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The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
My Victory Road Recap & Analysis!
The Kingfish Arnie Katz reports the highlights and sidelights id TNA’s July pay per view event, Victory Road, from Orlando, Fm – and delves into the meaning and impact of it.
TNA charted a risky path for Glory Road, which ended in Total Victory for the Main Event Mafia.
This isn’t the first card in wrestling history to give a heel faction this kind of push. The justification is that the babyface faction gets maximum bang at the next pay per view by coming back from the edge of extinct8on.
Still, it doesn’t exactly send fans home whistling a happy tune. The fan favorites really took their lumps at this pay per view, though the dawn of a new, brighter day is coming.
Let’s look at Victory Road match by match to see what’s in store – and what may happen.
The pre-show emphasized Samoa Joe’s betrayal of Mick Foley and the mounting antagonism between Foley and the Main Event Mafia.
The Kingfish comments: This pre-show marked a huge backward step for TNA. The last two were live from the site and included fresh material; this just ran the same videos into the ground.
Victory Road opened with a cleverly re-edited version of the four “I Will Become” videos.”
Angelina Love d. Tara
TNA Knockout Championship
The Story: Tara has hit TNA like a force of nature. The exotic-looking Knockout, now toting a hideous-looking spider named Poison, took the title form Angelina Love. The leader of the Beautiful People doesn’t intend to let the gold stay out of her grasp for too long. This could be her only shot for the foreseeable future.
My Prediction:: Angelina Love will win back the title with a lot of help from Madison Rain and Velvet Sky. Part of it will be a gimmick to neutralize the spider, perhaps a cage trap. If Love wins by foul means, she can drop the strap to Sarita and then go back to feuding with Tara.
Predicted Grade: B
The Actual Match: Tara applied the Tarantula, but the referee broke it. She landed outside the ring, where she got into a shoving match with Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky. That distraction permitted the former champion to take control of the contest.
When Velvet shot hairspray into Angelina Love’s eyes, it looked like Tara would score a quick pin. Unfortunately, referee Slick Johnson was cut of position and didn’t count the pin. Johnson banished Love’s two cohorts.
Tara missed a top-rope move and Angelina Love pounced on her with a cover. Slick Johnson counted the pin and the win, despite the fact that Tara clearly had her foot on the bottom rope.
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish says: It looks like maybe someone read my column about referees a week or so ago. In any case, TNA is trying a referee angle and this is the opening salvo.
After the match, Tara kicked the referee in the head and then subjected Love to the Widow’s Peak.
Tara put Poison the referee’s chest and posed for the crowd.
With Jeremy Borash looking on, Kurt Angle told the rest of the Main Event Mafia that he would fire them if they failed to win their matches.
The Kingfish comments: This dramatic segment certainly ratcheted up the tension, but it also tipped knowledgeable fans to the fact that the MEM guys were going to win, win, win! When the penalty for losing becomes ridiculously high, the assumption must be that such losses aren’t going to take place.
Matt Morgan d. Daniels
The Story: Matt Morgan is trying to earn his way into the Main Event Mafia. He has targeted Daniels, a thorn in MEM’s side, and plans to dispose of him in this match.
My Prediction:: If the Blueprint loses this match, his current run, and his dealings with MEM, would be finished. That mans he has to beat Daniels, who really only needs to look competitive against the behemoth.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Actual Match: Morgan worked on Daniels’ knee until the Fallen Angel could barely stand upright in the ring.
Daniels made an almost super-human comeback in which he scored three near falls, but a missed BME left him exposed for a Carbon Footprint and the Hellavaotr. Matt Organ kept his MEM hopes alive by downing Daniels.
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish says: This smashing win for Matt Morgan turned out to be a surprisingly watchale match. Daniels probably deserves the lion’s share of the credit, but the 7-fotter didn’t disgrace himself.
It’s still hard to see how Matt Morgan, non-champion, fits in the Main Event Mafia. What if the Blueprint went to the MEM and asked for his reward – and got beaten down, instead. Morgan could revert to babyface and join the TNA babyfaces in routing the Main Event Mafia at Bound for Glory.
