The Good, the Great and the Awesome from Impact Wrestling 8/1/13
Tito Ortiz will not be mentioned in this week's article.
Because this is a wrestling article, not an MMA article.
On this week's Impact Wrestling, the Bound For Glory series rolled on with a huge main event between A.J. Styles and Austin Aries. Billed as the first time they have met in TNA, fans would be treated to a spectacular pro wrestling match that would mix up the rankings of the number one contender tournament.
Elsewhere on the show, heavyweight and X-Division champions would collide as Chris Sabin took on Manik in a champion vs. champion match. With Aces and Eights lurking, would Bully Ray factor into the match involving the man who took his title two weeks ago?
Also on tap was ODB vs. Gail Kim, a result of Gail's verbal abuse of yet another Knockout referee.
With Hardcore Justice two weeks away, Thursday's Impact would have a long lasting effect on the very near future.
Austin Aries opens the show
The former TNA World Heavyweight Champion kicked off Thursday night's program by addressing the Impact Wrestling fans and hyping his "first time ever" match against A.J. Styles in the main event slot of the broadcast.
He credited A.J. on carrying the company for the last decade, but said that it would be he, Aries, that did so for the next ten years. "A Double" also hinted that he was coming for Chris Sabin's title before being interrupted by former tag team partner Bobby Roode.
Roode has done an excellent job over the last few weeks of playing a wrestler that is absolutely obsessed with winning the Bound For Glory Series, and bordering on a mental breakdown every time he loses another match.
He reminded Aries and the TNA faithful of what he is capable of. Roode promised that he would make the best of the rest of his BFG matches, that he would turn it around and make it to the finals.
Aries said he hoped that was the case...so he could beat Roode again. He would leave the ring as Roode prepared to square off against Hernandez in the opening match of the evening.
Whether TNA plans to go in that direction or not remains a mystery, but, if they do, they have already laid the groundwork for an Austin Aries-Bobby Roode feud in the near future. Although this has been done before, it has the opportunity to seem fresh and deliver a series of show-stealing or Match of the Year candidate bouts.
The desperation of Roode as he attempts to climb back into the race in the Bound For Glory Series has also been interesting, and has this writer wondering exactly where the company is going with it.
ODB and Gail Kim cannot be contained
There has not been a more solid and consistent performer in the Knockouts division this year than Gail Kim. Whether it be holding down the fort as the roster's top female heel or delivering phenomenal, exciting and original matches with Taryn Terrell, she has been the most valuable woman in the company in 2013.
ODB, on the other hand, was left for dead as the official referee for the Knockouts. She was left with nothing to do until recently, when she left the stripes (or hand prints, in her case) in the locker room and has returned to in-ring action, thanks to a new-found rivalry with Gail.
On Impact, they met in singles action. The match was progressing nicely until it prematurely ended in a double count-out with no winner.
The referee's decision was not popular, and neither woman was ready to end their war with the other. They continued to brawl at ringside, with no number of officials able to separate them.
The return of ODB to the ring will only help to bolster a Knockouts roster that is as depleted as ever. The recent releases of Madison Rayne, Taeler Hendrix and the future Hall of Famer Tara has left a major void and creates the need for fresh faces. ODB may be familiar with most fans of the company, but her absence from in-ring action and the Knockouts title picture for the last year gives her the opportunity to fill that void, for now.
Gail is the perfect opponent to help knock some of the ring rust off of ODB and return her to title contention.
Chris Sabin vs. Manik
The champion vs. champion match on Thursday night, which featured TNA World champion Chris Sabin taking on X-Division champion Manik, was a great way to showcase both performers' talents while making each title feel important.
The company has done a great job in showcasing its X-Division stars over the last month and the story of TJ Perkins is one fans can understand, relate to and, most importantly, buy into. Sabin's meteoric rise since returning from a knee injury that kept him sidelined for over a year has been a joy to watch, even if some believe his TNA title win may be a case of "too much, too soon."
A display of hold and counter-hold, fast-paced offense and excitement came to an end when Sabin was able to grab a hold of the X-Division champion, hoist him overhead and deliver the Hail Sabin, securing the pin-fall victory.
The post-match activities saw Bully Ray jump Sabin from behind, only to have his attack thwarted by the TNA champion, who unleashed a flurry of strikes on the President of Aces and Eights.
For the first time since the rivalry between he and Bully Ray started just over a month ago, Sabin was allowed to look like a wrestler that was on the level of the former champion. With a major steel cage match on the horizon, and the company grasping at straws to make anything on its show a real success, that was necessary.
A.J. Styles vs. Austin Aries
This Bound For Glory Series match was billed as the first time A.J. Styles and Austin Aries had competed against one another and, from the start of the night, was heavily hyped as the main event of the evening. Anticipation for the match between two of the best, most respected workers in the industry, was at a high as Aries and Styles took to the ring.
They would not disappoint.
It was a smart match worked by two in-ring veterans. They used the entire ring and its surroundings, including the steps, which Aries took a nasty dive onto late in the bout.
Styles and Aries showed great intensity in the closing moments of the match, creating drama by utilizing holds and strikes rather than convoluted storylines.
The finish, featuring Aries catching the Pele kick from Styles and falling on top of him for a fluke pin, was less than stellar and unsatisfactory for a phenomenal match like the one that preceded it. Fortunately, with no decisive victor, TNA can revisit the rivalry and provide fans with great action between Aries and Styles whenever they see fit.
An awesome match, hurt only by its disappointing finish.