On a night where two NBA teams could close and The Office is having its
series finale, I am here watching and covering Impact Wrestling.
Why is that?
Because Impact, in the last couple years, has been the best wrestling I’ve
watched in more than 10 years. The extended storylines, the character
development, honoring history, and the forward-lean to storylines: TNA has
filled a void in the soul of this old-school wrestling fan.
If you are out there and you are a fan, too, please follow me at IMPCTRevolution on Twitter. It’s very difficult to find good, honest, decent reporting on TNA. If you are a fan, you know this is the truth. You can stop looking. Just follow me on Twitter and catch my TNA coverage when you can.
With no further ado, Impact Wrestling is kicking off as we move closer
to TNA Slammiversary.
20. Dixie Carter tweeted that Hulk Hogan would kick off Impact. He will
announce an opponent for AJ Styles for Slammiversary (Angle?), and he will call
out Abyss. Everything Hulk Hogan does as GM seems to go wrong, so I’m not sure
how wise it is to get involved with Abyss. As reported, the music of the Immortal
hits and Hulk Hogan arrives, dressed in black, to a good reception. Hulk Hogan
says he is shocked that AJ Styles walked away. Hogan says, “Go ahead and join
Aces and Eights if you want, because who cares?!” (Not a wise thing to say,
Hulkster.) He announces, as I predicted, that AJ Styles will take on Kurt
Angle. Hulk Hogan is calling out Abyss: wants to shake his hand.
19. Instead of Abyss, we get Joseph Park. Joseph Park is sweating his
way through saying he can’t believe Abyss has returned. “I can’t believe he was
here.” Aces and Eights music hits and Devon and D’Lo enter the ring. Devon: “We
want the same thing [as you Hogan]. We want Abyss!” Joseph Park steps in front
of Hulk Hogan to confront Devon. Joseph Park says, “You talk about family
business. If it wasn’t for you, I never would have had to look for my brother,
Abyss.” Joseph Park challenges Devon for a match right now. Devon: “Who did you
ever beat?” D’Lo jumps up and asks Devon to let him fight Joseph Park. Hogan
signs the match for tonight. D’Lo is still trying to get his cut back, and it
looks like he is starting low, but I look for a Joseph Park upset of D’Lo
tonight. Hulk Hogan says if Park can win, he can challenge Devon at any time.
18. The guy I call Batman—the IT Factor Bobby Roode—makes his way to
the ring for a match against Chavo Guerrero (who I often call “Not-Eddy”). A
technical wrestling match to start, with the methodical Bobby Roode trying to
slow the pace. Tazz: “He doesn’t work a fast-paced match, though he could.”
While Tazz continues to praise Bobby Roode, I hope that will one day end when
Bobby Roode [hopefully] challenges Aces and Eights and Bully Ray. Bobby Roode
reverses most of the offense of Not-Eddy, probably because he’s seen Eddy
Guerrero videos. James Storm is out, walks in the ring, and spits beer in the eyes
of his former tag partner, Bobby Roode. This, of course, is revenge as James
Storm was jumped by Roode, Aries, Daniels, and Kaz last week. Still, I wonder
where this is ultimately headed between James Storm and Bobby Roode.
As we go to commercial, we are informed that next Kurt Angle will call
out AJ Styles.
17. We see a video of all the chaos that lead to the Kurt Angle-AJ
Styles confrontation. Kurt Angle is in the ring. “This Aces and Eights thing
has been going on for almost a year now. It’s getting to the point you can’t
trust anybody.” Kurt Angle says he doesn’t want to wait until Slammiversary
and calls out AJ Styles. Instead we get the music of Aces and Eights and the
appearance of Mr. Anderson. Mr. Anderson claims that next week in Tampa, Fla.,
we will see the “patching in of AJ Styles” into Aces and Eights. Kurt Angle
repeats that he doesn’t want to wait until next week to fight, and knocks
Anderson to the ground. Anderson rolls out and AJ Styles rolls in. AJ Styles
knocks out Kurt Angle with a kick to the head. And while Mr. Anderson rejoices,
as if he did it, AJ Styles walks out alone.
I don’t suspect AJ Styles will join Aces next week, but how will it go
down? The fact that it is before the Slammiversary match between Kurt Angle and
AJ Styles makes me unsure what we will see next week. Will AJ show? Will he, at
least, accept the cut? Will Kurt Angle get ahead of it and break it up before
we get to see what AJ Styles would have done?
16. Gut Check video. In case you haven’t heard, there will be a
tournament (starting tonight) between Gut Check winners. The winner of the
tournament will be part of the Bound for Glory Series. That, my friends, is a
big deal for somebody.
15. Gut Check tournament match—Jay Bradley v. Christian York. Winner
goes to Slammiversary for the second round. Jay Bradley uses a big boot and a
lariat. I wonder if he is a JBL fan. Ugly match, but I think that may be
Bradley’s style. York gets some offense, but goes down to the "Boomstick" lariat. Winner:
14. Gail Kim vs. Velvet Sky is next, after commercial. We see a banner
advertising the contract signing between Sting and Bully Ray, which is later
13. James Storm leaves Hogan’s office. He is pissed, and does a VERY
impressive Hulk Hogan impression. Says Hogan said there are repercussions
for his actions. James Storm says that apparently there are no consequences for
anyone but him. He is asked what he will do, and James Storm repeats his words
from earlier tonight, “Just watch.” Great suspense on this one.
12. Mr. Anderson leads a meeting backstage with Aces and Eights. He
guarantees AJ Styles joining next week, and tells D’Lo to go out there tonight
and do what he needs to do. There is no Bully Ray, and weekly it seems that Mr.
