This year’s Bound For Glory PPV event takes place in San Diego, CA for TNA’s annual grand showcase. With a mainevent that involves Bully Ray defending his World Heavyweight Championship against AJ Styles and Magnus taking on his mentor Sting also on the card, this show has the potential to be the greatest Bound For Glory event yet.
Similarly to last year’s event, Spike TV had an hour long pre-show that took place beforehand entitled “The Countdown To Bound For Glory”. The special mainly aired highlights, video packages and interviews for it’s majority; OVW’s Gilbert Corsey even made his company debut conducting the interviews. Unlike the previous year’s countdown, this time there was a live match taking place on the pre-show which begins our review.
Number One Contendership, Four-Way Tag Team Gauntlet Match
Overview: In the first ever Countdown To Bound For Glory pre-show match, Bad Influence come out to a warm local Southern California welcome and setup to face Chavo and Hernandez. The two teams, with “TNA!” chants already filling the arena, battle it out until Daniels eventually trap pins Chavo and gets the elimination to a big reaction from the crowd.
Park and Young come out next to take on the hometown favorites. After a very competitive stretch, the fresher team managed to eliminate Daniels and Kazarian. Not to let it slide so easily, Bad Influence assaulted Park and incapacitated him which led to referees carrying him out of the ring.
The Bro Mans then came out and proceeded to beat down on Eric Young until they got the pinfall.
Analysis: This was an entertaining, and surprisingly long contest with an equally surprising winner. Bad Influence seemed to be the perfect candidates to win this but it looks like TNA really wanted to setup the Bro Mans vs. Gun-Storm one more time. Maybe, the Bro Mans will have more luck this time around. We’ll have to wait and see.
Also, the winners had “Mr. Olympia” Phil Heath at their side as a “celebrity” appearance; as you can imagine, he served no purpose.
X-Division Championship, Five-Way Ultimate X Match
Overview: Opening up Bound For Glory-proper, Jeff Hardy comes out to a new theme song he’s debuting that sounds just as awful as his last one. Manik, the champion, comes out last and is surrounded by the star-studded cast he has to battle. Sabin, almost immediately, climbs up the turnbuckle to get to the belt and begins the match.
By the conclusion of the match, highlight after highlight, Sabin would use Velvet Sky as a distraction in order to bring the X-Division championship down for the victory.
Analysis: This match was, by its very definition, a pure spot-fest and it was only decent- it could have been so much better. It was underwhelming; the star power, the talent, and story involved could have resulted in an incredible contest but it didn’t.
It managed to suck the life out of the viewer, almost but it did really sell Chris Sabin as a heel and someone to be hated. There’s really no telling why TNA had to have Sabin drop the World Heavyweight Title and turn heel in the first place but they seem to be really behind it. Chris Sabin is now officially a seven time X-Division Championship, the most reigns any holder has ever had.
World Tag Team Championship, James Storm & Gunner (c) vs. Bro Mans
Overview: Coming out with their pointless entourage in Mr. Olympia, the Bro Mans arrive to the ring first before their more serious and tough as nails opponents follow suit. After a very competitive match, even involving one big “TNA!” chant, The Bro Mans shocked the world yet again by winning the TNA World Tag Team Titles.
Analysis: Realistically, Storm and Gunner should have rinsed through Robbie E and Jessie Godderz as they have done in the past. Instead, we were given a pretty good, competitive match that teased the champions retaining on a couple occasions. The Bro Mans, shockingly (it can not be understated), defeated the much more credible team which left the fans bewildered yet again.
It looks like Gun Storm’s term was pathetic and is prematurely over. Their credibility as a tag team, after losing to a tired team of enhancement talents, has been shot and their break up should be at hand soon. This was just odd but maybe TNA has something big in store for the Bro Mans as our new tag team champions.
Knockouts Championship, ODB (c) vs. Gail Kim vs. Brooke
Overview: Arguably the greatest Knockout in company history, Gail Kim is introduced followed by Aces & Eights’ Brooke and then the champion, ODB. The champion eventually laid out her two opponents, with the referee down, and Lei’D Tapa came out which led to a brawl between the two.
Tapa would then lay out Brooke with a powerbomb which allowed Gail Kim to sneak into the ring, get the pin, and win the match. The new Knockouts Champion, Kim was then embraced by Tapa and it appears that they are aligned together.
