The SmarK Rant for TNA Sacrifice 2008
– So yes, the rumors are TRUE. I know it’s been the talk of watercoolers around the country for the past few weeks, but now I can confirm: I am going back to doing monthly PPV rants on both TNA and WWE, effective … now. Well, after this paragraph. My motivation is pretty simple and I’m sure you can guess, but I’m looking for some free publicity for the new book and this is an easy way to do so.
(Dungeon of Death: Chris Benoit and the Hart Family Curse, available online and in bookstores everywhere November 2008! Look for dungeonofdeath.com, coming soon!)
At any rate, I want to spread the word as far as possible, so if you’d like to reprint these rants for your own website and leech off my hit counts, please feel free to do so but please make sure to credit me alone and link back to wrestling.insidepulse.com and www.rspwfaq.com.
– As a note, I did this one OLD SCHOOL style with pen and paper and no stopwatch, so I don’t have match times for you.
– Live from Orlando, FL
– Your hosts are Mike Tenay & Don West
Kurt Angle shows up first to announce that Dr. Jho (now there’s a name we haven’t heard in a long while) has FORBIDDEN him to wrestle tonight, thanks to a broken neck. Pfff, that’s nothing, current legend now has HHH wrestling for 15 minutes after tearing his quad in 2001, so Angle should just suck it up. Next up is the limo with Scott Steiner, Petey Williams as his Mini Me, Rick Steiner and Big Granddaddy Cool, Kevin Nash. This is supposed to be a shocking moment but they do a shitty job of explaining backstory so I’m not really sure why.
TNA Tag team title tournament quartfinals: Team 3D v. James Storm & Sting.
So the titles were vacated because they were won by a guy who thinks he’s a superhero, but refused to admit that he’s not, and then a tournament is set up with half established teams and the other half randomly drawn teams that coincidentally end up people who are feuding with each other. Who’s booking this again? Oh yeah. Storm starts with Devon and gets powered down, and clotheslined in the corner. Devon drops an elbow for two, and Ray gets a suplex for two. Ray throws chops, which brings Jacqueline in for some reason, and she gets spanked right back out again. Over to Sting and he gets a hiptoss and slam, as Ray bails. Devon comes in with the headlock, but Sting powers out and stomps on his hands. Why? Maybe it’s a Jesus thing, I dunno. 3D double-teams him in the corner and Devon grabs a chinlock while Storm sits in his own corner and drinks beer, possibly out of boredom. Devon misses a diving splash and Sting comes back with the Stinger splashes, but misses one and it’s Whazzup for him. And Devon gets the table. I roll my eyes but my more casually viewing friend thinks it’s pretty cool to see it again, so obviously it still works. Sting fights them off while Storm yells drunken instructions to him, and everyone stops in a moment that’s supposed to be a big comedy spot but just falls flat. Sting slams his "partner" through the table, and Devon pins him to move on. Bit of a trainwreck, but an OK opener. **
Meanwhile, Frank Trigg offers his insight on Kurt Angle and picks Samoa Joe to win.
Tournament quarter-finals: Robert Roode & Booker T v. Rhino & Christian Cage.
Yes, it’s more wacky tag team partners who hate each other. Rhino clotheslines Roode for two and Cage gets two off a double hiptoss. Cage elbows Roode down and a flying elbow gets two. Unprettier is blocked, and Roode takes him down and slugs away in the corner. Corner clothesline and necksnap follow. Spinebuster gets two. Roode goes to a facelock, but Cage escapes with a tornado DDT. Roode manages to tag Booker, and he chops on Cage and into a backdrop. Hey, remember when they feuded over the IC title for like MONTHS in WWE and had zero chemistry together and no one could figure out why? I’ve got no followup, just remembering it, that’s all. Ax kick misses and Cage gets an inverted DDT to set up the hot tag to Rhino. Booker quickly kicks him down, but Roode tags himself in. Kneelift from Roode, but GOAR GOAR GOAR finishes him clean. Booker shows respect to the winners…then grabs a chair and lays them out. What a TWIST! This was a whole lot of nothing, as Roode is still the most boring guy on this roster and yet still gets pushed. *
Meanwhile, Scott Steiner negotiates with ol’ Gramps.
