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TNA Champion EC3 and challenger Drew Galloway are Bound for Glory

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TNA Champion EC3 and challenger Drew Galloway are Bound for Glory

Posted on 03 October 2015 by Jonathan Williams

Drew GallowayBound for Glory is Total Nonstop Action Wrestling‘s biggest pay-per-view of the year, and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship is the company’s grandest prize. Taking place at Cabarrus Arena in Concord, N.C. Oct. 4, this year’s Bound for Glory is headlined by Ethan Carter III defending his Championship against Drew Galloway. Wrestling with Pop Culture recently got to take part in a conference call with Carter and Galloway, prior to last Wednesday’s airing of Impact Wrestling, where it was revealed that Matt Hardy will also be involved in the match and Jeff Hardy will be the special guest referee. As both competitors prepare for what could become the biggest match of their careers, here are highlights from that call.

Bound for Glory is the biggest show of the year for TNA and the spotlight will be on each of you to set the stage going into 2016. If you’re able to get people talking about the wrestling in the ring as opposed to the extraneous stuff outside of your control, it could be a positive thing for TNA moving forward. What kind of pressure does that put on each of you personally and professionally? Is it pressure you welcome?

Carter: Well, seeing as I am the World Heavyweight Champion, I feel no pressure because I am completely confident in my abilities and the abilities of my opponent to deliver a match for the ages. It’s our opportunity. It’s our company now and we’re at the forefront. We’re the guys that want it the most and the guys that are going to do it the best. I feel nothing but confidence.

Galloway: That was a heck of an answer from the champ, but I pretty much feel exactly the same. You’ve got a couple of guys that love this business. When I was gone from WWE, I ran out of the gates on the independent scene, made my way to TNA and was given an opportunity. That’s what we want. We don’t feel pressure, we feel opportunity. Trust me, we’ll both deliver. We’re excited about it and fired up. This is the match of our lifetime and it’s a big match for TNA.

One of Carter’s first title defenses after winning the title from Kurt Angle was against Galloway. What have you learned about each other as opponents and how to plan on being victorious on Sunday.

Galloway: What I learned in my first opportunity at the World title, as well as one of EC3’s first defenses, is that not only is he a complete entertainer, but in the ring he can get it done as well. You don’t know what somebody can truly do in the ring until you get in there with them. You can watch, you can assume and you can guess, especially if you’re a performer yourself. But until you’re in the ring with somebody, you don’t know what somebody can bring. He can bring it just as well in the ring as he can outside the ring.

EC3 vs. Drew GallowayComing into this match, I’ve been training hard. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been in Australia, the U.K., darting all over the place having some hard-hitting matches and it’s all in preparation for the biggest match of my life. I’m coming in ready and I know he’s coming in ready. We guarantee one hell of a fight, never mind a wrestling match.

Carter: I’ve been working really hard myself preparing for this match. I’ve been taking a lot of naps, getting a lot of massages and just focusing on keeping my body in shape. As far as the hard-hitting matches, maybe not so much across the world like Drew’s doing, but that’s because I don’t need to do that. I am the World Heavyweight Champion. Last time I faced Drew Galloway, I’ll be honest, I caught a break with the interference of Eli Drake. But this is a different story, this is a different show. This is Bound for Glory and this is the biggest match of the year for TNA and there will be no shenanigans of that nature. This will be hard hitting, this will be an epic contest and I always deliver when the lights are the brightest.

Do you expect Sunday’s match to be a mat classic, an all-out brawl or maybe a little bit of both?

Carter: I see it being both. I can see us feeling each other out and a mat classic developing. I can see the over aggressiveness in a mistake-prone Drew Galloway trying to take advantage by making it a brawl. I can see myself retaining the title with one of my many finishers, whether it’s the one percenter, the schoolboy or the sunset flip.

Galloway: After 30 years of aggression, 15 years as a wrestler, I think forward is the right direction for my aggression. I can predict we’re going to go out there and give you a little bit of everything, all the best parts of professional wrestling. There’s going to be a little bit of comedy, there’s going to be aggression, there’s going to be some big near falls and there’s going to be a big finish. I guarantee it’s going to incorporate every single thing everybody loves about professional wrestling. We’re going all out and we’re leaving it all out there. Expect some very bad bumps, as well.

Carter: You’re hard pressed in this industry to find a more aggressive guy than Drew. It’s going to be physical and I’m prepared for it. I’m Teflon, I’m indestructible, I’m unpinnable, unbreakable, unbeatable, undefeated, undisputed. So, either way – mat classic, all-out fight – it’s going to be great.

Was there a feeling of vindication when you won the World Heavyweight Championship and received such a positive response when that show aired?

Carter: There was an immediate sense of vindication. But that sense of vindication immediately left me because I knew that now the hard work begins. Being chased is harder than the chase. Yes, there was vindication. But I could only rest on that success for a short time before I moved on to the next thing, and that’s becoming the greatest TNA Champion of all time.

