10 Thoughts on TNA Hardcore Justice 2011 (August 7)

 Let’s get straight into this, shall we?

[Bonus opening thought: When all is said and done, that was one hell of an opening package. Sting came across as totally badass and insane and Kurt Angle as reasonable and even-tempered.]

 

1) X-Division match was exactly what WCW used to do – put the spot monkeys on first to pump the audience and hopefully get them to accept any crap that follows. Okay, totally unfair, but WCW starting with the cruiser matches was sort of their thing (look at the PPVs in 2001 to see even at the death how they were doing that). And this would have fit in well back then. Anyway, this match had the spots, some good ground based wrestling and the sheer insanity. And the start with keeping Aries out was well done. Great way to start the show. (Brian Kendrick def Austin Aries, Alex Shelley)

 

2) Women’s tag match was interesting and, well, okay. Not great, just… okay. Rosita’s been with TNA for a while, I would have thought she’d have improved more. Miss Tessmacher (“Brooke” according to Tara) looked okay, Sarita looked okay (weird face mask notwithstanding), and Tara looked dominant. Look, the match was okay. Nothing great, but certainly not horrendous. Maybe just a few minutes too long. (Tara & Miss Tessmacher def Sarita & Rosita)

 

3) The Pope’s pre-match interview was a lot of nothing. Odd. And I know it’s been said before, but WTF is it with Samoa Joe having –10 points? Is he going back to ROH and this is how they farewell him? So we have The Pope v Devon and – goody! – Matt Morgan’s on commentary! The whole fight or not story, and then the kids getting involved was confusing as all hell. How many storylines do they want in a nothing, throwaway match? Dull match. Morgan’s commentary was better than the match. It was not actively bad, but just… dull. (The Pope def Devon)

 

4) RVD’s interview segment was confusing. I’ve been watching wrestling for a looong time. Since when – when?! – have RVD and Lynn been friends? Opponents, sure, but this makes no sense on any level. I’m confused, and this is a perfect example of what Scott Keith called “the sledgehammer of plot”. I can guess the way it’s going to go all ready…

 

5) Well, if there’s one thing the women’s title match showed very conclusively – Mickie James is not a female Ric Flair. Where Flair could get a watchable match out of anyone, Mickie needs just the right opponent to have even close to a good match. Well, Winter’s clearly not one of those opponents. This was a mess. After some great Knockouts champions, we now have… Winter. She looked like she did not belong out there. (Winter def Mickie James)

 

[Bonus thought: The whole Kendrick/Aries confrontation was uncomfortable. Acting!]

 

6) BFG match 2, with Crimson and Rob Van Dam, left me with one question. Just one. What in the hell is Crimson holding over everyone in TNA to get this sort of push? He must have photos involving goats, hamsters and Catholic priests with the hierarchy of the company because nothing else explains it. I don’t care about the Lynn/RVD stuff, about the points… just what in the hell is Crimson doing (a) undefeated, (b) on top of the table, and (c) still employed? (Okay, 2 questions.) This was a worse match than the women’s one.

 

7) 3-on-3 action! Where else but wrestling could I type that and not have a porn filter try to electrocute me? But I will say this – Gunner’s improved. Abyss is still overrated, and Steiner is Steiner (Christ, he almost stuffed up taking a crucifix! How hard is to take a crucifix? You just roll backwards!). This match felt off, like a 45 played at 33 1/3 (insert age joke here). Again, not horrendous or anything, just not great. Mediocre. A few botches (was the ending a botch?), some other things. Nothing great. And it looks like Abyss is due for his six-monthly turn, this time from heel to face. Next! (Christopher Daniels, Kazarian & AJ Styles def Scott Steiner, Gunner & Abyss)

 

8) Now I’ll cover the Anderson interview (shown after the RVD/Crimson match). It was rubbish. How on Earth have some people managed to get the idea that this guy is good on the mic? Christ, he delivered grade school fart jokes! Then Bully Ray gave his rebuttal, and he was better! And… his interview and the video package were actually the best things about this match. While not as bad as some matches on the show, this was still not a good match. Anderson was unfairly dumped by the WWE? He was outshone by a guy 5 years past his prime here. Good move, WWE. And was this heel v heel? Wow, it is WCW all over again! Like when Vincent and Stevie Ray fought over the leadership of nWo black and white, B-team, useless rejects. This match? Yeah, it was about as good as that one as well. And what was that fireman’s carry botch by Anderson? But apparently one incredibly loud screeching woman enjoyed it, so at least she went home happy. (Bully Ray def Anderson) And then backstage Immortal dump Abyss like a diseased girlfriend and he looks like he’s going to cry… Acting!

