Jeremy Borash speaks to #TNA world champion Austin Aries on TNA Today
- X-Division four-way match: Mason Andrews (Scorpio Sky) versus Rubix (Jigsaw) versus Lars Only (Johnny Yuma) versus Dakota Darsow. The winner will be entered into the X-Division title tournament. I predict Rubix will go through as he is an excellent wrestler.
- Four X-Division matches not yet announced featuring the winner of the four-way, plus Sonjay Dutt, Rashad Cameron (Jeez from CZW), Kid Kash, Doug Williams, Zema Ion, Kenny King and Flip Casanova (Flip Kendrick). I would like to see Doug Williams win the tournament, but predict Sonjay Dutt to be the winner.
- Samoa Joe versus Kurt Angle in the Bound for Glory series. I expect this to go to a time-limit draw.
- Ultimate X for the vacant X title. As noted above, I believe that Sonjay Dutt will win.
- A.J. Styles versus Christopher Daniels last man standing. I hope that AJ wins, just so they can blow off this Claire Lynch storyline. I predict Daniels will win, however, with interference from Kaz.
- Bobby Roode versus Austin Aries for the TNA title. Bobby Roode will win, no doubt through shenanigans.
The confirmed line-up for this evening’s live Impact show is as follows:
Bobby Roode versus Mr. Anderson for the TNA title
Austin Aries defends his X-Division title in an Ultimate X match
12 man battle royal to decide the contenders for this year’s Bound for Glory series.
Bobby Roode versus Sting for the TNA World Heavyweight championship.
- I predict that Bobby Roode will win this match through shenanigans. Their last few matches were very good, so this will be a great main event.
Christopher Daniels and Kazarian versus A.J. Styles and Kurt Angle for the tag titles.
- I’m not sure who will win this match. You’d expect that this match would be the time for Kazarian and Daniels to get their comeuppance. However, it feels as though the story isn’t at the point of climax yet, so I will go with Daniels and Kaz to win.
Jeff Hardy versus Rob Van Dam versus Mr. Anderson – Winner becomes numbers one contender.
- I feel like I have seen this match, or a version of it, a dozen times. Honestly, I don’t want to see any of these three in the number one contender position. Has the potential to be a train-wreck match. I predict Jeff Hardy will win.
Joseph Park versus Bully Ray
- This may be the most intriguing match on the card. I can’t wait to see how this plays out, especially as Abyss has vowed to return. It would be great if Abyss does in fact have a brother, and that it really is him in the ring with Ray. I can see a strange ‘split personality’ angle coming, which might be horrible. Otherwise, I can Park being taken out on a stretcher after losing the match, for Abyss to run out and take out Ray… It’s very difficult to predict a winner on this one, but I’m going to go with Bully Ray.
Gail Kim versus Miss Tessmacher for the Knockouts title
- With another Brooke on TV, it seems that Tessmacher has been forced to go back to being Miss again. I predict Gail Kim will win.
Austin Aries versus Samoa Joe
- This has the potential to be a hell of a match. It would have made more sense if the X Division title was on the line, but hey. As it’s a non-title match, I can see Joe winning.
Devon and Garrett Bischoff versus Robbie E and Robbie T
- I’m quite convinced that no matter how hard they try, Garrett Bischoff will never get over as a babyface. This match will probably be horrible. Devon is by far the best worker in this match, but he can’t possibly carry three people. I predict Devon and Garrett will win.
Crimson has issued an open challenge to anyone
- This could be interesting, perhaps we will see the return of Joey Ryan, the debut of Chris Masters, or Christian in action (though I doubt the latter). If it is Chris Masters, I can see Crimson getting his first loss, but against anyone else, Crimson will win.
Kid Kash vs. Hernandez
- I’m not really sure what to make of this, but I assume Hernadez will win.
