This week’s live Impact back in the Impact Zone opened with a video package documenting recent events involving Hulk Hogan, Bully Ray, and Sting feuding with Aces & Eights.
Earlier Today: The roving cameraman caught up with Bully and Brooke Hogan arriving at the building backstage. Brooke said Hulk Hogan is healing and trying to get better after A&E took him out last week. Bully had enough talking and hurried Brooke inside the building.
Impact Zone: Fireworks shot off as Todd Keneley introduced the show after four weeks in the U.K. Keneley noted Jeff Hardy returns tonight and they “kick it into high-gear” on the Road to Lockdown.
Bully Ray’s music then interrupted and Bully walked out on-stage to stare toward the announce position. Mike Tenay noted that Taz is absent tonight, calling him a coward. Tenay added that Ray faces Hardy for the TNA Title at Lockdown on March 10.
In the ring, Ray said he’s never been more pissed off than he is right now. Ray said A&E has ruined everything and injured half of the TNA roster. He said last week week was supposed to be great because he was teaming with Hogan, but A&E ruined it. He vowed to get his hands on Devon “so bad” that he will “never, ever want to step foot in a wrestling ring again.” One dude in the crowd shouted by himself, “E-C-Dub.” Yep, they’re back in the Impact Zone.
Ray then said he wants to address the man he faces for the TNA Title at Lockdown – World Hvt. champion Jeff Hardy. After a four-week absence from TV, Hardy re-emerged on-stage applauding the crowd before he walked toward the ring with both title belts over his shoulder. Hardy took a victory lap before entering the ring.
Ray said never in his wildest dreams, bro, did he think they would be standing across the ring from each other competing for a major singles title. Ray said they have history together, then said he doesn’t feel right about getting this title shot this way. Ray said he didn’t even wrestle to impress Hogan to get the title shot and he doesn’t think this is the way he wants to earn the title shot. Ray said he doesn’t think he’s the right guy to fight him.
Hardy thought things over before saying it’s great to be back on Impact. “In the Zone!” Hardy shouted. Hardy said he would have chosen Ray if he were Hogan, they’ve swung a lot of chairs, climbed a lot of ladders, and broken a lot of tables. Now, they take it to the cage. Hardy told Ray that may the best man win.
Suddenly, Daniels’s music interrupted. Daniels and Kazarian walked out on-stage and stomped out to the ring to boos. Kaz said Ray is right that he shouldn’t feel good about this because he didn’t earn this title shot. He noted Ray didn’t defeat anyone; but his daddy-in-law gave him this title shot. Just like he gave Ray his daughter. Kaz said he can’t blame him for that because someone has to rub tanning lotion on Brooke’s back-side and tweet tasteless photos.
Daniels spoke next that he should be TNA Champ because he’s allergic to Hardy’s facepaint. He then noted Hardy and Ray can fight each other at Lockdown like two not-real men. Daniels gave the crowd permission to worship them, but Ray yanked the mic away and stole Daniels’s drink. Ray then slowly “re-filled” Daniels’s drink from his mouth before saying real men don’t drink apple-tinis. Ray then threw it in Daniels’s face. After a scrap broke out and the heels bailed to the floor, Ray booked himself in a tag match with Hardy against Daniels and Kaz. Apparently Ray is in-charge of tonight’s show with Hogan “recovering” from last week’s injury.
Announcers: Keneley and Tenay were shown on-camera for the first time in four weeks, noting that their third chair is empty. Tenay then plugged Sting and Devon picking their teammates for Lockdown. Plus, Gut Check and new Knockouts champion Velvet Sky defending the KO Title against former champ Tara. “And it’s next,” Keneley said leading to break.
[Commercial Break] […Q2]
[Q2…] Office: Sting was sitting down talking to himself while reviewing names on a list. Magnus was shown sitting on the couch and he told Sting to pick him for Lethal Lockdown. Sting asked why. Magnus said this company took a chance on a 22-year-old, green-as-grass wrestler and Sting mentored him throughout. He said that means the world to him and he wants to re-pay Sting. Great, simple babyface promo. Magnus left, then Sting stroked his chin contemplative.
