When Impact originally announced that its “Hardcore Justice” special on Impact Plus was going to be airing on the same day as the industry’s biggest PPV of the year, initial impressions may have been that this was a bad idea, because it stands to reason that viewership would be spectacularly low. But in hindsight, it may have been genius. Because the show definitely did not come off giving the impression that this was the best the company had to offer. Not only did it fail to live up to the “hardcore” billing, but with few exceptions, it actually came off as weak, flat, and ultimately soft.
Match 1: Ace Austin and Mad Man Fulton vs. TJP and Fallah Bahh vs. Josh Alexander and Petey Williams
Bahh came out carrying a broom – and if there’s anyone who’s more distinctly opposite than Kenny “the Cleaner” Omega than Bahh, I’ve yet to see him. Josh’s surprise partner was somewhat more interesting, as he brought fellow Canuck Petey – who looks younger than ever – back to Impact.
This one had a really good flow to it, with the babyface teams starting off with some competitive scientific exchanges, and Ausin and Fulton bringing a lot more aggression into the mix. They were able to dictate the pace thanks to Fulton’s power and their double-team chemistry, compared to the makeshift teams. Alexander was isolated for some time, but eventually was able to tag in TJP, who cleaned house.
At this point, the pace quickened and there were some sequences featuring everybody, until at one point, everybody was down, bodies strewed about the ring. Later, there was a parade of finishers, including a vintage Canadian Destroyer by Petey onto TJP. In the end, Alexander and Petey dispatched of everyone but Bahh who got trapped in an Ankle Lock by Alexander and had no choice but to tap out.
This was fun opener and a good kickoff to the event. Everybody got a chance to shine, and everyone looked good. Strong start.
Winners: Josh Alexander and Petey Williams
Match 2: Shera vs. Hernanez – Chairly Legal match
This was the big hoss fight of the show, and the two started off slugging it out before the chairs came into play. Hernandez hit the first big show, slamming Shera onto two chairs that were set up in the middle of the ring.
He pressed the advantage with some heavy clubbing blows and some dirty tactics, including straddling Shera on the ropes and kicking it to deliver a low blow. Between hits, Hernandez kept throwing chairs into the ring until he had built up a nice pile of them. But the tactic backfired, as Shera was able to Superplex Hernandez onto them. In the end, Hernandez was mounting a comeback, but then Rohit Raju ran into the ring. Instead of attacking Shera, which was expected because of their recent friction, he attacked Hernandez, and Shera capitalized to get the win. Raju and Shera apparently reconciled and maybe Shera will get his first name back.
This was a bit of a plodding affair, and didn’t really deliver on the level of violence one would hope for in a Chairs match. The quick reconciliation of Raju and Shera seems to be a course correction, since it was probably a better idea to keep them together in the first place given Shera’s limitations.
At Swinger’s Palace, Chris Sabin and James Storm were complaining about not having a match tonight. Team XXXL walked in, and said they would oblige, and said to meet them in the ring. But Storm clarified and said he was talking about having a drinking contest. Matt Cardona came in and he and Swinger had words. So Tommy Dreamer booked them in a Crate American Bash match.
Match 3: Luke Gallows (w/ Karl Anderson) vs. Black Taurus (w/ Crazzy Steve)
Taurus is certainly powerful, but Gallows is no slouch either, and he took control early. He smothered Taurus with hits, stomps, and power moves for several minutes, and then even beat him up outside, whipping him hard into the ringside barrier and sending him head over tail.
After an eternity, Taurus found a burst of strength and powered up, nearly getting a pin after a 619 and a big splash. But a distraction by Anderson let Gallows hit Taurus with a big ChokeBomb to get the pin.
This was pretty much a squash, and did no favours for Taurus, who up until now had been booked with a big mystique and looked unstoppable. They clearly wanted Gallows to look strong given the Good Brothers will be facing FinJuice for the titles in a couple of weeks. But, unless Taurus is on his way out, sacrificing him felt like a counterproductive way to do it.
Winner: Luke Gallows
Violent By Design did a video promo, saying that they would destroy their opponents tonight, and show them that world belongs to VBD.
Match 4: Matt Cardona vs. Johnny Swinger (w/ the Swingerellas) – Crate American Bash match
Each corner post had a closed box on top of it with a mystery weapon inside. The rules here are that if you can get the weapon, you can use it. This was pretty much a comedy match with Swinger in full cheesy throwback mode. The first “weapon” was a framed Scott Hall picture, but it was played up for yuks instead of being used offensively. In the second one was a rat trap that hurt Swinger when he reached blindly in the box.
After some back and forth, they both went for weapons. Cardona was pleased by whatever he saw in his box, but opted to leave his in the box, sight unseen. While swinger pulled out a pair of brass knuckles from his. But his attempt to use them was thwarted, and Cardona ducked the punch and hit Swinger with his “Always Ready” finisher for the pin.
