TNA Hard Justice 2009 8.19.2009
Written by: Arnold Furious
They built this show around Matt Morgan. He wanted into the Main Event Mafia, Kurt Angle wanted to retain his title against Sting. So Morgan is in this 3-way with Angle courting him for the Mafia (as a cover for retaining his title) and Morgan determined to win the title for himself. I do like the simplicity of that. But Morgan should know he can’t trust Kurt Angle.
Incidentally you can follow me @arnoldfurious on Twitter.
We’re in Orlando, Florida. Hosts are Mike Tenay & Don West.
X Division #1 Contenders/Steel Asylum match – Alex Shelley v Chris Sabin v Amazing Red v Daniels v Jay Lethal v Consequences Creed v Suicide v “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero
Last Steel Asylum match was a spotty mess. Probably too many people in this one too. Pope is debuting here and its former WWE wrestler Elijah Burke. Last time no one tried to win this match, which is what I found so frustrating about it. Here they immediately start climbing and it makes more sense from the bell. Suicide even sneaks up the side with Creed only noticing when he was near the top. MCMG even have a plan; they go after Daniels, who they consider the biggest threat. Lethal Consequences target Red as they figure he’s quick enough to climb the cage before someone sees. The Pope is an X Factor because no one out there knows what he’s capable of. MCMG clearly think he might become an issue because they target him next. Pope in the tree of woe and Shelley suplexes Suicide into him. Nice. Again, in this match someone is always looking to climb, which makes it more realistic and way better than the last Steel Asylum match. When a big spot shows up its usually to eliminate someone who’s trying to climb out. Suicide takes over the match so the Machine Guns KILL HIM with a German superplex. MCMG out team Lethal Consequences but Daniels and Pope surprise them with stereo STO’s. While everyone else is fighting Suicide goes above them and hits a sunset flip powerbomb, which in turn boosts two other guys over in superplexes. After that we get the demi-finishers spot, which the crowd buys into. I suppose you can’t knock TNA for listening to their own fans. The Impact Zone loves highspots. Red tries to climb but Shelley grabs a leg and everyone heads up in the corner…then nothing happens. Not sure what the plan was there. They eventually get around to hitting the odd spot but I thought they were planning a big spot for everyone. Daniels and Red are left to fight to the roof. Red gets knocked off and falls onto everyone else. Daniels is left hanging. That doesn’t look safe. Suicide tries to get out but Pope kicks him down. He seems more interesting in injuring Suicide than escaping and Daniels climbs out instead. ***1/4. A fun little spot-fest to open the show. Much better than the last Steel Asylum match. Mainly thanks to the Guns. It probably helped that Burke was in there because he’s a little more level-headed on the spot front.
POST MATCH Daniels puts over the X division and mentions the history he has with Homicide and Samoa Joe. He stops off to put over AJ Styles and encourage him to come back. Words that allowed AJ to get out of his funk and win the world title.
BACKSTAGE Matt Morgan is quizzed about his allegiances. He doesn’t want to be controlled by Kurt Angle so he’s no longer interested in joining the MEM.
$50k Bounty match – Abyss v Jethro Holliday w/Dr Stevie
Stevie is so angry with Abyss’ failure to take to therapy he’s put a bounty out on his head. Ah, the old bounty match! A staple of old timey territory wrestling. Holliday is Trevor Murdoch. He basically got used as enhancement by TNA so its slightly frustrating he’s been thrown out on the PPV against Abyss. I guess the aim being to start small on this new Dr Stevie angle before building. However it all got derailed within a month with Nash pinning Abyss only for Stevie to complain the bounty was for “ending Abyss’ career”, which didn’t happen. You have to build angles like this and I appreciate how they built Stevie & Abyss as an angle before this bounty. Murdoch works some heat and the crowd dislike him. In an ‘X-Pac heat’ kinda way. Abyss comes back with power. The heels conceal a club only to then use it in front of the ref because weapons are ok. Why hide it to start with then? Confusing. Jethro kicks out of the sideslam and chokeslam and the crowd chant “that was three” after the chokeslam. Oh dear…not over. Holliday tries to use the brass knucks, but like everyone else, runs into the Black Hole Slam. Game over *. It wasn’t a bad match but the crowd were so unhappy with the way the angle was progressing they had more fun creatively shitting on it than watching it. Luckily the angle was about to kick it up a notch with the involvement of Mick Foley.
