This week’s episode of TNA Impact Wrestling opened with the group that has been terrorizing TNA for almost a year, the Aces & Eights.
They addressed wanting AJ Styles to join, a surprise Bully Ray had for Brooke Hogan and D’Lo Brown’s termination from TNA Wrestling. That brought out Kurt Angle, who walked into the ring and attacked Brown. Samoa Joe, Magnus, Eric Young and Joseph Park soon followed and chased the Aces & Eights off.
This opening segment was straight and to the point. The Aces & Eights addressed the main storylines they have going on right now, and the main event was hyped when Team TNA came out to fight.
Mr. Anderson, Devon and Brown did the talking for the gang, and they were all strong on the mic. They delivered short, but good promos. Angle’s short promo got the job done as well, though his main purpose for being out there was to start the fight.
The company has had better TNA/Aces & Eights segments, but it got the job done.
Gail Kim and Tara vs. Velvet Sky and Taryn Terrell
Before the match backstage, Joey Ryan approached Brooke Hogan. With the Knockouts division without a referee, Ryan volunteered his services. Brooke would reluctantly accept his offer. Joey Ryan as the referee of a women’s division? This could either be very interesting or very bad.
As for the match, Gail flirted with Ryan, who then counted fast when she rolled up Taryn. The entire match was plagued by Ryan staring at all four women as they went for pin falls, and by him rubbing his chest quite a bit.
The action was as good as it could have been with what was going on, but I was overall disappointed. Gail and Tara are two of the best TNA has, while Velvet is currently the best she has ever been. Taryn didn’t get to do much to show whether she has improved since her WWE days, but fans will be able to see that next week when she faces Gail one-on-one.
This match could have been a good one if it were not for Joey Ryan’s antics. Post-match, Ryan got a low blow from Taryn while Velvet flirted with him. Can’t say that the guy didn’t deserve it, but after holding down the match, he kind of did.
Contract Signing for the TNA World Tag Team Championship Match Next Week
After both teams had some words, including Aries and Roode bragging about being former World champions and Chavo simply saying “I’m a Guerrero,” the match was made with some added stipulations.
The match will now be a two-out-of-three falls match, and if Chavo and Hernandez lose the match, they will never be able to team in TNA Wrestling again. Hernandez didn’t look too happy about that, but Guerrero assured him that they would win.
I thought this was an overall good segment. It was mainly Aries and Roode that made the segment so good, but there was one other thing that caught my attention. Hernandez’s demeanor when Guerrero added the stipulation of them never teaming again if they lost was intriguing.
Why would he be worried? A challenger should be confident that he’d win, right? I think the seeds have been planted for a Hernandez heel turn. During their time as a team, Guerrero has done all of the talking for both of them, and despite being impressive just about every match, Hernandez stands behind him.
I have a feeling that he’ll want to get out of Guerrero’s shadow and turn on him next week during the match. The mic work from Aries and Roode, as well as the simple actions of Hernandez, is what made this segment work.
Adam Pearce vs. Magno: Gut Check
Adam Pearce would win this Gut Check match when he rolled up Magno and grabbed the rope for leverage. I just couldn’t get into this match. There were parts that were good, but overall, it was slow and a bit boring.
I’ve only seen Magno wrestle a few times in 2006 during TNA’s World X Cup, but I remember him being a solid performer. I also expected a lot more from Pearce, who is a former five-time NWA World Heavyweight champion. I thought this match would have been better than it was.
One thing to take away from this match, though, was how Pearce cheated to win the contest. Gut Check competitors never would win matches when it was just one person, but they never tried to cheat. When the format was changed, cheating was still non-existent.
Pearce is the first Gut Check contestant to not only cheat, but get a victory that way as well. His tactic could be seen as doing whatever it takes to win, and that’s how I personally see it, but I wonder if the judges will see it that way or hold it against him.
With 17 years of experience under his belt, I do hope that Pearce gets a contract. Magno could be a great addition to the roster as well, especially in the X-Division since it’s finally on its way to getting rebuilt. Either could work out well, but in the end, neither could win. I guess fans will just have to wait until next week.
Three backstage segments in a row then aired. The first saw the Aces & Eights approach AJ Styles. They told him they liked his new attitude and wanted him to join. He was handed a vest and told to think about it.
This situation is giving me flashbacks of the Sting storyline in WCW when he was being courted by Hulk Hogan and the New World Order. The nWo wanted him, but at the same time, Lex Luger and WCW wanted him to back them.
I like what they are doing with Styles. He’s truly a mystery right now, and I hope he does end up turning heel. A heel AJ Styles would create some interesting television, member of the Aces & Eights or not.
Elsewhere, Hulk Hogan said that Sting wasn’t there because he needed warriors, not politicians. He was heading to the ring at that moment to talk to a warrior. Sting’s probably one of the best warriors Hogan has in the war against the Aces & Eights. He screwed up; it happens. Hogan should shut up and let Sting continue his fight.
As for the warrior he’s going to talk to, that’s most likely AJ Styles. Instead of the villain in the situation, Hogan is now playing the good guy. His role has reversed, but the result may not be the same. Styles could very well join the gang.
Joseph Park then approached Kurt Angle in the locker room. He praised Angle for being an inspiration, and told him that he would stand toe-to-toe with the Aces & Eights to get the job done. Angle told him that when he saw the opportunity to make sure to strike.
