Last night’s TNA’s latest Pay-Per-View offering, Turning Point, was a mixed bag, highlighting both the company’s strongest areas as well as their weakest. Nowhere was this more evident than in comparing the two title matches that took place: the stellar X-Division title match which gave us a new champ in Samoa Joe, and the disappointing NWA Heavyweight match in which Jeff Jarrett retained his belt yet again.
The Joe-Styles match was a brilliant affair which highlighted why the X Division is the best thing going in professional wrestling today. Styles was looking to shut down the undefeated Joe who, at last month’s show, violated the unwritten X-Division code by sneak-attacking Christopher Daniels after a match and leaving the Fallen Angel battered and bloodied. Angrily, Styles started off hot, attacking the larger challenger right at the bell. He put the boots to Joe, and then blasted the big man right in the mush with a stiff dropkick. Joe fired back with a series of unbelievably vicious kicks of his own — ouch! A beautiful sequence followed: AJ tried for a move over the ropes but Joe moved, so AJ landed on his feet on the apron. Joe swept AJ’s legs, and AJ’s fell face-first onto the apron. Then, Joe grabbed Styles by the legs, wheeled him around, and whipped him hard into the steel at ringside — this looked amazing. Joe continued his dominance both in and out of the ring, flattening Styles with a series of high-impact kicks, chops and splashes. AJ tried for a hurancarana, but Joe caught him and slammed him down to the mat hard, held onto Styles’ legs, and flipped him over into a Boston Crab. AJ escaped that, then knocked Joe to the floor, and followed that up with a running Shooting Star press over the top. Adrenaline pumping, AJ hit Joe with some quick feet and a springboard moonsault, but his momentum was stopped with a scoop powerslam, prompting a “This is awesome” chant from the crowd. Unbelievably, AJ was able to lift Joe up for a powerbomb, but Joe returned the favour with a ridiculously harsh clothesline and a powerbomb of his own. Refusing to quit, AJ was able to land his patented Pele kick, which staggered Joe, and left him open for AJ to hit the Styles Clash for the 2-count. AJ tried to roll up the big man, but Joe somehow reversed it and clamped on the Kokina Klutch. Styles fought back valiantly, but after a minute, he wasn’t able to answer the ref, who called for the bell and presented the X-Division championship to Samoa Joe. This was a brilliant match that really showcased the excitement of the X-Division and made Joe look like an unstoppable force. After the match, Joe picked up AJ, apparently in a show of respect. But, no, his treachery continued, and he flattened Styles with a belt shot. He was going to victimize AJ even further, when Christopher Daniels ran out for the save. Joe and Daniels scrapped briefly before Joe made his way to the back.
As fantastic as that match was, the NWA Heavyweight Championship match was equally as overbooked, confusing and sloppy. Jarrett took control of the match in the opening minutes, using his quickness and a dropkick to ground the big man. Rhino was able to counter with his power, sending Jarrett to the floor, and then — amazingly, for the big man — flying over the top with a slingshot press. The match traveled into the crowd where Rhino maintained his momentum, by throwing Jarrett into the entrance ramp set pieces and the entrance ramp. Rhino sat Jarrett down on the ramp, and hammered him with punches to the head, and then a couple of body shots with a metal folding chair. The action moved further away from the ring, and eventually the two scaled a scaffold near the entrance stage. Atop the scaffold, a chair shot by Jarrett sent Rhino flying off the scaffold, and crashing through a table and to the floor. This should have been a “holy s***” moment, but somehow it didn’t seem to get the crowd reaction that it should have. The hardcore action continued, and soon a table was propped up against the entrance ramp tunnel, and Rhino gored Jarrett through it. Having had enough of this WWE hardcore match type of action, the referee made the decision that the match would have to get back to the ring by the count of 10, and that if either man could not, he would lose. Team Canada came out of the tunnel and attacked Rhino, then carried Jarrett back to the ring in time. As the referee’s count neared 10, Rhino found a burst of energy, and sprinted to the ring in the nick of time. Still battered and bruised by the fight on the outside, neither man was able to gain a clear advantage in the ring. Even a GORE attempt by Rhino didn’t work to plan, and Rhino flattened the referee by accident. With the official out, the members of Team Canada continued to beat down the challenger and even distract the referee when Jarrett smashed the challenger over the head with his trusty guitar. Just as it looked like Jarrett would get the win, Jackie Gayda came to the ring and distracted Jarrett, even slapping the champion, for reasons as yet unrevealed. This overbooked mess continued, with Scott D’Amore making his way to the ring to smack Rhino with the hockey stick and leave him stunned. Jarrett capitalized on this, hit Rhino with a bulldog maneuver onto some chairs, and pinned the man-beast to retain his NWA Heavyweight Championship.
