After all the rumours had stopped, TNA's biggest night of the year Bound For Glory took place in Orlando, Florida on 2nd October 2016. In the main event, Brother Nero and "Broken" Matt Hardy would challenge The Decay for the World Tag Team Championships in The Great War, whilst Lashley would defend his World Heavyweight Championship against Ethan Carter III. With Eddie Edwards, Aron Rex, Braxton Sutter, Eli Drake and Rockstar Spud also taking up major spots within the card, could Bound For Glory prove to be a success amidst all the hearsay?
In the most anticpated match of the evening, Brother Nero & "Broken" Matt Hardy won the World Tag Team Championship from The Decay ("The Monster" Abyss & Crazzy Steve) in a completely bonkers encounter, dubbed The Great War. Anyone who has seen The Final Deletion and/or Delete or Decay will have known the kind of thing to expect, but with this match mixing live and pre-recorded action it may very well have been the most unpredictable slice of the trilogy. The pre-recorded portion began after the teams had brawled backstage and was split into two halves as Abyss and Hardy collided outside the building and Steve and Nero remained around the backstage area. The ability to jump between two distinct areas of action upped the ante on the insanity, bringing more "What the fuck is going on?" factor than every before, as Nero morphed into various characters because of a bucket labbeled "The Lake of Restoration" and Abyss and Hardy fought on the back of a pick-up truck driven by Rosemary, whilst The Monster's girlfriend come 2x4 with nails sticking out of it Janice was on fire.
The stuff inside Impact Zone sandwiched the pre-recorded section, with the first part setting the stage for the violence of second as Rosemary hit a wonderful coast to coast on Hardy with trash can and Abyss stapled Nero in the face. The second portion gradually built to the finish with Nero & Hardy able to lay out each member of The Decay one by one. Abyss took a modified Side Effect on the barbed wire board (which was also covered in tacks), before being sandwiched between two boards and hit with an elbow drop, Reby Hardy would return to powerbomb Rosemary off the apron through the table and Steve took a barage of offence including multiple chair shots and a Twist of Fate with the chair wrapped round his neck. As has been a staple of the "Broken and Obsolete" story, the finish made multiple call backs as Hardy allowed his Brother to "Indulge in his addiction", meaning that Nero hit a Swantom Bomb off the top of the massive ladder through two tables to give his team the victory. As a match, The Great War is difficult to analyse, if you take it for what it was a real spectacle of utter madness then you've got over 20 minutes of mind-boggling entertainment. Wrestling should be fun and The Great War was certainly that.
When it came time for Ethan Carter III to challenge Lashley for the World Heavyweight Championship, I couldn't help but feel that having this match go on last was a mistake. Yes, it was for the World title and yes, it had plenty of build, but it was never going to able to compete with The Great War. Firstly, you had the heel champion retaining the title, which 9 times out of 10 is going to leave the biggest event of the year feeling a little flat, which I don't think would have been the case had the show concluded with The Great War. Secondly, giving the match a "No Holds Barred" stipulation meant that it was suddenly put in the same ball park as the other match and with the Hardyz and The Decay using barbed wire and thumb tacks, Lashley and EC3 weren't going to be able to provide that level of brutality in their own contest.
In it's own right Lashley v EC3 was a good wrestling match, that started strongly with Lashley nailing The Ass Kicking Machine with a spear during the in-ring introductions. Having the World Heavyweight Champion still get Jeremy Borash to complete his introduction after the fact was a great moment, that built his character well. The overall storytelling of Lashley's frustration at being unable to put EC3 away despite multiple spears, built the match well with EC3 selling the moves well to aid the story, even if the spears didn't create believable near falls because of their timing and the fact that every man and his dog has kicked out of Lashley's spear on multiple occassions by this point. Where the match was held back for me was Lashley's bumping ability, which ended up hurting a number of the contest's bigger spots, like a TK3 onto the steel steps that looked awful as well as his odd way of taking German suplexes for EC3's fire up sequence in the last part of the bout. The finish of the middle rope spear got a cool reaction out of the Impact Zone, but for me took a little too long in it's build up. Lashley retaining his belt to close the show was interesting decision as was having EC3 lose clean, however this was still a good watch that held my attention throughout.
Aron Rex's victory over Eddie Edwards to became the first ever Grand Champion was a dull affair that didn't come close to exploring what the round system could do. Fought as three five minute rounds, Edwards won the first round after dominating with dropkicks, a hurricanrana and a suicide dive, before Rex evended the score with a round that saw him focus on Edwards' legs. I think the thing that struck me the most is that this didn't feel any different to a normal match, yeah there was timer ticking away in the corner, but for what is supposed to be a brand new division, I expected the pair to employ a different style. I thought that we'd be seeing a more hard-hitting, MMA inspired type of wrestling, but as soon as Rex did a dismal flip after taking a hurricanrana I knew that this was not to be the case. Oh yeah, the lights went off in the middle of the second round, as well.
The final round lacked the drama that it should have had, as with both men level surely was the time that Rex and Edwards would have been trying to put the match to bed without having to go to the judges decision. This is where Rex previously working the leg could have been used to the fullest, as whilst Edwards sold the injury well on numerous occassions, that story was allowed to fade into the distance. The match finished with the pair punching each other on their knees, after Edwards had hit a shining wizard, which with the match supposedly being scored based on dominance, didn't make a whole lot of sense. Obviously, Rex was awarded the third round and hilariously, the on-screen graphic appeared to contradict Jeremy Borash's announced result of split decision. Honestly, Rex appeared to look like he wanted to anywhere else during most of the match, appearing happy to go through the motions and even in his celebration looked like he couldn't wait to get behind the curtain.
