TNA Victory Road 2008 Review

I’m in no mood to attempt a play on words about Houston and problems being had there.

Live from Houston, TX.

Your hosts are Mike “the Professor” Tenay and Don “Gilligan, Skipper, and Ginger in one ball of excitement” West

The well produced but ultimately absurdly over the top video I fast forward through on tivo somehow involves not only space travel but JFK. Or RFK. Or something. I’m not watching the damn thing again, this is all from memory.

J.B., Lauren, and B.G. Friggin’ James warm up the crowd. That is actually a perfect role for Old Man Road Dogg. Hopefully his hetero life mate Kip will find a similar one in TNA that also does not involve wrestling on my television.

Opening Match- World X-Cup 12 Man Elimination Tag Hulaballoo!
I added some words to that match title, but you get the idea.

The match starts and… it’s already too fast for me to recap. Let me just say this; it went about 25 minutes, and there was not a dull moment in the bunch. In the end, Alex Shelley pinned Yoshino, who hurtles against the ropes like he’s angry at them, with Celtic Cross. After he kicked out of like 20 different kill moves over the course of the match, which made any finish other than Shelley making him explode kind of anti-climatic, but never mind that; this is the best opener I’ve seen on a mainstream PPV in years. Just one awesome spot after another, reminiscent of the best of the X-Division and the glory days of WCW’s cruiserweights. Easy ****, at least. Would have been five if Doug Williams had hit that dope German Suplex more than once.

And from there we go to the first of a number of MTV Cribs-esque vignettes about how awesome it is to be Booker T., which had the nice by product of making me want Joe to squish him in to a fine paste even more.

Angelina Love vs. Gail Kim-Hot Women’s Who Are Totally Not Objects Grudge Match

The build to this, mixing their past experience in the indies with their kayfabe issues, was awesome. The match? It was okay. It went pretty much how you expected, with Velvet interfering liberally before Gail picked up the victory with her neckbreaker. Kind of shocking that the blondes didn’t get their heat back here at all, as she avoided a post match paper bagging. That is an awesome old school heel humiliation tactic, by the way. The lack of ODB at all tonight was also somewhat surprising. I’ll go **, one for each of Angelina’s mesmerising fake breasts.

I’m so sorry for my sexism, female/self righteous liberal readers.

Jay Lethal vs. “the Guru” Sanjay Dutt, grudge match with boring comedy guys instead of hot girls

I like both of these guys as workers, and they had a solid ** match here, but this feud has bored my superflous nipples off since they took the X-Division belt off Lethal. There was a beat and I could dance to it, but I just did not care who won the match, and although I appreciate all the cutaways to Val, it didn’t make me actually care about the match. I wish she would shockingly turn on Lethal and hook up with Dutt already so we can all move on with our lives. Also, while I’m wishing for things, I wish she’d dump them both and go out with me, and also I was booking TNA so I could run my own boring feuds between fair to middling workers. I mean, wishes all have the same actual value, so what the hell, right?
Sanjay’s heel mannerisms are kind of awesome, it has to be said. But still, this feud; booooring!

They’re calling Roode and Storm Beer Money Inc. now. I now unconditionally love both guys as a team and find Roode 125% less boring. They cut a pretty awesome, if also generic promo backstage Sample dialogue:

Roode: I am rich and have relatively inisgificant problems!
Storm: Your city is not to my taste and your local sports teams are not very good at their jobs! One even left!

It was form over content. Jackie bails on them because she doesn’t want to get the crap strapped out of her, making her the smartest person in the group.

Sometimes a guy hitting another gut with a leather strap is just a guy hitting another guy with a leather strap; or, Fans Revenge Match for the TNA World Tag Titles, LAX (C) vs. Beer Money Inc.

