TNA Hard Justice 2006 –
The Anderson Breakdown
– It’s approximately 6:45 in the AM here in sunny Jacksonville, Florida, and I just threw on my favorite hoodie and stumbled across a busy intersection to retrieve a tape of last night’s TNA show from its secret hiding spot behind Starbucks. I’d be worried that you, fine North Florida reader, would take advantage of this clue and attempt to the rangle the secret video tape from its hiding spot before I got a chance to retrieve it, but:
A) There’s about 6 billion Starbucks in this geographically massive city.
B) The idea of not having to trek across four lanes of traffic, retrieve the tape, and deal with Don West screaming in my ear at 6:45 in the morning doesn’t actually bother me as much as you’d think.
Irregardless, I’m up, I’m awake, and I’m ready to review TNA’s awkwardly named August PPV, Hard Justice. I haven’t read any spoilers, match reviews, or general feedback. The only thing I know about the show comes from my brother.
I woke him up at 6:30, awkwardly screaming, “NO SPOILERS FOR HARD JUSTICE, DO YOU WANT TO RUN TO STARBUCKS WITH ME, DON’T SPOIL THE SHOW.”
The neighbors must have thought I was psychotic, and possibly gay.
My brother pushed me out of his bedroom and locked the door behind him, but not before foreshadowing that the “first hour of the show is a real circus.“
I don’t quite know how to read his riddle, but I’m thinking that perhaps the three-way comes on early and Samoa Joe is accompanied to the ring by an African Elephant.
Anyway, as I’ve stated recently, TNA has improved their weekly television by leaps and bounds. Some of the recent angles have just been great (Christian/Sting, LAX/AJ&Daniels), and in light of this, it’s somewhat disheartening to see how cold TNA has become ratings-wise in the last month or so. Let’s hope this show can turn things around.
– We start with an absolutely incredible Dave Sahadi video package. Nobody, not even Kevin Dunn, is as good as Sahadi, and this opening montage literally gives me the chills.
This video package is creepy to the 10th degree, with overtones of The Ring and the The Shining, and with disturbing little children in shiny Sting masks running around. Candles and blood are everywhere, and the theme is Good vs. Evil. TNA’s awesome voiceover guy is all:
“Within the core of every human being is the capacity to be righteous, or to commit horrible atrocities. Within the essence of each individual, good and evil coexist.
Good and evil have the same face. Which one rules depends soley on the precise moment in time each crosses one’s path.
Darkness abounds, it permeates our world, our existence, endangers our souls, and often when a Warrior of Light attempts to extinguish the darkness, he becomes seduced by it, becoming the very thing he despises…
He becomes, the hated. the darkness. the enemy itself.”
The video clips ends with blood dripping on a white Sting mask.
Just amazing stuff here.
Johnny Devine vs. Eric Young
Eric Young has been one of the best things going in TNA for months now, and I’m thrilled to see him getting this push. Eric Young plays the Pied Piper, leading a parade of fans around the ring to huge chants of “Don’t Fire Eric!”
Johnny Devine grabs the mic and goes all Chris Jericho,calling the crowd “pasty faced goblinoids.” I haven’t really heard Devine talk much, but he actually does sound exactly like Jericho as well.
As the match gets under the way, the crowd kicks in with a deafening “SUPER ERIC!” chant.
Both men go back and forth for a few minutes, with the crowd going absolute crazy for everything Eric Young does, and also breaking out into a saracastic chant of, “Let’s go Johnny… JOHNNY SUCKS.”
I think I know what my brother was talking about now.
Out of absolutely nowhere, smoke starts filling the ring. They cut up to the rafters, and there’s a f*cking fire burning above the ring. Johnny Devine and Eric Young keep going at it, while unidentified men in the rafters attempt to fight the fire.
Mike Tenay: “Talk about TNA being on fire? We are on fire!”
Don West: “Literally.”
Mike Tenay: “Literally.”
Don West: “Literally.”
As white foam rains down from the heavens, the crowd starts chanting “You can’t see us!”
After two or three minutes of what, through the smoke screen, appeared to be wrestling, Eric Young pinned Johnny Devine.
Fun little match.
As Eric Young leaves the ringside area, Earl Hebner jumps the guard rail and attacks referee Slick Johnson. I don’t know if you remember the Starrcade 1990 street fight between Doom and the Horsemen, where everyone was wearing blue jeans and black tshirts and workboots, but that seems to be the look that Earl Hebner was going for tonight. Certainly strange to see him in such an outfit. Furthermore, Earl Hebner also appeared to have a nearly full head of hair.
