8/8 TNA Hardcore Justice PPV Live Coverage: Rob Van Dam vs. Sabu, and Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven with Mick Foley as special referee headline TNA's ECW reunion show
By Jason Powell
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Live from Orlando, Fla.
At Universal Studios
A video package filled with ECW still shot photos opened the show...
Ring announcer Steven DeAngelis opened the show by saying it was his extreme honor to introduce Taz, who walked onto the stage to a nice reaction. He said he's been backstage since eleven and put over the show. He said there have been some haters and doubters who said "they" were just a hardcore promotion that was only about violence.
Taz said people who say that don't get it. "All we did was revolutionize this friggin' business," Taz said. "We were the true renegades of this industry and that's a shoot." Taz said he has a message for anyone who who pisses on what they did. "You don't get it and you never will get it, and you can kiss my ass," Taz said. He delivered his "Beat me if you can" catchphrase and let the fans fill in the "Survive if I let you."
Powell's POV: I wonder how much of that promo was directed at Eric Bischoff? The Impact Zone looks good. They are using black ring ropes and a blue canvas to make it look more like an ECW ring than a TNA ring.
Mike Tenay and Taz are on commentary...
1. Tracy Smothers, Tony Mamaluke, and Little Guido Maritato (w/Sal E. Graziano) defeated Kid Kash, Simon Diamond, and Johnny Swinger in 10:45. Kash, Diamond, and Smothers have all packed on some weight. Kash has had a lot of ink added since the last time he was on national TV.
The fans broke out the "Where's my pizza" chant. Tony Mamaluke must be trademarked, as they are calling him Tony Luke. Tracy and Simon were the last two guys to check into the match around 2:40. Smothers got the better of the exchange for a nice pop.
Simon rolled to ringside and grabbed the mic. "Orlando, Florida," he said. "Simon has a problem." He was immediately greeted with "Shut the F---" up chants. Taz cracked, "You're sure we're not in Philly, right?" Simon told the fans they should come to the ring and make him shut up.
Simon said they were not a well oiled machine because Kash was holding them down. Simon said they may not be able to out wrestle the FBI, but they could out-dance them. He called for music. Simon and Swinger did some intentionally awful dancing while Kash stood there. "You can't dance," chanted the crowd.
Smothers took the mic and said Michael Jackson just rolled over in his grave. "If we can't do better than that, straight up, everybody dies," Smothers said. Funny. The FBI broke out some of their comedy dancing for mild applause. Sal got a nice reaction when he started dancing.
Simon and Swinger attacked Smothers, Mamaluke, and Guido from behind. Sal clotheslined them. With a group at ringside, Kash used referee John Finegan as a springboard for a big dive onto the floor. Tenay said "you guys" were the reason "I had a big ass satellite dish in my backyard." Funny.
At 10:00, there was a sequence where the various wrestlers hit their signature spots. Guido finished off Simon for the clean pin. Graziano carried Mamaluke to the back. It looked like there was going to be drama with Kash, Simon, and Swinger, but they cut to the announcers instead...
Powell's POV: A chaotic opener. The dance routine was dumb comedy that didn't click like it did in the old days. Pretty much what you'd expect.
Taz said Tenay must feel out of place because he never called the original ECW matches. Tenay said he would have turned over the call to Joey Styles gladly if he didn't have contractual obligations. They also noted that Jerry Lynn is off the show and will be replaced by Sabu...
A video package featured new clips of Tod Gordan, Pitbull Gary Wolfe, and Blue Meanie delivering video greetings regarding the show...
A video package called "I Remember" featured A.J. Styles recalling Tommy Dreamer being caned by Sandman and saying, "Thank you, sir, may I have another?" Styles said Dreamer is either the stupidest wrestler in the world or he's the toughest.
Angelina Love's "I Remember" video package was brief. She said she didn't get to watch the show until the last year of the company...
Powell's POV: The Styles video was fine, but the Angelina Love video was unnecessary.
Backstage, Al Snow was talking to Head while Stevie Richards watched. Nova entered the room in his old gear. Nova took a crack at Snow by saying his career would be in the toilet bowl if it wasn't for Head. A fake Blue Meanie showed up with a "BW2.0" shirt on. Some dude I don't even remember showed up picking his nose, and then he and fake Meanie picked each other's noses...