TNA has been in a rebuilding period since you came to the company. What has that experience been like for you?

Drew GallowayGalloway: I had no goals of being back on American television so quickly. I had been gone from WWE for six or seven months and was really making a name for myself on the underground. I was happy and didn’t want to be back on TV just yet. Then I spoke with Big [John Gaburick, executive vice president of creative & talent relations] and he made it clear to me they were going in a different direction and going to give some younger guys an opportunity to rebuild and we want you to be part of that. I knew it was a good bunch of guys and when I came in and saw how dedicated, how passionate and how good everybody was, I knew there was no way this was not going to work. It was a great environment, a great television show, the backstage staff was great, the bosses were great, the boys were amazing and everybody gets it done in the ring. To be the focal point of that with EC3, somebody I’ve known for so many years, is a very cool thing to be a part of.

Earlier this year you said you wanted to emulate Ric Flair and be a traveling champion. Have you discussed with Dixie taking that title and touring across the world?

Galloway: I’ve not discussed it with management, but I’ve certainly discussed it with myself over the past year now. I’ve always had this clear plan in my head of being a professional wrestler who is able to travel the world, wrestle as myself, talk as myself. I’ve been able to do it everywhere, especially in TNA. I’ve had the opportunity to compete for all these titles and have been fortunate enough to win the ICW title, the SWA title, the Danish title, the Australian title, the Evolve title, the Dragon Gate title… But the ultimate goal has been the TNA title and my goal is to be the first traveling champion since Ric Flair. If I’m able to win that TNA title and take it across the world, I’m pretty sure that’s as close as it’s going to come to emulating somebody like Flair.

Carter: What Drew is saying is good in theory, but it’s also something I’m currently doing as the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. I don’t know if people realize I am traveling to all sorts of illustrious places worldwide like Boise, Idaho, Detroit, Michigan and Omaha, Nebraska. I’m defending the World title there against some of the best competition those local podunk promotions have. I’m also a traveling World Champion.

Speaking of Ric Flair, Bound for Glory is being held in what is commonly known to wrestling fans as Flair Country. What role do you think the location and audience will play in your match, being that Charlotte is so rich in wrestling history?

Galloway: There are a few places in America with rich wrestling history and Charlotte is one of them. Everybody remembers, or for the younger kids watching today their parents and grandparents are telling them, that they appreciate wrestling. This is going to be a show. Don’t expect much talking, don’t expect many segments being dragged out, just expect 100 percent wrestling, especially from our match. This is a place that expects the best you can possibly give in the ring, the highest quality. And we’re going to give them every single possible thing we can give.

Carter: Being in Flair Country, I’ll be throwing a lot of chops, I’ll be poking a lot of eyes, I’ll be raking a lot of backs and I guaran-damn-tee I’ll go to that top rope and attempt a double ax handle. But I will not get thrown off. I will hit it because I am the TNA World Heavyweight Champion and I always hit my double ax handle.

Galloway: You just told me your entire offense. Not very smart, Champ.

Looking past Bound for Glory, TNA has a few shows in Louisianna and Mississippi as part of the Hardcore Halloween Tour in late October and early November. Then you’re off to the United Kingdom for the Maximum Impact events in January. Given TNA’s popularity in the U.K., and the fact that these events will be your first opportunity to defend the TNA title outside the United States, what will it mean to you to be representing the company as the Champion at these shows?

Ethan Carter IIICarter: First of all, thanks for the plug for the Hardcore Halloween Tour. That is going to be a great series of live events that only TNA Impact Wrestling can bring to you live. As far as going to England as the World Heavyweight Champion, that is fully my intention to represent this brand globally and go to one of our hottest markets as the Champion. Last year was interesting because not only did I become the megastar that I am in that standout performance against Rockstar Spud, but Drew Galloway also debuted. Now here we are at Bound for Glory getting ready to lock horns and do battle to see who truly wants it the most. When we go over to England, I fully intend on still being the TNA World Heavyweight Champion and I fully intend on never losing the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

Galloway: It is coming up on a year in the making and both of us have made some huge strides. That’s my biggest goal is for Drew Galloway to come home as the Champion. The U.K. is my home market and one of our strongest markets, and it’s the wildest and best wrestling fans. I travel the world and see all the different scenes and the U.K. is on fire right now. Everybody always asks me, “What is it about the U.K. that makes [the fans] different?” I always explain to them that it’s like a soccer crowd. If you’ve ever been to a professional American sport, somebody will stand up and shout something and people will give him a look of disgust. In soccer back home, if you’re not standing up and shouting something you’re getting your ass kicked. You’ve got to be loud and crazy, making noise the entire show, doing chants the entire show, getting into and being passionate. That’s the kind of fans we’ve got coming to these shows. If I come home the Champion in front of all these wild, crazy maniacs it will be the greatest thing ever. If I don’t come home the Champion in front of these wild, crazy maniacs, they may just bottle me anyway.

