Bad Matches, Good Memories #3

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Added by October 11, 2011


Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe
by Martin McHendry

Prologue…

Samoa Joe. Hottest thing in TNA. Made to look like a total monster, one third of the only 5-star rated match in TNA’s history. It’s hard to believe now, but this guy was a large part in people believing that TNA could be a viable alternative to WWE, at least in terms of entertainment rather than budget.

Joe was a breath of fresh air on a show that focused on wrestling. I had never seen him before TNA and I was blown away by the big guy who was way more athletic than he looked. The crowd, in those heady days before they used plants, would chant “Joe’s gonna kill you!” – and you know what, watching him plow through the TNA roster week after week, I bloody well believed them! He went on a seventeen month undefeated streak, for God’s sake! He was like a Goldberg that knew more than two moves.

Then there was (King) Kurt Angle, one of the greatest of all time. He could be a goofy heel, like his days with Austin and Edge & Christian or perform as a no-nonsense balls to the wall shoot wrestler, like he was used as in WWECW . He was fresh from a WWE release over health reasons, which he asked for. We know he’s always suffered neck trouble, from his many, many “broken freakin’ neck” speeches about his Olympic victory, but there were many rumours over pain pill abuse too related to that and so Angle’s WWE contract was terminated on the 25th of August, 2006, on health grounds.

Kurt Angle made his TNA debut on the the 24th of September 2006.

Dixie Carter broke the bank to get him, and to keep it secret in the age of the internet was simply amazing. However, there were legitmate doubts over Angle’s fitness to perform, and if TNA actually cared for his health. Since Angle didn’t they didn’t, I guess.

Joe and Angle went on to have their first match at Genesis 2007, with Angle winning in a fairly good 13+ minute match.
That’s not what this is about though. I’m here to look at the “Winner Takes All” match, Joe/Angle II, at Hardcore Justice 2007.

Every TNA belt on the line. TNA’s two top guys.

Joe held the X Division and Tag Team belts (yes, on his own), Angle had the World Heavyweight title and Antonio Inoki’s Genome Federation rip-off of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Classic rematch, right? Stakes couldn’t be higher! They can’t fuck this up!

This Is TNA.

They add in Karen Angle and a divorce, um, angle (more on that later), and focus on her ditching Kurt. That’s right, instead of focusing on the fact that every title is on the line for the first, and so far only time ever, in a match between two of the best in the world, TNA starts going the sports “entertainment” route.

Yeah, Joe says he’s oming to take the IWGP belt, too – that was never mentioned again, despite having been many times before that week’s Impact.

So, with all that thrilling crap out the way, and a horrible vision of TNA’s future to boot, here’s the match including the “hype” vid. Sadly, could only find the lot in Spanish, but it’s worth it to see how ridiculous things were starting to get in TNA, what with Angle in his robe and thong… Besides, there may be folk who will enjoy that, who am I to deny them pleasure? Look out for the TNA crowd chanting “this is awesome” unironically at a series of choke holds and way too many shots of Karen and her new boyfriend, and of course, very little focus on the importance of what’s at stake in a match that just didn’t meet expectations or the level of their first encounter.

The Match…

The Aftermath…

The two went on to have a fairly decent feud, which sadly did not negate the stupidity of having one guy hold every title for far too long. Where once TNA had been on the cusp of something good, the alternative to an over-exposed Cena/Edge/HHH trifecta on Raw was now all-Angle, all the time.

Joe held the title for 182 days, and after dropping it to Sting, was then summarily shat on by TNA. It was to be the start of a loop for Joe of getting a monster push, then made a fool of, then into a monster push again. TNA took a greatly talented break out star who should have been one of the biggest of the noughties and somehow dropped the ball on him. The guy was so over WWE created Umaga so they could have their own Samoan psycho!

Sadly that was just the start of TNA’s descent into WCW-ness…

As for Angle, where do you start? He dropped all those titles, slowly, over the summer of 06. We even got his first feud with Sting. How lucky for all of us dying to see Sting return. Again.

Angle later dropped his wife and kids to Jarrett, alledgedly stalked a Knockout and proceeded to win the TNA title another 9 million times.

Joe got Taz as a manager, found a really big, shiny knife, threatened Scott Steiner with it and was then kidnapped by ninjas in a van.

Coincidentally, that’s when I stopped watching TNA, which turned into a retirement home for ex-WCW/WWE/ECW guys, people fired for wellness issues and wrestlers too small for Vince. Oh, they nearly signed Paul Heyman to run things, but Dixie wouldn’t accept his demands that included being allowed to run the company, and getting rid of the useless old, washed up wrestlers in order to push exciting young talent like the Motor City Machine Guns and Beer Money, Inc. Instead she went for Hulk “I’m not attracted to my daughter” Hogan and Eric “Douchebag” Bischoff. I can only assume that worked out well, since TNA is on a quiz show channel in the UK and somehow still hasn’t been shut down.
Their strategy of shitting on their biggest overseas market – the UK – by putting main event finishes on a show that wasn’t broadcast here was especially cunning, I thought.

