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This Week in TNA: Special Edition - Hardcore Justice 2011

By Mike Johns Aug 8, 2011 - 3:15 PM print

Hardcore Justice.   This is the point where I would normally go into the history of the show, a bit.   Originally known as Hard Justice, this show is likely best known for the 2005 version, where AJ Styles defeated Jeff Jarrett for the NWA World Title in a match that had Tito Ortiz as special guest referee.   While the show itself was rather bland, it holds a rather dubious distinction as the final PPV of the Fox Sport Net era, as Impact's contract with FSN ran out the very next week on Impact.   Years later, TNA flirted with the idea of making Hard Justice an "all hardcore" PPV, advertising it as a show with no rules, more or less.   The idea has sort of floated about ever since, although it seems TNA has, once again, abandoned the concept for this year's edition.   Last year, Hard Justice became HardCORE Justice, and served as a TNA-Hosted ECW Tribute Show, featuring the stars of ECW for one last dance, so to speak.   Sadly, this ECW Tribute Show headlined by the final Dreamer/Raven fight, and RVD/Sabu, turned out to be perhaps the best PPV TNA produced that year.   It was also one of the most depressing.   But hey, you can read my review of last year's show for yourself!   Right now, we have the 2011 edition of Hardcore Justice to worry about!

Our opening video is surprisingly good.   You wouldn't think so to start, but it actually gets really good as it goes along.   Once again, it's the "Movie Trailer" approach that Kevin Sullivan (the TV producer, not the wrestler) usually takes, but done particularly well.   It's certainly more of a Christopher Nolan movie trailer than a Michael Bay one.   The only real downside is, once again, they're using the same Sting footage from the 2006 Bound For Glory vignettes.   It really is, at this point, the single most over-used footage in the TNA library.   Now, yes, it's good footage, certainly worth the repeated use.   The problem is that it is 5 years old, portraying a version of Sting that no longer exists, which has appeared in virtually every Sting promo video since 2006.   I'm amazed more people don't notice this.

Our show is brought to us by Direct Auto Insurance.   Who?

We begin our show with the X-Division Title Match, Brian Kendrick vs. Alex Shelley vs. Austin Aries.   Brian Kendrick's new theme is terrible.   Austin Aries spends most of the match playing out his strategy, which is to let Shelley and Kendrick wrestle, then pick his spots and attack when it behooves him.   The crowd seems behind Shelley, while Kendrick as a babyface is met with apathy.   Unfortunately, the Orlando crowd that was hot from opening bell to closing credits last month is already sitting on their hands in apathy less than five minutes into this month's show, despite starting with an X match.   Unfortunately, most will not take this as the indictment against the current Impact Status Quo it is, not realizing that it's never been the crowd that's been the problem.   Orlando is not "burnt out".   They just do not accept sh*t programming.   When you give them a good show, they're a good crowd.   When your show sucks, they sit there, bored.   And when your opening match features a babyface the crowd is apathetic to, a heel that just debuted last month, and half of a tag team that isn't nearly as hot on his own as he is with his partner, you're not going to have a jumping crowd, no matter where you are.   It simply does not happen, no matter how good the match is.   Why?   Because these people don't care about Kendrick, don't know Aries, and really aren’t interested in seeing Shelley on his own.   All the 5 Star Performances in the Universe don't mean jack if fans aren't interested in the performers.  

So, we go on with the match, which is pretty good.   Aries works his strategy as Shelly and Kendrick work together to thwart Aries before going back to trying to beat each other.   Despite a few signs of life for highspots, the crowd is mostly dead for the match.   What's worse is, just as they start to pick up the pace of the match, the crowd starts hopping.   They then immediately bring the match back to a halt, and the crowd goes silent again.   It's the exact opposite of last month's 4-Man Contract Battle that stole the show.   Instead of all 3 men going all out in order to try and beat one another, the match is slow, based more on the story of Aries' strategy vs. Shelley/Kendrick's Spirit of Competition, which, had this been the second or third match of the night, may have been fine.   In theory, you'd have had a hot crowd after a strong opener, more willing to be patient in this match and allow the story to play out.   Unfortunately, as the first match of the night, the slower pace and the story aren't doing much for the Impact Zone.