Eli Drake would earn himself a World Heavyweight Championship match in a Bound for Gold Gauntlet Battle Royal, that also featured Braxton Sutter, Rockstar Spud, Basile Baraka, Grado, Robbie E, Jessie Godderz, Baron Dax, Tyrus and Mahabali Shera. This match never looked like being anything other than basic, but there was a few good performances in the mix. Most notably, Spud was one form throughout starting the match with a low-blow on Godderz, before holding onto the bottom rope with all he could. Despite being a heel, it was only he and Grado who got any kind of crowd support during the match, as it appeared the crowd recognised that he was the one trying his hardest to entertain them. You'll either love Grado doing the Bushwacker Luke spot or it'll make you groan, however considering the size of the pop he recieved it feels a little short sighted not to have him feature more. There was also some decent stuff put together by The Bro-Mans, including their initial falling out as E tried to eliminate Godderz, before they worked the best series of action of the match with The Tribunal that would see all but Godderz eliminated within a matter of seconds.
The finish saw Drake able to hold onto the bottom rope using just his feet, before blindsiding Tyrus and Godderz to eliminate them both and win the match. As impressive as Drake staying in the ring was, the finish was still a repeat of a spot that we've seen multiple times over the years and didn't really add a lot to the moment. Out of the field, Drake was probably the most likely winner as he's been featured in major storylines on Impact Wrestling over the last couple of month's and has impressed particularly with his promo ability, getting his "Dummy" catchphrase over well. Overall, this was probably slightly better than last years effort, but was essentially a way of filling up fifteen minutes without having to work particularly hard to do so. How acts like Mandrews and Andrew Everrett didn't find a way into this match, I have no idea as they had the ability to breath some life into this plod-fest.
Gail Kim joining the likes of Kurt Angle, Sting and Team 3D in the TNA Hall of Fame was a sugary sweet moment that featured a shit-tonne of hyperbole. Christy Hemme, Taryn Terrell and Awesome Kong all returned to take part in the Dixie Carter-lead induction, that included Kim being described as "the greatest female wrestler to have ever lived". There's no doubt that Kim is the most deserving woman of an induction into TNA's Hall of Fame, but backing up that description would be tough task for anyone. The best part of this segment was when Kim finally got to talk for herself, after Carter had said "Thank you" into the camera rather than to the woman who was standing directly beside her. The speech was heart felt and passionate as Kim discussed having high and lows with the business and read a list of thank yous to various people who have helped her along the way.
Arguably the best wrestling match on the show came at the beginning as DJ Z retained the X Division title in a pacy encounter with Trevor Lee. The match was full of great reversal and sequences that built nicely throughout with the pair always seeming that something up their sleeve to keep the match engaging and exciting throughout. The final stretch that saw Lee going for a German Suplex whilst Z was looking for the ZDT was very well executed, with the duo having a number of ways to hold off each move being hit, including Z turning a German suplex into a reverse rana. I think had the duo been given a bit more time to run with then they only would have created even better action and added to it with more depth to the story-telling. Overall, this was a cracking opening contest, that was nice change from the usual multi-man X Division bout that TNA have chosen to gone with on their last couple of supercards.
Moose going over Mike Bennett in a grudge match was a mixed bag, that featured some decent wrestling, but also showed up that Moose was not quite ready for the major push he seems destined for within TNA. That's because after Moose's face shine, Bennett focused heavily on Moose's knee, beginning with a nice low dropkick. Did Moose sell that on his comeback? Did he fuck! This could have been used to really drive the match later on, giving Bennett chances to get back into the match, whilst also allowing Moose to look stronger for having fought through the injury. There was one great sequence in the final third of the bout that saw Moose block a Cutter, before the duo went through a series of back and forth strikes and concluded with Bennett nailing a cutter as Moose came in with a diving crossbody for a strong near fall. Looking at the results across the show, it would seem obvious for Moose to move into an anticipated bout with Lashley over the World Heavyweight strap, whether Moose is ready for a match on that level, I'm still not convinced.
Rounding out the show was new TNA Hall of Famer Gail Kim winning her sixth Knockout's Championship from Maria Kanellis-Bennett in a satisfying climax to their feud that has been running since the beginning of the year. This was a sound storyline match up, that saw the deck constantly stacked against Kim, but with the challenger always building momentum against the woman who has tried to hold her down throughout the year. The interference from Allie and Mike Bennett worked well, with MKB's cast producing both a strong false finish and a babyface shine moment for Kim as she chucked it into the crowd. Kim's comeback was a great moment with Kim showing her frustration well as she battered MKB with a number of strikes before running through a number of her greatest hits, including a Figure Four around the ringpost and Eat Defeat to win the title. This match will never be accused of being a technical masterpiece, but it was an entertaining conclusion to the storyline, that allowed a feel good moment to go alongside Kim's induction.
ATPW Scale Rating - 5.58/10
In conclusion, Bound For Glory was a mostly entertaining show that featured satisfying climaxes to a number of long running feuds (The Great War, Knockout's Championship), a couple of good title matches (World Heavyweight Championship, X Division Championship), yet was held back by major slots on the card being taken by dull matches and uninterested performers (Grand Championship, Bound For Gold Gauntlet). This leaves Bound For Glory 2016 with an above average rating on the ATPW Scale, when perhaps with a little shuffling we could've seen a show get a "Good" rating.
Words - James Marston
All images remain the property of their respective owners.