TNA Victory Road 2008 (7/13/2008)- Houston, TX
It's a random and unpredictable day of the month, so that means it's time for the next installment of BRM's monthly “This Day in Wrestling History” review series. Both 2008 shows that we’ve covered so far have been awesome so I figured we’d stay in that year, but this time we’ll switch over to that other non-WWE American company for TNA Victory Road 2008.
OPENING VIDEO PACKAGE- It’s your usual opening video package with quick bits about each feud… interspersed with footage of the Apollo Program and Kennedy announcing that the USA planned to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. You know… because the PPV is in Houston, where NASA is (even though all of the Apollo Program missions were launched from Cape Canaveral).
WORLD X CUP THIRD ROUND FOUR-TEAM ELIMINATION MATCH: Team International (Doug Williams, Tyson Dux, & Alex Koslov) vs. Team TNA (Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, & Curry Man) vs. Team Mexico (Averno, Rey Bucanero, & Ultimo Guerrero) vs. Team Japan (Masato Yoshino, Milano Collection AT, & Puma)- 8.5/10
The winning team gets three points, the second-place team gets two, and the third place team gets one. Unfortunately, the standings going I have Team TNA and Team Mexico tied in first place with three points, followed by Team Japan and Team International with two points each, and because the final match in this tournament- the Ultimate X Match later tonight- is worth four points, then the only way the result of this match will actually wind up mattering is if either USA or Mexico wins and either International or Japan are eliminated first and thus gain zero points but then go on to win the Ultimate X Match, which would then merely force a tie with the winner of this match. If any scenario other than that one happens, the winner of the Ultimate X Match will win the whole tournament no matter how many points anyone gets here.
This match was a very pleasant surprise. It began with some relatively rapid eliminations that gave you the feeling that it would be your typical X-Division elimination match that gets no time so everyone winds up looking bad because they all get pinned in a relatively short amount of time, but instead they did an excellent job of pacing things so that the pace of the eliminations leveled off as we got further into the match, resulting in an excellent final ten minutes or so as we went from six down to one. This was an AWESOME way to open the show!
BOOKER T SHOWS US AROUND HOUSE- good
He showed off his fancy rich person/accomplished wrestler stuff while occasionally saying things like “does Samoa Joe have one of those? I don’t think so.” This was wacky fun that also did get me excited for the main event.
GAIL KIM vs. ANGELINA LOVE (w/Velvet Sky)- 5.75/10
I had honestly forgotten what it was like when TNA had a women’s division where every single feud didn’t feel like it had been done to death a million times, and TBP felt fresh and new and Angelina didn’t have trashy tattoos all over her and looked like you could actually give her a backbreaker without her snapping in half like a twig.
Angelina jumped Gail from behind to start off what was a very fun little babyface vs. heel match. Gail won, but Velvet Sky immediately waffled her from behind and beat her down. The Beautiful People tried to give Gail the Brown Paper Bag Treatment but Gail escaped.
It’s July of 2008 in Houston Texas, and we still have fans- with no prompting of any kind- chanting “YOU SCREWED BRET!” at Earl Hebner.
LAUREN BROOKE & B.G. JAMES HANG OUT WITH THE FANS SELECTED TO BE LUMBERJACKS IN FANS REVENGE- this was pointless and stupid. It was just watching B.G. James shout while instructing fans to hit mannequins dressed up like Beer Money with straps.
SONJAY DUTT vs. JAY LETHAL (w/SoCal Val)- 6.75/10
Sonjay gave Val a rose and a love note, inciting Lethal to charge at him to start off the match. After diving onto Sonjay, Lethal grabbed the love note from Val and ripped it up, and the smashed the rose into the ring apron. They had a good athletic match that never ceased feeling like a grudge match. Val played her part on the outside very well, supporting Lethal but still looking very conflicted when Sonjay was getting beaten up, hinting at where this angle would eventually go. Val accidentally caused a distraction that resulted in Sonjay being able to roll Lethal up and use illegal leverage to pin him.
JB INTERVIEWS BEER MONEY & JACQUELINE- Good
Both members of Beer Money cut great promos saying they weren’t afraid of the fans, then went to head to the ring but Jacqueline said refused to go, saying “ARE YOU CRAZY!” Jackie said there was no way she was going out to the ring when all of those fans would have those brutal leather straps. I thought this was a very good well to sell that heels actually should be afraid of the stipulation while allowing Beer Money to at least talk a good game.
