This week’s TNA Impact episode opened with a video package documenting recent events. Included was Kurt Angle “recruiting” Wes Brisco and Garrett Bischoff before they turned on him, Bobby Roode and Austin Aries capturing the Tag Titles, Hulk Hogan re-instating Bully Ray to the TNA roster, and Sting & Bully Ray beating Aces & Eights in a tables match last week. The voice-over man asked how A&E will get revenge, which is a babyface mission after being wronged, not a heel mission.
TNA went to Wembley Arena as Todd Keneley introduced the show along with Mike Tenay and Taz. Hulk Hogan’s music played to begin the show and Hogan emerged through a skinny entrance tunnel near the stage.
Once in the ring, Hogan soaked up the crowd response before opening that it’s safe to say there are some TNA-Maniacs in London. Hogan said he heard noise when he was slamming giants and winning titles, but “this is pretty damn sweet, brother.” Time for business. Hogan said he has a couple of big things tonight. First, the fate of the TNA Title at Lockdown. He said there are so many hungry wolves in the back, and he selected eight of the best to determine the #1 contender at Lockdown.
Hogan booked RVD vs. James Storm, Christopher Daniels vs. Magnus (who Hogan said he’s putting his money on), Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe (pause for big “Joe, Joe” chant), and Aries vs. Roode “tearing each others’s eyes out.” Hogan said he’s going to be listening to the crowd, watching all the matches, and then he’s coming back out to pick the #1 contender to face Jeff Hardy at Lockdown.
Hogan turned to another piece of business concerning Aces & Eights. Hogan said A&E called out the whole TNA roster and they want a war at Lockdown. So, he thought about it for about a half-a-second, made a phone call to Sting, and made him the captain of TNA. Sting’s music played to bring out Sting soaking up the big-arena setting as Taz noted not a single A&E member will receive an opportunity to impress Hogan for a title shot. Taz called it b.s., and Tenay & Keneley missed the easy softball to point out A&E’s win/loss record and inability to win matches.
In the ring, Sting pandered to the U.K. fans to follow Hogan’s lead, then turned his attention to “those scumbags” in Aces & Eights. He accepted their challenge for Lockdown, then said he will find three “killers” to be on his team at Lockdown. Sting promised to tear some heads off at Lockdown and end the group. “Whatcha gonna do when the Stinger runs wild on you?” Sting shouted, drawing an annoyed reaction from Taz.
Tonight: Graphics provided a visual of tonight’s big matches – RVD vs. Storm, Angle vs. Joe, Roode vs. Aries, and Magnus vs. Daniels. Taz played TNA announcer wondering who will get the Impact Title shot tonight.
[Q2] In-ring: Christy Hemme introduced the opening contest featuring Daniels, along with his designated manager Kazarian. Magnus was then introduced to a big reaction in his home country as Taz complained about Magnus being included in this series of matches, not an A&E member. Keneley & Tenay again missed the softball to point out A&E’s losing ways in the ring. Of course, that would undermine the entire angle since TNA doesn’t want to reinforce A&E as a complete joke, so the announcers’s hands are tied unable to reference what people who have paid attention to A&E losing so much are thinking.
1 — DANIELS (w/Kazarian) vs. MAGNUS — Impress Hulk Hogan match
Magnus displayed power with a sideslam grip into a vertical suplex to impress the crowd. Magnus tried to follow with a corner attack, but Daniels moved. Kaz then hopped on the ring apron to distract Magnus, allowing Daniels to drop Magnus with an STO for a nearfall. As Keneley tried to note that interference might not impress Hogan, Taz made an odd statement that Daniels doesn’t care about impressing Hogan, but winning the match. That should be the objective, but the problem is that Hogan said in his opening speech that he is looking for who impresses him, and there was no clear indication that who wins in the four matches even matters. The criteria for what will impress Hogan is floating in the air so that Hogan can just pick someone, but the one key item that Hogan stressed is impressing him.
In the ring, Magnus shook off the heels’s interference, then climbed to the top rope and delivered a flying elbow drop to the chest. Magnus covered Daniels and it was good for the win. After the match, Keneley told Hogan to take note.
WINNER: Magnus at 5:06.
Office: A camera eavesdropped on Bully Ray talking to Brooke Hogan, who consoled Ray as he lamented his “injury status.” As Brooke stroked his head, Ray said his two goals were marrying Brooke and winning the TNA World Title. Brooke said she feels so bad for him, then Ray got in a better mood since it’s Valentine’s Day, perked up with a very different-sounding voice, and said they are buying Brooke some new shoes, going out to eat, and going dancing. Brooke told him to be careful and wear his wedding ring. She said she found it on the bathroom sink after Ray left. They hugged.
