It’s gimmick match overtime as we step into TNA territory for the first time in ages to look at their latest One Night Only show, Hardcore Justice, shown this past Wednesday night on Challenge here in Britain.
Our night began with The Revolution’s Manik and the Great Sanada taking on The Wolves, Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards, in a ladder match, with the prize a future tag title match.
As far as ladder matches go this wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t the best one I’ve seen, but it was still pretty entertaining. The Wolves looked in top form as always, and the Revolution boys put in a great effort as well. The ladder’s weren’t overused, and the holy you know what moment saw Manik taking Richards down with a sunset flip powerbomb from the top of the ladder onto a second ladder perched between the first and the ropes.
In the end it was the Wolves who came out on top. After Edwards managed to get Sanada’s blue mist out of his eyes he took his opponents out with a top rope stomp onto a ladder while it was placed over their shoulders. From there Richards climbed to the top to grab the title match contract.
The first singles match of the show saw Kenny King facing Drew Galloway in a pipe on a pole match.
Now I have to admit that I found this one a little disappointing. Normally the object of any item on a pole match is that the first wrestler who climbs the pole gets to use said object as a weapon. Well, that’s not exactly what happened in this match.
Both guys made attempts to get the pipe early on, but after a brief brawl and a spot of fan participation around ringside a normal wrestling match broke out. The pipe was all but ignored as both men had several pin attempts.
Eventually King remembered what the point of it all was when Galloway was hanging upside down in the corner, but after climbing the pole and grabbing the pipe Galloway took him down with a running boot. Galloway went for the cover, and a three count later it was all over, with no pipe use whatsoever.
Don’t get me wrong, performance wise this match can’t be faulted, and it was nice to see Galloway away from that bloody awful rock star persona, but what’s the point of having a gimmick match if the gimmick isn’t actually used?
Then it was on to the tables match between Eric Young and his mystery opponent, with Gunner accepting his challenge.
Well, it’s nice to see that Eric Young has dropped that annoying as hell over the top goofy-like persona of his in favour of becoming a right miserable b*****d. Does anyone know if he’s divorced ODB yet?
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. This was basically one big brawl. Both combatants looked okay, as were the exchanges throughout, but for some reason I just couldn’t get excited about this one. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because of my past loathing of Young, or the lack of actual drama and the apparent lack of tables. In short, while the action was okay it just didn’t set my pulse racing.
The end came when Young blocked Gunner’s attempt to put him through a table at ringside and put the tattooed one through the wood with a piledriver for the win.
The Knockouts were up next as Havok took on Gail Kim in a street fight.
Now this was a little more like it. It probably helped that these two had a bit of a back story because for the most part this was quite an intense battle, and while I wasn’t expected every blow to be a weapons shot it was still a pretty decent match.
Havok looked like an absolute monster out there, while Kim put in her usual solid performance, and seeing these two against each other kind of reminded me of the great series Kim had with Awesome Kong a few years ago.
The weapons shots weren’t overdone. Havok used a kendo stick to good effect, and the rubbish bin only came into play once when Kim dropkicked it into Havok’s kisser, but the most effect moment came when Kim took her woman down with a DDT onto a chair.
That marked the beginning of the end. A few moments later Kim connected with her eat defeat finisher for the winning pin. Nice work all round.
The Monster’s Ball match followed as Abyss went up against Matt Hardy.
This match certainly lived up to the title of this show. These two are well versed at fighting in a hardcore environment, and it showed throughout as they tried to beat the proverbial out of each other with a variety of toys, from chairs to rubbish bins to barbed wire boards to thumb tacks, they used them all.
Both warriors looked in fine fettle throughout as they tore shreds off each other. In fact this was the best performance I’ve seen from Hardy in a long time, although in truth I haven’t seen much of his current TNA tenure.
The Joey Styles oh my gawd moment came after Abyss introduced the tacks into the equation. The monster was the first to try and use them, but when Hardy countered his chokeslam attempt with a twist of fate the pins were soon sticking out of the monster’s arms.
Moments later the monster found himself in even more trouble when Hardy put him into one of the barb wire boards. It proved to be the beginning of the end for the big man when Hardy took him down with a twist of fate onto a chair for the winning pin.
Then it was on to the Royal Rumble….I mean hardcore gauntlet match, with each man bringing in a weapon of their own choosing.
This one certainly had some unique aspects to it, such as Crazzy Steve chokeslamming Robbie E onto a pile of gummy bears. Yep, you read that correctly. Crazzy Steve’s weapon of choice was a bag of gummy bears. It also had the aforementioned Mister E bringing in a selfie stick as his weapon. That’s 21st century hardcore for you.
