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TNA's Hardcore Justice full of ECW memories
By MATT MACKINDER - SLAM! Wrestling


Rob Van Dam and Sabu salute the crowd after their main event battle. Photos courtesy TNAwrestling.com


TNA changed up their monthly pay-per-view this month to go back in time and give ECW a proper sendoff by re-naming tonight's Hard Justice event to Hardcore Justice.

In SLAM! Wrestling’s preview of the show, veteran staffer Jon Waldman didn’t sound excited at all about the show, but I can honestly say that I am. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Tonight’s main event has TNA World champion Rob Van Dam versus the now-bald Sabu in a non-title match. Both come to the ring with Bill Alfonso and, yes, his whistle. ECW senior official John Finnegan is the referee.

Some great technical wrestling early and counter moves. Fonzie throws a chair into the ring and both wrestlers fight over it. Advantage Sabu and he hurls the chair into RVD’s melon. RVD gets taken to the floor and Sabu jumps from the chair to the top rope and into the second row landing on Van Dam.

Back in the ring, Sabu places a chair on RVD’s back and then applies the camel clutch. Sabu is cut on the back of his head. RVD throws a chair into Sabu after a monkey flip onto a chair. Sabu rebounds with a clothesline and near-fall.

Fonzie comes into the ring and gives each wrestler a water bottle. RVD and Sabu go to the floor and each get a table and put each in the ring. RVD gets the advantage on the outside and hangs Sabu on the guardrail before landing the corkscrew leg drop from the apron.

Sabu’s timing seems off, but luckily, Van Dam is carrying the match. Sabu hits a hurricanrana from the top onto a chair and we get our first “You still got it!” chant from the crowd. Van Dam crotches Sabu on the top rope, Alfonso holds a chair to Sabu’s head and RVD lands a kick from the top rope. Sabu then kicks out of a split-legged moonsault and Rolling Thunder onto a chair.

Mid-match, this bout seems to drag a bit, but RVD keeps carrying the match. Just as I say that, Sabu leaps from the second rope and hits a sweet-looking twisting tornado DDT for two. Sabu puts Van Dam on a table, but misses the Arabian facebuster with a chair. Van Dam up top and a Five Star Frog Splash later and RVD gets the win.

WINNER: Rob Van Dam
RATING: 2.5 out of 5

The two hug after the match and Sabu is either selling extremely well or is really hurt.

I wish I could say I was impressed with this match, but it does look like time has caught up with Sabu. In any event, many memories for sure.

WHAT YOU THINK
What did you think of TNA's Hardcore Justice PPV?
It was great - 24%
It was okay - 13%
It sucked - 23%
Didn't see it - 41%
The entire ECW locker room empties for an in-ring toast. The fans start a “F You, Vince” chant. Tommy Dreamer thanks the fans, Dixie Carter (who Brother Ray carries into the ring) and TNA and this show comes to a close.

TNA’s next pay-per-view is Bound For Glory on October 10.

Taz opens the show coming down the aisle and he looks ready to wrestle. He hypes the show from the ramp and we immediately get an “E-C-Dub” chant. Taz hushes the fans and said the extreme athletes and himself revolutionized the industry. He then goes into shoot mode and tells people that “don’t get it” that they can, um, smooch his arse.

Taz joins Mike Tenay on commentary and we get right to the action. Stephen DeAngeles is the ring announcer.

Match #1: The FBI (Guido Maritato & Tony Luke) and Tracey Smothers w/ Sal E. Graziano vs. Kid Kash, Simon Diamond and Swinger

Finnegan is your referee and the lights dim once the match starts. Names are slightly altered (Tony Mamaluke, Johnny Swinger) and Tenay says that due to legal reasons, they can’t be said and certain initials can’t be used (yet he says “ECW” several times). Atlas Security is also ringside.

Guido and Kash start and once it goes to Smothers and Diamond, Simon grabs the mic and wants an “extreme dance-off.” This show just took a nosedive. During the FBI’s turn, they get back-jumped and the action goes to the floor.

Finnegan gets on all fours and Kash jumps from Finnegan’s back to the top rope and nails the group on the floor with a springboard back flip. Kash powerslams Luke into the turnbuckles and then takes the brunt of a Tower of Doom.

Luke then eats a double-underhook piledriver from Kash, but the match quickly ends when Diamond turns into a Guido Unprettier-like move and that’s all she wrote.

