Hi everyone. I made a math mistake and screwed up my pattern of TNA reviews here in BRM’s Monthly “This Day in Wrestling History” Review Series. I should have come back to TNA in July, not September. The prefixes for September, October and November sometimes throw me off. It’s Julius and Augustus Caesar’s fault that I am a grown adult who forgot how the months of the year work. There are two fortunate consequences to this embarrassment, however. The first is that accidentally breaking it has freed me from feeling like I have to continue my TNA pattern (and just in time, too, as the next show in the pattern would have been one I already reviewed). The second is that I got to watch what turned out to be a pretty decent show from TNA in an era of TNA that is much maligned, and for good reason. Hogan and Bischoff are in full control, and also Vince Russo is the one writing the TV, but somehow we got something well worth watching: TNA No Surrender 2010.
We start off with shots of the four semifinalists arriving at the building… but it’s 2010 TNA so the camera is trying to hide from Mr. Anderson, to the point where half of the time when they’re supposedly showing Mr. Anderson, we’re actually looking at a telephone pole. Making this all even sillier is the fact that when Anderson sees the camera, he just nods at it like he is totally cool with TNA filming him arriving at the building… so why did they feel the need to shoot this like they were spying on him? Making this all even stranger is the camera didn’t seem to be trying to hide from any of the other three. With Jeff Hardy, it was right up in his face.
TNA WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Motor City Machine Guns(c) vs. Generation Me - 7.5/10
We started off with some good first match on the card fast paced but even opener stuff. Then Generation Me began to work over Alex Shelley’s arm. Yes, the Bucks do know how to do that.
The real story of the match was Generation Me working over Shelley’s neck, and it was pretty weird to see them do that without some of moves like the IndyTaker, which target the neck and have become a stable of their repertoire in the time since.
This was a pretty great opener, and it was certainly an interesting watch after having seen how the Bucks would evolve over the course of the next ten years. The spots that have always been there are there, and you can see little hints of where they’re going towards the end, but they’re a different team wrestling a different style of match here. I’m also a little curious to see how much any agenting going on at the time had to do with this. This has me wanting to go watch some of their 2009 ROH stuff just to compare it to that, too. Alas, my December spot is filled by something else, so if I decide to watch Final Battle 2009 for these purposes, it will not be for this review series.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. The Bucks attack MCMG after the match, ending by giving Shelley a draping DDT from the apron to the floor. Shelley was attended to by EMTs and had to be helped to the back.
TNA X-DIVISION TITLE MATCH:
Doug Williams(c) vs. Sabu - 4/10
I had completely forgotten about bald Sabu and how weird he looked, so I got quite the shock when he took his turban off and there was no hair there.
I get that no one is hitting anyone else with it, but that chair was in there for WAY too long, to the point where it was ridiculous that Hebner didn’t get rid of it (and the one time he tried to, the lazy f*ck couldn’t even be bothered to remove it from the ring. He just picked it up, folded it up, and then tossed it down two feet to the side). We also got a spot where Sabu was going for a dive but Hebner ran in his way and ordered him not to do it for some reason. Then Sabu just ran at Hebner, Hebner got out of the way, Sabu did a dive- the exact thing Hebner had tried to stop him from doing and ordered him not to do- and Hebner didn’t punish him in any way. If you weren’t going to punish him for doing it, why did you stop him from doing it? It’s not even like a dive is against the rules! And then, a few moments later, Sabu sets Williams up on a table and goes to dive onto him to put him through the table- something which absolutely could be called a DQ- and Hebner doesn’t even try to get in his way. How does that make any sense?! They opened up a big logic hole in their match all for the sake of a spot (Hebner trying to block Sabu’s dive) that added ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
In addition to these logical problems, there was the problem of Sabu. To be frank, he did not look good here at all. Several things he tried almost went very wrong, and he just looked old, slow, and worn-down… and that only wound up hurting Williams, too, as Doug had to cheat to beat this old worn-down well past his prime wrestler. Said cheating on the finish was as spot where Williams went to use a chair but Hebner took it away from him, so Williams just went and grabbed the title belt- a dangerous weapon that he was just allowed to leave in the corner of the ring, in easy grabbing range- and hit Sabu in the head with it. Quite frankly, this was more sad than anything else.
CHRISTY HEMME INTERVIEWS MR. ANDERSON - Fine.
VELVET SKY (w/Angelina Love) vs. MADISON RAYNE (w/Tara) - 1.5/10
We started off with a spot where Tara grabbed Velvet’s foot to distract her so Madison could attack her from behind… and while Madison made contact with Velvet’s upper back, Velvet went down and started to sell her lower back. Then we go Madison mounting Velvet and throwing punches, all of which clearly missed. This wasn’t quite as bad the guy from the Dark Order, but it was pretty close.
Madison started work over Velvet’s neck with submissions and just plain choking her. At least that didn’t look bad. Velvet got a visual pinfall on a roll-up a few minutes in because why not just waste a spot like that. And, of course, Madison was back in control moments later.
