TNA Bound for Glory kicks off with a pretty cool video package, mostly focusing on the AJ Styles and Bully Ray feud, sprinkled with Dixie Carter shenanigans. We're starting things off with X-Division action, as the Ultimate X rig is already set up in the ring.
ULTIMATE X | **3/4
This match goes about 11 minutes, with everyone getting an opportunity to hit a few moves, and then get knocked to the outside to make way for the next guy in line. Austin Aries is easily the most popular with the crowd, and Hardy even got a few jeers. Bringing the ladder into play helped his case somewhat. Chris Sabin can't get the job done on his own, so he throws Velvet Sky into the ring to distract Jeff Hardy, climbs up the other side of the ladder, nails Hardy with the title belt and wins the match. NEW CHAMPION!
I'm already not a Chris Sabin guy, and I'm even less a fan of the Velvet Sky relationship. But I'm going to try and put that aside, because it really shouldn't effect how I look at this match.
Ultimate X, and the X-Division in general, is all about fast-paced action and aerial stunts you're not going to see anywhere else. Unfortunately, this one never really got off the ground, so to speak. I'll forgive the fact that ladders used to be strictly forbidden when used to actually attain the title, because if Jeff Hardy doesn't jump off something every six months, he spontaneously combusts. But while everyone had a few minutes to pull off a few moves, nobody but maybe Austin Aries built up any real momentum. There were so few signature moves, which didn't help an unusually quiet crowd, let alone the distinct lack of finishers. Some fun spots thrown in here and there, but really nothing I remembered ten minutes later.
Just when things were getting good, Velvet Sky got in the ring and that was that. If she didn't want to be there, why did she continue to be there? More importantly, how dumb do they think Jeff Hardy is? Tame X-Division action polluted with relationship drama. Yuck.
Speaking of the X-Division, here's a video of AJ Styles becoming the very first champion. Ricky Steamboat was the special guest referee. I still can't believe how into that match Don West got; he actually called it the greatest match of all time.
Bad Influence are out, reminding me that they didn't win the gauntlet match during the pre-show, sadly. They demand to be put in the tag team championship match. Eric Young comes out and tells them to run; instead they start to beat him up. Out comes Abyss to save his tag team partner – sort of – and Daniels eats a Black Hole Slam. Kazarian gets one too, for good measure. Abyss and Eric Young celebrate.
One of the biggest reasons I like the Joe Park character, is that on the rare happenstance that we get an Abyss sighting, it makes it feel more special. And now it looks like they are finally reconciling the two characters. EY knows, and the fans obviously know. I'm not sure where TNA goes with Park/Abyss now, but I'd be open to a full-time return of the monster, especially if they went with some sort of hybrid character. Parks the actor is a lot of fun to watch. Plus, there's that pesky TV Championship nobody remembers.
Side note: from a production standpoint, they should have run footage of what happened during the pre-show. If anybody watching at home missed the pre-show, they would have had no idea what EY was talking about.
TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
GUNNER & STORM (c) vs. THE BROMANS | ***3/4
Not at all as one-sided or comical as you'd expect from a match with Robbie E and Jessie Godderz. Mr. Olympia was ringside for The Bromans throughout the match – that dude is frightening. James Storm had Jessie set up for the Last Call Superkick, but Robbie threw one of the title belts into the ring to distract them. The Bromans going vintage with the Hart Attack on Storm for the 1-2-3. NEW CHAMPIONS!
Fine. I've been in the closet for about three years, but I'll go on record and admit something truly shameful right now… I'm a Robbie E fan. I'm also a Jessie Godderz fan, which I never in a million years would have thought possible. And this match, not just the title win, but the actual wrestling match, was a huge stepping stone in what could be something great for these two. TNA actually has tag teams right now. They just need to keep that momentum going, and build upon the success they had here in this match, and with the two teams earlier in the night.
A really, really fun and surprising match.
Sting comes out and introduces us to the second TNA Hall of Famer, Kurt Angle. The Olympic gold medalist comes out and thanks God, his family and the fans. There's some emotional words exchanged and then…Angle refuses to join the Hall of Fame. He says he's been a disappointment to himself and to his fans, but wants to set a new example for the future of the business, and claims his accomplishments in the past are nothing compared to what he will accomplish in the future.
Remember this moment. This is the moment TNA turned their Hall of Fame, which already wasn't viewed particularly well by a lot of people (especially those with a voice on the internet), and turned it into just another wrestling angle; no pun intended. I don't care that Kurt got caught driving drunk, and went to rehab. I really don't.
As a human being, it sickens me a bit that a role model like Kurt could have killed somebody because of his "personal demons" - the Olympic committee has stripped people of medals for less. But when it comes to Kurt Angle the wrestler, the on-screen character, it's completely irrelevant. They don't need to spend a year promoting the "Kurt Angle Redemption Express" tour like they did with Jeff Hardy; that angle was needed, and very well executed.
Now there is something I've considered, that would totally change my mind. Kurt Angle could have refused to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Being a man of pride, given all those Hogan-esque milk promos he cut in his early WWE days, Angle could have said "no way" and TNA could have been stuck dealing with it. There's just too many blurred lines between fiction and reality here, and I don't like it. This whole thing had me rolling my eyes, and it will be impossible to take TNA's Hall of Fame seriously moving forward.