WINNERS: The FBI
RATING: 2 out of 5

Tenay tells the audience that Jerry Lynn is out of tonight’s main event against Rob Van Dam and RVD’s new opponent will be Sabu.

Tod Gordon, “The Pitbull” Gary Wolfe and The Blue Meanie give taped interviews saying goodbye to hardcore, thanking the fans and lathering tonight’s show.

In a recurring segment called "I Remember...," AJ Styles (who?) tells a story of an old Sandman-Tommy Dreamer match and I guess we will get some TNA flavor tonight after all. One of the TNA Knockouts then gives her take on “that company.”

Al Snow and Stevie Richards are backstage talking lawsuits and then Hollywood Nova walks in with a Meanie lookalike and a horrible impersonator of the real thing. Some dude walks in and he and Meanie pick each other’s noses. Yikes!

Match #2: CW Anderson vs. Too Cold Scorpio


Too Cold Scorpio takes to the air.
Referee is Mike Keener. Both guys work stiff and this is an excellent match early. This bout really has the old ECW feel to it. Both these guys appear to still “have it,” too.

A flipping leg drop from the second rope gets Scorpio a two-count, as does a spinebuster from Anderson on Too Cold after Scorpio missed a moonsault from the top. Scorpio rebounds with a kick and then a drop on Anderson from the top. Think a moonsault with an extra revolution into a leg drop. Solid match.

The two shake hands after the match and the crowd is hot.

WINNER: Too Cold Scorpio
RATING: 3.5 out of 5

Another TNA Knockout talks about ECW, as well as Matt Morgan and Mr. Anderson.

RVD and Bill Alfonso are backstage and Alfonso is still an annoying riot, if I can say that. Van Dam tells why he chose to wrestle Sabu after Lynn went down with an injury. Alfonso says he’ll manage both wrestlers tonight.


PJ Polaco bad mouths Stevie Richards
Match #3: PJ Polaco vs. Stevie Richards w/ Hollywood Nova and Blue Tillie

Polaco, obviously, is Justin Credible and after he is introduced, the crowd lets us know. Finnegan is the ref for this match.

Both these guys are in great shape. Polaco drills Stevie with a spinning Tombstone, but pulls him up at two. Polaco gets distracted by Nova and loses focus on Stevie, who pops up with a superkick for the duke.

WINNER: Stevie Richards
RATING: 3 out of 5

Polaco attacks Stevie with the Singapore cane after the match and then poses until the lights go out. Lights on, Sandman arrives and Polaco tastes Sandman’s cane.

Francine is feeding her one-year-old daughter in a taped interview and thanks the ECW fans and wrestlers.

Tenay and Taz remember hardcore stars who have passed away and we get a generic message on our screens.

Match #4: Three-Way Elimination Dance – Brother Runt vs. Al Snow w/ Head vs. Rhino

Runt (Spike Dudley) is in full old school Dudley Boyz gear, complete with the tale across the bridge of his glasses. Taz slips and says “ECW” when talking about the ECW wrestling school. Tenay says the score is now 1-1. Ha! Runt dives to the floor on both Snow and Rhino, who both catch him and pitch him overhead onto the ramp.

Snow hits a moonsault on Rhino for two. Say what you want about these ECW guys being way past their primes, but the majority look like they could still go full-time today. Keener takes a bump and both Runt and Snow try the “hit the chair on the mat, toss the chair to the other guy, then fall” move, but to no avail.

Runt pins Snow after the Acid Drop and then immediately turns into a Gore and Rhino wins.

WINNER: Rhino
RATING: 2.5 out of 5

Mick Foley is in the back reading Hulk Hogan’s book and talks about his involvement later on as the special ref for Dreamer vs. Raven.

In more of the “I Remember…” stuff, a British wrestler who I cannot identify (Douglas Williams? Rob Terry?) and Chris Sabin (who says he called himself Josh Van Dam as a kid) recall the glory days of ECW.


"Kahoneys" goes through the flaming table.
Match #5: Open Challenge: Axl Rotten & Kahoneys vs. Team 3D w/ Joel Gertner

Kahoneys! Hahahahahaha. It’s a clever name for Balls Mahoney. Hahahahahaha!

Balls issues the open challenge and we get the “Well, well, well” over the loud speaker. Gertner is in a huge fur coat and goes on an old school sexual innuendo rant. Let’s just say the topper was the fact he said he wants to find Lady Gaga and “poker face.” Outstanding stuff here!

Brother Ray takes the mic and announces this match as a South Philadelphia Street Fight. I predict the blood will flow here. At least, I hope so. Finnegan is the ref.