Dr, Stevie told Jeremy Borash that he owned Abyss “mind, body and soul.” He promised that his mental superiority would win him the match,
Abyss vs. Dr. Stevie
The Story: Things have gone from bad to worse between Dr. Stevie and his most famous patient. Abyss has taken more than his fair share of abuse and is ready to take his revenge. The desire is there, but can Abyss challenge his aggression enough to defeat the schemes and stratagems of the nefarious Stevie.
My Prediction:: This seems like an abrupt end to one of the most relentlessly distasteful angles in TNA history. They’ve already dismantled Dr. Stevie’s entourage, so it may actually be the finish. Abyss will toss aside Daffney and whomever else TNA dredges up to help Stevie and Abyss will chase him out of the arena.
Predicted Grade: C+
The Actual Match: After the recap video, abyss came out in his new ring gear. Mike Tenay told fans that it signaled a break with his “patient” status.
Dr. Stevie went right at Abyss, wielding a telescoping security baton as an equalizer. The Masked Monster weathered the assault and soon had Dr. Stevie trying to escape through the crowd. Abyss followed, pounding his nemesis every step of the way.
The crowd was really into this brutal and bloody match. They went wild when Abyss repeatedly smashed his foe’s head against the ring steps until gouts of blood spurted from Dr. Stevie’s forehead.
When Abyss hit a Backbreaker, Daffney tried to interfere, but Lauren stopped her. Dr. Stevie grabbed a taser from Daffney, but Abyss struck first with the Black Hole Slam.
With the crowd egging him on, Abyss zapped Dr Stevie with the taser and pinned him.
After the match, Lauren joined abyss in the ring and gave him many hugs and kisses.
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: Despite claims that this is the last match in the feud, the strong crowd reaction may tempt TNA to continue the storyline. One obvious way would be for Daffney to keep attacking Lauren. This would force Abyss to go to his girlfriend’s aid by stopping the problem at the source (Dr. Steve).
In a backstage meeting, Mick Foley told Beer Money and AJ Styles that all their jobs might be on the line if they didn’t bring home the gold.
Team 3D vs. The British Invasion
IWGP Tag Team title match
The Story: A lot has happened since Team 3D invited The British Invasion to participate in the tournament, none of it very pleasing to Ray and Devon. Team 3D will try to teach the upstarts some respect, but they must risk the UWGP belts to get that opportunity.
My Prediction:: Team 3D will get to do the Wassup and, most likely, put someone through a table, but The British Invasion won’t suffer a clean loss. This would be a great spot for a three-on-two beatdown that sets up a further match at Bound for Glory. Unless The British Invasion is going to work Japan, they won’t get their hands on the IWGP tag team title.
Predicted Grade: B
The Actual Match: After a summary video and “tag lines” Team 3D came to the ring and unfurled an American flag. That touched off patriotic chants from the Orlando fans.
The British Invasion showed very strong teamwork. It enabled them to keep Ray in their corner for an extended period of time. They wore him down and, very nearly, wore him out.
Devon got the hot tag, but his offensive run sputtered out with a near fall. Ray helped his brother toss Brutus Magnus out of the ring. They executed a Dudley Death Drop on Williams but the British veteran raised his shoulder before the final count.
After Devon hit the Wassup, Ray bowed to the crowd’s chant of “Get the tables!” Despite outside interference and a desperate attack from Magnus, Team 3D put away Williams with another DDD for the win.
Following the match, Kioshi and Sheik Abdul Bashir stormed into the ring and attacked Ray and Devon. Team 3D threw Kioshi out of the ring, Devon put Bashir through the table with a Powerbomb.
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: The British Invasion did pretty well, though they need to find a more interesting role for Rob Terry. Team 3D will be spoiling for revenge after the post-match attack, but that will probably come in a match on iMPACT rather than on a pay per view.
Slick Johnson admitted he was out of position and told Lauren that he planned to petition for a rematch for Tara. He acknowledged his mistake, but pointed out that a wrestling referee’s decisions are final.
The Kingfish comments: This was, of course, the obligatory ‘mock sincere’ apology. Calling for a rematch sounds good until you realize that Tara would, as champion, have a mandatory rematch coming to her.
Jenna Morasca d. Sharmell
The Story: Sharmell took instant dislike to Jenna Morasca from the moment Kevin Nash brought the winner of Survivor Amazon to TNA and the newcomer has returned that enmity in full measure. Now they’re going to take their hatred inside the six-sided ring. It won’t be much of a wrestling match, but it could be a very interesting fight inside the ropes.
