Total Nonstop Action
Hard To Kill 2024
January 13, 2024
Palms Casino Resort
Las Vegas, Nevada

Watch: TrillerTV

TNA Hard to Kill, the first show and PPV of the new TNA Wrestling era, took place this past Saturday night (January 13) at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event, Alex Shelley defended the TNA World Championship against Moose.

Before I get into the bones of the show, I wanted to comment on the crowd. The final number was a little over 1,600, making this the promotion’s best-attended show in eight years. A bigger venue than they normally run in Vegas, the Palms made them feel a bit more big time and I thought it came across well production-wise. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the fact they managed to draw that number in spite of a non-existent build and direct competition from New Japan is a very positive sign and hopefully one they can build on in 2024.

Countdown to Hard to Kill
Steve Maclin def. Rich Swann

While I respect Rich Swann changing up his look for this match and the new era of TNA, and potentially paying tribute to the Flying Elvises in the process, the jumpsuit didn’t work for me, brother.

Exactly as you’d expect for a match between two former World Champions, this was a very decent match to open the night. Thankfully, it was also free of the specter of Bully Ray.

I was a big fan of the finish, whereby Maclin successfully avoided a splash from Swann before putting him away with first a Tree of Woe Spear and then a KIA DDT. There was no messing about, just tag’em, bag’em and mayhem for Swann as Maclin became the first match winner of the new TNA era. ***1/4

Before the next match, AJ Francis and DJ Whoo-Kid came out to promote the music video of their new song. They were interrupted by Joe Hendry, who had prepared some footage of his own making fun of the former Top Dolla. I thought it was one of Hendry’s best in a while, and it led to Whoo-Kid hitting him with a laptop before Francis put him down with a chokeslam. While I wouldn’t bring in Francis long-term, I think a short program that puts Hendry over could work well.

Countdown to Hard to Kill
The System (Eddie Edwards & Brian Myers) v Frankie Kazarian & Eric Young

Before this match, Eddie Edwards and Brian Myers were confirmed as being part of Moose’s new faction called The System. I don’t mind them as a group but we’ve got to stop with these weird single word group names. We had The Design, which stank, and now The System. I just hate how meta and abstract they’re trying to be with them.

Anyway, Edwards and Myers, being a permanent team, tipped off that they were going to be going over here, and that’s exactly what happened in a functionally solid tag match. There was nothing wrong with it, but it didn’t quite click with me.

Edwards and Myers notably won clean, managing to cause enough chaos as the match broke down to wipe Kazarian out with a Roster Cut lariat and then a Boston Knee Party. **3/4

Countdown to Hard to Kill
TNA Digital Media Championship – 
No Disqualification Match
Crazzy Steve def. Tommy Dreamer ©

More or less as anticipated, this was dreadfully boring. However, worse than being boring, this match mostly just annoyed me and that was in large part down to Steve’s incessant barking and chanting.

Given the story between these two largely involved the use of a fork, it was more or less expected that the finish would be cutlery-orientated as well. They did go down that route but the spot just didn’t work – the spokes of the forks were pointing away from a slumped Dreamer and when Steve hit him with the Cannonball Senton, they drove into Steve’s back and not Dreamer’s torso. While I get the masochistic aspect of Steve’s character, and the potential notion that he’d happily hurt himself in order to beat Dreamer, the spot looked dumb and completely killed by suspension of disbelief.

The right person won though, so this does avoid being a dud. *

Six-woman Ultimate X to determine the No #1 Contender for the TNA Wrestling Knockouts World Championship
Gisele Shaw def. Xia Brookside, Dani Luna, Tasha Steelz, Alisha Edwards and Jody Threat

I’m not someone who usually likes being wrong, but I was happy to be here, as these women significantly surpassed my low expectations to deliver a good, hot opener that both the live crowd and I thoroughly enjoyed.

Everyone got some shine across the match’s 12-minute run-time, with Dani Luna the particular standout. Taking on the Jordynne Grace hoss/base role from the first Knockouts Ultimate X, Luna got in a bunch of power spots and felt like a star.

Xia Brookside wasn’t very noticeable, aside from seemingly getting stiffed by Gisele Shaw, but she’s apparently got a three-year deal with Impact so I suspect she’ll be a development project for the months to come. 

The finish saw Luna, Tasha Steelz, and Shaw battling in the middle of the structure. Luna and Steelz fell, leaving Shaw to claim a deserved win and another title shot. ***1/2

PCO def. Dirty Dango (w/Alpha Bravo & Oleg Prudius) by disqualification

I’m usually a sucker for special entrances, but TNA successfully managed to make PCO’s special entrance here feel about as tinpot as it possibly could have done. Rather than capturing the camp but loveable reanimation from GCW all those years ago, PCO instead looked like a long-lost member of MLW’s The Calling, slowly clambering up off Rickey Shane Page’s used gurney.

Anyway, I barely had time to process that, and his match was over, with Alpha Bravo interfering to pull PCO off the middle rope and force the disqualification…

Rhino came out to stop Bravo, Dirty Dango, and Oleg Prudius beating PCO down, which in turn led Santino Marella to come out and restart it as a six-man tag also involving Jake Something. 

