Before The Impact Zone…There Was The Asylum
This review is from: TNA Wrestling: The Best of the Asylum Years, Vol. 1 (DVD)
Most TNA fans in recent years know of TNA home being in the Impact Zone at Universal Studios Flordia…however that wasn’t always the case as their early years of the company took place in Nashville, TN in a building that they called “The TNA Asylum.” Well TNA has revisited their past from time to time on various DVD sets (History Of TNA: Year One) but now they’ve decided to release a collection of various matches from this early period of the company from that building in his collection.
Along with various matches, you’ll hear from various TNA talents (Jeff Jarrett, Dixie Carter, A.J. Styles, Kazarian, Alex Shelley, Amazing Red, Chris Sabin, Eric Young, Jeff Hardy, Abyss, Douglas Williams, Raven, Chris Harris, James Storm, Robert Roode, D’Lo Brown, J. Borash, referee Andrew Thomas, and Mr. Anderson) on such subjects like the history of wrestling in that building before TNA, the Heavyweight & Tag Team & X divisions, addressing the critics, the rise of talents like A.J. Styles & Abyss, stars from the past coming into the company, Sting’s arrival into TNA, veterans teachign the younger talent, the debut of the six sided ring, the acquisition of Jeff Hardy, and leaving to go to the “Impact Zone.”
Ladder vs. Submission Match: NWA Champion Ken Shamrock vs. Sabu – This was the first main event in this building (the previous taping were held elsewhere) in a match where you could win either by submission or climbing the ladder to retrieve the title while it should be noted that Sabu came into this match with both his nose & fingers broken. The submission stipulation was set to work in Shamrock’s favor with him working over the legs & ankle early however Sabu returned the favor by working over those same areas on Shamrock along with applying the armbar various times. The match got hardcore with Shamrock delievering a baseball slide that knocked the ladder into Sabu’s face before Sabu later attempted a springboard flip onto Shamrock on the table with Shamrock moving just in time for Sabu to put his body through the table leaving a deep bloody gash on his back as a result. Malice (The Wall in WCW) got involved in this match that gave us a unconclusive ending but this was a good match just knowing how each man had completely different styles but were able to mesh well here.
Ladder Match: X Division Champion Low-Ki vs. Jerry Lynn vs. A.J. Styles – For the record for the newer fans, Low-Ki was also known as Senshi in his later TNA years but currently known as Kaval (NXT Season 2 winner) in WWE. Low-Ki’s style of stiff kicks played heavily early on including breaking a boston crab Lynn had on Styles by repeatily kicking him in the chest & later kicking A.J. repeatily while he was hanging upside down on the ladder. The ladder did come into play various times such as both A.J. & Lynn baseball slidekicking the ladder into each other, both hip tossed Low-Ki in the ladder setup in the corner, Lynn reversing a DDT into a suplex on A.J. into the ladder, Low-Ki reversing a Lynn running powerbomb into a frankensteiner into the ladder, A.J. hanging from the ladder while Ki kept kicking him & later applying a dragon sleeper onto A.J., and Lynn doing the cradle piledriver off the ladder onto Ki. For those longtime TNA fans, they know that this match is known as one of the most famous matches in TNA’s history & deserves to be.
[“Phenomenal: The Best Of A.J. Styles” & “History Of TNA: Year One”]
NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett vs. Raven – This was the most anticipated match in the first year of TNA to the point where they had to turn away many people from the Asylum & it should also be noted that the women in Raven’s corner during this match is the woman now known as Mickie James in WWE. Both men got busted open in the opening minutes as this went from a normal wrestling into a brawl with tables being broken & both on the giving & recieving end of low-blows. Appearences from the ECW reunion faction of “Extreme Revolution”, Sabu, and the S.E.X. stable just added to the wildness of this brawl. This was a wild match that had a mix of everything for everyone.
[“Nevermore: Best Of Raven”, “Jeff Jarrett: King Of The Mountain”, “History Of TNA: Year One”]
A.J. Styles & D’Lo Brown vs. Triple X – This was a great tag team match that had momentum trade between both teams at various time with A.J. & D-Lo showcasing great chemistry as a team concidering this was only the second time they teamed together.
NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett vs. Raven vs. A.J. Styles – This started out with Jarrett & Raven’s issues being so personal that they kept tossing Styles to the outside so they can settle their own issues in the beginning before Styles eventually got back into the match. There were various moments where all three men got in the action such as when A.J. missed a flying forearm off the ringsteps onto Raven on the outside before Raven used the steps himself to hit a flying clothesline on Jarrett, Styles was catapulted onto Jarrett in the corner by Raven before Jarrett caught Styles & delievered a running powerbomb. A chair was used as A.J. busted Raven open with it before Shane Douglas & Vince Russo made suprise appearences leading to the first World Title victory for A.J. Styles.
