This year’s Bound for Glory divided fans like no other show I’ve seen this year. Depending on who you asked, you’d think that TNA’s biggest event of the year was either the physical manifestation of a rapacious Nazi who’d snorted the ashes of your dead children and desecrated your parent’s grave, or a unicorn farting rainbows and sunshine. But which was it? Was Bound for Glory a good event? And could it even be considered better than WrestleMania 29?
Personally, I thought it was a good show; it had good and bad moments, but it was mostly good. From the aftermath of Bound For Glory rose an interesting discussion in the FTW community: ‘Was Bound For Glory a better show than Wrestlemania?’.
How exactly does one determine what makes a good Pay Per View event? Due to the gulf in the respective fan bases of TNA and the WWE, one cannot judge based on attendance or buy rates. Instead, a dissection of the cards in question is required. My approach takes three forms: the variety of wrestling, the timing of the show, and a direct comparison of the main events.
Firstly, we can look at the variety of wrestling throughout Bound For Glory and Wrestlemania, respectively. One of the things I hope we can agree on is that everyone’s tastes are different. What may entertain one fan will not entertain another; some like technical wrestling, some like lucha libre, and part of what makes a great show is a variety of styles. In this respect, Bound For Glory beat Wrestlemania to a bloody pulp. If you are a fan of high flying wrestling, you were catered to with the Ultimate X match that opened the card. Fans of technical wrestling would have enjoyed Bobby Roode and Kurt Angle’s show-stealing performances. Tag Team fans had enjoyable encounters in the pre-show and the Bro Mans subsequent title win on the main show. If you were a fan of hardcore wrestling, the main event delivered in spades with a hard-hitting No Disqualification match between AJ Styles and Bully Ray. Female wrestling fans were also treated to Lei’d Tapa’s continued domination of the Knockouts division as she helped Gail Kim to a third Knockouts Title. Wrestlemania, however, provided a hardcore match in Brock Lesnar versus Triple H and a lacklustre tag team match between Team Hell No and the team of Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston.
Matt Kodner of the AV Club sums Wrestlemania up well, saying it was “too much of the same, with nary a sense of fun to the matches.”
In fact, we can clearly see a discrepancy between the pure variety of wrestling on show at Bound For Glory and Wrestlemania. That is not all that we can take into consideration when judging the two events, either. We can also look at the fact that all but one of TNA’s titles were defended at Bound For Glory; in comparison, at Wrestlemania, only four were defended (Intercontinental, Tag Team, World Heavyweight and WWE), leaving the Divas and US titles unmentioned and the women’s division ignored completely.
Additionally, the timing of Wrestlemania was a complete mess. It is no secret; in fact, it was one of the big criticisms of the show. The mixed team tag match with Tons of Funk and the Funkadactyls versus Team Rhodes Scholars and the Bellas got cut from the card during the show due to time constraints. The timing issues also caused the main event to suffer with the Rock and John Cena being given more time than was originally planned. As a result they had to improvise and the match descended into a cacophony of finishing moves with very little variety or substance. Additionally, because the 8 person tag team match was pulled, there was no cool down match. The Jersey crowd was exhausted after the excellence of CM Punk’s attempt to end the Undertaker’s streak, and as a result, they were not as responsive to the HHH and Brock Lesnar match that followed. This led to less of an atmosphere and negatively impacted what was actually a great match. Bound For Glory, on the other hand, was a fairly well-oiled machine; even Ethan Carter III was given a decent amount of time in his squashing of Norv Fernum. One match flowed into the other, and cool-down matches were well placed; after the crowd wore themselves out, they were able to recover, and suspense and tension rose at a steady rate as the night went on.
A direct comparison of the respective main events also demonstrates how Bound For Glory outdid Wrestlemania. There are similar themes running through each match, with the young face of the company taking on an older more experienced guy (there is only one year’s difference between The Rock at 41 and Bully Ray at 42), but the similarities end there. AJ and Bully Ray delivered superb tension, brutal reality and several memorable high spots, whilst the Rock and John Cena simply traded finishers like I did Pokemon cards in the schoolyard. The two seconds when AJ leapt off the ring apron and delivered a 450 splash through the announcers’ table was more enjoyable and breath-taking than all four Rock Bottoms and three Attitude Adjustments in Wrestlemania’s main event.
To sum up, a greater variety of styles of wrestling, better timing and a main event that was head and shoulders above the Wrestlemania equivalent means that Bound For Glory 2013 was the better show. Better balance, more excitement, better structure, and a superior build-up lay the cards firmly in TNA’s hands in the battle of the biggest shows of the year.