Once Velvet’s comeback started, things got better. She had good babyface fire, and the offense didn’t look like sh*t. Tara got involved but got taken out by Angelina, then Velvet hit her finisher and won. They saved this from being a dud or worse, but it was still pretty damn bad.
CHRISTY HEMME INTERVIEWS JEFF HARDY - Good babyface stuff from Jeff.
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE MATCH:
Abyss vs. Rhino - 7/10
This is the one where Abyss gets thrown through the retaining wall of the stage and they go under the stage. Props to TNA for actually sending a cameraman in there so we could see them fighting a bit and then having the camera get knocked down, rather than the wrestlers just disappearing and us having to wait until they came out. It still ticked off the crowd in the building, but between the camera going in there and then Tenay insisting that he could hear them fighting under the stage, it wasn’t as frustrating as it could have been for a PPV viewer (although at least the live crowd didn’t have to hear Tenay tell us that they could hear this because the broadcast table was “adjacent to the stage.” On top is not adjacent, “professor”).
If you know these two, you know exactly what to expect, and this was a perfectly acceptable PPV-quality version of that.
KEVIN NASH & STING vs. JEFF JARRETT & SAMOA JOE - 3/10
Wow… even just walking to the ring, Nash looks like he’s not moving well.
Jeff Jarrett did a fist drop that clearly missed Sting for a good amount but Sting still sold it. Even funnier is that that they tried to cover this up by cutting to another camera angle, but the camera angle they cut to also made it clear that Jeff’s fist did not come anywhere near Sting.
The rest of the match was a bit of babyface in peril stuff with Jarrett as the imperiled babyface, a hot tag to Joe, then Jeff hitting Sting with a baseball bat, allowing Joe to choke him out for the win in less than seven minutes.
I didn’t factor this into my evaluation of the match, but I have to tell you that knowing where this whole storyline goes makes listening to the commentary extremely annoying. Tenay and Taz kept talking about backstage politics and telling us that Nash and Sting were “making vague references,” but no one other than Jarrett seemed to know what they meant. The plot twist that we’d get at Bound For Glory that pretty much everyone saw coming other than the characters themselves was that Hogan, Bischoff, and Jarrett were secretly the heels, and that they were the mysterious “They” that Abyss kept telling us was coming, meaning that despite the way things had been build up for this match, Nash and Sting were actually the babyfaces (and Jarrett using the bat was meant to hint at that). The problem with this whole thing, though, is that if Sting and Nash knew about this evil conspiracy, WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST F*CKING SAY SO INSTEAD OF SAYING VAGUE AND/OR CRYPTIC THINGS THAT IT WAS CLEAR NO ONE THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN TRYING TO WARN (like Samoa Joe or Dixie Carter) WAS UNDERSTANDING. Thus, every time Taz and Tenay brought up their “vague references” and “hints,” I wanted to scream because knowing that stupid was on the horizon made this whole thing feel stupid, too.
I QUIT MATCH:
AJ Styles vs. Tommy Dreamer - 8/10
This was probably the last really main event level match that Tommy Dreamer ever had. These two did a great job with their stories (Dreamer working the arm, AJ working the leg, and also building up the idea of AJ going for the eye) used the story of Dreamer working the arm to set up some spots I hadn’t seen before, and gave us a finish that was vicious, brutal and, kayfabe dangerous enough that I could completely buy Dreamer quitting. Wrestling needs more gimmick matches like this one, where the wrestlers are actually trying to tell a story rather than just relying on violence and stunt-bumps.
CHRISTY HEMME INTERVIEWS KURT ANGLE - Fine.
TNA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL MATCH WITH KURT ANGLE’S CAREER ON THE LINE:
Jeff Hardy vs. Kurt Angle - 8.75/10
Holy sh*t there is an Itchweeed sign in the crowd. In 2010. Speaking of things in the crowd, they keep focusing on Dixie Carter being in the front row for the two semifinals despite the various dangers to her, saying that Dixie is out here because these matches are so important to the company. I’m not saying they’re not important, but if mere semifinals in the world title tournament are important enough to necessitate Dixie’s presence then surely she should have been out here for the actual title matches, too, right? If not, you’re kind of burying the X-Division and tag team titles.
This match was very reliant on finisher teases and kick-outs, so if you already know what the finish is going to be (and I remember it from when I first watched it ten years ago), there really isn’t much re-watch value. That being said, I do remember how darn excited I was the first time I saw (and the exact rating I gave it), and I have factored that into my calculations for the rating here.
They got to the “big moves” phase of the match very quickly. They did a good job of escalating things until Jeff did that big Swanton from the top rope to the floor, and then used that as kind of a reset before building the face back up again. I know that sounds like it’s taking a step backwards, but it worked.
