8.29 Impact Wrestling
The Big News: After a year of largely sensible booking, it was classic Eric Bischoff on this edition. Hulk Hogan announced that Sting would face Bully Ray next week for the TNA World Heavyweight Title. The problem is, Sting lost a match to Ray in June that meant he could never receive a shot at the TNA World Heavyweight title again. How was this explained on TV? It wasn't. A.J. Styles tried a pipe bomb promo. The key word being tried. Good wrestling in the midst of sloppy booking. It was like Nitro all over again.
A dour Bully Ray led Aces and Eights to the ring to address Devon's ouster from the company. Ray wanted answers about what happened in the 5-on-5 match last week, so he asked Garrett Bischoff, Knux and Wes Brisco, who gave him answers that Ray accepted. Then Ray got to Mr. Anderson, who basically said it is what it is. Ray then went heel on Devon, calling him a disappointment, a loser and his sidekick. Ray said he never needed Devon and never will again. Clearly this is setting up a Devon return down the road, unless the road takes the dead end. Ray said the only person he needed was Tito Ortiz, and said he was going to give Ortiz his own cut. Anderson pitched a fit over that, saying membership of the club depended on a vote by all members. Ray shouted Anderson down, ordering him to get in line before he puts him in line. He then called out Brooke Tessmacher to hand Ortiz his vest. Anderson continued to protest Ortiz getting the cut, but Ray backed him into a corner and told him to stay. Ray tore off Devon's old patch as Ortiz put on the vest. Ray mentioned Hulk Hogan, who he called his father-in-law, appearing tonight. Wasn't the father-in-law part dissolved last week?
The night was billed as a "must-win Bound for Glory Series night." Next time you hear Eric Bischoff claim that he's more creative than Vince McMahon, keep in mind how he couldn't properly book TNA's own tournament and had to rush everything to end tonight. So many things about the G-1 tournament, from proper booking to making stars to repackaging used parts into something better, has just outlined the difference between a company that puts on good shows but still remains on a treadmill and a company that can create a new generation of fans and build a path to the future.
For what's it worth, the Bound for Glory standings entering tonight: 1. Magnus 39 points 2. Bobby Roode 34 points. 3 Christopher Daniels 30 points. 4. Austin Aries 29. 5 Samoa Joe 26 points. 6. Anderson and Hardy 24 points. 8. A.J. Styles and Kazarian 22 points. 10. Joseph Park 17 points (eliminated) 11. Hernandez and Jay Bradley 7 points (eliminated).
Jeff Hardy (31 points) defeated Kazarian (22 points, eliminated) in 6:08 in a Bound for Glory Series match. Mike Tenay claimed that Hogan proclaimed the Extraordinary Group of Gentlemen couldn't interfere in each other's matches tonight or else they would lose their spots in the tournament. In other words, since management botched booking the tournament, they also botched the very reason why EGO formed. After a gourdbuster, Hardy put on a horrid looking figure four leglock. It was so bad, the Miz called me up to criticize it. Kazarian hit a scissor kick for a near fall. Hardy hit a Twist of Fate and Swanton to win it. **1/4
Bischoff, Knox, Anderson and Brisco met together and they were all upset with Ray about various things. They hinted at forming their own group. Maybe they'll be TNA's Magnificent Seven, the faction no one remembers as the company goes into oblivion.
2. ODB defeated Gail Kim in a best-of-three falls match to become the number one contender for the Knockouts Championship at 10:02. Gail Kim pounded on ODB's right knee, and used a sharpshooter to make ODB tapout for the first fall at 3:03. ODB caught an inside cradle for the pin after Kim pounded her leg to even it up at 8:03. Kim then used the Steel Post Figure Four. ODB shoved Kim into the corner and hit a short-arm clothesline. ODB tried the Bam, but her leg gave out and Kim clipped her. ODB escaped Eat Defeat and used a Texas Cloverleaf to turn the tables on Kim and gain the tapout at 10:02. *3/4
Velvet Sky was asked why she wasn't at Hardcore Justice. She said she missed the show for personal reasons. The interviewer then acknowledged her relationship with Chris Sabin. Sky said she and Chris had been an item for a long time, but she always kept her personal business and professional business separate.
Daniels and Roode were mad about Hogan's edict about being unable to interfere in each other's matches. Roode talked about his match with Styles and said he would win, and Daniels said he would finish off Aries.
Aries explained that he didn't join EGO by quoting a 23-year-old song by Bel Biv Devoe that I'm old enough to remember from high school. Aries said he hoped Styles made it to the final four of Bound for Glory series so they could wrestle. Daniels showed up and said he was going to knock Aries flatter than Miley Cyrus' ass. Aries said he would slap Daniels so hard, his bald head would start growing hair again. Best insult exchange outside the Sonnen-Silva series this week.
