TNA Hard Justice PPV Alternative Perspective Review
May 15, 2005
From Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida
Report by: James Caldwell, Pro Wrestling Torch Team Contributor
- Jeremy Borash and Don West welcomed us to the Impact Zone where the fans were packed inside Universal Studios for the PPV. West was actually wearing a normal dress shirt that conveyed a message of class rather than unnecessary flash. Borash reminded viewers that Tito Ortiz would be part of the big main event match of Jeff Jarrett vs. A.J. Styles. West said Tito would make sure things "stay along the line" in the NWA Title Match. Mike Tenay joined Borash and West to give insight on the main event title match. Tenay said Director of Authority Dusty Rhodes made a great call in bringing in Tito to deliver justice for the fans, management, Jarrett, and Styles. Tenay said he believes the best man will win tonight.
- After a quick shot of Impact zone ring girl, Sarieha, we went to the video interview from Impact with Tito Ortiz where he discussed the UFC, establishing justice in TNA, and his interest in professional wrestling. Tito said A.J. Styles's time is now.
- We came back from the video package to capture crowd reactions then the camera zoomed in for the obligatory shot of Impact zone ring girl, So Cal Val. Yeah!
- Borash and West discussed Shocker's qualifications as X Division contender – outside of the McDonald's commercials – and described him as a legendary Lucha wrestler in Mexico. We went to a video clip highlighting the feud between Shocker and Daniels. Mixed in was a quick clip of a guillotine dropping down on the chopping block.
- We came to see Jeremy Borash standing next to So Cal Val and Sarieha. Borash – naturally a little flustered standing next to Val – told us why we should order Hard Justice.
(1) Shark Boy defeated David Young. Tenay indicated that the winner of this match would earn a spot in the #1 Contender's Gauntlet Match at the actual PPV. During the match, there was a visibly large "Lance Hoyt" sign on the front row facing the hard camera as a sign of things to come for the cult figure of Orlando. David Young worked over the babyface Shark Boy early on, as the fans awaited a comeback from Shark Boy. Tenay said Young just returned from a successful tour with IWA-Puerto Rico. West chimed in that Young has been in the gym "working out religiously" to shave some pounds and get in better ring shape. The finish came when Young missed with a corner bulldog, allowing Shark Boy to hit the Dead Sea Drop off the top turnbuckle for the pin and the win. Shark Boy advances to the PPV in the gauntlet match.
- Jeremy Borash was standing next to So Cal Val once again. More camera time for Val! Borash ran down the Hard Justice PPV card discussing the important aspects of the X Division and NWA Title Matches. Val smiled along as Borash sent us to a video package highlighting the feud – albeit a very short feud – between Styles and Jarrett. We went to the awesome video package highlighting A.J. Styles's journey to being #1 Contender that aired on Impact last Friday.
- Terry Taylor was backstage with Jeff Jarrett for an interview prior to his NWA Title defense. Jarrett said, "Hard Justice is a hard pill to swallow." Jarrett said it looks like it will be two-on-one match with Tito Ortiz involving himself in the main event match. Jarrett said he respects Tito for caring about no one or nobody other than himself. Jarrett said, "I'm walking in the Champ, and I'm walking out the Champ."
- Jeremy Borash was inside the ring with Don West to give the final sales pitch for Hard Justice. West said B.G. James and Diamond Dallas Page would team up to take on The Outlaw and Monty Brown. I guess the Carters found a little extra cash lying around to bring in DDP and Brown.
Live PPV Show Review
- We kicked off with a ten bell salute to Chris Candido. The camera zoomed in on a pair of boots, one of the NWA tag title belts, and a picture of Candido – all in the center of an empty ring.
- We went to a video clip promoting the Hard Justice PPV with the TNA voice over man describing a scene of passions colliding, men putting their lives on the line to become stronger men, and more soliloquies. We saw a gauntlet drop on the chopping block mixed in with shots of houses exploding.
- Mike Tenay and Don West welcomed us to the PPV from ringside. We caught camera shots of various fans screaming and chanting, "T-N-A."
(1) Team Canada (Petey Williams & Eric Young) (w/Coach Scott D'Amore) defeated Sonny Siaki & Apolo at 8:06. Siaki nearly tripped on his feet walking down the entrance ramp to the ring prior to the match. Team Canada jumped Apolo and Siaki prior to the bell sounding, but the babyfaces easily fought off Team Canada. Team Canada regrouped outside of the ring, receiving words of encouragement from Coach D'Amore. The one-on-one action began with Petey and Apolo. Apolo shoved Petey to the mat right off the bat then slapped him across the face. Apolo dropped Petey with a back breaker then took a double team arm drag from the babyfaces. Siaki, who received a tag prior to the double team offense, worked over Petey with an arm wrench. Petey broke free and tagged in Young, who took a quick neck breaker. Don West indicated Team Canada needed to exchange quick tags to work over Siaki and/or Apolo if they were going to be successful. Continuing the babyface assault, Siaki and Apolo scored a very high back body drop on Young, throwing him up towards the ceiling. Petey ran into the ring and scored a very weak leg drop across the back of the Apolo's neck. This turned the offensive momentum in favor of Team Canada.
Petey and Young exchanged quick in and out tags to work over Apolo, just as Don West strategized. Apolo managed to duck a clothesline and scored a super kick on Young, swinging the momentum back to his team's side. Young tagged in Petey just as Apolo tagged in Siaki. Siaki scored an elevated Samoan Drop on Young then scored a powerslam on Petey. Young broke up a pin attempt on Petey to save the match for Team Canada. Siaki set up Petey for a suplex, but Coach D'Amore held Siaki's feet causing Petey to fall onto Siaki with a cross body block, resulting in a two count only. Petey went up top and connected with a huricanrana on Apolo. Petey called for the Canadian Destroyer on Siaki and set up for his finisher, but Siaki easily escaped and slammed Petey to the mat. Out of nowhere, A-1 Ralphz of Team Canada ran into the ring and scored a high impact suplex on Siaki just as Coach D'Amore distracted the referee. A-1 placed Petey on top of Siaki as the referee came back around to count the three count for the victory. Another cheap win for Team Canada.
