TNA Impact opened with a backstage shot of Chris Sabin preparing to challenge for the TNA World Title tonight. Jeremy Borash narrated the backstage shot, then TNA rolled a career and personal retrospective on Sabin ahead of tonight’s big title match.
In the arena, Mike Tenay introduced the show and plugged three X Division Title qualifying matches tonight. Plus, Sabin vs. Bully Ray for the TNA World Title.
Aces & Eights’s music then played to bring out TNA World champ Bully Ray through the standard ring entrance. On commentary, Tenay and JB wondered where usual color commentator Taz is. JB said he was just told ten minutes ago to join ringside because Taz is nowhere to be found.
In the ring, Ray shouted for his music to be shut off so he can talk. Ray said enough is enough because all he’s heard about for the past week is one…little…boy. That “little boy” being Chris Sabin. The crowd responded with a “Let’s Go Sabin” chant, which angered Ray even more. Ray said they can chant his name “from now until High Heaven because that kid ain’t got a shot in hell of beating the World Hvt. champion!” Ray said instead of planning a parade for him, they should be planning a funeral for him.
Ray said he is the most-hated man in pro wrestling, which is just the way he likes it. Ray said it’s a perfect night for him to beat Sabin, for Aces & Eights to destroy Main Event Mafia, and now talk to his wife, Brooke Hogan. “Brooke, come out here now,” he said.
Brooke walked out on-stage looking agitated, then told “Mark” that she does not understand what else he wants from her. Brooke told “Mark” that he’s sick of him and she’s moving on. “You should move on, too,” Brooke lightly said. Ray quietly responded that he said it last week and he would like to say it again… “You move on when I say you move on!” Ray shouted, changing tone.
Hulk Hogan’s music then played to bring out Papa Hogan to discuss matters. Hogan shouted into the mic to knock the crap off because Ray is right about enough being enough. Hulk said that as of this point – pause for a consultation with Brooke – that Ray has raped and pillaged his family and this company long enough. Hulk then dragged Brooke away. Ray shouted that he will never, ever give Brooke a divorce and he will never, ever lose the TNA World Title. Ray said there is nothing Hulk can do about it.
Suddenly, Kurt Angle appeared on the video screen. Angle was joined by Magnus, Sting, Rampage Jackson, and Samoa Joe. Angle said Ray is going to lose the title tonight and there is nothing he can do about that. Back in the ring, Ray shook his head before shouting off-mic, “I’m never losing it!”
Ringside: Tenay and JB reacted to the events setting the stage for Bully vs. Sabin tonight.
Backstage: The roving cameraman quizzed Bobby Roode about past problems at Destination X. Roode said the past is the past and the future is now because he needs points in the BFG Series to become TNA Champion again.
[Commercial Break at 9:12]
[Q2] Backstage: Gail Kim was live-tweeting while watching Impact on a backstage monitor.
The announcers then transitioned to a look at the BFG Series Leaderboard before Christy Hemme introduced the opening match. Out first was Bobby Roode, followed by Austin Aries to face his tag partner in a BFG Series match. It looked like Aries was back to his mid-2000s facial hair look.
1 — BOBBY ROODE vs. AUSTIN ARIES — BFG Series match
The tag partners felt each other out before Aries suplexed Roode to the floor. Aries then came off the top with a flying double axehandle smash to the top of Roode’s head. Back in the ring, Roode intercepted a flying attack with a missile dropkick to the chest. Roode followed up on the outside, then Impact cut to break with Aries selling intense stomach pain.
[Commercial Break at 9:22]
Back from break, Aries snapped off a top-rope splash on Roode, but he could not score a three count. Aries followed with a suicide dive on the outside that rocked Roode and fired up the crowd, which was firmly behind Aries in this heel vs. heel match-up.
Back in the ring, Aries snapped off a missile dropkick, then a corner thrust kick. Aries wanted the Brainbuster, but Roode escaped and slapped on the Crossface center-ring. Aries slipped out, then delivered a kneeling DDT to break free of Roode.
[Q3] Roode built momentum looking for a spear, but Aries blocked. Aries again tried the Brainbuster, but Roode again escaped and dropped Aries for a nearfall. More counters and reversals, then Aries finally nailed the Brainbuster on his fourth attempt. It was good for the pin and the win. The announcers noted it’s the second year in a row that Aries beat Roode at Destination X.
WINNER: Aries at 11:56 to earn 7 BFG Series points. Good, solid TV match.
Post-match: Roode sold frustration with his latest loss. Roode stopped at the announce table to intimidate JB, then he ripped away JB’s monitor and smashed it into pieces. Roode then tried chucking one of the chairs into the ring, but it bounced away. So, he chucked the other announce chair into the ring. Next, he destroyed a water bottle and other ringside objects before grabbing his face in disgust.
