The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
Hard Justice Recap & Analysis
The Kingfish Arnie Katz tells you what happened at the per view in Trenton, NJ, and offers his opinion and observations about many aspects of the event..
The pre-show featured the usual assort of fine TNA videos run into the ground by being shown three times in a half hour. Even my short-term memory isn’t that bad!
The Kingfish Comments: The pre-show continues to be unworthy of TNA. Granted the videos are good, even if the pseudo-Medieval speeches get old when overused, but the half-hour cries out for a host to pull it all together. Not rerunning the videos three times each – and then again on the pay per view – wouldn’t hurt, either.
The pre-show featured a song by Filthy with Grandmaster Cas with special words that applied to Hard Justice, plus a lot of other words that didn’t. The rest of it was the usual self-referential (and self-reverential) stuff/
Lauren intercepted Sting in the parking lot and asked him to comment on the controversy that swirls around him. The Icon, who wasn’t in costume, greeted all her questions with silent and just kept walking.
Filthy with Grandmaster Cas and Melly Mel did the Hard Justice song live. They promenaded down the aisle and capered around the ring.
Mike Tenay and Don West reviewed the matches on the card.
The Kingfish Comments: It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great, either. Maybe next year, they could try some hard rock for Hard Justice?
“Maple Leaf Muscle” Petey Williams vs. Consequences Creed
The Story: Consequences Creed is on a roll and has plenty of fan support for this match, especially after he beat Williams in a non-title contest.
My Prediction: The announcers will gush about Creed, but it’ll be Petey Williams whose hand is raised in victory. Consequences Creed is a potentially valuable talent, but he probably needs to work lower on the card to perfect his game. Winning the X Division belt might be premature.
Predicted Grade: A-
The Actual Match: Consequences Creed hoisted Petey Williams onto his shoulders. Before he could work a maneuver, though, Williams somehow Armdragged the challenger to the mat! He went for the Canadian Destroyer, but Creed blocked it!
Creed, on a big run, launched an out-of-ring Dive, He appeared to hit his head on the edge of the ring as he came in for a landing. That seemed to change the direction of the match as the X Division Champion got a chance to capitalize on the situation.
Williams hit Creed with a Baseball Slide. He went back into the ring and came over the top with a Flying Huracanrana!
Williams raked Creed’s eyes, but the man in red, white and blue somehow landed a Superkick! Creed won an exchange of punches at center-ring. Petey hit a Lariat, but Creed responded with one of his own!
Williams catapulted over the top rope into the ring and immediately connected with a Russian Legsweep. Creed broke up the attempted Canadian Destroyer. Williams turned Creed’s attempted military press into a Sharpshooter, but the challenger finally reached the safety of the ropes.
Peteyt Williams dealt Creed a couple of vicious chops. Consequences told him to do it again and seemed to feed off the pain! Williams hit a Clothesline, but every blow seemed to strengthen Creed!
Creed connected with a Belly-to-Back Suplex with a release! He scored with the Creed-D-T, but Williams raised his shoulder off the mat before Slick Johnson could count a winning cover.
Rhaka Khan got into the ring and advanced on Creed, who put her on his shoulders and delivered his version of the Falllaway Slam.
Sheik Abdul Bashir came down to the ring and clobbered Consequences Creed from behind with a trash can lid! Williams hit the Canadian Destroyer to finish the match,
After the match, Bashir forced the camera man into the ring to get a close-up of Creed lying prone on the canvas in his patriotic outfit. Bashir used the opportunity to disparage the United States.
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish Comments: The finish, while not ideal for the match, introduced Bashir as an active participant. He and Creed make natural enemies, though I fear the Babyface will come out second-best when they clash.
When Jeremy Borash asked Samoa Joe if Sting had distracted him, the champion said he was “tired of the hocus-pocus, tired of the light show.”
Kevin Nash warned Joe that he needed to concentrate on Booker T. Big Sexxy promised that Sting wouldn’t come down from the rafters during the title match.
“Tonight, you will learn that I am pro wrestling,” Samoa Joe promised.
A long and detailed video chronicled the hostilities that criss-cross between the two, three-woman teams about to meet in the ring.
Taylor Wilde, Gail Kim & ODB vs. The Beautiful People (Velvet Sky & Angelina Love) & Awesome Kong
Six-Knockout Tag Team Match
The Story: The Beautiful People have had a long-running feud with Kim and ODB – and they don’t care for Taylor Wilde, either. Angelina Love in particular harbors no love for the diminutive Wilde. Not only does Awesome Kong have an established feud with both Gail Kim and ODB, but she is stalking Taylor Wilde to reclaim her title.