I’m glad to see Park back in the fight. The Aces & Eights did torture him for a few weeks after all. If TNA keeps him in battle, I have the feeling that fans will be seeing Abyss return at Slammiversary. In fact, if Abyss does make his return, I really hope it’s Slammiversary because I have tickets. It would certainly be a great moment to see him return.
Hulk Hogan Calls Out AJ Styles
In the ring, Hogan declared that there would be no more mistakes. He was going by his gut, and his gut told him to talk to AJ Styles. That brought out Styles, still holding the Aces & Eights vest.
Hogan went into the pressures of the business and how it affects everyone, which is why he knew what he was going through. TNA was his family, and they needed the dangerous AJ Styles on their side.
Before Styles could really speak, James Storm made his way out talking about how they both brought TNA where it is today since day one. Styles just simply walked away. After the commercial break, Hogan told Styles that he had until next week to give him an answer.
This was an overall good segment that certainly got the job done in terms of storyline development. Keeping Styles silent is a great idea. It keeps the mystery that he has become alive.
Is he a babyface, is he a heel? Will he end up being something in between? Like I said, I hope he does end up turning heel. Styles hasn’t been heel since the beginning of Fortune, so it would be a nice change for storylines.
He doesn’t necessarily have to be a member of the Aces & Eights. There are plenty of heels in TNA who aren’t members. In fact, I think it would be better if he wasn’t a member. Have him drop the vest in front of Taz signifying that he won’t be joining, and just as Hogan is celebrating, have him attack Storm once again.
He wouldn’t be joining Team TNA, but he won’t be joining the enemy, either. Then the feud between Styles and Storm culminates at Slammiversary. This is, of course, a scenario that I would like to see. It’s entirely possible, but in the world of professional wrestling, anything can happen.
This segment set up multiple possibilities for Styles’ decision next week, and I can’t wait to see what happens.
Sonjay Dutt vs. Mason Andrews vs. Petey Williams: X-Division Qualifying Match
Petey Williams picked up the victory here with his awesome Canadian Destroyer finishing move on Mason Andrews. This was a very fun match to watch. The action was solid and exciting at times.
Sonjay Dutt is truly the greatest X-Division wrestler to never win the X-Division Championship. It really is a shame that TNA has never given him the belt. I really hope he gets it sometime this year.
Andrews is an impressive guy. He pulled off some great moves and was quite entertaining. He has a real future in the division.
Then there is Petey Williams, who I have missed since the day he left TNA. I have also missed his epic finishing move. He is still as great as I remember him being, and I am so glad that he won the match. I don’t think that he’d win the title back so soon, but the fact that he’s back with TNA and in the title picture is great.
The new rules for the X-Division are the best thing to happen to it in quite some time. With Destination X no longer on the pay-per-view schedule, it may be safe to say that “Option C” may be no more.
So rebuilding the X-Division with new and old talent, which keeps challengers for the title fresh, is a great idea!
Devon, D.O.C., Knux, Wes Brisco and Garett Bischoff vs. Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Eric Young, Magnus and Joseph Park: 10-Man Tag Team Match
The Aces & Eights got the win here after D.O.C. hit a low blow on Joseph Park. I thought this was a good match. There was constant action throughout and everyone did great throughout the contest.
Eric Young played the “face in peril,” and he played the role very well. Being the smaller wrestler on his team, it made sense for him to get beaten up by the gang. He sold for them very well, which shows how good a performer Young really is.
He seems to have ditched the comedic side of his character, and his half of the Knockouts Tag Team Championship, so fans are getting a serious EY. Fans that don’t know anything but a funny EY are finally starting to see him do what he does best, which is wrestle.
Park has once again suffered another loss at the hands of the Aces & Eights, and in turn so did TNA, and my feelings of Abyss returning are getting stronger. TNA doesn’t need a lawyer on their team, they need a monster.
A Front-Row Ticket
Bully Ray then made his way to the ring to call out his wife, Brooke Hogan. Brooke soon appeared with no wedding ring, which is something Bully didn’t like. He revealed an envelope that Brooke thought was going to be divorce papers, but it was simply a front-row ticket to next week’s show.
He wanted her to watch him beat Jeff Hardy in Full Metal Mayhem and then called her fat. She slapped him, and Hardy soon came out to brawl with Bully until the showed faded out.
This was not what I was expecting at all. I was thinking some sort of blackmail against her or Hulk, or possibly something revealing that she was in on it the whole time. Instead it was a front-row ticket to watch next week’s title match, which she apparently can’t do backstage or from the stage since she works there.
Bully was great on the mic. He was sarcastic and condescending toward her, and overall just getting into her head. Bully Ray’s mic work is the only reason the segment really survived. The end result was lackluster and disappointing.
The brawl between champion and challenger was a nice touch to end the show, especially since Hardy hadn’t appeared at all throughout the entire night, but the payoff to the hype of Bully and Brooke meeting face-to-face disappointed me.
Overall, I was kind of disappointed with this episode of Impact Wrestling. Last week was a great episode from start to finish, but this was a major step down from that.
There were a couple of good matches, with the X-Division match being Match of the Night, and a few segments got the job done in terms of storylines. In the end, this wasn’t as good as it could have been.
One thing it did really well, though, was hyping next week’s episode. Next week will feature AJ Styles’ decision, Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell, the Tag Team Championship match and Full Metal Mayhem for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Next week’s show is stacked, so I’m chalking this episode up as a go-home episode of sorts. Since TNA only has four major PPVs a year now, having one big episode of Impact Wrestling a month makes sense. Next week seems to be April’s big show, so this week was designed mainly to hype it.