Carter: I’m actually fearing my life going back now. Thank you for that, Drew.

Both of you had careers in WWE and have had bigger careers in TNA. How do you feel you’ve grown as wrestlers since coming to TNA?

Carter: Being a wrestler, going through the system, striving, trying, knocking on different doors, calling different people, trying to make things happen and it never really works out – when I came over to TNA, it all kind of came into place. They believed in my talents and let me develop as a character. I couldn’t be happier because without that forum, I’d just be a forgotten casualty in the wrestling business. Now I’m the World Heavyweight Champion and the hottest act going today.

Galloway: I’ve been wrestling since I was 15. I was just finishing university when I got signed to come to America. I honestly didn’t have a plan. I had a criminology degree and would have probably started a regular job. But I’ve never had a regular job. I’ve always been a wrestler. Luckily I got signed and came to America when I had just turned 22. I was right on TV, grew up here, developed here, learned the American style (it’s a very different style over in Europe) and grew as a person and as a wrestler. When I got the opportunities to showcase what I could do, perhaps I wasn’t so ready when I was younger. Thankfully, once I was away from WWE – they’re the reason I was able to get booked everywhere, I’ll never knock WWE or anybody there – it was up to me to reinvent myself because so many guys leave the company, like EC3 mentioned, and they’re forgotten about. We’re just not like that, we’re not built like everybody else. We’re the kind of guys that go out and say, “Screw that!” We’re going to kick the doors down, we’re going to make people notice us because we believe in ourselves, we believe in our talents, we’ve been taught the right way, learned the right way, we’ve listened and we’ve pushed past because of ourselves. Thankfully TNA has given us the platform to show the world what we’re both capable of.

Ethan, you debuted at Bound for Glory two years ago. Drew, you debuted in Glasgow on the U.K. tour earlier this year. How does it feel to be headlining TNA’s biggest show of the year within such a short timeframe?

Carter: For me, two years since my debut, this is exactly where I expected myself to be. As I said earlier, I feel a sense of vindication. But I also feel a sense of responsibility to deliver. I’ve been given this opportunity and I intend to live up to it every time I step into the ring. I intend to work the hardest, always deliver, be awesome, be EC3, be the Champ.

Galloway: For myself, it was a big deal for me to wrestle. That’s what was going to make me happy coming off the run I had. All I wanted to do was wrestle. I had the opportunity to be Drew Galloway – I would never have come in under any funny name or anything like that. I was always going to be Drew Galloway no matter where I go. If you let me wrestle and be myself, I don’t care where I am on the show. Inevitably, you want to work your way up. If what you’re doing is getting people’s attention and you know you are deserving of the opportunity, that’s very cool for me. This is my life’s work and all I want to do is be a professional wrestler. Getting this opportunity to do what I love…

Carter: This World Heavyweight title is my life’s work and I just want to commend Drew, before I defeat him. It’s outstanding what can happen when a talent is allowed to be himself and is given an opportunity to get by on his own merits and succeed. It’s commendable for Drew to come over here and do just that.

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Bully Ray keeps us guessing as Bound for Glory approaches

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Bully Ray keeps us guessing as Bound for Glory approaches

Posted on 19 October 2013 by Jonathan Williams

Bully Ray

 

 

As one of the most decorated tag team wrestlers of all time, Bully Ray achieved his highest singles honor earlier this year by defeating old rival Jeff Hardy for the Total Nonstop Action World Heavyweight Championship. Since then, Bully Ray and his Aces & Eights have, for the most part, run rampant on the rest of the TNA roster. On Oct. 20 Bully Ray defends his title against AJ Styles in a no disqualification match at TNA’s biggest annual pay-per-view Bound for Glory. As he prepares for one of his biggest title defenses to date, Bully Ray talks to Wrestling with Pop Culture about his history with Styles, the current whereabouts of the rest of the Dudley Brothers and his transition from tag team to singles success.

You’ve had some intense matches with AJ Styles in the past, and he recently took your brother Devon out of the TNA picture for the time being. Given your history with him and his unpredictable behavior as of late, what are your expectations going into your title match at Bound for Glory?

My game plan is pretty obvious: go into Bound for Glory and retain my World Heavyweight Championship, tear the house down and give the people one of the most hard-hitting and exciting matches they can possibly expect. Every time I go into that ring – weather I’m talking, fighting or wrestling – I always go out there to steal the show. And if you’re going to steal the show, AJ Styles is a hell of a guy to have in there to fight. About two years ago, me and AJ had a last man standing match that people were talking about. He’s a hell of a competitor, he’s a great athlete, he’s a great wrestler, he can stand there and go toe-to-toe with you. So it’s going to be a great match. It’s going to be entertaining and hard hitting. But my goal is to come out of Bound for Glory the World Heavyweight Champion.

