An implosion between the Kings of Wrestling (NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett, Kevin Nash & Scott Hall) has been brewing. This comes to a head at TNA’s Against All Odds, where the King of the Mountain defends his gold against former stablemate, Kevin Nash. Today, we’ll take a deep dive into that match, as well as everything else that unfolded on TNA’s second pay-per-view of 2005. The company have generated momentum over their two prior shows, with Final Resolution providing a decent follow-up to the entertaining Turning Point 2004 event. Will it last? Let’s find out!
TNA Against All Odds, February 13th 2005:
The dramatic opening video package describes tonight as “an opportunity to gain and lose so much”; it ties in nicely with the gambling theme implied by the show’s name. A.J. Styles fought through an injured arm to win the X Division Championship last month. There’s a great line in the video package, saying he was “betrayed by his own mortal limitations”. He’ll compete tonight, defending his recently-won title against Christopher Daniels in a 30-minute Ironman match. Say no more! Jeff Hardy and Abyss also collide in a Full Metal Mayhem match. Both stipulations marry well with the competitors involved in the respective contests.
As usual, we’re live from Universal Studios in Orlando, where there’s pyro, strobe lights and generic rock music. Mike Tenay and Don West are our announce team, who take us backstage to Shane Douglas, standing outside the locker room of NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett. A lawyer and Larry Zbyszko (whose role is unclear) exit the room to confront the Director of Authority, Dusty Rhodes. Rhodes has banned the use of guitars as a weapon in Jarrett’s looming title defence. There’s various backstage segments throughout the evening, featuring the lawyer unsuccessfully attempting to have this changed. I commend TNA’s commitment to including a running story on every PPV, even if they’re not consistent home-runs.
1: Elix Skipper def. Petey Williams (w/Coach D’Amore) in 7:58.
For the first time on a TNA monthly PPV, we begin with men’s singles competition. We learn that there will be a 4-way Ultimate X match at Destination X next month. It is implied that the winner of this bout will earn a spot. I appreciate the stakes being raised in our opener, albeit unofficially. We also discover that Elix is looking to utilise a new finisher tonight, adding a further point of interest. The action is promising early as both competitors display decent chemistry. Williams, who lost the X Division Championship last month, takes the advantage after sending Skipper to the outside, where D’Amore strikes behind the referee’s back. The Canadian later climbs to the top turnbuckle, where Skipper suddenly meets him with a vertical leap before nailing a big-time butterfly suplex. Skipper attempts another top-rope manoeuvre shortly after, as he unsuccessfully tries to execute a tightrope hurricanrana, like we saw in the Six Sides of Steel. Williams attempts the Canadian Destroyer in vain on three separate occasions in the contest, with Skipper countering the third into Sudden Death (his new finisher), which gets the win. It’s similar to Finlay’s Celtic Cross, a massive upgrade upon his previous finisher, the Play of the Day. There are a few sloppy moments here, however that’s understandable, given they attempted some ambitious sequences. An entertaining opener. **3/4
2: B.G. James & Jeff Hammond (w/Ron Killings & Konnan) def. Michael Shane & Kazarian in a Tag Team Match in 5:33.
Jeff Hammond is a NASCAR broadcaster, apparently. I’m British, so that does absolutely nothing for me. It doesn’t appear to do much for the crowd, either. Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t do much of note in-ring to endear himself. His offense is (understandably) basic – he receives the hot tag and wrestles like a wild boar would, charging head first into anything moving. He dodges a superkick, causing Shane to inadvertently strike Kazarian, leading to Hammond picking up the win after pretending to be a car (ugh) and hitting an elbow drop. This was a basic ‘celebrity’ match, he barely broke sweat and was extremely protected. I understand why it was booked, though I disagree with how. Surely, it would have made more sense for the heels to isolate Hammond until he hot tags James? Instead, a non-wrestler in his late 40s bested the talented heel duo clean, damaging their credibility in the process. *1/4
3: Raven def. Dustin Rhodes in 8:20.
