TOLEDO, Ohio — Saturday was a big night for TNA.
It was the promotion’s debut effort in Toledo, and it also marked a first for one of the organization’s hottest acts as the Motor City Machine Guns had their first main event match. They did not disappoint an hour away from their hometown, retaining their TNA World Tag Team Championship against heated rivals Beer Money.
Although the crowd did not come close to filling the small SeaGate Convention Centre, those who did attend the show were enthusiastic throughout the entire event and added to the overall atmosphere of the event.
And even though two of TNA’s biggest stars, Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe, were absent and there was no world title match due to the championship being vacant, the Machine Guns and Beer Money certainly had a match worthy of being in the main event. The match got even more added importance when Kurt Angle was named the special ringside enforcer for the contest, as he was unable to compete due to the rib injury he suffered last weekend at No Surrender.
Both teams entered to big ovations, as clearly these fans didn’t have short memories and remembered the epic best-of-five series these two teams had a little more than a month ago.
The crowd showed support for both teams in the early going with a dueling chant, although there were more Machine Guns supporters than those for Beer Money.
After a opening period where both teams hit their trademark spots, Beer Money isolated Alex Shelley for an extended period of time to start the match. James Storm earned himself some heat by spitting in the direction of Angle. Angle came to the apron which distracted the referee. Storm used this opportunity to choke Shelley with his wrist tape.
Shelley, though, was able to get rolling and used a flying double stomp to get the hot tag to Chris Sabin as Storm brought in Robert Roode.
Sabin hit Roode with a hurricanrana and a springboard forearm. Shelley got back into the mix and went for a slingshot crossbody on Storm but hit the mat with a very loud thud that could be heard throughout the facility.
This turned the tide back in Beer Money’s favor as they hit the catapult/DDT combo for two. Then the Guns got moving. Sabin hit a suicide dive and the Guns went to hit Skull & Bones, but Beer Money’s Fortune stablemates AJ Styles and Kazarian ran in. Kazarian thwarted Skull & Bones behind the referee’s back, but soon after, Angle dispatched of both Styles and Kazarian by chasing them to the back.
Back in the ring, Storm went for the beer spit, but Shelley ducked and it hit Roode. This incapacitated Roode for a moment. The Guns hit a double kick in the corner on Storm, which sat him down in the corner. Then the Guns sent Roode flying into his partner’s crotch.
This allowed the Guns to set up Roode for Skull & Bones, which went off without a hitch this time, allowing the Machine Guns to retain their titles.
Following the match, Angle grabbed a microphone and told the Machine Guns and the crowd that even though this was their first main event, the way they wrestled, he knows it won’t be their last.
Jeremy Borash opened the show by welcoming Angle to the ring. Angle brought out members of the United States Army to swear in eight men and one woman into the Army. Angle also held a moment of silence in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Following that, Borash went on with the standard TNA house show script, offering backstage passes to the loudest fans in the crowd. This was briefly thwarted when a crew member came down and informed Borash that Styles has decreed that no fans will be allowed backstage tonight. Borash was going to ignore the former world champion’s orders but that brought Styles, the current TNA Television Champion, to the ring. He roughed up Borash and reiterated that no fans would be allowed in the back tonight.
This brought “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero out from the merchandise area. He verbally ran down Styles, who in turn called him the “black Dusty Rhodes.” Pope challenged Styles to a match where, if he won, the fans would be allowed to receive backstage passes tonight. Styles accepted and it was on.
The two had a basic, fun match that involved the fans and was one of the top-two matches of the night along with the main event. Pope attempted to roll Styles up multiple times in the open minute to no avail. Going off of what Styles said before the match, Pope drove it home by hitting trademark Rhodes bionic elbows.
The end came when Pope pushed Styles out of the Figure Four Leg Lock and caught him with a roll-up as he can out of the corner.
This was an extremely effective opener that engrossed the fans and got them going for the rest of the night.
In the evening’s second match, Angelina Love defended her TNA Knockouts championship by defeating former stablemate Madison Rayne.
The end came when Rayne got sent into the waiting arms of referee Earl Hebner (sporting his trademark “Damn Right I Did” T-shirt). Hebner looked to the crowd for approval then placed a big kiss on Rayne’s lips to the joy of the crowd.
Rayne freaked out and rolled out of the ring as Hebner marked out and did a dance that can only be seen to be believed. Love grabbed Hebner which allowed Velvet Sky to roll Rayne back into the ring where she walked right into the Botox Injection for the fall.
Nobody works harder at promoting TNA live events than company founder Jeff Jarrett. On this night, the former WCW and NWA world champion took on Mr. Anderson, who has reached the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Tournament final to be held at Bound For Glory.
It was the night’s first contest with a “big-match feel” as the house lights went down as both competitors made their entrance. Much like the main event, the fans were into both wrestlers, although Anderson, like the Motor City Machine Guns, did have more of a following.
The match held a slow pace to start with lots of holds. The early highlight was Anderson parodying Jarrett’s trademark strut. Both men locked in the Figure Four Leg Lock but each was able to reach the ropes for the clean break.
Eventually, after having a babyface vs. babyface match, Jarrett was the one to show the subtle heel tendencies as he beat down Anderson and repeatedly pushed the referee away when he tried to intervene. Then Jarrett showed Anderson how it was done, hitting the strut the right way.
The end saw Anderson go for The Plunge, but Jarrett countered into a sunset flip for two. The two stood and Jarrett went for The Stroke, but Anderson countered into a match ending edition of the Mic Check.
Following the match, Anderson thanked Jarrett for all he’s done. In return, Jarrett raised Anderson’s hand. Then Anderson brought a child into the ring to help him with his signature mic work. The child, though, was timid, so Anderson put the mic near the child and did it himself, only in the best child-like voice he could muster.
In other action, Kazarian defeated Suicide with a sunset driver and Matt Morgan knocked off Rhino with the Carbon Footprint.
Don West was at it before the show and during intermission, hawking merchandise as only he can. He also threw out DVDs to the crowd and was sure to alert the crowd that both Earl and Brian Hebner would be signing Earl’s shirt (which was available for only $10) and that The Beautiful People would be signing autographs at the merchandise area. We can only speculate on which group drew the fans, but the line to the merchandise area was quite long. Those fans with backstage passes, which seemed to be about one-fifth of the crowd, got to go to the back at this time.
Following the show, fans lined up to take pictures with both the Motor City Machine Guns and Angle for the standard TNA fee of $20. Jarrett also signed autographs at the merchandise table as did other wrestlers around the ringside area.
During the show, Borash said TNA would return to Toledo. Before that happens, though, the crew will make the short drive north into Windsor for a Sunday show.