What have been some of the biggest challenges for you transitioning from a tag team wrestler to a singles competitor?

Bully RayI’m not trying to sound too pompous here, but there really  haven’t been too many challenges. I’ve enjoyed the transition. It’s not something I ever thought I was going to do and not something I ever really wanted to do. I got into pro wrestling to be a successful tag team wrestler. So I guess the biggest challenge was getting into the shape I’ve gotten myself into. I had never been in phenomenal shape – not that I’m in phenomenal shape now – but I’m in the best shape of my life. The other real challenge is being in the ring without a partner. When you wrestle all over the world for 15 years and you’re used to having somebody by your side, it’s a little different to turn around and look at that corner and there’s nobody there. But as far as real challenges are concerned, I’m pretty happy with the way everything has gone so far.

You’re currently a heel in pro wrestling, but you’ve also been a babyface in the past. Do you think there is still a place for a pure heel or babyface or do you think the lines are more blurred these days?

The world has had good guys and bad guys ever since Jesus Christ and Satan. You always need the black hat and you always need the white hat. There are a lot of guys who choose to go down the good guy path and there are guys who choose to go down the bad guy path. I have always said I’m not a good guy and I’m not a bad guy, I’m not a babyface and I’m not a heel. I’m me and I’ve always been me. I have been me from day one. The difference between me and a lot of other guys is I can be loved on Monday, hated on Tuesday and loved again on Wednesday. As a performer it is your duty to your art form to be able to take those people on an emotional roller coaster ride and get them to respond the way you want them to respond. That’s what I have been able to do. I do think there is plenty of room for good guys and bad guys, whether it’s in movies, sports or pro wrestling. You always need good and bad people. But I don’t choose any one path. I just go out there and I do Bully Ray.

We’ve seen a lot of behavioral changes and blurring of these lines as of late in TNA with AJ, Dixie Carter, Aces & Eights and others. Where do you think everyone fits into the grander picture with all these different dynamics at play?

Bully RayI can’t speak of anaybody else’s character and why they choose to do the things they do. I pat Dixie on the back. Why shouldn’t I? She’s such a nice lady. Everybody loves Dixie. It’s about time she stood up and told everybody to go to hell. When you talk about personalities, pro wrestling, even today, is entertainment and in entertainment such as soap operas or sitcoms or movies you need different types of characters. You can’t just have people that are loved, you can’t just have people that are hated. You need some middle-of-the-road people and you throw it all in a big pot and hopefully it works.

We recently saw Hulk Hogan quit TNA. If he is really gone for good, what do you think TNA will lose by losing Hulk Hogan?

No matter how I feel about Hulk Hogan and what’s been going on with me, him and his daughter, whether it’s been inside the ring or outside the ring, you’ve got to say this – it’s Hulk Hogan! He’s the Babe Ruth of the wrestling business. He’s the guy that put pro wrestling on the map back in the early ’80s. I do think there is a place for Hulk Hogan in TNA. You always want an icon like Hulk Hogan around. He brings credibility to your product, people love to see him, he can give advice to the younger guys, he’s definitely an asset. Plus I’d like to keep him around if I want to wrestle him because I’d like to kick his ass.

Given the success you’ve had both as a tag team and a singles wrestler, have you started to consider your retirement or maybe focusing more on your wrestling school?

I have no plans on retiring. I am fully invested in my wrestling school. I am there as much as I possibly can be to help train the stars of tomorrow. I thoroughly enjoy what I’m doing. As far as going back to tag team wrestling, there’s not a damn thing left for me and Devon to do as a tag team. I don’t know why we would, why we should. We can’t top what we’ve done and I’m having a blast doing what I’m doing right now. It’s new, it’s enjoyable and it’s like having a brand new girlfriend. But I’m definitely not retiring. I’ve got too much left in me. You can’t stop rock ‘n’ roll and you can’t stop me.

Once your in-ring career comes to an end, do you think you’ll ever be involved in the creative side of wrestling?

When I eventually retire and no longer want to wrestle, I definitely plan on getting into some of the more creative end of pro wrestling. It’s actually one of the reasons me and Devon opened a wrestling school about six years ago to be able to help cultivate quality wrestlers and put them back into the system, wrestlers with respect for the industry and wrestlers who can go out there and earn a great living for themselves. Once I do finish wrestling I want to continue training wrestlers at the Team 3D Academy. I would also like to work with the company where we can help build wrestlers up, whether its in the ring as wrestlers or as characters – whatever it takes to help build the wrestlers of tomorrow.

The Dudleys used to be a large faction in the wrestling world. We know where some of them are today, but others are a bit of a mystery. How often do you talk to the rest of the Dudley family? Do you foresee any other Dudley reunions in the near future?

