“7 steps forward ... 1 steps backward?” I know that’s not the phrase, but bear with me. Impact Wrestling’s third solid-to-great PPV in a row nearly made a convert out of me, but I came away scratching my head.
And sure, that’s not as confused as I am with the way WWE acts, but Impact’s going to be graded unfairly for two reasons. First, no live TV shows is a real hum-dinger of an issue. Secondly, it’s still working in the world of premium-price PPVs, at a time when ALL IN was the only wrestling PPV on the indies that has a high price-tag.
But after Redemption and Slammiversary had been so good, I found myself excited to hear that Bound For Glory was coming to New York, and to a quite-good venue: the Melrose Ballroom, that MLW and GCW had used so well for recent shows.
So, let’s dive into the show, in a chronological, blow-by-blow analysis of the show, as it played to the live audience.
Wrestling, as the excellent David Shoemaker is known to say on his podcast, is all about expectations. Going into this show, nobody would have blamed fans for expecting a lot from Impact, which had been teasing an appearance from Chris Jericho for a while, and this PPV had an open challenge spot that could fit him.
Me, though? Myself and two friends were both worried about someone else showing up to fill that void, as the requirement was “it’s a new yorker,” and the wrestler formerly known as Big Cass was definitely ... possible. So, it’s safe to say my expectations had sunk a bit, as I was preparing for the worst.
Then, some dudes show up looking for their seat, and ... we couldn’t find one of those seats. Literally, the stickers on our seats read 1, 2, ... and then 4, 5 ... and so on. So, a little bit later, a guy walks over to our area, holding a chair in the air, and asks us all to move in. I look him in the eyes and look down at my chair, and say, “so, place my chair against the ramp?”
He says, “yep.” And so that’s how I come to you with a ton of quite-good photos (click through the gallery above): incredible proximity due to bungled seating. I don’t know why this happened the way it did, this wasn’t the first time wrestling ran here, so I digress.
Lastly, we see some
TNA Impact employees walking around handing out items from a giant SWAG (shit we all get) bag. And by the time they get to us, we’re handed ... pens. Pens with Bound For Glory’s logo on one side and the ... COMDA logo on the other? Yes, COMDA, the sponsor of the PPV, you’ve never heard of them? Neither had I. So I looked them up, and found that they ... make merchandise for events? Never seen an event sponsor be an event merchandiser, but I guess that’s still a better sponsor than the bloody hands of the Saudi government.
Ethan Page & Willie Mack Debut in Impact
This match needed Ethan Page and Willie Mack more than I think anyone realized. Matt Sydal and Rich Swann, their respective tag partners, are good and all, but are both known quantities, and fall in the over-exposed category.
And Page and Mack both went out of their way to earn the respect of those watching. Even as a heel, “All Ego” Ethan Page is one of the more charismatic guys in the ring, but he still knows how to get boos by being a chickenshit, even though he’ll earn your respect by going off the top rope.
Eli Drake’s Open Challenge
So remember how I feared Big C? The rest of the Melrose Ballroom, judging by the massive Y2J! chants, had higher expectations.
Which is why the venue was filled with those torrential boos when OUT CAME JIMMY GOD DAMN DREAM HIMSELF, James MOTHERFUCKING Ellsworth. I popped, though. I even jumped up and high fived Ellsworth, who looked disappointed in me for doing so.
I don’t care, though. He wasn’t Cass or Enzo, he’s a winner in my book. Then the squash, then the rant and then Abyss! Which was neat, to get the Hall of Fame inductee onto the show that didn’t really have a spot for him.
Tessa Blanchard vs Taya Valkyrie
So, I gotta say I love both of these wrestlers, and that I was truly impressed by the crazier moves in the match.
That being said, this match needed more Heel/Face dynamics to it. Tessa is the nominal heel because ... she’s very god damn full of herself, but so is Taya, really. And while Tessa’s played the villain in the past, she’s so damn good that people have a hard time booing her. And so the crowd got a little quiet at times for this one, more than I’d liked it to have, considering the effort in the ring.
I hope her next feud as champ has more of a story to it. Also, Tessa vs Jordynne is gonna be amazing, if they run it, which they better.
MOOSE (and Kross) vs EDDIE (and Dreamer)
It was weird to me, that Killer Kross — after playing a significant role on TV lately — wouldn’t be on Bound For Glory. So, when that Hitman/or Low Ki-cosplaying goof popped up out of the crowd, to choke everyone out like he was answering thirsty tweets, I started a very slow, very self-contained clap.
