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Final ResolutionThe Katz Files – Arnie Katz

Final Resolution (1/6): Recap and Analysis!

The Kingfish Arnie Katz recaps and analyzes TNA’s first pay per view of 2997.

The Pre-Show

The un-hosted free half-hour before the PPV reviewed the whole card, match by match.. The videos explained how each match revolved around something someone has that someone else wants. The implication was that Final Resolution would provide a lot of answers to these burning questions.

The clips effectively covered the storylines, but it seemed as if TNA didn’t have enough content to fill the 30 minutes. Playing the same clips two and three times is probably not the best way to build up fan anticipation.

The Angle-Christian Cage showdown got the most space on the show, but even the Women’s Championship received significant air-time.

A high-impact opening video emphasized that, though it is a new year for everyone, some crucial issues need… Final Resolution!

Mike Tenay took the show live to Universal Studios in Orlando, FL to begin the actual show. The promotion’s play-by-play man once again asked the question that has teased TNA fans for the past three weeks: Will AJ Styles side with the Christian Coalition or the Angle Alliance?

LAX d. Rock ^ Rave Infection (Lance Hoyt & Jimmy Rave with Christy Hemme)
Grudge Match

Mike Tenay and Don West set up this tag team fight as a battle over the male-on-female violence to which the masked member of the Latino Nation has subjected Christy Hemme on show after show. The crowd displayed their level of social sophistication by cheering LAX throughout the match, thus putting the stamp of approval on men battering women.

Homicide wore a colorful flag shirt, but it was boots-and-trunks Jimmy Rave who dictated the pace of the match, flinging him across the ring and trapping him in the corner for more punishment.

Hernandez surprised everyone with a graceful, and potent, out-of-ring Cross Body Fly that took out both members of LAX. A little later, though, Homicide found himself alone in the ring with both of his foes. Rave administered a Reverse Atomic Drop and Hoyt immediately followed up with a ferocious Face Plant.

Hernandez’s power had the Rock & Rave Infection reeling, but Lance Hoyt went to the top turnbuckle and stopped the run with a breathtaking Moonsault!

Hernandez was about to end the match by Powerbombing Jimmy Rave, but Christy Hemme sneakily foiled the move with a little timely interference. That only delayed the result, because Hernandez quickly line dup Jimmy Rave for the Border Toss – from the top turnbuckle! After that move, the cover seemed like a mere formality!

Grade: B

After the match, LAX put both Rave and Hoyt on the canvas so the Masked LAX follower who lurked around the edges of the ring could attack Hemme. Christy low-blowed her tormentor, who shrugged off the blow and booting Hemme out of the ring!

The Masked enigma stood at center ring and began to remove the mask and bulky outfit to reveal a sleek and gorgeous Latina! (This made the male-on-female violence angle academic, but no one seemed to mind.

Jackie Moore watched James Storm and Eric Young play a beer-drinking game called “Never Have I Ever.” One contestant names something and the other has to drink if he has done it. The whole thing came off like too many recent TNA dramatic scenes, lame.

James Storm emerged victorious and hoisted the diminutive Jackie high in the air as he celebrated his triumph.

AJ Styles told Crystal, in a backstage interview, that he still hadn’t made up his mind about his loyalties. Tomko barged into the scene and told his tag team partner to make his choice and give his attention to defending the belts. “If you screw this up, your problems will become huge,” Tomko warned his partner.

Kaz d. Black Rain

A video that explained the bizarre story of the schizophrenic Black Rain introduced the match, which was intended to settle the simmering feud. This is Dustin Rhoades’ wildest character, which is saying something for the wrestler formerly known as… Golddust.

Kaz shook Black Rain with a Leaping Back Elbow and drove him from the ring. They fought savagely in the ringside area, where Kaz scored big with a Cross Body. Black Reign took control, but BR’s attempted Diving Headbutt led to a nasty collision with the outer barrier!

