A video plays to start it off and it welcomes us to the Parthenon as they recap the feud and brutal match coming up first between Sabu and Abyss. The Turning Point video then plays which is just basically a shot at six or seven wrestlers. That’s kind of sad considering how well their Impact! video is as well as those superstar highlight videos.
Barbed Wire Massacre
Average match I thought. If you really like hardcore spectacles, you’ll enjoy this match. If you really don’t, you won’t. If you really like TNA, you’ll enjoy this match. If you really don’t, you won’t. Simple as that, but I was visibly split on it. I hate matches like this nature because they are just obscene violence for the sake of being obscenely violent. No real meaning behind what they do. For instance, the story going in was supposed to be that Abyss was “scared” of the barbed wire but was conquering his fear getting into the match. I would have much rather seen Abyss freak out a few times in the match as he got near the barbed wire, but Abyss acted completely normal as opposed to the weeks building up. It was a good storyline to put into the feud, but not really effective in the match itself. Just sums up that the match was basically violent for the sake of being violent. Of course, there were things I liked. I loved how Sabu would go to bounce off the ropes, but realize he can’t. The way he did it was excellent psychology and made up for the inability to tease the ropes. They didn’t really tease the ropes because they took the first barbed wire shot within a minute or so, but the bouncing teases definitely made up for it. That spot was also good though with Abyss just kicking out of a cover by Sabu by launching Sabu into the ropes. Didn’t see it coming at all, though I probably should have. There was also a good spot where Sabu was just working over Abyss with a knife like object which caused some nice blood to come out of Abyss’ arm. Whenever you get blood not from the head, it’s always a good thing.
From here, they did predictable back and forth spots which were mostly counters you saw coming a mile away. Case in point, Abyss got hold of a barbed wire chair and laid it on Sabu. Naturally no one will just let a chair be laid on them and then wait thirty minutes for someone to hit him. Abyss did a horrible job trying to duplicate Sabu’s good rope teasing and then went to jump on (more like over) Sabu, but Sabu put the chair up and Abyss got hit in the crotch. Saw it coming a mile away and the goofy selling Abyss accompanied with it just totally killed part of the mood. Continuing, the match just used some chair shots and use of the plywood barbed wire which you knew Sabu was going to take. The finish was good though as Sabu almost got whipped into a barbed-wire board in the corner but stopped. Abyss then charged at him and Sabu moved out of the way leaving Abyss to get stuck in to the barbed wire. That was maybe not that great, but what followed was. Sabu then kicked the board Abyss was attached to so Abyss fell right down onto the other board in the ring making a barbed-wire sandwich with Abyss as the very bloody meat. Sabu then hit the leg-drop and the opening contest was over and about what I’d expect. Not horrendously disappointing, but nothing except two spots I didn’t see coming. Overall, average, though your love/hatred of the barbed-wire or TNA will definitely influence your opinion. One thought pops into my mind though: don’t your shoulders have to be on the mat to get pinned, not barbed wire and a board?
Star Wrestler: Sabu
By God, Abyss was horrible in the match especially with the goofy selling. It’d be like doing Eugene-ish comedy in a Hell in a Cell. It has no place and adds nothing to the match except a new tone that’s undermining the original. I have to give Abyss major props for taking the bumps and shots he did as a lot of big men these days never take them. Seriously, when would you ever see Big Show or Kane do spots like this? Still though, he sucked horribly in the match. The only thing making the match average in any way was Sabu with his psychology of the barbed wire. I don’t normally like Sabu, but I will give the guy his due when he does something well. He was playing off the rope absence very nicely as well as selling the barbed wire spots well minus the goofy selling (damn you, Abyss) so of course I’m going to praise him. Overall, an average match with a better than average effort by TNA’s resident maniac.
After the match, Sabu takes some more pot shots at Abyss as he’s sandwiched. The refs try and pull him out as Sabu stands tall. Eventually, Abyss gets out of the ring with Mitchell as Mitchell says he conquered his fear and what-not. Where was the fear shown in the match? Nowhere! We then go to the announcers as TNA tries to kill time so they can set-up the ring for the regular matches. They hype up Cage-Brown in a contender’s match (meaning whoever wins will get a shot in three months) followed by the tables match, Joe-Styles, and Rhino-Jarrett. Don West and Mike Tenay go through some more BS killing some more time with Don West just looking like he’s dying without food. We then see footage from earlier which is of Jarrett and AMW coming out sans Gail Kim. Bullshit segment to kill time but great in that James Storm came out of the limo drinking beer and tossed it into the bushes as he was done. I wish he’d do a match drunk, either in character or not. We then see Rhino coming up and they are trying to pump up Rhino as the working class guy and Jarrett as the money-bags champ or something to that effect which is good, but not really needed as anyone will be an uber babyface against Jarrett.
Shane Douglas, who really needs to kick West out of the commentating booth, is then with the 4 Live Kru and for some reason; Kip James is wearing pony tails. Pony tails! I think Kip James should come with his own disclaimer now or at least show a picture of normal Kip James hair and then Kip James hair on coke. God, I have to give Douglas major praise for not just taking a shot at Kip’s trendy look. BG James gets on the mike and says that 2006 will be the year of La Familia (god, JAPW flashback) and they will kick it off tonight against Team Canada. BG James then goes off on his normal charismatic, but subtle, tirades before talking about the new member of 4LK and Konnan and Kip working as a cohesive unit to take down two random guys on Thursday. Konnan said they were clicking and they should tag more often. Okay, Opie. Kip James then gets on the mike spitting some mindless drivel before Konnan gives the typical Spanish seethe and leads the troops to go “shake and bake” Team Canada. Oh, food reference. It must be Don West’s lucky day.
