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Styles sides with Angle costing Cage at Final Resolution
By MARK XAMIN - SLAM! Wrestling


It's hard to believe that another year has gone by. 2007 was a banner year for TNA with a new two-hour timeslot on Spike TV and the signing of Booker T. But last night marked the beginning of a brand new year for Total Non-Stop Action wrestling, as Kurt Angle and Christian Cage were set to square off in a main event of epic proportions.

Final Resolution was live from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, the building where fans will mark out over absolutely anything. But this was a night where not even the boisterous crowd could cover up the very mediocre event that took place. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

The pay-per-view kicked off with the obligatory hype video, highlighting the title matches set to take place. As always, we are led to believe that something cataclysmic and earth shattering is somehow riding on this wrestling show. But it's tough to argue with the fact that the hype videos are well put together.

Match #1: Lance Hoyt & Jimmy Rave w/Christy Hemme vs The LAX (Homicide & Hernandez)
This was about 10 minutes of non-stop non-psychology, as they all took their turns getting in their high spots and forgetting to sell absolutely anything. Jimmy Rave hit Homicide with an STO on the ring apron. Hernandez dove over the top and to the outside, nailing Hoyt. The match moved back inside the ring, where Homicide made no tag, but Hernandez got in the ring anyway (right in front of the referee) and started cleaning house as if he were the legal man. Hernandez went to hit Rave with the Border Toss, but Hemme saved him. The mysterious member of the Latino nation appeared. Rave went to the top rope but Hernandez shoved him and Rave lost his balance, crotching himself backwards on the ring post. Hernandez delivered a Super Border Toss from the top for the 1-2-3. LAX are your winners.

Christy Hemme pointed out the mysterious Latino nation's member to Lance Hoyt. It was a female, but Hoyt grabbed her anyway. She low blowed Hoyt, and then pounced on Hemme. Hemme, Hoyt, and Rave cleared the ring and the mysterious member revealed herself -- literally. She stripped down to short shorts and a tiny little shirt. It was Shelly Martinez (aka ECW's Ariel). The crowd marked out (seriously).

Match Rating: 4/10

Next was Game #1 of the "DCS" drinking game series between "Showtime" Eric Young and James Storm. The idea of this one was that each of them would ask a "have you ever?" question, and if the other "had ever," he got to have a drink. The first person to have three drinks would be declared the winner of the first game. Eric Young asked Storm if he had ever gone to the moon. Storm said he had, and took a drink. Young asked him if he'd ever killed a lion with his bare hands. Storm said he has, and took a drink. Young asked him if he was responsible for the 1967 Detroit riot. Storm thought for a moment and then declared that he was, and took a third drink to win the game. Eric Young was impressed that Storm had all of these experiences, while Jeremy Borash looked on in disbelief that Young was so naive.

Backstage interview time with AJ Styles and Tomko. Styles said he hasn't made a decision about whose corner he'll be in tonight. Tomko told AJ that he better not screw up their tag team match, because if he did, he'd have a big problem on his hands. He warned AJ that he better make his decision sooner rather than later. AJ said he'll make his decision sooner...or later.

Match #2: Kaz vs Black Reign
This one immediately spilled to the outside and moved up the ramp, where Black Reign kicked Kaz off the stage and to the floor. Kaz hit his hip on the corner of the ramp on the way down. Ouch. They move back to the ring with Kaz selling his hip. Reign beats on him for a while, and then suddenly Kaz stops selling his hip and starts jumping off the ropes and such. Reign put an end to that and went for his finisher, but Kaz reversed it and flipped over top of him with a roll up for the victory. Kaz is your winner. After the match, Kaz steals Misty the rat, much to Black Reign's horror.

Match Rating: 4.5/10

Backstage, Jeremy Borash sits with Kurt and Karen Angle. Borash refers to them as "we," to which Kurt responded "there is no 'we'" and basically ran down Borash, saying he's just an interviewer, he isn't part of the team, and so forth. Angle then asked "what are WE going to do if Styles picks Christian?" Pure gold. Karen Angle stepped in, obviously the brains of the operation, and said she'd handle it because she knows how to handle AJ. Kurt ordered Borash to follow her, looking uncomfortable.

