The Impact Report…TNA Hardcore Justice (5-1-15)

Well, obviously, we had a big news week for Impact Wrestling with them getting a good amount of mainstream media coverage with the announcement that Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan will be the new senior creative producer for the company. Obviously, a lot of jokes can and have been made about this. And we’re all tired of TNA making “earth shattering announcements that will change the face of pro wrestling as we know it” (but never really pan out). However, I for one, am cautiously optimistic. We’ve all been complaining for years about how we need to see some new faces in creative roles and I think Corgan fits the void. I don’t think anyone doubts that he’s been a long-term, massive fan. He even briefly ran an independent promotion in his native Chicago. Yeah, Corgan’s eccentric as hell but I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt. TNA doesn’t have much so it doesn’t have much to lose. I’m cautiously optimistic and looking forward to seeing his influence on the product next week.

TNA Hardcore Justice 2015
May 1st, 2015 (Taped March 18th, 2015)
From The Impact Zone at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida
Announcers: Josh Matthews & Al Snow

Show opens with Jeff Hardy’s sick bump from a steel cage door onto the ringsteps from a few months ago to start the show. A nice (well, as much as a montage of painful looking wrestling bumps can be called “nice”) montage of some “hardcore” moments in TNA ensues to sell that tonight’s show is going to be Hardcore Justice, a night of matches where the only rule is that there are no rules!

Street Fight: Davey Richards & The Hardys Vs The Revolution (Khoya, Abyss, and Manik) 
We open mid-match with the two sides brawling in the aisles. Already, I like this show more than last week’s show. In the Destination America era, shows are built around themes and this one establishes its theme right from the getgo. In a very throwaway way, we’re introduced to new (temporary? permanent?) color commentator Al Snow, who establishes himself as somebody who’s history in the ring qualifies him to be an expert on hardcore wrestling. Maybe the Impact Zone’s semi-inexplicable love for the guy is wearing off on me but I’m really starting to think Manik is the most underutilized member of the Revolution.  At the very least, he should be contending for the X-Division Title. It seems silly that he’s an afterthought in a group featuring a past his prime Abyss and the way, way too green for primetime Khoya. Khoya should just be muscle for Storm and working on Xplosion at this point.

Anyway, this match felt kind of like a Saturday Night’s Main Event feature bout in the sense that it seemed extremely predictable but was fun in the process of getting to the inevitable result. I love that they work in a Tower of Doom spot. I like the story of this match (and this feud so far); The Revolution are all individually talented but haven’t managed to work together successfully and that’s why they fall short against expert tag team wrestlers like Richards & The Hardys. Richards, Matt & Jeff win when The Hardys hit the Twist of Fate and Swanton on Abyss. The Hardys can work about 95% as well as they did 10-15 years ago but it’s kind of funny, at this stage, to see them rip off their shirts and throw them into the crowd when Matt is balding and visibly sucking his gut in during the spot. Hey, as long as they continue producing good matches, the Hardys can do whatever they want. Except for going dirt biking apparently! Get well soon, Jeff!  B

Josh Matthews and Al Snow formally introduce each other and remind me that they met each other during Josh’s run on the first season of Tough Enough. Josh has been in a non-wrestling role for so long that I almost forgot he was a wrestler at one point.

Mr. Anderson, dressed like the manager of a call center with his striped shirt, polka dot tie, jeans & sneakers outfit, says he’s got a major announcement coming up next.

Josh Matthews announces that Billy Corgan is now officially a part of Impact Wrestling. I thought they played this announcement off perfectly on TV. Obviously, you want to acknowledge this major news story but a semi-fictional show doesn’t really need to make a huge announcement over the hiring of the new head writer.

Mr. Anderson comes out to give his own political stump speech. He’s got a campaign of his own to announce. A campaign that the WWE Universe TNA fans can really get behind. Luckily, his dopey promo is interrupted by EC3. They go back and forth for a while. Mr. Anderson says you don’t get World Championships by politicking, you get it through hard work. How rich. Anderson says he wants to take away something EC3 has that’s more important than the title—his year and a half plus undefeated streak. His campaign is to beat EC3’s streak. They announce a match for next week’s live show and the people are going to get to pick the stipulation!