What about us fans? Stuck with WWE, or watching TNA and attempting not to vomit? I’m going to be honest, I get my fill of it from the Botchamania videos.

At least Ring of Honor appears to be on the up. Hopefully TNA can learn from them, but I doubt it.

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  • Panchete

    It is sad and tragic how tradition in wrestling confuses itself with patetic performances. This comment about the oldies. The Superfly Snuka appareances, as an example. Retired from a long time ago. Still able to perform a flying tope on a decent fashion. Even got some “you still got it” chants. Perfectly ok. There was the tradition i talk about.
    I don’t want to go for the Sheiky comment (though i tend towards it) but Hulk Hogan had surgery on both knees, THEN the matches he pulled off were… weell… oblivious. After a back surgery and so and so we got left hefties of what supposses to be “greatest entertainer of 80s”. There’s no dignity on it at all. The equivalent of a No-Showing Scott Hall, of a retiring/comebacking for poor wrestling Ric Flair; of people who had no sense of heritage or respect for wrestling even when they owe wrestling their lifes. Time to let go sometimes sound more like a Fireman Truck Alarm in our ears, but to them is just a Whisper of wind. Thnaks for the space and keep up the good work m8

  • NJ

    I see hope for TNA yet. Russo looks like he’ll have a filter again, the build to the only match that matters at Bound for Glory has been superb and hopefully we’ll see more of that going forwards.

    Great article, though I would’ve focused more on how this was the official (I believe) end of Joe’s unbeaten streak. Talk about going out with whimper, build all this hype then nope, Angle just beats him. 2005-6 TNA was so damn great.

  • http://N/A Eric Moore

    I wish TNA didn’t bury Joe like they did now. If I had Ted Turner money I would push him to the f’n moon

  • AJ

    This is when I started watching TNA and I was hooked. Looking back at it now I get so pi**ed off, at how they could ever F it up

  • Mr. DJ

    didn’t realize this whole thing w/ Karen went THAT far back…

  • newyorkfan4lyfe

    What they should have done was have something mirroring the Triple H/Jericho fued from Wrestlemania 18 with the added bonus of 60 minutes of actual WRESTLING. Plus, making Joe a heel and Kurt a face in the rematch would have mad sense since Joe needed a win more than Kurt and should have been the one playing dirty tricks. Then again…there are no delorians that can go back in time. =(

  • http://podswoggle.com Mullet

    Not to be a troll or anything, just clearing up some factual errors in this article.

    Joe and Angle had their first match at Genesis in 2006. They had matches at the following two PPVs, Angle winning the series 2-1. This match wasn’t until months after that initial feud. Angle won the title in the convoluted King of the Mountain match and Joe/Angle were Tag Champs together with Joe winning the right to hold the titles on his own.

    All that being said, good (and oh so true) write-up.

    • MartinMcHendry

      Ah, you are absolutely right, apologies to all. It’s the result of using a German website at 4AM to find their history together. All the letters just kinda bleed in to each other and it all sounds very angry. Sorry!

  • Chris

    You know, I have been watching TNA Lately and the build for bound for glory has been pretty good. I enjoyed the BFG series and the fact that they put the Fourtune guys over was cool. Also Austin Aries and Brian Kendrick have made the X Division interesting again I think they need a few more guys to fill in the blanks (maybe Jo’Mo) but I have liked what I have seen. Now with all that said Sting and Hogan bring the show down a LOT. Just Immortal in general makes me want to change the channel, Sting too, I just don’t get the Joker thing. Why is he a Face? Lastly I am a big time RVD mark and I also love Jerry Lynn but if they are going to feud again we can’t have them trying to do vignettes backstage. They are probably the 2 worst guys on the mike ever.

  • sempa21

    when legends appear on wwe, they are only there for a short time and thank the fans for their undying support. the problem with tna is that when we see legends wrestle too often when they should be retired, we start to lose that support because we get tired of seeing them.

  • Coal Miner’s Glove

    TNA has always fallen into a vicious cycle of seeming like it can fulfill its potential and become a legit alternative to the WWE…only to, repeatedly and without fail, fuck it up immensely.

    Case in point: Shortly before this match happened, TNA held their Lockdown PPV here in St Louis. It was well-promoted, held in a place out in St Charles County where they could get a ton of fans who had been watching wrestling since they woke up early Saturday morning to see Harley Race versus Terry Funk on KPLR’s “Wrestling at the Chase”, and as a result they get 8,000 (mostly paid) to come, which is still a record for them.