[Q3] Moments Ago: Talking to a backstage camera, Magnus gave a fired-up victory speech about Aces & Eights taking away what he lives for: wrestling. Magnus said he has more energy in his tank than anyone else in the wrestling world. Magnus concluded by saying that he believes he has what it takes to be World champ.
In-ring: Samoa Joe was introduced to a big reaction. Joe always looks good in front of international fans to get hyped for his entrance. Kurt Angle was then introduced, and TNA inserted a voice-over from Keneley on the Olympics dropping wrestling. Next was a voice-over from Angle reading a statement on saving wrestling at the Olympics. Taz abandoned the storyline hating Kurt Angle to say he agrees with Angle on it being ridiculous that the Olympics dropped wrestling.
2 — KURT ANGLE vs. SAMOA JOE — Impress Hulk Hogan match
Angle and Joe went back and forth as Tenay recapped their history at Lockdown 2008 before Taz resumed the storyline of hating Angle by saying A&E enjoys watching these two guys beat each other up. Angle delivered sustained offense to drive Joe into the corner, then maintained control leading to commercial at 3:35.
Back from break, Joe and Angle were struggling for control mid-ring. Tenay recapped that Hogan is watching this match “so closely” because Hogan will determine who faces Hardy for the TNA Title at Lockdown in San Antonio. The mid-ring struggle moved to the floor after Joe avoided Angle, who spilled to the outside. Joe delivered a flying forearm that excited the crowd before the action returned to the ring.
Joe scored a close two count, then Angle got a burst of energy to deliver one, two, and three German Suplexes as the crowd played along. Angle measured Joe for an Angle Slam, but Joe blocked. Joe followed with a frontslam out of the corner before climbing to the top rope, but Angle dropped him to the mat. Angle followed with the Angle Slam, but Joe popped up and applied the rear naked choke, only to have Angle counter with the anklelock. Joe teased tapping out before flinging Angle away into the corner. Double-knockdown put both men on the mat. Suddenly, A&E hit the ring, causing the match to be thrown out.
WINNER: No Contest at 12:30.
[Q4] Post-match, Garett Bischoff delivered some weak-looking leg kicks to Joe, who easily brushed him off. Angle then punched Wes Brisco out of the ring once he recovered from the ambush. Wes & Garett high-tailed it out of the ring into the crowd, then Angle & Joe stared them down from inside the ring.
Backstage: TNA president Dixie Carter talked to Marty Scurll and the Blossom Twins from “British Bootcamp” about wrestling tonight. She told them to take this opportunity to prove they belong in TNA.
In-ring: Christy Hemme introduced “Party” Marty and the Blossom Twins for mixed tag action. Gail Kim was then introduced first for the heel trio. Taz called her a “superstar” before Tenay noted Gail’s accomplishments in TNA. Knockouts champion Tara and Jessie were then introduced as Taz provided an M&M analogy about Tara and Jessie being a unit.
3 — KO champion TARA & JESSIE & GAIL KIM vs. “PARTY” MARTY & BLOSSOM TWINS — mixed six-person tag match — Taryn Terrell referee
Once the bell sounded, Tenay noted the face trio is under a lot of pressure tonight. Tenay then offered a cliche, Keneley tried to add to it, and Taz questioned Keneley on whether he’s making fun of Tenay, apparently trying to drive a wedge between the face announcers. After 1:30 of action, the match cut to break.
Impact returned from break one minute before the top of the hour before Taz recapped the rules of this match: “It’s girl on girl and male against male.” The announcers then debated which Blossom Twin is which leading to the top of the hour.
[Q5 -- second hour] The match continued with the Jessie vs. Terrell feud resuming as Jessie tried to skirt the rules being administered by Taryn. Then, the debate over which Blossom Twin is which resumed. Keneley just settled on “one-half of the Blossom Twins” in trouble at the hands of Tara and Gail. Taz decided he doesn’t care about the Blossoms, saying they’re “as green as gooses—,” which the Spike censors bleeped.
Holly hot-tagged in at 10:00 and cleaned house on Gail. The Blossoms then worked together for a double flapjack onto Tara. More double-team offense as Keneley gave up trying to figure out who’s legal in this match. Tenay decided Hannah is legal, then the men illegally entered the match to battle. The match moved to the floor, where Party Marty tried a big dive on the outside, but completely missed Jessie. Back in the ring, Gail finished one of the Blossoms with Eat Defeat.
WINNERS: Team Gail at 11:30.
