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Total Nonstop Action Wrestling smacks down Mullins Center Saturday night

It was a night of firsts for the University of Massachusetts on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009. Late into the night, the campus received the first snowfall of the winter, a light dusting compared to what is in store for the season. The gentle flakes falling that night stood in stark comparison to the brawny chaos rocking the insides of the Mullins Center, as UMass played host to the superstars of Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling’s unique brand of professional wrestling.        

SLIDESHOW: TNA Wrestling at the Mullins Center

The first wrestling event at the Mullins Center since Columbus Day weekend 2007 started with TNA announcer Jeremy Borash welcoming everybody in the arena. Borash announced that the loudest fans in the Mullins Center would be invited backstage for a meet and greet with their favorite TNA superstars, which set the stage for a very loud night of athletic, muscular mayhem.

In the opening contest, Amazing Red successfully defended the X-Division Championship of the World against Suicide. The match featured very good chain wrestling and some high flying aerial offense. The Amazing Red in the end defeated his opponent with a pin fall after hitting his finisher move, “Code Red.”

Next up, the Beautiful People (who gave an exclusive interview with The Daily Collegian on Friday) defeated the tag team of Hamada and the Amazon, known in the ring as Awesome Kong. In the end of the match, with Awesome Kong distracted by her desire to hit Madison Rayne with a falling “Splash” move, Velvet Sky pinned Hamada for the victory. After the match, Hamada was upset with Kong for her lack of concentration, and began to attack her with a series of punches. Kong put a quick end to the assault, however, by crushing Hamada with a vicious “Powerbomb.”

The next contest was one of the two matches of the night featuring members of the alliance known as the World Elite. Many of the international wrestlers of TNA Wrestling formed this alliance to combat the trend of domination by American-born athletes in professional wrestling, and is headed by TNA Global Champion Eric Young. The World Elite features wrestlers from Canada, Japan, England and Iran. The wrestler from Iran, Sheik Abdul Bashir, fought the Blue Print Matt Morgan in the third match on Saturday. Morgan, who wrestled to a hometown crowd as Connecticut native, had to fight through the pain of a leg injury he suffered at the start of the match. Morgan finished off Bashir with a pinfall victory, after a landing a bicycle kick to the World Elite member’s head.

One of the two main events of the night was what followed. In recent months the rivalry between Olympic Gold Medalist and TNA newcomer Desmond Wolfe has taken professional wrestling by storm. Wolfe debuted in TNA after nearly signing a contract with the competition, World Wrestling Entertainment. Since arriving at TNA, Desmond Wolfe has sought to make a name for himself by ending Kurt Angle’s 10-year professional wrestling career.          

“I am not the next big thing, mark my words: I am the only thing,” Desmond Wolfe said in his debut on TNA Wrestling Impact, after beating down Kurt Angle a week earlier. “Mr. Angle, I could have broken your neck, but I didn’t.”

“I’ll let you in on a little secret, you messed with the wrong guy,” Angle said Saturday to a huge positive response from the crowd. “If you think you’re gonna make a name for yourself at the expensive of Kurt Angle, you got your head up your ass.”

Wolfe defeated Angle in two matches in TNA Wrestling, but Angle defeated Wolfe at the last TNA Pay-Per-View event, “Turning Point.” A week before the match at Turning Point, Desmond Wolfe gave Kurt Angle the nickname Mr. Mangle after sending Angle to the hospital at two consecutive editions of “TNA Wrestling Impact.” Desmond Wolfe concluded by threatening that “I can smell the blood already, and let’s just say that I’m hungry like a wolf.”

Wolfe took control of the match from the start by bringing Angle down to the mat. Angle fought back, and showed the athletic ability that won him a Olympic gold wrestling in Freestyle Wrestling in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. At the end of the match, Wolfe was setting up Angle for his finishing move – a top rope diamond cutter called “the Tower of London.” Angle reversed out of the move just in time, and got Wolfe with his Angle Slam for a pinfall victory. With the win, it appears that the series between Kurt Angle and Desmond Wolfe is now tied at two victories a piece. They will fight next at the TNA Pay-Per-View event, “Final Resolution.” After the match, Kurt Angle got on the microphone and thanked everybody for coming out to see TNA Wrestling.

“If it wasn’t for you fans there wouldn’t be any TNA,” Angle said, “Thank you, God bless you. I love you.” 

After a brief intermission, the audience was subjected to an even briefer wrestling match. The Monster Abyss made short work out of his former psychiatrist, Dr. Stevie. Abyss got a very easy pin fall victory after hitting Dr. Stevie with two “Black Hole Slams.” Stevie was without his two favorite patients, Daffney and Raven. It was their lack of support that probably cost Dr. Stevie the match.

The crowd rose to a loud roar during the next match, a tag team attraction featuring the popular former TNA Tag Team Champions of the world Beer Money Incorporated. They were competing against the current tag team champions and World Elite Members, the British Invasion.

“I heard that this place doesn’t serve beer,” James Storm said to a round of boos over the choice of refreshments available Mullins, “but I know that a lot of beer drinkers are here tonight!”

Before the match, Beer Money had one half of the crowd scream, “beer,” and had the other half scream, “money.” Ultimately, it was very similar to the chant that the Mullins Center usually has echoing through it, involving a “U” and a “Mass.” The beer chant lasted almost throughout the entire match, which was won handily by Beer Money Incorporated.

Next up was the main event of the evening, with the TNA Heavyweight Championship of the World, a match that a few months ago wrestling fans thought had no chance of happening. For years, two of the biggest names in TNA Wrestling have been The Phenomenal AJ Styles and the man now simply known as Daniels.

AJ Styles and “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels were two-time TNA Tag Team Champions, and were named 2006 Tag Team of the Year by three separate organizations. The two used to be the best of friends, but recently jealously has reared its ugly head and destroyed their on-air friendship.

Styles regained the TNA Heavyweight Championship for the fourth time on Sept. 20, 2009. Daniels has never been the TNA Heavyweight Champion, and according to recent appearances, he wants it more then anything else the world. Daniels got his chance at the last TNA Pay-Per-View in a three-way “dance” between AJ Styles, former-champion Samoa Joe and himself. Daniels also has challenged Styles for a one-on-one title shot at “Final Resolution.” The match at the Mullins Center is a preview of what will be a highly combative and personal battle on Pay-Per-View.

Daniels took the advantage in the early points of the match by using headlocks and takedowns to ground Styles. The Phenomenal One is very gifted at aerial wrestling, but can’t use those techniques if he is pinned on the mat. Near the conclusion of the match Daniels seemed to have the title in his grasp, and went for one of his patented finishers, “The Angel’s Wings.” Alas, Styles broke out of it, and connected a “Hilo Backflip” kick. AJ took the lead, and hooked in his finisher “Styles Clash” for the pinfall victory.

After the match, Styles invited Daniels back into the ring for another match right then and there. Daniels refused the offer, and decided to wait until “Final Resolution” to get another one-on-one title opportunity. The show ended with the crowd receiving a chance to step into the TNA six-sided ring for autographs and photographs with TNA Heavyweight Champion of the World, “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles, concluding a night of bone-crushing action.

TNA’s weekly wrestling show TNA Wrestling Impact can be seen every week at 9 p.m. on Spike TV (cable channel 49 in the UMass dormitories).

Ryan Damon can be reached at rdamon@student.umass.edu.

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