FANS REVENGE LUMBERJACK MATCH FOR THE TNA WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES: LAX(c) (w/Hector Guerrero & Salinas) vs. Beer Money- 6/10
I popped huge for Homicide reacting to being thrown to the outside by drinking James Storm’s beer, and then sharing it with a fan. They did a very good job with the stipulation, making the outside feel like a place where the heels dare not go, without ever really giving you the feeling that things were totally unfair to the heels. LAX won clean.
BOOKER T AT HIS PWA SCHOOL- meh.
This felt pointless. We already got the thing at Booker’s house, and this one was nowhere near as entertaining, and the camerawork was nauseating.
TNA WOMEN’S KNOCKOUT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: Taylor Wilde(c) vs. Awesome Kong (w/Raisha Saeed)- 5/10
This was an outstanding little match for the 4:50 it got. It was just simply an excellent rendition of the underdog babyface vs. the big scary, angry monster heel.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- odd
Raisha jumped Taylor Wilde on her way up the ramp and rolled her back into the ring. Kong beat on her, then set up for a powerbomb onto a chair but ABYSS of all people came out to make the save. He and Kong had a stare-down but Raisha got between them and talked Kong down. Then Raisha got in Abyss’ face and slapped him so she gave him a Black Hole Slam. Tenay told us that Jim Cornette will be greatly angered by Abyss violating the rule against man-on-women violence (well… actually he just said that Corny won’t like it without actually explaining why), and said that Cornette will surely deal with this on Impact, because apparently even though he is the guy in charge of company, Cornette just can’t be bothered to show up to a freakin’ PPV.
BOOKER T’S HOMECOMING, PART 3- meh
This focused on Booker T as a businessman and a “pillar of the community,” as one of Booker’s employees put it. This employee happens to work at a restaurant Booker owns called “Sharmell’s.” In between interviews with this one employee, and camera caught Booker telling the guy make sure that he serves everyone smaller portions and waters down the liquor. A tremendous heel move. We were then also given hints that Booker is manipulating and exploiting this poor guy.
After Booker’s video package ended, we got a short video of people (not even TNA wrestlers, just random people) visiting Space City USA while Mike Tenay did an explanatory voice-over, because I guess TNA thought no one would believe they were really in Houston otherwise. Then we got a video package about Ultimate X and the World X-Cup that lasted over two minutes. Then we got four more minutes of West and Tenay filling our ears with inane prattle, often repeating themselves or just saying goofy things like Tenay assuring us that this year’s group was “the best group of talent ever in a World X Cup that we’ve ever had.”
WORLD X CUP FOURTH ROUND ULTIMATE X MATCH: Volador Jr. vs. Daivari vs. Naruki Doi vs. Kaz- 7.75/10
The winner of this match gets four points, meaning that the winner of this match will win the whole tournament. During the aforementioned prattling, Don West, apparently being unable to do single-digit addition, described Team TNA’s lead as “comfortable.”
The ring announcer accidentally introduced Naruki Doi as representing “New Japan” instead of Team Japan, prompting a correction by Mike Tenay that Doi was from Dragon Gate and was representing Team Japan.
This was a fun and exciting match with the expected big spots and high drama (pun very much intended).
After the match Mikey Tenay interviewed Team Mexico through the help of Willie Urbina as a translator. This was… suspect. I don’t speak Spanish, but I know enough words- especially the ones that are used in wrestling contexts- that I was extremely suspicious that Willie asked Volador Jr. a completely different question than Mike Tenay asked in English. I am also certain that he greatly truncated both Volador Jr. and Ultimo Guerrero’s answers because they each spoke for about three or four sentences in Spanish but Willie only spoke one sentence in English, and nothing with more than one idea in it, either. When Ultimo Guerrero spoke he said something about Latinos and said “ viva la raza” and several other things, which Willie translated “He’s very happy.”
BOOKER T’S HOMECOMING, PART 4- hilarious
We visited Booker’s golf course, where he immediately informed us that he was selling “Booker Tees,” which he claimed would “take four or five strokes off of your game.” We then interviewed an unnamed person who informed us that Booker’s golf game ranged “from phenomenal to very phenomenal” and that Booker had skills that “rival… what’s guy’s name? Oh. Tiger Woods.”