Announcers: Gail Kim was shown joining Tenay and Keneley at the broadcast position. Tenay noted that Gail gets to face the Sky-Tara winner for the KO Title at Lockdown.
1 — Knockouts champion VELVET SKY vs. TARA (w/Jessie) — Knockouts Title match — winner defends against Gail Kim at Lockdown — Taryn Terrell referee
Tara, along with Jessie, was introduced first before TNA replayed events from last week when Gail pinned Tara during the four-way elimination match for the KO Title. But, Gail was unable to pin Sky, who captured the KO Title in the four-way. Sky was introduced to the ring as Gail had to watch Sky win the title last week. Gail noted she’s sick of KO referee Taryn, claiming biased officiating. Once the bell sounded, Tara angrily attacked Sky to take the early advantage. Early in the match, Taryn became involved when Jessie tried to get involved, as usual. Chaos ensued, then Tara turned around and took Sky’s finisher for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Sky at 2:06 to retain the KO Title. It’s Sky vs. Kim next Sunday at Lockdown.
Backstage: Austin Aries was on the phone with Bobby Roode. He “announced” a title match at Lockdown by asking Roode if he got it right about them defending the Tag Titles against Chavo & Hernandez and Daniels & Kaz in a three-way tag match. Chavo and Hernandez then entered the shot. Chavo noted Aries is booked against Hernandez tonight, flustering Aries, who was gearing up for a photo-shoot, not a match.
[Q3] Earlier Today: The roving cameraman caught up with Kenny King, asking him what’s up with him. The cameraman noted RVD is the X Champ, causing King to stutter. King then approached RVD to have him tell America that he is the top X Division wrestler. RVD told him that if that’s the case, then why isn’t the champ? King asked back if he can beat him for a third time. RVD said he’ll make a deal – he’ll put the title on the line against King tonight, but if King doesn’t win, then he leaves the X Division for good.
Impact Zone: Austin Aries was introduced for the next match as Taz joined Tenay and Keneley at the announce position. Taz stumbled over himself five seconds into his appearance trying to say Twitter, then complained about Tenay and Keneley. Hernandez, now wearing traditional wrestling trunks, was introduced to face Aries, then the bell sounded.
2 — TNA tag champion AUSTIN ARIES vs. HERNANDEZ
Hernandez knocked Aries to the floor in the first minute, then wanted to fly to the outside, but Aries intercepted with a headbutt to the gut. Back in the ring, Hernandez shook off Aries and dropped him to the mat. The ref checked on Aries’s condition as the announcers plugged Bellator MMA after Impact. Aries then yanked Hernandez out of the ring by the tights before nailing a suicide dive. Aries followed with a double axehandle smash to the back on the outside.
But, back in the ring, Aries airballed a big splash. Hernandez then squatted and gorilla-press-slammed Aries in the middle of the ring. Hernandez followed with The Pounce that sent Aries falling to the outside. On the floor, Aries grabbed his title belt and wanted to leave, but Hernandez yanked him back into the ring. In the ring, Aries handed over the title belt and begged off. Hernandez thought about using the belt, but the ref took it away. When the ref turned his back, Aries smashed Hernandez with a foreign object to the face. Aries then covered Hernandez for the win.
WINNER: Aries at 4:28. One of those fine lines where they tried to get heat on the heel, but made the face look like a dolt in the process. Hernandez’s character is too fragile for that, unless TNA simply doesn’t have important plans for him.
Backstage: Joseph Park was eating a “rib” offered by Sting. TNA unnecessarily captured Park’s chewing and saliva noises as Park tried to pitch himself for Sting’s team in-between bites. Sting then walked up to a returning Matt Morgan and asked him to join Team TNA. Morgan said he sees Hogan put Sting up to this. He said Hogan should have thought about that when he didn’t name him #1 contender. Morgan, having now intimidated Sting with his size and presence, told Sting that he’s guilty by association with Hogan, so his answer is no. Morgan turned and stomped off.