Backstage: Hernandez greeted Homicide to revisit their LAX days. Chavo Guerrero then walked in wanting to be part of LAX. Homicide wasn’t so sure about it, but hugged it up with Chavo. After Homicide left, Chavo said it’s a pretty sure-bet that he will win the X Division Title and Hernandez will win the BFG Series to win the TNA Title, so next year at this time, they’ll face each other for the TNA Title. Passive Hernandez went along to get along, saying that sounds good to him.
[Commercial Break at 9:33]
Back from break, Mr. Anderson addressed the Aces & Eights crew. Anderson wrote off D.O.C., noting that Knox’s “no” vote for D.O.C. last week pushed him over the edge, so he turned in his colors. Anderson moved right along to making sure they’re on the same page tonight.
In-ring: Homicide was introduced for the next match. Out next was Petey Williams, followed by Sonjay Dutt. Each wrestler received a highlight package on their TNA careers in the Impact Zone.
2 — PETEY WILLIAMS vs. HOMICIDE vs. SONJAY DUTT — three-way qualifying match for Ultimate X
As the bell sounded, Tenay announced that the winners of three qualifying matches tonight will enter Ultimate X next week to determine the new X Division champion. Near the end of the match, Homicide dropped Petey straight down on his neck with the Gringo Killer. Petey rolled out of the ring after the ref checked on him, then Dutt finished Homicide with a moonsault double stomp to Homicide’s chest. It was good for the win.
WINNER: Dutt at 4:06 to earn a TNA Title shot next week.
Still to come: Ray vs. Sabin for the TNA World Title.
[Q4] [Commercial Break at 9:44]
Back from break, Chavo Guerrero and Kenny King were in the ring. Christy Hemme then pointed to the sky and introduced Mannik as the third wrestler in the next X Division qualifying match.
3 — CHAVO GUERRERO vs. KENNY KING vs. MANIK — three-way qualifying match for Ultimate X
Two minutes in, Tenay offered his obligatory WWE and WCW references for Chavo’s Tag Title and Cruiserweight Title background. Chavo then snapped off two of the Three Amigos suplexes to Mannik, which drew boos from the crowd, then a full trio to King. Chavo climbed to the top rope for a Frogsplash, but Mannik blocked Chavo. Things got complicated in the corner, then Mannik delivered sort of a double-knee smash to King’s gut for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Mannik at 4:35 to earn a TNA Title shot next week. Another clunky three-way X Division match. They’re over-complicating things trying to “get all their stuff in” in five minutes.
Main Event Mafia Office: Sting and Kurt Angle led a pep-talk. They’re up next.
Back from break two minutes before the top of the hour, Tenay plugged Bully vs. Sabin for the TNA Title later tonight. TNA then rolled a video package on Sabin’s journey to this TNA Title shot.
Backstage: Principal Hogan approached Chris Sabin to give him a pep-talk before the title match. They shot it where Hogan and Sabin were at eye-level sitting down. Hogan told Sabin to bring the title home. “It’s your time,” Hogan said with a handshake.
[Q5 — second hour]
In-ring: Main Event Mafia’s music played to bring out Sting, Angle, Joe, Magnus, and Rampage Jackson, who was the only one not in a suit. In the ring, Sting told Aces & Eights that they’re looking for them tonight. Angle, sporting goofy-looking Fourth of July aviator shades, said this fight is going to be more brutal and vicious than A&E can ever imagine.
Angle said A&E turned this company upside down, so they are coming after them tonight. Angle declared this group the greatest collection of fighters, wrestlers, and champions, then vowed to prove it. How? Magnus spoke next that all five of them are ready. Then, he asked Louisville if they’re ready. After firing up the crowd, Magnus called down Aces & Eights to face them.
Suddenly, Mr. Anderson appeared on the Videotron with A&E behind him. Anderson said they do things on their own time and they have to conserve energy for the big celebration later tonight. Anderson then welcomed them backstage to come fight.
Back in the ring, Samoa Joe took the mic. Joe said the Mafia is thirsty tonight, then asked Rampage if he’s thirsty. Rampage confirmed his thirst, then Joe vowed to head backstage to drink their drinks and feast on them. Joe led the Mafia down the entrance ramp to the backstage area.
TNA cut to a wide-shot of the arena during the interval, then TNA cut backstage to show Mafia finding Mr. Anderson in the parking garage area. A&E, led by Bully Ray, then jumped Mafia in the parking garage. After locking Sting, Magnus, Joe, and Rampage in a side room, Ray chucked Angle in the back of a pick-up truck. The pick-up truck sped off as Impact cut to break with Tenay frantically wondering where they’re taking Angle.
