Preview Thursday's IMPACT WRESTLING broadcast on SpikeTV at 8/7c as the road to the June "Slammiversary" event continues! Reminder: Beginning May 30, IMPACT moves back to its old time at 9/8c on SpikeTV! Thursdays at 8/7C until then!
- Has a TNA Original finally turned his back on the company and the fans? The Aces and Eights have announced that on Thursday's IMPACT from Tampa, they will hold a "Patching In" ceremony to officially welcome AJ Styles to the group!
- How will TNA General Manager Hulk Hogan react to the news that AJ is joining the Aces? Hogan will be on IMPACT in Tampa to address the situation!
-In a huge match Kurt Angle will take on Mr. Anderson from Aces and 8s renewing their rivalry.
- The final countdown is on to Sting vs. Bully Ray for the World Heavyweight Championship at Slammiversary! Both champion and challenger will be in attendance on Thursday's IMPACT - will Bully Ray and The Aces attempt to eliminate Sting before their title match?
-James Storm announced last week on IMPACT that he will be in the Tag Team Title Match at Slammiversary. Who will "The Cowboy" select to be his partner? Find out this Thursday on Impact!
- The TNA Knockouts championship will be on the line on Thursday's huge broadcast as Velvet Sky will defend the gold against her friend (and former titleholder) Mickie James!
- The GutCheck Tournament continues on Thursday for a spot in the upcoming "Bound For Glory Series", as Sam Shaw battles Alex Silva
- The mysterious masked X-Division superstar SUICIDE makes his return IMPACT WRESTLING on Thursday as well!
Following last week's surprise return of the long lost Abyss, the Aces & Eights suffered their first real defeat and were out for the Monster's blood. But when their target couldn't be found, they had to settle for the next best thing - Abyss' brother - Joseph Park!
Opening this week's show with a standard Hulk Hogan promo, Impact Wrestling got off to a slow start and struggled to pick up the pace. At first, the Hulkster's focus was squarely on the indecision of AJ Styles. He ran down the Phenomenal One's recent actions in a snarky tone and quicky denounced them with a particularly brutal "who cares". Frankly, with the way the supposed faces are treating AJ, it's no wonder he doesn't want to work with any of them. Both Hogan and Angle have taken such a confrontational attitude, they'd struggle to win their number one fans over.
Attention soon turned to the return of Abyss and just how happy Hogan was to see the Monster once again. Trying to coax him out from the back, his music played, but the General Manager was greeted by none other than Abyss' brother, Joseph Park. The fact these guys are legitimately treating Abyss and Park as separate entities is laughable and just as we think we're back to the gimmick that's worth a damn, TNA sticks us with the tame lawyer with impulse control issues. I could've happily seen the back of Park at this point and welcomed Abyss with open arms. But that'll have to wait for another day, as the promo is quickly interrupted by Devon and D'Lo Brown from Aces & Eights looking for a measure of revenge. Both Park and Devon want to lay into one another, but due to a timely comment from D'Lo, we find ourselves with a main event of Park vs D'Lo instead, with the promise of another match at a later date. I don't understand why Park has to jump through hoops to get what he wants when he has the face General Manager on his side. Surely Hogan could've just made the match both men wanted.
Our first match (of many) came in the form of 'The It Factor' Bobby Roode facing off against Tag Team Champion Chavo Guerrero. It began with a substantial amount of offense on Roode's part, but everything he threw at the Mexican superstar found itself reversed in kind. The leader of the Selfish Generation finally made some traction once the action spilled outside of the ring, taking advantage of the harsh surroundings. Unfortunately, the match never really clicked or came alive, as the pair seemed oddly mismatched. Roode worked a much slower methodical pace, while Guerrero would spring to life and bounce around the ring with as many high-flying moves as he could muster. The finish came after 'The Cowboy' James Storm entered the ring and spat beer in the face of his former tag team partner, giving Roode the win, but only via disqualification. An unsatisfying ending to an unsatisfying match.
The Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle, continued the Styles-bashing for the evening with a brief in-ring promo. Speaking about how his former friend's indifference and penchant for walking away from confrontations has seriously pissed him off, Angle has arranged a one on one contest between the pair at Slammiversary. This is another one of those unfortunate situations whereby the top face of the company wants to start a fight with someone, but they don't really have a good reason. Styles hasn't actually done anything wrong up until now and even then, most of his actions can be construed as self-defense. I can't exactly blame AJ for wanting to kick Angle in the head. The man was badmouthing him on national television and picking a fight, who wouldn't want to put him in his place. With the late addition of Ken Anderson to the segment, the prospect of Styles being "patched-in" to Aces & Eights was teased for next week, making for a wonderful cliffhanger. I don't for a second believe AJ will end up in the Job Squad that is A&E, but I have to admit it's a brilliant way to build tension between he and his true opponent, Kurt Angle.
Several former Gut Check winners reared their heads this week, returning after numerous months training down in Ohio Valley Wrestling.The lucky winner of Christian York vs Jay Bradley would advance in a four man tournament to determine who gets a spot in this year's Bound for Glory Series. Both men were pushed hard in the first hour of Impact with several video packages hyping their appearance and reminding us just who the hell they are. York has clearly had the better start with the company, boasting matches with Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam, whereas Bradley was forced to rely upon the usual platitudes and cliches of an aspiring wrestler, looking pig ugly whilst doing it. Given their respective momentum of late, I truly expected York to take the spotlight, but Bradley's superior size and devastating array of power moves left the golden boy wanting. The match was nothing to write home about, ending abruptly, with Bradley landing a Boomstick clothesline out of nowhere.
The Knockouts Division suffered some strange editing this week, with ring introductions taking place before five minutes worth of adverts and several more featuring a backstage segment. Thank god the show was taped last week, because there's no way in hell even pretty girls like these can entertain a crowd by doing absolutely nothing for ten minutes at a time. Once Gail Kim and Velvet Sky were allowed to continue, the focus of the match became the Champion's recently injured knee. Sky hit all her signature moves early on, allowing Gail the rest of the match to work on the Beautiful Person's ailing leg. Huge credit goes to Gail for the inventive submission maneuvers she implemented against Sky. Of particular note was a Texas Cloverleaf, which is rare at the best of times, let alone in the Knockouts Division. Equal applause must go to Sky, who sold the worsening injury like a pro. When she tried to run the ropes and collapsed in pain, she crumpled to the floor like she'd just lost the knee entirely. The Champion held on by the skin of her teeth with a last minute surprise roll-up giving her the pinfall. I'll be extremely interested to see where Velvet's injury angle is meant to lead, sure to have been hastened by Gail's usual post-match beating.
The X Division Championship was once again on the line as Kenny King defended his Title against the combined might of Petey Williams and Chris Sabin. In doing so, he often took a backseat to his challengers, allowing them to duke it out in the ring, while he skulked around outside, waiting for an opportunity to strike. Williams once again justified his return to TNA with a stunning performance. His moves having lost none of their pace and are as crisp as the day he began. He's clearly been relegated to being the third wheel of the X Division matches, but with displays such as these, he'll quickly deserve a spotlight of his own. Similarly, Chris Sabin kept up his side of things, offering an insanely quick offense, giving no hint as to his formerly torn ACLs. The only downside was the finish, which saw Kenny King sneak another victory from the jaws of defeat. These triple threat matches, while always entertaining, are falling into a set pattern and becoming a little too predictable for my taste. The format has it's own in-built limitations and the competitors will have to work harder to innovate in the future.
Continuing James Storm's one man mission to be the buzzkill of the entire card, 'The Cowboy' made another appearance at the close of Daniels vs Hernandez. Having an obvious bee in his bonnet about heels being allowed to interfere and cheat, whilst he finds himself reprimanded, Storm distracted 'The Fallen Angel' just as he was about to hit his finishing maneuver, allowing Hernandez to sneak the pinfall. No offense to Storm, as I'm sure he has a point, but this whiny behaviour was extremely unbecoming and left me craving honest to god clean finishes. The match was immediately followed by a promo setting up a four way Tag Team Championship match at Slammiversary. The real intrigue being who Storm will team with to take on Chavo/Hernandez, Daniels/Kazarian and Aries/Roode. Which faces are floundering on the card and are in need of something to do on pay-per-view? I'm stumped. This is probably really obvious and it's going to bug me all the way up until June 2nd.
