-Regarding AW: yes, the Kobe joke was bad. Yes, he’s expendable compared to most of the roster. But still, others have done worse in recent times (Vince mocking JR’s face, Orton ripping Kelly on the radio, Cena gay-bashing, Lawler weight-bashing, etc), so for AW to get the axe is a wee bit hypocritical. On an unrelated note, I’m thinking of sending money to Chris Shays. If it’s revealed that he’s the Hillside Strangler or anything similar, that may not change my mind.
-TNA Hardcore Justice 2012 is live from Tony Orlando
Match 1: Chavo Guerrero/Hernandez vs. Kid Kash/Gunner
Gunner’s either coming in with a taped eyebrow, or he taped his bus pass to his forehead so he wouldn’t lose it. Chavo overcomes a 2 on 1 early, and lands the Three Amigos on Kash. You know it’s sad that TNA has more of the Smackdown Six (Chavo, Angle) than WWE (Rey). Maybe they can get Edge as the new GM and really rub it in. Of course, they’d have to rename him “Crease” or something. Chavo becomes face-in-peril, as Gunner hits the Tully Blanchard slingshot for 2. Kash gets his own slingshot on the bottom rope, oddly crotching Chavo in an awkward spot. It’s weird hearing “let’s go Chavo” after his final years of near anonymity in WWE. Having Kash and Chavo in the ring with Brian Hebner is giving me Velocity 2005 flashbacks. Kash humbles Chavo with the Camel Clutch Blog (and Taz even uses “humble”), but Guerrero escapes, though he’s unable to tag. Gunner comes in for thirty seconds of working before tagging back out to Kash. Probably for the best. Guerrero and Kash are floored after a double clothesline, and the crowd is….rallying….for a midcarder. PAY ATTENTION, WWE! Hernandez gets the tag and sends Kash flying with a shoulder block. Hernandez goes all power-crazy on both opponents. Hernandez lands a hands-free plancha on Gunner, and then takes Kash out, allowing for a Chavo frog splash to win it.
[adinserter block=”2″]WINNERS: Chavo Guerrero/Hernandez via frog splash
Rating: 6/10. Enjoyable opener with a hot crowd. Guerrero and Hernandez make for an effective veteran team. Does this make Chavo the ideal “Ricardo Morton”? I’ll stop now.
-The Pope is jumped before his respective BFG Series by A&8, so this next match will be better. I mean, a triple threat.
Match 2: Rob Van Dam vs. Magnus vs. Mr. Anderson (Falls Count Anywhere/20 Pts for BFGS)
Magnus wisely jumps RVD while he appeals on the turnbuckle, and Anderson and Magnus turn it into a singles match. RVD recovers soon enough and takes both men out with corner attacks, following up by taking Magnus over the top with a leg lariat. RVD goes hard into the railing, and Anderson works on Magnus outside, getting 2 off a shot into the ring steps. Tide turns as Anderson tries a DDT onto a chair, but Magnus sends him falling onto it. Wouldn’t it have hurt even if Anderson DID hit it? Magnus drags Anderson toward the back, but RVD comes in moments later and throws a chair at Magnus in a neat spot. Magnus takes RVD’s knee out while he poses again, and applies a Texas Cloverleaf (British Tea Leaf?) on the rail, with Anderson saving. Back to the ring, where RVD is crotched attempting a Five Star, and Anderson has a superplex blocked. This time, RVD hits the Five Star, but Magnus pulls Van Dam from the ring. Magnus: “Get me a f—king chair.” Well, at least it wasn’t a Kobe Bryant reference. Magnus gets one, taking a Van Daminator on the stage, and Van Dam wins.
WINNER: Rob Van Dam via Van Daminator (Wins 20 Pts)
Rating: 6/10. Fun, if disjointed. Both WINNERs so far are 41 years old, though. I’m having Nitro flashbacks.
