Last Sunday, August 10th, TNA’s Hard Justice pay-per-view took place at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey. This was my first TNA pay-per-view and I hope that it won’t be my last because the show was completely awesome! This was absolutely the best live event that I’ve ever seen, period. Before I start my review, though, let me say that I’ve been reading reviews of the show online and trust me when I say that the online wrestling community is WAY too harsh on TNA and this show in particular. Not only was the pay-per-view one hell of a good time, it was chock full of great wrestling and good spots, too! What more can you ask for? Maybe you have to be there live…
The first comment that I have about the show is that the crowd was HOT! They were going bonkers over every back body drop and punch that was offered by the wrestlers. I’ve never been in a wrestling crowd like that before and I’ve been to RAW, Smackdown!, WWE’s ECW, SummerSlam, and a variety of independent shows. One of my roommates who was with me commented that the crowd was very similar to an old ECW crowd. My only complaint is about the trio of morons sitting behind me who felt the need to let everyone in the immediate vicinity know their wrestling knowledge. For example, at one point one of the wrestler’s threw on the crossface and the dopes behind me immediately started chanting, “You’re not Benoit!” Yes, dummies. We know that Benoit used the crossface. Congratulations, you know a wrestling fact.
It only got worse when they started chanting “Joe can’t sell!” during the Booker T./Samoa Joe bout. Yes, idiots. We understand that Joe has been working hard to make his opponents look better in the ring. Congratulations, you read websites like mine. I wouldn’t have been so upset about these guys if they weren’t sitting directly behind me screaming the worst chants ever at the top of their lungs for the ENTIRE night. My right ear was ringing all day Monday because of them. Speaking of people sitting around us in the stands, my roommates and I were pretty sure that the guy sitting next to me was asleep the entire time or that he had one eye (probably the latter). The poor guy jumped square out of his seat during the opening pyro which, I admit, was incredibly loud. The kid sitting at the other end of the row was from Brooklyn and came to the show with no ride home. His first question to us as we sat down was if we could give him a ride home (no way!). Also, this kid was a major WWE fan (complete with replica spinning belt) and hated on a bunch of the TNA guys. He was comical because whenever a “TNA! TNA!” chant broke out, he would quietly speak-chant “WWE. WWE.” Weird.
By the way, would you go to Trenton from Brooklyn to watch a wrestling show of a promotion that you don’t even like…with no ride home?!
Final comment before the match reviews – Ice T. was advertised as appearing with F.I.L.T.H.E.E. and he was no where to be found when the rap group opened up the show.
TNA X-Division Championship
Petey Williams def. Consequences Creed
– The crowd was hot for Williams in this one, which may have surprised the TNA folks as Creed had been billed as the face and received huge love from the crowd two days earlier in Asbury Park. Williams is an amazing wrestler and Creed has a great future ahead of him. This match featured lots of chants of “Let’s go Petey!” and a great cheer/boo segment with both competitors trading blows. I don’t do “star” rankings because I’m not that pretentious, but this was a great opening match. To show you the fickleness of a wrestling crowd, as soon as Abdul Bashir came out, the fans were behind Consequences Creed. Don’t you love it?!
Gail Kim, ODB, & Taylor Wilde def. Awesome Kong & The Beautiful People
– Unlike a WWE Women’s match, this was not a throwaway event. ODB has enormous crowd support, but Awesome Kong had just as much. By the way, even though we weren’t too close to ringside you can tell that The Beautiful People really are quite stunning. Gail Kim performed pretty well, but I thought that Taylor Wilde could use a little bit more time rehearsing some of her spots. All in all this was a good match that the crowd was into for the entire time.
At this point there was some type of vignette with Team 3D in the rafters (these were all pre-recorded because the thousands of us in attendance kept looking to the rafters during these segments and saw no one). The only comment that was audible in the arena was about a black bat, though not Brother Devon’s black bat. Thanks Brother Ray.
TNA Tag Team Championship Match
Beer Money, Inc. def LAX
– Though I was surprised by the outcome of this match, I found it enjoyable. At one point the crowd was slowly wavering away from the match, but when Hernandez threw Homicide over the top rope on to Beer Money, Inc. the place erupted. The beer bottle shot to the head was heard crystal clear throughout the arena. Good work on everyone’s part. I didn’t particularly care for the LAX entrance with F.I.L.T.H.E.E. It was a bit much, though watching Salinas dance around was sweet.
Tuxedo Chain Strap Match
Jay Lethal def. Sonjay Dutt
– Well, if you watched this on pay-per-view I’m sure the “Fire Russo” chants were as clear as day. What an abomination. On the one hand, I admire Lethal and Dutt for putting up with this crap, but on the other hand it might be time to get Russo in check. A tuxedo strap match? What a waste of two incredible talents. Early on the crowd wanted to get excited to see these two go at it, but the stupidity of this match was clear and present. There were also loud chants of “Boring” which is a shame because I think these two could really tear the place apart if given the opportunity.
Jersey Street Fight
Rhino & Christian def. Team 3D
– This is the match where the internet reviews have pissed me off the most. Not only was this a good hardcore match, but the crowd was completely into it for the entire duration! The comedic spots went over well live and the high spots went over even better. When I read dummies on the internet write about how the crowd fighting got boring after a while I cringe because it definitely was not boring. The crowd was electrified to begin with – this match only turned up the juice a bit. Christian Cage is an even better wrestler in person, though Rhino may want to hit the gym a little bit. The Abyss run-in went over huge with the live crowd, too.
Last Man Standing Match
AJ Styles def. Kurt Angle
– I want to say that this match was perfect, but there was one problem – the Last Man Standing rules! Most of the people in the crowd were confused about the pin/submission followed up by a standing 10-count. Does WWE own the rights to a generic 10-count Last Man Standing Match? One of the kids sitting next to me made the point that it should just be a 13-count. Why not? In any event, this was the match of the night complete with high spots and great technical wrestling. The dopey online writers may not give this match the kudos that it deserves, but this was the best live match that I’ve ever seen. Crisp movement in the ring, a hot crowd outside of the ring, two of the best wrestlers in the world fighting it out – you can’t go wrong. The crowd popped for Sting before realizing that he took out AJ Styles.
TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Six Sides of Steel with Weapons
Samoa Joe def. Booker T. w/Sharmell
– I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cage match live before so this was sort of special. As a quick aside, did you know that they hold the TNA steel cage together with zip ties? Amazing, huh? Both of these men put on a good show, though it felt a little anti-climatic to not have a Sting appearance at some point. Anyone can see that Russo is going for a Sting vs. the new generation of stars type of angle – or at least that’s what it is now. Knowing Russo he’ll change the entire thing next week if he reads that one person has figured out his angle. Booker T is really a lot better in person than I thought he would be (I’m not a big fan). Samoa Joe did a good job of keeping up with Booker, though I thought that we would see more of an aggressive side from him. The guitar shot at the end of the match was alright, but I can think of better ways to bring Jeff Jarrett back into the show.
As I said earlier, this was the best live event that I’ve ever attended. The next time TNA is in your area I encourage you to go and check them out – the next time they’re in New Jersey, I’ll be there!
For 162 pictures from the show (including some of the people sitting around me), click here. Enjoy!