Thursday, August 17, 2017

 TNA Legends Championship I Quit Match: AJ Styles [c] vs. Booker T – TNA Sacrifice 5/24/09; iMPACT! Zone

Booker T held the TNA Legends Title for 143 days, but was dethroned by AJ Styles at Destination X in March. That title change was when TNA officially recognized the title and it made Styles the company’s first ever Grand Slam Champion. This bothered Booker, as he introduced the title as a way to pay tribute to his legend status, not to add to someone else’s. This was the rematch and it was set under I Quit rules. Booker looking to get his title back, while AJ looked to solidify his status as a legend.

Mike Tenay noted that this series with Booker T led to the maturation of AJ Styles. He’d ride that to a TNA Heavyweight Title run in a few months. Thankfully, this didn’t follow the WWE I Quit match trope where the referee constantly stops the action to ask if someone quits. Remember how bad that was in the awful Rusev/Cena I Quit match? Anyway, Booker knew he was slower and didn’t try to play AJ’s game. When AJ tried a springboard, he simply ran into him to cut it off and send AJ crashing outside. With AJ having to sell, the pace slowed, which benefitted Booker. Booker worked the arm and they did a fair amount of rolling around in a submission that Booker wouldn’t let go. Not something I’ve seen often from the Booker man.

Just when things really picked up and seemed headed towards a great ending, Sharmell came to the ring. She shouted support for Booker after AJ hit a springboard 450 splash. I guess there was a miscue, because Booker ran straight into Sharmell and knocked her off the apron with almost no provocation. AJ trapped him in an armbar, but Booker refused to quit. He wouldn’t allow his legend status to potentially be ruined by saying those two words. Kevin Nash’s girlfriend and fellow Main Event Mafia member Jenna Morasca, ran out and threw in the towel for the finish at 16:48.

Man, that ending killed something that was on its way to being very good. I liked how smart Booker was, making this move at a pace that worked for him. AJ bumped and sold well, helping things out. I also thought there were a few MMA like elements (the Booker armbar spot and some of the mounted punches) that worked. That finish was awful, though. It shifted the focus from the guys in the ring to the dreadful Jenna/Sharmell feud, which culminated in a horrendous match two months later. With a better finish, this would’ve been one of Booker’s better matches ever. Instead, it’s just good, which is how a lot of his matches in his career went. [***¼]

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