Yeah, this went pretty much how you’d expect. The fans dutifully whacked the crap out of the heels when they got dumped outside, the heels isolated Homiecide (my cutsie nickname for him), Hernandez got the hot tag and killed ’em both. Perfectly acceptable, **1/2 to **3/4 (or maybe **7/8s; when you start putting fractions on asterisks, you’re undermining the whole system) tag team wrestling. Thing is, I was kinda hoping there’d be chicanery, like one of the fans with the straps being Jackie in disguise like Bobby Valentine or something, leading my new favorite tag team in the history of ever getting the belts and continuing the feud. Because, as good as LAX are as a team, they’re kind of bland as dominant baby faces. They either need to turn on Hector and go thuggish heel again or lose the belts and chase them. Well, to entertain me, at least, which I think should be their top friggin’ priority, myself. ME!

Oh, by the way, why the hell did my favorite tag team in human history not wear shirts to the ring? Guys, I’ve been your biggest fan since you made a WWE allusion in your name in the middle of this show; don’t let me down with sloppy psychology!

TNA plugs Booker’s school. No wonder they won him away from WWE.

TNA Knockouts Championship, Awesome Kong w/Raeesha Saed vs. Taylor Wild (Wylde?) (C)

The one thing I liked about Taylor’s title win on Impact was how deflated Kong looked. That was a nice touch, and gave her another facial expression. That’s sort of character development, right? She even wore the same experession on the way out here, like she was a very large, violent kid without her security blanket.

Anyway, this match pretty much went like their other ones did, with Taylor playing the underdog really well before countering one of Kong’s big moves for the roll up pin. That’s as good a way to put an underdog over a monster heel and help everyone keep their heat as any, I guess. Match was **, I guess; did what it set out to do, but won’t be on any Best of DVDs or anything. If they’re keeping the belt of Kong for awhile, I’m wondering who Taylor’s transitioning the thing to, ’cause I doubt she’s going to have a real long reign.

Post match, Kong and Saeed tries to extract her pound of flesh, but Abyss makes the save. He’s like the 70’s TV version of the Incredible Hulk or something now, randomly showing up in a new spot every week and saving the day despite being a misunderstood monster. That’s not a bad role for him, really. Well, right up until he Black Hole Slams Saeed. I’m not totally against violence against women in wrestling, I just don’t think faces should engage in it, especially against racial stereotypes. I’d mark out for an Abyss/Kong grudge match, though.

There were two more vignettes. Between all of his school running, restauranteering, and golfing, how does he fit in time to wrestle?

I kind of hated those stupid vignettes, is what I’m trying to say. I also hate golf. Suck it, any fellow staffers who enjoy that crap, like that would ever be possible! If Booker had celebrated a hole in one with a spinaroonie, I would have marked out so much I would have exploded, though.

X-Cup Tournament Finals: Ultimate X Match

All four teams are elligible for the finals, making the previous three rounds, and that awesome opener, functionally pointless. Who booked this, Duff Man?

This was certainly an Ultimate X Match. It was pretty much just a bunch of climbing until Kaz gave us our one absolutely crazy spot of the match, leg dropping Daivari off the top of the damn scoffolding. Well, he just kicked Daviari in the head, but the thought was there. As a consequence, he took himself and Ol’ Curly Toed Boots McXenophobic Heat Machine out of the match, allowing Volador Jr., Mexico’s rep, to pick up the big red X and the trophy. Somewhere, Nelson Muntz is pointing and laughing at Kaz. In Spanish!

Post match, Team Mexico accepts the trophy and cuts bland promos in Spanish. And no one runs in and breaks it or undermines the thing at all with a stupid angle. They must have locked Vince Russo away somewhere. Match was some numeric value represented in asterisks. I’ll say **89/3,000s. Nowhere near as good as the opener, but apples never are in oranges league.

