TNA Impact Wrestling opened with Bully Ray talking about how the facts are piling up against James Storm as the leader of the Aces and Eights. That brought out Storm, who once again denied the rumors and said he was more worried about the Bound for Glory Series.
He challenged the bully to fight, but the former Dudley Boy just walked away. Then the group of masked men appeared on the screen, stating that Sting invited them, but that they'd appear on their own time and on their own terms.
I liked this opening segment. Bully Ray was solid on the mic and delivered a good promo here while Storm did the same.
The evidence is very much against Storm right now, but that could be exactly what the Aces and Eights want. The TNA locker room came to their own conclusion while the heel group could be riding it out until it's time to reveal the actual leader—who I still think is Jeff Jarrett.
I find it interesting that Bully Ray is so defensive on the subject, especially since he hasn't been attacked at all. Perhaps he is the leader of the Aces and 8s. No matter whom it is, I think we'll be finding out sooner rather than later.
It was good to hear the group actually speak for once and the usage of the talk box was a nice touch. It adds a little more mystery to them.
Rob Van Dam vs. Magnus: Bound for Glory Series Match
Rob Van Dam picked up seven points here in a decent match. Both Van Dam and Magnus were good in the ring during this contest but it seemed rushed to me. For a non-Open Fight Night BFGS match, it was rather short which was a bit disappointing.
It's not often that Magnus appears on Impact Wrestling, so I was looking forward to see him wrestle a match. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see too much of that. I also wanted to see the former tag team champion pick up the victory here as he's pretty far behind the pack right now.
Magnus currently stands in eighth place with 21 points, and while 21 points doesn't sound too bad, compared to first through fourth it's not too good.
I was hoping to see him be a real contender in the series but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
Backstage, Bobby Roode wasn't too happy about the wording in the contract for his rematch against Austin Aries. I have never been a fan of contract signings as they all usually end the same way. Hopefully, this one will be a little different.
Christopher Daniels and Kazarian vs. Devon and Garret Bischoff: Tag Team Championship
Daniels and Kazarian would retain their titles here after hitting Devon with his Television Championship belt. This was a decent match that featured a little bit of back-and-forth action. Daniels, Kazarian and Devon all performed well here, but then there was Garret Bischoff.
He came into the ring, did a scoop slam, an elbow drop and then got beat up by the champions. Is TNA purposely booking him like that, or is he really not ready to be in the ring? I wouldn't think Eric Bischoff would book his son to look weak, so it seems to me like he's just not ready for television.
I think he should be sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling and then brought back strong when he's ready to do so.
What confuses me is this was a title match. What did Devon and Garret do to deserve a title shot? The last time I can remember them even wrestling a match as a team was Slammiversary when they defeated Robbie E and Rob Terry.
This really should have been a Television Championship match between Devon and either Daniels or Kazarian or anybody else.
Backstage, Sting said that he sent Brooke Hogan home due to the Aces and Eights threat last week and he once again called them out. Good call in sending Brooke home. It would have been a bad idea to keep her around since she was threatened by a group of masked men. That could be a scary situation if they attacked her.
Robbie E and Rob Terry then appeared in the ring with a table. Robbie spoke about how no one thought that he had a chance in the series and then bragged about having five points.
He then bragged about getting those points from Jeff Hardy and that brought out the Charismatic Enigma. Robbie kept bragging until Hardy got into the ring, but it ended with Terry putting the former world champion through the table.
Well, this was an interesting segment. Robbie was entertaining on the mic and I loved his cockiness despite being dead last in the series.
Seeing Hardy put through a table was a nice touch. It shows that Rob Terry could be a major factor in the fatal four-way BFGS tables match at Hardcore Justice between Robbie, Hardy, Bully Ray and James Storm.
Backstage, AJ Styles said he doesn't remember his night with Claire Lynch but confirmed he doesn't drink. Although pictures of Styles passed out were revealed, I predict that Daniels and Claire drugged Styles' beer.
I stand by my prediction, but I change beer to water since Styles apparently doesn't drink. Either way, I'm getting kind of bored with this storyline even though I'm a fan of the great matches Styles has with Daniels and Kazarian.
AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle: Bound for Glory Series Match
Kurt Angle picked up seven points here in what was a great match. It started out a bit slow, but things picked right up after the commercial break.
Every time Styles and Angle are in the ring with each other they produce something great. Whether they're kicking out of each other's finishing moves or Angle is performing the moonsault that he doesn't do too often anymore. They just deliver great wrestling and continue to prove that they are two of the best wrestlers in the world today.
I did have one gripe with the match, though. During the beginning of the match and a little bit in the middle, I hated that they kept cutting to Claire Lynch sitting front row and giving one of the most fake smiles I have ever seen.
She's at ringside, we get it. There's no need to show her every 30 seconds. This storyline just needs to end. I don't want to look at her; I want to watch AJ Styles do what he does best, which is be phenomenal.