Anderson is usurping the President. Right now Aces is winning and this is being
overlooked, but I expect it will one day be addressed and may even cause a rift
in the group.
11. Brooke Hogan is in the back with Mickie James. James is upset she
is not on Slammiversary. Brooke Hogan tells her she can have a title shot at
Velvet Sky next week. Brooke and Mickie are interrupted by the world champ and
President, Bully Ray. He corners his wife and says, Tell Dad, when I go to the
ring to do the contract signing, it will be more of a contract negotiation.
Great segment. Bully says he will never divorce Brooke. Continues to antagonize
the Hogan family.
10. Back and forth between Gail Kim and Velvet Sky. Velvet, we are
told, is wrestling hurt. Some really nice submission holds from Gail Kim, who
works over the injured leg. Velvet Sky is able to win with a rollup, but Gail
Kim continues to attack after the match.
9. Sabin says, If Kenny King is the King of anything, it’s male
stripping. Kenny King reminds us that, as X-Division Champ, he is the king.
These two play so well off each other—ambition vs. respect. It’s a recipe
that always seems to work. Petey Williams, who is almost the third wheel in the
match, says Kenny King seems to let the other two guys do the work; then he
steals the win. Says he has something for Kenny King tonight.
8. A video for the soon-returning Suicide. Dark stuff—not surprising.
The banner says he returns next week.
7. Our three X-Division stars are already in the ring. They are
announced and the match is under way. Kenny King is one of my favorite X-Division stars. Has a confidence and persona that is rare to the X-Division. Fast pace between Kenny King and Sabin—a great back kick, almost a pele, from Kenny King. In the end, Sabin knocks out
Petey Williams, but it’s Kenny King who capitalizes and gets the win. Which
means, at Slammiversary, it will be Kenny King v. Sabin v. the winner of the X-Division
match next week. I’m expecting Slammiversary to be the night Kenny King drops
the X-Division title. If he can somehow escape the PPV with the title, that
would be a shocker and a major win. But I’m thinking it won’t happen.
6. A backstage conversation between Kaz and Daniels. Seems Daniels will
face Hernandez tonight, and the Cowboy is still on the loose.
5. After commercial, Christopher Daniels makes his way to the ring.
Hernandez arrives second, with the tag title hanging from the chain around his neck.
A Roddy Piper-style poke to the eyes gives Daniels the first advantage. For
those who haven’t been watching, I’m a fan of both Hernandez and the raised
ramp way. Hernandez uses the ramp (which is the same height as the ring) in his
offense. He runs the ramp, jumps the top rope, and catches a shoulder block. It’s
a thing of beauty.
I must admit, I was sneaking a peak at The Office, and I missed the
ending of the match. When I turned back, James Storm was on the ramp announcing
that, at Slammiversary, it will be Hernandez and Chavo vs. Aries and Roode vs. Bad
Influence…[and the shocker] vs. James Storm and a partner of his choosing. A
very nice twist, as everybody I know was expecting a 3-way dance for the tag
titles. Well played, TNA.
4. Unexpected suspects in the main event—D’Lo Brown vs. Joseph Park. It’s
all on the line for D’Lo Brown, but I have a feeling he will not be leaving
happy tonight. Funny thing: last week Joseph Park was at home and Abyss
returned. This week Joseph Park returned and, so far, no Abyss. For the record, there are a lot of Aces and Eights T-shirts in the crowd. It’s a great shirt—glad to see it selling. Slow match to start between two big and heavy guys. D’Lo has busted open Joseph
Park, who seems to draw his strength off his own blood. Park now looks more
like Abyss as he hits the Black Hole Slam and gets the win.
Joseph Park snaps back, after winning, and returns to Joseph Park.
3. Next up is the contract signing. We see the Icon and Bully Ray on
their way to the ring. Note: It seems the X-Division title match for
Slammiversary is already signed: Kenny King vs. Sabin vs. Suicide.
2. Bully Ray enters the ring. Places his championship on the table in
front of Jeremy Borash and then shoves Borash onto the mat and out of the ring.
“I’m the guy who defeated Jeff Hardy. I’m the guy who took Jeff Hardy out at
his own game…I’m also the guy who will defeat Sting at Slammiversary.” Reminds
us this will be more of a negotiation than a signing. Sting’s music hits. The
man with many years of TNA history in his blood, the Icon, doesn’t make it to
the ring before Bully Ray stops him and says that Hogan needs to be out here,
Bully to Sting: “This is the first time we’ve been face-to-face since I
screwed you over.” Tells Sting he ain’t getting an apology. Sting is so
on-point, talking in a deep and somber voice: tells Bully Ray to break his arm,
his knee, his throat, etc., or else, he is going to do that to Bully. Sting: “I’m
going to make you bleed in Boston.” Sting wants a no holds barred match, but
Bully Ray tells him that he will only accept the match if Sting will sign a
contract that says if [Sting] doesn’t win, he will never get another shot at
the world title again. Hulk Hogan warns Sting not to do it.
Bully Ray, the President, is on fire in this promo, and Sting is dead
on in his manner. Despite Hogan’s warnings, Sting says yes to the stipulation
and a brawl begins.
1. An amazing finish to tonight’s show. I was poised to say that this
Impact was a little disappointing compared to most of the post-Lockdown
editions. I was going to give it a 3/5, but with the final segment, I will bump
it up to 4/5.
For those who only read about Impact on paper, online, you have no idea
how good Bully Ray is in his role. His fingerprint is on TNA right now, and
Sting, a man who genuinely cares about TNA, captured the perfect feel going
into this showdown.
Only two more weeks of Impact before Slammiversary. The conversation
continues on Twitter. Be sure to follow me @ IMPCTRevolution.