Kaz literally kicked Black Reign’s butt up the ramp, one foot at a time. The Schizo Warrior used a low blow to stop Kaz and then it was the big man’s turn to mete out the pain! Reign’s One-Armed Faceplant powered Kaz into the canvas, but he still had enough left to stop the count before it reached “three.”

After a mid-ring collision, both men had trouble getting off the mat. BR got to his feet first, but Kaz caught him with a stunning kick and then a Spinning Neckbreaker! Black Reign got his shoulder up just in time! Kaz’s Slingshot added power to his Reverse DDT, but it still wasn’t enough to put away his opponent.

Black Reign avoided a Springboard Legdrop and hit his version of the Pedigree. Kaz broke free, evaded another attempted maneuver and scored the pin with a Russian Leg Sweep!

Grade: B (surprisingly good; kudos to both men)

After the match, Kaz picked up Misty’s elaborate cage and left the arena. Clearly, the resolution is far from final in this case.

When Jeremy Borash used the word “we,” when discussing the Angle Alliance with the champ and his wife, the former Olympian berated him for assuming that he was a part of the Angle family. A lot of fans have probably wondered about that, too.

Karen Angle, decked out in a sexy gold lame outfit that insured her chest would catch lots of fresh air, promised her husband that she would “take care of business.” Kurt wasn’t entirely comfortable with his wife’s comment and sent the ever-loyal JB to follow her.

Gail Kim d. Awesome King
Women’s World Championship
No Disqualification

If TNA plans to use “Tale of the Tape,” as they did before this match, it would help if they had some fact, something to say. Surely the Professor has a lot of information about the mighty challenger that he could’ve shared with fans if allowed to do so.

Awesome King barely let Fail Kim approach the ring before jumping her on the ring apron and kicked her all the way to the guardrail! Kong followed her and the two tangle d like wildcats at ringside, though Awesome Kong’s sheer strength gave her an obvious edge. She doubled over the champ with a knee to the midsection and left her lying on the arena floor!

Kim avoided getting Powerbombed in the ringside area, but she couldn’t find a way to sustain offense long enough to damage the mammoth Kong. Back in the ring, the challenger methodically dismantled the fan favorite with thudding punches and stomps.

Kong Hair Bealed Kim across the ring and stood on her throat. She then tossed the Korean Knockout into another turnbuckle and repeated the illegal choke! Kim battled back with fists of fury, but Awesome Kong soon Irish Whipped her into another turnbuckle to cut off that run. When Kim got caught up in the ropes, she was a sitting duck for Kong. The referee saved her by helping her get loose before Kong could inflict serious damage.

The women tussled in the ringside area, advantage shifting back and forth. Kong picked up Kim by the legs as if to deliver a catapult, but instead she swung the title-holder from side to side like a pendulum until Kim made violent contact with the outer barrier!

They fought their way into the crowd. Kim backed up Kong with a barrage of punches, but the challenger then sent her careening up an aisle to a hard landing! A helpful fan gave Gail Kim a full bottle of water, which she used on Kong’s big head. Kong took the shots and kept on coming; it seemed like nothing cold stop the female colossus.

Kong got a chair, but Kim kicked it back at her before she could bring it into play. The champion thought that might be the opening wedge to victory, so she oared high over the ropes with an out-of-ring Cross Body Fly. The Awesome One caught her, bashed her against the ring and tossed her back inside the ropes!

Gail Kim fought back with punches and kicks, but Kong demolished the champion with one titanic Reverse Bolo Punch! Kim avoided the Awesomebomb and then skittered out of the way before the Big Momma could squash her with a Sot=down Splash.

Kong survived Kim’s onslaught and was soon pounding the smaller woman. She went for a cover and, when referee Slick Johnson didn’t count fast enough for her taste, began an argument with the official. She gave him an Awesomebomb!

Awesome Kong brought a chair into the ring – and used it on Slick Johnson! Kim snatched the chair from her and gave her two clops on the head that laid the challenger out on the canvas!