Post-match, because fans didn't see her enough, Claire tried to congratulate Styles but he just walked away from her. Please TNA, just end this!
The Aces and Eights then appeared on screen again and declared that what they were doing was a game. Their next target would be revealed later on in the night.
Since James Storm vs. Bully Ray is the main event, I'd imagine that one of them is going to be the target. I like that they called the attacks a game as it adds more mystery to them.
Why is it a game? Who's rolling the dice, or dealing the cards in this case? This gets more interesting as the weeks go by.
Backstage, Mr. Anderson confronted Storm about the Aces and Eights. He declared that if he was the next target, then they'd have a discussion. Anderson is yet to be attacked, so he is certainly a possibility to be next.
Since this is the first time Anderson has even addressed the whole Aces and Eights situation, I think he won't be a target until a little down the road.
Remaining backstage, Austin Aries said he didn't know what Roode's problem was with the contract but that they'd settle it like men. So they're going to fight? That sounds like every other contract signing in both TNA and WWE. Please let it mean something different!
Miss Tessmacher vs. Gail Kim
Tessmacher picked up the victory with her Tess Drop finisher. Overall, I thought this was an good match that featured a nice amount of action.
Tessmacher has improved quite a bit over the past year and has proven to deserve this reign as Knockouts champion, though I do wish that she was around more. She has appeared sparingly since winning the title as the focus has mostly been on Gail Kim, Madison Rayne, Mickie James and Tara.
Apparently there are only five women on the TNA roster.
As champion, it would be good to see her appear every week to represent the division. TNA needs to get on top of that, especially if she retains her title at Hardcore Justice.
Gail Kim was Gail Kim, so that's good. She's definitely one of the best wrestlers in the Knockouts division and she shows that every time she's in the ring. I think that she'll be champion again by the end of the year.
Post-match, Madison Rayne came out and kissed Earl Hebner. If Hebner is the referee for their match this Sunday, then I think there's a good chance there will be a new champion.
Backstage, Joseph Park spoke about the trouble with the contract that was drawn up for the world title match.
So where's is this storyline going now? He delivered the Black Hole Slam to Bully Ray about a month ago and that was it. He was questioned about it a few times, but nothing has come of that development. I want Abyss back!
Sting, Austin Aries and Bobby Roode then appeared in the ring for the contract signing. Roode's problem with the contract was that if he lost he wouldn't get a title shot as long as Aries was champion.
Aries told him to stop complaining and devised a solution. If Roode agrees to the stipulation, Aries will waive his right to a rematch if he loses. They all shook hands, Roode threw water at Aries and the segment ended.
I actually liked the way this went. It was certainly different than most contract signings I have seen. The big difference was that the contract itself was thrown out and everybody took everybody's word. That could come back to haunt both wrestlers.
Roode is a heel, and if he does lose, I can see him bringing in a lawyer that will find a loophole or just outright declare that a verbal contract doesn't count. If Aries loses, all he has to do is win a No. 1 contenders match. If he does that, he's technically not getting an automatic rematch because he had to earn the title shot.
TNA did something different and I give them major props for that.
Bully Ray vs. James Storm: Bound for Glory Series
Bully Ray picked up seven points here in a good match. Both Bully Ray and James Storm performed great with one another as they gave fans a back-and-forth, hard-hitting contest.
I was quite happy to see Storm lose. He is very much in the lead with 66 points and giving him another victory would put him over 70 points. That many points would make him very hard to beat, which would all but guarantee that he'll win the series.
Then again, I think the winner is going to depend on the winner of Roode/Aries this Sunday. If Roode wins, then Storm will most likely win the series, but if Aries retains then I think there's a good chance that Storm won't take it all. If that's the case, my money would be on Samoa Joe winning the series.
A game changer is going to take place at Hardcore Justice as 20 points are on the line in three matches. I'd like to see Bully Ray win his match as that would put him right into the top four. Bully Ray has developed a great character, is in great shape and consistently puts on good matches; I think he deserves the chance to compete for the world title.
Post-match, the Aces and Eights would reappear on the screen and tell Bully Ray they'd see him at Hardcore Justice nds he was their next target.
The bully just defeated Storm and he just happens to be their next target? The evidence just keeps piling up on poor James Storm. It'll be interesting to see where things go from here.
Overall, I thought that this was a good go-home episode of Impact Wrestling before this Sunday's Hardcore Justice. This episode featured some good matches and segments while the hype for Hardcore Justice was also pretty good.
The three Bound for Glory Series matches were hyped nicely while the World Heavyweight Championship match was built up beautifully. The Knockouts Championship match had some good build with the tease of Hebner's relationship with Madison as well.
The other matches, like the X-Division Championship and the tag team match pitting Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez against Kid Kash and Gunner were briefly promoted, and I mean briefly, but both feuds literally just started so not much can really be done.
I am very much looking forward to Hardcore Justice this Sunday as I can't wait to see Aries/Roode II and the fatal four-way ladder match between AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle.