The first live TNA Impact episode permanently on the road opened with a video package documenting events from the Lockdown PPV, specifically Hulk Hogan giving Bully Ray a pep talk before Ray won the TNA Title…but after turning on the Hogans to join Aces & Eights. The video closed with a visual of Ray getting plunked in the head during the PPV-closing littering.
Arena: TNA went live to Chicago for a wide shot of the Sears Centre to make it look like they were in front of a very large, major-league audience. At commentary, Todd Keneley introduced the show before Taz gloated about Ray being new TNA World champion. Keneley plugged reaction from Ray and Brooke Hogan tonight. Mike Tenay the spoke up with a plug for A.J. Styles returning to TNA tonight.
TNA then randomly went to the ring for an unhyped Tag Title match to start the show. Out came Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez as the challengers. Suddenly, Aces & Eights members hit the ring, apparently upset by TNA not promoting this Tag Title match in-advance. A&E put the boots to Guerrero and Hernandez to send a message to the TNA locker room. D-Lo Brown then dumped Hernandez to the floor before D.O.C. and Knox tossed Chavo to the floor.
In the ring, Devon told the crowd to sit down and shut up. Devon said this is the group that he said would take over TNA. He said this group will dominate from now on. So, without further ado, Devon introduced new TNA World champion Bully Ray. The A&E music played to bring out Bully through A&E’s back-entrance. Bully slowly walked out sporting a beanie, flannel shirt, t-shirt underneath the flannel, and jeans. Ray stared down the ringside fans as he slowly walked toward the ring. Ray then embraced Taz before Ray hit the ring.
In the ring, Ray and Devon embraced before D-Lo presented Ray with his own Aces & Eights jacket. Ray then stood tall as the president of the group. Once the music stopped, Ray took the mic and asked the crowd if they know who he is. Ray said he is Bully Ray, the president of Aces & Eights. And, he is the TNA World Hvt. champion.
Ray said he used Sting, screwed Brooke (some cheers in the crowd), and made a fool out of Hulk Hogan. Ray then claimed to have made a fool out of everyone in the audience. He claimed that they pulled the wool over their eyes’s for nine months. Ray said he cannot tell Devon how proud he was of him in that moment at Lockdown when he drilled Jeff Hardy in the back of the head.
Ray said it wasn’t supposed to go down like that. He said that when Wes and Garett came over the cage, he was supposed to escape the cage when they entered. But, Hogan sat him down one hour before the show to give him a pep-talk. Ray said Hogan told him to do something memorable, which is what he did. (So, did Ray radio in a new plan during the match after calling an audible?)
Ray said he did something in one night that the NWO couldn’t accomplish in forever, which drew ooohs and aaahs. Ray said they are the Aces & Eights and when you ride with A&E, you never walk alone. Their music played, then Ray held up the TNA Title belt in the air. Keneley said it’s entitlement.
Backstage, Sting was shown flipping out watching this unfold on the monitor. Sting said Ray’s in the fast-lane, pissing him off. Sting vowed to get his hands on Ray and it starts by talking to Hulk. Sting stormed off, frustrated and angry.
Up Next: Knockouts tag action of Gail Kim & Tara vs. KO champion Velvet Sky & Mickie James.
[Commercial Break] […Q2]
Back live, Keneley recapped Knockouts Title events at Lockdown on Sunday.
1 — KO champion VELVET SKY & MICKIE JAMES vs. TARA (w/Jessie) & GAIL KIM — Taryn Terrell referee
Prior to the bell, TNA cut to an inset promo from Gail Kim announcing that Knockouts authority figure Brooke Hogan put referee Taryn Terrell on probation for her role in the Knockouts Title match on Sunday. After the babyfaces grabbed an early advantage, TNA cut to a mid-match commercial.
Back from break, the heels were in control as Taryn found herself in a familiar position trying to maintain order while having to deal with Jessie on the outside.
[Q3] The match built to Velvet getting a hot tag from Mickie and cleaning house on Tara and Gail. Ref Taryn and Gail then got into it again, so Taryn slapped Gail across the mouth. After the slap, Sky nailed her finisher for the win.
WINNERS: Sky & at 9:40.
