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TNA Impact
BAX's TNA IMPACT WRESTLING "VIRTUAL TIME" COVERAGE 8/4: Final sell for Hardcore Justice PPV

Aug 4, 2011 - 10:16:46 PM
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TNA Impact Wrestling TV report
July 21, 2011
Taped in Orlando, Fla.
Report by Matt Baxendell, PWTorch contributor


WHERE WE'VE BEEN: Last week's Impact was most notable for Sting pretending to be a Network Executive, before it was revealed at the end that he was simply posing as one. Culminating in a convoluted Main Event that saw Kurt Angle win a Cage Match over Mr. Anderson, there is precious little time left to sell Angle-Sting at Hardcore Justice.

Tonight's show will feature three Bound For Glory Series Matches and a contract signing between Sting and Angle for the Hardcore Justice Main Event. Will it be enough to sell the Pay Per View?

[Q1]

-The show started off with Immortal in the ring. Jeff and Karen Jarrett were there while Hogan and Bischoff weren't. Anderson and Bully Ray got into an argument right off the bat about Anderson's loss last week. Ray said that Anderson was the guy who lost the World Title after a single week in Immortal.

Ray said that when Hogan & Bischoff weren't there, he was the guy who was in charge. He was also the guy who was going to become World Heavyweight Champion. Anderson challenged Ray to a match at Hardcore Justice and started singing like he was Elvis. Ray's response was to spit in Anderson's face, kicking off a fight that the rest of Immortal tore apart.

At that, out came Fortune and they quickly hit the right to start a brawl to continue the fight from where last week's Main Event left off. Fortune cleared the ring but James Storm was holding his back at the end.

-The announcers cut to the lineup tonight that featured three Bound For Glory Series matches, a Tag Championship preview between Hernandez and James Storm and the contract signing for the World Championship match.

-Miss Tessmacher was shown 'stretching' in a sexy manner backstage. She's facing Madison Rayne next. [c]

BAX REAX: Looks like we have some inter-Immortal strife. I don't know if this is going to help the rapid fire face/heel turns for Anderson since he's the face in this feud by default. They need to leave him heel because that is where he is at his best.

-Back from break, Mickie James was making her entrance. She came out to the commentary booth and joined the announcers. After that, Madison Rayne made her entrance and immediately began screeching at Mickie about the championship belt on the desk.

[Q2]As Mickie pumped her match with Winter at Hardcore Justice, out came Tara and Miss Tessmacher with their Knockouts Tag Championship Belts that they won last week. Once they were in the ring, Madison freaked out and it caused Earl Hebner to send Tara to the back.

1- MADISON RAYNE vs. MISS TESSMACHER

Madison was still yelling at Tara as the bell rang, so Tessmacher jumped her early and did her much more visually pleasant version of the stinkface right off the bat.

But from there, Madison Rayne took control and slammed her down by her hair. Madison kept slamming her face into the mat and then stood up to scream at Mickie James. While she had her back turned, Tessmacher rolled her up for a pinfall win.

WINNER: MISS TESSMACHER in 1:30

After the match, Madison got up and assaulted Tessmacher. Mickie went to help her but Angelina Love attacked her on the ramp. Mickie got the better of James but then Winter came in and knocked Mickie over. Angelina held Mickie's hands behind her back and Winter decked her in the face with the belt. Winter taunted the unconscious Mickie as commercial hit. [c]

-Highlights were shown on the Bound For Glory Series Matches from the last weekend. James Storm, The Pope, Robert Roode, A.J. Styles and Bully Ray all had victories.

The leaderboard had Crimson in first with 40 points, James Storm in second and a logjam of about 5 wrestlers in third place.

-In the Impact Zone, Devon was out first and he greeted his family on the way to the ring. Afterwards, out came A.J. Styles to a huge reception from the Impact Zone.

2- A.J. STYLES vs. DEVON - Bound For Glory Series Match

The match started with the announcement that Styles, Daniels and Kaz would be facing Steiner, Gunner and Abyss at Hardcore Justice. Lots of stalling early as the crowd chanted for both men.

When things got going, both men traded counters before A.J. Styles hit his drop down, leapfrog, dropkick combo. But Devon fought back as The Pope walked out to ringside to sit with Devon's kids. Devon regained control with a spinning elbow but then he saw Pope at ringside and got distracted.

