By BOB KAPUR & MATTHEW ASHER – SLAM! Wrestling
It’s been almost a year since AJ Styles received a shot at the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. But he made up for it at the company’s annual pay-per-view extravaganza, Bound for Glory. While his title win wasn’t the only one at the PPV, it certainly was one of the highlights of the company’s biggest show of the year.
Even when Jeremy Borash was introducing the participants in the main event title match, the emotions in this one were evident. The expressions on the faces of Styles and his opponent, champion Bully Ray, were perfect – with Ray glaring while he tried to intimidate the smaller Styles, whose eyes showed a bit of fear of his opponent. That fear seemed to be earned, after Ray started the match by hitting Styles with a pair of huge bodyslams. Even when AJ tried to use his quickness, Ray got the better of him, turning AJ inside-out with a big short-arm clothesline. Ultimately, though, Ray’s trash-talking backfired when he said something about AJ’s kids, firing up the challenger. AJ tried for an early submission attempt, but Aces & Eights member Garrett Bischoff came in, taking advantage of the no-DQ stipulation of the match) and interfered on his President’s behalf. That distraction gave Bully the edge again, and he rocked Styles with some vicious chops to the chest. AJ refused to back down, though, and kept on fighting to the dismay of Bully. When AJ finally got Bully down again, another Aces & Eights member, Knux, came into the ring and dropped AJ with a huge chokeslam. Bully and Knux tried to finish off AJ, but Ray accidentally hit Knux, and then got clocked himself by Styles. AJ looked to finish things off with a double-somersault dive from the top turnbuckle to put Ray through the announce table, but Ray moved, and AJ crashed violently through the table himself – that looked amazing. As AJ recovered, Bully cut the ring covering away, exposing the hard wood boards underneath. TNA President Dixie Carter, who’s had her own feud with Styles as of late, then came to the ring to help Bully. She gave the champ a chair, but by the time she did, AJ had recovered from his crash landing, and he blasted Bully and tried for a pin after a springboard 450 splash. Referee Earl Hebner tried to make the count, but Carter kept barking orders at him to stop, resulting in a delay that allowed Bully to barely kick out. After a series of moves, Ray had the advantage and was going to put AJ away, but got nailed with a Pele kick out of nowhere, knocking him silly. Styles then clobbered Bully with the chair, and landed the Spiral Tap for the win.
Here’s the full rundown of the show, which was at the Viejas Arena in San Diego, California. Bob Kapur’s comments will be in normal text, and Matthew’s will be in italics.
Countdown to Bound for Glory Pre-Show on Spike TV
The pre-show included a number of backstage interview segments. First up, Dixie Carter said that AJ would not win the title, and effectively hold her hostage by being the company’s champion but having no contract. To help make sure of that, she was making his match against Bully Ray for the TNA Championship a No Disqualification, No Countout match.
Then, a draw was held to determine the order of the upcoming Tag Team Gauntlet match. Elsewhere, Ethan Carter III (EC3) said that he would make Dixie, his aunt, proud of him when he made his in-ring debut on the PPV. Later, Robbie E and Jesse Godderz of Team Bromans introduced their new bro, Mr. Olympia Phil Heath.
After that, Gil Corsey, the new TNA backstage announcer spoke with Bad Influence who said they would win the Gauntlet match. Meanwhile, the Main Event Mafia were shown strategizing.
Match 1: Bad Influence vs Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez vs Team Bromans vs Eric Young & Joseph Park — Tag Team Gauntlet match to determine #1 contenders for TNA Tag Team Championship
This match started off quickly, with the Mex Express taking early control, throwing Bad Influence around and hitting them from all angles. They had things well at hand until Kazarian cheated, pushing Chavo off the top rope and sending him to the mat where Daniels rolled him up for the sneaky pin. Eric Young and Joseph Park came in next, and started off hot, but a cheap knee clip brought Park down. He got beaten down for a while before making a desperate tag to Young. EY came in on fire, and he and Park made short work of their foes. After a big fall-away slam, Park was able to get the pinfall for his team. Bad Influence didn’t take too well to this turn of events, and Pearl Harboured EY and Park, leaving them laying, and presumably easy pickings for Bromans. A bleeding Park had to be helped to the back, leaving Young prone for a beating. Which Bromans delivered, while Mr. Olympia watched and loved it on the outside. Young fired up, though, and nearly got the pin on Robbie at one point. The numbers game proved too much for him, though, and he was eventually put down for the count after a Hart Attack.