Match #3: TNA Women's Knockout Championship - Gail Kim (c) vs Awesome Kong
WHAT YOU THINK
What did you think of TNA's Final Resolution?
It was great - 11%
It was okay - 14%
It sucked - 21%
Didn't see it - 54%
You might be surprised to hear that this was probably the match of the night, but both of them played their roles to perfection, and got the crowd that will cheer anything to suspend their disbelief legitimately for the duration of the match, and rally behind Gail Kim. Kong attacked Kim before the bell, and tore her apart on the outside before tossing her back into the ring. Kong dominated, with Kim offering a few hope spots and earning the sympathy of the fans like a babyface is supposed to do. At this point though, the crowd was too busy battle-chanting to notice... but that quickly changed as the match continued. The fight spilled back to the outside, where Kong unleashed a devastating arsenal of moves that made her look monsterous. They battled through the crowd, where Kim attempted to fight back, using a fan's half empty plastic bottle of Pepsi to beat Kong over the head. Kong shook it off and they battled back to ringside. Kong grabbed a steel chair but Kim ducked and kicked the chair into Kong's face. Kim went up to the top rope and dove onto Kong, but Kong simply caught her and just like that, the behemoth was back in control. Back in the ring, Kong went for an Awesome Bomb, but Kim escaped. Kong managed to regain control quickly though, and went for the pin. The ref was half an inch away from a three count, but Kim got her shoulder up in time. Awesome Kong was not amused. She Awesome Bombed the referee. Then she grabbed a steel chair and proceeded to beat the referee with it. Gail Kim grabbed the chair from Kong and beat her down with it, hit a splash from the top rope, and made the cover. Out ran a new referee, just in time to make the 1...2...3! No! Just kidding. Kong got her shoulder up at the last second, and the battle continued. Kong eventually regained control and hit a chokeslam for a long two count. The poor new referee drew the ire of Awesome Kong and now he was going to pay. As Kong had him set up for an Awesome Bomb though, Kim rolled her up with the referee still in Kong's arms. The three went down in a heap and the referee made the cover for the 1-2-3. Your winner and still the TNA Women's Knockout Champion, Gail Kim! After the match, the two continued to brawl until security rushed out and broke it up. Absolutely fantastic match.

Match Rating: 8/10

Backstage, Karen Angle and Jeremy Borash searched for AJ Styles. They came to the men's room, and Karen went to walk in. Borash stopped her and told her to take a deep breath first. Karen told him she knows he just wanted to stare at her chest. They walked in to find AJ. Karen came onto him, kissing his neck and rubbing her hands all over him. AJ looked flustered and asked if Kurt knew that she liked him. She told AJ that there's a lot more where that came from if he made the right choice in the main event. Exit Karen. AJ told Borash that Karen likes him. Borash played along and agreed. AJ excused himself and disappeared into the stall to...well, you know.

Now for a James Mitchell promo. Judas Mesias stood ominously in the background as Mitchell said that Chris (Abyss) would have no choice but to reveal his secret once Mesias beat the truth out of him. He said that Abyss' mother used to say that "little boys who don't tell the truth are doomed to burn in hell." Amazing promo by Mitchell, as always. But isn't this whole "secret" storyline just a tad bit remeniscent of the Paul Bearer/Undertaker/Kane angle from 1997? Hmm.

Match #4: Abyss vs Judas Mesias w/Father James Mitchell
Nothing special as far as the match is the concerned. Abyss was in control until Mitchell distracted him by taking his bag of thumb tacks up the ramp. Mitchell disappeared for a while, and Abyss stayed in control. A few minutes later, Mitchell came back out with a new black bag with something other than thumb tacks in it. Abyss found a barbed wire steel chair under the ring, but the referee took it away. As the ref got rid of that chair, Judas Mesias nailed Abyss with another chair and took control of the match. After a few minutes of that, Abyss hit the Black Hole Slam out of nowhere and went for the pin, but Mitchell provided another distraction and Abyss took the bait. Mesias snuck up from behind and spit mist in Abyss' face, hit the Straight to Hell on the barbed wire chair, and got the three count. Judas Mesias won the match. After the match, Mitchell got on the mic and demanded Abyss reveal the secret. Abyss refused. Mitchell gave him one last chance, warning him that little boys who don't tell the truth burn in hell. Abyss still refused. Mitchell revealed what was in the black bag -- a gas can. Mesias drenched Abyss in gasoline, and Mitchell lit a match, holding it up above his head and preparing to drop it on Abyss until security ran out to make the save.

