.
And they’re all faces! Where’s the conflict? Where’s the drama? They all just seem disgruntled with each other.
And the match is for the vacant TNA World Heavyweight Title! Can you imagine going into WrestleMania not knowing who the WWE Champion was? Then you’d have WrestleMania IV. You lose a vital element of the classic wrestling match by putting all of the competitors in the role of “the challenger.” Wrestling is about a struggle, and by putting everyone in the exact same position, you lose some of that struggle.
If the match was going to be a three-way, someone should have been heel, or already the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, or both, or else it should have just been a one-on-one match.
On paper, this match looks a lot like the Triple-Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Title from WrestleMania 22 between Angle, Randy Orton, and Rey Mysterio. Angle was the established champion, Orton was the cocky heel, and Mysterio was the underdog.
Look at the three competitors in this match, and you’ll see that there’s little difference. The point is that that match wasn’t even the main event of the show. It was the co-main event to the epic confrontation between John Cena and Triple H. So here we are, and the main event of TNA’s biggest pay-per-view of the year very closely resembles a match that wasn’t even considered worthy of going on last more than four years ago.
Monster’s Ball match: Rob Van Dam vs. Abyss
The match between Van Dam and Abyss on “The Whole F’N Show” edition of iMPACT! was surprisingly enjoyable. It was replete with weapons, highspots, and the feeling of a big main event. I’m certain that these two could put on another entertaining match.
Another aspect of this pairing that I like is that just two months ago this feud was over the TNA World Heavyweight Title, and was the biggest storyline in TNA. Removing the championship from the picture has made the feud more personal, and taking what was once a main event in TNA and making it a grudge match gives the show a greater sense of importance.
This may be a strange example, but it reminds me of how WrestleMania XIX featured The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in a grudge match, not over either of the world championships. It exemplified how personal the feud was, deepened its importance, and made the card seem even bigger than it was. If Rob Van Dam vs. Abyss isn’t the main event, then this must be a pretty big event.
On the other hand, Rob Van Dam vs. Abyss is no The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Not even close. Van Dam is a big name in TNA, but he wasn’t in WWE. And since Abyss is really nothing more than a knock-off of Kane, then this match really just amounts to another version of Van Dam vs. Kane, a match we saw over seven years ago at SummerSlam. So, the second biggest match at the biggest TNA pay-per-view of the year is remarkably similar to a pairing that’s seven years-old and was only considered worthy of being in the mid-card.
Lethal Lockdown: Fourtune vs. EV 2.0
Aside from the first edition of “Lethal Lockdown” in 2005 (which no one really counts), and the most recent from this past April, TNA’s version of the “WarGames” match has always been entertaining.
This year’s “Lethal Lockdown” has a real story behind it. There’s a reason it’s being contested as gang warfare. This isn’t just a case of two main-eventers picking themselves four team-mates. Fourtune is a team, and obviously so is EV 2.0.
This has been an interesting feud. EV 2.0 were never portrayed as invaders, only as looking for one last hurrah at no one’s expense. It’s an interesting twist for them to be portrayed as the good guys, while the in-house performers are the bad guys.
And even though their actions have been villainous, Fourtune’s motives have made sense. They don’t want to lose their spots, let alone to a group they consider washed up. There’s no better way to tell a story of good vs. evil than for there to be logic to the evil. Despite EV 2.0’s good intentions, you kind of understand where Fourtune is coming from.
This match is also a great opportunity for brawling, weapons, high-flying, high-spots, and so much more.
But this isn’t Lockdown, a pay-per-view which acts as a better mid or starting point for major one-on-one feuds. It’s when you get to see two guys who are feuding just rip each other apart for a little bit. It’s never meant to be the final chapter in the storyline—but this match is.
Look at every other “Lethal Lockdown.” The feuds in those matches continued well past Lockdown. It’s very much like Survivor Series. The fun of the match is the star-power, the constant action, and, in this case, the weapons. But it doesn’t really settle anything, because most often the only way to settle a score is in a one-on-one match. That’s what these big pay-per-views are all about. Look at the card for WrestleMania XXVI or Bound for Glory last year. Those events were all about one-on-one matches. That’s what it all comes down to.
EV 2.0 is better off as a faction. No one, including myself, wants to see Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, Rhino, Raven, or Stevie Richards in singles matches at the biggest TNA pay-per-view of the year. Teaming them up is perfect. But it should have been against up-and-comers, much like the match at WrestleMania 23 between The ECW Originals and The New Breed. The team of Dreamer, Sandman, Sabu, and Van Dam was fitting, and it was an introduction to names like Elijah Burke and Matt Striker.
This match is fitting for the members of EV 2.0, who are likely teaming up for the last time, but it’s a step down for the members of Fourtune.
Consider this: a year ago, in the main event of Bound for Glory, A.J. Styles defended the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against Sting. Styles was also champion for the first third of this year.
Matt Morgan went to the limit with Kurt Angle in the match right before it. And last year he was one of the biggest names in TNA.
