Last night, TNA Wrestling presented the culminating event of their wrestling year, Bound For Glory, live from the Veijas Arena at San Diego State University. Heading into the event, the nearly unanimous opinion in the wrestling world was that TNA had done a poor job making “their Wrestlemania” feel special in spite of four full months of TV time build angles.
For those of you unfamiliar with the “Bang For Your Buck” format (created by JMS’ own @TheN1CKSTER), the criteria for these is simply: “Did I get my money’s worth?” in terms of the individual matches and the PPV as a whole, using the tried and true “what was this trying to do, and how well did it succeed” rubric.
Each match is rated plus or minus on a sliding scale between 1 and -1, with matches worth multiple rewatches worth 1, a just-quite-PPV quality match being 0, and things that make me reevaluate being a fan earning up to a -1 score. The higher the number, the better Bang For Your Buck on the PPV. We’ll (eventually) keep a running tally for each PPV, and a handy list of PPVs we review to give you (and us) a better idea of what we thought was worth the time to check out in terms of matches and PPVs. As for the scale, it’s not particularly complicated but here are the basic levels (on a per-match average):
We’ll be using the predictions/hopes/fears from my What’s the Worst That Could Happen preview to see how close I came to understanding the thoughts that permeated through one of this planet’s scariest locations: the TNA writers’ room.
Pre-show Gauntlet Match
What Dave Wants to Happen: As I wrote in my Impact preview this week, Bad Influence are the only one of these teams deserving of a spot on the BFG card. They have been on the MVP shortlist for TNA over the course of the last year and deserve to be featured on the company’s biggest show.
This match effectively got the crowd warmed up, which is the fundamental goal of a pre-show match. In mind-bending TNA fashion, there was a cheat spot that made referee Brian Hebner look like a moron before the show had even officially started with Daniels scoring the first pinfall of the night after blatantly grabbing the ref’s leg. The bad booking continued when glorified jobbers Eric Young and Joseph park defeated TNA’s one over tag team, Bad Influence.
One over-booked match in the can. On to the real show.
Match Rating: -0.2
Ultimate X For the X Division Title: Chris Sabin vs. Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Austin Aries vs. Manik
Best Case Scenario: A really exciting, athletic match in which each man shows off what makes him a unique talent. It comes down to Chris Sabin and Jeff Hardy shimmying along the ropes towards the belt, at which point Sabin thumbs Hardy’s eye and snatches the title, leading to his whole heel turn angle actually making sense.
Okay, so maybe this wasn’t a “really exciting, athletic match,” but I got the finish mostly right. Sabin winning makes the most sense, as a lot of time on Impact has been devoted to his heel turn over the last two months, and (for better or worse) he’s not “above” the title like Aries, Joe, and Hardy. Could this match have been more exciting? Yeah, definitely, but at least they came away with the title on the right wrestler.
After this match, it’s worth asking if we’ve seen the last of Ultimate X. Both Aries and Hardy buried the concept as dangerous and unrelated to pro wrestling in recent promos, and given that TNA presented those interviews, it’s safe to say they don’t see a lot of value in the gimmick. In the early days of TNA, wrestlers were willing to take crazy bumps for Ultimate X because (1) we still weren’t far removed from TLC and (2) they believed they could create buzz for themselves as wrestlers and TNA as a company. Now, wrestlers are obviously more disciplined and, to speak plainly, have less faith that anything they do in TNA will get them over as a big star.
Match Rating: +0.2
World Tag Team Championship: GunStorm vs. The BroMans
Best Case Scenario: Bad Influence (our BCS winners of the pre-match gauntlet) win the Tag Titles, putting the gold around the waists of TNA’s most over tag team.
[Okay, so that didn’t even vaguely happen, but I did predict a heel team winning!]
This felt mostly like a resume builder for Robbie, Jesse, and Gunner, but it worked effectively as such. All in all, this was a pay per view-worthy tag team match, and the belts were smoothly transitioned onto a heel team who can get more mileage out of them than GunStorm ever did. I was relieved that The BroMans’ buddy Juicy McGas did not interfere in the finish, as even grabbing someone’s ankle looked like a pec tear waiting to happen.
This is one of those matches that will only be as good as the follow-up booking. If The BroMans’ profile is successfully raised and they get good heat and serve as effective champions, then this was very good. If they are absent from TV for months at a time and never get over (see: GunStorm), then this was bad.
Match: +.3 | PPV: .5
Knockouts Championship: Gail Kim vs. Brooke Tessmacher vs. ODB
What Will Happen: Lei’D Tapa gets involved, allowing heel Gail Kim to get the win and the title.
The crowd was understandably still emotionally confused following Kurt Angle’s abdication of his Hall of Fame spot, which led to pretty flat heat throughout, but this was actually a solid match. With that said, I’ll be much happier with professional wrestling on the whole when twerking isn’t part of a pushed star’s devastating arsenal of offensive moves.
