Title: Nevermore: The best of Raven
Synopsis: A rare find today, this is TNA’s two disc collection of Ravens’ best matches from his debut in January 2003 to his match with Sabu in August 2004. I’m going to come right out and say that this is not the best “wrestling” DVD you’re likely to see. However since hardcore gimmick matches will always have a place in professional wrestling, it is simply a matter of taste. And when it comes to this style of wrestling, Raven is one of the very best.
So fans of good clean technical “rasslin” feel free to sit this one out. For fans of gimmicks, spots, props, weapons and (of course) blood, Join me now as I look back on one of TNA’s earlier productions. This is the best of Raven!
Reasons to buy this DVD:
Raven vs Sandman (Clockwork Orange House of Fun)
The DVD gets off to very good start with an intense weapon filled brawl with the Sandman. 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.
Raven vs Abyss vs AJ Styles vs Ron the Truth Killings
This four way match which included Sting as Ringside Enforcer was a fast paced contest with action happening at all times. I could have done without the Russo finish (which featured Russo himself) where Jeff Jarrett threw a towel in the ring and Styles got distracted so Raven could steal the victory. That made Styles look foolish. But otherwise this 15 minute four way match was decent enough
Raven vs AJ Styles vs Chris Harris vs Ron the Truth Killings (Deadly Draw)
Slightly different from the previous four way, this match starts off with just Styles and Harris and sees another wrestler enter every five minutes. Why? Just because. At any rate this was a very satisfying match as all four men worked together to put on a worthy main event. Even the Jeff Jarrett run in was tolerable. I’m not sure if this should really have been on the Raven DVD since Raven wasn’t involved in the finish, but he had a good enough showing here and the match was great so why complain?
Raven vs Sabu (Night of Revenge)
I’ll admit there were some periods of non selling and the ending was as sloppy as a table spot can possibly be, but the match was just good enough for me to recommend watching it,and it’s a satisfying end to the DVD. Plenty of spots with chairs and tables. How can we ask for anything more in a Raven vs Sabu match? And yes the ending was blown when the table collapsed, but it must be said that both men were very quick to improvise and the new finish actually looked awesome. Well Done!
Two bonus matches are shown with alternate commentary by Raven himself and Terry Taylor (“alternate” is actually the wrong word because unlike WWE DVDs there’s no option to watch without the commentary). Nonetheless Raven is a treat to listen to, particularly since his comments are (hallelujah!) non-kayfabe. The matches themselves (vs AJ Styles and Chris Harris) are good too. In fact the match with Styles is worth watching just to see Harris interfere at the end dressed like La Parka!
Reasons to Avoid this DVD:
Raven vs Jeff Jarrett (NWA Heavyweight Championship)
Alas as good as Raven is/was at hardcore wrestling, his standard one on one matches usually depend on the quality of his opponent. Pair him up with Shawn Michaels or Kurt Angle and you’d be in for a treat. Unfortunately Jeff Jarrett is neither. At it’s best the match was about average, almost on it’s way to good. But the interference from the Extreme Revolution (Sandman, New Jack, Perry Saturn and Justin Credible) and Sabu just drags the match down to Hell. Speaking of Sabu, watch out for when he almost injures an innocent fan while making his escape through the crowd.
Raven vs Shane Douglas (Hair vs Hair)
While the end segment is worth watching to see Raven receive the most violent and disgusting haircut in the history of wrestling, the match itself is just plain boring. The overweight and much older Shane Douglas was in no condition to be working any match longer than five minutes and this spectacle just went on forever. I amused myself by counting the cameos which included CM Punk, Sinn “Kizarny” Bohdi, Vampiro and (though you may not have noticed) Angelina Love, who was sitting in the front row by the announce table. On the plus side though the end spot with the DDT through the table was flawless (that same spot in the next match looked ridiculous) and while the sight of the Franchise vomiting in the middle of the ring should have been cut (I read somewhere that wrestlers are supposed to vomit outside the ring if the need arises) at least the announcers used it as an excuse to put over the brutality of the match: “That’s how physical this match is!” screams Mike Tenay. Thank God for Mike Tenay!
Raven vs Vampiro (Dream Blood Gallows of Retribution Match)
This was actually a Hangman’s Horror mach, but when will I ever get to type the title “Dream Blood Gallows of Retribution Match” again? This match between Raven and Vampiro was pretty underwhelming. We can add Vampiro to the list of guys that showed up in TNA and then left almost immediately afterwards. Vamp’s TNA career was even less interesting than that of Judas Mesias (who by the way was also managed by James Mitchell: coincidence?). The ending as I alluded to earlier was a disaster. Raven attempted a DDT off the ropes through a table, but unfortunately the table was too close and Raven absorbed the entire spot while Vampiro sailed right over him onto the mat. Of course he still had to sell the move, which was not believable. What a mess!
As I said above, it’s a matter of taste. Anyone who is not a fan of hardcore wrestling should avoid this one for sure. Those who are into that style will enjoy this one. There’s plenty of blood and weapon filled insanity to fill both discs, although even the hardcore fans must be warned. This is not as good as either of the Best of the Bloodiest Brawls sets or Doomsday: The Best of Abyss.