[“Phenomenal: The Best Of A.J. Styles”]
Steel Cage Match: NWA Tag Team Champions Triple X vs. America’s Most Wanted – This match was historic in that it took place at the 1st anniversary show & was the first steel cage match in TNA. As Tenay & West would point out heavily before this match, Triple X always had outside interference work in their favor against AMW so this cage match was made to even the odds. This started off as a normal tag match with the partners in their respective corners tagging in & out but turned into a brawl later own. Chris Harris was busted open after being thrown into the cage twice while Storm would eventually be bleeding as well before they were able to hurt Elix Skipper’s midsection. AMW got more aggressive as time went on with various moves like powerbombing Skipper from the top of the cage, delievering a spear off the top turnbuckle while Daniels was on the top rope. Elix Skipper did a phenomenal dive off the top of the cage before he was knocked out of the cage & kept out leaving AMW to give Triple X a taste of their own medicine with the number advantage leading to a championship victory.
Hair Match: Raven vs. Shane Douglas – This started out as a brawl that went through the crowd & the outside of the ring where Douglas began to bleed after Raven rammed Douglas’ head into the steel steps before Douglas returned the favor causing Raven to bleed. Douglas at one point got so blown up that he actually puked in the ring. There was interference by both factions of The New Church & The Gathering (including C.M. Punk) before both men eventually ended up going off the top rope through a table with Raven being pushed off while Douglas was later DDT’d through one. The lights went out when Raven appeared to finally have the victory before the masked man who had been attacking Raven for weeks revealed himself to be Vampiro aiding Douglas to victory. This led to one of the most memorable moments in TNA history as Raven got his head shaved but it was so gruesome & violent that many wrestlers afterwards admitted that it made them feel sick to watch it.Sept. 03
[“Nevermore: The Best Of Raven”]
A.J. Styles & Sting vs. Jeff Jarrett & Lex Luger – This was Lex Luger’s first match in the United States since the end of WCW & his first match since the death of Ms. Elizabeth. This was all about Jarrett & Luger saying that A.J. Styles couldn’t compete on “their” level. Luger overpowered Styles with a gorilla press slam, hip tossing him across the ring, and a bearhug before him & Jarrett continued to just work over A.J. as the referee kept missing the tag to Sting before he just couldn’t take it anymore & came to A.J.’s aid including using his bat to break Luger’s torture rack before Styles scored the victory over Jarrett.
Fans Revenge Lumberjack Match: Dusty Rhodes vs. Jeff Jarrett – I believe this was the first one they’ve ever done & for fans who don’t know what a “Fans Revenge” match is, regular fans are at ringside acting as lumberjacks & they are given straps to use. The fans lashed at Jarrett early with even Dusty using a fans strap to get his shots in on Jarrett before Jarrett stooded to taking a belt off the referee to whip Dusty. There was tons of interference towards the end by Jimmy Hart, Erik Watts, and Don Callous before the match faded away without seeing the conclusion.
Raven & Terry Funk vs. C.M. Punk & Julio Dinero – This was Raven’s return to TNA after missing for several weeks after his group of “The Gathering” turned against him…and Raven returned to his old “ECW” ways wearing a t-shirt & shorts. Funk was nailed with a chair & busted open right at the start giving The Gathering the control as Punk continued to work over Funk while heavily trash talking him in the process (with some words getting past the censors) while Dinero fought Raven on the outside. Raven was able to finally make a tag after Funk was beat down for most of the match but it was afterwards with what happened with Father James Mitchell & a stungun that made the lasting impression.
Ladder Match: A.J. Styles vs. Abyss – A.J. tried to take the fight to Abyss right away but Abyss was too powerful as he gave Styles impactful clothesline & chops along with easily tossing A.J. into the ladder in the corner. A.J. was able to use his athleticism to reverse an attempted throw into Abyss doing facefirst into the ladder via a bulldog. At one point, A.J. resorted to desperate tactics such as biting Abyss’ hand just to get out of the chokeslam before Abyss countered with a low blow & rammed A.J.’s head into the chair wedged inbetween the turnbuckles. A.J. used the ladder to perform such moves as a 450 splash off the top along with later giving Abyss a sunsetflip powerbomb off the ladder through two tables before he fell off the ladder himself onto the outside ontop of another ladder thanks to Raven. This was a great ladder match.
[“Phenomenal: The Best Of A.J. Styles”]
Falls Count Anywhere Match: Sabu vs. Monty Brown – This was a hardcore brawl with such moments like Sabu throwing a chair at Brown with such impact that he was wearing it like a necktie, Monty tripping Sabu causing him to go face first into a chair, and later catching Sabu on the top rope during an attempt at a frankensteiner & counter that into a powerbomb. The fight went into the crowd where Abyss got involved & powerbombed Sabu through a table giving Monty the victory. Great brawl.
Steel Cage Match: NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett vs. A.J. Styles – This was suppost to be Chris Harris’ title shot but since he was injured, Jarrett didn’t know who he was facing. Eventhough Raven thought he was getting the title shot, Vince Russo awarded it to A.J. Both men were evenily matches early before the cage came into play as it confined A.J. from doing his usual offense. Jarrett grounded Styles & worked over his leg before Styles got some momentum & attempted to reverse the figure four into a sharpshooter. This was a very competitive match as both men kicked out of each other’s finishers causing Jarrett to resort to dirty tactics like powder & his gutair but A.J. wouldn’t be denied & he once again became NWA Champion.