Winners, and new #1 contenders to the Tag Team Championship: Team Bromans
Matthew: Overall the pre-show opening match was okay. Nothing special, but a decent way to start off the night and I like using a match like this to set up a match further in the night. I’m not sure if it was my cable provider, but my viewing of this match started when Bad Influence was already fighting Hernandez and Chavo.
That wasn’t the only technical issue I noticed in the opening match. There was a brief fade to black and then an entire new camera angle informing us that we’re back (kind of odd after literally two seconds) before Chavo and Daniels each got the hot tag. Kind of distracting.
After the match, Young looked backstage for Joseph. He opened a door marked by a bloody handprint, and looked inside, only to back away slowly, scared at what he (but not we) saw inside. Perhaps he found himself staring into an abyss?
TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray came to the entrance ramp. He said that tonight was about the rebirth of Aces & Eights, and he said that his gang would, at the end of the night, be standing tall and proud.
As Taz and Tenay threw it to the PPV, the cameras caught Dixie asking Bully to make sure to end AJ’s TNA career.
Bound for Glory PPV results
Manik and Austin Aries on the Ultimate X scaffold.
Match 1: Jeff Hardy vs Austin Aries vs Samoa Joe vs Chris Sabin w/ Velvet Sky vs Manik (c) — Ultimate X match for the TNA X-Division Championship
Lots of fast action early on with some great-looking moves, including a front powerbomb by Hardy on Aries, and then a series of high dives and flying presses from the top turnbuckle to the floor. Joe looked completely motivated here, something that has not always been the case in the past couple of years. Joe nearly climbed the ladder to get the belt, but was stopped by a missile dropkick by Aries. Then, Aries was poised to win, when Manik met him, springboarding himself from the apron to the top rope to the Ultimate X cables – that looked great. Sabin yelled at his girlfriend Velvet Sky, insisting she stop Jeff Hardy from climbing the ladder. She said no, but he physically threw her into the ring. This distracted Hardy, so Sabin climbed the ladder behind his back and brought down the belt for the win.
Winner, and new X-Division Champion: Chris Sabin
Bob: I thought this was a good match while it lasted – though the ending seemed forced and a bit awkward.
Matthew: To me, this was one of those matches that offered nothing new, other than a glaring loophole for future Ultimate X matches. With all the talk about this being Jeff Hardy’s first Ultimate X match, I was expecting him to add a new twist to the high-flying moves he’s done for years. I was hoping for a Whisper in the Wind off one of the steel structures, a Swanton Bomb using the X-Rope as a launching pad or even a Twist of Fate using either of those. Something.
Instead, Hardy introduces a ladder into the match. It seemed to me ike that was the only foreign object that should not be allowed in the match, because of the obvious way the match could quickly end. This should have been the match of the night and thanks to Velvet Sky’s inadvertent distraction, this ended up being a huge disappointment.
Bad Influence came to the ring and demanded to be added to the tag team title match, even though they lost earlier. Eric Young came to the ring, and told them that with their earlier actions, they had created a monster. Despite the warning, Bad Influence didn’t, but started putting the boots to EY. Cue the monster – Abyss returned, and immediately put down both BI members with a pair of Black Hole Slams, sending them scattering.
I liked the Bad Influence promo about how they still deserve to be in tonight’s tag team title match. It was nice to hear Daniels break the fourth wall, saying that Bad Influence IS TNA.
Backstage, Gunner and Storm told Bromans that they were lucky to earn a title shot, but their luck would run out during their title match. And sorry about your damn luck.