Still to come: Lethal Lockdown teams are named, plus Hardy & Ray vs. Daniels & Kaz.
Impact Zone: Kenny King was already in the ring back from break to challenge for the X Division Title. That’s not a good sign for King since TNA rarely, if ever, does WWE-style jobber entrances. Unless it’s a swerve! RVD was then introduced to defend the title against one of the only remaining X Division wrestlers.
3 — X Division champion ROB VAN DAM vs. KENNY KING — X Division Title match
RVD snapped off a big German Suplex with a bridge early in the match. RVD nearly snapped his back executing the move, but at least he’s flexible. Keneley made a Gumby reference to add color to RVD’s flexibility, which led to Taz yelling at him for a 1982 reference. Taz then made his own dated Gumby reference. Apparently Taz’s “well, I can do it, but you can’t” hypocrisy “enhances” his heel persona. In the match, RVD and King spilled to the outside leading to a break.
Back from break, King delivered right hand strikes to the side of the head, resulting in a two count. RVD then made a comeback with back-kicks and strikes before monkey-flipping King out of the corner into a running clothesline. RVD followed with Rolling Thunder. RVD then rolled King across the ring before climbing to the top rope.
RVD took his sweet time, posed, slowly came vertical, and then airballed a 450 splash. King tried to follow with a pin, but ref Earl Hebner got too close to the pin and messed up the count. King and RVD then awkwardly tried to reset before King eventually lifted RVD onto his shoulders for a spinning facebuster. King pinned RVD for the win to become new X Champ.
WINNER: King at 9:14 to capture the X Division Title. Anti-climatic end to RVD’s title run and beginning of King’s reign. Meanwhile, another face was booked to look like a dolt. Something about the Impact Zone leads to all of the bad habits returning.
Backstage: Kurt Angle walked up to Sting to survey his list for Lethal Lockdown. Angle asked him about “this guy.” Sting said he knows it’s a risk, but he wants to take a chance. Angle said it’s his call, then noted he has his own business to take care of.
[Commercial Break. A commercial for WWE Studios’s “Marine 3” aired during the break.]
Back from break, Tenay and Keneley plugged the big main event tonight. The announcers were then shown on-camera to review Aces & Eights attacking Hulk Hogan last week. Taz called it speculation. He said more speculation is Ray was actually injured with a hurt quad. They replayed Aces & Eights winning their first televised match of 2013 last week before the announcers were shown on-camera again. Keneley said Hogan underwent surgery after being attacked, then introduced a photo. Taz said it could have been Photoshopped.
[Q5 — second hour] Aces & Eights’s music played at the top of the hour to bring out Devon, Mr. Anderson, Garett Bischoff (dressed like Hunico), D.O.C., and Mike Knox through the side entrance. Once everyone assembled in the ring, Devon took the mic and said he wants to get something straight. Devon said Sting honestly thinks he has a team to take on Aces & Eights. He said he doesn’t know what Sting is thinking, but he’s drinking Hogan’s Kool-Aid.
Devon said this is the team that will dominate TNA. He said this club will dominate in 2013. Devon said Hogan is promising empty dreams and broken necks. So, this will be just like Bound for Glory, Devon claimed. He said this time, Sting will be leading his team to slaughter.
Sting’s music answered Devon’s declaration, then Team TNA’s team captain came out on-stage. Sting said he’ll testify that his first teammate is going to get a killer response because he is a killer…Samoa Joe. Joe slowly walked out on-stage to stand behind Sting and glare toward Aces & Eights. Sting then said this guy is really sorry. “Sorry about what, you miserable moron?” Devon yelled from the ring. Of course, this led to James Storm’s “Sorry About Your Damn Luck” music playing to bring out Storm dressed for a night on the town.
