This week’s Impact episode opened with a recap of recent events, starting with a look at A.J. Styles being tempted by Aces & Eights against Hulk Hogan’s wishes. Tonight, Styles makes a decision, Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez’s tandem is on the line against the Tag Titles, Taryn Terrell faces Gail Kim, and it’s Full Metal Mayhem between Bully Ray and Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Title.
Backstage: Hulk Hogan caught up with Jeff Hardy in the hallway. Hardy said he is ready for this match tonight, then Hardy and Hogan walked down the hallway together.
After the opening Impact video aired, TNA cut to a live shot inside the American Bank Center before showing tables, ladders, and chairs scattered on-stage. Todd Keneley and Mike Tenay then broke down the line-up tonight. Taz piped in that A.J. Styles needs to jump on-board Aces & Eights tonight.
In-ring: Chavo Guerrero’s techno music played to no reaction, then Chavo and Hernandez emerged on-stage and the crowd recognized Chavo and Hernandez. They were accompanied by boxer Jesse James Leija, who was waving a big Texas flag on the way to the ring. The trio (El Paso Chavo, Houston Hernandez, and San Antonio Leija) stood tall in the ring, then Jesse handed over the Texas flag to So Cal Val. Jesse sat down ringside, then Austin Aries and Bobby Roode jumped the challengers from behind on the outisde. Aries then rolled Chavo into the ring and, this being TNA, the bell sounded despite an unfair advantage.
1 — TNA tag champions BOBBY ROODE & AUSTIN ARIES vs. CHAVO GUERRERO & HERNANDEZ (w/Jesse James Leija) — 2/3 Falls match for TNA Tag Titles — If Chavo & Hernandez lose, they cannot team in TNA again
After the bell sounded, Roode pinned Chavo less than 30 seconds into the match to win the first fall. After a brief “rest period,” Roode tagged in Aries, who mocked the Guerreros by doing the Eddie Shake before airballing a top-rope frogsplash. Chavo then rolled up Aries for an unrealistic quick three count for the second fall less than a minute-and-a-half into the match.
FALL 1 – Aries & Roode at 0:28, FALL 2 – Chavo & Hernandez at 1:28.
The third fall began with standard tag action as the heels went to work on Chavo while Hernandez continued to recover outside the ring. Chavo then dropkicked Roode to escape, but no sign of Hernandez. Chavo crawled to his corner and Hernandez “rose from the ashes” to receive the tag. Hernandez cleaned house, then lifted Aries into the air to presslam him down to the mat. Hernandez then hit the entranceramp and flew over the ropes onto both heels. TNA cut to break with the challengers in control. Although, if thinking logically about this, with two falls occurring in 90 seconds, why would TNA cut to break when they established that a fall could happen any time?
[Q2] Back from break, Aries dropped Hernandez on the outside with a double axehandle. Back in the ring, Roode to work on Hernandez as the announcers plugged TNA en Espanol. As the heels worked on Hernandez, Taz covered for the unrealistic second fall by heeling on Chavo for “getting lucky” pinning Aries.
Chavo hot-tagged back into the match and head-scissored Roode before splashing both Roode and Aries on the floor. Chavo tried to pin Roode back in the ring, but Aries dove back into the ring to break up the pin. Chavo followed with Two Amigos to Aries, then he finished it off on Roode. Chavo climbed to the top rope to finish Roode, but Aries shoved Chavo off the top rope. Roode then rolled up Chavo and hooked the tights for a two count.
The action broke down, then Aries chucked Hernandez onto the stage, but Hernandez landed on his feet before flying back into the ring, accidentally hitting Chavo and knocking him out. The heels chucked Hernandez out of the ring, then Roode covered Chavo, but Chavo kicked out in-time. Aries and Roode then regrouped and double-teamed Chavo. Hernandez re-entered the ring and double-suplexed the tag champs, then Chavo came off the top with a frogsplash to Roode. Chavo covered, Hernandez held off Aries, and Chavo scored the pin for the win.
Post-match, the crowd cheered as the new tag champs celebrated with the belts. The boxer then brought the Texas flag into the ring to keep celebrating as Taz hilariously tried to heel on the celebration by saying it’s the only state with their own flag. Interesting news that the 49 other states don’t have flags. Tenay and Keneley continued to play up Chavo and Hernandez’s win before Impact cut backstage.
