October 2, 2004
TNA: Preparing for Victory RoadImpact! spends less time in the ring
By STEVEN JOHNSON - SLAM! Wrestling
Here's the difference between Total Nonstop Action Wrestling Impact! this week and, say, two months ago:
The Oct. 1 edition had three minutes of wrestling in the first 30 minutes of broadcast time.
In-ring action seems to have been slashed since TNA decided to shift to monthly par-per-views, and most of the time previously devoted to wrestling was spent hyping the Nov. 7 "Victory Road" PPV.
While that's understandable - the company's fate depends on its PPV successes - it seems as though it is a challenge to give members of the roster their due diligence without putting them in the ring. Given that TNA wrestlers don't enjoy the regular exposure of WWE performers, it'll be interesting to see casual fans react to wrestlers whom they don't get to see wrestle.
Match One: Jeff Jarrett vs. Brian GambleJarrett, the NWA-TNA champion, attacked Gamble before the bell and battered him on the floor. Announcer Don West attributed the roughhouse tactics to Jarrett's frustration about the lack of a definite rival for Victory Road. Jarrett threw Gamble in the ring, then out of the ring, and finally allowed him to recover sufficiently to administer a clothesline and the stroke in 2:01.
Winner: Jeff Jarrett
Afterward, Jarrett placed a chair on the announcer table and declared that he would stage a sit-in until Director of Authority Vince Russo dealt with the Victor Road challenger issue. Russo jawed with Jarrett before disclosing that the foe would come from a four-man tournament involving Monty Brown, Raven, Abyss, and Jeff Hardy. (He didn't say it at the time, but Brown will face Raven, and Hardy will meet Abyss.) That'll start next week on Impact! Jarrett seemed satisfied with the explanation, though he vowed to bring his own "outsiders" to Victory Road.
A.J. Styles then ran to the ring to ask for a shot at X Division champ Petey Williams. Russo, in a multiple match state of mind, told Styles he'd be in a six-way battle later in the show. No sooner was that done than Scott D'Amore of team Canada came a-huntin' for a tag team title match. Styles, Russo, Team Canada, and 3 Live Kru ended up in a melee before the show went to a break.
Match Two: Mark Stephens vs. RavenRaven entered the ring with "Die Monty Brown" scrawled on his chest. Stephens did not warrant such scribbling. Raven finished him with a DDT in 0:58.
In the back, Shane Douglas stood outside Russo's office, hoping to glean information from members of the TNA championship committee. What the committee was discussing behind closed doors was uncertain - the four-man tourney had been announced earlier. Larry Zbyszko left the room and ripped committee member Dusty Rhodes for childish behavior.
Match Three: Luther Jackson vs. Abyss
Abyss overpowered Jackson, hoisting him in a backbreaker, then delivering a spinning side slam for a three-count in 1:21.
The persistent Douglas grabbed Harley Race as he left Russo's office. Count on Race to say something sensible, and he obliged, saying that talking to Rhodes and Russo was like talking to a brick wall.
Match Four: The Naturals vs. Christopher Daniels and James Storm (non-title)
Recall that Daniels and Storm beat Primetime and Chris Harris last week for the TNA tag titles, even though the partners are all mixed up. The storyline to this match was that Daniels and Storm lacked both love for each other, and experience as a tag team. Chase Stevens wrestled almost the entire match in deference to the injured Andy Douglas. He also took a heck of a beating. Daniels hit a moonsault for a count of two, then joined with his new partner for a double back back drop. While Stevens was on the mat, Daniels took off after Douglas. In the meantime, Storm entered the ring to throw Stevens in a Samoan drop.
Without checking his positioning, of that of Stevens, Daniels went for a moonsault and missed. Stevens quickly rolled him up for the victory. Storm and Daniels faulted each other after the bout, but, really, you should at least glance at your prone opponent before going for a moonsault.
Winners: The Naturals
In a quick in-ring appearance, announcer Mike Tenay announced Victory Road will be held in Orlando, the home of the Impact! tapings. Since TNA moved to Florida from Nashville, Tenn., the choice for this PPV seemed clear. But, wait -- Roddy Piper will appear on Impact! next week for a major announcement, Tenay quickly added.
Match Five: Six-way X Division match for No. 1 challenger status with Amazing Red, A.J. Styles, Kid Kash, Kazarian, Chris Sabin, and Alex Shelley.
The rules for this match stipulated that only two wrestlers would be in the ring at the same time, a standard that was flaunted openly. The match was a series of high spots, with Sabin missing a suicide dive early on Kazarian, and Styles barely connecting on a flying head scissors -- in fact, Kazarian clearly flipped himself over.
After a commercial timeout, Red bore the brunt of the punishment, suffering a camel clutch and kicks from Kazarian and Shelley. Just to prove he was in the match for himself, Shelley added a kick to Kazarian's face. Sabin then powerbombed Kash for a two-count bfore Kazarian made the save. The issue of the legal man in the ring was settled when Sabin, Kash, Red, and Kazarian all took off after each other on the floor. That left Shelley and Styles. Styles wrapped his foe in the Styles Clash at 8:40 to emerge as top contender for the X Division title.
Winner: A.J. Styles
Steven Johnson is a writer and editor in Virginia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.