Thanks to WrestlingINC.com reader E-Z-E for sending in this report from last night's TNA live event at the Akron Civic Theatre in Akron, OH:
I went to the show with my wife, my brother, and our buddy Ed. Doors opened at approximately 4:00 PM for the meet and greet.
First, we were queued up in a hallway, where TNA officials offered the following pieces of merchandise:
* $30 "brown bag special" – 1 program, 4 DVDs, 1 action figure, 1 T-shirt
* $20 – Kurt Angle / Mr. Anderson action figure combo pack. If you bought one of these, you would be able to go backstage and get them autographed by Angle & Anderson. TNA officials said that the action figures that they had were the only ones left in existence.
* $375 – TNA replica championship belt. Buying one of these would give you a "lifetime backstage pass" for any and all future TNA events, except for PPVs and Impact. We were told that they don't have time to do backstage meet and greets at PPVs or at Impact.
The ring itself was on a stage, with a majority of the fans seated in theater-style seating at an orchestra level or balcony level. It was a nice theater and not your typical wrestling venue.
There were only 4 rows of ringside seats on only two sides of the ring. One side of the ring had no seats where the wrestlers made their entrance, and the other side of the ring had no seats to not obstruct the view of those sitting in the thereat seating. We sat in row #2, and we had a close-up view of the action.
The meet and greet included with the ticket was with Garret Bischoff, Magnus, The Pope, Kazarian, and Christopher Daniels. They all sat at a long table and mainly signed programs and posed for pictures. The guy in front of me laid four playing cards on the table, "Aces and Eights", for each of them to sign. Kazarian said he wasn't afraid of Aces and Eights, and said that he beat up bikers all the time. Kazarian was wearing a Metallica T-shirt, and said he left his Pantera T-shirt at home. The Pope said it was a conspiracy. Magnus and a member of TNA security hinted that they might even be members of Aces and Eights. Garrett Bischoff said he had nothing to say to Scotty Steiner.
Actually, there were a lot of supporters for the 'Aces and Eights' gang that has been wreaking havoc on Impact Wrestling as of late. Someone brought an 'Aces and Eights' sign, and there were a lot of the Aces and Eights playing cards being thrown around the ringside crowd all nite. The question on everyone's mind is whether the 'Aces and Eights' gang would be riding into Akron on this night.
After the first meet and greet, there was another meet and greet with Madison Rayne at the merchandise table. For $10, you could buy a Madison Rayne tapestry and get your picture taken behind the table with Madison. It was good to see Madison Rayne return to her hometown. Madison used to wrestle on the independent circuit in the Cleveland/Akron area under the name Lexi Lane. Now that Angelina Love and Velvet Sky are gone, many feel that Madison is the #1 Knockout in TNA.
Meanwhile, those with the $20 action figures met Anderson and Angle. The doors opened for everyone who didn't have a 'meet and greet' ticket and the show was ready to start. After the crowd filed in, I would estimate that there were approximately 500 fans in attendance.
Amongst those in attendance, Joseph Park was sitting in the theater in the approximately the sixth row. (I wonder if he bought a "brown bag special")
Borash came out to pump out the crowd. There was some Don West wannabe who was selling $50 backstage passes to meet Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, RVD, and Jeff Hardy during the intermission. I misheard him and offered him $15 for the backstage pass. He said, "Not 15... 50!"
On to the matches:
BATTLE ROYAL FOR THE MAIN EVENT WORLD TITLE SHOT
Participants included Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy, Bobby Roode, Mr. Anderson, Devon, Magnus, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, The Pope, Garrett Bischoff
It seemed like it took the wrestlers longer to come out to the ring than the actual battle royal. During Garret Bischoff's entrance, someone held up a sign that said "Bischoff Fears Steiner". Bischoff acknowledged the sign and laughed. I give him respect for that. Boom Shakalaka!
AJ Styles was originally booked for the show, but was not there. I think The Pope took AJ's place, and they also had to shuffle the rest of the card around.
The battle royal was what you would expect… a lot of punching and kicking with the occasional person thrown over the top rope. Jeff Hardy was the first eliminated. The battle royal came down to Angle, Daniels, and Kazarian. Angle eliminated both men. But wait, Bobby Roode was hiding under the ring and re-entered the battle royal. For sure, Bobby was going to sneak in a cheap win.... However, Angle threw him over the top rope as well.
