This week’s Impact taped last Thursday started with a video package documenting portions of Bully Ray’s plot to tear apart the Hogan Family. As for Sting, he said he doesn’t really care about what he had to do to get what he wanted.
Arena: Todd Keneley introduced the show from Chicago and posed the question of finding out what hope they have left after Aces & Eights tried to take over the show last week. Hulk Hogan’s music then played to bring out the show’s General Manager in a bad mood.
In-ring: Hogan, on one crutch, said they’ve been through hell and back together, but he’s never had the wool pulled over his eyes quite like this time. Hogan claimed that Aces & Eights fooled everyone in the building, as well as him, his family, Sting, and everyone in TNA. He said when he thinks about the massacre last week, he realized this is a monster and this is not just a battle, but a war of survival. Hogan’s opening statement came across like TNA overcompensating for the A&E group not being booked as a threat throughout the angle.
Hogan said he would like to shift gears by bringing out his Top Four Warriors to lead TNA in the battle. First, Samoa Joe. After Joe hit the ring, Hogan brought out Magnus. Kurt Angle was out third to get some props from Hogan, who shook his hand. Hogan said this last man has been the leader over the last nine months, Jeff Hardy. On commentary, Tenay flashed back to WCW saying Hardy is the biggest hope to lead TNA in a “war of survival” against Aces & Eights.
Hogan then directed a message to the rest of the locker room. He said he needs these four to take out Aces & Eights and he needs the TNA Title back in TNA. Hogan said Hardy took them to a place he never thought they would get to. Hogan asked Hardy if he’s 100 percent for the re-match to get the title back. Hardy said he might be banged up, but he’s in a good place and The Creatures need the title back.
Hardy then gave up his guaranteed re-match to book a four-way match. He said the winner gets Bully Ray. Hogan said the last time he picked a #1 contender (Bully), it was the worst mistake of his life. So, he likes what Hardy is saying, and he confirmed the match for the main event.
Ray Explanation Video #2: Ray said Plan A was to win the Bound for Glory Series and win the TNA World Title, which is why they started by attacking Sting the night the BFG Series started. Ray then noted he planted a simple seed in Bobby Roode’s ear that James Storm was behind Aces & Eights, which distracted from Ray leading A&E in the shadows. TNA revisited the deal where everyone pointed at Storm as being the leader. Then, when it was apparent that Storm wasn’t the leader, Ray says he called up Bobby Roode again to plant another seed in his head, which cancelled out Roode and Storm, setting up Ray to enter the Finals against Jeff Hardy. But, Jeff was tougher than he thought and Jeff won the BFG Series. So, Ray says he went for Plan B, which Hulk brought right to him (Brooke Hogan).
Up Next: Tag Title match.
[Commercial Break] [...Q2]
[...Q2] In-ring: Techno music brought out Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez to challenge for the Tag Titles in the opening match. Keneley noted they were supposed to challenge for the Tag Titles last week, but Aces & Eights attacked them before the match could start. Bobby Roode’s music then brought out Roode and Austin Aries to defend the belts.
1 — TNA tag champions BOBBY ROODE & AUSTIN ARIES vs. CHAVO GUERRERO & HERNANDEZ — TNA Tag Title match
Back and forth action in the ring while Tenay and Taz argued on commentary. The challengers then cleared Roode & Aries to the floor, and Impact cut to break at 3:10.
[Q3] Back from break, the heels were in control working on Chavo. Hernandez eventually received a tag, then press-slammed Aries into the air. He headbutted Roode across the ring before getting a running start on the entrance ramp to fly back into the ring with a big splash on the tag champs. Hernandez then smashed Roode with The Pounce before Chavo tagged in.
Chavo delivered Three Amigos to Aries, then he wanted a top-rope frogsplash, but Kazarian suddenly came to ringside to distract the ref, allowing Daniels to shove Chavo off the top rope. Aries then rolled up Chavo with a handful of tights to win and retain the Tag Titles.
