Bound For Glory… The biggest pay-per-view of the year in the Wrestling World outside of the grasp of the WWE. An event that was packed with exciting matches that far exceeded the matches that has been endured in TNA for a long time. There was the X Division’s Ultimate X brawl which ,contrary to the commentating, possessed four not three ex World Heavyweight Champions with Austin Aries, Chris Sabin, Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe. Along with the defending X Division Champion, Manik. The highest calibre X Division match for a long time, with everyone fitting the characteristics of the infamous division. To the surprise of many, but not for myself, I was correct in my prediction of Chris Sabin set to win, in the comment section, which he had continued his downward spiral trend of replicating a more or less forgotten era of Daniel Bryan’s career, as stated in a previous article. There was of course the shock of the tag team title match, which I’m sure left the whole world startled of who won both of those matches. We witnessed the passing of the torch from the old lion to the new guard, between Sting and Magnus, in a hard fought battle. Along with all of that, the obvious main event, with the whole night building towards one of the most anticipated title matches in TNA history. Bully Ray replicated his physical character into an intimidating wrestling offense, but AJ Styles does what he does best: pull off the phenomenal arsenal to get the win. However, there was one match that as I knew it would, stole the show. There was the one match, that was by far the most entertaining, that is the Bobby Roode vs Kurt Angle match. For this article, I’ll review this match.
Don’t get me wrong, this match has been reviewed very well already in the Bound For Glory 2013 round up, but this match is something I feel deserves its own spotlight. As Ric Santos rightly says, it was a tremendous match. But the reason why it needs to be analyzed is because the quality was in a league of its own, compared to the rest of the matches at Bound For Glory 2013. That’s not even an attempt to discriminate the rest of the matches whatsoever. It was that good, and it even lead to Taz going off character by stating that Bobby Roode and Kurt Angle are the two best wrestlers in the world. You know the guy that is best friends with the World Champion where the Championship is symbolic for distinguishing yourself as the best. In addition, Taz character continually involves him in being incredibly bias for Bully Ray under all circumstances.
It’s easy to just applaud a match, but for the article, it should be acknowledged why the match was as good as it was. TNA chose to use the Hall of Fame as the major factor in the build up of this rivalry. Kurt Angle, since Slammiversary XI, was the newest inductee into the Hall Of Fame, which I’ve discussed in a previous article. Usually, the concept would be that it is the natural choice for such a gifted athlete to be recognized as a Hall Of Famer. But in any form of a high profile individual, your personal life unfortunately comes into scrutiny for the public to witness. Whilst this highlights, as Kurt Angle has said in a recent interview, that he wasn’t in a happy place and has learned the positives from his unfortunate setback. Something nobody will ever be immune to, so in reality, we should respect his open admission and willingness to discuss these issues to help us all who will experience these things too, in theory, remaining as a role model. But the misconception within these circumstances that there will always be critics to put down the person for their mistakes. This is about a man who professionally is one of the most distinguished individuals. For this to be possible, he puts the highest of expectations amongst himself. So the whole issue definitely was a major drawback on himself, leading him to question the legitimacy of him being in the Hall Of Fame.
Kurt Angle wasn’t the only one to question whether he deserved to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame. This was also perceived by EGO, who went as far as throwing their own version of the Hall Of Fame with Bobby Roode inducted. He felt he was more deserving, being the regular wrestler in the Impact Zone. Bobby Roode wanted to emphasize his claim as the more appropriate choice of the Hall Of Fame by promising Kurt Angle that he will do to him what Kurt Angle is most notorious for doing, which is to tap out his opponents.
But this battle was also about Bobby Roode’s ego. Already with the negative perspective over Kurt Angle, Bobby Roode himself genuinely perceives himself as the best wrestler, being the IT factor. This incredibly, and to a certain extent correct philosophy, has been built due to his World Heavyweight Championship reign. This was the longest reign in history, which included victories over everyone including Kurt Angle. Bobby Roode is a wrestler who has been getting constant positive reviews from all corners of the wrestling world. He has also been part of successful tag teams, whether with James Storm in Beer Money Inc. or with Austin Aries. In both cases, he was a tag team champion which underlines his credentials. In the last few years, Kurt Angle and Bobby Roode have both had the World Championship and Tag Team Championships. Yet Bobby Roode has been the more recent champion in either case. All of these factors strengthened Bobby Roode’s self belief of being the more deserving inductee into the Hall Of Fame.