My Prediction:: Neither of these women can work a match, so far was we know, so the ultimate objective must be to involve Sojourner Bolt and Awesome Kong. Bolt comes out of this as the babyface in a feud against the biggest woman in pro wrestling. The decision of the match doesn’t matter that much, but it is likely to be indecisive, something like a No Contest, COR or Double DQ.
Predicted Grade: B= (for the post-match between the actual wrestlers.)
The Actual Match:Sharmell wrestled in a blue sequin evening gown. Jenna Morasca dressed more simply, but she showed a little more ring savvy than fans might’ve expected from a novice.
Sharmell stomped and punch Jenna before applying a Camel Clutch. The “Survivor Amazon” winner did not submit.
Sojourner Bolt tried to help Sharmell, but Awesome Kong neutralized her. Kong then intervened more directly and knocked down Sharmell so that Jenna could pin her.
Actual Grade: T (for terrible0
The Kingfish comments: This kind of match is just a ‘bathroom break special” and doesn’t really belong on a pay per view. It’s not like either woman could wrestle. The T&A quotient, as always, was very limited, so it wasn’t very worthwhile from any perspective.
After the match, Jenna Morasca insisted that Kong put her on those broad shoulders. Awesome Kong did so, though she wasn’t thrilled at the idea.
When Kong put Morasca back down, Kevin Nash’s petulant protégé slapped Kong! That tore the shaky alliance to shreds. Kong hit the ropes and flattened Morasca with a Splash.
The Kingfish comments: TNA couldn’t have booked a better post-match segment if they were trying to make sure that even the dumbest mark understood that the match they’d just seen was not only bad but also irrelevant.
Kevin Nash, in an interview with Jeremy Borash, said he would retire if he didn’t beat AJ Styles.
The Kingfish comments: And in so saying, Kevin let the air out of the Legends Championship match. I guess he figured that once Angle added that ludicrous stip, what he said wasn’t any more drastic. Maybe so, but it sure didn’t help.
Kevin Nash d. AJ Styles
The Story: The Main Event Mafia has had a special dislike of Styles ever since The Phenomenal One took the Legends Championship from Booker T. AJ has defended it successfully, but Kevin Nash looks like his most formidable opponent to date. Capturing all the TNA gold is a top priority for the MEM
My Prediction: Kevin Nash’s dominant performance in the six-man elimination match on the 7/16 iMPACT made me question whether he would actually beat Styles for the Legends strap. Getting The Phenomenal One back into the TNA mainstream seems like an idea whose time has come, so Big Sexxy will buck the odds and continue his winning streak.
Predicted Grade: B-
The Actual Match: Nash survived a tremendous Pele Kick, which led to the second near fall in less than a minute. “Near” is, of course, not nearly near enough.
A confident AJ Styles leapfrogged the referee only to land right in Big Sexxy’s clutches. A Chokeslam and cover left the Phenomenal One without the gold.
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish comments: This was a touch match to work and both men deserve credit for good results. Nash’s physical limitations have shrunk his repertoire of holds, but he does what he does with authority, which definitely counts for something.
When Lauren went to the women’s locker room to try for an interview with Tara, she saw Slick Johnson coming out, followed soon after by Madison Rayne.
The Kingfish comments: This will be a major angle on iMPACT going forward.
Booker T & Scott Steiner d. Beer Money
TNA World Tag Team title match
The Story: Robert Roode and James Storm have had a bull’s-eye on their backs since they regained the TNA World Tag Team Championship from Team 3D. They are on good terms with the former champs, at least for now, but Scott Steiner and Booker T plan to start their own tag title reign at <U<Victory Road.
My Prediction: Once more ignoring that six-man elimination match, a win for the heels would be a great way to position Beer Money for a return, “get-even” match at Bound for Glory. The announcers have started mentioning that Roode and Storm are among TNA’s originals, which sounds like there’ll be a re-statement of the factions after this pay per view that creates an Originals-versus-MEM card for TNA’s late-summer blockbuster.
Presumably, one of Beer Money’s double-team moves will go wrong, thus allowing Steiner and Booker T to get the decision and capture the gold. It’s possible that Bobby Lashley will return to TNA to lend a hand to Steiner and Booker.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Actual Match: The usual video introduction and “tag lines” segments preceded the match, Beer Money had the arena’s full support.