Match View: There was virtually no heat for this match which can be directly tied to the fact that Apolo and Siaki are not over with the fans. Furthermore, we've seen the same song and dance from Team Canada for months and months that their act is entirely too stale to draw for TNA. Apolo and Siaki may be positioned as babyfaces, but the fans are highly apathetic to them.
- We went to various clips from earlier in the day when Tito Ortiz arrived in a limo, A.J. Styles walked along a path of fans before entering the Impact zone, and Jeff Jarrett arrived at his locker room with security surrounding him.
(2) Chris Sabin & Traci defeated Michael Shane & Trinity at 10:19. Just to make sure everyone was color coordinated, Traci and Shane were dressed in white while Trinity and Shane were dressed in black. I guess we can go on with our lives having separated evil from good. Trinity and Traci started things off leading to a cat (not fight) and mouse exchange outside of the ring where Trinity escaped Traci's wrath for the time being. Shane and Sabin tagged in leading to Sabin going to work on Shane. Sabin scored an amazing huricanrana early on and made a cover, but only scored a two count. Shane bailed out of the ring as Traci tagged in. Traci grabbed Trinity and pulled her by the hair into the ring. Traci rolled up Trinity with a small package and they proceed to roll around the ring locked in small package position. Traci grappled Trinity and scored a monkey flip out of the corner before Trinity reversed a back flip roll up into a pin attempt for a two count. Traci grabbed Trinity by the tights and nearly exposed Trinity's bare ass before Shane scored a tag. Sabin took a tag as well and attempted a Cradle Shock, but Shane slipped out. Sabin merely shook it off and scored a back kick to the face. Sabin went up top, but took too long, allowing Shane to run up to the top turnbuckle and slam Sabin to the mat with an overhead suplex. Shane slowed the match down by working Sabin on the mat. Tenay said Shane wrestles just like Shawn Michaels – who trained him in the Texas Wrestling Academy. Sabin fought back on Shane with hard chops then was tripped from outside the ring by Trinity. This gave Shane an opening to return to the offensive attack on Sabin. Shane held Sabin's arm back allowing Trinity to leap off the top turnbuckle with a missile drop kick. Shane took advantage of the double team attack to ground Sabin into the mat and slow him down once again. Sabin fought to his feet but Shane immediately dropped him to the mat with a hair pull. Shane locked in a neck wrench submission hold, continuing his wear down offense. Sabin fought back while still selling the chin injury he suffered two weeks ago on Impact.
Shane stopped the offensive comeback by Sabin with a knee to the gut, but missed with a clothesline resulting in a desperation enziguiri kick from Sabin to the back of Shane's head. Trinity and Traci received respective hot tags leading to Traci running over Trinity with hard elbows. Traci caught Trinity in the corner and threw her face first to the mat with a hair toss. Traci took Trinity to the corner for a high-risk move, but Trinity shoved Traci over the top rope to the floor. Trinity delivered a hard chop to the top of the chest then threw her headfirst into the entrance ramp. Trinity flung Traci by the hair across the entrance ramp. Trinity delivered a body slam on the entrance ramp then walked back down the ramp. Sabin bumped into Trinity from behind then he turned around and ran over Shane with a clothesline. Traci recovered, ran down the entrance ramp, and tackled trinity from behind. Sabin leapt over the top rope with a cross body splash on Shane on the outside. Trinity recovered from Traci's attack and took her back into the ring. Trinity waited for Sabin to get back in the ring then hit a nice huricanrana. Trinity and Shane tried to double team Sabin, but Sabin fought out. From out of nowhere, Traci low blowed Sabin from behind, turning on her former squeeze. To further convolute matters, Shane super kicked Trinity right in the mouth. Traci made the cover on Trinity to score the victory.
- After the match, Shane and Traci celebrated their reunion as Tenay and West described being duped by the master strategy. Well, that answers that storyline.
Match View: This was a decent match featuring a blend of "oh my goodness, they know how to wrestle?" moments on commentary in reference to Trinity and Traci putting on a solid wrestling display in the ring. The ending swerve was set up by Don West and Mike Tenay failing to recognize the former alliance between Traci and Shane in the weeks leading up to the match, allowing for those who were supposed to be shocked to act shocked, when in fact, it was obvious TNA was setting up the swerve from the outset. It will be interesting to see whether they pair Trinity with Sabin, continue the Trinity vs. Traci feud, or merely focus on Shane and Traci together.
- We saw a video clip promoting the next TNA PPV, Slammiversary, set for June 19.
- Backstage, Terry Taylor was with Team Canada. Petey said he's sick of people talking about Team Canada being on the verge of extinction. Petey claimed that Team Canada would return to dominance based on their victory in the opening match. Coach D'Amore said Team Canada would rule the gauntlet match by working as a unit against individuals. Bobby Roode chirped that Team Canada would own the gauntlet.
- Tito Ortiz walked into Dusty Rhodes's office and sat down next to the Director of Authority. Dusty, holding a referee's shirt, built up Tito's ego before handing over the shirt. Dusty said he wanted the Huntington Beach bad boy to handle the deliverance of justice by any means necessary. Dusty warned Tito that Jeff Jarrett has a tendency for twisting things in his favor but trusts Tito to take care of business if he needs to. Tito said he will make sure justice is served.
- Raven was backstage with Terry Taylor, who indicated that Jeff Hardy did not show up at the show. Raven said he hurt Jeff Hardy so much that he decided not to show up. Raven indicated X-Pac (Sean Waltman) was Hardy's replacement. Raven went into a verbal tirade saying he was so ready to rip anyone apart. Raven warned X-Pac that he is the most dangerous man in wrestling and he would be ready to destroy X-Pac.
