– Hi all, Brandon Stroud here filling in on a very special edition of the Best and Worst of Impact. I’m going to be on the road on Thursday night and Friday day, so Danielle will be switching with me and covering NXT. Lucky girl.
– Your shares, likes, comments and other Internet Things are appreciated. #SharesHappen
Please click through for the Best and Worst of HARDCORE JUSTICE. Sorry in advance.
Worst: First Of All, It’s Called ‘Hardcore Justice’
This is my third-favorite Impact Wrestling pay-per-view, behind TNA SEXY PATTYCAKE and TNA MEET MADDEN. That’s, uh, the one where they let Mark Madden do commentary.
Seriously though, ‘Hard Justice’ made it sound like a bad cop movie, and ‘Hardcore Justice’ makes it sound like a camgirl. It doesn’t help when your company’s name is TITS AND ASS, so your full show name is TITS AND ASS HARDCORE JUSTICE. They should find a way to call their Knockouts pay-per-view YOUNG CHEERLEADER SWAP N’ SWALLOW.Subscribe to UPROXX
Best: A Fun Garbage Wrestling Match If You Turn Off Your Brain And Mute The Crowd
Larry from ‘Three’s Company’ should face Mr. Roper in a STAIRWAY TO JANET match.
So, okay, the gimmick of Hardcore Justice (besides making me sing “Hardcore Justice” to the tune of ‘Hardcore Country’) is hardcore matches. Just a bunch of hardcore matches. A night of extreme rules, one might say. In TNA, hardcore matches are generally 10-15 minutes of guys slowly setting up props for other guys to jump through. Early on in the match, a guy suddenly starts bleeding when it doesn’t make sense. If you like that, this match was pretty great.
Objectively, I kinda like what they’re doing with Bram. Abyss is so much like Kane that he’s got Kane’s “neutered, couldn’t hurt a fly” vibe, so establishing this new crazy dude who will show up to hardcore matches in his underpants and go through barbed wire boards is important. How much does Abyss have left in the tank, honestly? Did Abyss ever buy a tank? Bram’s got WWE developmental training, the perfect boring look TNA loves and the ability to fall onto a bunch of sharp shit and smile about it. If that’s marketable anywhere, it’s in the roving Impact Zone. Plus, seriously, f*ck Abyss. Everybody beats Abyss. He went from being the most compelling character on the show (Joseph Park) to being a fatter X-Pac in a Groot mask.
Worst: TNA Hardcore
I’ve probably written about it before, but “Janice” is so dumb. It’s a board with a bunch of nails in it. Getting hit by that should be INSTANT, BLOODY DEATH. If you’re going to have a Stairway To Janice match, this is how it should go down: it should slowly build and build using the idea that the wrestlers are bloodthirsty, but also terrified of what might happen to them if they don’t grab Janice first. Somebody pulls down Janice, boom, five seconds of gore and we’re out. The end.
I’m not advocating somebody taking a nailboard to the forehead, but I’ve seen hardcore wrestling. I’ve seen Tournaments of Death. I follow Big Japan as closely as I can without getting light tube dust in my eyes. If you’re gonna swing a nailboard, swing a nailboard. Don’t half-ass it. Gimmick it to death if you want, but at least put enough effort into it to create a substantial, believable-if-you-blink visual. Nail to skin. That should be the only time someone bleeds in a Stairway to Janice match, and it should be ALL THE BLOOD. It’s a weapon horrifying enough to demand its own gimmick match, right?
Instead, we get a match featuring ladder bumps, MULTIPLE barbed wire boards and a spot where Bram blades because he HIT THE RING STEPS WITH HIS SHOULDER. Just straight across the forehead on a steps bump. If hitting the steps busted you open, John Cena would be a bloodbath after every match. Then they break out thumbtacks, which are basically nails minus 100% of the damage, and do a bunch of moves onto them. By the time that we’ve bled everywhere AND stabbed each other with sharp objects, Janice gets pulled down so that we can … not bleed and NOT stab each other with sharp objects!
Like always, Abyss misses with his swings and gets hit in the stomach. Bram grabs Janice, slowly presses it into the baggiest part of Abyss’s shirt, and Abyss kinda flops over to the side holding his gut like he’s been kneed by Alistair Overeem. If you get hit in the stomach with a gigantic board of nails, your sell isn’t “oof, I’m gonna throw up,” it’s “OH GOD MY INTESTINES ARE FALLING OUT OF MY BODY SOMEONE PLEASE HELP.” It should be terror and exploding bloodpacks and prop horror movie guts everywhere. I don’t care. If you’re booking a HIT ME WITH A BOARD WITH 100 NAILS STICKING OUT OF IT match you’ve already gone bonkers. Go all of the bonkers.
Worst: Everyone On This Show Is A Horrible Person
“Hey Bram, congratulations on winning your match!”
“thanks bro it was tough”
“So hey listen I wanted to let you know that NOBODY OUTSHINES MAGNUS, I’M GUNNING FOR YOU”
“SAY IT TO MY FACE”
“Anyway, take it easy. You coming out for drinks later?”
“Maybe, gotta check and see if Velvet Sky’s had her life threatened today, if not, sure, why not?”
“Hahah what a bitch”
“I know, right? All the women here are such bitches.”
“And the men.”
“Oh definitely the men. The men are definitely bitches. Super bitches.”
“WAIT A MINUTE I’M A MAN, WHO ARE YOU CALLING A BITCH”
“I’M CALLING YOU A BITCH. I CALLS EM LIKE I SEES EM”
“hey what time is it”
“like 9:30, why?”
“shit, hang on, I need to make a phone call.”
[makes phone call]
[Bram patiently waits]
“Hey mom? It’s Magnus. NOBODY OUTSHINES ME, BITCH, I AM THE CHOSEN ONE”
(Or whatever he calls himself.)
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.
Best: LOL TNA
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?
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.