7.4 Impact Wrestling
The Big News: Chris Sabin regained the X Division Championship by defeated Austin Aries in an excellent main event. Sabin will challenge Bully Ray for the TNA World Championship on July 18th. Magnus was introduced as the newest member of the Main Event Mafia.
Austin Aries came out as the X Division Champion following his ruse in disguise as Suicide last week. He said he was going to cash in the X Division champion to face Bully Ray on July 18th, and called out Hulk Hogan so he could make it official. Hogan accused Aries of gimmick infringement over what he did to T.J. Perkins. I'm sure the irony of that statement wouldn't be lost on Superstar Billy Graham if he was watching. In response, Hogan ordered an X Division title match tonight where Aries would face Chris Sabin and Manik, who is the former Suicide. The reminded me of one of the worst team nicknames in sports history, the old Montreal Manic of the North American Soccer League from the early 80s. As Dan Patrick once said "What was a losing streak called, a 'Manic Depression?'" Depression also describes the response Manik got. Sabin called Aries "the greatest scam who ever lived." Sabin can work, but he just doesn't have top level interview skills.
Christopher Daniels and Kazarian were in the same locker room Kazarian said he was ready to face A.J. Styles tonight, regardless of whether it was the clean cut Styles or the Justin Beiber-hairy Styles.
Going into tonight's Bound for Glory Series matches, the standings are: 1. Magnus 24 points; 2 Samoa Joe 18 points; 3. Jeff Hardy, Aries, Mr. Anderson and Daniels with 7 points. 7. Styles 2 points. 8. Bobby Roode, Joseph Park, Kazarian, Hernandez and Jay Bradley 0 points.
A.J. Styles (12 points) defeated Kazarian (0 points) by submission in a Bound for Glory Series match in 4:00. Daniels and Kazarian came out as Siegfried and Roy and were quite hilarious, of course. Styles got a good reaction after the win, but again the crowd is either indifferent or uncertain about his new image. Standard good match between the two. Styles hit his springboard forearm. Later, Styles attempted his new submission hold, the calf killer, but Kazarian rolled that attempt into a cradle for a two count. Styles followed with another calf killer, which got the tapout. **1/2
Chavo Guerrero Jr. gave Hernandez a pep talk again backstage, and said he was going to be in his corner tonight.
Mickie James was in the ring with a ladder. James explained that to climb your way to the Knockouts Division, you have to scratch, claw and fight your way to the top. James bragged about her new country music album, how she was a new spokesperson for commercials, and her name was on the marquee. She claimed she beat Velvet Sky with her eyes closed last week, but Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell were getting more buzz for their ladder match next week. James encouraged Kim and Terrell to break a leg next week, in fact, she encouraged them to break every bone in their body next week. James said regardless of how good their match would be next week, they would never achieve nearly as much as she has. The fans are starting to catch on to James' heel character as she got some heat here.
Danny Davis, Tom Pritchard and Al Snow talked about the Gut Check evaluation. It's impossible to watch this segment the day after four Gut Check contestants got fired, not to mention the entire development system gutted, and take it seriously. Pritchard wasn't very high on Ryan Howe. Snow sounded frustrated that Pritchard wasn't giving any of the people they brought in high marks. They didn't even mention Adam Ohriner very much. Ohriner was cut on the spot by Pritchard, which the crowd wasn't happy about.
Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe and Sting walked to the building, vowing to add another member to the Main Event Mafia tonight. To add fire to the rumors regarding Sting, Angle appears to be the lead talker for the Mafia.
2. Hernandez (7 points) defeated Jay Bradley (0 points) in a Bound for Glory Series match in 3:11. Bradley's new gimmick is he wins ugly, meaning he does standard heel tactics to win. Or at least try. Hernandez nearly dropped Bradley on his head doing the over the shoulder backbreaker. Bradley attempted the Boomstick when Guerrero tried to trip him at ringside, which Hernandez "didn't see." Hernandez then got the pin with the pounce period. So Guerrero is either doing the lie, cheat and steal gimmick or going all-out heel. *1/4
Bully Ray talked with Garrett Bischoff and Wes Brisco in the back. Brisco asked him about Brooke Hogan, which Ray said was a personal situation and no more. Ray wanted to talk about the X Division match tonight. Brisco actually brought up Brooke getting engaged, but again Ray wouldn't talk. Doc asked Ray who would he rather see win the X Division title match tonight, and Anderson spoke up saying he didn't think Ray cared because he could kick any one of their asses. Ray said what if no one won the match tonight? Everyone laughed, teasing that Aces and Eights would interfere in the finish.
