If you’re trying to grade a pay-per-view, there are two ways you need to look at the event.
The first way is to look at the event as a standalone, individual occurrence with no bearing on the past or future. Look at the matches and promos for what they are, and look to see if the crowd is hot or not. You ask if the matches would have made sense if they were someone’s first exposure to the company. Does the event, stripped of outside meaning and context, work well overall–or at least more often than not? Does the company in question display at least a rudimentary sense of backstage technological sensibility, thus allowing us viewers to focus on the match and the crowd instead of peripheral things? (For your information, despite the fact that I’m a total mark for what they theoretically stand for, Ring of Honor has yet to get full marks for that last one.)
Getting positive answers to those questions is a sign that–at the very least–the show in question wasn’t a complete disaster. By and large, TNA did that. As a standalone event that was completely independent from everything else, Bound For Glory wasn’t a bad little show. Sure, the crowd died for a little while and there were a few hiccups when it came to psychology, but I never found myself questioning the spending of my time on the show despite my panning of the Tenay-Taz booth for all three hours on Twitter. (A brief aside: Tenay and Taz are an undeniably and unforgivably horrible broadcast team. Taz in particular has no place in a booth.) By and large, it was three hours of reasonably solid matches…and something involving Al Snow and a retro porn star.
The second way you need to look at things is in a broader sense. Look at the past and toward the future and ask if what you watched made sense. Do the matches–and the event itself–feel as big as they were supposed to feel? Does the company appear to be headed in a positive or negative direction? Were the ideas presented fresh, or at least exciting re-makes? Are your companies important slots in good hands? Was this, in the broader and more complicated picture, a good event?
It’s there that I think my colleagues and I start to differ. It wasn’t a bad show, but it was a letdown with some questionable decisions which should make any objective observer question what exactly it is that TNA plans to do going forward. Yes, as standalone events the matches were solid. Ten years from now someone might even pop this into their DVD player to introduce someone to wrestling and actually succeed in making them like it. But for us big picture folks, this event just didn’t live up to the hype or deliver the kind of breakthrough moments we keep waiting for TNA to have.
If you were looking for a grade from me, I’d say it could probably range anywhere from a 75-80 out of 100 depending on how generous you want to be and what you plan on scoring. Like I said, despite my sardonic commentary throughout the night this wasn’t a bad little show. But this column isn’t about giving TNA a grade on a pay-per-view. This is about TNA not treating their supposed answer to WrestleMania like it is an answer to WrestleMania; this is about TNA making the same mistake with its primary title that it has made time after time after time.
Regardless of how one feels about hardcore matches (I don’t), you’ll be hard-pressed to make the argument that they don’t take a lot out of a crowd. Roode-Storm was no exception to this principle. While that’s not a problem in-and-of-itself, the rest of the show was allowed to plod along while not feeling like the company’s biggest event of the year. Sure, some of that is out of the company’s hands, but Roode-Storm was the third match on a card that opened with RVD challenging and defeating Zema Ion for the X-Division title, and Magnus challenging, but losing to, Samoa Joe for the television title. (Aside: Isn’t the point of a Television title that it is defended on Television?) Surely they could have spaced the better matches out to give people time to breathe. That’s not me being a nitpick, that’s Card Building 101.
It’s a shame that happened too, because while I have problems with the Aces & 8’s angle, the reveal of Devon as a figure within the group should have elicited more than the tepid gasp it got. Even the smartest of the Smarks should have at least given polite applause to TNA for keeping something fairly under wraps. That sort of leads into the problem of what TNA plans to do long term, because there are concerns that should arise with this new reveal.
So Devon is the leader of the group–or at least is a power figure within it. What’s the payoff? Is it Devon versus Bully Ray? Does Sting somehow factor in at the end? It wouldn’t be out of the question for that to happen. But the reaction is “so what” no matter what. Just as importantly, when is the final payoff for all this? Logically it’s next year’s BFG, but that’s a long way off for three guys whose combined average age is almost 45. In the mean time, what happens from here? Is Aces and 8’s going to run out of control from a creative standpoint? I, for one, fear it will. This whole thing feels too nWo-ish for me. And how do you keep the angle going for a year?
And why did everybody play so nice in a no disqualification format? Yeah yeah, suspension of disbelief and all that jazz, but I’m not saying the Aces should have showed up with shotguns either. It’s No DQ and if you lose you’re “gone.” Break counts, use weapons–hell, if you watched the matches before yours you’d know they were available to you–don’t just stand around and hope something good happens for you. The Aces seemed to spend a lot of time doing that. Why show up to a match with no rules if you plan to spend
If there was ever a pay-per-view that shouldn’t leave people asking all these questions, it’s your promotion’s premiere event of the year. I’m not against a big reveal at your biggest show, but the questions I’m asking border on being basic procedural stuff. And while I shouldn’t be able to predict what’s going to happen step-for-step, I should at least be able to say “Ah, okay, I have (compelling angle 1 and 2) to look forward to now!”