As the match comes to a close, we see that Shelley begins working the knee of Kendrick, injuring it with a leg whip into the middle rope.   After a frog splash onto Kendrick's legs, Shelley then goes for a spinning inverted figure four.   Aries breaks it up, tosses Kendrick out of the ring, and locks Shelley in the Last Chancery, a move neither Taz or Tenay called well.   You'd think something like "the names of people's signature moves" would be something covered in a pre-match meeting.   Or, at the very least, listed in the binder of notes Creative gives to both men concerning the things they want Taz and Tenay to cover on commentary during each segment.   Anyway, back to Shelley being locked in the Last Chancery.   Kendrick breaks it up.   Aries recovers and goes after Kendrick's knee.   Kendrick nails his running kick, which Aries kicks out of.  

Already with the kicking out of finishers, TNA?   First match, and people are kicking out of finishers?   Are you kidding me?   Actually, if you think about it, Kendrick's finishing kick is pretty weak.   People SHOULD be kicking out of it, so I guess we can let this one slide.   For now...

Back to the match - Kendrick goes for some Sliced Bread, but Aries hangs him up on the top rope.   Shelley breaks this up, then sets Aries up on his shoulders as he and Kendrick attempt a Doomsday Sliced Bread #2.   Kendrick's knee gives out, slips off the top turnbuckle, and Aries slips out of the Doomsday, nailing Shelley with the same knee-breaker/belly to back throw he hit Kendrick with earlier.   Aries follows up with a Brainbuster, but Kendrick breaks up the pin.   Kendrick hits Sliced Bread on Aries, dropping Austin on top of Alex Shelley in the process, allowing Kendrick to get the pin and retain his title.

Jeremy Borash is in the back with TaraMacher in a segment where Miss Tessmacher actually does address some of the huge issues concerning how she, a proposed babyface in TNA, is supposed to be cheered for despite intentionally assaulting and disfiguring a fellow competitor, which, for those of you lacking morals, is a heinous act of poor sportsmanship.   And it's sort of illegal.   First off, she retcons the fact that TaraMacher jumped the 'Itas, which is smart.   You're addressing the issues I had with the segment two weeks ago by hammering home this idea that, apparently, the 'Itas jumped you.   That's not what anyone said two weeks ago, but fine.   We'll let you have your retcon.   Tara wraps things up by saying they'll be "freaking champions" at the end of the night.   Tara then calls Tess "Brooke" and walks off.  

 It's time for the Knockouts Tag Title Match, as the 'Itas try to take their belts back from TaraMacher.   The proposed babyfaces here get an even weaker reaction than Brian Kendrick did, which, admittedly, comes more from the apathy fans have for the teams in general than anything else.   The crowd falls asleep, it seems, for a mediocre women's tag.   We manage to get a Tessmacher chant, a mild "woo hoo" for Tara's hot tag, and an actual chant worth noting for Tara.   Tessmacher only manages to attack Sarita's injured face unintentionally this time by dropping Sara to the apron as Rosita tries to get a pin.   Meanwhile, Tara gets a hold of Rosi and nails the Widow's Peak, allowing TaraMacher to continue their reign as champions.

Pope is in the back tweeting Devon as Jeremy Borash asks Pope about his match tonight.   Pope wants Devon to know he respects him, just as Devon's family respects Pope.   Also, this is in no way an evil plot on my part to turn your family against you, or try to nail your wife or whatever.   Pope don't pimp that way, daddy-o.   Pope wants to be a positive influence, and is only concerned about doing the right thing tonight.  

Now let's take a look at the BFG Leader Board -


Yep, Samoa Joe is totally f*cked.   Keep in mind, Joe's not on the show tonight.   Likely because he's too busy being completely f*cked by this company.