Tournament quarter-finals: Kip James & Matt Morgan v. LAX. Kip makes fun of Homicide to start, which gets him dropkicked. Hernandez comes in with a shoulderblock to put Kip out, and Homicide follows with a suicide dive that the camera totally misses. Morgan tosses Homicide back in and takes over with a ropewalk for two. What, is Russo going to have him change his name to "The Embalmer" or "The Funeral Director" next, too? Kip slugs away in the corner, but misses a charge and Hernandez comes in. Corner splash and he tosses Kip across the ring with a towel and gets into a power battle with Morgan. Matt boots Kip by mistake, however, and Hernandez pins him to advance. Why are we even bothering with these interchangeable first round matches? *
Meanwhile, Kurt Angle interrupts an AJ Styles interview to DEMAND to know if he’s banging Karen. Well, that’s a pretty valid question, I’d say. This goes nowhere, of course.
AJ Styles & Super Eric v. BG James & Awesome Kong
Oh, this has got Russo written all over it. I have to admire the spirit with Eric Young, though, as they just keep repackaging the guy over and over until they find SOMETHING to get him over with. That’s the heart of great wrestling booking, not any great flashes of genius from soap opera writers. BG attacks Eric and gets dropkicked. AJ in with his own dropkick, so BG brings Kong in. AJ doesn’t like fighting women, but gets a rollup for two. Sunset flip gets two. She gives him a spinning backfist, so AJ boots her and she gets him by the junk. BG comes in with an atomic drop to work the nuts, and that gets two. Big boot gets two. Back to Kong as AJ escapes a powerbomb, but Kong sits on him for two. Over to James again, but AJ hits the Pele Kick and it’s hot tag to Super Eric. Eric does a Flair Flip into a senton bomb for two, and he slams Kong onto BG. He hits Kong with a tope suicida and AJ is supposed to springboard into the ring, but he lands on his face and the match grinds to a halt as he clutches his nose. BG signals to pin him, and that’s what Styles does to advance on. This was pretty fun until the horribly botched finish, but really short and silly like all the first round matches were. **
The TERRORDOME! Alex Shelley v. Chris Sabin v. Sonjay Dutt v. Consequences Creed v. Curry Man v. Shark Boy v. Jimmy Rave v. Kaz v. Johnny Devine v. Jay Lethal
Interesting concept here, as it’s a big Elimination Chamber knockoff with a hole in the top, and the winner is the first one to climb through the hole. So you see, if you steal enough LITTLE concepts, you come up with a new BIG concept. Jim Cornette announces that the winner gets to join the main event tonight and attempt to make Scott Steiner watchable. To be honest, this was pretty much unrecappable for me without a widescreen presentation because there was just too much going on, in both the good and bad ways. The main bulk of the match on the ground is a series of super-fast highspots, most of them from the Motor City Machineguns, leading up some really big highspots off the cage. This gives me a chance to instead ask some questions that have entered my mind:
1) What’s up with Jimmy Rave and his Guitar Hero controller? Did someone think that the lovechild of Jeff Hardy and Bret Michaels would be a good gimmick for him? Because Bret looks WAY more like a serious wrestler than Rave does anyway.
2) Can Mike Tenay REALLY call Curry Man’s finisher "The Spice Rack" with a straight face and not hate himself in the morning?
3) Stone Cold Shark Boy? Shell Yeah? The Chummer? REALLY? Seriously?
Anyway, this thing is focused on a couple of REALLY big spots, namely a Tower of Doom stack in the corner that’s visually awesome but ridiculously contrived, and Johnny Devine being thrown off the top of the cage into the giant mass of humanity below, allowing Kaz to pull himself out of the cage and win. Really, the rest was too hectic to recap, but I enjoyed watching it even if it needed 6 less people and 10 more minutes to really develop into a good match rather than just a neat concept. ***1/2
Meanwhile, Samoa Joe doesn’t care about Kevin Nash one way or another, although choking out JB would seem to indicate otherwise.
