Larry Goodman sent this report in:
It was an emotional homecoming for A. J. Styles Sunday afternoon when TNA made their first appearance in Gainesville, Georgia.
The event drew 1300 to the Gainesville Mountain Center. The building was set up for 1750. The only seats open were the top few rows, so it had that packed feeling. An incredibly hot crowd. And a crowd that was easily steered toward the desired reaction.
Overall, it was a very entertaining house show. All good matches. No great matches but nothing even close to being bad.
Master of ceremonies Jeremy Borash opened the show. He did an amazing job of keeping the crowd pumped up all night long.
(1) Consequence Creed beat Suicide and Sheik Abdul Bashir in 9:20. This was easy heat. Bashir spouted off at the crowd in Farsi. Big pop for Creed and a really impressive pop for Suicide. Bashir exited as soon as the bell rang and let the babyfaces go at it. They collied and Bashir made the vulture like pin attempts. They did a comedy spot where Suicide, Creed and then ref Slick Johnson each hiptossed Bashir. Suicide got taken out by Bashir, but returned with a double missile dropkick. Suicide did a cool combo spot where he did a reverse roll up with a bridge on Bashir while hitting a Northern lights suplex on Creed. Finish saw Creed pin Bashir with a DDT. Well done opener. Creed and Suicide did a little dance off afterwards.
(2) Taylor Wilde pinned Daffney in 5:46.Nice heel/face dynamic here. I recall seeing Wilde (as Shantelle Taylor) in Deep South and thinking she was a cinch to make the main WWE roster as a babyface. Never gave her a chance. Wilde opened with a fast paced flurry. Daffney came back with a slam and a series of screaming stomps. Crowd chanted for Taylor. Daffney hit a shining wizard for a two count. Wilde hiptossed out of an abdominal stretch to spark the comeback, building to a spinning headscissors for a near fall. Daffney answered with a bridging northern lights suplex for two. Wilde got the pin with reverse roll up and a bridge. Another good match.
(3) Hotstuff Hernandez beat Homicide (with Bashir) in 7:09 Hernandez got a pure babyface pop second to only Styles (Booker and Angle and to a lesser degree Steiner, all got big star reactions). This match up is great vehicle for the Hernandez push. All of his power moves look devastating when Homicide takes them. Crowd was eating them up. Hernandez did a 20 count hanging vertical suplex. Bashir distracted allowing Homicide to catch Hernandez with a missile dropkick. Tough for his offense to make much of a dent in Hernandez with the size difference. Hernandez used a slingshot shoulder block, a gorilla press and got the pin with the Dominator.
Postmatch, Bashir and Homicide attacked Hernandez, who made his own save with a double lariat and a meeting of the minds. All of this was perfectly in synch with his push.
(4) Beer Money (James Storm & Robert Roode) beat TNA Tag Champions Booker T & Scott Steiner in a non-title match (12:35). Mafia did mic work to turn the crowd. Funny stuff. Booker ordered the cops to arrest any kids that tried to hit him and offered donuts to all the fatass adults. Steiner said the match was ?non title sanctioned belt?. Mafia got into it with some ringside marks, and everyone in the ring holding back from laughing. Beer Money’s schtick was also way over. This was slower than the other matches. Steiner spit at Roode. Beer Money got heat on Steiner. Watching Steiner run the ropes is painful. Booker pulled Storm out and gave him a rail shot to star the heat. After connecting with a hook kick, Booker busted out the Spinaroonie. A Storm backcracker on Steiner set up the hot tag. Roode hit a blockbuster on Steiner, and Booker saved. Beer Money went for the DWI but Booker broke that up. Steiner hit the flatliner on Roode for a near fall. He tried for the Steiner Recliner but couldn?t get it. Storm spit beer in Steiner’s face and Roode rolled him up. Entertaining in its own way. Crowd liked it.
(5) Samoa Joe defeated Christopher Daniels via the Kokina Clutch to retain the TNA X Division Title in 9:36. Not big reactions for their entrances, but the match heated up the crowd. Daniel was able to out quick Joe but not for long. Joe cut Daniels off with the one armed side slam. He broke out the striking attack. Crowd was popping for the stiffness. Joe grounded Daniels, then cut off a comeback by tossing him through the ropes and beating him up on the floor. That got ?you suck? heat. Back inside, Joe hit the snap scoop powerslam and the running senton. Playing possum, Daniels caught Joe with a neckbreaker for a double down. Big comeback by Daniels, including a palm strike that knocked Joe silly and a Codebreaker for a near fall. Joe hit an Exploder Suplex and set up for the Musclebuster, but Daniel fought it off. Daniels hit an STO and went up for the BME. Daniel saw Joe move out of the way, and landed on his feet, and that’s when Joe slapped on the choke. Daniels got a bigger pop on his way out than he did on his way in.
(6) A. J. Styles pinned Kurt Angle with the Styles Clash in a non-title match (12:40). The pop for Styles blew the roof off. Angle got the star pop he deserves. Angle was introduced at 234 pounds. He can?t be more than 200. This was advertised as a title match, but Angle explained that he had a clause in his contract that gave him control of title defenses, and the Mafia wasn?t giving any out tonight. He offered a deal ? if Angle won, Styles was out of the main event at No Surrender. If AJ won, he got the satisfaction of beating Angle in front on his hometown fans. Didn?t make sense, since Styles presumably would have gotten even more satisfaction by winning a title match, but fans were smart enough to know was the only way they were going to see Angle lose clean. Match had awesome heat. Repeated chants for Styles throughout. Angle stalled. Styles took over on the arm. The building exploded when Styles hit his signature dropkick. Angle went desperation gutter style to take over. He hit a pair of suplexes and the confidence was starting to flow. Styles stunned Angle with a back suplex. Styles hit the springboard forearm and followed with a pumphandle backbreaker for a near fall. With Style on the top rope, Angle popped up with a climbing overhead belly to belly suplex for a near fall. Styles hit the Phenomenon (quebrada into an inverted DDT) although not cleanly. Angle got the ankle lock. Styles almost made the ropes, but Angle pulled him back to the center and Styles reversed for a great false finish. Styles escaped from the Angle Slam and hit the Pele. Angle grabbed the ropes. Huge ?Let’s go AJ? chant here. Angle hit a German suplex with Styles taking a full rotation bump. Angle Slam attempt reversed into the Styles Clash for the three count.
Postmatch, Daniels and Suicide entered the ring to congratulate Styles, who was clearly moved by the moment. Angle raised Styles? hand. Styles addressed the crowd. ?Gainesville, the Phenomenal One has come home.? Styles promised to bring the TNA World Title home at No Surrender.
They did an autograph signing party at ringside after the show. There were easily 100 people in line to get an inring Polaroid with Styles. Daniels, Suicide, Hernandez, Creed and Daffney were all out doing autographs. A truly feel good way to end the evening.
NOTES: Approximate crowd for Augusta was 700 and Dalton was 1000. The 6 man in Dalton (Styles & Beer Money vs. Main Event Mafia) was said to be a hot match?On a personal note, it was 10 years ago this month that I saw my first Styles match at NWA Wildside, about 20 miles up the road in Cornelia. I knew I was seeing someone special. Over the next three years, I had the privilege of watching Styles develop into the wrestler that became a core member of the TNA roster starting day one. What a run that was.