Sunday, 4 January 2015

Catch-Up: TNA Bound for Glory 2014

It's time to continue with our Catch-Up series as we head back in time to Tokyo and last October, where Wrestle-1 joined TNA for what is traditionally their biggest show of the year, Bound for Glory.

The show began with singles action as masked man Manik took on Minoru Tanaka.

After seeing the first couple of minutes of this match one phrase entered my mind: this is good, and boy was it ever. It may have lasted a shade under ten minutes but they certainly packed a lot in in such a short space of time.

Billed as an X Division encounter, it was contested at a fast and furious pace, and was the kind of match you daren't take yours eyes off in case you missed something. Both guys put in great stints, with Manik in particular impressing the hell out of me. Mind you, Tanaka wasn't too far behind him in that respect.

So after a ton of great back and forth moves only one man emerged victorious, with Tanaka taking the submission win with his flying cross armbreaker.

The singles action continued with Ethan Carter III taking on Ryota Hama.

I think the best way to describe this one would be interesting. Don't get me wrong, it was enjoyable in it's own way, but as soon as I saw Hama lumbering down to the ring I kind of knew how things were going to play out.

It was your basic big guy versus little kind of match. Before the match began Carter had promised to slam the former Sumo star. Things didn't quite go to plan as the big guy bullied him around the ring, and I have to admit he looked pretty impressive.

EC3 had his moments, but each time he went for that elusive slam he ended up flat on his back and kicking out of pins. Hama looked like he was having a great time, especially when he invoked the spirit of Rikishi and delivered a stink face in the corner.

It was then that Carter saw his chance and delivered a low blow from behind before taking him down with his one percenter for the pin.

Then it was on to MVP against Kazma Sakamoto.

This proved to be another good inter-promotional encounter, which was made a little more interesting by early references to Sakamoto's recent WWE past. I immediately thought that it would be a cold day in hell when TNA is mentioned on Raw and Smackdown.

Anyway, there was plenty of enjoyable back and forth action in this one. Despite being the foreign invader MVP was backed throughout by those in attendance, especially when he made a reference to Sakamoto's recent past. The only thing I found a little disappointing was that the match was rather short.

But in the end it was entertaining, with MVP coming out on top after taking his man down with a shining wizard.

The first title match of the evening saw Low Ki and Kaz Hayashi challenging Samoa Joe for the X Division title.

It's no secret that over the past few years there have been times when I've been less than impressed with Samoa Joe. I've often yearned for his vintage Ring of Honor and early TNA performances where he seemed like an absolute killing machine, and it seems I've only seen performances like that when the situation has been right.

Well, this seemed to be one of those situations, because the big Samoan looked in top form throughout. This match may have been labelled X Division but it was very much in the Japanese mould. These three chopped the proverbial out of each other early on. In fact I saw so many chops I was going to make a joke about a pork butcher.

But I digress. The exchanges between Joe and Ki looked brutal, and I have to admit that I doubted if Hayashi would be able to keep up with those to, but he did, and then some. The former WCW star gave as good as he got, and he was easily on an equal footing throughout.

But like the other matches this one suffered from being a tad too short. Then again, the way these three were hitting each other there probably wouldn't have been much skin left on their chests by the time Joe took the submission win when he applied the Kokina clutch to Ki.

An all-Wrestle-1 affair followed as El Hijo del Pantera and Andy Wu took on Yusuke Kodama and Jiri Kuroshio.

Now this I liked. What we had here was a nice combination of Lucha and Japanese styles, with all four me putting in a great stint in a short and very sweet encounter.

Pantera looked really impressive early on, doing the sort of things the real Sin Cara should have done a while back, but it wasn't long before he was getting the punching bag treatment from Kodama and Kuroshio, with the latter seemingly intent on keeping his jacket in pristine condition. So pristine in fact that he kept it on throughout the match. Maybe he thought a ring attendant would head off to see Tokyo's version of Rick Harrison.

The Mexican star soon made it back to his corner, signalling the start of the all hell segment of the match and a hell of a lot more high flying, which lead nicely to the finish, with Kuroshio taking Wu out at ringside with a dive off the top while Kodama took out Pantera with a corkscrew moonsault in the ring.

The tag team action continued with Tommy Dreamer and Abyss going up against Bully Ray and Devon of Team 3D.

The longest match of the evening started off as a regular affair with a couple of games of one-gunmanship, but the hardcore leanings of those involved soon came into play. We had a brief brawl through as the old Dudleys used the ring bell to good effect.

It was in the ring though that the action got a little more hardcore with a couple of holy you know what moments, and although Abyss brought the thumb tacks into the match it was the monster who ended up going face first into them before Dreamer was taken out with a 3D as Devon and the Bully took the win.

The penultimate match was also the second title match of the evening as Velvet Sky challenged Havok for the Knockouts title.

So what's the female equivalent of a David versus Goliath metaphor? Because that's basically what we had here in this entertaining little encounter.

Sky began her challenge with some hit and run tactics before Havok brought her to a crashing halt with her power-based game. Like our esteemed commentators Havok reminded me of some of the power-based female wrestlers I've seen in the past, although I noticed that the name of a certain Kong-inspired woman was never mentioned.

Anyways, Sky came back into the match and had a little more success with her tactics of choice before the big lass caught her as she came off the ropes and took the submission with a bear hug. You know, in all my years as a wrestling fan I don't think I've ever seen someone submit to that particular hold.

The main event saw James Storm and the Great Sanada going up against Tajiri and the Great Muta.

This was the match that had the biggest storyline build behind it, and although it was good for what it was it didn't really have that main event feel.

There were some nice exchanges early on as Muta and Sanada did their teacher and student thing, and things picked up a little when Storm and Sanada used Tajiri for target practice as a brooding Muta looked on from the ring apron.

We had a brief moment of hardcore action between Muta and Sanada at ringside before the great one broke out a few of his trademark moves, and while the referee was taking a breather he joined Tajiri in giving Sanada a double mist shot before connecting with a shining wizard for the winning pin.

Afterwards Manik joined Storm in attacking Muta before Team 3D came in for the save, with Storm taking mist shot before taking a 3D.

In conclusion - well, if Bound for Glory is meant to be TNA's version of Wrestlemania then they fell a considerable way short last year.

The co-promotion thing with Wrestle-1 gave me the chance to see a few guys I've never seen before, as well as a few others I haven't seen for a while, but it didn't have that big event feeling about it, and it felt more like one of those One Night Only shows that only see the light of day six months after they're recorded.

There were, however, plenty of highlights about this show. The majority of the matches were highly enjoyable affairs, even though they were all a little too short for my liking, and as for the match of the night no-prize that prestigious honour goes to Kuroshiro/Kadama-Wu/Pantera short and sweet tag team affair.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing to do, and that's to give Bound for Glory the thumbs up.