Tuesday, 7 February 2012
TNA Live Review - Manchester 2012
By Phil Allely
TNA’s annual UK tour/European tours have become huge deals. Each one building on the last and as the company’s popularity rises the quality of the roster has met it. Past tours have seen the cream of the crop make appearances on UK shores, this year was no different as the legendary Hulk Hogan was added to an already bulging card. Hulk joining Sting (in his final UK appearances), World Champion Bobby Roode, Kurt Angle, AJ Styles and many other top names to thrill the loyal fans who have made Impact Wrestling one of the most watched TV wrestling shows available.
With 5,000 loud and excited fans in attendance at Manchester’s MEN Arena TNA did what they do best and put on a top notch live show, the air was electric and the wrestlers all stepped up their game to keep it there. Hosts Christy Hemme and Jeremy Borash ensuring things moved smoothly in between the matches.
Things kicked off with a nicely paced X Division Title triple threat scrap. UK talent Mark Haskins fared well against Alex Shelley and champ Austin Aries in what proved to be a riveting affair, Aries retaining his belt by pinning Haskins.
The undefeated Crimson and (another) UK veteran Douglas Williams worked a stiff bout next. Both trading the advantage and teasing their finishing moves. Fan favourite Williams however failed to his quest to end Crimsons winning streak.
The hugely ‘over’ AJ Styles had to work extra hard to pull a decent match out of Immortals Gunner. Styles did pull it off though, his high spots were superb and Gunner got in some good shots before a Pele kick gave AJ the winning three-count.
The Knockouts Division were well represented next. K.O. Tag Champs Madison Rayne and Gail Kim (also the K.O. Champ) facing off against the duo of Tara and Mickie James. James carried most of the bout for her team, taking considerable punishment before Tara got the hot tag. Referee Earl Hebner (who had already relished his Montreal Screwjob infamy by donning an ‘I screwed Bret’ tee and sunglasses) was once again a fixture of this bout, receiving mouth to mouth from the lovely girls for his trouble. James and Tara picked up the win after a ‘widows peak’ put Kim away. The winners then shared a kiss or two to the fans delight.
TNA president Dixie Carter then appeared post interval to praise the UK fans, generate interest in the London TV tapings and hype up the main event.
In an Xplosion only match TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Roode defended his belt against the formidable Samoa Joe. (a result which can be seen on Xplosion soon).
The main event then took the roof off the building, featuring the team of uber heel Bully Ray (donning a Liverpool football shirt) and Kurt Angle against Sting and James Storm. This soon became a six man bout as Bobby Roode returned to fight once more and Hulk Hogan showed up to join the faces.
The match was an old school fan pleaser. Hogan worked a few spots in the ring, Sting and Storm taking most of the shots and moves. Bully Ray, Angle and Roode were on fine form throughout. Hogan utilised a walking stick on Ray to allow for a ‘Stinger Splash’ and ‘Last Call Superkick’ combo from his teammates to put the Bully away for the win.
Once the posing, ‘Hulking Up’ and cheers died down the end result was a definite thumbs-up to TNA from the Manchester natives. The card worked well, the matches were all worth seeing and the roster seemed intent on making the night a success. The TV tapings the next day would be a more structured affair with less change to deviate from the script, but for a company such as TNA these live tours are exactly what they need to show just how much they bring to the table in the wrestling industry. As the 2012 shows begun the company showed how dedicated to the UK they are by announcing January 2013 tour dates.