Wacky Tag Tournament Semi-Final: Team 3D v. Rhino & Christian Cage.
Hopefully the freakshow aspect of the tournament is done with now. Ray immediately starts working Cage’s neck, injured from the chairshot delivered by Booker earlier. See, that I approve of: If you’re going to use chairshots, then make them at least mean something rather than just a cheap reaction. Neckbreaker gets two. Devon pounds the neck and chokes Cage out on the ropes. Rhino comes in and gets a shoulderblock for two, but the Goar misses. Devon chokes away and Ray uses the clubbing forearms to the neck, and Devon gets two. Rhino comes back with a spinebuster and Cage is in again. Backdrop for Devon and Team 3D bails, so Cage hits them with a crossbody to the floor. Back in, Ray trips him up and pulls him out, and Cage meets the stairs. Back in, Devon gets two. He hits the chinlock and Ray comes in with a backdrop that’s got some serious hangtime on it. Ray goes up, but Cage brings him down with a rana for two. Hot tag Rhino and he gets a belly to belly on Devon for two. 3D comes back with Whazzup, but Cage breaks it up and Rhino gets the spinebuster on Ray. Flying shoulderblock on Devon gets two, as Johnny Devine sneaks down with a kendo stick. Team 3D hits the double neckbreaker on Cage, but Rhino powerslams Devon and follows with GOAR GOAR GOAR…and then Ray uses the kendo stick to hit the neck one last time and Devon pins him to advance to the finals. Kind of a flat finish but I liked the neck injuries from match #1 affecting match #2. **1/4
AJ Styles & Super Eric v. LAX
Winner gets Team 3D. Homicide and AJ do some sweet reversals to start, and collide while trying a crossbody. Over to Hernandez and Super Eric, as they’re equal in power and Hernandez gets tossed. He comes back in with a slingshot shoulderblock, but Eric wants a test of strength. And in fact he wins that, then takes Hernandez to the floor and follows with a dive. Back in for two, and it’s over to AJ. They double-team Hernandez and Eric drops an elbow for two. AJ kneedrop gets two. He goes to a chinlock, but Hernandez escapes with the electric chair and it’s back to Homicide. Eric dodges him, but Homicide gets an overhead suplex and the LAX double-teams him with a catapult into a clothesline, for two. Nice. Super-delayed suplex from Hernandez gets two. Eric manages the tag to Styles, who gets a sweet spinkick on Homicide, but walks into a Diamond Cutter right after. Styles with a small package, but LAX manager Hector Guerrero pushes them over behind the ref’s back, and LAX advances to the finals. Solid face v. face stuff, even if AJ is a heel. I think. ***1/4
Makeover Battle Royale
We’ve got Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, Rhaka Khan, Selinas, Christy Hemme, ODB, Roxxi Laveaux, Jacqueline, Traci Brooks and Gail Kim. Last two standing have a ladder match, where the winner gets a title shot and the loser gets her head shaved. Unless it’s Gail Kim who loses, in which case the second runner-up gets her head shaved. They need to hand out flow charts at the door explaining the stipulations sometimes. Selinas is out right away. Sky is next and Brooks goes out in embarrassing fashion by taking a punch and literally walking herself out over the top. Everyone gangs up on Rhaka and Jacqueline gets a missile dropkick, allowing ODB to toss Khan. Jackie and ODB then get dumped by Gail (I think), then Love is out, leaving us with Gail v. Roxxi for the finals.
Gail Kim v. Roxxi Laveaux
So if Roxxi wins, then Angelina Love gets her head shaved. The TNA crowd, for all their "smart" behavior normally, buys right into this one like a bunch of marks and suddenly Roxxi is over. Gail climbs quickly and takes Roxxi out with a rana. Roxxi whips her into the ladder, but Gail monkey-flips her back into it. They both fight up the ladder and Gail powerbombs her down. Roxxi comes back with a spinebuster into the ladder, but Love and Sky push Roxxi off and Gail wins the title shot. And Roxxi gets her head shaved as the fans chant "Fire Russo" because they wanted to see the blond get her comeuppance. Sometimes I’m with the crowd, but Roxxi getting her head shaved and putting the heat for it on the Beautiful People is exactly what should have happened. Now you have the logical tag match with Roxxi & Gail v. Sky & Love to move towards.
