TNA Live Report: New York, NY, 2/21/08

I just got back from the TNA debut show in NYC, at a sold out Webster Hall in the East Village. The show was a lot of fun, and frankly a breath of fresh air without all of the Russo-esque booking twists and turns. The men and women really busted their asses, worked hard, seemed to be having as much fun as the fans, and left the crowd wanting more. Here’s hoping that TNA President Dixie Carter — who was in attendance, first in the main ballroom, but mostly in the VIP area of the balcony, and got some nice “Thank You Dixie” chants (and only a few “Fire Russo” ones) — sees the great crowd reaction as a testament to the workers and a solid wrestling show, rather than an endorsement of the oftentimes convoluted booking philosophy that the show has employed especially of late.

Some notes: The ring seemed a bit smaller than usual, and was set up on the Webster Hall stage, rather than other wrestling show set-ups in similar venues where the ring is on the floor and seats on the stage. This made for a unique atmosphere, where most of the crowd was looking up at the action, and of course made dives out of the ring less frequent. Wrestlers came to the ring from backstage, through the curtains, with Jeremy Borash doing the announcing and hyping the crowd. Spike TV executives were there, as were some cameras (footage was shot for TNA Today, with promise of some being on Impact in a few weeks). Tommy Dreamer and Little Guido (Nunzio) were announced by Brother Ray of Team 3-D as being at the show, and Dreamer reluctantly waved to the fans — in fact, Ray at one point said “let’s really get Tommy in trouble…” and got the crowd to cheer for Dreamer to come to TNA. Dreamer spent a lot of time during the intermission posing for pictures with fans in the balcony. Also teased during the show by emcee Jeremy Borash was a PPV coming to NY, as well as a “big announcement” (which was a let down to me, but got over well with the fans: autograph sessions with the full roster in attendance after the show). Also, Kurt Angle stuck around after his match to pose for $20 pictures with fans in the ring.

Here are the quick results from the event:

– Motor City Machineguns beat the Rock & Rave Infection (no Christy Hemme) after Chris Sabin pinned Lance Hoyt. Fun match with lots of the heels playing to the crowd. Earl Hebner was the ref, and was booed all night for screwing Bret, etc. **1/2

– Jay Lethal kept the X Division Championship by beating Sonjay Dutt after a flying elbow in a fast-paced match. At one point the two jumped into the crowd in one of the better spots of the night. ***

– In a NYC Street Fight, falls count anywhere, Team 3-D beat the Latin American Xchange. As far as crowd reaction and energy go, this was the match of the night. Lots of “TNA,” “LAX” and “ECW” chants; the four brawled into the crowd and even up onto the bar; and 3-D won after a powerbomb on Hernandez through a table. Homicide was mega-over, but didn’t get a mic, and after the match 3-D cut a pro-NYC promo and got everyone fired up. ***1/2

– Samoa Joe beat A.J. Styles in probably a **** match, pinning him after a muscle buster. Really great work here, and I wish it went 10 minutes longer. Joe was VERY over.

– After a 20-minute intermission where Ray and Devon posed for pictures with fans in the crowd, James Storm beat Eric Young in a comedy match, rolling EY up with his feet on the ropes. The match started out with both men playing to the crowd hard, and at one point Young took the ref shirt off Hebner and put it on, calling for the bell to begin with Earl locking up with Storm. They double-teamed the Cowboy, then Young gave Earl his ref shirt back as the match continued. **

– In a Knockouts Title match, Awesome Kong beat Gail Kim and Jackie Moore after an Awesome Bomb on Kim. After which, she bombed Moore — and Rudy Charles — as well. **

– Borash came back to hype the crowd for the main event, teasing a NYC PPV and filming footage for TNA Today:

– In the main event, Kurt Angle retained the TNA World Heavyweight Championship over Christian Cage by submission. NJPW star Tiger Hatori was there to present the belt to the winner. Cage got the visual pinfall after a flogsplash, but Hebner was on the ground with a tweaked knee. Angle did his missed moonsault spot, and kicked out of an Unprettier. Cage got a rope-break during a long ankle lock as well. Solid match, probably *** to ***1/2, with a series of reversals leading to Angle locking in the ankle lock and wrapping his legs around Christian’s knee to get the tap after a struggle.

Like Dixie Carter, I had a genuinely fun time; it was a solid effort by all involved, and as long as it wasn’t up against an ROH show or a major WWE pay-per-view, I’d definitely see TNA live again.