7/11 TNA Victory Road PPV Live Coverage: Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Mr. Anderson vs. Abyss in a four-way for the TNA Title, Ric Flair vs. Jay Lethal, Matt Morgan vs. Hernandez in a cage match
By Jason Powell
Dot Net Members will be listening to Jason Powell's audio recap of the show later tonight. You can gain access to all the perks of membership, including the ad-free version of the site, for as little as $5.50 per month by visiting the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
Live from Orlando, Fla.
At Universal Studios
The show opened with a video that focussed on Abyss and his "they" theme. There was footage of the ECW faction mixed in, so I guess it's official regarding who "they" are...
The narrator welcomed viewers to "the hottest pay-per-view event of the summer"... Mike Tenay checked in on commentary and previewed the nine match show...
1. Douglas Williams defeated Brian Kendrick in an Ultimate X match where submissions were legal to retain the X Division Title in 10:05. The story heading into the match was that Williams is afraid of heights. So, of course, the first thing he did was make a run for the corner to climb up the pole. Kendrick cut him off.
Both wrestlers went for submissions for the next few minutes. With Kendrick at ringside, Williams reached in his trunks and pulled out what appeared to be batting gloves and slapped Kenrick with one of them.
Williams put the gloves on and made a play for the hanging belt at 9:20, but Kendrick pulled him down. In the end, Williams applied a choke hold on the mat and the referee ruled that Kendrick was out. Kendrick sold the hold until a trainer entered the ring with smelling salts that revived him...
Powell's POV: The Ultimate X aspect of this match was unnecessary. The match was entertaining, but anyone hoping for an Ultimate X spectacle similar to matches we've seen in the past had to be left disappointed.
Tenay and Taz spoke from their perch on the stage...
Backstage, Christy Hemme tried to interview Brother Ray, but he took the mic from her. Ray said Jesse Neal is as much of a failure as the issue of Playboy that Hemme posed for. Ray continued his rant and then asked Hemme if she was going to cry. She started to yell, but he told her to shut up...
A video recapped the Team 3D and Jesse Neal program...
2. Brother Ray defeated Jesse Neal and Brother Devon in a three-way match. Ray came out and then hid on the side of the stage. Neal came out next and was attacked from behind by Ray on the ramp. Team 3D's music played again for Devon, but he didn't come out. Ray put on shades at ringside while he roughed up Neal.
A shot aired backstage of a locker room door that was locked shut with a board. Devon could be heard yelling, "Someone open the damn door." Apparently, the camera men were too busy to oblige. Believe it or not, a loud "Let's Go Jesse" chant broke out as Ray roughed him up inside the ring.
The ECW faction of Tommy Dreamer, Stevie Richards, Raven, and Rhino came out and took their usual spot in the crowd as the Impact Zone fans chanted "EC-Dub." Ray was distracted by this, which opened the door for Neal momentarily.
Speaking of opened doors, Shannon Moore was apparently too busy running to ringside to unlock Devon's door. The referee cut off Moore and ordered him backstage. Devon's music played and he came to the ring looking pissed. Ray looked leery. They stood face-to-face in the ring.
They teased the Vince Russo swerve of staying together by looking down at Neal simultaneously, only to throw a series of punches at one another. Neal recovered and tried to spear Brother Ray, who moved out of the way and pulled Devon into the spear instead. Ray hit the Bubba Bomb on Neal and scored the pin. After the finish, the live crowd went right back to cheering for the ECW faction...
Powell's POV: I liked the Russo swerve swerve. Neal gained nothing from this beyond getting another match under his belt. Ray dominated him throughout the match and pinned him in the end. No, I'm not complaining. He's trying hard, but it's just too much too soon for Neal at this stage of his career. I'm enjoying the Team 3D split as an undercard program.
A video recapped Angelina Love's feud with The Beautiful People...
3. Angelina Love defeated Madison Rayne by DQ in 5:00 to win the TNA Knockouts Title. If Love loses, she's out of TNA. However, Rayne can lose the title by DQ if Lacey Von Erich or Velvet Sky interfere. The crowd was flat initially, but they got behind Love's offense around 3:00. They went back to being quiet when Rayne regained control.
Rayne went to ringside and grabbed a chair. Love kicked the chair into Sky's face. Suddenly, a woman dressed in leather drove to ringside on a motorcycle. Her face was covered by a strange black helmet. The mystery woman rammed Love's head into the ring post.