James Storm really had his way with Booker T during the early portion of the match, ragging him from one end of the ring to the other. He ripped off a Neckbreaker, but Booker evaded the pin. Robert Roode took over and his Neckbreaker, too, only led to a two-count.
After the champions got the crowd to scream “Beer Money!” the fighting went to the outside. The challengers showed good cooperation as Steiner got Storm back into the ring where Booker T lent an interfering hand from the ringside area.
Big Poppa Pump rocked the Tennessee Cowboy with an Overhead Belly-to-Belly Release Suplex. Only the fact that Storm landed halfway out of the ring saved him from a follow-up cover. Booker T kept up the pressure when he replaced his partner in the ring and staggered Storm with a Reverse Round Kick to the face!
Storm finally uncorked a Tornado DDT as he came out of the corner to break free of Booker and Steiner. The crowd cheered him on to a hot tag. Roode soon had both men laying on the canvas, but he couldn’t seem to do anything beyond that.
James Storm spit beer in Scott Steiner’s face. They pulled off a Stereo Suplex. They would’ve gotten the pin if the referee hadn’t gotten some beer in his eye that made him unable to count. Booker T then yanked Earl Hebner out of the ring to make sure he couldn’t do his job.
Booker T gave Roode an Ax Kick while Storm argued with Hebner in the ringside area. Steiner executed the roll-up and pin to bring the World Tag Team Titles home to the Main Event Mafia.
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: Booker T and Scott Steiner won’t hold the belts for long. The only question is whether Beer Money or Team 3D will have the honor of wresting the gold from them at the next pay per view. Most likely, it will be Storm and Roode with Team 3D getting a title shot a month or two later.
I don’t think Hebner’s ref bump has anything to do with the Slick Johnson plot.
The new champions celebrated both in and out of the ring as Jeremy Borash held the mic for them.
Lauren asked Samoa Joe, whose head was covered by a black towel, whether the mentor world show. He guaranteed it.
The Kingfish comments: They could’ve skipped this segment and no one would’ve missed it. It had nothing new to offer, just another reminder about something every viewer already knew.
The video showing Joe’s treachery at Slammiversary ran yet again.
Samoa Joe vs. Sting
The Story: Samoa Joe’s betrayal of the TNA Originals and his unqualified support of Kurt Angle’s power grab within the Main Event Mafia, have placed him at odds with Sting. The idealistic Icon couldn’t stomach what Joe did at Slammiversary and will try to get revenge on the Nation of Violence.
My Prediction: Sting can’t come out of this with a loss, because he must step up to fight Kurt Angle in the Bound for Glory main event. A Sting win would also keep the Main Event Mafia from winning everything, though they will end the night with the World, Tag Team and Legends belts in their possession.
The straight-forward booking would be for Sting to dominate Samoa Joe until Joe’s “surprise” mentor Taz makes his grand entrance. Taz then distracts Sting enough to turn the tide before he goes too far and gets Joe disqualified.
I wouldn’t play it like that – and I don’t think TNA will, either. Taz is coming in and, it seems logical, that he will come to TNA in a recognizable version of his character, as the entrance music tease on iMPACT showed.
If Taz is going to be Taz, then there is no way he could possibly approve of Samoa Joe’s cowardly, mercenary behavior in selling out to Kurt Angle during a match.
So, in my version, Taz comes out to a big pop and watches the match from ringside. At a critical juncture, he trips up Samoa Joe, leading to defeat at the hands of Sting’s Scorpion Deathlock.
Predicted Grade: A-
The Actual Match: Samoa Joe took it right to Sting at the bell with a barrage of punches and kicks that had the Icon backing up and looking for refuge. Joe pursued Sting into the ringside area, where the Samoan smashed Sting’s head against the ring steps and the ring apron.
Joe heaved S his foe over the guard rail and into the crowd. He battered the Icon all over the arena, crashing him into a wall. Sting eventually turned the tables and gave the Nation of Violence a taste of his own medicine.
Joe caught Sting coming back over the guard rail and Suplexed him on the bare ramp!.
When the action went back inside the ropes, Joe Armdragged his foe to the arena floor. Then, showing remarkable athleticism for such a big man, he flattened the Icon with an out-of-ring Suicide Dive.