(3) Raven defeated Sean Waltman (X-Pac) at 13:00. Before the match, the camera focused on various weapons ringside including a trash can, chairs, one side of steel cage, and other items. Raven waited for Waltman to appear before the bell sounded, but Waltman ran in from behind and jumped Raven. Waltman immediately busted open Raven before laying into him with a trash can shot. Waltman missed with a Bronco Buster leading to Raven smashing Waltman over the head with a trash can. Raven took Waltman to the outside and sent him head first into the corner turnbuckle. Raven raked Waltman's forehead with a kitchen utensil then sent him knee-first into a trashcan ringside. Raven sent Waltman back into the ring and we saw that Waltman had been busted open at the forehead. Raven grabbed two trashcan lids then slammed them repeatedly across Waltman's forehead. Raven picked up a trashcan and wedged it in between the corner turnbuckle. Waltman reversed a whip to the ropes and flung Raven back-first into the trash can. Raven recovered and locked in an ankle lock submission. Since when did this become a technical match? Waltman broke free from the move, but Raven was not deterred from inflicting more damage on Waltman. Raven set up a chair in the center of the ring then tried a drop toe hold into the chair, but Waltman blocked the move and threw the chair into Raven's face. Waltman went for a spin kick, and after botching the first attempt, connected with the second attempt. Waltman scored a Bronco Buster in the corner then hit a face buster in the center of the ring. Waltman took Raven outside of the ring then set up a table underneath a ladder. Waltman placed Raven onto the table then mounted him and landed stiff right hands to the head. Waltman climbed up the pillars holding up the cage in the ring then leapt off the corner of the pillars with a somersault leg drop onto Raven, crashing through the table! Waltman made a cover on the concrete, but scored a two count only.
Back in the ring, Raven reversed an offensive move and hit the Raven's Effect DDT. Raven made a cover, but scored a two count only. Raven took Waltman up the entrance ramp then threw him off the ramp through a table down below! Raven walked down to Waltman's fallen body then made a cover for a two count, only. Raven took Waltman back to the ringside area then threw him into the ring steps. Raven looked underneath the ring for an object and finally found a pair of handcuffs. Raven cuffed Waltman around the ringpost then picked up a kendo stick. Raven smashed the stick across Waltman's back then asked for the house mic from Jeremy Borash. Raven asked Waltman if he had enough yet. Waltman refused to give up and told Raven, "Give me more, you p----." Dusty Rhodes came to the ringside area and had a referee uncuff Waltman from the post. Raven went for a chair shot to Waltman, but Waltman moved out of the way and delivered a spin kick sending the chair into Raven's head. Waltman smacked Raven across the back with the chair then took him back into the ring for some kendo stick shots to Raven's back. Waltman picked up the staple gun that Raven brought into the ring earlier in the match then stapled Raven across the forehead. Waltman delivered another staple to the open wound on Raven's head. Waltman delivered two more staples then charged Raven, only to be back body dropped into the side of the steel cage. The gimmicked cage collapsed and Waltman fall through the cage wall to the floor! Raven covered Waltman and scored the victory.
Match View: Good to see that the match involved long-term selling. Waltman was a formidable replacement for Hardy, but didn't seem to have a reason for being there. Did he work a deal with Hardy to replace him? Did Dusty Rhodes make the decision? Why was Waltman the replacement? We never really got an explanation on that, which made this match seem like a way just to give Waltman another reason to ask for $10,000 a place on the card. The match should have been reserved for the blow-off of a feud, not a match that was between two guys with no history in TNA. Sure, TNA wanted to make due with their advertised House of Fun match, but they certainly should have created some sort of storyline earlier in the show to warrant the HoF's place on the card.
- A.J. Styles was taping his wrists backstage while in full contemplative mood. Sitting next to Styles was Tito Ortiz, who gave Styles some rules to consider. Styles wasn't paying attention but finally looked up when Tito grabbed him by the wrist. Styles listened some more then shook hands with Tito before returning to contemplation.
- We saw video clips highlighting the storyline involving B.G. James, Konnan, The Outlaw, Monty Brown, and Diamond Dallas Page.
- Backstage, Terry Taylor was with Diamond Dallas Page, who asked DDP where B.G. James was. DDP said he wanted to know the same thing. DDP held up his portable device with a message saying B.G. James was having travel problems getting to the arena. DDP was upset that James asked him to be his partner for the upcoming tag match, only for him to bail. Ron Killings entered the scene and said he received no message from James either and was upset about it. Killings offered to replace James as DDP's partner. DDP accepted and the two hugged before leaving together to the ring.
- West and Tenay offered the red herring speculation that maybe it wasn't a coincide James wasn't at the arena, and maybe he was setting up 3 Live Kru by having "car trouble." Tenay and West discussed the feud between Monty Brown and DDP that stems from Brown turning on DDP at Destination X from two months ago.
(4) Monty Brown & The Outlaw defeated Diamond Dallas Page & Ron Killings at 8:55. Monty Brown had a completely different "look" to him than from his last appearance in TNA at Lockdown. He just had a more rugged; more "dark side" look and feel to him. Brown and DDP opened things up with both men standing off in a stalemate. DDP scored an arm drag then mocked Brown's trademark mannerisms. That drew up a "D-D-P" chant. Brown and DDP locked up once again with DDP scoring a quick one count on a small package roll up. They locked up again and DDP dropped Brown with a leg sweep. Brown fought back with clubbing forearms to the back then drove hard shoulder thrusts to DDP. DDP responded with shoulder thrusts of his own then scored a hip toss followed by a cover for a nearfall. The first tag of the match went to The Outlaw, who delivered a crotch chop to DDP. Outlaw called for Killings, who tagged in to Outlaw's delight. Killings danced in Outlaw's face then locked up with Outlaw. Killings scored a high-elevated hip toss with a sit down twist. Killings took Outlaw off the ropes with a head scissors take down, leading to a chant of "Truth, Truth, Truth!" Outlaw recovered with an over-powering tilt-o-whirl side slam then tagged in Brown, who worked over Killings's back in the heel corner. Brown delivered a running knee lift to Killings's back then scored a snap mare take over. Brown ran over Killings with a back elbow smash then tagged in Outlaw. Outlaw ran over Killings with a knock down right hand then locked in a neck wrench submission hold. The crowd – which had been dead for most of the match – clapped it up to give Killings some added resolve.