Gail came off the top rope with a Cross Body and covered! Slick Johnson couldn’t make the count, because he was still unconscious. The fans could’ve counted to “10” by the time Rudy Charles zipped under the bottom rope and began his count. Kong burst free at “two.”

Kong seemed to transfer her anger at Slick Johnson to Rudy Charles and soon attacked the substitute referee with an Awesomebomb! Gail Kim took advantage of Kong’s inattention by rolling her up for the pin to retain her title in the best women’s match in the history of TNA.

Grade: A

The end of the match didn’t stop the hostilities. The security blackshirts came out in force, along with Velvet Sky and Angelina Love, but Awesome Kong was a raging force that could not be contained! Gail Kim acted like she wanted more, too, so it took a while to quiet down things.

Jeremy Borash and Karen Angle stood just outside the door of a men’s roo0m. “You’ve gawked at my breasts long enough,” she scolded him. She tried to go into the men’s room while keeping out JB, but the mobile mic stand (and the unseen camera operator) entered after her to the sight of Karen Angle coming on strong to the still-befuddled AJ Styles.

Karen promised the somewhat naive AJ unspecified sexual delights if he did as she desired. Suddenly, a cigar-puffing ODB erupted from one of the stalls. She made some comment about Styles and Angle that I didn’t catch as she left the men’s room.

“If you make the right decision, there’s more where that came form,” she told Styles.

After a video pre-view, James Mitchell gave a pre0fight interview. Mitchell vowed that the secret “I have held in me longer than I can remember” will see the light of day. He wanted Chris Parks to confess the secret and thought that the match against Judas Maceas might make that happen at Final Resolution.

“Little boys who don’t tell the truth are doomed to burn in Hell!” said Mitchell, allegedly quoting Abyss’ mother.

Judas Maceas (with James Mitchell) d. Abyss

Judas Maceas barely had enough time to do the mouth-bleeding shtick he copped from Gangrel before he rushed Abyss. Macceas trapped Abyss in the corner with knife-edge chops, but the Masked Man bounced off the ropes and decked Mitchell’s Favorite Son with a Clothesline.

Abyss Clotheslined Maceas to the outside, where the mammoth Masked Man got the better of his foe in a brief ringside battle. Abyss went back into the ring, but Maceas grabbed his legs and yanked them down and against the ring post! Maceas returned to the ring to work over Abyss’ sensitive knees. (He had a little trouble deciding which one to target, as Don West naively pointed out to the fans.)

Maceas wasted time by jawing with the referee. That allowed Abyss recover enough to dodge Maceas’ leap from the top rope! He was still too weak, however, to capitalize on that brief success.

James Mitchell grabbed Abyss’ black bag and rushed out of the arena. Abyss tried to chase him, but Maceas caught him from behind on the ramp. Maceas stampeded his foe into the ring steps and went to the top. For a Flying Forearm, but Abyss caught him by the throat on the way down. The Masked Man fired him into the ropes and leveled him with a Clothesline on the rebound. Abyss used cross-ring charges to bang Maceas against the turnbuckle twice. Abyss added a Side Slam, but the cover still was premature.

When Abyss left the ring to get a chair, but referee Andrew Thomas warned him not to use it. Abyss ignored the warning and set up the chair between the middle and tops rope between the two turnbuckles.

Maceas was ready for the attack when it came and staggered Abyss with Chops and Forearm Smashes. Maceas floated over the chair, but Abyss caught him, threw him into the chair and Chokeslammed him. Maceas kicked out at the two count!

James Mitchell returned to ringside with a bag that was much larger than the one he took from Abyss earlier in the match.

Abyss rummaged under the rung and found a chair wrapped in barb wire. (What, don’t you have chairs like that in your closet?). Andrew Thomas didn’t know what to do at first, but he showed considerable bravery by actually taking away the chair from an enraged man twice his size. Maceas clouted Abyss on the back with the chair, twice, but it wasn’t enough.

