This Week in TNA: Special Edition - No Surrender 2011
By Mike Johns Sep 13, 2011 - 11:51 AM
Normally, I like to start these PPV recaps by giving you a little background on the event and the history of the month's show. Here, there really isn't much to say outside of the fact that No Surrender has pretty much always been the precursor to Bound For Glory, with its most notable match being the Fan's Revenge Lumberjack Match between Samoa Joe and then NWA World Champion Jeff Jarrett, which had actual TNA fans surround the ring as Lumberjacks, armed with leather straps. Yes, TNA actually put what was perhaps the single most-hated man in the company at the time (Jarrett) against its most popular star (Joe) in a match where fans were not only armed, but encouraged to participate in the match itself. Needless to say, TNA's not had another Fans' Revenge Match since.
What I will do to open this month's PPV recap, though, is ask the question I normally ask when wrestling promotions want me to part with my cash in order to view their product, "Why?" Why should I want to watch this show? And, to be perfectly honest, TNA sucks at answering that question beforehand. It's usually not until AFTER I see the show that I'm given any answer to why I should have wanted to pay to see this show, and many times feel incredibly ripped off by the answer. So, once again, because TNA doesn't seem to know that it needs to answer the "Why?" question BEFORE they air their PPVs, it seems, once again, that I'll be forced to find the answer in the show itself, rather than in the build-up to the show, like any other competent wrestling promotion does.
So, TNA, why the hell should I buy this show? Let's find out...
We start the show with a tribute to the victims of 9/11, narrated by the Kick-Ass African Voice Over Guy. We have a moment of silence, followed by a playing of
America The Beautiful. Jesse Neal is here wearing his Naval Uniform, while we continue to get passing shots of Rosita, whose father died in the World Trade Center attacks, holding an American flag.
Our opening video focuses on the BFG Series Finale tonight. The package is all right, once again going for the Movie Trailer format. It may have fared better with narration, but the lack of it doesn't take away from the package itself.
The opening match features Jesse Sorenson taking on Kid Kash with the winner becoming the #1 Contender to the X-Division Title. You know, a match I'd have actually looked forward to had TNA only announced the match beforehand...
The match itself is solid, like their previous encounters. The crowd is also far more into Sorenson now than they have been, thanks in great part of Kash's work with him in their last few encounters. Jesse Sorenson picks up the win with a lifting inverted DDT... I think. The move looked like it panned out differently than it was planned. Either that, or Sorenson nearly lost control of Kash after the lift. Fortunately, the landing wasn't too bad, and it ended up looking pretty devastating, so it all worked out. Another solid performance by Kash, putting over Sorenson, as Jesse now looks to take on the X-Division Champion in the near future.
JB is in the back with Kurt Angle and Hulk Hogan, getting Kurt's reaction to finding out at the last minute that he'd be defending his World Title in a 3-Way tonight against Sting and Anderson. Kurt reacts by bitching at Hulk Hogan about how he was supposed to protect Angle from this kind of BS. Hogan tries to put a positive spin on it, saying that this is "food" for Angle. It's not met with a great reaction from the champ.
Our next match is Bully Ray vs. James Storm as part of the BFG Series Finale. They really put over the fact that Storm needs to win by Submission here to have ANY chance of advancing to Bound For Glory. You also realize that, once you do the math, it's impossible for Roode and Storm to tie in any way, which pretty much kills my Best Case Scenario that Beer Money would tie and face Angle together. If Ray wins, however, Roode and Gunner could only, at best, tie with Ray if he gets a win by DQ here. So, of course, now I've laid out the numbers, the result ought to be obvious - Storm gets DQed. The BS part is how. Basically, Storm goes to spit some beer into Ray's face near the end of the match, but Ray ducks and the referee takes the beer to the face. Storm manages to lock an cross armbreaker on Ray and he taps as the bell rings, but, unfortunately, the bell was to signify Storm's DQ for spitting beer in the ref's face. A terrible end to what was otherwise a really good match.