Our next match is part of the BFG Series, as Devon takes on the Pope.   And look who's at ringside, again - Devon's sons.   We also have Matt Morgan on commentary, again, whining about how he's not going to have a shot at the World Title, again.   Before the match, Pope takes a mic and kisses Devon's ass a bit.   Pope is trying to be friends with you and your family, daddy-o.   So Pope be pimping tonight by laying down for Devon.   Devon says, "no.   I'm going to beat your ass, first."   So, we have a match.   Meanwhile, Matt Morgan whines about not being able to compete in the BFG Series, yet Pope is just going to lay down for Devon.   Devon goes for a chokeslam, Pope reverses into a rollup pin, and gets the win, earning 7 points over Devon.   After the match, Devon refuses to shake Pope's hand, but then sees his boys, and realizes that if he doesn't shake Pope's hand, he sets a bad example for his kids.   So, Devon shakes Pope's hand, and this angle continues.

JB is in the back talking to RVD about his match with Crimson tonight.   Jerry Lynn then pops in, yet again (popping in during RVD promos must be his new gimmick or something), and says he's going to be in RVD's corner tonight.   RVD's cool with it, and they walk off.

Up next, Mickie James defends the KO Title against Winter, accompanied by Angelina Love.   As seems to be the story of the night so far, we have moderately good matches play out as the crowd goes mild.   Compared to the energy of last month's crowd, these people may as well be asleep.   Love Like Winter works the 2 on 1 advantage on Mickie, allowing Winter to gain the advantage over Mick.   Despite the weak crowd, Winter has the best match of her TNA run thus far, delivering a SHIMMER quality performance against Mickie James.   The crowd picks up as Mick makes her comeback.   Winter feigns yet another eye injury, distracting Earl Hebner, who, in TNA, may as well just be the go-to referee whenever you want to end a match with a bad call these days.   Angelina Love then slides in, and FINALLY, after nearly a year of Angelina Love using this Scorpion Backbreaker, FINALLY, Taz and Tenay call a name for this move - the Break-A-Bitch.  Classy.  

Maybe this is because I'm used to competent announcers like Jim Ross, Joey Styles, Dave Prazak, Kevin Kelly, Mike Quackenbush (who could easily be a play by play man once his in-ring career ends), what Mike Tenay used to be in the 1990s, or, god forbid, Todd Grisham and Matt Striker, whom WWE decided to replace with the team of Michael Cole, Booker T and Josh Matthews, a.k.a. "The Worst Commentary Team of All Time"... but, see, I'm used to knowing what the hell moves are called in wrestling matches, because, see, GOOD announcers actually tell you what the moves are called.   Its one of the things I hate about WWE's entertainment mindset, where people don't call the moves, but rather prattle on endlessly about whatever story is going on, oftentimes ignoring the action and the characters in the ring altogether to talk about whatever bullsh*t John Cena is involved in this week.   So why do Taz and Tenay wait EIGHT MONTHS to finally call Angelina's move by an actual name?   Sure, I can understand not knowing a name of a move the first few times you see it, but you've had Angie do this move since the beginning of the year.   Austin Aries has been on roster for well over a month.   In the kayfabe world of wrestling, it never occurs to Taz or Tenay to ask Austin what his wicked submission move is called?   No one asks Angelina what her messed up backbreaker is called?   Seriously?   It's your job to know what these moves are so you can inform me, the viewer, what the hell it is!  

Anyway, back to the match.   Angie hits the Break-A-Bitch on Mickie James as Earl Hebner is trying to get something out of Winter's eye, as the fake eye injury is now apparently a regular spot in Winter matches.   To her credit, you certainly don't see too many people pulling that spot off regularly.   Winter goes for a cover, and, BAM, yet another finisher, kicked out of!   Oh, and this one doesn't get an excuse, either, because Winter went for the pin immediately after Angie hit the move.   It's a FINISH.   As in, THE END OF THE F*CKING MATCH!!!   You don't kick out of a finish unless you have damn good reason, like, say, it's a big match.   And, by the way, no, a monthly TNA PPV Main Event is NOT, by definition, a "big match".   Not when you do this sh*t repeatedly every month!   So, here we are, just over an hour into the show, and we've already seen two finishes kicked out of, although, to be fair, Brian Kendrick's finish is a weak kick to the face people ought to be kicking out of.  