Abyss scored with the Black Hole Slam, but his wily manager distracted the referee! Abyss made the error of dividing his attention between his adversary and his former manager. He had both of them by the throat, but Maceas stopped that with a well-placed thumb.

Maceas hit his Straight to Hell that pounded Abyss into the barb wire-wrapped chair. He picked the chair out of the ring before Thomas saw it and covered for the one-two-three!

Grade: B+ (a good brawl with less mindless gore than usual)

As Maceas held Abyss, Mitchell demanded that Chris spill his secret. No matter what Judas Maceas did, the Masked Man would not give up the knowledge that has haunted him for years.

Out of the black bag came a red gasoline can. Maceas poured the liquid all over Abyss. Security stopped Mitchell just as he was about to strike a match.

“That’s the kind of guy I am,” Kevin Nash told Crystal, “kiss you one day, smack you the next.” He was talking about his rocky relationship with Samoa Joe and its possible effect on their bid to win the tag team titles.

Before ending the interview, Big Sexxy picked up Crystal for a post-show date.

In a pre-match interview, Booker T admitted that the thought of his non-wrestling wife in the ring worried him. At least she looked the part in a beautiful red midriff wrestling outfit.

Booker T & Sharmell d. Robert Rude & Miss Brooks
Inter-gender Tag Team Match

Robert Rude started fast against Booker T, but the multi-time world titlist was soon bashing away at Rude in the corner with those devastating knife-edge Chops. Rude evaded an attempted Suplex and sent Booker sagging to the mat with a smash to the head!

Booker’s kicks found Rude’s midsection, but the arrogant rulebreaker smoothly maneuvered Booker into position for a ring-rattling DDT that almost earned a quick win!

Booker T leveled Rude with a Spin kick and scored again with a Roundkick/ It still didn’t add up to a three-count, though.

Miss Brooks made a great show of not being involved in the fracas but she tripped up Booker at a key moment. Rude pinioned Booker’s arms and forced him over to Miss Brooks. Though not enthusiastic about it, she did slap him lightly across the face. When Rude lined up for a rerun, the buff Brunette refused to cooperate!

Rude tagged in Miss Brooks in retaliation for her insubordination, which also brought Sharmell into the fight for the first time. Somewhat surprisingly, the two women tore at each other like wild animals despite the fact that Sharmell’s defense of Miss Brooks is what led directly to the match.

Booker T and Robert Rude fought each other in the ringside area while Miss Brooks womanhandled Sharmell inside the ropes. Sharmell kicked her off and, somehow, Miss Brooks banged heads with Rude! Sharmell scored the pin with a roll up.

Grade: C (some bad booking here)

When Robert Rude berated Miss Brooks for the loss, she lost it and gave her a hard slap in the face. The two fought in the ring. Sharmell came into the ring to help her and Rude smashed Booker T’s wife to the mat as Miss Brooks watched in horror.

Booker T rushed the ring as Robert Rude beat a hasty retreat. After a few anxious moments, Booker and TNA workers helped Sharmell to her feet and she walked to the back on unsteady (though shapely) legs.

“This is one of the worst moments in TNA history,” Don West managed between tears. The big Color Announcer took off his headset and went to personally check on Sharmell’s condition.

There’s going to be hell to pay for this.

Crystal was concerned about Sharmell, too, but Christian Cage only wanted to talk about his situation. He emphasized that he does not now, nor has he ever, needed any help. Still, he was obsessed with AJ Styles, an obvious contradiction.

He ridiculed Karen angle for trying to sway Styles with sex. “You’re starting to show your age,” Christian taunted. “Quite hideous, actually.”

Mike Tenay promised fans an update on Sharmell’s condition. Don West expressed his great worry over the incident.

Chaos continued at the drinking contest between Eric Young and James Storm. Young won this round when Storm violated one of the contest’s arcane rules. Hopes that both men would collapse and put an end to this unsightly scenario were cruelly dashed.