POST MATCH Holliday discovers how to get over by laying out Dr Stevie. He might have been accepted if he’d stuck around. TNA didn’t see the potential and jobbed him out. Story of his career.
BACKSTAGE Kurt Angle has words and suggests that Morgan may come around to his way of thinking.
Feast or Fired briefcase match – Rob Terry v Hernandez
British Invasion injured Hernandez and stole his title shot briefcase. Hernandez wants it back, hence this match. Terry has barely wrestled, anywhere, at a decent standard but he is incredibly muscular. That would explain why WWE was interested in him. British Invasion get laid out and Terry jobs to a shoulderblock in 9 seconds. Squash. It should be noted that Terry couldn’t even bump one move properly.
BACKSTAGE Beer Money get interviewed. James Storm says they’ll win at all costs including “spittin’ on yo momma”. Robert Roode says they showed emotion and heart so now the old Beer Money is back. “Makin’ cash, gettin’ trashed”.
IWGP tag titles – British Invasion (c) v Beer Money
New Japan didn’t officially recognise BI as champions until just before this show as they’d not sanctioned the title change. Who wants to put money on Russo being behind the title switch? Having already pissed off New Japan once they surely don’t want to do it again here so the finish is telegraphed. At ringside is Eric Young, the leader of World Elite. He joins commentary and I’m tempted to mute because he’s a terrible heel. No one seems to have thought about Beer Money trying to get their TNA titles back. That would have been the logical match. Beer Money set up the comedy sex spots. They have a thing for those. It was funnier with Jacqueline. The match varies in quality depending on what percentage of the James Storm Vs Doug Williams match-up is in the ring. Shame Storm’s singles run was based so much on his gimmick rather than his skill. Eric Young earns his money by throwing a tag belt in so Doug can waffle Roode with it and get the win. **1/2. It was a decent tag match but given the talent out there it should have been better. I don’t like that they’ve got two great tag teams and yet the focus is on Eric Young.
BACKSTAGE ODB and Cody Deaner bounce around. Cody is concerned he may be raped by the Beautiful People. This is about the culmination of Deaner’s angle with ODB. After screwing her over he’d job to her and that’d be his TNA career over.
Knockouts title – The Beautiful People (Angelina Love/Velvet Sky w/Madison Rayne) (c) v ODB/Cody Deaner
The idea is that if ODB gets the pin she becomes Knockouts champ regardless of who she pins. Angelina is the defending champ. If you can’t see the finish coming after that stipulation and her choice of tag partner you probably haven’t watched enough wrestling (although it’d be acceptable to believe Velvet would get the pin and claim the belt for herself too). Don West implies that he fucked Velvet Sky last night so she might be “a bit sluggish” today. Oh, Don, why did I ever doubt your heelishness? When Deaner gets a tag he waits for the reaction…and there is none. His arrival reminds me immediately of WEW. His offence mostly consists of spanking. Velvet, red cheeked, makes the tag having unwillingly participated in something about a quarter step short of porn. ODB gets isolated so Deaner can get his “hot” tag. Deaner sneaks in some kissing. He’s a rapist isn’t he? “Is this Memphis rules?” – Don West. HAHAHA. Angelina, offended by the tongue assault, bicycle kicks him. Madison miscues with the spray and Velvet gets rolled up by Deaner for the belt change. ½*. Well, it was crap but at least some of it was over. Don West accuses Deaner of sexual assault.
POST MATCH Deaner is all “this is my belt”. But it’s a women’s title, you fucking moron. And there goes Deaner’s meal ticket. ODB would beat him for the title the following month. Velvet blames Madison for the miscue leading to a 2 on 1 screechy assault. Crowd chant “Velvet” showing who was actually winning during this angle.
BACKSTAGE Taz tells us Joe is in the zone and will be taking the X title…NOW.