After the match, SoCal Val gets some words with Bully Ray, who reminds the fans, who have been chanting "Pussy Ray" throughout his match, what his name really is, then gloats about how he's going to be the next World Champ. Ray now has 52 Points, which means that Gunnar or Roode have to win by Submission later tonight in order to tie Ray and remain in the Series.
Our next match is for the Knockouts Title, as new champ Mickie James takes on former champ Winter. Long Story Short: Winter wins the title back after she accidentally spits the red mist in Angelina Love's eyes. For some reason, Earl Hebner cares more about Angie than the match he's supposed to officiate, allowing Winter to spit more mist in Mickie's face, again, to win the KO Title, again. What was the point of the changing the title two weeks ago on Impact? Seriously, what was the point?
On the plus, maybe Winter will actually get to hold that belt for a while, or, at least, successfully defend it against someone before she loses it again...
JB is in the back with Gunner, setting the stage for their match, letting us know that he or Roode have to win by Submission in order to stay alive in the BFG Series. Gunner lets us know he'll do what it takes to go to Bound For Glory. Bully Ray overhears this, gets pissy, tells Gunner that he better not let Roode beat him, but also that Gunner wants no piece of Bully Ray in the Finals... provided they actually do tie.
Seriously, TNA, you could do a little better job NOT giving away your finishes beforehand...
Devon and The Pope take on Mexican America for the Mexicans' World Tag Team Titles. Basically, the 'Itas try to interfere, only to get spanked by Pope and Devon for their trouble. As Pope tries to suplex Anarquia back into the ring, Sarita takes out Pope's foot, allowing Anarquia to fall on Pope for the pin. Meanwhile, Rosita holds Devon's foot to stop him from breaking up the pin. Mexican America retains, and apparently, TNA isn't ready to pull the trigger on whatever they plan on doing with Pope and Devon, as they lose this match thanks to interference by the 'Itas, and not because of internal miscommunication.
JB is in the back with Mr. Anderson. Anderson reminds us that he and Sting aren't friends, and the only thing they have in common is a hatred for Immortal. Blah, blah, blah, "every man for himself," blah, blah, blah, "asshole," blah, blah, blah. A lame promo from a guy most people overestimate on the mic.
Samoa Joe gets to have his ass handed to him by Matt Morgan this month. You really thought this whole "injuring people" angle was going to get Joe on the right path back to the top? Going to make him all bad-ass and sh*t? Ha! TNA showed you! Morgan kicks Joe in the face and kills whatever non-push push Joe was getting even though he hasn't won a match since LockDown. Seriously.
JB is in the back with Beer Money as he sets the stage for Bobby Roode, who has to win tonight by Submission to stay alive in the BFG Series. Storm plays the supportive partner, here, and we basically broadcast the fact that Roode will, in fact, win by Submission and tie Ray tonight.
Speaking of which, here's Bobby Roode, making Gunner tap to a Fujiwara Armbar in a match that was a hell of a lot better than people would have expected, considering Gunner was in it. I think Gunner's gotten better in ring in the last coupkle months, plus the addition of the running knee as a finish has certainly helped. Thankfully, though, the superior wrestler prevailed, here, as Roode is now tied with Bully Ray at 52 points apiece. Eric Bischoff then comes out and lets us know that tonight, Roode and Ray will face off, and the winner will go on to face the TNA Champ at Bound For Glory, meaning that we will be spared yet another 3-Way Title match at BFG.
JB is in the back with Austin Aries, who takes this time to let us know that the time for talk is over. He then sets the stage for his X-Title match tonight against Brian Kendrick, which just happens to be next. Coincidence?
In what will likely be remembered as the Match of the Night, Austin Aries wins his first TNA Championship, taking the X-Title from Brian Kendrick. The finish sees Kendrick try to go for Sliced Bread #2, but the ref is in the way. Aries takes this opportunity to drop Kendrick on his head, then nail the Brainbuster to pick up the win and the X-Title.