Team 3D & Johnny Divine d. Motor City Machineguns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin) & Jay Lethal
Ultimate X Shot

As the ring crew erected the Ultimate X scaffolding over the ring, a video brought fan up-to-date about the feud that Team 3D has conducted against the X Division for a couple of months.

Mike Tenay explained the Ultimate X Rules. The prize was the X Division Championship belt that rightfully belonged to Jay Lethal. Tenay emphasized that the match was not actually a championship match in the usual sense, but that it gave Lethal a shot at physically reclaiming the strap from Team 3D and the X Division Traitor Johnny Divine.

Don West reminded fans that, on the final iMPACT before the pay per view, Brother Ray and Devon deliberate tried to injure Shelly’s and Sabin’s hands to make it harder for them to use the crisscrossed cables that lead to the belt. The babyfaces showed up with bandages on the theirs and, though each tried, neither could do much on that cable stretched 15 feet above the canvas,

Brother Ray brought a mic to the ring so he could tell fans that it was finally time for this match. He claimed that he and Devon have been training and were in the best shape of their careers. “Personally, I can tell you that I have the speed of a gazelle,” Ray said. “My brother Devon can move around like a black panther.”

Ray bragged about the team’s many accomplishments and insulted SoCal Val. The fans chanted, “Shut up!”

Brother Ray warned the referee to keep a close watch on his opponents, whom he called nothing but “little cheating bastards.”

The faces entered last, but they struck first as fighting erupted in and out of the ring! Alex Shelley ragged Johnny Devine almost all the way around the outside of the ring. The blond just couldn’t seem to gain any separation from the enraged Shelley.

As Johnny Devine and Jay Lethal tangled outside the ring near one turnbuckle, Ray and Devon set up a pair of tables next to the ring on the side closest to the cameras. Lethal attacked the brothers and banged Ray’s head against the announce table – and the Machineguns joined in to deliver more punishment!

Black Machismo thought he saw an opportunity when the Machineguns were giving Team 3D all they could handle, and zoomed across the cable toward the belt. He might’ve brought the match to a quick and sudden end if Johnny Devine hadn’t grabbed his legs and pulled him back to earth. When Divine made his own try for the belt, the Machineguns used his own strategy against him; each grabbed one of Divine’s legs and hauled him down. They paused too long to admire their handiwork, which let Ray Clothesline them to the mat!

Brother Ray tried to boost Devon up to snatch the belt, but had to stop when his back started to ache. They tried having Ray stand on Devon’s back, but it didn’t put the belt within jumping range for him.

Ray actually tried to negotiate the cable. Lethal got between him and the prize, but the wrestler formerly known as Big Bubba knocked down Black Machismo before Lethal had the chance to notice that he could’ve won the match by just reversing direction on the cable and taking the belt. Ray couldn’t make much progress on the cable and dropped to the canvas.

Black Machismo stopped another attempt by Ray to climb to the top, but Johnny Devine blocked his path! Johnny Devine pulled him down and administered a somewhat unorthodox Backbreaker. Devine thought he had a clear shot with Lethal temporarily out of the action, but Alex Shelley interrupted his journey to the center of the cable and that X Division strap.

Alex Shelley targeted Ray for an out-of-ring Slingshot Dive, but the canny heel stepped out of the way. He pounced on Shelley after he hit the floor and hit his hands with a kendo stick. Shortly after, he did the same to Chris Sabin so that even fans who hadn’t seen iMPACT or paid attention to the opening section of the match would know that the Machineguns couldn’t use the cable to get to the belt.

Partially making up for that terrible piece of booking, Ray and Devon unveiled a simple, but brilliant strategy to overcome their inability to go hand-over-hand across the cable, Devon stood on his brother’s shoulders and Ray walked him across the ring! The Machineguns cut Ray’s legs out form under him just in time to keep Team 3D from total success!

