As I sit down to write this, I’m looking in my rear view mirror at what may be the final TNA Impact Wrestling PPV ever. The company looks to be in a complete free fall, with wrestlers leaving, rumors swirling, and the hardest of the hardcore fan base claiming that there’s no possible way this company could possibly be going out of business.
(Yes, I’m shilling my book. Again. Buy it and help the site, won’t you?)
As we teased in that book, a Death of TNA book is really a no brainer. Not in the that it makes perfect sense for Bryan and I to write it (our legit concern: is anyone going to buy it?), but rather that throughout its existence, the folks who have run this company seemingly never had any synapses firing. With WCW, at least you had a peak. Sure, it took a while to get past the legendary reign of Jim Herd and the period where Hulk Hogan came in and made everyone on the roster bow before him, but eventually they hit on a great idea with the nWo and the Hogan heel turn, along with a fantastic Nitro program featuring every type of wrestling any fan would want to see. Their demise was amazing, arguably far more interesting than the rise due to the train wreck nature of it all.
With TNA, honestly, there was never really a rise, at least from a business standpoint. Sure, there was a year or two where they didn’t lose substantial amounts of money, but it’s never really grown. No matter what they did, who they brought in, what angles they ran, it’s just been a never ending gradual slide down. The rampant stupidity shown throughout its existence could possibly make for what may be the most comical wrestling book ever. I’ve pondered if I’d really need to write a single joke. Just reporting the facts is laughable enough.
As I watched Slamiversary, I thought back to what may have been the single worst main event in TNA history…and then wondered how on earth it had never been inducted here at WrestleCrap.com.
Let’s fix that wrong tonight!
The legendary encounter we’re about to cover took place at Victory Road 2011. See that poster above? That was official TNA promotional material. You’ll note it features Kurt Angle.
He never appeared on the show.
See? No need to write a joke. Just reporting the facts.
The main event of the evening was to feature Sting vs. the man who was probably the hottest merchandise seller and most popular wrestler the company ever had, Jeff Hardy.
So they turned Jeff heel.
As much as we can bag on TNA ownership, there were a lot of times where the roster didn’t help matters. And this would no question be one of those instances. For weeks leading up to the show, the backstage scuttlebutt was that Jeff Hardy had fallen off the wagon. In fact, he was being investigated for not only drug possession but distribution. That’s bad, and that is on Jeff Hardy.
This being TNA, however, management decided that despite these facts, they shouldn’t put someone else in the main event of the show, but should go forward with the plan of Hardy challenging Sting for the world title.
Did I mention that Hardy designed the title belt?
And it looked like this:
In a shockingly premonitory “Tale of the Tape” we were told, and I am quoting here, “No Excuses Tonight for Jeff Hardy.” I’ll say. And it was very apparent as Hardy made his way to the ring that something wasn’t quite right; he looked wobbly even by Jeff Hardy standards, staggering down the ramp and nearly fall down as he came up the ring steps.
But hey, he made it into the ring so all is well. Sting makes his way down the aisle, and Jeremy Borash starts his pre-match spiel, as all the while referee Brian Hebner is holding the championship as is the usual ritual.
Normally I’d chastise the ref for holding the belt down near his crotch and looking completely embarrassed by it, but seriously, look at that belt.
Would ANYONE be proud holding that?
Anyone OTHER than this guy?
Before the match can start, Eric Bischoff interrupts, because it’s TNA and that’s what they do. The highlight here was Bischoff going over and whispering something to Jeff, probably along the lines of, “Seriously, dude, how messed up are you tonight?” He also tells us that he’s changing the rules to this being a no disqualification match. So Sting punches Bischoff in the nose.
Eh, if we’re just going to waste time like that tonight, I’m going to indulge myself as well.
Remember back in 2012 when we used to get Jeff Hardy’s inner monologues on Impact? When he’d wander around backstage and we, the audience at home, could hear his thoughts but no one else on screen could? It’s really too bad TNA didn’t have that in place for this match.
It’s also too bad that Jeff’s inner dialogue in those segments was almost always inanely boring. Still, he did note in this clip that James Storm “drinks too much.”
The bell rings, and the action starts with Jeff taking his shirt off and pantomiming throwing it to the crowd. He does this for a good 45 seconds as Taz asks the question we all wanted answered: “What the hell is Jeff Hardy doing here?” As Hardy continues to refuse to lock up, you can see Sting seething…
…so he takes matters into his own hands, and punches him twice. The action concludes with a hair pull and a Scorpion Death Drop, which Sting follows up with a tight cover; watch closely and you can see Hardy kicking out while Sting fights to hold him down as Hebner counts the pin.
