TNA Hardcore Justice 2011 8/7/2011

Written by: Colin Rinehart

TNA Hardcore Justice 2011
August 7th, 2011
Impact Wrestling Zone, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: 1,400 +/-

We open the show with the requisite pre-PPV video package for the TNA title match tonight between Sting and Kurt Angle. Sting’s bizarre antics leading up to this show and the development of his character into some kind of strange Jim Carrey’s Riddler meets Heath Ledger’s Joker hybrid on crystal meth has certainly made for some entertaining television, but they may or may not have jumped the shark this past week on Impact by having him hold Eric Bischoff hostage with an evil crow. I mean, I get the reference and all to Sting’s last evolution in character inspired by classic comic and film The Crow, but things are starting to get just a wee bit too cartoonish here for my tastes. I hate to criticize a lack of originality in a business known for rehashing the same basic formulas and storylines, but it’s getting to the point where I’m wondering if I might tune into Impact sometime this fall and see Sting flipping Harvey Dent’s coin or twirling the Riddler’s cane. Enough Batman musings, onto the show.

Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz

TNA X-Division Title Match
Brian Kendrick
© vs. Austin Aries vs. Alex Shelley

Kendrick has some bizarre new funk theme song to go along with his huge parachute pants. Shelley is rocking the punk rock vest and a goofy butterfly armband, leaving Aries the least eccentrically dressed man in the ring for once. Shelley and Kendrick work together primarily in the opening minutes of the match, taking turns to knock Aries from the ring before locking up and exchanging some basic holds. Aries and Kendrick trade forearms while Aries sells a phantom injury. Shelley is sent to the floor and Kendrick tries for a tope but Aries cuts him off and hits an elbow for a two count. Kendrick gets back dropped out of the ring straight to the floor and Aries tries for a tope of his own, but this time Shelley trips him up. Shelley walks right into an STO back in the ring from Aries and then gets tossed out on top of Kendrick as Aries wipes them both out with the tope suicida. Back in the ring Aries tries a lionsault on Shelley but he gets his knees up. Shelley slaps on a nasty little crossface onto Kendrick, but he quickly gets a rope break. Kendrick blocks a Sliced Bread attempt by Shelley but takes a dragon-screw legwhip in between the top and middle ropes. Shelley feeds Aries a superkick (tastes great!) that sends him to the floor and Kendrick tries a superplex on Shelley, but Alex knocks him off and hits a beautiful top rope splash. Shelley locks on a nice spinning figure four leglock, but Aries breaks it up again. Kendrick hits a big running dropkick for a near fall and all three men try to set up an elaborate three-way super-Sliced Bread spot off the top, but Kendrick slips and falls so they just give up on it halfway through. Aries delivers the patented brainbuster to Shelley, but Kendrick breaks the count up and gives Aries a Sliced Bread, landing right on top of Alex Shelley. Aries rolls out of the ring and Kendrick covers Shelley to retain the title at 13:10. They had one minor botched spot towards the end, but otherwise this was a fine opener with some pretty solid action down the closing stretch. You expect a bit more out of these three considering their talents, but this worked well as an opener and they recovered without a second breath for the finish after the aborted super Sliced Bread spot so this worked all in all. ***

We cut to backstage where Jeremy Borash is with Miss Tessmacher and Tara. He asks them about their match against Rosita and Sarita tonight, and they both sound confident that they’ll leave tonight with the Knockout tag team titles (those things still exist?)

TNA Knockout Tag Team Title Match
Tara/Miss Tessmacher
© vs. Rosita/Sarita

Sarita is rocking a bit of a modified version of her Dark Angel mask because of some recent facial paralysis, but shes apparently on her way to a speedy recovery. Rosita does the whole “feisty latina” thing with Tara to start, but her more experienced opponent dominates her to start. Lots of quick tags here as they seem to be trying to fit as many close-up ass shots with the camera as possible into this match. Tessmacher actually delivers a pretty decent back suplex and dropkick, showing some improvement. The crowd actually chants for Tessmacher here while Sarita and Rosita do some nifty double-teaming on Tessmacher (sounds more perverse than it is). Lukewarm tag to Tara and the faces toss the heels into eachother. Sarita delivers a nifty butterfly lock into a back-knee strike of sorts and the heels isolate Tara in their corner for a bit, trading quick tags. Rosita tries to tag out, but Tessmacher knocks Sarita off the apron and Tara finishes Rosita off with the Widow’s Peak at 7:12. This was far better than it had any right to be and was probably some of the best Knockouts action I’ve seen in months. I’m not sure why I didn’t like this on my initial viewing, but this was actually really well worked surprisingly enough. **1/2

Backstage Jeremy Borash gets a few words with the Pope D’Angelo Dinero about his Bound For Glory series match tonight against Devon. Pope talks about how he wants to be a positive influence on Devon’s kids, continuing the subtle disrespect act beneath the false modesty and respect, and then promises to “do the right thing” tonight. A lot of good that did Mookie, right?

