Monday, 17 September 2007

TNA Victory Road 2007 on Bravo 2 - TV Review

It’s time to take our monthly trip into TNA territory again, as they go back to the Impact Zone in Florida for their latest pay-per-view offering, Victory Road, shown on a three day delay here in Britain on Bravo 2, headlined by the Match of Champions, as Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe face Team 3-D. Our hosts for the evening are, as usual, Mike Tenay and Don West.
The show begins with another of TNA’s specialities, the overbooked gimmick match, an Ultimate X Gauntlet match. The rules for this one - wrestlers enter the match every sixty seconds, and are eliminated when they are thrown over the top rope. Then, when all ten wrestlers have entered the contest, it’s fought over Ultimate X rules. See what I mean about overbooked gimmick matches? The match features Christopher Daniels, Jay Lethal, Puma, Homicide, Sonjay Dutt, Petey Williams, Shark Boy, Elix Skipper, Frankie Kazarian, and Senshi. As is the norm for the X Division, this one’s filled with tons of action and crazy bumps from the scaffold, with Kazarian putting in a great performance throughout the match. His diamond cutter from the top from on Daniels as he hung upside down from the scaffold was a thing of beauty, definitely the highlight of the match, and after all the crazy action, it was the re-formation of Triple X that saw Daniels emerge victorious, with Skipper and Senshi taking out Lethal as the Fallen Angel claimed the giant plastic X. This was a great way to start the show, warm up the crowd with a ton of top notch action and crazy bumps.
The second match of the show saw tag-team action, as Christy Hemme’s team of Basham and Damaja, accompanied by Lance Hoyt, took on the Voodoo Kin Mafia, Kip and B.G. James. To combat the apparent threat of Christy Hemme, the James boys introduced their newest team member, the “Voodoo Queen of New Orleans”, Roxxi Laveaux. I have no idea who this woman is, but she sure looked like a bundle of laughs. Despite the chants of boring from the patrons of the Impact Zone, this one wasn’t actually that bad, with two teams who are rapidly getting used to each other putting on a good match with a good storyline, and the VKM coming out on top after Christy’s plan went a little awry. After Damaja failed to get the pin on Kip following a chair shot from Hoyt, B.G. took Damaja out with the chair while the referee was ushering Hoyt off the ring apron, with Kip getting the pin shortly afterwards. The extra curricular activity saw Hoyt’s attack fail, and the Voodoo Queen take Christy out with a power slam-like move. How dare she! Not bad at all really.
Next up, James Storm, accompanied by Jackie Moore, taking on Rhino. As Moore is thrown out of the arena before the match even begins, Rhino and Storm begin things with the obligatory brawl through the crowd, before things eventually get into the ring, where it certainly proved to be a match of great intensity, where you actually believed that these two really hated each other and just wanted to beat the crap out of each other, and Storm’s beer bottle came into play yet again. As the ref took a snooze, Rhino went for the gore, which Storm countered by smashing his beer bottle into his face, busting him open and getting the winning pin. Then, Storm tied Rhino to the ropes, and called Moore back into the ring, where they poured beer into Rhino’s mouth and took a picture off it. (Rhino has apparently had a drink problem in the past), before clobbering him with a chair. Storm has really impressed me since the break-up of America’s Most Wanted, and he is quickly becoming TNA’s biggest heat magnet. An impressive outing here for all concerned.
It’s back to tag action next, as the Motor City Machine Guns, Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin, and accompanied by Kevin Nash, face Jerry Lynn and Bob Backlund. This is the first time I’ve seen Shelley and Sabin team with each other, and they looked pretty damn good, like they’ve been teaming for years. Lynn looked tremendous, as always, and Backlund didn’t look too bad either, even if he did look a little out of place in a match filled with X Division wrestlers. So, a match that was pretty good ended after interference from Kevin Nash. As the ref was trying to get Backlund out of the ring, Big Sexy stepped through the ropes and levelled Lynn with the big boot. Shelley and Sabin then took Lynn down with a series of kicks before getting the winning pin. A very enjoyable match here.