Post-match, Daniels and Kaz took out Roode and Aries to send a message that they want the Tag Titles, sending a message that if they can’t be champs, then no one else will be comfortable with the belts.
WINNERS: Aries & Roode at 11:55 to retain the Tag Titles.
Backstage: Brooke Hogan was shown arriving in the building. The roving cameraman asked Brooke what she thinks of Bully Ray’s explanation, but she shot down any questions about Ray or Hulk, saying she is here for business only to take care of the Knockouts Division.
Video Package: The X Division’s history. Text on the screen then introduced new rules: 230 lbs. weight-limit and every X Title match is a three-way.
[ JC: The second item is a headscratcher, to be nice about it. It should be the opposite that every X Division Title match is a singles match so that it forces TNA to spend time on the division by creating one-on-one issues that culminate in the ring. Now, TNA can just continue to throw three guys in the ring without an issue to do a bunch of spots, like in the opening match at Lockdown. ]
Backstage: Kenny King talked himself up, plugged Five-Hour Energy, and vowed to successfully defend his X Title tonight.
2 – X Division champion KENNY KING vs. ZEMA ION vs. SONJAY DUTT — X Division Title match
Impact returned from break with the match starting. Capturing the analysis of the new X Division rules, there was no explanation of (a) why Dutt is back in TNA or (b) how he earned an X Title shot, reinforcing the idea of TNA throwing three guys in the ring without a back-story. Act 1 of the match culminated with Dutt delivering a big splash on the outside.
[Q4] Back in the ring, all three wrestlers flew around the ring before King pinned Dutt. Apparently the deal is that because Dutt took the fall, he’s out of X Division Title contention. Is he even in the company? They didn’t take the time to explain why Dutt was in the match, so it’s not clear if he’s back in TNA or was just brought in for a one-off.
WINNER: King at 4:53 to retain the X Division Title.
Ray Explanation Video #3: Bully had to implement Plan B when A&E were locked out of the Impact Zone. Ray said he couldn’t win the TNA World Title through the BFG Series, so he came up with a new plan. He said Joseph Park became his bait to maneuver into getting A&E full-access to TNA in exchange for Park’s health. Then, Ray “stepped up” to represent TNA. Ray said when he shook Hogan’s hand, that’s the moment he knew he had Hogan. Ray said he bonded with Sting, even doing the Team 3D table spot together. So, he pretended to be distracted by Aces & Eights while the group took out Sting. Then, Ray sought out Brooke.
Backstage: Sting was shown tentatively standing outside of Hulk Hogan’s office. Sting took a deep breath before knocking.
GM Office: Sting walked in to talk to Hulk Hogan. Sting asked for a piece of Bully Ray tonight. Hogan said things haven’t chanced from last week, a couple of weeks ago, or ten years ago. So, why doesn’t Sting just go hang out in the rafters for a few years? He said Sting just runs and hides when things get tough. Sting ignored Hogan’s Blame Game and said this is about revenge tonight.
[Q5 -- second hour]
Still To Come: Four-way match to determine the #1 contender to the TNA World Title. … Video Package: Knockouts division issues.
In-ring: Referee Taryn Terrell marched to the ring and said she knows she is on probation because it’s her job to control the chaos, not add to the chaos. But, Gail Kim pushed her too far. Regardless, she is ready to accept her consequences. Gail then came out to gloat in Taryn’s face, saying she’s going to get fired tonight.
This brought out Brooke to address the situation. Brooke said this has been a very tough decision for her to make. She said she loves Taryn, but she has to be fair. “I have to terminate you as referee for the Knockouts,” Brooke said, drawing big laughs and mock tears from Gail. Brooke then turned Gail’s smile upside down by announcing Taryn has been officially signed to the Knockouts roster. Gail freaked out, then Taryn speared Gail to make it official.
