On June 1, 2004 Jeff Jarrett won the NWA title. Since then fans have clamored for someone to take the belt from his waist. Anticipation was high when AJ Styles was named challenger to Jarrett’s strap, with fans wondering if Styles would be the man to dethrone the “King of the Mountain.” After 20 minutes of thrilling action Styles finally defeated Jarrett with a little help from guest referee and UFC star Tito Ortiz.

The crowd made it abundantly clear who they were rooting for early on and stuck with Styles throughout the match, chanting his name. While Ortiz’s counts were on the slow side, he was a hands-on referee, repeatedly preventing both men from breaking the rules. Styles dominated the early going before Jarrett targeted his opponent’s knee, clipping it and working it over before slapping on the figure-four leglock. Both men ended up outside where Jarrett tried to use his guitar (shocking that) and Ortiz offered Jarrett a shot at himself instead. Styles grabbed the guitar and Ortiz threatened him too, so he smashed it on the floor, eradicating it from the match.

Jarrett blocked a hurricanrana with a powerbomb, and hit Styles with his own finisher the Styles Clash for a two count. Styles retaliated with Jarrett’s own finish, The Stroke. Styles missed a dive off the top but rolled to his feet and attempted the Styles Clash. Monty Brown hit the ring but his pounce missed his target and Jarrett was the victim. Ortiz argued with Brown as he tried to force him from ringside while Styles covered Jarrett. Official Rudy Charles dove in for a two count before Ortiz pulled him out and reminded him who the official was. Styles and Ortiz argued, allowing Jarrett to get a low blow and set Styles up on the top. Ortiz and Jarrett argued, Jarrett shoved Ortiz and the referee retaliated with a punch to the jaw. Styles brought the Spinal Tap corkscrew senton out of the mothballs to put away Jarrett.

Fans celebrated as an emotional Styles held the belt up. The match was a great cap off to the most entertaining pay per view from TNA since January’s Final Resolution. There has been a lot of talk about who would be chosen to carry the torch for TNA, and Styles is more then capable of filling the shoes.

The next TNA Pay Per View is “Slammiversary” celebrating their third year of existence on Sunday, June 19, 2005.

Hard Justice 2005 Results

The show started off with a 10-bell salute and a chair in the ring with the NWA tag title and a picture of Chris Candido in his memory.

Match 1: Team Canada vs. Apollo & Sonny Siaki

A fun opener with Petey Williams and Eric Young representing our country proudly. Apollo and Siaki are starting to gel as a team. However as much as I love Team Canada, they do shame me by always having to cheat, in this case by having A-1 hit the ring and jackhammer Apollo and toss Petey on top for the three count.

Winners: Petey Williams and Eric Young at 8:05
Rating: 5/10

A video package showing Ortiz, Jarrett and Styles arriving at the building aired. Styles walked past a long line of fans cheering for him.

Match 2: Chris Sabin and Tracy Brooks vs. Michael Shane and Trinity

I am still trying to figure out how Tracy and Shane split and Trinity got involved. The girls put in a lot of effort in the match, carrying their portion well enough while Shane and Sabin’s talent speaks for itself. In a weird finish, Tracy low blowed Sabin, Shane superkicked him and then superkicked Trinity. Huh?

Winners: Michael Shane & Trinity at 10:18
Rating: 6/10

Interviews ran with Team Canada, Dusty Rhodes & Tito Ortiz and Raven, who slammed Hardy for being a coward and not showing up at the show before threatening his replacement Sean Waltman.

Match 3: Raven’s Clockwork Orange House of Fun Match: Raven vs. Sean Waltman

A really fun match that saw both men get busted open early and Waltman bump hard like he hasn’t in a long time. All sorts of gimmicks hung from cables around the ring and one side had cage fencing. Waltman set Raven up on a table at ringside and then hit a senton off the top rope through Raven and the cage. Raven came back with an Evenflow DDT in the ring for a two count and put Waltman through a table off the ramp. Back in the ring, Waltman assaulted Raven with a staplegun but was backdropped into the steel fencing, which crashed to the floor. Raven rolled down it and pinned Waltman.