The pleasant surprise that followed - Eddie and Tommy teaming up - was a nice touch for the New York crowd, considering the Yonkers-based Dreamer is practically a home-town boy.
But, man, is Eddie Edwards just a walking Flogging Molly album cover, or what?
Cage’d Lucha Brothers vs OvE
Loved this one, only three notes:
1) I’m disappointed with the Melrose Ballroom crowd. Typically, my GO BACK TO OHHIOOO (to the tune of Seven Nation ArmyZack Sabre JuniorOh Bask In His Glory) chant gets picked up. I guess some people actually like Solomon Crowe and his Crow-nies? No accounting for taste, I guess.
2) Fenix is just ... unreal. I know he gets overshadowed by Penta’s over-the-top-ness, but wow, you need to pay attention to him during this match.
3) There is nothing I wouldn’t believe about Brian Cage if you told me. He’s a mid-90’s Wolverine that fell out of Jeph Loeb’s pen, in the ring. The ending of the match, where he takes every single super-kick possible, and finally gets pinned, was sort of perfect. Made the Ohio boys look cruel, Cage look defiant, and sets up something down the road for Sami to challenge him.
The Concrete Jungle Death Match
Before the match could even start, some of us in the audience had a good idea that everything was about to go haywire. Why, you ask? Here’s why, this one board, as pointed out by Homicide:
Soon enough, the young referee commonly referred to as Baby Ref would be pulling that board away, as it had stacked up on another board.
Later, this happened:
Also, I’m pretty sure Eddie Kingston died after one of the bumps in that match.
While I appreciate the talented wrestlers who put their bodies on the line for this match, I sincerely hope Santana and Ortiz will be moving onto a new storyline, and away from Konnan. Listen to Not Your Demographic talk about LAX, as Stella Cheeks shares my thoughts on this situation.
Allie the Demon Slayer
Thank you, Impact, for remembering how much fun you had with The Broken Universe. I don’t care that I had to watch this on the big screens, for it was wonderful.
Johnny Impact vs Austin Aries ... the thing we’re all still talking about
When I bought my BFG ticket, I bought it on the expectation of a huge main event. What we got was ... something close. Mr Impact (aka Hennigan, Mundo, Morrison, Nitro) and Austin “Short Temper” Aries are good wrestlers, and put on a fun match with some great near-falls, but something felt off.
Bound For Glory, we’d thought, was one of Impact’s top PPVs, and this main event felt ... secondary. And then everything started to happen. Aries said he didn’t trust management at all.
Then, the fuck-finish, no selling Johnny’s flippity-dippity Starship Pain finisher, after the pinfall, by popping right back up. Then, he’s flipping the bird to his left and right, essentially saying fuck you to the whole audience — we deserved it, I swear there were so many short jokes — followed by looking up and pointing at commentary, which we all know includes Impact management, in Don Callis.
At this point, I’m pretty sure it’s all a work, as it all seemed too fluid, too obvious, and not ... rough at all around the corners. But then, one thing happens that creates doubt in my mind. Moose and Kross look utterly confused, and slowly make their way to the back.
So, I haven’t mentioned much about the match, and I feel like that’s by design, if I’m right about this being a work. Impact’s succeeded in getting everyone to talk about Aries, and since its first two PPVs were heavy on the excellent matches, it makes some sense that they imbue this one with more of the Sports Entertainment vibe.
I left happy
At the end of the night, I’ve got to say that Bound For Glory was a great time, and much better than the last time I saw Impact (then TNA) in NYC.
You might remember the time they ran the Manhattan Center, and the story was based around Bully trying to put Dixie through a table. This Impact I saw? Much better. A company I was happy to support. A company that would soon debut the fantastic Jordynne Grace.
Congrats, Impact, you’re definitely worth taking serious now.
Or at least that’s my opinion until you do something really dumb like bringing Alberto El Patron back. Don’t do that. Please. And figure out how numbered chair seating works.
Henry T. Casey is a tech journalist who writes at Tom’s Guide and Laptop Mag who contributes to Cageside Seats because he wants to share how much he loves pro wrestling with as many people as possible. He tweets via @henrytcasey. Henry also podcasts about wrestling at The Ring Post.