There is the potential for the show to be overbooked, with the angles overshadowing the action, but there is also the potential for a pretty good pay-per-view. As with TNA’s Slammiversary last Sunday, No Way Out could be very good, although it probably can’t rise to being great because, like Slammiversary, the main event has little chance to be great.
My faith in No Way Out, which takes place at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., emanates from my in-ring experience. Unlike many Internet bloggers, I don’t write my column while sitting in my underwear in my room in my mother’s basement. To be honest, occasionally I do write Heel Turns in my underwear, but I’m usually on the balcony of my room at an exclusive hotel instead of, heaven forbid, in my parents’ basement. A more obvious difference is I look damn good while writing in my underwear.
No Way Out includes C.M. Punk vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane for Punk’s WWE Championship, Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus for the latter’s World Heavyweight Championship, and Christian vs. Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental Championship, which Christian won from Rhodes at WWE’s last pay-per-view. Regardless of how you feel about the main event between Big Show and John Cena, these other three matches should all range from good to outstanding.
The Big Show vs. Cena match will take place in a steel cage. The stipulation is that if Big Show wins, Cena will be fired. If Cena wins, RAW and Smackdown general manager John Laurinaitis will be fired.
With the surprise ending of RAW, with Big Show accidentally knocking out WWE chairman Vince McMahon, expect McMahon to be involved in the finish of this match. Don’t be surprised if there isn’t a final resolution to the “Who’s fired?” question until Monday’s RAW. It seems there’s no way Cena would be fired, but remember that he was supposed to take some time off after his match with Brock Lesnar and never did.
The main event could be OK or good. A lot depends on the crowd. But there’s no way the WWE title match should be anything less than good. Punk and Bryan are masters in the ring. Kane is still one of the better big men in the business. The finish of this match will somehow involve AJ, Bryan’s former girlfriend who has made advances toward Punk and seems infatuated with Kane. I expect an exceptional match with an ending that advances the storyline and, possibly, even changes the champion.
Sheamus vs. Ziggler also has the potential to be a tremendous match. Sheamus is a terrific brawler. Ziggler is one of the best in-ring talents today and almost always makes his opponent look very, very good. The only thing holding this match back is it seems too obvious that Sheamus is going to win. Ziggler is only in this match because Alberto Del Rio suffered a concussion (and Randy Orton and Chris Jericho are suspended). This would be a tremendous opportunity to reward Ziggler for his excellent work with his first undisputed World Championship reign.
The Intercontinental Championship match also could be very good. Christian is outstanding in the ring, and Rhodes is better than most seem to believe. I envision Christian retaining in an entertaining match.
That’s three good-to-great matches and the potential for another good match. The rest of the card includes a Divas Championship match between Layla and challenger Beth Phoenix, and a tuxedo match between Santino Marella and Ricardo Rodriguez (Del Rio’s personal ring announcer). That’s not awful filler. The Divas match has a chance to be solid and the tuxedo match should be entertaining. There is also a preshow Facebook and YouTube match between Brodus Clay and David Otunga.
The bottom line, as Stone Cold Steve Austin used to say, is that if you’ve got the time and the money, I’d give No Way Out a chance.
GRAND SLAM: TNA celebrated its 10th anniversary in grand style with “Slammiversary.” This was a terrific show for several reasons. First, it wasn’t overbooked, as many TNA events were during the Vince Russo era, which, thankfully, is over. Second, the card benefited from the live crowd in Arlington, Texas, instead of taking place before the usual suspects in Orlando. Last, but certainly not least, the wrestlers delivered.
As I wrote last week, Sting’s physical limitations in the ring prevented his match with TNA world champion Bobby Roode from being great. In fact, the match ranged from mediocre to fair. But this card wasn’t reliant on one match.
The tag team championship match between AJ Styles and Kurt Angle and champions Christopher Daniels and Kazarian was outstanding. Angle and Styles won the titles, but expect to see more of this fantastic foursome in the ring together this summer.
Austin Aries’ match with Samoa Joe, which received very little build-up, was a perfect way to start to the show. Bully Ray vs. Joseph Park was a well-booked match that made sense, and none of the filler matches was objectionable. The decision to make Sting the first inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame was also a nice touch.