Winner: Raven at 13:20
Rating: 8/10

Backstage, Tito Ortiz instructed AJ Styles on the title match, TNA worked hard to make the match mean something. DDP was interviewed getting a text message from partner BG James that he was having travel issues, so Ron Killings offered to replace him.

Match 4: Ron Killings & “Diamond” Dallas Page vs. The Outlaw & Monty Brown

Another fun, short match that saw Phi Delta Slam interfere, allowing Brown to pounce DDP for the win. DDP and Ron Killings didn’t have enough power to stop THE FULL MONTY!!!!! Get it? Because it’s Monty Brown and Outlaw’s name is Monty as well… awh forget it.

Winners: Monty Brown and The Outlaw at 8:52
Rating: 5/10

A pretaped interview ran with Mike Tenay and the Naturals talking about Chris Candido’s death, mixed in with an angle about getting a new mentor. While I appreciate that they were paying tribute to Chris, adding in an angle left a bad taste in my mouth.

Match 6: NWA Tag Team Championship: The Naturals (Champions) vs. America’s Most Wanted (Challengers)

An emotional match as the Naturals set up a chair at ringside with Candido’s trademark towel on it, and fans chanted Chris’ name in the early going. While the dynamic was screwy because AMW are faces and The Naturals are supposed to be heels but have the fans behind them out of respect for Chris, but the execution was good. All four men brawled around ringside before a tower of doom superplex wiped all four men. Douglas rolled up Storm for the win.

Winners:… and still NWA tag team champions… The Naturals at 12:00
Rating: 7/10

Ortiz was stopped by David Young when he went to speak with the NWA Champ, but Jarrett stopped the altercation and invited Ortiz into his room.

Match 7: X-division Championship: “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels (Champion) vs. Shocker (Challenger)

Daniels wrestled AJ Styles to a 60-minute draw at Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Friday night. You need to know that. Daniels and the AAA star matched up well, with Shocker using a lot of U.S. wrestling as opposed to Lucha. Daniels overshot on the best moonsault ever but scored with an Arabian moonsault for a two count. Shocker went for a submission victory with a crossface, but Daniels bit his thumb to break the hold. With both men up top Daniels hit the Angels Wings from the top for the win.

Winner:… and still X-Division champion… Christopher Daniels at 12:00.
Rating: 8/10

Match 8: 20-Man Gauntlet for the Gold Number One Contenders Match

This match really showed the lack of depth of the roster, as Xplosion regulars like Jerrell Clark, Mikey Batts, Sharkboy and Cassidy Riley making appearances, and Michael Shane, Chris Sabin, Ron Killings, The Outlaw, Apollo, Petey Williams and Eric Young doing double-duty. The match saw the return of Zach Gowan, who started the match with Bobby Roode. Team Canada and Lance Hoyt all shined in the match while Tryton returned and was eliminated early. Outlaw and BG James eliminated Williams and Roode then stared at each other briefly, allowing Abyss to run in and eliminate both men at the same time. This lead to…

Gauntlet for the Gold Finals: Abyss vs. Ron Killings

When it came down to these two the outcome was evident. Both guys worked hard brawling around the ring. Abyss tried to use his chain but the referee took it away. Abyss tried to hit the avalanche splash on Killings sandwiched between chairs but Killings held it up to crotch him. The “Suntan Superman” leapt off the ropes into a Black Hole Slam to give Abyss the number one contendership. I can deal with seeing Abyss vs. Styles again.

Winner: Abyss at 26:48 (overall)
Rating: 7/10

An excellent video package hyping the Styles/Jarrett showdown aired.

Match 9: NWA Championship: Jeff Jarrett (Champion) vs. AJ Styles (Challenger)

Winner:… and new NWA Champion… AJ Styles at 19:28
Rating: 8/10