The referee attempted to take the helmet off the mystery woman, but he was shoved to the floor. The referee grabbed the TNA Knockouts Title and handed it to Love. The referee ruled that Love won the match by DQ because The Beautiful People interfered in the match even though the woman's identity was never revealed. Rayne hopped on back of the mystery woman's bike and they headed backstage while Love posed with the belt...
Powell's POV: Wow, that was overbooked. I guess this means Love will be stripped of the title on Impact since it was never proven that the mystery woman was Velvet Sky or Lacey Von Erich.
Backstage, Hemme interviewed Mr. Anderson, who cut a comedy promo about his main event opponents. Lots of pot jokes since Rob Van Dam is involved. No drug trafficking joke for Jeff Hardy...
Powell's POV: The crowd liked the promo because they still pop whenever Anderson says asshole. It was amusing material, but I guess I want more than comedy from a challenger heading into a World Championship match. The importance of the TNA Title should be more important than getting comedy pops.
4. A.J. Styles and Kazarian defeated Rob Terry and Samoa Joe in 8:05. No reaction for Terry, but a nice pop for Joe. Kazarian and Styles were not pleased to see their mystery opponents. Ric Flair did not come to ringside with his team. The heels spent the opening minutes bumping around for the babyfaces.
The crowd popped big when Terry whipped Joe into a suicide dive onto Styles and Kazarian. Good series with Joe and Styles. A.J. caught Joe with the Styles Clash, but Joe came back with a great urinage and made the hot tag to Terry, who actually received a pop.
It didn't take Terry long to lose the crowd, though. He played to the crowd and hit his finisher to not much reaction. He had the pin on Styles, but Kazarian broke it up. At 7:10, Desmond Wolfe ran out and grabbed Joe's leg from ringside. The announcers reasoned that he must be trying to get back in the good graces of Ric Flair.
Terry was in the middle of the ring with Styles and Kararian on opposite sides of him. He motioned for Kazarian to enter the ring, only to be hit from behind by a springboarding Styles. The heels hit a few flashy moves in a row and got the pin. Styles and Kazarian excitedly hugged one another, but quickly backed off and played cool since their characters don't get along.
Wolfe entered the ring to celebrate with the other heels. Joe entered the ring and hit the Muscle Buster on Wolfe while Styles and Kazarian fled...
Powell's POV: Good action with the high flying heels and Joe. Terry just isn't over. I'm sure the mystery team was a letdown for people who didn't know going in. In TNA's defense, it's not like they made a huge fuss over the mystery team. The match was added to the show last week and it was listed near the bottom of the lineup on the company website.
Backstage, Hemme interviewed Abyss, who had his big board with nails. He called it his girl and said everyone would find out what a BITCH his girl can be. Yes, he kept up his streak of overemphasizing a swear word...
Tenay and Taz discussed the upcoming pay-per-view matches at their desk on the stage... A video recapped the Matt Morgan vs. Hernandez feud...
5. Hernandez defeated Matt Morgan in a steel cage match in 10:55. They spent a lot of time showing various shots of the cage as music played before they got to the introductions. Morgan is still sporting the Mike Knox starter kit beard. Hernandez jumped out to the early advantage and splashed Morgan into the cage repeatedly.
Morgan dodged a Hernandez dive, causing Hernandez to crash into the cage. Morgan went on the offensive. Hernandez tried to come back while sitting on the ropes, but Morgan tagged him with a big boot to the head. Morgan must have been cut by the cage, as he had a scratch on the back of his shoulder. Meanwhile, Hernandez was bleeding from the forehead.
At 5:00, Morgan opened the cage door and put one foot on the stage ramp. Morgan could have walked out, but he decided to go back and dish out more punishment on Hernandez, which included raking his head across the cage and then throwing repeated punches.
Morgan wiped blood off Hernandez's head and showed it to the crowd. Taz said Morgan was in the zone where you want to be. Hernandez made his comeback and then climbed to the top of the cage where he went for and missed a splash. Cool visual with Hernandez at the top of the cage.
Morgan pulled out a pair of handcuffs from a t-shirt he had tucked in his trunks when he came to the ring. "Now what?" asked Taz. Morgan locked Hernandez to the top rope near the cage door. Morgan climbed to the top of the cage and sat there. He pointed at his head.
Hernandez broke the handcuffs, ran the ropes, and dove through the cage door to win the match while Morgan was still at the top of the cage...