Outlaw cut off an offensive outburst, but ran into a kick to the face from Killings followed by a great leg lariat to the face. DDP took the hot tag from Killings as Brown took the hot tag from Outlaw. DDP ran over Brown and Outlaw with successive right hands then dropped Brown with a turnaround clothesline. Outlaw took a turnaround clothesline for good measure as well. DDP dropped Brown with a sit down powerbomb then made a cover, but Outlaw broke up the pin attempt. Brown missed with a clothesline then took a big boot to the face, sending Brown to the floor. From out of nowhere, Phi Delta Slam ran into the ring and attacked DDP. Oh, Lord. PDS set up DDP for a top rope frog splash, but DDP delivered a Diamond Cutter to both members of PDS. Inexplicably, the referee allowed all of this to go on. Outlaw grappled DDP from behind so DDP delivered a mule kick and Diamond Cutter to Outlaw. The momentary distraction allowed Brown to re-enter the scene and deliver the Pounce to DDP. Brown covered DDP and scored the three count for the victory.
Match View: You've got to be kidding me. PDS was allowed on my TV screen? The referee inexplicably allowed all of this outside interference to happen without calling for a DQ? Let me clarify. Tenay indicated referee Slick Johnson was using his better judgment in allowing the match to go on despite the parade of outside interference. That's a joke. From a storyline perspective, "good judgment" is the most basic oxymoron you can find in TNA when it comes to describing the roster of officials employed by TNA. That's why Tito Ortiz had to be brought in for the NWA Title Match because no TNA referee has been given any type of judgment in the booking of important PPV matches to this point. The match finish turned an already mediocre PPV into a dismal one at this point.
- We went to a video package from earlier in the day when Mike Tenay sat down with Andy Douglas and Chase Stevens of The Naturals to discuss Chris Candido. Tenay said Candido's help allowed The Naturals to return to glory and regain the tag titles. Tenay asked if The Naturals – who were dressed from head to toe like professionals with the tag title belts next to them – were going to be able to hold on to the titles without Candido. Stevens praised the assistance Candido gave to their team and said Candido was "the third Natural." The Naturals said they received help from a legend of pro wrestling in dealing with the untimely passing of Candido. Tenay tried prying into the identity of the legend, but The Naturals refused to give away the juicy tidbit. The Naturals were very reflective and very professional, almost trying to draw babyface heat in their careful demeanor. However, using an originally shoot interview style interview and turning it into a worked storyline interview may have been slightly callous.
(5) The Naturals (Andy Douglas & Chase Stevens) defeated America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) at 14:10 to retain the NWA Tag Team Titles. AMW came out to apathetic cheers while The Naturals came out to a major babyface pop despite being the heels for the match. Douglas and Stevens placed Candido's traditional yellow towel on a chair ringside as a symbolic reference to Candido. Chase Stevens led a chant of "Chris Candido," which was very much goose bump inducing. James Storm recognized the chant before locking up with Stevens in the center of the ring. They went into a series of mat wrestling moves until Chris Harris took a tag for AMW. The fans cheered the effort of both men in the opening minute before Stevens took a tag and went to work on Harris. Douglas ran over Harris with a shoulder block, but Harris regained the offensive momentum with a monkey flip. Storm tagged in for AMW and teamed up with Harris to score a double team lift up slam. Douglas recovered by slipping out of a powerslam attempt on Storm and followed up with a reverse neck breaker. Stevens tagged in and held a knee out leading to Douglas slamming Storm's head across Stevens's knee. Stevens delivered right hands to the face then delivered a stiff kick to the chest. Storm made a cover, but scored a two count only. AMW double-teamed Stevens in the ring before Harris scored a running bulldog out of the corner. Douglas broke up a pin attempt by Harris then blocked a suplex attempt by Harris on Stevens. All four men spilled to the outside.
Douglas sent Harris shoulder-first into the corner ringpost, but Harris fought back on Douglas by sending him into the guardrail. On the other side of the ringside area, Stevens dropped Storm with a back body drop onto the concrete floor. Back on the other side, Douglas recovered and sent Harris back-first into the guardrail ringside. Stevens tried to send Storm into the guardrail, but Storm reversed the whip and sent Stevens crashing through the guardrail into the front row of fans. Storm followed up with a snap suplex on the entrance ramp. Near the Spanish announce table, Douglas laid into Harris with stiff right hands to the face. Harris dropped Douglas to the floor then catapulted him into the ringpost. On the other side of the ringside area, Stevens and Storm continued to go at it with Stevens sending Storm headfirst into the ringpost. Meanwhile, Douglas sent Harris shoulder-first into the ringpost on the opposite side of the ring. A fan held up a chair on the front row leading to Storm whipping Stevens headfirst into the steel chair. The fans ringside ate up the fan interaction while the opposite brawl saw Douglas miss with a chair shot to Harris's face.
At 9:00, Douglas sent Harris back into the ring while Stevens recovered from the interactive chair shot to send Storm into the guardrail. Harris countered a top rope double axe handle smash from Douglas with a knee to the gut. Storm and Stevens re-entered the ring with Storm dropping Stevens with an airplane spin into side slam. All four men were laid out in the ring, as the match resembled a car wreck more than a wrestling match. All four men reached their feet nearly simultaneously as Stevens knocked down Storm with a knee lift. In one of the corners, three men were assembled before Storm joined the group to form a four-man pyramid of doom. Stevens was flipped off the top turnbuckle while everyone else crashed to the mat in an amazing pyramid spot! The fans nearly went into a riot as all four men laid motionless on the mat. The match turned into a slugfest with Storm scoring the six-second ride on Douglas out of the corner, but only scored a two count on a follow up pin attempt. Stevens waited for Storm to turn around then dropped him with a kick to the face. Stevens blocked the Catatonic from Chris Harris then scored a Death Valley Driver resulting in a two count only! The Naturals set up for the Natural Disaster, but Storm speared Douglas to the outside, breaking the hold. AMW set up for the Death Sentence, but Douglas recovered and shoved Harris off the top turnbuckle. Stevens took Storm by the tights and rolled him up in a small package, using the ropes as leverage to score a quick three count. The fans popped big time, treating The Naturals as babyfaces.
