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TNA's Scars and Stitches for the hardcore fanatic
By "Bloodthirsty" BOB KAPUR and MATT MACKINDER -- SLAM! Wrestling
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With WWE taking a more kid-friendly direction, fans of a more violent style have been turning to TNA Wrestling for their hardcore fix. The company celebrates this genre in a new DVD, The Best of the Bloodiest Brawls: Scars and Stitches.

The DVD comprises a collection of nine of the company's most barbaric matches from 2005 through the beginning of 2008. In addition to stars like Rhino and Abyss -- both of whom would be expected to be included on a hardcore compilation -- Scars and Stitches also includes many other of the companyís biggest names such as Jeff Jarrett, Sting, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle.

The match lineup is a solid mix, mostly good with a couple that are excellent, with only one stinker. Even that one, though, is pretty good in terms of quenching a bloodthirst. For a rundown of the matches, see below.

Quality of matches aside, there are some criticisms that can be directed not to the DVD specifically, but more at the company for the lazy production job.

First, somebody should have taken the time and effort to "sweeten" the sound of the crowds. While it's certainly easier to simply copy and paste a match onto the disc, not covering up "boring" or "fire Russo" chants when the crowd dumps on a match (as they did for the Sting versus Abyss Last Rites match) just makes the company look inferior.

Similarly, the announcer flubbing the name of the company, as happened during the introduction of the Abyss versus Tomko match, is horrid. Worse, later on in that match, the camera catches the referee telling Abyss that he has to "take it home" (i.e. end the match) as soon as he and Tomko get back to the ring. Seriously, they couldn't edit this stuff out of there?

The other complaint, one that is recurring with respect to TNA's compilations, is that all of the matches have come from TV or PPV. With the company doing extensive touring now, they really should consider including house show matches on their sets. Presumably, they've taped these shows, and adding commentary can't be difficult -- so why not do this so that fans have another reason to buy the DVD even if they've seen every weekly show and pay-per-view event? This seems like a wasted opportunity.

That being said, even in its current form, Scars and Stitches is chock full of violence, and for fans of the hardcore, the DVD should be bloody good fun.

Match by match comments, with "Bloodthirsty" Bob Kapur's in normal print and Matt Mackinder's in italics.

Match One: Jeff Jarrett vs Rhino, Turning Point 2005

The DVD kicks off with this one that starts with the two men brawling in the stands. A great visual highlight sees Jarrett send Rhino crashing off of the entrance ramp scaffolding down through a table. A Rhino Gore that sends Jarrett tumbling through the entrance ramp is almost as cool.

At times, it's difficult seeing Jarrett in a hardcore setting, but he seems to mesh well with Rhino, who carries this match. It's not really a bloody good time, but it sets the pace for the rest of the matches.

Match rating: 6/10

Violence factor: 1 out of 5 scars

Match Two: Team Jarrett vs Team Sting, Lethal Lockdown 2006

This WarGames-style match takes a while to get really rolling -- though Chris Harris is busted open fairly early -- until all the participants have entered, at which point the cage is covered by a weapon-laden roof. The crazy spot of the night sees AJ Styles leap off of a ladder and drop through James Storm whoís lying on a table -- all of which takes place on top of the cage.

I didn't care for this much as the old NWA WarGames matches can never be duplicated. Though this did have a few solid spots, it made me want to dig out an old highlight tape of The Four Horsemen getting decimated by The Road Warriors, Nikita Koloff and Dusty Rhodes from 20-plus years ago. This TNA match, though good, is simply their attempt at recycling an old gimmick that should have been left in the '80s.

Match rating: 7/10

Violence factor: 1.5 out of 5 scars

Match Three: Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles vs LAX, Bound for Glory 2006

This Six Sides of Steel match sees all four men busted open, courtesy of the cage, and a dinner fork! A coat hanger also comes into play in this violent battle.

Seeing this live was a treat as the atmosphere surrounding the match was unreal. Styles jumping off the cage onto Hernandez was awesome, as was the Gringo Killa on Styles that gave LAX the NWA tag titles here. Daniels juices heavily, as is the norm when he's in these matches, and the crowd was into the match. This match stole the show, in my opinion, and remember, this card also had a Monster's Ball match and Sting versus Jeff Jarrett for the NWA title.

Match rating: 8/10

Violence factor: 3/5 scars

Match Four: Rhino vs Christian Cage, Impact Thurs., Nov. 16, 2006

This was a steel cage match with barbed wire spooled across the top and a selection of weapons available to the combatants. Can you overbook a gimmick match? Well, they certainly tried. This one is quite violent for a TV broadcast, as Christianís crimson mask is pretty grisly. Some dangerous-looking moves here, including an Unprettier off the top turnbuckle and a nasty F5 by Rhino that dumps Cage stomach first onto some propped up chairs. The finish is a great shocker, as Rhino Gores Cage right through the wall, sending him flying off the apron to the floor.