The finish was predictable, but the Knockouts succeeded in putting together a solid match before the over-booked screwiness, which made the finish simply an eye-roller rather than a groaner.
Match: +.1 | PPV: .6
Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Roode
Best Case Scenario: A show-stealing match that highlights why they are considered two of the best workers in any company. Angle looks strong and sure-footed in his return and Roode is at his big-bumping heel best. The finish is rendered almost completely unimportant by how good the match is.
The first sixteen or seventeen minutes of this match were really, really good. The story was simple: returning, exciting top dog face takes on petty, unlikable heel. Roode and Angle worked a masterfully old-school match, with the heel using his time on offense to slow things down and work holds between the babyface’s exciting flurries of offense. In that respect, this was as fundamentally sound match as either company has recently presented, and one I would gladly show an outsider who wanted to understand how wrestling works.
In literally the last minute of the match, though, things fell apart a little, as they portrayed Bobby Roode as tripping and falling into a win when Angle knocked himself out/broke his own neck/whatever it was supposed to be. Angle didn’t even sell the stretcher job, which was just icing on the cake. All in all, though, as I said in the preview, I believe this was a good enough that the finish didn’t hurt as bad as it could have.
Match: +.8 | PPV: 1.4
Ethan Carter III vs. Norv Fernum
Unfortunately, I can’t set this up at all because the match was unadvertised.
An incoming new star beating up a scrawny jobber is a totally acceptable thing to present… ON THE EPISODE OF IMPACT RIGHT AFTER YOUR BIGGEST SHOW. If there was any air left in the building after the Angle/Roode finish, this match managed to suck the last of it out. This wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but it was badly misplaced on the Bound For Glory card. Presenting new heels this way just makes fans want them to go away.
Match: -.4 | PPV: 1.0
Sting vs. Magnus
What Will Happen: Sting looks utterly blown up ten minutes in. Magnus goes over, but the match isn’t good enough to elevate him to the level it’s designed to.
This match was alright through the tempered lens of “I know I’m not going to get anything better than alright from Sting.” Magnus, however, looked like he was carrying more than his weight throughout this one, ultimately presenting a match that was just as good as any other match Sting’s had in his TNA run. Magnus carries himself in a convincing, top-wrestler manner and has come a long way in figuring out how to have a convincing, top-wrestler match.
It was a bit of a puzzler that Magnus didn’t explicitly turn heel during the match (although his imitation of some of Sting’s signature moves could be construed as heelish in a Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 kind of way), but rather turned after the match by gloating and laughing off Sting’s offer of a handshake. Bound For Glory is supposed to be the culmination of feuds, not the second chapter in an extended feud between a legend and a new guy. Frustrating booking.
Match: + .1|PPV: 1.1
TNA World Heavyweight Championship: A.J. Styles vs. Bully Ray
What Will Happen: The match has its moments, but also relies extensively on brawling around the building and a whole ton of Aces & Eights hijinks. A.J. Styles gives Bully Ray a “taste of his own medicine” much like Chris Sabin did and wins the title in a less-than-clean manner.
This wasn’t the walking brawl that I quickly became terrified of when they announced the match would be no DQ, but the match still had far more bells and whistles than necessary. Knux, Bisch, Dixie, and a timekeeper’s table all tried their best to “elevate” this match and “add drama,” but all they really did was detract from the idea that World Heavyweight Titles are won in somewhat-sacred matches between proud athletes. Bully Ray pulling up the mat and exposing the boards of the ring was cool the first time, but now that it’s become part of his schtick, it’s tiresome and just makes the ring look like a mess. In a moment echoing the low point of the summer, A.J. Styles actually picked up Ray’s hammer and went to use it against him. Luckily, this time he did not succeed, but still – babyfaces should not do that!
Mercifully, TNA booked the right finish to this match, which made up for a lot of stupidity along the way. Following that match, the next step for the TNA World Heavyweight Title should be to get as far away from Bully Ray as possible. After his long run, and this match in particular, it doesn’t seem like he has anything left in the tank that’s, well, good.
Nick here, to give a contextualization of the numbers:
Easily the lowest rated of the PPVs we’ve covered, this show was everything who saw the build up thought it would be: a really good Roode/Angle match and some other things also. Of course, Dave and I may have different internal scales for what we expect from PPVs, but given Dave’s explanation, I have no reason to believe he’s being too hard on a company that seems like it needs to start doing things like this way better than they have. It appears their Fandango match (Ethan Carter III’s debut) was especially egregious. But this show still had a few good matches , one borderline great match with a bad finish and while not a classic, it appears the main event of the show was at least pushing the company in the right direction and had a good clean finish (#ThanksBattleground). So, I guess, if you bought this, you might not being showing friends, but you’re definitely not hiding the fact that you bought it from family members. See: WCW Sin (or, actually, don’t).
PPV: 1.4 (not counting preshow gauntlet) | Match Avg.: .2