Gimmick to me baby! A review of TNA’s Ultimate Matches DVD

February 24, 2011 by Chris Smith

Title: TNA Ultimate Matches

Synopsis: This 2 disc set features a look at TNA’s signature gimmick matches from December 2004 to June 2008. Matches included here are typical TNA mainstays Ultimate X, King of the Mountain, Six Sides of Steel as well as more common matches with different names like the Monsters Ball, Full Metal Mayhem, and (for some reason) a Ladder match. As far as overall content goes, this DVD is loaded!

Reasons to Buy this DVD:

AJ Styles vs Petey Williams vs Chris Sabin Ultimate X (Final Resolution 2005)

All five Ultimate X matches on here are great but I must single out this triple threat bout from Final Resolution 2005 because it’s one of the best ever! All three men go above and beyond (well obviously since that’s the only way to get the belt down from the cables!) to put on a MOTY worthy spectacle. Highlights include AJ’s flip bump off a dropkick from Chris Sabin, an unbelievable hurricanranna from Petey Williams to Chris Sabin off AJ’s shoulders, and the spectacular finish which at the time was probably the best seen yet (I say yet because the finish of a later match is even better). The next match from Destination X 2005 is also excellent, although it peaks too early. It shows why the Ultimate X always needs a third or fourth participant because Styles and Christopher Daniels despite a Herculean effort, really try my patience at the end when they both keep falling from the structure again and again. However the earlier portion of the match with Ron “R-Truth” Killings and Primetime Elix Skipper is very good, and Daniels’ moonsault from the Ultimate X structure has to be seen to be believed!

AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels vs LAX Ultimate X (No Surrender 2006)

Just as the first ever tag team Ladder match between the Hardys and Edge and Christian at No Mercy 1999 set a new standard for all future Ladder matches, so too did the first ever tag team Ultimate X match. This match was an action packed, back and forth thrill ride of a match which saw both teams take each other to their limits. AJ Styles breaks out all of his signature maneuvers, including the Fosbury Flop and the Spiral Tap (the only time I’m sure he’s ever used both of those rare and dangerous moves in one match). Hernandez deserves credit for proving that you don’t have to be an X Division wrestler to take to the Ultimate X match. The big man is on top form in this one. Daniels and Homicide also go all out and the finish, as I said earlier, is perhaps the best finish in Ultimate X history!

Ultimate X Gauntlet (Victory Road 2007)

Now the idea behind this match was a little convoluted. Two men start out for 60 seconds, then a third enters, then a fourth and so on until ten men have entered. During this initial gauntlet period, the goal is to eliminate your opponents by throwing them over the top rope. You know, the usual gauntlet/Royal Rumble deal. Once the tenth man enters, the match becomes an Ultimate X and whomever remains of the ten entrants then compete for the title. Christopher Daniels, Jay Lethal, Elix Skipper, Senshi (AKA  Low Ki/Kaval), Kaz and Homicide are your six survivors. This match will most definitely stand out in fans minds because of the awesome spot where Daniels hangs upside down from the structure and Kaz leaps off the top rope and catches him with a Diamond Cutter. It was a brave move from both of them as there were so many ways that such a stunt could have gone horribly wrong. What also makes this match special (though it is not shown on the DVD) is that the ending leads to reunion of Triple X. Though now that I think about it, that team never really went anywhere after that, apart from appearing in a very good Ultimate X match against LAX at Bound For Glory 2007, which naturally is next on the DVD.

AJ Styles vs Kurt Angle vs Christian Cage vs Samoa Joe vs Chris Harris King of the Mountain match (Slammiversary 2007)

Of the three KOTM matches this one is the best. AJ Styles puts on great displays with pretty much everyone. His exchanges with Angle, Joe, and Christian were first rate, and his bump through the announcers table was a highlight to be replayed for years to come. Chris Harris (AKA Braden Walker! [clap clap clap clap clap] Braden Walker!) handled himself well in the main event atmosphere. Indeed looking back, the man seemed destined for great things at the time. Joe and Angle obviously were firing on all cylinders and Christian Cage, as the most hated heel in the match, played his role perfectly. This match marks the first time the official TNA World Heavyweight Champion was crowned.

America’s Most Wanted vs Triple X Six Sides of Steel (Turning Point 2004)

Perhaps the best Steel Cage match of the decade, and an example of when TNA can get everything right. These two teams collide one last time knowing that afterwards, the losers must disband forever (although as the Ultimate X matches proved, that wasn’t quite the case). Harris, Storm, Skipper and Daniels go at it full throttle in a vicious and bloody battle that felt more real than any other match seen before, and perhaps since in TNA. Mind you I wasn’t crazy about the Tower of Doom spot. After all how many Suplexes end with the recipient landing on his face? But aside from that this was a classic. And of course the infamous Primetime spot where Elix Skipper walked across the cage and delivered a huricanranna to Chris Harris all the way to the floor: Outstanding!

Abyss vs AJ Styles Six Sides of Steel (Lockdown 2005)

For a full review of this match, see my review of Doomsday: The Best of Abyss. That’s not just a cheap plug, it’s because I’ve already reviewed that match and TNA has seen fit to include it again on another compilation DVD. I believe this makes four. Nonetheless this match is great and still a reason to buy this DVD, especially if you don’t already own any of the other three DVDs. The next match with Abyss and Christian Cage is also very good, but again see my review of the Abyss DVD.

Abyss vs Christian Cage Full Metal Mayhem Match (Sacrifice 2006)

TNA’s version of the TLC match is exactly what you’d expect from these two. There’s some good spots, and even if you’ve already seen the two Monsters Ball matches, this match is by no means tame when it comes to violence. Christian once again perfectly plays his role, in this case, the furious Babyface out for revenge who will go to dark places usually reserved for Heels (like choking Abyss with his own chain for example). A good choice for the set.