Now, for his next teammate. Sting said he is making his victorious return to the Impact Zone. It’s Magnus. Out came Magnus to join Storm and Joe standing behind Sting. So, apparently TNA is expanding this match to five-on-five, as Sting said he will name a fifth member. Anderson cut off Sting and demanded to know who his fifth partner is. Sting shouted, “Showtime!” twice, angering Anderson even more.
“Showtime” Eric Young, with a full beard, then snuck in the ring to attack Aces & Eights from behind, returning to TNA after A&E “broke his leg” months ago. A fight broke out in the ring before Team TNA cleared Aces & Eights from the ring. Tenay said this is a taste of what will happen at Lockdown. So, it’s The Bearded Fisherman & Cowboy & Joker & Killer & Gladiator vs. The Fake Bikers at the Alamodome next Sunday.
Backstage: Recent WWE Developmental Diva Ivelisse Veliz was shown warming up. She gets her Gut Check next. Keneley then introduced a video package documenting Veliz’s journey to TNA Gut Check. No WWE mentions.
Moments Ago: Eric Young returned to get a piece of Aces & Eights to set up Lethal Lockdown.
[Q6] Backstage: Cameras showed A&E angrily stomping out of the Impact Zone complaining about what happened out there. Kurt Angle then appeared in the foreground as A&E drifted away in the background. Angle broke the fourth wall turning to the camera and telling the operator to follow him.
Backstage: Barbarian’s niece, Lei’d Tapa, was shown warming up backstage for Gut Check. This was followed by a video package from Tapa quietly talking about wanting to follow in Barbarian’s footsteps. She got choked up talking about training with Barbarian yesterday and recalled that Barbarian told her he is proud of her getting to this stage.
Impact Zone: Jeremy Borash was standing by to introduce the Gut Check competitors. Ivelisse Veliz was introduced first; Tenay said Ivelisse cancelled an MMA fight tomorrow because she wanted to be prepared for this opportunity. From the Isle of Tonga, Lei’d Tapa was introduced next.
4 — IVELISSE VELIZ vs. LEI’D TAPA — Taryn Terrell referee
Two bookings for Taryn on this show. After Tapa let out an excited shout, the bell sounded to begin the contest. For a moment, Taz snapped out of heel mode into Gut Check Judge evaluation mode. The match turned into Ivelisse trying to knock the imposing Tapa off her feet, but Tapa had enough of that so she delivered a fallaway slam/Samoan Drop for a close two count. That was Tapa’s last gasp, as Ivellise scored a pin moments later.
WINNER: Ivellise at 4:25.
Backstage: Austin Aries interrupted Jeff Hardy’s pre-main event warm-ups. Aries said he just wants to let Hardy know that he’s pulling for him at Lockdown. He said it might sound weird, but Ray is the golden child with Hogan in his back-pocket. Aries said he doesn’t like it, so he will pull for Hardy to overcome the odds and retain the TNA Title. Aries said he doesn’t know if that means anything to Jeff, but he wanted to just put a bug in his ear.
Still to come: Hardy & Ray against Daniels & Kaz. Up Next: An update on A.J. Styles.
[Q7] A.J. Styles Update: Keneley introduced footage from TNA cameras traveling to Gainesville, Georgia to visit the Styles Household a few years removed from the previous Styles-at-home-angle. Styles’s wife talked about the Claire Lynch business and not knowing what to believe. Plus, Styles shut her out while it was all happening. C’mon, A.J., fireproof your marriage.
Suddenly, A.J. Styles came home. Styles, looking like he added 15 pounds and now sporting a full beard that made his face look different and with seriously unkept hair, saw the TNA cameras and snapped at the situation. Styles said they don’t get it, then he hopped on his bike and sped off down the driveway. It felt like the run-up to Bound for Glory 2011 when TNA talked to Bobby Roode’s family about his journey the TNA Title, then talked about Roode turning into a different person when he didn’t win the title and turned heel on James Storm.