TNA World tag titles: Team 3D v. LAX
Obviously the crowd is getting burned out on these teams. They should have done a bye through the semis for Team 3D, really. Homicide hits 3D with a somersault plancha right away, and they all brawl on the floor. Ray chokes Hernandez out with a chair and Devon rams Homicide into the railing. We finally get started for real in the ring, and Homicide gets a bodypress on Devon for two. Ray elbows him down and blocks a sunset flip with a knee to the neck. Devon chokes him out in the corner and adds a suplex for two. We hit the chinlock, but Homicide breaks free, only to get nailed by Ray. Ray comes in with a headscissors on the mat and tries whipping Devon into Homicide, but it misses and I guess it’s hot tag Hernandez but the crowd is quiet throughout. Backdrops and he dropkicks both 3D at once, then dumps them and follows with a dive. Devine appears again and sets up a table this time, but Hector takes him out with his own kendo stick, and then dropkicks him through the table. Hector es mucho hardcore! In the ring, Ray chops on Hernandez as they on the top, and brings him down with a superplex, into a flying Devon headbutt for two. Double neckbreaker on Homicide gets two, but Hebner just stops the count because it’s not the legal man or something, and the match grinds to a halt. Devon fights Homicide on top, but Hernandez brings him down with the Border Toss and Homicide finishes with a frog splash to win the titles. Really good brawl, but the crowd was just totally burned out on the whole tournament by the finals, as was I. ***
TNA World title: Samoa Joe v. Scott Steiner v. Kaz
Kaz goes right after Steiner with a rollup for two, and Joe hits both with clotheslines in the corners. Joe kicks Steiner down and does the walk away from Kaz’ crossbody attempt, which allows him to get a half-crab. Steiner charges in and gets caught with an armbar, then Joe goes back to Kaz with a cloverleaf. Steiner pounds Joe to break it up, but gets dumped. Joe slugs on Kaz and hits a powerbomb for two, but Steiner pulls him out and Joe into the railing. Joe and Steiner brawl on the floor and Steiner suplexes Joe on the ramp. Back in, Steiner puts Kaz on top for a superplex. Clothesline and flexing elbow follow, but he heads out and beats on Joe again. Back in, Kaz fights off a superplex, but Steiner brings him down with a samoan drop for two. Joe saves, but gets suplexed, as does Kaz. Steiner runs Kaz into the turnbuckles and puts Joe in the Steiner Recliner, but Joe powers up and Kaz adds a missile dropkick. Kaz kicks Scott down into a legdrop for two, but Joe drops him on his head. Steiner bails and Joe follows with a suicide dive, but Steiner hits him with his lead pipe. Kaz dives on Steiner, however, and a rollup gets two back in the ring. Slingshot DDT gets two. Kaz goes up, but gets caught coming down. He recovers with a dropkick and goes up, but Petey trips him up, and Steiner uses the top rope Frankensteiner for two, as Joe saves. Joe fights Steiner off and gets a headscissor takedown, then a senton on Kaz and a powerslam on Steiner for two. Superkick for Kaz and Joe fight to the apron with Steiner, but Kaz dropkicks Joe off. Steiner counters the Flux Capacitator in ugly fashion and falls on top for two. Kaz gets dumped, allowing Joe to finish Steiner with the Muscle Buster around 15:00. Three hours of skits with Nash and Rick Steiner and nothing to pay it off? Hard work from everyone involved made this at least a main event caliber match, although not a classic or anything. ***1/2
Overall, I liked the bang-bang-bang pacing of the show as they tried to squeeze the tournament into things, but it resulted in a lot of short meaningless matches that could have been done on Impact instead. The Terrordome is an interesting concept with some work to be done yet, but it was mostly a solid show and didn’t feel like a waste of my money. Marginal thumbs up.