Sunday, 17 February 2008

TNA Against All Odds on Bravo 2 - TV Review

It’s that time of the month again where I break out this old tag line so I can introduce my latest pay-per-view review, with Kurt Angle and Christian Cage once again doing battle over the World title, but this time with Samoa Joe as a special enforcer. It’s time to take a look at TNA’s latest offering, Against All Odds, emanating from Greenville, South Carolina, and shown on a three day delay here in Britain on Bravo 2. As usual, our hosts for the evening are Mike Tenay and Don West.

The show kicks off with tag-team action, as B.G. James teams with his old man, “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, to challenge A.J. Styles and Tomko for the Tag-Team titles. Before I go on, can someone explain to me why Styles is wearing a crown? Does it have something to do with the dissension between the champions? This certainly was an interesting match. The old guy got off a few shots, got beat up for a bit, before B.G. came into the ring and took charge - until Styles drop-kicked his knee from the top rope. With the leg buckling under him, Styles quickly called Tomko, who was beating up on the old man on the outside, called the big guy back into the ring so they could take B.G. out with their finisher, with Styles getting the title retaining pin afterwards. I really don’t know what to make of this one. Seeing Armstrong in the ring really wasn’t much of a novelty. Perhaps next time they’ll give the shot to the Voodoo Kim Mafia.
Women’s action follows, as Traci Brooks takes on the woman who was stalking her, Payton Banks. If you were expecting a technical classic with this one, then you were looking in the wrong place. This was a brawl, as simple as that, and a damn good one at that. You actually believed that these two women wanted to tear each other apart, it was this good, and the crowd went wild for it, which is something you don’t see in a WWE divas match. Traci finally gained revenge on her nemesis after Payton missed a shoulder charge in the corner and hit the ring post, getting the pin with a roll-up. But the fight didn’t end there, and continued after the final bell, with Payton running for her life.
Then it’s on to a number one contenders match with a difference, with the winner earning shows at both the World and the X Division titles, with Scott Steiner facing his mini-me, Petey Williams. Am I the only one who really doesn’t understand Williams’ new gimmick? Despite my misgivings about this match, it actually wasn’t that bad. It started off with Steiner basically beating the hell of Williams, throwing him around the ring like a rag doll. Steiner then took the two brief cases and put them between the turnbuckles. This gave Williams time to recover, and using a series of fast-paced moves, he took Steiner down a number of times, and was about to finish him off with the Canadian Destroyer when a mystery woman appeared and distracted Williams. This was all that Steiner needed, who took Williams down with a power bomb to get the win. A good match here, somewhat surprising considering Scott Steiner was in it.
An “unofficial” title match follows, as Eric Young defends his Drinking Championship against James Storm. Well, at least they’re actually wrestling, so that’s something good I suppose. And you know what? You take away all the drinking crap, and you’ve got two wrestlers putting on a great match. Young and Storm had great chemistry in the ring here, impressing this writer a great deal. So after a terrific match with great storytelling, and the return of Rhino as he gored Storm while the ref was tied up with Miss Jackie, Young got the pin. Rhino then picked up the microphone, promising to get a few things off his chest soon.
More women’s action follows, as the ODB challenges Awesome Kong for the Knockouts title. Kong has her new advisor, Raisha Saeed, along for company. I was expecting a lot from this one, given Kong’s amazing matches with Gail Kim in previous months, and this definitely lived up to my expectations. It was another incredible performance from Kong, and an incredible performance from ODB. This is really how women’s wrestling should be, with Kong dominating for the most part, and ODB coming back strongly, to the point where you thought that she might actually be able to beat the behemoth. But this didn’t happen, as Kong eventually reasserted her dominance to take ODB down with her power bomb. Is there really anyone who can defeat Kong?
