TNA TV report

7.25 Impact Wrestling
by Jeff Hamlin ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) Twitter: @hamlin37

The Big News: Chris Sabin will face Bully Ray in a rematch for the TNA Heavyweight Championship on August 15th in a steel cage match for the next major Impact television show, Hardcore Justice. Manik became the new TNA X Division champion by winning a very good Ultimate X match, and is also slated for a shot at Sabin.

The Main Event Mafia came out, with Sting claiming when Chris Sabin defeated Bully Ray last week, it was the greatest night of his pro wrestling career. Whoa, the company is piling on the bullshit. Kurt Angle introduced Sabin as the new world champion. Sabin thanked the Mafia for fighting off Aces and Eights. As Sabin cut his new champion promo, you could hear people at ringside laughing and paying no attention to the interview. Remember, this was a taped show, so it was something that could have been repackaged in post-production. Sabin challenged the winner of tonight's Ultimate X Division match for the X Division title between Greg Marasciulo, Manik and Sonjay Dutt  for a shot at the world title. Ray came out with a man who was supposedly Ray's attorney. The attorney looked like Kevin Nash's younger brother, and actually sounded like Nash when he did those old NWO t-shirt commercial voiceovers from 1998.  In fact, the attorney was slightly taller than Ray. Can we give the attorney a contract...oh, wrong time to ask. The attorney claimed that Ray has filed a lawsuit against Impact Wrestling unless Sabin handed over the title. If Sabin refused, the attorney claimed the ramifications would be felt through Impact Wrestling. No explanation why Ray was suing aside from him losing the title. Sabin had until the end of the show to turn the belt over, or else the attorney said he would crush TNA in court.

Hulk Hogan refused to comment on pending litigation by Ray. Apparently, Hogan's gearing up for his next job with the NCAA.

They actually interviewed Manik with his mask off, so I guess T.J. Perkins is now doing a Hayabusa gimmick. This is probably an idea from Al Snow, who's first role in the WWE was Avatar, who wrestled with his mask on and off like he was a Mortal Kombat character in 1995. If you don't remember that, there's a reason.

1. Manik won an Ultimate X match to become the new X Division champion, defeating Sonjay Dutt and Greg Marasciulo in 14:02. Within the first minute, Marasciulo took a backdrop to the ramp and Manik hit a springboard plancha on him. Dutt did a moonsault off the steel tower to the floor onto Manik. Lots of good three-way spots, including Manik giving Dutt a drop toe hold onto the ropes while Marasciulo was out of the ring, and Manik hit a Chris Jericho style dropkick on Marasciulo while also delivering a legdrop onto Dutt. After a commercial, Marasciulo gave Manik the Cradle Back to Belly Piledriver on the ramp, where Marasciulo got up favoring his left knee. Dutt and Marasciulo exchanged stiff kicks and knees in the ring, and all three were down as Manik still sold Marasciulo's finisher. The referees teased having to take Manik to the back, similar to the finish when Sabin defeated Aries for the X Division title last month. Dutt and Marasciulo climbed the same side of the steel structure and made it to the top over the belt, where they slugged it out.   Marasciulo actually teased a suplex from the top of the structure, which looked like it would have been a 20-foot fall legit. Fortunately, smarter heads prevailed. Manik saw this scene from the opposite side of the ramp. So while Dutt and Marasciulo battled, Manik recovered and climbed up the other side of the cables. Marasciulo actually had to lower himself to the cables to try to stop Manik, but Marasciulo took the big bump of the match falling to the mat after Manik kicked him off. Manik grabbed the strap to win the match. Psychologically, it was very good without a ton of high spots. ***3/4

Ray talked with Anderson backstage saying they had Hogan right where they wanted him. Ray said he was glad Anderson was the Vice President, and said what was important was Anderson winning the Bound for Glory series.  

The leaderboard for the Bound for Glory Series going into tonight is: 1. Magnus 49 points. 2. Samoa Joe 28 points. 3. Jeff Hardy 17 points. 4. Christopher Daniels, Aries 14 points. 6. A.J. Styles 12 points. 7. Hernandez, Anderson 7 points. 9. Bobby Roode, Kazarian and Jay Bradley 0 points. 12. Joseph Park -10 points.

2. Mr. Anderson (14 points) defeated Hernandez (7 points) in 5:01 in a Bound for Glory Series match. Anderson and Ray walked in from the back just like the rest of the TNA stars. No explanation why they have their own locker rooms now instead of the secret hideout. Crowd just doesn't care about Anderson anymore. If he's the second-in command for the top heel group, what does that say about Aces and Eights as a whole? Hernandez hit the pounce period and tried the Air Mexico, but Anderson ducked. Anderson hit the Mic Check for the pin. *1/2

Dixie Carter and Taryn Terrell talked backstage. Carter refused to comment on the potential lawsuit. Dixie looked concerned about something else. She must have caught some of the tweets under #askdixie from Wednesday night, which featured one line after another that I wished I could have thought of first. Not to mention several tweets that I felt ashamed of myself laughing at, but still laughed nonetheless.