Impact Zone: After a recap of the issues between Robbie E. and Rob Terry in the U.K., TNA cut back live to Robbie E. standing by in the ring. Robbie quietly said he has to admit when there is an issue, then called out Terry to the ring for a discussion. Once Terry entered the ring, Robbie said this has gotten out of hand. Robbie said he realizes this is Terry’s time in the spotlight, so he asked Terry to give the people what they want. Terry stood center-ring to beat WWE to the punch on the Fandango gimmick, then started dancing.
Suddenly, Robbie slipped into the ring with a picture frame. Robbie smashed the frame over Terry’s face and Terry barely budged. Terry dropped down to one knee, then Robbie posed for the hard camera. Robbie slowly came to his feet behind Robbie, then Robbie turned around and was frightened out of the ring by Terry’s posing. Keneley said they are definitely bros no more.
Backstage: Austin Aries moved on to Bully Ray. Aries said he’s pulling for Bully, which angered Bully. He told Aries to cut the crap because he’s not stirring him up. Ray built up Aries, then told Aries to get used to wearing that Tag Title belt because he’s not getting his hands on the TNA Title any time soon. Ray told Aries to get out of his face. Now. Aries said fine, then told Ray to say hello to Brooke for him. “Wise ass,” Ray concluded.
Up Next: Main Event time.
Video Package: Hardy vs. Ray battle for the TNA Title at Lockdown. Ray posed the big, lingering rhetorical question, “What am I willing to do to win the TNA Title?”
Backstage: Angle was still wandering around backstage half-an-hour later. Angle vowed to take the fight to Wes Brisco and the rest of the A&E thugs. Back live, Taz freaked out about Angle trying to find where the A&E Clubhouse is located. Based on the distance from the ring to the clubhouse that TNA established weeks ago, it has to be under the Harry Potter ride.
[Q8] Impact Zone: Daniels’s music played to bring out Daniels and Kazarian for the TV main event. Bully Ray was out next, freaking out Taz again. Jeff Hardy was then introduced to round out the participants.
5 — TNA World Hvt. champion JEFF HARDY & BULLY RAY vs. DANIELS & KAZARIAN
The announcers continued to allude to tag team history between Hardy and the former Bubba Dudley, but without WWE footage available to them, the announcers couldn’t color in the picture they were trying to describe. After Daniels and Kaz took the initial upper-hand, Ray ran them over with a double-clothesline. Ray danced for the crowd, then Impact cut to break.
Back live seven minutes before the top of the hour, Ray and Hardy were dominating Kaz. Ray squished Kaz in the corner before Hardy ran off Ray’s back for a corner leg smash. Daniels then took the same corner splash from Ray, but Hardy made a desperation lunge toward Hardy’s hair to yank him down to the mat. The heels then went to work on Hardy as Tenay talked about downloading an App.
Ray eventually took a hot tag at 9:00 and cleaned house. The action broke down with everyone in the ring before Ray launched Kaz off the top turnbuckle with a big press. More mid-ring chaos led to Ray making an official tag to Hardy to come off the top with Whisper in the Wind on Daniels, but Kaz crotched Hardy behind the ref’s back. Daniels then dropped Hardy with an STO for a two count.
More chaos ensued as the ref gave up on trying to establish law and order. Suddenly, Daniels found himself in the Doomsday Device, but Ray opted for an electric chair into Hardy coming off the top with a Swanton Bomb to Daniels. It was good for the pin and the win.
WINNERS: Hardy & Ray at 11:05.
Clubhouse: Kurt Angle found Mr. Anderson in the Aces & Eights clubhouse and beat him down until crashing the meeting room. Angle ran over Devon before attacking the big, fully-masked and clothed member. Angle then removed the man’s mask after smashing him with beer bottles. Apparently the cameraman is an A&E sympathizer, as he didn’t scramble around an over-turned table to get a shot of the unmasked man’s face. But, Angle saw the man’s face and freaked out. Angle asked how he could do this, then other A&E members attacked Angle from behind. Wes Brisco choked Angle, then Garett pretended to choke Angle with a chain, applying zero pressure. That was the final image of Impact.
(Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch.com)