My Prediction: Bad booking has pretty much sabotaged the Knockout Division, which was so hot a few months ago. This is exactly the kind of match that is responsible. It’ll be fast and have good things in it, but it doesn’t mean anything.
And precisely because it is meaningless, it is very hard to predict a winner. The smart thing to do is work toward Awesome Kong versus Taylor Wilde (and maybe The Beautiful People versus ODB & Gail Kim in a cage) If that’s the direction, then Awesome Kong should give Taylor Wilde an Awesome Bomb and cover for the pin.
Predicted Grade: B
The Actual Match: Traci Brooks was the special guest referee.
After a lot of posturing and jiggling, Velvet Sky replaced Angelina Love in the ring to start against ODB. She sprayed a cloud of perfume around OBD before proceeding to the match,
When Awesome Kong got into the ring, it seemed like neither Taylor Wilde nor Gail Kim could make any headway. ODB did a little better, but finally got on the wrong end of an Awesome Kong Clothesline. The babyfaces combined forces to heave Kong over the top rope, which gave them a needed breather.
When Saeed grabbed ODB from behind, it led to an argument between Kong’s mysterious manager and the referee in the ringside area. Things got out of hand in the ring while Brooks remonstrated with Saeed. Awesome Kong pretty much had her way with Wilde and Kim.
OFB spit in Kong’s face, but she paid dearly. The former champ fired her into the corner where the Beautiful People worked her over without mercy. Sky applied her Octopus to ODB and bit her hand for good measure! The hard-living wrestler backed her tormenter into the turnbuckle to get rid of Velvet.
Angelina Love snapped Gail Kim’s neck on the top rope – and then booted her all the way to the outer guardrail! Love got her back inside the ropes and added an Elbow Drop. The cover didn’t work.
Love beat Kim on the mat and wouldn’t listen to Traci Brook’s instruction., The two argued and words turned to shoves. Taylor scored with a Tilt-a-Whirl Backbreaker, but Kong kept Love from getting pinned!
Angelina Love tried to Chokeslam Taylor Wilde. The champion used leverage to turn it into a Small Package roll-up for the pin and the win!
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish Comments: The match was fun to watch, but it didn’t mean much. TNA has dropped the ball when it comes to the Knockout Division and it’s pointless matches like this that are responsible for the decline of fan interest. This is the type of match that should’ve aired on iMPACT as a lead up to Wilde-Kong and the Beautiful People versus ODB and Gail Kim at the pay per view. Instead, those matches won’t occur until the next PPV, if then.
When Lauren tried to interview Team 3D, she had to first tell Devon to stop groping her butt. Brother Ray said that Devon now needed to wash his hand.
They went in search of Sting. Lauren discovered that Brother Ray has a fear of heights. Ray talked into the darkness in hopes that Sting would hear his words. He fawned all over the Icon and said that if Sting wanted to “swoop down” during Team 3D’smatch, that would be very welcome.
Brother Ray claimed that Devon is afraid of the dark.
The Kingfish Comments: Why not tell us that they have the ability to fly? It’s true they’ve never manifested that ability or even referred to it before this, but isn’t that what they did in this scene with Brother Ray and Devon’s phobias?
Beer Money d. LAX
TNA World Tag Team Title Match
The Story: Now the feud is really personal. Beer Money powered Homicide through the glass table on the iMPACT before the PPV and the LAX member may be too injured to even compete. The two teams were already on a collision course. Now they’re out for blood!
My Prediction: The glass table stunt sure sounds like an excuse for LAX to drop the title. Giving Beer Money the belts is a smart move at this juncture, since heroes always work best when they are the challengers and Beer Money needs the prestige of a championship run.
Predicted Grade: B
The Actual Match: After Mike Tenay reviewed the “Tag Lines” and then LAX came out with Hector Guerrero and Salinas. Filthy came to the ring, too, singing the LAX theme song.
The Kingfish Comments: The Trenton crowd didn’t seem too impressed by Filthy. They responded half-heartedly to his exhortations to shout “LAX!”
Homicide had a bandage next to his eye and the announcers sold the injury very heavily.
LAX didn’t wait for the bell and the two teams clashed violently in the ringside area.
