Thursday, 12 July 2007

TNA Victory Road 2004 - Retro Review

Instead of stepping back in time a few years for my latest review, I'm going to step back in time a few months, to last November. Total Non-Stop Action took a massive gamble, and some would say a massive step forward, by ditching their weekly pay-per-views in favour of a monthly pay-per-view schedule, with their first three hour offering, Victory Road, taking place at the Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida last November, and after four months, I've finally gotten around to reviewing my copy of the show.

The show begins with a promotional package ushering in TNA's new age. Nice bit of work today. Then, our hosts, Mike Tenay and Don West, make their introductions, hyping the upcoming matches, before they show an interview between Shane Douglas and Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett says that Scott Hall promises that Kevin Nash won't show.

The first match is the X Division Gauntlet match, involving the likes of Sonjay Dutt, Frankie Kazarian, L.A. Park, Michael Shane, Hector Garza, Alex Shelley, Sonny Siaki, Chris Sabin and more. If you want to know what this match is about, just think of a Royal Rumble, but in a different shaped ring, and with more high flying action. This was a good way to start the show, and a good advertisement for the X Division, with some great performances, particularly from Frankie Kazarian. With everyone else eliminated, the last two, Kazarian and Garza, then fought under normal rules, with Garza coming out on top after reversing Kazarians's pin attempt. Good stuff here.

After Armando Quintero interviews Garza about his victory, we see a Dusty Rhodes campaign commercial as he tries to convince us to vote him in as the new Director of Authority.

Scott Hudson then interviews the Naturals, Kid Kash and Dallas. Kash asserts his authority over the rookies of the team.

Eight man tag action next as the Natural, Kash and Dallas take on Erik Watts, Pat Kenney, Johnny B. Badd and Ron "The Truth" Killings. I kind of preferred Marc Mero when he was a wild man, but at least he's toned down on his use of blusher. So what we have here is two established tag teams against four guys with no apparent sense of career direction. This was a mess. There just seemed to be no chemistry at all, and I was actually quite glad that it didn't last very long. After a bit of brawling, involving all eight men, Killings pinned one of the Naturals after what looked like a modified pedigree.

A limo then arrives, and Shane Douglas, thinking that Nash is inside, intimidates the driver. The driver isn't playing the game though. Hard to think that the Franchise was intimidated by a mere limo driver.

We then see Abyss, with the help of a night vision camera, in his darkened lair. Think Mankind in his boiler room in 1996 and you'll get the drift.

Then it's time for the mini's, and I'm not talking about Britain's favourite car here, as Piratita Morgan, who is a rather portly mini, takes on Mascaritas Segrada. Quite what the attraction of midget wrestling is continually escapes me. This sucked. If this was meant to be a comedy match then I must lack a sense of humour. Thankfully it didn't last long as the little guy pinned the not so little fat guy. Highlight of the match was a section of the crowd shouting "get the ladders" when the mini's were trying to get back into the ring.

Mr. Hudson returns with more on the DOA vote. The fat guy is winning. Interesting to note that the show is being sponsored by a backyard wrestling video game. Well, if TNA wants to endorse this sort of thing, who am I to criticize? Then the 3 Live Kru arrive on the scene. Basic hype for the match against Team Canada follows.

Scott Hall then makes his way to the ring, surprisingly walking in a straight line for once. He tells us that Nash won't be at the show tonight, and shills the upcoming ladder match between the two Jeff's.

Next up, a video package giving us the background to the tag title situation. Nicely put together here.

Then it was the match itself, putting Eric Young and Bobby Roode of Team Canada against 3LK's B.G. James and Konan. So are we going to get a proper singles match soon? Anyway, young and Roode really impressed me here, and overall, this was a good bout, with the 3LK winning the belts for the second time, with Konan getting the pin after a face-buster on Roode.

We then hear from Raven in a darkened room. Young Scott seems madder than usual as he hypes the Monster's Ball match. Lots of obscure references here.

We then see another campaign video, this time from God-boy Russo. Where's the fast forward button?

Ultimate mark-out time as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper comes to the ring for Piper's Pit.....I mean In The Pit with Piper. The guy may be past it as a wrestler, but he can still talk the hind legs off a donkey. His guest is none other than "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka. Piper wants to make amends for what happened twenty years ago, giving Snuka a coconut and telling Snuka to hit him. But Snuka refuses. After a while, Kid Kash comes onto the scene, and starts to bad mouth Snuka, before trying to attack him. Snuka's fight back brings Michael Shane and Frankie Kazarian out as they help attack Snuka. Piper tries to stop the attack, and help is eventually on the way in the form of Sonjay Dutt. But Kash eventually gets hold of the coconut and clobbers Dutt with it. As they leave the ring, Kash praises his achievement, but Shane and Kazarian want no part of it. Hey, this segment was better than some of the matches so far!

Another dark room, and another interview with a night vision camera, this time with Monty Brown. Another rambling hype job here, followed by a brief advertisement for the upcoming Turning Point pay-per-view.