Match Rating: 4.5/10

Backstage, Kevin Nash was interviewed. Nash said that wrestling is a crazy business and both he and Samoa Joe understood that. He said he was going to do what he always does -- put asses in seats. He didn't seem concerned about working with Joe.

Then it was Booker T and Sharmell's turn for some interview time. Booker said Sharmell isn't a wrestler but that she has a side to her that Roode and Brooks don't want to see. Sharmell said she'd do her talking in the ring.

Match #5: Booker T & Sharmell vs Robert Roode & Ms. Brooks
WHAT YOU THINK
What announced bout are you most looking forward to at TNA's Final Resolution?
Kurt Angle vs Christian Cage - 50%
Gail Kim vs Awesome Kong - 21%
Abyss vs Judas Mesias - 11%
Ultimate X: Team 3D & Devine vs Lethal & Machine Guns - 19%
Roode's "stalker" was in the crowd as usual. Booker and Roode did all the work in this one, as expected. Brooks wanted no part of it, at one point turning her back to the match. Roode berated her and told her to leave. Desperately, Brooks tripped up Booker T as he ran to the ropes, so she got to stay. Several minutes later, Roode demanded that Brooks slap Booker. She did, and wasn't happy about it. Roode told her to do it again, but she refused, so he started to yell at her again. In the midst of it all, he somehow accidentally tagged her in. Suddenly Sharmell was hauling ass across the ring in a rage, ready to show everyone the extent of her WWE training -- she and Brooks began to roll around pulling each other's hair. Somehow, Brooks rolled her up for a pin, but Sharmell kicked her away, pushing her into Roode on the apron. Sharmell rolled up Brooks for the three count. Booker T and Shamell win the match.

After the match, Roode berates Brooks. Finally, Brooks had enough and slapped him in the face. Roode grabbed her and backed her into a corner got into her face. Sharmell raced back down to the ring, feeling sorry for Brooks, and tried to get Roode off of her. Roode, perhaps thinking she was a referee, turned around and blindly punched her square in the jaw. They really did their best to make this look like it legitimately wasn't supposed to happen. Booker looked shocked and ran back down to the ring to tend to his wife. Roode retreated up the ramp. Don West got up from the booth and checked on Sharmell, and Tenay did his best to sell us the fact that male on female violence was not permitted in TNA and it had to have been an accident. This feud just got very personal.

Match Rating: 6/10

Another backstage interview, this time with Christian Cage. Christian said he doesn't need any help and he never has, but he sees potential in AJ Styles. He then tore up Karen Angle. Excellent promo as usual from Captain Charisma.

Back at ringside, West and Tenay do their best to look sullen and disturbed by the Roode/Sharmell incident.

Drinking Game #2 for Eric Young and James Storm. This was the game where they had to finish every drink in front of them without getting up until every drink was finished. They weren't allowed to spill any or take any bathroom breaks. James Storm's pants were a little wet. Young noticed. Storm claimed they were wet when he got there. Jacqueline smells his crotch (you can't make this stuff up, people, honest). It was indeed pee. This round goes to Eric Young.

Back at ringside, Tenay and West stalled while the ring crew set up the ring for Ultimate X. Tenay informed everyone that Sharmell had been taken to a nearby hospital and it was believed that she suffered a broken jaw. Puh-lease.

Match #6: Ultimate X - Motor City Machine Guns & Jay Lethal vs Team 3D & Johnny Devine
Let me start by saying this -- this was an entertaining match because of Team 3D and their antics to try and climb the X any way that they could. Both Johnny Devine and Jay Lethal could easily have broken their necks or backs on at least three separate occassions in this match (and they almost did). And not one of the three spots where they almost ended their careers was even necessary. Both of them are very lucky that they escaped serious injury.