Suddenly, Bully Ray showed up to stare down his “wife.” Brooke backed away from Ray, who pointed to the ring on his finger. “‘Til death do us part,” Ray whispered to Brooke. Brooke replied, “I hate you!” four or five times before escaping up the entrance ramp as Ray watched her leave.
Ray Explanation Video #4: Ray said a great army needs great soldiers. He said D.O.C. and Mike Knox felt wronged, so they became the muscle of TNA. Ray said Devon came to Sting and Hogan to “help them,” just like Garett Bischoff did. Ray said Garett even stood next to Hulk when he brushed aside “his old man,” but Hulk just discarded Garett, never giving him a chance. Even Wes Brisco came to TNA looking for an opportunity, but Hogan discarded him. Then, Mr. Anderson was taken out by A&E, but no one checked on him. Ray said if you’re going to start a gang, then you need some leverage, so they turned to Taz.
[Q6] Ray continued that he he was the masked man who took out Hardy’s knee before the U.K. Tour. As for D-Lo Brown, they needed someone on the inside. TNA replayed the “TNA management finger-pointing” skit led by Dixie Carter, and Ray said they wanted to embarrass everyone. Ray said they got Wes Brisco on the roster, then trapped Angle in a cage since he’s linked to Wes. Ray said his plan was for everyone in A&E to reveal his identity except for one person…himself. Ray said no one saw what happened next at Lockdown. Kayfabe, why is TNA allowing Ray all this TV time to explain himself?
Backstage: Kurt Angle talked about needing to win back the TNA World Title to start his revenge mission on Aces & Eights.
In-ring: Matt Morgan was introduced for the next match of the show. Tenay recapped Morgan’s mission to eliminate all of Hogan’s mistakes, starting with Joseph Park. Park came out next, prompting Taz to sarcastically knock Park’s theme music.
3 — MATT MORGAN vs. JOSEPH PARK
Morgan toyed with Park early on, then shoved him across the ring. Park tried to shove back, which only angered Morgan. Morgan delivered a knee to the gut before asking Park if he’s lost his mind. Morgan followed with a big forearm to the back before posing center-ring. Morgan then cockily called for a back-elbow and connected. Morgan stared into the hard-camera to lock eyes with Hogan through the camera, but then missed with a corner splash.
Park battled back with light body shots, but ran into a discus clothesline from Morgan. Park writhed in pain, then Morgan headbutted him across the ring. Morgan stretched Park in the ropes before missing with the Carbon Footprint. Park got himself fired up and went for some amateur right hands, then finally took Morgan off his feet with a flying gut splash.
Park tried to follow with a corner splash, but Morgan rolled out of the way. Morgan then popped to his feet and smashed Park with the Carbon Footprint for the pin and the win. Afterward, Morgan looked into the camera to tell Hogan that that’s one mistake eliminated.
WINNER: Morgan at 5:12.
Last Thursday: A.J. Styles returned to Impact to take out Daniels & Kaz, but then he suddenly clotheslined James Storm. Up Next: An interview with Styles.
Backstage: The roving cameraman asked Jeff Hardy for his thoughts on the TNA Title shot. Hardy said he wants the title back from Bully Ray, but if he’s not ready, then he wants to make sure either Joe, Magnus, or Angle can get the job done, which is why he made the challenge for tonight.
[Q7] In-ring: Mike Tenay was standing by to get to the bottom of the issues with A.J. Styles. Styles then strolled to the ring with his head covered by the hood of his jacket. Taz said he’s kind of digging Styles’s new darkside. Styles entered the ring and got within a few inches of Tenay, who said he’s called every one of Styles’s TNA matches. He asked Styles what’s going on, but Styles wouldn’t answer. Tenay asked Styles about rumors of drug and alcohol abuse.
Suddenly, Taz interrupted from the announce position. Tenay acted shocked by this. Taz said he saw Styles’s little home videos from Mississippi or Louisiana, or wherever he’s from. Taz told Styles to join Aces & Eights because they’re all about opportunities. He said they’ll even get Styles a real bike. Styles just stared a hole in Taz, then James Storm interrupted.
