America’s Most Wanted vs. Christopher Daniels & Elix Skipper (TNA Turning Point 12/5/04)

Match Reviews

This review was commissioned by Dan Vacura over on my Ko-fi account.

Much like Zandig/Mondo, a match most famous for a single spot. We all know the one. Elix Skipper tightrope walks across one of the cage walls and leaps into a truly insane rana back down into the ring. It’s one of the most horrifying things you’ll ever see in your life. Not just the spot itself, which remains one of the craziest bumps in pro wrestling history, probably only eclipsed by some contemporary freakishness like Jack Evans dying twice in a single Cage of Death that same year. But there’s such a beauty to the anticipation of the moment as well. The way that Primetime struggles to get his footing on the cage wall, even slipping the first time he tries to get his feet up. The actual build up to just set the thing up ramps up the suspense, only added to by those teetering steps leading into the rana itself.

Fucking stunning, every bit as iconic as it deserves to be.

What should not be lost here though is that there’s so much else going on around this match, and so much of it fucking rocks. For something so famous for a truly crazy singular spot, there’s a lot of thought that goes into this that’s all executed extremely well for the most part.

Much like The Final Conflict, this starts with the pretense of civility with tags actually being utilized in spite of the stipulation. With that, we’re able to get some classic back and forth stuff, even some old school heel heat tactics from Triple X when it comes to isolating one of the babyfaces in their corner. There’s always a little bit of mental gymnastics at work when a No DQ cage match like this starts with the tags still going, but these four actually escalate past that initial phase in a way that I feel justifies the start. For one, it’s the heels that force the action to break down because of their plan to handcuff Chris Harris to the turnbuckle, allowing them to beatdown James Storm in a 2v1 setting. By breaking the unspoken honor code of the initial tag portion, they still do recreate the narrative function of the classic tag structure: beating down one babyface during an extended heel heat while their partner watches on in horror.

Triple X are really great in this control segment, with Christopher Daniels really putting the finer touches on it. He blades early in the match during the shine, but watching him smirk through his blood covered face is a great visual when he puts the punishment on our heroes. One especially excellent moment sees him use the key to the handcuffs as a weapon to work over the cut on James Storm’s head. The key as a narrative device too is so well done as well, with Storm recovering the key and passing it to Harris basically serving as the hot tag of the match. It’s an incredibly clever way to utilize the same spirit and function of the southern tag tropes in a no disqualification setting.

After that initial hot tag, I do think the match starts to break down in ways both good and bad. There’s never too much downtime, but I think the flow of it becomes a little more back and forth without the same viciousness and meanness that characterized the more well-structured first half. There’s a lot of mechanical proficiency on display here though, in terms of timing this more bomb-heavy stretch so that nothing ever looks too manufactured and the action keeps on moving. The famous rana is there, but there’s also that crazy tower of doom soon after, both of which are great spots but I likely would have preferred something a little more grounded and heat-based given how all this started.

That said, they at least are clever enough to return to the classics by the finish. It’s a beautiful example of the heels just fully eating shit for all their sins. Daniels gets handcuffed to the corner as he did to Wildcat, and then just as Triple X tried to steal AMW’s finisher earlier in the bout, now AMW get the decisive victory by using Triple X’s own finisher against them. Karmic justice, simple and to the point.

Rating: ****1/4

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