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TNA serves up mostly straightforward wrestling at Sacrifice
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


AJ Styles flies at Rob Van Dam at Sunday's Sacrifice pay-per-view. Photos courtesy TNAwrestling.com


While the Hulk Hogan-Eric Bischoff era of TNA has often appeared to be one where the company has been throwing various things at the proverbial wall to see what sticks, Sunday’s Sacrifice pay-per-view was one that should have appealed to pro wrestling traditionalists.

That’s because with very few exceptions, the focus in the Impact Zone in Orlando was on in-ring action, with just about all of the promotion’s titles on the line. There was no sign of Bischoff, just one brief Hogan sighting, and a general lack of hijinks of any kind.

Except for a bit of a tease in the bout between Sting and Jeff Jarrett that saw the former batter the latter bloody in lieu of an actual match, the show was composed of straightforward contests motivated either by competing for titles or settling scores. The result was solid if not spectacular.

The main event pitted TNA World Champion Rob Van Dam against the man from whom he won the title a few weeks back, AJ Styles. Though the company recently unveiled a new rankings system for top contenders -- one that incorporates fan voting -- Styles had the ever popular rematch clause that allowed him to bypass it.

With Ric Flair looking on from ringside, the two men engaged in some head games early on, and RVD played to his adoring fans. That earned him a tug on his ponytail from Styles, forcing referee Earl Hebner to intervene.

The champ clotheslined the challenger out to the floor, where he succeeded in hitting a moonsault off the ramp following a miss on the same move by AJ. Van Dam looked for Rolling Thunder back in the ring but was halted by Flair, which in turn caused Hebner to emphatically eject the Nature Boy.

Ric joined the announcers instead as his protégé hit a dive to the floor and got three straight near falls between the ropes. RVD popped up to hit a thrust kick out of the corner, but Styles responded with a big springboard clothesline for another two count. A roll-up and a Pele kick followed, but neither could keep Van Dam down.

The champ finally rallied after dodging a leap into the corner, striking with a bridging suplex for two of his own. A small package was good for another near fall, but RVD ended up crotched on the ropes when he attempted to go up top.

He persisted to hit a jumping kick from the top turnbuckle, though his Rolling Thunder try was greeted with two knees to the back. In an impressive display of strength for a relatively small wrestler, Styles put Van Dam in the torture rack, then dropped him into a power bomb for two.

Both men exchanged pinning predicaments until a double clothesline left them on the canvas. They rose to trade strikes again, and RVD managed several more near falls with mat-based counters.

The champ found himself whipped into the corner and planted with an inverted DDT. Flair decided to head for the ring, but he was met on the ramp by Jay Lethal, who eventually locked him into his own trademark Figure Four.

Meanwhile, Styles crotched Van Dam again and looked for a superplex. But the champ recovered and dropped his foe straight down, bouncing him off the ropes and into the ring. A Five Star Frog Splash sealed the deal and allowed the Whole F’n Show to close the show by retaining his title.

The next TNA pay-per-view is Slammiversary on June 13, 2010.

FULL RESULTS

A video intro talks about the term sacrifice and what it means to various wrestlers on tonight’s show. TNA is really improving in this area. The productions still aren’t quite as slick as those in the WWE (no shame there), but they’re as good or better than openings of old WCW pay-per-views. Mike Tenay and Taz are our announcers this evening, as usual.

Match 1 – Motor City Machine Guns vs. Beer Money, Inc. vs. Team 3D – Number One Contenders Match

Not a bad three-way since the styles of the teams are all different. Plenty of tags are blind ones. Alex Shelley gets the first hot tag, and the Guns pull off a cool assisted dropkick maneuver. Chris Sabin also hits a suicide dive between his partner’s legs. Around the 11:30 mark, order breaks down and all six men are in the ring. The fans chant “We want tables,” and though Team 3D tries to oblige, James Storm ruins things by spitting beer in Bubba’s face. At least Tenay thinks it’s beer. I’ve lost track of who’s legal (kind of like Lawrence Taylor), but it must be Bubba, as the Guns hit him with their cross body/neckbreaker combo and score the pinfall.

Winners ... and number one contenders for the TNA Tag Team Championships ... the Motor City Machine Guns at 13 minutes and 12 seconds.

Rating: 6.5/10

Tenay tells us that Desmond Wolfe and Chelsea are being investigated for filing false police reports after they tried to frame Abyss for attacking Chelsea.