When the bell finally range, Homicide insisted on starting against Robert Roode. Hernandez got into the ring, too, for some very effective double teaming. When Storm entered, they double-teamed him, too. They hit a Clothesline right into a Spinning Neckbreaker!
Hernandez displayed his strength by putting Roode into a Delay Suplex that must’ve lasted at least 30 seconds.
Storm got out of the way of Homicide’s Baseball Slide. He was mentally congratulating himself when Homicide came over the top and splattered him and Roode on the arena floor!
Homicide made a tactical error at this point in the match. With the Tennessee Cowboy helpless against him in the ring, he put off the pin in favor of doling out more punishment. Jacqueline spit beer in his eye, which reversed the direction of the match.
Storm executed a Snap Mare and Roode followed up with a Neck Snapper. Roode ripped the bandage off Homicide’s eye while Roode worked on him from the ringside area! After several chops, Roode hit a Tilt-a-Whirl Backbreaker, but the cover fell a single count short of the mark.
Roode Leg Tripped Homicide back to the mat, where he pummeled him. Storm hung Homicide’s feet over the top rope and drove him into the canvas with a DDT! Still, Beer Honey couldn’t convert all that offense into a pin.
Roode pulled off three Suplexes in rapid succession and gestured defiantly at the crowd. Homicide rolled out of the way of an attempted Splash. Hernandez roared into the ring and laid waste to both heels. It looked like Hernandez had Storm pinned, but Roode rallied just in time to stop the count.
Hernandez survived an Enzuiguiri. He retaliated with a Wingspread Short-arm Clothesline that leveled both members of Beer Money. Homicide got the tag and entered with a Dropkick from the top turnbuckle that nailed both of his foes! Still, LAX couldn’t get anyone to stay down for the three-count.
After LAX had run Beer Money out of the ring, Hernandez turned Homicide into a human missile and Border Tossed him over the top rope to destroy Roode and Storm!
Roode low-bridged Hernandez, who fell out of the ring. Salinas and Miss Jacqueline ripped into each other in the ringside area! Andrew Thomas was doing his best to keep things orderly, but too many fires blazed all at once!
Roode missed the Last Call. Homicide tries for the Gringo Killer. Roode smashed a beer bottle right into Homicide’s wound and Storm scored the pin to give Beer Money the World Tag Team Championship!
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish Comments: Veer Money gets the title on a tainted victory, which gives LAX a couple of good excuses the challenge the new champions in the coming month or so.
Kevin Nash went into the upper reaches of the arena to talk to Sting. He asked the Icon if there wasn’t some other way. Sting told him this was it and left.
“Black Machismo” Jay Lethal vs. “The Guru” Sonjay Dutt
Black Tie Brawl N’ Chain Match
The Story: Jay Lethal proposed to SoCal Val. She accepted, but Sonjay Dutt’s crush on her led him to disrupt the wedding. The two men have fought each other -0- and wooed Val – ever since.
My Prediction: This match is calculated to predict an indecisive end that permits the hostilities to continue toward an even bigger match. The feud ends when Black Machismo wins a major victory, which means that Sonjay Dutt gets the decision here. My guess is that it’ll end with Lethal losing his Black Tie outfit rather than in a pin or submission.
Since TNA loves to recycle storylines, I’ll bet Vince Russo would love to do a variation on the Tommy Dreamer/Beulah McGillicutty vs. Raven/Dawn Marie. The two guys fight to a draw, shake hands and leave hand-in-hand without SoCal Val. Well, it would at least be different.
Predicted Grade: B-
The Actual Match: After the explanatory video, Sonjay Dutt came to the ring in his black tuxedo. Jay Lethal dressed in white and was accompanied by SoCal Val in an eye-catching black and white dress. Mike Tenay drew viewers’ attention to the fact that Val had resumed wearing her ring.
The announcers explained that, besides pin and submission, the match could end when either man succeeded in removing the other’s tuxedo. They called it the “ultimate humiliation.”
The Kingfish Comments: Strange that they should think that getting stripped of one’s suit would be the “ultimate humiliation” for a guy whose fiancée stiffed him at the wedding and then showed all sorts of sympathy for the false friend who wanted to bag her.
As the referee handcuffed Sonjay Dutt to one end of the chain, Jay Lethal attached his cuff to the top rope! He tugged on the chain and got in some free shots at his hated adversary.