-Borash reports that’s security can’t face Aces and Eights anywhere. Of course, they’re wrestling security guards! Madison Rayne puts the moves on Erotic Earl from a distance.
Match 3: Devon vs. Kazarian (TNA TV Championship)
As I write this, the Dolphins have just released Chad Johnson, so I may be extra gleeful from here on out (read: I hate him and his need to put the spotlight on himself, because he’s never been a WINNER). Kaz stalls, but Devon’s clubbering soon enough, landing a back elbow off an Irish whip. Kaz tries to leave after being chucked over the ropes, but Devon meets up and continues the beating outside. Kaz tries a handshake to no avail, but gains control (I missed this part when my brother called me to laugh about Chad with me), and Kaz gets a sky high leg drop for 2. Chinlock is applied, as I wish the phone call had happened here. Devon comes back with right hands, and lands a beautiful spear after Kaz did a springboard leapfrog to avoid him. Kaz took a nice header on it, too. Devon gets 2 off a corner crush, and a running shoulderblock. Kaz misses a corner charge, and Devon gets his classic middle rope neckbreaker for 2. Kaz comes back with a crucifix for 2. Devon escapes Fade to Black, and lands the front spinebuster to win.
WINNER: Devon via front spinebuster (Still TNA Television Champion)
Rating: 5/10. Nothing great, nothing bad, just a fun match with a beautiful spot (the spear). Even the undercarders get time to shine in TNA.
Match 4: Brooke Tessmacher vs. Madison Rayne (TNA Knockouts Championship)
Any angle with Earl Hebner as a love interest is 400X better than Eric Young’s attempts at “comedy.” The women jockey early, and Brooke gets a roll-up for 2, followed by a backslide for the same count. Madison is miffed that Earl is being impartial. Madison comes back with some GLOW-tastic offense (hair pulling, corner boot choke), and stops Brooke’s comeback with an elbow to the jaw. Rayne gets a nice Northern Lights suplex for 2. Rayne plants Brooke with the scissors-stomp, but can’t keep Brooke pinned. She gets mad at Earl, and Brooke builds the comeback. Brooke lands a flying elbow, but seems to hurt her own arm. Brooke complains about a 2 count, so Rayne cradles her and uses the ropes to win the title for the fourth time.
WINNER: Madison Rayne via reverse cradle (New TNA Knockouts Champion)
Rating: 4/10. Acceptable women’s wrestling, and Rayne’s at least an animated character. Brooke only won it because of the Texas setting at Slammiversary, so I’m thinking we get a legit Rayne/Gail feud between the ‘friends.’
-Bully Ray hides in the shadows for his promos, trying to avoid Aces & 8s. Smart guy.
Match 5: Bully Ray vs. Robbie E vs. James Storm vs. Jeff Hardy (Table Match/20 Pts for BFGS)
Hardy, Bully, and tables. I’m all nostalgic. Robbie acts especially douchey and gets a chest slap from Bully to start. Robbie goes hard to the floor, and then Bully cleans house. He tries to befriend him in order to form an alliance for his own gain. As soon as Robbie gives him a table, Bully knocks him to the floor. Good stuff. Storm and Hardy invoke some irony by double teaming Bully, who goes through the corner of the table on a double team, but the break is waved off as insufficient. Robbie ends up with control, laying Hardy on the table, but Storm stops him, and a tower of doom commences with Hardy, but Bully pulls the table away. Bully tries to put Hardy through, but Storm saves, and Cowboy lands Closing Time on Ray. The table is now set in the corner, as Hardy lands a front suplex on Robbie. Robbie is laid on a table at ringside, and Robbie T heads out, so Hardy leaps onto him instead of Robbie E. Little Robbie escapes table peril, and goes to put Hardy through, but misses the flying elbow off the top, going through. However, the match continues by rule. Back inside, Bully goes to put Storm through the corner table, but Aces and Eights hit the ring. Storm hits Bully with the Last Call, and one hoodlum gives Storm a thumbs up. The thugs leave as Hardy goes after Storm, and lands Whisper in the Wind after a struggle. Hardy blocks a Last Call and hits a Twist of Fate on Storm, but Aces and Eights return. Hardy is distracted, but Bully chucks Storm and powerbombs Hardy through himself. Then Bully runs off to avoid the mob.