But onto the match. Team 3D came out with Johnny Devine and cut a promo. Brother Ray said that they've been training very hard for this match, and Ray now had the speed of a gazelle, and Devon now had the quickness of a black panther. He said Team 3D was the best tag team of all time, ran down their accomplishments, etc. Blah blah blah. Cheap heat. Out came their opponents and the match began. They start off by brawling on the outside of the ring. Eventually Alex Shelley goes to climb the X, but his wrists are too sore from the attack on Impact where Team 3D tried to break their wrists with kendo sticks. Sabin tried to climb as well, but couldn't do it either. Johnny Devine climbed the X. This is where it got really nasty. The MCMG grabbed him by the ankles and went to swing him off, but Devine miscalculated the fall and landed very awkwardly on his neck/shoulder. Luckily he seemed to be injury free, but half an inch the other way and he could have ended his career. Team 3D then comically began trying to reach the belt, standing in the middle of the ring and jumping for it but they were unable to reach it. Brother Ray then tried to climb the cables but looked nervous. Jay Lethal springboarded onto the cable and beckoned Ray to come get him. As Lethal was taunting him, he botched the spot and lost his grip, falling to the mat below. The match continued, and Team 3D hit the MCMG on the wrists with kendo sticks again, injuring their wrists even more. Devon then stood on Ray's shoulders and they attempted to walk across the ring to the belt. It was a brilliant spot and the crowd (and Don West) ate it up. Lethal stopped them. Shortly after, Lethal was attempting flip of some sort off the cable, but he couldn't adjust himself in time to land properly. Instead, it looked like he landed on his chest with his legs up in the air, and the referee promptly threw up an X with his arms, signalling doctors to come out and tend to what appeared to be a legitimately injured Jay Lethal (his back should by all means be incredibly messed up). Johnny Devine brought a ladder into the ring and tried to climb it to reach the belt. Instead, the MCMG pushed the ladder over and Devine went crashing to the outside of the ring onto two tables that didn't break. It looked like he landed awkwardly on the edge of a table and fell to the floor, but he seemed to escape injury for a second time. Team 3D cleared the ring and Devon climbed the ladder to grab the belt. Ray hid the ladder and Devon hung from the cable with the title in his hands. That's all the referee saw, so he was forced to award the match to Team 3D and Johnny Devine.

Match Rating: 6/10. Team 3D saved the match from what was otherwise a series of botched spots and what could have been career ending injuries.

Backstage, Samoa Joe was interviewed. He said maybe he was wrong about Nash and Hall. He has learned a lot from Nash about mind games, and maybe the old dog and the new dog can make history.

Match #7: AJ Styles & Tomko vs Samoa Joe & Kevin Nash
Joe and Nash started out the match on the same page. Styles and Tomko worked over Nash's knee. Nash tagged out to Joe, who then stayed in the ring for the majority of the match (save for a few 30 second intervals where Nash tagged in). Joe eventually got beat down and went to make the hot tag to Nash. Just as he reached Nash, Nash turned his back, jumped off the apron, and walked to the back, leaving Joe high and dry to fend for himself. Joe made an effort to win the match by himself (and almost did), but eventually the numbers game caught up to him, because apparently the referee was ok with both Styles and Tomko being in the ring at the same time for about three minutes without even trying to get one of them out. They finished Joe off with a double team manouever and retained the titles.

Match Rating: 6/10 as Joe and Styles did their best to carry the match, but Nash looked his age out there. Still, entertaining segment.

Onto the rubber match... the third and final drinking game. It was a high/low card game, with the low card having to take a shot. Whoever passed out first was the loser. As Eric Young is drinking from a beer bong, Jacqueline flashes Jeremy Borash and Storm did something fishy with Young's drink... or maybe hit him with something. I was distracted by Jacqueline, who's back was taking up 3/4 of the screen. Either way, Storm won the drinking contest and gets to choose the match stipulation.