Post-match, Gail Kim took the mic and congratulated herself on proving that she deserves the Knockouts Title. She then thanked Taryn for calling the match correctly, not like an idiot. Gail then called out Tara, saying she wants her Knockouts Title back. Gail next called out Brooke Hogan to give her what she deserves.
Brooke Hogan’s music played to a mixed reaction. Brooke joined Gail, Tara & Jessie, and Taryn in the ring to decide things. Well, she tried, but boos drowned her out. Brooke said she’s going to give Tara a shot at the title…but she will also wrestle Miss Tessmacher. Tenay summed up that it’s Tara vs. Tessmacher vs. Gail for the KO Title next week. Suddenly, Brooke interrupted her music and said Velvet Sky will also be in the match, creating a four-way. Taz said Brooke is just like her daddy. Brooke’s music stopped again, then Brooke played schoolteacher recapping this will be a four-way and she will be ringside watching to ensure there are no shenanigans. Keneley suddenly received news telepathically from Brooke that it will be a four-way elimination.
Video Recap: TNA aired Dixie Carter’s announcement last week during Bellator MMA that TNA is going on the road to more venues, she just signed Jeff Hardy to a new deal, and King Mo is ready for his next MMA fight and eventually debuting in TNA.
Last Month: Jeff Hardy successfully defended the TNA Title against Daniels, but then Taz distracted Hardy, allowing A&E to attack Hardy from behind. Back on the air, the announcers noted Hardy is healthy again and returns to TNA TV in two weeks.
Recap: Magnus beat Daniels in an Impress Hulk Hogan match, then Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle ended prematurely due to interference from Aces & Eights.
Still to come: New TNA tag champs collide. Up next, it’s Storm vs. RVD.
Backstage Hallway: New tag champs Aries and Roode said Hulk Hogan is trying to divide them, starting tonight. They calmly tried to decide which one should go after the TNA World Title before asking if they’re on the same page about what’s right for business. They agreed they were on the same page, then walked off.
[Commercial Break] [...Q6]
[Q6...] In-ring: Rob Van Dam’s music was playing back from break. Out came the X Division champion, who Keneley noted is trying to impress Hogan to get into the TNA Title hunt. James Storm was introduced next as Taz heeled on Storm’s hometown in Tennessee, playing the role of Northeast snob looking down on Storm.
4 — JAMES STORM vs. X Division champion ROB VAN DAM — non-title Impress Hulk Hogan match
The crowd picked up a dueling chant as the two faces felt each other out early on. RVD then took control and landed trademark offense for a nearfall. Someone needs to give Taz a Snickers because he’s getting grumpy six quarter-hours into doing voice-over commentary on the broadcast. Storm then delivered a Tennessee Slam after catching RVD in the corner before Taz angrily asked Tenay if he has any more factoids on Storm.
Storm delivered Closing Time, then he teased the Last Call Superkick. RVD blocked, though, and dropped Storm to the mat. RVD took his time going to the top-rope for a Five-Star Frogsplash, so Storm crotched him. RVD flung Storm away, though, then tried to coast-to-coast, but Storm moved and RVD ate the bottom turnbuckle. Both men recovered on opposite ends of the ring, then Storm blasted RVD with Last Call. Storm covered and it was good for the win.
WINNER: Storm at 5:48.
Backstage: Joseph Park was shown walking down the hallway talking to himself about the “boys” giving him some good advice. Park knocked on Hulk Hogan’s office door, which produced Hulk and Brooke Hogan mid-discussion. Park said he wants a shot at the TNA Title, and said “the boys” told him he needs to learn how to politic. Park excitedly said he got buttons and stickers and slogans made. Hogan rolled his eyes and said he doesn’t need to be like a politician, then asked Park if he knows what a rib is. “Not a babyback rib, not a BBQ rib,” he said. Hogan told Park to go find out what a rib is. After Park left, Hulk and Brooke resumed a discussion about Brooke “pushing way too hard for stuff.”
Still to come: Aries vs. Roode in the final match of the Hogan Invitational.
[Q7] Hogan Office: Back to Brooke Hogan, who pitched Bully Ray to Hulk Hogan, saying he works hurt and is worthy of a TNA Title shot. Hulk said he has eight other guys to consider. Brooke sighed and said he’s gotten to know Ray the last three days and she found out that he got into the business because of Hulk and he wants to be just like Hulk. Hulk returned the sigh and said he would love to have a son-in-law as World Hvt. champion, but he has to remain objective. Hulk said he will take Ray’s candidacy under advisement.
