Sunday, November 16, 2008

TNA Hard Justice '08

1. Consequences Creed vs. Petey Williams - 4

Creed and Petey get the show rolling with a relatively fast-paced bout. It started off with some chorography stuff that seems woefully outdated. It make it difficult to dispend belief when its clear the two guys are doing a routine together instead of fighting each other. Creed does a sommersault plancha onto Petey on the floor, and while executed with a silky smooth grace, doesn’t quite get enough air and bounces the back of his head off the ring apron. One small thing I liked was Creed was doing his sequence where he does the splits mid-offensive barrage and Petey recognized that and dropkicked him in mid-split. The Trenton, New Jersey (yes they’re in our country’s armpit and further evidence was an outrageously bad live rap performance to open the event) is just super hot, popping loudly, and audibly cheering on the heel Petey, much to the dismay of Creed and the announce team. Petey scored the victory with the “Canadian Destroyer” in a fun yet flawed opener.

2. Beautiful People and Awesome Kong vs. ODB, Gail Kim, and Taylor Wilde - 5

The women’s match was good, lots of interesting characters, all (save for Gail Kim, perhaps foreshadowing her departure shortly after?) making their roles clear and being effective in doing so. The interplay between ODB and the Beautiful People was especially humorous and fun. Angelina refused to lock up with her, so she tagged in Velvet Sky who sprayed perfume all around ODB before making physical contact. ODB did her usual routine of patting her tits and ass, which Sky mocked in a priceless moment, to which ODB responded by taking their perfume and misting it all over her vagina and butthole. This was all before the actual action began! The match itself was good given the time allowed, and while Angelina Love’s real-life boyfriend’s band Saving Abel sucks sewer slime, her performance here certainly didn’t, although she was pinned by the wild Wilde.

3. LAX vs. Beer Money Inc. - 6

The LAX and Beer Money Inc. match worked out better than I’d anticipated. The key ingredient to its success is how comparatively awful American tag team wrestling is elsewhere. So, to get a more traditional, old school styled tag bout is a treat nowadays. They used the tried formula of the faces starting hot, then a heel segment, which saw Homicide the recipient of their abuse, mainly focused around his previously injured eye, and then a full-on hot tag to get the rubes’ paints dirty. My favorite spot took place when the heels were outside the ring regrouping and Homicide slapped Hernandez in the face, saying, “Throw me, you big, dumb motherfucker!” So Hernandez hoisted Homicide up and gave him the “Border Toss” over the top rope onto Beer Money Inc. in a spectacular moment of wrestling fetishism.

4. Jay Lethal vs. Sonjay Dutt - Black Tie Brawl and Chain Match - 7

Lethal and Dutt, one of TNA’s best feuds this year, and I dug this. Just like their ladder match, they took and old, tired (no, not Cornette’s red-faced mic work) gimmick match and not only paid tribute to it but also added to its legacy. The thing this match had going against it was Russo’s insistence on these guys being in tuxes, while Val feigned anxious at ringside, to which the crowd loudly (and rudely because it detracted from the match itself) chanted “Fire Russo!” But, the tuxedos kind of worked visually, as seeing them torn and ripped off each other made for a cool visceral experience, and also having Lethal’s family at ringside was a plus as Dutt strangling their son while he made demented, animalistic faces as Jay’s dad tried to reach out and strangle him was pure bliss for me to watch. I just edited my score and tossed them an extra point, because something about this match I connected to nostalgically and think clicked.

5. Christian Cage and Rhyno vs. Team 3-D - New Jersey Street Fight - 5

The New Jersey Street Fight (where was Toxic Avenger to clean up this mess?) was quite fun but admittedly hackneyed hardcore brawling which has been done ad nausea and this bordered on sloppier than Candace Michelle’s face post-third facial plastic surgery. The weapon shots were mostly cringe-worthy, not due to their violence, but how lazily and lackluster they ended up being. The stuff out in the crowd could have been better, too; Cage’s leap up in the stands was barely caught on camera, and Rhyno’s slip down the stairs seemed unintentional and silly. Bubba’s got to be on of the least intelligent workers in the business. The ending also blew, as Rhyno gored Bubba after a Cage “frog splash” into a table propped up in the corner but the table barely cracked ruining the spot’s impact.

6. AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle - Last Man Standing Match - 8

AJ and Angle ended up being one of my favorite TNA matches in the last couple years. Still, I’ll openly admit it’s not a classic, I even toyed with tossing it a “7”, but it’s rare enough (for today’s TNA) to get something this close to being on that level that it certainly stands out. What I liked is that it took everything from that over-hyped, ham-fisted, bloated match of Angle’s versus Shane McMahon that I hated and improved upon it ten-fold. Sure, Shane took some nasty bumps, suits him right for being a non-wrestler, but Shane couldn’t dish it out and his strikes look about as believable as Adam’s chances of sleeping with that cashier from Best Buy. AJ, on the other hand, is a great opponent for Kurt, actually being at his level and nearing surpassing it. AJ just belts Kurt in his face all night, and also bumps like a nut for Angle.

My favorite moments were, in no particular order, Angle belly-to-belly overhead suplexing AJ into a steel guardrail, Styles suplexing Kurt on the entrance ramp, Angle tossing AJ off the fucking entrance stage with a back suplex and then proving that he can be “phenomenal” too by doing a somersault plancha off the stage onto AJ on the concrete floor, etc. The last act, where both men keep getting pinned or submitted, but barely make it up before the count of ten, is well done and creates great drama. The ending, which was tits, saw AJ DDT Angle off the top turnbuckle (a spot rarely attempted) right onto his surgically repaired neck. Neither man looked to be able to make it back to their feet, but at the last second AJ pulled himself off of the mat and became victorious. He proved he was at Angle’s level, and was also able to now say, “So what, I fingered Karen backstage, what of it?”

7. Booker T vs. Samoa Joe - Six Sides of Steel Weapons Match - 5

Main event time, I was pleased with this on paper, albeit they overdid it on this show with the stipulations. What transpired was passable, but I’ll draw the line there, as occasionally I got into bits and pieces but a lot of this felt stilted and listless. Seriously, Nuufolau (Joe’s real name you weasels), how many fucking times did you do your enzuigiri in this? To quote Shane Helms, “I’m just saying!” Also Joe, that MySpace blog about Dr. D David Schultz was timely and goofier than your hair in UPW, so at least nobody can say you’re not affable. Booker’s still got some gems in him before retirement, mark my words; this just wasn’t one of them. The weapon shots were “Psycho” Sam Cody-level at best. I probably could have liked this more but the ending really hurt it. The lights go out, come back on and Joe’s got an acoustic guitar that’s spray-painted silver, hits Booker with the instrument and pins him. A couple things, namely, why? Is it necessary to make it look like Joe needed this to beat Booker? And furthermore, why did the guitar knock out Booker but none of the other readily available weapons were used in a similar capacity? And lastly, Booker’s fallen expression after the match, as he stared at the guitar with a look of shock, fear, and awe was just… well, alright, that was actually kind of funny, but this still stunk worse than the dump I left at Adam’s after he had us over for Bound for Glory ’08 and catered fried chicken.

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