When he got back in the ring, AJ moved out of the way of a splash and put Devon into an armbreaker. Devon had to fight out and made it to the ropes. Both men continued to trade hands before A.J. hit a Pele Kick for a near fall.

But as A.J. stood up, he saw Christopher Daniels sitting at ringside and was his turn to be distracted. When he got back to the ring, he missed his springboard and tweaked his knee, which allowed Devon to get the quick rollup that A.J. kicked out of just after the three count.

WINNER: DEVON in 3:30 to earn 7 Bound For Glory points

After the match, Devon reluctantly went to ringside to see the Pope, who Tenay informed the audience would be facing him in a BFG Series Match at Hardcore Justice. Meanwhile, Daniels and Styles argued their way back up the ramp as Daniels said that A.J. had been avoiding him for two weeks. [c]

BAX REAX: They sure had me convinced that Pope was going to affect the match outcome, so Daniels costing A.J. was a surprise. There's certainly a lot of tension teased between two men who have not been on the same page since Daniels challenged Styles at Destination X.

[Q3]

-Back from break, there was a long montage played to build up Angle's pursuit of a clean victory over Sting. Old highlights were shown of Angle cheating to beat Sting or Sting defeating Angle outright. Angle said he believes that Sting is better now then he was in 1995. Not true, but a nice job building Angle's quest to finally get a victory over the Stinger.

-Backstage, Pope said he was in the BFG Series to win it. Tonight, he's going to take care of Samoa Joe and maybe even get ten points via submission. He then said that he found out he was facing Devon at Hardcore Justice and they would have a match and continue to earn Devon's trust. Joe vs. Pope in a BFG Series Match is up next. [c]

-Back from break, Matt Morgan was sitting with the announcers and it was announced that he was going to be giving lots of analysis now that he was out of the BFG Series due to injury.

3- SAMOA JOE vs. THE POPE - BFG Series Match

Morgan made a nice observation about Pope's amateur boxing background and Joe's temperment as the in-ring action started slowly. Once things got going, Pope's quickness was enough to hit a dropkick and a pair of arm drags to put Joe in a submission.

[Q4]Joe fought back but Pope got out of the ring, causing Joe to chase him. This caught Joe with an Atomic Drop and some quick strikes to take Joe down. Great commentary from Morgan in this match, saying that the second Joe got a submission on, things would be over.

Devon made his way down to the ring but Joe transferred an arm drag into a Cochita Clutch and choked out Pope to win the match.

WINNER: SAMOA JOE via submission in 2:30 to win 10 BFG Series Points

Joe wouldn't let go after the match and Devon held his kids back from helping Pope. The ref warned Joe to let go and when he didn't he overturned the decision.

WINNER: THE POPE via DQ in 2:30 to win 3 BFG Series Points

Samoa Joe chased the ref backstage but he ran into the camera instead. He started channeling CM Punk as he said he understood now that the people in charge didn't want him anywhere near the Championship. He accused them of putting him into ladder matches, 3 way matches and putting crooked refs into his one vs. one matches. Joe said from this point now, the blood was on their hands.

BAX REAX: Finally, Joe has snapped. Adding the real life issues he had a while back with management to the equation was a nice touch and the straight up violent Samoan Submission Machine is what his character needs to be. I hope he goes nuts over the next month to close out the series.

-Beer Money met up in their locker room, where Storm laid holding his back. Roode told him that defending the tag belts was too important, so he would take the match instead. Its a street fight up next. [c]

-Back from break, Bully Ray was on the phone with Hulk, who apparently convinced him to apologize to Ken Anderson.

-In the Impact Zone, Hernandez made his way out with his whole posse. Beer Money came out next but Christy Hemme announced James Storm as the combatant. Roode talked to the ref and it was made official after SuperMex said he didn't care who he fought, Roode was in.

4- BOBBY ROODE (w/ James Storm) vs. HERNANDEZ (w/ Anarquia, Rosita & Sarita) --- Street Fight

Roode came in like a house of fire and took Hernandez down multiple times with clotheslines before clotheslining him over the top rope. While Hernandez was down, Roode hit a slingshot splash onto him at ringside.

Roode then went to get a chair and hit Hernandez in the gut and across the back with it. roode threw more weapons into the ring before smashing a trash lid over Hernandez's head.