Overall the match wasn’t too bad, but like others before it seemed to lack any form of intensity. The wrestlers came, did their thing for quite a while until the somewhat bigger stars arrived on the scene. It was then that the eliminations began, with James Storm and Mr. Anderson the last two in the ring. Storm had a little help from his Revolution buddy Koya at ringside though. The big man had just been eliminated by Anderson, but he hung around long enough to help his boss Storm eliminate Anderson for the win.
Oh, and the most over thing in this match – a rubber chicken brought in by one of the fans. Says it all really. And let’s not think about Anderson stuffing a load of gummy bears down the back of Storm’s tights, shall we?
Normal service resumed with Ethan Carter III facing Rockstar Spud in a first blood match.
Now this definitely was more like it. Before the match began Carter tried to get his former friend to forget the match and leave the ring. The Brummie was having none of it though, and responded by clobbering Carter in the noggin with microphone.
What followed was a very entertaining encounter. These two work together extremely well as they put together some nice sequences, and when the rubber chicken made yet another appearance EC3 upset the fans by promptly throwing it back into the crowd.
The turning point came when Carter’s buddy Tyrus came down to the ring for a look-see. A few moments later the referee took an accidental blow, but while the official was getting a bit of shut-eye Carter’s plan to use his own arm brace backfired when Spud kicked him in the nuts and used the weapon himself. Seconds later Carter began to bleed from the mouth, but with the referee still snoozing Tyrus went over to his buddy and wiped away the claret with a towel before handing Carter a chain.
Carter quickly used his new weapon a few seconds later when he clobbered Spud in the skull, and when that didn’t bust him open Carter delivered a few more choice shots to the head. This did the job, and as soon as he saw the blood the now-revived referee called for the bell, giving Carter the win.
The penultimate match saw the Brit I’ve never heard of Bram taking on Tommy Dreamer in a cage match.
This was another of those matches that fits into the quite enjoyable file. They began with a brief brawl around the ring, without, thankfully, that bloody chicken, and before they made it into the ring Dreamer went searching for a few toys he could use.
Once they made it into the cage things got a little heated. With every step Dreamer showed that he could keep up with his younger opponent as he brought out all of his old weapons. Bram wasn’t a pushover though, and the Brit put up a good fight.
Thankfully for Bram Dreamer didn’t get to use the cheese grater he’d tried to introduce into the equation, and after they traded low blows Bram took Dreamer down with an impaler DDT onto a chair for the winning pin.
The main event was a battle of the Bobbies as Roode faced Lashley in a last man standing match.
From what I gather these two have had quite a few matches against each other before, and while I’ve never seen any of those I can say that this one was pretty decent.
Once again I have to say that both wrestlers put in good performances, and Lashley has come on in leaps and bounds since his days in WWE, and his earlier tenure in TNA. He didn’t look like a monster on the Brock Lesnar level, but he looked very effective, while Roode put in his usual solid and workmanlike performance.
My one gripe with this match was the lack of out of the ring activity. Most of the last man standing matches I’ve seen over the years have involved quite a bit of ringside brawling, but these two didn’t venture outside until near the end, and that was only when Roode rolled out of the ring after taking Lashley’s spear.
It was the ringside brawling that led to the end. Roode almost took the win when he avoided another spear and Lashley crashed into the ringside steps, but it took a Roode bomb to finally finish the big man off when Lashley failed to beat the referee’s ten count.
In conclusion – work commitments and the ever-growing pile of DVDs I’ve got to review mean that it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a TNA show, but watching this reminded me while I’ve tended to shy away from the One Night Only shows as of late.
You see, as good as the action was in some of these matches I couldn’t help but think once again that the majority of the wrestlers here were just going through the motions. They just lacked that heart, that intensity, that little spark that makes a good match a great match. Having a little back story helps a little, but in the case of these shows it doesn’t help that much.
The one thing that had improved a hell of a lot was the commentary. Josh Matthews and Jeremy Borash may not be everyone’s idea of a great commentary duo but they were certainly a lot better than Taz, and I’m kind of glad that I won’t have to put up with any more of his non-sensical ramblings on these shows any more.
As for my match of the night no-prize, this time around I’m going to give this prestigious award to the Spud/EC3 first blood match, and not just because Spud comes from the same part of the world as my Dad.
So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing left to do. I’m going to give Hardcore Justice the thumbs up, but with the addition of a could do better.
By day I‘m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer in a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!