Back to the match - Mickie nails a tornado DDT on Winter, who rolls to the outside.   Because this is Earl Hebner, he does not stay in the ring to make a 10 count, but rather rolls to the floor to check on Winter.   This allows Angelina Love to attempt another Break-A-Bitch, just to get caught instead by a Mickie James neckbreaker.   Mickie then goes to the outside to roll Winter back into the ring.   Angie then distracts Hebner again, long enough to allow Winter to spit mist into Mickie's eyes.   Winter gets the pin, and wins the KO title.  

JB is in the back with Brian Kendrick, who talks about his win tonight, which once again sees Brian speaking English, although, now, he's just monotone, boring, and still looking stoned.   Austin Aries walks in, shushes Kendrick, then says that Brian only pinned Alex Shelley.   He didn't beat A Double, which means Brian isn't really the champ he says he is until he beats Aries.   After all, if you're really about fairness, sportsmanship, and competition, you can't call yourself a champ until you beat me one on one.  

Our next match is a BFG Series match between RVD, with Jerry Lynn in his corner, and Crimson.   As it turns out, RVD may not be the lock to win the BFG Series we all thought he was, because it looks like we're now building to yet another Lynn/RVD match at Bound For Glory.   Why?   Because, just as Crimson is about to pin RVD with his Sky High Powerbomb, Jerry Lynn breaks up the pin, getting RVD disqualified.   RVD loses 10 points because of Jerry Lynn, who tries to apologize to RVD as he storms his way to the back.  

Mr. Anderson talks smack about Bully Ray in the back with JB.   There's not enough room in Immortal for two assholes, he says, and tonight, Anderson removes one of them from the equation.  

Up next is 6-Man Tag Action, as Immortal, represented by Gunner, Abyss, and Scott Steiner take on Fortune, represented by AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and Kazarian.   In what has been, easily, the match of the night so far, Fortune wins a straight-up match with no shenanigans or BS as AJ wins with a springboard Pele Kick on Abyss shortly after Gunner puts Daniels through a table on the outside.   After the match, Fortune helps Daniels to the back, as Immortal blames Abyss for their loss.  

Bully Ray tells JB that he rights a wrong tonight, as he personally removes Anderson from TNA, preferably permanently.  

Anderson and Ray have what can only be described as a brawl.   6 people chant for Anderson as Ray lays into Anderson in the ring.   Beyond that, we still have a relatively dead crowd.   You guys may recall, last month, you couldn't shut the Impact Zone up.   They were hopping for nearly every second of that show, only really slowing down long enough to drink in the story of RVD/Lynn.   Here, they don't give a crap, apparently, about anything.  Makes you wonder if TNA is picking up any hints here, you know?   Ray eventually wins with a low blow on Anderson to get the pin.

Hogan and Bischoff are in the back telling JB about how they're disappointed in Immortal right now.   Gunner, Steiner and Abyss walk up, and Bisch bitches at Abyss for losing so much, lately.   Ray then comes into the scene, bragging about his win over the other bitch in Immortal, Mr. Anderson.   Immortal walks off as Bisch tells Abyss that he can't come home with them.   Awww.   Poor Abyss.   Here comes yet another pointless face turn!

Up next, Beer Money defends the Tag Team Titles against Mexican America.   Oh, and because TNA hasn't tortured me enough today by letting Miss Tessmacher talk, guess who grabs a mic?   It's Anarquia, still running with the worst Eddie Guerrero impression ever, telling us how the Mexican Flag will fly over every arena in the world once they win the tag titles.   Earl Hebner forces the 'Itas to the back, leaving Mexican America to lose here.   After a decent, yet unmemorable match, James Storm nails Anarquia with a Last Call superkick to get the pin.

