Even though last night’s Total Nonstop Action Wrestling event at the US Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington wasn’t sold out, fans had a great time enjoying the action both in the ring and outside of it. In what can best be summed up as a melodrama, the superstars of TNA made for a great Romantic performance last night when the babyfaces got the best of the heels under the bright lights to send fans home happy.
In order for any babyface, or face – wrestling’s protagonist – to become heroic in the wrestling world, they need a despicable heel. The heel needs to antagonize the face so that fans will want to pay to come to shows and buy pay-per-view events in the hopes of seeing the face triumph.
Last night’s show featured a good host of heels. First out was “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles, who told the crowd of roughly 1,000 he didn’t want fans in the locker room after host and ring announcer Jeremy Borash said he was going to give out backstage passes. Then there was the seductive Madison Rayne, who was too much of a priss to high-five any of the fans by the entrance way. And there was the tag team Beer Money, featuring Robert Roode, a character who fell into money, and the beer-swilling, beard-sporting “Tennessee Cowboy” James Storm. Of any of the heels, Beer Money probably did it best last night against their spikey-haired and tattooed opponents, Ink Inc., using tactics like distracting the referee to use illegal double-team maneuvers, low blows, as well as spitting on fans and their opponents. One spot in the match saw Storm run over to Roode and they coddled each other as several fans jeered, “Brokeback Mountain!”
The final heel out last night was the long-haired six-foot-eight-inch, 350-pound masked monster Abyss, with a giant tribal tattoo on his left arm scarred by previous violent matches. Abyss has recently gone from a fan favorite to a bad guy, returning to the roots that got him over – or, made him popular – in the first place. Abyss retrieved thumbtacks from under the ring in order to slam his opponent, the resilient face-painted daredevil Jeff Hardy, into them, but wound up going back first into them himself when Hardy shoved him off and the fans went nuts. Hardy hit a dive from the top rope onto Abyss in the bed of tacks for the win, sending the fans home happy. Just like a Romantic melodrama, good triumphs over evil.
Without the heels, the faces would be pretty boring. Even though the first two matches saw heels win, the faces stayed in the ring to sell the injuries their opponents had given them. As they walked out, Borash would say something like, “Let’s hear it one more time for Taylor Wilde!” The fans cheered, forgetting the star they rooted for had just lost.
This live event was not on television, so the typical spectacle viewers see was not present. There was no fancy entrance ramp and there were no pyrotechnic displays. However, TNA did bring a small but believable entrance way with a few lights on it that flashed when the talent entered. The ring’s lights dimmed for wrestlers as a spotlight shone on them. Every star had their own music, which elicited a response from many fans before the talent came even from behind the curtain.
Wrestling’s roots lie in the carnival, which TNA seemed to roll back to as they brought out several wrestlers when there was no in-ring action to sign autographs and take pictures with the fans at a table on the floor while TNA’s “Duke of Deals and Sultan of Steals” Don West pumped the merchandise table.
Overall, this show would have fit in very well during the Romantic time. Despite not getting victories on paper, the good seemed to win out over the bad after every one of the six matches. Even though the pinfall outcome was the same, finishes varied with different characters and different circumstances.
This was honestly one of the better shows in the area over the past several years.