- After the match, AMW sat on their knees in the ring in disbelief that they couldn't defeat The Naturals once again. Tenay and West said The Naturals won the match just as Chris Candido would have wanted it done. Andy Douglas took Candido's yellow towel and held it up in the air along with one of his tag team titles. Nice touch at the end.
Match View: The match was a pretty sloppy, by the book AMW-style match, complete with the same bells and whistles we've seen from virtually every AMW match. The fans seem to be apathetic to AMW at this stage in their run in TNA, mainly because their recent string of PPV matches have followed the same script. The fans want something more from AMW and some other reason why they should care about the former champs. On the flip side, The Naturals need to be turned babyface after Orlando popped in such a way to warrant them as potential break out babyface champions.
- Tito Ortiz approached Jeff Jarrett's locker room to discuss his role as referee with the Champ, but David Young cut off Tito. Young said he wasn't going to let Tito into the locker room and would hurt him if necessary. Tito took Young by the throat and threw him into the locker room door before Jeff Jarrett opened the door and said it was time to talk business with Tito. Monty Brown walked out of the locker room and stared down Tito as Jarrett slapped hands with Brown. Tito and Jarrett walked into Jarrett's locker room.
(6) Christopher Daniels defeated Shocker at 11:58 to retain the X Division Title. Shocker came to the ring sporting a sombrero and basic Mariachi gear. No McDonald's party hat? Tenay built up Shocker's resume from his days in Mexico. Daniels came to the ring with a stern focus then screamed into the camera that he would beat Mexico's best. The fans exchanged dueling "Fallen Angel" and "Let's go Shocker!" chants, although the Daniels chant led the way. The bell sounded and Daniels drove Shocker to the corner then placed his hand in Shocker's face. Shocker retaliated before falling prey to Daniels's heel tactics by receiving a knee to the gut. Shocker scored a series of arm drags before attempting a suplex him from the apron to the floor, but Daniels blocked it and tried to suplex Shocker to the floor. However, Shocker slipped out and delivered a huricanrana from the apron to the floor, sending Daniels back-first into the concrete floor. Shocker and Daniels exchanged high-risk high spots, which were avoided by each wrestler until Shocker scored a suicide dive on Daniels. Daniels landed hard on his back, leading to Daniels selling a potential back injury. Back in the ring, Daniels scored a thumb to the eye stopping Shocker's offensive outburst. Daniels locked in a neck wrench submission hold, which Shocker powered out of. Daniels quickly pounced on Shocker with a leg grapevine around Shocker's head, creating pain in Shocker's expression. Daniels raked Shocker's mouth, as Don West said Daniels would be upset if he lost the X Division Title to someone from Mexico. Daniels dropped Shocker with a take down then locked in another neck twist submission hold. Shocker sold the pain with his facial expressions while Daniels wrenched in the hold by grabbing Shocker by the hair. Daniels released the hold then drove forearms to Shocker's back.
Daniels missed with a clothesline then went for a huricanrana, but Shocker turned the attempt into a powerbomb. Daniels sold his back injury as Shocker recovered to his feet. Shocker and Daniels exchanged open hand slaps to the chest then tribal warfare screams. The action picked up with intense slaps to the chest leading to Shocker running over Daniels with a series of clotheslines. Shocker went up to the top turnbuckle and scored a nice frog splash, but only scored a two count on the subsequent pin attempt. Shocker took Daniels by the neck and went for a suplex, but Daniels – who played a very good opossum – quickly scored an STO. Daniels went for the Best Moonsault Ever, but completely missed. Daniels quickly recovered with a springboard back flip splash onto Shocker's back, before making a cover for a two count only. Shocker reversed a scoop slam into an inside cradle pin attempt, but scored a two count only. Daniels went for Angel's Wings, but Shocker slipped out and drop kicked Daniels straight in the head. Shocker warmed up his foot then took Daniels to the corner for a Tornado DDT attempt, but Daniels blocked the move and slapped Shocker across the face. Daniels went up top and met Shocker for a suplex attempt. However, Shocker blocked the suplex and scored a hanging front face suplex. Very nicely executed.
Shocker locked in an STF submission hold, grapevining Daniels's leg towards the small of his own back. Daniels refused to tap out, so he bit Shocker's hand. Shocker shook off the bite then turned the STF in a Camel Clutch. Daniels bit his way out of the move once again sending both men crawling across the mat. Shocker set up for a powerbomb then threw Daniels stomach first across the corner turnbuckle. Shocker punched Daniels in the stomach then climbed up top with Daniels. Shocker went for a suplex, but Daniels grabbed Shocker by the waist and crotched him across the top rope. Daniels underhooked Shocker's arms and delivered an amazing top rope Angel's Wings! Wow! Daniels covered Shocker and scored the three count for the victory.
- After the match, Daniels took the mic and said, "Mr. TNA just defeated Mexico's best luchador." Daniels told the fans to praise the greatest X Division wrestler in the world today.
Match View: Shocker was faced with a situation where he needed to rise to the occasion, and he certainly delivered an sold performance with crisp work in the match. Daniels was awesome as usual, using great psychologically sound offense and a gritty determination that makes him such a great act in the ring. The spots were nicely executed and Daniels was in control of the match to deliver a high-excitement match that exceeded my expectations for the match. Sure, this isn't going to be included in the "Best of X Division Matches" because the two styles were different creating a basic match, but both men brought the best out of the other to form a good match.
- A video clip highlighted last Friday's 10-man gauntlet match, which served as the set up for tonight's 20-man gauntlet match to determine the next #1 Contender to the NWA Title.
