TNA’s half-hour PPV pre-show focused exclusively on the Jeff Hardy vs. Austin Aries feud setting up their ladder match re-match for the TNA World Title.
Live inside the Impact Zone, Taz was standing by in the ring to introduce the show. Taz said he has something important to say. He said he is proud to work for a company that is trying to help people recover from Hurricane Sandy. Taz said people’s lives have been affected by this. He then welcomed out a radio host named Buckethead and Bully Ray. Todd Keneley and Mike Tenay introduced the show while the guy named Buckethead and Ray came to the ring. Buckethead spoke first about relief efforts in the Northeast. He then said they will try to break a Guinness record texting $10 to Red Cross live on a PPV. He asked the crowd to pull out their cell phones and send $10 to the Red Cross. The crowd in the background wasn’t particularly responsive. Buckethead asked the crowd to follow along with his instructions, then counted them down to send a text.
Bully Ray then stood center-ring and led the crowd in a “TNA, TNA” chant. Taz, Ray, and Buckethead left the ring, leading to the PPV intro video on Hardy vs. Aries.
Full pyro shot off to officially start the PPV. New announcer Todd Keneley was in the center seat flanked by Mike Tenay to the right and Taz to the left. This might be a long night at the office. The announcers broke down the main event of Hardy vs. Aries before Keneley introduced a title match to start the show – the TV Title slotted in the opener.
TV champion SAMOA JOE vs. MAGNUS — Television Title match
Magnus was introduced first, followed by Samoa Joe in red and black fighting trunks. Once the bell sounded, Joe destroyed Magnus, so Magnus bailed to the outside. Joe took it to Magnus on the outside, too, then Joe continued to dominate back in the ring. Magnus finally got some offense in, but Joe came back with a corner kick. He then washed Magnus’s face with his boot into a running boot to the face. Magnus rolled to the floor to recover, then, as Joe prepared for a suicide dive, Magnus retrieved a chair and threw it in Joe’s face as Joe charged.
In the ring, Magnus delivered offense to take advantage of the chair attack, but then ran into a snap powerslam for a two count. Joe paused after the nearfall, then followed up with an STF center-ring. Magnus positioned his body to escape, though, and reached the bottom rope for a break. Magnus, recovered, followed up with a cross arm-breaker submission, but Joe escaped. Magnus tried to follow with an uppercut, but Joe got A Look In His Eyes and delivered a standing enziguiri kick.
At 7:00, Joe placed Magnus on the top turnbuckle and wanted the Musclebuster, but Magnus blocked his former tag partner’s finisher. After shoving Joe to the mat, Magnus went for his top-rope elbow finisher and connected. But, he was slow to cover, which allowed Joe to kick out in time. Moments later, Magnus connected with another elbow drop, but Joe kicked out again.
At 10:00, Magnus landed successive jabs to the face, but Joe absorbed the blows and nailed a frontslam out of the corner. Magnus rolled to the outside to recover and retrieved a chair again. This time, Joe went flying over the top ropes with a giant splash that Magnus didn’t see coming. After Joe paused for everyone to react to the move, Joe rolled Magnus back into the ring. Joe wanted the Musclebuster and he connected center-ring. Joe covered and Magnus kicked out a split-second before three. Joe’s eyes popped out of his head as the crowd shrieked.
At 12:00, Magnus recovered to the corner, flipped a double-bird to Joe, and Joe slapped him around with rapid-fire slaps to the face. Joe, angered, then applied his rear-naked choke center-ring. Magnus tried to grab the ref to escape, but he couldn’t escape. The ref then dropped Magnus’s hand and declared the match for Joe.
WINNER: Joe via submission at 12:26 to retain the TV Title. That was a very good PPV opener. They set out to have a great match and elevate Magnus in defeat, and they accomplished both. (***)
Backstage: Jeremy Borash brought in ODB for an interview about the mixed tag match tonight. ODB said she hasn’t heard from Eric Young and doesn’t even know if there will be a match. Suddenly, EY barged in and said he’s sorry, he messed up, and a shark ate his phone. ODB said it’s about time he got off his phone and got on with his life, then they kissed and made up. JB interrupted, telling them it’s mixed tag next.