Bound For Glory Series Match
Pope D’Angelo Dinero vs. Devon

Matt Morgan comes out to join us for commentary on this BFG series match-up, though he doesn’t add much of anything on color. Why is Devon Dudley booked on a PPV in 2011 but Samoa Joe isn’t? Pope grabs a mic before the match starts and talks about how much he respects Devon again, so much so that he lays down in the middle of the ring for Devon to pin him freely, but Devon will have none of it obviously and the match finally begins. Devon slaps Pope around a bit in the early going so Pope responds with a lackadaisical wristlock. They fight to the floor and Pope teases using a chain on his fist, but Devon’s kids at ringside convince him not to and Devon tosses him back into the ring and hits a powerslam for a two count. Pope starts his comeback and hits a cross-body off the top. Pope lowers his knee pads to set up for the DDE but hesitates, having second thoughts and Devon tries to capitalize with a chokeslam, but Pope counters into a roll-up and pins him clean at 9:35. A bit better than you might expect, but still nothing more than an extended Impact match. **

Backstage Jeremy Borash is with Rob Van Dam to talk to him about his match against Crimson tonight. RVD says he’s going to win and take the number one spot in the BFG rankings, though he seems more focused on playing with a roll of wrist-tape on his fingers. Jerry Lynn suddenly walks up (does he just follow Rob around everywhere?) and tells RVD that he’s here to watch his back tonight in his match. As a lifelong Lynn mark, I approve.

TNA Knockouts Title Match
Mickie James
© vs. Winter

Finally these two are squaring off for the KO title on PPV, as this was a feud I was hoping they’d book when both women came to the company, being two of the better women to be cut from the WWE diva’s division. Angelina Love is by Winter’s side of course. Mickie is hot to start (as always) and the women actually do some pretty nice hold and forearm exchanges in the early going. Winter baits Mickie out of the ring to brawl with Love and attacks her from behind, tossing her over the guard-rail. Angelina gets a cheap shot in but Winter only gets a two count on Mickie back in the ring. Winter stretches Mickie’s back over her knee for a bit and then stomps away on her in the corner. Mickie hits a headscissors out of the corner and starts her comeback but Angelina slides into the ring and gives her the “Break Up Bitch” (I guess that’s Love’s new finisher) behind the ref’s back. Mickie still kicks out though and hits Winter with a tornado DDT that sends her out of the ring. The ref goes out to check on Winter and Angelina tries to interfere again, but Mickie cuts her off with a neckbreaker. Winter is able to spray some red mist into Mickie’s eyes while the ref is dealing with Angelina though, and that’s enough for Winter to pin her for the title at 8:53. These worked fairly well together, but the constant interference by Angelina Love and the overbooking ruined any chance of this being anything other than your average Knockouts match. *3/4

Once again we cut to backstage where Jeremy Borash asks Brian Kendrick about retaining his title earlier in the night, but before he can answer Austin Aries walks up and interrupts him. He complains about being double teamed the entire match and tells Kendrick that he’s not the real champion until he beats Aries one on one (and also that he looks homeless), challenging him to a one on one match at some point.

Bound For Glory Series Match
Rob Van Dam vs. Crimson

RVD is accompanied by Jerry Lynn as previously noted. Crimson kind of looks like he could be Sheamus’ little brother. RVD works in some of his usual spots in the early going (springboard thrust kick, rolling thunder, etc) and Crimson responds with a neckbreaker. The action spills to the floor (or as Tenay calls it, “the streets”) briefly but Crimson tosses Rob back in and launches him into the corner turnbuckle. Split-legged moonsault gets Rob a two count. Nice falcon arrow suplex from Crimson gets a near fall of his own, but Rob fights back with some more kicks. Rob hits the Five Star Frog Splash, but Crimson shockingly kicks out at two (which is a pretty big deal I guess). Crimson hits a spear on Rob and then delivers his Red Sky powerbomb finisher, but Lynn hops in the ring to break up the pin, DQing RVD and giving Crimson the win at 8:41. I understand the finish is meant to prevent either man from taking a clean loss while keeping Crimson’s undefeated streak intact, but this is a PPV and finishes like these should be saved for TV. If you don’t want to have Crimson lose then don’t have him lose, but clean finishes on a PPV shouldn’t be a tall order to ask for. This was going well enough until the finish kicked in. **1/4

Yet again we cut to (who else) Jeremy Borash backstage, this time as he interviews the newest member of Immortal, Mr. Anderson. Anderson says that Immortal had alot of power but they were missing one thing: an authentic grade A asshole (insert Bischoff/Hogan joke here). Anderson talks about shitting on people and then begins to make really lame fart noises with his mouth like a child as this promo is thankfully wrapped up quickly and we cut back to the ring. That was a shining example of how absolutely terrible Anderson has become in his promo work currently. This man has fallen a far ways from his days on Smackdown.

