Irish fans vote for Flair as TNA Invade Dublin
By Phil Allely
It’s been a heck of a year or so for TNA since they last made the long trip to the UK and Ireland. There have been ups and downs, Monday Night Wars won and lost, star signings gained and star leavings missed, Hulk Hogan and Co. joining the fray with that WWE and so much more in that short space of time. It goes to show though that TNA have grabbed fans attention when even the lack of TNA UK TV coverage (which is now sorted via Freeview, well done Dixie) couldn’t stop almost 2000 very vocal and enthusiastic Irish fans from coming out to see the show this week though.
Fair do’s to TNA they did not skimp on the roster in attendance either, from top to bottom the card had it all, cat fights, brawls, high flying action and some superb crowd-baiting fun and games. One highlight was Ric Flair’s chant and dance-athon to the sound of ‘Flair for Taoiseach’ (Irish President), considering the current political situation in Ireland, the overjoyed Flair’s appointment would not shock this journo.
In the ring things kicked off with the as normal high-octane X Division match. Dublin was treated to a three-way bout for Kazraian’s gold, with the champ opposing Chris Sabin and new boy Mark Haskins. Dragon Gate regular Haskins proved himself to be a worthy TNA roster member by not only keeping up with, but dictating the pace at times, in what was a fast and furious flurry of set-pieces, near-falls and stunning action. Sabin and Haskins failed though, Kaz nailed a brutal finisher to retain his strap.
Next up Earl Hebner tried to steal the show with his picture perfect ‘You Screwed Bret’ set-piece and accompanying hilarious tee shirt and crowd-playing combo. The Knockouts tag match he officiated was a fairly decent affair, Hebner playing his role perfectly, not only becoming a deciding factor, but even sneaking a kiss from current Knockouts Champion Madison Rayne along the way. Tara and Rayne fell to Mickie James and Angelina Love with relative ease, after some good in-ring work from all concerned though.
In a Genesis re-match RVD bettered a slightly out of shape Matt Hardy, both worked their boots off though. Hardy missing a moonsault and Van Dam barely hitting a ringside one onto the concrete to audible gasps, the hugely popular RVD recovered quick and had a blast trundling out his trademark moves and unleashing his ‘five star frog splash’ on a prone Hardy for the win. Hardy was left fuming amidst derogatory chants as RVD claimed another win for himself.
The TNA Tag Team Championships were on the line next and the re-formed duo of (UK nationals) Magnus and Douglas Williams were already on dodgy ground before they even tackled champs Beer Money Inc. With Ric Flair at ringside to manage his Fortune buddies the match was a superb mix of comedy, action and set-pieces, the aforementioned dance/chant, Flair’s ring-mastership, Roode and Storm’s abilities and those of Magnus/Williams all made this a match of the night for many (including yours truly). Beer Money kept their belts after a few heelish tactics worked in their favour and they wiped the cocky smiles off their British opponents, to great applause from the Irish fans.
The penultimate match-up saw TNA founder Jeff Jarrett pair up with The Pope to tackle the little and large duo of Matt Morgan and Shannon Moore. The pairings worked well together and had the crowd whipped up into a frenzy too, pulling those long-lost Rock‘n‘Roll Express hot tag moments out of the bag. Jarrett and Pope however couldn’t overcome the combination of speed and strength their opposing team had though, Morgan and Moore taking the win and savouring their moment.
Finally after a hot and exciting night of top class action it all boiled down to TNA Heavyweight Champion Mr Anderson getting his hands of his nemesis Jeff Hardy. Whilst not on a par with the ‘classic’ tag match earlier, the guys worked hard. They threw everything they had into the mix, near-falls, ref bumps, run-ins and some stiff action. Even with the help of his brother Matt, Jeff fell to Anderson’s ‘mic check’ finisher to keep the gold with the (a**hole) leader.
The surprise post-match party (which is something TNA love to do) saw Flair, Beer Money, Mickie James and many others join Anderson and Dixie Carter in sharing a few beers and Dixie promising the crowd that TNA will not only be back on these shores, but on our screens very soon to ( a promise which she fulfilled a few hours later via Sun Sport).
The TNA live experience is one not to be missed and just goes to show that the company want to give their fans as much as they can, no one holds back or goes through the motions, the action never stops and with Jeremy Borash as host things never slow down a beat. Roll on Maximum Impact IV.