Referee Slick Johnson tried to get the match underway, but Black Machismo simply used him as a weapon to deck Dutt again! Finally, Johnson succeeded in getting Lethal to submit to the cuff and the match officially began. Dutt immediately got a measure of revenge by yanking sharply on the chain after positioning it between Lethal’s legs!
Sonjay Dutt carefully wound the chain around his fist. He dove at Lethal from the top rope, but Black Machismo raised his knees and it was the Guru who took the damage. Lethal concentrated on removing Dutt’s tuxedo. Every time he had the Guru at a disadvantage, he shredded some of that black tux.
After Jay Lethal tossed Dutt out of the ring, he went over the top and blasted him all the way to the outer barrier. He beat Sonjay all around the ringside area, but SoCal Val didn’t look pleased that her man was winning.
Dutt tried to jump over the guard rail and escape into the crowd. Rather than chase after him, as he would in a regular match, Lethal yanked the chain to cause a high-speed collision between Dutt and the metal rail. Lethal liked the results so much, he immediately did it a second time!
Lethal tied Sonjay Dutt to the ring post with the chain. He pulled huge hunks of fabric off Dutt’s tuxedo, which had passed beyond the point at which it could be successfully returned to the rental place.
When Lethal missed a punch and hit the ring post, Dutt escaped and began belting Black Machismo. SoCal Val covered her eyes.
Lethal dropped Dutt with a powerful right. He wound the chain around Sonjay’s neck and choked him. Val screamed at Jay Lethal to stop it. She left the arena.
With Lethal preoccupied, Dutt jerked the chain to cause two collisions with a ring post! He hung Lethal in the Tree of Woe and began ripping pieces off that white tux! Lethal was down to the pants and the cummerbund.
The Guru thought he had the match in hand, so he indulged in the pleasure of taunting Jay Lethal’s family, who stood in the front row. The respite didn’t help Lethal much, because Sonjay had no trouble going back to beating him outside , and then inside, the ring.
Dutt scored with a Backbreaker! He went out to the apron and tried to Springboard back in over the top rope, but Black Machismo rolled out of the way!
Lethal developed a terrific chain strategy. He used it to whip Dutt back and forth across the ring! Lethal could stand in one place and gather his energy, while Dutt dissipated his stumbling from rope to rope.
Dutt blocked a Lethal Combination, but the former X Division Kingpin did connect on a Sit-out Facebuster! Dutt did a backward somersault over Lethal’s head and grabbed his neck from behind for a surprise takedown! The pin attempt didn’t get very far, though.
Black Machismo hit the Lethal Combination and then a Savage Elbow from the top! The pin followed close behind.
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish Comments: The match was exciting and fast-paced, except when the combatants concentrated on clothing removal instead of wrestling. SoCal Val had almost nothing to do with the outcome, a strange booking decision. The win for Lethal didn’t settle anything. Let’s hope they don’t saddle the next pay per view with a match in which the winner gets SoCal Val or something equally Neanderthal.
Jeremy Borash asked Booker T about Sting’s agenda for the evening. The Man Who Thinks He’s King said that he and Sting were “crown jewels’ of wrestling, so that he certainly knew the Icon’s intentions. He declined to say what they might be, however.
Booker complained about the dingy dressing room. He and Sharmell toasted each other with champagne.
Booker called Samoa Joe “a backyard, trailer park wannabe independent worker.”
The Kingfish Comments: The dark and dingy dressing room was a nice touch. The rest of the interview, though, was in the TNA “nothing to say” tradition.
Christian Cage & Rhino vs. Team 3D
New Jersey Street Fight
The Story: Ever since Rhino and Cage patched up their friendship and reunited as a team, Brother Ray and Brother Devon have made them a prime target. Both teams are spoiling for this no-holds-barred donnybrook.
My Prediction: This is another match that’s tough to call. Because it is designed to have a gimmicky finish that leads to another match. LAX and Beer Money will have to have rematches, so it makes sense to extend this feud, too. Sadly, that sounds like Johnny Devine interferes and helps Team 3D win.
Predicted Grade: B
The Actual Match: After the obligatory video, the combatants assembled in the ring. Team 3D tried to get an unfair jump, but Cage soon had Ray on the wrong end of a corner beatdown. Christian Cage landed two straight running Forearm smashes, but neither had much effect on Ray, who turned the table and had Cage at his mercy in the corner.
Weapons came into play and all four men went out into the arena. They had to use a split screen to follow the action as Ray and Cage fought in one part of the arena and Devon and Rhino battled in another.