 

9) Beer Money are one of the best tag teams today. I think they would have been a good fit for the peak of tag team wrestling televised in America, in the 1980s, when the Hart Foundation, Rockers, Demolition, Legion Of Doom/Road Warriors, Russians, Andersons and whoever else was around then that I’ve left out. They work well together, have great double team moves and the crowd is into them. On the other hand, we have Mexican America. Everything I said about Beer Money, they’re not. However, Beer Money must be the Ric Flair of current tag team wrestling because they got a watchable match out of the AmEx team. Not great, but watchable. (Beer Money def Mexican America)

 

10) The Sting/Angle hype video is really good! And how long’s it been since Hulk Hogan was ‘Terry’? This match was another one that seemed to be running in slow motion. Now, I was a Sting fan. But this year he’s had some real stinkers in main events, hasn’t he? The one against Jeff Hardy at Victory Road was the second worst PPV match of the year. His one against Anderson at Slammiversary was appalling. Now, this was not as bad as either of those. And it was not as bad as Crimson/RVD or James/Winter or even Bully/Anderson. But this was the main event! It is supposed to be a showcase of the company! Not this… thing. It was not a good advertisement for TNA, and that ending was… Augh! So Kurt’s a heel now? Again? Why? And the best part of the match was the hype video. (Kurt Angle def Sting)

 

Now this was not the worst PPV of the year – that ‘honour’ goes to Genesis, with Victory Road a close second. This, though, was third. The three worst PPVs of the year are all TNA PPVs. After last month and the awesomeness that was Destination-X, we get… this.
            And you know what really irks me? I went to a wrestling show on Saturday night. Riot City Wrestling. And, yes, I wrote a review of that show for the Pulse. Only one match from this PPV – one friggin’ match – would have been as good as what those guys put on. Only the X-Division title match would have been able to compare, but it would not have been in the top 3 matches on the RCW card. Yes, the 3-on-3 match was okay, but there were more botched spots than any match on the RCW card. Yes, Beer Money dragged AmEx to a watchable match, but even that would have been overshadowed by what we saw on Saturday night.
            It’s simple: TNA is a well-financed wrestling organisation. This company has talent to burn. It has young guys and veterans and guys in the middle somewhere. It has experienced guys backstage, guys whose collective wrestling knowledge in years would be close to the age of Rome. It has some of the most successful people ever in the sport. It has a TV deal with international coverage. It has video guys working for them who can put together a package that can make even dull matches seem important and intense in retrospect. In Tazz and Tenay it has two announcers who know their stuff and could really add so much more to the product. Even Borash is no slouch. So what in the hell is going wrong? How can they follow Destination-X up with this?
            I’m not going to sit here and type the ways I think TNA could be improved, because that would be a complete waste of time and, really, my experience with wrestling is fighting in front of bored crowds of drunk Australians before getting into some of the training of guys. I would not presume to tell these guys what to do. But, as a fan, I have no problems saying what I think is wrong.
            But I don’t know what’s wrong. It makes no sense to me. I could sit here as a writer (of fiction as well as on the Pulse) and criticise their storylines, but I have no idea how much creative control the wrestlers have over their own characters. I could sit here as a man who stared at the lights often and criticise the booking, but I have no idea what their long term plans are. I could sit here as a trainer and complain about the apparent fitness of some of the wrestlers, but I do not know their physical state or niggling injuries. And I could sit here as a fan and ask why some wrestlers are being used like they are, but I haven’t a clue what is going on backstage with egos, personalities, contracts and whatnot. Instead I am quickly drifting away from TNA. And I am guessing I am not the only one.
            And WWE I think knows this. So what are they doing? Only the hottest wrestling angle in years. The Punk/Cena/HHH/Rock stuff has got everyone talking with its mixture of real life, real backstage politics and great wrestling. When did we as fans think we would be talking about Cena being in a MOTYC? And yet, thanks to CM Punk and the WWE letting them go for it, it happened. JR back on commentary. The past being brought up. But I do not think any of this would have happened if TNA was going through such a slump. Because WWE realised, I believe, that it was not TNA that was losing its audience, it was wrestling. And they wanted to make sure that those people leaving TNA went to them. At least, that is my opinion. Because the timing is strangely coincidental.
            Enough of WWE. This is about TNA. And what in the hell is going on with them. Case in point – the BFG series. Crimson undefeated and at the top? Samoa Joe at the bottom with –10? RVD dropping hugely by losing points? Morgan still in it even though he’s out injured? A tag team wrestler in second spot (no matter how good he is, he is still half of the tag champs)? How is a fan of TNA supposed to get behind this concept, this series, when we look at the table and see crap like that? Does that mean we’re going to see Crimson v Devon in the final? Really? Oh goody! That wouldn’t even main event WCW Thunder!
            I don’t know the answer. I have no solutions. I just have frustration. I want to like TNA and I want to enjoy it. But WWE is now giving me more entertaining televised wrestling – far more entertaining – and RCW is giving me the best actual wrestling. TNA is just giving me a headache.

 

Sorry for the rant. I feel better now.

            Here’s Pulse’s show review of Hardcore Justice.

            Here’s my wrestling dictionary, part 1 and part 2.

            Here’s Kelly telling you about another great indy promotion that outdoes TNA.

            Here’s Patrick. Here’s CB, who I share Mondays with. 

 

Read. Get out there and do things. Write. Anything except watch this crap. Do NOT encourage them to keep on doing whatever in the hell it is they’re doing…

 

 

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