July 13, 2008
Main event mars Victory Road
By BOB KAPUR - SLAM! Wrestling
The main event of a pay-per-view can easily overshadow everything that came before it. If the last match is very strong, it can make you forgive and forget an otherwise bad show. On the other hand, a confusing, overbooked fustercluck, such as the one that ended TNA’s Victory Road, can leave a bad taste in your mouth after it’s over, even if everything else was pretty solid.
The offending match in question was the one pitting Booker T against the TNA Heavyweight Champion Samoa Joe. Vignettes that aired over the course of the broadcast had been somewhat confusing, in that they changed focus, at times focusing on the Houston native Booker T as being a hometown hero and a stellar wrestling instructor at his PWA Academy, to an arrogant rich snob that would gladly cheat people in order to further his own interests.
Despite this, in the building, the crowd made it pretty clear as to who they were supporting, with early chants in support of the challenger. With Booker in the face role, this meant the dynamic of the match had to change as well, and as a result, Joe’s normally explosive offense was somewhat subdued during this one. Instead of his normal flurry of kicks and chops mixed in with aerials and martial arts, he stuck with strikes for the most part. This changed only after the action spilled to the floor, where Booker was able to send Joe hard into the steps, busting open the champ.
Back in the ring, Booker maintained an advantage until a hard exchange knocked him sideways into the referee, flattening the official. Then, Joe introduced Booker into the ringpost, busting him open, much to the chagrin of Booker’s wife Sharmell who was sitting in the front row. Sharmell pleaded with Joe to stop beating up her husband -- an overreaction, being that Joe wasn’t really doing anything too brutal, and actually Booker had busted him up earlier in the match. Then things got even more strange. Sharmell ended up slapping Joe who then lost it, and attacked her companions, before throwing Booker back in the ring. There, Joe pounded on a prone Booker, only taking time to beat up referees and security who tried to stop his assault. This ultimately made Booker look really weak, and by this time, the crowd was either confused or disinterested, judging by the reaction on TV.
In any event, as Joe continued his mugging, Sting hit the ring, imploring Joe to stop, telling him that he had gone too far. Joe had two words for him (not ‘Suck it’, but the first word rhymed with ‘suck’), and he went back to pound on Booker, but then Sting KO’d him with a baseball bat. Sharmell had entered the ring by this point, and after getting Booker to crawl over and cover Joe, counted the three-count. This was entirely meaningless, and despite the fact that she and Booker left with the belt, Mike Tenay and Don West made it clear that Booker was not the champion. Not only was this a confusing and meaningless finish, but worse was that even the commentary team didn’t seem to know how to sell what had happened or whether they should be outraged by Joe’s action, or critical of Sharmell for her interference, Booker for taking the belt without beating the champ, or Sting for taking out Joe with the bat. Based on the crowd reaction, this lousy finish seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of what was otherwise a really good show. That’s unfortunate, because everything leading up to that point was good to great.
TNA Victory Road Results
Match One: Team Japan (Milano Collection AT, Masato Yoshino & PUMA) vs. Team Mexico (Ultimo Guerrero, Rey Bucanero & Averno) vs. Team International (Alex Koslov, Doug Williams & Tyson Dux) vs. Team TNA (Curry Man & the Motor City Machine Guns)
This was a throwback to some of the jaw-droppingly amazing X-Division matches that TNA used to deliver consistently back during their weekly PPV days. For the most part, the action was too quick and too plentiful to describe in words. Highlights included: Tyson Dux getting dumped right on the top of his head twice in rapid succession before being the first one eliminated; Milano locking on a Boston Crab on both Machine Guns simultaneously; Koslov doing a traditional Russian kick dance, with Curry Man on the receiving end of his boots; and blindingly quick action, especially by the Guns and all members of Team Mexico and Team Japan. Incredible match that went for about 30 minutes and seriously should be seen -- get the replay or the DVD. Alex Shelley and Yoshino were the last two left, and after an exchange of moves, Shelley finally put him away with a Kryptonite Krunch.
WINNERS: Team TNA
With this win, whichever team’s captain wins the Ultimate X match later in the show, will win the World-X Cup.
Match Two: Angelina Love w/ Velvet Sky vs. Gail Kim
The story in this one was that every time Gail got an advantage, Love’s Beautiful People partner Velvet would either interfere or distract her, allowing Angelina Love to capitalize. Eventually, Gail was able to overcome the odds, and hit a lung blower driver and then a running neckbreaker for the pin. After the match, the BP’s double-teamed Gail and were going to put a paper bag over her face, but Gail was quick enough to escape.