X title – Homicide (c) v Samoa Joe
Joe has been above the X title for 2 years but the MEM want all the belts. He had a hot feud with Homicide…in ROH. Homicide hasn’t had the same impact as a singles wrestler in TNA because they were more interested in pushing Hernandez. That said Homicide hasn’t helped his cause with lesser outings in TNA. Joe brought that Indy monster persona into TNA but has lost his way. He’s finally in there against a guy who can take all his offence too. So you get flashes of the Samoa Joe who deserved the world title. The powerslam looks great, the powerbomb into the STF is great and he even switches that for a Rings of Saturn so he’s not being predictable. When Homicide makes his comeback he’s lacking in enthusiasm and Joe has to do the hard work there too. Joe bails to get consolation from Taz but that FAILS because he just walks right into the Tope Con Hilo that he’s seen in dozens of matches he’s personally had with Homicide. Its like Taz made him worse. Back inside Joe is flummoxed twice and caught with the Ace Crusher for 2. TNA ruined Joe. He used to be explosive and deadly. Now he’s boring. Homicide gets caught in the Koquina Clutch and taps out. *3/4. A truly remarkable achievement as it made BOTH guys look weak. Joe brought very little and Homicide lost to it. I love Joe but TNA have neutered him.
BACKSTAGE Kurt Angle goes to chat with Matt Morgan but Morgan is still pissed off about his previous behaviour. Angle offers an olive branch by saying that Morgan can join the MEM if Sting doesn’t win. Kurt doesn’t object to Morgan taking the belt tonight, which culminates in a handshake. “It worked” smirks Angle to Jeremy Borash. If Morgan actually trusts Angle than he’s as stupid as he looks.
TNA tag titles – Main Event Mafia (Booker T/Scott Steiner) (c) v Team 3D
Two refs in this match. Booker is in his 14th tag title run, Steiner his 12th. Team 3D have 22 world titles. There’s experience behind this match. They start in the ring but that ain’t great so they spill into the crowd, ECW style. Its nice for the Orlando crowd but there’s nothing much for the fans at home. Apart from Steiner teasing a big dive before falling off a rail. Pissed off, he decides he’ll do it again and dives off that rail, yelling “Superfly”, and gets a pin in the crowd for 2. The weird thing is Steiner just jumped from about six feet, which isn’t much in wrestling terms but the crowd popped the shit out of it because Steiner doesn’t dive off anything. Crowd gets a little overexcited and starts chanting “this is awesome”. For you maybe! Its like that really stoned dude who thinks everything is awesome. “Oh wow, toast. Toast is so fucking awesome”. Actually I’d like this match more if a “toast is awesome” chant broke out. I’d totally mark for that. 3D get the tables but that backfires and Booker wants Steiner to do the Frankensteiner. That’s countered into the Dudley Device but Booker moves the table. Bubba takes a Bookend through the table but Bubba kicks out? What the fuck. Its his finisher AND its through a table. In this bullshit match. I guess D-Von was supposed to save and fucked up because I can’t believe anyone would actually book that to happen. A bunch of near falls follow with no heat to them because if THAT isn’t a finish the crowd know they have a big finish planned. 3D for Booker but Steiner rolls Bubba up simultaneously for the win. I think you’ll find both counts finished at the same time. The referees have reached “conflicting decisions” and go the video. Well, its official, this match is the biggest load of bullshit TNA have shat forth this year. After reviewing the decision, which showed a draw, they give the belts to the MEM. ¼*. Crowd chants “bullshit” and that’s WITH the Kool Aid. Match had some merit…until the Bookend spot. All downhill from there.
BACKSTAGE Mick Foley gets an interview about the Legend’s title. He says Kevin Nash wants it for the money but he wants it for pride.
