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'TNA in the UK' has taken over Challenge TV this February with four Impact's recorded in Manchester and London as well as a few specials entitled 'Backstage Pass' which will feature backstage footage and matches from the other non televised dates of the January UK tour, so this seems the right time to give my views on the Nottingham leg of the tour.
The show was held in the same venue as last year, Nottingham's Capital FM Arena, with the layout being identical to the point where it felt like I had walked in the next day rather than a whole year later. The arena was unfortunately little over half full; likely a victim of the two dates that are hosting the Impact recordings; with many completely empty blocks around the upper tiers.
Jeremy Borash was the host of the evening, taking over ring announcing duties from the absent Christy Hemme and worked the crowd well with his ever-present enthusiasm. There were a few local independent wrestlers around the ring side area such as Stixx and LCW Champion L.J. Heron, in which I later found out that Nottingham based promotion 'House of Pain' had helped with all of the ring setup.
In the first match of the evening the TNA Tag Team champions Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez beat Bad Influence (Daniels & Kazarian) to retain the Tag Titles. The crowd was very vocal in support for Chavo, who rubbed this in Daniels's face with a 'Who can get the loudest cheer?' contest to start the match. Bad Influence quickly gained the upper hand with Daniels dominating the in-ring action as Kaz showboated to the crowd with his back to the action. Daniels repeatedly gave Chavo's arm to his partner until Guerrero reversed, allowing Kaz to put Daniels in an armbar, only realising his error when the champions appeared in front of him. The action continued back and forth until the heels took control again until the eventual hot tag. One highlighted spot was Hernandez holding Kazarian in a suplex while Chavo bounced Daniels's head off all four turnbuckles. Chavo picked up the victory after hitting the frogsplash. The match did it's job as it got the crowd going ready for the rest of the evenings matches, it's just a shame that the masses view Chavo as a big deal due to his involvement in WWE.
Earl Hebner was introduced to the crowd and there were only a few "You screwed Bret" chants heard. JB then talked up British Boot Camp and brought out the winner of the show, Rockstar Spud, and his fellow competitor, "Party" Marty. Both got good reactions, but Spud took the role of heel as they locked up once again to take each other on.
After a minute of action, Spud got into an argument with Hebner that instigated the "Bret" chant they were looking for. Marty slapped Hebner's hand in a "naughty child" manor and then Hebner revealed his "Yes I Did" t-shirt which is his staple at house shows. The match was very similar to the one they had on the last episode of Bootcamp, but without Marty's dive to the outside and with Spud picking up the pinfall by hooking Marty's trunks.
To carry on the 'Bootcamp' theme the next match featured the Blossom Twin's taking on the tandem of Gail Kim and Tara, but out first was the special guest referee Velvet Sky who 'let the pigeons loose' in Nottingham. The match was fairly back and forth with some impressive spots such as Tara putting one of the Blossoms in the tarantula. The heels soon started to dominate the match with Tara being very vocal making some hilarious taunts at the twins. The Blossoms picked up the victory after switching places behind Sky's back as Tara and Gail had a falling out. After the match, the Blossoms felt the anger of the defeated heels until Velvet stepped in and took both of them out.
The arena erupted when Rob Van Dam's music hit to bring him out for a defence of the X Division Championship against Zema Ion who got a less favourable "who are ya" chant. After a back and forth, Zema went to use his hairspray to "straighten up," but the can was taken from him by RVD, who proceeded to do Hebner's "hair" and then random crowd members. RVD hit his signature moves to please the crowd and picked up the victory after hitting the Five-Star Frogsplash leaping over Earl Hebner in the process. RVD seemed fresh in this match which is something that hasn't been said for a number of years but unfortunately that was short lived when it was brought to my attention the two had an identical match the night before. As the two made there way to the back it was announced that it was time for the intermission.
After the break Austin Aries made his way to the ring to a good crowd reaction while Bobby Roode came to the ring to his old music ("Off The Chain" with lyrics) and accompanied by darts player Paul Nicholson, it may seem like a random pairing but the two met last summer and shared some PR dates. James Storm then came to the ring to a huge reaction and took to the mic, he said the next match should have been a three-way, but after the heels double teamed him last night he wanted it changed to a tag match. Magnus was then introduced with new intro music and video to another loud hometown reaction.
Storm spent the majority of the match in the ring. Aries and Roode were their usual excellent selfs and to keep up with their recent comedy moments. There was a spot where the heels crashed into one another out of the corner, Roode fell first arse-up with Aries falling on him, and then both exited the ring sharply looking disgusted at one another. The match spilled to the outside on one occasion. Storm brought about the end of the match by hitting the Last Call Superkick on Aries - after a previous failed attempt - and then tagged in Magnus, who hit the elbow of the top rope for the pinfall.
|Spot the Wrestler - Storm and Magnus in the crowd|
After the match, Storm took to the mic again, working the crowd with "Beer" chants. He then proceeded to run into the crowd while the cage started to be put in place for the main event. After posing with fans in various parts of the crowd and spraying lots of beer, Storm and Magnus then made their way to the back with JB taking over microphone duties. Working the crowd, Borash announced that the show was being recorded for 'Backstage Pass' although not much of the footage actually made it to the show. After doing a couple of laps of the crowd, announcing random 'famous' people in the crowd and asking people who their favourite football teams are, showing that JB has a better grasp of British culture than many Americans, the cage was finally in place for the "Main Event of the Evening."
The steel cage match was oddly announced as being No DQ. I wasn't sure if you could get disqualified in a cage? Aces & Eights made their way to the ring down the entrance ramp for a change; a fair amount of heat for the pair of Devon and DOC. The arena was then plunged into darkness and exploded for Kurt Angle's entrance with Sting receiving an even bigger pop, clearly the loudest of the night.
|Tables and Cages|
Mike Knox took out Angle from behind as Sting took to the ring two-on-one, which is where the logic in booking comes undone, as the same happened the night before and Kurt didn't learn unlike Storm earlier in the night. Aces soon overpowered Sting as Angle struggled to get into the ring as Knox kept taking him out. Angle eventually made his way into the ring, but after hitting the Angle Slam another masked member of the biker gang hit the ring with hammer in hand to take Angle out. The Olympian kicked out of a pin attempt and after the introduction of a table, Bully Ray hit the ring to a massive reaction to make the save. DOC was eventually put through a table by Sting and Angle who picked up the pin.
Post-match, the heels soon left as the faces stayed in the ring to close the show, Bully took the mic and hailed both Angle and Sting as legends. After working the crowd into a frenzy, they pulled a kid into the ring and gave him a piece of the table, which they all signed. They left the crowd to go home happy.
Overall, the show was solid, but didn't quite match up to last year with a focus on the British stars at the expense of other roster members, the most notable name missing beside Hardy was Samoa Joe. The Aries/Roode vs. Storm/Magnus match was the match of the night, with Marty vs. Spud claiming second place for me.
The merchandise being sold didn't make much sense, with numerous t shirts available for wrestlers not at the event such as Jeff Hardy, Hogan, Mr Anderson and A.J. Styles, I know they are fan favourites but when they edge out any merchandise of wrestlers working the show it seems a bit unfair.
TNA will return to these shores again the same time next year, but the rows of empty seats are on obvious reason why TNA won't be returning to Nottingham, favoring Birmingham instead.