Powell's POV: An entertaining cage match until the handcuffs came into play. Morgan performed his cocky heel routine to perfection, and Hernandez had the live crowd with him. I just wish breakable handcuffs would go the way of chairshots to the head by being banned from pro wrestling.
Backstage, Christy Hemme interviewed Ric Flair, who said he's the reason there's a sport called pro wrestling. He said it's been 39 years of being the man. Flair said he hates showing off, but Jay Lethal pissed him off. Flair said Lethal will need his mother to breast feed him back to health. Flair said he should be in a hotel drinking red wine and making love to a beautiful woman, but instead he has to sweat in Orlando. He once again dubbed himself the best pro wrestler that ever lived...
At ringside, Tenay and Taz spoke about it being a rare in-ring appearance for Flair. Taz said that whether you like him or not, it's special to see Flair in the ring...
Powell's POV: TNA fails when it comes to making it feel special to see Flair in the ring. Taz did a good job with that preview, but the announcers shouldn't need to tell viewers it's special. The creative team should be booking it in a way that everyone knows it's special. Instead, this feels like just another match on the show, which is a damn shame.
A video hyped Flair vs. Lethal...
6. Jay Lethal defeated Ric Flair at 12:05. Lethal came out wearing a red and yellow ring jacket that read "Living The Dream." Taz said the colors are paying respect to Hulk Hogan for giving him his dream match against Flair. Lethal controlled the early action and dumped Flair to ringside with a clothesline at 2:00.
The wrestlers exchanged chops in the corner. Lethal got the better of the exchange and Flair did his big flop to sell it. Moments later, Lethal caught Flair on the top rope (some things never change) and superplexed him. Lethal tried to follow up with a moonsault, but Flair rolled out of the way.
Flair took control of the match and targeted Lethal's knee, which led to Flair applying the figure four at 7:10. "You gave it a hell of a run, Jay," Taz said on commentary. "I think you're done, kid." Flair used the ropes for leverage while the ref was checking on Lethal.
Flair threw Lethal into the corner at 10:20. Lethal took the Flair corner flip and then strutted in Flair style. Moments later, Lethal pulled Flair's trunks down. Taz hilariously called for the "big black X" to appear on the screen. Flair locked in a sleeper at 11:20.
Lethal got out of the sleeper and targeted Flair's knees with a splash off the ropes. Lethal applied the figure four leg lock. Flair tapped out a short time later to end the match. Flair limped as he bickered with referee Earl Hebner, who shoved him to the mat. After the match, Lethal went to ringside and stood in front of the fans while yelling into the house mic, "Hey, mom, I did it"...
Powell's POV: Flair tapping out to the figure four irked me more than anything. Knowing Flair, he probably insisted. I don't mind Flair losing at this stage of his career, but there's just something about him tapping out to his own finisher that bothered me. The match had all the signature Flair spots and felt more like a nostalgia act than a meaningful match. Lethal is presented as being too precious. All the mother stuff is more annoying than endearing, at least for this viewer.
Backstage, Hemme asked Jeff Hardy what his strategy is for the title match. Hardy said he's going to keep Victory Road hot and the creatures of the night would be with him when he won the TNA Championship...
Tenay ran through the "taglines" for the TNA Tag Title match...
7. The Motor City Machine Guns defeated Beer Money in 17:00 to win the vacant TNA Tag Titles. James Storm and Robert Roode took turns working over Alex Shelley, who eventually made a hot tag to Chris Sabin. Roode took a nasty looking DDT bump as Sabin hit a flurry of offense on the two heels.
Roode and Storm came back and roughed up Sabin. Storm hit Eye of the Storm on Sabin and then Roode scored a good near fall on Storm at 10:30. A short time later, Shelley hit a suicide dive onto Roode at ringside. Taz said he could tell they were in the fourth quarter of the match. The fans chanted, "This is awesome."
STorm brought the dumbass beer bottle onto the ring apron and took a swig. He spat beer toward one of his ducking opponents and sprayed it into the referee's eyes. The Guns had the pin, but the ref was bumped. Earl Hebner ran out to fill in for son Brian and counted a strong near fall at 13:40.
Beer Money scored a strong near fall of their own at 14:00 when Roode nearly pinned Shelley. The fans chanted "Motor City" as Roode and Shelley traded punches. The Guns hit a series of kicks on Roode. As Sabin went for the cover on Roode, Storm rolled up Shelley for the double pin at 15:00.
Borash announced that Earl Hebner ruled that the match must be restarted since there was not a decisive finish. A short time later, the Guns hit a neckbreaker and top rope splash combo on Roode for the win. The Guns celebrated as the live crowd reacted approvingly...