We cut to Don West and Mike Tenay, and once again, TNA wardrobe completely missed how badly their outfits clashed with each other. Don West was looking legitimately dapper in his dress shirt and tie (they weren’t the same color this month), but Mike Tenay was again wearing his slightly undersized PPV tuxedo.
I instantly become the world’s biggest Mike Tenay fan as, amidst the raging inferno in the Impact Zone, Tenay has a genuinely hard time keeping a straight face.
TNA goes into stall mode while they get the situation under control and we get a video package of Scott Steiner and Jeff Jarrett arriving at the Impact Zone to tide us over. The only real note of interest here in Scott Steiner’s t-shirt, which reads “A hard man is good to find, if you’ve got the booty, I’ve got the time.”
Christian Cage and Sting are also shown arriving. Christian gets out of his rental car in street clothes. Sting gets out of the passenger side wearing facepaint and his long leather robe.
We cut back to the ring, and appears as if the ring crew is beginning to remove the ring apron. Always a good sign.
More stalling, with a video package on Sting/Jarrett that seems to drag on for a legitimate 10+ minutes.
As the video package ends, Mike Tenay and Jeremy Borash are standing in the parking lot in front of a fire truck. Lights on and everything. Again, never a good sign.
Tenay explains that pyro during the ring introductions of the first match set the Impact Zone on fire, and furthermore, the Impact Zone has now been fully evacuated by the fire marshall.
Forgive me for saying this, but these clips from the Impact Zone look like something out of Oliver Stone’s new World Trade Center movie. Fireman in full gear are running down dark hallways, flashing lights and sirens are everywhere, and people are being rushed out of the building.
This is unbelievable.
You’ve got to feel for TNA, but in my very last TNA PPV review, I mentioned that if TNA was foolish enough to use fire in the Impact Zone, something like this was bound to happen.
Mike Tenay and Don West stall for ten more minutes, talking about the weather in Orlando and discussing “humidity.”
Don West lets us know up front that some matches might have to be cut because of how much time has been lost, but all title matches will still be taking place.
Right when Tenay and West seem to be running out of things to discuss, Eric Young comes stumbling onto camera and cuts a semi-shoot promo about how “hot” it was in the arena.
Eric Young runs away, and Monty Brown comes running to cut a promo.
As Monty Brown cuts a strange promo in front of flashing firetrucks, Monty is also having a hard time keeping a straight face. Monty cuts what is perhaps the funniest promo of his career, singing a song to Samoa Joe about how fat he is, and imitating Rhyno’s voice.
Monty calls Joe a hippo.
He calls Rhino a “plant-eating herbivore.”
And after hitting his “POUNNNNNNNNNCE” catchphrase, he also saunters off screen.
STILL in the parking lot outside the arena, Shane Douglas and The Naturals come running out. Shane Douglas is obnoxious as ever, but at least this time, he doesn’t pathetically cut on Ric Flair.
Shane Douglas then cuts a bizarre promo talking about how the “War on Terror” made President George Bush “a great President.”
TNA is running out of steam here.
Jeremy Borash is backstage interviewing Alex Shelley, but I believe this is pre-taped. I haven’t checked any wrestling news this weekend, but from Borash is saying, Kevin Nash is out for tonight’s show. Well, that certainly doesn’t help this already sunken show much.
Alex Shelley says that Kevin Nash has a broken neck and faces paralysis if he wrestles tonight. Borash doesn’t believe it, so Shelley rolls Kevin Nash in on a wheel chair. Kevin Nash tells Alex Shelley that he has to win tonight, and gives him something for support.
Nash takes off his neck brace (the crowd groans loudly), removes his dog tags, and hands them to Alex Shelley.
The Impact Zone has been cleared, and the fans are now back in the arena.
Alex Shelley vs. Chris Sabin
You know, it certainly doesn’t help TNA’s cause much to have Mike Tenay and Don West out there saying that Kevin Nash wasn’t really injured, and that he’s probably faking it. Nash is one of the bigger mainstream stars in TNA right now, and I think it’s fair to say that at least some people did purchase this show to see Nash wrestle. Tenay and West constantly talking about how Nash was really fine serves no real purpose other than making the already angry fans feel even more ripped off.
Hilariously, Alex Shelley is wearing an armband that says “KEV” on it.
Anyway, the match went about 10:00, with nothing incredibly noteworthy happening. It was pretty much your typical TNA X-Division match.
At the end, Kevin Nash slipped a chair into the ring in full view of the referee. Johnny Devine jumped up on the ring apron to distract the ref, but not before this referee had already looked directly at the steel chair for about five seconds in a row.
