Countdown to TNA Hardcore Justice
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling
Normally in this section I would be pontificating on the success or failure of the eveningís pay per view, but with a lack of matches to talk about Iím left a little bit stilted going into Hardcore Justice.
You see, when TNA chose to hand the reins over to Tommy Dreamer for booking, the style he chose apparently was to be as authentic to ECW as possible, which means very few matches announced in advance. The Hardcore Justice website doesnít list any matches and only two (Dreamer vs. Raven and Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn) were announced on TV.
So instead of previewing the event, time is perhaps better spent talking about the reality of what TNA is doing tonight -- which could very well be counterproductive to its own product.
Since the day TNA announced the reunion show (okay before it when rumours started percolating) wrestling fans and pundits have been detracting this show, and with good reason. Outside of RVD and Team 3D, no one on the show is a regularly seen on TNA TV or is gainfully employed by the company. Sure, Raven, Rhino and Richards have been part of TNA within the last calendar year or so, but are they under contract to the company and likely to appear on Impact beyond the next 30 days? Likely not.
So really, what you have is a clear sign that youíre not likely to see any sort of story advancement tonight, and instead get a one-off of guys who are, forgive me for saying, past their primes. Itís a recipe for disaster.
So how can TNA salvage this opportunity, assuming that there are still hardcore fans who will want to buy into the retro night? Simple -- you need to add the TNA feel to it. The population of the card cannot just be the former ECW-ites; there must be some regular roster TNA guys there too. Abyss is an automatic, building towards his bout with RVD on Thursday, but beyond them are a few other potentials.
Consider, for a moment, if Simon and Swinger have a tag match or we have a bWo reunion. Beer Money coming in to preview their match Thursday by going hardcore with either of those tags/factions would be a great build. Shane Douglas has been chirping about wanting Ric Flair, so what if Naitch started to come out to accept the challenge, only for it to turn into AJ Styles vs. The Franchise?
This my friends is how you need to book the card. TNA cannot just sit back and let their roster play dead while ECWís past run amok. Heck, take the opportunity to debut a new wrestler or two even, but you have to do something.
I say all this, of course, knowing that TNA has all but changed their name for this pay-per-view (and inevitably they would have had WWE not owned the ECW call letters). I sadly have next to no faith that TNA will use this as a vehicle to promote their own brand to the few hardcore fans who will turn on the pay-tube tonight to watch the show.
With that in mind, I anticipate that tonight's show will not go down as one of the best in TNA's recent run (which has had some pretty good bouts). If you're a fan of the hardcore style, as some on SLAM! Wrestling's staff are, then it's probably worth checking out for old time giggles; but if you're looking to see any signs of TNA's elite, you'll only be tuning in for one or two matches.
Oh, and for those who want to know, I'll pick RVD and Dreamer to win their respective matches.
Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000.