Main Event Time as Sting defends the World Title against Kurt Angle.   But first, we hear from Kurt in the back with JB, who tells us that he will not lose tonight.

We have our typical TNA Main Event.   Signature moves are hit, everyone kicks out of everyone else's finisher, and, of course, Hulk Hogan runs... well, more like hobbles... in, trying to hit Sting with a chair.   Angle takes the chair from Hogan and chases him off.   Then, Angle cracks Sting in the back with the chair himself.   So much for wanting the clean win over Sting... Kurt gets the pin and becomes the new TNA World Champion.   For some reason, Hogan and Angle stare angrily at one another as Kurt celebrates his victory over Sting.

Final Thoughs:
The show is entirely missable.   At some point, I should just accept that finishes mean nothing to this company, especially to its Main Eventers, who toss them about so willy nilly, it's impossible to take them seriously.   Excuse me if I'm old school enough to believe that there ought to be at least one move in your arsenal that you protect enough so that, if you hit it, people know it's the end, such as Undertaker's Tombstone Piledriver, Randy Orton's Punt Kick, Cheerleader Melissa's Kudo Driver, or Manami Toyota's Ocean Cyclone Suplex.   On the absolute rare occasion someone actually does kick out of the move, such as Shawn Michaels kicking out of the Tombstone at WrestleMania, it serves as a special, monumental moment in the lives of fans and the careers of wrestlers.   Sure, you can have multiple finishers, low-level and high level ones that you protect in different ways, and even a few that can be kicked out of, but there should be one move in, for example, Kurt Angle's arsenal that should spell THE END in a match.   He doesn't, and, in a lot of ways, it's why Kurt Angle isn't at a higher level of stardom in this business, because his moves aren't protected, and there isn't something you know that if the supposed Best Wrestler in the World hits, there's virtually no chance someone's kicking out of.   And no, the Anklelock doesn't count because people have been stuck in the hold for years and still not tapped out.   This may also be the missing element for a guy like Davey Richards, who really doesn't have a set finish in his arsenal.   He has a lot of near-finishes, like the Shooting Star Press, the Kimura, the DR Driver, and whatever the hell he calls his Indian deathlock/anklelock, but not one of them is perceived by fans as "The Move" in Davey's arsenal that all but assures him victory.  

If anything, the lack of respect for finishers is one of the many reasons TNA Main Events aren't perceived to be epic encounters, by any stretch of the imagination.   In fact, we as fans have come to expect a string of finishes, just to see all of them kicked out of multiple times until, maybe, finally, the 8th Angle Slam will be enough to keep Jeff Jarrett down.   Because it only didn't work the first 7, let's try 8.   After a while, this treatment of finishes only waters the moves, and the wrestlers that perform them, down, to the point where we no longer react the same way we did initially to a move like the Angle Slam.   We don't gasp when someone kicks out of it.   If anything, we "meh".   It'd be one thing if this was something that only happened on PPV.   It'd still be stupid, but it wouldn't be nearly as bad as when they do this on every show, in every Main Event.   Impact - Main Event sees a sh*t-ton of finishers, all of which people kick out of.   PPV - we see it, times 20.   Hell, we don't even get out of the very first match on PPV without someone kicking out of a finisher!  

Beyond that, save your money, skip the replay, don't even bother with an illegal stream, and watch something else.   It's not a bad show, as TNA's had worse, but it's certainly not worth any time or money on your part to check out.   You've missed nothing here, other than Angle winning the title, which... hey, you read this review, right?   So you already know about Angle's win.   Don't buy the show.   Don't stream the show.   Do something else.


Have something to say about what you just read?   Comment below or simply e-mail Mike at MikeJohns@WorldWrestlingInsanity.com

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