I mean, this was just insulting beyond belief.
Chris Sabin reversed Shelley though, hit the cradle shock, and got the pin.
Seems like Shelley should be getting the push.
Jim Mitchell and Abyss are in the back with JB. According to Mitchell, Brother Runt should have stayed as far away from Abyss as possible. Runt has been taking advice from Raven, says Mitchell, which will be the biggest mistake of his life.
Everytime Jim Mitchell calls Spike a “little cockroach,” I think he’s going to call him something else.
Brother Runt vs. Abyss
Brother Runt comes to the ring sporting a new look. He’s rocking a tie-dye tshirt and a crazy mohawk. Certainly looks better than before.
After some typical “little man bouncing off big man” action, Abyss picks Spike up over his head and launches him into the crowd. Good in theory, but as I’ve mentioned in the past, the very last thing TNA needs right now is a lawsuit, and it just doesn’t seem like an particularly good idea to be throwing wrestlers into the crowd.
On the outside, Spike hits an awesome acid drop on Abyss, dropping him throat-first across the guard rail.
Back in, Abyss launches Spike headfirst into a chair.
Abyss pulls out the dreaded bag of thumbed tacks, sprinkles them gingerly across the ring, and rubs Spike’s face into the tacks.
As Spike is down, Abyss them stomps Spike’s face directly into the tacks again.
Spike hulks up though, runs towards Abyss, and gets FLAPJACKED, face down, into the tacks once more.
And then Abyss black hole slams Spike into the tacks again for the pin.
This excess really was needless.
Meanwhile, Raven (now 9 months pregnant) looks on from above.
Pretty much a total squash.
Rhyno vs. Monty Brown vs. Samoa Joe – Falls Count Anywhere
I don’t know if it’s the fire, or Kevin Nash’s absence, or what, but I’m just not in the mood to be watching this anymore. If any match has the ability to get me back into Hard Justice though, this is it.
All three guys immediately go at it, with Rhyno hitting a tope on Monty on the outside, and Joe following with a suicide dive.
The trash cans and steel chairs come out, and Joe punts a trash can right into Monty Brown’s face. Joe grabs Monty, sets him up on a chair, and hits a killer Ole kick into the guard rail.
The cookie sheets and kendo sticks come out, with Joe turning his attention to Rhyno and smashing him headfirst into a wall.
Joe is INTENSE tonight.
As Joe walks Rhyno back towards the ring, Monty comes out nowhere and hits a crazy crossbody over the guardrail onto both men.
More CRAZY brawling, with Rhyno, Joe, and Monty literally throwing each other through the walls at ringside.
Tenay: “THEY’RE TEARING DOWN THE IMPACT ZONE.”
ALL THREE MEN ARE RIOTING IN THE CROWD.
JOE’S SWINGING CRUTCHES.
Joe cracks Rhyno over the head with a chair, and poses in the crowd, who is all “THIS IS AWESOME!”
Rhyno cracks Joe in the face with a trash can lid, but Monty HURLS a chair right at Rhyno’s face.
Rhyno charges Joe for the Gore, but Joe kicks Rhyno RIGHT in the face.
Monty catches Rhyno rebounding and hits an awesome butterly suplex on the ramp.
And THEN, Joe charges Monty and Monty hits a beautiful dropkick on the ramp.
Back in the ring, Joe hits a SENTON on Monty with a trashcan lid held against his back.
Rhyno comes out of nowhere though and hits Joe with a spinebuster onto a chair.
Joe regains the momentum though and hits a sunset powerbomb off the top rop on Rhyno onto a chair for 2.
Joe and Monty take it back outside and Monty sets up a table. below the entrance ramp. Both gives stiff the shit out of each other, with Monty finally getting the upper hand with a Bobby Eaton-esque swinging neckbreaker near the entrance tunnel.
Rhino comes from the corner of the screen and just destroys both men with trash can lids. Rhino sets up two more tables against the wall and charges Monty for the gore. Monty moves out of the way though, sending Rhyno flying off the entrace ramp through both tables.
Monty then charges Joe, but Joe ducks, grabs Monty, and STO’s him off the ramp, driving him straight through the table below for the pin.
Joe grabs the mic and cuts an awesome promo, saying “TNA. I came here looking for a fight,and whether this son of a bitch burns down or not, I got one. And dammit, we can do it all over again!”
GREAT match, with all three men showing ridiculous levels of intensity, and all three men single-handedly getting this show back on track.