2. Too Cold Scorpio beat C.W. Anderson in 6:50. No reaction whatsoever for Anderson, but he looked the same as he did when he was last on TV. Scorpio got a nice reaction and danced for the crowd. Tenay put over Taz's promo, then Taz mentioned Paul Heyman on commentary. Scorpio hit a corkscrew dive onto Anderson at ringside.
Scorpio hit a nice kick at 3:35, but Anderson came back with a great punch that Scorpio sold as if he'd been shot. At 6:15, Anderson hit the spinebuster for a good nearfall. However, Scorpio came back with a kick and then performed a moonsault leg drop for the clean pin.
After the match, Scorpio pulled Anderson to his feet. They eventually shoot hands and Scorpio raised Anderson's hand in the air...
Powell's POV: Scorpio can still hit all those great high spots. He's aged a bit, but he still hit all the flashy moves and looked great. Anderson has always been a quality wrestler with a generic look. Unfortunately, he still has that awful "CW" logo on his gear. Good performances by both men.
The "I Remember" videos featured Madison Rayne, Matt Morgan, and Mr. Anderson sharing their ECW memories. Anderson referred to it as "that company"...
Backstage, Rob Van Dam spoke with Bill Alfonso while sitting on a couch backstage. RVD spoke about how he was looking forward to his match against Jerry Lynn. He said he was given the option of choosing his opponent and he had to think about it because there were a lot of storylines that were left open.
Alfonso kept chiming in with his usual "Daddy" comments. RVD said Sabu had to be his choice. He noted that Alfonso managed both men and therefore it put him in a tough spot. Alfonso said he'd manage both men and call it down the middle. Fonzie blew his whistle to close the pre-tape...
Powell's POV: TNA is using a blue light
3. Stevie Richards (w/Nova, BM2.0) defeated P.J. Polaco in 6:35. Polaco is Justin Credible, but he can't use the name because some indy promoter with a grudge had his girlfriend trademark the name. Yes, really. Stevie looked jacked. He's in the best shape of his career. Polaco wasn't as cut as he was back in the day, but he was able to work without a shirt and pull it off.
The fans chanted "Justin Credible" when the ring announcer introduced him by his real name. Nova was cheered, but the fake Meanie (looks like one of the old Main Event Mafia security guys) was booed. There was a pretty routine spot early with Polaco taking a bump to the floor that drew a "Holy Shit" chant from what must have been poser ECW fans.
The fans also chanted "We want Meanie" briefly. Richards lept off the ropes into a superkick from Polaco. P.J. followed up with a tombstone and went for the cover. He had Richards pinned, but pulled him up for God knows what reason just because Nova stood on the ring apron.
Polaco stood over Richards and started to deliver his "That's not just the coolest..." catchphrase. When he got to the part where he says his name, Stevie recovered and superkicked him for the win. Afterward, Polaco attacked Richards with a kendo stick until the lights went out.
Taz gave it away by pointing out that someone did this on Impact and questioning whether it was who he thought it was. You know, because no one else in ECW ever showed up after the lights were turned off. Sure enough, Sandman was standing in the ring when the lights were turned on.
Polaco's reaction was great, as he shook his head in frustration like he couldn't believe Sandman was there to kick his ass again. Sandman hit the Russian leg sweep with the cane and then roughed up Polaco for a bit...
Powell's POV: Disappointing Sandman appearance. That was it? Richards looks like he's been hitting the, um, gym. Weird choice to book that matchup since I don't recall much history with Credible and Richards.
Video greetings with Francine aired. She said she wished she could have been there, but she's busy with her new career as a mom. They showed her daughter Molly. She said the crew will always be her extended family and she wishes them all well. When the video was over, Taz put over Francine and said "she always took it like a man."
Powell's POV: That's what Dreamer said? It was cool to see Francine. She's put on some weight and looks healthy after always being rail thin in TNA.
There was a graphic that paid tribute to the late ECW wrestlers without actually mentioning any of them by name...
Powell's POV: Why bother paying tribute to the late ECW wrestlers if you're not going to at least mention them or show images. The annual Oscar show tribute to the stars in Hollywood who passed away has nothing to worry about.
4. Rhino beat Brother Runt and Al Snow in a three-way dance in 6:00. Runt came out in his old Spike Dudley tye-dye gear with the glasses. Snow brought Head with him. They stressed that the match would be an elimination style match, just as the three-way dances always would be.