Fan’s Choice, Full Metal Mayhem: Team 3D and Kurt Angle vs. A.J., Rhyno, and Christian Cage

Well, even if they didn’t actually count the fans vote, this stip is certainly populist enough to have won anyway. And it was, once again, exactly what you’d expect, which is actually a pretty nice amount of consitency from TNA. It’s a garbagey, spot heavy WWE-style brawl, but I say that as someone who enjoys that sort of thing immensely, and this more or less delivered. Frank Trigg, who I think said he was married to Kurt on commentary at some point whilst sucking at it worse than three drunk Don Wests, let Russo get his screw job finish on by whacking AJ with a kendo stick. Kurt took advantage and put him through a table, giving him two wins over our homewrecking redneck hero. I give the whole thing ****, and you can go to hell if you don’t like it. Or respectably disagree. Whatever. It’s your dime. It deserves an extra star no matter how you slice it for Christian selling being powerbombed through a sodding glass table by wearing his new t-shirt. Psychology and self promotion; this guy really is the Instant Classic.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship, Booker T. vs. Samoa Joe (C)

I really like TNA’s pre-main event hype stuff. The over dramatic video intros for each guy, shots of them walking back stage, J.B.’s in-ring announcements; it’s all gravy, and gives the match that big fight feel everybody wants now that UFC captures it all the damn time.

The crowd, as you’d expect, is rabidly pro-Booker. The match starts out ignoring it, more or less, as Booker is just a heel that the crowd loves, busting Joe open early on and using heel moves like eye rakes to take over. Once Joe gets some of Booker’s own red on him, though, the match completely changes. Sharmell freaks out and pleads with Joe to stop, so he punks out some of Booker’s wrestling school guys out in response.

There was a ref bump somewhere in there, which made me roll my eyes. Can they just buy Russo a pinata with a ref shirt and let him work out his anger at zebras on that? I did like the fact that when Joe took out the replacement refs, they simply ran out since Hebner twisted his ankle in the last matc and, as they established earlier, Cornette wasn’t around to maintain order, either. It facilitated a screwy finish. That’s at least internally consistent, right?

Anyway, there’s no ref, and Joe looks like he’s really killing Booker. Sharmell hops in the ring and pleads with him to stop, as the match has long since ground to a shrieking halt. That goes on for what feels like an hour before Sting finally saunters down to make the save. Joe had the bleeding Booker in a chokehold, so he’d be dead by now in real life, but by god Sting is gradually making the save! Business is about to pick up! I kind of wish J.R. were calling TNA. And brought Foley with him. And Edge, Shelton, and Maria, too, so I wouldn’t have to watch Smackdown at all anymore.

Sting tells Joe to back off, and he’s a legend and stuff, so Joe relents and leaves. But then he changes his mind half way up the ramp and goes back to pound the hell out of Booker some more. Given how gullible Sting’s always been, I’m shocked he even noticed.

He does eventually make the save for real, following Jesus’s teachings by going to town on Joe with his basbeball bat, taking him out. You know, spare the Louisville Slugger, spoil the portly Samoan Killing Machine and all that. Booker makes a miraculous recovery, rolls over, and Sharmell counts the pin, since all the refs are dead or in hiding. Booker walks off with the belt, and Sting looks on stoically, perhaps wondering why it is he won’t go to WWE.

The match was going along perfectly well until the sports entertainment kicked in, but it was interesting sports entertainment, so how the hell do you rate that? I’ll split the difference and say ***. The match parts were the best Booker match I’ve seen in a long time, so good on he and Joe there.

So, crap, Impact’s sort of interesting now, depending on where they go from here. This was booked just like a double turn, and Joe’s a perfectly good heel and has been acting like on for months. Either way, they’ve got Joe vs. Sting set up on a silver platter now, and that’s the last legitimately big match for their Icon they have left and is as good a way to retire him as any. They also have a rematch between Joe and Booker, and that Nash/Joe feud, a hot AJ/Angle feud in the undercard, and a lot of consistency in the booking.

What’s the opening line on them screwing this all up and Jarrett holding the belt again?

Final Analysis: May be it’s my sleep depriviation talking, but I thought this was a very good show. Two really awesome matches, a main event that at least had the good sense to be interesting, and nothing terrible on the match front. Worth watching if you haven’t written off TNA entirely and have $30 for a wrasslin’ show. Quick, spend it now before Glazer and his ROH-bots reccomend a bunch of DVDs to you! And by reccomend, I mean kidnap you and force you to watch Man Up and Death Before Dishonor and Skinny Indie Guy Fandango XVII until you’re one of them.

Ahem. Good show, I thought. Watch it.

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