The first inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame
At present, this should only be one of three people: Jeff Jarrett, A.J. Styles or Sting. Judging by the A.J storyline, I doubt very much that it will be him. So Sting or Jarrett. Personally, I’d like to see Jarrett back (ideally with his MMA gimmick!). However, a more likely thing will be that Christian will be the one honoured - a great way to make TNA look like a second-tier company.
by Jon Cronshaw
Impact wrestling, for the next 12 weeks, has gone from being a taped show to airing live in the US.
Sting defeated Bobby Roode in a Lumberjack Match via Submission.The show opened with the marquee match which saw Sting beat Bobby Roode in a really fun match that went over 13 minutes. The lumberjacks around ringside played their roles perfectly: the babyfaces simply threw the competitors back into the ring, the heels beat on Sting and gave Roode encouragement. Very simple psychology that made you know that Sting was fighting against the odds. Sting won with the Scorpion Death Lock. Hogan came out and booked Roode and Sting in a title match a Slammiversary – WWE take note, this is how you should book a title shot. This was a really great way to open the show, and the crowd were really into it.
They cut to the back to reveal Madison Rayne talking about Brooke Hogan’s debut. However, she was more concerned about looking great for hey mystery crush. Throughout the whole of this segment she was ironing out her beauty queen sash with some hair straighteners – this was a nice detail and made me laugh.
Bully Ray was in the ring and called out Joseph Park, who was sat in the same seat as last week with popcorn and a drink. Ray was annoyed that Park had returned to the Impact Zone after he’d sucked-punched him last week. Ray called out Park to fight him there and then. Park reluctantly came to the ring and didn’t want to fight. Ray proceeded to run down Park’s family saying that his dad was a coward, his mother was a coward and his brother Chris, you know - Abyss, was a coward. This angered Park who grabbed Ray, Park was about to hit him when he begged for mercy and said that if Park hit him, he would sue – I loved this line. The crowd were wild for this, wanting Park to hit Ray. Park regained his composure, saying he wouldn’t stop to Ray’s level. Ray left the ring and started calling him a coward again – I can’t emphasise enough how good this was. Park then challenged Ray to a fight; he folded up his jacket and rolled up his sleeves, and Ray said he’d fight him at Slammiversary. Park and Ray were both fantastic in this segment. The storyline is well-paced, well-written, well-delivered, and it leads to an intriguing match – what more can we ask for from a wrestling show?
They showed a Crimson video package. I feel that it might be too late from Crimson to keep going with the undefeated gimmick, but his heel character makes him more interesting – if he’s still undefeated and not the World Heavyweight champion by the new year, something’s got to give.
Austin Aries defeated Chris Sabin in just under four minutes by pinfall to retain the X Division title. They had what felt like the beginning of a very good match. The match ended when Sabin got Aries on his shoulders for Aries to quickly reverse it into a roll-up for the pinfall. Sabin looked pissed off at the end of this match, so I am hoping for a slow-burn heel turn. This has the potential to be a very good feud.
They had a taped segment of a meeting between Taz and Hogan, in which Hogan asked to be a judge on Gut Check. I don’t know why, but it just seemed really weird seeing Taz and Hogan interacting with each other. It reminded me of Drawn Together, a cartoon where seemingly disparate cartoon characters that would never come together within their cartoon worlds co-exist.
Al Snow, Bruce Pritchard and Taz sat backstage watching the Joey Ryan versus Aries match from last week’s Impact. When I first saw Bruce Pritchard here, all I could think was “fucking hell, Al Gore’s really let himself go”. They talked about Ryan as a person, and as a character – though not once did they talk about his skills as a wrestler. Taz said that Ryan didn’t look like he was there to fight, and felt that he hadn’t taken it seriously. They all agreed that Ryan needed to plead his case.
Jeremy Borash was backstage with Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Mr Anderson and the two Robbies talking about the fact that the challenger for the TV title would be chosen by the fans. To no one’s surprise, Jeff Hardy looked like an absolute tit-ma-boob.
