Downloading wrestling has kick-started my passion again. My friends and I used to always talk, imaging a utopia where we’d actually get current Japanese wrestling here in America on TV. Well, now I can see every show, from almost every company, both the largest and more obscure, oft times mere days after they’ve happened for free via downloading. On top of all the American TV I watch weekly, I now routinely watch the latest NJPW, AJW, NOAH, etc. and am practically as up-to-date on what’s happening across the globe as I am with the usual fare.
Then I started seeking deeper, looking for a way to see DVDs of some of the smaller, independent companies I always hear discussed and celebrated on forums; companies like IWA: Mid-South, PWG, Chikara, XCW, etc. Lo and behold, I found more downloading sites, these giving me completely free access to hundreds of hours of the lesser known, yet expensive to procure, independent wrestling I’d desired.
And now this, I’ve found sites that almost instantly post all of the brand new UFC, WWE, and TNA pay-per-views. I typically read feedback on pay-per-views I’m not fortunate enough to see live, but now, if I feel so inclined, I can skip the reading of others’ thoughts, and generate my own by watching the shows completely free from the comfort of my own computer desk. And that, my friends, brings us to this:
1. Taylor Wilde, Roxxi, and The Governor vs. The Beautiful People (Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, and Madison Rayne) - 4
2. Brutus Magnus vs. Eric Young - 2
3. Matt Morgan vs. Abyss - Match of 10,000 Tacks - 3
4. Awesome Kong vs. Sojourner Bolt - 3
5. Scott Steiner vs. Samoa Joe - 1
6. A.J. Styles vs. Booker T - 6
7. Team 3D vs. Beer Money, Inc. - No Disqualification Off the Wagon Challenge - 3
8. Suicide vs. Alex Shelley vs. Chris Sabin vs. Consequences Creed vs. Jay Lethal - Ultimate X Match - 6
9. Sting vs. Kurt Angle – 5
So, I just started watching the show, and during the opening, which is done in black and white and supposed to draw parallels about our nation facing obstacles and then somehow connect that to wrestling, I noticed the following error: in a bold white font on a black background the text: "WE MUST ENDEAVER TO SOAR" appears. Wait, what? The word they were trying to use is "endeavor". TNA, not even a minute into the show, and they're already botching stuff…
I enjoyed the opener. The extended heat segment for the heels on Roxxi was nice—I dug them taking advantage of a distracted ref and all three of them choking and clawing at Roxxi in the corner. The hot tag segment was great, too; Governor doing a springboard off of Roxxi’s back and hitting a flying crossbody over the ropes on Love and Sky was a cool moment. Taylor’s German suplex for the victory looked great. The next match was a flop. It’s too bad the kid in the front row’s Botchamania sign got confiscated, as this would have been the ideal time to showcase it. Magnus was supposed to catch Young, who was doing a dive from the second buckle, but unceremoniously dropped him. Brutus also does a splash, which I saw him do the night before this pay-per-view at a house show in Ohio, where he’ll miss and awkwardly land knees-first. I do like his high-knee, though, maybe he’s a closet HHH fan. His finisher is sort of a spinning “Death Valley Driver”/”TKO” from the second buckle and came off crudely.
Morgan and Abyss delivered a relatively painless brawl, it lacked intensity given the backstory, but wasn't the train wreck their match at the previous month's pay-per-view was. Matt hit his "Carbon Footprint" kick on the ramp to knock Abyss off onto a platform that held two large trays of thumbtacks for the finish. The women's match, which caused Meltzer in his review to drop an "F bomb" started off peppy enough, but Bolt botched a spot in the corner real bad early. For me, some of the awkward, less smooth moments actually made it feel more logically like a fight. Still, it wasn't much, but Kong came off strong which was the right route to go. The Joe/Stiener match barely lasted two minutes before it was tossed out; the intensity was there, though, with Scott bleeding early and some stiff shots being thrown, it's just a shame the PPV audience got screwed out of an advertised match.
Booker and AJ really worked physical, laying in their shots, etc. and that's always a big plus. Styles is a really top-notch performer, but he's constantly saddled with bad storylines, etc. in TNA, so it's nice to see him here focusing on wrestling, as opposed to his role as comedy relief last year chasing Karen Angle around backstage like a puppy dog. Styles drops Booker with a couple nasty suplexes, including a nice bridging German, and also gets off his signature spots like the Pele kick and Styles Cash. Both guys' selling was good, too; Booker really shined, he has dynamic facials, and even makes things like punches seem real, rocking his head back and reeling from shots.
The tag match was fine, when it was going through the paces; not great, though, with lapses in logic, the referee doing a poor job of maintaining the legal men, and a pace that could be accurately described as a casual stoll. Still, it was decent enough tag fair until the extremely screwy ending killed any goodwill I was willing to give it. Beer Money Inc. got intentionally disqualified, then Cornette restarted the bout, only for them to quickly leave ringside to lose via count out. If Cornette was able to restart the match once, why couldn't he do it again? Another unacceptable ending on a pay-per-view that the paying customer is getting burnt on. But ending on a high note, when Beer Money was taking off, recently gone bad Don West handed them their belts, which led to a humorous exchange as Team 3-D grilled a red-faced West at the announcer's table.
The Ultimate X match is a spectacular spot-fest as we've come to expect. Creed was reported to have suffered a legitimate concussion and it's easy to see why, he takes four or five really big bumps right on his skull. There's some innovative stuff, too; Suicide had Creed up on his shoulders on the apron, then he did one of those Finlay rolling slams with him out onto the other three guys on the floor, etc. TNA can't win despite themselves, you've got a crazy, enthusiastic crowd that's full of energy and really helps the show, but on the other hand, you book a character based off of a poorly selling video game that's helping to bankrupt your company as one of your major champions. But, poor decisions aside, this match is a fast-paced train wreck that's a joy to cringe through.
The main event feels like your typical "Attitude"-era brawl, but lacking the sizzle or heat, which is for shame, as this had some of the better build of any TNA main event in a long time. Sting just can't hang with Kurt physically these days. Kurt does some real basic "punch, kick" offense early, but revs up things a notch by taking some unnecessary dangerous bumps, like taking a backbody drop over the ropes and turning it into a fifteen-foot high spill right on top of his surgically repaired neck. Sting busts out a powerbomb? I guess he'd taken so many over the years back in WCW that he felt he was due to deliver one himself. Angle is obsessed and driven, signs Benoit displayed, hopefully Kurt doesn't completely self-destruct. The finish is stupid as fuck, I won't detail it bit by bit, but needless to say, special ref Jarrett takes an inadvertent clothesline and sells it like death, selling it much harder in fact than either of the active participants did eachother's finishing moves. Foley hobbles into the ring, there's some spots with a chair, Kurt spits a giant wad of phlegm into Jarret's face, then has to lay down after a weak Scorpion Deathdrop by Sting to end things.
Overall, not a particularly strong effort, but certainly worth a free download. I guess I'll be downloading Lockdown '09 later this month...