365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
Finding the match for this date was a bit of a quest. First off, February 16 is a Tuesday, which meant choosing a tag match by my self-identified and not-at-all-enforceable “rules” of the project.
In addition to trying to hit various eras, and not repeat the same wrestler and/or promotion on back-to-back days, I’m also trying to hit as many different years as possible. So first, I chose a New Japan tag match from their Australia tour in 2018 but it honestly wasn’t noteworthy enough to write about at length … as is the case with a lot of New Japan house show and “Road To …” tags.
Next, I picked a Rockers vs. Brain Busters match from Saturday Night’s Main Event. Thanks to the WWE Network getting assimilated by Peacock, and no sign of the SNME archive appearing on the latter yet, that one isn’t available online.
After that I chose a ROH Tag Title Match from 2007… which, you guessed it, also is not available anywhere that I can find online.
Hmm. OK then.
Necessity is the mother of invention and in this case I suppose what I needed was 12-ish minutes of plunder and chaos.
With that, ladies and germs, here’s the Monster’s Ball TNA World Tag Title Match bewtixt The Wolves — Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards — and the Decay duo of Crazzy Steve and Abyss from the February 16, 2016, episode of Impact.
You can watch this on Impact’s website.
This is actually the first big match for the Decay faction, which formed just a few weeks earlier as Rosemary debuted and joined in a 3-on-2 beatdown of the champs, Richards and Edwards. Decay then stole the tag title belts, leading to this moderately awkward promo segment:
Richards and Edwards made their names in Ring Of Honor, where both held the ROH World Title in addition to two previous reigns as tag champs there, known as The American Wolves. After a few appearances on the independent circuit at the end of 2013 and a WWE tryout, they came to TNA where they were known more simply as The Wolves.
Abyss now works behind the scenes in WWE but for nearly two decades he was a fixture on TNA programming even while the roster around him had a constant ebb and flow. The Monster’s Ball is his specialty, at least in storyline.
The Decay group might be new to TNA here, but Steve isn’t, as part of the roster since 2014. We’ve written about Rosemary and our appreciation of her and her gimmick, previously in the project.
When the Monster’s Ball concept first debuted in TNA, it was a twist on the old concept of a No DQ match with weapons, in that the participants (in storyline) were locked away for 24 hours prior to the match without light, food, and water. Goofy? Kinda. But at least it was an attempt to do something different. That pretext has gone long by the wayside by the time of this match. By 2016, Monster’s Ball has just become synonymous with a hardcore match, although with the weapons Abyss is known for: tacks, barbed wire, etc.
Richards and Edwards get the early advantage, and then start bumping around for Decay. Momentum shifts when both Wolves are on adjacent top turnbuyckles as Rosemary hops on the apron and blows red mist in Richards’ face. Abyss, meanwhile, hurls a chair at Edwards, who plummets through a conveniently placed table at ringside. Steve is smaller and athletic so he’s the guy who gets thrown around by the Wolves, with Abyss the heavy hitter.
Abyss seems to get a lot of grief in online circles for a perceived lack of wrestling ability. I think it’s important to note that, in the latter years of his in-ring career, his body was really starting to break down. The Abyss who is in this match looks like he is wading through molasses compared to the guy who first came into the scene in TNA, eventually dethroned Sting as world champion, and also made waves in ROH as part of The Embassy led by Prince Nana. If you want a true picture of Abyss’ talent and potential, seek out some of his work from the 2000s decade and you will have a very different take.
With all that being said, Abyss takes the two nastiest bumps in this match. First, he eats a sunset bomb by Edwards onto a pile of chairs topped with a trashcan. Next, Abyss is on the floor, staggering right in front of Chekhov’s barbed wire board, ominously propped up against the ringside railing behind him. Edwards goes for a suicide dive, but Abyss grabs him and teases a chokeslam… only to have Richards deliver his own suicide dive and put Abyss into the wire. It’s a small bait and switch in the midst of the chaos, but added to the moment for sure.
The finish is creative as well. Steve has Edwards’ head trapped on the seat of an open chair and is getting ready to wallop him with a steel chair when Rosemary brings Abyss’ bag of tacks into the ring and proceeds to pour it over Edwards’ head. It’s smoke and mirrors, but a spectacular visual, and Edwards sells it like he’s being tortured. Steve whiffs on the chairshot, however, and Richards comes back in the ring to block a second misting by Rosemary by literally sucking face and using her own mist against her. Steve eats a suplex/brainbuster-onto-a-chair-with-tacks-on-the-seat combo to end it.
–There sure are a lot of low blows in this match. A more juvenile mind would make a joke related to the Monster’s Ball moniker. Not me, though. Nope.
–There’s a funny line by The Pope on commentary where, after Abyss produces his ever-present cloth bag, he says, “We know it’s the tascks but it could be anything!” (Spoiler: It was tacks).
Final Rating: 5.9
You’ve seen plunder matches like these a hundred times and you know what you’re getting. I thought there was a good effort by all involved (The Wolves and Steve worked hard; Abyss did what he could) and a couple of unique moments — the tacks being poured on Edwards’ head and the reversal of the mist by Richards — make this worth watching.
Twelve women confined to co-exist within the same structure. Is it a reality show or an Elimination Chamber match?