Bully RayActually, just a few weeks ago I saw my good friend and brother Sign Guy Dudley out in Vegas. We hadn’t seen each other in probably ten or 12 years, so we had a bit of a reunion. As far as the other guys are concerned, I’m not really sure where they are. I miss my brother Big Dick Dudley very much. He’s up there riding his motorcycle in heaven. That’s all the information I’ve got for you on that.

You’ve always been confident in yourself, but what was it like for you when you became the World Heavyweight Champion and the top guy in the company?

I go out there and I know what I’m capable of doing. We did it in ECW, we did it in WWE, we’ve done it in Japan, we’ve done it all over the world. The only difference was now I was going to do it on my own. When I broke away from Devon and invented Bully Ray, I knew I could be successful. I knew there really wasn’t anything that could hold me back. I knew what worked in the past and I said to myself, “If I stick to the plan, if I reinvent myself, if I get into great shape and offer up a persona that is so disgusting and hated and gets under so many people’s skin with the tone of my voice and the venom that I spit – if I just do me – it’s going to work. And it has. And it really always has. I think TNA sat up and took notice and it gave me an opportunity to go out there and shine. So it’s all good and Bound for Glory is going to be a great show with a lot of great matches. As a student of pro wrestling, I’m always watching what’s going on. When I sit back and look at the TNA locker room I can honestly say it’s the best cross section of pro wrestlers, entertainers and athletes that is out there. You’ve got icons like Hogan and Sting; you’ve got guys who have been doing it at a top level for a long time like myself, Kurt [Angle] and Jeff Hardy; then you have the most important level, the workhorses of the company, the guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, [James] Storm, Kaz, [Christopher] Daniels, [Austin] Aries; you’ve got great X Division wrestlers; you’ve got some of the hottest girls out there – everything you could possibly want, need and ask for in a pro wrestling company, you can find in TNA.

How would you say the recent departures of Devon, Mr. Anderson and DOC have effected the Aces & Eights?

I look at the Aces & Eights as any other faction that wrestling has ever had. There’s the rise of a faction and there’s the fall of a faction. Right now the Aces & Eights, in your eyes and in the wrestling world’s eyes, is coming to an end. Things are not going so well. It looks like the Aces & Eights are being torn apart. It looks the Aces & Eights are about to self destruct. Maybe that’s just what I want you to believe. Maybe it’s all an elaborate plan. Maybe you’re going to see every single  member of my club back sooner than later. Or maybe I’m picking them apart one by one because I’m so much of an egomaniac I want more of the spotlight for myself. That’s the difference between me and everybody else; I can keep you guessing and I can pull the wool over your eyes as many times as I want. David Copperfield goes out there every single night and makes people believe that the elephant disappears. That’s because he’s so good at mental manipulation, and that’s what I’m good at. So if I was you I’d keep my eyes open because you think you’ve seen the last of the Aces & Eights. I’m not too sure about that.

www.impactwrestling.com

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History repeats itself as “The Cowboy” James Storm heads to Bound for Glory

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History repeats itself as “The Cowboy” James Storm heads to Bound for Glory

Posted on 12 October 2012 by Jonathan Williams

Courtesy TNA Wrestling

This time last year, “The Cowboy” James Storm had been edged out of the Bound for Glory Series by his friend and tag team partner Bobby Roode. Though Storm showed his support for Roode, who challenged Kurt Angle for the Total Nonstop Action World Heavyweight Championship, Roode came up short. Just days later, Storm got a shot at Angle and won the title, only to lose it the following week when Roode broke a beer bottle over his head in Macon, Ga. Almost a year later, Storm looked to be on track to win this year’s Bound for Glory Series to face the champion at this Sunday’s Bound for Glory. But history repeated itself and Roode in Storm’s match, causing Storm to be eliminated from the tournament and resulting in their match against each other at the pay-per-view. With TNA returning to Macon a few days after Bound for Glory again this year, one has to wonder how much history might repeat itself yet again for Storm. As he prepares for this Sunday’s Bound for Glory, Storm talks to Wrestling with Pop Culture about his ongoing rivalry with his former Beer Money tag team partner.

Things are coming full circle for you heading into Bound for Glory. It was just after last year’s Bound for Glory that your former partner Bobby Roode turned on you. What are your thoughts about your match against Roode this Sunday?

Courtesy TNA Wrestling

It’s the same as any other time. I just take it one day at a time and see what happens. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and put the cart before the horse, as they say. You never know what the next day might bring, and with Bobby Roode it’s just one of those things where you’ve got to be on your toes. Right now, he’s one of the best in the business.

How do you think King Mo‘s role as special enforcer might play into this match? Do you expect him to get involved in any way?

To tell you the truth, I don’t care if he gets involved or not. It is one of them things where if he gets in my face I’ll punch him. I don’t care if he’s an MMA fighter or not. I’ve beaten people up in bars before, so he ain’t gone be no different.

