A mere two weeks ago, TNA decided to drum up interest in their product by putting on a PPV entirely dedicated to the memory of a promotion that died nine years ago, but due to legal purposes, they couldn't exactly advertise the name of said promotion. Yep, I'm talking about Hardcore Justice, which featured the former stars of ECW. Back in the day, I was as big a fan of ECW as anyone else, but I really had no interest in watching this show at all. However, I was talking about it with my brother and Canon Review reader Ben, and he challenged me to watch the show and write up a review on the proceedings. Well, a challenge is a challenge, so without further adieu, here is TNA's Hardcore Justice. Justice for what, exactly? I'm not sure, but nevertheless.
We open with a montage of the ECW stars that will be here tonight, with voiceovers of the wrestlers explaining how important ECW was to them without actually mentioning ECW. Former ECW ring announcer Stephen Deangelis introduces Taz to start off the show. Taz says that over the past few years, there has been some haters of ECW, saying they were only about violence. He goes on to say that 'they' were the little engine that could and they did. Did what, exactly? Well, according to Taz ECW revolutionized the business, and that's a shoot. Taz then tells the haters to kiss his ass or something and the former Human Suplex Machine goes to join his partner Mike Tenay to call tonight's action. Nothing says hardcore wrestling more than Mike Tenay. Up first is a six man tag between the Full Blooded Italians (Tony Marmaluke nee Tony Luke, Guido Maritato, and Tracey Smothers w/ Sal E. Graziano) vs the team of Kid Kash, Simon Diamond, and Johnny Swinger. Unfortunately, the Musketeer does not accompany them to ringside. Sal E. has lost some weight over the years, not a lot, but some, and apparently he gave that weight to Simon Diamond. For some reason, the lights surrounding the ring are dark blue, making it very dark in the arena. The match starts with Guido and Kash exchanging holds, than Swinger and Luke get in and Swinger hits a sick backdrop driver on Luke. Both men tag out, to Smothers and Diamond respectively, and Smothers brawls with Diamond some before a jumping heel kick sends Diamond to the outside. Simon gets the mic and explains that "Simon has a problem". Well, you don't have to tell us twice. Simon blames Kid Kash for their troubles, and then challenges the FBI to a dance-off. Simon and Swinger display some of the worst dancing I have ever seen. Smothers gets on the mic and says that if the FBI can't do better than that than "everybody dies". OK then. The FBI bust some rather interesting dance moves before Simon and Swinger get tired of it and attack them from behind. Simon and Swinger go after Big Sal, but Sal clotheslines both men down to the mat. Everybody starts brawling on the outside, which allows Kid Kash to take everyone out with a suicide dive after the referee conveniently went to his knees so Kash can launch himself off his back. The match continues, and everybody starts to do their signature moves. After a minute or two, everybody gets in the ring to fight it out. Luke goes to the top rope, but Kash and Swinger catch him and set him up for the superplex. Guido and Smothers then come up behind Kash and Swinger and pick them up on their shoulders, resulting in a mega superplex for poor Tony Luke. Simon comes in and hits the Simon Series on Guido, but is clotheslined down by Smothers. Swinger gets back up and hits Smothers with the Skull Crushing Finale, but Luke catches Swinger with a missle dropkick. Kash hits the Moneymaker (double underhook piledriver) on Luke, which impresses both the crowd and the announcers. Guido kicks Kash in the gut, goes to the second rope and hits the Sicilian Slice on Kash. Simon goes to pick Guido up, but Guido goes behind and hits the Kiss of Death (Killswitch, Unprettier, etc) on Simon to get the three count. The match had its moments, but overall wasn't too good. I'll give it a 1.75 out of 5.