Back in the ring again, Joe dismantled Sting with an attack that featured stunning short rights and knife-edge chops. He added a Headbutt for good measure. Sting threw elbows to escape Joe’s potential submission hold, only to suffer a Powerslam when he rebounded from the ropes.
Sting withstood Joe’s strongest strikes and began to come back with authoritative punches that led to a Stinger Splash. He applied the Scorpion Deathlock, but the victim quickly rolled through to break up the maneuver.
Taz came to the ring, which revived Samoa Joe. The savage Samoan soon had the Icon backed into a corner. Sting came roaring back with a Fling Clothesline, but Joe easily got his shoulder up in time to foil the pin.
Sting fought off an attempted Muscle Buster, but fell victim to the Kokina Clutch. Sting took the pain as long as he could and then tapped out.
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: Sting’s loss makes me think that he won’t be the next challenger for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
The way they are using Taz is bewildering. Why sign this highly recognizable wrestling personality if he isn’t going to bring that character into TNA?
In an interview, Bobby Lashley said that he was after Brock Leaner in MMA, but that he also wanted to wrestle in TNA.
The Kingfish comments: Lashley sounded like a babyface in the interview. That would be a much better position for him than the heel they tried to make him when they first introduced him.
A dejected Foley told JB that it might just be the Main Event Mafia’s night.
Kurt Angle d. Mick Foley
TNA World Title match
The Story: Mick Foley has experienced quite a roller coaster ride since climbing back inside the ring as a competitor. He won the title as a fan favorite, reigned as a heel, lost the title on Joe’s betrayal and now wants to win it back “for the fans.”
My Prediction: Whether it’s incipient schizophrenia or bad writing, Foley is a babyface again. He is going to lose. It will be a match with some great high spots and fine work, but the bottom line is a Foley loss.
The weird thing is that they made such a big deal about Foley’s aversion to tapping out. First Eric Young called a phantom tap-out against Foley and then Foley vowed never to tap to Angle on the “bring it home” iMPACT. Kurt won’t be able to submit him with the Anklelock, but some kind of distraction will give him an opening for the Olympic Slam that leads to a pin.
If I had the say, the distraction would be Kevin Nash. That would give Mick Foley a motive to challenge Nash for the Legends Championship.
It is possible that there will be an X Division match, possibly on the pre-show. None was scheduled at the time of this posting.
Predicted Grade: A-
The Actual Match: After the same old video ran yet again, Jeremy Borash did his usual strong job as ring announcer for the main event.
Foley got off to a firecracker start, beating on Angle both in and out of the ring. As Angle tried to re-enter the ring, Foley hit him with a Legdrop. Angle tried again, but Foley chinned him on the top rope! Mick brought Angle inside the ropes with a Suplex, but his pin attempt was premature.
The action moved back into the ringside area, where Foley tried to Piledrive his hated adversary into the floor. Angle reversed it with a Back Body Drop! Foley landed painfully on the steps and favored his back for some time afterward.
When Angle missed a Moonsault, Foley went on the offensive. He even pulled out Mr. Socko, but Kurt fought off that assault. Kurt scored with an Olympic Slam. Incensed over Andrew Thomas’ slow count, Angle dropped an elbow on him! The champion then went outside and got a chair.
Angle tried to use the chair, but Foley got in the Mandible Claw before Kurt could do anything with his weapon. Angle left the ring, but Foley nailed him with an Elbow Drop!
Foley rolled Angle back in the ring. He would’ve won the match, if Thomas had recovered in time to make a good count. Foley applied the Mandible Claw with a Body Scissors, but Angle elbowed free.
Kurt Angle came up with an Anklelock. Mick hung in there for a while, but eventually he had no choice and tapped out.
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: This represents a strong win for Kurt Angle and pretty much ends Foley’s run in the championship picture. So it looks like Jeff Jarrett will have to step forward to challenge Angle at Bound for Glory, with either Sting or Foley going after Nash’s Legends Championship.
Predicted grade for Victory Road: B-
Actual grade for Victory Road: B-
That’s all for today! I’ll return on Friday – I am taking off a couple of days while they fix the links – with a preview of the Night of Champions pay per view. I hope you’ll join me then – and, please, bring your friends.
— Arnie Katz