TNA was in Macon for an Impact Wrestling taping just after last year’s Bound for Glory, which is where you won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship from Kurt Angle. You’ll be back in Macon for a house show right after Bound for Glory again this year. What are your thoughts on returning to the place where you won the title and had a beer bottle smashed over your head by Roode?

We try to hit each town at least once a year and definitely go to the surrounding towns. We were just in Atlanta, but we also went to towns right around the edges and now we’re working our way down to Macon. Hopefully this deal with Bobby will be over with. If not, maybe I’ll be facing him again in Macon.

You’ve been in and out of the title picture ever since he took the title from you last year. Are you looking to get back in the title hunt after Bound for Glory?

Courtesy TNA Wrestling

Yeah. I mean, anybody who is a singles wrestler always wants to be in the world title hunt. For me it’s more special because I actually won by points in the Bound for Glory Series and I feel like I should be going on to Bound for Glory to wrestle for the World Heavyweight title. But it’s one of those things where I’ve got to get my stuff done with Bobby first, then move on.

I was at last year’s show in Macon, as well as the recent shows in Atlanta and Gainesville. You seem to get a warm reception anytime you’re down South. How does that feel for you, being from Tennessee?

It’s great. To me, that’s what wrestling is all about – just going out and having fun and putting on the best shows I can for the people. I think that comes across to them and they know I’m there to have fun. Of course, you’ve got a ton of beer drinkers in the crowd, so that goes over good, too.

www.impactwrestling.com

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King Mo makes his TNA debut this Thursday

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King Mo makes his TNA debut this Thursday

Posted on 03 October 2012 by Jonathan Williams

As an all-star collegiate wrestler and multi-time amateur wrestling champion, Muhammaed Lawal‘s transition into mixed martial arts has proven to be a royal success. As a former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion, King Mo is simultaneously signed to Bellator Fighting Championships and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, where he is currently training at Ohio Valley Wrestling. Making his Impact Wrestling debut on Spike  this Thursday, it was announced last week that Mo would be the special guest enforcer in the match between “Cowboy” James Storm and Bobby Roode at Bound for Glory.

“I’m really not anticipating too much,” says Mo. “I’m just there to be the enforcer and make sure I enforce the rules like a good referee, straight down the middle. Bobby Roode tends to get out of line sometimes and I might have to check him. But I can’t play favorites right now. I’m going to go out there and just be neutral.”

Already known for theatrical ring entrances that include a crown, robe, throne and lovely ladies by his side, King Mo seems like a perfect fit for professional wrestling. But even with his fighting and wrestling background and penchant for showmanship, he’s still humble enough to admit that he’s not quite ready for his first pro wrestling match.

“I’ve still got a long way to go,” he says. “People think this is easy, but it’s as hard as MMA. In MMA, you get hit, but you can come back. This is a lot different. This is an art, it’s entertainment and it’s tough. I’m just waiting on them to tell me I’m ready. As far as my first match, I’m hoping it’s somebody I can pin real quick. You know, a scrub.”

All joking aside, however, Mo is clearly aware that neither Roode nor Storm could be considered a scrub. And as a special enforcer, he has the authority to utilize his fighting background to keep order at Bound for Glory. But when it does come time for him to step into the squared circle for competition, he knows it will be a serious matter.

“To me it’s all the same,” he says of his dual careers. “I treat it like it’s training camp and I’m here to learn and improve. That’s what I do in MMA: I’m there to learn and improve. When your body takes a beating and pounding, that’s part of the game … and I’m up for the challenge.”

www.impactwrestling.com

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Bound for Glory 2011 shows TNA heading in a slightly new direction

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Bound for Glory 2011 shows TNA heading in a slightly new direction

Posted on 16 May 2012 by Jonathan Williams

Every good wrestling organization has a marquee annual event to build towards, where feuds come to fruition, old grudges are settled and new rivalries begin. For Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, that event takes place every October in the form of Bound for Glory. And 2011’s Bound for Glory took place in Philadelphia, a city rich in wrestling history thanks in large part to now-defunct Extreme Championship Wrestling being based there for most of the ’90s.

The Bound for Glory 2011 DVD shows how pivotal this event was to what has been going on in TNA for the year or so leading up to event. With most of the company’s top stars in action, Bound for Glory 2011 is headlined by two matches that proved to be detrimental to the company’s future – a battle for control of the company between Hulk Hogan and Sting, as well as a World Heavyweight Championship main event between then champion Kurt Angle and the winner of the Bound for Glory Series, Bobby Roode.

