Paul Tsongas Arena – Lowell, Massachusetts – April 13, 2008
The show opens with Mike Tenay inside the cage explaining the importance of tonight’s main event. If Samoa Joe doesn’t win the TNA World Title he will be forced to retire. The video package focuses mostly on Angle versus Joe but throws in a bunch of the mid and undercard guys too. Don West gets a word with some of the fans, and TNA always finds a way to showcase the most stereotypical wrestling fans. Jeremy Borash is elsewhere in the crowd talking to more fans. Most fans think Joe is going to win the main event.
MATCH #1: TNA X-Division Title Xscape Match – Jay Lethal vs. Consequences Creed vs. Curry Man vs. Johnny Devine vs. Shark Boy vs. Sonjay Dutt
Lethal has been the champion since 2.10.08 and this is his second defense. Dutt and Devine start the match, and the more agile Dutt dominates. Man tags in and Lethal comes in to help Dutt out and they double-team Man and Devine. They also work together on Boy and Creed. The best friends are looking unstoppable while SoCal Val looks on approvingly. They do a modified Tower of Doom spot and Creed comes out of it on top. Lethal and Dutt quickly recover and go back to work on everyone. Boy hits Lethal with the Chummer and Dutt has to break up the cover. Oh yeah, that makes the champ look strong when you show that Shark Boy could pin him about three minutes into a match. Devine then grabs Dutt with a schoolboy rollup from behind to eliminate him at 2:47. Boy works Devine over in a corner, but then walks into a suplex from Creed. Man goes after Creed and avoids a Stinger Splash. He hits a flying hip attack in the corner. Creed grabs Boy and hits the Cree-DT to eliminate him at 4:30. He turns his focus to Man but that doesn’t go to well for him. Man goes to the top of the cage and Devine shakes the cage to knock him down. Lethal joins them up there but Devine knocks him down and tries a Shooting Star Press but misses. Creed and Devine work together on Lethal and then quickly turn on each other. Man takes his chance to hit a somersault off the top of the cage to wipe them both out. He then hits Creed with the Spice Rack to eliminate him at 7:14. Now Lethal and Man work together on Devine. They quickly turn on each other as well and Man hits the Spice Rack but for some stupid reason Devine breaks it up. Devine hits Man with the Devine Intervention to eliminate him at 8:33. Now we go into escape rules to decide the winner. Devine ties Lethal to the top rope some wrist tape, and when he tries to escape Dutt holds the cage door shut. Wow, could Lethal look like any more of a chump? Devine tries to climb over, but Dutt gives Lethal something to cut the tape with. Lethal gets loose and dives through the door to just beat Devine and retain the title at 10:26. The action was fine for this kind of match, and I understand what they were going for with Lethal and Dutt, but they really made Lethal look like a paper champion who couldn’t do anything on his own, and that I’m not a fan of.
MATCH #2: Queen of the Cage – Christy Hemme vs. Salinas vs. Jacqueline vs. Traci Brooks vs. Angelina Love vs. Velvet Sky vs. Rhaka Khan vs. Roxxi Laveaux
For this match, the women have to fight their way into the cage, and the first two that make it in will have a singles match, and the winner of that gets a Knockouts Title shot. It starts off as a messy brawl all around ringside. Love is the first one to make it into the cage after about a minute. Sky climbs up but Laveaux cuts her off and climbs her way into the cage, so it’s Angelina Love versus Roxxi Laveaux now. Why not just book that in the first place since the climbing into the cage part took less than two minutes? Laveaux scores the first knockdown, and then this a big boot to the face for two. Love comes back with a jawbreaker and a flying clothesline. She repeatedly slams Laveaux’s head into the mat. Laveaux fights up but Love cuts her off with the Botox Injection for two. Love then hits the Lights Out (jumping Flatliner) but Laveaux kicks out at two. Now Love tries a victory roll but Laveaux kicks her into the cage. Laveaux follows up with the Voodoo Drop to become Queen of the Cage at 5:28. That was short and painless, and would have been better if they just let Roxxi and Angelina go one-on-one for the whole time rather than that opening silliness.