Match 2:Bromans w/ Mr. Olympia Phil Heath vs Gunner & James Storm (c) — TNA Tag Team Championship match
A solid match, with Gunner receiving the beat-down in the meaty middle of the match. Out of nowhere, Gunner hit Jesse with an overhead fall-away slam off the middle turnbuckle, and escaped to tag in a fired up Cowboy. It looked like Storm gashed his leg open pretty badly at one point – his leg was bleeding pretty profusely. A nice looking sequence saw Gunner hit a powerbomb, then pick up his opponent and hit another one which Storm turned into a back-cracker. In the end, with Gunner on the floor, Robbie E distracted Storm by throwing a tag belt into the ring, leaving him prey for a clothesline off the top, and then a Hart Attack that put him down for the count.
Winners and new TNA Tag Team Champions: Team Bromans
Bob: A fairly standard match, but the ending was somewhat anti-climactic and really kind of lame.
Matthew: The opening minutes were nothing special, but once James Storm’s leg was cut open, it started to get interesting. The longer this match went on, the more I wished Storm’s leg injury would be used for the finish to the match. Although the BroMans won via pinfall, something about them beating Storm and Gunner because of an injury rather than cheating seems like it would have been a better push for them.
TNA Hall of Famers Kurt Angle and Sting.
Kurt Angle’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony
JB introduced TNA Hall of Famer Sting to induct Kurt. Sting made a nice short speech, and introduced the honouree. Angle simply thanked God, his family and friends, and said that he was touched by the gesture. Sting then told Kurt he was lonely being the sole member of the TNA Hall of Fame, and gave Kurt a gold watch, signifying his entry. Angle then got more emotional, and said that he had let his friends, family, and his peers down by not living up to his full potential and to the standards that Sting had set for the Hall of Fame. He then shockingly and respectfully declined the induction. He said that he would be setting a newer and even higher standard for himself, and said that once he did that, he would join Sting in the Hall of Fame.
Matthew:Not a fan of having this in the middle of the program because it killed the momentum of the show. I was especially shocked that Kurt didn’t accept his induction. It seems to me like this would have been more appropriate if he did this after his match with Bobby Roode rather than before.
Backstage, Dixie told an unknown caller that she wanted all of AJ’s merchandise sold at clearance prices, being that this was going to be his last night. Her nephew EC3 came by, and she said she had found him the perfect opponent for his in-ring debut. They then recited a great family motto, “The world needs us. We’re the Carters.” Hilarious.
Match 3: Brooke vs Gail Kim vs ODB (c) — Knockouts Championship match
This one wasn’t necessarily intended to be a comedy match, but Taz on commentary inadvertently made it so. Really, it was like listening to Jerry Lawler scream for puppies back in the day. Too bad, because the match deserved a lot more. This one saw a series of sequences where two women fought one another for several minutes after another had been sent to the floor. At one point, Gail locked on the Ringpost Figure Four Leglock onto Brooke, which looked good. They teased a double superplex by ODB, but it got broken up. The referee got knocked to the floor after being hit by an accidental Avalanche by ODB and a flying kick by Gail. So he wasn’t there to see ODB go for the cover after taking down both opponents. As she had them down, Lei’D Tapa’s music hit and that female beast came to the ring. She punted ODB on the entrance ramp and took her down. A scared Brooke tried to take it to Tapa with a flying press off the top turnbuckle to the ramp, but got caught and powerbombed into the ring, where Gail capitalized and covered Brooke for the win. After the match, Tapa teased an attack on Gail, but revealed that they were in cahoots, raising Gail’s arm and then lifting the new champ onto her mighty shoulder.
Winner and new Knockouts Champion: Gail Kim
Bob: I liked this match for the most part. The partnership between Kim and d’Tapa is somewhat disappointing, since if they were opponents, they could likely recreate Gail’s incredible series of matches with Awesome Kong from a few years back and bring some more interest to the division.
Matthew: What can you really say about these matches? Based on talent alone, Gail Kim should have faced off against ODB in a one on one rather than a three-way dance with Brooke. Still, I’m glad that Kim ended up with the belt rather than having Brooke win via Aces & Eights interference.
