6.27 Impact Wrestling
The Big News: The show revolved around the identity of Suicide, which on this night, was Austin Aries. During the main event segment, Aries unmasked as Suicide, an hour after winning the X Division championship in a three-way match. It appears Aries will be the next challenger for Bully Ray for the TNA Heavyweight title. The show also featured possibly the worst Gut Check match yet, and Samoa Joe announced as the newest member of the new Main Event Mafia.
Sting came out in his Main Event Mafia suit. They've got a new babyface version of the Main Event Mafia theme that sounds like a bad Stevie Nicks cover band. Sting introduced the second member of the new Mafia, Kurt Angle, also adorned in a suit. Angle explained that the original rules of the Mafia was that every member had to be a former World Champion. He talked about all of the misdeeds by Aces and Eights, including costing Sting a chance of ever challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship again, and causing Angle to lose a Bound for Glory qualifier. Angle said their goals were to destroy Aces and Eights and cost Bully Ray the World Heavyweight title. Angle said the next member of the Mafia would be revealed tonight.
Chris Sabin was on his way to the ring to defend the X Division championship when Doc jumped him and held him against the back of a 18-wheeler truck. Mr. Anderson held him while Ray threatened him about cashing in the X Division championship in order to face Ray for the TNA World Championship. Ray basically buried the X Division, along with Sabin, deriding his lack of size. Sabin walked away, but this sure crippled his push as someone to take seriously on an Austin Aries level. But he isn't the first TNA babyface to suffer a similar fate, and he won't be the last. Which partially explains why this company is still doing 0.8s nearly seven years into their stint on Thursday nights.
Gut Check returned with Adam Ohriner, someone who looks straight out of the 1980s with a bodybuilder physique. He might be bigger than Rob Terry. He currently lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Suicide pinned Kenny King to win the X Division Championship in a three-way match that also included Chris Sabin in 10:10. Pretty good match, but it wasn't as good as the New Japan iPPV opener on Saturday. Highlights included Sabin hitting a pescado on Kenny King and Suicide. Also, a perfectly executed spot where Sabin got power bombed by King while trying to deliver a superplex on Suicide. Later, Sabin hit his finisher, Hail Sabin, on King, but Suicide threw him out of the ring. King attempted his finisher, the Royal Flush, but Suicide escaped and pinned King with a schoolboy cradle. Unfortunately, the referee botched the three count, sliding too far under the bottom rope for the third count to be heard. So there was no pop at all to the title change. **1/2
Afterwards, Hulk Hogan came out with T.J. Perkins, who Hogan explained had been under the mask as Suicide from the very beginning of the gimmick. He's, at least, the fourth man to be Suicide. Hogan said someone had jumped Perkins earlier in the day, and wanted to know who the man under the Suicide mask was. Hogan demanded the masked man unveil himself. The man under the mask ran into the crowd. Atlas Security sure did one hell of a job in following Hogan's orders. The masked man walked right past Atlas Security head Ronnie, who held the barricade open for the imposter and watched him run off.
Hogan cut a promo saying the mystery man under the Suicide mask had until the end of the night to unmask.
The other Gut Check contestant is Ryan Howe, who does a music gimmick. He talked about being able to play guitar since he was 5, and picking up other instruments along the way. He got into wrestling by playing in a band. he looks like someone who would have been a star in the early 90s for a hair band.
2. Adam Ohriner defeated Ryan Howe in the Gut Check match in 2:46. Howe came out playing his own ring music on an electric guitar, doing a version of the Star Spangled Banner, throwing in as many Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townsend gestures as possible. As someone who admired Hendrix's version of that song at Woodstock, believe me when I say that doesn't get over beyond a rock concert crowd. Sure enough, Howe got booed, and Taz wasted no time in throwing out Van Hammer references. Howe actually reminded me of the heel in Hammer's first WCW program, J.T. Southern. Taz later said he thought Howe was Van Hammer after visiting an anti-aging clinic. As for the match, it was really, really, really not good. One mistimed spot after another. Ohriner didn't look believable when selling for Howe. Crowd crapped on the bout. Howe bumped hard for Ohriner's offense, but nothing connected with the fans at all. Based on the match, neither guy deserved to get hired. But TNA is in need of a big man (why else is Rob Terry still employed?), so Ohriner might stay around. -*1/2
Sting talked with Angle backstage as they walked to talk to their next prospect. Sting said they were definitely going to wind up better off this time around that last time. If they leave Nash out of the equation, I guarantee it.
Ray approached Perkins backstage and wanted to know if Sting and Angle put him up to the Suicide charade tonight. Perkins swore that he got jumped by someone tonight and no one put him up to it. Ray kept teasing he as going to attack Perkins, but let him walk out.
