In the past, fans took it as a moral victory if there weren’t more than two matches with finishes involving outside interference. A good match or two and nothing overtly awful were enough for a TNA pay-per-view to be considered a success in the eyes of many fans.
After the last two pay-per-views, however, TNA has established a new standard of excellence. This brings us to Sunday’s “Hardocre Justice” pay-per-view. I think it could be a good pay-per-view, but I’m afraid fans expecting it to rise to the level of TNA’s last two pay-per-views may be disappointed.
The main event features Austin Aries defending his World Heavyweight Championship against former champion Bobby Roode. Both wrestlers have agreed to forego their rematch clause, so this is the last title match – for now – between Roode and Aries. Expect another terrific match, although it might not have the emotionally satisfying surprise ending as last month, when Aries won the title.
There are also three Bound for Glory Series matches. Each Bound for Glory match involves four participants. TNA has differentiated them by making one a ladder match, another a tables match and the third a falls-count-anywhere match. But I’m always a little leery of events with too many matches with similar dynamics. It removes the unique feel from each match.
The ladder match features Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe. It’s difficult to screw up a match with those four excellent workers.
The tables match features Bully Ray, James Storm, Jeff Hardy and Robbie E. Tables and Bully Ray go together like peanut butter and jelly. (Not that Achilles Heel would actually eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but the analogy should work for those of you who pack a lunch for work every day – assuming you’re employed.) Expect the “Aces and Eights” group to interfere in this match.
The other Bound for Glory Series match, falls count anywhere, involves Mr. Anderson, Rob Van Dam, The Pope and Magnus. Compared to the other two Bound for Glory matches, this one comes up a little bit short on star power. TNA would be wise to place this match on the card before the other two four-way matches. Otherwise, it may really seem lackluster.
Miss Tessmacher defends the Knockouts Championship against Madison Rayne; Zema Ion defends the X Division Championship against Kenny King; and Chavo Guerrero Jr. teams up with Hernandez to face Gunner and Kid Kash. There’s nothing objectionable on the undercard, so Hardcore Justice should be a good card.
The problem, as I stated earlier, is “good” may not be good enough after TNA’s recent exceptional pay-per-views. But attempting to live up to a higher standard is the type of problem TNA shouldn’t mind having.
NOT-SO-GRAND SLAM: I know I’m beating a dead horse, but I’m going to continue to complain about improperly promoting pay-per-view events. About half of Hardcore Justice’s matches weren’t revealed until 10 days before the event. I’m writing this column nine days before SummerSlam, and we only know of four matches.
SummerSlam is highlighted by Triple H battling Brock Lesnar. C.M. Punk defends the WWE Championship against John Cena and Big Show; Sheamus will once again defend the World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio; and Daniel Bryan will take on Kane.
All four announced matches look good. The only match without a significant buildup is the match between Daniel Bryan and Kane. Bryan almost can’t have a bad match. And, somehow, I think Charlie Sheen will involve himself in that match.
But where is the rest of the card? If WWE is going to have a tag team title match, shouldn’t it have already been announced? The same holds true for an Intercontinental, United States or Divas championship match. I’ll have a full preview of SummerSlam in the next Heel Turns.
BLAMING THE GODS: I’m waiting for Ron Opher to once again blame the Greek god of wrestling for the Achilles injuries suffered by Philadelphia athletes. Since I started writing Heel Turns for PhillyPhanatics.com in 2011, Ryan Howard, Jason Peters and, most recently, Andrej Meszaros have suffered Achilles tendon injuries.
I categorically deny any connection between my column and these injuries. If a 76er tears an Achilles tendon this year, though, even I will have a difficult time believing its sheer coincidence.
MANAGING BETTER: Congratulations to Booker T on being named general manager of Smackdown. Booker T was a very good wrestler – I particularly enjoyed his reign as “King Booker” – but I never warmed up to him as a broadcaster. He should be an entertaining general manager.
WEB SPECIAL: Combat Zone Wrestling will host Tangled Web 5, an Internet pay-perivew, Saturday (7:30 p.m.) at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. CZW Heavyweight Champion Masada will defend his title against Joker. CZW owner D.J. Hyde will face Bulldozer Matt Tremont in a Tangled Web match. The CZW Junior Heavyweight Championship will also be on the line when A.R. Fox defends against Alex Colon.
The tag team titles also will be on the line. Sami Calihan battles Ruckus, and Rich Swann returns to face Shane Strickland.
CHAMPION VS. CHAMPION: Ring of Honor will also hold an Internet pay-per-view on Saturday in Providence, R.I. The main event of “Boiling Point 2012” is a champion vs. champion match between Ring of Honor World Champion Kevin Steen and CHIKARA Grand Champion Eddie Kingston. Sara Del Rey, who is finishing up her independent dates before joining WWE, will team with Eddie Edwards to face Mike Bennett and former WWE Diva Maria Kanellis.
Other matches include “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin vs. Charlie Haas; Jay Lethal vs. Tommaso Ciampa in a best two-out-of-three-falls match; and Ring of Honor World TV champion Adam Cole facing “Brutal” Bob Evans in a proving ground (non-title) match.
CHIKARA IN READING: This busy wrestling weekend continues Sunday with a CHIKARA event at First Energy Stadium in Reading. Gates open at 3 p.m. for a pre-show meet and greet; the wrestling begins at 4 p.m. The cost is $5, with all proceeds going to Baseballtown Charities.
CHIKARA will head to the Midwest the following weekend, with events in Milwaukee and Indianapolis. The Milwaukee card on Sat., Aug. 17, features Mike Quackenbush vs. Colt Cabana, as well as the semifinals of the Young Lions Cup and four-corner tag-team elimination bout. The finals of the Young Lions Cup will take place the next day in Indianapolis, where Grand Champion Eddie Kingston will face Harlem Bravado in a non-title match and Quackenbush and Jigsaw will battle The Shard and “17.”
BLASTS FROM THE PAST: The teams coming to CHIKARA’s King of Trios event in Easton from Sept. 14-16 keep getting increasingly interesting. The latest team to join the three-day tournament is the 1-2-3 Kid (Sean Waltman, a.k.a. X-Pac), Aldo Montoya (Justin Credible in ECW) and Tatanka.
The Colony, the two-time defending champions, is also entered. But Fire Ant and Green Ant will have new partner. AssailANT has replaced Soldier Ant, who has joined forces with combatANT and deviANT in The Swarm.
ROAD RACING: I saw a funny scene this past week. While taking a limo up to … well, it’s none of your business where I was going … I saw a car with a New Jersey license plate that read “CENA 1.” The funny part was watching drivers pull up next to the car, as if they were going to see John Cena driving up to WWE headquarters in Stamford, Ct. (That’s hint as to which direction I was traveling.)
Here’s a tip for celebrity chasers: wrestlers don’t get vanity plates with their names on them – at least they shouldn’t get them. The last thing most wrestlers want is to call attention to themselves on the road so a convoy of fans can chase them down. I won’t even mention how dumb it is to have vanity plates with your name on it when you’re at a restaurant, mall or sporting event. (And if the woman driving the car with the “Cena1” plate is actually John’s relative, I’d suggest changing your plates.)
So if you see a luxury car with “Achilles” or “Heel” license plates, let me save you some trouble. I assure you it isn’t me.