(7) Abyss won a 20-man "Gauntlet for the Gold" match at 26:45. Bobby Roode came to the ring first, accompanied by Coach D'Amore. The surprise #2 entrant was Zack Gowan, who came to the ring with his prosthetic leg in a cast. Gowan took off his prosthetic leg, but Roode stole the leg and taunted Gowan with it. Gowan delivered a one-legged drop kick then scored an amazing springboard back flip splash onto Roode. Eric Young come out as #3 and helped Roode double team Gowan. To offer some assistance for Gowan, Cassidy Riley ran to the ring as #4 and knocked down both members of Team Canada. Riley chopped Roode across the chest then scored a handspring elbow in the corner. Gowan delivered a leg lariat to Roode's chest as Riley laid into Young with stiff right hands to the chest. Riley tried to eliminate Young from the match, but Roode hit Riley from behind preventing Young from being eliminated. At #5, Prime Time Elix Skipper ran to the ring and promptly delivered a sweet knock down clothesline to Young. Prime Time scored a back flip splash onto Roode off the top rope as the action broke down into a five-man brawl. Gowan and Riley worked together to try to eliminate Young, but were unsuccessful. Shark Boy ran into the ring as #6 and laid into both members of Team Canada. Shark Boy delivered a neck breaker to Young then took a knock down clothesline from Gowan. Shark Boy recovered by biting Gowan over the top rope to the outside, giving us our first elimination.
A-1 Ralphz entered the ring as #7 and teamed up with the rest of Team Canada to work on the remaining babyfaces. Your traditional "hanging by the inch of your teeth across the top rope" spots became the norm as Chris Sabin came in at #8. Sabin limped to the ring and instantly went after Bobby Roode. Sabin grappled Roode and promptly drop kicked every single remaining member of the match before scoring a Tornado DDT on Roode. Awesome spot! Petey Williams came in at #9 giving us all four members of Team Canada in the ring. The captain of Team Canada went for a Canadian Destroyer on Shark Boy, but Shark Boy slipped out, only to be thrown over the top rope by A-1. Riley and Young got caught up in the ropes leading to Young flipping Riley over the top rope to the floor with a nice reverse huricanrana. Sonny Siaki ran to the ring at #10 and went right after Team Canada. Siaki ran over Young with a stiff clothesline then went to work on A-1 with hard right hands to the face. Prime Time crotched Petey across the top rope then walked the top rope for his patented huricanrana, but Roode shoved Petey to the ropes and to the mat, blocking the move. Roode picked up Prime Time and clotheslined him over the top rope to the floor.
At #11, Lance Hoyt ran to the ring to a major pop. The "Hoyt" signs flew up ringside as he proceeded to press slam Eric Young right out of the ring. Hoyt went to work on Bobby Roode then screamed out to his supportive fans. Sabin and Petey went to work on each other as Hoyt tried to drop A-1 to the floor. At #12, Michael Shane entered the ring and went right after Hoyt. Shane delivered a super kick to the mouth on Hoyt then found a very upset Chris Sabin. Sabin, allowing his frustrations to get the better of him, clotheslined Shane and himself over the top rope to the floor. Sabin pounded the snot out of Shane even after being eliminated while back in the ring, Team Canada eliminated Siaki off the apron. Meanwhile, Sabin and Shane battled ringside all the way to the back. Jerrelle Clark entered the match as #13 and scored a double cross body splash on Team Canada members Petey and Roode. Clark caught A-1 with a springboard leg drop then was attacked from behind by Bobby Roode. Petey set up Clark for the Canadian Destroyer and, with assistance from Roode and A-1, hit the most spectacular Canadian Destroyer I've ever seen, causing Clark to flip himself over the top rope to the outside. Nice spot!
With the three remaining members of Team Canada ruling the roost, they turned their focus to Lance Hoyt. At #14, Mikey Batts entered the ring to try to even the odds. Batts dropped Petey with a neck breaker then hit an enziguiri kick to A-1's head. Hoyt and Batts teamed up to work on Team Canada with double team offense. Hoyt pounded on Roode while the fans chanted, "Hoyt, Hoyt." At #15, The Outlaw entered the ring and went straight for Hoyt. Outlaw slammed Hoyt into the top turnbuckle then landed right hands to the face. Batts instantly attacked Outlaw from behind, seeking revenge from a major squash on the April 29 edition of Impact. Outlaw merely shook Batts off and spiked him with a Cobra Clutch lift up slam. The sickening move was requested once more by Orlando. Outlaw obliged by delivering a second Cobra Clutch Slam. Poor Batts. At #16, Trytan ran to the ring sporting color on his black trunks! Wow! Outlaw promptly tossed Batts over the top rope to the outside, laying the youngster out ringside. Trytan was gang tackled by Team Canada before he could enter the ring, but promptly ran over every single person remaining in the match, putting his force on display in the ring. Trytan flexed for the camera after destroying everyone in the match.
Ron Killings ran to the ring at #17 and laid into Trytan with hard right hands to the face. Trytan quickly responded with a high-elevated power slam on Killings. Trytan stomped away on the remaining participants, but took too much time showboating, leading to Team Canada shoving him over the top rope to the outside. Nice display by Trytan for as long as he was in the match. At #18, Apolo ran to the ring and went after The Outlaw with a short-arm clothesline. Apolo went to work on Team Canada after working on The Outlaw, and then went after his former enemy, Lance Hoyt. Outlaw and Apolo exchanged right hands and chops to the chest before Apolo tried to eliminate The Outlaw. However, Outlaw held onto the ropes then pulled the ropes down as Apolo charged him, causing Apolo to fly over the top rope to the floor. B.G. James – who apparently fixed his transportation issues – entered the ring and stared down The Outlaw. Before either one could make a move, Team Canada jumped both of the former New Age Outlaws. However, Roode's run from #1 all through competitor #19 was ended as Hoyt sent Roode over the top rope with a big boot, eliminated Team Canada's enforcer. Hoyt went after A-1, but Roode managed to climb back on the apron and pull Hoyt by the hair over the top rope to the floor, with a little assistance from A-1. The Impact zone screamed in disapproval as their favorite son was eliminated. Meanwhile, B.G. James and The Outlaw worked as a team to lay out the remaining members of Team Canada. Abyss entered the ring as #20 as Outlaw and James made eye contact before nonchalantly tossing Petey Williams and A-1 over the top rope, leading to the final elimination of all members of Team Canada. With Outlaw and James too busy batting eyes at each other, Abyss promptly clotheslined both men over the top rope to the floor. This put the match down to only Abyss and Ron Killings.
