[A couple of weeks ago, TNA landed on British shores. They popped out a few matches in local arenas, did the odd meet & greet and proved that Vince McMahon isn't the only boss who can assemble a touring cast of wrestlers and send them on a Transtlantic jaunt. They did a show in Cardiff. I didn't go. Although, probably not for the reasons you're imagining. True, I've ripped TNA apart on several occasions. But that's only because I care. Call it tough love. I didn't want to go to a TNA show by myself, so I skipped it. And yes, I regret that decision now. Thankfully, wrestling fan and all-round lovely lady Toni went to one of the tour shows and has written a little report on the whole TNA experience. She actually likes TNA, so I'm sure she's been much kinder than I would have been anyway. Then again, maybe I would have been converted. We'll never know now, will we? Over to Toni. Enjoy!]
Being a TNA fan isn’t always easy. Sometimes it can be hard to fight through the bad to find the things you love about it, but still we persevere. That is how I came to find myself standing in a queue in the freezing cold in Coventry (which has surely got to be worse than waiting in the freezing cold anywhere else) waiting to be let in to what TNA call ‘Fan Interaction’. Basically, it’s a meet and greet with a handful of the wrestlers that you will be watching later that night. On the whole there is not an awful lot of interacting taking place, as the whole thing is quite rushed. The term ‘greet’ could also be used quite loosely in relation to some of the talent (Taylor Wilde, I’m looking at you), to whom saying hello appears to be too much of an effort. While the idea of fan interaction on the whole is a good one, the execution of the event could have been a little better. It was held in a bar room with really poor lighting, meaning that even with a flash most of the pictures we took came out really dark, which was a little disappointing. However, where Kurt Angle was sat made him look like he had a spotlight shining directly on him, which meant he looked awesome in everyone’s photos.
In our meet and greet was Taylor Wilde and Sarita, Amazing Red, Earl Hebner, Chris Sabin, The Pope,The British Invasion and Kurt Angle. Sabin, The British Invasion and Kurt Angle were all really friendly, posed for photos and chatted while signing your t-shirt, program or random bits of paper. I was really, really pleased that Chris was doing the signing and virtually sprinted the first half of the line (well, as fast as you can sprint when there is a very slow-moving queue directly in front of you). Then something happened that struck fear in to my heart. He spoke to me. Now, anybody that knows me can tell you that I have a serious case of ‘foot in mouth disease’. If there is ever any opportunity to say something stupid, embarrassing, inappropriate or any combination of all three, then I will take it. I did manage to somehow tell him that my feet were cold but personally I was just pleased to have escaped the whole thing without blurting out the words ‘I love you’ the second I laid eyes on him.
By the time I got to Kurt Angle I found that I had become speechless and completely lost the ability to say anything at all. I could only smile at him innanely. He didn’t seem to be at all phased by the slightly idiotic looking woman stood before him and it passed without incident. I chalked this up as a success. Then it was time to get kicked out in the freezing cold again to join another queue. Yay!
Thankfully, this queue didn’t take anywhere near as long and we were soon in the arena, ready to find our seats. But it quickly became apparent that locating your seat owed more to the process of elimination than anything else, as the event staff knew nothing, and by nothing I mean they didn’t even know which block was which. You know, the little things. The signage was about as informative as the stewards, so if we actually ended up in the right seats was anybody’s guess.
As part of what TNA calls the ‘Platinum Experience Ticket’ which my brother generously bought me, the seat I found myself with was in the second row. I would indeed be all nice and close to the sweaty wrestlers. The joy!
With about half an hour to go until bell time, Dixie Carter was on the arena floor signing autographs and having photos taken with fans and the World Heavyweight Championship belt. She looked genuinely interested in meeting the fans and had time for everyone. I did have my photo taken with Dixie and my brother, but I have vowed that it shall never see the light of day. It is possibly the worst photo I have seen of myself. Ever.
Now for the bit we have all been waiting for…. showtime! I should point out that although I truly enjoy wrestling, I’m not one of those people who is going to remember every single move that everyone performs. Far from it. I am more of a people watcher, so if you are expecting an account of each wrestlers technical prowess I’m not the girl for you and you should stop reading now before I make you angry. That being said…
First up is Chris Sabin (be still my beating heart) Vs Suicide.
The crowd is pretty dead for this, to be honest. The occasional chant breaks the silence but it’s pretty quiet for the majority. You get all the tricks and stunts you would expect, with Sabin backflipping across the ring and both parties taking various leaps from the ropes. After a couple of near falls each, Suicide hits the Suicide Solution and pins Sabin for the win.
Then it’s the Knockouts Tag Team match, The Beautiful People Vs. Taylor Wilde and Sarita. This match was initially billed as Awesome Kong and Hamada Vs Taylor Wilde and Sarita but Kong didn’t make the trip to the UK after her earlier ‘altercation’ with the vile and loathsome Bubba The Love Sponge. After initially being gutted that Kong wasn’t coming, I perked up a bit when I realised that The Beautiful People were coming to take her place, and subsequently became overjoyed when I realised that Lacey Von Erich wasn’t coming with them. So all in all I was looking forward to this match a huge amount.
The Beautiful People made their typical entrance to the ring; teased kiss, arse wiggling over the rope, the whole kit and caboodle. This seemed to kickstart the crowd somewhat and both teams got good reactions. Although, I do have to say to the very overweight man sat in the row ahead of me, I am fairly sure Taylor Wilde doesn’t want to marry you, no matter how many times you bellow your proposal to her across the ring.
