17 August 2013

Ringside: Impact Wrestling Review - Aug 15, 2013

Even as a TNA enthusiast, TNA’s HardCore Justice IMPACT Special exceeded my expectations.  The opening Ladder Match was a thing of beauty from start to finish with some crazy spots.  I thought it was the right move by Dixie Carter to be so frank and honest about Kurt Angle being in rehab, rather than having a storyline explanation.  The Tables match was very well orchestrated as it told a nice story, with EGO providing the BFG Series domination all night long. Rampage and Tito had a decent promo, but there were still obvious nerves from both guys.  The main event was mostly a basic underdog face vs. dominate heel match, until the unpredictable end with Tito paving the way for Bully to recapture the World Title.  

Favorite Moment - As a huge Bully Ray fan, I have to admit that I was smiling from ear to ear when Tito helped Bully Ray win the World Title.  Bully is the best heel in pro-wrestling right now and I think his second run with his belt will be better than his first run for multiple reasons.  

Least Favorite Moment - My least favorite moment of the night had to be when the wrong music (Tito’s theme song) was played for Bully Ray when he interrupted Rampage and Tito.  These kinds of mistakes are unacceptable for a PPV-quality show.  

MVP of the Night - Bully would be a too obvious choice, so instead I choose Bobby Roode as the MVP instead because he stood out the most last night in comparison to the other featured BFG Series competitors.  Roode is back to being the believable-heel version of himself that landed the World Title originally.  

Grade - I give the show an A- with everything taken into account.  A few tweaks here and there, and it would have been an A+ performance.  It was that good in my opinion.  The great crowd made a significant difference in the overall feel of the show as well.

After Destination X set the precedent for these free PPV Impacts, along with the solid line-up for the show, my expectations for Hardcore Justice were high. And I'm happy to say they were met, and in some aspects surpassed.

The Ladder match was just as great as I expected. I said in my preview for this match that the four men involved comprised what could easily be called a modern day dream match. There were some great spots and the crowd were into this from start to finish. I'm happy Kazarian got the win, he was classed as the dark horse out of the four. But with him securing 20 points with a little help from E.G.O., it makes the top of the board a hell of a lot closer with about 7 or 8 guys all in contention to finish in the final four.

I'm glad TNA were honest about the Kurt Angle situation. It was nice to have Dixie come out and inform the world of his Rehab entry, and publicly supporting him and hoping he can overcome his demons and return healthy and happy. Standard MEM vs Aces & 8's promo/brawl setting up next week's 5 vs 5 match.

Good Knockouts match, was odd that they didn't explain where Velvet Sky was and announced it would be a three way as if it was always supposed to be. ODB unsurprisingly gets the win, which I expect will pave the way for her to get a Knockouts Title shot in the near future.

Not a bad showing promo-wise from Rampage & Tito. They still seem a little nervous and not as confident when it comes to talking, but I'm sure over time after they have done it a few more times their promos will improve. Plus now with Tito's turn I think he may thrive at cutting heel promos, which is kind of what he did during his entire UFC career.

The Tables match was yet another strong showing. Good psychology with Anderson & Roode working together at times knowing that Joe & Magnus would do the same. Roode gets the win with help from Bad Influence and another Appletini. Roode scoring 20 points shoots yet another guy into the mix and adds more interest into who will finish in the final four, as the majority of the 12 participants are still in contention to do so.

The main event between Chris Sabin and Bully Ray was a similar story to their first match at Destination X. The only difference this time was Sabin getting more offense in and looking a little more stronger than he did in his title winning performance. The finish was what I predicted, Bully wins with help from a new Aces & 8's member. I thought that putting Tito in the Aces & 8's would be the best move, so they could incorporate his and Rampage's fight into the faction vs faction story.

Favourite Moment - For me, it has to be Kazarian's win in the ladder match. Firstly, it was awesome to see Kaz get the win in a big match against the likes of Styles, Hardy & Aries. He has come into his own the last year or so along with Daniels, and I was worried a few weeks ago that he was going to be pushed to the side in the BFG Series and finish at the bottom of the table. Secondly, Kazarian's win adds yet another guy to the mix of who will finish in the final four, and makes the last few weeks of the series very interesting.

Least Favourite Moment - It has to be the production botch with Bully's music when he came out to interrupt Rampage & Tito. I think the fact I had to nitpick to come up with a least favourite moment emphasises just how good of a show Hardcore Justice was.

MVP of the Night - My MVP isn’t just one man, it's three. I have to give the nod to E.G.O. The trio put the Extraordinary into their faction's name by going 2 for 2 in the BFG Series matches. In just one week they have made an immediate impact on the Series and got all three members high up the leader board in impressive fashion. While you could say the night belonged to Bully Ray, to me the strongest statement was made by the Extraordinary Gentlemen's Organisation.

Grade - This show in my eyes deserves an A. While the main event could have been a little more even when it comes to offense, and a couple of other minor details, the men and women who competed at this event put on a show that I was certainly a fan of. Hardcore Justice continued the solid run of free PPVs. Hopefully next month's No Surrender continues the trend.

It's funny, when I look back at Hardcore Justice, Bully Ray winning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship isn't the moment that is ingrained in my mind.  I'd say, it's probably the third most memorable thing to happen at Hardcore Justice.  On the surface, it might seem like the writers didn't do enough to make the title change pack more of a punch but quite the contrary.  The show was presented as a monthly PPV so there were memorable moments aplenty, making the final moment simply the icing on the cake.  I think Hardcore Justice 2013 in Norfolk, VA will forever be remembered as the night EGO made their mark and Tito Ortiz turned on Rampage Jackson and TNA.  Overall, I thought the show was tremendous.  It featured outstanding action in the ring (the Ladder and Tables matches in particular were quite enjoyable), intriguing storyline progression (especially in the Bound for Glory Series), and a nicely done heel turn.  Before I move on, I must say, I've gained quite a bit of respect for Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz simply because they, as well as TNA, were bashed mercilessly all week by fans and those in the media.  The two MMA fighters were determined to prove their critics wrong and I'm happy to say, they did exactly that.

Favorite Moment - I'd have to go with the Tito Ortiz heel turn but not for the reason you'd think.  Yes, it was unexpected (if it did happen, I honestly thought it'd happen next week) but it received my Favorite Moment, this week, due to the way Rampage Jackson sold Tito's hammer shot to the head.  It sort of confirmed my belief that he will be a solid contributor to Impact Wrestling simply because I think he has the make-up to be a pro wrestler, or dare I say, a sports entertainer.

Least Favorite Moment - For me, it was the botch during the world title match.  I assume Chris Sabin was setting up a Hurricanrana off the top rope.  What we saw was anything but.

MVP of the Night - This is a tough decision but I have to give this week's top honor to the live crowd in Norfolk, VA.  They were a good example of how a crowd can affect a wrestling show.  Their energy all night contributed to create one of the best atmospheres for an Impact since the company took the show on the road.  Norfolk was also a TNA savvy crowd and I commend them for that.

Grade - I give Hardcore Justice a solid B+ for an evening full of great moments and a live crowd that bought it all.  Outstanding job by TNA.

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