WWE Superstar and former member of the Shield
The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
My Hard Justice Report & Analysis!
The Kingfish Arnie Katz looks at every facet of TNA’s Hard Justice, from Orlando, FL.
Hard Justice, like many TNA pay per view events before it, suffered from a fairly severe problem. While a lot of the ring work gave the fans excellent action, many of the matches seemed pointless. Hard Justice match by match to see what happened and analyze the Meaning of It All..
Or, in the case of the Knockout Championship contest, downright stupid.
The company’s modest ratings gains of recent months will melt away like snow in the Sahara if they don’t do something to make more of the matches compelling.
Let’s look at
The pre-show was a clip-fest that ran down all the matches on the card, though with very little emphasis on the two Knockout Division contests.
The video support for the main event came across like a coronation of Marr Morgan,
The Kingfish comments: It’s another TNA Mystery: Why did they push Morgan so hard when they had no intention of giving him the title? A Morgan win would’ve been huge after this level of hype (and minus the interactions between Morgan and Angle on this show prior to the actual match.
This half-hour desperately needs an upgrade. TNA seemed on the right track, but it has reverted to this format as of last month.
The opening of Hard Justice against spotlighted Morgan, with everything else subordinated to extolling his power and overall excellence.
The Kingfish comments: Lacking inside knowledge, I can only speculate that Matt Morgan might’ve been scheduled to win the title when they figured out all the graphics. While some may have expected the promotion to shy away from Kurt Angle, it is quite possible that the finish was meant to show organizational support for the embattled former Olympian.
Daniels d. Suicide & Chris Sabin & Amazing Red &. Alex Shelley & Jay Lethal & Consequences Creed
Steel Asylum Match
The Story: The first man who can climb out the top of the funnel wins a shot at the X Division champion, probably at Bound for Glory.
My Prediction: Noting that both Suicide and Daniels are scheduled, it could mean that Kaz is ready to don the hood again. If so, he is going to win. If either Suicide or Daniels fails to appear for the match, then it would probably be one of the heels who gets the title match.
Predicted Grade: A-
The Actual Match: Despite conflicting pre-show reports, D’Angelo Dinero competed in the match.
This terrific action match featured many eye-popping sequences. There were a couple of early, half-hearted attempts to scamper up the walls of the Asylum, but the action stayed close to the canvas and gradually moved up toward the exit of the oddly shaped cage.
Dinero did some good fighting in his debut, working well against Daniels. This could certainly be a feud in the making.
Daniels, with the Pope in hot pursuit, finally went up the wall and out the top to become the number-one contender for the X Division Championship.
Actual Grade: A
The Kingfish comments: What a great start for the show! It’s hard for an individual to distinguish himself in this type of match, but at least it was fast-paced and revved up the crowd.
D’Angelo Dinero could well be an opponent for Daniels when/if Daniels takes the belt from Samoa Joe at No Surrender.
Matt Morgan, in an interview with Lauren, appeared to disavow his desire to get into the Main Event Mafia.
The Kingfish comments: Abyss d. Jethro Holliday
The Story: Dr. Stevie has transformed from Abyss’ therapist into his worst enemy. After Abyss thrashed him at Victory Road, the mad medico offered a huge bounty to anyone who could destroy the masked man. Several wrestlers have tried to claim the reward in out-of-ring attacks, but this time Abyss will meet his doe head-on in the ring.
My Prediction: Since it would make no sense for this bottom-of-the-card guy to destroy Abyss, we can only hope that this match is merely an excuse for a wild scene in which Dr. Stevie and Daffney come to the ring and cause trouble for Chris Park.
If I had the booking authority, Abyss would wipe the floor with Jethro Holliday and would be well on his way to doing the same to Dr. Stevie when another wrestler hits the ring and tries to collect the bounty. An embarrassed and humiliated Abyss would then hook up with the man who blitzed him for a showdown at Bound for Glory.
Predicted Grade: C
The Actual Match: Abyss dominated the match, both in and out of the ring. Holiday got in some offense during a ringside brawl, but the match never seemed in doubt.
Abyss beat Holiday to the mat and got a chair. Dr. Stevie slipped Holiday brass knuckles. The Outlaw used them to good advantage against the larger man.
Dr. Stevie distracted Abyss long enough for Holiday to connect with a Bulldog, but the Masked Monsters kicked free in plenty of time.