We go to the back again with JB and Bully Ray. Basically, Ray talks about how he wasn't expecting to have to wrestle twice, but regardless he's going to win and go on to the Main Event of BFG. Suck it up, internet fans - the New JBL is about to claim his throne.
Seriously, as insider as TNA books, I'm surprised Ray hasn't claimed himself the New JBL on camera, yet...
After a Main Event-style match, Bobby Roode takes out Bully Ray with a Spinebuster to win the BFG Series and the Main Event Spot at Bound For Glory. If you have any doubt that Ray or Roode could seriously carry a Main Event role in this company, this match removes it. While Roode may not necessarily be over as a singles star, and Ray tends to go for the cheapest possible heat at all times, they're both effective in their roles and strong wrestlers to boot. You wouldn't have expected this from either man this time last year, that's for sure.
Okay, you remember how, at the beginning of the show, we saw Rosita holding an American Flag during the 9/11 Tribute, and I mentioned how her dad died in the World Trade Center attack? You were probably wondering why I didn't blast TNA for this, considering how Rosita is portrayed as an Anti-American Mexican Heel in TNA, right? Well, it was mostly because, until now, TNA had not explicitly mentioned Rostia's dad on TV. The only people who'd know this would be smarks like me, so, I was willing to give TNA the pass, here, and move on. Unfortunately, TNA wasn't smart enough to leave this alone, because guess who JB is talking to as I type this? Rosita, and what are they talking about? Her dad. She thanks the fans for their messages of support over this tough weekend for her.
Now, here's the problem with this - exactly where is the line between the character of Rosita, who I'm supposed to boo because she hates "White America" and wants to Mexicanize it or whatever, and the real-life Thea Trinidad, who was personally affected by the tragedy of 9/11? Because, see, when you blur these lines, it's hard for us, the fans, to do this whole "suspension of disbelief" thing. It's one thing if you want to post a video on your YouTube or add it as a "Behind the Scenes" extra on a DVD, or as a feature on your website, because at least then, you can separate it from your product. But when you feature this on your TV show or PPV, it really screws with everything. James Guttman made a good analogy of this in his
World Wrestling Insanity book when talking about the WWE Diva Search. He basically said that the Diva Search was like if
Desperate Housewives stopped in the middle of the show to have a Reality TV contest to vote for the new Desperate Housewife. The same principal applies here - TNA has stopped in the middle of its show to basically remind you that, one, wrestling is fake and the people on this show are portraying characters, something we NEVER need reminded of ever again on a wrestling show, so please, for the love of God, STOP DOING THIS, TNA!!! Second, they've stopped the show in order to tell you that the real-life Thea Trinidad, who plays a character who you're supposed to not like, is someone who was directly affected by the largest terrorist attack ever to take place on American Soil. You have this person thank the fans for their support and love, meanwhile, just about a half hour ago, she was helping her fellow America-hating Mexicans defeat the Pope and Devon by interfering in their match. Does it never occur to anyone in TNA that you just can't ask your fans to accept one thing about a character one second, then ignore it the next because someone decided to "shoot" for a moment and thank the fans for being supportive in her real life? It's one thing if you did this removed from your product, like a video on your YouTube page, a feature on your website, or as a DVD extra, because, at least then, you could set it outside of the context of your show. In the context of your show, though, it's the equivalent of Hugh Laurie breaking character and the fourth wall in the middle of a key scene on
House, revert to his British Accent, and tell us, "Don't worry. We'll find a cure in the Third Act. We always do!" You just can't do that and expect us to take anything you present on your shows seriously in any context whatsoever. You're either trying to tell me a story, or this is supposed to be real. You can’t have it both ways, TNA!
Main Event Time as Kurt Angle defends his World Title against Sting and Mr. Anderson in a 3-Way Match. Because this is a Main Event in TNA, everyone kicks out of everyone else's finish a half-dozen times, plus we have outside interference thanks to Hulk Hogan, who sprays something in Sting's eyes. A referee nearly takes a bump when a blinded Sting accidentally tries to give him a Scorpion Death Drop, but Angle low blows Sting, allowing the ref to go relatively unscathed... this time. Angle follows up with an Angle Slam and pins Sting to retain his title. Hogan and Angle celebrate their win together in the ring as the show comes to a close.