Fortune (AJ Styles/Christopher Daniels/Kazarian) vs. Immortal (Abyss/Scott Steiner/Gunner)

The battle of TNA’s latest warring factions continue. Funny moment before the bell rings as Gunner walks right into a sign reading “Gunner = Garbage” and snatches it out of the fans hands angrily. Kaz and Gunner start us off with some nice hold exchanges but they both quickly tag out to Steiner and Styles. AJ and Scott trade chops in the corner and Daniels tags in and hits a double-team move on Scott with AJ, slapping hands afterwards. Scott tags the monster Abyss in and he starts laying in big hammer fists on Daniels. Daniels responds with some stiff palm strikes and nearly botches a springboard spinning heel kick, but still manages to mostly hit it. AJ shows him how it’s done with a springboard forearm on Gunner and Kaz joins in on the fun with a springboard dropkick to Steiner. Springboards for everyone! Huge spinebuster on Daniels from Abyss and Steiner tosses him into the guard rail behind the ref’s back. Back in the ring Immortal starts to isolate Daniels in their corner, trading quick tags and beating down on him. Daniels escapes a chokeslam attempt and tags out to Kaz, who hits a hurricanrana on Abyss followed by a springboard back elbow/leg drop combo. Springboard spinning DDT from Kaz sends Abyss to the floor and Kaz leaps out after him with a suicide dive. All hell breaks loose and as all six men begin brawling in the aisle way now. Immortal set up a table at ringside and everyone returns to the ring, where Immortal works over Kaz in their corner. Kaz takes some more punishment before fighting off Abyss with a DDT and tagging AJ in, who uses Abyss like a trampoline and leaps off of him to take out Steiner on the apron! Pumphandle slam from Styles on Gunner and AJ is a house of fire, hitting a springboard cross-body on Abyss for a near fall. AJ counters a chokeslam attempt and nails Abyss with the PELE! Everyone starts trading big moves in the ring now and AJ gets crotched on the top rope by Gunner, who tries for an F5 on AJ, but Daniels breaks it up and sacrifices himself as Gunner slams him off the apron and through the table at ringside! Meanwhile in the ring AJ hits a crazy springboard backflip pele kick on Abyss and gets the pin on him at 14:42. This looked like a sleeper match of the night on paper and I think it delivered on just that. This was just a flat out fun little six man tag with all three members of Fortune bouncing and bumping around off of the big Immortal guys to very entertaining results. ***1/2

Backstage Borash is with a pacing Bully Ray, who cuts another typically great heel promo before his match against fellow Immortal member Mr. Anderson. Nobody has managed to do more with less and revive their career this year like Ray has, and alot of that has to do with the strength of his promo-work this year. In a year dominated by memorable CM Punk promos, Ray’s cutting the second best promos in the biz right now it seems.

Bully Ray vs. Mr. Anderson

Ray runs out behind Anderson to attack him once again during his pre-match announcements, but this time Anderson says that he knows Ray is behind him and turns around to get the jump on Ray this time around. He nails Ray with the old school microphone and they brawl down to ringside where Anderson knocks Ray into the guard rails and ring apron repeatedly. He sends him into the steel steps and chokes Ray with his t-shirt as the ref implores them to take it into the ring to start the match officially, which finally they do. Anderson takes it to Ray in the corner as apparently he’ll be playing the unofficial babyface tonight I guess. Luckily the crowd hates Ray so it sort of works. Ray delivers the devastating back rake of doom and then lays in some stiff headbutts into Anderson’s chest while talking trash to him the whole time. Ray hits a stiff back elbow and then starts tearing into Anderson’s mouth and jaw, using his fingers as fish hooks. Suplex from Ray gets a two count and the tries to rally behind Anderson as he responds with a big DDT on Ray. Anderson tries repeatedly to knock Ray down and finally succeeds. Ray fights off the Mic Check a few times but Anderson hits him with a nice spin kick and a lariat. Ray delivers a big uranage suplex to Anderson, but the former champ kicks out again. Ray misses a back senton attempt off the second rope, so Anderson delivers a swanton bomb on him for a near fall. Ray counters that pin right into a cradle of his own for two, and by god we’ve actually got ourselves a highly competitive, hard-hitting match up here. Anderson jumps off the second rope right into an ace crusher from Ray, but again he kicks out. Ray rolls up a chain on his fist to use but Anderson sets him up for the Finlay roll, only to sort of drop Ray onto the top rope lazily in another minor botch, continuing that particular trend of the evening. Ray gets fed up and teases walking off and deserting the match, but Anderson tosses him back into the ring. Anderson grabs Ray’s chain and teases using it on him, but the ref takes it out of Anderson’s hands and while tossing it out of the ring Ray gives Anderson a low blow behind the ref’s back and then rolls him up for the anti-climactic win at 10:05 (not including the pre-bell brawling). This was so much better than I could have expected, I thought these two were capable of having a decent hardcore brawl or something along those lines, but instead they actually had a really fun and well worked, hard-hitting match with a minimal of brawling. Ray’s match with AJ last month was better, but this was probably a better showcase of Ray’s improvement as an in-ring performer who seems to be capable of more than just brawling at this point. ***1/4

