When TNA began promoting Bound For Glory at the same time as Slammiversary, it was curious to see how TNA would build anticipation for their biggest PPV of the year. The question was answered on June 16 when TNA announced the Bound For Glory Series, with the winner of the series getting a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship at the namesake PPV.
In an era where a long-running tournament, especially with a points system, is a rarity, TNA introduced a concept that could become a fixture to the yearly buildup of Bound For Glory if built up correctly. Key words: “If built up correctly...”
The Top 12
What stuck out immediately when the roster of stars was first announced was the mix of talent included in the series. Instead of crowding the field with those who already occupied the World Title scene for much of 2011 (Anderson, Angle, Sting, etc.), the series included fresh faces who recently haven't had the opportunity at becoming a World Champion. There were the odds-on favorites (AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Robert Roode, James Storm), the veterans (Rob Van Dam, Scott Steiner, Bully Ray, Devon) and the dark horses (Matt Morgan, Crimson, Gunner and The Pope).
It was conceivable that, if built up correctly, any one of the 12 Superstars could win and challenge the TNA World Champion at Bound For Glory.
Throughout the entire run of the BFG Series, Crimson remained undefeated. While exchanging leads during the series with Matt Morgan, Rob Van Dam and eventually Bully Ray, Crimson dominated the competition en route to being part of the top four for No Surrender. However, once Samoa Joe started his rampage of the BFG Series competitors (more details to follow), all hopes of Crimson heading to No Surrender to earn a World Title Shot were dashed.
Despite a shattered ankle by Samoa Joe that ended the rookie's run, Crimson did shine in the tournament and stood up against the World Champion Kurt Angle. Plus, the injury to Crimson allowed viewers to build sympathy toward Crimson who, until the injury, did not seem to connect to the audience on an emotional level. While not on the level of Goldberg's undefeated streak during WCW's heyday, Crimson's undefeated singles streak showed just how much of a force he can be when healthy.
The Importance of “House Shows”
In the world of professional wrestling, the non-televised events are often ignored by the casual, or even diehard, TV viewer. To those who tune in every week to watch the program, if it doesn't happen on television (or PPV), then it doesn't have much significance in the overall picture.
That notion changed during the Bound For Glory Series.
For those who attended TNA's live events all across the country, they witnessed history. Fans viewed series matches that would eventually lead to the final four being selected. In fact, the final four of Bully Ray, James Storm, Robert Roode and Gunner all earned points through victories at non-televised events.
Besides Samoa Joe, Robert Roode went the second longest in the Bound For Glory Series without scoring any points. It was even noticeable in the latter stages of the Series that the frustration was growing within Roode. On a few occasions during tag team matches, Roode would be involved with the winning team, but since he did not make the pinfall, he was not on the receiving end of the seven points.
Fortunately, Roode earned victories at live events and with the injury to Crimson, a spot opened up and allowed Roode to solidify his standing in the top four in the series.
Matt Morgan Providing Commentary
When Matt Morgan suffered a torn pectoral muscle, it certainly was a blow to the Bound For Glory Series. But while it cost the Blue Print the opportunity to get another World Title Match, it allowed Morgan to give the series a voice at the commentary booth.
Joining Taz and Mike Tenay during the latter portion of the BFG Series, Morgan expressed his opinion about how the series was important to him and how it should be equally as important to those still involved. He called The Pope out on giving away points to impress Devon when Morgan was unable to compete and earn those points himself. He also expressed his view on Samoa Joe trying to injure everyone involved in the Series just because Joe had not earned any points himself. Plus, his attempt of getting physically involved when stopping Joe from attacking the other competitors has led to the Blue Print and the Samoan Submission Machine on a collision course to No Surrender tonight.
Building Multiple Storylines Throughout the Series
One of the concerning aspects when the series first started was how the individuals involved would conflict with one another over the course of the series. Obviously, all 12 men would compete against the other to prove who deserved an opportunity against the World Champ at Bound For Glory. But just how far would some go? That question was answered throughout the series. (The tale of Samoa Joe's journey will be featured later.)
For AJ Styles, his focus was sidetracked with Christopher Daniels wanting to prove that he was still one of the best in the world, and due to Daniels' distraction, Styles wasn't the force he should have been in the series.
In relation to Immortal, Bully Ray, Gunner and Scott Steiner, they were a well-oiled machine despite Ray's constant comments that Steiner and Gunner were in the series only to help him with the World Championship. It subsided until the very end of the Series when Ray said Gunner's only involvement in the final four was to assist Ray, much to the chagrin of Gunner.
Devon and The Pope did not get along throughout the series. Pope would literally hand victories to Devon in hopes of building trust between Devon and his family, but Devon wanted no part of The Pope. It was only until recently where Devon has shown a sense of friendship toward the preacher.
The “elephant in the room” for Beer Money was how either man would react if the opposite was in the position of winning the BFG Series. Even Bully Ray tried to plant the seeds of mistrust between Roode and Storm, but Beer Money would have none of it...yet. It remains to be seen if the tandem will remain as such when the BFG Series finally concludes.
Early on in the series, Rob Van Dam reeled off numerous victories and was a threat to Crimson's top spot. But the arrival of old nemesis Jerry Lynn swayed the direction of Van Dam's momentum to the point where RVD was out of the running for a chance to regain the World Title he never truly lost. Now the flame is reignited in the feud between Van Dam and Lynn.