Earlier Tonight: Bully Ray dared Hulk Hogan to come out here and fire the Aces & Eights group.
Somewhere in Catering: Aces & Eights were shown sitting around having some drinks. Ray said he doesn’t think Hogan has the balls to fire them, but in-case he does, he would like to propose a toast to the brotherhood. Ray then joked that he hasn’t heard from his wife in a little while. He then pulled out his phone and mockingly left her a voice-mail. “Tell dad I said hello!” Bully cackled into the phone.
Slammiversary plug: TNA is coming on June 2.
Backstage: A roving cameraman asked Hulk Hogan for his thoughts tonight. Hogan hobbled away on crutches before slamming the door on the cameraman.
In-ring: Robbie E. was introduced to the ring. He’s unfortunately facing Rob Terry in a re-match from Lockdown.
2 — ROBBIE E. vs. ROB TERRY
Terry bounced Robbie around the ring, then finished him off in a little over one minute to little fanfare other than light “Feed Me More” chants. After the bell sounded, dance music played and Terry did some posing and dancing in the ring.
WINNER: Terry at 1:17. During the match, it became clear that a contributor to my 6.5 in-person score for Lockdown instead of a 5.0 like the rest of the PWTorch Staff was not having to listen to the announcers for three hours. Unbearable.
Backstage: Sting apprehensively walked into Hulk Hogan’s office for a chat.
[Q4] [Commercial Break]
A&E Catering Positon: Bully Ray complained about no A&E merchandise available at the TNA stands. Ray then told an A&E member to open up the program and the first person they see will get it. The group got excited about who the program opened to, then said it will be a tough challenge, but they can do it.
Hogan’s Office: Hulk Hogan blamed Sting for everything with Bully Ray. He said now Bully has the World Title and now A&E has the whole company hostage. And, now, his daughter is married to Bully. Sting told Hogan not to fire Aces & Eights, especially not Bully, because they need to handle this together. Hogan said there is no more “we” because this is the end of the movie. Hogan shouted at Sting to get out of his office because he makes him sick. Back on commentary, Taz had a big laugh watching Sting and Hogan break down.
Announcers: Keneley and Tenay switched gears to hearing from A.J. Styles for the first time in a long time. Keneley said Styles has been on an emotional rollercoaster, then TNA rolled footage of Styles blowing off TNA reps when they tried to catch up to him in Georgia.
Up Next: A.J. Styles returns to TNA.
Backstage: TNA tag champs Bobby Roode and Austin Aries walked up to Sting to rub it in about Hogan dressing him down. Aries kept going by noting Sting just wouldn’t listen to reason. He said Sting just ruined everything. Sting said he’s had enough and he just wants to fight tonight. Roode then bailed on Aries and Sting pointed his finger in Aries’s forehead and said he’s fighting him tonight.
In-ring: Two minutes before the top of the hour, A.J. Styles was introduced. No sign of Styles, though. TNA cut to a wide-shot of the arena, but still no sign of Styles. Tenay said he’s supposed to be here tonight.
[Q5 — second hour] Suddenly, Daniels and Kazarian’s music played to bring out Daniels and Kaz dressed like the Road Warriors since they’re in Chicago. In the ring, Kaz said this isn’t the first time that Styles has disappointed all of his fans. Kaz said this is Throwback Thursday and they’re paying homage to the second-best team in wrestling history. Daniels, playing Hawk, said the Road Warriors of the past were “fake tough guys,” like A.J. Styles. Daniels called themselves the Original Ring Warriors.
James Storm had enough of this and interrupted. Storm hit the ring and said they don’t have to run away from him. Storm then put over the Road Warriors for being bigger, tougher, and “more over” than them. On to the “tough part.” Storm told Daniels and Kaz to decide which one wants to get a beating right now. Storm then decided for them by yanking Daniels into the ring.
3 — JAMES STORM vs. DANIELS (w/Kazarian)
Storm tried to finish it at 3:00 with Eye of the Storm, but Daniels slipped out and hit the STO. Daniels then got too cocky, allowing Storm to pin Daniels with a quick roll-up.
WINNER: Storm at 3:44.