These factors were brought into the wrestling match. There’s an ongoing debate on what makes a wrestler and a wrestling match great. It’s not just based on the wrestling ability of the individual. I have written a good review on these factors by comparing AJ Styles and CM Punk, in a previous article. CM Punk for the vast majority of wrestling fans is the best wrestler out there for these reasons stated. For the dream match that Ric stated to be included in the Bobby Roode vs Kurt Angle match in the Bound For Glory 2013 review article, I would definitely include CM Punk or nominate him instead of Daniel Bryan. Also because of the fractious relationship between CM Punk and Kurt Angle, with Kurt Angle openly warning CM Punk not to bad mouth him again. Anyways, back to the main topic, using the principals stated in the previous article, this match went on to replicate the storyline heading into the match perfectly! Just the fact that Kurt Angle would retreat from the ring to avoid the submission replicating the crippler’s crossface, spoke volumes. I can’t seem to recollect Kurt Angle as a face ever retreating from the opposition. This reflected the self doubt of Kurt Angle leading him to shockingly reject the induction to the Hall Of Fame, along with the enormous self confidence of the IT Factor. This wouldn’t be the only time that this would happen. To also reflect Kurt Angle’s ring rust, Bobby Roode was having the better of Kurt Angle throughout the early goings of the match. This was intriguing because it’s rare to see Kurt Angle getting schooled by another athlete. But he wasn’t only getting outwrestled, Bobby Roode was performing very well. He was controlling Kurt Angle and dictating the pace of the match.
There was another story heading into this brawl. Kurt Angle was not 100%, but a man with such exceptional wrestling ability, he’s never going to sustain low morale. In Kurt Angle style, he can never be counted out, always is a threat and being capable to change the tide of the match. During the match, Taz commentated with the quote “the longer the match plays out, the more dangerous Kurt Angle becomes. He has amazing conditioning, he’s not human” with then Mike Tenay and Taz agreeing that this is why Kurt Angle is regarded as the ‘Cyborg’. This part of Kurt Angle’s character will come into effect into the wrestling match. This was notable with how Kurt Angle’s tenacity wouldn’t be denied. He was able to get into the match and assert his authority. Kurt Angle was able to use his wrestling move set with such good timing. These are the aspects that helped Shawn Michaels to be regarded as the greatest performing wrestler. The spirit of never giving up after seemingly starring at defeat. That never say die spirit is what we enjoy, all mixed with performing well, unlike some who can’t do it well like John Cena.
That’s not all, the match itself was performed very well. For me, in a match full of quality of precision, athleticism, submission & technical ability, there was a few standout moments. Although as usual, the fantastic grip of Kurt Angle helped him get out of the crossface submission. The speed and the execution of how Bobby Roode was able to grab Kurt Angle’s arm and instantly put on the crossface submission was outstanding.
Not only that, but when Kurt Angle ran with a clothesline, the reversal of Bobby Roode to convert it into a crossface was again fantastic. Then we can’t neglect how Kurt Angle is always able to pull off some great German suplexes, which in particular the belly to belly suplex to counter the supposed counter that Bobby Roode assumed he did when thinking he got out of receiving a third German suplex summed up speed, strength and athleticism all together. Then, how Kurt Angle was able to pull off the Angle/Olympic Slam from the top turnbuckle requires an incredible amount of skill, which lead to a shocking finish. As the match ended, the crowd who were split throughout were surely drooling over the prospect of a Bobby Roode vs Kurt Angle 3!
One of the disappointments in wrestling was how Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit never had the opportunity to prolong their fantastic rivalry. Both amazing athletes and their brawl at Royal Rumble 2003 is easily regarded as one of the greatest of all time. Despicable actions for a man suffering the consequence of diving headbutts amongst other things over the years, for how the Benoits had their lives taken, but before that, there wasn’t a single person who would say a bad word regarding Chris Benoit. Being a Canadian, who also utilizes the crossface, and with Kurt Angle using the German suplexes that he started using from that rivalry, it feels like the closest thing we can get to that fantastic rivalry.