Christian Cage vs Kaz Ladder match (Genesis 2007)

Before I review the match, I have to say it: Ladder matches have been around for years! They’re not TNA exclusive gimmick matches, in fact WWE wasn’t even the first to use them. Also why is an entire section of the DVD devoted to just one match? Other TNA Ladder matches off the top of my head are AJ Styles vs Jerry Lynn vs Low Ki from 2002, AJ Styles vs Raven from 2003, and Jeff Jarrett vs Jeff Hardy from Victory Road 2004.

Sorry but that had to be said. It’s a flaw that I must acknowledge, though not so unforgivable that it’s a Reason to Avoid the DVD. Anyway the match between Christian Cage and Kaz is excellent. I shouldn’t even have to mention Christian’s experience in Ladder matches and Kaz was never more over then he was at this point in his career. Admittedly the quality drops slightly when the contract both men are fighting for falls to the ring. At this point both men continue to climb the ladder, this time in hopes of reaching the clipboard. But apart from that brief lapse in suspension of disbelief, this match remains possibly the best of Kaz’s career.

Reasons to Avoid this DVD:

Samoa Joe vs Christian Cage vs Booker T vs Rhino vs Robert Roode King of the Mountain (Slammiversary 2008)

It’s not that this match is bad to be honest. But unfortunately it’s not good enough to follow the previous two KOTM matches. In fact it’s probably the weakest King of the Mountain match ever due to the poor booking going in (The tension between reigning champion Samoa Joe and his then manager Kevin Nash was given more focus than any of the other four wrestlers or even the TNA Championship itself). Truth be told, I’d have much rather preferred either the first ever KOTM match from 2004, or the second KOTM match from Slammiversary 2005.

Abyss vs Brother Runt vs Raven vs Samoa Joe Monsters Ball (Bound For Glory 2006)

Once again dear reader I must shamelessly plug my review of Doomsday: The Best of Abyss. That review features the scoop on both this match and the Monsters Ball match from Bound For Glory 2005 (which should actually be in my Reasons to Buy list). Although I will say that at least on this DVD, we get to see Special Guest Referee Jake Roberts bring out the Snake and unleash it on Raven.

Abyss vs Jeff Hardy Full Metal Mayhem (Against All Odds 2005)

As I hinted in my review of the Abyss DVD (last plug I swear!) this match was not as good as their much better Falls Count Anywhere match from Destination X the next month. In fact it’s pretty bad. A Swanton off the entrance tunnel through a table admittedly gets a strong reaction from the Impact Zone fans, but otherwise Hardy botches just about everything else (the worst of which is a Whisper in the Wind attempt that comes off as more of a Sunset Flip). Also the match is ruined by the rules that two envelopes hang from above: one has a contract for a Title Shot, the other is simply empty. Presumably this empty envelope was intended to distract whoever opened it, while giving their opponent slightly more time to recover and try to make a comeback. But what then? Once the empty envelope has been opened, what’s to stop the opponent from taking down the correct envelope immediately? And that’s assuming the opponent even recovers at all? Suppose Abyss stays down long enough that Hardy has time to open both envelopes? Bottom line: Why bother?

Interviews

In typical TNA fashion the interviews with various TNA Wrestlers such as AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, Christian Cage, to name but a few, are discussed in character. I don’t care how good the overall DVD is, but any time the wrestlers act as if wrestling is real, it is an automatic Reason to Avoid in my book. Especially from a company that tries (or likes to think it tries) to appeal to Smarks and Internet fans by constantly using phrases like “Backstage Politics” and whatnot during Impact segments. If you think your fans are smart enough to get your various insider jokes, then SURELY you must realize that we all know wrestling is predetermined!

Seen it before!

Stand back people because you are about to witness one hell of a rant: The Ultimate X Gauntlet from Victory Road 2007 is the only Ultimate X match exclusive to this set. The first two can be found on The Best of the X Division Vol 1. The two tag team Ultimate X matches can be found on Phenomenal: The Best of AJ Styles Vol 2 and Best of TNA 2007 respectively. The 2006 KOTM match is also available on Jeff Jarrett King of the Mountain and the 2007 KOTM match is on Best of TNA 2007 and Kurt Angle Champion. The Six Sides of Steel from Turning Point is from Best of the Bloodiest Brawls Vol 1. The two cage matches with Abyss are on the Doomsday DVD and the one against AJ Styles as I mentioned earlier is also on Phenomenal Vol 2 and Best of the Bloodiest Brawls Vol 1. The two Monsters Ball are on the Doomsday DVD and the 2005 match is also on Best of the Bloodiest Brawls Vol 1. And finally [deep breath] the Ladder match between Christian Cage and Kaz is also on Best of TNA 2007. Now please excuse me while I go and pass out from exhaustion!

Final Verdict:

If you’re just beginning to start your TNA DVD collection then this DVD is absolutely essential. A very wide selection of different matches from different Pay Per Views, this DVD brings together some of TNA’s wildest, craziest and indeed “ultimate” matches. Yes, there are a couple of substandard matches. Yes, the interviews are Kayfabe. Yes a majority of the content is infuriatingly repetitive to this writer. But I can assure you the positives far outweigh the negatives and the wide range of matches covered makes this a must-have for anyone’s collection. You’ve all heard of the slogan “something for everyone!” Well I guarantee that this DVD certainly contains something for everyone … unless of course you really hate gimmick matches with a passion.

4.5 STARS

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One Comment left on this article...

Reply to Mac

 

  1. Mac says:

    Haha nice review, the last line made me chuckle.

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