But speaking of basic procedural stuff, we get to what really soured the show for me: The Main Event.
Much like the rest of the show, the match was great as a stand alone event with no implications to the future, nor any past fears to dig up. If it was just a one-off event that happened independently, it was actually a really great match. I’m saying this even though I still see absolutely no wrestling skills in Jeff Hardy’s possession, or even a reason to be interested in him for that matter. He’s wrestling’s answer to the Mexican Jumping Bean, and I commend Austin Aries for getting an otherwise really good match out of him…it…whatever.
Still, this makes the second time in three years that Hardy has won the TNA WHC at BFG. Meanwhile, I can’t imagine he’s staying clean and he definitely hasn’t remained uninjured, or under contract, or even interested in wrestling. Hardy isn’t only older, he has harder miles on his body and at the end of the day has never been someone whom could be trusted to have a company built around them. He’s definitely over with a lot of people, but that should tell you something when someone so over still gets shoved aside by an even bigger promotion with a more driving need for that sort of thing.
Seriously, four years (ish) ago, Vince McMahon sat down and said something to the extent of “Jeff, you’re really over and we almost don’t even have to try to make gobs of money off you. But we’re going to go with four other people: a guy who can’t even get over in his hometown, a former reality tv personality with almost no wrestling background, CM Punk, and something my son-in-law calls Sheamus. I don’t know. Anyway, good luck doing your painting or whatever.”
Meanwhile, Austin Aries got the call to be Ring of Honor Champion as it made its initial move to television and held the belt during what was arguably its most successful period to date. And while I can’t truthfully say that I know for sure why he left Ring of Honor, if I said “Ring of Honor is kind of cheap” none of you would really call me on it either.
The match was a microcosm of the entire night if you think about it. Fun to watch in isolation, painful when you begin realizing what it all means.
I sure hope TNA knows what they’re doing. It would be nice to have them prove me wrong for once.
- During my live tweeting of the show I took some shots at the laughable TNA Hall of Fame video package with sting. This got me called out by wrestler Joey Image. The conversation went as follows…(edited only to remove superfluous Twitter things)
Me: “When I was a kid I dreamed of being in front of tens of thousands of people.” – Sting. Not all dreams come true.
Image: did WCW not draw tens of thousands?
Me: Numbers vary, but WCW was lucky to get 15k at a ppv. at best, that’s “ten of thousand.”
Image: He didn’t specify “at a PPV”. He just said “in front of”, and that dream came true.
I didn’t really have the space to respond on Twitter, so I’ll do it here.
Fine, Joey, I concede your point. In a mindbogglingly reductionist world you’ve managed to split a microscopic semantic hair with me and sort of eek out a philosophical victory. Never mind that even in the world of professional sports broadcasting the phrase “in front of the crowd” almost always refers specifically to the on-location attendance. Never mind that ten year old Sting couldn’t have even been aware of the concept of being viewed on a pay-per-view or closed circuit television format in someone’s home. (PPV wouldn’t even become a recognizable and sustainable technology until 1980, by which point Sting was around age 21 and CCTV never caught on as a method for home viewing.) And speaking of ten year old Sting, never mind that no ten year old has ever thought in such broad platitudes.
Actually, I don’t concede that point. You’re humorless.
- It will be really interesting to see how guys get time distributed on Raw tonight. I say this because of something we sort of touched on during ITR last week, but didn’t really get into a whole lot.
Based on last week’s numbers, Vince knows the following things: 1. Ratings were up once he came into the picture. 2. These were the ratings which were up during CM Punk’s time. 3. John Cena seemed to have no impact on ratings, but that could be a red herring because of when Cena’s airtime was.
Vince and crew will need to see if they can find tangible evidence of who does and does not impact ratings the most. That will dictate a lot of what is going to happen between HIAC and the Rumble, and by proxy Wrestlemania.
- I’m getting really, really tired of all these Steve Austin comeback rumors. Please…for the love of Jesus…stop.
Ray Bogusz is the co-host of the In The Room Show and a syndicated wrestling columnist. You can reach him via his Twitter @RayITR. To get his column on your website, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMPACT Wrestling’s BFG Series is perhaps the most important and prominently featured story in TNA today. Still in its infancy, the series places several of TNA’s wrestlers in matches where points can be earned over a period of time. At the end of the series, the wrestler with the most points gains the right to face the TNA World Heavyweight Champion at Bound for Glory, the company’s biggest Pay Per View of the year.
Seems simple enough, right?
The beauty of the series has very little to do with the complicated point system or the random occurrence of BFG series matches between house shows and Thursday night broadcasts. The real meat and potatoes of the series lie within the men chosen to participate in it. The Road to BFG, as it were, is made all the more interesting by the quirky cast of characters plodding along the way.
The destination is nowhere near as important as the path to it. Think of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as the perfect example of what the BFG Series was intended to be…in a way.