But Hernandez fought back and threw Roode face first into the steel post. He got a two count on the floor before grabbing the trash lid and hitting Roode. He threw Roode back into the ring and then hit a slingshot shoulder block to take Roode down.

Hernandez then took his belt off and smashed it over Roode's back twice before wrapping the belt around Roode's neck. But Roode fought back with punches before Hernandez clotheslined him down and smashed a trash can onto him for a two count.

[Q5]Roode rolled to ringside, where Hernandez tossed him into the steel ring steps, hitting with his shoulder first. Back in the ring, Roode fought back with the trash can lid and felled Hernandez into the corner. When Roode charged him, he got a foot up into Roode's gut.

Hernandez pulled himself to the top but Roode pegged him in the head with a trash can and hit a big superplex. After both men got back up, Roode decked Hernandez thrice with a Kendo stick, the third time right between the eyes. Roode then hit his second rope neckbreaker onto Hernandez for a two count.

Hernandez was cut wide open and Roode held his arm 6:00 into this very physical match. Roode went for a shoulder block but Hernandez used his power to block him across the ring. Hernandez went for the Border Toss but Roode countered out and hit the RR Spinebuster.

He then locked in the Fujiwara Armbar that he used to hurt Ric Flair and it was enough to get him to tap. The issue was that the ref was distracted by Rosita on the ring apron and didn't see it. James Storm tried to come over to help the ref but Anarquia hit him in his injured back.

Roode no-sold a Kendo Stick shot from Sarita but when he chased her out of the ring, Hernandez rolled him up from behind and put his feet up on the rope to pull out the victory.

WINNER: HERNANDEZ in 7:15

BAX REAX: A hard-hitting match between these two that had a little bit of time to actually develop. There wasn't a lot of actual wrestling, but the story being told was that Beer Money is beat up going into the Pay Per View. That's the only way that anyone can imagine Mexican America winning, so it makes sense. I'm still not buying Beer Money losing their belts though. By the way, this was the first time that I didn't want to change the channel for a Mexican America appearance in a long time.

-Backstage, Bully Ray came into Anderson's locker room and said that he respected the men who came before him like Hulk Hogan. He said flat out that he was sorry, took his hat off and held his hand out to Anderson, who thought about it for a moment.

He reached out to shake Ray's hand after a moment's notice and Ray immediately kneed him in the groin and walked away. [c]

-Back from break, Kurt Angle was shown "earlier today" in the production truck as TNA is going to run back the Empty Arena Match from 2009.

-In the Impact Zone, out came Austin Aries and Alex Shelley as a preview for the three way X Division Championship at Hardcore Justice.

5- AUSTIN ARIES vs. ALEX SHELLEY

Aries jumped Shelley off the bat, which will drive Wade Keller nuts, because instead of breaking it up and forcing Aries back to give Shelley a chance at a fair match, the ref just rang the bell. This has been way too common recently.

I had a feed outage right after Aries hit a slingshot slam to the outside and didn't get it back for a minute or two. I heard Tenay say that a big batch of new X Division talent would debut next week before Alex Shelley hit a spinning figure four leglock on Aries that he barely snuck to the ropes. Shelley went for a figure four again but Aries escaped and guillotined Shelley to ringside.

While Shelley was holding his head, Aries came off the top rope to ringside and hit him in the back of the head. He rolled Shelley back into the ring and went for three consecutive failed pin attempts.

[Q6]Aries then pulled Shelley up to the top turnbuckle but Shelley pushed him off. Shelley hit a single leg kick that knocked Aries to ringside before a suicide dive took him down. Shelley rolled him in and went for the foot stop but missed. Lots of fast-paced action in this one.

Aries threw Shelley to ringside and put on his leather jacket to mock him. He acted like he was going to hit him with the spikes on the shoulder before ref Hebner took the jacket away. Shelley kicked him in the gut and went for Sliced Bread but Aries threw Shelley into the turnbuckle and immediately put Shelley into position for the Brainbuster, which he hit and was enough for the three count victory.