2 — KO tag champions ODB & ERIC YOUNG vs. KO champion TARA & JESSE — mixed-tag non-title match — Taryn Terrell referee
Before the bell, EY did the lock-up-with-the-ref bit until ODB calmed him down so they could start the match. The match featured plenty of comedy early on before Jesse sneak-attacked EY to give the heels control of the action. Meanwhile, TNA tweeted that the X Division Title match is next. The heels continued to work on EY until he built some momentum, opted not to tag in ODB, and collided mid-ring with Jesse. ODB decided to take matters into her own hands by dragging EY to the corner for a tag, then the action broke down. EY decided to take his pants off in the process, tag in, hit a top-rope elbow, and pin Jesse for the win. Cue up a post-match celebration.
WINNERS: EY & ODB at 8:32. Light fare to follow up on the Impact TV developments and bridge to the more-serious portion of the show.
Announcers: Todd Keneley was shown on-camera saying they have to switch gears to what happened last Thursday on Impact when Aces & Eights took out Sting with a fake hammer. Tenay said Sting is under the care of an “orthopedic surgeon” in Dallas and Hulk Hogan has traveled to Texas to be with Sting. An update will be provided Thursday on Impact.
Backstage: JB brought in James Storm to discuss his #1 contender bout against A.J. Styles and Bobby Roode. Storm said he is getting the pin tonight.
3 — X Division champion ROB VAN DAM vs. JOEY RYAN — X Division Title match
As the two wrestlers felt each other out early on, Taz picked up his Gut Check program with Joey Ryan by knocking his ability. Tenay added to the argument by saying RVD has won numerous titles in ECW, WWE, and TNA, whereas Joey is trying to win his first major singles title. After RVD took control, Joey slipped to the outside for a breather, but RVD caught up to him and rolled him back into the ring. RVD teased a top-rope move, but, of course, he waited too long after showboating, so Joey sprung to his feet and shoved RVD into the barricade on the floor below.
On the outside, Joey threw RVD into the barricade before rolling him back into the ring. Joey landed a boot to the face, then executed a spike DDT for a two count. Joey followed up with the Moustache Ride, which Todd Keneley excitedly called. Joey only scored a two count, though.
At 6:00, RVD came back with a springboard thrust kick to the face. RVD followed with Rolling Thunder before landing a standing moonsault for a two count. RVD was slow to follow up, though, with Taz noting that RVD can get too cocky at times. Joey then rolled up Rob from behind for a close two count. Joey couldn’t follow up, as RVD popped him in the face with a kick. RVD then climbed to the top turnbuckle and hit a Five-Star Frogsplash for the pin and the win. Afterward, Taz said Joey put up a great fight, but not having Matt Morgan with him hurt his cause.
WINNER: RVD at 7:43 to retain the X Division Title. Basic RVD match while they bring Joey along slowly to the TV audience. (**)
Post-match: RVD and TNA gave away that something was about to happen when RVD celebrated on the stage, then slowly moved closer to the announcers, then the camera cheated a bit to leave space for… Matt Morgan flying into the scene to Carbon Footprint RVD in the face. Morgan then stood over RVD as the X champ sold unconsciousness.
Backstage: JB brought in Joseph Park to discuss his match against Aces & Eights tonight. Park downplayed his abilities and said he’ll probably take a beating, but he has to fight like a man.
4 — JOSEPH PARK vs. DOC
As the bell sounded, Doc gave Park a look that he’s crazy for trying to get in the ring with him. The crowd tried to encourage J. Park with a “You Can Do It” chant, which Doc sneered at. After doding Doc’s early offense, Park suddenly slapped Doc across the face, shocking both men. Park then dodged Doc’s angry offense before running out of the ring. They played games on the outside, then Doc grabbed a chair, swung wildly, and Park moved. This match continued to make A&E look like a bunch of goofs with Park running away from Doc, who kept falling all over himself trying to attack Park. Back in the ring, Doc finally landed offense to cut off Park. Doc then removed his pants belt and tried to use it as a weapon, but the ref pulled it away. Doc then went under the ring to retrieve the fake hammer that put Sting on the shelf. The announcers sold concern as Doc re-entered the ring, only to take a double takedown from Park. Park then looked down and retrieved the hammer. But, Doc blindsided him after Park hesitated.