I say “in a way” because TNA’s zeal for stressing the importance of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship has diluted the significance of the men vying for it. Indeed the championship should be the top prize and most sought after title, but it’s the wrestler who brings a unique flair and some pizazz to the title reign.
If the champion has no character, he’s simply a place holder; seeing as the finishes to the matches are predetermined, what good is a dull and flaccid alpha dog that is literally nothing more than a paper champion?
Out of all the potential characters involved in the BFG Series, the one that stands out to the most is Samoa Joe. Joe’s journey to the top of this year’s BFG Series ladder is a remarkable one that in any other circumstance would have been the featured story in the midst of everything.
By the way things have transpired so far, one would be hard pressed to believe that.
Consider the facts: Samoa Joe was at the very bottom of the BFG Series last year. To be very clear about that unique circumstance, Joe was the ONLY wrestler with negative points; talk about being made an example…
In between his disappointing performance last year and today, Joe managed to become a tag team champion. This reign seemingly lit a fire underneath him, one that fueled his rise to the top of the BFG Series leader board where he’s traded places with James Storm for the number one spot on numerous occasions.
It was only one week ago that anyone in the company, including Samoa Joe, made any mention about his meteoric rise to the top of the series. Once that tidbit was spoken into existence, it dissipated into the air like along with the hope that his character would be more than just wallpaper.
Make no mistake about it: it is a huge deal for a star to make such a leap in just one year. Speaking particularly about Joe’s character, it’s amazing and ironic how far from glory Joe’s character has fallen.
At one point in TNa’s ten year history Samoa Joe was a ruthless, emotionless wrestling machine. This was the man who battered his opponents until they bled profusely, using the life-giving substance as a badge of honor in the crimson soaked towels he wore around his neck. This was the former TNA World Heavyweight Champion that endured epic matches against Kurt Angle, arguably TNA’s version of Shawn Michaels.
This was the man who, as the Samoan Submission Machine, wreaked havoc upon the TNA wrestlers with reckless abandon; those who sought mercy as Joe’s opponents were met with indifference to their wailing and a relentless barrage of force, power, and brutality.
Then came the character tweaks; he was mentored by Tazz, kidnapped wrestlers and tortured them with a fake machete. He had a one man “nation” of violence and was even kidnapped…twice.
He was a part of the Main Event Mafia; he had a silly ass feud with The Pope D’Angelo Dinero and some sort of grievance against Crimson.
He entered a period of desolation, an inexplicable MVP-like streak of losses, and various forgettable singles feuds that led him to the 2011 BFG Series. The Joe that strutted into that series was billed as a more “ruthless and focused” beast that submit people for fun after falling into a trance or out-of-body state. These actions actually led to him being disqualified for refusing to release his submission hold after winning the match.
Now does it make sense why Joe’s presence at the top of the 2012 BFG Series should be a bigger deal? But alas, it ain’t.
Fans often complain about the product of a given company, but it’s always the little things that make a huge difference. How much more important would the series be if there were little video packages here and there describing how certain wrestlers have either risen or fallen between last year and this year?
Think back to Crimson, the hands on favorite last year, who was not only usurped by Robert Roode in the series but also forced out of it due to…you guessed it…Samoa Joe. How much more meaningful would the title be if the wrestlers clawing and scratching their way up the ranks were trying to prove something other than being able to claw and scratch their way up the ranks?
For this particular analyst, Joe’s story is far more significant than anyone else in that regard. For IMPACT Wrestling to focus primarily on the “wrestling,” it’s befuddling that a wrestler and character like Samoa Joe take a back seat to convoluted storytelling, the Aces and 8s, and a series that’s more noteworthy for being a series than it is for being a proving ground.
This is the point where we look at “creative.”
Pro wrestling creative writers are often blamed for a lot of things pertaining to the product, and are crucified regularly for either having nothing for a wrestler or saddling a wrestler with a terrible character. So here we are looking directly at creative, praising them for the BFG Series while failing to critique their work on the characters within.
That is assuming that the writers for IMPACT Wrestling have anything to do with character development, which fans have been lead to believe rested more so in the hands of the TNA wrestlers and not a the team of writers.
Accusations aside there is a missed opportunity by keeping Samoa Joe and the other BFG Series wrestlers enclosed in a nifty and convenient little box. The series is important, the title is important, but the characters are the ones who make everything all the more interesting. Without them, their move sets and abilities, their charisma and intensity, all fans would have would be an unnecessarily and lengthy series that could have easily been replicated with a single elimination tournament.
That’s just my two cents on the situation though.
OK…Brace Yourself. Innocent ears be warned…Mr. Quinn Gammon is allowed to verbally express his thoughts and feelings on TNA current events.
Disclaimer…if you are a TNA fan, this might hurt a little…
This is the final installment of this series. Be on the lookout for more from both Mr. Quinn Gammon and I.
We hope you have enjoyed this journey, and we hope it will bring you back for more. Just like WWE 3-hour RAW, we are just getting started, so it will take time to improve so be patient.