Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bound for Glory: A Fan's Perspective

Jeff Hardy: New TNA Champion
Bound for Glory '12
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

After the experiences on Saturday at the Fan Fest and Hall of Fame dinner, I was eagerly anticipating Bound For Glory. I thought the card was a decent line up. Granted I would have preferred to see a Knockout 4-Way with Madison Rayne and Gail Kim added to the match instead of a straight rematch from No Surrender with Tara vs. Miss Tessmacher, That match notwithstanding, there wasn’t any match I saw as a “bathroom break” match. My biggest concern, as I wrote about last week, was whether or not there would be any significant story development with the Aces and Eights angle.

Inside the arena
By My 1-2-3 Cents
I got into the Arena around 4:30. I was somewhat disappointed there was no dark match or anything to hype up the live crowd prior to the show. Around 4:50, Jeremy Borash and Hulk Hogan appeared on the video screen and talked about Aces and Eights. Shortly after that Austin Aries came out to cut a heel-esque promo on the crowd saying he knew his name so he didn’t need the crowd to chant. I don’t know if TNA expected such a vocal supportive crowd for A Double and his promo was done to try and get them to cheer Jeff Hardy or not, but even with Aries heeling the crowd, the majority of the crowd stayed supportive of the TNA World Champion.

I’m not going to do a match-by-match review as there are enough of those floating around the web and since this review is getting posted two days after the fact, I doubt anyone reading doesn’t know what happened. Instead I’m going to offer up my personal Pros and Cons about the show.

Since I have more positive to say and want to end the blog on a high note, I’ll start with the things I didn’t like.

When I got to my seat, I had fourth row on the floor, three seats from the ramp. As I took my seat this guy came over and stood in front of me. At first I was thinking maybe he was a my123cents fan and I was going to have my first fan interaction. Instead he said his girlfriend was sitting next to me. They had bought their tickets separately and he was in the same row eight seats down. He asked if I would be willing to change seats so he and his girl could be together. I was hesitant to switch due to how good the seat was but decided it wasn’t like he was sitting in the cheap seats. I was only moving about 10 feet. It wouldn’t be that big of a move so I agreed. While the new seat was still a great view there were two issues I had to deal with throughout the show that I wouldn’t have had to deal with in my original seat.

First up was the group of four guys sitting in the third row.  They were the type of fans who got excited over every little move and would stand for the slightest punch or kick and would remain standing for a good 30-45 seconds. That wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact the guy directly in front of me was about 6’4” and 350 pounds.  Definitely made a better door than window. I hate to nit pick on their standing because I’m all for fans enjoying themselves and having excitable fans makes for good television. However, I also think fans should be aware of their surrounding and realize when no one else is standing, be courteous try to not obscure other’s view.  Plus, they were in the third row. It isn’t like they were getting a better view by standing than they were by sitting.

Samoa Joe wins!
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
The second nit pick is the loud female fan behind him. Again, I’m all for cheering and expressing your support or who you want to win the match. I only ask that if you’re going to be yelling throughout the entire match, please have more than one cheer.  This girl would just repeat the name of whomever she was cheering for. Hearing, “lets go Joe” at the beginning of a match is fine. Hearing “lets go Joe” every 15 seconds for 10 minutes straight is torture. Maybe I’m getting old and cranky. Or maybe I’m used to Chikara crowds who are creative with their cheers and taunts.

Speaking of Chikara, one of the events of the night reminded why I enjoy Chikara (and Chikara fans) as much as I do. During the Aces and Eights match, one of the masked wrestlers maybe perhaps was Luke Gallows. Because he has been rumored to be part of the group and the crowd was a “smart” crowd, the fans around me were chanting “Luke Gallows” and “Festus” over and over. Contrast that with Chikara where Archibald Peck has resurfaced under a mask as the Mysterious and Handsome Stranger. When the M&HS comes to the ring the fans don’t chant for Archie, instead they play into the story and chant “we don’t know you,” or “who are you.”  Again, a small thing that means nothing in the grand scheme of things but at the same time helps to sell the story being told in the ring. OK, that’s it for small complaints. Onto the actual things I think could have been done differently.

My biggest complaint of the show is how underused the video screen was used. There were several times when I turned to look at the screen to get a better visual of what was happening in the ring and would be greeted with the Bound For Glory graphic. Only during selects moments when the action spilled out onto the floor did the director feel obligated to put the action up on the screen. Yes it was a small venue and there weren’t any “bad” seats so the crowd didn’t need to watch the action on a giant monitor for 95% of the show. It still would have been nice to have the monitor available to see what the audience at home was seeing.

New tag team champions
Hernandez & Chavo Guerrero
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
The outcome of half of the matches were outcomes I mentioned on From the Rafter’s Radio as being the least productive outcomes for future stories.  Rob Van Dam, Chavo/Hernandez, Tara and Jeff Hardy all winning not only cut the legs out from rising TNA stars. With the exception of Hernandez, all are former WWE talents and their wins, to the cynical fan, re-enforces the belief TNA wrestlers are inferior to anyone who’s wrestled in WWE. 
Rob Van Dam is and will be super over with crowd based on his history. Zema Ion is a rising star that hasn’t been featured on a regular basis since winning the X-Division title. This match could have been used to give Ion a major victory and some momentum in the X-Division. Speaking of the X-Division, where’s Kenny King, Sonjay Dutt, Rubix or any other potential rising star?

Chavo Guerrero has only been in TNA for about three months and is now one half of the Tag-Team Champions. Much like when Gail Kim returned to TNA, after a couple years of doing nothing in WWE, and quickly won both the Knockouts and Knockout Tag-Team titles, the impression being sent is if a wrestler jumps ship to TNA they will be rewarded with a championship. I like the team of Chavo and Hernandez, I just don’t see a reason for switching the tag-titles at this point in time.

Tara & Mr. Pectacular
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
Tara winning the title from Miss Tessmacher felt like less of a situation built around a title and more about giving Tara a stage to introduce some ex-reality star that most of the crowd didn’t know. I have been impressed by Miss Tessmacher this year and believe she could be a cornerstone for the Knockout division. Not discrediting Tara, as she’s a very talented wrestler in her own right. Simply stating the title change felt overshadowed. A quick note about Jessie (I think that’s his name), Tara’s Hollywood boyfriend, after he came out, I texted a friend and asked if Tara called him her “boo” so when the crowd booed him Mike Tenay and Taz could claim the crowd was actually cheering for him. I was saying boo-urns.

Jeff Hardy winning the World Title made sense from a storyline perspective. The year of redemption paid off for the Charismatic Enigma. I’m guessing no one in TNA expected Austin Aries to have the breakout year he’s had either. Otherwise why put the title on Aries only to quickly move it to Hardy?  

The video screen and the results are really the only negatives I had with the show.

Bonus Miss Tessmacher pic because Kevin's a fan...
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
During the Fan Fest, I spoke with a TNA employee who expressed concern with the crowd since Phoenix wasn’t a major television market for the company. At 5:05pm those concerns were put to rest. This was probably one of the loudest, rowdiest crowds I’ve witnessed live. They really didn’t get quiet for anything. Even the cool down matches had a frenzied crowd cheering almost every move. I’m guessing TNA wishes every crowd was like the Phoenix crowd.

Even though I don’t agree with the outcomes of most of the matches, that didn’t stop me from enjoying the show. As a wrestling fan first and sports entertainment fan second, I was pleased with the action on the show. All the wrestlers went out there and gave 100%. The matches weren’t cookie cutter matches going through the motions working in the wrestler’s signature spots. On the biggest show of the year, everyone delivered.

Joey Ryan gets Head
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
The stories being told were logical.  It’s a little thing, but in wrestling logic is seen about as often as Billy Kidman actually getting power bombed. Yes, I just made a reference from 1998. At first I was disappointed in the Joey Ryan/Al Snow match because I felt Joey should have came in and dominated Al proving Joey belonged in TNA. Then I took a step back and looked at the story being told. Joey took a beating, making Al believe Joey wasn’t that good of a wrestler. Then when Al figured he had Joey ripe for the pickings, Joey had Matt Morgan ready to run in and destroy Al. At least I hope that’s the story TNA was telling. I think the pairing of Joey and Matt could be interesting and hope there’s a plan in place for the duo.

Devon revealed!
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
My questions about Aces and Eights were answered in a way I didn’t expect. I don’t know if it was because I was expecting Bully Ray to turn on Sting, or because of all the names I’ve heard rumored to be a members of the gang, whatever the reason, the reveal of Devon was a shocking surprise. Not only was it a surprise, it made sense. Here’s one half of the most decorated tag team in wrestling history who has watched his partner become one of the most popular guys on the roster. A guy who was Television Champion when his contract expired and who the company said “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” instead of offering a raise. Why wouldn’t he want to cause havoc and seek revenge? The reveal was a shot of energy into a story I felt was spinning its wheels for the past month. I am curious to watch Impact this week and see what the fallout will be from Devon’s involvement and how TNA handles Aces and Eights being allowed access to the Impact Zone.

Storm vs. Roode
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
What can I say about the Bobby Roode/James Storm match that wouldn’t sound like exaggerated hyperbole?  The blow off match to a yearlong feud was just as brutal and intense as one could have hoped for. Two of TNA’s originals went out and bled for the company they helped put on the map. One thing I really liked was how little King Mo was involved in the match. Usually when there’s a special enforcer or referee the person ends up having some effect on the outcome of the match. Other than protecting Earl Hebner from Bobby Roode at one point in the match, King Mo was kept more as a bystander. With Mo coming into wrestle in TNA, the match gave him a front row seat to let him know if he expects to make it big he better be willing to bust his ass.

A Double vs. Jeff Hardy
Super Hurricarana
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
Overall, I had a great time at Bound for Glory.  TNA has made some serious improvements over the past 4-5 months. It seems like they have plans for the next 6-12 months. Hopefully they will stick to the plan and continue to build on the entertaining and intriguing product they have going.  In doing so hopefully they forge their own identity. Also, hopefully they will quickly get the Knockout Tag Title off of Eric Young and put them on an actual Knockout Tag Team or get rid of the titles all together. Thanks to everyone at TNA for a great weekend of wrestling and for treating fans like they mean more than just money in your pocket.

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