The announcers tell us that Jerry Lynn will not be able to wrestle Rob Van Dam in the main event, so instead we get RVD vs. Sabu. Well, that could be good or be a complete trainwreck. We then get some pre-taped comments from Tod Gordon, Gary Wolfe from his car, and the Blue Meanie. Wolfe threatens that we haven't seen the last of the legendary Pitbull #1, and all three express their gratitude to the fans for making this possible. Another video is shown, this time of TNA stars expressing their memories of ECW. AJ Styles talks about the Dremaer-Sandman Singapore Cane match from 1994, while Angelina Love exclaims that she didn't watch much ECW until 2000 because Canada didn't get ECW until then. That was worth it. To the back, where Al Snow tells Head not to mention those three letters or otherwise they'll get sued. Stevie Richards and Nova show up, and Al asks Nova where his scooter is. They're really shooting now. One half of the legendary Phi Delta Slam is there dressed up as the Blue Meanie, and he does a rather convincing impression. For reasons unknown, Lupus shows up, but is told by Nova that he couldn't get him on the card. I just wonder, how many people remember Lupus? Hopefully he got paid.
CW Anderson comes to the ring for the next match, and EVERYBODY HERE COMES 2 COLD SCORPIO!!!. Unfortunately, he does not come out to that theme. Anderson looks nearly the same as he did 10 years ago. The match starts and CW tries to ground Scorpio, but Scorp keeps escaping. Standoff, Scorpio offers his hand for CW to shake, but CW spits at the offer and starts pounding away at his opponent. Scorpio sends CW out of the ring with a dropkick, and then hits a nice looking corkscrew plancha outside the ring. Back inside, Scorpio keeps the advantage until a big-time superkick from CW changes the tide. CW covers, but only gets two. CW then does some Anderson style work on the arm, but Scorpio is able to escape with a superkick out of a hammerlock. The two exchange blows, but CW wins that with a loud right hand. That only gets 2. Some more blows are exchanged until Scorpio whips CW in and hits a somersault kick on Anderson in the corner. Scorpio is on the second rope, and hits a front flip legdrop, but only gets two. Scorpio goes back up and tries a moonsault, but CW gets the knees up. Anderson spinebuster only gets two. After some forearms, Anderson comes off the rope, but eats a superkick for his trouble. Scorpio sets Anderson up, climbs to the top rope and finishes him with a moonsault leg drop. Afterwards, the two end up shaking hands and Scorpio raises CW's arm for a well fought match. Short, but pretty good none the less. I'd say a 3.05 out of 5.
More ECW memories from TNA stars are shown. Madison Rayne says nothing of significance, Matt Morgan talks about attending an ECW show at a bar he was bouncing at, while Ken Anderson says something about ECW bringing a new edge to wrestling. To the back, where Rob Van Dam and Bill Alfonso talk about RVD's decision to wrestle Sabu tonight. Fonzie, as the manager of both men, promises to call it right down the middle. Justin Cre, I mean, P.J. Polaco comes out for the next match to take on Stevie Richards, who is accompanied by Nova and the Blue Tillie. Lupus, meanwhile, is left in the back. If Stevie can have an entourage, why can't the man formerly known as Justin Credible have one? Surely, Jason and Nicole Bass would have shown up if they had only asked. Oh well. The two start off by exchanging blows and chops. They go to the outside, where Polaco suplexes Richards on the mat. Polaco goes back in, only to dive back out with a plancha on Richards. Back in, Polaco has Richards trapped in the corner, and then powerbombs Richards out of the corner to get a two count. Running DDT by Polaco also gets a two count. Richards launches a comeback, which ends when he launches Polaco outside of the ring, with Polaco landing face first on the stairs. Polaco gets back in, and Stevie keeps the advantage with a side slam and a sit-down powerbomb, but only gets a two count. Polaco connects with a superkick, which nearly gets a three-count. Undaunted, Polaco sets up Richards for That's Incredible, and connects. Cover, but Polaco unwisely gets up to jaw with Nova on the ring apron. Polaco then goes to tell Richards his old catchphrase, but Richards reminds Polaco that he can't use that anymore by kicking his head off with the Stevie Kick. That gets the three count. Polaco does not take losing well, and canes Richards a few times before the arena somewhat darkens. When the lights come back on, relatively speaking, The Sandman is in the ring, and he shows Polaco how to use a Singapore Cane, leaving Polaco laying in the ring. Match was decent, but nothing special. I'd give it a 2.2 out of 5.