In our wrestling main event of the evening, we had Dumb vs Dumber, as Aces & Eights' whipping boy D'Lo Brown took on the forever sweating buckets Joseph Park. To D'Lo's credit, he dominated a fair portion of the match, demonstrating a rare agility in the otherwise stocky backstage agent. However, he made a key mistake when he busted Park open in the corner of the ring. Thus the usual process of Park losing his mind kicked in, as the Lawyer jabbed and clotheslined his opponent into oblivion before finally hitting "his brother's" Black Hole Slam for the win. Surprisingly, there was absolutely no interference from the Aces & Eights tonight. They all stayed backstage and refused to come to the aid of their prospective member. D'Lo's losing streak would be funny, if it wasn't so sad.
Last but not least, we had the contract signing for the World Heavyweight Championship match at Slammiversary between Bully Ray and Sting. The supposed press conference was initially hosted by Jeremy Borash, but his presence was deemed unnecessary by the World Champ, who ran him out of the ring like a rat out a door. Little mannerisms such as this, really go a long way towards Bully earning his name. He goes on to boast about having beaten Jeff Hardy in his own specialty match and promises to do much the same to Sting come Slammiversary. One after the other, both Sting and Hogan come out from the back to confront their nemesis. Hogan was there mostly to worry about his make-up laden best friend, however, Sting cut a truly inventive promo offering up suggestions to his opponent as to where they should injure him. The tactic was more than a little terrifying and freaked the hell out of the Bully. This naturally led to the suggestion of the Slammiversary match being changed to a No Holds Barred contest, a Sting staple due to his ever-decreasing move set. But in return, the Bully wanted a stipulation of his own. Should Sting lose, he'd never be able to compete for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship ever again. In a fantastic twist of the proverbial knife, Bully reiterated this was nothing to do with retiring the Icon, this is simply a way to make him suffer. To have him wrestling to the end of his days, knowing he'll never hold the top prize in professional wrestling once more. Pretty ingenious if you ask me. And a fantastic way to exclude Sting from any future main event matches. Because, let's face it, he's ridiculously old at this point and should've been shuffled off long ago. The episode ends with Sting and Bully exchanging blows, each landing their fair share, with no true victor coming out on top. A fitting, if indecisive, close to the show.
This week's Impact Wrestling was packed to the rafters with content and yet never showcased a damn thing. There were six matches in total, each suffering from a short runtime and competitors going through the motions, showing us the same old shtick we had last week and the week before that. Wrestling will always feature a degree of repetition, but I felt as though it was particularly acute in this instance, with most stars running on autopilot. Also, the show failed to adequately follow up on the promise of Abyss from last week's cliffhanger, making proceedings feel hollow at best, time wasted at worst. The high points were the X Division match for pure athleticism and the closing exchange between Sting and Bully Ray for a clear display of passion and intensity. Not a bad episode necessarily, but not a good one either.
Since General Manager Hulk Hogan granted Sting a six man tag match against three of Aces & Eights' best, the race has been on to find the Icon his ideal partners. The Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle, made the first decision easy by volunteering. The second spot seemed destined for the recently returned AJ Styles, but the Phenomenal One is out for one person only - himself.
Addressing the issue right off the bat, we arrived in Tupelo to find Sting and Angle making their way to the ring. Cutting impassioned promos about the evil of Aces & Eights, the pair effectively push both the main event tonight and the centerpiece of Slammiversary. Sting was his usual dependable self, while Angle came across as borderline irrational. In calling out AJ Styles once again and forcing the issue, Angle's rash behaviour made the situation ten times worse, leading to the pair exchanging vicious blows on the walkway. Frankly, I don't blame Styles for not wanting to team with Angle if this is the treatment he'd receive. While this is going on, the three members of Aces & Eights scheduled for the main event (Bully Ray, Devon and Mr Anderson) pull off a perfectly timed sneak attack on Sting, planting a rare 3D on the Icon.