A handful of TNA wrestlers and Earl Hebner were shown watching the matches on a backstage monitor. Or maybe they were watching the preseason football game. They did some comedy with Snow and Head. Runt hit the Acid Drop and pinned Snow. Rhino gored Runt a few seconds later and got the pin...
Powell's POV: The live crowd was into the action and Spike took one of his usual big bumps. That was quicker than it should have been. I would have liked to have seen more of Spike and Rhino.
Backstage, Mick Foley was reading Hulk Hogan's book on a couch and then he put it down to address the Raven and Tommy Dreamer feud. He predicted it would get out of hand and he said you need someone who can keep a clear head. He said he thinks he's the perfect person for that...
Powell's POV My prediction for Dreamer vs. Raven is that Foley costs Dreamer the match. Dreamer loses to show how selfless he is as the booker, and then has some type of feud with Foley in TNA.
More TNA pre-tapes with Brutus Magnus and Chris Sabin. Sabin recalled his first exposure was a barbwire match with Terry Funk...
Axl Rotten and Kahoneys came to the ring. Balls Mahoney, but apparently he can't use his name either. Axl doesn't have the blonde hair anymore. Balls took the mic and said they are the most extreme tag team in history. He said they don't have a match, so they issued an open challenge. He actually said "F'n" rather than drop an F-bomb.
"Well, well, well," could be heard over the P.A. system, but it sounded like most of the fans didn't know who it was. Joel Gertner and Team 3D came out. Gertner was wearing a fur coat and a pink neck brace with polka dots and a bow tie, and Team 3D were wearing their tye-dye gear. The fans chanted for The Dudleys and "Testify."
Gertner delivered one of his fun introductions. He mentioned Lady Gaga's muff and said he'd stuff her face. The fans chanted, "That's hardcore." Gertner delivered a big introduction for The Dudleys, but he had to call them Brother Ray and Brother Devon. He teased referring to them as The Dudleys, but switched to Team 3D.
Brother Ray took the mic and said the fans were looking at four of the most hardcore men who have ever stepped foot in the ring. He said they would have a South Philadelphia street fight...
5. Team 3D (w/Joel Gertner) defeated Kajoneys and Axl Rotten in a South Philadelphia Street Fight in 12:00. They brawled into the crowd and used items that the fans handed them was weapons. Balls started throwing beer at Brother Ray and it got all over the camera. Taz said the fans were in the Extreme Zone right before Ray used a styrofoam mannequin head as a weapon.
Ray and Balls fought back inside the ring where Ray slammed a skillet over Balls's head. All four men made it back inside the ring and used trash can lids, cookie sheets, and other weapons. "They're fighting in slow motion," agreed my two buddies who are watching the PPV.
Balls pulled out a toy light saber and twirled it around. Ray got one of his own and they had a light saber duel. "This is extreme," cracked Taz. Balls won apparently by sliding the saber under Ray's arm and it stuck out the back of his shirt. Ray came back with a light saber between the legs.
Ray broke out some old school Bubba Ray dance moves for a big pop. Axl returned and hit an inverted DDT that was horribly timed. Later, all four men ended up inside the ring with chairs. Balls and Axl got the better of the brief chair swinging duel. They never really hit each other, and Ray yelled for Axl to cover him in an audible spot call.
Team 3D came back and Ray led the fans in calling for the tables. Gertner brought lighter fluid to Ray, who covered the table with the fluid. Devon lit the table, and Ray powerbombed Balls through the flaming table for the win.
Powell's POV: The live crowd loved it. In fact, the live crowd has loved most of this show. It's one of those shows that's fun to attend, but not such a great television product.
After the match, Brother Ray took the mic and said he thinks everyone would agree that they're the best tag team. Music played and The Gangstas walked onto the stage. Most of the fans didn't seem to know who they were seeing because the reaction was weak. New Jack and Mustafa brought a bunch of weapons to the ring with them, including a kitchen sink.
The music continued to play as The Gangstas beat up Team 3D with a crutch, a hockey stick, and even a staple gun. Devon had to point to the guitar for a spot. New Jack took out Gertner with a guitar shot. Out of nowhere, Team 3D stood up and they hugged The Gangstas.
Balls and Axl returned to the ring and they all hugged. They all posed for the crowd as the fans cheered...
Powell's POV: WTF? They just started hugging out of the blue? Speaking of blue, the blue lighting is annoying. I keep waiting for Glacier to walk out. Anyway, thanks to those three teams for reminding us that everything on this show is all in good fun and pro wrestling is fake. Ugh. This is dreadful.