Post-match, Daniels and Kaz beat down Storm as the crowd chanted for A.J. Styles. Styles then appeared on the entrance ramp and walked with purpose to the ring. Styles, with a beard and longer hair and sporting a leather jacket over a black t-shirt while wearing jeans, cleared Kaz and Daniels from the ring. Styles stood still watching Kaz and Daniels with his eyes, then he suddenly clotheslined James Storm. Styles’s hood flipped up as he clotheslined Storm, covering his head to enhance his new persona. Styles then left the ring, selling that he’s brooding like ’96 Sting after feeling like WCW turned their back on him by accusing him of being the Third Man joining WCW.
Backstage: Kurt Angle was shown walking down the hallway, but Wes Brisco set him up for a trap to take a beat down from A&E members. D.O.C. attempted to throw some right hands, then A&E left Angle out cold on the floor.
[Q6] Moments Ago: A.J. Styles returned to TNA and clotheslined James Storm after attacking Kazarian and Daniels. “I don’t get it,” Taz said on commentary.
In-ring: Jazz music could only mean one thing. Joseph Park. Park came out to the ring dressed in a suit as the announcers discussed representatives from Park, Park, and Park here tonight. Once in the ring, Park looked around the arena before saying it’s an honor and a thrill to be standing here tonight. He said it’s no secret that it’s been a wild & crazy past few months for him. Park said that with all of this early success, he’s decided to take a step back and reflect on the highlights of his life. (1) Graduating law school at the top of his class. (2) When he finally made partnership at Park, Park, and Park. This started to draw boos, then Park waved toward to the top of the arena and apologized for the lack of quality seats.
(3) Standing right here in an Impact ring in front of his hometown. Taz said he has the cheap pop down. Park said he grew up sitting on the first-base line of the Cubbies games, which drew boos. Park made the save saying he sat behind the goal at Blackhawks games. That got a reaction.
Suddenly, Matt Morgan interrupted. Park covered his mouth to sell concern as Morgan hit the ring and demanded a mic. Morgan waved off Park, then addressed Hulk Hogan, asking if it was everything he wanted and more. Morgan said out of all the mistakes he made, there’s no bigger mistake he made than this “walking joke” Joseph Park. Park took exception as some vocal males chanted, “Morgan, Morgan.” Morgan said the fact that Hogan signed Park to a TNA contract is an “abortion to wrestling.”
Morgan said he’s going to start eliminating Hulk’s mistakes one by one, starting with Park. Morgan delivered the final line in Park’s face, then told Park he better get out of the ring. Now. Park did his goofy face to sell concern, then sized up Morgan and thought about leaving. Suddenly, Park had second thoughts after Morgan insulted him as being fat. Park said in Chicago, they never back down from a fight. So, if he wants to fight, then they do it right now.
Morgan laughed and circled around the ring as Park started removing his suit jacket. “You’re serious, aren’t you?” Morgan asked. Morgan told Park that they do things on his time, then started backing away from the ring. Morgan then hopped over the top rope, but paused on the top rope. Park turned his back, then turned around and ate a Carbon Footprint. As Park sold on the mat, Morgan leaned down and whispered, “And my time is next week.” Morgan slammed down the mic, then left the ring after establishing his mission going forward.
Still to come: Sting vs. Aries and footage of Brooke Hogan’s San Antonio Meltdown.
Catering: Bully Ray said he feels good about taking out an Olympic gold medalist. Bully then looked into the camera and sent a message to Hulk Hogan to fire them if he has the balls. Ray listed the TNA roster members they already took out tonight, then vowed to destroy the show tonight if Hogan doesn’t answer them.
[Q7] Video Package: Brooke Hogan was shown freaking out after Bully Ray turned on her at Lockdown. Back on commentary, Taz chuckled to himself that you would think Brooke would have been happy because her husband is now World champion.
With 28 minutes remaining the show, TNA introduced the main event. First out was Austin Aries, along with Bobby Roode. Sting was then introduced as Aries’s opponent. Big reaction for Sting, causing Taz to complain about this crowd being too loud. Tenay noted Sting has returned to the scene of some of his most memorable career victories tonight.