WINNERS: Chavo & Hernandez at 15:07 to capture the Tag Titles. The crowd needed some time to invest in this match, as too much damage has been done to the idea of “if this happens, then this other thing can never happen again” in the wrestling industry. The Mania crowd didn’t buy into the threat of Triple H’s career on the line and this crowd wasn’t “on the edge of their seat” with every nearfall because it could mean the end of Chavo & Hernandez as a team. Too many swerves/switcheroos/technicalities, etc. have been relied on by wrestling writers the last 15 years to where these type of stips almost make wrestling audiences lean back and wait to see what happens instead of investing.
Backstage: Cameras caught up with Brooke Hogan in the hallway, then Joey Ryan barged in. Joey said Brooke doesn’t have to apologize for the Knockouts putting their hands on him, and if she needs a ref tonight, then he is ready. Brooke said Joey helped her so much last week, but she hired someone. Brooke then tried to act fresh with Joey, who bought it, then Brooke said she’s kidding because he’s a joke and sleazy. Brooke booked him in a match tonight to find out who the “bigger” man is. Joey, confused, asked, “But, who’s bigger than me?”
Still to come: Hardy vs. Ray for the TNA Title.
Outside: Aces & Eights were shown on bikes. Bully Ray then greeted each member. No audio of the conversation during this, just faint motorcycle noises. Taz voiced-over that they feel like it’s a big night.
In-ring: Joseph Park’s music played to bring out Park dressed in a suit. After the jazz notes wrapped up, Park stood in the ring soaking in his “wow, I can’t believe I’m in the ring” moment. Interestingly, the crowd booed Park as he began his speech. He said his issue is with Aces & Eights, specifically Bully Ray. Park said what Ray has brought to this company is “felonious” and “downright wrong.” More boos. Park said it will be brought to justice when Jeff Hardy regains the TNA World Title. If I were Hardy’s character, I wouldn’t want Park giving my ra-ra speech.
[Q3] Park continued that he is well-versed in divorce law in this country. That’s right. Park then pulled out a piece of paper. He said he has taken it upon himself to write up a document officially ending the marriage of Brooke Hogan and Bully Ray. Taz said on commentary that it’s none of his business. Suddenly, the crowd stood up upon the appearance of Aces & Eights’s Devon.
Devon entered the ring as Park noted he was granted this time. Devon ripped the mic away from Park, then ripped up the piece of paper, upsetting Park. Devon asked Park if he has a problem with Aces & Eights. Because if he does, they have a problem. Devon told Park to “stay…out of…family…business.” He warned Park again, then dropped the mic. Park proceeded to bend down to pick up the paper scraps, but then turned around to accept a chain to the gut from Devon. Devon shouted down at Park, then the A&E music played to conclude the segment.
Last Month: Taryn Terrell stood in the ring. Brooke Hogan then cut Taryn as referee and re-signed her as a Knockout. Tonight, it’s Taryn vs. Gail in a grudge match.
Up Next: Taryn Terrell in singles action.
2 — GAIL KIM vs. TARYN TERRELL — ODB special referee
Back from break, “Corpus” Christy Hemme was standing by to introduce Gail Kim, then Taryn Terrell to face her enemy from the past few months. As Taryn completed her introduction, the announcers plugged a new Knockouts website coming in two Thursdays.
ODB was introduced as special referee, prompting Taz to complain that ODB is refereeing with a flask in her hand, making her unfit to officiate, of course. A brawl broke out, then ODB called for the bell. Once the match started, Gail controlled the action and argued with ODB in-between punishing Taryn. Taryn then surprised Gail with a roll-up and ODB made the count for the win. After the match, Gail argued with ODB, who chased her away, then Hemme interviewed Taryn about winning her first match.
WINNER: Taryn at 2:29.
Backstage: Adam Pearce and Magno were shown standing by. One of them advances to Gut Check and the other goes home.
[Q4] [Commercial Break]
Back from break, TNA showed Bruce Prichard, Al Snow, and Danny Davis talking last week about Pearce and Magno’s performances last week. Prichard said he appreciated Pearce cheating to win, which apparently captures why Aces & Eights is rebelling against a lead executive in the TV show since his authority figure character lacks a moral compass. Sounds like the Criminal Minds episode last night.