Following his loss to Erik Watts at Final Resolution, Raven has become unhinged, breaking rookie Cassidy Riley’s fingers on iMPACT. Dustin Rhodes made the save that night to kickstart this feud. Early in the match, Tenay discusses their opposing personalities, pointing out that Rhodes wants to help young talent, in contrast to Raven. That serves nicely as a strong motive for the match being booked and an insight to the character of both wrestlers. Raven spends much of the match working over the leg of Rhodes, who sells lazily and is sluggish throughout. Dustin makes his comeback but Raven persistently targets the leg, attempting the ankle lock on multiple occasions. Rhodes applies an ankle lock of his own, which Raven counters, covering Dustin with feet on the ropes for the dirty victory. Unsatisfied with the W, Raven assaults Rhodes afterwards and we see our first referee casualty of the night. The match is over, what a waste! Raven uses a trashcan, which is appropriate given the quality of the match we just witnessed. He puts Rhodes in a straitjacket and beats him with a strap until security finally intervene. A small redeeming factor here is that Raven looked strong following a run of defeats. Otherwise, there was no chemistry on display in this lethargic, dull contest. *
The lights go out in the arena and we see a vignette for a debuting superstar. It’s similar to the one that aired during Final Resolution. They will debut on iMPACT in the coming week. That doesn’t do much for this review series…
4: America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) def. Kid Kash & Lance Hoyt in a Tag Team Match to retain the NWA World Tag Team Championships in 12:25.
America’s Most Wanted won the titles from Team Canada at Final Resolution. The month prior, they defeated Triple X in the incredible main event of Turning Point. Subsequently, they’re among the hottest acts in TNA right now and it seemed improbable that they’d lose the titles from the outset. That feeling was intensified by the lack of story here. The action itself was enjoyable regardless, if unmemorable. I enjoyed the early juxtaposition of the technical wrestling between Kash/Storm and the aggressive brawl between Hoyt/Harris. The heels cut off A.M.W’s early momentum when Hoyt dumps Storm on the concrete floor with a sickening thud. The challengers each shine in moments: Kash executes a skilful double jump moonsault off the top and Hoyt nails a double-arm chokehold transitioned into a powerbomb. Nevertheless, the champions score the hot tag to turn the tide, earning a near fall following a top-rope hurricanrana and elbow drop combination. The match breaks down and Kash uses a title belt as a weapon behind the referee’s back. He gets handcuffed to the ropes by A.M.W shortly after, however. The numeric advantage allows the champions to hit the Death Sentence on Hoyt to retain. Not bad, although I’d like to see the champions engage in a proper feud to capitalise upon their considerable momentum. Nonetheless, the bout served as an impressive win to solidify their position atop the tag team division. **3/4
A limousine rolls up in the parking lot and Shane Douglas is desperately eager to discover who’s inside. The Franchise is convinced it’s a major star, however security prevent him finding out. Whilst I appreciate the intrigue, this is a repeat of an angle from Victory Road, which took place three months prior.
5: Abyss def. Jeff Hardy in a Full Metal Mayhem Match in 15:21.
After his victory at Final Resolution, Hardy was assaulted by Abyss, leading us to Full Metal Mayhem tonight. The stipulation is essentially a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match. There’s two envelopes hanging above the ring, however. One contains a contract for a World Championship opportunity on a future iMPACT episode; the other is empty. Clearly Abyss is the larger man, although according to West, Jeff Hardy “does have one thing going for him: speed and agility”. There are high spots distributed throughout, the most remarkable follows Hardy charging at Abyss, who is tangled in the ropes. The Monster seamlessly launches Hardy with a belly-to-belly throw to the outside, through a table! What a fantastic move; it was unanticipated and looked elegant yet devastating.