Acting almost as a breather after the frantic opener, the Knockouts tag team match of Velvet Sky & Mickie James vs Gail Kim & Tara was a complete change of pace. Literally. No sooner had the four ladies made their way to the ring and the bell had rung, the match was over. It's impossibly short bouts such as this which lead to outbursts in the media *cough*MickieJames*cough*. The country singer found herself dominated by the heel team for the majority of the match, only to make a hot tag to Champion Velvet, who rushed the ring and had the match wrapped up in a matter of seconds. The only redeeming feature of the segment was Gail's post-match beatdown of partner Tara. Seeing the first lady of the Knockouts division snap and try to end the careers of her competitors is hugely intriguing and almost worth sacrificing the match time for. But not entirely.
Finally getting around to the matter of Aces & Eights' D-Lo Brown submitting to Kurt Angle "last week", the band of outlaws are led to the ring by World Heavyweight Champion, Bully Ray. Continuing his impressive body of work on the mic, Bully strips the Vice President of his colours, leaving little chance of redemption for his former right hand man. Neatly leading into D.O.C. vs Magnus, D-Lo must ensure his brother's victory over the British titan. The match itself was treated as entirely throwaway, the first half not even making it to air in favour of commercials. Both men were a few paces off their game and it made for several sloppy maneuvers. The finish came as a visually-impaired Brown cost his own man the match in a refreshing change to the usual Aces & Eights M.O. Sufficed to say, this didn't go down well with the rest of the club, who promptly held D-Lo down for a beating. Bully swore he simply wanted to cave the man's skull in, but the whole thing took on a creepy prison rape vibe. I really don't want to know what happened after they cut away.
Now, in what I would refer to as the TRUE main event of the evening, we have Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian taking on Austin Aries & Bobby Roode for the number one contendership to the Tag Team Championships. I make this very clear, as announcer Christy Hemme didn't have the slightest clue what she was talking about, announcing one team as the other and forgetting another man entirely. Thank god for Austin Aries' covering by bullying her into doing it correctly or I'd say fire her on the spot. As it transpires, the key feature to the match was James Storm acting as referee. Having been bribed with alcohol by both teams and each cheating to their heart's content during the bout, the Cowboy was forever at a loss as to what to do, wanting neither of them to win. The body of the match was fast paced and fun, with equal focus on wowing us and making us laugh. The opening salvo of flips and reversals by Austin Aries and Frankie Kazarian were of particular note. Only to be topped by their double eye-rake, leading to both men retreating to the opposition's corners and tagging the wrong men in. The conflict quickly devolved into a sequence of power moves, until Aries was left the victor. However, not wanting to count the pinfall due to so many despicable tactics, it's superkicks all around, courtesy of James Storm. While I can understand the hero not wanting to make the count for the villain, simply having him leave to his music, with no clear end to the match was confusing and frustrating. Taking into account the resulting backstage assault later in the night, I would hope Storm is itching to find a tag team partner and inject himself into this reinvigorated division.
In somewhat of an unusual move for them, TNA decided to give the X-Division a little bit more attention than usual this week. Not only were there video packages promoting the returns of both Suicide and Chris Sabin, but Kenny King was allowed to walk to the ring and cut an honest to god promo. I can't for the life of me remember the last time this division's competitors were allowed to speak in front of an audience. To the Champion's credit, his promo was downright entertaining. It turns out that not only can these men perform crazy videogame-like moves, but they can talk as well! The bait and switch with King flipping from respectful to snide was predictable, but hard-hitting. The sheer sincerity with which he greeted his challenger Chris Sabin had to have been genuine, otherwise King is a far better actor than I gave him credit for. After the killer insult that was "Frail Sabin", I can't wait to see these two lock-up next week. Poor Petey Williams is nothing but an afterthought.