Four Way Ladder Match for TNA X Division Title: Rockstar Spud (c) Vs Kenny King Vs Mandrews Vs Tigre Uno
I’m officially sold on Snow as color commentator for TNA after he chews out Tigre Uno for pointing at the ladder while everyone else is knocked out. There’s been a lot of inexplicable pointing in pro wrestling the past five years. I blame it on WWE’s main eventers always dramatically pointing at the WrestleMania sign every February/March. Speaking of WWE, this match kind of reminded me of a Money in the Bank match from when they first started doing MitB as its own pay per view. Half the guys in this match really had no realistic chance of winning but those guys really helped the crash factor of the match by going 110% with crazy spots. I can’t remember the last time Tigre Uno won a match and I don’t think Mandrews has been in a match at all since they came back from the UK a month or so ago but they both acquitted themselves well. I think this is one of the first real showcases for Mandrews, who has sort of been the afterthought of the trio of undersized, quirky  UK indy wrestlers TNA’s brought in (him, Spud, and Grado). Good to see him get a chance to shine.

Really impressed by Rockstar Spud. His offense is pretty basic/limited and seems kind of wonky at times but he’s a master at getting the crowd into a match and is an excellent seller. I love it when he does Memphis style offense (throwing off the bow tie when he gets angry, wind up punches). They put him over strong in defeat with him wheezing through the match with his injured ribs and nearly pulling off another miraculous win before Homicide runs in and helps give Kenny King the win. Kenny King is the new X-Division Champ! While I would like to have seen Spud get a lengthier title run, I think the chase is probably more intriguing than actually having the title at this point in his career. B+

Josh Matthews & Al Snow announce the options for stipulations for EC3 Vs Mr. Anderson next week. Mr. Anderson wants a Falls Count Anywhere match! EC3 wants an Arm Wrestling Match. Fans, you get decide the stipulation next week!

We get a video package chronicling EY and Kurt Angle’s feud.

EY comes out to cut a promo on the entrance ramp. He announces the match with Angle later is a non-title match. Some might say that might demotivate him but that’s not the case. EY put Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, and Lashley on stretchers and now he’s determined to injure Angle and prove he deserves the TNA World title.

Beatdown Clan celebrates out back. They’ve got their first piece of gold now that Kenny King is X-Division Champ. Now they’re going to take out Drew Galloway. Low Ki knocks over some water bottles with a steel pipe to drive the point home. Not the botttles!!!

Rockstar Spud cuts a sad promo about losing the X-Division title. It’s another really great promo from him and drives home the importance of the division as one of the cornerstones of the company (even though it really hasn’t been shown as such in the last few months).

We get a vignette for the Dollhouse. Taryn Terrell says no one thought she’d still have the TNA Knockouts title now that she’s in the Dollhouse, she’ll NEVER lose the TNA Knockouts Title! Taryn’s transition between plucky, underdog face and psychotic heel is relatively seemless all things being told. Segment did a good job of explaining a “shocking” heel turn.

TNA Knockouts Title Match: Taryn Terrell (c) (with Jade & Marti) Vs Brooke
Honestly, kind of surprised they rushed this match. Brooke won the title shot last week and gets the shot a week later. Again, TNA seems like they cram what should be three weeks of storytelling into two. It seems kind of obvious Brooke’s just gonna be another sacrificial lamb to the Dollhouse but the crowd gets behind her and the announce team does a good enough job selling the chance for an upset. Again, Snow wins me over by calling a Flying Forearm “The Flying Burrito” ala Jesse Ventura. Tito Santana FTW. Taryn Terrell wins with the Taryn Cutter. B-

Taryn says that nobody’s stopping the Dollhouse! Gail Kim takes exception to this. When Taryn says there’s three of the Dollhouse and Gail Kim is by herself, Gail disagrees and intros her new partner…Awesome Kong. The image of longtime enemies Gail & Kong standing side by side, united against an evil new heel stable is cool and exciting but again, they could have strung out this storyline for weeks if not months with instead of just throwing it out there quickly.