WINNER: Bully Ray via table powerbomb (Wins 20 Pts)
Rating: 6/10. Slow in spots, but a good story-driven table match. With both Dudleyz winning tonight, looks like contract leverage is being given by TNA, don’t you think?
-Borash asks Aries to opine about Aces and Eights, who assures us that he’s ready for them.
Match 6: Zema Ion vs. Kenny King (TNA X Division Championship)
King punctuates a long mat sequence with a single-leg into a rolling headlock, and tops that with a spinning roll up for 2. King knocks Ion over the top with an uppercut, but tries to fake the plancha, only to eat the apron. King fails again on an attempted springboard into the ring, only to get throated on the ropes. Ion follows with a flip dive to the floor. A neckbreaker follows, and Ion kicks King down in the corner. Ion wears down a grounded King with kicks and knees, and King’s comeback is dashed with a spike DDT for 2. Ion goes for a pump moonsault, and lands on King’s knees. King builds a flashy comeback, culminating with a spinning kick for 2. King suplexes Ion into the corner in an ugly spot, and follows with a corkscrew plancha onto him. Flip senton in the ring gets 2 for the challenger. King avoids a head kick and hooks a single leg crab as the crowd comes alive. Ion twists free and slugs King to escape, however. King misses a high kick, and Ion lands his suplex into a facebreaker for 2. King gets 2 on a cradle after Ion tried to use the hair spray, and goes for his twisting sunset flip, only to be planted with the Gory Bomb in mid move. Ion retains.
WINNER: Zema Ion via Gory Bomb (Still TNA X Division Champion)
Rating: 7/10. Good action after a non-descript start. Ion’s a damn fine heel, and King has the charisma and skill to last a while in this company.
-Joe promises to regain HIS World Title. Well, Russo’s gone, so that’s a help.
Match 7: AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Kurt Angle (Ladder Match/20 Pts for BFGS)
The pilot has turned on the “Smarkgasm” sign for the remainder of the evening. Styles beats the life out of Daniels while Angle and Joe just watch. Then Angle takes his turn killing Daniels, followed by Joe. Seems nobody likes Daniels. Daniels tries to come back with a BME, but Joe does the F-It walkaway, and finally we get Joe and AJ going at it. Joe goes to facewash and Olay Angle, but Daniels pulls him to the floor. Styles dives onto both of them, because he can. Styles and Angle have a spirited exchange in the ring, which ends when Daniels slams a ladder into AJ’s leg on the apron. Daniels uses the ladder as a battering ram on Joe, but Joe comes back with a throwing uranage on the ladder. Yeowch. Joe’s the first to try and climb, but AJ stops him, and gets the high angle dropkick. Angle drops AJ with a tilt a whirl backbreaker, and then Daniels crotches Angle with the ladder. The Fallen Angel heads up, but Joe corner powerbombs him off. Angle prevents Joe’s climb, and throws him with an overhead belly to belly. Taz: “Angle has explosive hips!” They make Depends for that, Kurt. In a nice sadistic spot, AJ whips Angle under the ladder, and then slams the ladder into his face on the rebound. OUCH. Joe eats a Pele, but Joe comes back with a running suicide elbow onto AJ. Daniels DDTs Angle on the floor as I can’t keep up. Joe goes all house-of-fire in the ring, and suplexes Daniels hard into the corner. Joe gets AJ for the Muscle Buster, but Angle tries to German BOTH of them, only to have the pile collapse. Eh, it works in context of the match. Daniels STOs Angle, and goes up the ladder, but is pulled off into the Ankle Lock. Daniels escapes, but falls into AJ’s springboard Superman forearm. AJ comes close to winning, but Daniels shoves the ladder over and knocks him to the floor. Daniels is stopped by Joe and Angle, who then take turns pummeling him. The fun culminates with Daniels being wedged in the standing ladder, and they tee off on him until Joe nails Angle with a right hand. Joe gets dumped and Angle goes off, with Daniels hooking his leg. Joe climbs another ladder, and knocks Angle off, but AJ springboards in and grabs the clipboard in one fell swoop to win.