Larry Zbyszko is in the back with Jeremy Borash. Larry is still rocking what is undoubtedly the greatest toupee in wrestling history. Although I can’t really make out much of what Larry is saying, Slick Johnson comes in to let us know that he believes that Larry is in cahoots with Hebner and Jarrett.
Gail Kim vs. Sirelda
You know, I was actually worried that TNA would scrap this match because of the fire. I actually did want to see it though, not just because Gail Kim is the most attractive woman in wrestling (and a hell of a worker), but also because of the trainwreck potential of having Sirelda wrestling on live PPV.
Needless to say, after the Impact Zone nearly went up in flames early in the evening, the trainwreck scale has been greatly adjusted, but still I’m excited to see this go on.
Gail Kim confidently saunters her way down to the ring, in direct contrast to Sirelda, who comes skipping down to the ring in the most ridiculous manner possible. She’s SCREAMING at the top of her lungs, pumping her fists, and just generally acting like she is probably better suited to be wrestling in Roland Alexander’s gym wars than on national PPV.
The Impact Zone is all “SHE’S A MAN,” and Sirelda reacts in the most ridiculous manner possible.
Even Sirelda’s ring-gear is totally indy.
Gail Kim locks on the tarantula, drops a leg from the second rope, and misses a cross body from the top.
Sirelda regains the advantage with her *hulking* offense, but Gail Kim reverses with a neckbreaker from the second rope for the pin.
Gail Kim rules.
Scott Steiner is in the back with Jeremy Borash. Steiner explains why he’s hard to understand sometimes. He kindly explains that he was educated at a highly prestigious university, but because the Impact Zone is full of nothing but white trash inbreds, he’s kind enough to dumb down his language for their benefit.
Scott Steiner is great.
Petey Williams vs. Senshi vs. Jay Lethal
I may be in the vast minority here, but I just don’t enjoy this X-Division stuff as much as most people. I like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Samoa Joe, and I like most of the current X Division wrestlers as well, but the division itself just kind of turns me off. The matches just seem too 2003, spotty, flippity-flop for my personal tastes.
To me, most of these matches take all the psychology and story-telling out of wrestling, and instead often come off as more of a performance than an “athletic contest.”
Worth noting is that Petey Williams has changed his ring gear to reflect the disbanding of Team Canada. He wears black now, and it looks infinitely cooler.
It would take me approximately five hours to recap every move in this match, and truthfully, nothing happened that we haven’t seen a million times before, so I’ll cut straight to the finish.
At around 12:00 in, Jay Lethal attempts a Dynamite Kid headbutt from the top rope. He misses, and Petey Williams grabs him and hits the Canadian Destroyer. Senshi dropkicks Petey Williams right in the face though, covers Jay Lethal himself, and gets the pin to retain the X-Division title.
LAX are in the back with JB. As usual, they cut an awesome promo. We’re then treated to a video package showing LAX assaulting Daniels & Styles two weeks ago in one of the best segments TNA has ever done.
LAX vs. AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels
LAX have what is, without question, the best entrance in mainstream American wrestling right now. The crowd seems to be loving them too as they make their way to the ring. Styles and Daniels get superstar reactions of their own as well when we make their entrance.
Hernandez and Daniels start things out, with Hernandez constantly overpowering Christopher Daniels from the opening bell.
It doesn’t take long for things to break down into a four-way brawl though, with bodies flying everywhere, highspots connecting left and right, and Konnan circling the ring like a shark smelling blood.
Styles & Daniels isolate Homicide in their corner and hit a crazy double power-bomb followed by a flying knee by AJ Styles.
LAX make a comeback though, hitting a nasty looking neckbreaker (a lot of those tonight) on Styles and doing their best to keep him in their their corner.
Hernandez tosses AJ Styles outside the ring onto the guard rail, and Homicide just comes flying through the ropes with his borderline impossible somersault suicide dive.
Konnan gives Styles a gangland beating on the outside while the referee is distraced, and LAX continue cutting off the ring and beating down Styles.
After an extended beating, you’d think that the eventual tag to Christopher Daniels would be red hot. For whatever reason though, the crowd barely reacts.
Regardless, Daniels goes to business, fighting off both men and hitting a beautiful Asai Moonsault on the outside. Before Daniels can celebrate too much though, Hernandez comes BARRELLING over the top rope with an unbelievable tope.
Then, Daniels comes flying off the top rope with a Shooting Star Press onto everyone.
Back in the ring, LAX hits a Steiner Brothers-like super bulldog from the top rope, but the pin is broken up.
AJ styles tries to superlex Homicide, but Hernandez powerbombs Styles (taking Homicide right over with him).