We get an ad announcing that TNA’s first live pay per view of 2015, Slammiversary XIII will be happening on June 28th at the Impact Zone in Orlando.

The Rising promo. These promos the last two weeks have had too many postproduction effects for my liking and it seems like they’re channeling the Shield a bit too much.

Steel Pipe on a Pole Match: Low Ki Vs Drew Galloway
Drew Galloway’s wearing new tights I believe. Switching from leather pants to short pleather tights. I guess to fully dissociate himself from his 3MB days in WWE. These two have a nice intense brawl where they seem to convey legitimate dislike of each other. Pipe doesn’t really come into play too much. Match is more centered around a steel chair which Low Ki hits a brutal Warrior’s Way on Galloway onto. He spends much of the match working over Galloway’s stomach before Galloway launches the comeback and wins with a brutal FutureShock DDT on to the chair. Hachy machy! Solid brawl. B

A few days ago, cameras (that Magnus hired to spy on his baby mama) Mickie James and her baby son Donovan run into James Storm in the grocery store parking lot. Storm wants to hold the baby and Mickie reluctantly hands him off to her and they head inside.

Magnus storms out demanding answers. Storm interrupts and implies that he smanged Mickie. Magnus, needless to say, is speechless and a little ticked off. You know how I was talking about TNA rushing storylines? Well, this Storm/Magnus/Mickie love triangle is the opposite. It’s been going on for a month and we still really don’t know what’s going on. Also, so far, this storyline has made Magnus look like a terrible babyface and a terrible spouse. Hopefully, we get some answers next week.

Kurt Angle cuts a promo on Eric Young. He tried to reform EY but EY proved to be a maniac and now Angle’s pissed. The stretcher match is next.

Stretcher Match: Kurt Angle Vs Eric Young
EY screams at a pre-teen fan on his way down to the ring. I’m not sure why but Angle’s been wearing a t-shirt with Russian writing on the front all night. Are the head injuries catching up to him and he thinks he’s in WWE and feuding with Rusev? I don’t get it. EY as a big vicious heel is also something that just doesn’t quite seem to work. EY’s fine in the role but he can’t really pull it off after being a joke for most of his run. This Angle-EY feud just seems like a placeholder until they’re ready to start building for Slammiversary in earnest. Also Impact Wrestling doesn’t explain why exactly this is non-title at all. EY is the #1 Contender for the World Title so by all logic, he deserves a shot. Josh Matthews could have thrown out a half-assed line like the “this match is so brutal that the Board of Directors wouldn’t sanction this as a title match” but they didn’t even bother with that. This match is fine but not up to the standards of some other recent Angle matches. Angle takes way too many risky bumps considering he’s 45 years old, has an extensive injury history, and this is a fairly meaningless non-title TV match. EY gets the win with two piledrivers after Angle accidentally charges into an uncovered turnbuckle. B- Hopefully, this feud ends next week and we can start building to EC3 Vs Kurt Angle at Slammiversary.

Final Grade…That show was a slight improvement over last week, although it kind of felt like a placeholder show at times. Hopefully, we’ll get some good surprises and the beginning of the build to Slammiversary on next week’s live show. B

Next Week… It’s the first live episode of Impact in four months! EC3 takes on Mr. Anderson in a match where the fans get to decide the stipulation plus the unlikely superteam of Gail Kim & Awesome Kong take on The Dollhouse. 

Written by Connor McGrath

Connor McGrath is a public access television show host and part-time amateur comedian, who resides in Portland, Maine. He contributes reviews of Northeast independent wrestling promotion, NWA On Fire along with occasional guest articles.

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