[ JC: And, cue up another round of TNA’s babyface factions being complete dolts for falling into an easy backstage trap. Doesn’t it seem like TNA always puts Samoa Joe at the center of these mishaps? ]
[Commercial Break at 10:05]
Back on the air, the announcers were so concerned about what happened to Angle that they broke down the Live Events Center. Who cares about the August 30 house show, what about Angle?!
Backstage, Austin Aries was tweeting while watching a backstage monitor. Who cares about what Aries is tweeting about, what about Angle?!
Moments Ago: TNA eventually cut to a look at the pre-commercial happenings when A&E ambushed the Mafia, stuffed Angle in the back of a truck, and sent the truck away.
TNA then cut back to the ring to keep the X Division matches going. The show must go on, apparently, in a tone-deaf moment. Out first was Rubix, then Rockstar Spud doing a slow walk to the ring. Out last was Trent Barreta, who TNA billed as Greg Marasciulo.
4 — TRENT? vs. RUBIX vs. ROCKSTAR SPUD — three-way qualifying match for Ultimate X
As the bell sounded, Tenay provided Trent/Greg’s background that he recently worked for New Japan and has quirky habits. JB then recalled following around Rockstar getting himself into trouble during “British Bootcamp” in the U.K.
[Q6] Three minutes in, Rubix and Rockstar battled while Trent? remained on the outside. Hey, what happened to Angle in the pick-up truck? Once Trent? re-entered, Rockstar slapped him around, then knocked Rubix to the outside. Rockstar cockily wanted a move on Trent?, but Trent countered into a high-impact driver that put him into position for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Trent? at 6:25 to earn an X Division Title shot next week. Rockstar helped make this match stand out compared to the other two matches by being an annoying heel.
Backstage: The roving cameraman snuck up on Bully Ray, who was on the phone telling the driver of the pick-up truck that he did a great job hauling away Angle. Ray told the driver to take Angle to That Spot they talked about earlier. But, before he/she leaves, make Angle an offer he will not refuse.
[Commercial Break at 10:20. Mid-way through the break, “Hardcore Country” brought out Knockouts champion Mickie James. She’s on the other side of the break.]
Back from break, Mickie’s music was playing. TNA then cut backstage to show the Aces & Eights pick-up truck pulling up to the building. However, Kurt Angle was the driver. Angle stumbled out of the driver’s seat and stumbled back into the arena, apparently to unlock the Mafia members who were apparently still locked in the ambush room.
Back in the arena, Mickie hyped last week’s epic event that raised the bar for women’s wrestling. No, not the Knockouts ladder match, but Mickie James performing in Nashville. Mickie talked up the greatness of her performance. She called herself the history-making, heart-breaking Knockouts Champion of the Century.
Suddenly, #1 contender Gail Kim’s music interrupted. Gail said Mickie is delusional, then vowed to get the KO Title back next week. Mickie responded that there is a clause in her contract that she needs a certain amount of space and oxygen to compete at her optimal level, and Gail is violating that right now.
Mickie then said Gail’s match last week was a solid two, maybe two-and-a-half, but her performance was definitely five stars. Mickie counted one, two, three, four, and even five. Mickie then tried to slap Gail with her “five,” but Gail ducked and the fight was on. Refs eventually spilled out to try to separate the Knockouts, but the fight continued. Mickie eventually left the ring, leaving Gail to be restrained by the refs.
[Q7] Backstage: Austin Aries approached Chris Sabin to talk about the TNA Title match tonight. Aries asked Sabin how he’s feeling tonight. He said he doesn’t want to diminish Sabin’s accomplishments, but he does want Sabin to understand that he’s only in this position because of him. Aries said it’s because he helped raise Sabin’s game to a level he didn’t even know he could get to. Why? Because he forces people raise their game by testing them mentally and physically. Aries said it might not mean much, but he’s pulling for Sabin tonight.
Up Next: Ray vs. Sabin for the TNA World Title.
[Commercial Break at 10:32]
Backstage Hallway: A.J. Styles was shown sitting in a dark space. Styles said the X Division is “been there, done that, put it on the map” for him. Styles hyped an encounter with Jeff Hardy next week. Styles said this is no place for a hero, though. Styles vowed to take his points in the BFG Series.
Next Week: Styles vs. Hardy in the BFG Series. Plus, a new X Division champion will be crowned.
Ringside: Tenay and JB were shown ringside to hype Ray vs. Sabin for the TNA Title up next. JB said it’s time.
In-ring: Chris Sabin was introduced first for the TV main event. Aces & Eights’s music then brought out Bully Ray from the stage again. Ray slowly walked to the ring staring a hole through Sabin before entering the ring. Once in the ring, Ray held up the title belt, then gave Sabin one final chance to walk away from this match. Sabin held firm, then JB handled formal ring introductions for Sabin, followed by Ray.