[“Phenomenal: The Best Of A.J. Styles”]
X Division Champion Kazarian vs. A.J. Styles – They both started out trying to size each other up as Styles focused on Kaz’s legs with kicks while Kaz focused on A.J.’s arm. Whenever A.J. would start to pick up the pace & gain momentum, Kaz kept slowing it down. Kaz did some impressive moves here such as a unique DDT on the ring apron, superplexing A.J. onto the outside, and delivering one hell of an impactful clothesline that turned A.J. inside out. This wasn’t your sterotypical “spotty” X Division match as they bulit up the pace overtime & attempted to tell a story throughout the match.
Jeff Hardy vs. Monty Brown – This was a contendors match as Jeff Hardy was in control early before Brown recovered with his power & had the advantage by working over Hardy’s back. The bigger story here was Jarrett coming out to ringside to help Monty Brown get the victory but Monty made it clear he didn’t want Jarrett’s help which ended up costing him the win.
Street Fight Match: A.J. Styles vs. Kid Kash – Kid Kash was so hated that the crowd was just ready to hop the rail & beat up Kash themselves. This brawl went into the outside early with Kash throwing a chair at A.J.’s head before they just beat on each other in the crowd & all the way to the balcony…where both fell off through a table. It eventually settled back in the ring as a wrestling match but this was definately the most unique X Division match in the history of the division.
NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett vs. Jeff Hardy – These two were so ready to fight that referees & security had to keep seperating these two just so J.B. can make the ring annoucements but to no luck as their fight spilled over to the outside where Hardy busted Jarrett open by ramming his head into the steps before the match started. Their fight got very intense as they kept brawling in & out of the ring to the point where Hardy sacrified himself by doing a springboard dive off the top rope into the crowd onto Jarrett. To combat Jarrett’s figure four submission, Hardy had one of his own which was a combination of a sharpshooter & boston crab called the “spineline.” Dusty Rhodes came to ringside to support Hardy & get a few shots in on Jarrett before Vince Russo came out to send Dusty to the back before their confrontation ended up backfiring on Hardy to the point where he came so close yet still didn’t grab the “brass ring.”
[“Enigma: The Best Of Jeff Hardy”]
Steel Cage Match: NWA Champion A.J. Styles vs. D’Lo Brown – This was the first World Title inside a steel cage & to ensure that Vince Russo didn’t get involved, he was handcuffed to Erik Watts are ringside. These two were former tag team partners but after A.J.’s attitude change, they became bitter rivals. D’Lo at one point did attempt to catapult A.J. into the cage but Styles displayed “Spiderman” ability & countered that into a jumping back elbow off the cage. Brown showcased his power advantage by ramming A.J. into the cage & making him bleed by raking his face across it before A.J. returned the favor by making D’Lo bleed after dropkicking his face into the cage. The issues between Russo & Watts ended up spilling over & having an effect in the outcome.
Sabu vs. Abyss – Eventhough their more famous matches happened in 2005 including the first ever “Barbed Wire Masscre” match, this was their first one on one meeting against each other. Sabu used a “hit & run” offense against Abyss mixed with his hardcore style that results in such hits & misses like Sabu’s usage of a chair on Abyss along with missing a double jump legdrop through a table. They would go on to have better matches as we’ve seen later on but this was more like a teaser for their contest to come but still a great first encounter.
America’s Most Wanted vs. Monty Brown & Abyss – Brown & Abyss were an odd couple team here but did work well as a team here as they kept exchanging quick tags & used their strength to their advantage over AMW who had more experience in their favor. This was a nice back & forth tag match.
X Division Champion A.J. Styles vs. Jeff Hardy – This was at the second anniversary show & suppost to be Kid Kash’s title shot against A.J. but due to Kash being injured, Styles had to face a mystery man which turned out to be the TNA debut of Jeff Hardy making this an X division dream match. Both men challenged each other to take their best shot against each other with Styles chopping Hardy so hard that he knocked off his neck collar. Both men were able to match each other move for move throughout the match until it was ruined by Kid Kash & Dallas but it was Hardy & Styles who were left standing in the end.
[“Enigma: The Best Of Jeff Hardy]
D’Lo Brown vs. Monty Brown – Due to both men not having a clear winner in their previous match, this was under the rules of “anything goes & there must be a winner.” Both men were very aggressive against each other leading to the brawl going on the floor & in the crowd with a table coming into play at the very end. Don’t know how to describe this match more than a very aggressive brawl.
So in the end, this was a nice collection of matches with some being quality in their own right while others were landmark matches in either a wrestlers career or the promotion. There were a few repeats on here from other DVD sets but most of those are so old & out of print that most people wouldn’t notice. The only critism I have is that I would have liked to see more important elements of TNA today that were created back then showcased like the first Utlimate X match or a match from the first World X Cup but they say this is “Volume 1” so hopefully if they have a volume two then this will be included but overall, so this is a collection I would recommend for TNA fans.