At 4:30, Doc lit up Park with right hands before booting him in the head. Doc followed with an elbow drop for a two count when Abyss’s “lawyer brother” somehow knew how to roll a shoulder to escape. Doc then began taunting Park, telling him to stay down. Park had enough of Doc calling him “b—-,” so he stood up and kinda bounced off Doc to deliver offense. Doc answered with an elbow, though, then blasted Park in the head with his Hot Topic belt out of the ref’s sight. Park came up bleeding from the forehead to sell the belt shot.
At 8:45, Park stood up, saw his own blood, and flipped the switch. As blood dripped down from his forehead, Park turned around and summoned power from within to attack Doc before delivering the Black Hole Slam. Keneley said that’s reminiscent of his brother, Abyss. Park suddenly paused and snapped back out of his trance, selling that he didn’t know what he just did. Park then covered Doc, but Doc kicked out.
At 10:00, Park slipped to the outside and retrieved a chair while the ref was occupied with a shiny nickel on the other side of the ring. Park then popped Doc with a chair and covered Doc, but Doc kicked out in time. Doc recovered, though, and chokeslammed Park for the pin and the win.
Post-match, Doc continued the assault with strikes to the head. Doc finally had enough and left the ring, but then tricked the ref by retrieving the hammer. Doc scared away the ref, then measured Park for a hammer attack, but Bully Ray stormed the ring to send Doc away. Ray then checked on Park, who he campaigned for to have a match tonight. Ray helped Park to his feet, looked into his eyes, and raised Park’s hand in the air for cheers. Keneley called it a moral victory for Park.
WINNER: Doc at 11:04.
Backstage: Jeremy Borash plugged the #1 contender match later tonight and Tag Title match up next. He then brought in Bobby Roode to discuss the #1 contender bout against Styles and Storm. Roode said that tonight he gets back into the game because it’s a clean slate. He said he’s going to walk out there tonight and prove why he is the It Factor of pro wrestling and why he is the better man.
Video Package: Tag Title feud between new champs Chavo & Hernandez and former champs Daniels & Kazarian.
5 — TNA tag champions CHAVO GUERRERO & HERNANDEZ vs. DANIELS & KAZARIAN — TNA Tag Title match
The challengers were out first, followed by Chavo and Hernandez. Daniels wanted to get a head-start on the champs, so he attacked Chavo, but Chavo cut him off and delivered offense. Suddenly, Kaz blindsided Daniels behind the ref’s back, so the heels took control on Chavo. Moments later, Hernandez went eye-for-an-eye by entering the ring without a tag and double-clotheslining the heels to give Chavo control again. Hern then tagged in legally and bodyslammed Chavo on top of Kaz for a one count. Hernandez followed with a brainbuster into a tag to Chavo, who slingshot smashed Kaz for a nearfall.
At 5:00, Chavo wanted a top-rope frogsplash, but Daniels had snuck around to the other side of the ring to pull Kaz out of the way, which the ref didn’t see. So, the heels regained control working on Chavo. After clotheslining Chavo to the outside, Daniels and Kaz did a double Gangnam Style dance for the hard camera. Hernandez then re-entered the ring at 9:00 and the action broke down.
At 10:00, Hernandez kicked the challengers away with each boot, then back-flipped onto the top turnbuckle to splash the challengers. The heels made a comeback, though, because Chavo was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, Chavo re-entered the picture with a double-foot dropkick from the top turnbuckle. Chavo then snapped off the Three Amigos on Daniels before calling for the end. He tried climbing to the top turnbuckle, but Kaz enziguiri’ed Chavo off the top.
At 13:00, Daniels found himself in a predicament on Hernandez’s shoulders. After clearing Kaz, Chavo climbed to the top turnbuckle and flew at Daniels with a cross body-presss as Hernandez simultaneously dropped him with an electric chair. Chavo with the pin for the win.