Final Thoughts: Wrestling-wise, the show was pretty decent. You had, for the most part, good matches, even when you shouldn't have expected them. The only real let-down I'd say may have been the Tag Title match, and, of course, the Main Event, which has become so cliched and formulaic that I have to imagine the only reason the ref wasn't bumped in the match was because someone realized that they do it in nearly every Main Event and needed to make this one seem different. Seriously, look at every Main Event TNA has put on this year and point out the common themes - multiple finishes that everyone kicks out of, outside interference, and a ref bump. Add in the fact that just about every other PPV this year has been headlined by a 3-Way Title Match, and you pretty much have the TNA Main Event Cliche Sundae going.
Angle-wise, a lot of the show was predictable, once you got to the interviews. TNA has a bad habit of not telling you much of anything going into the PPV, then having their talent practically give away their finishes in the pre-match interviews. You'd think TNA would want to tell you more beforehand, to get you to buy the show, then just stick to the action once you're watching the pay show, but at this rate, when it comes to TNA, you have to come to expect a lot of talking, even on the shows where the wrestling actually is the focus, and just be grateful for whatever wrestling they actually do give you when they finally get to it.
This wasn't a terrible show, but, to be perfectly honest, very little on here was actually worth money. Kash and Sorenson had some decent TV matches, and, had their encounter been advertised, I'd have been more inclined to care about the show, but even then, still not enough to want to pay for it. That's the key. A show can be competent or even good all it wants, but when it comes to PPV, it has to be something people are willing to pay for, and nothing on here was worth paying for. The KO title change was pointless, because you just had one on TV, and will likely have another one here in a week or so, the rate they're going. Roode isn't over as a singles star enough to really make his shot at Kurt Angle a big deal, other than maybe the smarky idea that TNA is building a new Main Eventer.
Look, I really do try to give this show a fair shake. I really do. Building Roode as a top guy is, in theory, a decent idea. It could potentially kill your lynchpin tag team, as well as one of your biggest attractions in Beer Money, if you're not careful, or try to make Roode a singles guy permanently, but it's not necessarily a bad idea for a Tag Team guy to get a title shot every now and then. But is any of this selling the show? Is everyone really excited to see Roode get a shot at Angle, or even see a new guy rise to the Main Event? Or, are they all afraid you're now trying to kill Beer Money? That's your problem.
Creating new stars isn't always easy. Sometimes, you really do have to break some eggs to make an omelet, so to speak. An example would be the American Wolves, who were split up and made into singles stars over a year period to make up for the fact that Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuinness, and Tyler Black were all signed to major companies during that span. You needed top guys to fill those spots, therefore ROH split Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards in order to make them both top singles guys. The difference was that the fanbase was eager and waiting for Davey Richards to break out of the tag team ranks and become a top guy, so much so, they were even eventually willing to accept the fact that Eddie Edwards won the ROH Title before Davey, believing their eventual encounter would be worth it. There aren't too many people wanting Bobby Roode to be World Champ, or even all that interested in seeing Roode and James Storm as singles stars. That's what we're dealing with, here.
On the plus, they seem serious about Jesse Sorenson. Here's hoping he fares as well against Austin Aries as he has against Kid Kash, because, no offense to Sorenson intended, but Kash was really carrying those matches. So long as you keep booking him with solid talent, Sorenson will be all right. He could very well become a solid talent one day, but even he has to know he isn't there yet. A few good losing efforts to Austin Aries, though, could really help cement him as a future player in TNA, so long as they don't rush him into a title run anytime soon. Sorenson is nowhere near ready to be a champion for this company.
Overall, this wasn't a bad show, but if you're looking for me to tell you whether or not to pay for the show, save your money. It was okay for, like, TV or something, but if you actually have to pay to see this, don't bother. You're not missing anything that you can't just see for free on TV.
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