Johnny Devine pulled Black Machismo off the cable before he could take the belt, but Lethal somehow pulled off a remarkable Huracanrana on his way down!

Shelley tried to Clothesline Ray, but instead plowed into the referee! With the official out of action, Team 3D went wild, bringing a ladder into the ring. Tenay explained that the X Division has an unwritten rule against the use of the ladder, but Team 3D certainly didn’t care about that.

Devon climbed the ladder, but the Machineguns double-teamed him to the mat. The X Division Traitor Johnny Devine had no scruples about using a ladder, but the ladder took a tumble just as Johnny’s hand reached the belt. Momentum carried him through the table and all the way to the outer guardrail!

Ray held the ladder while Devon climbed it and took the belt. They hurriedly tossed the ladder out of the ring just before referee Rudy Charles revived enough to see that Devon had the belt. He declared Team 3D and Johnny Devine the winners.

Grade: B+ (limitations became virtues)

AJ Styles & Tomko d. Samoa Joe & Kevin Nash
World Tag Team Championship

They re-showed the excellent long video that presented the story of how Nash and Joe became reluctant tag team partners.

Samoa Joe admitted to Crystal that he and Nash hadn’t gotten off on the right foot. In fact, he acknowledged, they’d started off “on the worst foot they could.” He conceded that he may have been wrong about Kevin and even about Scott Hall. “Maybe, just maybe, the old guard and the new guard make history,” he said before he headed to the ring.

A version of “Tale of the Tape” called “taglines” introduced the match. It wasn’t much, but it did summarize the major storyline points for those who were in the kitchen getting a snack when the video ran five minutes earlier.

Mike Tenay reported that Sharmell had been taken to the hospital with a suspected broken jaw. He pledged an update for next Thursday’s iMPACT.

AJ Styles and Samoa Joe, who started for their respective teams, stuck to classic wrestling as they hunted for a chink in the other’s armor. Samoa Joe’s Rolling Body Scissors broke the stalemate and forced Styles to seek the safety of the ropes.

Kevin Nash pounded Styles in the corner and then lifted him into the air with a two-handed Choke and Bealed him across the ring. Styles dodged a Clothesline and a Back Elbow and then knocked Nash’s leg out from under him! AJ worked on the left knee with an Elbow Drop.

Tomko replaced his teammate and soon he and Nash were slugging it out at center-ring. The veteran Hash bulled Tomko into a corner, where his knees and punches took a devastating toll. Tomko burst out of the trap, took Nash to the mat and covered for what proved to be just a near fall.

Nash screamed as Tomko worked over his knee, trying to wring a submission from the seven-footer. Tomko couldn’t make Nash cave, so he set up for a cross-ring charge. It turned out that Nash was playing possum, because Tomko quickly found himself o the wrong end of a ring-shaking Side Slam!

Nash was in no shape to continue, but he managed to tag in Joe, who immediately took total charge of the match, A Reverse Atomic Drop and then a Running Dropkick made Styles easy prey for a Fall-away Slam. Nash used Joe as a human missile to blast Tomko in the corner and then Joe threw Tomko into Nash’s extended boot. It looked like the pair was working together pretty damn well. The Samoan Submission Machine went for the pin, but Styles came off the top turnbuckle with a tremendous clot to the back of Joe’s neck.

The champions worked on Samoa Joe, grinding him down and keeping him from tagging his partner. The Phenomenal One connected with a Running Enzuiguiri and the big man from American Samoa slumped to the canvas.

Tomko took over for Styles and capitalized on Joe’s weakened state with a Short-arm Clothesline. When the cover failed, Tomko seized a Rear Chinlock and poured on the pressure. Joe broke loose with a series of elbows, but Tomko came off the ropes with a Back Elbow Block of his own.

Styles punished Samoa Joe with a version of the STF. When Tomko re-entered the match, he and Joe went into a hammer-and-tongs punch-out in the middle of the squared circle! Tomko took down Joe with three tremendous Chops, but couldn’t turn that into a successful cover.

