From the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, MN, THIS is TNA!
This was their very first trip to Minnesota. Most of the lower deck was sold out, and none of the upper deck - so maybe they moved some of the people who bought cheap seats.
Ticketmaster and a presale code meant Kim and I were in the second row - which of course meant that as luck would have it, one of the dumbest dumbass smarky smark smarks was sitting in Row 1. Fortunately, he was a distinct minority as most people were there to have fun, enjoy the show, and not necessarily worry so much about working up chants, except for the occasional "LET'S GO ______" or "USA" chant.
I should add by way of disclaimer that I haven't watched iMPACT! since...when was the live show? I think I watched about half of that one. I have been told that I'm better off NOT watching any of their television so as to not sour me on anything unduly. ;-)
Bell time was 7:30 on our tickets - at 7:22 SOME GUY WHO I SHOULD PROBABLY KNOW THE NAME OF BUT DON'T came out to go over the rules for watching tonight's show. They seem....excessively worried about people attempting to videotape the proceedings.
At 7:26 JEREMY BORASH received a home state welcome. He encouraged loudness with the carrot of backstage passes - the same scam he pulls at EVERY house show. As this was a brand new audience, it went over like gangbusters.
RUDY CHARLES and MARK "SLICK" JOHNSON alternated matches as referees.
TWO OF BORASH'S HOT COUSINS served as the ring girls. (Geeky dudes usually have hot female cousins.)
First match actually kicked off at 7:29:
X DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP: CHRIS SABIN (challenger) v. SUICIDE (champion)
Suicide didn't use the aisle for his entrance, instead appearing at the top one of the sets of stairs and walking down through the crowd to the ring. Who's under the mask? Wikipedia says it's Christopher Daniels, so I have no reason to disbelieve it. Suicide in 8:39 with what is probably his finishing move. The video game was NOT mentioned, but WAS on the ring apron. "Hey Kim, look! It's the game that sent Midway into bankruptcy!"
KNOCKOUTS (WOMEN'S) MATCH: SOJO BOLT v. MINNEAPOLIS' OWN ODB
I think it's funny that JB went ahead and said "Women's" in case "knockouts" was a foreign term to the non-TNA watching crowd. Mostly played for laughs - highlights included the smacking of asses and the feeling up of fake boobs. That's not family friendly! The hometown girl with the flask won with a face fulla stuff into a rollup into a pin in 6:30. TNA JUST added a new "webmatch" between these two to their website - Click Here (tnawrestling.com) - but I am too lazy to watch it and tell you if it's even close to what I saw earlier tonight.
USA VS. JAPAN - FOR THE NEW JAPAN IWGP TAG TEAM TITLES - NO LIMIT (challengers) v. TEAM 3D (champions) If you had told me I would live to see the day when I'd see an IWGP title defense in Minnesota....well, I wouldn't TOTALLY laugh you off since I'd already seen Mitsuharu Misawa in Middle of Nowhere, CA for Pro Wrestling IRON, but you definitely would have gotten a hearty chuckle. Not to mention that the current champions are the ex-Dudleys! Now I have to confess, I have no idea which one is Yujiro and which one is Tetsuya Naito, but all four men worked surprisingly well together and gave us a pretty great match. Knowing the belts have to return to Japan sometime soon, I briefly flirted with the idea of a title change on this house show, but you know that ain't really happening. And so it was that after the 3-D (which stands for....nothing, so keep your mouth shut), Brother Devon pinned...one of 'em in 14:09 and the champs retained.
With a complete lack of acknowledgement of HIS Minneapolis roots, SHIEK ABDUL BASHIR (from "Tehran") came out to say a few words to the crowd, and ignore everyone calling him Shawn Daivari.
SHIEK ABDUL BASHIR v. AJ STYLES Styles was announced as some champion, but he didn't have a belt with him. My crack team of researchers (myself) came up with the Legends championship. Kim likes Styles a whole lot more than she should - I don't think he was at the ROH cards we went to? - but was really into him here. Good back-n-forth match with appropriately escalating finishers, but only the STYLES CLASH could keep Bashir down for the 1, 2, 3. 13:35.
Borash announced the FIFTEEN MINUTE INTERMISSION, which in typical fashion, lasted just over 20 minutes. Merchandise was slim pickins, with a lot of ugly overpriced shirts, Christian Cage DVDs, Sting wristbands, and $20 (!) programs. I stopped thinking about a program when I heard it was $20.
Somewhere in here Borash annouced how happy TNA was for iMPACT! receiving its "highest rating ever" just last week - or was it yesterday? Whatever. Plug for Spike.
FOR THE TNA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS: BEER MONEY (James Storm & Robert Roode - champions) v. LATIN AMERICAN EXCHANGE (Homicide & Hernandez) These men are pros and these men know how to tell the story of a tag team match. Again, we had some spots for yuks early on, but the violence escalated from there and after an appropriate amount of misdirection and confusion (and really, Rudy Charles should know better by now), it was the champs retaining in 17:27. This was the only dive out of the ring which moved the barricades enough to make everyone worry that some small children were taken out. Well....not everyone "worried" - some "laughed." This has nothing to do with that, but that Hernandez is one HAPPY dude - I don't think he ever stopped smiling all night.
At this point, Borash announced that later in the year, TNA would likely return to Minnesota - and the word was, it would ALSO be a PAY PER VIEW. I am skeptical, but the crowd ate it up - and I can vouch that *this* crowd WOULD be good at a PPV. They could probably fill the upper section for a PPV.
OUR MAIN EVENT OF THE EVENING KURT ANGLE v. JEFF JARRETT Angle is scary tiny and doesn't appear to have an ounce of body fat on him - really remarkably creepy when he's fifteen feet away from you. This may have been the only match where my expectations overreached what I saw - it was still OK-to-good, and really I have no good reason for expecting so much more from these guys given their histories, but it is what it is. Ref bump, guitar here, guitar there, Bashir ran out, Team 3D ran out, finally Angle got El Kabong from Jarrett and the ref woke up in time to count 1, 2, 3 in 10:41.
They did the bit about "instead of taking fans backstage, let's take backstage to the fans" and Borash announced that Team 3D would stick around in the ring for Polaroids for $20. They made A MINT with this.
Styles, ODB, and LAX came out to walk around the ring signing and posing for photos. I got Styles and ODB's autographs on my notes, and Kim got her photo with ODB. And then we DID end up going into the ring for the photo 'cause, c'mon, actually stepping foot into the FAMED six sided ring we (can) see on television? Don't let this get out, but I was more excited about seeing the IWGP tag team title belts than Team 3D. Them sumbitches are deceptively heavy! (The belts, not Brother Ray and Brother Devon.) So we'll get that scanned and show it to you Real Soon Now - it'll be nice to have me in a photo with a tag team still actually living. We did get to shake hands with Team 3D (well, it was a fist bump for Ray - whatevs, dude) and ALSO shake B.G. James' hand as he was helping out in the ring - so, y'know, beats $20 for a program.
Card ended at 9:50 and they were wrapping it up at 10:30.
We skipped the afterparty at Mickey's. It's, like, an 80 mile drive! And the beer here has already been paid for.
Originally posted by CRZAngle is scary tiny and doesn't appear to have an ounce of body fat on him - really remarkably creepy when he's fifteen feet away from you.
Fully agreed. I had front row seats to a TNA house show in Gatineau about a year and a half ago, and it surprised me how slim he is. He's built like a small gorilla, and those eyes man! Those eyes! He did the $20 Polaroids, and for a show that couldn't have had more than 300 people there tops, I am convinced they made about $4000-$5000 because nearly EVERYONE wanted one.