MATCH #3: BG James vs. Kip James
Kip takes a cheap shot and goes to work early. BG comes back with his silly jabs but Kip cuts him off with an Ace Crusher. It’s all Kip James here, and the pace he decides on is a slow one. Every time BG tries to make a comeback, Kip uses his power to cut him off. Kip hits the Fame-Ass-Er but it only gets two. He goes to the second rope to try it from up there, but BG avoids it and punches Kip right in the nuts! Both men get to their feet and they trade punches. BG gets the better of it and unleashes a flurry of offense. He hits the jabs but elects not to dance so he can throw Kip repeatedly into the cage. He still does the Shake Rattle N Roll knee drop though. Kip comes back and tries a Stinger Splash but BG avoids it and rolls him up to get the win at 6:45. Was this really the best possible match they could put together?
MATCH #4: Cuffed in the Cage – The Rock ‘N Rave Infection vs. Eric Young & Kaz vs. Rellik & Black Reign vs. The Motor City Machineguns vs. The Latin American Xchange vs. Scott Steiner & Petey Williams
The Rock ‘N Rave Infection, Jimmy Rave and Lance Rock, cut a brief promo that ends with Rock asking “who wants to get Infected tonight?” There’s got to be a better way to say that. Backstage Black Reign and Rellik attack Eric Young, but referee Rudy Charles makes Kaz go to the ring anyway. The idea of this match is to handcuff your opponents to the ropes. The last man standing cuff-less will win the match for his team. As far as TNA gimmick matches go, this one is pretty damn stupid. It’s a big brawl from the get-go, with Steiner looking particularly strong in the early going. Everyone then gangs up on Steiner, which is smart strategy, and they cuff him to the cage. The crowd wakes up as Young makes his way to the cage, but he seems too afraid of Reign and Rellik to get in the ring, so he bails on his partner. Shelley tries Sliced Bread on Williams but gets handcuffed instead; not that Tenay or West would mention it. Kaz hits Sabin with the Wave of the Future into the cage and then cuffs Sabin. Hernandez hits Rave with the Cracker Jack. Then Rellik, Reign, and Rave join forces to cuff Hernandez. Out of nowhere Kaz hits Rave with the Flux Capacitor. Kaz takes Rock up top, but Rock blocks it and Chokeslams Kaz clear across the ring. That is plenty damage done to handcuff Kaz to the cage. Then Super Eric makes his way down to the cage and climbs up top. Eric leaps onto all four of the Monsters of Rock. He cuffs Rave first, and then takes care of Rock. I just realized that Homicide is cuffed as well; I must have missed that. Rellik and Reign try to cuff Eric, but he slips out and slaps the cuffs on Rellik instead. That leaves just Reign and Eric left. Eric hits him with a Death Valley Driver and then cuffs him to the cage to get the win at 10:42. That’s the only Cuffed in the Cage match so far, and I’m glad for it. The action was fine, but the idea of the match was stupid, and Super Eric is even stupider.
MATCH #5: Gail Kim & ODB vs. Awesome Kong & Raisha Saeed
Kong is the current TNA Knockouts Champion. She starts off the match with ODB. Even thought it was all ODB, Kong grabs her and throws her into her corner. Kim tags in and demands that Saeed get in the match. Saeed goes after Kim’s arm. This is Saeed’s debut match. Saeed dominates, hitting a Perfect-Plex for two. Kim fights back with a dropkick and a headscissors. She tries going to the top rope for a springboard maneuver but Kong grabs her and pulls her into the cage. Kong and Saeed keep Kim isolated in their half of the ring. Kim avoids a charge and hits a Spear! She makes the tag and ODB is on fire. ODB hits Saeed with a fallaway slam for two. Kim rejoins the fray and the referee loses control. She and Saeed battle on the top rope and Kim hits a super rana. Unfortunately for her, Kong is right there and cuts her off with a clothesline. Kong and Saeed try to double-team ODB but Kong accidentally hits Saeed with the spinning back fist. Kim then levels Kong with a missile dropkick. ODB goes up top and hits a splash on Saeed to get the pin at 8:28. This was probably the heyday of the Knockout Division, and this was a fun match. Kong and Kim were great opponents.