Then it’s back to the Impact Zone in Florida, as Abyss faces Judas Mesias in a no-rope barb wire match. It’s being held in Florida because the good folks in South Carolina didn’t want it there. Well, as it turns out, James Mitchell is not only Judas’ father, but he’s also Abyss’ daddy as well. With a family of freaks like this, it probably won’t be long before TNA hire the artist formerly known as A-Train and re-name him Cousin It. Tenay and West warn the watching audience that this match be brutal and unsuitable for women and children, but compared to some of the CZW stuff I’ve seen, this is actually quite tame. So with barb wire surrounding the ring, a barb wire covered chair, and several barb wire covered boards, we get a brawl where each of the toys are used to good effect. It’s not pretty to watch, but it’s effective, and as the match goes on, the warning to watching women and children is really ironic, considering there are women and children in the Impact Zone watching this one. So after both me get their far share of barb wire into various parts of their anatomy, Abyss takes Mesias down with a second black hole slam, this one right onto one of the barb wire boards, to get the winning pinfall.
Back in South Carolina, the rivalry between Booker T and Robert Roode continues, with Payton Banks along for moral support. Now that Booker has got rid of the cape, crown, and that bloody awful English accent, you finally realise once more that he’s a hell of a wrestler. And you know what? I’m slowly starting to warm to Roode as a wrestler as well as these two put on a hell of a match, with tremendous storytelling and flawless moves throughout. The way it was played out made out wonder if these two really did hate each other’s guts. Each did their stuff and did it very well, but there was no winner, as Roode went walkabout in an attempt to get away from Booker’s assault, only for Booker to follow him backstage, where they continued the fight until Roode escaped in his car. Of course, both wrestlers were counted out. High tension and high drama, and a good way to end the match, leaving the fans wanting more.
The fate of the X Division hangs in the balance next, with Team 3-D and Johnny Devine taking on Jay Lethal and the Motor City Machine Guns in a hardcore street fight. Quite a few stipulations for this one; if Lethal and the Guns win, the former Dudleys can’t wrestle unless they drop down to 275 pounds, and whoever pins Devon, Ray or Devine becomes X Division Champion. However, if Team 3-D and Devine win, the X Division is disbanded forever. Now I’ve got all of that out of the way, let’s get down to the action. As brawls go, this was one of the best I’ve seen. Both teams knocked seven sorts of you know what out of each other with anything they could get their hands on, including a kitchen sink. But the drama really went up a notch when Sabin and Shelley were taken out with 3-D’s, leaving Lethal on his own to fight against three men. This was where Lethal put on a hell of a performance, probably the best performance I’ve ever seen from him as he held his own against all three of his opponents, before putting Devine through a table with a top rope elbow drop, saving the X Division and winning the title in the process. A great match here, which will definitely feature in any TNA match of the year poll.
Main event time, with Kurt Angle and Christian Cage once again doing battle over the TNA World title, with Samoa Joe acting as the special guest enforcer. To say that this was a hell of a match would be an understatement. Once again, Cage and Angle put on a show in a match worthy of it’s main event status, and packed with tough action and tense drama throughout. Each man wrestled their hearts out in this one, and it showed with their performances. They took the other’s finishing moves, and survived. The ref took a hit, Cage applied the ankle lock, and Joe took over as ref. Even Mrs. Angle got involved, Then, finally, we got the obligatory brawl through the crowd as Joe stopped A.J. Styles from interfering. But with no referee in the ring, Cage’s buddy Tomko came down to the ring and turned on him, taking him down before Angle revived the original referee to get the winning pinfall. Okay, it may have been just a tad overbooked, but it was still a great and enjoyable match. A perfect way to end the show.
In conclusion - apart from the opening match, TNA’s latest pay-per-view effort delivered. Apart from the opener, each match varied from good to great, with the Knockout title match, the six man street fight and Angle/Cage all proving that when TNA gets things right, they do them well. Kudos to TNA for starting to put together a run of good pay-per-views, and let’s hope that they can keep this run going.
Finally, please check out my following web sites; - My home on the web. Along with recent wrestling reviews, you can also find book, film and boxing reviews as well. - My online blog, where things that don’t fit into my regular columns are found. - My online store, where you can purchase the various books I’ve released. A new publication will be added soon. Watch this space! - My YouTube page, with new additions from the Cage Fight Series “D-Day” show, held last May.

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