Before the bell sounded, Ray walked right into Sabin’s face and used his gut to push Sabin into the corner, trying to intimidate the challenger. “I told you straight up what I’m going to do to you!” Ray shouted in Sabin’s face. Ray then backed away to the opposite corner and Sabin charged after him. “I’m going to beat you and be the new World champion!” Sabin shouted in Ray’s face.
5 — TNA World Hvt. champion BULLY RAY vs. CHRIS SABIN — TNA World Title match
The bell sounded at 10:41 to begin the match. JB hyped Sabin not being affected by Ray and having a look in his eyes that he’s never seen before. Sabin tried an early kick, but Rya blocked and landed a big open-hand chop to the chest. Sabin backed away to sell the effects, but not give Ray too much confidence in himself. So, Ray slapped him again, but Sabin absorbed the blow and hulked up. Ray landed a third slap to the chest, reddening Sabin’s chest. “C’mon!” Sabin shouted.
Ray tried a clothesline, but Sabin blocked and landed big forearms, then elbow strikes in the corner. But, Ray leg-tripped Sabin and delivered a hard smash to the previously-injured knee. Sabin rolled to the entrance ramp selling the effects of the knee injury as the crowd booed Bully. Suddenly, A&E members walked out to ringside to taunt Sabin and encourage Bully.
But, A&E members suddenly re-emerged from the backstage area. The Mafia members slowly strolled out to ringside, selling being fresh and not fired up wanting to get their hands on A&E after being ambushed.
[Q8] [Commercial Break at 10:45]
Back from break 11 minutes before the top of the hour, Ray smashed Sabin’s knee across the entrance ramp. Tenay noted that A&E and Mafia members are surrounding the ring now. Back in the ring, Ray took his eye off Sabin to shout down at Rampage Jackson. Ray then turned around to kick Sabin again. Ray put Sabin on the mat, then untied Sabin’s kneepad to expose the knee and make it an easier target.
At 10:30, Sabin tried fighting back on one good leg, but Ray cut him off with a big clothesline. So, Ray removed more protective items before screaming at Rampage again. Sabin tried to fight back again, but Ray legswept him to put Sabin back on the mat. Ray followed with mockery of Hulk Hogan by doing the ear-cupping bit to all four corners of the ring.
At 14:00, Ray asked the other A&E members if he should rip off the other kneebrace. Ray continued to slow down the pace by working on the knees, but Sabin suddenly fought back on one good leg. Sabin literally hopped to the top turnbuckle, but Ray crotched him. Ray then taunted Rampage before suplexing Sabin to the mat. Devon told Ray that it’s over, but Ray took too long making the cover, allowing Sabin to kick out.
Ray wanted a Bully Bomb, but Sabin slipped out and drilled Ray in the head with a kick. Suddenly, the ref was too close to Ray and Sabin delivered a missile dropkick that knocked down both Bully and the ref. Sabin had a pin by draping an arm over Ray, but the ref was KO’ed. Suddenly, A&E and Mafia members met in the ring and a brawl was on. The brawl spilled out to ringside, then up the entrance ramp toward the backstage area.
Back in the ring, Ray had the A&E hammer. But, Sabin kicked Ray in the gut to knock the hammer out of Ray’s hand. Sabin picked up the hammer as Ray went for a Bully Bomb, but Sabin smashed Ray in the head with the hammer. Sabin then fell on top of Ray, the ref woke up, and it was good for a three count. New TNA World champion.
[Q9 — over-run] Post-match, Sabin recovered and received the TNA Title from the ref. Meanwhile, Bully remained out cold on the mat. Impact signed off one minute past the top of the hour with Sabin possessing the TNA Title and Tenay recapping Sabin’s journey to the title.
WINNER: Sabin at 18:44 to capture the TNA World Title. The announcers were tempered in their reaction to Sabin winning the title so as not to raise expectations for the title run. Not exactly strong follow-through on telling a story about Sabin going through this long, hard-fought journey to (a) get back in the ring and (b) win the top title since he lowered himself to A&E’s level by using a hammer to secure victory after taking a beating for 15 minutes. Unless Sabin’s character is turning into a con-artist who conned everyone into buying his “inspirational story” about recovering from two knee injuries before taking a shortcut to win the title, it’s inconsistent with the story. Sure, TNA had to protect Bully and give him an “out” to demand the title back, but TNA was better off having Sabin put up a great fight and come up a little short – being valiant in defeat – then winning the title by using a hammer. Follow-through will attempt to address the inconsistencies, but this moment wasn’t a very strong pay-off to the journey.
(Credit: James Caldwell, PWTorch.com)