Backstage: Prichard addressed Magno and Pearce, buttering them up by saying he can’t remember such a hyped match. Prichard got to the point that only one of them to face Gut Check tonight. He told Magno that he has his entire career ahead of him, Pearce is a 17-year veteran, so his decision is that Magno’s decision will be made in the ring tonight. Prichard told Pearce thanks for coming. Pearce sold contemplating whether to smack Prichard or shake his hand, then shook his hand and whispered, “You’re a damn fool.” Pearce stared a hole through the camera, then walked off down the hallway, with the camera following him. If there was any question before, this cleared up Gut Check as a work.
Video Package: A.J. Styles’s issues.
Backstage: The roving cameraman asked Hulk Hogan about events tonight. Hogan said he’s taking care of his Styles issue right now. When asked about Sting, Hogan just took a deep breath.
Earlier Today: Another roving cameraman tried to get a word with Styles outside in the parking garage on a nice, sunny day, but Styles blew him off. Mr. Anderson then caught up with Styles and handed him another A&E jacket. He said he’s just looking out for him.
Back from break, TNA ran a video package on Jeff Hardy’s side of the TNA main event tonight.
[Q5 — second hour] At the top of the hour, Hulk Hogan’s music played to bring out the Impact GM. Taz mocked Hogan, who entered the ring and played to the crowd looking for more cheers. Pause for “Hogan, Hogan” chant, then Hogan opened by saying the Impact Zone is on-fire here in Corpus Christi. That’s why the GM is out here to get down to business. He said his first order of business is hearing A.J. Styles’s decision right now.
Styles’s music played as Taz encouraged him to come over to the darkside. Styles emerged on-stage to cheers, then slowly walked down to the ring holding the A&E jacket in his right hand. Taz got excited about Styles putting the jacket on right in front of Hogan as Styles slowly entered the ring to face Hogan. Hogan said they’re in the middle of a “crazy war” right now, so he needs to know which side he’s on. Styles just stared at Hogan, waiting out his speech. Styles then yanked the mic away from Hogan and said he doesn’t respond well to ultimatums.
Suddenly, James Storm’s music interrupted, annoying both Hogan and Styles, who didn’t turn around. Storm stood on-stage and shouted at A.J., who turned around this time. Storm said he’s not out here to drink beer, which drew boos, but he is out here because they’re going to fight.
Suddenly, Daniels’s music interrupted to bring out Daniels and Kazarian, upsetting Styles as he flashed back to 2012. On-stage, Kazarian told “Toby Keith” to step aside. Kaz said they’re not out here to fight, but to mend fences with Styles. He said they’re also out here to see through all of this “poop” handing in the ring. He said they are both sexual and intellectual, so they understand the game being played. Kaz said Hogan is trying to convince Styles to be on his team because Aces & Eights has basically dismantled TNA. Hogan, now annoyed, waited out Kaz, who said A&E wants Styles because he has been TNA’s “good soldier” for 11 years. Daniels said both sides will use him up and spit him out.
Daniels said their proposition is for Styles to be on their side. He said they know what they did last year – the whole Claire Lynch thing – was bad, but wasn’t it worse when Dixie Carter, Hogan, and “these fickle hypocrite fans” turned their backs on Styles? Daniels told him to come stand with their brothers. He told Styles to think about all of the titles they’ve won together, then proposed an alliance.
In the ring, Storm screamed at Styles not to listen to them. Styles breathed heavily, looked down to the mat, and then walked away. Styles walked up to Daniels and Kaz, stared at them, then kept on walking with a sourpuss look on his face. From the ring, Hogan stopped Styles in his tracks and said since Styles won’t give an answer, then he will face James Storm next week on Impact. Styles took the news in stride, then kept on walking to the back.
Backstage: Joey Ryan was shown walking down the hallway. He finds out his opponent next.
Back from break, Kurt Angle was shown standing in the locker room. Angle told someone off-camera that next week, he will do his part in the TNA vs. Aces & Eights battle. Angle said he asked for a handicap match against two punks – Wes Brisco and Garett Bischoff. He vowed to show those two punks why he is the best s.o.b. in pro wrestling.
[Q6] In-ring: Joey Ryan was introduced to the ring as the announcers discussed Joey’s “hands-on approach” to officiating the Knockouts last week on Impact. In the ring, Joey tried to get fresh with Hemme, then random banging noises called music played. Suddenly, Rob Terry appeared. Terry hit the ring to face Joey.