Backstage Jeremy Borash catches up with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, who chastise Abyss, Gunner, and Steiner. Ray walks up trying to celebrate but Bischoff and Hogan will have none of it.

TNA Tag Team Title Match
Beer Money (Robert Roode/James Storm)
© vs. Mexican America (Hernandez/Anarquia)

Another month, another token title defense for Beer Money against a team that has almost no chance. Let’s see if they can atleast make it interesting. Lots of frequent tagging in the opening minutes of this match, which seems like a recurring theme tonight. Beer Money hit a pair of knee drops on Anarquia, who is wearing some goofy flame-covered jorts. Crowd is a bit dead here so Beer Money get em back into it with some clapping. Anarquia goes on the attack, but his offense seems to consist entirely of weak punches and chops. Beer Money take out both men with stiff kicks to the head and then follow up with a slingshot splash on Anarquia at ringside before Storm tosses him back in for a two count. Mexican America work some standard heel double teaming on Roode for a bit while taunting the crowd and this match is just dragging at a snail’s pace. Roode takes an extended beatdown and then manages to deliver a spinebuster and tag out to Storm. Tag rules go out the window and Beer Money get by far the biggest pop of the match (and maybe even the night) as they do their patented “Beer…Money!” chant. Finally Roode pushes Anarquia off the top rope right into the Last Call superkick from Storm and that’s enough for Beer Money to retain at 10:41. Pretty dull match here and just another standard token title defense for Beer Money, which we’ve seen a hundred times. Finish was nice though. **1/4

Kurt Angle is with Jeremy Borash backstage, where he tells us that to prove he’s the best he needs to beat Sting tonight. He promises us he won’t lose.

TNA World Title Match
© vs. Kurt Angle

These two have met several times over the course of their shared tenure in TNA, but to be honest I’m dreading this as despite some of the fun character work Sting has been doing as of late, his matches have all been very subpar as of late. Angle works a wristlock to start but gives him a clean break when backed into the corner. The fans start dueling chants as Sting works an armbar. Very even back and forth contest in the opening stages here. Angle get’s backdropped to the floor and Sting brawls with for a bit around ringside briefly before heading back into the ring. Angle works over Sting’s back, but Sting fires up and fights back with big elbows and a DDT. Sting hits the Scorpion Death Drop but Angle of course kicks out at two since this is a TNA main event. Angle hits the rolling German’s for a two count of his own. Sting hits an Angle Slam on Angle, but via the laws of pro wrestling Angle of course kicks out at two so Sting locks on the Scorpion Death Lock. Angle fights out of it and hits another Angle slam, but again Sting kicks out. Sadly the crowd isn’t even remotely buying any of these near falls, and there’s almost no heat to this match despite the work itself being fairly good. Sting applies the ankle lock to Angle, but Angle counters out of it and applies the Scorpion Death Lock onto Sting now. Sting gets to the ropes so Angle tries the ankle lock next, but he still won’t tap. Angle accidentally knocks the ref out with an enziguri and Hulk Hogan makes his way down to ringside with a steel chair. He teases hitting Sting with the chair, but Angle takes the chair from him…and then hits Sting with it himself! A swerve? On a TNA PPV? Get out of town. Angle revives the ref and covers Sting to win his 5th TNA World title at 15:21.This was a nice step up wrestling-wise from most Sting matches these days as they kept it in the ring and put on a pretty good straight up wrestling match for the most part. But, of course, we can’t just have a straight up wrestling match here, we have to get Hulk Hogan involved for the ten thousandth time. Another silly attempt to swerve the fans, but an otherwise solid main event. **1/2

It’s unclear whether Angle has joined Immortal or not here as we go off the air with Angle staring down Hogan with the TNA World title over his shoulder.

Bottom Line: Flat would be the proper word to describe this show. There are actually a few good matches that are probably worth watching (the six man tag, the opener, and the Bully Ray/Anderson match) but as a PPV offering there’s just almost no way you can justify shelling out thirty five bucks for a show of this quality. Alot of these matches were just extended Impact matches, and even the matches that were actually good didn’t have much of any long term importance or reason for the fans to really care about anything on the card. A below average PPV, even for TNA and a slight Thumbs Down.

Rating: 5.5/10

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