However, despite being hugely entertained, there was a part of me that was just left disappointed. No, it isn’t the quality of the match, but the build up. The build up was literally based on two weeks of the grudge between Bobby Roode and Kurt Angle. There was a lack of time to build anything enticing. Usually, it would be easy to comprehend the limitations TNA had due to the unfortunate circumstances involving Kurt Angle. But this match had a lot more to offer if ONLY the creative management really spent time to think about it. Hulk Hogan isn’t there, so he can’t be the scapegoat. What could of been used as the storyline? This article that I write regarding the history in Bound For Glory between Bobby Roode and Kurt Angle, just illustrates the incredible amount of history there is between the two. If this is hyperbole then why would Kurt Angle be proud to advertise this article rather than the other possible articles? Why would his fan base recognize it and view the article with them commenting or informing me of their appreciation of the depth of what the match had to offer? In reference to the ever insightful Alex’s Assumptions, 2011 was one of the best years of TNA history, the same year that they had these two fight in the main event. The problem I have is that TNA failed to acknowledge what they could offer on an optimal level. That match in 2011 was the catalyst for leading to one of the biggest names in TNA today, Bobby Roode as the IT Factor. The amount of emotion that went into the whole storyline was incredible.
When I communicate with TNA fans, they seem to love Bobby Roode and appreciate him to a great extent. This was evident that on a night of a man advertised to be inducted, so expecting a positive vibe, the crowd were still split on who was their preferred superstar. As Chris Jericho likes to say, its a skill for the heel to have a great, positive reception from the crowd. Bizarrely, everyone except TNA management are able to think why this is. It disappoints me so much. With a lack of importance, or lack of utilization of the potential of the match, there tends to be a limit on the impact of the wrestling match.
As a CM Punk fan, I have to use the examples of his big fights. The fights contrary to popular conception, is evident of him being the main man in WWE. There was the popular belief that The Rock would win at Royal Rumble 2013, but even that fight with the incredible rivalry was transferred into an entertaining fight with an initial ending that left the entire crowd startled. With CM Punk, I can give you two examples, of what should be regarded as the two best matches this year. CM Punk vs The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29 and CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar at Summerslam 2013. The Bobby Roode vs Kurt Angle 2 match could of been enhanced even more to a similar concept of the CM Punk vs The Undertaker match. No offense, but the wrestling world knows The Undertaker is the most respected wrestler there is and his streak is breathtaking. It itself automatically becomes another main event. Now we talk about Kurt Angle being the cyborg whose seen by many as the greatest wrestler there is. He’s the guy. So for anyone to have a chance at beating the seemingly unstoppable guy, who beat a wrestler who displayed the purest of determination and ‘heart’ not seen for a long time in their last bout, would be an achievement of such magnitude and be seen as an unlikely possibility to make it enticing. Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker are phenomenal athletes in their own way. Brock Lesnar, who mixes strength, speed and technical ability, is would of been the greatest wrestler if he stayed with WWE and could have been considered the equal to Kurt Angle at such a young age at Wrestlemania 19.
The crowd at the CM Punk matches were thoroughly entertained. I was at MetLife Stadium with over 80,000 fans screaming either The Undertaker or CM Punk, with all of the sighs after each possible pin. The Summerslam 2013 brawl between Brock Lesnar and CM Punk generated such emotion that galvanized the crowd. These are the aspects that were lacking in the Kurt Angle vs Bobby Roode match to a great extent. Yes, there were moments we were gasping. But the difference here is due to the significance of the brawls. Let’s look at Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. Daniel Bryan has been able to grow because of the importance of his match is bigger than CM Punk’s, which gives the general concept that Daniel Bryan is the best right now. Even though we can see CM Punk is the most adored, just the relevance of either duel being different tilts the scales there. AJ Styles vs Bully Ray heavily outweighed this brawl.