Jethro Holiday brandished the brass knuckles as he charged at Abyss, The big man caught his foe on the run and Black Hole Slammed him to defeat!
After the match, Dr. Stevie berated Jethro Holiday. The Outlaw eventually got tired of it and decked the big-mouth medico.
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish comments: This match exceeded expectations, because Holiday is better than expected. Still, this was a mistake. It should’ve been on an episode of iMPACT, if that.
Kurt Angle told Jeremy Borash that he wasn’t especially worried about Matt Morgan, whom he characterized as young and inexperienced. He repeated that Morgan had a chance to join the MEM.
Hernandez d. Rob Terry
Battle for the Briefcase
The Story: Things looked so promising for LAX when both Hernandez and Homicide won “Feast or Fired” briefcases, but both men have traveled a rocky road since then. Super Mex returned a couple of weeks ago after recuperating from an injury and immediately established himself as a prime contender for the heavyweight title. The only problem is that the British Invasion filched the briefcase! This match is about who has the right to keep the case and the title match it represents.
My Prediction: I’m uneasy about predicting this match, because it looks so cut and dried that Hernandez must win. The British Invasion has other commitments for the evening, so they aren’t likely to interfere, which leaves… what? Look for Super Mex to show he can handle a big guy like Rob Terry as a prelude to a confrontation with someone like Matt Morgan
Predicted Grade: B-
The Actual Match: Hernandez took the mic before the bell to proclaim the iMPACT Zone was his house and that the fans are his family.
Hernandez said that Rob Terry could either give him the case or he would take it, even if he had to fight all three members of the British Invasion. Terry and his mates charged the ring, but Hernandez handled all three with surprising ease.
Super Mex Shoulder Blocked Terry, fell on him and won the match and the briefcase.
Actual Grade: C
The Kingfish comments: This match sure let the air out of the arena, even though Hernandez is over strongly with the fans. The poor reaction resulted from one simple thing: no one cared about this match.
On top of that, Terry is so green.
It boosts Hernandez to have him manhandle the entire British Invasion, but it doesn’t exactly enhance their status. When three men attack one, the edge should eventually go to the three.
James Storm said that, though no one had “derailed” Beer Money, they planned to get back their edge.
The Kingfish comments: It looks like Beer Money will veer toward the heel side of the ledger for their inevitable showdown with Team 3D.
British Invasion vs. Beer Money
IWGP Tag Team Championship
The Story: The only thing scarier than Beer Money is Beer Money with a serious grudge and a chance to take home some gold. The British Invasion took the title with low tactics; who knows what they might have to do to keep it against Storm and Roode.
My Prediction: I must echo Jay Shannon’s comment in his Hard Justice column – which you should read here on OWW – when he says that the New Japan angle is likely to be decision. Reportedly, New Japan isn’t happy about the British Invasion holding the IWGP tag belts.
It’s a complex issue that largely depends on what TNA and New Japan work out behind the scenes. If Beer Money is acceptable, they can win the match and the title. Then Beer Money would face Team 3D with both tag team titles on the line (since I predict Ray and Devon will take the TNA belts from Booker and Steiner.)
If Beer Money is not acceptable to New Japan, even on an interim basis, then this match will end with the titles held up. These two teams, plus Steiner/Booker and Team 3D will have a four-way for both tag team titles at Bound for Glory. My pick is Beer Money for the win and the title.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Actual Match: Eric Young, looking dapper in a suit, joined Mike Tenay and Don West at the announce table.
Beer Money’s best move came when Storm fired Roode over the top rope in a Suicide Dive that took out the British Invasion.
Later n the match, the British Invasion did a great job of keeping James Storm at their mercy, sometimes just inches from a life-saving tag. When Roode finally got into the ring, he made both of the champs pay. He almost pinned Brutus Magnus, but Doug Williams saved his teammate.
Eric Young slide the belts into the ring and, after some furious action, the Brits rolled up Storm after a low blow for the win to retain the IWGP championship.
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish comments: This was a pretty decent match, marred by a poorly booked finish.
It certainly was a surprise to see the British Invasion win after the stories about New Japan’s dissatisfaction, but things are often not what they seem in the world of professional wrestling.
Fear of sexual harassment seemed to be Cody Deaner’s biggest worry in a short interview with Lauren.
ODB & Cody Deaner d. Angelina Love & Velvet Sky
The Story: Cody Deener stole a kiss from Angelina Love, who now plans to knock out his teeth. He’ll be in the ring as an official participant in a match that could cost Love her title if the decision goes against her.