A pre-taped Raven promo aired. He recapped his feud with Tommy Dreamer by recalling how Dreamer stole his girlfriend, married her, and had the kids that he should have had. Raven said he's smarter than Dreamer. He said he waited ten years to turn on "the glory hound" to get his revenge...
Jesse Neal was featured a the "I Remember" video clip. He said ECW wasn't like the other wrestling he watched. He said he can't get away from the excitement and energy he felt from the crowd while watching ECW. Kazarian was also featured. He mentioned chain wrestling with Chris Candido, Lance Storm, and Jerry Lynn while he was four months into his career...
Powell's POV: Kazarian slipped up and said ECW. Rather than record it, they just censored the ECW mention.
A pre-taped Brother Ray promo aired. He said he wishes Joey Styles was there with them calling the show. Rob Van Dam said Joey is the best in the business at what he does. Jerry Lynn delivered the "Oh My God" and thanked him.
Pat Kenney, Rhino, Sandman, Stevie Richards, and Tommy Dreamer also put over Styles. Dreamer said it's his pay-per-view, so how could he not thank Joey Styles. Dreamer said he hopes Styles likes what he's watching...
6. Raven defeated Tommy Dreamer with Mick Foley as the special referee in 17:00. Foley came out first wearing his homemade referee shirt. Raven came out next and walked over to where Beulah and her daughters were seated. Beulah held the daughters close to shield them from Raven, and Dixie Carter motioned for Raven to go away.
Foley gave the "no rules" speech to Raven and Dreamer in the middle of the ring. Raven took a low blow cheap shot at Dreamer to start the match. Dreamer wore a shit that read "Tommy F'n Dreamer" on the front, and "Thank You" on the back. No, thank you, Tommy! Good lord.
They fought to ringside and fought in front of Dreamer's wife, kids, and the woman who sees him as her flavor of the month. Dreamer bladed early on, meaning he saved the first blood of the night for himself like any good booker would. Dreamer went to ringside and grabbed a fan sign, which he slammed over Raven's head. Raven clearly bladed as he rolled outside the ring.
Dreamer ripped the homemade message off the sign to show it read "Dead End." The fans chanted, "This is hardcore." Raven and Dreamer were both bleeding heavily. Taz said hardcore was part of what the company was about, but it was really about the work ethic. Taz told the story of Dreamer suffering a ruptured testicle. "Thank you, Tommy's nut," should be his next t-shirt.
Dreamer made his comeback with the Death Valley Driver. He set up Raven in the corner and did the big "ECW" spot. Dreamer dropkicked a sign into Raven's face while the fans chanted, "Oh My God." Dreamer went to ringside and grabbed a roll of barbwire.
Dreamer wrapped the barbwire around Raven's face and wrenched on it. Raven teased tapping out. Nova and fake Meanie ran out. They attacked Foley while Raven tapped out, and then they attacked Dreamer. The fake Meanie went to the top rope and missed a splash on Dreamer.
Dreamer DDT'd fake Meanie while performing a simultaneous neckbreaker on Nova. Foley put the Mandible Claw on Raven. The guy I don't even remember ran out dressed like Raven. Foley ended up wrapping barbwire around his hand and applied the Mandible Claw. The fans chanted "Holy Shit." Foley ran the Lupus guy to the back.
Raven handcuffed Dreamer's arms behind his back and grabbed a chair. Foley started bitching about how Dreamer is helpless. Beaulah walked down the ramp to plead with Raven. Apparently, Beulah and the kids left earlier when Dreamer started bleeding. Raven hit Dreamer with a chairshot to the head. Yes, really.
Raven teased hitting Beulah with it, but Foley stopped him. Raven caught Foley with a low blow. Beulah returned the low blow favor on Raven. The handcuffed Dreamer DDT'd Raven and covered him, but Raven kicked out.
Dreamer went for another DDT, but Raven clipped Dreamer's injured knee before he could hit the move. Raven grabbed a chair and struck Dreamer's knee with it. Raven DDT'd Dreamer and pinned him. After the match, Dreamer and Beulah walked to the top of the stage.
A security guy removed Dreamer's handcuffs. Dreamer and Beulah looked back to the crowd, which gave him a polite round of applause. At the very end, one fan yelled, "You still suck Dreamer." Funny...