Backstage, BG James -- apparently he’s now a backstage interviewer -- was with some redneck fans who demonstrated how they would be strapping Robert Roode during the Fan’s Revenge match.
Match Three: Sonjay Dutt vs. Jay Lethal w/ So Cal Val
Decent but short match, with Lethal playing the aggressor. Interestingly, So Cal Val seemed very concerned about Dutt’s condition throughout. After Jay hit the Lethal Combination, Dutt crawled over to the side of the ring where So Cal Val was standing, and told her that he loved her. Lethal came over, but Dutt rolled him up and put his feet on the ropes for the extra pressure to get the pin.
WINNER: Sonjay Dutt
Backstage, Beer Money Inc. insult LAX and the fans who are going to be ringside with the straps. Miss Jackie, frightened by the prospect of being out there with a bunch of armed fans, says she won’t be at ringside for the match. Good promo by Storm and Roode.
Match Four:Beer Money Inc. vs. LAX w/ Hector Guerrero and Salinas
Really strange psychology for this match, with the heel challengers in a disadvantageous position, with two LAX members at ringside, and an army of fans with straps looking to hurt them, that they could have been seen as sympathetic figures. Fortunately, Roode and Storm are so good at being bad that the crowd didn’t get behind them. It eventually became a standard tag match, with Homicide getting beaten down until he eventually made the hot tag to Hernandez, who used his power effectively, including hitting a huge Superfly splash. Out of nowhere, LAX hit an elevated assisted bulldog for the pin to retain their belts.
WINNERS, and still Tag Team Champions: LAX
Match Five: Taylor Wilde vs. Awesome Kong w/ Raisha Saeed
It’s great to see Taylor Wilde (or as Ontario fans know her, Shantelle Taylor) getting a chance to shine on TV. A classic David vs. Goliath story here, with the tenacious Taylor using her quickness to hit and run and to avoid the powerful fury of Kong. She even hit one of her favourite moves, a huge flying armdrag off the top rope -- nice. Eventually, Kong caught her and laid down a beating, including clamping on a camel clutch. Kong went for her Awesome Bomb, but Taylor escaped it, and rolled up Kong for the pin. After the match, Raisha Saeed attacked her on the rampway and threw her back in the ring where Kong flattened her with an Implant Buster. As they were going to put her out for good, Abyss came down for the save. After telling Kong to leave, Saeed slapped Abyss who then planted her with the Black Hole Slam.
WINNER, and still TNA Knockouts Champion: Taylor Wilde
Match Six: Naruki Goi vs. Volador Jr. vs. Shawn Daivari vs. Kaz
WINNER: Voladore Jr.
After the match, Mike Tenay interviewed Team Mexico who desperately need to hire a new interpreter, based on the fact that their 30-second answers somehow translated to about five seconds in English.
Match Seven: Kurt Angle & Team 3-D vs. AJ Styles, Rhino & Christian
The fans got to vote on the stipulation, and they chose Full Metal Mayhem, which essentially is just a no-DQ match where tables, ladders, chairs and weapons are encouraged. It started off as a big out-of-control brawl and it wasn’t long before weapons were introduced. Team 3-D hit a Malachi Crunch with ladders, squishing Rhino, and that was followed up by AJ Styles using another ladder as a springboard to launch himself on to Brother Ray. Future highlight reels will include Christian Cage’s spectacular flying body press off of the top of the rigging onto Angle and 3-D -- unbelievable. 3-D used their tag team offense to drive both Rhino and Cage through tables (it looked like Devon injured himself in the process), and it soon became a 3-on-1 match with AJ Styles in jeopardy. He fought valiantly, and soon 3-D had to call in their cohort Johnny Devine who tried to take out AJ through a sneak attack with a kendo stick. Styles thwarted this, though, and in frustration, Angle smacked the referee. Styles wasn’t fazed, and eventually got Angle laid out on a table. When Styles climbed the ladder to deliver the killing blow, his back was turned and he didn’t notice Frank Trigg, Angle’s best friend, who left the commentary table where he had joined Mike Tenay and Don West for this match. Trigg batted Styles like a piñata, allowing Angle to recover. Angle climbed up, hit an Angle Slam on Styles off the ladder and through a table, and got the pin.
WINNERS: Kurt Angle & Team 3-D
Backstage, Samoa Joe vows to retain his title against Booker T. Kevin Nash offers his support, and Joe says that to support him, Nash should simply stay in the dressing room no matter what happens.
Match Eight: Booker T vs. Samoa Joe
Overall show rating: 7/10
Bob Kapur thinks every PPV should be on a long weekend, so that he can sleep in after staying up to finish his PPV reports. Help him wake up for work by triggering a loud incoming e-mail alert by sending a note to email@example.com.