It’s time to step into the Impact Zone once again as we take a look at TNA’s latest pay-per-view offering as Bobby Roode sought to regain the World title from Austin Aries in the main event of Hardcore Justice, shown this past Wednesday night on Challenge here in Britain.
The show began with tag team action as Kid Kash and Gunner went up against Hernandez and Chavo Guerrero.
As a show opener it was okay, but to me the majority of the action just seemed a little disjointed, and a couple of sequences looked a little forced, such as when Kash tried to catapult Guerrero into the corner.
Chavo did a good job acting as the proverbial punching bag, and as always Super Mex’s cameo appearance as he basically bullied his opponents around the ring before pulling out the high flying moves was the best thing about this encounter.
The end came when Hernandez, who had already taken Gunner out with a dive to the outside, took Kash out with a dive over the top rope, with Chavo sealing the deal with a top rope frog splash.
The first Bound for Glory series match of the night saw Rob Van Dam taking on Mr. Anderson and Magnus in a falls count anywhere match. D’Angelo Dinero was meant to be in this one but was taken out by the masked Aces & Eights guys backstage.
Sadly this is one match I won’t be reviewing. In case you’re wondering why click here.
The first title match of the evening saw Tag Team Champion Frankie Kazarian challenging Devon for the TV title.
I really enjoyed this one. It was one of those short and sweet encounters where Devon showed once again how far he’s come in the singles ranks.
Kazarian was the perfect opponent for him, playing the part of the cowardly heel to perfection early on as he tried everything possible to keep away from the champion.
The match then developed into a nice piece of storytelling with Kazarian pulling off some good moves in his attempt to win more gold, until Devon made his comeback and took the challenger down with his spine buster for the title retaining pin.
The title matches continued with Madison Rayne challenging Miss Tessmacher for the Knockouts title.
This wasn’t too bad. Throughout the match everyone kept wondering if our senior official Earl Hebner would show favouritism to Miss Rayne. It didn’t look as if he was, particularly when Madison kept complaining about the referee’s count.
The action was solid enough and it really can’t be faulted. Both ladies gave a good account of themselves, and the match ultimately achieved what it set out to do.
The end was a little controversial. Tessmacher began to argue with old Earl after Madison broke up her pin by putting her foot on the bottom rope. It was then that Madison came up from behind and rolled Tessmacher up, the smitten referee counting the pin as Madison used the ropes for leverage.
The second Bound for Glory series match saw Robbie E, Bully Ray, Jeff Hardy and James Storm going at it in a singles match.
Once again the Aces & Eights guys were the talking point in this match. Before the match began Ray accused Storm of being behind the masked man, something he strenuously denied. This didn’t sit too well with Robbie E, who told the others that they should be more concerned with him.
The other three took it to E at the beginning, and from the there the action developed nicely. There was plenty of hard hitting action, and for me the best part of the match was when E tried to put Hardy through a table at ringside. As he came off the top rope hardy rolled out of the way as E went crashing through the table. It was the best thing I’ve seen happen to TNA’s second most annoying man.
The mysterious masked men soon came into play, first distracting Ray while he was attacking Storm and later as Hardy was about to put Storm through a table, ending credence to the suspicions about their relationship.
In the end it was the master of the table matches who came out on top as Ray put Hardy through the table with a powerbomb to get the win and the 20 points.
Then it was back to more title action as Kenny King challenged Zema Ion for the X Division title.
Now this was good. Kenny King was one of my favourite wrestlers in Ring of Honor, and he’s fast becoming one of my favourite wrestlers in TNA.
These guys were made for each other, and it showed as they put on a great back and forth encounter, a match worthy of the X Division as it enters it’s second decade.
King put on the kind of exhibition ROH fans have salivated over for the past few years, while Ion was more than a match for him. There were a ton of great moves and numerous near falls as both men began to grow frustrated at their inability to put the other away.
