By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Bram def. Abyss in a Stairway to Janice Match
Similar to their Monster's Ball match, this was a garbage match with several sweet spots and both guys putting forth a strong effort. They captured the crowd's attention and both Bram and Abyss took brutal beatings. I like the move to have Bram going over for a second time because it gives him credibility as a singles competitor. How long before Abyss gets his win back? Personally, I have no desire to see this feud continue. I wasn't a fan of this match concept, but they made the most of it. It's been four years since "Janice" was first introduced to TNA TV. How it's still around today is a mystery to me.
Ethan Carter III Attacked Rhyno
Believe it or not, EC3's promos have become one of the highlights of TNA programming in recent weeks. This wasn't his strongest promo to date, but he's still a work in progress and I'm glad to see him improving at a rapid pace. It made sense from a storyline standpoint for EC3 to blame Rhyno for Dixie Carter going through a table since he was the one pinned in that multi-man tag team match two weeks ago, but the attack on Rhyno was weak. Rhyno is much bigger physically than EC3, so he should have been able to dispose of him with ease instead of getting his ass handed to him. I'm fine with Rhyno as a babyface, but it seems like a step down for EC3 who has feuded with Sting, Kurt Angle and Bully Ray since the start of the year.
X-Division Champion Samoa Joe def. Low-Ki
It was cool to see these two clash given their history on the indie scene, but their lack of history in TNA is what hurt this match. It was billed as a blockbuster bout as it should have been, but TNA viewers who aren't aware of their past together had to be wondering what the big deal was. Granted, the pre-match promos from Joe and Low-Ki helped a bit, but they didn't have any footage to back it up, so it wasn't enough. Even still, this was a very good match featuring plenty of entertaining action. I was slightly disappointed that it didn't go longer, but they made the most of the time they were allotted and I hope this isn't the last we see of them in the ring against each other.
Mr. Anderson def. Sam Shaw in an "I Quit" Match
I've loathed this feud since it started earlier this year, so I'm sure you can pretty much guess how I felt about this match. It was painfully boring and the crowd didn't seem to care, either, and why should they? Anderson hasn't come off as a heel at all, Shaw isn't a sympathetic character and Gunner is just... there. The saving grace of it all is that this stipulation match seemed to serve as the blow-off to the feud, or so I hope. The Gunner-Shaw pairing must end and Anderson deserves better.
The Hardys Called Out Team 3D and TNA World Tag Team Champions The Wolves
The showing of respect from The Hardys and Team 3D was nice and all, but didn't we this same exact segment last week? It felt like a complete rehash. It was comical when the fans chanted "one more match" when the teams were in the ring together despite facing off last week. Regardless, everyone in this segment played their roles well and the World Tag Team Championships actually felt important for once. The series of matches these three tandems are bound to have should be off the charts awesome.
Knockouts Champion Gail Kim def. Angelina Love in a Last Knockout Standing Match
Of all the matches Kim and Love have had so far, this was easily their best bout to date. They made great use of the extreme environment and developed some great chemistry together. Even Velvet Sky played her part well at ringside by teasing tension with Love toward the end. The crowd was invested in the action from start to finish and this was a very fitting conclusion to their long-running rivalry. Kim has been ripping it up as champion in the last two months and I look forward to what's next for her.
The Six Sides of Steel No. 1 Contender's Match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match Ended in a Draw Between Bobby Roode and Eric Young
Cramming six guys into one match is a recipe for disaster more often than not, but this was a far more enjoyable matchup than I originally thought it would be. Everyone worked well together and they incorporated a handful of innovative spots that made the match stand out. I'm content with the match ending in a draw, but viewers must have been waiting for Kurt Angle to address the controversial ending before the show ended. It's a heck of a hook for next week's show, but it could have been handled better by at least letting viewers digest it before going off the air.
The first half of this show didn't do anything for me personally, but business picked up in the final half hour. The main event and Knockout matches were particularly strong and the X-Division Championship match was excellent as well. Everything else felt like filler, poor progression of storylines or meaningless garbage. With that said, I give this Hardcore Justice edition a mild thumbs up. It lived up to its name of being hardcore, but it was definitely a mixed bag of very good and horrendously bad.