I hope TNA learned an important lesson at Slammiversary. Follow the original mantra of your name: Total Non-stop Action. In other words, let the action do most of your talking for you.
IN KNEED OF POSITIVE VIBES: Some people think Achilles Heel doesn’t have a heart, but I’m going to prove you wrong (as usual). My heart goes out to TNA’s Chris Sabin. He returned from action after recovering from a torn ACL, only to tear the ACL in his other (left) knee Thursday during an Ultimate X match on Impact Wrestling.
Working through rehab after surgery to repair a torn ACL is an arduous process. To suffer another torn ACL so soon after returning is a crushing psychological blow. My best wishes go out to Sabin as he begins his long and difficult road back to the ring.
BEST IN THE WORLD: Ring of Honor will hold “Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis” on June 24 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. This event, which is headlined by Kevin Steen defending the Ring of Honor World Championship against former champion Davey Richards, will also be available on Internet pay-per-view.
Other matches included Ring of Honor tag team champions Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin defending their titles against The All Night Express (Rhett Titus and Kenny King), Fit Finlay vs. “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin, Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly and a whole lot more. I’ll have a more detailed preview of the card in the next edition of Heel Turns.
CHIKARA HITS ROAD: CHIKARA goes North of the border next weekend for shows in Strathroy, Ontario on Saturday – in all my travels, I can’t recall every being in Strathroy – and Syracuse on Sunday. The Young Lions Cup gets underway that weekend. Then CHIKARA takes a break until late July. The next opportunity to see CHIKARA in Pennsylvania will be a special charity event in conjunction with the Reading Phillies on Aug. 12.
CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: I’ve been remiss in not previously mentioning the best-of-seven challenge from former NWA champion Adam Pearce to current champion Colt Cabana. Labeled “Seven Levels of Hate,” this best-of-seven series is a wonderful concept that creates a storyline for otherwise unrelated independent shows.
Cabana has a 2-0 lead after winning a “Boston Street Fight” in Bridgewater, Mass. The third match in this series will be an “I Quit” match on July 7 in Hopkins, Minn. Either Pearce wins the third match or, after falling behind 3-0, he wins three straight, which would lead to a winner-take-all seventh match.
EXTREME RISING: The next big show in Philly is June 30, when Extreme Rising (formerly Extreme Reunion) will try to rebrand its image after a disastrous first show that left the sellout crowd at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory very unhappy. Rather than focus on nostalgia, the company is trying to focus on opportunity (mixed with some nostalgia).
There will be a greater emphasis on younger talent, although, of course, some former ECW wrestlers will be in action. Announced matches are Jerry Lynn vs. Homicide, Steve Richards vs. Luke Hawx, The Gangstas vs. BLK Out, and The FBI vs. The Dramatics. Matt Hardy, Devon Storm and Balls Mahoney are also expected to appear.
TENSAI’S MAKEOVER: Speaking of rebranding, I wrote last week of WWE’s attempt to resurrect Lord Tensai after he failed to make the big splash WWE had hoped. They took a positive step in resurrect the former A-Train last week on RAW.
Tensai (they’ve dropped the “Lord”) lost his match to Sheamus, but it was a good “big man” brawl. Tensai also appeared more vicious, both during the match and afterward, when he beat up his Japanese sidekick. This may take time, but I like that WWE is going with a slight change in character rather than completely ditching the Tensai gimmick right away and making Albert start over from scratch.
McMAHON IS MONEY: Vince McMahon made a triumphant return to RAW on Monday. The chairman was excellent in his role, from his entertaining interview with John Laurinaitis to start the show to getting knocked out by Big Show at the end.
RARE PRAISE: I don’t want to make this a habit, but I have something positive to say about the editors at PhillyPhanatics.com for the second straight week. In his column on villains in sports, Eric Fisher surprised me by correctly using an analogy involving the famous “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka vs. Magnificent Muraco steel cage match for the Intercontinental Championship at Madison Square Garden.
But I’m warning Fisher not to tread on my turf too often. Leave the pro wrestling analogies to the experts.
In other words, writing a wrestling column is serious business. Don’t try this at home.