3. Mickie James defeated Velvet Sky to retain the Knockouts title in 6:36. These two were following a horrible match, so it was easy to have something passable. And that's about what this was, and nothing more. Highlight was Mickie James' prematch micwork, saying the Knockouts championship can change some people for the worst. Fortunately, she said it hadn't changed her. She offered Sky a chance to leave now and not get hurt, saying Sky "shouldn't be a three-dollar mule." Sky responded by spearing her. Of course, James worked over Sky's bad knee. Sky's comeback included the satellite head scissors on the floor. Crowd was only faintly interested. James hit a DDT, which is her finisher, but Sky kicked out. No pop at all. The announcers didn't even pick up on it, which I wouldn't expect from Mike Tenay or Taz. ODB botched a three count spot during a near fall by Sky. This was not a good night for refs. Finish came when James blocked a Side Russian Leg Sweep attempt by Sky, then put her in a Indian Death lock/Crossface combination. Basically, it was Kazuchika Okada's Red Ink, and Sky tapped. *1/4
Postmatch, Christy Hemme interviewed Sky, who was in tears. The crowd was so sympathetic, they chanted "You tapped out" at her. Some even booed. Sky said she thought her knee was 100%, and she was heartbroken.
Sting and Angle were backstage when Bobby Roode walked past them. Roode stopped and smirked, like he knew Sting and Angle were going to ask him to join the Mafia. Sting and Angle smiled at each other. A babyface turn for Roode, at this point, would really leave the heel side shorthanded with Aries about to go face.
Hogan asked referee Brian Stiffler for any hints about who was under the Suicide mask. Stiffler said he didn't notice anything different. Hogan ordered him to tell the wrestlers about his earlier ultimatum to unmask or be stripped of the belt.
4. Magnus (17 points) pinned Bobby Roode (0 points) in a Bound for Glory Series match in 6:39. Crowd keeps responding well to Magnus, and Roode did a great job here in making him look strong. Roode caught the Double R Spinebuster and teased the Payoff, but Magnus escaped and hit the Michinoku Driver for the pin. Announcers played it up as Magnus' biggest career win, and the crowd took it as an important deal. Magnus is doing so well as a pushed upstart he'll be a sure thing to get buried by Hogan come October. **3/4
Aces and Eights broke into the locker room of Chavo Guerrero, Robbie E. and Jessie Godderz. Ray wanted to know if any of them was Suicide. They all denied it. Ray jokingly ordered Godderz to cut the carbs. Wait, Guerrero, Robbie and Godderz share a locker room?
James Storm and Gunner were in the ring. Storm did his usual beer drinking and raising hell routine, saying he picked a man that would watch his back. Robbie and Godderz came out with Tara. Robbie said he and Godderz were the two toughest guys in the locker room, and Storm should've chosen him as his partner. But Robbie said he and Godderz were the new hot tag team, proclaiming themselves the "Bro Mans." Storm thought Robbie said "Bromance," and attempted to get the crowd to chant "Bromance" at them. Godderz pointed out Tara as his girlfriend, but Storm called her a "butterface." Crowd chanted "Butterface" at her. Godderz started to make a move toward Storm, but Gunner decked Godderz with one punch, and Storm did his catchphrase. Pretty fun segment for what it was.
Sting and Angle did another interview. Angle suggested they go talk to the mystery man.
5. Samoa Joe (17 points) defeated Mr. Anderson (7 points) via submission in 5:27 in a Bound for Glory Series match. The meat of the match was Knux and Doc came to ringside after Anderson hit a DDT, but Samoa Joe kicked out. At this point, Sting and Angle ran down to send Knux and Doc away. Anderson tried the Mic Check, but Joe held on to the ropes, then sank in the Kokina Clutch for the tapout. Afterwards, Joe embraced Sting and Angle to become the third member of the Main Event Mafia. Joe is the closest thing to a bulletproof star that TNA has ever created. *3/4
Postmatch, Joe shook hands with Angle and Sting saying it was great to be back in the Mafia. Sting got off the "You're gonna like the way you look, I guarantee it" line. Funny enough, the guy who made that a catchphrase got fired last week. As one tweet mentioned last week, "He's gonna like the way he looks in sweatpants, I guarantee it."
Hogan came out wanting to get to the bottom of the Suicide deal. Hogan called out whoever Suicide was in the opening match tonight. The guy under the hood came out wearing the X Division title. Hogan demand he unmask. but Suicide shook his head. This brought out Ray, and said he agreed with Hogan, ordering Suicide to take off the mask. Ray said it didn't matter if Suicide took off his mask, the only reason Suicide won is because he put the fear of Ray in Sabin. Ray told Suicide to put his tail between his legs and leave. Hogan finally ordered Suicide to take the hood off. Suicide talked in his deep voice that sounded like Nailz, saying Ray is always asking the fans if he knew who he was. But did Ray know who he was. Suicide said he was the man who had beaten Bully Ray once before. Then Suicide took off the mask to reveal Austin Aries, who proclaimed he would beat Ray again, this time for the World Title. Hogan and Ray looked stunned.
SUMMARY: Very good closing angle. I wasn't as high on this show as the reports indicated going in. There's a real dichotomy with Impact right now. The shows range from mildly bad to very good, the booking is much better, and the match quality is consistent. Yet, no one is over enough to lure big money at the box office, the company isn't growing because any new stars going to TNA is identity suicide, and there are no signs for a turnaround because Aces and Eights just isn't a game-changing faction. It's reminiscent of the dying days of ECW, when the product itself was fine around 2000, but so many mistakes had been made along the way, their fate had been sealed. As the Kevin Nash era in WCW proved, there are some mistakes you never stop paying for. I just wonder if TNA can ever recover from the Vince Russo era from 2005-2011 to ever become anything more than a distant second to the WWE.