Kazarian has been lighting up the X Division, and stealing the show at every pay-per-view he’s wrestled.
And Beer Money, Inc. has been one of the hottest tag teams since they formed. They’ve spent much of their run as TNA World Tag Team Champions and they deserve their own feud.
They all deserve better.
Handicap Match: Sting, Kevin Nash, & “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero vs. Jeff Jarrett & Samoa Joe
That’s it?!? After nearly a year of buildup, that’s the match they came up with?!?
It all began with Hulk Hogan and Sting. On the night of Hogan’s debut in TNA, Sting was hovering in the rafters, watching Hogan.
Then, a couple of months later, on the debut of iMPACT! on Monday nights, Sting returned at the end of the tag team match between Hulk Hogan and Abyss against A.J. Styles and Ric Flair. It seemed that Sting had returned to rescue Hogan and Abyss from a beating, but instead pummeled Hogan and Abyss with his trademark baseball bat.
That was how it began. Back in March, I rushed to write an article about why I wanted to see Hulk Hogan vs. Sting at Lockdown. It was just a couple of weeks after Sting attacked Hogan, and I wanted to theorize before TNA started answering questions. If I had known that TNA wasn’t going to answer the questions until Bound for Glory, I would have taken my time.
Eventually, Jeff Jarrett was thrown into the mix. Jarrett had been feuding with Eric Bischoff over a power struggle and had recently come to terms with the Hogan/Bischoff regime. Jarrett was now on Hogan’s side.
As TNA’s founder, he was also shocked and appalled at Sting’s turn to the dark side. So, for the time being, the feud turned into Sting against Jarrett, with Hogan in the background.
It seemed like a good idea. A feud between Hogan and Sting could never reach a head, since Sting was injured and out of shape, and Hogan wasn’t in much condition to wrestle, either.
But then Kevin Nash got involved. Nash had been trying to get a meeting with Hogan and Bischoff, who refused, citing that Nash’s time in the spotlight had come to an end, and that TNA was making room for newer faces. Nash’s conflict with Hogan and Bischoff soon turned into a conflict with Jarrett, stemming from their earlier feuds.
Then Sting returned from a 30-day suspension, sporting red face paint and was now aligned with Nash, in what appeared to be a reunion of the nWo Wolfpac.
Jarrett needed help, so he enlisted the help of Samoa Joe. Then on the iMPACT! after No Surrender, Joe was in a match against “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero. Dinero had lost the semi-finals of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Tournament against Mr. Anderson and was angry that Kurt Angle and Jeff Hardy, who had fought to a draw in the other semi-final match, were both going to wrestle for the title anyway. So Bischoff put Dinero in a match with Joe for Dinero to prove himself. Thanks to interference from Jarrett, Sting, and Nash, Dinero lost the match.
Somehow, Sting and Nash were able to convince Dinero to join their side. Finally, the team of Sting, Kevin Nash, and “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero challenged Jeff Jarrett, Samoa Joe, and Hulk Hogan to a six-man tag team match at Bound for Glory.
What started as an intriguing storyline between two of the biggest names in professional wrestling history quickly dissolved into a convoluted mess. The storyline was always asking questions and never answering them. It began way too early, because this has mostly felt like stalling until Bound for Glory. A good story unfolds. This one piled.
There’s a logical way to escalate a singles feud between main-eventers into a tag team match, and this isn’t it.
Here’s an example: late last year, Batista returned to WWE, specifically the SmackDown! brand. During a promo, he was interrupted by Chris Jericho, who proclaimed that he was now the top dog on the “blue” show. They had a match, but then Jericho’s tag team partner, Big Show, got involved. Batista was now feuding with both of the WWE Unified Tag Team Champions.
So he enlisted the help of his former tag team partner, Rey Mysterio. The brief feud culminated in a fun match between the two teams last October at Hell in a Cell. Or consider how the feud between Mick Foley and Randy Orton escalated into a feud between The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection and Evolution at WrestleMania XX.
The only way this kind of plotting works is if there is some kind of history. Aside from Sting and Nash, there are no histories. It’s contrived to randomly add Dinero into the mix. And I can’t think of a team less logical than Hogan, Jarrett, and Joe.
And worse than that, much like the “Lethal Lockdown” match, this represents a big step down for many of the competitors. Sting may be injured, out of shape, and in his fifties, but he deserves better than this. I can’t imagine why he would have agreed to stay in TNA after his match against A.J. Styles at Bound for Glory last year, a match many feel would have been a perfect conclusion to his career. I can only imagine he stayed for the money.
Dinero deserves better, too. Eight months ago, he won the “Eight Card Stud” Tournament at Against All Odds and challenged A.J. Styles for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at Lockdown. He should be one of the top names in TNA.
And what about Jarrett? He founded TNA, has been one of their top names since the beginning, and he’s been reduced to nothing more than a hired gun.