The War Machine gave Brother Devon a beer shower, while Cage dragged Brother Ray through the packed crowd, beating him every step of the way!
When they reached the stairs, Ray got the upper hand. Now it was the 300-lber who did the chasing! Rhino fell all the way down the steps as fans screamed, “TNA! TNA!” and Devon closed in on his hated adversary and forced him back towards the ring.
Brother Ray went airborne and landed on Cage from a considerable height! Christian Cage picked up a ring sign which, in the ECW tradition, had a metal sheet inside, and bashed Ray Devon attacked Cage from behind, but Rhino made him pay with a Shoulder Block.
The babyfaces dealt Ray a double-team Back Body Drop and then turned their wrath on Devon with a Suplex! . They grew so intent on what they were doing to Devon that they never saw Ray’s sign-swinging attack before it felled them both!
Ray threw the ring step into the ring to his brother who used them to knock Rhino half-senseless! Ray banged Cage’s head against the ring steps twice and then laid him out on the top step. Ray came off the top, but all he hit was the ring steps in a very painful collision. Rhino hit Devon with the sign and he crumpled to the mat.
Ray hit the Full Nelson Sit-out Powerbomb from the top of the ring steps! Only Ray’s slow cover kept the match from ending.
Brother Devon charged at Christian Cage across the ring. The Instant Classic held up the Stop Sign and Ray froze in his tracks rather than run into it. He was unprepared for Rhino’s Gore! Ray no soon got up from that one that he went right back down as a result of Cage’s Cross Body Block from the to. He kicked out again!
Cage went for the Unprettier, but Ray prevented it and hit a variation on the Electric Chair!
Rhino put Ray on the top turnbuckle and then repeatedly smashed Devon’s head into his brother’s groin! The War Machine tried to pin Devon, but he couldn’t get the three count.
Cage wanted to take Ray off the top turnbuckle with a Huracanrana, but instead the 3Der scored with a Sit-out Powerbomb! Brother Ray absolutely destroyed Rhino with the sign and set him up on a table.
The War Machine did a Wingspread Clothesline to break out of the trap! Cage handed his buddy a ladder. He swept across the ring with it, mowing down Team 3D in his path!
Cage came off the top of a ladder to Splash Ray! He pulled the big man to his feet so that Rhino could Fore him through a table leaning against the ropes. The pin was a mere formality after that one-two assault.
Actual Grade: A
The Kingfish Comments: All four men worked hard and put their bodies on the line to deliver one of TNA’s best recent tag team matches. It was long on action, but kind of short on meaning. Rhino and Christian Cage got the triumph, but I’m not sure they obtained what most fans would consider satisfaction. I’m honestly not sure where this program can go from here, but I suspect the bookers have something in mind for yet one more rematch. A Glass Tables Match?
After the match, Johnny Devine barged into the ring with a kendo stick and bashed both babyfaces with it. Team 3D stomped Rhino and positioned him on the table.
And that’s when Abyss rumbled to the ring! He quickly took out both members of 3D and then treated Johnny Devine to a Black Hole Slam!
Abyss picked up the kendo stick. The crowd chanted “Use it! Use it!” Chris Park considered, and then he put down the kendo stick and left the ring, his work done.
The Kingfish Comments: Having Abyss interfere in the post-match sequence instead of the actual contest worked very much. We got a match without a deux ex machina ending, but still got to see Abyss do his current act.
When Lauren asked AJ Styles about Sting, the Phenomenal One said he had talked to the Icon. Sting told him that things sometimes have to go like this and h3e accepted it.
AJ was much less temperate when it came to Kurt Angle, though. He said that they want to hurt each other and couldn’t wait for his match.
AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle
Last Man Standing Match
The Story: Kurt Angle wants revenge. The former TNA champion believes that AJ Styles has slept with his wife and he plans to dish out some severe payback. Styles is sick and tired of the allegation and wants to take it out on his tormenter.
My Prediction: This should end the feud, but there are elements in the storyline that hint that it won’t end here with what ought to be a definitive match. All that stuff about Frank Trigg menacing Karen Angle needs to be settled, too. Karen Angle will watch from ringside as AJ Styles takes Kurt Angle to the limit. Styles will fend off Tomko, but when Trigg grabs for Karen, he becomes easy prey for the former Olympian.
Predicted Grade: A-
The Actual Match: As the two men got ready to fight, Mike Tenay reminded fans about Angle’s head injury and said it required “six or seven” stitches.