Analysis: The crowd, except for a few solid moments like Kim locking on the ring p0st figure four lock, was pretty quiet during this match. With the lack of story invested in this angle, that was expected but the booking from the previous three matches may have convinced the audience to keep quiet.
Getting to the ending, it was awkward thanks to the semi-shocking swerve and reveal of their alliance. That seems to be a running theme so far, hasn’t it? A solid contest that led to a weird ending where a heel won a championship from a face; hopefully, the trend doesn’t continue into the mainevent.
Hall Of Fame Grudge Match, Bobby Roode vs. Kurt Angle
Overview: The “It Factor” awaits the faux-TNA Hall Of Famer, Kurt Angle (more on that later) to begin what could be a technical in-ring masterpiece. Almost living up to that, with submission moves exchanged several times, Roode delivered a low-blow maneuver out of desperation but it still wasn’t enough to overcome the wrestling machine. Angle would get Roode into an ankle lock until his opponent nearly passed out.
Referee Brain Hebner, on accident, lifted Roode’s arm to see if he was indeed passed out and dropped it on the rope causing a break of the hold. The two would find each other on the top turnbuckle and Angle would deliver a huge Angle Slam all the way down to the ring. Unfortunately, Angle possibly (kayfabe) paralyzed himself in the process and Roode was able to eventually pin him for the victory.
Doctors look over Angle, trying to put him on a stretcher and carry him out but he refuses and walks out on his own will.
Analysis: Reminiscent of one of the many old Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit matches, this was the best match of the night so far on the card. It was, once more, an odd finish and swerve but there’s no denying how good the match was. This was another segment to advance Angle’s character that will continue to evolve as the next few weeks go by, definitely keep your eye on his development.
Also, it was great to see Bobby Roode finally get a win at Bound For Glory and redeeming his loss to Angle at the 2011 edition of the event.
Ethan Carter III, Debut Match Against Norm Fernum
Overview: To continue the WWE’s MVP comparisons, Ethan Carter III came out to an epic entrance only to fight a local jobber on a live pay-per-view show. With “boring chants” from the crowd, Carter continued to destroy the other guy until it was mercifully over.
Analysis: The EC III character is entertaining, at least as his entrance and video packages would indicate. However, this match wasn’t impressive or entertaining or interesting at all. This should have been saved for this Thursday’s Impact Wrestling instead of taking time away from your pay-per-view show. People, including this reviewer, paid to see a wrestling show with stars fighting to culminate feuds. We didn’t pay to see a three minute squash match with no advancement or plot.
On a different note, Norm Fernum – also known as Peter Avalon from Pro Wrestling Guerrilla – did well in his role and even got in some nice X-Division style offense before being quelled by his far bigger opponent.
“The Icon” vs. “The Future”, Sting vs. Magnus
Overview: After a fantastic interview and video depicting all of Magnus’ frustrations of trying to fit his “The Future” billing, the protege meets his mentor in the ring. Magnus, using many of Sting’s mannerisms and a few less than noble tactics, took the legend to his limit. Via the King’s Lynn Cloverleaf submission hold, Magnus defeated his mentor in an absolutely clean fashion.
The younger man then gloated in victory, celebrating on each turnbuckle and gave a half-hearted handshake to Sting before leaving the ring.
Analysis: TNA was so close to having a match on this card with no weird finish and they couldn’t let that happen. Magnus and Sting had a solid match that could have been better but certainly wasn’t bad. However, the ending alludes to Magnus turning heel when the more proper scenario would have been a heart-felt passing of the torch moment for the two.
Then again, we can’t have nice things and this was another semi-swerve. Why did that have to happen? Because reasons.
World Heavyweight Championship, Bully Ray (c) vs. AJ Styles
Overview: In one of the most important mainevents in TNA history, “The Calf Killer” takes on “Calf-Zilla” for the biggest prize in TNA Wrestling. Interestingly, Styles came out only to his “Evil Ways” theme without the transition to “Get Ready To Fly” while Bully Ray finally used the lyrical version of the Aces & Eights theme which was very refreshing on both accounts.