But the event gets off to a fast-paced start as Austin Aries defends his X Division Championship against former champion Brian Kendrick. With sprinklings of crowd support for Aries (despite his villainous behavior), this match has a lot of back-and-forth action as each competitor looks to outdo the other both in and out of the ring. And Kendrick puts up quite a fight, almost defeating Aries on several occasions, even hitting him with his signature Sliced Bread reverse DDT backflip off the top rope. But in the end Aries hoists Kendrick up and drops him to the mat for a brainbuster to retain the title.

Honoring their contributions to Philadelphia’s wrestling scene, longtime ECW rivals Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn are up next in a Full Metal Mayhem match where any metal object is legal. While neither man (especially Lynn) is as good as he was during ECW’s prime (as seen by a minor botch here and there), this match still offers a lot of nostalgia, not only with the use of steel chairs and ladders, but also with impressive athleticism. RVD hits Lynn with a chair kick before hitting his Rolling Thunder somersault onto a ladder to evoke “ECW!” chants from the enthusiastic audience. Lynn reciprocates by hitting a sunset powerbomb onto a ladder outside the ring, but RVD wins after hitting his Van Terminator dropkick with a chair.

That’s followed by a triple threat match between three of TNA’s most dominant wrestlers, the undefeated Crimson, Samoa Joe and Matt Morgan. With Joe having eliminated Crimson from the Bound for Glory Series by injuring his ankle, and Crimson and Morgan forming a bit of an alliance during their friendly rivalry, this match really could go either way depending on how each man works with the others. Establishing some teamwork early on, Crimson and Morgan take it to Joe before their bond begins to break down. Things come to a somewhat unexpected end after Morgan hits Joe with a knee lift only for Crimson to capitalize by pinning Joe to win the match.

The next match is another nod to ECW’s Philadelphia roots with a falls-count-anywhere contest between ECW alumnus Bully Ray and the loudmouth Mr. Anderson. While you might expect Bully Ray to appeal to the fans since he has such history in this town, he instead cuts a pre-match promo where he says, “Screw Philly!” before heading to the ring. Anderson gets the early advantage with a very ECW-like move where he takes a sign from the crowd that reads “Welcome to Philly, Asshole” (referring to Anderson’s self-proclaimed nickname), which is revealed to be a metal Dead End street sign. They fight up the entrance ramp and Bully mocks Anderson by using Anderson’s own micorphone to berate Anderson (and Philadelphia) before Anderson attacks him and the fight goes backstage. They make their way back to the ring and both men employ objects such as a guardrail and tables. After several near-falls, Anderson finally hits his mic check (reverse facebuster) through a table outside the ring for the pin.

The four-way match between Winter, Mickie James, Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky for the Knockouts Championship is about as chaotic as you might expect, especially with the obviously biased Karen Jarrett as guest referee. With little regard for any rules, it’s hard to keep up with who the legal competitor is and who is interfering. When Winter inadvertently spits red mist into Jarrett’s face, it looks as if James is going to pin Winter to win the title. Traci Brooks runs to the ring to make the count, but by then it’s Sky who gets the win to regain the Knockouts belt.

Before the I Quit match between AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels gets underway, a nice video package recaps their rivalry dating back to their early X Division battles at the Asylum in the six-sided ring. Once the match gets started, Daniels‘ arrogance is apparent as he aggressively tries to make Styles quit very early on. The two trade submission moves until Daniels opens a toolbox and throws a wrench at the steel steps (to prove that these are real tools, I guess). He then tries to stab Styles in the face with a screwdriver, making it clear that their longtime friendship is definitely over. Styles ducks and Daniels embeds the screwdriver into the turnbuckle before hitting a beautiful Best Moonsault Ever to continue his dominance. Daniels goes on to straddle Styles’ neck with a steel chair while threatening to make everything Styles has done for TNA his own. A smack to Styles head with a microphone draws blood and Daniels instructs Styles’ wife Wendy to take the kids away from the TV screen because he’s going to murder Styles. Styles has time to recover a bit and when Daniels tries to smash him with the chair, Styles fights back, hitting him with a vicious series of clostheslines and kicks. He then nails Daniels with the Pelé kick, followed by the Styles Clash, before picking up the screwdriver. As soon as Daniels sees the screwdriver in Styles’ hand, he pleads “just don’t hurt me” before quitting and running to the back. As Styles celebrates his victory atop the entrance ramp, Daniels reemerges and attacks Styles from behind to get the last laugh.