Then we see another good video package, with Trinity hyping her open challenge. Then it was on to the match itself, and the surprise opponent is none other than former WWE Women's and Cruiserweight Champion Jacqueline. After her last comedy stint on Smackdown, this was the thing she needed, but sadly, she didn't get the victory, Trinity scoring with a moonsault after interference from her NYC running buddies.

Hudson updates us on the DOA vote, before interviewing Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels, aka Triple X. Aggressive hype job for their upcoming match here.

This was followed by a video package giving us the history behind the Monster's Ball match. TNA have certainly improved their video packages since I first saw them on The Wrestling Channel nearly a year ago. Then it was on to the match itself, between Abyss, Raven, and Monty Brown, all of whom apparently went twenty four hours without food or water. I don't care what anyone else says, but Abyss will always seem like the bastard child of Kane and Mankind to me, which only detracts from his gimmick, and once again, I'm left to wonder why ring crews continually leave nonsensical items under a wrestling ring. Anyway, tons of brawling and not much wrestling here, but that's to be expected. The big spot of the match saw Raven power bomb Abyss onto thousands (apparently) of thumbtacks, or drawing pins as well call them here in Britain. In the end, Monty Brown picked up the ring after spearing Raven through a table.

Outside, Shane Douglas gets angry with the limo driver, before security guy Don Harris tries to calm him down.

We then see another video package, showing the lead-up events to the pay-per-view, with quotes from fans and wrestlers, before Scotty boy talks to Scott D'Amore and Petey Williams about the X Division title match, a basic slagging off the opponent job, against A.J. Styles. D'Amore promises to leave TNA if Williams loses. We then get a video history of the Styles/Williams feud. Then we get the X Division title match itself. What can I say about this? This was probably the best X Division title bout I've ever seen, with tons of great action from both Styles and Williams, and the usual interference from Coach D'Amore, before Williams ended things with his superb Canadian Destroyer pile driver.

We then see Jeff Jarrett in his dressing room preparing for his match. Surprisingly, Scott Hall is also there without a drink in his hand. We then see Jeff Hardy screaming into his mirror.

Next up is a video package showing the tense rivalry between Triple X and America's Most Wanted, described as the two cornerstones of the TNA tag division, before we get to the match itself. I haven't seen this form of Triple X in action before, but I have come to enjoy AMW's work. This wasn't a normal match though, it's fought under last man standing rules, with both men having to be eliminated to win. After some good tag action, James Storm was the first man out after Christopher Daniels clobbered his knee with a leg drop. Chris Harris then eliminated Daniels after a leg drop, leaving Harris and Elix Skipper. After the pace of the bout slowed somewhat, Harris eliminated Skipper after his catatonic move onto a steel chair. Daniels then returned to the ring to help Skipper inflict more damage after the bell. Good to start off with, but a shame it got a bit tame towards the end.

Our boy Scott Hudson then interviews our champ, Double J. TNA's answer to Triple H quickly dismisses Jeff Hardy's chances, because Big Sexy is still missing.

In the ring, Professor Tenay gives us the results of the DOA vote. Dusty Rhodes, if you wheel, won the thing. Russo looks pissed as the fat guy steps into the ring for a victory speech. Dusty does a bigger shilling job than Sanjay Bagga, making matches and putting TNA over, at the expense of their northern neighbours. Get on with it you big windbag. I wanna see me a ladder match!

Then we see the lead-up to our main event, Jeff Hardy winning the match to win the title shot, and the introduction to TNA of messrs Hall and Nash. Finally we get to the main event, as Jeff Jarrett defends his NWA World itle against Jeff Hardy in Hardy's specialty, the ladder match. Conspicuous by their absence are both Hall and Nash. When compared to Hardy's previous high risk matches, this one's way down on the list. Indeed, it only seemed to go up a notch when Scott Hall came down and interfered. To put it simply, this match just wasn't that good, and it had me virtually praying for a quicker ending, which came when Kevin Nash came down to the ring and turned on Hardy, helping Jarrett and Hall clobber Hardy with guitars. Jarrett then grabbed the belt for the win. Then Nash grabs the microphone, begins with his usual juvenile joke, and issues an open challenge. A.J. Styles comes out and fights them off briefly, as does the 3 Live Kru. Then, the savior arrives in the form of Randy Savage, looking like his beard overdosed on the Grecian before the show ends.

In conclusion, for their first effort at a three hour pay-per-view, TNA pulled out all the stops, but this was really a hit and miss affair. After the opening Gauntlet match, things were very patchy, until the Monster's Ball and X-Division title matches. Sadly, things returned to patchiness afterwards, and at the end I was left with a kind of lost feeling, especially as the big surprise, the appearance of Randy Savage, lasted roughly a minute at the end of the show, so in all, three good matches out of eight doesn't really make for a good show.

Match of the show goes to the great bout between A.J. Styles and Petey Williams for the X Division title. Definitely the best of a bad bunch here.