Dixie Carter came out and did her usual schtick, thanking the fans, etc. She announced the opening of the TNA Hall of Fame – I wonder if they’ll induct Flair? She introduced the new head of the Knockouts Division: Brooke Hogan (I wonder if she’ll team up with Garrett Bischoff at some point to form some kind of nepotism stable?) She got a mixed reaction in the building, and I hadn’t realised before how much she looks like the Hulkster; maybe it’s the bleached hair and leather skin, or maybe it’s the chin, who knows? It’s too soon to say whether or not she’ll be any good, but the promo she gave was not good.
All the way through the Dixie Carter segment, I just kept thinking: there’s a major angle on the show involving Dixie and AJ Styles, and it has just been completely ignored. However, as soon as the segment ended, Chris Daniels was backstage with Kazarian, who were watching the proceedings on the monitor. Daniels couldn’t believe that Dixie had ignored the picture with AJ and the video of them going into a hotel room together. This is good writing. I thought that the writers had sidestepped their own storyline only to have my doubts addressed immediately.
Jeff Hardy won the online voting, and couldn’t have acted more happy… he sat still for a moment, sighed, and then slumped off to the ring. I don’t think Jeff Hardy could have looked less as though a shit if he tried. This made the whole segment feel anticlimactic, at least if Robbie E had won he would have sold it like it was a big deal.
Devon and Jeff Hardy went to a no contest in just over four minutes.
The match wasn’t particularly good. Jeff went through his usual moves, and as Jeff went to the top. The two Robbies ran in, and the match was thrown out. Devon and Hardy turned on the two Robbies and cleared house.
Jeremy Borash introduced the Gut Check segment. Ryan was called to the ring looking like an absolute douche-nozzle. Bruce Pritchard said that if Ryan was any good, after 12 years in the business he would have heard of him, and voted no. Al Snow said that he didn’t like the way he held himself, but saw his potential, so voted yes. Ryan was given the opportunity to give a passionate promo, and decided to talk about Twitter – this enraged Taz, who laid into Ryan in the way that only Taz could. This was awesome. Taz made Ryan look like a complete loser. He said that Ryan must be out of his mind for giving a promo like that. I have to agree. Taz voted no, and Ryan got angry, getting in Taz’s face. This all came across as very real, and very well done – I wonder if they’ll follow this up, or whether we’ll never see Joey Ryan on our TVs again?
There was a video of James Storm pissing about on a farm. He said he’d let too many people down and hinted that he would have to return to the ring. His daughter asked (in a very stilted and cringe-worthy way “Daddy… does.. this… mean… *sniffles* you’re… going.. back.. to… wrestl… ing…?” I wanted Storm to do a Shawn Michaels and Super-kick that snotty little girl in the face. Instead, Storm asked for the camera to be turned off.
A. J. Styles defeated Chris Daniels in twn minutes via pinfall. This was a good TV match, though nowhere near as good as the match I saw live in January when Impact was filmed at Wembly Arena. A.J. won with his Quebrada DDT (of all things).
After the match, Kaz jumped Styles, but Angle ran out to make the save. They beat on Angle for a while, and tried to cuff him, unsuccessfully. Being the true pro that he is, Daniels wasted no time in changing tact and hit Angle and Styles with his tag belt instead. Daniels ordered someone in the back to play an audio recording of a phone-call which was ambiguous in its subject: it could have been part of an illicit affair, or they could be organising a surprise party for Serg (you know - Serg?). An angry Dixie Carter appeared. She was panicking and called for the audio to be cut, and the show went to black.
In summary: this was a very good show. The storylines are intriguing and making sense, and the booking is great. The matches weren’t amazing, but they hinted at the potential for very good matches at the pay-per-view. This show was in a different league to Raw this week, and proves my long-held belief that when TNA get it right, they are a much better product… it’s just that over the last few years, those moments of getting right have seldom been seen. If TNA keep going the way they are going, there is no reason why TNA shouldn’t start to grow as a company. The live format worked really well, and the show left me wanting to see more.
by Jon Cronshaw
The opening of the show saw Hulk Hogan in a backstage meeting with AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle and Bully Ray. The purpose of the meeting was for Hogan to eliminate each man in turn in order to determine which wrestler should take on Bobby Roode for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of the show. This segment was lifted from every single “structured reality” show you have ever seen: dramatic music; shaky video cameras; and lots of shouting. AJ noted that he had been the longest reigning TNA champion in the company’s history, and that it was his record on the line tonight. Angle responded by arguing that he’d beaten AJ in a match at the pay-per-view only two weeks prior: a legitimate point. Bully Ray was the first to be eliminated; the argument from Hogan seemed to be that there is no room for a fresh new contender, but that it was best to stick with people who had held the belt multiple times. Whether Hogan meant it to or not, I think that this speaks volumes about the company’s mentality. I found this part of the show to be incredibly cheesy and infuriating to watch. The guys were great, but the production and execution seemed at odds with the presentation of the rest of the show.
Gail Kim and Madison Rayne came out to make the first Open Fight Night challenge. Kim noted that she was the greatest Knockouts Champion that the company had ever seen, and that the entire division had been built around her. She was angry that one of the Knockouts’ tag-team champions was a man: again, a legitimate point. I hate it when wrestling companies have men winning women’s titles or giants winning cruiserweight titles: TNA have done both, numerous times.
Gail Kim and Madison Rayne defeated ODB and Eric Young in a non-title match. This match went for almost ten minutes: I couldn’t help but think that this time could have been better used elsewhere on the show. Eric Young did all of his usual comedy spots, including locking up with ODB and undressing down to a pair of tight Speedos. In this match, they had Eric Young do more moves than usual against the women, hitting a few Arm Drags and Body Slams on Kim. Rayne was distracted throughout the match, apparently daydreaming about her mystery crush – this was terrible. The finish came when ODB hit the Fallaway Slam on Kim, but as it looked like she was going to win, Rayne tripped her and grabbed her feet, and Kim stole the win via pinfall.
In a short backstage segment, Hogan was on the phone with someone he hadn’t spoken to in a while. They teased a big comeback.
Rob Van Dam came to the ring and called out Gunner for an Open Fight Night match. RVD had a legitimate gripe with Gunner, as it was Gunner who had taken RVD out of action for three months by DDTing him onto exposed concrete at the Genesis pay-per-view in January.
Rob Van Dam defeated Gunner in less than three minutes by pinfall. This match felt far too short. To its credit, it felt like a grudge match, with RVD going for a spin kick immediately as the bell rang, and both men brawling around the ring. RVD hit his usual spots: Rolling Thunder and then the Five Star Frog Splash for the win.
Devon called out Garrett Bischoff for a shot at the TV title. Again, the storyline for the booking of this match made perfect logical sense: Bischoff had eliminated Devon from the battle royal on last week’s Impact and felt that he deserved a shot at the title.
Devon and Garrett Bischoff went to a no contest in a very short match. The match had hardly started to get going when Robbie E and Robbie T ran down to the ring and broke up the match. Devon and Bischoff cleared house and hugged at the end. This was a pointless match and did nothing for anyone involved.
Jeff Hardy was the second to be eliminated because, in Hogan’s eyes, his recent victory against Ken Anderson had not been as decisive as it could have been. His reasoning made little sense: Earl Hebner messed up at the pay-per-view, and Hardy pinned Anderson clean in the middle of the ring on the following Impact.
Bully Ray was in the ring and issued an Open Fight Night challenge to Joseph Park. I hate to be a stickler for details, but I thought that Open Fight Night was only open to employees of TNA? In storyline, Joseph Park is a lawyer and is not part of the TNA roster, or employed by the company in any capacity. Does this mean that Bully Ray could have issued a challenge to anyone in the world and they would be obliged to come to the ring? What if Bully Ray doesn’t like my review? Will I be obligated by international law to board a plane and go to the Impact Zone? I couldn’t help but find it hilarious that when Park was called to the ring, he was sitting eating a giant box of popcorn and wearing a Universal Studios wristband. Further still, Mike Tenay and Park himself pointed out that he wasn’t a wrestler: this was all very silly.