A video of Francine is shown, who explains that she'd rather spend time with her daughter than show up for this show to be piledriven by Tommy Dreamer again. She thanks the fans and the other ECW wrestlers for supporting her over the years. A screen is shown paying tribute to all of the wrestlers that have since passed that once competed in the Philadelphia-Based extreme promotion. Up next is a Three Way Dance between three wrestlers with a long history between each other, Al Snow, Brother Runt (Spike Dudley) and Rhino. The match starts with a double headlock on Snow and Runt. Rhino sets up Runt for the gore, but Snow trips Rhino up from outside the ring. Back in, Snow hits a backbreaker on Runt. Eventually, Rhino and Snow find their way to the outside of the ring. Runt tries to hit a plancha on both of his opponents, but is caught by Snow and Rhino and thrown back over their heads to the entrance ramp. Snow and Rhino trade some moves back inside the rings, including Al's infamous series of trapping headbutts. Backstage, some TNA wrestlers are watching the action on a monitor. Well good for them. Snow grabs his but missed Runt, allowing Rhino to back suplex Snow down. Double-foot stomp from Runt on Snow. Acid Drop attempted by Runt on Rhino, but Rhino throws him off easily. Rhino charges Runt in the corner, but gets a boot in the face and then a headscissors takedown for his efforts. Runt fires forearms at both of his opponents and tries for a double Acid Drop, but gets thrown outside of the ring instead. Snow inadvertently knocks the ref down, but takes advantage by nailing Rhino with his Head, so to speak. Runt comes back with a chair, and throws it to Snow and dives down on the canvas, leaving Snow with the smoking gun. Not to be outdone, Snow hits the canvas with a chair and goes down to the mat as well, leaving all three men down and the referee confused as to what just happened. The ref gets up and removes the chair, Snow tries to take advantage by using his Head, but he misses. Acid Drop from Runt on Snow gets the three and eliminates Snow. But Rhino is getting up, and gores Runt to the canvas to get the victory. Taz compares Rhino's gore to a Jack Lambert tackle, which kind of shows Taz's age but I appreciate the reference nonetheless. Well, at least this match was short. 1.2 out of 5.
To the back, where Mick Foley takes a break from reading Hulk Hogan's book (seriously) to tell why he's the perfect choice to officiate tonight's Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven match. Meanwhile, some guy named Brutus Magnus talks about ECW some, while Chris Sabin shares his memory of watching the Sabu vs. Terry Funk barbed wire match, which made him a big-time fan of ECW. Sabin also mentions that RVD was his favorite wrestler to the point where he called himself Josh Van Dam while backyard wrestling with his friends. I also did some backyard wrestling back in the day and ripped off an ECW personality to come up with my wrestling name, Jim E. Dangerously. I think my name is better than Josh Van Dam, but that might be because I'm a little biased. Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yes, here come Axl Rotten and Balls Ma, I mean, Kahoneys. Kahoneys looks as if he's been on a two year meth bender. In other words, he looks about the same as he did before minus a few pounds. Kahoneys Mahoney says that he and Axl were the most hardcore tag team in wrestling history, and they challenge anyone in the back to take them on. Could this be the return of Da Baldies? No, instead Team 3D comes out with Joel Gertner wearing a hideous faux mink coat. Gertner then proceeds to introduce himself as only he can:
Afterwards, Brother Ray gets on the mic and says these people don't want to see us have a wrestling match, why not have a South Philly street fight? In Orlando, FL. Sure, why not? The match is on, as Brother Devon squares off with Axl while Ray and Kahoneys duke it out. All four men exchange moves and eventually end up brawling in the crowd, where I can't tell what's going on because it's so dark. Back in the ring, and somebody brought a bunch of weapons into the ring. Kahoneys uses a cookie sheet on Ray. He tries a leg drop from the second rope but Ray moves out of the way. Brother Ray uses a teflon skillett to slow Kahoneys down. Axl gets the cookie sheet and slams it into Ray's head. Devon comes back in and he and Axl brawl to the outside. Kahoneys leaves the ring, and comes back with a toy lightsaber. The hell? Devon throws Ray a lightsaber as the crowd chants "Use the Force". The two duel with the lightsabers, and Kahoneys wins by 'stabbing' Brother Ray in the gut. Kahoneys does his trademark series of punches, but before he can cap it off, Bubba grabs the lightsaber and slams Kahoneys in his kahoneys. Axl comes in, and a few moves are exchanged before everybody leaves the ring and comes back with steel chairs. Chair duel takes place, and Axl and Balls actually win one, but can't get the three count. They argue with referee John Finnegan and whip him in the ropes, but Finnegan ducks the double clothesline and attempts a clothesline of his own. That doesn't go well, but Team 3D saves the day by slamming chairs into the heads of Balls and Axl. Team 3D then does the WAZZZUPPP headbutt, which I don't think they ever did in the original ECW, but who cares, and Ray asks Devon to get the tables. Devon fails to do his job properly and comes back with only one table, but luckily Gertner has some lighter fluid, so Team 3D makes do and sets the table on fire. Ray picks Kahoneys up, and the two powerbomb him through the flaming table and get the victory. Afterwards, Ray gets on the mic and proclaims Team 3D the best of all-time, which draws some dissenters with a cartful of weapons in the form of the Gangstas, Mustafa and New Jack. The Gangstas attack Team 3D with a variety of weapons, including a hockey stick, which causes Taz to say that New Jack was a big Clark Gilles fan. I think the number of people watching this that know who Clark Gilles is is probably less than 100. New Jack gets a guitar, Gertner tries to come in and gets blasted with the guitar for his efforts. The two teams face off in a staredown and then they all, HUG? Really? I know this is a tribute show in all, but that was a little much to take. The match was a bad imitation of the old ECW Dudley Boys-Balls and Axl matches, which had a lot more intensity than this. I'll give it a 0.8 out of 5.
A video is shown of Raven talking about his kayfabed relationship with Tommy Dreamer that supposedly goes back some 30 odd years. Raven claims that Dreamer stole his girl and his family, so by golly Raven's going to steal Dreamer's moment at Hardcore Justice and do to him psychically what Dreamer did to him emotionally. More TNA stars give their memories of ECW, as Jesse Neal talks about attending a show in Florida and feeling the energy and the vibe, which was so different than any other wrestling show, especially the UWF. Kazarian talks about getting in the ring with guys like Chris Candido and Jerry Lynn during his training under Killer Kowalski, and how TNA's X-Division was largely based off of the Jerry Lynn-Rob Van Dam series of matches. Another video is shown of the originals talking about Joey Styles' impact on the company. Mick Foley comes out first as the next match begins. Raven comes out and says something to Tommy's wife, the former Beulah McGillicutty, and her daughters. Also, TNA President Dixie Carter just happens to be sitting next to the Dreamers. Dreamer comes out, and Taz mentions that Tommy is wearing the same boots that he wore in his last match against Raven. Will the boots come into play? We will find out.
