Below is a first hand account of this year’s Bound for Glory as brought to us from one of our readers – Dylan Standlea! Thanks to Dylan for providing this information as well as the picture above. We hope you enjoy Dylan’s review.
I’ve never been to a TNA show before. In fact the last wrestling show I attended live was back in 1996, and it was a WWE (then WWF) house show at Anaheim Pond in California. Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bret Hart were feuding, Triple H was Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and I owned a lot of action figures.
Well, it’s been a year or so since I’ve cared to follow what’s going on in the gargantuan competition to TNA that is World Wrestling Entertainment … but I’ve been following TNA and Impact Wrestling every week, and the urge to attend one of their shows has been growing. The problem is, I live in Southern California, and TNA never comes out my way—but I do have family in the Phoenix area.
So when I heard Bound for Glory was coming to Phoenix, I jumped on my computer as soon as I could and purchased myself a ticket. I don’t really know anyone these days who is as passionate about it as I am, so I decided to be adventurous and just purchase the one ticket and go it alone.
First of all, the event is held at the Grand Canyon University arena. I found out from a friend that this is actually a Christian campus which normally holds Christian or at least family friendly events, but that they are branching out. This is apparently a source of controversy in the community, because I knew I was in the right place when I drove by the Church next door, which displayed a sign that said “Shame on you Grand Canyon University!”. It made me wonder what TNA’s first Hall of Fame inductee would have to say about that (Sting being a devout Christian and all). Ultimately it just made me reflect on how little people still understand pro wrestling, and how unfortunate it is that it is demonized.
Anyway, I arrived early, as did about a hundred other people, and we spent hours outside the arena listening to a Sirius radio show go on, and try to catch a glimpse of TNA stars up on the balcony answering questions. Samoa Joe was among them, and at one point he actually threw free t-shirts to the fans, who of course scrambled for them like savages. I wanted a free t-shirt too, but I wasn’t about to tackle other people and bite faces, or anything.
I had the pleasure of meeting a few interesting fans, including a Vietnam Vet named Dennis who used to work security at wrestling shows, and was an old friend of Bobby the Brain Heenan, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and Mr. Perfect, among others. He had some wild stories, none of which I think would be appropriate or fair to print here. But he did say that he never met a pro wrestler who was rude to him. He had attended the weekend event which kicked off the day before with the induction of Sting, and since I wasn’t able to go I was happy to hear about his experiences. He spoke particularly highly of Bully Ray, saying he was the opposite of his character, and how nice he was, thanking him for his service to his country, and in general being very quiet and polite. That was nice to hear.
I also met a couple of Brits from Chester, England and the surrounding area. I asked them if TNA was big in England, and I was told “it had it’s fair share of fans”. I asked them if they were Magnus fans and got an emphatic and immediate “yes.”.
Once inside the arena, it was apparent how small the place was, which I didn’t mind at all—there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. I was very pleased about paying $50 for my seat though, as I was very nearly on the floor of the arena and had a fantastic view! Before the show started, So Cal Val and Jeremy Borash kicked off festivities and tried to get everyone amped up about being on television, which was not hard to do. Mike Tenay, Taz, Urbina and Guerrerro were introduced next, and it occurred to me that the one thing you miss in a live show is the color commentary. Taz easily got the biggest pop here, and I was pleased that he entered to familiar entrance music. I gave Mike Tenay a standing ovation, but there were not necessarily many who joined me.
At first I was worried that the arena wasn’t going to fill up, but it seats 5,000 and I would say it was 9/10s full. I wanted TNA to do well, as they’ve never been to Arizona before, and I also wanted it to look good on PPV.
Rob Van Dam vs. Zema Ion
There was a very small following for Zema Ion, but Rob Van Dam held a masterful command of his audience. This was an electric match, where everyone was booing the hell out of Ion but still managed to be impressed by his in-ring work. The crowd would boo him, and then “wow!”, and chant “TNA!” when something crazy went down. I was actually sad to see Rob Van Dam win the championship—does he even fit under the weight limit? Does he need that championship? I hope he is the champion so some younger, newer star can be built up by defeating him.
Magnus vs. Samoa Joe
Besides my friends from Chester, England, everyone wanted Joe to rip Magnus to shreds. This was also en entertaining match, and I can’t wait to see what they do with Magnus in the future, it seems like he has tons of potential. I am glad Samoa Joe retained though, as he deserves it and I got real tired of his long standing losing streak a little while back. Also, it seems inappropriate for the TV championship to change hands on a PPV.
Roode vs. Storm
This is where I split from the strangers I was sitting with, and cheered the It Factor. I love this guy, even if Ravishing Rick Rude wants his sequined robe back. I hope he gets back into the championship title picture soon, but I knew he was going to lose this one. This had lots of crazy high spots and most of the fans were standing throughout the entire match. I liked that they used King Mo to defend Earl Hebner, but I thought he would get more involved. Roode going down on the tacks twice was hard to watch, and there were referees after the match helping him back to the locker room, and I don’t think that part was for show. Both men took a hell of a beating, and it was a fantastic conclusion to their long standing rivalry.
Joey Ryan vs. Al Snow
This was the first part of the show where people seemed to think it was a good idea to go buy a pretzel and a beer, but they soon get pretty engaged none the less. Even before Al Snow entered the arena, you had nostalgic fans chanting “HEAD!” and talking about how nice it was to see the man wrestle again. There were also a few fans with 87% signs, which I thought was cool, scattered among the larger masses of Sting facepaint and Jeff Hardy look-alikes, and Hulkamania tee shirts.