My Prediction: My lack of admiration for the booking that caused this match is boundless. “asinine” is the word that comes quickest to mind. It would be bad as a simple grudge match; as a title bout, it’s hard to accept. Wouldn’t you like to see Cody enter the ring in one of those red tee-shirts from Star Trek? I predict that it would be an appropriate , because the likely finish will see the champion pin the guy who forcibly took a kiss.
Predicted Grade: C+
The Actual Match: When Deener got a hot tag, he spent most of his time in the ring trying to kiss first Velvet Sky and then Angelina Love,
Angelina Love tried to force Cody Deaner in range of Madison Rayne’s spray can. Deaner ducked, Love took the blast full in the eyes and Deaner pinned her to become the Knockout Champion.
Actual Grade: D
The Kingfish comments: The only thing worse than a bad idea is a bad idea implemented badly. This match should never have taken place on a pay per view and it was absurd to put up the title under any circumstances.
TNA claims to be pumping life into the Knockout Division and this is definitely not the way to make it more relevant to the fans.
Angelina Love is evidently going to feud with Rayne.
Taz, in an interview, said Samoa Joe was “primed, pumped and ready.”
Homicide vs. Samoa Joe (with Taz)
The Story: Samoa Joe has a new mentor, but he seems even less helpful than the last one. After a shocking defeat, Samoa Joe has turned his attention to what may look like an easy target, the much smaller Homicide. The champion’s athleticism and speed may make it hard for Samoa Joe to capitalize on his strength and sheer aggressiveness.
My Prediction: The fact that Joe lost his first match, an upset, under the guidance of Taz suggests that this is no simple storyline. It could be awkward if Samoa Joe won the X Division strap, so his loss will have to be a DQ or COR. My prediction is that Taz will exhort Joe to greater and greater violence that will cause the referee to give the match to Homicide. That way, Joe looks strong, but Homicide keeps the title. It is also possible that they will do the generic thing and have Taz interfere to give Joe the title so that he can lose it to AJ Styles or Suicide at the next pay per view.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Actual Match: Joe started strong, survived a couple of near falls and just kept pounding away at the champion. Homicide’s speed and elusiveness helped, but the Submission Machine wore him down and, finally, took him out.
Homicide couldn’t quite execute the Gringo Killer. Joe applied the Katrina Clutch and that was the end. Samoa Joe is the new X Division Champion.
Actual Grade: A-
The Kingfish comments: I thought that TNA night let Homicide hang onto the title as part of a storyline, but Taz’s impending switch to announcer probably changed those plans, if they existed in the first place.
Jeremy Borash trailed Kurt Angle as he went to see Matt Morgan. Though initially dismissive, the Blueprint more or less agreed that he and Kurt would work against Sting and that, if either of them won, Morgan could join the Main Event Mafia.
The Kingfish comments: This is a terribly misguided idea. Matt Morgan’s flirtation with the Main Event Mafia was slightly interesting at first, but now it just seems to be in the way of developing genuine drama. We can all see where it’s going 00 and it’s not taking a very intriguing route to the inevitable destination.
Booker T & Scott Steiner vs. Team 3D
TNA World Tag Team Championship
The Story: The past and present collide in the ring as today’s top tag team, Team 3D, tries to take back the title from men who have held many such belts in the past.
My Prediction: Team 3D will defeat Scott Steiner and Booker T, despite outside interference.
Predicted Grade: B+-
The Actual Match: Sharmell accompanied the champions to the ring.
The match is now billed as “Falls Count Anywhere” and “No DQ.” Two referees, Earl Hebner and Slick Johnson, were assigned to the match.
The champions didn’t seem very excited about the match at the opening bell. In fact, they tried to stroll out of the arena! Earl Hebner blocked their path on the ramp long enough for Team 3D to catch up to them and really begin this tag team brawl.
The net effect of the stipulations is that all four men brawled in and out of the ring. Split-screen camera tried to follow all the action, but it was impossible for the announcers to keep track of what Steiner and Ray were doing in one part of the arena and Booker T and Devon were doing in another.
After Team 3D combined for a Wassup on Steiner, but it was Ray who went through the table.
In the general confusion, Brother Ray let Scott Steiner sneak up behind him and execute a roll up and small package cover. At the same time, Devon was pinning Booker
The two officials looked at the video tape and declared Steiner and Booker the winners.