But in the end there could be only one winner, and as King countered Ion’s corner attack, looking as if he was going to take him over with a sunset flip Ion caught him and fell backwards, slamming King into the mat face first, getting the title three count and the title retaining pin.
The penultimate match was also the final Bound for Glory series match of the show Tag Team Champion Christopher Daniels, A.J. Styles, Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe went at it in a ladder match.
This was by far the best BFG series match on the show. Mind you, when you’ve got four of the best in the world in one match what would you expect?
Styles, Daniels and Joe, of course, have done all of this before, and the addition of Angle into the equation just turned the action quota up a couple of notches.
There were loads of great sequences and exchanges throughout this one. All four men looked great, pulling out all the stops and all the big moves.
My moment of the match was the sequence involving Angle, Joe and Daniels. With the Fallen Angel clearly the most hated man in this match Angle and Joe took part in a game of suplex one-upmanship, tossing Daniels around the ring with various suplexes in a friendly rivalry. They then stuffed their prey through the middle of the ladder, taking it in turns to kick him before they turned their attentions to each other.
The end came when Joe and Angle fought over the clipboard hanging above the ring. When Angle was taken out of the picture it looked like Joe would take the win. It was then that Styles appeared out of nowhere as he leapt from the top rope onto the ladder, snatching the clipboard before Joe could get his hands on it, claiming the win and the 20 points.
The main event saw Bobby Roode challenging Austin Aries for the World title.
As seems the custom these days this one had a few stipulations. If Aries on Roode wouldn’t get another title shot while he was still champion. If Roode won then Aries would waive his rematch clause.
This was just as good as their previous encounter. It began with Roode playing the coward’s role, refusing to get back into the ring with the champion after he’d been taken out with a drop kick right off the bat, and when Aries went on to dominate the first few minutes Roode headed for the exit, content to walk out of the arena until Aries reminded him that he couldn’t get a rematch.
When the match settled down it developed into another great piece of storytelling. This time Roode wasn’t underestimating his opponent and went all out to get the pin. But like last month he was getting more and more frustrated as the night went on as Aries kept kicking out of pin after pin.
The heat went up a couple of degrees when the referee took an accidental hit from Roode, with the replacement official taking a hit himself moments later. Both wrestlers fell victim to this piece of bad luck as they missed out on what could have been match-ending pins.
Then came the controversy. After Roode took Aries down with a superplex the champion hooked his challenger’s legs in a pinning combination. As both officials had now recovered they both counted the pin.
Confusion then reigned as the first official announced that Roode was the new champion while the second announced that Aries had retained. Senior official Earl Hebner then made another appearance and after hearing the cases for both parties he ordered a re-start.
Roode wasn’t too happy though and snatched the title. But with the bell having sounded Aries dived out of the ring towards Roode, accidentally banging his head on the belt and knocking himself out.
Roode saw his chance and dragged the champion back into the ring, only for Aries to kick out of the pin attempt at the last moment. It then looked as if Roode was going to go for a suplex until Aries scored with a schoolboy roll-up for the title retaining pin. It then dawned on Roode almost instantly that he wouldn’t be getting another title shot.
In conclusion - so how would I rate this show then? Well, it had it’s down points, most notably the show opener, but overall this year’s Hardcore Justice will go down as a good show. Not great, but good.
The Bound for Glory series matches certainly delivered, and although the TV and Knockouts title match felt a little like filler material they were good additions to the card.
The King/Ion encounter was one of the best matches I’ve seen from TNA this year. Kenny King has been one of the best additions to the TNA roster in a while, and although he fell short times time I wouldn’t be surprised to see gold around his waist in the future.
As for my match of the night that particular honour goes to Austin Aries and Bobby Roode again. They stole the show for the second month in a row, and although the stipulations have told us otherwise I get the feeling that this won’t be their last encounter.
So with all of that out of the way let’s end this thing by giving TNA Hardcore Justice the thumbs up.