Conversely, the following spot was its antithesis. The moment Abyss set up a table on the stage, the outcome was obvious. Hardy scaled the entrance set, putting Abyss through the table with an awkward-looking Swanton Bomb attempt. The set hindered his ability to execute the move properly, causing it to look weak. Back in the ring, Hardy climbs the ladder and grabs an envelope, but it’s the wrong one! The crowd are mostly unresponsive, likely having expected that outcome. Hardy is eliminated from the bout moments later, as Abyss tosses the Charismatic Enigma over the ropes, sending him crashing into a structure of stacked tables on the outside. Abyss retrieves the true contract to seal the victory.
Despite delivering an entertaining weapons brawl, excessive time was spent setting up spots that didn’t quite hit. The spontaneity and crisp execution of the belly-to-belly through a table made it thrilling, whereas other spots were either predictable or poorly-executed. The final spot didn’t connect; Hardy appeared genuinely livid in the aftermath about missing a couple of the tables. Regarding the stipulation, the luck aspect of the match detracted from the legitimate sport illusion, which is a key component in professional wrestling. In kayfabe, there’s no good reason to include a bogus contract. Furthermore, Abyss appears a mere lucky beneficiary of the stipulation, ahead of an upcoming World Championship challenge. **1/2
6: Diamond Dallas Page & Monty Brown def. Team Canada (Eric Young & Bobby Roode) (w/Coach D’Amore & Johnny Devine) in a Tag Team Match in 9:43.
D.D.P and Brown have had each other’s backs against Team Canada lately, having seemingly earned mutual respect at Final Resolution. The Canadians, who dropped the NWA World Tag Team Championships that night, are looking to bounce back by beating two main event level stars. Team Canada are briefly able to cut the ring in half and isolate both opponents respectively, a result of their usual heel tactics. Regardless, their control is fleeting and the babyface duo best the heels seemingly every time the odds are evened. D.D.P and Brown display tag team synergy throughout. They simultaneously dispatch their opponents prior to the finishing sequence. Brown POUNCES Roode, whereas Young’s fate is a Diamond Cutter from the top rope for the pinfall. The wrestling was adequate yet lacked any real drama, with the faces winning in dominant fashion. Perhaps they’re being built up for something important. It was unusual to see Team Canada beaten with relative ease after holding the championships last month. They diverged from the typical tag match formula, as there was no sustained heat because the heels couldn’t gain a foothold in the contest. **
7: A.J. Styles def. Christopher Daniels 2-1 (after overtime) in an Ironman Match to retain the TNA X Division Championship in 31:42.
Business is about to pick up. The early minutes are used wisely, establishing themes that will run through the majority of the 30. Styles works on the arm early, which gradually pays off. Nonetheless, Daniels damages the champion’s ribs by driving him into the guardrail from the apron. Even as the challenger controls the match, attacking Styles’ ribs, he sells the effects of the offense to his arm. The rib work pays dividends for Daniels when A.J. attempts a 450 splash but crashes upon his two raised knees. Daniels capitalises with Angel’s Wings to take the lead as we approach halfway. Styles fights back and, following an impressive exchange of counters, hits an unexpected Angel’s Wings of his own! That’s only enough for a convincing near fall, however. Nevertheless, he stacks up Daniels shortly after to equalise.
Overcome with frustration, Daniels busts the champion wide open by driving him into the steel post. The challenger targets the head wound of Styles; he aggressively beats down the near lifeless champion but can’t score the decisive fall. Daniels locks in a Koji clutch in the final minute. As time winds down, A.J. struggles and seemingly loses consciousness in the hold. It’s a time-limit draw. Believing he had the contest won, Daniels won’t settle for that. Dusty Rhodes grants his request for sudden death but the Fallen Angel can’t finish the job, succumbing to the Styles Clash when a weary A.J. digs deep for the gruelling win.