After the match, Cardona took his box with him without revealing what was in it.
Move-wise, this was about as basic as you can get, and comedy-wise, about the same.
Winner: Matt Cardona
In the Flashback Moment of the Week, Rob Van Dam beat Sabu at Hardcore Justice 2010. After the last couple of matches, showing true hardcore experts having a good competitive match may not be the smartest move. Same with featuring matches with Mike Tenay and Taz on commentary. Matt Striker and D-Lo Brown are fine, but Tenay and Taz were just so, so good, they can’t compare. Also – if you don’t have enough original content to fill the time on a special event… maybe not have the special event?
At Swinger’s Palace, Sabin and Storm and XXXL were still having their drinking contest. Larry D asked the question “How much longer is this thing gonna last?” and that was appropriate in light of how the show has been so far.
Sami Callihan came to the ring. He insisted that he wasn’t a bad guy, but rather wanted to bring out the best in people. As an example, he said that he has been trying to draw out the passion in Trey Miguel, and the abuse he’s put on him has worked, evidence by Sami and Trey’s win this past week. He said he was throwing out an open challenge to anyone who wanted to face him, leading to Sam Beale coming out for…
Match 5: Sami Callihan vs. Sam Beale
This was a showcase for Callihan, and he easily bullied Beale early on, including hitting a sweet Slingshot Suplex and then wrenching Beale’s fingers into awkward angles – gross. Sami basically toyed with Beale, beating the tar out of him inside and out of the ring. Beale had a quick flash of fire, but it got easily doused, and Sami ended the beating with a Cactus Special for the pin.
This was an absolute squash, straight out of a Saturday morning wrestling show in the 80s.
Winner: Sami Callihan
Match 6: Brian Myers vs. Jake Something – Hardcore Blindfold match
Presumably, this one was made only so Tommy Dreamer could call use the “In Your House: Blind Games” pun as the button to the segment where this match was made. Some weapons were scattered around ringside if, in their blindfolded condition, either wrestler could find them.
D-Lo Brown made one of the most apt calls of his commentary career saying “These matches aren’t fun at all,” but what he meant in earnest is also accurate, since these are usually pretty bad. The main twist here is that there is no live crowd that can help the babyface by directing them towards the heel – a point astutely noted by the commentators.
Myers struck early, hitting Jake with a garbage can lid, a broomstick, and a baking pan. But he couldn’t see Jake so wasn’t able to pin him after Something went down. Something was able to hit Myers with a Powerbomb for a two-count. But he was smart and held on so he could continue assaulting Myers with a series of short-arm clotheslines. But as he went for one more, Myers grabbed the referee and used him as a human shield, and Jake waffled him. With the ref out, Myers removed his hood and hit Jake with a couple of Superkicks, putting him down, and then put his hood back on.
Before he could pin Something, though, Matt Cardona came to the ring carrying his crate. He slid it to Jake Something who clocked Myers with it – in doing so, its contents spilled all over and it was full of action figures, hence Cardona’s geeky joy. Something then pinned Myers.
This one was as bad and as dull as can be expected for a Brian Myers match. Which is really bad and really dull. The silly stipulation and the silly ending didn’t help.
Winner: Jake Something
Tommy Dreamer and his team – Willie Mack, Eddie Edwards, and Rich Swann – said they would beat VBD today.
Match 7: Rosemary vs. Tenille Dashwood (w/ Kaleb) vs. Jordynne Grace vs. Alisha vs. Havok vs. Su Yung – Weapons match
Susan was supposed to be in this match, but when she came to the entrance ramp, red lights and smoke flooded the stage and Su Yung attacked her and took her out.
There were a few stories running through this one: Tenille trying to avoid getting beaten up and hit with weapons; Su Yung’s return adding the unknown factor into this; and Alisha trying to prove she can hang with the larger opponents despite being a small underdog.
Alisha used the first weapon of the match, using a staple gun on Dashwood’s buttocks. All five of the women circled her with bad intentions, bringing in Kaleb who sacrificed himself to save her, taking a beating from the others.
Other notable moments: Grace put Alisha through a garbage can; Rosemary dumped a bag of thumbtacks on the floor and tried to end Alisha, but Alisha reversed it and DDTd Rosemary into them. She followed that up with some Singapore cane shots, but then Su attacked Alisha, and dragged her away with a Mandible Claw.
Later, it looked like Havok was going to squash Grace with a moonsault to end things, but Neveah ran to the ring and threw powder into Havok’s eyes, blinding her. Grace blasted Havok with a Vader Bomb, but Kaleb reached under the ropes pulled her off of Havok and knocked her out with a Superkick on the floor. Tenille Dashwood scrambled in and stole the pin, making her the new number one contender for the Knockouts Championship.
This was a bit chaotic at times, with all the stories going on, but at least the DDT spot looked good. Also, the return of Su Yung is a welcome change – the Susan character which might have sounded like a good idea on paper wasn’t quite working, and the difference in her work with the return to Yung brought out the best in her.