Park came to the ring and said that he had been a lawyer for many years, and he could tell by looking into a man’s eyes whether or not he was guilty - Ray averted his eyes from Park at this point. Park decided that a jury should decide whether or not Ray was guilty, and what better jury could there be than the Impact Zone? Park asked the crowd if Ray was “not guilty” – a few people booed. Park then asked if Ray was “guilty” – the crowd cheered. Ray then sucker-punched Park in the gut and stood over him as he lay curled up on the mat.
We had a video package introducing Joey Ryan for the Gut Check, a segment on Open Fight Night where an independent wrestler gets a tryout to become a member of the TNA roster (note that the winner of the last Gut Check has not been seen on TV since). Ryan has a great look for a heel, and instantly made my friend angry who was watching the show with me.
In the ring, Jeremy Borash announced the Gut Check segment with Al Snow and Ryan. Austin Aries was introduced as his opponent.
Austin Aries defeated Joey Ryan in just over four minutes by pinfall. They had a decent match, and Joey Ryan looks like he has a lot of potential. Ryan looks like he could have been an extra in a bad movie from the eighties: a perfect look for a heel. The match was well-paced, and Ryan’s look continued to anger my friend, who cheered wildly when Austin Aries hit the Brainbuster for the pin.
Bobby Roode, AJ Styles and Kurt Angle came down to the ring to determine who would be the number one contender for the title. I was hoping that Hogan would have seen merit in both Angle and AJ’s arguments and made the match a three-way, but no such luck. Hogan decided that AJ should be given a shot at the title. In my opinion, this seemed a bit stupid, after all AJ had been beaten by Angle only two weeks prior.
Bobby Roode defeated AJ Styles to retain the TNA World Heavyweight title in a match that went well over twenty minutes. Both men looked great in this match, and they worked at a really nice pace. The story of the match was that Roode worked on AJ’s left arm. My favourite spot in this match came when AJ looked as though he was going for the Scorpion Death Lock, but once the legs were clinched in, he bridged back to double it up with the Cross-face. The end of the match came when AJ went for the Springboard 450, but hit Roode’s knees. Roode then hit the Perfectplex for the pin. At the end of the match it was revealed that Daniels and Kazarian had been watching the match from the entrance ramp, the implication being that AJ was distracted and cost him the match.
Roode began to celebrate being the longest reigning TNA World Heavyweight Champion in history. He called for champagne, and called out Hogan. Hogan did not come so he ordered confetti and for his music to be played for his “Celebration of Domination”. As Roode was celebrating by himself in the ring, Hogan’s music hit, and he came down to the ring. Hogan gave a speech about how Roode had proven himself as a champion, and said that he respected Roode’s achievements. He then added that someone else wanted to join the party: the lights went out - when they came back on it was Sting (I was expecting Storm, but Sting makes sense). Sting immediately attacked Roode with the Stinger Splash and Roode bolted. This led to Hogan announcing the main event of next week’s live edition of Impact: Sting vs Roode in a lumberjack match.
In summary, the show was quite weak for the first hour. The second hour picked up: the Ryan vs Aries match was decent; the Joseph Park segment was very entertaining; and they had a very good match for the main event. They made both Bobby Roode and the title seem like a big deal, and that the return of Sting was important. The Open Fight Night concept needs to be clarified if it is to continue in any meaningful way. If anyone can call anyone out on the roster (or not as evident with this episode), then why couldn’t Kurt Angle call out Bobby Roode after he lost to AJ, and why wouldn’t anyone in the company not call our Bobby Roode, for that matter?