Kurt Angle. Channeling Larry Zybszko, showed a great initial reluctance to stay in the ring. Every time AH advanced toward him, he retreated to the ringside area. Eventually, Angle made Styles impatient and then out-maneuvered him. After running around the outside of the ring after Angle, Styles got back in the ring only to find Angle waiting for him! Kurt gave him an uppercut and then staggered him with rights and stomps. Kurt added a Suplex, unsuccessfully covered and then resorted to a Chinlock.
After they played leapfrog, AJ connected with a Dropkick and then Clotheslined him over the rope to the arena floor. Styles’ Hilo splattered Angle on the floor once again! The cover earned only a two count.
AJ ragged Angle around the ringside area. He threw him back inside and Bodyslammed him. Kurt cowered in the corner, but when Styles approached he came to life and flipped his foe over the top rope to a hard landing! The former Olympian tried to throw Styles against the guard rail, but Styles landed better than expected. When he tried to jump off the rail at Angle, though, Angle caught him and dished out a Suplex!
Angle tried to escape up the ramp, but Styles pursued, hitting him every strep of the way. He blocked angle’s Suplex and pulled off one of his own! Angle backed away from Styles, moving up the ramp. Styles followed until he thought he had Kurt cornered at the edge of the ramp’s highest point. That’s when Kurt sprang into action and Suplexed Styles over the edge! Then Angle did a Somersault off the edge and landed on his victim!
Angle grabbed a Side Headlock and forced Styles back towards the ring. On the way, he stopped to smash the Phenomenal One’s face against the announce table.
In the ring, Angle hit an Over-the-Knee Backbreaker and went back to that punishing Chinlock. Angle held on tenaciously even after AJ regained his feet. A Standing Dropkick freed Styles completely.
Angle captured Styles coming off the ropes and gave him a Suplex that nearly qualified as a satellite launch. Kurt added a Bodyslam, but it didn’t get a three-count, much less that all-important 10.
They went down from simultaneous Cross Body Blocks. They took a long time getting up, but when they did, Styles uncorked a trio of powerful Clotheslines! He did a Springboard over the top rope from the apron that flattened the man who had accused him of so many improprieties.
Styles punished Angle in a Torture Rack Backbreaker. His Tilt-a-Whirl Takedown to what came close to being a successful cover. When AJ tried for the Styles Clash, Angle turned it into an Anklelock! AJ kicked him off with his free leg and then scored with a Spinebuster.
AJ went at the Anklelock with a will. He eventually Grapevined the leg to make it even more painful. AJ covered for the qualifying three-count pin. When angle rose, it became obvious that he had hurt his ankle and had some trouble standing.
Kurt Angle uncorked three rapid German Suplexes – and then added a fourth with a release! Styles avoided the pin.
The Phenomenal One blocked the Olympic Slam and came right back with the Pele! That took so much out of Styles that he didn’t have the strength to cover.
When AJ laboriously climbed to the top turnbuckle, Angle vaulted right up after him. AJ threw him to the canvas, Styles positioned himself for a Moonsault, but Angle went to the top again and rocked Styles with a Herman Suplex from the top! He covered for a three-count. That meant Referee Earl Hebner could start the 10 count.
AJ got up at “seven,” only to tae another Olympic Slam. Angle made another cover. This time, Styles got off the canvas just before Hebner counted “Nine.”
Angle confidently got Styles ready for another Olympic Slam, but AJ surprised him with a Styles Clash. Angle rose just before Hebner’s 10th and final count.
AJ DDT’d Angle from the top rope. Angle’s body quivered as he laid there on the mat. Yet Styles, too, was suffering and couldn’t rise, either.
Styles got up at “nine,” but Angle couldn’t beat the count! AJ Styles became the Last Man Standing!
“You’ve got to feel that AJ Styles exorcized a demon here,” Don West observed,
Actual Grade: A
The Kingfish Comments: They didn’t do anything with either Karen Angle or Frank Trigg, which was a surprise. That helped the match, which was kind of a card-stealer.
AJ Styles started up the ramp, paused and then walked back to the ring where people were ministering to Kurt Angle. The announcers thought that AJ was showing concern, but when he reached Kurt, he attacked him again! Styles dealt a Suplex and then hovered over Angle, shouting curses.
