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09 February 2014

Monsters Ball Top 5!


There have been some amazingly gruesome Monsters Ball matches over the years in TNA.  Those of us that appreciate the violence and brutality of a match like this have our personal favorites.  Abyss has felt the immense pain of the thumbtacks, barbed-wire, broken glass shards, tables, and other weapons (and even Janice on one occasion) time and time again.  Recently we have seen a resurgence of The Monster, much to my delight.  For the last couple of years Chris Parks has been mostly controlled by the personality of Joseph Park, but now it looks as if Abyss is gaining more and more control over Chris' mind and body again.  Newer IMPACT Wrestling fans may not know the history of Monsters Ball, while older fans may enjoy this brief review.  So I decided to give you the Monsters Ball Top 5!  Let me know if you agree or disagree with my choices and tell me what your top five are.  Enjoy!

WARNING: The column below contains spoilers for the ONO #OldSchool PPV and the 2nd Glasgow episode of IMPACT.


#5 Bound For Glory 2005 Abyss VS Sabu VS Rhino VS Jeff Hardy
This match was frickin' intense! Some crazy spots here including a Jeff Hardy Swanton Bomb from atop the old "Impact Zone tunnel" structure onto Abyss, who was laying prone on top of 2 tables on the floor below.  The jump had to have been in the range of 20-25 feet, and it was VERY impressive.  That Hardy dive garnered the classic "THAT WAS FREAKING INSANE!!!" line from Don West (which always gets my adrenaline going).  Throw in some stiff chair shots, some fluid-motion Sabu table and chair spots, brawling out into the IZ crowd and much more.  This version of Monsters Ball had kendo sticks, a weight-lifting belt and metal trash cans amongst other weapons.  The IMPACT ZONE fans were super hot during this bout and it makes me miss those great crowds from the early days at Universal Studios-Orlando.  Father James Mitchell was in control of Abyss at that time also, which is also very nostalgic.  Abyss attempted to bring the bag of thumb-tacks into play but received a Gore from Rhino into a table set-up in the corner for his efforts.  The match ended with a Rhino-driver (spike pile-driver) on Jeff Hardy from the middle rope, which was a SICK spot.  The only flaw in the match was that referee Rudy Charles actually counted to 3 but Don West simultaneously counted to only 2 on the play by play (good old Don West for ya), causing some brief confusion on the broadcast.  Multiple "THIS is Awesome" chants rained down from the crowd during the match and then "THAT was Awesome" afterwards.  Rhino was the winner of this fight but anyone that watches this non-stop action comes out a winner also.


#4 One Night Only #OldSchool 2014 Abyss VS Jeff Hardy
I'm glad I waited to write this Top 5 column until after I watched this match from Friday night.  When they taped this PPV back in late December in Poughkeepsie, New York I had heard that the Monsters Ball match was really good, and boy did it deliver!  In my opinion, it stole the show and most people that have seen #OldSchool would agree with that assessment.  The thumbtack spot in this match where Abyss choke-slams Hardy into the wicked pile of painful tacks was the 2nd best I've ever seen.  The velocity of the choke-slam was impressive as Hardy had 100-plus of the tacks in his back and skull (and those tacks remained embedded in Hardy for the duration of the match minus the few he quickly pulled out).  There was also a smashing chair-shot spot in the corner where Abyss violently threw Jeff into a chair wedged in between the middle and top ropes which cut Hardy's head significantly.  Also, at one point The Monster threw another chair at Hardy (who was perched on the top rope) hitting him in the head and sending him crashing threw a table set-up between the guardrail and ring apron.  The match ended with Hardy doing a Swanton Bomb onto Abyss who was trapped between 2 barbed wire boards on the mat.  Lots of pain and lots of violence in this one.


#3 Victory Road 2004 Abyss VS Raven VS Monty Brown
This was the first ever Monsters Ball match and it set a high standard for the next decade in Abyss' career for this genre of match.  I thought it was a nice touch when Abyss used to come out with a big, long chain wrapped around his neck and arms in the old days like he did here.  Part of the original stipulations of the Monsters Ball match (as Nick Mann pointed out on Twitter the other day) was that the participants were "locked in separate rooms in the dark for 24 hours with no food or water", thus making them more desperate, hungry and animal-like during the fight.  The announcers really focused on that aspect of the wrestlers being locked up in those insane-asylum-type of conditions as the introductions were made.  Monty Brown really stood out in this one as he delivered some stiff chair shots and showcased his power and speed.  The IZ crowd chanted "Holy Shit" on a few occasions during this bout, and at one point Raven power-bombed Abyss into the thumb-tack pile from the second rope.  The match ended with a sequence of Raven sending The Monster crashing through a table from ring apron to the floor and then a Monty Brown Pounce (spear) delivered to Raven though a table set-up in the corner.  Fantastic piece of TNA history here with the inaugural Monsters Ball. 