Powell's POV: This was the crowd pleasing moment of the night. It was a good match, but the build to this match left so much to be desired that I was actually hoping that Beer Money would get the titles and then have a long series of matches with The Guns in chase mode. We got another Russo swerve swerve with the double pin actually leading to a restart.
A video hyped the Kurt Angle vs. D'Angelo Dinero match...
8. Kurt Angle defeated D'Angelo Dinero in 11:55. Taz noted early that it looked like Pope was trying to turn it into more of a fight than a wrestling match, which he said was a nice strategy given that he was wrestling Angle. Nice call. Back and forth action during the opening minutes without much crowd reaction since both wrestlers are babyfaces.
Angle went for the ankle lock at 9:30, but Dinero kicked him away. Dinero hit a slow Codebreaker at 10:00, but Angle kicked out of the pin attempt. A loud Angle chant broke out as the announcers noted that Pope appeared to be gaining confidence. Angle came back with an Angle Slam for a near fall.
In the end, Angle applied the ankle lock and got the submission win. Angle celebrated the win while Pope watched on from the mat. Pope stood up and they shook hands before Angle headed backstage...
Powell's POV: Good match, but not great. For instance, Matt Morgan looked much better in defeat at the Bound For Glory pay-per-view than Pope did here. If there was a moment where the crowd cheered Pope for his efforts, they didn't stick with the shot of the ring long enough to catch it.
Backstage, Hemme interviewed Rob Van Dam regarding the main event. RVD said he intends to get ahold of Abyss's weapon and shove it where the sun doesn't shine...
Tenay ran through the tale of the tape for the main event...
The entrances for the main event took place. Mr. Anderson came out first and delivered his own introduction on the stage. Abyss came out next with his new weapon the BITCH!!!!!!! Jeff Hardy was out next to a nice pop and the cool laser show entrance. Rob Van Dam was out last to his usual strong reaction.
Jeremy Borash handled the in-ring introductions for the championship match...
9. Rob Van Dam defeated Jeff Hardy, Mr. Anderson, and Abyss in a four-way to retain the TNA Title in 12:30. The three babyfaces ganged up on Abyss to start the match. They all took turns performing moves on him in the corner. RVD went for the first cover, but was quickly pulled off Abyss.
Anderson whipped Hardy toward a kneeling Van Dam. Hardy springboarded off RVD and onto Abyss at ringside. Anderson rolled up RVD, but Van Dam kicked out of the pin attempt. A short time later, Abyss whipped Van Dam into guardrail.
At 7:30, they did a tower of doom spot with Abyss underneath all three men. Abyss grabbed Van Dam by the throat, but RVD kicked him in the head. Van Dam performed additional kicks on his opponents and went to the top rope, but Anderson threw him to the floor around 9:00.
Hardy performed a top rope move on Abyss and had the pin, but Anderson broke it up. Anderson had Abyss pinned, only to have Hardy return the favor a short time later. Abyss hit the Black Hole Slam on Hardy and had the pin, but Anderson pulled the referee to ringside.
Anderson and Hardy had an in-ring exchange while Abyss and RVD were at ringside. Hardy got the better of it and hit the Swanton, but Abyss recovered and chokeslammed Hardy onto Abyss. RVD recovered and hit the frogsplash while Abyss was covering Anderson and Hardy. RVD covered Anderson, who was at the bottom of the pile, to get the win.
After the match, Abyss recovered first and attacked Van Dam. He grabbed his new weapon and swung it at Van Dam, who dodged it. The weapon tore back the ring apron after Abyss slammed it down a second time. Abyss was standing in the ring with his weapon as the announcers questioned who could control Abyss...
An ad aired for the Aug. 8 TNA Hard Justice pay-per-view...
Powell's POV: The finish wasn't bad, but the live crowd was really flat for it. Overall, the main event just didn't feel special and the live crowd isn't buying into Abyss right now. His weapon looks impressive, but you just know that he's going to swing and miss every time because the thing would kill someone if it made true contact.
The show had it's share of quality wrestling. In fact, it was the best show in recent memory in that regard. Are the Russo swerve swerves a sign that he's finally listening to his critics now that Dixie Carter is courting Paul Heyman? I see it as a case of too little too late, but I guess the only person who matters is Carter. I'll have more to say about the show in Dot Net Member exclusive audio on Sunday night, and in the TNA Victory Road HItlist on Monday.
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