Booker then squared up for a putt and told us that taking the TNA World Heavyweight Title from Samoa Joe was going to be “this easy.” Booker then sank the putt. Then he went to retrieve the golf ball, and completely naturally went down in such a way that when he pulled the ball out of the whole, he was in his “FIVE TIMES!” pose.
FULL METAL MAYHEM SIX-MAN TAG TEAM MATCH: Christian Cage, AJ Styles, & Rhino vs. Team 3-D & Kurt Angle- 8.5/10
Frank Trigg joined Mike and Don on commentary for this match. For some reason they decided that this match would have the stipulation decided by fan vote, and Full Metal Mayhem beat out Falls Count Anywhere and a Tables Match.
This was an exciting, intense, and fast-paced weapons brawl. They came up with some creative spots, made everything matter, and did an excellent job of really making you feel the hate. Even the interference finish, which would normally be frustrating, worked for me because this wasn’t ever built up like it was going to be the blow-off and we hadn’t seen any similar bullsh*t yet on this show.
JEREMY BORASH INTERVIEWS SAMOA JOE- awesome promo by Joe. Then Kevin Nash showed up to assure Joe he would be in his corner tonight. Joe told Nash he believed him, but said that “if you’re really my friend, you’ll stay in the back.” Nash vowed to do so if that’s what it would take to prove to Joe that he was on his side. So… yeah. We’re setting up for a screw-job in the main event.
TNA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Samoa Joe(c) vs. Booker T- 6/10
One of the bullet points on TNA’s “tale of the tape” graphic was “can Samoa Joe beat Booker T?” Thank G-d we had TNA to explain to us the importance of this question to this match.
This match was a good brawl that was killed by stupid overbooking. If you are sending out multiple referees and company officials to tell Joe to stop beating on Booker for the sake of Booker’s health, then that should be a ref stoppage. Instead got no finish at all, with Joe hitting referees for getting in his way in the middle of a match. Sting eventually came out and seemed to be able to calm Joe down, but Joe then went back to beating on Booker (encouraged to do so by Booker’s home-town fans, no less. I know it’s out of TNA’s control, but that doesn’t mean that the visual of Booker’s home-town fans pointing back at the ring and saying “GO GET HIM!” doesn’t the story). Sting went back to the ring and hit Joe with his baseball bat… and then, Sharmell counted a pin for Booker T and Booker walked off with the title, a moment which felt extremely counter-productive, for reasons which I will get into in a moment.
The real tragedy of this match is how well the performers pulled off everything they were asked to. The situation called for a brawl, and so they had a good one. Sharmell’s concern for Booker on the outside was excellent, and you can really buy how the combination of things Nash had said over the past few weeks, plus this brawl in which Joe got busted open very nastily early on, plus Sharmell being something of a distraction (though never in a heelish way) in the front row could get Joe riled up to the point that he got so vicious in his beat-down of Booker. Combine that with the hometown factor, the visual of Joe beating up anyone who tried to get in the way of him continuing to beat Booker down, and Sharmell’s performance as the wife legitimately concerned for her husband’s heath, and you’ve got yourself the makings of an excellent double turn.
Then they had to go and ruin it by having Sharmell count a fake pinfall for Booker and Booker leave with the title as if he had won something, which is a total heel move. It made everyone come out of this less likable than they were coming in, and- with the benefit of hindsight- slightly undermines Sting’s reason for turning babyface on the rest of the Main Event Mafia months later (when he realized that the others cared less about teaching the young guys respect and were really just on a power trip) by letting Booker go on this totally heel power trip here right in front of him, and showing no respect for the TNA World Heavyweight Title.
Despite the self-sabotaging booking of the main event, this was still a very good show from TNA. It had two stand-out matches of very different types, another great match in Ultimate X, and most of the rest of the card was good for the time it got (especially the women’s title match), and did at least an effective job of telling the required stories. If you’ve got some DVDs to break into or TNA’s on-demand network, I’d definitely give this show a watch.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1 Mike Tenay inexplicably called Milano Collection AT kicking Sabin in the shin as a “low blow.”
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