WINNERS: Chavo & Hernandez at 13:19 to retain the Tag Titles. Okay tag match, but still way too much of the tornado tag-style wrestling that is plaguing tag wrestling in 2012. There should just be a deal where after 10 minutes in a tag match, it becomes tornado tag-style to avoid the ridiculousness of a ref not even trying to restore order with everyone in the ring. (**1/4)
Backstage: JB brought in A.J. Styles for the final interview before the #1 contender match. Styles said it’s been a rough year for him thanks to distractions that he doesn’t deserve or didn’t need. Styles said it’s been almost three years since he was World champ. He said that’s all the fuel he needs to get past Roode and Storm. Styles vowed to put all those distractions to rest tonight. After tonight, a new chapter starts in his life.
Impact Zone: Bobby Roode came out first for the #1 contender match, and Taz noted that Roode chewed him out over the phone after Taz said Christian York has the “it factor” during the Gut Check evaluations last Thursday. James Storm was out second, followed by A.J. Styles. Tenay slipped that Styles has not been TNA champ in three years, saying four years instead. After correcting himself, Tenay added final analysis of the high-stakes match.
6 — A.J. STYLES vs. JAMES STORM vs. BOBBY ROODE — #1 contender match — loser cannot receive TNA Title shot until BFG 2013
Styles took out both men on the outside, channeling his frustrations into offense early on. Back in the ring, Styles back-elbowed Storm before slapping him across the chest. Styles tried to follow in the opposite corner on Roode, but Styles slipped, then Roode knocked him down to the floor. Of note, everything was focused on Styles early on. Storm then shoved Styles to the outside, so the focus shifted to Roode vs. Storm. Storm decked Roode, then wanted a clothesline, but Styles flew back into the ring for a dropkick. Exit Roode. Enter Styles against Storm.
At 5:30, Styles kicked at Storm’s knees before slapping on a figure-four leglock. Second Ric Flair reference of the night after EY strutted like Flair in the second match. Styles released the figure-four before applying a Muta Lock to continue punishing Storm’s lower body. Styles then teased the Clash, but Storm countered with an Alabama Slam for a two count. Suddenly, Roode snuck back into the ring to stomp away on Styles before kicking Storm in the gut. Roode then discarded Styles to the outside before turning his attention to Storm.
At 10:00, Roode left the ring and whipped Styles hard into the ring steps. Styles sold a knee injury to make it seem like Roode took him out of the match. Back in the ring, Storm caught Roode with the Codebreaker before teasing the Last Call Superkick. But, Styles came flying back into the ring with a springboard forearm to Storm for a two count. Styles then lit up Roode with hard chops before grappling Roode for a DDT, but Roode threw him off. Suddenly, Storm re-entered the scene to tease a double suplex. The former Beer Money partners acknowledged a moment, then double-suplexed Styles.
At 13:00, Storm and Roode slowly came to their feet and Storm wanted to do a Beer…Money old-school deal, but Storm booted Roode in the gut. Roode then climbed up top, Styles flew off Storm, and Styles huracanrana’ed Roode to the mat. Rapid-fire action followed before Styles nearly stacked up Storm for a pin. Roode then dropped Storm with a Blockbuster for a two count. After a brief reset, Styles clotheslined Storm and himself over the top rope to the outside.
At 15:00, Styles recovered to the ring apron and wanted a springboard 450 splash on Roode, but Roode moved. Roode then hit a spinebuster for a two count. He followed right up with a Crossface on Styles, but Styles countered with a roll-up for a nearfall. Roode came back with a spinebuster, then called for the end, but Storm re-entered with a backstabber to Roode. Storm suddenly popped Styles with Last Call and then pinned Styles for the win. After the match, Storm celebrated, TNA replayed the high points, and Styles sold frustration with near-tears recovering in the corner of the ring.
WINNER: Storm at 16:34. Tenay gave away the outcome before the match, but outside of Tenay’s comment, the story was building toward Styles’s frustration boiling over and now being stuck without a light at the end of the tunnel for another 6-9 months. The match itself was very strong, as the wrestlers did the most with the tired three-way formula to continue building anticipation for the thrill of victory for one wrestler, agony of defeat for another wrestler, and 49ers-Rams finish for the third wrestler. (***1/2)
Video: Brother Devon spoke into the camera about Aces & Eights. He said this group of men showed him what it means to have each others’s backs no matter how bad it gets, which is something TNA never did for him. He then called their attacks on Kurt Angle a random act of violence. He told him not take this beating personally because it’s just business.