Styles and Samoa Joe got into a punching contest – and the big islander is not someone you invite to a slugfest. He dumped AJ in one of the corners, but Tomko attacked from behind and then Styles bounded off the ropes at him. Joe disrupted AJ’s intended Huracanrana and instead Powerbombed him! When Tomko tried to help Styles, all he got for his trouble was Joe’s Powerbomb.

When Samoa Joe finally got into position to tag in Kevin Nash, Big Kev jumped down off the ring apron and walked up the ramp, leaving his supposed ally to fend for himself against the champions!

Samoa Joe fought valiantly against the two-to-one odds. He had Tomko in position for a muscle Buster, but Styles hit him in the back to stop that one. Joe threw Tomko out of the way and gave Styles a Muscle Buster! Tomko interrupted the cover at the count of “two.”

At the end, numbers told the story. The champs used their version of the Death Drop Double-Team on Joe to set up a winning pin.

Now the feud between Samoa Joe and Kevin Nash will blaze hot!

Grade>: B+

In the third and, blessedly, final round of BCS, Young and Storm drew for high card with the loser supposed to drink. They also agreed that the loser world have to drink whiskey through a funnel.

That turned out to be Eric Young. Eric stiffened alarmingly, his eyes glazed over and he hit the floor, unconscious.

“We get our choice of match!” an excited James Storm told Jackie Moore as they began to celebrate. Maybe they’d mentioned this stip at some previous time, though it seems pretty far-fetched to go through all that just to choose a gimmick.

And so an atrocious dramatic bit comes to an end. The match should be better, but then, anything would be better than this clownish nonsense.

Jeremy Borash tried to interview Kurt Angle before the match. TNA’s Heavyweight Champion professed not to know what his wife Karen was doing. “Are you telling me my wife tried to seduce AJ Styles like Mrs. Robinson?” he shrieked. Then, in a softer voice, he added: “Did he bite?”

Angle then turned on Borash, saying that the announcer looks at Karen Angle “like a dog in heat.”

The “Tale of the Tape” for the main event came across much better. They actually marshaled some facts which didn’t hurt. Mike Tenay called fans’ attention to how physical similarity the two combatants. He felt that Angle’s extensive amateur background might compensate for Christian Cage’s longer pro career.

Kurt Angle (with Karen Angle) d. Christian Cage
TNA World Heavyweight Championship

Jeremy Borash did a slick, professional job on the introductions, giving it the right main event feel. He gets extra credit for not imitating Michael Buffer.

The crowd roared, “Angle sucks!” as the adversaries circled each other and looked for an opening. The crowd switched its chant to “Instant Classic,” confirming its support of the Florida-based cage.

Christian Cafe surprised Angle by hanging tough against Kurt’s amateur-inspired tactics, though the former Olympian eventually dumped the challenger on the mat with a very efficient Waistlock Takedown.

Both men tried to up the ante with some flashier moves, but it was still early in the match and neither presented an easy target. Angle worked Christian Cafe on the mat with a Side Headlock. Both got back on their feet and hit the ropes. Cage scored with a Face Plant!

When Cage tried for the Unprettier, the resourceful champion turned it into a Side Headlock. Standing toe to toe at center-ring, Cage spit in Angle’s face and Kurt tried to slap the taste out of his mouth! Then it was Angle’s Uppercuts against Cage’s Forearm Smashes in a test of each man’s ability to take damage and keep on fighting.

As they fought on the ring apron, a surprise Cafe kick sent Angle to the arena floor. The former Olympian was so angry he kicked the ring steps! Cage caught Angle napping with an out-of-ring Cross Body Fly.

Christian Cage went to the top turnbuckle as Angle lurched around the center of the ring. When the Instant Classic took flight, Kurt stepped back and uncorked a Suplex that sent Cage hurtling over the top rope!