Powell's POV: The effort was there, but the run-ins were campy and the fans weren't as into the action as they would have been back in the day. Then again, it's hard to take a hardcore match seriously after watching all the comedy hardcore stuff we've seen tonight.
An ad aired for TNA's "Whole F'n Show" special...
Backstage, Mr. ECW Jeremy Borash was about to interview Ms. ECW SoCal Val when The Gangstas showed up. New Jack asked Val if she knows what happens when you go black. "You get bad credit," Jack said. Mustafa walked Val out of the picture. Jack intimidated Borash, who delivered a quick plug for the TNA website...
A tribute to Paul Heyman aired with various performers putting over his contributions. "He was the best booker in the business...at that point," Sandman concluded...
Ring introductions took place for the main event. Rob Van Dam came out with Bill Alfonso first. Fonzie, who had a TNA logo on the back of his shirt, headed back to the top of the stage so that he could accompany Sabu to the ring. Sabu received a nice reaction from the live crowd...
7. Rob Van Dam defeated Sabu in a non-title match in 17:15. Sabu looked like the old Sabu until he took off his turban and revealed his bald head. He's had the shaved head look for a while, but it probably caught some fans off guard. Sabu hit one of his springboard dives off the chair and onto RVD at ringside early.
At 7:20, Alfonso climbed inside the ring and gave water bottles to both men. Cute spot. They both went to ringside and slid tables inside the ring and went back to fighting on the floor. Sabu was cut open earlier on the dive to the guardrail. He had a gash on the back of his head.
At 11:00, Sabu threw a chair at Van Dam's head while RVD was on the ropes. Sabu followed up with a huracanrana off the top rope and Van Dam landed on a chair. Van Dam came back at 12:35 with a split-legged moonsault for a near fall. Sabu came up holding his nose, which may have been broken earlier based on what the announcers said.
At 13:25, RVD set up a table in the ring, but Sabu threw another chair at his head. Taz had a laugh over the referee pointing out that Sabu's arm was under the ropes during a pin attempt when he's let everything else go.
At 15:45, Sabu performed a wild tornado-style DDT off the ropes. Cool spot. He followed up with a leg drop off the ropes with the chair underneath his legs. Sabu tried to follow up with the same move through a table, but RVD moved. Van Dam followed up with a Five Star Frogsplash and got the clean pin...
Powell's POV: Great effort by Sabu. There were a lot of questions about how much he could do coming into the match, but he stepped up and delivered a better than expected performance that included many of his signature spots. Sabu's perforamance was easily the most pleasant surprise of the night.
Sabu remained on the mat afterward and was holding his ribs. Sabu blew off Fonzie when he tried to check on him. RVD approached him after he finished celebrating. Sabu blew off the handshake offer and ended up hugging Van Dam for a big pop. They aired replays of the various high spots from the match.
All the other ECW wrestlers came to the ring and drank beer together as the fans chanted, "Thank you." Taz said they were a team back in the day. They showed a shot of Dixie Carter drinking a beer at ringside. The fans chanted, "Fuck you, Vince."
Dreamer, who was sporting a black eye, took the mic and thanked Tenay and Taz. He said they had a couple beers waiting for them. Dreamer said this couldn't have happened tonight without Dixie Carter. He thanked her and she was shown holding up her beer in the air. The fans chanted, "Thank you, Dixie."
Brother Ray went to ringside and grabbed Carter. He carried her to ringside and brought her to the ring. She stood in the middle of the ring next to Dreamer, who said, "To all the men and women in TNA, we set the bar and we expect you to raise it." He said that for all the people who said they were old and couldn't do it, "That was one hell of an f'n pay-per-view," Dreamer said. "Thank you so much. I love you."
The show concluded with an ad for the TNA Bound For Glory pay-per-view...
Powell's POV: They ended on a good note with the main event match. I think Dreamer and company are living in denial about the quality of the show. From where I it, it was the worst pay-per-view of the year so far, and the worst of the ECW reunion pay-per-views. Most of the wrestlers just couldn't go like they used to. The breaking character crap in the tag match was insufferable. Everyone tried hard, but it just didn't click with this viewer.
I'll have much more to say about this show in the TNA Hardcore Justice audio review later tonight, and in the TNA Hardcore Justice Hitlist on Monday. You can join us for the audio review by signing up for membership for as little as $5.50 per month via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
What did you think of TNA Hardcore Justice? Send us a couple paragraphs of your thoughts on the show for possible inclusion on the website to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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