This was a masterwork of pacing, mixing it’s up and downs very well. Even Brian Hebner deserves some credit for keeping a very slow cadence on count-outs throughout the match so that none of the big count-out teases either felt like they were being phonily drawn out for extra drama or felt like they were being drawn out to run down the clock.
What didn’t work as much for me was the first finish, with Jeff spending well over three straight minutes in the ankle lock and not tapping before the time limit expired. It was way too much to the point where it made the hold seem ineffective.
The crowd immediately wanted five more minutes. Eric Bischoff came out and conferred with Dixie, then announced that because this match was so darn important, they absolutely had to add five more minutes. Jeff could barely walk at this point, so Kurt did the smart thing and went right for the ankle. Fortunately for Jeff, he was able to kick Kurt off relatively quickly and send him to the outside. Even more fortunately for Jeff, he seems to have developed super-human healing powers, because once it was his turn to be on offense, he just stopped selling… until he got back in the ring, at which point his ankle suddenly hurt again and he resumed his limping.
Jeff went to the top rope but Kurt cut him off. Kurt started punching Jeff on the top… and someone thought this was a good time to cut Eric Bischoff and Dixie Carter at ringside for five whole seconds. That’s a lot more time than Kurt would have needed to, say, knock Jeff down to the floor, or pull him off the tope rope into an Angle Slam. If this match is so damn important like Bischoff and the announcers have been telling us WHY WOULD YOU CUT AWAY FROM THE ACTION?
Anyway, they did more stuff and it was all exciting. They lasted the time-limit here as well, so Bischoff put another five minutes on the clock. Some stuff happened and they wound up on the outside, where Jeff smashed Kurt’s head into the steps. Kurt came up bleeding, and although he beat a count-out, he clearly wasn’t in good shape. Jeff locked on a Boston Crab and Kurt not only began to fade but also bled all over the mat. He stopped his hand before it dropped the third time, and managed to reverse the Boston Crab and get an ankle lock, but Jeff managed to survive the time-limit.
People wanted another five minutes and Kurt was up and raring to go and trying to get at Jeff but Bischoff jumped in and called the doctors to come look at Kurt’s cut. He went over to Jeff, who was resting on the ground in the corner, not even able to make it to his feet, and finally looked at Dixie and gave the “no” symbol. He then talked to someone on the headset and announced that because of Kurt’s cut, the match couldn’t continue and thus was a no-contest.
Knowing where this was going in advance also means that I know where the story was going as well, which I didn’t know the first time I saw the match, and that has allowed me to appreciate the detail-work here that I wasn’t able to appreciate before.
As would be revealed next month, Jeff Hardy was also part of “They,” in cahoots with Hogan, Bischoff, Jarrett, & Abyss, and thus Bischoff is actually being duplicitous here and wants to end the match not for Kurt’s health, but because he knows Jeff will lose. One of the reasons I love the main event of WrestleMania X-Seven so much is because Steve Austin’s infamous heel turn actually starts the moment the bell rings for the main event rather than when Vince comes out. With hindsight, Austin’s behavior during the match is a little bit off, but not so much so that you that you can see it if you’re not specifically looking for it. Bischoff’s decision-making here is similarly odd if you know what to look for, but it’s not something you’d think about unless you are specifically looking for it. This feels like a normal bullsh*t TNA non-finish to set up a rematch on TV to pop a rating (which actually did happen), but it’s actually more than that. It’s not just the fans who bought the PPV getting screwed with this non-finish; Kurt is getting screwed, too. Despite his gushing cut, he’s the one who is up and standing and ready to go, while Jeff Hardy can’t even walk. He was the one who had Jeff in a submission when the time limit expired. If the match were to keep going, Kurt would certainly win, but Eric Bischoff needs Jeff advance, so he abuses his power and comes up with a fake reason for why this match has to be a draw. In terms of getting the details right, this right here might well be the best thing TNA ever did. I’m not sure who laid this whole thing out, but whoever it is (and it’s entirely possible that it was Bischoff, Ed Ferrara, or even Vince Russo) deserves a lot of credit.
CHRISTY HEMME INTERVIEWS D’ANGELO DINERO - He kind of wound up mixing his metaphors there, but it was a fun listen.
TNA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL MATCH:
Mr. Anderson vs. D’Angelo Dinero - 6.75/10
They both started off working the arm but it never went anywhere. This was good, but not close to what I’d to see from a seventeen-minute PPV main event.
This show definitely had some crap on it and the main event was disappointing, but there was a lot of great stuff, too. The Angel vs. Hardy match is a gem, AJ vs. Dreamer exceeded my expectations for a Tommy Dreamer match in 2010, and getting to see the early Young Bucks given PPV time limits and controlled by a road agent was very interesting. Take all of that, throw in a good brawl between Abyss and Rhino and the fact that most of the bad stuff was kept short, and I think we can call this one a win. For next month, I’ve got a giant show lined up from a promotion we’ve never covered before. What will it be? To find out, just check back every single day in October until the review drops!