Pruett's Pause: TNA Hardcore Justice - Austin Aries retains his World Championship amidst controversy, A.J. Styles, Rob Van Dam, and Bully Ray take home 20 points, and more
By Will Pruett
- As tempting as it must have been for TNA to put the X Division Championship match in the opening slot, I commend them for not doing so. Chavo and Hernandez vs. Gunner and Kid Kash was a nice opening match. The crowd seems to be decently into Chavo at this point, but I fear they will tire of him quickly.
- Chavo and Hernandez could be a decent tag team act, although I still don't see the point of resurrecting Mexican America/LAX.
- Seriously, why do Gunner and Kid Kash have matching tattoos?
- I understand why Aces and Eights would attack, but why would they attack D'Angelo Dinero? He has barely been on television in the last three months. It isn't like their attack made a real impact.
- Magnus really wanted that chair. He also preferred that said chair was performing illicit acts at some point. Wrestlers occasionally slip up in the ring. Lucky for Magnus, he did so on pay-per-view and not on a live edition of Impact.
- The Falls Count Anywhere match felt pretty paint by numbers to me. Mr. Anderson, Magnus, and Rob Van Dam worked in some big spots, but it wasn't anything to write home about.
- I'm quite disappointed by the use of Magnus in the Bound for Glory Series. I had high hopes for it, but they have made him an afterthought. I would rather see Magnus elevated in this series than Van Dam enhanced. Van Dam is worth far less to TNA than Magnus could be.
- I was originally fine with Devon as TV Champion, but now it has run its course. Kazarian would have been a great wrestler to take that title from Devon. He is athletic. He can put together consistently entertaining matches. He can do more and has a greater upside than Devon. The booking choice to keep the belt on Devon confuses me.
- Earl Hebner now sells his own shirts out of his trunk. Way to go legit, Earl.
- While the Hebner and Madison Rayne storyline originally seemed like comedy filler, it is now the focal point of the Knockouts Division. This defies all logic, as there is an executive in charge of just that division. Given that there are only two (maximum) Knockouts matches in a week, shouldn't this executive do something about this?
- Bully Ray showing fear of Aces and Eights is thoroughly entertaining. If TNA is looking to turn him babyface in the next couple months, standing up to Aces and Eights could be the perfect way.
- The pop for James Storm on this show was significantly smaller than it was a couple months ago. Storm is suffering a ton of damage in this ongoing story with Aces and Eights. It is not like his act can't recover, but I do worry that fans will be hesitant to get behind him after he lost his smile, then was in massive doubt.
- An established babyface like Jeff Hardy would have been the better choice for the accused accomplice to Aces and Eights.
- Robbie E. did a really nice job of being the opportunistic, yet undeserving heel in the tables match. He took a ton of abuse and had a few fun moments. This wasn't a star-making performance, but it was something he can point to and be proud of.
- Bully Ray gaining 20 points should keep the top of the series interesting.
- There was a major missed opportunity for Taz and Mike Tenay on this show. While they did a nice job accentuating the importance of the final four, they didn't mention the wrestlers that would be statistically eliminated by not winning the four-way matches. This could have made these matches feel far more important than they did.
- In the X Division Championship match, fans rallied behind Kenny King due to their dislike of Zema Ion. I would love to see more done for King, so fans rally behind him due to actually liking him. There is a lot of character development left to be done with King.
- Zema Ion and Kenny King did put on a good match. It wasn't a legendary contest or anything, but it was a good match. What is lacking now is character development for both men on a consistent basis.
- Samoa Joe has been really good on the mic since his tag team run with Magnus. In his current role, Joe is being used effectively and in an exciting way. I'm interested to see where he ends up at Bound for Glory.
- I would be excited for a normal four-way match between Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, A.J. Styles, and Christopher Daniels. Throwing a ladder stipulation into the mix changes the match, but it provides more opportunities for memorable moments in the match. This match was not short of those moments.
- The real victory of the four-way ladder match was the timing on display. All four men showed their superior skill in the ring via exceptionally timed moves and moments. Ladder matches tend to be full of mistimed and botched spots, but this one was not. The finish of this match showed just how great the timing between these four is.
- A.J. Styles is set to go on a late-series run. This is another triumph of this form of storytelling. Wrestlers can get hot towards the end of a series like any team fighting for their lives going into the playoffs. The series, while I mocked it a year ago, is really a great part of TNA's year.
- Austin Aries and Bobby Roode put on another great match on pay-per-view. The beginning of the match was really exciting with Aries attempting to finish the match early. The psychology in this match was fantastic. Roode and Aries have great chemistry and this match showed how that has developed in the ring.
- The clouded finish of Roode vs. Aries was actually pretty fun. It was well executed (the double pin) and it played out logically while still delivering a conclusion. It wasn't like many of the TNA main events of the last year where a tie resulted in the match being finished on Impact.
- If there was one finish that probably warrants a rematch, it was the Roode vs. Aries. It should be interesting to see what TNA does going forward with Aries as champion. It is unexpected, but not entirely unwarranted.
- Who could Austin Aries face at Bound for Glory? I'd love to see him up against A.J. Styles, but I don't know if that would draw the Bound for Glory buyrate TNA wants. Perhaps Kurt Angle could have a great match with Aries and put him over? I'd pay to see that.
Overall, this was another good TNA pay-per-view. It didn't light the world on fire, but it was a solid effort with more good matches than bad. The stories told also made sense. With the focus on the Bound for Glory Series, it lacked a ton of personal grudges, but the matches delivered as far as action went.
I think we can officially say that TNA pay-per-views are safe purchases at this point. Sacrifice was good. Slammiversary was great. Destination X was good. This show was good. That is four thumbs up shows in a row for TNA. Creatively, this company is doing great work.
Let's do some good old fashioned talking about this show! Feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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