#2 IMPACT Glasgow 2014 Abyss VS Eric Young
There were a lot of things going on in this particular Monsters Ball from last Thursday.  Until recently EY and Abyss had been tag team partners (well mostly Joseph Park but I digress) and now Eric challenged The Monster to this "one last science experiment".  The large and vocal Scottish crowd really enhanced and elevated this match as it was the biggest LIVE crowd to ever witness a Monsters Ball.  I found it odd that there was a mirror in the mix of weapons when the match began.  That mirror became handy later on when Abyss/Joseph stared confusedly into a broken fragment after his mask had been ripped off and he finally realized that Abyss and Joseph are occupying the same body.  Before the U.K.-cricket-paddle version of Janice came into play and before that unmasking moment, lots of hard-hitting action culminated with a middle-rope power-bomb reversal that sent Abyss flying into the thumb-tacks.  Blood gushed out of his arms as the tacks seemed to tear the flesh more than usual.  A unique moment ensued when EY scooped up a handful of tacks into his mouth and spit them onto a pain-filled Monster.  The Scientist took a hard table bump onto the floor when Abyss punched him off the top rope and sent him flying.  The crowd reaction was a collective "OHHH!" from the Glasgow faithful.  The Blackhole Slam ended the match but it was just a formality in comparison to the bigger picture involved here.  This was a momentous occasion for this storyline and it has served somewhat as a revival moment for Chris Parks.


#1 Bound For Glory 2006 Abyss VS Samoa Joe VS Raven VS Brother Runt w/ Special Referee Jake "The Snake" Roberts
What a crazy, risk taking, beautiful cluster-fuck of action in this match! In the first few minutes of the brawl, Abyss literally gorilla-presses Brother Runt over his head and throws him into the second/third row of the crowd ringside.  Then the crowd actually catches Runt and throws him back over the guardrail to the floor.  It's one of the most unique spots I've ever seen in the history of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.  Then shortly after that, Samoa Joe did an over-the-top-rope corkscrew dive onto the other 3 opponents while managing to stay on his feet!  Joe later got sent flying, courtesy of Raven, through 2 tables set-up on the side of the entrance ramp and hit the back of his head on the floor super hard.  Abyss and Runt climbed the scaffolding by the main entrance/video boards set-up area and Runt got thrown 15 feet or so down, landing with a loud thud onto some covered tables/boards below (that did not break at that moment by the way).  Then Abyss jumped from the scaffolding onto the prone Runt and the much-sturdier-than-usual tables/boards did partially break and give way as Abyss careened down onto him with extreme force.  During the same time, Joe went though another table on the side of the entrance ramp via Raven.  Eventually the action got back in the ring where a Samoa Joe Senton splash sent Abyss' face into a pile of tacks (which is the sickest thumb-tack spot I've ever seen).  Then Jake Roberts (despite the fact that he unfortunately looked like a schlub in his role here) gave his patented DDT to Raven. The crowd in Detroit was going CRAZY all match long.  The match ended with a Joe Muscle-Buster on Raven, as this took place during Samoa Joe's undefeated streak.  The action never stopped in this match and they did some very innovative things.  For those reasons it receives my #1 ranking.


If you have not seen these Monsters Ball matches before I'd suggest rectifying that ASAP.  Either you can purchase the TNA DVD titled "Doomsday: The Best of Abyss" (which is a great, nostalgic history of Abyss and his story) or you can watch the matches on YouTube.  In some ways, it's a shame that it has taken 4 plus years to bring Abyss back to this level of respect and relevancy that he has currently with the fans.  As I've said previously, the Hogan/Bischoff era was very damaging to his persona and many others TNA wrestlers' personas.  However, I could see that old, familiar intensity in Abyss' eyes when I witnessed him up close last October in Salt Lake City.  I knew then that he was very close to being back to form.  I feel like he has turned a significant corner and finally overcame some of the egregious booking he was subjected to in 2010.  The REAL Abyss is back and it warms my heart that the fans are finally getting behind him again.

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