Match 2 – Orlando Jordan (challenger) vs. Rob Terry (champion) – TNA Global Championship Match

This feud really hasn’t clicked, and it’s tough to say if it’s because Jordan’s gimmick is such a mess or because Terry is charisma-challenged. Could be a bit of both. The match actually isn’t horrible, as OJ bounces back from getting tossed around at the beginning and works over The Freak’s left knee, a strategy that makes a lot of sense. Eventually Terry picks himself up and delivers the Freakbuster to win it.

Winner ... and still TNA Global Champion ... “The Freak” Rob Terry at seven minutes and 43 seconds.

Rating: 5/10

Team 3D tells Ink, Inc. that even though they aren’t happy about losing, it’s not like they’ve never lost a match before. Bubba and Devon warn the tattooed kids to be wary of The Band, but Shannon Moore seems unafraid and Jesse Neal tells his mentors they will take care of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. For some reason, Bubba interprets this as a suggestion that 3D can’t handle their own battle. Devon tells him to cool it, but Bubba remains angry. A video package sets up the X Division title match that’s coming up next.

Match 3 – Douglas Williams (challenger) vs. Kazarian (champion) – TNA X Division Championship Match

Since Williams never relinquished the belt once he was stripped of it, he wears it to the ring. This is slower than most X Division matches, but not without some interest as Kaz shows off his mat wrestling chops. He’s able to escape the Chaos Theory with a nifty counter and score a couple of near falls, including a slingshot DDT. Kazarian almost wins the match several times, but Williams finally escapes from the electric chair position and hits the Chaos Theory to win the belt he was carrying around anyway.

Winner ... and new TNA X Division Champion ... Douglas Williams at 13 minutes and 52 seconds.

Rating: 6/10

Wolfe and Chelsea argue about how they should handle Abyss now that their ruse has been discovered. Desmond reminds his valet/girlfriend/whatever that it’s not always about her. Except I think it is with that one. The next highlight package details the issues among the TNA Knockouts, so you can probably guess which title match is up next.

Match 4 – Tara (challenger) vs. Madison Rayne (champion) – TNA Knockouts Championship vs. Career Match

The entrance of the Beautiful People is ... well, it’s awesome, especially when two of the girls are wearing dresses instead of wrestling gear. Surprisingly, Rayne sends her partners in crime to the back. More surprisingly, she handles herself pretty well, though she looks like she may be in trouble when Tara rolls into a front guillotine. She escapes that hold and kicks out of the Widow’s Peak, much to the challenger’s dismay. Tara hits a moonsault for two and decides to try another one when that isn’t enough. Rayne is wise to it this time, rolling away and executing her inverted overdrive finisher to send Tara packing from TNA.

Winner ... and still TNA Knockouts Champion ... Madison Rayne at six minutes and 26 seconds.

Rating: 5.5/10

Christy Hemme asks Kevin Nash and Scott Hall for their thoughts, but it’s Eric Young who actually has something to say. Eric makes it known that it was better money and better business to stand with The Band than against them, so he called Big Kev and made it happen. Hall said he had his doubts but Young proved himself, and after all, it’s called show business, not show friends. Nash says The Band will defend the tag team straps by Freebirds rules, meaning any two of them could be in action on a given night.


Bubba cracks Eric Young with a kendo stick,
Match 5 – Ink, Inc. (challengers) vs. The Band (champions) – TNA Tag Team Championships Match

Hall really needs to take the Special K challenge or something, because he’s looking pretty tubby. He dutifully takes his share of the work in this one though. Referee Slick Johnson takes a bump when Nash throws Neal’s spear into him, allowing Young to bring in a kendo stick. Nash can’t connect, and after a successful spear, Neal grabs the kendo stick. Young intervenes again but is neutralized by Bubba, who cracks him with the stick. Bubba turns and nails Neal as well before stomping off in a huff. Young drags Hall on top of Neal and The Band retains.

Winners ... and still TNA Tag Team Champions ... The Band at seven minutes and 58 seconds.

Rating: 5/10

Video footage takes us back through Wolfe’s feud with Abyss. If The Monster wins, he gets the services of Chelsea for 30 days. Insert your joke here ...