Legend’s title – Mick Foley (c) v Kevin Nash
This match could have been pretty good…in 1996. Now it kinda reminds me of WCW when they’d put on matches with guys years past their best. Crowd chant their support…for Super Dragon. As if! Half the roster wouldn’t even work with Super Dragon. Don West launches an unintentional shoot comment; “this is hard to watch”. Hard or boring. You choose! Seriously though; this is ‘name’ wrestling ‘name’ rather than talent wrestling talent. They do some safe stuff with a chair with me wishing either of them would work the knee. Foley goes for the Cactus Elbow but Nash gets the chair in the way. Foley either blades in a nasty spot by the eye or he’s busted hardway. Nash ELBOWS HIM IN THE EYE! YEAAAAAH!! Now we’re talking. Foley goes nuts and mounts a comeback but Nash is just too slow to make it interesting. Foley does make an effort towards the Muta by getting blood on him, his opponent and the camera. Nash blades, which seems unnecessary, and that’s a bad cut too. Nash drags the ref in the way of the corner knee just to ruin my bloodthirsty fun. Crowd chants for “Cactus Jack”! He goes for the barbwire bat but Traci Brooks runs out to save and Nash gets the pin off camera. Way to go, TNA! **. Bonus points for two gory bladejobs even if only one of them made any sense. Without the blood this one would have sucked.
POST MATCH Nash bashes Foley with a barbwire bat BUT Abyss makes the save. The bloody Foley gives Abyss a thumbs up.
BACKSTAGE Sting says he learned the only person you can trust is yourself. Hahaha, after which Lex Luger/Ric Flair/anyone else who thought you were gullible heel turn was that? He says he wants to bring back honour, dignity and respect because it’ll come back into “styles”. Very deliberate endorsement of AJ Styles. Shame he isn’t even on this show.
TNA title – Kurt Angle (c) v Sting v Matt Morgan
There was a clamouring for Angle to lose the title after he was arrested in the lead up to this show. The cause? His relationship with Trenesha Biggers, who you might know better as Rhaka Khan. They’d been living together but Biggers filed a restraining order against him after he attacked her. He breached it and got arrested. It didn’t help matters that he was carrying HGH in his car at the time. So the internet was up in arms and wanted him to lose the title here. The suggestion being that their preference was for Matt Morgan to take the belt. TNA actually waited a month to see how it worked out and put the title on AJ instead, which presumably was their long term goal.
Morgan looks massive in there with actual main eventers. But, as per usual, he struggles to engage the crowd. TNA must have been wondering why the WWE gave up on Morgan when they signed him…now it’s obvious. Sting gets beaten up but Angle doesn’t look 100% and keeps getting thrown outside. The match hinges on Sting’s babyface antics and how he’s able to make Morgan interesting and keep Angle focused. He kicks out of the Angleslam and counters the Anklelock. Angle is NOT having a good match. If they had another guy, AJ Styles preferably, in Morgan’s place this could have been a good match. But Morgan has that morally grey stance whereas AJ is a babyface. I guess they wanted that dynamic over a good match. Morgan uses his size to take over on Sting until Angle interferes. Angle claims he was trying to help and that causes dissension. Angle doesn’t like the disrespect but he eats the Carbon Footprint and claims an injury. I hate it when they fake injuries. It makes real injuries that much less important. A distracted Morgan gets laid out with the Scorpion Deathdrop for 2. Earl Hebner seems more interested in Angle’s injury. Just get a trainer out here. Carbon Footprint. Same setup as last time. Angle pulls the ref out, because he’s not injured. He “accidentally” knocks Morgan out with a chair shot and does the same to Sting to stop him interfering on the pin. *1/2. Showed flashes of intelligence and swerved everyone by keeping the title on Angle. But the match was mediocre and you wonder how long they can keep on trying to treat Angle and Sting as their entire main event scene. Luckily AJ’s title win is just a month away.
Final Thoughts: While Victory Road, in its mediocrity, won ‘Worst PPV of the Year’ this show is even worse. It has a worse main event and the undercard hinges entirely on whether you like the spotty opener. Because there’s nothing else on the card to get the juices flowing. I literally lost interest in the show from the second match and the PPV never got me back. When the highlight of the top end of your card is a bladejob then your show isn’t good. TNA must have realised its shows needed a shot in the arm because they switched the belt the following month. I think there was genuine need for that switch to take place on this show but that would have screwed with the Matt Morgan storyline.