Announcers: Keneley said tonight’s main event is presented by Five-Hour Energy. Hemme then introduced Bobby Roode first for the main event. His tag champion partner, Austin Aries, was introduced next to a decent reaction. Before the bell sounded, Roode took the mic and said it’s only taken Hogan one week to screw with their plan. Roode reminded everyone that they intend on winning all the gold in TNA to bring prestige and honor back to the titles. Aries spoke next and paused for an “Austin Aries” chant. Aries thanked them for reminding him what his name is, then said Hulk’s plan won’t work. Aries said they’ll take care of this real simple and asked for the “referees” to call for the bell. Taz tried to figure out why Aries used the plural with only one ref in the ring.
5 — TNA tag champion AUSTIN ARIES vs. TNA tag champion BOBBY ROODE — Impress Hulk Hogan match
Once the bell sounded, they tried to do the finger-poke, but neither one wanted to take the fall. Aries took the mic and said they’re having a simple miscommunication. “I poke you, you go down,” Aries said. But, Roode angrily refused. Aries calmed everyone down and said he will be the bigger man – which Roode took exception to, not realizing it was a “figure of speech,” as Aries comically replied. Aries laid down on the mat, Roode dropped down, Roode covered Aries, and Aries countered with a crucifix pin, which Roode kicked out of. They came to their feet and yelled at each other leading to break.
Going to break, Spike showed Kurt Angle inside the Bellator cage having a conversation. Angle appears on Bellator after Impact.
[Commercial Break. A spot for WWE Studios's "Dead Man Down" aired.]
Back from break, Roode and Aries locked up to attempt a serious encounter. Roode shoved Aries, so Aries shoved back. They took a step back and argued with each other, then circled around the ring before locking up again. Aries proceeded to execute a handstand before resting on the top turnbuckle and playing to an appreciative crowd. Roode tried to come back with a roll-up and use the ropes for leverage, but the ref saw it and stopped his count.
[Q8] Keneley noted the bad guys are trying to cheat their way to a win as Taz sat quietly until Keneley referenced Hulk Hogan, which set off Taz. The in-ring battle moved to the top turnbuckle, where the two men traded blows. Aries then boxed Roode’s ears, causing Roode to tip over to the mat. Aries tried to follow with a 450 splash, but Roode moved. Aries landed on his feet, though, and slapped on the Last Chancery. Suddenly, Roode countered into a Cross-face submission, but Aries escaped.
At 11:30, Roode and Aries countered and blocked and switched and countered again from a standing position before the ref was bumped. Roode then slipped out of the ring to retrieve a chair, which he brought into the ring. Roode saw the ref stirring, then slammed down the chair and dropped to the mat a la Eddie Guerrero. Aries saw this potentially bad situation and slammed down the chair, then dropped to the mat. The ref woke up, saw both men on the mat, and threw his hands in the air. The crowd cheered and applauded the antics of the heels, though.
Suddenly, former TNA tag champs Hernandez and Chavo Guerrero came out on the entrance ramp to distract the new tag champs. Roode and Aries argued with them while walking down the stage, not realizing they were being counted out. They suddenly realized the count situation at eight, then fought each other back toward the ring, but were counted out. Hemme made it official, then Roode and Aries resumed their arguing in the ring.
WINNERS: Double count-out at 13:45.
Hogan’s Office: Hulk Hogan was shown talking to Sting about Starrcade. He said that was nothing compared to what Brooke just put him through. Sting played such a good friend saying he’s glad it’s Hulk’s decision and it’s all on his shoulders to decide the new #1 contender. Sting and Hulk left the office, then Sting told Hulk to go the other way. “Thanks, brother,” Hulk grumbled. Sting kept calling after him that he’s glad it’s all on him. Hogan put on his Hulk Hogan face and sunglasses, then kept walking.
In-ring: Three minutes before the top of the hour, Hulk Hogan was introduced to the ring to announce his decision for Lockdown. Once Hogan hit the ring, Hulk paced around the ring before noting it has been “crazy in the back” because of the energy coming from the crowd. Hogan said it’s not about him anymore, but the eight guys pouring their hearts out tonight. He said it’s decision time and each wrestler wants to be “the man” around here.
Suddenly, Aces & Eights came through a side entrance and hopped over the guardrail to surround the ring. They slowly climbed onto the ring apron before Bully Ray limped down to the ring with chain in-hand. Aces & Eights dipped from the ring apron as Taz said Ray got lucky tonight. Suddenly, Sting’s music played. Sting marched down to the ring with multiple bats in-hand as Taz freaked out. Devon sent the A&E troops back to where they came from, but not before mouthing to Sting, Hogan, and Ray that they’re done. Ray returned the gesture by pointing toward Devon. And, Impact suddenly signed off without a resolution to the title contender situation.
(Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch.com assistant editor)