Abyss stalked Ron Killings before missing with a clothesline in the corner as referee Rudy Charles entered the ring to become the official referee for the final one-on-one battle in the gauntlet match. Abyss tossed Killings through the ropes to the outside then went to work on Killings using the guardrail and ring steps to his advantage. Back in the ring, Abyss stalked Killings and went to work on him with hard right hands to the chest and face. Tenay pointed out that Abyss held a huge advantage from being #20 in the gauntlet and not having wrestled in a match earlier in the show as Killings did. Killings found his second wind and scored an amazing twisting leg lariat to Abyss. Killings followed up with a head butt to the stomach in the corner then rolled up Abyss, but scored a two count only. Killings bounced off the ropes and ran into a big boot from Abyss. Abyss picked up his chain and tried to use it on Killings, but Rudy Charles prevented Abyss from using the chain. Charles took a lifetime putting the chain back in the corner as Abyss brought a chair in the ring. Killings blocked a chair shot then cracked the chair over Abyss's head twice. Rudy "deaf" Charles ran over to a pin attempt and counted a two count only.
Killings nearly ran over the referee, but stopped short. Abyss ran into the corner to splash Killings, but Killings moved and the referee took a huge splash from Abyss. The fans roared in approval as Charles went down. Sick! Killings waited for Abyss to turn around then scored a scissors kick off the top turnbuckle. Killings had a pin, but the referee was down and out. Killings revived the referee then turned around and walked into a chokeslam into the chair from Abyss. Abyss made the cover, but Killings kicked out at two as the referee tried to recover from the splash. Abyss threw the chair onto Abyss then went for a splash, but Killings blocked Abyss. Abyss tried a second splash, but Killings moved the chair into harms way, driving the chair into Abyss's crotch. Killings recovered to his feet and hopped up top for a cross body splash, but Abyss caught Killings in mid-air and delivered an awesome Black Hole Slam! Abyss made the cover on Killings and scored the three count for the victory to become the #1 Contender...again.
Order of Elimination
(1) Zack Gowan by Shark Boy
(2) Shark Boy by A-1 Ralphz
(3) Cassidy Riley by Eric Young
(4) Prime Time by Bobby Roode
(5) Eric Young by Lance Hoyt
(6) Michael Shane by Chris Sabin
(7) Chris Sabin by Chris Sabin
(8) Sonny Siaki by Booby Roode and Petey Williams
(9) Jerrelle Clark by Petey Williams, Bobby Roode, and A-1 Ralphz
(10) Mikey Batts by The Outlaw
(11) Trytan by Petey Williams, Bobby Roode, and A-1 Ralphz
(12) Apolo by The Outlaw
(13) Bobby Roode by Lance Hoyt
(14) Lance Hoyt by A-1 Ralphz
(15) A-1 Ralphz by The Outlaw
(16) Petey Williams by B.G. James
(17) B.G. James by Abyss
(18) The Outlaw by Abyss
(19) Ron Killings by Abyss
Match View: The match served its purpose of giving the obvious victory to Abyss in a match that didn't need to do anything drastic based on the limitations of the match. Team Canada being featured prominently in the match was a nice back drop storyline that created some intrigue for seeing whether they would truly work together or somehow dismantle from one mistake or a misunderstanding. Otherwise, the match seemed to drag in spots and Mikey Batts being manhandled by the larger Outlaw certainly epitomized the problems with booking a match like this.
- We went to Mike Tenay and Don West, who discussed the main event match "we've all been waiting for." Tenay said the tension has been "building up for months and months." Puhleaze, they had three weeks of minimal build up. We went to the video package from Impact that captured the essence of A.J. Styles and what he is all about.
- Prior to the main event NWA Title Match, Tito Ortiz came to the ring to a supportive crowd pop. Next up, the #1 Contender A.J. Styles came to the ring pumped up to the max about his opportunity. Tito and Styles did not make eye contact as Styles pounded his chest to play to the crowd. Jarrett came to the ring with guitar in hand and NWA Title around his waist. A stagehand approached Jarrett as he entered the ring and whispered something to the Champion. Jarrett got in Tito's face prior to Jeremy Borash's ring introductions. After the introductions, Jarrett shoved Styles and Styles shoved back until Tito broke up the pre-match shoving match. Tito held up the NWA Title as Mike Tenay rattled off the lineage of the NWA Title.
(8) A.J. Styles defeated Jeff Jarrett to capture the NWA World Heavyweight Title at 19:30. Styles and Jarrett danced around the ring as the fans chanted, "F--- him up, A.J." Jarrett drove Styles to the corner with a collar and elbow tie up, which Tito broke up. Jarrett seemed quite indignant to Tito's officiating then locked up with Styles once again. Tito got in Jarrett's face and pulled him to the corner, playing a little too rough with Jarrett, almost setting up a turn on Styles. Jarrett and Styles went to mat wrestling moves with Styles driving Jarrett to the mat with a hammerlock. Styles drove Jarrett to the mat with a wristlock then turned it into a headlock. Styles and Jarrett collided mid-ring with shoulder blocks. Now would be a good time for Rock, Paper, Scissors. Instead, Styles delivered a kick to the leg then a shoulder block followed by a series of chops. Styles set up Jarrett for his trademark back flip drop kick, but Jarrett slid underneath the ring ropes before Styles could execute. Jarrett pointed to his experience and knowledge of Styles's tactics, before taking a full nine count from Tito before returning to the ring. Jarrett missed with a clothesline and ran right into Styles's trademark back flip drop kick, just what Jarrett thought he had avoided. Nice psychology right there. Styles delivered a scissors kick knee drop to the face then covered Jarrett and scored a two count. Styles shot Jarrett to the corner then ran in with a flying fist to the head. Styles walked into a short cut thumb to the eye then took a knee drop across the gut from Jarrett. This led to Jarrett's offensive attack on Styles's knee.
