My initial reaction to TNA’s Victory Road was that it had a great deal of intriguing matches. Problem was, most of them were too predictable.
Ultimate X and Submission match for the TNA X Division Championship
The opening match for the X-Division Championship could be won either by submission, or capturing the title which was suspended over the ring. The Ultimate X portion of the stipulation is considered the “signature match of the X Division,” which favors Brian Kendrick who is attempting to bring back the originality of the X Division. Yet, Douglas Williams is a European technical mat wrestler whose forte is submission wrestling. It was to no surprise that Douglas Williams would force Kendrick to tap out to the cobra clutch, after presenting the stipulation moments before the match. Much like Rob Terry, Douglas Williams will have a long reign as champion.
After training Jesse Neal to be a wrestler, and capturing 23 tag team championships with Brother Devon, Brother Ray has turned exponentially heel. Brother Devon cannot figure out why the sudden change? Can it possible have something to do with Tommy Dreamer’s appearances at Impact! and Slammiversary? Was it to no surprise to anyone that Tommy Dreamer and his ECW brethren sat down for Team 3D’s match again?
Brother Ray went home the victor of the 3-way match, leaving us to believe that he will be joining Tommy Dreamer’s band of Extremists soon enough.
Title vs. Career match for the TNA Women’s Knockout Championship
Seriously? This is the third PPV to feature a Career vs. TNA Women’s Knockout Title match in a row. Regardless of whether you were a Madison Rayne fan, TNA was not about to let Angelina Love, the top Knockout, leave TNA for the sake of pushing Madison.
The match also emphasized another stipulation that if either Velvet Sky or Lacey Von Erich interfered with the match, Angelina Love would be awarded the title. Truth be told, a mysterious biker, believed to be the returning Tara, interfered and started attacking Love. As to the stipulation, Angelina Love earned her fourth TNA Knockouts title without having to win a match, again.
Tag Team Match
Ric Flair, tired of the constant back-and-forth, placed AJ Styles and Kazarian in a surprise tag team match for Victory Road. The surprise came in the combined weight of 540 lbs, Global Champion Rob Terry, and Samoa Joe. The significance of this pairing is not because of any particular past feuds, but because if Kazarian or AJ Styles faced either of these men in a singles match, they would probably lose. So for the sake of Ric Flair and winning the match, Kazarian and AJ Styles would have to put their differences aside in order to win the match.
Even though Rob Terry and Samoa Joe are agile, it was Kazarian and AJ Styles who managed to outpace the heavyweights with a series of kicks to the heads and legs. By match’s end, AJ Styles went for the cover on Rob Terry with Kazarian assisting to win the match. The two former rivals started embracing each other until they quickly pulled away to give each other handshakes. After witnessing these two in action, Styles and Kazarian would make a phenomenal tag team. And would make for an interesting play for the new TNA Tag Team Champions.
Steel Cage match
After weeks of hit and runs between these former TNA Tag Team Champions, Matt Morgan and Shawn Hernandez were placed in a steel cage match. “Super Mex” Hernandez usually has no problem overpowering his opponents, but Matt Morgan has both the size and the weight advantage on Hernandez. The match was brutal, with Morgan raising his hand high in the air to show Hernadez’s blood to the audience. Though Hernandez managed to get some offense, it was Morgan who outsmarted and overpowered Super Mex. Which was witnessed when Morgan evaded Hernadez’s flying head-butt, executed from the height of the steel cage.
Despite Matt Morgan’s best efforts, even handcuffing Hernandez to the ropes, Super Mex broke free and head butted his way through the steel cage door to win the match. TNA officials should take into serious consideration to rank Hernandez in the next TNA Top 10 Rankings.