7 — KURT ANGLE vs. DEVON
Devon was out first through the back-of-the-arena entrance reserved for Aces & Eights. After Devon entered the ring to boos, Angle emerged looking for revenge on Devon, who backed out of the ring to make Angle wait on his time. Devon teased re-entering before finally entering the ring to exchange right hand strikes with Angle. Devon got the best of Angle with elbows to the back of the neck as the announcers name-dropped Wes Brisco and Garett Bischoff supposedly helping Angle in his battle with A&E over the past few months.
Devon sent Angle shoulder-first into the post, which sent Angle spilling to the outside selling a shoulder injury. Devon inflicted some punishment, then dragged Angle back into the ring to alternate offense with trash-talk toward ref Earl Hebner. Devon then grazed Angle with a back-elbow before applying a standing chinlock, continuing to target Angle’s neck area. Meanwhile, Taz became obsessed with Devon’s belt. Angle then became obsessed with right hands to Devon (that represents a typical transition from Keneley).
At 7:00, Angle teased an Angle Slam, but Devon blocked. Devon also blocked an Anklelock before delivering a slam targeting the neck for a two count. Devon then tried a powerbomb, but they both kind of fell down. Angle quickly recovered with a German Suplex, then a second. He wanted a third…and connected before pinning Devon for a nearfall. Angle then climbed to the top turnbuckle for a moonsault, but Devon cut him off for a running powerbomb. Devon covered and Angle barely rolled a shoulder to avoid a pin.
At 10:00, Angle walked into a spinebuster from Devon for another close count. Of note, Devon was a selling a knee injury, prompting speculation from the announcers on when the injury occurred. Devon gingerly climbed to the top for a headbutt, but Angle moved. Straps down. Angle then hit an Angle Slam, but Devon kicked out. Suddenly, Aces & Eights members surrounded the ring. That allowed Devon to drop Angle with a spear when Angle turned around, but Angle kicked out of a pin.
Devon didn’t follow up, allowing Angle to drop Devon and slap on the Anklelock. Devon quickly tapped out due to the injury angle. After the bell sounded, Angle quickly left the ring before A&E could get their hands on him. Doc, who needed 12 minutes to beat a “lawyer” earlier in the night, then offered some empty threats toward Angle that he’s dead. Doc repeated himself over and over toward Angle before TNA faded to the back.
WINNER: Angle via submission at 11:50. This was fine. Not memorable, but serviceable for a semi-main event slot if TNA is intent on continuing to stress the A&E deal.
Backstage: A random interviewer walked up to Styles and asked what he’s going to do now that he can’t have a title shot for a year. Styles just looked at him, then put his hands on his head and kept walking.
Announcers: Back in the Impact Zone, Tenay and Taz said it’s going to be a tough deal for Styles over the next year. They transitioned to main event talk.
Backstage: JB brought in Austin Aries to discuss his TNA Title match against Jeff Hardy a few moments from now. Aries offered a stern word for Hardy, not raising or lowering his voice to sell his intensity and that he’s focused ahead of the main event.
Video Package: TNA World Title feud going back to Destination X when Aries became World champ, then BFG where Aries lost the title to Hardy, and the past month building to the ladder re-match tonight.
Impact Zone: Austin Aries came out first to challenge for the TNA World Title. After a pause, Jeff Hardy’s music played to a big reaction from the Hardy-friendly Impact Zone. Hardy, dressed in purple and mint chocolate chip green, did a victory lap as TNA focused on the two title belts hanging above the ring. JB then handled formal ring intros before the opening bell.
8 — TNA World Hvt. champion JEFF HARDY vs. AUSTIN ARIES — TNA World Title match — ladder match
Aries took umbrage to the fans attempting a slow-clap, then tried to retrieve a ladder on the outside, but Hardy blocked. Hardy then chased Aries into the ring, where Aries cut him off. In and out of the ring they went before fighting for control of a ladder on the outside. Hardy let go, sending Aries careening over the ring steps. Hardy followed with a big leg whip into the guardrail, then flew off the ring apron for a splash, but it wasn’t clear who got the best of that.