4 — STING vs. TNA tag champion AUSTIN ARIES (w/TNA tag champion Bobby Roode)
As the bell sounded, Taz piled on Sting getting dressed down by Hogan, saying he should have seen it coming. As the action started, TNA flashed a graphic for Slammiversary that included Jeff Hardy, which is a reminder that there has been no focus so far on how Hardy feels about dropping the “prestigious” TNA Title at Lockdown.
In the ring, Aries knocked Sting to the outside, so Roode tried to land some cheap-shots on Sting, but Sting reversed and Stinger-Splashed Roode into the guardrail. Aries tried to make the save for Roode, but Sting moved and Roode ate a double axehandle from his tag partner. Sting then chucked Aries into a chair before posing on the ring apron. The crowd popped for Sting as Impact cut to break.
Back from break, Sting was still in-control as Keneley said Sting has dominated this match. Sting then spotted a shinny penny on the floor, allowing Aries to club Sting from behind to begin wearing down Sting. But, Sting quickly clotheslined Aries over the top rope to the floor. Roode then got in the mix again, so ref Brian Hebner gave Roode the boot from ringside. Roode took forever to leave, though, allowing Aries to punt Sting in the crotch behind the ref’s back.
[Q8] Aries went on the attack after nailing the low-blow, then started targeting Sting’s lower body. Aries teased going for a Scorpion Deathlock, then somewhat mocked Miz by pretending not to know how to execute it. “How do you do this?!” Aries shouted down at Sting, who popped Aries in the mouth to escape. But, Aries came back moments later with a top-rope missile dropkick. Suddenly, Sting popped to his feet, no-selling. Sting did his pose in Aries’s face before body-pressing Aries across the ring.
Sting missed with a corner splash, though, and Aries nailed a corner dropkick before nailing his own Stinger Splash. Aries then wanted a Brainbuster, but Sting escaped and hit a Scorpion Deathdrop for a nearfall. Sting, still wrestling in a t-shirt, hit the Scorpion Splash before slapping on the Scorpion Deathlock. Sting sat down on it, but Aces & Eights decided now was the time to attack Sting, causing the match to be thrown out.
WINNER: No Contest at 15:15. The best Sting has looked in the ring in a long time. It helped having an opponent like Aries to work with, as opposed to someone like D.O.C. at Genesis.
As Aces & Eights beat down Sting, Keneley complained about A&E ruining this show. Bully Ray then hit the ring and told Sting that he used him. Ray looked into the camera, shouting toward Hogan that he did something memorable, all right. He asked Hogan where he is, then mockingly called out for “everyone’s hero” and “dad.” Impact cut to break as Ray kept calling out for Hogan.
It’s worth noting TNA is running a “take-over” angle on their website.
Impact returned from break five minutes before the top of the hour with Bully still calling out for Hogan. Ray said they have taken over Impact, then Hogan’s music played. Ray stopped in his tracks and looked toward the entrance ramp as Hogan’s entrance played. Hogan then hobbled out on-stage on crutches as Ray shouted, “C’mon, dad!” from inside the ring.
Hogan’s music stopped and Hogan said it would be too easy for him to fire Bully after everything he did to this company, the fans, his family, and Sting. Hogan said every dog has his day, and from this moment forward, he is empowering every man and woman in the locker room to band together to fight and eliminate Aces & Eights.
Jeff Hardy’s music then played and some roster members spilled out to fight Aces & Eights. Tenay flashed back to WCW that the TNA roster needs to be united against Aces & Eights. Taz said this is not right. The camera focused on Ray getting Kurt Angle on the outside to punch him. In the ring, Hardy took a beating. Aces & Eights retained control of this fight as referees scrambled around the ringside area to give time cues to the wrestlers as they brawled.
The brawl came to a standstill as TNA roster members tried to fight back until Ray brought a mic into the ring to silence them with words. Ray shouted toward “dad” that this must be what he meant by memorable. Taz told Hulk there’s nothing he can do about this. Ray then walked up the ramp toward Hogan as Impact hit an over-run period.
[Q9 — over-run] Ray mockingly said Hogan’s calvary just got killed by Aces & Eights. He asked Hulk what he’s going to do now. Ray, Devon, and D-Lo Brown stood on the entrance ramp staring down Hogan as Impact cut.
(Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor)