TNA Tag Team champions Team 3D vs. Rick Steiner & mystery partner
Team 3D came to the ring first. Rick Steiner came out first alone and in the big moment of truth, the mystery partner was Road Warrior Animal. Well, I didn't see that coming. To say this was (to me personally) a letdown would be a pretty damn accurate, but the live crowd popped due to the nostalgia factor. A big part of this match was going to be the aura of two top teams from different eras facing off, so they've lost part of that here, but not if the crowd treats this as special.
Devon and Rick Steiner started off. Devon nails a flying back elbow while coming off the ropes. He slams Steiner, then drops an elbow. Ray tags in. Steiner tags in Animal. The crowd popped for them facing off. Animal shoulderblocked Ray down. Ray returns the favor. He nails Animal with a piledriver but Animal no sells it. They go back and forth. Steiner and Devon tagged back in.
Ray and Devon worked over Steiner. The crowd chanted "3D sucks." It's probably time for a 3D heel turn anyway. Ray nails a neckbreaker on Steiner for a two count. He and Devon continued to work over Steiner, which is the smart thing to do, as they can leave Animal for the hot tag and ensuing offense. Steiner powerslams Devon and backdrops Ray. Animal nails a double clothesline.
Steiner and Animal nail stereo clotheslines. Animal calls for the Doomsday Device but Team 3D cuts him off. Steiner nails a double Steinerline off the top rope on 3D. Ray and Devon nail the Dudley Death Drop for the pin on Steiner.
Match was OK for what it was. I feared the worst seeing Animal and Steiner but it wasn't terrible and you could see everyone was trying to work to the best of their abilities.
They go right to a video package on Christopher Daniels vs. Sting. They must be rushing to catch up on time because the matches have gotten pretty short and they are going right from segment to segment without a chance to take the finishes in.
Christopher Daniels vs. Sting
The storyline here has been eh at best so far, but this should be a match designed to make Daniels a top-tier player in TNA as well as kicking this feud into something special. We'll have to see how it goes. Sting does the entrance from the ceiling from his WCW glory days. The building loved Sting. Useless trivia note: Sting defeated The Iron Sheik to retain the NWA TV title in this very arena in May 1989 at Wrestlewar: Music City Showdown.
Daniels and Sting faced off. With the crowd reaction and the flashing lights from Sting's entrance, this looked like a big deal. I can't state enough how much better TNA's PPVs appear in the bigger venues. Daniels began jawing with Sting. They rebounded off the ropes with neither selling a shoulderblock. Sting took him down with a second attempt. Daniels failed with a hiptoss attempt but Sting didn't. Sting dropkicked Daniels down and went right for the Scorpion Deathlock. Daniels scampered to the floor.
Sting clotheslined Daniels from the apron to the floor. They battled on the apron outside the ring. Sting was shoved off, nailing the railing on the floor chestfirst. Daniels whipped him into the railing. There was a "Fallen Angel" chant. Daniels went right to work on Sting's chest and ribs, so that's the story of the match.
Daniels hit a running knee to the chest of Sting in the corner. Sting began battling back with his trademark punches, but Daniels went right back to the ribs and chest. Daniels hit a corkscrew elbow on Sting, then stood over him. Daniels continued to stomp and kick Sting's chest. Sting began to fire back with offense out of the corner. Daniels and Sting each tried for hiptosses. Daniels poked Sting in the eye and locked on the abdominal stretch. Daniels and referee Earl Hebner had words.
Daniels threw Sting into the corner. Daniels hit a running splash in the corner but Sting miraculously no sold it. Sting began the superhuman comeback. He nailed an inverted atomic drop and several clotheslines. Sting nails a faceplant for a two count. Sting went for the Stinger Splash but Daniels caught Sting and hit the STO.
Daniels went for Angel's wings but Sting backdropped him. Sting went for the Stinger splash but Daniels put his knee in the chest. Daniels went for Last Rites, but Sting turned it into the Scorpion Deathlock and pinned him.
Your winner, Sting!
Match was OK but I didn't get a feeling this was anything beyond an appearance and showcase for Sting in a competitive match. It didn't bring Daniels to the next level, which is what it should have been designed to do in my opinion. It certainly didn't feel like a historic first-time meeting when it was over. They really need a post-match promo from Daniels to give us an idea of where his character's head is at, as well as preventing it from looking like a one and done program.
TNA (again!) went right to a video feature on Abyss vs. Tomko, preventing us from seeing Sting or Daniels' post-match reactions.
Backstage, Leticia Cline was with Christian Cage, AJ Styles and Tomko. Cage promised he was going to walk out as the new World champion. Styles reminded him that he's in the King of the Mountain match too so Cage tried to act like Styles was going to sacrifice himself for Cage's victory. Tomko was told to take Abyss out. He said he was on it, acting like he could care less for Cage.
Tomko vs. Abyss - No DQ, There Must Be A Winner
They faced off at the start and began laying big shots back and forth into each other, no selling it to get over that they are monsters. Tomko began working over Abyss against the ropes. Abyss was kicked in the face. Abyss came back with a clothesline over the top, sending Tomko to the floor. Tomko pulled Abyss out of the ring by his leg. Abyss drilled his head into the ringside barrier. Tomko was slammed into the ringsteps. Abyss whipped Tomko towards the rail but it was reversed and Abyss ate the steel. Tomko nailed a running boot to the face.
Tomko slammed Abyss' head into the ringsteps, although even Don West noted that Abyss' hands blocked most of the shot. Tomko worked over Abyss on the floor. They returned to the ring. Tomko went for a running boot but was caught by the throat. Tomko escaped the chokeslam but was kicked in the face. Abyss did his running charge into the corner. He went for a second but was elbowed as he ran in.
Abyss chokeslammed Tomko for a two count. Abyss went under the ring looking for something. Hillbilly Jim's magic horseshoe was under the ring. Abyss grabbed a bag and Mike Tenay wondered if it was thumbtacks or broken glass. It was the tacks. He began spreading them out across the ring. He teased a chokeslam on the tacks on Tomko. Given all the tattoo work on his back, that would have shocked the hell out of me if it happened.
Tomko escaped and hit a sit down slam into the tacks on Abyss. Abyss kicked out. He nailed a Black Hole Slam but Tomko kicked out. Abyss was bleeding from the arm as he went under the ring for another bag. It was a bag of marbles. No, it was broken glass. The crowd reacted to the glass. Abyss grinded the glass with his feet. Tomko clotheslined him down.
Tomko grabbed a piece of jagged glass and began digging into Abyss' head. Hello to Abdullah to Atlanta! Tomko stomped Abyss' face into the glass pile. He was bleeding heavily from the face now. Tomko wiped a bloody piece of glass across his own chest. He went under the ring and found a barbed wire bat.
Abyss was in the entranceway when Tomko caught up with him and drilled him several times with the bat. Tomko had this great evil devilish look on his face. Abyss disappeared and began climbing the scaffolding for the entranceway. Tomko climbed a ladder and met him. He went to hit Abyss with the bat, but missed,. Tomko was pulled from the scaffolding, taking a bump from the top to some crash padding below. Abyss then dove off the scaffolding atop of Tomko. The building chanted TNA. They showed several replays. As they emerged, you could see they landed in a pile of cardboard boxes covered by a sheet.
Tomko began crawling down the entrance ramp towards the ring as Abyss struggled to get back to his feet. Abyss was either really shaken up or did one hell of a job selling the spot off the scaffold. Tomko began kicking Abyss as he returned to the ring. Abyss hit the Black Hole Slam into the glass on Tomko. That shocked the hell out of me. Abyss scored the pin.
This was a good brawl. You got the feeling they were trying to do everything they could to make it memorable.
They went right backstage with Jeremy Borash backstage with Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe. Angle said tonight they need to agree to disagree, do the best they can, bloody each other and do what they have to do. Joe shook his hand and pulled Angle close. He quietly told Angle, "Tonight, I'm going to bring it." Angle did his "It's real" spiel to end the match.
Inside the ring, Mike Tenay asked the fans to watch the big screen for a big interview. He said that if you talk about pro wrestling in Nashville, you have to talk about Jeff Jarrett. They went to a video feature on Jarrett talking about the five years TNA is celebrating. Jarrett began crying while talking about his late wife Jill and her part in helping TNA establish itself and grow. He talked about her battle with breast cancer, how she beat it, then how it returned. He said that for two and a half years, there wasn't a day she lived without pain. Jarrett's comments were edited to feature photos of the couple over the years. Jarrett said she left the hospital on 5/1 and on 5/23, she ended her race to live. Jarrett said that he doesn't know when or where he'll wrestle again but being inside the ring is the worst place for him right now. He thanked the fans for their support for himself and on behalf of his wife. It was easily the most powerful thing the company has ever produced. It was a fitting tribute for someone who was a big part of the early days backstage. As long as TNA doesn't exploit their class here to turn this into some sort of storyline down the line, I commend the hell out of them for doing this. The crowd chanted Jill's name and "Thank you Jeff." Say what you will about Jarrett, but this was a special moment.
Jim Cornette came to the ring and said that there were only two choices for the fifth spot tonight, saying both men were with TNA from day one and are from Nashville. He said that the first choice was Jeff Jarrett, who insisted that Cornette instead give the chance to the second man. He announced Chris Harris would be the second competitor. I am sure fans were hoping for a big surprise, but when you think about match quality, Harris is a great choice. The crowd liked the idea since he's a hometown boy.
King of the Mountain Match to Crown TNA Champion: AJ Styles vs. Chris Harris vs. Christian Cage vs. Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe
All the entrances looked like major deals. They did in-ring introductions for everyone. The rules are to win, you have to climb a ladder to hang the belt above the ring. To qualify that you can do so, you have to score a pinfall or submission. The competitor losing a fall has to enter a penalty box for a time period. Yeah, it sounded confusing. I'm not a big fan of the match stips but they've got easily the most loaded collection of talent ever for one of these bouts, so we'll see how it goes.
Everyone brawled at the bell. As I noted a few weeks ago in my PWInsider.com Elite hotline, Angle is down a ton of weight as he's legitimately preparing for a potential MMA debut. He hasn't looked this lean since his early WWF run. Joe and Angle squared off. Cage and AJ went after Harris. Fans texting in picked Samoa Joe as the winner. You think TNA will listen to the audience?
Cage whipped Styles towards Harris in the corner, hitting a splash. Cage hit one of his own. Joe and Angle brawled on the floor. Styles laid down for Cage to pin him, winning moron of the year award. Angle broke up the pin. Styles hit a big dropkick on Harris. Styles asked Cage to lay down for him but Cage blew him off. Styles sunset flipped him for a two count. Joe tossed Angle into the penalty box. Styles kicked Harris in the head. He went for a springboard move but Joe pulled him by the legs, slamming his face into the apron. Joe tossed AJ into the railing.
Joe nailed an atomic drop, several kicks and big knee on Cage. Harris tossed Joe out of the ring to Angle on the floor. Harris went for the Catatonic but Cage escaped and went for the Unprettier. Harris hit a full nelson slam but Styles attacked him. Styles went for a tornado DDT but was caught. Harris swung Styles into Cage, then hit the Catatonic for the pin.
Harris qualified to hang the belt. Styles went into the penalty box for two minutes.
Cage and Harris brawled on the floor. Joe tossed a ladder out of the ring onto them. It became the Joe vs. Angle show. Joe hit a running knee in the corner. Joe went for the Facewash but Angle caught him and nailed a German suplex. Angle hit a second, then a third before Cage attacked both. Angle went for the Anklelock. Cage tried to escape but Joe locked on the Kokina Clutch. Angle cinched on an armlock at the same time on Joe. Styles was released from the cage as Harris returned to the ring and all five battled.
Cage bridged a ladder between the ring and the apron. Cage tried to suplex Harris out of the ring to the ladder. Harris battled him off. Cage ended up crotching himself on the ladder. Styles hit an inverted DDT on Harris but Joe broke up the pin attempt. Styles hit a Pele Kick on Joe. AJ called for the Styles Clash on Angle, who grabbed an Anklelock. That was a sweet counter. AJ kicked off Angle, sending him to the floor. Harris backdropped Styles, who landed on the ladder where Cage was laying in pain.
Harris, the only competitor qualified, pulled a ladder into the ring. Harris gets the TNA title from Jim Cornette and heads up the ladder. Kurt Angle grabs Harris and nails the Olympic Slam off the ladder for the pin.
Angle is now qualified while Harris goes to the penalty box.
Angle and Joe battled center ring. Joe nailed a snap powerslam. Joe grabs Cage and nails an uranage. Joe hits the muscle buster on AJ. Joe goes for a muscle buster again, nails a second and covers Styles. Angle breaks up the pinfall. Angle went to clothesline Joe but nailed the referee. Joe locked the choke in on Angle, who taps but there's no referee. Well, hell, Jim Cornette is at ringside, why can't he make a determination?
Cage nails Joe with a ladder, then drags the referee over, covering Angle for the pin, stealing it.
Christian Cage is now qualified while Angle goes to the penality box.
Cage sets up the ladder and climbs the ladder. Joe follows him up and they battle. Joe hits an Ace Crusher off the ladder into the ring. Harris is released from the penalty box. Harris struggles to set up the ladder. He gets the belt and heads up, kicking Cage along the way. Harris makes his way to the top. Joe meets him at the top. Harris strikes him with the belt and Joe bumps down. He does the same to Cage. AJ Styles hit a springboard dropkick to the ladder, taking it and Harris down. Harris clotheslined himself chest-first across the top rope.
Styles went to the top rope then climbed to the top of the penalty cage. Joe followed and they battled atop of it. AJ teased a suplex off but Joe locked in the choke. Styles kicked him low. Joe pulled Styles off the box, sending him into a forward flip through the announcer's table at ringside.
Chris Harris knocked Joe off the box. He and Cage battled atop of the box. Harris suplexed Cage into the ring, then dove off the box with a flying clothesline. The crowd was loving every second of this chanting TNA and "This is Awesome." It is a damn entertaining main event.
Cage, Harris, and Angle are in the ring. Harris plays Ladder airplane spin, taking Cage and Angle out. Harris calls for the belt and ascends the ladder. Cage sends the ladder over, sending Harris into the corner. Cage drills the ladder into Harris.
Ever the opportunist. Cage sets up the ladder as everyone is out on the mat or the floor. Cage is on top of the ladder when Angle follows him from behind. He cinches the ankle lock on Cage as he's atop of the ladder. Cage kicks Angle in the head to break it. Angle and Cage battle atop the ladder. Cage went to hang the belt but Harris speared him off the ladder. Angle was left with the belt in his hand and hung it to win the match.
Your winner and new TNA champion Kurt Angle!
A really damn entertaining main event. The only thing I would have added was a sequence at the end with Joe and Angle to set off another series of matches between the two. After the match, Joe was pissed and faced off with Angle. They had a big staredown. Joe offered his hand. Angle teased shaking it, then his the Olympic Slam. OK, so TNA had an angle to set off those matches instead.
If you are thinking about ordering the replay, I'd say it would be worth it. There was nothing on the show that was terrible. Some of the stuff was only about as good as you would expect on paper but the opening matches and the main event really delivered. That Jarrett piece was something special too.
PWInsider.com Elite subscribers, stay tuned for our exclusive post-game show.