Like Bob said above, pretty gruesome stuff for free TV. Cage getting bloodied is uncommon, but showed he can take it and dish it. Rhino is underused in TNA, but when he gets his shot at rehashing his ECW style, he's gold. However, that said, overbooking has long been a problem in TNA and this match is the perfect example.

Match rating: 8.5/10 (Matt disagrees and says 6/10)

Violence factor: 4/5 scars

Match Five: Kurt Angle vs Samoa Joe, Genesis 2006

This is the first encounter between these two men. While a more technical match might have been expected, this ended up being a bloodbath, as a faceplant into the steel steps result in blood pouring out of Angleís punctured forehead like a faucet. Joe increases the sick factor by wearing Angleís blood like warpaint -- thatís awesome. A great match that lived up to all expectations.

I'm so glad this match was included. You get the sense these guys really had a mutual hatred for one another and Bob's right, the warpaint schtick was epic. Yes, epic. As was the entire match.

Match rating: 9/10

Violence factor: 4/5 scars

Match Six: Sting vs Abyss, Destination X 2007

This was a Last Rites match, which is TNAís term for a Casket Match. Silliness abounds, with the ring adorned with tombstones and candelabras and the casket having to be lowered from the ceiling. For some reason, the crowd fails to get into this match, deriding the gimmick and the somewhat plodding pace. Stingís face is a bloody mess by the time he gets chokeslammed through the top of the casket, the only time the crowd seems to not hate this match.

A snoozer. The match had to end a some point and it couldn't have come soon enough.

Match rating: 4/10

Violence factor: 2/5 scars (Matt goes 1/5 scars)

Match Seven: James Storm vs Chris Harris, Sacrifice 2007

This Texas Death Match ended up as my favourite TNA match from 2007. It started off with a vicious brawl in the stands that nearly saw a fan get flattened, which if it would have happened, might have made it my favourite TNA match of all time! From there, both competitors laid it on the line, using chairs and tables in creative ways to hurt each other. Blood flowed heavily in this one to the point that the men were almost unrecognizable by the end. At times, you actually feared for their personal safety -- particularly in one moment when Storm got knocked backwards through a table, and when he got up, there was a red puddle that had accumulated in mere seconds. In terms of brutality, this one is about as good as it gets.

The best match on this DVD, bar none. This may put some of those old ECW Arena pay-per-view matches to shame. These guys had chemistry as partners and as opponents. Sadly, Storm is now in a useless tag team and Harris is gone from TNA and from (thank God) WWE.

Match rating: 9.5/10

Violence factor: 5/5 scars

Match Eight: Abyss vs Tomko, Slammiversary 2007

This is another personal favourite, simply because of the crazy weapons involved. Not only are Abyssí customary thumbtacks used, but he also brings out a bag of broken glass pieces. Tomko takes things to new levels when he uses a piece of glass to carve up Abyss like a holiday turkey and then does the same with a baseball bat wrapped up in barbed wire. Sick. Other crazy stuff was Tomko falling off the entrance ramp scaffolding and then Abyss jumping onto him from there. Abyssís Black Hole Slam of Tomko onto the broken glass is also pretty nasty.

Any time shards of glass come into play, I cringe. How do you prepare for that? Not sure you can. Abyss and Tomko together in the ring bodes for a solid, brutal match and that's what we got here.

Match rating: 7/10

Violence factor: 4.5/5 scars

Match Nine: Abyss vs Judas Mesias, Against All Odds 2008

This was a Barbed Wire Massacre match, meaning that the ring ropes were replaced with barbed wire. In addition, other barbed wire wrapped weapons and barbed wire boards were strewn underneath and around the ring. A perfect recipe for a smorgasbord of violence. The match doesnít disappoint in that regard and within minutes, both men have been dropped onto the sharp and pointy strands. A disgusting affair that will have even the most disturbed among us cringing. In other words, the perfect capper to this DVD.

Bob said it best when he said this was the best way to end the DVD. As in 99 percent of Abyss' hardcore matches, he does not disappoint and gets the blood flowing in buckets. Mesias should have been given more of a chance and push in TNA, but again, maybe that's what I only review these DVDs instead of booking them.

Match rating: 8.5/10 (Matt says 9/10)

Violence factor: 5/5 scars

This DVD, a solid 8/10, is a splendid follow-up to the first Bloodiest Matches DVD and with all DVDs, has its share of shortcomings. But the positives are way more than the negatives here and no hardcore fanatic should be without this. In some instances, the viewer gets a reminder of what TNA can be when the talent can just let loose and do their thing. In other instances, you just scratch your head and wonder who wrote this pile of dung.

A dung heap or not, Scars and Stitches is worth every penny for each and every bloodthirsty fan out there, including the authors of this review, who highly recommend this DVD.

RELATED LINKS

  • Previous SLAM! Wrestling DVD Reviews
    Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!


  • TNA Best of the Bloodiest Brawls: Scars and Stitches DVD
    This was the first tag-team effort for "Bloodthirsty" Bob Kapur and Matt Mackinder. These two should duke it out in a hardcore match with the winner receiving part of Cactus Jack's ear. Whoever wants to see this should email these fellas at their addresses above.