Monday, June 9, 2008

TNA Slammiversary '08

1. Kaz vs. Petey Williams - 6
2. Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, and Moose vs. Gail Kim, Roxxi, and ODB - 4
3. LAX vs. Team 3-D - 3
4. Awesome Kong vs. Serena Deeb and Josie Robinson - 3
5. AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle - 6
6. Samoa Joe vs. Christian Cage vs. Rhino vs. Robert Roode vs. Booker T - King of the Mountain Match - 5

So, a phone call twenty minutes before the show starts by Adam gets me racing out the door, fellow writer Didge, fresh from his weekend sickbed, picks me up and we race out to Trenton, OH to watch some live pay-per-view wrestling. I'm still catching up on my wrestling TV, currently deep in this past January's footage, so I'm a bit out of the current loop of angles, feuds, etc. Still, I was excited to see the show; unfortunately my enthusiasm dwindled as it proceeded, which I'll expound upon below.

Show started off great, say what you will about Petey, and he definitely has his vocal 'net critics, but he's improved steadily. TNA has a couple gimmicks based upon former, preexisting characters, and the only one that's panning out for me personally is Williams' adoption of Scott Steiner's "Big Poppa Pump" persona. The opener worked for a few reasons: great pace, some of the night's better nearfalls, blood, innovative offense coming off legitimately and not just showy, and good heel antics and playing to the crowd by Petey. All in all, this was one of the better stories told, and most entertaining matches of the show.

The women's six-person tag match was moderately good, the TNA woman's division has been delivering this year, with this not being an exception, although there wasn't any huge "holy shit" moments or scene stealing performances. It was my first time seeing Moose, she took the brunt of the faces' offense, but didn't offer much in the personality department. Roxxi threw some of the meanest looking strikes, including great forearms, but her selling was easily some of the worst.

I really thought the LAX versus Team 3-D match sucked, probably one of, if not the, worst match these two teams have had together. It went long, which wouldn't have been bad, save for if Team 3-D hadn't worked the entire thing in relative slow motion. Bubba was the biggest piece of crap out there. He offered absolutely zero emotion or facial selling on anything--talk about just collecting a check. I'm also sick of the LAX formula, all their matches follow it, Hernandez comes in eventually for a short, hot burst of offense, but the rest of the match is built around Homicide working hiptoss and armdrag sequences.

The Awesome Kong thing was kind of cool, although hard I'm sure for the live crowd to really get into, as it wasn't executed as a match per se, but her facing random women from the crowd. After beating the hell out of Deeb, OVW wrestler built as local-area MMA fighter, Kong wanted the second chick that stood up to accept her challenge, leading to Jeremy Borash's outrageous line, "you want to fight the Memphis girl?" that left me rolling on the floor laughing hysterically. See, Josie was built as being a hometown girl, although she wrestles regularly for Harley Race's overlooked company, to try to illicit crowd heat. She started off kind of hot, though, laying in some shots, but Kong annihilated her, too. I'm a huge Kong fan, but this could have been saved for TV. And I almost forgot, stretching this segment out even longer, Eric Young brought out an Elvis impersonator who Kong crushed with a sitdown powerbomb to end it.

Next was the Jey Lethal/So Cal Val wedding segment, which was awful. Even the video segment that aired before it blatantly laid out the simple fact that Sonjay Dutt was going to turn on Lethal and ruin the whole thing. So, during the ceremony, Dutt grabbed the mic and spat out some badly delivered lines, leaving Val to run to the back mortified, and a crew of "legends" to deal with Dutt. Jake Roberts, Kamala, George Steele, and Koko B. Ware were at ringside for this, adding comic relief if nothing else. Koko did get in a nice right hand in the ensuing brawl, and afterward, as things settled down you could see Ware in the background indiscriminately destroying the wedding set to our befuddlement and enjoyment.