After the match, D’Amore and Jarrett were celebrating, when the arena lights mysteriously went out. When they turned back on a few moments later, the company’s big news became evident, first by the image of a scorpion on the video screens, and a stool in the ring, adorned with a black leather duster, a pair of black boots, and a black baseball bat which seem to say that Sting will be coming to TNA in the very near future. Jarrett and D’Amore stared in wonder at the Sting stool as the show came to a close.
The next TNA PPV, Final Resolution takes place on January 15th.
Free Preview Show
Preview Match: John Bolan, Joe Doering & Buck Quartermain vs. The Naturals & Lance Hoyt
Good little opener, with the faces dominant for most of the affair, thanks to some strong teamwork by AMW and the power of the big Texan, Hoyt. Doering is put over as a strong up-and-comer, but he doesn’t fare too well against Hoyt, who dumps him over the top with a huge clothesline, and prone for an attack by Stevens who hits a nice somersault press on the floor. A Hoyt powerbomb attempt is thwarted, but he ends up hitting his crucifix slam powerbomb on Quartermain for the pinfall.
Match Rating: 6/10
The ring crew is shown replacing the ring ropes with barbed wire.
The Rhino profile promo is shown where he talks about losing his WWE career and his family.
James Mitchell cuts an intense promo about Abyss, explaining the monster’s aversion to barbed wire, and how in order to exorcise that demon, he will have to defeat Sabu tonight.
Jeremy Borash demonstrates the viciousness of the barbed wire by shredding an apple with the bottom strand.
A series of video packages airs. The first one hypes the Tables Match tonight pitting Team 3-D against America’s Most Wanted, the second the NWA Heavyweight Championship match between Rhino and the champion Jeff Jarrett.
Match One: Sabu vs Abyss w/ James Mitchell — Barbed Wire Match
Barbed wire strands surround the ring, and there are also planks with barbed wire coils placed around the ringside area. Based on the first attempted “move” — Sabu taking a big swing at Abyss with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, you know this one won’t be for the faint at heart. Sabu eats the wire first after Abyss throws him off in a pin attempt. Sabu pulls out a pointy weapon and stabs Abyss’ arm repeatedly, and both of them are flowing blood by the seven-minute mark. Sabu crotches himself on the top rope in a nice spot, but he is able to escape and send Abyss face first into the wire — ugly. Abyss tries to end it with a chokeslam on a chair, but Sabu escapes. Sabu uses a chair wrapped in wire effectively, hitting Abyss in his little head first, and his real head twice. As the big man recovers on the floor, Sabu sails over the top rope to flatten the monster. His momentum is stopped by a front suplex by Abyss onto the ropes. One of the big boards is brought in, and Sabu is dropped onto it stomach-first. Abyss tries to avalanche Sabu onto another board which is propped up in the corner, but Sabu avoids it, and the monster finds himself stuck to the board. Sabu knocks him down on to the other one, and Abyss is sandwiched between the barbed wire boards. Sabu jumps onto the top one, compressing Abyss between the cutting metal even worse, and Sabu sits atop the boards to get the pin. After the match, both men receive respectful acknowledgement from the Orlando crowd. Deliciously brutal match to kick off the show.
Match Rating: 8/10
A video is shown from earlier today, where Jarrett and AMW arrive at the building — conspicuous by her absence is Gail Kim.