3 — JOEY RYAN vs. ROB TERRY
Once the bell sounded, Joey tried to back away, then decided to go after him, which led to Joey eating the mat. Terry smashed Joey to the mat, then tossed him across the ring. Terry followed with an open-hand chop to the chest, then another. Terry delivered a third, sending Joey reeling across the ring. Then, a scoopslam. And, a corner clothesline.
Terry followed with a standing powerslam before playing to the crowd, which the crowd did not reciprocate. Terry then lifted Joey into the air and delivered a fireman’s carry into a one-handed throwdown slam. It was good for the pin and the win. Taz angrily asked the other announcers if they think Joey is a jobber after complaining about Joey being given an unfair shake not knowing his opponent.
WINNER: Terry at 2:29. Complete squash.
Up Next: Magno finds out his Gut Check fate.
Backstage: Hulk Hogan was shown talking to Brooke Hogan, who refused to “go up with you” to an arena suit. Brooke said she needs to be ringside when Jeff Hardy takes the TNA Title from Bully Ray. Hulk wanted to know if she has security, and Brooke said she has Atlas. Brooke left, then Matt Morgan, now with a black beard, interrupted. Hogan didn’t want to hear it from Morgan, who reminded Hogan that he wouldn’t be dealing with this right now if he simply made him the #1 contender at Lockdown instead of Ray. Morgan, within inches of Hogan’s face, very tersely told him to keep making the same mistakes because they will eventually come crashing down on him. Morgan left, then Hogan took a breath and walked off.
In-ring: JB introduced the Gut Check judges – Danny Davis (silence), Bruce Prichard (boos), which Prichard “acknowledged” by saying, “Thank you,” and Al Snow (loud cheers). JB then brought out Magno to boos.
In the ring, Davis said it appears to him that the fans in Corpus Christi have made their decision, but he hasn’t. Davis said if they were in OVW, he would make Magno a star, but they’re on Impact, so he has to agree with the fans that his answer is no. The crowd booed. Booing the decision or Magno? JB then gave Magno the mic to convince Prichard and Snow. Magno spoke Spanish and English about why he wants to receive this contract – everyone knows him as a luchador from El Paso, Tex., but he wants the world to know him as a luchador from Impact Wrestling.
Prichard took the mic and milked his TV time explaining to Magno why he is out here. Prichard, who sent Adam Pearce packing, tried to explain that he doesn’t know who Magno is, so his answer – in both English and Spanish – is…pause to milk the crowd…no. The crowd booed. So, apparently one pocket of fans booed Magno being included over Pearce and another booed Magno being denied the contract.
[Q7] Outside: Mr. Anderson tried to fire up Bully Ray ahead of his TNA Title match. Ray told Anderson that he needs to walk alone because he needs to beat Jeff Hardy on his own. Ray said they have to swear to him that they will let him do this by himself. He demanded their word. Ray said he isn’t doing this for himself, but for them. Garett then pretended to rev his engine before the other A&E members joined in.
Backstage: Back in the arena, Jeff Hardy was shown walking down the hallway. The TNA Title match is next.
Perhaps because this live audience is unfamiliar with the majority of the roster and just came to see some wrestling and recognizable stars, the show just hasn’t had a “big feel” up until this point despite TNA hyping the show for a few weeks.
Next week on Impact: Angle vs. Wes & Garett in a handicap match, Mickie James vs. Miss Tessmacher in a #1 contender match to the Knockouts Title, and A.J. Styles vs. James Storm.
In-ring: Christy Hemme was standing by to introduce the TNA Title match. First out was Jeff Hardy to the second-biggest reaction of the night, trailing Hogan. Hardy took a victory lap, then TNA showed Brooke Hogan sitting on the front row. An actual fan accidentally bumped into Brooke, who smiled and nicely said, “It’s okay.” A real moment there. A&E’s music then played to bring out Bully Ray, who paused in the back of the arena to collect his breath. Ray then marched down to the ring, slapped a wooden table ringside to check it for sturdiness, stared down his now-disgusted wife, Brooke Hogan, and entered the ring. The bell sounded with 20 minutes remaining in the show.
4 — TNA World Hvt. champion BULLY RAY vs. JEFF HARDY — TNA World Title match — Full Metal Mayhem ladder match
Once the bell sounded, Hardy clapped to get the crowd fired up, then Ray turned around and did the Stan Hansen pose. Ray turned back around and took a Twist of Fate from Hardy, who then smashed Ray across the back with a chair. Another chair to the back. Hardy then dragged a ladder into the ring and stacked it up in the corner to whip Ray stomach-first into the ladder. Hardy followed with a leaping legsmash.
