This week, TNA presents Hardcore Justice in lieu of a standard episode of Impact Wrestling. Below is a rundown of all advertised segments:
STEEL CAGE MATCH FOR THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
World Heavyweight Champion Chris Sabin vs. Bully Ray of The Aces and Eights (If Bully Ray loses, he will never get another title shot!)
The much-anticipated World Title rematch that fans have been waiting for finally takes place on Thursday night inside the confines of the Steel Cage – with no outside interference from the Aces and Eights or Main Event Mafia! Can Chris Sabin continue his amazing storybook reign as champion – or will Bully Ray reclaim the title he claims was “stolen” from him? Bully only has one shot at the gold – if he loses, he will never get another chance at the World Title!
Dave Says: This match is both intriguing and very hard to call because the possible outcomes represent such drastically different paths forward for TNA. The stipulation that a loss keeps Bully Ray out of the Title picture makes it seem likely that Ray will regain the title unless TNA legitimately feels that they don’t have a dollar left to make off of him as champion.
Best Case Scenario: Sabin starts off the match hot against Ray, getting in his exciting, high-impact offense in the opening minutes of the contest. Ray then cuts the champion off, leading to an extended period of selling for Sabin in the vein of Destination X. Ray goes to put his opponent away once and for all, attempting to superplex him from the top of the cage. Sabin blocks and goes into a big comeback, ultimately hitting his finisher on Ray in the middle of the ring, and getting the clean win he didn’t at Destination X.
Worst Case Scenario: The match starts out as a back-and-forth contest between Sabin and Ray, until Aces & Eights come to the ring in an attempt to open the cage door and assist their fearless leader. The Main Event Mafia come down to make the save, but in the chaos, Anderson passes the ball peen hammer to Bully Ray, who uses it once again to regain his title and get his revenge on Chris Sabin.
Note: The Aces and Eights vs. Main Event Mafia match is delayed until the August 22 IMPACT
Dave Says: Those on the internet prognosticating on the “Death of TNA” will surely make much of this match being pushed back. However, if TNA’s plans were spoiled by Kurt Angle’s personal problems, it’s actually laudable that they are taking time to reset and rebook the match in a way that makes sense with the cast of characters at hand.
Best Case Scenario: Jeremy Borash establishes early on the live show that this match has been rescheduled to prevent confusion and provides an appropriate, kayfabe reason for the delay.
Worst Case Scenario: Ken Anderson cuts a “Where is Kurt Angle?” promo, tastelessly hinting at his rehab stint. Angle then appears backstage, beats up the Aces & Eights, and declares his return to not only be real, but furthermore “damn real.”
BOUND FOR GLORY SERIES LADDER MATCH
Jeff Hardy vs. AJ Styles vs. Austin Aries vs. Kazarian (The winner receives a huge 20 points in the BFG Series!)
Thursday’s “Hardcore Justice” special will feature an all-important “Bound For Glory Series” bout with a HUGE 20 points going to the winner! Four of TNA’s most experienced Ladder Match warriors will battle – Jeff Hardy vs. AJ Styles vs. Austin Aries vs. Kazarian – with the winner closing the BFG Series point gap to catch current leader, Magnus!
Dave Says: Considering the combined talent level in this match, these four could easily steal the show. While the match is filled with great wrestlers, it will be interesting to see how each man plays his role within the match, as two of the four men in this match are largely undefined in terms of heel/face status.
Best Case Scenario: These four have an athletic, back-and-forth match in which all of them have time to shine. Each shows off their signature spots and has a chance to look like they have the match won. In the end, Jeff Hardy hits the Twist of Fate on Kazarian from the top of the ladder, climbs back up, and brings home the points.
Worst Case Scenario: B-O-T-C-H-A-M-A-N-I-A. This match contains a large number of unnecessarily-dangerous, poorly-executed spots. In the end, A.J. Styles and Jeff Hardy trade bombs on the top of the ladder when Robert Roode and Christopher Daniels come down to the ring, tip them over, and help Kazarian get the huge win.
BOUND FOR GLORY SERIES TABLE MATCH (The winner receives a huge 20 points in the BFG Series!)
Just signed for Thursday’s “Hardcore Justice” edition of IMPACT on SpikeTV is a special four-way “Bound For Glory Series” Table Match, with 20 points going to the winner! It will feature BFG Series leader Magnus vs. Samoa Joe vs. Bobby Roode vs. Ken Anderson of The Aces and Eights! Can Joe win and finally claim the top spot in the Series? Roode and Anderson certainly need the points to stay alive in the competition! How will Roode’s new alliance with Christopher Daniels and Kazarian help him get the points he needs? Or, will Magnus win again and take the ultimate commanding lead? Thursday’s hardcore edition of IMPACT will certainly shake up the standings in the BFG Series!
Dave Says: It’s a little confusing for two members of the Main Event Mafia to be booked in this match, as a face-off between Joe and Magnus seems way too soon in this angle. Given that Roode is the leader of a new faction in TNA and trying to get over his increased threat to the World Heavyweight Title, he needs this win.
Best Case Scenario: Joe and Magnus dominate the beginning of the match, working together to bump their opponents back and forth. However, they eventually begin arguing over who is allowed to get the win. The heels cut them off, leading to back-and-forth action that ends when Bad Influence comes to wrong Magnus and aid Bobby Roode in getting the big win.
Worst Case Scenario: Joe and Magnus dominate the beginning of the match, working together to bump their opponents back and forth. However, they quickly begin arguing over who is allowed to get the win. Chaos ensues, and following the poorly-executed screwy finish of all poorly-executed screwy finishes, Anderson emerges with the big win and regains footing as a player in the BFG Series.
KNOCKOUTS TORNADO TAG TEAM MATCH (No Disqualification, No Countouts) Knockouts Champion Mickie James and Gail Kim vs. Velvet Sky and ODB
Don’t miss the lovely but lethal Knockouts in action on Thursday night as Knockouts Champion Mickie James teams with Gail Kim to battle former champion Velvet Sky and ODB!
Dave Says: James and Kim are two of the top female wrestlers in the world, so a team of the two seems pretty unbeatable. With that said, Sky and ODB are both over babyfaces with a loyal following from their many years of service in TNA, so they could also get a feel-good tag team in the chaotic gimmick match.
Best Case Scenario: This match goes at least ten minutes, with each competitor having time to both shine on offense and sell as well. ODB hits a big spot on Mickie James that has her looking poised for the win, but Gail Kim catches her with a cheap shot and steals the victory for the heels.
Worst Case Scenario: TNA reveals yet another interim referee for the Knockouts Division: Brooke Hogan. The heels dominate the match until Kim gets into an argument with Brooke, kicking off her third feud with a referee on the year. Velvet Sky hits her In Yo’ Face finisher on the poor, distracted Gail for the dirty babyface win.