The lights went out. When they came on again, Sting had Styles in the Scorpion Death Drop! After he executed the hold, Ken Nash came out. They exchanged looks, but Nash let Sting leave unmolested.
The Kingfish Comments: Kudos to the booker, again, for having Sting’s interference come after the match was settled. On the other hand, Styles’ attack on the helpless Angle is not exactly the kind of thing that babyfaces are supposed to do.
Could this mean Styles is about to turn yet again? I think they’ll explain it away as excess emotion. That’s weak, but it’s preferable to another turn. They’re going to turn him into a human turbine if they’re not careful.
Samoa Joe vs. Booker T
TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Six Sides of Steel plus Weapons Match
The Story:It started with Booker T’s jealousy over Samoa Joe’s status TNA and has grown into a nasty feud. Hoe let Booker T have his dressing room and even tote around the championship belt, but all that stops when the two men enter the Six Sides of Steel and have at it in the main event.
My Prediction: Samoa Joe will win this and retain his title. I think Booker T may well get the belt at some near-future point, but this looks like a Joe victory that erases Booker T’s special perks.
Predicting how it’ll happen in another matter. There are two wild cards in this one: Kevin Nash and Sting. After a couple of months of teasing a Nash turn against Joe, TNA has stopped pushing that angle. It could be a decision to write it out of the show – or it could be preparation for Nash finally stabbing Joe in the back. The situation around Sting is also ambivalent. Is he the one who has interfered or is someone framing him?
I’m not sure this match will answer those questions. My prediction is that Sting will get involved, but that it won’t be possible to tell who he planned to help. It’s even possible that he and Nash will clash, though I think Sting might be Joe’s next foe if his character has actually gone to the dark side.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Actual Match: Jeremy Borash, who did the ring announcing for the main event, made sure fans knew that Samoa Joe was the champion even though Booker T wore the belt to the ring.
After a Collar-and-Elbow, Booker T went for a hockey stick, but Joe kept him from taking possession. Booker T beat him in the corner and once more tried to snag a weapon. For the second time, the champion prevented his foe from arming himself.
After weakening Booker with a kick, Joe set up a trash can right in front of his face and kicked it, twice, as hard as he could. Joe whacked Booker in the side of the head with a kendo stick and then tossed it aside.
Booker T whipped the champ into a turnbuckle and clouted him with a trash can! Booker missed with the hockey stick, but the big Samoan’s Enzuiguiri hit the intended target.
Joe rang his foe’s bell with a pair of trash can lids. He added a couple of addition lid shots to the back of the head. Booker picked out of the attempted cover. Joe missed a chairshot, but Booker kicked him in the side of the head!
Booker waited for Joe to get up and then administered another vicious chairshot that busted open the victim. Booker positioned the lid right over Joe’s head and dropped his full weight on it! Then he employed an ax handle to choke Samoa Joe against the ropes.
When Booker T climbed the cage wall, Samoa Joe clambered up after him. He brought the challenger low with a Stunner from the top!
Booker had Joe in a Guillotine Choke, but the Samoan simply would not surrender. He got his foot on the ropes, but it took a while for the official to see it. Booker waited until Joe stood, tossed a trash can at him and kicked it into his face! He made the ropes, but Booker landed some telling blows right in the wound.
The two men stood on the ropes, steadying themselves with the cage, until Joe connected with an unbelievable kick that dropped his foe to the canvas! Joe caught him with a Powerslam, a Powerbomb and then an STF! He even added a Cripple Crossface to the original STF in an effort to wring a submission from his opponent. Joe tried to keep him in the center of the ring, but Booker worked his legs around to the bottom rope!
Samoa Joe piled up two chairs. He wanted to set up a Musclebuster, but Booker T pulled off a Bookend right onto the chairs! Booker did a Spinneroonie, kicked Samoa Joe in the belly and blasted him with an Ax Kick!
The lights went out.
When they came back on, Samoa Joe had a guitar in his hands! He used it on Booker and got the pin.
Booker saw some writing on the guitar that shocked him.
“Does this mean that he’s back!” Don West shrieked.
Actual Grade: A-
The Kingfish Comments: It was a gimmicky ending, but still a very fine match. I don’t think you have to be a psychic to know that Double J is coming back to the TNA show.
Predicted Grade for Hard Justice: B+
Actual Grade for the Show: A-
I’ll be back tomorrow with another edition of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column. If you like what you’re reading, I’d be deeply appreciative if you’d tell other wrestling fans about it.
— Arnie Katz