It's been awhile since I've written a Richard Reacts and while I don't know how detailed I'm going to go into grading last night's Hardcore Justice pay-per-view, I did want to break the show down into three categories - the good, the bad and the ugly. Here goes:
The in-ring work of Beer Money. The team of Bobby Roode and James Storm always impress me. Their style, the way they flow when they work, it's just a lot of fun to watch. I don't know if Roode and Storm are that good or if it's the fact they are one of the only real tag teams left in the business. However, their match last night against Mexican America was very well done and was one of the few entertaining points of the show.
AJ Styles. What more does AJ Styles need to do before TNA finally builds the company around him? I understand he's a smaller worker and that may hinder him in a company like WWE but what about in Orlando? Styles has already held the TNA Championship and he's one of the most exciting young workers in the business. He carried the forgettable 6-man tag last night.
Sting vs. Kurt Angle until the finish. I make no apologies when I state that Kurt Angle is the best active wrestler in the world and probably one of the greatest if not the greatest of all time. His in-ring work is amazing and regardless of injuries and age, he continues to prove time and time again he is capable of working at a very high level. Sting wasn't bad either but how can you have a bad match with Angle? Everything he does is flawless and his natural talent shines through with any work that he does.
The crowd. Last night's crowd in Orlando was horrible. They weren't into the majority of the show and I can only recall a couple of decent reactions - one for Beer Money and they were OK for Sting vs. Kurt Angle. Other than that, the fans were flat all night and it came across very bad on TV. It was hard for me to type with the dead crowd, I couldn't imagine trying to work in the ring.
Mickie James vs. Winter. This match was horrible and it really could also fit in the "ugly" category because their timing was off on every move. Both women actually looked green in the bout and we all know Mickie is capable of putting on good matches. Maybe it was an off night or maybe her mind was something else. However, they didn't have an easy task with the dead crowd and the ample time they were given.
Rob Van Dam vs. Crimson. RVD makes it a well-known fact that he smokes marijuana, I just wonder if he smoked some before last night's bout? In all seriousness, he looked like he could have cared less about the match and the pay-per-view. He was clearly out there going through the motions and while one can only speculate he didn't want to put Crimson over, who TNA is billing as undefeated, it was really bad. I'm told a lot of the guys resent the push the office is giving Crimson but I don't want to say that's the reason why Van Dam didn't show up because that would not be fair.
Mr. Anderson dropping Bully Ray. Anderson picked Bull Ray up and he couldn't do it. It was disastrous and really stuck out to me as a defining point of the match. What made it worse was that after he dropped him, he immediately went for the cover. He's fortunate he didn't blow out his back.
The finish of almost every single match. It was almost like someone was playing a joke about how bad they could mess up the end of the matches. Seriously, let's take a look at how the bouts ended. In the X Division title opener everyone was just working and out of nowhere Brian Kendrick hit Alex Shelley and with Sliced Bread and pinned him for the victory. Same with the match that followed it. The Knockouts were working the tag match (which was way too long) and Tara just hit Widow's Peak out of nowhere on Rosita for the win. I'd like to tell you it didn't happen a third time but it happened the very next match. "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero rolled Devon up after Devon had just landed a spear. I'd like to say it didn't happen again but in the very next match, Winter spit a red mist in the eyes of Mickie James after Mickie had just fought of Angelina Love's interference. Four matches, four exact same "out of the blue" finishes.
In the next match, Crimson vs. Rob Van Dam, they did a DQ gimmick because Jerry Lynn randomly hit the ring as soon as Crimson hit his finisher. We can skip Immortal vs. Fortune as I had no problem with AJ hitting a Pelee/moonsault combo on Abyss to get the win. Bully Ray vs. Mr. Anderson; they're working a pretty intense match, Bully Ray even hid by the ramp to start it out of the ring but when they were closing in on the finish, Bully Ray said "screw you" to Anderson and tried to walk out. When Anderson brings him back down, he's hit with a low-blow and pinned.
The finish of Beer Money vs. Mexican America was fine so that's my second exemption from the "ugly finish fest."
Finally, Sting and Kurt Angle have the match of the night only for Sting, Angle and the referee to get knocked out. Hulk Hogan emerged with a chair and when he went to hit Sting, Angle took it and hit Sting himself. Angle followed with the Angle Slam and the three count. Another Angle heel turn to end the night and bookmark the "ugly finish fest."