The worst crime is the bump down the card for Samoa Joe. I know he’s overweight, egotistical, and hot-headed, but he’s also one of the poster boys for TNA. Back in 2005 and 2006, he had the hottest winning streak in pro wrestling. His feud with Kurt Angle drew some of the highest pay-per-view buy-rates in TNA history. Two years ago, he wrestled Sting in an epic one-on-one main event at Bound for Glory. And now he’s just a goon.
If this match was the best they could come up with, then this feud should have never started at all.
TNA World Tag Team Championship: The Motor City Machine Guns (c) vs. Generation Me
These two teams clearly have good chemistry, but then again few teams don’t mesh well with the Guns. But they’ve already wrestled each other a few times this year, twice on pay-per-view. It was an interesting twist when Generation Me turned heel after their match against the Guns last month, but it isn’t enough.
Bound for Glory is a time to showcase something really special, not just a random rematch. The last two editions featured four of the biggest tag teams in TNA battling for the TNA World Tag Team Titles.
And because this match has occurred so many times before, the outcome is lose/lose. If the Guns win, then the ending is redundant. If Generation Me wins, then the ending is predictable. This match could be put on any other pay-per-view, and no one would know the difference.
But like the other matches, it still has the potential to be very good. I just wish it felt special, too.
TNA X Division Championship: Jay Lethal (c) vs. Douglas Williams
On paper, this could be a great match. All year, Williams has been on a crusade against the high-fliers of the X Division, and Lethal has been in a major feud with Fourtune, which culminated in his one-on-one victory over Ric Flair in July.
Then Lethal disappeared.
A few weeks later, to ingratiate himself to Fourtune, Williams cost Lethal a rematch against Flair.
Then Lethal disappeared again.
A month or so later, on iMPACT!, without any announcements, promos, or buildup, Lethal defeated Williams for the X Division Championship.
Then they both disappeared.
To make matters worse, Lethal lost his newly won championship to Amazing Red at a house show in the Hammerstein Ballroom. Two days later, Lethal won it back. And now once again, Lethal is defending the TNA X Division Championship against Douglas Williams. No buildup, no mention of Amazing Red, nothing—just a random match.
Will it be good? Probably. I just wish TNA cared more about this match, so then I could, too.
Four Corners Match for the TNA Women’s Knockouts Championship: Angelina Love (c) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Tara vs. Velvet Sky
Okay, so the “Knockouts” division is pretty much dead. They lost Awesome Kong and ODB, the remaining Taylor Wilde, Hamada, and Sarita have been put on the back burner, the storylines are garbage, and the “Lockbox Challenge” did irreparable damage.
But there’s enough here to make for a great match. The original members of The Beautiful People are reunited (now as babyfaces), the union of Rayne and Tara makes sense, and all four are also very good in the ring.
Like many, I would have preferred for Mickie James to debut in TNA after Bound for Glory, and not as the special guest referee, but her presence will make the event feel a little more special, so the more, the merrier.
Eric Young & Orlando Jordan vs. Ink Inc.
This is why no one orders TNA pay-per-views.
Bound for Glory is their biggest pay-per-view of the year, and three days before it, they randomly add a tag-team match that
1) features a team that was thrown together because both guys have tattoos and to appease their friends higher up (in this case, Jesse Neal was trained by Team 3D and Shannon Moore is best friends with Jeff Hardy)
2) features a makeshift comedy team that combines a failed gimmick (Jordan) with someone who’s had more character changes this year than many have in an entire career (Young) and
3) not only we have seen before, but we have seen first on XPlosion, TNA’s D-show, then on an iMPACT! following it.
Quite a few times this year, TNA has offered matches on pay-per-view that no one could possibly want to see, like Christopher Daniels vs. Sean Morley (Val Venis), Kevin Nash vs. Eric Young, and Jesse Neal vs. Brother Ray (twice!). But these weren’t just fillers. They were given valuable airtime and buildup videos, all for nothing.
This match is a waste of a perfectly good space on the card.
Team 3D will Make a Major Announcement at the Pay-Per-View
So Team 3D are returning after a two-month absence to make a “major announcement” that they say will “change the face of tag team wrestling forever.” Where have we heard that before? Someone promising a “major change?” Oh, that’s right—from TNA!
All they do is talk about “major announcements,” “big surprises,” and the “changes” that are coming, and they never deliver. Not even close. Many of us probably can’t even remember what a lot of them even were.
TNA is the company that cried wolf.
Plus, who are “THEY” that Abyss has Promised Will Be at the Pay-Per-View Event?
There has been so much theorizing as to who “they” will be, that there really isn’t much I can say that someone else hasn’t said before me. But I will say this: “they” will make or break TNA.
There’s a consistent theme for this pay-per-view: A lot of the matches could be quite good. On paper, it has the potential to be an entertaining event. But it just doesn’t feel like their biggest pay-per-view of the year. Too many rematches and multi-man matches, and too little buildup.
But as is always the case with TNA, I hope I’m wrong. I really do.
Prove me wrong, TNA. Please, please, prove me wrong.