3. James Storm and Gunner defeated Bro Mans in 3:04. Jessie Godderz and Robbie E. make for an entertaining undercard tag team. They jumped Gunner before the match until Gunner hit a fallaway slam on Robbie. The culmination was Gunner going for a sunset flip on Godderz, but Robbie tried to hold Jessie up. Storm gave Robbie a Last Call, and Gunner gave Godderz a Uranage into a backbreaker. Gunner got the pin on Godderz following a double team move where Gunner delivers a powerslam while Storm hits a Diamond Cutter. **
Angle and Sting came out to announce the latest member of the Main Event Mafia. It was at this point that comedian Louie Anderson was shown at ringside. Sting introduced Joe as the most recent addition. Joe did a good babyface promo saying the Mafia runs this town, and he vowed to eliminate Aces and Eights. Angle said he chose Joe to join the Mafia because of the battles he had in the past. Then Joe suggested the fourth member, which Angle said sounded like a great idea to him. Angle unveiled Magnus as the fourth member. Magnus put over each of his Mafia members, saying Sting was one of the greatest of all time, Angle brought it every night, and Joe was the man who put him on the map in 2011. Of all the rising young talent in the company, Magnus certainly comes across as something solid on the mic. And he has a very good presence. It's amazing a few years ago he was in the World Elite heel group, and instead of him being the main spokesperson for a bunch of would-be headliners, it was Eric Young. Sting challenged Aces and Eights to a fight on their next live show in July 18th, and vowed there would be a winner in tonight's X Division match.
4. Jeff Hardy (9 points) defeated Joseph Park (-10 points) by DQ in 7:38. Park now has his own rally towel with the name of the "Park, Park & Park" law firm printed on it. It was a weird match because they both worked as faces, Hardy is the top babyface in the company not currently eligible for social security and no one wanted to boo Park. Yet Park got a surprising amount of offense. Hardy hit the Twist of Fate early before Park started a comeback that consisted mainly of running splashes in the corner. Park even hit his closing argument finisher for a near fall. Hardy countered with a Whisper in the Wind, and Park got up with a bloody lip. Crowd popped when Park noticed the blood, knowing that would lead to the Abyss spots. Sure enough, referee Brian Stiffler got the Black Hole Slam, and referee Brian Hebner ran in to disqualify Park, which means he loses ten points. Hardy looked at Park like he had lost his mind. **1/4
Howe came out with his guitar for the Gut Check, but wasn't playing. And he was still better than Maroon 5. To use a rock metaphor, Howe was Nickelback playing in front of a death metal crowd. In Layman's terms, he was booed out of the place. Snow voted no. Howe did a good kick out promo. Danny Davis acknowledged the negative reception for Howe, but said he didn't let that stop him on his promo. So he voted yes. Pritchard made the cryptic remark "if this was any other competition show on any other night, you might get the chance to move on to the next round." Seems like this might be the death of Gut Check. Oh, and Pritchard voted no. Crowd popped. Taz wondered if Howe could play Taps on the guitar.
Doc pulled Ray aside and said he heard the Mafia's challenge for a fight on July 18th, and said he would be ready to fight. Anderson heard this and accused Doc of trying to campaign for A&8s Vice President. Anderson said next week would be a vote to determine who the next VP would be. Ray quieted both of them and ordered everyone to the ring to make sure no one wins the main event.
Kim and Terrell did promos for their ladder match next week. Kim did such a great UFC-style promo, I was more eager for this match than anything TNA has put together in a long time. Kim is easily the best North American female performer in the business right now. Terrell, for all of her improvement in the ring, spouted one cliche after another.
5. Chris Sabin pinned Austin Aries in a three-way match that also included Manik to regain the TNA X Division title in 16:18. Aces and Eights came out before the match. Pretty sick spot on the ramp where Aries gave Sabin a front suplex. This led to Aces and Eights going to the ring, where Manic got tripped by Doc. When Manik tried to give Doc a pescado, Doc caught him and power bombed him on the floor. Manik did a stretcher job. I just hope he's not headed to the same place Joey Ryan, Sam Shaw and Crimson are now in. The Mafia came out at this point. Meanwhile, Aries drilled Sabin with a Death Valley Driver on the apron, which was another big spot. Aries hit several neckbreakers for another near fall. Sabin came back with chops like he was Satoshi Kojima, followed by an enzuigiri and a drop kick. Sabin tried a running kick in the corner, but missed. It was his bad knee, so Aries focused on that, ringing it against the ropes. Aries reversed a vertical suplex and hit the brainbuster, but Sabin kicked out. Crowd started with the awesome chants. Aries hit the Last Chancery, but Sabin got the ropes. Aries went for the 450 but missed. Sabin hit the All Hail Sabin, but Aries kicked out of his finisher. Aries caught a running dropkick in the corner, then put Sabin on the top rope. But Sabin punched Aries, then put Aries on his shoulders for the All Hail Sabin from the top rope for the pin. Easily the in-ring highlight of the show, and among the best matches from TNA this year. Amazing what you can do when you have two good X Division wrestlers in the ring instead of overbooking it with constant three ways. ****1/4
SUMMARY: If you just watched this show, you would think things are going OK for TNA. They seem ready to elevate Magnus, the fans still see Joe as a star, and this show had as good a main event as any show this year. The out of the ring woes told in this week's Observer is another matter altogether. But this was another good stand-alone show.