Title: Best of the Bloodiest Brawls
Synopsis: The second of the original TNA DVDs, this set brings together twelve 90’s style hardcore or “garbage” matches from February 2003 to March 2003. Just over a year ago ECW had shut it’s doors and so TNA decided to go extreme themselves and start their own hardcore division with the likes of Raven, Sandman, Jerry Lynn, Justin Credible, New Jack and others. Mike Tenay and Don West have the call.
Reasons to Buy this DVD:
Raven vs Sandman (Clockwork Orange House of Fun)
Raven takes on the Sandman in his signature match. Kevin Sullivan is your guest referee and though the image of him in his painted on ref shirt is more than a little nauseating, I must give the man credit for creativity. The rules for this match where weapons hang all around the ring are that you simply weaken your opponent using whatever weapons you want (and there’s quite a selection too) and then drag him up to the balcony and throw him off Raven’s “Perch” where he must go through at least two of the six tables set up below. It’s a little silly I know, but then this is professional wrestling. While I’ll always remember the House of Fun match for the much better outing between Raven and Sean Waltman from Hard Justice 2005, this match at least is worth a look for the spots and stunts and the ending with Sandman going off the balcony is pretty impressive.
Raven vs AJ Styles (Ladder Match)
Arguably the best match of the DVD, Styles and Raven meshed extremely well in this environment. Hardly surprising since one is a brawler and the other is a highflyer and the Ladder match favours both. Some great spots here, but my favourite has to be Raven on a table dragging the unfortunate referee on top of him to use as a human shield. That didn’t stop Styles diving off the top rope onto both of them. Also of note is Disco Inferno Glenn Gilberti showing up to powerbomb Styles through a table on the outside – from inside the ring! That just looked dangerous.
New Church, Sandman and Perry Saturn vs Triple X and the Harris Twins (Sadistic Madness)
How awesome were the New Church? Brian Lee and Slash are in their element in this unique twist on the first blood match where you can only pin your opponent if they are bleeding. Elix Skipper is my MVP of the match. He provides the most movement. Daniels and Saturn both deliver in the in-ring portion of the match. The Harris Twins and Sandman really just made up the numbers, but overall this was a fun brawl through the building with blood and weapons. The match also features the TNA debut of Nelson “Viscera” Knight, but he was gone two weeks later so don’t worry if you don’t remember him.
Raven and the Gathering vs Shane Douglas and the New Church (Clockwork Orange House of Fun)
This is even better than the Raven vs Sandman match as the number of participants keeps the pace moving nicely. Alexis Laree aka Mickie James does not once look out of her depth in this bloody and weapon filled match. Julio Dinero disappeared off the face of the Earth after his stint with the Gathering, although you may have heard of his tag team partner: CM Punk. The ending is slightly hindered by the interference of a masked man, later revealed as Vampiro (come to think of it, TNA was a little too fond of the masked assailant angle back then. See my review of Best of the X Division) but otherwise the match is satisfactory.
Jerry Lynn vs Justin Credible (Falls Count Anywhere, Dog Collar and Last Man Standing Match)
These three matches are presented as one long chapter, but they actually took place on three separate pay per views. The FCA match starts outside and both men work their way towards the ramp where Lynn scores the win with a slopppy O’connor Roll. Nothing special, though I appreciate the old school touch by dimming the lights before the match to symbolize that the match was non-sanctioned and that TNA had no legal accountability for either man. The Dog Collar match is better with brutal spots and an inventive finish. The LMS match is a fitting climax to the series with more stunts including a vicious frankensteiner through a table on the outside. ECW fans should enjoy this!
Reasons to Avoid this DVD:
Raven vs Sandman (Falls Count Anywhere)
The DVD kicks off in underwhelming fashion with a forgettable Falls Count Anywhere match. This was mediocre until the finish where Sandman does take an impressive table bump. Otherwise it offers nothing.
Harris Twins vs New Church vs Sandman and New Jack (Armed Asylum)
This was in many ways a mess since it was a tornado tag, held under falls count anywhere rules (no attempt was made to explain the rules of an Armed Asylum match) and so the cameras were all over the place. Everyone seemed to be improvising, which can work in wrestling, but not in a match with this many people, especially when they’re all scattered in different parts of the building. The New Church are heels, despite being faces in the previous match on the DVD (sadistic madness) held just two weeks earlier. The Sandman seems uninspired. Until the finish at least, he just blends in. New Jack’s elbow drop off the balcony is admittedly stunning, but otherwise the match, as I said, is just a mess.
AJ Styles and D-Lo Brown brawl inside a cage
I would have preferred an actual match instead of this segment. This type of thing doesn’t belong on a DVD unless it’s as an extra.
Sandman vs New Jack (Hard 10 match)
This was a bizarre match where to win, you earn points for using weapons. One point for using a chair, kendo stick, trashcan, lead pipe, etc. Five points for putting your opponent through a table. First wrestler to ten points wins (as long as he’s up by at least two points.) That’s it. Somehow TNA managed to stage an entire tournament under these rules! Watching New Jack and Sandman drag this out, when they could realistically end it in ten seconds is insulting to my intelligence. The silver lining though is that the finish is nuts!
Raven, Jeff Jarret, Chris Harris, James Storm and D-Lo Brown vs Shane Douglas, Simon Diamond, Johnny Swinger, Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles (10 man cage)
Billed as “Wednesday Bloody Wednesday” this was TNA’s tribute to the War Games concept and technically the first ever Lethal Lockdown. Despite the talented names in there, this match is looooooong. There are too many people in such a confined space, The useless Erik Watts is the referee for some reason, and Vince Russo’s commentary is an assault on the ears. Not exactly an ideal way to end a DVD.
Just call them Hardcore matches!
Clockwork Orange House of Fun, Sadistic Madness, Armed Asylum, Hard 10. Does any of that make sense to you? Those sound like potential titles for Disturbed’s next album instead of wrestling gimmicks and what’s worse is that they’re all the same. No disqualification and falls count anywhere. Hardcore matches essentially. Whether you want to call it Hardcore or Street Fight or No Holds Barred or Extreme Rules, they’re all the same match at the end of the day and after watching them all in one sitting you’ll have no idea how to tell when one match ends and another begins.
Too many matches are followed by run-ins and post match beat-downs by Jeff Jarrett or Vince Russo or the New Church or God knows how many others. Who were those included for? They should have just cut those out and moved straight to the next matches!
I was disappointed with this one. There is some great action here in some of the matches, but other than the cage match (which is awful) the ladder match and the series between Lynn and Credible, nothing seems to stick out. Too many matches just feel too similar (No matter how many ricockulous names TNA can come up with) and the same faces pop up in most of them. I would only recommend this for fans of the original ECW, or diehards looking to add some early TNA DVDs to their collection.
To end on a positive note today happens to be my birthday and I felt like documenting that fact so I can look back on this article in a few years and smile. Oh and for the record I’m a huge Disturbed fan so that comment above was not meant as a shot at the band, but at TNA.