It was a case of east meets west for TNA and their latest One Night Only pay per view as they joined forces with Japan’s Wrestle-1 promotion for Global Impact Japan, shown this past Wednesday night on Challenge here in Britain.
The show began with tag team action as the Bad Influence team of Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian took on the Junior Stars, Koji Kanemoto and Minoru Tanaka.
As far as show openers go this was pretty enjoyable. It was also an example of how the powers that be screwed up big time by letting Daniels and Kazarian slip though their fingers.
Both teams put in good performances, and although Bad Influence seemed to miss a step or two early on it wasn’t long before they were into their stride and using Kanemoto for target practice.
Kanemoto came back with some sound offence before he got the hot tag to Tanaka, signalling the all hell breaking loose segment. Tanaka would have surely got the pin on Daniels after a 450 splash from the top rope had Kazarian not pulled the referee out of the ring. I’m guessing that doesn’t happen much in Japan, judging by the crowd’s reaction.
Some fast back and forth exchanges followed until Kanemoto was taken out of the equation and Tanaka was taken down by the high-low to give Daniels and Kazarian the win.
The Knockouts were up next as Gail Kim faced Knockouts Champion Madison Rayne in a non-title match.
Short and sweet would probably be the best way to describe this encounter. These two definitely put on a show in the short amount of time they were given. Both women looked in top form, and although there was one slightly dodgy moment overall it was a pretty enjoyable encounter.
Both came close to getting the win on numerous occasions until Kim took Rayne down with her eat defeat finisher for the winning pin.
Then it was back to inter-promotional action as Abyss faced Yoshihiro Takayama.
The formula for this one was simple. You had a big American guy and a big Japanese guy beating the proverbial out of each other. It was effective, although it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, mainly because I would have preferred to see more in-ring action.
What we did get was a big brawl on the stage before Abyss body slammed Takayama onto a pile of drawing pin. But when the monster tried to follow up with a big splash Takayama moved out of the way. They then beat on each other for a few more moments, and when the referee tried to stop them they pushed him away. The official called for the bell immediately, throwing the match out.
The singles action continued with Bobby Roode going up against Masakatsu Funaki.
Now this was more like it, because what we had here was a nice back and forth encounter filled with great technical action, and with both wrestlers putting in sound performances.
Roode, of course, I’m very familiar with, but I’m not sure if I’ve seen Funaki before. Either way the guy impressed the hell out of me from the start, when he intimidated Roode with his MMA stylings and his overall wrestling prowess.
The only bad thing about this match is that I couldn’t help what would happen if they’d been given more time, such was my enjoyment of this encounter, because just over eleven minutes didn’t really seem enough for these two.
As it is the end came after an exchange of submission holds before Roode tapped out to Funaki’s ankle lock.
Six man action followed as Samoa Joe tagged with the Desperado team of Masayuki Kono and Rene Dupree against Keiji Mutoh, Rob Terry and Taiyo Kea.
This one had a couple of interesting storylines. Mutoh had announced that he would retire if he lost this match, and on the opposite side of the ring Joe had let it be known beforehand that he wasn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of teaming with his somewhat villainous partners. These factors led to some very interesting exchanges later in the match.
The match itself was a pretty decent affair. All six men took turns in taking the punching bag treatment, and even Terry looked good with the somewhat limited time he was given.
As for those interesting exchanges, the first came when Dupree and Kono had doubled up on Mutoh. When the boss was sent out of the ring their Desperado buddies at ringside tried to attack. Their attempts were thwarted by Joe, who wanted to win the match by legitimate means.
A few moments later, just when it looked like Mutoh was going to get the pin after a shining wizard the referee was pulled out of the ring as he made his count. Once again this didn’t sit too well with Joe, especially when the four Desperados attacked Mutoh in the ring. They urged the big Samoan to join in with them. Joe’s response was to give them the finger before he stopped Dupree from clobbering the Japanese legend with a chair.
It was then that Mutoh and his partners regrouped and took control, and as Joe walked off, leaving his heinous partners behind, Mutoh took Dupree out with a shining wizard for the career extending winning pin.
The first title match of the evening saw Jessie Godderz and Robbie E of the BroMans and the Team 246 duo of Kaz Hayashi and Shuji Kondo challenging Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards of the Wolves for the Tag Team titles.
This is another one you can put on the pretty decent pile. Part comedy, part strong-style, it was filled with great action. E and Godderz were treated with some degree of disdain early on as the Wolves and the 24-Sixers put together some decent exchanges, but it wasn’t long before the boys from Jersey were pulling off some good moves themselves. Yep, you read that correctly, I actually liked something that Robbie E did.
From there the match moved along nicely. Out of the two challengers it looked like the Japanese stars were going to get the pin, especially when their exchanges with Richards and Edwards got a whole lot more intense as the match went on. But then, from out of nowhere, E and Godderz came back into the match. No longer treated as a sideshow in this affair, they took Hayashi down with their bro-down finisher for the title winning pin.
The penultimate match saw Seiya Sanada challenge Austin Aries for the X Division title.
This could be one of the best X Division matches I’ve seen in the past couple of years, and although it didn’t really feel like an X Division match it was still a very good match.
For nearly twenty minutes both guys put on a great back and forth encounter, mixing hard hitting exchanges with a few fast paced moves and some nice back and forth technical moves. It was the kind of match that you could watch over and over and still enjoy it each and every time.
Aries put in his usual solid performance, while Sanada impressed the hell out of me. This is the first time I’ve got a really good like at him, and I can see why the Japanese powers that be are so high on this guy.
The end came after Sanada survived Aries’ brain buster. Having got his umpteenth win he connected with a couple of top rope moonsaults to get the winning pin.
The main event saw Kai challenge Magnus for the World title. Moving on…..
In conclusion – although it’s tempting to compare this to the old WCW/New Japan super shows TNA’s joint venture with Wrestle-1 can easily be considered a very good show in it’s own right.
All of the matches delivered here delivered for the most part, and while it certainly was interesting to see some old familiar faces again, such as Hayashi and Takayama, it was also nice to get a look at some of those I haven’t seen much of.
Mention must be made though, once again, of Taz’s commentary. There were times when he was quite insightful, but there were also times when he came across as a complete idiot, especially with his comments about the ringside photographers.
As for my prestigious match of the night no-prize, my first choice was the great technical battle between Roode and Funaki. Then Aries and Sanada stole the show, so the no-prize goes to the X Division title battle this time around.
So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing left to do, and that’s to give TNA’s foray to Japan the big thumbs up.
By day I’m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer at a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. Visit my site at www.twoshedsreview.vze.com. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!