By Graham "GSM" Matthews
TNA World Tag Team Champions The Hardyz and Davey Richards def. The Revolution in a Hardcore Tornado Tag Team Match
It's always refreshing to have a match kick off a wrestling (this goes for WWE as well) instead of a drawn out talking segment, so this was a nice change of pace. I wasn't high on the all-hardcore theme of this show (more on that later), but in this case, the stipulation seemed to fit. The Hardys and Richards have had their issues with The Revolution for months now, so it made sense. They worked a fun match with a number of cool tag team spots thrown in. There never seemed to be a dull moment and everyone involved not only held their own but had their moment to shine as well. Hopefully this win for the babyfaces puts their rivalry with The Revolution to rest for the time being and The Hardyz can move on to fresh challengers for their straps.
Ethan Carter III Interrupted Mr. Anderson
EC3's "campaign" to become TNA World Heavyweight Champion is campy, sure, but he's such a great character that he tends to make anything he involves in comedy gold. Anderson is perfect opponent for him at the moment before he ascends farther up the card and call me crazy, but I like the option to vote for the stipulation for their match next week. It was a clever tie-in to what they were talking about in this segment about democracy and although it's obvious what the fans are going to vote for (it's either an arm wrestling match or a Falls Count Anywhere match), it makes me care about the match significantly more.
Kenny King def. Rockstar Spud, Mandrews and Tigre Uno in a Ladder Match to Win the X-Division Championship
Can we all just take a moment to appreciate the amazing athleticism of Tigre Uno? I've been saying since the day he arrived in TNA that he deserves to be pushed, and he's been nothing but marginalized since then. He could be a popular act in the X-Division if the company got behind him, but they haven't done so for whatever reason. He and Mandrews (who has oddly been off TV for the last month or two) were no threats to the title, leaving just King as the only legitimate threat to take the title from Spud. The match itself, however, was very enjoyable and it worked to all four competitors' in-ring styles. As noted, for me, Tigre Uno was the MVP. The interference from the Beat Down Clan protected Spud in defeat, but I can't say I'm a fan of doing a title change only a few weeks removed from when Spud first won it. The biggest issue with the X-Division title is that it changes too often, and while some people may not have a problem with that, I feel I'm a traditionalist in that a nice, long reign will make a champion more credible.
Eric Young Addressed TNA World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle
There is nothing I hate more in wrestling than the godforsaken "What?" chants from crowds. I really enjoyed the audience on this show as they were more lively than usual, but the "What?" chants during Young's promo were extremely aggravating. Thankfully, Young paced out his promo differently once he realized what they were doing and it put an end to some of the chants. Other than that, this was a great promo from Young and an effective way of hyping up the Stretcher match for later in the night. I've never been a huge fan of his, but he's surprisingly been flourishing as a heel since turning back in January and this was one of the better promos I think I've heard him ever cut.
Knockouts Champion Taryn Terrell def. Brooke
As I said last week, Terrell's in-ring skills have improved drastically since coming to TNA, but her character development and especially her acting were always an issue. That said, her heel turn seems to have erased that issue almost completely. She is much more natural in this role and given that she looks like a Barbie Doll, her leadership of The Dollhouse is perfect. The match wasn't anything special, but it was nice to see someone different challenge for the title for a change. The post-match segment with Gail Kim and her new partner of Awesome Kong challenging The Dollhouse to a match next week has me intrigued. Terrell, Kim and Kong have so much history together and I love the long term storytelling they have going on right now.
Drew Galloway def. Low Ki in a Pipe on a Pole Match
Anything on a Pole matches are always so stupid to me (also giving me fear that Vince Russo is officially back working with the company), but this one made sense from a storyline standpoint since Galloway and Low Ki have been attacking each other with lead pipes quite a bit as of late. It was a pretty solid match for the most part that I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would. The incorporation of the chair helped a lot, and the Warrior's Way as well as the Future Shock DDT on top of it were among the highlights. The only nitpick I have about the bout was when the pipe accidentally fell from the pole, and while I realize stuff like that happens, it just came off as clunky. They couldn't have re-shot it or cleaned it up to look better on a taped show?
Magnus Confronted James Storm
Storm has been established a manipulative character, so hopefully the fans pick up on that he was the one who made Mickie James change her mind about retirement and they don't embrace him for doing so. Magnus shouldn't come across as the whiny, insecure type but rather the guy who wants to defend his wife against the cult leader that's trying to mess with her mind. It's so far so good, though, and I'm interested to see why it was so important to Storm that James come out of retirement and if he wants her to join The Revolution.
Eric Young def. TNA World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle in a Stretcher Match (Non-title)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the match between Angle and Young last week (before it got switched to Angle vs. Austin Aries) originally supposed to be for the championship? So, why wasn't the title on the line in this match? Nitpicking aside, this was a very good main event. It could have benefited from more time, but for the time they were allotted, they made the most of it. It differed from WWE Stretcher matches in that you didn't have to push your opponent up the ramp and past a finish line on a stretcher; rather, you had simply strap them up on the stretcher. That was a nice touch and I like TNA's version of it more than WWE's, but it'd be even better if they did a mix of them both. Young was made out to look very vicious here, especially in delivering two piledrivers on Angle, so he is a major threat to the title. It was a great win for him and it builds anticipation for their inevitable title clash.
I wasn't at all a fan of Hardcore Justice being held so soon after Lockdown and this early in the calendar year, especially only days after WWE's own hardcore-themed show Extreme Rules, but it certainly exceeded my expectations. Perhaps it was due to there being very little hype for the show going in, but I liked a lot of the matches, some more than I thought I would because of the silly stipulations. Several feuds were furthered and the booking decisions were spot-on for the most part, also made noteworthy by the X-Division title change. Al Snow was good on commentary, seemed to know his stuff, wasn't distracting and dare I say is better than Taz was (other than that stupid "the canvas is like sandpaper" line). The Impact Zone crowd was also livelier than they've been in quite some time. I don't know if it is piped in or anything, but it enhanced my enjoyment of the show for sure. I'm very much looking forward to next week's live episode, as I believe it will be their first live show since when they moved to Destination America on January 6. It's shaping up to be a stacked show from what's being advertised and I have faith that it can continue the strong momentum TNA has going at the moment.
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