WINNER: AJ Styles via retrieval (Wins 20 Pts)
Rating: 9/10. Creative spots, non-stop excitement, and lots of time and space to work without a screwy finish. I don’t ask for much, and this justified the PPV in and of itself.
-Roode vows to walk into BFG as champion. Anyone thinking Storm gets the title shot via A&8, and faces his old partner?
Main Event: Austin Aries vs. Robert Roode (TNA World Heavyweight Championship)
[adinserter block=”1″]Feeling out process kicks things off, as I wonder if they’ll top their effort from Destination X. Aries spits in his face, and Aries tries the Chancery when he angers him, to no avail. Roode can’t get an advantage, and escapes the ring after barely avoiding a brainbuster. Roode wants a timeout, lest he blow his last chance at the title. Crowd counts along, but Aries stops Roode’s re-entry with a suicide dive. And another. Aries misses an axe handle to the floor, smashing into the railing after Roode evades. Roode kicks away inside, bringing back the memory of Aries’ rail-smash from a month ago. Roode gets a layout suplex on the top rope, then hooks him for a vertical suplex for 2. Roode then hooks a waistlock gutwrench to wear him down further. Aries elbows his way out, but Roode runs him into the corner. Aries tries for a crucifix, but Roode turns it into a gutbuster for 2. Roode continues the methodical weardown, and goes back to the submission with a bodyscissors. Aries manages to turn it into a pinning combo for 2, but Roode pushes him back into the hold. Roode hangs Aries in the tree of woe after a corner slam, and Aries manages to hit a stunner out of the tree of woe in a spot I’ll be damned if I’ve ever seen before. Aries fights back with left hands, and Roode goes to the floor, where Aries fakes a suicide dive, but goes through the axe handle from earlier. A dropkick knocks Roode into the rail, and Aries covers for 2. Aries applies the Last Chancery, but Roode eye rakes his way free. Aries then hooks the Crossface, but Roode escapes that as well. Roode gets his own Crossface, but Aries crawls like a man to the ropes. Slugfest ensues, which leads to Aries hitting a missle dropkick, followed by a corner dropkick. Roode blocks the Brainbuster with a Spinebuster for 2. Aries blocks a superplex, and earclaps Roode to the mat, but a 450 hits knees. Roode goes for a spear, but Aries moves, and Hebner gets taken out. Roode gets one for real on Aries with no ref. A new ref counts 2, and Roode is fuming. Aries escapes the Payoff, and tries for the Brainbuster, only to take the second ref out. Aries gets the Brainbuster, and Hebner slowly….counts 2. Roode crotches Aries up top, and gets a superplex, but the two men cradle each other, seemingly each kicking out on 2, but both men call for the bell….and we have a double pin. Earl comes out to confer with both refs….and the match continues! Roode says something about bull excrement, and Aries misses a plancha, and Roode nails him with the title! Roode rolls him in….AND GETS 2! Aries manages to get a rollup out of nowhere, and he retains!
WINNER: Austin Aries via rollup (Still TNA World Heavyweight Champion)
Rating: 9/10. Not quite the epic that was Destination X, but a great story told. Roode will likely use the referee snafu as a way to try and muscle back into the title scene, which is fine with me. More from these two please!
Overall: The two big matches delivered in spades, and the undercard was enjoyable all the way through. I like WRESTLING, and this show was all about the wrestling, baby! TNA keeps my vote for another month.
Best of all, no Tout. Thumbs up!
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for Wrestlechat.net and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.
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