Wednesday, May 22, 2019

TNA Hardcore Justice 2010

So we started May with a lookback at One Night Stand from 2005, the ECW reunion show that WWE held. Then we did the following year's iteration that kickstarted the much-maligned WWECW brand. And then we looked at Bret Hart vs. Tom Magee... but we all knew that it was only a matter of time before I got around to writing a musing on TNA's own reunion dubbed Hardcore Justice. And so here we are... again.

Back in the day, I did write about the event and only managed to see bits and pieces of the show... but beyond that, I've never seen the full show in question. Everyone thought it was a bad idea - well, the TNA fans who will cheer anything thought it was a great idea because they're sheep - and when the show came and went, it was either the greatest thing ever made or it was the worst. Even without seeing the whole show - it's possible I might've, but just forgot about it - I thought it was a bad idea and the few clips I've seen (along with a video montage featuring running commentary from a Bryan & Vinny audio show) convinced me that my missing this shoe was a fantastic idea.

And so, here we are in 2019. I'm about to watch this Hardcore Justice show in its entirety and after having seen the previous two shows from WWE, we'll see if this show gave the ECW brand the final chapter that it deserved.

Spoiler alert: it didn't.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the events that took place on episodes of Impact that lead up to this. Starting with a bunch of former ECW guys showing up to "invade" TNA in what seemed like a sad attempt to recreate the ECW invasion of WWE or even that of WWF, you had a bunch of dudes fighting with each other for no apparent reason than to give us some vague visual of ECW guys versus TNA guys... even though some TNA guys are former ECW guys.

So that brawl ends with then-TNA President Dixie Carter telling everyone to stop because she invited the ECW guys over. Then, on another episode, we have Tommy Dreamer telling us the sad tale of how he had to watch something he and others had created (ECW) get revived by a big corporation (WWE) and turned into something bad and horrific (WWECW) while his friends were all fired. He does not mention how he had been getting steady paycheques and even his second ECW World title run (which lasted longer than his first), but whatever. The point is Dreamer begs - and I mean, BEG with waterworks and stuff - to give them one last stand or whatever. So Dixie says "Sure, you can have our next PPV and book it however you like."

Just like that.

And that brings us to Hardcore Justice, emanating from the Impact Zone in Universal Studios... because nothing says EXTREME like the Impact Zone. And for some reason, the arena has blue lighting all over the place... apparently to "replicate" the ECW experience. Now I haven't seen that many ECW shows over the years, but I don't ever recall any ECW show that had obnoxious blue lighting. Mostly, they were held in shitholes, bingo halls, or small arenas.

Your commentary team comprises Mike Tenay and Tazz... who did commentary for the regular TNA programming. Naturally, they couldn't get Joey Styles since he was under contract with WWE at the time heading the website. And while Tenay and Tazz do a fair enough job of calling the action and trying to make sense of the madness before us, it just emphasizes the point that this is the furthest thing from an "authentic" ECW experience that they were trying to aim for here.

The other thing that makes it the furthest thing from an "authentic" ECW experience: the lack of ECW names that are owned by WWE. As such, some guys have their names changed to protect the innocence. So Justin Credible goes by his real name, Balls Mahoney is now Cajones, etc. Also, they can't call it ECW. They always call it that "Philidelphia-based wrestling promotion" or "that show" or some variation of that. Sometimes, they slip, but fortunately, the lawyers didn't come a suing... probably because they didn't give enough of a shit to care if they let this whole farce run to begin with.

For the purposes of clarity - and because I honestly don't care to remember a bunch of made up names - I'm sticking with the original names.

The FBI (Guido, Tracey Smothers, and Tony (Mama)Luke with Big Sal) defeated Kid Kash, Simon Diamond (who seemed a bit... thicker since I last saw him), and Johnny Swinger in a six-man tag-team match that was interrupted half-way through with a dance off. This... this was a thing that happened. The dance off was pretty silly, but aside from that, it wasn't as horribly stupid as I thought. It was just mildly stupid, which is somehow better... or something.

We get a couple videos from Tod Gordon, Blue Meanie, and one of the Pitbulls... and then we have comments from AJ Styles and Angelina Love, who were NOT ECW alumnis and thus have no reason to be on this show as talking heads. Seriously...

2 Cold Scorpio defeated CW Anderson with a tumbleweed in a pretty decent little match. Nothing noteworthy or anything, but this was alright, I guess. You know, this isn't as bad as I thought it would've been. Maybe I was wrong about this being a complete waste of time.

Oh wait, never mind. Here's Madison Rayne (TNA person) to talk about "that Philidelphia promotion." And then there's Matt Morgan (another TNA person) talking about how he was working at a bar where ECW held a show... and finally we have Mr. Kennedy Kennedy Anderson Anderson talking about that promotion and PG sucking and suddenly, I find myself wondering how I thought this guy was cool once.

Stevie Richards defeated Justin "PJ Polaco" Credible (or is it the other way around?) in a match that had me wondering how a guy who was once the ECW HEAVYWEIGHT WRESTLING CHAMPION OF THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD went to getting beat by STEVIE FUCKING RICHARDS by way of Steviekick in the middle of a promo that Justin decided to cut after hitting Stevie with a couple big moves! Nothing against Stevie, but he was no former World Champion. Credible then smacks Stevie with a cane, then the lights go out and when they come up, FUCKING SANDMAN is in the middle of the ring.

I know this is a decade-ish after the fact... but you stupid fuckers.