Styles didn’t turn around to acknowledge Storm, who said the new A.J. Styles won’t even turn around to acknowledge the guy he sucker-punched last week. Storm mocked “the new A.J. Styles” with his little leather jacket and hood. He said the old Styles would tell you to your face what he thinks about you. Storm then walked around Styles to go face-to-face with him. Storm said Styles can sit here and think about sucker-punching him again, but he’ll beat him to the punch. Styles didn’t move, so Storm removed his cowboy hat to give Styles a better shot. But, Styles simply left the ring. Storm wanted to know what he’s leaving for, but Styles turned and left down the entrance ramp to the back, providing no answers.
Up Next: #1 contender’s match to the TNA World Title.
Ray Explanation Video #5: Ray said Jeff Hardy was having a nice time as TNA World champ, then Hogan caught him with his sweet daughter. So, Hogan suspended him, which only drew Brooke closer to him. Ray said he then used Sting to lure Hogan in, especially for the wedding. Ray said he wanted Taz to have his moment, which is why he didn’t reveal himself at the wedding. Ray then said he had to take a beating to sell the idea that he wasn’t part of Aces & Eights. Then, Devon had to take a beating for the good of the group.
Ray moved along to his convenient leg injury. He said Brooke unknowingly buttered up Hulk, who made Ray the #1 contender, and then Ray played to Hulk’s ego by suggesting he wrestle in a six-man tag match. “Sorry, Sting,” Ray said about Sting taking a beating after they took out Hulk before the match. Ray said he pulled off the “biggest con in pro wrestling history,” closing that no one can stop them and no one will take his TNA World Title.
Announcers: Immediately after the video aired, Keneley excitedly talked up the main event coming up next, no-selling the conclusion of the five-video series. Samoa Joe, then Magnus, then Kurt Angle, then Jeff Hardy made their entrances for the #1 contender main event.
4 — JEFF HARDY vs. KURT ANGLE vs. SAMOA JOE vs. MAGNUS — four-way match to determine #1 contender to the TNA World Title
As the bell sounded, Tenay said Hardy made this match “for the good of TNA” over himself. Taz said he likes the idea of watching these four guys beat the crap out of each other. Tenay said it’s good competition, something A&E should learn about, then accused A&E of stealing the World Title at Lockdown. Before Impact cut to break, Joe took out Angle and Magnus with a big splash on the outside, then posed on one knee.
Back from break, Joe and Magnus battled mid-ring. Hardy tried to enter the scene, but Magnus took him down to the mat. Magnus did a belt-around-the-waist motion, which Taz laughed at. He said there’s no way Magnus is going to beat Bully. The crowd then picked up a loud dueling chant of “Let’s Go Angle / We Want Joe,” which captured Joe as a star anywhere outside of the Impact Zone.
At 11:00, Hardy re-entered the ring with a flurry of offense, culminating with three Twists of Fate for all three opponents. Hardy tried to finish the match with a Swanton Bomb, but Magnus shoved him off the top turnbuckle. Angle then grabbed Joe for the Anklelock, but Joe shoved him off into Magnus. They crashed to the mat, then Hardy dropped Joe with Twist of Fate. And, Hardy covered Joe for the pin before Angle could break it up. Taz called it ridiculous, then said Hardy has to deal with Bully Ray’s power and force.
Post-match, all four men recovered in the ring. After a replay of the finish, Tenay said they now know Ray’s first title defense will be against Hardy. Angle and Magnus left the ring, then Joe pointed at Hardy to show respect. Hardy stood tall in the ring as Keneley wondered aloud if Hardy can turn the balance of power starting next week in Jonesboro.
WINNER: Hardy at 12:12 to become #1 contender to the TNA World Title.
(Credit: James Caldwell, PWTorch.com)