As the match began getting competitive, Garett Bischoff came down to the ring to distract Styles while Bully concealed a hammer. The two would then fight over the hammer, trying to deliver a devastating blow to one another. Knux would one-up Garett by entering the ring and choke-slam Styles, which only gained Bully a two count.
Knux would be disposed of which would eventually lead to Styles setting up Bully for an announce table spot. To his own chagrin, however, Styles would miss a four-fifty splash into the table as Bully just narrowly escaped. It was an incredible spot that really made you weary of the challenger’s condition.
While Styles laid in pain on the outside, Bully (yet again) pulled the padding off the ring to expose the wooden floor boards. To “ECW!” chants, Bully set to repeat the Slammiversary spot again but this time on Styles. TNA President, Dixie Carter would then come down to the ring and gave Bully a steel chair in order to help him win. Styles would ambush Bully with a forearm splash to the chair and Ray’s face, followed up by a successful four-fifty splash. However, Carter forced Earl Hebner to make a slow count which allowed Bully to kick out.
Eventually, Styles would get the advantage yet again and hit The Spiral Tap and got the three count! AJ Styles is the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion!
Analysis: This is the perfect example that talent can somehow, sometimes overcome booking because this match was very good despite a lot of interference and spots. Styles and Ray played their roles wonderfully and though Styles’ win wasn’t as climatic as it should have been, this match finally delivered a good convincing finish on the card.
Surrounded by cheering fans embracing him, AJ Styles celebrates his three-year long dream of finally assenting back to the top of TNA Wrestling. AJ Styles is finally your World Heavyweight Champion again!
Final Thoughts: The show had opened on a video package of Styles reliving his worst memories, hardships and the agony he went through over the past three years. Then, it showed how he is trying to rise up above it all to become the World Heavyweight Champion again. Throughout the night, as well, there were recaps of Styles’ greatest TNA victories. These videos were great to setup the most important question of this PPV: will AJ Styles finally win the world title?
Bad Influence also came out to the ring after the X-Division match, demanding that they be added in the tag team championship match. Eric Young then arrived to warn them that Joseph Park had turned into Abyss due to their previous attack. “The Monster” then decimated the “Best Coast Boogeymen”. Of course, TNA sold it as Abyss simply coming to Park’s aid as opposed to the obvious transformation. It was a simple segment that didn’t really need to happen but was harmless fun.
Sting, out to induct Kurt Angle into the TNA Hall Of Fame, delivered a solid promo about how deserving the inductee was to receive the honor. Angle then thanked everyone with “Thank you, Angle!” encompassing the arena. “The Icon” hands “The Olympic Gold Medalist” a watch that is to serve as TNA’s version of WWE’s hall of fame ring, which Angle grasped and sorrowfully declined his induction. He then handed the watch back to a dismayed Sting and announced that he will join him in TNA’s Hall Of Fame when he believes “he’s lived up to his potential”. This was, yet again, an odd thing to see but Angle’s character directions could be very interesting for months to come as he tries to prove to himself that he deserves the induction.
Overall, this show was a swerving spree that utterly confused both the audience in attendance and at home. There was no reason for half the booking decisions to have taking place. All TNA had to do tonight was deliver incredible wrestling and performing despite their somewhat lackluster card. Instead, the show delivered lack-luster contests with swerve endings in order to make up for the poor build half the angles had.
This show almost felt like a PPV from 2010-11 where Bischoff was mostly in control of creative, which could still be a big possibility. However, name-dropping him as a scapegoat will not forgive the disappointment that this event was. Bound For Glory is supposed to be the biggest and best show of the year but both Lockdown and Slammiversary blew it out of the water, as did TV Specials such as Destination X and No Surrender. It simply did not deliver on what BFG is promised to be each year.
However, “Swerve-ception” indeed happened as every match on the card featured a stupid swerve except the one that was expected to have it the most. Styles won the title, finally, with no shocking turn or ending. It was just a babyface hero defeating evil and being victorious and glorious, what Bound For Glory should be about.
While Styles’ win was great to see and gave the PPV a feel good ending, the rest of the card can not be forgiven. The commentary was pretty bad tonight and the crowd, through no fault of their own, were bad in some matches probably due to how tired and very confused they were. It’s not really necessary to re-watch this show but the mainevent is worthy of a watch especially if you’re a fan of “The Phenomanal One” AJ Styles – our new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.