They kick it back to Don West who is probably starving by this point and they show us footage of Abyss getting taped and cleaned up backstage as Mitchell is comforting him. Mitchell is a lot calmer than I thought he was going to be, but that’s just because Mitchell’s a better manager than most today. Tenay and West kill some more time next as they recap the first bout and go over the Samoa Joe and AJ Styles feud. After what feels like an eternity, we finally see that the ring is almost ready as West and Tenay are obviously running out of cliches to spurt out and Tenay finally acknowledges why they have taken such a break. They go onto hype up the “basebrawl” match as well as the tables match later tonight. Finally, the music of someone hits and we get a match and I can start to ignore the idiotic commentators.
Alex Shelley & Roderick Strong Vs. Austin Aries & Matt Bentley
God, can we go one PPV without getting a completely and utterly random match? All this is doing is proving that TNA really has nothing else to do with these people. Why employ them then, TNA? This was a very solid tag team match despite that recurring thought. Nothing too out there to draw attention from any of the later matches, but solid enough to follow what the crowd deemed an amazing opening match. Just shows you what workrate can do for a promotion. One thing that I loved about this match was how over Bentley was, yet how silent the crowd was during his offense. It’s not really a bad thing as anyone’s offense will look a little weak following the innovative stuff the other three did, but the key point is that he’s still over. It should tell people like AJ Styles and what-not that they don’t need all that crap to get/stay over. Bentley obviously doesn’t. He used simple kicks and a top rope move and still remained the most over person in the match. Anyway, solid match and I really loved Alex Shelley in it. The guy was really the only one out of the four doing something to make a face/heel correlation. He bit Aries’ finger to get out of an arm bar which was great and then followed it up with some dust kicking onto Aries as well. I haven’t seen any of those things in wrestling in years, which should show just how well the past few years have been.
Besides that, everyone was on the same page in this match with some hot offense and great selling. Aries played the face-in-peril here which they set up well I thought and we got some nice control by Shelley/Strong on Aries. One spot saw Strong lift Aries up into powerbomb position only to have Shelley dropkick Aries down. If you watch it slowly, you can see Strong get his knee up to emphasize the backbreaking gimmick. That is very, very, very subtle there, but very, very, very well-done. The guy is playing his gimmick of the backbreaker messiah better than most in TNA play their own easy-going gimmick. How hard is it to act like you’re from the Serengeti really? Anyway, the hot tag was a little lackluster which I found odd but then again, Bentley is no where near the caliber of the other three in this match and that’s definitely going to show. He still put out an excellent effort in the match though. In the end, Strong got sent outside and almost hit the camera which he freaked out so much over and Shelley walked right into a Superkick to give the faces the win in a one of the best tag matches I’ve seen in a while. If it’s one thing TNA does right, it’s tag team wrestling and coming from the ultimate tag team critic, that is a definite compliment.
Winners: Austin Aries & Matt Bentley
Star Wrestler: Alex Shelley
Alex Shelley was on fire tonight and really the only making the match mean something. Yes, you can have a good match, but giving it meaning when management obviously doesn’t want it to is a key thing to do and Shelley did just that. He had the selling, the gimmick (which I actually enjoy), the offense, and the mannerism all boiled into one huge ring presence which the fans and I were just eating up. Everyone else in this match was fabulous too, but Shelley was the one guy pushing the match the extra mile with the total package he gave us and that deserves the praise.
Monty Brown is then shown backstage cutting a promo to a Bob the Builder doll. I found it hilarious though not in the sense that Monty was mocking Christian. Of course, Monty accompanies the promo with the head shakes and wiggle-waggle making me laugh even more at TNA’s future champion. I’d hate to talk to the guy in real life without a poncho over my head. Shane Douglas then interrupts him thankfully and says rumor has it that Cage is trying to leapfrog past Monty. Monty then goes off at the mouth about Cage not leapfrogging him or what-not. I got distracted by Monty Brown’s shiny shirt and dangling earrings. This guy is just ripe for parody. I can’t believe TNA has even an inkling of a thought to push this guy as their poster boy. Anyway, as I come back to paying attention, Monty says something about Cage being the Alpha Male but obviously he doesn’t look like it, talk like it, dress like it (ripe for parody!), speak as eloquently (my ass) like it, et cetera. Monty continues on his mindless rambling as I die more inside and he ends up with the pounce line while Douglas is laughing (about what, we can only guess).
Jarrett then shows up because God forbid the champ doesn’t get his air-time on the show. He says Monty just doesn’t get it. He then says, “What is this Nickelodeon? You’re dressed like Snuffle-upagus!” Thank you, Jarrett. You may not be what you used to be in the 90s, but you can still insult like the best of them. He says Monty can beat Cage in five or ten minutes, but it doesn’t matter because he is the golden boy, the flavor of the month, and TNA hand picks the challengers. Wow, that is truer than I bet Jarrett meant it to be. I’ll go into it more at the end of the show. He then says Monty would have gotten a shot a long time ago if it was up to him, but Monty just doesn’t get it. Jarrett then asks him if he knows about the announcement that TNA put out saying something will change the face of wrestling or whatever propaganda they want to spew in 2006. Brown then tries to smarten up Jarrett saying he is the face of 2006 or whatever. Jarrett says Brown doesn’t get it for the fourth or fifth time and says he’s going to go find someone who does. What a horrible segment with only a good insult to Brown to save it.
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