Shane Douglas interviews the 4 Live Kru. It looks like Konnan and Kip James have put aside any of their differences, a point which Don West mentions (so look for a heel turn).
Backstage, James Mitchell beams proudly at Abyss who overcame his fear of barbed wire tonight.
Match Two: Alex Shelley & Roderick Strong vs. Austin Aries & Matt Bentley (w/ Traci)
Wow, some quick high-flying action by Aries to start the match. He and Bentley may have gone back to the Rockers playbook of Matt’s uncle, Shawn Michaels, since they exhibit some good tag team chemistry. Shelley is able to slow things down after a little bit, and he and Strong start to take control. Some more high-flying action (missed the details, because the pizza guy showed up — sorry). I came back downstairs to see Bentley pin Shelley.
Match Rating: 7/10 (from what I saw of it)
Monty Brown cuts a promo against Christian Cage, telling the former WWE star that he won’t be able to leapfrog over Brown to get a title shot against Jeff Jarrett. As he concludes, Jarrett appears behind him and expresses his concern over what the company’s big announcement will be which will reportedly “change the face of TNA in 2006.”
Raven comes to the ring where Larry Zybysko tells him to sign his resignation or else his abuse will continue. Raven mocks Zybysko before flatly refusing to take the offer. His opponent, Chris K (formerly Kanyon), is introduced.
Match Three: Chris K vs. Raven
Chris K looks good, but a lot smaller than when most people probably saw him last — understandable, since he hasn’t been doing this full time for quite a while. Interestingly, though he doesn’t go by Kanyon anymore, it looks like WWE hasn’t blocked him from using his “Who Betta?” catchphrase, which is written on his tights. The match quickly goes outside, where Raven takes control by smashing Chris against the steel barriers. Back in the ring, Chris K gets the advantage, but loses it when he misses a big top-rope moonsault. The tide turns a few times, before Raven powerbombs K hard on a chair, and follow that up with a Raven Effect DDT for the win.
Match Rating: 6/10
After the match, Zybysko demands that Raven sign the resignation and leave the company. He slaps Zybysko, and a brawl ensues, until security and Raven’s lackey Cassidy Riley breaks them apart. Hopefully this won’t lead to a match between the two.
Backstage, Shane Douglas interviews Team Canada, who appears to be showing some dissension in the ranks, with Bobby Roode missing (maybe he took a cue from Stevie Y or Mario), and Showtime expressing his frustration with the repeated smacks he’s been getting from Petey and Scott. Jarrett comes into the locker room and asks if Team Canada knows what’s going on with the big announcement. Apparently, they didn’t think to look behind the champ, since Bobby Roode was right behind him.
Match Four: Team Canada vs. the 4 Live Kru
I almost turned off this match, if only to not have to see Kip James’s girlish pig-tails hairdo. He beats down Petey and tags in Konnan who hits a vintage Greco-Roman flying shoe. Eric Young doesn’t fare any better than Petey did, and he takes all of BG James’ customary arsenal. Canadian chicanery changes things around, and soon BG is on the wrong side of a beatdown. He makes the hot tag to Kip who cleans house. As the bodies in the ring thin out, Konnan grabs a chair and starts directing traffic. It looks like he’s going to get his team the advantage, but instead, he waffles Kip James with the chair! He watches and trash talks James and doesn’t challenge Roode who covers James for the pin. After the match, BG confronts Konnan, only to eat the chair as well. Konnan tries to explain to Killings that they have no beef, but the Truth just looks confused by what just happened.
Match Rating: 6/10
Shane Douglas interviews the Diamonds in the Rough, where they talk about all of the mainstream coverage TNA got by involving baseball’s AJ Pierzynski.
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan is introduced as the guest commentator for the next match.
