TNA Wrestling: What Went Right and Wrong in the Bound for Glory Series
Scott Steiner, D'Angelo Dinero, Samoa Joe, & #2 seeded Robert Roode were 4 of the 12 men competing in this year's Bound For Glory Series.
With the conclusion of the near three-month long series taking place tonight at No Surrender, it is time to take a look back at all the positives and negatives from the Bound For Glory Series. Then, at the end of the pros-and-cons, I will give my personal opinion of who should win the BFG Series before the winner is declared at tonight's No Surrender PPV.
Also, I'll give my predicted lineup for this year's Bound For Glory extravaganza.
The Positives of the Bound for Glory Series
Crimson, #3 seeded Gunner, Matt Morgan, & #4 seeded James Storm were all involved in this year's Bound For Glory Series.
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.
The Negatives of the Bound for Glory Series
From left to right: #1 seeded Bully Ray, AJ Styles, Devon, & Rob Van Dam. All four men took part in the BFG Series.
When the series was first introduced, an intriguing aspect of the entire concept was the rule that if a Superstar gets disqualified, he would lose 10 points from his total. This idea marinated in the minds of fans as to who it would affect and how it would change the course of the series.
While Jerry Lynn costing Rob Van Dam certainly didn't help matters, the effect the ruling had began the chain of events toward the unraveling of Samoa Joe. At the start of the series, Joe was one of the favorites to go on and get a World Championship shot. This series was looked at as a way to right the ship of the floundering Samoan Submission Machine.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Throughout the three-month course of the BFG Series, Joe did not win one match, and when he actually did win a contest against The Pope, he was disqualified and entered negative territory in points.
At that point, Joe began a crusade against his fellow BFG Series counterparts. In Joe's mind, it was kill or be killed. If he was not going to get a championship match at Bound For Glory, then neither would the other 11 competitors in the series. Joe did his part, attacking and injuring The Pope and Devon, as well as shattering the ankle of series leader Crimson. Instead of righting the wrongs of one of the best talents in the company, the BFG Series continued the downward spiral in the career of the Samoan Submission Machine.
Unevenness in the BFG Series
While the concept to the BFG Series may have been well-thought out, the structure of match layout certainly was not.
How is it conceivable for Crimson to have had 19 matches in the series and for Scott Steiner to have had only nine? Or before going down to injury, Crimson only had 10 matches in the series. If AJ Styles, who only finished with 11 matches, had the same amount of opportunities in the series as Crimson, perhaps Styles would be involved in the final four at No Surrender tonight. If the concept returns for a sophomore season, the matches need to be mapped out so that everyone wrestles each other at least once, and the matches should be spread evenly within the Series.
Matches Not Feeling as Important
While TNA made “Wrestling Matter” with the BFG Series taking part of non-televised events, it also hurt the credibility of the series when matches were not given the proper time on television. Sure, the series had some great matches, including the initial match between Samoa Joe and Rob Van Dam. But there surely were some snoozers over the course of the three-month campaign.
One of the lowest points in the series was when Matt Morgan, Joe, AJ Styles and Gunner competed in a four-way ladder match on iMPACT for 10 points in the series. In theory, the match was a great idea to capitalize on the importance of the points. However, the match lasted a mere five minutes when it should've headlined iMPACT to prove that wrestling really matters in TNA.
Missed Out Opportunity
When Jeff Hardy was removed as an on-air talent following the debacle at Victory Road and Bully Ray was inserted into Immortal, the feud between Ray and Devon never fully materialized. While it was a near lock for Lockdown in April, it was put on hold due to Hardy's actions and has been rarely mentioned ever since.
Sure, Ray takes a stab at Devon every now and then, but imagine the importance of a match between Ray and Devon during the series with the points and a future World Championship match on the line. Devon has been so consumed with the shenanigans involving his family and The Pope that he has not made any comments in response to Ray.
TNA Wrestling truly missed out on building the feud between Ray and Devon with the importance of each of them looking to become World Champions for the first time in their respective careers and how the BFG Series would be the way for each of them to finally achieve that feat.
Who Should Have Won the Bound for Glory Series?
Sting, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and the rest of the TNA Superstars are all Bound For Glory on October 16 in Philadelphia. The event is rumored to feature the in-ring return of Hulk Hogan against "The Icon" Sting.
This article was written prior to the results of the No Surrender PPV. So, whoever does win the BFG Series, congratulations goes to that superstar. But unless Mr. Anderson wins the World Title and Bully Ray wins the Series, I do not believe there is enough time to give Roode or Storm the solo focus against Kurt Angle with the World Championship on the line.
If TNA were heavily focused on Roode and/or Storm as the next star of the company, then either of them against Angle would be an amazing match. It still would be, but the spotlight isn't as bright as it could be had the proper buildup been invested in either Storm or Roode.
So, since this is strictly a prediction of who should have won but won't win the series, my choice would have to be Samoa Joe.
After Joe got himself disqualified against The Pope and ended with minus-10 points in the series, the changing of the guard should have been at that moment. Joe should have bombarded the Network, Hogan and Bischoff with more matches in the series because he knows he is better than anybody else in the series. Instead of issuing threats, Joe should have issued promises. When Joe landed at minus-10 around the time of the Hardcore Justice PPV, it meant there was exactly one month to change the tide for Joe. He could have been booked in BFG Series Matches on the following weekend's live event tour and, after winning each match by submission, he could have been back within 20 points with three weeks to go.
Then, on consecutive iMPACT episodes, Samoa Joe could have steamrolled the competition, making everyone tap to the Rear Naked Choke, and earned himself a final four spot on tonight's PPV.
The final four could have been Joe, Crimson (had the injury not happened), Bully Ray and AJ Styles.
Joe vs. Styles in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 4 with Joe winning after a classic match. Then, Crimson puts away Ray to lead into a match between the undefeated Crimson and the man who has been on a career resurgence in Joe. After a long match, Joe would end the streak of Crimson with a Muscle Buster and go on to face Kurt Angle for the World Title at Bound For Glory.
Sure, Angle vs. Joe feels played out, but it's been awhile since they have wrestled one another, and Lockdown 2008 featuring the two of them over the World Title was the most successful PPV in TNA Wrestling history.
But instead, we're getting what we're getting tonight and that's just the way it is.
And just for chutes and ladders, here are my predictions for this year's Bound For Glory:
- The Final Battle: Sting vs. Hulk Hogan
- World Heavyweight Championship: Mr. Anderson vs. Bully Ray
- Kurt Angle vs. Crimson
- Samoa Joe vs. Matt Morgan
- Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn
- AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels
- Knockouts Championship: Mickie James vs. Winter vs. Angelina Love vs. Velvet Sky
- X-Division Championship: Austin Aries vs. Alex Shelley
- Tag Team Championship:
- Mexican America vs. Devon & Pope vs. Beer Money vs. Gunner & Abyss