Hogan did his 6,000th segment where he refused to answer questions from the backstage interviewer. He said he has a major announcement tonight. I think there have been 7,000 of those in TNA.
The Main Event Mafia came out, with only Sting, Joe and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson present. Jackson started by addressing Ortiz, saying he was going to stomp a mudhole in his ass. Jackson still isn't in his element. Joe put over Styles for stepping up when the Mafia was outnumbered. Sting offered him a spot in the Mafia. Styles came out with his new gimmick and music, then switched over to his old song and started posing. He explained that he had a mission to accomplish by himself. The Mafia left the ring. Styles said he respected the Mafia, but he's wore the suit and tie before and it didn't fit. He brought up Daniels and Kazarian turning his back on him and the ill-fated Clair Lynch angle. He said the only person he could trust is Allen Jones. Crowd had no idea Jones was A.J. Styles. Crowd started chanting yes, which seemed to perturb him. He then went into shoot mode, probably reflecting his contract situation and his career at a crossroads, saying he feels like the hardest working employee at a job for years and years, but constantly gets shafted. He screamed at Tenay and Dixie Carter that he deserves better. He's been the go-to guy for 11 years, only to watch one next big then after another come in and fail. He was the one who always had to pick up the pieces and put the company back on his shoulders. Styles said there have been many times over the past year where he wished they could've fired him so he didn't have to quit. Crowd chanted "boring" at this point. Styles said he came to the ring and started tapping people out. Then Styles realized he liked being the go-to guy, moments after complaining about it. He finished this rambling promo by saying he was determined to win the BFG series. You know things are bad when two people named A.J. cut pipe bomb promos this week, and Styles finished second. And a distant second, at that. This came off as a classic Eric Bischoff ploy for a controversy creates cash "shoot" promo that may have been newsworthy in 1998, but grew tiresome long ago. Plus, the crowd cheered Styles wildly once his broke into his phenomenal gimmick, but got sick of the interview within minutes.
3. A.J. Styles (29 points) defeated Bobby Roode (34 points) in a Bound for Glory Series match in 7:01. Roode hit a gorgeous Double R Spinebuster. Styles landed a flurry and hit his own spinebuster, followed by a quebrada. He attempted the calf killer, but Roode blocked it, only to have Styles hit a Pele kick. Styles teased the Styles Clash, but Roode backdropped him to the ramp. Styles landed on his feet and attempted a springboard forearm, but Roode caught him with a crossface. Roode dragged Styles back to the middle for another crossface, but Styles rolled through for the calf killer, but Roode made the ropes. Roode tried the Payoff, but Styles hit a inside cradle for the pin. Styles was frustrated because he picked up only seven points, placing him one point behind Daniels for fourth place. Finish was abrupt and the should have had more time, but I guess Styles' promo went long. ***1/4
Jeremy Borash announced that Hogan would make his announcement for the main event segment.
4. Austin Aries (35 points) defeated Christopher Daniels (30 points) in 11:13. Really good match. Aries attempted a split-legged moonsault to the floor, but Aries got back into the ring and tried a pescado, only to have Daniels strike him in the head with a knee. Daniels hit a Blue Thunder Driver for a two count. Late, Aries tried the Brainbuster, but Daniels hit the Last Rites for a near fall. Crowd was into it. Daniels went to the ropes, but Aries followed with a dropkick and got the pin with a brainbuster. ***3/4
So as of right now, the Final Four is Magnus, Aries, Roode and Hardy.
Ray told Ortiz to keep Anderson in line. Ray left with Tessmacher to see Hogan in the ring.
Hogan came out for the main event promo. He announced that there would be one more match in the BFG series, a gauntlet match featuring all 12 men in the series. The winner gets 20 points and one last chance to make the final four. Ray and Tessmacher came out at this point. Hogan presented Ray with divorce papers. I thought that was the point of Tessmacher sucking the ring off of Ray's finger last week. On top of that, Ray no sold it, saying he used Brooke Hogan to get the TNA World Championship. Hogan said Ray would defend the TNA title against one of the members of Aces and Eights, or as Hogan said "Aces of Eights." Ray complained. Hogan then added that "this week," Ray would defend the title against Sting. I think he meant next week. Oh, and by the way, STING LOST A MATCH THAT MEANT HE COULD NEVER RECEIVE A SHOT AT THE TNA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP JUST THREE MONTHS AGO. None of this was acknowledged by the commentators as Sting and Ray brawled. There's no way a show could end more indicative of Bischoff in control of creative than this one.
SUMMARY: Right now, Impact feels like Nitro in January 2001. Some good wrestling. But the impact of years and years of poor decisions are coming home to roost. The fact that those responsible for the death of WCW are now there to see what TNA is now seems justifiable.