Winner: Tenille Dashwood
At Swinger’s Palace, the drinking contest was still going on, and all four men were hammered. Storm then said the game was on, and set up a cup on a table for a Beer Pong challenge. Acey missed his toss, and Sabin didn’t know how to play the game. Larry missed his shot, and Storm opted to not take a shot, but instead sucker-punched Larry, leading to a brawl. Storm and Sabin took XXXL down and celebrated their victory.
Match 8: Jazz vs. Deonna Purrazzo (c) – Old School Rules match for the Knockouts Championship, with Jazz’s career on the line
This was a good clash of styles, with Purrazzo trying to use her technical and submission expertise against the stronger Jazz. Purrazzo used her normal tactic of working over her opponent’s arm in order to set her up for the Venus de Milo submission. At one point, she even hog-tied Jazz in the ropes, which was a neat visual.
Jazz was finally able to come back and the action spilled to the floor, where Jazz was able to grap some weapons and throw them into the ring, knowing that the Old School Rules stipulation played to her favour. Once the action went back into the ring, she did use them, hitting Purrazzo with a chair and getting a near fall after a DDT onto the chairs. But Purrazzo was adamant to keep her title and fought back. She went back to pure wrestling, weakened Jazz, and then put her down for the count after a Queen’s Gambit (a Cradle Styles Clash).
After the match, Jordynne Grace came to the ring to embrace and console Jazz, while the commentators sang the ECW original’s praises.
Other than maybe the opening match, this was the best thing on the show by far. Purrazzo has to be seen as being among best women’s wrestlers in any company right now. Jazz has had a Hall of Fame career so hop
Winner, and still Knockouts Champion: Deonna Purrazzo
The announcers threw to backstage where Dr. Ross was checking on Tommy Dreamer who had been knocked unconscious, presumably after an attack. Dr. Ross said that Dreamer was not going to be able to compete in the match. Impact Executive Vice-President Scott D’Amore joined the scene and said that Dreamer’s team still had to proceed with the match while things get figure out.
Match 9: Eddie Edwards, Willie Mack, Rich Swann, and ??? vs. Violent By Design (Deaner, Rhino, Joe Doering, and Eric Young) Hardcore War
This was essentially a WarGames match without the cage. Edwards and Deaner were the first entrants, and they had a good hard-hitting fight for the first five minutes, mixing up power moves and weapon shots. Rhino was the next to enter and he and Deaner pummeled Eddie, using chairs and even a pool cue to deliver the punishment.
Willie Mack came in, brandishing a chain and with the odds evened – and with help from a Singapore cane – he and Edwards lay a beating on Deaner and Rhino. The giant Joe Doering entered next, and he freight-trained his way through Mack and Edwards, channeling his inner Stan Lariat.
Rich Swann came in with a road sign and used that to great effect to gain the advantage, smacking Joe with it to take him out of commission and then going to town on his VBD teammates too.
Eric Young showed his Canadian colours, bringing in a hockey stick and earning himself several Slashing penalties that would have got him ejected in an actual game.
As the clock ticked down to the final man, it was revealed that D’Amore had found a replacement for Dreamer in the form of Trey Miguel. He did well early on with a quick burst of speed, taking out Young and Deaner with a flying dive – but then ran into the brick wall named Joe Doering.
The tied turned, VBD was able to dominate, with even the world champion Swann getting GORE GORE GOREd though a table. A Tower of Doom spot followed, and then Doering went to town, blasting Mack with a huge Lariat that sent Edwards tumbling to the floor. There, Doering looked to finish off Eddie by driving him through a table, but Trey made the save – kind of, since his Meteora on Doering actually wound up driving Doering through Edwards who was lying on the table.
Mack was the last man standing for his team, but he was unable to overcome the numbers game. He tried valiantly, but ultimately fell to a Piledriver by Young and got pinned.
This was a good match. Doering is an absolute beast, and this match really made him look unstoppable. In fact, there’s a strong argument that he should actually be the one who should be representing Impact in the title-for-title match against AEW champ Kenny Omega. Particularly since Swann was a bit of a non-factor in this match, and didn’t really make him look really strong, which is how they should be positioning him for that match. Hopefully Young’s injury doesn’t mean that VBD will be taking a back seat on the show – really, other than Purrazzo, this faction is the best thing going in the company right now.
Winners: Violent By Design
Hardcore Justice - April 10, 2021
Skyway Studios - Nashville, TN
With highlights coming few and far between, this was a disappointing offering by Impact. The return of Petey Williams and Su Yung were good, the women’s title match was great, and the main event worked in reinforcing the excellence that is Joe Doering. But everything else fell flat – or worse, was just plain bad. Scrapping this show entirely and instead just focusing energies on the Rebellion PPV in two weeks would have been a better idea.