Following the usual back and forth between both sides and lots of near falls, Madison moved to slap referee Earl Hebner, who countered by going in for the kiss. Feeling pleased with himself, he strutted distractedly around the ring allowing Velvet to spray Taylor Wilde in the face with a can of hairspray. Wilde fell to the ground clutching her face and was pinned by Madison for the three count.
This is what happens when you leave a male in charge of the camera with Knockouts in the ring.
Next we move on to The Pope D’Angelo Dinero Vs. Desmond Wolfe.
Both Pope and Wolfe received a good reception from the crowd and Wolfe got a huge cheer every time he offered his trademark two-fingered salute. The crowd seemed very into this match, with a chant for both sides running for most of the duration. The match reached its end when Wolfe went for the Tower Of London, Pope countered with his finisher (which I am not going to even pretend to know the name of) and took the victory. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of The Pope, as you might have guessed, but I was loving Desmond and on the whole I really enjoyed the match.
Now for the 8-man gauntlet match featuring The British Invasion (w/Rob Terry), Eric Young, Team 3-D and Beer Money. I spent most of this match being marginally grossed out, but the humdinger of a rash, Eric Young, was sporting to the point where I didn’t actually notice much else that was going on. It’s not very often anyone will admit to missing most of the action in a match because they were looking at Eric Young’s body, but there you have it. All of the teams were very over with the crowd, although Rob Terry was subject to a “You can’t wrestle” chant at a couple of intervals and, being the mean girl that I am, I thought this was hilarious. Team 3-D picked up the win pinning Eric Young following a 3-D.
Sometimes being so close to sweaty wrestlers can have it's downsides.
Interval time, this is where I get to sit singing along to the Metallica songs playing out over the PA. I found this a very enjoyable way to pass the time but I feel the people sat around me may be inclined to disagree.
15 minutes of interval later and we’re back. Dixie comes to the ring to thank everyone for coming out and supporting TNA. I spend most of the time she is in the ring thinking how much she reminds me of Celine Dion.
Next up we have the X Division match and it’s Amazing Red Vs Hamada. Yep, you read that right… Hamada. The misogynistic crowd spoiled this in part for me with hugely offensive comments. I should point out that I am not easily offended, but if I thought I could have gotten away with it without getting kicked out the arena, I would have kicked the imbecile sat in front of me straight in the back of the head. Instead, I just cheered at an obscene volume for Hamada. If it was 1996 then I may have even shouted ‘Girl Power!’ but I will take heed of Daisy in Spaced and realise that this is something you should never ever say. People will laugh at you and not in a good way.
That aside, I LOVED this match; red not wanting to hit a woman and Hamada wanting to be fought against in the same way he would a man. Red’s inner conflict was utterly convincing and you could virtually taste the frustration rolling off Hamada. However, it seemed like I was the only one. The crowd pretty much died during this match, after they had run out of nasty and spiteful things to say. Anyway, Amazing Red fought through his principles, gave Hamada the contest she wanted and hit a standing Shooting Star Press to claim the victory. When he helped her up from the ground, it did make let out a little ‘awww’.
Tag team match next and it’s Daniels and Rhino Vs Hernandez and Kurt Angle. Angle stood in for Matt Morgan, who didn’t make the trip as expected due to his father being taken seriously ill in the States. All turned out well, as Angle was so unbelievably over with the crowd (and Matt’s dad is doing well), I think every single chant was for him, whether he was in the ring at the time or on the apron. Moment of the match for me was Kurt laughing and waving to the crowd in response to the “Angle, give us a wave. Angle, Angle, give us a wave” chants. Low point of the match was the disturbing realisation that Rhino wrestles in something akin to a velour Juicy Couture playsuit. Just thinking about it now makes me shudder.
You don't have to take my word for it, here's a photo.
Contrary to what I may have you believe, they did do some wrestling too, with all of the men looking solid in the ring. As if there was ever any doubt of the result, Hernandez and Angle won with the Angle Slam to Daniels.
At last we come to the main event, AJ Styles Vs. Samoa Joe with both men getting a good reaction from what ended up being a fairly Pro-Joe crowd. I should explain that I have a profound weakness for Mr. Styles. I know he’s a bit of a redneck and in real life I would want to punch him repeatedly in the face. But this is not real life, this is pro wrestling, and I love him. I only have to catch a glimpse of the chest hair and I am entranced. So it is fair to say I was pulling for AJ in this match.
Here is my reasoning.
Styles set about doing everything he could to rile the crowd, swearing and cursing with a fair few “Wooooo!”s thrown in for good measure. To the boy who shouted “I love you, AJ”, I just have to say, you are one brave soldier as one of Styles’ favourite words appears to be a slur on homosexuals.
After periods of domination from both sides, Joe began mocking AJ’s new mentor, Ric Flair, which made a certain little World Heavyweight Champion quite cross. So what else to do but beat your opponent in the head with the aforementioned belt you happen to be in possesion of, hey AJ? Although, as we all know, ideas like this are always doomed to fail. There are pesky little things like rules and match officials that want to spoil your dastardly plan.
After the failed attack with the championship belt, AJ throws Joe in to the ref who is knocked down and rendered ‘unconscious’. With no one to stop him he sets about attacking Joe with the belt and knocking him to the ground. Styles proceeded to drag the still out of it Slick Johnson across the ring, revive him and pin Joe for the 1-2-3. Quite understandably, this makes Joe a little angry, so he gets on the mic and informs Styles that “This isn’t over until you’re in the ground” and chases AJ in to the back.
The lights go on and the show is over.
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