Four team captains leading their units through the toughest task in sports entertainment. Insert laughter. Alright so maybe just me and another 26 other people domestically ordered this on-demand PPV and yes I had no idea what these teams were fighting for or toward but I watched all the same.
1. James Storm vs. Eddie Edwards - 3
2. Madison Rayne vs. Gail Kim - 4
3. Bro Mans vs. Sanada & Mr. Anderson - 3
First match starts 24 minutes into the program. Even the announcers are burying the confusing rules of this tournaments of sorts. Edwards slaps high-fives with yokels in the front row harder than Jarrett punches. Eddie's Asai Moonsault bombs like his hometown Boston's famed marathon. Now the announcers bury that's it's "World Cup" and not "TNA Cup" (the 2013 edition had an international theme missing here). Mechanically the opener wasn't terrible but it lacked a pulse to really register. When you've seen the same match-up roughly 30 times you watch closely looking for little touches and while too short to assign recommendation status I liked the Knockouts match, kept it reigned in, and even though they could have done this match in their sleep they made it click. Tag was full of goofy stuff, both intentionally and not, from Sanada doing Anderson's trademark intro on the microphone, to Robbie's pinball bumping for Ken's tired pastiche, this felt like a meandering joke with no punchline. Mr. Anderson looks like a janitor from the Wonka Factory. Finish with the laptop foreign object usage was a 4.5 on the Alexandra York scale.
4. Bobby Roode vs. Eric Young - 5
5. Magnus vs. Kurt Angle - 3
6. Angelina Love vs. ODB - 2
Young's blue and yellow attire calls to mind the colors of my elementary alma mater the Van Buren Vikings. I expected these two former Team Canada members to fight fiercer than Kevin Nash and his son this past Christmas Eve but this was pretty sporting and measured. Fan in front row appears to be wearing Professor Dave Jennings' rug. Two former World champions working this like they would a UWF-TNA armory show fills me with little hope but this was still the best thing on the show thus far (and the match-ending piledriver was pretty damn swank). Prevailing notion online is that Kurt Angle hasn't been good in years if ever but I happily disagree and can always go for a nice slice of my favorite atrophied Olympian. A smidgen of chain wrestling early left the crowd comatose -- you could hear an iPhone drop or the audience literally growing fatter from the theme park fare. I scored this low because they only laid out a quarter of a match. After doing some feeling out, Angle hit a few throws, then shortly and suddenly won with an Angle Slam with zero fanfare. Very telling of Magnus' career that after a short and problematic run as company ace they then demoted him to Bram's second. ODB looks like she's wearing a fruit leather bodysuit. I've seen chili stains with better fashion sense. Love's facial sell off a bodyslam looked like the clerk at Target when I returned all that stuff without a gift receipt. This match even had a chase sequence around ringside that was played like a bit from The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo.
7. Davey Richards vs. Ethan Carter III - 4
8. Gunner & Bully Ray vs. Kenny King & Samuel Shaw - 3
9. Team EC3 vs. Team Young - 10-Person Elimination Tag Match - 5
I've seen kids at my son's pre-school taller than Davey Richards. Watching most EC3 matches is like back in the day when you'd go to the house of the girl you were dating and her little brother would put way too much sugar in the Kool-Aid ("or purple drank") and you'd just grin and bear it. Not to be confused with the Kool-Aid that Paul Heyman was ladling out convincing people that ECW was ever good. I did like how Davey took Carter's One Percenter headlock driver right on top of his bleach-blonde skull. Shaw's dark attire looks like what Rob Feinstein probably wore when he was trolling playgrounds. King's side headlock on Bully was weaker than our economy. I hope Tommy Dreamer brings Gunner into House of Hardcore next year to work a TLC match with Danny Doring. Never noticed before that Ray takes whips into the buckles like Doug Gilbert. Or maybe Glenn Gilbertti. I was predicting a Team Angle vs. Team Roode final so color me surprised, and also chartreuse, just 'cause I like it. This went on like The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Godderz makes a bad Tauriel. Gail and Bully actually had a face-off that kind of made me want to see that match -- on WWE 2K15 that is. Gunner doing a Randy Savage double ax-handle off the top complete with swirly finger was unexpected, he also scored an elimination for his team using Luger's Torture Rack, so clearly he'd been watching old WCW pay-per-views off the WWE Network around that time. It comes down to Young and . . . Magnus? Eric chose to sell a lariat like he'd just taken some bad LSD. It was cool seeing Magnus eat a second clean pinfall on one show -- really not a fan save for his tag stuff teaming with Samoa Joe in NOAH. Pretty fun main event tops off a mostly forgettable show. It this has been '94 I'd have recorded it while watching on VHS. Then likely accidentally taped over it with the "Das Bus" episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete.
I ordered the next two subsequent TNA One Night Only shows (Knockouts Knockdown 2 & Victory Road '14) so once I get my notes cleaned up on those expect reviews. Also previewing next year here on Never Hand Over, expect lots more activity on the still relatively new NHO Podcast, as we've got lots of awesome show ideas (Starrcade '89: Future Shock retrospective, anyone?) we're excited to produce. On my own I'll also be looking at a lot of PWG stuff, as I now own all their shows from 2010-2014, as well as some of Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore shows, not one but two Sami Callihan 60 min. Iron Man matches, the NJPW/ROH War of the Worlds co-show, and a completely random and wild collection of misc. reviews analyzing both current stuff and things from my staggering personal collection. Late-quarter 2014 has seen some life breathed back into NHO and we're excited to continue refusing handing over in the new year!