Angle’s Kicks paved the way for a big Bodyslam, but the cover couldn’t quite seal the deal. Angle worked on Cage’s neck with a Front Facelock. Christian got free, but Angle met him with a knee as he bounced off the ropes. Angle hit another Suplex and Cage decided to leave the ring for a breather. Karen Angle came over and slapped him, just in case anyone thought they were friends, and her husband attacked him, too!

When Cage briefly caught Angle in a Sleeper Hold as the champ ricocheted off the ropes, but Angle broke it with a well-timed Arm drag. Christian Cage surprised Angle with a Short-arm Clothesline that nearly led to a quick pin!

Angle has always shown great agility and speed when climbing the ropes after an opponent and this talent rescued him again when Christian Cage mounted the top turnbuckle. Angle got up there before the challenger could do anything and took the Instant Classic to the mat with a Back Body Drop. Kurt went right back to the top and uncorked a Split-Legged Moonsault that was a thing of beauty, though Cage probably didn’t think so. Incredibly, it earned only a two count.

Angle picked up Cage with the intent of delivering the Olympic Slam, but the intended victim reversed into a DDT! Cage hit second DDT, but Angle avoided the follow-up Frog Splash.

Angle rocked Cage with two German Suplexes and too down the straps as the signal for a third. Cage evaded the Suplex, but got caught in the Anklelock! Cage rolled through, but he couldn’t shake off Angle. Cage maneuvered Angle into a Small Package, but the title-holder kicked free!

Cage went to the top turnbuckle. He fought off Angle once, but the second time Kurt got him with a thunderous Superplex. The official’s hand was only inches from the third slap of the mat when Cage wriggled free.

Angle got the Anklelock again, but Cage escaped by taking the former Olympian off his feet! When Cage put his foe into a full Boston Crab at center-ring, Angle used a similar tactic to avoid the submission.

Cage went for the Unprettier, but Angle maneuvered out of it. Cage changed his plan in mid-course and jolted his nemesis with a Sit-out Powerbomb. Karen Angle screamed hysterically at ringside, only too aware of how close her spouse had come to dropping the belt!

The ref was looking the wrong way, thanks largely to Karen, when Kurt Angle dealt Christian Cage a low blow! It looked like Kurt would bring it home with the Olympic Slam, but Earl Hebner said it was only a two count.

Karen stepped up onto the ring apron, just as her husband banged into the ropes right in front of her! Before Kurt could recover from the near-collision with his wife, Cage connected with the Unprettier! Angle kicked out!

As Christian watched Hebner and Karen Angle argue, Kurt launched a surprise attack! Then it was the champion’s turn to be surprised, because Christian reversed into an Anklelock!

That’s when AJ Styles showed up! The crowd held its breath as he took Karen Angle off the apron. The referee followed, momentarily turning his attention from the match. Styles embraced Angle, evidently confirming their bargain.

Then the Phenomenal One jumped to the top rope and catapulted himself through the air. He clubbed Cage on the back of the neck, stopping him in his tracks! Angle launched a whirlwind attack that culminated in the Olympic Slam and a winning cover!

Kurt Angle retained the TNA World Heavyweight Championship!

Grade: A (did someone say “rematch”>_

The show ended with an excellent video review of the cards highlights.

The Kingfish Says
Some thoughts on
Final Reckoning

The generally fine ring performances up and down the card won out over some questionable booking and the outright failure of non-ring segments like the Drinking Championship Series.

TNA must add one or more writers who know how to work with the wrestlers if it plans to continue to do these elaborate (and uniformly awful) dramatic scenes. It’s asking a lot of any fan to remain interested in Storm versus Young after the hellacious gimmicks of the last month or so.

The bookers are also scheduling too many non-singles matches. There’s more to “action” than having eight people dash around the ring like their tails were on fire. Tag teams and such are great, but the singles match has to be the focus if TNA wants to build up its best talents into genuine stars.

Overall Grade: B+ (worth buying_

— The Kingfish Arnie Katz