Jeff Jarrett, who is not scheduled to wrestle, then comes to the ring and says, “Nero, I’m calling you out, bitch.” Jeff Hardy answers and a fight ensues. Security eventually breaks them up while the crowd chants, “Let them fight!” That leads right into the match between Hogan and Sting for control of TNA. Sting, still doing his mentally unstable Joker-like thing, comes to the ring in a purple trench coat that looks like a cross between a Mardi Gras marching band jacket and something Michael Jackson might have worn. When he removes his jacket, he reveals a Hulkamania T-shirt, which is clearly a psychology game on the part of the man who has been trying to get Hogan to return to his more noble ways. Hogan responds by signaling for Ric Flair to come from the back to be in his corner. Despite his recent back surgery and overall inability to move around like he used to, Hogan gets a surprising jump on Sting early on, Hulking up, then doing a D-Generation X-style crotch chop to anger Sting. Sting rips his Hulkamania shirt off and throws it at Flair, giving Hogan an opportunity to hit Sting. The fight goes to the floor and Flair and Hogan double-team Sting right in front of former TNA owner Dixie Carter, who will regain control of the company if Sting is victorious. Hogan hits a low blow on Sting and referee Jackson James inexplicably does nothing to stop Hogan and Flair’s dirty tactics.

Hogan hits Sting in the head with a foreign object of some sort before throwing a now-bleeding Sting back into the ring. As Hogan does some Flair-like gloating, Sting takes him down and uses the same foreign object on Hogan. With both men bleeding, Sting hits Hogan with a Stinger Splash in the corner, then locks on the Scorpion Deathlock. Despite the fact that Hogan taps out, the referee (who is revealed to be Garett Bischoff, son of longtime Hogan cohort Eric Bischoff) is reluctant to end the match, but finally awards the victory to Sting. Eric Bischoff, Flair and the rest of Immortal (Scott Steiner, Bully Ray and Gunner) rush to the ring and start beating Sting down with chairs. Garett has a change of heart and tries to stop his father, but Eric hits him with a chair as Flair continues the assault on Sting. Former Immortal member Abyss is seen watching from behind the curtain while Sting crawls to Hogan’s feet and begs for his help. With the audience’s encouragement, Hogan tears his shirt off and takes out the members of Immortal one at a time until there’s a standoff with Immortal stuck between Hogan and Sting. Immortal is vanquished and Hogan and Sting celebrate in the ring while Carter and her husband rejoice from ringside. Considering Hogan’s recent medical issues, and the fact that both of these guys are in their 50s, this match is a lot better than expected. Sting does carry most of the match, but the involvement of the rest of Immortal and Garett helps offset some of Hogan’s complications in the ring.

While Hogan, Sting and most of the members of Immortal are icons of wrestling’s past, Roode is one of TNA’s homegrown talents and has become the younger guy most fans want to see carrying the company. (Keep in mind Bound for Glory took place just weeks before Roode broke a bottle over his Beer Money tag team partner James Storm, effectively turning on the fans and the company.) Having won the Bound for Glory Series, Roode earned a shot at Angle‘s TNA World Heavyweight Championship. And having overcome Angle’s gauntlet on Impact Wrestling, where Roode was forced to square off against his Fortune stablemates and friends in the weeks leading up to Bound for Glory, Roode enters this match with a lot of momentum and appears to be ready to win his first TNA World Championship.

As the match begins, Angle immediately takes control with his grappling skills. But Angle gets a little too cocky and when he goes to the top rope for a moonsault, Roode hits him with a suplex off the top rope, proving he can hang with Angle as a wrestler. Roode soon follows that up with a crossface submission move, which Angle reverses into an ankle lock. Angle and Roode trade blows, wrestling moves and submission maneuvers, with Roode getting a few two-counts on Angle. But this back-and-forth culminates with an Angle Slam. Angle goes for another slam, which Roode counters with an arm drag. Angle resorts to a low blow, then hits Roode with two suplexes, but Roode counters a third suplex with another crossface submission move. Angle gets to the ropes, the two exchange some blows, then Angle comes off the second rope and falls right into another crossface. Angle counters with another Angle Slam then gets the pin while using the rope for leverage (and while Roode’s hand is under the rope). But since referee Brian Hebner doesn’t see any of that, the win goes to Angle.

With TNA fans and wrestlers alike rallying behind Roode during the build-up to this match, as well as the emotional battle that shows Roode coming so close to becoming the TNA Champion on several occassions, this convoluted ending is incredibly disappointing. But it’s a great match nonetheless and shows that the outcome could have gone either way. But such an anticlimactic ending (not because of who won, but how he won) leaves this Bound for Glory feeling a bit empty. And had Roode not left Bound for Glory feeling like he was screwed out of the title, he may never have resorted to the unscrupulous tactics he has since adopted.

Though Bound for Glory is not yet the pop culture spectacle that WrestleMania has become for WWE, it’s still the biggest event of the year for a company whose history isn’t nearly as rich as its more established rival. And even though this DVD is dominated by wrestling veterans who are past their prime, it also serves as a passing of the torch in many respects, with younger TNA talents proving their worth, and political power being wrestled away from Hogan and Bischoff.

The second disc features exclusive Before the Bell previews for each match, a Roode video package, wrestler interviews, the Bound for Glory pre-show (including the World Tag Team Championship match between Mexican America and Ink Inc.) and other extras.

For more information, go to www.shoptna.com.

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