Angle will be fighting Aries for the belt at the end of the show. Time of the match = approximately 5 minutes
TNA Knockouts Championship
MISS TESSMACHER (c) VS MADISON RAYNE
Miss Tessmacher is doing a decent job as Knockouts champion, but she is no Angelina Love or Velvet Sky. There were signs in the audience that read "Where's Velvet?" and "Bring Back Angelina." There was a guy in the audience that held up a sign that said "I'm Only Happy When it Raynes."
Tessmacher won the match with her finisher. Time of the match = approximately 6 minutes.
After the match, they had a spot where Madison was hurt and Earl Hebner came down to help. I think Earl went for a kiss and was denied.
In between matches, they spotlighted Joseph Park in the audience.
Bound For Glory Series Match
MR. ANDERSON VS MAGNUS
During the match Anderson's gum fell out of his mouth and on to the canvas. Hebner kicked the gum out of the ring, and it hit some guy in the front row!
The winner of this bout with a Sharpshooter… Miiiisssssstttteeeeerrrrrrrrrrrr An-der-son… …wait for it… An-der-son. Time of the match = approximately 6 minutes.
After the match, Borash interviewed Joseph Park in the ring. Christopher Daniels and Kazarian came out wearing graduation caps and gowns. Seemed strange to me. Lots of talking, Kazarian and Daniels start to beat up Park, and then Devon and Bischoff come down and challenge Daniels and Kazarian to a match.
Now, here's where the advertised card starts to change.
Originally scheduled was DANIELS/KAZARIAN VS KURT ANGLE/AJ STYLES, instead we get DANIELS/KAZARIAN VS BISCHOFF/DEVON (AJ might be hurt or something. Maybe 'Aces and Eights' got him?)
TNA Tag Team Championship
DANIELS/KAZARIAN (c) VS BISCHOFF/DEVON
Daniels and Kazarian win! Time of the match = approximately 12 minutes. Probably the best match of the night.
Tessmacher and Hebner signing autographs at the merchandise table.
Tessmacher had the same deal as Madison Rayne. For $10, you could buy a Miss Tessmacher tapestry and get your picture taken behind the table with Tessmacher.
Those with $50 backstage passes met Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, RVD and Jeff Hardy.
The entire intermission was approximately 30 minutes long to get everyone through the meet and greets.
Back to the matches...
ROB VAN DAM VS BOBBY ROODE
Roode wins with the spear. Time of the match = approximately 9 minutes
JEFF HARDY VS THE POPE
This match was unscheduled. Jeff Hardy came out and actually walked through the crowd. I thought that was cool. Hardy won the match with a 'Twist of Fate'. Hardy was going to go for a Swanton, but was stopped on his way to the top rope by the Pope. Hardy blocked Pope's next move and hit the 'Twist of Fate.' Time of the match = approximately 7 minutes.
There was a guy in the crowd who had a sign that resembled Jeff Hardy's painted eyelids. The sign would open up and reveal another set of eyes. Looked like the guy spent a lot of time on the sign, and probably got some help. Hardy acknowledged the sign, gave the guy a high-five, and also gave him one of his forearm covers. I think the guy then gave the forearm cover to some kid in the audience.
TNA World Championship
AUSTIN ARIES (c) vs. WINNER OF THE BATTLE ROYAL (KURT ANGLE)
I was surprised how small Austin Aries looked in person. Some guy held up a sign that said "ARIES = MIDGET CHAMPION." Aries challenge they guy to come into the ring, called him a smart ass, and said he wouldn't last 5 minutes with him in the ring.
Anyways, Aries won the match. Time of the match = approximately 9 minutes.
After the match, Aries stayed in the ring and posed for photographs for $20. The four of us combined our money for one group photo. On the way to the ring, I saw four playing cards on the ground that has become the symbol for the Aces and Eights gang. After we got our picture taken, I laid the cards at Aries feet and said, "They're coming for you next." TNA security moved us along.
All in all, we had a great time. TNA puts on a great show, and it is good to see all the wrestlers in person. I half expected to see an 'Aces and Eights' run-in, but that did not happen... maybe next time.
I would say that a $50 meet and greet ticket should give you access to all of the wrestlers. It seemed like TNA was trying to "nickel and dime" everyone into meeting all the stars. You had to buy extra merchandise or another pass to see the top level guys. This is just my opinion. I know that there are a lot of people that think it's worth it to shell out the extra cash. I'm just giving you something to think about.
Top signs of the night:
1. Jeff Hardy eyelid makeup
2. "Aries = Midget Champion"
3. "Where's Velvet?"
4. "Aces and Eights"
5. "Bischoff Fears Steiner"
6. "I'm Only Happy When it Raynes"