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish comments: If they’re going to book something as hokey as this simultaneous pin finish, shouldn’t they try to use it is some way> This could’ve either been used to hold up the title or to embroil Slick Johnson in another suspicious verdict, but the creative committee didn’t get very creative.
TNA has dropped the ball with Slick Johnson. His cheating at the previous pay per view had no repercussions at all!
Mick Foley said that he and Kevin Nash wanted the Legends Championship, but for two different reasons. Mick said that Nash wanted it so he could make more money at ComicCon, while he desired the belt out of sheer pride in his craft as a wrestler.
Kevin Nash d. Mick Foley
The Story: Mick Foley seemed a little lost when he dropped the belt to Kurt Angle, but winning the Legends Championship has breathed new life into the Hardcore Icon. Kevin Nash is out to not only take the championship, but maim Foley in the process.
My Prediction: My heart says Mick Foley will win, but my head says that the World Elite will assault the ring and help Nash take the title. Their interference could also get Big Sexxy disqualified, but it would be better for the show if he won the belt now and lost it in another rematch in a cage at Bound for Glory.
Predicted Grade: B
The Actual Match: After an extended stalemate, Foley backed Nash into the corner and pummeled him with a two-fisted attack. / Nash turned the tables with well-placed knees and then Bull Rushed him clear out of the ring!
Mick revived when Nash missed a Chairshot. The Hardcore Icon got control of the weapon and he didn’t miss!
Foley stayed in charge until his attempted Elbow Drop missed. Nash got the chair up and it somehow bloodied Foley’s right eye! The red stuff flowed and Foley soon had Nash dripping red from a big gash in his forehead!
Blood streamed down the whole side of Foley’s face as he dared Nash to come after him. He tore into Nash with fists of fury and soon had him flat on the mat. Foley targeted Nash’s gaping wound with lethal shots.
Mick Foley got a barb wire bat, which drew Traci Brooks to the ring apron. Nash kicked Foley in the head. That sent him careening into Brooks. Mick went down and Nash covered for the pin/
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish comments: The notch was bloody and brutal, which will be enough to please fans who didn’t notice that it was also slow, awkward and nearly devoid of anything resembling a high spot.
After the match, Kevin Nash bopped Foley over the head with the barb wire bat! Abyss, toting one of his own, rushed into the ring to protect Foley.
The Kingfish comments: I guess we’re going to see Abyss-Nash at No Surrender.
Sting told Lauren that you can only trust one person: yourself. “Honor, dignity and respect will come back,” Sting vowed.
Kurt Angle vs. Sting vs. Matt Morgan
TNA World Championship
The Story: The Sting-Angle feud has become the hottest one in TNA. They can’t focus only on each other, because Matt Morgan is a powerful wild card in this three-way rumble for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
My Prediction: With the heroic giant Hernandez gaining a title shot, the most exciting contest would be against the even bigger Matt Morgan. I see Sting and Angle fighting each other to a stalemate and Morgan busting through with a Hellavator.
Predicted Grade: A-
Actual Match: After numerous videos and some bullet points, the combatants assembled in the ring. Jeremy Borash, as always, did a solid job as the ring announcer.
Angle and Morgan combined against Sting until Angle missed a corner charge and fell out of the ring. The Icon went right at Morgan, despite the other’s size advantage, and battered him with a variety of strikes.
The two-against-one took a lot out of Sting. Kurt rocked Sting with the Olympic Slam, but the Painted One booted him across the ring when Angle tried for the Anklelock.
Friction began to mount between Angle and Morgan. They shoved each other and, when Morgan turned away, Kurt hit from behind. Morgan had several chances to pin Sting and would’ve won if the referee wasn’t busy attending to a seemingly injured Kurt Angle outside the ring.
Angle clobbered Morgan with a chair and pinned him.
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish comments: The bad booking sabotaged this match. Now Morgan will probably rebel against the Main Event Mafia, but he could’ve done that on this card, won the match and really given the fans a hero to love.
Predicted grade for Hard Justice: B-
Actual grade for Hard Justice: B-
This was a very disappointing show. It certainly had its moments, but not enough of them. In addition, the major matches mostly didn’t deliver the level of match that fans expect from a pay per view.
That’s all for today. The Kingfish’s computer is back in fighting trim and I will be back tomorrow with another installment of the internet’s fastest-rising pro wrestling column.
Join me if you can and, please, bring along your friends.
— Arnie Katz