WINNER: AUSTIN ARIES in 5:55

Immediately after the match, Aries grabbed a microphone. "I beat you fair and square with a nice clean wrestling maneuver! How does that fit into your ethic?" yelled Aries. He stomped Shelley before Kendrick came into make the save. [c]

BAX REAX: Great match between these two men and Aries continues to stand out every single time he is on the television. Simply put, Aries is the standout personality in the X Division, though I doubt this will be the last match between Shelley and Aries. However, I would have had Aries beat another X Division wrestler to save the Shelley-Aries match for a future show. Regardless, that was another great showcase for the X Division.

-Back from break, Eric Young was taking acting lessons in Los Angeles. His acting coach thought he was crazy, just like the rest of us. A preview was shown of him facing off with Scott Baio.

-From that farce, we transition to J.B. and Kurt Angle sitting in the production truck to review the Empty Arena match between he and Sting from 2009.

They recapped the power struggle between Kurt Angle and Sting in a power struggle for the Main Event Mafia. While the match played, Angle said he had made his career on proving people wrong. He said he needed to beat Sting to prove it to himself.

Angle and JB commented on them fighting each other throughout the Impact Zone. Kurt said that he was a much better wrestler than fighter. The match showed Sting dumping Angle over a 20 foot ledge at the top of the stands and he said that he still feels the pain in his knee from that fall.

Angle said that they would have a match that no one would ever forget as Sting clearly still had 'it' since he is the champion now. The match continued in the background as Kurt was hit with a steel chair.

Angle said he hoped that the match would not include any steel chairs so that they could prove who was the best wrestler.

[Q7]

-Crimson and RVD vs. Gunner and Scott Steiner in a BFG Series Match was teased as coming up next. [c]

BAX REAX: While it is an indictment of current storylines that Angle had to bust out a two and a half year old match to sell the Pay Per View, it was a really effective segment. This is the kind of stuff that I wish we saw more in wrestling. Pro sports always review past clashes to build the story around a game, so this was very effective and actually raised my interest in the Sting-Angle match on Sunday.

-Sting was shown arriving with his Joker face paint and sunglasses on coming back from break. His contract signing with Angle will close the show.

-In the Impact Zone, the last Bound For Glory Series Match of the night was up. Gunner & Scott Steiner came out first together. Crimson was out next on his own and his sudden win over Bully Ray last week was hyped up before Rob Van Dam made his way out to join him. His win from last week was also recapped.

6- SCOTT STEINER & GUNNER vs. RVD & CRIMSON - Bound For Glory Series Match

RVD and Steiner started in the ring but there was a lot of early stalling as Steiner taunted the crowd that was chanting RVD's name. RVD surprised Steiner with a body scissor before Steiner took him down and took him into the corner.

Steiner hit big chops as the crowd chanted "Steiner sucks!" before he tossed RVD into the corner. Van Dam floated over and kicked Steiner in the face but as he played to the crowd, Steiner came up from behind and hit him with a full Nelson slam.

Gunner got tagged in and actually kept fast pace with RVD, who hit an impressive leg sweep/standing Moonsault combination. RVD tagged in Crimson, who got distracted with Steiner and allowed Gunner to fight him off.

Steiner tagged in and hit some big chops before nailing a big suplex on Crimson. He taunted Van Dam before Steinerlining Crimosn and hitting him with an elbow drop into his pushups.

Gunner came back in and hit a backdrop for a two count. He climbed up top to go for the double sledge, but Crimson stopped him and hit his old finisher from his independent days where he spun him around his body into an impressive DDT.

Steiner and RVD both tagged in and Steiner hit a powerful suplex that threw Van Dam into the ropes. Van Dam fought back and hit a kick and Rolling Thunder.

RVD went for his spinning heel kick onto Steiner while he was hung up on the barrier but Gunner knocked him off the apron. But Crimson speared him and RVD hit the 5 Star Frog Splash. But he had barely hit it when Steiner came in and DDT'd him.

Steiner dumped Crimson out of the ring before going for the cover on RVD. He got a two count and decided to go high risk. Steiner put RVD on the top turnbuckle for the Frankensteiner but Crimson came out of nowhere to hit the Electric Chair Drop.

RVD recovered as Crimson was pulled out of the ring by Gunner and they brawled. Van Dam hit the Five Star Frog Splash for the pinfall victory.

WINNER: ROB VAN DAM in 7:30 to win 7 BFG Points

Van Dam is now alone in second place with 35 points. RVD & Crimson were interviewed after the match. RVD said he was going to beat everyone in the whole series. Christy Hemme said that they would face each other.

