Sorry folks it’s been a busy month for your TNA Reviewer. Between reports, essays and general upcoming exam revision I’m afraid my reviews took a bit of back seat. But we’re fresh off the heels of Wrestlemania Weekend and after taking a couple of days to chill and enjoy some shows from Chikara, ROH, DGUSA and of course the big one itself, I’ve still got a little wrestling fever left in me so here’s a look back at an old favorite of mine.
Title: Best of the Bloodiest Brawls Vol 1
Synopsis: This single disc set brings together 10 of TNA’s most hardcore gimmick matches from November 2004 to December 2005. I won’t call it “Garbage” wrestling even though that’s the real name for it, because that term is open to interpretation and I’m not (ahem) trashing it . Key players in this one include Abyss, Raven and Sabu. It should come as no surprise to anyone that this charming feature is rated 18 and is not recommended for people who are underage, easily squeamish, or expecting pure athletic technical mat-based wrestling.
Reasons to Buy this DVD:
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 if you’ve read my review of Ultimate Matches then you’ll know that 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 Jeff Hardy Falls Count Anywhere (Destination X 2005)
Far superior to their botch-filled attempt at Against All Odds the previous month, Abyss and Hardy (during his original run in TNA) took to the crowd early and brawled their way to the back where Hardy hit a spectacular Swanton on Abyss from a scaffold structure from about twelve feet up sending them both crashing through two tables. But they weren’t done there. Fighting back to the ring they traded more high impact spots including a leaping leg drop over a ladder from Hardy and an awesome top rope power bomb from Abyss which drove Hardy through a table. I hate to spoil the ending but I will say that the Twist of Fate Hardy uses on a ladder shows more light than John Cena’s STF, but apart from that the match was very exciting and the aftermath results in one of the sickest bumps ever (at least back in days when the thumbtacks spot hadn’t been done to death).
Abyss vs AJ Styles Six Sides of Steel (Lockdown 2005)
Easy to see why this was included since it’s as violent as it is entertaining. Abyss and AJ showed great chemistry, they both sold each others offense brilliantly and the story-telling was done to perfection. I loved how they fought outside the cage first because (as the announcers rightly pointed out) AJ would never be able to out-power the Monster, so he would have to use his agility and high flying, of which Abyss has none, to beat him. But at the same time the cage favoured Abyss’ style and so AJ was forced to use the outside environment to his advantage. And boy did he! He was a human highlight reel during the first half of this match. Also the shot AJ takes in the face from the cage door is sickening! Once they finally enter the cage the match just gets better as AJ refuses to stay down after taking everything Abyss has to offer, and believe me he offers a hell of a lot of offence. And just for the record, the Abyss of 2005 is incredibly agile. Frankly it’s hard to imagine the 2011 version selling a hurricanrana so crisply.
Raven vs Sean Waltman House of Fun (Hard Justice 2005)
Isn’t it ironic that Sean Waltman of all people replaced Jeff Hardy who no-showed the Pay Per View? Anyway all joking aside I really liked this match, although damned if I know how a House of Fun match is really any different from a Hardcore match. I might be overrating this match as I imagine it’s not to everyone’s liking and at this point in the DVD the hardcore stunts don’t have the same effect after the first four matches. But it still stands out because of the finish. I thought it was a clever touch to cover one side of the ring with a cage wall, a One Side of Steel if you will. It really does mean that Raven has every kind of weapon you could imagine and it made for a good spot in the end. Also I thought it was pretty funny hearing Waltman shout: “Give me more you pussy!” But hey that’s just me.
Raven vs Abyss Dog Collar Match (No Surrender 2005)
I know what you’re thinking. Raven and Abyss? Really? Yes really. This match was awesome! It was the main event of a very good show and both men were tied to each other by the neck. Granted this match would probably be hard to watch in 2011 (and that’s me being polite!) but back in 2005 these two put on a wild brawl that had the Impact Zone cheering their every move. They had some cool spots with the chain (particularly when they were on the stage) and it was just violent and bloody throughout. My favourite match on the set.
Abyss vs Rhino vs Sabu vs Jeff Hardy Monsters Ball (Bound For Glory 2005)
Back when the Monsters Ball was an annual tradition it was always a treat to see the hardcore division throw the rulebook out the window and have at it. The first Monters Ball match (which is on here too) was okay but this one’s better and to me it still remains the best Monsters Ball in TNA history as all four men tore the house down. Of course the highlight of he match is Jeff Hardy’s Swanton off the entrance ramp which made it into TNA’s 50 Greatest Moments DVD. But that doesn’t take away from the efforts of the high-flying Sabu and the power-houses Abyss and Rhino. And the finish? How often to you see a piledriver from the second rope these days?
Abyss vs Sabu Barbed wire Massacre (Turning Point 2005)
Personally I still think it’s bogus that TNA named this their 2005 Match of the Year but it’s still pretty good, if not MOTY material. The build up to this match as I recall was that Abyss was deathly afraid of barbed wire and refused to touch it, even to use it against Sabu as he once had a chance to use a barbed wire wrapped steel chair and instead used a regular one. So by the time he was forced into the ring surrounded by barbed wire on all six sides, the fans were craving to see Abyss face his fear. Both men took some nasty bumps in this one and the finish was very clever and innovative. Incidentally I met Chris Parks once on one of TNA’s Maximum Impact tours and he showed me his arms. The scars have healed but the skin has grown over his tattoos so you can still see lines of clear skin exactly where his arms were cut during this match! A great ending to this DVD.
Reasons to Avoid this DVD:
Jeff Jarrett and America’s Most Wanted vs Rhino and Team 3D (Genesis 2005)
This is probably the worst match on the DVD. The first Monsters Ball is good but not quite a Reason to Buy and the tag bout with Jeff Jarret and Rhino vs Raven and Sabu was better than I would have thought but average in the end. Like I said earlier there are no traditional one on one wrestling matches here but that can be overlooked if you’re into hardcore wrestling. Unfortunately this match doesn’t do anything for me. After eight matches, there’s simply nothing in it we haven’t seen already. The crowd didn’t seem that into it either. I remember some fans actually left early while the rest were sitting on their hands waiting for Christian Cage who debuted afterwards. I’m going to be frank with you readers, I’ve owned this DVD for four and a half years as of this writing and I’ve only watched this match once. I don’t intend to watch it again.
Same as the Doomsday: The Best of Abyss and Ultimate Matches DVDs, this set won’t meet the standards of anyone who just wants to watch a straight non gimmick match. For those who are interested though it’s damn near essential! Seven great matches out of ten? Only one Reason to Avoid for the entire DVD? That’s a pretty good deal if I’ve ever heard one! Even the other two matches are fairly entertaining. So yes this DVD comes highly recommended and even fans who aren’t into Hardcore Wrestling should find this one, at the very least, extremely watchable.