Back in the ring at 5:00, Hardy set up a ladder, then Aries tried climbing his back toward the belts, but they fell to the mat below. On the outside, Aries dismantled Hardy while engaging the crowd in an argument. The fight then returned to the ring, where Hardy and Aries teased suplexes into an upside-down ladder before Aries side-stepped a splash attempt and Hardy ate the ladder, scaring the pro-Hardy crowd. Taz said it looked like Hardy was in a bear trap.
At 9:00, Aries went under the ring to retrieve another ladder. Aries opted not to climb, though, as he suicide dive-splashed Hardy on the outside. Aries then placed Hardy inside a ladder before placing the ring steps on top of the ladder to trap Hardy. Taz called it genius. Aries, happy with his work, re-entered the ring and set up the ladder. He suddenly stomped climbing because Hardy was nowhere to be found. What happened is Hardy escaped the ladder pile, climbed underneath the ring to HornswoggleLand, and emerged on the other side. Hardy tried climbing the ladder behind Aries’s back, but Aries scrambled over to the ladder and dumped the ladder, causing a nasty fall for Hardy.
At 12:00, Aries picked up a limp Hardy and placed him in the corner for a running dropkick to the face. Aries then set up for a brainbuster and kind of dropped him or Hardy slipped out. Aries tried to recover by setting up a follow-up spot for Hardy to armdrag him into a corner ladder. Hardy then took control by climbing the ladder and sort of tipping himself over into a splash onto Aries across the ring. That ladder was done, so Hardy went under the ring to retrieve another ladder.
At 14:30, Hardy set up the ladder center-ring, but Aries came flying off the top turnbuckle with a dropkick that sent Hardy flying across the ring for another nasty bump. Aries then shoved Hardy out of the ring and Keneley said this could be over in Aries’s favor if this were a standard wrestling match. Instead, Aries needed to set up the ladder center-ring. He slowly started climbing, but Hardy re-entered the ring to meet Aries on the ladder. Hardy won a right-hand exchange, then dropped Aries with a Twist of Fate off the ladder. Hardy regrouped and climbed to the top for a Swanton Bomb, which sent Aries rolling out of the ring.
At 18:00, Hardy set up another ladder center-ring. Hardy started climbing, then the title belts started moving higher in the air. Suddenly, Austin Aries was shown away from the ring at the control area pressing buttons to raise the belt lever. Hardy scampered out of the ring to attack Aries, then drop him on the floor. Hardy followed by retrieving a giant ladder to give him more height for climbing.
At 20:00, Aries re-entered the ring to battle Hardy on top of the giant ladder. Their momentum then caused them to tip over on top of another ladder propped up in the corner. Hardy was the first to his feet and he dropped Aries with a Twist of Fate onto the propped-up ladder, which fell to the floor with Aries. With Aries apparently KO’ed, the crowd roared as Hardy began climbing the big ladder. Hardy then reached up and grabbed the Jeff Hardy title belt, which was apparently good for the win. After a pause, Christy Hemme announced Hardy as the winner and still Hvt. champion.
Post-match: Tenay called it an incredible spectacle as the two men put their careers on the line for the titles. Hardy remained standing on the ladder, now with possession of both title belts. Meanwhile, Aries was shown talking to a ref on the outside as he sold the effects of the match. After a replay of the big moments during the match, they cut back to a shot of Hardy celebrating in the ring. Keneley signed off at 9:54 p.m. with a final shot of Hardy standing tall in the ring.
WINNER: Hardy at 21:00 flat to retain the TNA World Title. More great chemistry from Aries and Hardy, but also very uncomfortable watching someone (Hardy) with a lot of bumps on his bump card and a history of prescription drug addiction take that many hard falls. Concerning Aries, the announcers did a fine job covering for Aries’s loss by noting he probably would have won this match if it were a regular match, which will fuel his desire for a re-match after the PPV since he stressed before the PPV that he’s a pro wrestler, not a ladder-climber like Hardy. (***1/2)
(Thanks to PWTorch.com for live results)