Mt. Killamanjaro: TNA Hardcore Justice Review – An Ace, An Eight and Earl Hebner’s Sex Life

Mike Killam
 
Bound for Glory Series – Tables Match
Bully Ray def. James Storm, Jeff Hardy & Robbie E
 
Bully RayOnce again, and this seems to be the theme of the night, a big match that succeeded in doing what they set out to accomplish, but one that fell far short of my expectations. Three of these guys are in the top caliber of in-ring athletes within TNA. They should be able to tell a great story AND put on a 5-star match. I'm not sure they managed either. 
 
Robbie E served as a decent punching bag throughout, justifying his real reason for being in the tournament. Somebody should really tell James Storm and Jeff Hardy you can't share the points in a Series match; not yet anyways… Not even Taz and Tenay could justify the faces' double team attempts. I had originally predicted James Storm to win, but after thinking about it (read: realizing that the top 4 guys in the Series are going to face off at No Surrender) Bully was easily the more obvious choice. 
 
Here's what I don't understand, and maybe that's the point… James Storm isn't behind Aces & Eights. If it's Bully Ray, why attack the World Champ and his contender? Why attack the Pope, who has a snowball's chance in hell of threatening your Series changes? If it's Bobby Roode, why attack the tournament contenders? Why attack himself? I have a bad feeling that no matter the reveal – which I was hoping for more of tonight, by the way – we're going to be left with too many loose ends the creative team didn't bother to think through. 
 
Rating: 3.5/5
 
TNA X-Division Championship
Zema Ion def. Kenny King
 
Austin Aries ascending to the World Title picture was considered a great move by a lot of people. And sure, why not? The guy is as talented as AJ Styles, and twice the talker Styles was during his early days with the company. But the big question NOT being asked was about the future of the X-Division. For a long time now, Aries was the only thing validating the X-Division's existence; who could possibly keep it interesting now? 
 
Zema Ion is a great heel. Classic, even. Kenny King is a great professional wrestler; he's like the love child of Shelton Benjamin and Eddie Gordo from Tekken. Part of the reason they had the tournament at Destination X was to (re) introduce new (and old) names to the division; but are they enough? Let's be honest for a second: nobody currently in the X-Division is as good as Austin Aries, but if you remember Aries wasn't always "the new AJ Styles". If memory serves me right, Mr. Starr flopped out of TNA at one point because of a bad attitude. What I'm getting at is simply that Ion and King are a good start. You never know who is going to focus up and break out as a big deal, especially with the X-Division.
 
This match was a great sign of things to come. Incredibly solid work from both Ion and King that reminded me of some truly excellent X-Division matches back in the day. A lack of star power means they worked the crowd into caring the hard way – by wrestling a damn good match. 
 
Rating: 4/5
 
Bound for Glory Series – Ladder Match
AJ Styles def. Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe & Chris Daniels
 
AJ STylesI'm not sure TNA could have found four guys on their roster with more history together than Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, Chris Daniels and Samoa Joe. The Styles/Joe/Daniels relationship has been on-again, off-again for the entirety of their careers in pro wrestling, while Angle has put on some of TNA's most memorable feuds with at least two of them. It helped that Styles and Daniels have current bad blood between them (when don't they?) but I suspect the match could have been just as good without it. 
 
What's there really to say about a match that goes out and does everything right? I doubt very much if there would have been a poor decision as to who should win, but AJ – particularly the way in which he did win – works perfectly. He's just out of Top 4 range, but keeping Joe at bay means the Bound for Glory Series is going to get really interesting within the next four weeks as we head into No Surrender. 
 
It's hard to believe that either AJ or Daniels will win the whole thing, but rather culminate their year-long feud at Bound for Glory instead. Kurt Angle recently came out and said that his new contract is approaching part-time; I think this all but disqualifies him from going to Bound for Glory as a title contender. I also wouldn't be surprised if both James Storm and Bully Ray get wrapped up in the Aces & Eights story, along with Bobby Roode. Realistically, that leaves Samoa Joe or Rob Van Dam. Not your ideal showstealer, but at the very least this tournament is going to be a nail-biter to the finish. 
 
I'd like to think this fantastic match, while not quite as good as the Styles/Daniels singles from Destination X, did its part to help spice up the Series. 
 
Rating: 4.5/5
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