The Dream vs. God
There are many factors to take into account when reviewing the possible outcome of this match. This was “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair’s in-ring return to PPV since his retirement match at WrestleMania XXIV. Would it be right for Jay Lethal to be the last guy to defeat Ric Flair rather than Shawn Michaels? But in reality, what would Ric Flair gain from defeating Jay Lethal? Ric Flair is too old to be in a serious title contention for the TNA World Heavyweight Title. So defeating No. 7 in the rankings wouldn’t mean anything.
As for Lethal, he’s defeated Beer Money, AJ Styles, Kazarian, Desmond Wolfe, and Matt Morgan. How would he not be able to defeat an old-timer like Ric Flair? If Lethal was unable to defeat Flair, he might as well have packed up his boots and left wrestling all together.
Despite Ric Flair’s age and noticable degrading of his wrestling ability, fans were split between Ric Flair and Jay Lethal. Lethal, who has quickly become a rising star in TNA, was dedicating the match to his sickly mother. Yet, after Ric Flair bad-mouthed his mother, beat up his brother, and belittled his wrestling aspirations, it was a story-book ending for Lethal to force Flair to tap out to his own Figure-Four leg lock.
In addition, how would it have looked for Jay Lethal to lose with his next opponent being Kurt Angle due to his No. 7 spot in the rankings?
Tag team match for the vacant TNA World Tag Team Championship
The Motor City Machine Guns earned the title opportunity by winning a 3-way tag team match at LockDown, while their opponents Beer Money Inc. earned the right to contend for the vacant titles after winning a tournament on Impact!. Looking at the Tale of the Tape: Beer Money are 3x TNA Tag Team Champions. The Motor City Machine Guns, having held numerous tag team championships around the world, have never held TNA’s Tag Team Titles.
This was a dream match to witness as the two teams are regarded as the best in TNA. Unlike the declining division in WWE, TNA still has managed to emphasize the importance of tag team competition. The match had a marvelous false finish, with both Earl and Brian Hebner counting to 3 with each member getting the cover on the other. Too much controversy of Earl Hebner inserting himself in the match, after his son was blinded with a beer shot, the match was restarted. With Beer Money’s music playing with the false finish, it was more than likely that Shelley and Sabin would walk out as the new TNA Tag Team Champions, which is exactly what took place.
#8 “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero vs. #10 Kurt Angle
Under any other circumstances, this would have been a crazy and unpredictable match. But with Kurt Angle vowing to work his way up the Top 10 ranking, and quitting if he lost another match, leaves everyone to understand that Kurt Angle would be the clear victor of the match. So with that said, Kurt Angle forced D’Angelo Dinero to submit to the Ankle Lock.
The Top 10 Ranking is solely created for Kurt Angle to become the next TNA World Heavyweight Champion. So any future matches involving Kurt Angle, expect him to win. And with that said, expect Rob Van Dam to remain Champion until his encounter with Kurt Angle.
4-Way match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship
How does TNA Management expect wrestling fans to believe that Abyss, Jeff Hardy, and Mr. Anderson were all tied for the No. 1 ranking? Jeff Hardy, still carrying his success from WWE over to TNA, is a clear favorite to become TNA World Champion. Yet, his legal issues are keeping him from the championship belt. So regardless of how many title matches TNA places Hardy in, Jeff will always lose until his issues are resolved. Mr. Anderson has really captivated the crowd as of late with being a self-proclaimed A**ho!e. Fans can relate to Anderson, plus he’s hilarious. As for Abyss, regardless of turning on Hogan, fans are happy to see the tormentor back again.
The only one who looks remotely poised to become the next TNA Champion is Abyss. With his recent turn, and speaking of “They,” Abyss can become the Wade Barrett to Tommy Dreamer’s Nexus. Yet, with Mr. Anderson and Jeff Hardy running interference, it was easy for Rob Van Dam to capitalize and retain his title.
Author’s Note: Jeff Hardy’s career ended in WWE because the Jeff Hardy of TNA is a ghost of his former self. Even when viewing close-ups of Jeff at the start and throughout the match, his eyes are lifeless and does not look at all interested in wrestling anymore.