What's the big thing with Sandman at ECW? He drinks beer, he canes himself, he has an entrance where he goes through the crowd to the ring while "Enter Sandman" blares in the background. To quote Paul Heyman, Sandman's matches were secondary because the entrance was where it was at. Even WWE recognized this and played this out at their first One Night Stand show. It was Sandman's signature entrance even during the WWECW years, even if they replaced the Metallica song with some cheap knock-off. At least, you got SOME version of the entrance.

TNA? They turn off the lights, have Sandman stand in the ring, and turn the lights back on. Fuck this company.

We have a video of former ECW person Francine, who's feeding her baby and is probably glad she didn't need to be part of the show. Can't say I blame her.

We then have a block of text and some stock music that's supposed to be a tribute to the former ECW guys who have since passed on. It's a nice, touching tribute that would've been more effective if they had included the names of the individuals they were paying tribute to.

The last ever ECW World Heavyweight Champion Rhino defeated Brother "Spike Dudley" Runt and Al Snow in a match that was short on and desperately needed a substantial supply of Geritol Tabs. God bless Al; smartest guy I've heard, renowned trainer, bought Ohio Valley Wrestling... good for him. And God bless Rhino; stuck around before going back to WWE, getting a nice little run with the tag-titles. And now he's entering free agency in a couple months. Good for him; that's probably why he got the win. And even god bless Little Spike Dudley... I've got nothing, but bless that man too; I hope all is well with him... but all that being said...

More talking heads; this time Chris Sabin and future NWA and TNA World Heavyweight Champion... BRUTUS MAGNUS.

And then things slowly got worse... The Dudley Boyz (or Team 3D as they were called in TNA at the time) defeated Balls "Cajones" Mahones and Axl Rotten in a match that involved foam heads, a choreographed lightsaber fight with actual toy lightsabers that comes off as fucking stupid, dueling chairs, and finally a finish involving a flaming table. The flaming table is the only real mid-light in this match. The rest of this shit can go fly off a cliff or something... and New Jack and his fellow Gangsta crashed the party, killed everyone, and then everyone no-sold the beating and hugged each other because this is all in good fun. Fuck this company.

More talking heads from some TNA guys I don't remember, but there was a cool little Raven promo hyping his match with Tommy Dreamer.

Raven defeated Tommy Dreamer in what was supposed to be the blow off to their long-standing feud... despite the fact that they already ended this long-standing feud way the fuck back in 1997. Even when Raven came back for a cup of coffee in 1999-2000, he teased another feud with Dreamer, but nothing came of it. In fact, I recall Raven congratulating Dreamer on his short-lived ECW World title win on that one show. Why is this match now? Not only that, but why is Mick Foley

This match was fucking wretched. What worked in 1997 didn't work in 2010, especially with two guys who are older, fatter, and probably missing a step or two. There's a bunch of run-ins that didn't matter. There's a bit where Raven hits Dreamer with a chair, causing Dreamer to bleed buckets in front of his kids... because apparently these dumb fucks never saw Beyond The Mat... this is sad to watch. There was a time when I could watch this and get some mild enjoyment out of this... now it's just embarrassing. This is like watching Jake Roberts at Heroes Of Wrestling... times four. Why did I decide to watch this show again?

TNA World Heavweight Champion Rob Dan Vam defeated Sabu in a non-title main event that featured Sabu not blowing any moves. I have no idea what that means, but everyone else was saying it, so... I have mixed feelings about this match. On the one hand, it was watchable; highly appreciated after the last hour or so of total hot garbage. On the other hand, this was just a thing that happened. Maybe if Jerry Lynn was healthy enough to have this match, it could've been better... but whatever. At this point, I'm just glad to have something watchable.

And then all the former Extreme people came to the ring and drank beer, the Impact sheep chanted "Fuck You, Vince," as if anyone in WWE was genuinely worried about this dumpster fire... and then the show ends.

And so that was Hardcore Justice 2010; TNA's version of an ECW reunion show and one that was supposed to be more authentic than what WWE offered. And now that I've seen the show in its entirety, I can honestly say that my feelings have changed on this show and I realized that this wasn't as bad as I thought it would've been... it was actually a lot worse.

The first One Night Stand was the perfect swan song for the original ECW brand and watching that show, I still believed that had that been the final show to bare those initials, it would've been a fine note to end it on. Then WWE turned it into a half-assed third brand that people hated because it wasn't what the original promotion was and while it eventually became something akin to the current NXT product - a place where younger, fresher faces can showcase their talents before gracing the two big shows - it was cursed with having the name of something beloved by the fans and as a result, it felt like an insult to the diehards who wanted a product that was never going to come back in any way, shape, or form.

Hardcore Justice 2010 might've been a response to that WWECW product and god knows that Tommy Dreamer and crew wanted to make this the best possible swan song for ECW and its alumni... except now they were much older, much slower, and now seeing these hardcore icons piss around in a ring trying to reclaim their past glory became more of an embarrassment than anything. This was bordering on Heroes Of Wrestling territory, but perhaps nowhere near as pathetic and more sad than anything.

I see this show and it depresses me to how far the stick has fallen. The goofy dance off is one thing, but then you're having choreographed lightsaber fights that look hokey and stupid, two old guys bleeding buckets in front of their kids, guys hugging each other after killing each other because this shit is fake, and then in a moment of utter stupidity, the show ends with the former ECW people cheering on Dixie Carter for giving them one of her company's PPVs to deliver this complete and utter pile of horseshit.

TNA had another PPV planned for the former Hard Justice before this came along and as a result, that card became an episode of Impact dubbed "The Whole F'n Show." The only thing I remember was that there was a really awesome tag-team match between Beer Money and Motor City Machine Guns as well as a total fuck finish that was used to explain how RVD was no longer the TNA World champion. So your mileage may vary on whether this was a step up or not.

And that's it. That's all I have.

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