Match 6 – Desmond Wolfe vs. Abyss – Ring vs. Chelsea Match

That darn Hall of Fame ring seems to be at stake every few weeks now. Wolfe puts on his usual technical wrestling show, and the fans seem split on who to support. The chemistry between these two seems a little off, and one awkward sequence ends in a choke slam by Abyss. Chelsea heads down to help out, and though Abyss grabs her, it doesn’t stop her from slipping some brass knuckles in to Wolfe. He strikes with the knux but gets only a two count. Abyss nails the Black Hole Slam for the win and tells Chelsea, “See you on Thursday!”

Winner ... Abyss at nine minutes.

Rating: 6/10

Mr. Anderson eschews Hemme’s microphone, using his own instead. He mocks Jeff Hardy’s creatures of the night, claiming he has Anderson’s Assholes instead. Ken figures his fans will very loudly voice their support for him tonight. That might be true, now that you’ve put that nifty seven-letter word in their heads.

Match 7 – Jeff Hardy vs. Mr. Anderson


Mr. Anderson offers a hand to Jeff Hardy.
Anderson’s ribs are taped up as a result of some pleasantries between the two last week. Hardy takes a tremendous beating after the first few minutes of the match, needing to weather a series of near falls and escape several abdominal stretches. Finally, Jeff back body drops Ken out to the ramp, then sets up a chair and uses it to launch a leg lariat that knocks Anderson back into the ring. Hardy comes out on top in an exchange of punches, and uses clotheslines and a bulldog for a pair of near falls. Anderson uses a rolling front slam to get his own two count, but Hardy elbows out of the Mic Check. Anderson drops him on the ropes and hits the Mic Check, but Hardy gets his hand under the ropes. Jeff hits his step-through kick and a facebuster and goes up top, but he changes his mind and hops back down for a Twist of Fate. He climbs the turnbuckle again only to be met by Anderson, who hoists him into the fireman’s carry position. Hardy elbows his foe in the head until they fall forward on the mat, with Anderson taking most of the impact. One Swanton later and it’s a wrap. Anderson offers his hand after the match, but in a bit of a role reversal, Hardy shuns him and walks away.

Winner ... Jeff Hardy at 13 minutes and 54 seconds.

Rating: 7.5/10

Hemme asks Flair if he’s confident that Styles will beat RVD, but the Nature Boy says she should really hear it from AJ himself. Styles derides Van Dam as a poor person to represent TNA, and he feels these are dark times for the company. Presumably he’s not talking about their TV ratings. Though he’s already the record holder for longest TNA title reign, he vows to start a new run that will make the old mark look like a blip on the radar.

A video features Jeff Jarrett explaining why Sting’s heel turn bothers him so much. Speaking of that ...


Sting manhandles a bloody Jeff Jarrett.
Match 8 – Jeff Jarrett vs. Sting

WHAT YOU THINK
What did you think of TNA Sacrifice?
It was great - 11%
It was okay - 19%
It sucked - 17%
Didn't see it - 53%
Before the wrestlers even get introduced, we cut to the back to see JJ already bloody and taking more punishment from Sting’s bat and other random objects in their vicinity. The attack continues until they make it to ringside, where Sting focuses the damage on Jeff’s left shoulder. They enter the ring and the ref calls for the bell, but Jarrett can’t even stand and is quickly pinned after a Scorpion Death Drop. Sting tells JJ he is just like “them,” and they are going to pat just as he has. Stinger, you speak in riddles. EMTs try to stretcher Jarrett to the back, but Sting simply waits by the ramp and pushes Jeff off the gurney as they go by. Hogan decides he’s seen enough, and he comes out to force Sting to retreat.

Winner ... Sting at 12 seconds (of official match time, anyway).

Rating: N/A

The world champ tells Hemme that his match with Styles will be the first of many title defenses. Rob does admit that AJ will get some kickback in the form of people seeing him when they tune in to see the Whole F’n Show.

Match 9 – AJ Styles (challenger) vs. Rob Van Dam (champion) – TNA World Championship Match

Winner ... and still TNA World Champion ... Rob Van Dam at 24 minutes and 47 seconds.

Rating: 8.5/10

Total event time: Two hours and 54 minutes

Event rating: 6/10

Nick Tylwalk has been writing for SLAM! Wrestling since Scott Hall was skinny. Or skinnier, at any rate. Reminisce about those days by emailing him or hitting him up on Twitter.