Friday, 12 August 2011

TNA Hardcore Justice on Challenge - TV Review

It’s time to step into the Impact Zone once again as we take a look at TNA’s latest pay per view offering, with Kurt Angle challenging Sting for the World title in the main event of Hardcore Justice, shown on a three day delay on Challenge here in Britain.

The show began with the first title match of the evening as Alex Shelley and Austin Aries challenged Brian Kendrick for the X Division title.

This was a great way to start the show. Aries spent most of the early stages on the outside, sneaking into the ring at periodic intervals as Kendrick and Shelley went at it, only for his two opponents to stop him.

From there it developed into a well executed match, apart from one particular moment when a slice bread/tree of woe thing went a bit wrong, but apart from that it was a good match, with Kendrick retaining his title by taking Aries out with the sliced bread right onto Shelley, with Kendrick getting the pin on Shelley afterwards.

By the way, what the hell was Kendrick wearing?

The title action continued as the Mexican America team of Sarita and Rosita, accompanied by Anarquia and Hernandez, challenged Tara and Miss Tessmacher for the Knockouts Tag Team titles.

In one of those before the match began moments the referee quickly sent Hernandez and Anarquia to the back so they couldn’t interfere.

As far as women’s matches go it was okay but probably won’t be remembered in a month or so. Tara and Tessmacher looked quite good as a team, and they complimented each other very well. As for their opponents, there’s just something about them as a team that doesn’t do it for me. I don’t know what it is, but they seem to be missing something.

Tara took the win here, taking Rosita down with the widow’s peak for the title retaining pin.

The Bound for Glory series continued next as D’Angelo Dinero faced Devon.

The Pope began this one by offering to lay down for Devon because of the respect he had for his opponent and his opponent’s family. The former Dudley was having none of it though, saying he wanted to fight.

When the match finally began Dinero held Devon down when he went for the pin, and it was only after another chewing out from Devon that the Pope finally began to compete.

The action itself was well executed but it didn’t set my pulse racing. These two certainly worked well together as Dinero took the win with a roll-up to win the match and seven points.

Then it was back to title action as Winter, accompanied by Angelina Love, challenged Mickie James for the Knockouts title.

This was another of those matches that fits into the okay category. Winter and James put together some good sequences, but I couldn’t help feeling that it could have been a whole lot better.

Love came in to interfere every so often, but it was an illegal move from Winter that earned her the title. After James took her out with a tornado DDT Winter slid out of the ring, and while the referee was checking to see if the challenger was okay Love came in again, her attempt at interference failing this time.

Eventually Winter came back into the ring, and while the referee was trying to stop Love from getting into the ring Winter took a page out of the Great Muta playbook as she spat red mist into James’ eyes. The referee turned around to see Winter making the title winning pin.

Well it wasn’t bad, but my fellow Brit needs to brush up on her spitting skills.

More Bound for Glory Series action followed as Crimson took on Rob Van Dam, accompanied by Jerry Lynn.

The entertainment quota went up a bit with this one. I’m fast becoming a fan of Crimson, and it was another good performance from 2011’s answer to Bill Goldberg.

As for RVD it was the usual performance he puts in against someone who wasn’t in ECW as he once again looked like he was going through the motions.

Crimson took the win here. After he took RVD out with his sit down power bomb Lynn jumped into the ring to break up the pin, earning RVD the disqualification. Needless to say that RVD was none too happy with his friend afterwards.

The battle of the factions was next as Immortal’s Abyss, Gunnar and Scott Steiner faced Fortune’s A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian.

Now this was one I really enjoyed. The Fortune boys put in their usual great performances, teaming up well against their hated foes. As for Immortal, while Gunnar and Abyss put in solid performances Steiner put in his usual stint with his very limited move set.

Apart from Steiner my other main problem with this match was that it did seem a little overlong. When there was a mass brawl which saw Gunnar and Steiner setting up a table at ringside (a table Gunnar put Daniels through late on) it looked as if the end was in sight.

Styles got the win for his team, taking Abyss down with what could be termed as a moonsault pele kick. Afterwards, as Fortune celebrated on the ramp Steiner and Gunnar gave Abyss a dressing down in the ring. The monster didn’t seem to happy with his running buddies.

Speaking of Immortal, the battle between Bully Ray and Mr. Anderson followed.

As seems to be his custom Ray tried to hide before Anderson made his entrance, sneaking up behind him as he did his usual spiel into his microphone. It didn’t work though as Anderson attacked him, leading to an extensive brawl down the ramp and around ringside until they finally made it into the ring and the match started.

As the action progressed it proved to be an enjoyable encounter with one small mishap, when Anderson tried to lift Ray onto his shoulders after the other former Dudley went to use his chain.

Anderson went to use the chain himself, but as Ray begged him off the referee took the offending weapon from him, and when the official’s attention was elsewhere Ray delivered a low blow and a roll up for the winning pin.

By the way, was Ray blowing chunks at one point?

The next title match saw Mexican America, Hernandez and Anarquia, accompanied by Rosita and Sarita, challenged Beer Money, James Storm and Bobby Roode, for the Tag Team titles.

As with the Knockouts title match the referee sent Rosita and Sarita to the back before the action began, fearing possible outside interference.

The penultimate match proved to be another entertaining encounter, with Roode and Storm once again proving that they’re the best they are at what they do. The MA boys did their part to make this an entertaining encounter, with Hernandez putting in another impressive performance.

However, this was another of those overlong matches. It left me wondering where certain sequences were at times.

The end came when Roode pushed Anarquia off the top rope and Storm connected with a super kick as he came down.

The main event saw Kurt Angle challenging Sting for the World title.

The first thing I noticed before this match began was how much weight Angle seems to have lost recently, and while he’s not Daizee Haze skinny he certainly hasn’t got the poundage he had a while ago.

The match itself was another that fitted into the okay category. It was well executed, but like others it was missing that indefinable it quality that makes main event matches great.

We did have a few interesting moments though, when Sting used the Angle slam and the ankle lock, with Angle retaliating with the scorpion death lock.

The ending came while the referee was taking a momentary snooze. Hulk Hogan came down to the ring, chair in hand, and looked like he was about to clock Sting. But Angle stopped him, taking the chair and hitting Sting himself. He then took the champion down with an Angle slam, making the cover just as the referee regained his senses and made the three count for the title changing pin.

In conclusion - after last month’s excellent Destination X pay per view TNA have certainly taken a distinct downturn.

As I stated a few times the matches here were, for the most part, well executed, but once again the majority of the roster seemed content just to go through the motions in encounters that were often overlong and lacking in fire and passion.

Except for the X Division that is. Once again they did themselves proud with a quality encounter, and it’s a shame that the others couldn’t follow the example of messrs Shelley, Aries and Kendrick.

So how does Hardcore Justice rate then? A thumbs down I’m afraid. Okay on execution but not okay on so many other things.