Match Five: Diamonds in the Rough vs. Sonjay Dutt, Chris Sabin & Dale Torborg (w/ AJ Pierzynski)
As Heenan puts over Tenay and West and discusses Chicago’s sports history, Sabin and Skipper go at it in the ring. Scary moment where it looks like Skipper got dropped on his hand, but he seems to be okay. Sabin and Dutt use aerial tactics to stupefy Young, before tagging in the former WCW Demon, Dale Torborg. Torborg impresses with his strength, as he press-slams Dutt over the top rope onto the DiTR who are on the floor outside. AJ Pierzynski wields a bat which keeps the Diamonds from leaving. Diamond (hey, that’s another baseball term!) gets in the ring and takes over. Another ugly spot where Dutt gets dropped on his head, though fortunately, he walks away unhurt as well. Torborg gets the hot tag and is a one man gang, even nailing Diamond with a chokeslam. Sabin and Sonjay use some great double-teaming to hammer the Diamonds. Diamond hits a low blow which has AJ outraged. He confronts the ref who takes offense, and Bobby Heenan tries to smooth things over. AJ takes advantage of the distracted ref, and goes into the ring to smash a home plate over Simon Diamond’s head. Dutt and Sabin hit a series of moves to put the period on this one. After the match, the baseball players are presented with TNA championship rings to match their World Series rings.
Match Rating: 6/10
Shane Douglas interviews Christian Cage who cuts a Rock-like promo. Seriously, I was expecting to hear a “roody-poo candy ass” reference or be asked if I knew what he was cooking.
Match Six: Christian Cage vs. Monty Brown
Between Monty’s strength and Christian’s smarts, this one is fairly even at the beginning, with neither man getting an advantage. That ends when Christian hits the first big move of the match, a flying body press from the middle turnbuckle to the floor. Monty reciprocates shortly thereafter by pressing Christian and heaving him over the top, sending him crashing to the floor. This keeps Christian down for some time, and Brown keeps up his powerful assault. Any attempts by Christian get stymied by Brown, until Christian finally gets his second wind and musters the strength to hit a spinning DDT out of nowhere. Brown goes for a superplex, but Christian throws him off, and lands a frogsplash, eliciting an “Eddy” chant from the crowd. Brown powers out of the pin attempt, throwing Christian onto the ref. Christian slams Brown’s head into a bare turnbuckle (it had been pulled off in the opening moments of the match), stunning the big man. An Unprettier later, and Christian’s debut PPV match in TNA is a successful one.
Match Rating: 7/10
Shane Douglas interviews Team 3-D before their Tables match against America’s Most Wanted. Bubba’s intensity is great during the promo, wherein he even slips in the forbidden “D-word” (you guys are gonna get suuuued).
Match Seven: Team 3-D vs. America’s Most Wanted — non-title Tables Match
Team 3-D attack AMW while the champs are making their way to the ring. It’s a pretty chaotic affair, with some of the early action split between the ring and the floor. Team 3-D hammer down AMW and it isn’t too long before they call for the tables to the delight of the crowd. A few close calls, but some clever saves prevent any of the participants from getting put through the wood for quite a while. Lots of big impact moves nonetheless, and at times this is a car wreck with bodies thrown about everywhere. AMW try for a 3-D, but it’s Team 3-D who land their opponents’ finisher, putting James Storm through a table while delivering him a Death Sentence. Harris tries to escape, but is caught on the entrance ramp. A 3-D through the table on the entrance ramp puts him away, and Team 3-D get the duke. Afterwards, it’s announced that James Storm apparently suffered a neck injury — he has to be taken out of the ring and carried to the back. Hopefully, he’s okay.
Match Rating: 7/10
A video package hypes the upcoming X-Division championship match pitting AJ Styles against the challenger Samoa Joe.
Match Eight: Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles — X-Division Championship
Match Rating: 9/10
Backstage, Shane Douglas interviews Rhino who vows to win back the title with a GORE.
Match Nine: Rhino vs. Jeff Jarrett — NWA Heavyweight Championship
Match Rating: 6/10
Overall Show Rating: 7/10
Bob Kapur is going to have to avoid reading the newspaper this week, until he’s had the chance to watch the finale of Survivor, which he taped so he could watch the PPV.