    How, then, were these fans rewarded? With the infamous Electric Steel Cage Match between LAX and the Dudley Boyz, and the unnecessary breakup of AMW…in a BLINDFOLD MATCH. I didn’t go (had work), but there was a good reason there were so many “FIRE RUSSO!” chants.

  • Shockmastershelmet

    If I haven’t said it already, I love the new content on the website so much.

  • Neale

    Church, Shockmasterhelmet.

    I remember this as the start of TNA’s quality decline. TNA in its prime still defines how I like wrestling matches booked. Exciting, brutal, stiff and innovative (unlike, for the most part, WWE), while still retaining a sort of ranking system of wrestlers. You knew Joe was better than Daniels and AJ one on one. You knew Sabin could beat Shelley, but would be an underdog against Daniel. As much as I like ROH, having both wrestlers kick out of all of each other’s moves during every big match always leaves you with a “It could have gone either way” feeling, which is good sometimes, but if its overdone. ROH overdoes it and then some.)

    Then, this angle happened. Then, Joe won the title in a cage match after failing repeatedly, making it underwhelming. Then, he had a terrible title reign and became a whiny ponce. Eventually, it got to the point where Val Venis beating Daniels clean on PPV doesn’t make anyone go, “Wait, that’s B.S.” anymore than anything else.

    When it comes to TNA and their attempt to compete with the WWE, I support the war, but not the troops.

  • Deadman Inc.

    Saw an episode of Ring of Honor recently, and I must say I was impressed with the wrestling. Their guys are pretty damn good. El Generico and Jay Lethal (another man TNA dropped the ball on) put on an amazing main event more than able to have been a main event. They were going for the time limit angle (and it was pretty obvious), but I never once felt bored with the match. Their writing, on the other hand, leaves a LOT to be desired. It reeks of the old school writing Cornette is notorious for and all of the characters are ridiculously bland. Every single interview/promo during the show was interchangeable with the others. The lack of personalities is what led so many people to watch ECW and WCW back when the WWF started falling in the 90s, and RoH seems to be embracing that shit. TNA just swings the pendulum too far in the sports entertainment direction, but since it’s lolRusso their writing is also no good. But anyways, I heard Matt Hardy is retired and Jeff Harvey is still employed. Maybe if the little prick finally gets clean (that’ll never happen) he can get back in the WWE and shake things up on the Raw roster. Cena/Edge/Orton/HHH has become Cena/CM Punk/HHH/Del Rio (who’s going to retire pretty soon and isn’t over with the fans). Sucks that Umaga died, I really felt like the WWE did some good with him and his angles.

    • Deadman Inc.

      Augh, I’m a moron.

      put on an amazing main event more than able to have been a main event.

      should be:

      put on an amazing main event more than able to have been a main event on a PPV.

  • Tom B.

    Article was pretty good, though as useful as it is to have the YouTube videos right there, a little more text about the match to accompany them would have been nice.

    Also, not to be a troll, but what were your ‘good memories’ of all this? Seems like it was just sort of shitty all over.

    • Deadman Inc.

      I do believe the good memories come from the lead up, namely Joe/Angle I.

  • acabaca

    How’s that lying-on-your-back choke SJ does supposed to work according to kayfabe? Shouldn’t the referee begin giving him the three-count as soon as he puts his own shoulders on the mat? How does this go?

  • http://da de

    watch?v=-Jhu7iu7oKw

  • Tyler

    to be totally honest.. I didn’t even really like the first match all that much. Now, this was years ago( and i can barely recall last week sometimes) but I remember thinking the first match came way to fast with two little build up. After all, many would argue these guys are some of the best wrestlers that are still alive today, I had just thought that TNA would save it for their big PPV. give it more time to simmer and build.

    Now, granted, that was along time ago. Looking back its a good match, I just can’t shake the feelings i have like this could have been built better.

  • Peter Siddorn

    I remember I got sent this match on video tape (Remember those things) and I watch it just remember it was good but it should have been more. Their best match was the match at Lockdown 08 and sadly never men means that much anymore. Joe has become a joke and it’s a shame. I think it was also hurt by the biggest mess of a World title match in history between Sting and Abyss that went before it

  • Steve F***ing Blackman

    Awesome write-up. Pretty much an accurate depiction of the shit-festival TNA love to conjure.

  • Clawski

    Oh please, Maffew. Watch PWG , NJPW, Evolve, CHIKARA and some lucharesu from Dragon Gate. ROH is probably the most overrated wrestling company in Pro Wrestling history.

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