Backstage, Kurt Angle was interviewed. Borash filled him in on what Karen Angle did to entice AJ Styles to side with Kurt. Kurt looked surprised at first, but then laughed and said no one could resist Karen, so AJ was obviously going to side with him tonight, and those are odds that Christian wouldn't be able to overcome.

Match #8: TNA World Heavyweight Title Match - Kurt Angle (c) vs Christian Cage
Kurt Angle comes out, accompanied by Karen Angle. Is it just me, or was Kurt Angle wearing white running shoes? They looked horrible, please get some wrestling boots, Kurt. Jeremy Borash introduces both combatants ala Michael Buffer. AJ Styles is nowhere to be found. This was a terrific back and forth match, with both Angle and Cage trying to make the other wrestle his type of match. Angle kept trying to bring it to the ground and use submission holds, while Cage kept trying to speed the match up. Both were able to match the other in both aspects of the match. They eventually came to the middle of the ring after the back and forthness of it all had played out a little bit. Kurt slapped Cage. Cage then spat on Kurt. Things became a little bit heated. The crowd was very into this, it was very technically sound. Angle belly-to-belly suplexed Cage over the top rope at one point. While on the outside, Karen Angle slapped Christian. The match went back to the ring, where Kurt Angle hit a picture perfect moonsault. Cage managed to kick out of it. Back and forth they went yet again, until Cage caught him in a beautifully executed Texas Cloverleaf. Angle somehow reversed it into the Ankle Lock, but Cage got to the ropes. Angle hit him with three German suplexes, and the straps came down. He went for the Angle Slam, but Cage reversed it into the Unprettier, only Angle reversed that into the Ankle Lock. Cage again escaped it. On and on they went, the crowd getting more and more heated. Cage hit him with a frogsplash, but Angle kicked out. Angle hit him with the Angle Slam. Cage kicked out. Karen Angle got up on the apron to argue with the official about a slow count. Angle almost ran into her, but stopped himself, only to get hit with the Unprettier. Angle kicked out! By now the crowd was in a frenzy as only Orlando TNA fans can be. Don West was just about creaming himself and the match still wasn't over. Karen Angle got up on the apron again and Christian got Angle in the Ankle Lock, his own hold. Angle tapped, but the referee was distracted by Karen and didn't see it. Cue AJ Styles. Out he ran and pulled Karen off the apron. The crowd went crazy thinking AJ had chosen Christian. They seemed to be right, as AJ hugged Christian shortly after. As Cage turned around, however, AJ springboarded off the ropes and nailed Christian from behind. Christian flew right into Angle's waiting arms. Boom, Angle Slam, 1-2-3. Kurt Angle retains! AJ Styles and Kurt Angle embrace in the ring. He had chosen Kurt Angle after all. Very solid match.

Match Rating: 8/10

So at the end of the night, Final Resolution was more about advancing storylines and entertainment value than it was about watching good wrestling. It did have two stand-out matches (Gail Kim vs Awesome Kong and Angle vs Christian Cage), but the rest of the card was lacklustre at best. Johnny Devine and Jay Lethal should be thanking their lucky stars tonight that they were both able to walk out of the arena under their own power.

THE GOOD: Gail Kim and Awesome Kong show the world how good women's wrestling can be. Team 3D's creativity -- they stole the show in a match they had no business being in. Angle and Christian put on a wrestling clinic.

THE BAD: Johnny Devine and Jay Lethal almost breaking their necks. Kaz no-selling his hip and suddenly flying around the ring as if he hadn't been worked over the entire match. The Robert Roode segment with Sharmell... they did their best to make it look legit, and Booker, Sharmell, Roode, and Brooks all did a great job with it, but Mike Tenay and Don West are just incapable of making anything seem legit.

THE UGLY: Jacqueline smelling James Storm's crotch to see if she could detect urine. Yum.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10

TNA's next pay-per-view, Against All Odds, will be live from Greenville, SC on February 10th.

Mark Xamin can be contacted at mark_xamin@canoemail.ca and is available to cover wrestling, hockey, baseball, and other sporting events. He shamelessly promotes himself as such at the end of his columns. But we love him anyway.