More wild action all over the ring, with Konnan jumping up on the apron to crotch AJ Styles on the top rope.
Finally, Styles and Daniels hit the high-low on Hernandez for the quick pinfall.
Good stuff, and hopefully we’ve just seen the beginning of LAX vs. Daniels/Styles.
Mike Tenay and Don West talk about tonight’s main event and continue harping on the fire earlier in the broadcast. You know, if I were Mike Tenay, I don’t think I’d be calling this the “most memorable, unforgettable night in TNA history.”
Christian Cage is in the back with Jeremy Borash. Christian wants to know if Jeff Jarrett started the fire on purpose to get out of his fight with Sting.
Chrisitan cuts into Scott Steiner as well, saying “You want to impress me buddy, how bout maybe winning a fight every once in a while?”
According to Christian, Sting deserves the title tonight.
Man, what is this, the third video package for Sting/Jarrett tonight?
Sting (w/ Christian) vs. Jeff Jarrett (w/ Scott Steiner)
Although I’m really looking forward to the Christian heel turn (assuming it happens tonight), I just don’t understand the logic in going with Jarrett/Sting. I realize it was the plan from the start, but it is ok to change your mind if things don’t work out the way that you originally envisioned.
Their seems to be this strange notion that it’s ok to disregard the wishes of your core fanbase (which appears to be approximately 800,000) in an effort to chase this phantom fanbase of +/- 300,000 who are just dying to see WCW rise from the ashes.
I just can’t imagine — with Samoe Joe, Monty Brown, Rhyno, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Eric Young, and others under contract — who actually wants to see this match headline a major PPV?
Hilariously, as the crowd kicks in with a deafening chant of “Sterooooooiiiiiids” directed towards Steiner, Mike Tenay notes the “big match feel” here tonight.
The match was bad.
And the crowd was dead throughout.
Every time Scott Steiner would attempt to interfere, Christian Cage would go after him.
Toward the end of a slow, dull match, Christian Cage tossed Sting the championship belt to use on Jarrett. Jeff Jarrett got his foot on the rope though. Several minutes later, Christian snuck into the ring with a chair, teased like he was going to hit Sting, and then gave Jeff Jarrett a weak chair shot to the head.
Both Christian Cage and Scott Steiner were eventually ejected from ringside for their constant interference.
With both men alone in the ring, things got even worse. Jeff Jarrett locked the Scorpion Deathlock on Sting, the crowd apathetically played along, and Sting reversed into his own Scorpion Deathlock.
If Jarrett submits, this will be the most anticlimatic title win in wrestling history.
Jarrett makes the ropes though, and Sting accidentally hits the Stinger Splash on the referee.
Scott Steiner runs back out with the guitar, but before he can use it, Chrisitan Cage is out to make the save.
Christian Cage grabs the guitar and directs Sting to come off the top rope with a splash. As Sting comes flying off the top rope, Christian levels him with the guitar and officially turns heel.
The crowd barely reacts.
Jeff Jarrett makes the cover for the pin, looks all surprised, and the crowd could not possibly care less.
Angle/Henry from the Royal Rumble now has definite competition for “Worst PPV Main Event of the Year.”
And we have two major problems here:
1. Christian’s heel turn was among the most poorly booked wrestling angles I’ve personally ever seen. At least three times during the match, Christian did things that should have allowed Sting to win the match. Hell, he hit Jarrett with both the title belt and a steel chair, and if not for interference from Steiner or luck, both should have cost Jeff Jarrett the TNA Title. But then, with no rhyme or reason, Christian suddenly turns on Sting and costs him the match? Just insultingly idiotic booking.
2. In order for a Christian heel turn to work, he’s got to be paired off against a babyface that the fans genuinely care about it. As depressing as it is to admit, a chubby Sting is not that hot babyface needed for this Christian heel run to succeed.
A bad match, and an even worse finish.
With the new ECW breathing down TNA’s neck, this is not the way to retain PPV revenue, and not the way to turn around a ship that has been slowly sinking for the last month or so. Freak fire aside, TNA did nearly everything wrong tonight when it came to their main event program, and from the looks of it, things aren’t going to be getting dramatically better.
The Ultimate Fighter couldn’t come along sooner to artificially inflate TNA’s numbers, and if TNA doesn’t start finding a way to make their PPV’s worthwhile again, the scant 38,000 people still ordering them each month are going to start putting that money into ECW or UFC.
Joe/Monty/Rhyno was awesome, and LAX/AJ & Daniels was solid, but overall, this show was an absolute trainwreck, starting bad and finishing even worse.
– Ken Anderson