MATCH #6: Mixed Tag Team Match – Booker T & Sharmell vs. Robert Roode & Payton Banks
One time Payton Banks sent me a Christmas card. Roode attacks right away and they trade punches and kicks in a corner. Booker hits some mounted punches in the corner. Roode slips out and hits a dropkick. He hits a knee drop and locks in a chinlock. Booker fights out and hits a leg lariat. Roode responds with a big spinebuster. Once again Booker comes back with the same leg lariat. Booker hits a vertical suplex for two. He gets the float over sunset flip in the corner for two. Then he hits a spinebuster. I swear you can count the number of moves in this match on one hand. Booker delivers the Spinaroonie but misses an Axe Kick. After a series of reversals Roode tosses Booker into the cage. Sharmell tags herself in and slaps Roode a bunch. Roode grabs her and holds her for Banks. The worst heel miscommunication leads to Banks slapping Roode across the face. Sharmell then rolls Banks up to get the pin at 7:37. That was actually pretty brutal, with repetitive moves and a terrible looking finish.
MATCH #7: Lethal Lockdown – Christian Cage, Sting, Rhino, Matt Morgan & Kevin Nash vs. Tomko, AJ Styles, James Storm & Team 3D
Since he’s a babyface this year, Cage will begin the match for his team. It’s funny because last year he was a heel and came out last. Fellow team captain Tomko, comes down the aisle to AJ Styles’ music, which seems silly, but it turns out that Styles is behind Cage in the cage and he sneak attacks him to start the match. These two will go for five minutes, and then the intervals are two minutes after that. Obviously Styles controls the opening minutes. He tries the flip over inverted DDT and after some effort he’s able to connect with it. Cage avoids a flying forearm in the corner and lands a hard clothesline. He goes up top but misses a Frog Splash. Styles sets up the Styles Clash but Cage reverses it to his own inverted DDT. Styles counters with a jawbreaker. He goes for the big dropkick but Cage catches him in a powerbomb. Even so Styles comes right back with the Pele Kick. The next entrant makes his way out, and it’s Brother Ray. He slams the cage door right into Cage’s face. Ray and Styles dominate the captain. Rhino is the next man out for Team Cage, and after an initial flurry he gets cut off by Styles. James Storm is the third man out for Team Tomko. Storm immediately hits the Eye of the Storm on Cage, as Team Tomko is dominant. Cage and Styles fight up to the top of the cage and Cage gets knocked all the way to the floor. The next man out is Kevin Nash, who immediately hits Styles with Snake Eyes. Cage climbs his way back to the top of the cage and wipes out Storm and Ray with a big cross body block. Next up is Brother Devon, and Team 3D violently hurls Cage into the cage wall. Matt Morgan is the next one out, and I think this is his first actual match in TNA. He cleans house a bit, and Tomko is the next man out. Cage goes right after Tomko as we wait for Sting. Devon is sporting the crimson mask. Sting makes his way out and the ceiling comes down. Pinfalls and submissions are now in play. Team Cage dominates with weapons as Storm climbs to the top of the cage. Cage joins him up there and abuses him with a trash can lid. Down in the ring everyone is brawling and using weapons. Sting locks Tomko in the Scorpion Deathlock but Styles breaks it up with a kendo stick. Meanwhile, Cage sets up a table on top of the cage. Styles goes up to help Storm and they set up a ladder. Cage also climbs up the ladder for some reason. Storm decides it would be a good idea to push the ladder over, so both his opponent and his teammate will go crashing through the table. That makes no sense, why would he do that to his own partner? That’s just setting up a spot to do a spot. Back down in the ring Storm drills Morgan with the beer bottle, but then turns right around into a Rhino Gore! Rhino scores the pin at 26:30. There was almost no down time in the whole match, and it was fun enough for a garbage brawl but it wasn’t particularly memorable.
MATCH #8: TNA World Championship Match – Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe
Angle has been the champion since 10.25.07 and this is his fifth defense. This is the biggest main event in TNA history to this point, and they do a great job building it up and making it a big deal. Frank Trigg joins the commentary team. These two have fought four times previously, and Angle is up 3-1. They’ve built this up as more of an MMA fight than a wrestling match, which I’m normally against but for special occasions and if done right this could be really good.