Most of this match is on the floor and in the crowd. The “E-C-Dub” chants are loud and common. Ray brings cookie sheets, trash can lids and the like into the ring and away we go with each guy taking multiple shots. Ray and Kahoneys have a light saber battle. Not really extreme, but fun. Balls looks cut on his forehead. No one running out with towels, either.

The first “This is awesome” chant picks up and a chair battle in the ring ensues. Axl and Kahoneys get the worst of it and Balls then eats the Devon “What’s up!” headbutt from the top. Ray asks Devon to get the tables and one makes its way into the ring. Gertner hands Ray lighter fluid and Devon sets the table ablaze. A double powerbomb on Balls through the fire and the Dudleys win.

WINNERS: Team 3D
RATING: 3.5 out of 5

Ray grabs the mic, but out come … The Gangstas! New Jack and Mustafa! The Gangstas beat down Team 3D and lay into Gertner with a guitar shot all while their theme music plays. Then the two teams embrace in the ring and Axl and Balls join them. Great moment here, people. Seriously.

Raven talks about his match with Dreamer. I hope this one gets decent time.

Jesse Neal (I think) and Kazarian talk ECW in the next “I Remember…” Brother Ray, RVD, Jerry Lynn, Simon Diamond, Rhino, Sandman, Stevie Richards and Tommy Dreamer then give a shout-out to Joey Styles.


The bad blood flows between Tommy Dreamer and Raven once again.
Match 6: Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven (Special Referee Mick Foley)

On his way to the ring, Raven cracks a smile and says something to Dreamer’s twin girls who are sitting front row with Mrs. Dreamer and Dixie Carter.

Billed as “The Final Showdown,” this match is apparently no holds barred. Tommy takes a drop toehold into two chairs, juices and rolls to the floor facing his girls. Dixie motions and some dude comes out and takes the twins away. Probably a good idea.

Back inside, Dreamer is an absolute mess. Good blood flow early. Raven tastes a shot from a fan’s road sign and he’s busted open. Dreamer with a ladder and a “This is hardcore” chant starts in the renamed Extreme Zone. Dreamer sets Raven on the top rope and places the ladder on the second rope. Raven knocks Dreamer through the ladder and then down to the mat for a two-count.

Dreamer comes back with a Dreamer Driver, a dropkick into a tree of woe-ridden Raven (who had the road sign in front of his face) and then barbed wire into Raven’s mouth. He is just about to tap, but Nova and Tillie do a run-in and assault Foley. Mick gets the sock and puts out Raven with the mandible claw. Raven’s lackey (Lucas(?), the booger dude from earlier in the show) comes in and gets barbed wire in his mouth from Foley. More blood.

Raven handcuffs Dreamer and beats him with a chair. Dreamer’s wife (Beulah!) runs down to protect her man. She crotches Raven and then Dreamer hits his DDT while handcuffed. Raven kicks out, his Dreamer with a chair on his bad knee, and then nails his Even Flow DDT for three. Ending came out of nowhere, but a decent ending to a decent match.

WINNER: Raven
RATING: 3.5 out of 5

Dreamer and Beulah walk up the ramp to a big ovation from the crowd.

Jeremy Borash and SoCal Val are backstage when The Gangstas show up. Mustafa takes off with Val and then New Jack, um, tells JB he is his b---h tonight. JB looks mortified. Fabulous.

Taz, Al Snow, Rhino, Mick Foley, Raven, Stevie Richards, Simon Diamond and Sandman applaud Paul Heyman for his extensive work with ECW. Sandman calls him the “best booker in the business.” I couldn’t agree more.

WHAT YOU THINK
So TNA has an ECW-ish reunion at the Hardcore Justice PPV. This makes you ...
violently excited - 28%
unimaginatively unimpressed - 50%
distressingly long for the past - 23%
All in all, this was an above-average card and even though just two matches were announced beforehand, that didn’t detract from me watching this and going back in time a decade or so. I know you can’t live in the past, but tonight, I did. And I loved it.

I will say that this show far surpasses the 2005 One Night Stand pay-per-view that WWE produced. That’s definitely a good thing in my eyes.

What this show does for TNA, I have no idea, but it sure was refreshing not seeing guys like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett for just one night. Come this Thursday night, it’ll be back to business as usual.

Matt Mackinder will watch this, and old ECW footage, any day of the week over the dud that WWE is these days. He thinks most people will agree with him.