Eric Young showed Park iPad video of his match with Jeff Hardy, where Park turned into Abyss after being bloodied. Park said he had no recollection of that moment and didn't know what he was talking about. Young said he was going to get to the bottom of what was lurking inside of Park.

Velvet Sky came out and admitted she made a mistake in letting Mickie James know she had an injured knee. She said she would be watching at ringside for the Gail Kim-James Knockouts title match.

3. Mickie James defeated Gail Kim in 7:04 to retain the Knockouts title. It was a heel-vs-heel match that was aimed to get ODB over as the referee stopping all illegal tactics. Crowd chanted for ODB early. Sky watching from ringside never factored in at all. Both James and Kim tried to get pins while illegally using the ropes, leading to ODB thwarting them. Kim finally slapped ODB, leading to James sneaking up from behind for a schoolgirl cradle and the pin. It was a storyline match. *1/4

Kim and ODB continued to face off afterwards. Brooke Hogan came out to no reaction at all. I realize the politics of the company and who's in charge. But seriously, this woman has a job at a time of major cuts and Jesse Sorenson doesn't? Brooke reminded Kim that ODB was also a licensed wrestler as well as a referee. So we're getting an ODB-Kim program. In other words, exactly how the Kim-Terrell program got started.

Hogan and Carter talked backstage about Ray triggered the lawsuit and what they should do about the championship. Hogan said Sabin was their guy now. They had a conversation that left you wondering if Sabin was going to have to give up the title. Maybe Anderson Silva could consider suing to get his title back from Chris Weidman and use excessive clowning as his excuse. He would have a better case than Ray does.

4. Christopher Daniels (21 points) defeated Samoa Joe (28 points) in 6:18 in a Bound for Glory Series match. Joe was the most over babyface on the show again. When the obituary of TNA is written, the night that sealed the fate of the company will go down as April 13, 2008, when they had the highest PPV buy rate in company history and over 5,000 paid for the Joe-Angle cage match where Joe won his only TNA World Title. That was their fork in the road. It was the peak of UFC, and TNA could've given fans a pro wrestling compliment with a badass champion that had a shootfighter aura. Instead of ordering steak, the fans received filet mignon from Vince Russo with the worst booking of a top babyface you'll ever see. And Joe has just been that guy who people see as legit ever since, but the booking has him pinned to he midcard. Anderson came down to distract Joe, and Daniels hit the Best Moonsault Ever, but Joe kicked out. Then Daniels hit another BME, and got the pin this time. Story is Aces and Eights prevented a Main Event Mafia member from getting points. **1/2

Sting and Angle talked backstage. Angle was worried about Sabin surrendering the title. Sting was the voice of reason saying Ray had no basis for the lawsuit. They agreed to keep the focus on destroying Aces and Eights.

5. A.J. Styles (22 points) defeated Jeff Hardy (17 points) via submission at 12:55 in a Bound for Glory Series match. Styles' new character seems to be based on Raylan Givens, the main role on the FX TV series Justified. TV and movie roles being incorporated into wrestling is as time-honored a tradition as ring robes and entrance music, and there are legendary successes (The Road Warriors from "The Road Warriors," Razor Ramon from "Scarface") and failures (Waylon Mercy as Max Cady from "Cape Fear," Outback Jack from "Crocodile Dundee"). FX is the best network to borrow characters from because their primetime lineup is like the '98 Bulls right now, but Aces and Eights and Styles' new gimmick just hasn't made the transition smoothly.  That said, this crowd was more accepting of Styles since he started the persona. It was also an anti-Hardy crowd, to some extent. Hardy got some boos, and a loud "you tapped out" chant following the finish. Of course, the match was very good. Styles was aggressive on offense, but pulled out some of his vintage babyface spots like the dropkick and Pele kick. Hardy got a great near fall after a Whisper in the Wind. After Styles escaped a Twist of Fate with a Pele Kick, he clamped on the Calf Killer for the tapout. Crowd seemed surprised by the finish. Hardy offered to shake Styles' hand afterwards, but Styles just walked away leaving him hanging. Styles got a mixed response for that. ***1/2

Hogan told a backstage reporter he and Carter were on the same page, and it pained him to do what he was about to do, but he had to.

Ray came out and said he had been the victim of wrongdoing after hitting him in the head with a hammer to win the TNA Heavyweight title. Ray wondered what type of a man would do something like that, of course forgetting that's exactly how he won the TNA Heavyweight title from Hardy at Lockdown. Ray called out Sabin to hand him the championship. Sabin came out and said he came out to see what a big, fat crybaby he's become. He gave the same speech about coming back from two torn ACLs to win the world title. Ray demanded that Hogan come out and do the right thing. Hogan came out and tore up Ray's lawsuit because he was the GM. Hogan acknowledged that Ray had a rematch clause in his contract, and he will get his rematch August 15th. It will be another special show, Hardcore Justice in Norfolk, Virginia, with Sabin vs. Ray inside of a steel cage.   

SUMMARY: While the TNA palace may be burning, the good news is you wouldn't know it looking at television. Another good show with several very good matches. The show long lawsuit storyline went nowhere, but the in-ring action more than made up for it.

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