Now, as much as making a bad match slightly better by adding more olds and a guy that should be something (pardon the pun) of significance did feel quite LOLTNA, I actually quite liked Marella coming out here. It was the only match on the night that had actual interference, and he acted on it, so from a logical kayfabe perspective, he did his job. That’s all I’ve ever asked for.

PCO, Rhino & Jake Something def. Dirty Dango, Alpha Bravo & Oleg Prudius

For a brief match that gave the cowardly heels a comeuppance and allowed some babyfaces to shine, this was absolutely fine and did its job. 

Even though I’d have had this be the end of Dango’s unit, I have a feeling TNA will try to do more with Prudius and that really worries me. He looked shot to pieces in his appearances before this match, but his attempt at taking a shoulder tackle bump led me to hear faint echoes of ‘TIMBERRRRR’…

The finish was decisive, with PCO the last of the three babyfaces to hit sequential big power moves on Alpha Bravo. **

TNA Wrestling Knockouts Tag Team Championships
Decay (Rosemary & Havok) def. MK Ultra (Masha Slamovich & Killer Kelly) (C)

I saw quite a few people online after this match criticizing TNA for belting up Havok again and taking these titles off of MK Ultra, but those people couldn’t be more wrong. 

With Deonna Purrazzo gone and Trinity leaving, TNA need singles stars in the Knockouts division and both Masha Slamovich and Killer Kelly should be in those roles. Having them drop these titles, after a six-month run no less, will ‘let them cook’ as the kids might say.

Looking at it from the other side, it gives Rosemary and Havok, two popular and established acts that are further down the totem pole, something to do now that they’re back doing their proper gimmicks and not whatever the split personality stuff was they were doing last year. 

The match itself was functionally fine, with the big spot being Havok kicking out of Slamovich’s Snow Plow finisher at one. She then put both of MK Ultra down with a double Chokeslam before hitting a sitout slam on Kelly for the win. **½

Prior to the next match, TNA President Scott D’Amore and AAA’s Dorian Roldan came out to announce a new partnership between the two promotions. Well, it might have been a partnership renewal rather than a new one so to speak but really it wasn’t clear what it meant. Scott and Dorian signed a bit of paper and apparently it means they’ll do stuff together this year, just as they did in 2023 and a number of years before that. Oh well, I wouldn’t hold my breath on TNA being any better at booking Lucha talent than Impact were…

TNA Wrestling X-Division Championship
Chris Sabin (C) def. El Hijo del Vikingo and Kushida

On a transitional show that featured four title changes, it was fitting that the only singles title to not change hands was the one belonging to a man that had held every design of the title, Mr 10-time X-Division Champion himself Chris Sabin. We’ll ignore the bit of my preview where I said he should drop the title because his run felt stale…

I thought that this match was a lot of fun but I didn’t ever think it was a great match, or the match of the night, in the same way that I know a lot of others have.

The Hoverboard Lock was one of the match’s key themes and it made me appreciate how well they’ve presented that move. They still credit it as the cause of Josh Alexander’s triceps injury and the reason he had to vacate the World title last year, and in this match it was treated like lava, with either the recipient fighting like hell to get out or the third guy invariably breaking the hold up.

It even featured in the finish, as after Sabin had wiped out Vikingo on the ramp with a rope-assisted Canadian Destroyer, Kushida tried to escape the Cradle Shock by locking it in on Sabin. Sabin eventually shucked out of it though, connecting with the Cradle Shock to seal the win in a match that was pretty good but not quite notebook. ***1/2

Josh Alexander def. Alexander Hammerstone

Call it confirmation bias in full effect if you want but this match was every bit of the good time that I thought and hoped it would be and it was undoubtedly my match of the night. 

Alexander Hammerstone proved his worth in what was effectively a showcase, not only maximizing his fake tan coloration but mixing in a nice blend of power offense with some more dynamic spots like a dive to the outside and a Death Valley Driver on the apron. He also caught one of Josh Alexander’s rolling elbows with his chin in an absolutely marvellous spot. 

They were trying to tell the story with Josh Alexander of him still trying to get back to his best, still looking to find that level he was at more or less a year ago. He was positioned as more or less there in this match, enduring Hammerstone’s best shot, matching the bigger man’s power and showing the awareness and craft to counter a second Nightmare Pendulum attempt into a clinical, victory-claiming C4 Spike. ***3/4

TNA Wrestling World Tag Team Championships
ABC (Ace Austin & Chris Bey) (C) def. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake), The Rascalz (Trey Miguel & Zachary Wentz) and Mike Bailey & Laredo Kid

This wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but the handful of clumsy moments in this one were more than made up for with a ton of energy and enthusiasm from all eight guys. 

Rather than being an elimination match, this was effectively an eight-man tornado tag with bodies flying in and out of the ring and a seemingly endless sequence of high spots and entertaining sequences. Some sticklers won’t have liked it but this was a real shot in the arm and a ton of fun.