This is one of those times I really wish the rules about how a winner can be decided was announced. Following the finish, Taz said he believes Gail won because Lei’D Tapa never stepped foot in the ring even though she delivered the finishing move, allowing Kim to pick up the win. I thought in triple threat matches there were no disqualifications?
Backstage, Gil interviewed the new Tag Team champs Team Bromans with Phil Heath. They celebrated by spraying protein shakes on him. That’s not a euphemism for something dirty.
JB interviewed Bobby Roode who said that he deserved a Hall of Fame spot over Angle, and that he would make Angle tap out like he did on the past edition of Impact.
Bobby Roode headlocks Kurt Angle.
Match 4: Bobby Roode vs Kurt Angle
Alternating fan chants started within seconds of the opening bell. The opening sequence saw Roode surprisingly out-wrestling Kurt, suggesting that Angle is not fully in his own headspace, reinforcing his earlier comments during his HoF induction ceremony. The stories in this one were whether Roode had gotten into Angle’s head, and whether Angle’s layoff from in-ring action had affected his physical game. After some time, the latter question seemed to have been answered negatively, as Angle broke out some classic moves, including a series of German suplexes that had Roode reeling. But Roode was relentless, locking on the crossface a couple of times to try for the submission. A nice sequence saw Angle roll out of the crossface by grabbing Roode’s foot and turning it into an Ankle Lock, only to see Roode reverse that again into the crossface, with that transitioning into more cradles and reversals and ultimately into the Angle Slam – this earned a well-deserved “this is awesome” chant from the crowd. Angle was trying for another series of Germans, but Roode cheated with a reverse low blow kick to escape it, to nearly get the pin after a wicked combination driver-cutter move. But Angle locked on the Ankle Lock again, grape-vining Roode’s leg for extra pressure. It looked like Roode had nearly passed out from the pain, but when the ref lifted Roode’s arm to check, it fell and grazed the bottom rope, and the ref forced Angle to break the hold. Angle then tried to finish things with an Angle Slam off the top rope. After landing, both men were down for the count. Roode was able to stagger to his feet at the 9-count, but fell down onto Kurt who hadn’t moved since the superplex, and unknowingly got the pin. After the match, trainers and medics came in to take Kurt out on a stretcher as he still hadn’t moved. But when they got him out of the ring, he refused medical attention and walked away under his own power.
Winner: Bobby Roode
Bob: I thought this was a great match with excellent drama throughout. I’ve said for many years that Roode is the future of the business, and this is the type of match that shows why – though I miss the mullet!
Matthew: I agree it was a good methodical match to start out. However, the longer this one dragged on, the more Angle’s ring rust showed. I’m curious if Brian Hebner was supposed to miss the spot where Kurt’s legs were under the ropes and I’m definitely interested if Hebner raising Roode’s arm to check on him was by design as well.
With Angle supposed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and this being his return match, I thought he was going to dominate and come out with a win. Rather, it looks like Roode did a good job dissecting Angle throughout the match.
Backstage AJ Styles was gloving up – again, not a euphemism. Elsewhere, Bully Ray was giving a motivational speech to his brothers – his comments were directed to more than two people and suggested that some members had returned to the fold.
Match 5: Ethan Carter III (EC3) vs Norv Fernum
Fernum, Dixie’s hand-picked opponent for her nephew, was a skinny geeky spaz in a singlet and a white windbreaker. It looked like he weighed about 80 pounds, soaking wet, holding a brick. Like if Screech took AC Slater’s spot on the Bayside High wrestling team. This was a glorified squash match that should have been on TV.
Backstage, JB interviewed Magnus who said that beating his Main Event Mafia team-mate Sting would be the biggest moment of his life.
Sting has control of Magnus.
