Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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Bound For Glory in Review: Havok Retains in the Land of the Rising Sun

That is “Hello” in Japanese, Knockouts fans! I wanted to have a unique introduction to what was a unique Bound For Glory this year. Unique in a sense of TNA’s biggest PPV being held overseas in Japan to a new kind of crowd, with minimum build, notable missing TNA stars and distinctive like matches. Keep in mind, that this review almost was not going to even happen, what with the Knockouts being held off this year’s card but thanks to vocal fans on social media, demands were met and we indeed got our Knockouts match! It would be Knockouts Champion Havok making her first title defense against the 2015 calendar cover girl Velvet Sky. So how was Havok’s first official title defense? Let’s take a look:

We start things off with things off meeting Velvet backstage after Team 3-D’s TNA Hall of Fame ceremony (still placing my bet Gail Kim being inducted next year) where she wants to talk about business. Velvet acknowledges how quickly Havok has established herself as a dominant force since arriving to TNA and how she feels like the underdog going into this match. That doesn’t stop Velvet’s desire to to hold the Knockouts title again as she has confidence going into her match. So… does this mean Velvet is a baby face now?

Knockouts championship time and out come Velvet Sky to a face like pop in the Korakuen Hall. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by this crowd who were very pro TNA throughout the night despite their native Wrestle-1 promotion also being featured at the event. Havok’s theme hits next and the champion makes her way to the traditional four sided ring being used for the night. In ring introductions are made by Jeremy Borash; who has nothing on Christy Hemme‘s ring introduction on the likes of “HAVOKKKKK!” or our favorite “BRITTANYYYYY!!!!!!”

The bell rings and Velvet begins with by rallying the audience to her favor. Havok goes after Velvet but Velvet manages to avoid Havok. Velvet takes the fight to Havok, unleashing a chain of punches, kicks and clotheslines all to which Havok is able to take without falling to the ground. Velvet then makes use of the turnbuckles surrounding her and goes for a double axe handles landing four of them from every side of the ring; imagine if the six sided ring was being used here. The referee asks for the bell and Havok retains her title

Things take a turn when Velvet runs the ropes again only to be caught by Havok and side slammed. “Let’s go Velvet” chants begin as Havok begins to take control of the match landing a stiff kick to Velvet from behind and jabbing her to the turnbuckle. “She’s crazy. She’s crazy” Velvet utters as Havok centers Velvet for a back breaker. Havok then goes for a bear hug but Velvet manages to escape.

It doesn’t take long for Havok to regain control of the match as she pulls Velvet by the hair and slams her down to set up a leg drop from the turnbuckle. Velvet rolls out the way and again tries to bring Havok to the ground with with a series of offense. Havok puts a stop to Velvet with an elbow and Irish whips her but Velvet manages to pull out a beautiful head-scissors finally bringing Havok down! She doesn’t stop there, as Velvet goes for the turnbuckle and lands a big crossbody onto Havok for a pin but only gets the two count.

Velvet goes to the turnbuckle again to repeat her double axe handles on Havok only this time is caught by Havok who applies the bear hug… to which Velvet suddenly submits to (?) thus retaining the Knockouts title. Suddenly, I’m at a loss of words…

Thoughts: Well…. this was certainly a memorable Bound For Glory. There’s no denying there were inadequacy in this PPV; that’s not to say it wasn’t a good show as I did enjoy having something different. Maybe if it wasn’t Bound For Glory, TNA’s biggest PPV, my feelings wouldn’t be as mixed as they are.

I’ve said from the beginning all I wanted was for the Knockouts to have a spot on the card and I’m more than grateful that we got one. With episodes of Impact already being taped ahead, I think it was more than evident who would come out victorious in this match; via spoilers or not. Velvet playing the babyface (though she is still heel on Impact) seemed appropriate and she handled herself well for the most part. Havok was still playing the power house but I would’ve liked to have seen more from Havok’s destructive nature in her first title defense to sell her as this monster heel. Speaking of monster heels, I was very happy to hear commentary drop names of famous Japanese female wrestlers such as Aja Kong, Bull Nakano and Dump Matsumoto during this match.

The ending was bit confusing as things seemed to just end quickly and unexpectedly; something even the commentators weren’t expecting what with long pauses and confused questions. In any event, Havok will now meet Madison Rayne on Impact for a title match to which I hope to see some kind of history being brought up between the two and maybe even allow Havok to cut a promo or two give her a chance to speak to build some kind of character.

That’s it for Bound For Glory this year!

That’s goodbye in Japanese, Knockouts fans!

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