I noted that Hardy teasing throwing his shirt too nearly a minute; the entire debacle, including that time, lasted a whopping 89 seconds.
As Sting headed up the ramp to chants of “BULLSH!T!”, all he could do was shake his head and yell, “I AGREE!”
Even the normally rabid TNA fans were livid, so much so that the company actually apologized for the disaster on their website, complete with a peace offering: “TNA Wrestling strives to give fans who purchase our pay-per-views as close to a full three-hour event as possible. This Saturday’s `TNA Victory Road’ fell short of that standard. Your support of TNA is never taken for granted. To sow you how we value that support, we would like to offer six months of free access to the TNAondemand.com library.”
And yes, they SOW us how they value the fans. Because, you know, this is TNA.
As I wrap this up, I thought it would be fun to go back into the f4wonline.com archives and see what Bryan wrote about this night in his Figure Four Daily newsletter. Here it is, completely unedited:
“Normally I wouldn’t rate this, but we’re on a roll with negative star matches so let’s keep this alive. (-*****) Yes, MINUS FIVE STARS. How do I justify this rating? Well, one of two things happened here. Maybe this whole thing was a stupid work. You know, the Pillman loose cannon deal with Hardy playing the role of wrestler-in-no-condition-to-perform, trying to get Internet fans talking. Well, if that’s the case, this is the best they could come up with? If this was a work, and you were going to do this one-minute finish, at least have it go on second-to-last and come up with some creative excuse to put something else in the main event slot. Isn’t that the point of having a CREATIVE TEAM? If this was a work they bent over and fucked in the ass their most die-hard, loyal-to-the-death fans with a 1:29 main event on a show they paid anywhere from $35 to $45 for. The other possibility is that Jeff was messed up, which was what people in TNA claimed Sunday night. In which case, why is Jeff Hardy in the main event? Years ago WWE fired Jeff because they were concerned with his behavior and he refused to go to rehab. TNA immediately signed him. Then when he kept fucking up they let him go, and WWE signed him back. Then he left WWE a second time, and a week later he got busted and CHARGED WITH MULTIPLE DRUG FELONIES. It’s bad enough to bring a guy in who was having problems when working for the opposition (and believe me I am not defending WWE here because I thought it was wildly irresponsible when they did it as well), but to bring him in when he’s facing possible jail time on drug charges? For fuck’s sake. And it’s not like they took a chance on him, like WWE did, and he actually was on his best behavior once he got there. Oh no. He had an incident just a few month back at another PPV where they were so concerned about his behavior backstage that they nearly pulled him from the show and stripped him of the title (and, of course, in the end they didn’t, they just let him work, and then they gave the belt back to him again a month after he lost it to Mr. Anderson). HELLO? EARTH TO FUCKING IDIOTS. If this was legit, I have no sympathy for Dixie Carter whatsoever. In fact, I hold her even more responsible if this was real than if it was fake. If this was fake, they just did something ungodly stupid. If it was real, she continues to enable a guy with a real problem. She needs to get her fucking act together, like nine years ago. Not to mention that if he really was in no condition to perform, this was the best the creative team could come up with? A one-minute main event with a fluky finish? I mean, Jesus Christ, how long would it take you, the reader, to come up with something better, something that, I don’t know, DOESN’T INVOLVE JEFF HARDY? I mean, think about this. Let’s say he was under the influence of something. They actually thought – THEY ACTUALLY THOUGHT – that it would be better to PUT HIM IN THE RING FOR A ONE-MINUTE BULLSHIT MAIN EVENT than to, say, claim he got beat up by Kurt Angle and have Kurt replace him and do a 12-minute match with Sting. That decision right there, as a business owner, would cause me to swing low through this company in my sweet chariot, decapitating one member of creative after another with my flaming sword, so as to never see them again. Ideally everyone in the world would be employed, preferably in something they enjoyed doing, but for the love of God this company needs to die. Just die, Dixie can go back to being the friendly receptionist at Panda Headquarters in Texas, and if fate is such that there must be a “number-two” wrestling company in America, someone with a fucking brain will come by and pick up the pieces. And hopefully they can do it without rehiring everyone responsible for this Titanic of a company, unlike the current moronic braintrust who hired everyone responsible for killing WCW almost exactly ten years ago to the day. Over the years I have gotten one angry letter after another from the TNA diehards, trying to defend the utter bullshit nonsense that is Impact and the stupid decisions Dixie and her goofy crew make. This is what happens when you blindly support bullshit. You get this show, a show destined to be an entire chapter in a book someday.”
Guess we better start writing.