Foley gives some instructions but Raven doesn't want to hear them as he gives Dreamer a kick to the groin. To the outside, and Raven Russian Leg Sweeps Tommy into the guardrail. Back to the ring, Raven sets up a chair in the corner, but that backfires as Tommy whips him into the chair and sends Raven back outside the ring. Tommy gets a soda and spits it in Raven's face, stealing Carlito's gimmick in the process. Back inside the ring, Tommy sets up two chairs, but that backfires as Raven does his patented drop-toe-hold into the chair on Dreamer, only this time he used two chairs. To the outside, and Dreamer takes a chairshot right to the head in front of his family. Dreamer's busted open, and the kids are taken by a staff member to the back. Back inside, and Raven sets up a chair, but this time it is Dreamer that does the drop-toe-hold instead to chair on Raven. A 'fan' has a sign that says, "Use This, Tommy" and Dreamer does, cracking Raven on the skull. Dreamer rips the tape off to reveal that the sign is actually a DEAD END sign. Now Raven is bleeding from the head. Dreamer gets a ladder and sets it in the corner across the second rope, than catapults Raven throat first into the ladder. Ouch. Dreamer sets Raven up on the top turnbuckle and stands on the ladder, but Raven counters, and crotches Dreamer across one of the ladder in a move that every man watching felt. Raven goes for the Evenflow DDT, but it is countered into a Spicoli Driver, which nearly puts Raven away. Undaunted, Dreamer hangs Raven in the tree of woe, puts the sign over his face, than does a sliding dropkick into the sign. These two are pulling out all the stops tonight. Dreamer goes under the ring for something, and comes up with a string of barbed wire. Dreamer uses the barbed wire and puts Raven in a crossface with the wire over his mouth! Just as Raven is about to give up, Nova and the Blue Tillie come in and take out Mick Foley for a few seconds, than attack Dreamer. Nova hits a Flatliner while Blue Tillie goes for a splash, but misses. Dreamer takes out both men with a DDT-neckbreaker combo. However, he left himself open for Raven, who kicks Dreamer in the gut and Evenflows him down to the mat. Cover, but Dreamer just barely kicked out in time. That leads to Foley and Raven arguing, and Foley finally snaps and punches Raven a few times before pulling out his patented sock and stuffing it down Raven's gullett. Lupus is here! He legdrops Dreamer from the top rope. This does not please Foley, as he wraps the barbed wire around his sock clad hand and delivers a mandiable claw to poor Lupus. That cannot feel good, even if it is somewhat gimmicked. Lupus leaves with blood pouring out of his mouth. Raven finds some handcuffs and uses them to tie Dreamer's hands behind his back. Uh oh, Raven's got a chair. Foley tells him to reconsider, but Raven blasts Dreamer in the back with a chair. That brings out Beulah Dreamer, who tries to convince her one-time beau (at least in the storyline) to show mercy. Raven hugs Beulah, but hits Dreamer with the chair anyway. Raven goes after Mrs. Dreamer with the chair, but thankfully Foley puts the kibosh to that. No good deed goes unpunished, as Mick takes a chair to the back. Raven goes back to stalking Dreamer and Beulah, but Beulah hits a low blow, and Dreamer gets up and somehow DDTs Raven while handcuffed. Cover, but Raven just gets out at three. Raven kicks Dreamer in his bum knee, and then Evenflows him head first into the chair. Foley reluctantly counts three and Raven has defeated Tommy Dreamer once again. This was probably the closest thing to an ECW match this show has had so far. Even though there were some slow points, I actually quite liked this match, so I'll give it a 3.6 out of 5.