Laredo Kid was a replacement for the travel-ailed Trent Seven, and I wonder whether TNA will use that as a storytelling device moving forward, perhaps getting a program out of The Rascalz and Speedball Mountain moving forward as the tag belts look to be moving in a different direction.

I had thought those Rascalz would win here but instead they were on the receiving end, taking a 1, 2, Sweet from Austin and Bey to seemingly put a bow on their feud and set up the ABC for a likely tag title match with Eddie Edwards and Brian Myers. ***1/2

TNA Wrestling Knockouts World Championship
Jordynne Grace def. Trinity (C)

Trinity’s eight-month-long unbeaten run in singles competition in Impact/TNA came to an end at Hard to Kill as she fell in her fifth defense of the title she’d held for 182 days. Jordynne Grace, meanwhile, is now a three-time Knockouts World Champion.

The match that brought us to that outcome was, and I thought long and hard about how to describe it, well-structured. There were a couple of wonky moments here and there but Trinity more than held up her end of the bargain, a sentiment that has been a common refrain throughout her tenure with the promotion and ultimately feels like it sells short how good she’s been in the role they’ve given her.

Grace, meanwhile, felt like a dominant, strong and fresh champion. She powered out of Trinity’s Starstruck submission in what was a very cool spot and while a precariously balanced Muscle Buster wasn’t enough for three, a Grace Driver was. ***1/4

Post-match, they showed the former Dana Brooke in the crowd who apparently is now going by the name Ash by Elegance. It’s a stupid name and an odd signing as she was with WWE for a long time and never seemed to get any better. If she’s coming in at a low cost and on a short-term deal, maybe there’s value, but the addition is lost on me at the moment. I did have to laugh, though, as after Matthew Rehwoldt claimed he’d called her signing and that he was the all-seeing oracle when it came to new roster additions, he immediately got her new gimmick name wrong.

TNA Wrestling World Championship
Moose def. Alex Shelley (C)

The tried and tested combat sports expression – timing beats the speed, and precision beats power – defined this main event. 

Alex Shelley’s whole game is precision. His matches are always a delight to watch and unpack because very few people pay attention to the minutiae in the way that he does. Everything he does is so clearly and definitively built around a certain body part, move or emotion. 

Here, as he’s done before, Shelley worked over his opponent’s left arm. Small attacks eventually led to bigger moments and situations whereby every time Moose went left arm dominant, Shelley was easily able to counter. He threw Moose’s left arm into the ringpost and then trapped it as he hit a Shellshock on the outside. He countered the use of that arm in the ring into a Sliced Bread for a nearfall. Even when Moose tried to go on the offense and hit a powerbomb, it was the left arm that buckled enough for Shelley to adjust his weight and drop down for a DDT.

Moose, meanwhile, is all about power. He threw out a ton of big strikes, including a series of chops that deformed Shelley’s chest and a nasty headbutt, but it often seemed that his more gung-ho approach would cost him against someone so stylistically different. 

Yet, in the end, the shocking and somewhat jarring finishing sequence brought about a role reversal. 

Shelley, so often the measured and calculating force, threw every fiber of his being into a decapitating lariat. A lethal thing, it was all speed and power. Moose’s spear, a spear that was right arm led rather than his typical left, was timing and precision. The timing caught Shelley off guard in the following exchange and the precision took the wind out of his lungs and the title from his possession.

The finish positioned the Spear as a big move again, it made Shelley feel like he was edged out rather than decisively beaten, and it gave Moose a victory for his newly-formed faction. 

In case you hadn’t gathered, I really liked the layers to this match and the approach they took. My only issue is that the opening portion of the match was worked so slowly that it meant as a total package, the match was symptomatic of the wider show in that it was good and it told a good story but it wasn’t great. ***3/4

Post-match, Moose celebrated his victory but was punked out by the debuting Nic Nemeth. Nemeth came out through the crowd and after laying out the new champion with a Superkick and a Zig Zag, celebrated with the crowd as the show faded to black.

The closing angle will divide opinion. From my perspective, the angle felt hot and interesting and from his appearances in New Japan, I think Nemeth is approaching this freedom with the WWE in 100% the right way and with the right intentions. If he’s motivated and driven, he could be a phenomenal asset.

In many ways, him punking out Moose feels apropos given the promotion’s canon. Moose was the TNA pretender during the pandemic, so to see him win that TNA title for real when the brand returned and then that moment be stolen from him in the same way he stole Josh Alexander’s moment at Bound for Glory 2021 feels quite full circle.

However, punking out a new champion and making them feel like an afterthought on a big show intended to serve as a reset feels more than a little offkey.

Final Thoughts

TNA Hard to Kill 2024 was a good but not great show that marked the rebirth of TNA. Everything other than Crazzy Steve/Tommy Dreamer was fine, ranging from solid to pretty good but never crossing the rubicon of my new VOW notebook. Perhaps with a better build, or any build really, it would have been a different story.

The house TNA drew is hugely commendable and the crowd can’t be faulted, they were great. The booking was solid and with TV coming back, starting with tapings featuring Will Ospreay and Kazuchika Okada, and more new signings, I’m intrigued to see how TNA starts bringing it all together in the first quarter of 2024.