I don’t really call MMA matches so this could be interesting for me. Both men are tentative in the early going, not wanting to make a mistake. Joe grabs an early Ankle Lock but Angle is able to get the ropes. They continue grappling on the mat and it looks like Joe has the advantage early on. Angle fires off the first suplex and then locks in a painful looking chinlock. He hits a belly-to-belly suplex and this time covers for two. Angle goes for an armbar but Joe fights to block it. He switches it up and goes after the leg, using a Figure-Four Leglock. Joe reverses it but he can’t do much damage in his current state. Angle is tenacious in going after the knee now. Joe fights back with a huge clothesline, giving himself some time to recover. He hits the running knee in the corner and then an enziguiri. He tries the Muscle Buster but Angle blocks it and turns it into the Ankle Lock. Joe rolls out of it and hits the STJoe for a two-count. He hits a powerbomb for two and then rolls it into the Liontamer. Angle is able to make the ropes, but Joe then turns it right into an STF. After some time in the hold Angle is able to reverse it to another Ankle Lock. Joe turns that around right back into the STF! Once again Angle reaches the ropes. Joe locks in a Crossface, but Angle powers up and hits an Angle Slam! Joe kicks out at two! Angle puts the Ankle Lock on again. Joe kicks Angle off and then grabs him from his back and locks on the Choke! Angle is able to reach the ropes. He gets up and tries an Angle Slam but Joe blocks it and throws Angle into the cage. Joe hits a superkick and the Muscle Buster to finally win the TNA World Championship at 17:35. That was a very unique match and a great moment for Joe to finally win the belt. I think this also did one of TNA’s highest buy rates ever, so I can’t figure out why they never did more with Joe.
BONUS MATCH: TNA World Championship Match – Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle
Joe has been the champion since 4.13.08 and this is his first defense. They start off slowly and Joe scores the first knockdown with a hard shoulder tackle. Joe is totally in control and Angle takes a brief powder. Back in the ring Joe exploits his power edge with a clothesline and then locks on a side headlock. Angle powers out but Joe quickly takes him right back down. The challenger seems a little bit off. Angle powers out of the headlock again and charges into the corner, but Joe moves and Angle’s shoulder crashes into the ring post and he falls to the floor. Joe follows Angle out with an elbow suicida and we go to commercial.
Back from the break Joe hits the Big Jo Combo II. Joe takes Angle down in the corner and takes care of his dirty face for him. He hits a snap suplex for two. He locks on a submission but Angle makes the ropes. Angle fights back with a release German Suplex. He locks on a chinlock now and when Joe powers out Angle grabs him in a belly-to-belly suplex. Joe fights back with the STJoe. Angle pulls down the top rope, sending Joe to the floor. It looks like Joe landed badly on his knee. Angle is like shark to blood, going right after the injury. We take another commercial break.
Back once again and Angle is still working on the knee. He locks Joe in the Figure-Four Leglock. During the break Kevin Nash came out and gave Joe a pep talk. Angle continues working the knee. Joe fights up and they trade punches. He tries the running knee in the corner but he can’t get any speed going so he hits a spinebuster instead. That gets two. He hits the snap powerslam for two. Angle hits the Olympic Slam but Joe kicks out at two. He goes for the moonsault but Joe avoids it. Joe tries the Choke but Angle reverses it the Ankle Lock and holds on tenaciously. The champ is able to kick Angle away and grabs him in the Choke! Angle is able to reach the ropes. Joe sets up for the Muscle Buster but Angle avoids it and Joe accidentally hits referee Earl Hebner with an enziguiri. Angle hits the Olympic Slam. He pulls the straps down and locks on the Ankle Lock. Joe kicks Angle off and Scott Steiner appears from out of nowhere and hits Angle with a lead pipe. The champ follows up with the Island Driver to get the pin and retain the title at 16:19 (shown). I don’t care much for Steiner interfering in the finish just to set up for a pay-per-view main event, but of course the match was terrific.
The Pulse: The main event is awesome and the semi-main event is fun, but man the undercard is just brutal to sit through. The bonus match is really good though so that helps soften the blow and make this a recommendable purchase, just barely.