Match 6: Magnus vs Sting
This one started off slowly with a feeling-out process, with neither one getting a big advantage for long. Then Magnus got aggressive, letting Sting get into the ring, and then charging him with a big clothesline. He was in control for a bit, but then Sting caught on fire, knocking Magnus down and going for the Scorpion Death Lock. Magnus escaped, and then the two collided mid-ring, evening things up. Sting started pounding Magnus, but Magnus powered up and then stole a page out of Sting’s book, powering up and hitting a Stinger Splash. He tried to lock on the Scorpion Lock, but Sting got out of it. Tables were turned, when Sting did his own power-up, an authentic Stinger Splash, and a Scorpion Lock of his own. He tried to follow it up with another Stinger Splash but got caught. Magnus followed that up with a top rope elbow smash but couldn’t pin the legend. He tried for antoher, but Sting moved, kind of, and Magnus landed hard. He was still aware enough to elbow out of a couple of Scorpion Death Drop attempts by Sting. This fired up the veteran and he told Magnus to bring it. And bring it he did, by locking on a King’s Cloverleaf in the middle of the ring, forcing Sting to tap out. After the match, Sting tried to show some respect to Magnus with a gentleman’s handshake, but Magnus kind of blew him off.
Bob: I liked this one. I thought the execution was good, but I think a pin would have been a more definitive way for Magnus to get the nod. The way it ended, to me, it didn’t seem to be as important a win for Magnus as it should have been.
Matthew: During the entrance of Sting the camera, I assume accidentally, cut to a sign that reads “ICON PHENOM WMXXX” Oops? With all the talk in the promo about Magnus looking for his break, it was obvious that he would come away with the win. I did like the fact that after the match Magnus barely acknowledged Sting’s sportsmanship handshake. I’m expecting a Magnus heel turn now.
Backstage, JB interviewed Bully Ray who was accompanied by his girlfriend Brooke. Bully’s promo was tremendous, saying that he didn’t want AJ to die, but rather live and know that he will have disappointed himself and his family by not winning tonight. Best talker in the business today by far.
AJ Styles drives a chair into Bully Ray.
Match 7: AJ Styles vs Bully Ray w/ Brooke (c) — No DQ, No Countout Match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Winner, and new TNA World Heavyweight Champion: AJ Styles
Bob: I thought this was a very good match. As was mentioned, I thought that both of their facial expressions were really compelling. I liked that the Aces & Eights involvement was minimal (compared to what I was thinking would happen), and actually served the story of the match in a positive way. I’m never disappointed with a match that includes a highlight reel spot (in this case, AJ’s attempted table splash). And, more importantly, it was the absolutely right ending to the match. Yes, the AJ-Dixie feud will continue, but I think the dynamic of him holding the belt while not being under contract could be an interesting twist.
Matthew: Personally, I found the beginning of the match boring, but like you, I did like how Bully Ray was constantly yelling at AJ about how afraid he was of Bully. But to me, it wasn’t until AJ crashed on the spinning dive attack outside the ring through the table leading to Bully cutting the ring and taking apart the padding, that I thought it started to get interesting.
I was expecting the former members of Aces & Eights to come out when Bully motioned to the entrance ramp. I wasn’t big on having Dixie Carter coming out to the ring. Try as she might, she cannot channel her inner “Mr. McMahon”, even when handing Bully a chair and making Earl Hebner do the slowest three count I can ever remember.
Overall Show Thoughts
Bob: I liked the show overall. I know the company likes to say that Bound for Glory is the company’s “Superbowl” – I’m not sure that every match was up to that caliber, but other than the introduction of CK3, which should have been saved for TV, I can’t say I was really disappointed with anything. I’m happy to see Abyss back. I’m hoping that Roode gets back into the title hunt. I’m interested to see if there will be a regrouping of Aces & Eights with bolstered numbers to get Bully back on top. And I’ll be turning in to see the direction of the AJ-Dixie dynamic.
Matthew: Any good PPV sets up more storylines down the road so here are some questions I expect to be answered in the following weeks: What happened to Joseph Parks and why did Abyss come out? Will there be a reveal that Joseph is actually Abyss? Who were the people Bully was talking too off camera before his match? Were these the same people he was summoning during his match? Will Magnus or Sting turn heel after this match? What does Angle plan on doing to make himself Hall of Fame worthy in his eyes? What does this match again Roode do for either man? And of course, what will happen to Bully, AJ and Dixie as a result of a new TNA World Champion?