I was also disappointed with the lack of focus of how TNA would get Mike Tenay to just say a one line sentence, “these guys main evented Bound For Glory in 2011″, and doing the same thing during the Ultimate X match regarding Jeff Hardy and Austin Aries. I would of presumed you would want to make the matches as big as possible. But it seems TNA has a serious problem of remembering the history of events, having a selective memory just for AJ Styles. Just leave it to the professor Mike Tenay to remind us quickly. This highlights the limitations in creativity as surely you would want to make every brawl seem as big as possible. This doesn’t jeopardize the main event either, as the title is seen as the biggest prize in the sport.
The Bound For Glory 2013 pay-per-view literally had the whole wrestling world buzzing. Moments just before the build up, the UK crowd would have WrestleTalk TV on Challenge TV, with the question of which future stars TNA could utilize. I would mention Wes Brisco, in reference to my previous article that was publicized by Wes Brisco and his legendary father, Gerald Brisco. These tweets wouldn’t go unnoticed, with Gerald Brisco retweeting my tweets about Wes Brisco, he would also kick off the speculation regarding the main event, by tweeting that he hopes Wes Brisco gets revenge on Bully Ray. Also, Wes Brisco himself would be tweeting positive tweets regarding Aces & Eights which could be interpreted in a range of ways, as either pro or anti Bully Ray, with the fractious relationship in the group. Then there was me catching up with my buddy, you know that guy, arguably the biggest wrestler of all time, about Bound For Gloryy 2013. He seemed to make it clear that he wouldn’t be involved but never say never with Hulk Hogan was the ongoing theme.
The problem here is that TNA heavily based most of the hype on one brawl. This is a severe weakness. Before anyone says anything, I’m primarily a wrestling fan, so don’t take it as anti TNA. For a long time in Wrestlemania, there’s never been a match that easily stands out. Not even the first encounter of The Rock vs John Cena, since there was also the Triple H vs The Undertaker in The Hell In A Cell with Shawn Michaels as the guest referee. This year had three major main events which included an impressive match card throughout. Perhaps my only criticism for us attending fans was that there weren’t the Rhodes Scholars & Bella twins vs Tons of Funk and Funkadactyls to help control the adrenaline rush throughout the tournament. We never witnessed the promo for the John Cena vs The Rock match whilst expecting the weaker match, so it caught us by surprise and we had to slightly adjust ourselves which obviously occurred with The Rock’s entrance. But a good problem to endure out of the two possibilities.
This match was an incredible match, with so many twist and turns. Usually, it’s noticeable that Kurt Angle in his matches is the standout, but this wasn’t the case in this match up. Both competitors were able to deliver a thrilling match. This match underlines why these guys are highly regarded in the wrestling world. These guys cemented themselves as legitimate world heavyweight champion calibre stars. Even the very ending, with how Kurt Angle left the arena refusing to be stretchered off, was highly commendable. That ending reminded me of the ending of the second Wrestlemania encounter between Triple H and The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 27. A hard fought battle, with one man needing to be stretchered off. But the problem is, TNA is unable to utilize effective storylines. This limits the wrestling show and limits the wrestling match. The limited story telling, in a company that airs weekly shows, decreases the ability of producing the most entertaining show possible. This is a sport, pre-determined, which in order to make the most of this predicament, it needs to dictate the story telling aspects effectively, including the physical attacks that are much more variable to the so called ‘Real Sports’, MMA and Boxing. The promos play a fundamental role, like with the recent UFC fight between Dos Santos and Cain Valasquez. TNA needs to seriously ponder these aspects if they will want to improve their show. This is why I appreciate CM Punk so much, who even deeply believes in everything he does. This is what makes him stand out compared to people like Bully Ray on the mic, who is good, but just gets away with an aggressive approach. CM Punk has variety, based on his feelings like his Money In The Bank 2011 rivalry with John Cena and WWE, you know, the story that AJ Styles has replicated, as stated in a previous article.
TNA, in hindsight, the Bobby Roode vs Kurt Angle match summed you guys perfectly. A company that appeals to the wrestling fan. It’s not an impossible task to improve the storyline aspect and if dealt with properly, TNA will be a force to be reckoned with.
By Sean Prem