To the back where Jeremy Borash and So Cal Val are plugging the website when the Gangstas appear. New Jack informs So Cal Val that "once you go black, you get bad credit" and Mustafa leaves with Val. New Jack then casually informs JB that he is now 'his bitch'. Well, what a charming segment that was. Our last video package of the day shows the originals talking about the impact Paul Heyman had on their careers. Rob Van Dam comes out to his crappy TNA Theme. The fans seem to enjoy it, but personally I prefer this version instead. Bill Alfonso comes out with RVD, but runs to the ramp in order to accompany Sabu to the ring. Wow, he really does call it right down the middle. Sabu is now completely bald, which actually makes him look more menacing than before, but it was a shock to see at first. The match starts with RVD stalling Larry Zbyszko style. The two exchange a hold or two, break it up, then one of the two point either in the air or at themselves. Finally, Alfonso throws a chair in the ring, which Sabu uses to throw in Van Dam's face. Van Dam ends up in the crowd. Sabu sets the chair up and does a triple jump plancha over the guardrail onto Van Dam. Back in the ring, Sabu slows Van Dam down with a half camel-clutch. Sabu whips Van Dam into the corner and sets up the chair, but Van Dam is able to kick the chair into Sabu's legs, stopping his momentum. RVD with a monkey flip into the chair, than he picks up the chair and throws it at Sabu. That gets a two count. RVD whips Sabu into the corner, but Sabu counters with a clothesline. Sabu whips RVD into another corner, they both try to springboard kick each other but end up colliding in mid air. Both men are down, and Alfonso comes in to give Sabu a bottle of water. He also presents Van Dam with a bottle, and the two take a break as the fans chant "Water Break". These TNA fans spent the entire freaking show coming up with stupid chants, to the point where I can still hear them in my head. If somebody came out eating Fig Newtons, those fans would probably chant "FIIIG NEEW-TONS", but I digress.
After the impromptu water break, both men go to opposite sides outside the ring and dig up a table. Van Dam catches up to Sabu and catches him with a kick off the apron. Van Dam sets up Sabu on the guardrail and delivers a corkscrew legdrop from the apron. The carnage continues as Van Dam sets up Sabu on the apron, sets a chair onto Sabu's throat, and hits a slingshot legdrop on the chair. Van Dam goes to the top rope, but Sabu throws a chair into his face, crotching Van Dam. Sabu with a nice huracanrana that sends Van Dam flying onto the chair. Arabian Facebuster gets a two count for Sabu. Sabu goes to make him humble with the Camel Clutch. Sabu attempts a triple-jump moonsault, but Van Dam throws another chair into Sabu's face. Sabu is crotched on the top rope. Alfonso comes in to hold a chair in front of Sabu and RVD kicks it in Sabu's face, which Taz calls the Van Assasinator. Split-Legged moonsault from RVD, but Sabu kicks out. RVD sets up a table, and Sabu once again throws a chair into Van Dam, once in his back and once in his face. Van Dam catches Sabu with a kick, sets up a chair on him, and hits Rolling Thunder, hurting both Sabu and himself in the process. Cover, that gets a two count. Sabu's down in the corner, allowing Van Dam to dropkick a chair into his face for another two count. A series of reversals ends when Sabu delivers a nice springboard off the ropes into a tornado DDT on a chair. Arabian Facebuster from the second rope by Sabu, once again drawing a two count. Sabu sets up RVD on a table, and tries for the top rope Arabian Facebuster again, but Van Dam moves and Sabu goes through the table instead. Five-Star Frog Splash on Sabu, and RVD gets the victory. After the match, Sabu and RVD hug and Sabu lifts' RVD's arm up in the air. All the ECW guys come out with beers, and Dreamer offers his thanks to the fans, to the wrestlers, to Atlas Security and TNA President Dixie Carter, who is brought into the ring by Brother Ray. Dreamer says that this was "one hell of an F'n PPV". Well, I'm glad he liked it at least. As for the match, it took a while to get going, but at least they hit all of their spots. Still, it kind of lacked a certain something. I'll give it a 2.5 out of 5.
Overall, this show wasn't quite as bad as I feared it would be. There were two or three solid matches, mixed in with a couple of matches that I could have done without. This show wasn't as good as the first One Night Stand in 2005, but it wasn't too bad of a show. Even the announcing of Mike Tenay wasn't too annoying, although I wish the fans would stop chanting and actually react to what's happening in the ring. Overall, I'd give it a 5.7 out of 10. Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this post or ideas for future posts, than send them this way either by commenting or by e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com.