Guess what? This was excellent wrestling. Shocking, I know. The entire half hour was expertly wrestled, these competitors share an obvious chemistry and it was logical throughout. The limited number of falls scored suited my personal taste – it added to the significance of the pinfalls when they occurred. The drama was particularly excellent in the closing minute of regular time, with Styles struggling in the Koji clutch as the seconds ticked down. The result should not have been in doubt, yet I found myself hooked. The opening video package for the evening stated that Daniels wouldn’t need to prove himself in singles competition anymore if he wins tonight. He didn’t succeed but was elevated in defeat; Daniels took Styles to his limit, beating him to a bloody pulp before the time limit saved Styles. ****1/4
As alluded to earlier, Jarrett’s lawyer is unable to convince Dusty Rhodes to reverse the ruling regarding his client’s upcoming title defense. Therefore, if the champion strikes with the guitar tonight, he’ll be disqualified and lose the title. Jarrett is frustrated and says he’ll “get the job done” by any means necessary – a phrase that is repeated in the pre-match video package…
8: Jeff Jarrett def. Kevin Nash to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 19:45.
They waste minimal time pretending this will be a showcase of pure wrestling, quickly brawling into the crowd. Both men fight through the building and head outdoors, where an intense and focused Nash strikes Jarrett with a chair, drawing blood. They head back to ringside, where Nash exposes the concrete floor, giving Double J time to recover and hit a low blow. Jarrett retrieves an instrument case – there’s a cello inside. Of course. He holds it over his head to strike Nash and it snaps in half. Fantastic. Jarrett continues to work on the leg that he targeted earlier on, using the cello and its case as a weapon, surely a first. Nonetheless, Nash makes a comeback and executes a brutal Jackknife Powerbomb on the cello, further destroying the instrument.
The referee is knocked down in the process and here’s where it gets messy: Billy Gunn runs in and takes out Nash! The groggy referee counts two for Jarrett. Sean Waltman is here! He hits an X Factor on the champion as the referee is distracted. Nash covers now but also gets a long two. Gunn wields the title belt before B.G James snatches it from him. James though, like an idiot, puts the title back in the ring, meaning Jarrett is able to use it behind the referee’s back. He follows that with the Stroke but there’s still life in Nash. The big man recovers and grabs Jarrett for a chokeslam, however the champion pushes the referee down and executes a low blow, followed by another Stroke, for the win.
That was a rollercoaster. Similar to the ride we were taken on in the main event of Final Resolution. It contained all the tropes of a chaotic Attitude Era main event. The twists, in the form of the debuts of Gunn and Waltman, provided enjoyable and surprising drama. Despite that, it entered overbooking territory long before the finish. Once again, the official looked completely incompetent as he missed interference from multiple parties, numerous foreign objects and two low blows. If they insist on this type of main event then fine – but skip the illegal weapon shots and referee manipulation earlier on the card, as it is diluted come the main event. The exact same issue detracted from the previous show, which makes it especially disappointing. *3/4
We close with a promo for Destination X next month. Hopefully, there’s a significant focus upon the X Division for that show. I’m cautiously optimistic!
As usual, the X Division provided the highlight, with A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels delivering a brilliant 30-minute plus clinic in their Ironman match. They continued a streak of three consecutive PPVs that have delivered genuinely incredible, unforgettable contests (Turning Point 2004 featured A.M.W vs. Triple X inside Six Sides of Steel (****1/2); Final Resolution 2005 had the Triple Threat Ultimate X match (****1/4)). One bout cannot make a great show, however. The remainder of the card was unable to reach anything resembling the same standard, despite decent efforts in the opener and the NWA World Tag Team Championship match.
Unfortunately, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship main events have consistently disappointed thus far. Interference, referee bumps and foreign objects have been an ever-present feature of Jarrett’s championship defences. It seems the shenanigans are utilised as a crutch. If Jarrett is incapable of delivering a quality main event in a regular singles action, without the excessive bells and whistles, then he should not be the champion.