Jarrett caught Styles around the knee then dropped Styles's knee across his own knee. Jarrett worked on Styles's knee across the bottom rope, crashing down with all of his weight on the knee. Jarrett, continuing to set up for a possible figure four, kicked the leg out from under Styles repeatedly. The fans chanted, "Jarrett Sucks," as Jarrett continued to work on the left leg of Styles. Styles fought back with right hands to the gut, followed by stiff kicks to the stomach. Jarrett blocked a left leg kick and dropped Styles to the mat, where he promptly locked in a figure four leg lock. Styles powered towards the ropes by trying to slide the leg lock towards the corner, but Jarrett pulled the leg lock back to the center of the ring. Styles tried to flip the move over and finally turned the leg lock over, but Jarrett reached the bottom rope to break the hold. Jarrett limped to Styles's fallen body and walked into a back elbow smash to the gut. Styles leapt up top and kicked Jarrett in the gut before scoring a nice Tornado DDT off the top turnbuckle. Jarrett popped up to his feet and Styles promptly clotheslined him over the top rope to the outside. Tito applied a ten count as Styles favored his knee. Styles leapt over the top rope onto the apron for a high-risk move, but Jarrett took the legs out from underneath Styles and slammed him knee-first onto the apron. Styles gingerly reached the apron at a seven count, but Jarrett delivered a baseball slide sending Styles crashing into the guardrail. Once again, Styles approached the apron, and this time, Tito grabbed Jarrett by the throat and drove him to the corner to tell him not to kick Styles again. Styles took advantage of the break in the action to pull Jarrett out from the ring to the outside.
On the outside, Styles went for a right arm clothesline, but Jarrett ducked and Styles slammed his arm into the ringpost. Jarrett picked up his guitar for a shot on Styles, but Tito prevented Jarrett from using the guitar. Styles stole the guitar and went for a smash on Jarrett, but Tito moved in the way. Styles nearly hit Tito, but didn't, so he broke the guitar in half preventing Jarrett from using it in the future. Back in the ring, Styles scored his patented back flip Reverse DDT and scored a two count only. Styles went for the Styles Clash, but Jarrett flipped out and blocked a huricanrana attempt with a powerbomb. Styles slipped out of the Stroke, but ran into a powerslam. Jarrett made a cover, but only scored a two count after Tito took forever to make the count. Styles rolled up Jarrett with a series of small packages, and Jarrett barely kicked out. Good gosh, Jarrett was absolutely gassed, causing Styles to slow down. Styles and Jarrett laid on the mat for a lengthy period of time then Jarrett went for the Stroke, but Styles blocked it. Jarrett caught Styles off the ropes and set up for the Styles Clash, and connected. Jarrett thought he won with Styles's own finishing move, but Styles kicked out at two. Styles blocked a move off the ropes and hit the Stroke, but only scored a two count after Jarrett kicked out of his own finisher. Styles went up top and missed with a somersault splash, but managed to roll through and hop right up to his feet.
Styles set up Jarrett for the Styles Clash, but Monty Brown ran into the ring right by Tito. Brown went for the Pounce on Styles, but Styles pushed Jarrett in the way just in time, laying out Jarrett. Tito went to the outside to reprimand Brown while Styles had a visible pin in the center of the ring. Another official ran into the ring and tried to count the pin, but Tito yanked him out of the ring and declared that this was his match to officiate. Tito re-entered the ring and got in Styles's face. Tito shoved Styles in the chest leading to Jarrett delivering a low blow on Styles. Tito reprimanded Jarrett for using a low blow as Jarrett placed Styles up top. Jarrett climbed up top and punched Styles in the head as Tito reprimanded Jarrett. Jarrett reached down and shoved Jarrett, leading to Tito coming back by pulling Jarrett down from the corner turnbuckle. Tito warned Jarrett leading to Jarrett shoving Tito in the chest. Tito responded with a sick right hand to the face, knocking out Jarrett in the middle of the ring. Styles hopped down from the corner turnbuckle and went to a closer turnbuckle where he proceeded to leap off with an amazing corkscrew Spiral Tap move. Styles rolled over onto a lifeless Jarrett and made the cover. Referee Tito Ortiz slid over into position and counted the three count along with every single person in the Impact zone. The Impact zone exploded in joyous celebration as Styles fell to his knees.
- After the match, Tito handed the NWA Title to Styles, who looked at him in amazement and sheer joy. Styles took the belt and gazed into the gold before Tito placed it around his waist. Styles saluted the crowd as the fireworks shot off to celebrate the moment we've all been waiting for. Styles played to the crowd then shook Tito's hand and held his hand up in the air to recognize a great job of officiating. Monty Brown re-entered the ring and checked on the fallen former Champion, who sold the ending as if he was completely knocked out. Styles celebrated some more with near tears in his eyes. Brown stared down Styles, who continued to celebrate, unaware of anything coming from Brown. We closed the live action with a shot of Styles atop the turnbuckle, the new King of the Mountain.
Match View: At long last, Jeff Jarrett has been dethroned as NWA Champion. Hopefully, that means no more main event NWA Title matches for Jarrett, because he was a step slow and a buck short of matching up with Styles. Mid-way through the match, it was very apparent Styles had to slow down his own offense so Jarrett could keep up. By the time the end of the match came, Jarrett was outright gassed and his lackluster performance really killed the match heat. Styles continues to be rock solid in the ring while Jarrett really needs to consider moving down the ladder in TNA because some time away from the spotlight is probably the best move Jarrett can make at this point in his career.
Tito Ortiz was solid in his role, although he did come across a little too pushy with Jarrett, almost provoking Jarrett rather than responding to Jarrett's provocation. However, Tito did absolutely fine aside from that one critique, and helped make up for Jarrett's poor in-ring performance by bringing heat to the match through his presence as the enforcer. All the build up towards someone taking the belt now feels worth it with Styles now the Champion after nearly a one-year reign by Jarrett. Kudos to the new booking committee for going with the Title switch.
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