Hardy tried climbing the ladder to grab the title belt, but Ray pulled him down. Hardy shook off Ray, but then Ray back-dropped Hardy clear over the top rope back-first onto the entranceramp. The announcers sold immense pain for Hardy’s back, then TNA replayed the back-drop, but without the audio that Taz requested.
At 3:00, Ray took control of the match after cutting off The Champ. Ray then tried climbing the ladder, but Hardy re-entered the ring and they battled atop the ladder. Hardy finished the sequence with a superplex that put both men on the mat. Keneley sent the show to a mid-match commercial.
[Q8] [Commercial Break]
Impact returned from break 12 minutes before the top of the hour. In the ring, Hardy smashed Ray with a chair, then set up a table in the ring. Hardy tried a superplex, but Ray blocked. Ray then opened up a ladder upside-down (after Hardy’s previous attempt led to the ladder falling down on its own) and suplexed Hardy gut-first into the ladder rungs. Ringside, Brooke screamed into the ring at Ray, who shouted back, then dropped the ladder over the top rope to the floor. Apparently the ladder broke.
At 10:00, Ray grabbed a chair and smashed Hardy with it before setting up a table in the corner. Ray mocked “Hardy, Hardy” chants and Hulk Hogan before retrieving a second ladder and dropping it in the ring. Ray yelled at everyone, going against Taz’s advice to hurry up and get the belt so they can get out of here. Ray very slowly re-arranged furniture, then slowly scooped up Hardy, who showed life and made his comeback. “Oh no, this is what I was afraid of!” Taz shouted on commentary.
At 11:30, Hardy delivered consecutive offense before giving Ray a chair to hold, Ray ever-so-kindly obliged, and Hardy smashed the chair with another chair. Ray fell to the outside to recover, then Hardy crashed and burned in front of Brooke. Brooke tried to encourage Hardy, then Ray screamed in her face. Taz told Bully to stay focused, then Brooke flipped off Ray. Ray and Brooke argued some more, then Ray asked for a kiss on his facial cut. He stuck out his tongue, so Brooke slapped him across the face.
Hardy used the distraction to resume his attack on Ray before hunting for more weapons. Hardy found a super-long table at the back of the arena and managed to haul it down the ramp steps, avoid tripping over a ladder, and set it up in front of the announce table. A lot of work for Hardy, only to have Ray smash him once he returned to ringside. Hardy came back with a Twist, then put Ray on the super-long table. Hardy climbed into the ring, saluted the crowd, and climbed to the top rope to deliver a Swanton Bomb through the super-table, sending Keneley into a frenzy. “Holy (bleep)” chants picked up as ref Earl Hebner checked on both men.
Champ and Challenger regrouped, then reset as Brooke tried to encourage Hardy. Hardy climbed back into the ring as Ray came to, then Taz decided to help out Ray by “discreetly” slipping him a hammer. Ray stuffed it in his pocket and climbed into the ring as Tenay and Keneley scolded Taz for getting involved in the match. Hardy was climbing the ladder when Ray re-entered. Hardy got his hand on the belt, but Ray hammer-shotted Hardy off the ladder through a table below. “Whoops,” Taz said. Ray then climbed the ladder to the top rung and retrieved the belt to win. Ringside, a distraught Brooke took off for the back.
WINNER: Ray at 17:10 to retain the TNA World Title. Good action, but there was a lot of stalling to set up complicated furniture spots. Ray was reinforced as a great heel by giving the big pre-match ra-ra speech to Aces & Eights about needing to win this match by himself, before using Taz to help him cheat to win.
Post-match, Taz said he was just helping out. Keneley said it helps when you have a crooked announcer to help, then asked for medical help for Hardy. In the ring, Ray was joined by the entire Aces & Eights crew to ask the audience if they know who they are. Ray introduced themselves before announcing himself as the World champion. And, when you ride with the Aces & Eights, you never walk alone.
Aces & Eights’s music played, then TNA showed Hardy being tended to by referees. Ray then stood over Hardy and pointed down at him before trash-talking. Hardy was eventually fitted for a neckbrace. Taz asked what’s next as credits flashed on the screen. Ray then left the ring as Impact ended.
(James Caldwell, PWTorch.com)