The match itself was fun, and I would even say “genius”. You got to see Al Snow get the better of Ryan and kick the crap out of him, but then you had Matt Morgan running out of nowhere (actually he walked out right in front of me with a security guard pretending to try to stop him the whole way) and putting the boot to Snow. Clearly they have a Shawn Michaels and Diesel dynamic building here, and I can’t wait to see it unfold. They managed to make Snow look really good and give most of the fans the beating they wanted to see, while still cementing Ryan as the winner and making him even easier to dislike. It was great.
Daniels and Kaz vs. Angle and Styles vs. Chavo and Hernandez
This was the moment for arguably the biggest pops of the night. Kurt Angle and AJ Styles received an ovation that was perhaps on par with that given to Sting and Hulk Hogan. It was impressive. I knew this match could be a show stealer, and I still feel justified with that assertion. Everyone was on their feet once more watching this craziness happen. It was hard to keep track of who the legal man was, and you had to occasionally look at the big screen to see the carnage on the floor outside the ring. I was cheering for Angle and Styles, but it was nice to see Chavo get some gold around his waist.
I know it may sound like a minor gripe, but I think all of these tag teams need proper tag-team names. Angle and Styles need to be the Dream Team, and Daniels and Kaz should be called Bad Influence. I don’t know about our new tag champs, but I’m all about traditional tag names and matching tights. It’s important to me. Call me strange.
Anyway the live audience hated Daniels and Kaz with a passion, and although Chavo and Super Mex didn’t get the accolades of the Dream Team, they still got plenty cheers (and “Eddie!” chants) when they won.
Tara vs. Tessmacher
This was another moment, bizarrely to me, that fans got up to go to the bathroom or grab some food. Even a lot of the people who didn’t budge didn’t seem to appreciate these women enough. I mean, yes, they’re ridiculously attractive, no one is disputing this, but they are also tremendous wrestlers and I don’t think enough of the live audience were really in the know about that, or cared enough, precisely because they were women. There was a feeling that this match wasn’t going to be on par with the others, when really it was quite good.
I will say though that Tara seemed to have more supporters than Tessmacher, and she got a lot of cheers when she hit that Widow’s Peak for the 1, 2, 3. When she introduced her supposedly famous boyfriend, a lot of people started chanting “Who are you?”, which shows they got the point of the whole obnoxious storyline, perhaps unknowingly. There was an awkward moment when Sting’s Hall of Fame footage came up and fans were sort of cheering Sting, but booing the Big Brother star’s exit.
Aces & 8s vs. Sting and Bully Ray
People were going crazy for Sting and the Bully. There were lots of “Let’s go Bully!” chants in the audience and everybody, including myself, loved that Bully was wearing Sting’s war paint. They teamed together very well and it had sort of an old school vibe to it, despite the chairs and tables and whatnot.
Everyone in the audience were thrilled when Joseph Parks came to a temporary rescue, and later when things when south, everyone was chanting for the Hulkster. It was hard not to get caught up in the electricity of it all and chant for Hogan myself. I like Hulk now, but I’m not a huge Hogan fan in particular. It didn’t matter. You just wanted him to save the day. And everyone, too, was shocked by the revelation that it was Devon … I remember suspecting him a while ago when he and Garret said they’d have Hogan’s back and never showed up, but I was fooled when it seemed that there was a contract dispute and they stripped him of the TV title. I really didn’t know, and Hogan’s reaction, like he was sick to his stomach, was so well done!
Devon and his Aces and 8s posse walked right by me on their way out, and people were taking pictures when they weren’t talking about how much they didn’t see that coming!
Austin Ares vs. Jeff Hardy
This was oddly split in the audience, where you definitely had more Hardy fans, but Ares certainly had his supporters too. I was cheering for Austin Ares, because I wanted him to keep the championship for a long time, and I like that he’s sort of a home grown star. So I was booing Jeff Hardy when he won, but I am actually happy for him, that he’s turned his life and his career around so well. Good for him, I say. And before the match, having witnessed the fallout of Aces and 8s, I realized that they need a TNA champion who is a face to combat the new faction, and right now that just isn’t Ares, while Jeff is the most popular wrestler they have.
It was a spectacular, exciting match, with a lot of passion, and it was another where no one really wanted to sit down. There was a constant stream of warring chants, “Let’s go Ares!, Let’s go Hardy!”, and a fight even broke out at one point in the stands, diverting the attention of some from the match. I don’t know the specifics, but I do know someone got removed from the stadium, and the other individual involved kept flashing the Hardy sign at him. People were taking this a little too seriously, maybe?
I am a little troubled by the trend I’m seeing in the championship title changes, as it seems like TNA may be shifting their focus to a lot of guys who became famous in other companies, but we will see what happens.
In any event, I am so, so, so glad I was able to attend Bound for Glory this year. It occurred to me watching it live that really, this is how pro wrestling is meant to be watched. It is truly a very athletic form of theater. It’s fun to watch on television, on pay-per-view, but you don’t really understand how much of a story is being told IN the ring until you watch it happen live, and you understand how interactive it is, and you’re cheering or booing, and hi-fiving other fans, or competing against them, willing that heel nobody likes to win. You see the subtle nuances of who these characters are through their actions between the ropes, and there’s just nothing like it.
To anyone who’s never been to a live TNA show—go as soon as you can. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.