Crimson congratulated RVD for getting the points in the match, but it would be a different story on Sunday, when Crimson would win the match, the points and remain in first place.

BAX REAX: Great match that was the longest of the show. It actually told a good story throughout and really didn't slow down. It also set up nicely for the RVD-Crimson match, which will be the most dangerous showdown for Crimson during his unbeaten streak.

[Q8]

-Angle and Sting were shown approaching the ring for the contract signing.[c]

-Back from break, the announcers ran down the lineup.

*Two BFG Series Matches were up between RVD & Crimson and Pope & Devon.
*Winter vs. Mickie James for the Knockouts Title
*Beer Money vs. Mexican America for the Tag Titles
*Kendrick vs. Aries vs. Shelley for the X Division Title
*Styles, Daniels & Kaz vs. Gunner, Steiner & Abyss
*Mr. Anderson vs. Bully Ray
*Kurt Angle vs. Sting for the World Heavyweight Championship

BAX REAX: That is actually a pretty decent lineup. I must have missed the Anderson-Ray match being officially confirmed earlier.

-Jeremy Borash was in the ring to introduce the World Heavyweight Championship contestants. Angle came out first before Sting made his way out to join him. Taz: "I've never seen a man wear face paint and sunglasses at the same time."

J.B. said that both men had agreed to conditions, so it was time to sign. Angle signed first without issue and Sting followed him. Very anticlimactic signing. Borash said they had an option for final comments. Aren't those supposed to come before the paper met ink?

Angle said that he respected Sting. He said Sting never politicked or screwed anyone and if he ends up as half of the man Sting is, he's done a good job. But he's coming after him at Hardcore Justice and the man walking away with World Heavyweight Title would be Kurt Angle.

Sting said he suddenly didn't feel like laughing too much. Sting abruptly transitioned out of his Joker voice and thanked Kurt for the compliment. He said that he was just as big of a fan of Angle's as Angle was of him. Sting said that Angle was the best technical wrestler of all time.

Sting said that no one had better timing and an aerial game of he'd never seen before: No one else can do a moonsault off of the top of a 20 foot cage and walked away. He's also the only man in wrestling who owns an Olympic Gold Medal.

But Sting said that he had to be the champion because holding onto his title meant that he would have more leverage to return the company to Dixie Carter, the rightful owner. Sting said that he wasn't going to say that Angle would have to kill him but he was going to have to come close.

Sting closed by saying that he would be the one with his hand in the air at Hardcore Justice and that's what's real. As his music played, the show ended with Tenay selling their match at the Pay Per View.

BAX SHOW REAX: Great final sales pitch for Hardcore Justice. Its too bad that the rest of the shows leading into Hardcore Justice weren't this good. Sting dropped the silly Joker act and cut a real and honest promo as himself and it had a big effect not seeing him act crazy after two months of Joker Sting. Both men established their motivations for winning and it worked well.

Overall, the first hour of the show was a little cluttered with a bunch of quick matches that gave the show a frenetic feel. But once the second hour rolled around, the show kicked into gear, giving the fans three strong matches and two good segments featuring Kurt Angle.

With the ratings trend lately of a down first hour and a much higher second hour, this show could really continue that kind of viewership. Simply put, the second hour's pacing was much better and really let the stories start to sink in.

Honestly, this was a far better final sale of Hardcore Justice from Sting and Angle than I ever expected. After a month of silliness, they finally turned to the tone I wish they'd had all along: This kitschy match between two legends just turned serious. While I don't think Sting can really 'go' anymore after all of his recent matches, a small part of me really thinks that he and Angle are going to have a surprisingly good Main Event.

Despite a so-so first hour, this was the best Impact since Destination X. The talent is there and sometimes TNA puts together some good shows. Let's hope that the three weeks leading up to this show were an aberration and tonight's show, along with the build for Destination X, are a sign of good things to come.

SHOW GRADE: B

Matt Baxendell is one the Torch’s contributing writer covering Impact Wrestling. Bax is also a football columnist for NationalFootballAuthority.com and Bucknuts.com. On top of that, he's an on-air talent for Sports Radio 790 The Zone in Atlanta. If you want to talk wrestling, hockey or football with Bax, please email him at matt.baxendell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @MattBaxendell


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