During the build-up towards the main event, the commentators hyped that in the coming weeks, four lucky former Gut Check winners will be competing in a tournament to win a spot in this year's Bound for Glory Series. While I like the idea on paper of giving these four developmental talents some much needed TV time, everything I have seen of the winners in question has been worryingly weak. Devoting three entire matches of an Impact Wrestling episode to these no-name wannabes is a surefire way to make viewers change the channel. Even worse, it's a dead-cert that the botch-happy Christian York will be the one to take the spot and torture us with many more matches in the near future. Here's an idea, try cutting the dreadlocks off, maybe losing that extra weight will speed you up and let you hit moves when you're supposed to.
As we reached the main event of the evening, the mysterious third man for Team TNA had yet to be named. This left Sting and Angle walking to the ring, with only the vague hope Hulk Hogan would come through backstage, pulling the proverbial rabbit out of a hat. The majority of the bout was fought as a Handicap match. Not that it mattered, as Sting and Angle effectively held their own for the longest time, without any need of a third man. Unfortunately, the numbers game soon worked against them, allowing Aces & Eights to isolate Angle until the final few minutes. Finally making the hot tag to Sting, the Icon looked worryingly old, tired and haggard. His thinning hairline looking outright comical by the time he was going nose to nose with his Slammiversary opponent. When all looked lost and Team 3D were setting up their trademark table in the corner, the third man was finally revealed. It was none other than the Monster, Abyss! Truly shocking me that they'd bring back the gimmick so soon (Joseph Park RIP), Abyss decimated the heels, sending Anderson crashing through the table and hitting a devastating Black Hole Slam on Devon, making the cover soon after. If TNA can maintain the momentum from this return, they may finally light the fire under the character of Abyss that they've always hoped for.
Preview Thursday's all-new IMPACT WRESTLING broadcast on SpikeTV at 8/7c as the road to the June "Slammiversary" event continues! IMPACT will be LIVE from Tupelo, Mississippi! If you can't watch all the action on Thursday, make sure to set your DVR!
Not only is Sting back in TNA to fight the Aces and Eights, but "The Icon" will now challenge Bully Ray for the World Heavyweight Championship at Slammiversary!
The huge main event of Thursday's broadcast will feature Bully Ray, Devon and Mr. Anderson of The Aces and Eights battling Sting, Kurt Angle and a partner to be determined! The question is, while AJ Styles step up and join Sting and Angle in the match? Will Styles end weeks of speculation and choose a side - is he with TNA or The Aces? Don't miss Thursday's main event!
IMPACT will also feature a #1 Contender's Match for the World Tag Team Championship as Bobby Roode and Austin Aries take on Christopher Daniels and Kaz (Bad Influence) - with the winning team earning another shot the gold! An added wrinkle is the special guest referee Cowboy James Storm. There is no love lost between Storm and either team in this match. Will Storm call it down the middle?
All this and much more on Thursday, plus Hulk Hogan, the high-flying X Division stars, the lovely but lethal TNA Knockouts and so much more - LIVE from Tupelo, Mississippi on SpikeTV at 8/7c!
The first round of this special will create some intriguing tag team matches. For one night only, old partners will reunite and bitter enemies must work together in order to advance. Once in the finals, however, any friendships or forged alliances will quickly disappear as the wrestlers will compete in a winner-take-all gauntlet battle royal, where it's every man for himself and the winner will receive $100,000!!!
- James Storm and Christian York versus Gunner and Crimson
- Jessie Godderz and Mr. Anderson versus Douglas Williams and Kid Kash
- Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe versus Chavo Guerrero and Rob Van Dam
- Robbie E and Zema Ion versus Bobby Roode and Joseph Park
- Hernandez and Alex Silva versus Devon and D.O.C
- Robbie T and Matt Morgan versus Joey Ryan and Al Snow
- Final Gauntlet to win the Joker's Wild tournament