Sticking with tag-team action, but this time of the mixed variety as Gail Kim and Eric Young take on Robert Roode and Traci Brooks. For some reason Young’s character is really starting to annoy me, to the point where I wish they would fire the guy after all. But despite my dislike for Young’s persona, I have to admit that this one wasn’t too bad. Roode and Young again worked well together, and the additions of Brooks and Kim added a touch of glamour to the proceedings. Kim looked great in this match, even going toe-to-toe with Roode on several occasions, and getting the pin for her team after Roode accidentally clobbered Brooks on a number of occasions.
Then it’s on to what could be the sleeper match, as Chris Harris faces Christian Cage. Like James Storm before him, Harris has benefited greatly from the demise of America’s Most Wanted, and he shined in his latest singles outing against Cage here. This one was great, a back and forth encounter with tons of false finishes, with both men pulling out all the stops as they attempted to put away their rival, and it was only the intervention of the returning Dustin Rhodes that changed things around. Rhodes appeared on the ramp, with everyone thinking that he was there to help Harris. As Cage called Tomko down to the ring, and as the referee tried to usher the big guy away, Rhodes came into the ring and clobbered Harris with his own handcuffs. The next thing the ref saw was Cage covering Harris for the three count and the victory. A good match, but like many others, I can’t really get excited about the return of Dustin Rhodes.
Time for old enemies to team-up next, as Sting and the monster Abyss tackle A.J. Styles and Tomko. So, like Kane in the WWE before him, it looks like TNA are now trying to humanise Abyss. Now this was good, a great example of tag-team wrestling. All four men put in great performances here, and I really can’t believe how great Tomko has been looking in TNA in recent months. For me he’s already eclipsing his entire WWE career. This was one of those matches where you thought either team could win. The psychology throughout was spot on, as was the storytelling. The ending came when Abyss got the victory after taking out Tomko with a black hole slam. Then, as the victors were celebrating in the ring, none other than James Mitchell appeared on the stage, promising to get revenge on Sting and Abyss. Mitchell is probably the best promo cutter in the business today, so this should be very interesting.
Main event time, the Match of Champions, with the TNA World, X Division and Tag-Team Championships on the line, as Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle take on Team 3-D. Throughout the evening we’d seen that there was trouble in both camps, as the former Dudleys argued about who would win what title, how Samoa Joe didn’t trust his partner, and how Kurt Angle scoured the building looking for back-up, and beating the hell out of everyone who refused him. While this lacked the sheer excitement of the previous match, it made up for in action. Joe and Angle worked very well as a team, and Team 3-D teased a possible split when they began to break up each other’s pin attempt, a show if dissension which proved to be a ruse. Things went up a notch when the teams began to brawl in the ring together, and got even hotter when, after Angle was taken out after a 3-D, Rick Steiner appeared and pulled the referee out of the ring. With the referee trying to stop Devon and Steiner brawling outside the ring, little brother Scott came down and clobbered Brother Ray with a lead pipe. Then, as Angle was about to take the big man down with his Olympic Slam, Joe came back into the ring and took Angle out with a chop block, getting the pin on Brother Ray seconds later to win the Tag-Team Championship. Now here’s the thing - even though Joe got the pin, it didn’t mean that him and Angle are champions. Joe now has the right to choose his own partner to hold the titles with. By putting in this stipulation, they’ve taken away the opportunity for a great storyline. But then again, that’s wrestling bookers for you.
In conclusion - a TNA show without a bad match on it. Well, that’s what we got with the 2007 version of Victory Road. A very good and enjoyable show, with the Tomko/Styles v Sting/Abyss match clearly eclipsing the other matches on the show, and the main event certainly proving to be very, very interesting. A good effort from the TNA crew. Let’s hope they can keep it up.
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