Didge was dead wrong when he exclaimed pre-match that AJ and Angle was going to be nothing but a brawl. I guess that's what happens when you try to correctly read the mind of booker Vince Russo. Instead, thankfully, we got a twenty-minute wrestling match. There was very little shenanigans or horsing around, just straight-ahead, hard-hitting competition. Styles' nose got busted, Angle's neck looked like it got broke (again), and I was loving it. I was especially relieved to see AJ given the opportunity to actually perform again. The only thing that truly hurt this was the dead crowd. You can't solely blame them, though, they'd just sat through nearly 40 minutes of crap, a terrible Elvis impersonator, and a "wedding" went awry. They didn't pop for any of the nearfalls, Angle working his patented anklelock submission, nothing.

The main event looked kind of concerning on paper, with the cast of characters involved not the best candidates to work a gimmick match together. Ultimately, it did fail, on multiple levels. Rhino was very much typical Rhino, nothing new or special there, just his routine moveset and protected bumps. Roode offered up absolutely no offense, but did do his share of the bumping, which mostly looked fine. Booker T seemed to be the only one with noticeable fire, but that didn't necessarily translate into a particularly memorable performance, outside of a nice flurry of strikes on Joe on the floor. Christian was inconsistent, he came to Memphis with a few big spots planned, and arguably only one of them really came off well. Christian's dive off the ringside cage onto the other guys looked ludicrous, he looked like a paraplegic falling out of a wheelchair, and him being knocked off the apron was one of the most pussy table bumps in recent memory. The biggest factor against this match was Joe; it was obvious the boys laid it out so he'd be the ring general, but he looked suspiciously loose and lost in it. Another complaint, why have ladders around ringside if you're not going to really use them? There were, like, two minor bumps utilizing them and that's it. The ending was also kind of anticlimactic, as Joe hit the "Muscle Buster" on Roode and then quickly sprinted up the ladder. Fuck, speaking of the bad utilization of the ladder as prop, Booker T laid out all the other guys with belt shots at one point, then proceeded to pose in the ring for over a minute, waiting for Nash to hobble his decrepit old ass into the ring for a spot, instead of climbing the ladder and scoring a victory.

Overall, I couldn't recommend this show strongly as a whole; too much stuff on the second-half was comparable to being doused with a gallon of aardvark semen. Also, it has just been reported that one of the crewmembers lost their lives post-show by falling off a scaffold. So, that pretty much cements this show as being a black eye on the business.


Didge said...

your right i was dead wrong about the angle/styles match being a brawl, it turned into a real treat. just a shame that bad booking had the crowd shit on it.
but i have to disagree on a 5 for the main. that would only encourage people to walk throught all the main events without working to be there. that match look like it was thrown together in 5 minutes between everyones entrances videos.

Brian said...

I respect your opinion about the main event but I politely disagree. Granted, I wasn’t blown away by it, in fact, I had several issues with it, all which I detailed in my show analysis. However, the “official” NHO reviewing scale states the following about matches garnering the score of 5, “roughly an average match, bordering the edge of forgettable and recommended”, and, |are mostly satisfactory, but can often leave you expecting/wanting more.” I think those stock descriptions actually pretty accurately sum up that match.

You say giving it a 5 “would only encourage people to walk throught all the main events without working to be there”, but I see it differently; from my perspective, I’ve given out 5’s before on regular TV matches, so if your main event of a major pay-per-view is only getting a 5, that’s an admonishment and not an accomplishment.

5 is borderline middle-of-the-road stuff, not good enough to push it into recommendable status, but not bad enough to actively dislike. That night you said you’d give it a 3, which seems a bit rough, as from my scores, that’d place it in the same category as the awful LAX versus Team 3-D match. It’d be tough to convince me that the same amount of effort was put into those two bouts.

Didge said...

u r right that 5 is normal, average and run of the mill. i guess i was dissapointed in the aspect that no one steped up to be a star and make good on a ppv. but thats tna's downfall. i was exspecting better.