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The Best And Worst Of TNA Impact Wrestling Hardcore Justice

By 08.21.14

Best: Speaking Of People Who Can’t Stop Calling Other People Bitch

Ethan Carter III and Rockstar Spud show up in coordinating outfits with coordinating Johnny Bravo haircuts. EC3 says that he spent his time in prison contemplating who was responsible for the attack on his Aunt and decided the blame lies with Rhino. Now, Rhino had a lot of logical responses he could’ve chosen here. “Uh, Bully Ray?” was one. “Why didn’t you spend your time in prison figuring out what POSSIBLE REASON you had for being in prison?” is another. “Are we gonna stop doing these shitty wrestling arrest stories now that Ferguson’s happening or what” is a third.

Instead, Rhino’s response was written by Bart Simpson’s cursing toy from ‘Lisa The Greek.’ “Shuddup, shuddup, kiss my butt, shuddup, go to hell, go to hell!”

EC3’s response is to slap him in the face and beat his ass. It’s WONDERFUL. When situations like this happen (especially in TNA), the default is “the most famous guy wins.” I kept expecting Rhino to just pop up and gore him, but nope, we got a fully realized, strong adult Ethan Carter III handling his business. Rockstar Spud tries to be a peacekeeper and gets shoved on his ass, giving us a great, dramatic STAY WHERE YOU ARE point from Carter. It’s the same kind of relationship that made Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez so human and identifiable for a while … one guy is clearly the alpha male, but he’s complex enough to like the toadies he keeps around. They’re HIS toadies, after all.

The next six weeks of TNA should just be old ECW guys showing up, saying SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS, BITCH and getting beaten back to whichever Pro Wrestling Syndicate show they crawled out of.


Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 11.54.05 AM

Best: Smojo vs. Lowli

Samoa Joe vs. Low Ki was the best match on the show, because of course it was. I have a soft spot for the big indie wrestling stars of 2002-2005, and these guys were two of the biggest. They could have a serviceable match in their sleep, and that’s more or less what they did here. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing that would make me call up my friends and say DUDE, WATCH THIS SAMOA JOE VS. LOW KI MATCH, just very good, very time-specific pro wrestling.

It’s interesting to think about how those big 2002-2005 stars should be the top dogs in pro wrestling right now, but are already being usurped by the 2007-2010 crowd. Samoa Joe and Low Ki are slumming it in TNA. AJ Styles is the IWGP Champion, but his run (aside from his killer performances in the G1 Climax) has felt very much like “bring over the American guy and have him pretend to be the nWo.” He’s gonna end up the Global Force Champion and nobody will take him seriously. Bryan Danielson reached the mountaintop, but now he’s hurt and might not ever come back. CM Punk reached the mountaintop, but now he’s butthurt and might not ever come back.

Meanwhile, who are WWE’s next breakout stars? Dean Ambrose. Seth Rollins. Cesaro. Sami Zayn. Guys who had to pick up the slack in ROH when guys like Joe and Low Ki and Danielson and Punk left for greener pastures. It blows my mind to think that Samoa Joe will never get a run in WWE, but that Tyler Black is gonna be WWE Champion. Maybe the big companies really DO know more about wrestling than us, huh?

Samuel Shaw TNA Impact Hardcore Justice

Worst: I Hope The Samuel Shaw Action Figure Comes With A Freestanding Piece Of Guardrail

Mr. Anderson is backstage and answers a question about Gunner in the only way he can: by remembering some aspect of a catchphrase and repeating it over and over. This is called “mic skills.” WHAT DO I THINK ABOUT GUNNER? I THINK GUNNER KNOWS SAM SHAW IS A CREEPY BASTARD. HE’S A CREEPY BASTARD. SAM SHAW KNOWS HE’S A CREEPY BASTARD! At least he’s stopped saying “asshole” three times per sentence.

The best part is that Sam Shaw is somehow the only person who overhears this conversation, and he takes offense. From, uh, behind what appears to be a ringside guardrail. He hops the guardrail (literally, he hops over it) and starts brawling with Anderson, only to get thrown back INTO the guardrail. This is when we find out that it is a freestanding piece of guardrail, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Why is it there? Why did Shaw have to go over it if it was clear on all sides? Why is it the only thing he got knocked into?

It’s admittedly a throwaway detail, but another example of the kind of thing TNA doesn’t even come CLOSE to thinking about.

Best: Christy Hemme Is Pregnant

The woman who cannot say the word “following” is having a baby, giving me an opportunity to say she’s “foaling.” TNA handles it with grace, mentioning it in passing in an onscreen graphic and prompting Mike Tenay to monotonously tell us to go to FitPregnancy.com for details. CHRISTY HEMME CHILDBIRTH BROWN BAG SPECIAL.

I hope TNA turns it into a storyline and says Austin Aries got her pregnant when he put his dick in her face.

Worst: The Problem With TNA Theme Shows

Hardcore Justice starts off with two guys going through barbed wire and stabbing each other to death with nails. That’s followed up by two guys stiffing the shit out of each other. That’s followed by a slow, weak “I Quit” match which is mostly Mr. Anderson making puke faces in a headlock while the ref’s all OH THE HUMANITY DO YOU GIVE UP.

That’s the problem with TNA theme shows. It’s just too much. There’s a reason why people do one cage match or one hardcore match on a show … otherwise you burn out the crowd with the concept, or you become one of those WWE Active polls where you present the exact same thing three times in a row and think it’s different because you changed the name. Up first is a cage match! That’s followed by the Six Sides of Steel! Later on we’ll be having an XSCAPE Match, and then a STEEL ASYLUM, and then a MONSTER’S BALL MATCH! And yeah, they’re different, but no, they’re f*cking not.

If Mr. Anderson and Sam Shaw are gonna work a slow, old-timey, PG submissions match with Anderson’s slug ass sandbagging everything, maybe don’t put it on the same episode as similar, better stuff? Like, I’m not really buying Shaw being in peril in an armbar when 20 minutes ago Abyss was getting his liver punctured by a hobo weapon.

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