4.11 Impact Wrestling
The Big News: In the best Impact match in years that didn't involve Kurt Angle, Bully Ray defeated Jeff Hardy with help from Taz in a Full Metal Mayhem match. Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez reclaimed the TNA Tag Team titles by beating Austin Aries and Bobby Roode in the opener. Hulk Hogan called down A.J. Styles for a final decision about whether he's with TNA or Aces and Eights. Again, he got no answer.
There's a new opening to the show and the main two stars profiled are Hulk Hogan and Sting. If that's not enough, Mike Tenay was back promoting the Bully Ray-Jeff Hardy title match and talking about how the side that controls the TNA championship winds up with control of the company. That's such a tired formula that never proves to be true in practice, yet they trot it out annually.
1. Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez defeated Bobby Roode and Austin Aries to win the TNA Tag Team Titles in a best-of-three falls match in 14:43. The stips were that if Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez lost, they would have to split up. Jesse James Leija, a former welterweight boxer who had his biggest career match against Mickey ward, came out waving the Texas flag during Guerrero's and Hernandez's ring entrance. Austin Aries and Bobby Roode jumped Guerrero and Hernandez before the bell, with Roode sending Hernandez into the ring steps which kept him out of most of the match. Guerrero took a drop kick from Aries and was pinned after Roode gave him the Double R Spinebuster in 27 seconds of the opening fall. Following a 10-second rest period, Roode and Aries tried to get heat by doing Eddy Guerrero mannerisms, but Aries missed a frog splash and Guerrero pinned him after a Oklahoma Side Roll in :34. In the third fall, Hernandez got the hot tag and gave Aries and Roode a flying clothesline after running down the ramp, which is called Air Mexico. Heels got the heat on Hernandez after a commercial, but Hernandez delivered another double clothesline to make the tag to Guerrero, who took out both men with a pescado. Guerrero gave Aries two vertical suplexes, and when Roode interrupted the third attempt, Guerrero gave him the Three Amigos. Great false finish as Guerrero went for the frog splash, but Aries draped his throat across the ropes and Roode immediately put him in a schoolboy while holding the trunks, but Guerrero kicked out. Aries tried to set up Guerrero for the same sequence that finished the first fall, but instead of Roode hitting the Spinebuster, Guerrero gave him a DDT. Finish came when Aries and Roode tried to give Hernandez a double suplex, but Hernandez suplexed both of them, and Guerrero came off the top with a frog splash to pin Aries. Leija returned to wave the Texas flag after the title switch. Taz blurted out during the postmatch celebration that Texas was the only state with its own flag. Aside from 49 other states, they're in exclusive company. ***
Joey Ryan looked at Brooke Hogan's backside as much as possible and offered to referee the Knockouts match tonight. Brooke turned him down despite him making one double entendre after another about his penis. Brooke said he would be wrestling tonight instead.
Joseph Park came down and got some boos. This was easily the least lively crowd of any show this year, and had some heel fans. Park claimed justice would be served tonight against Aces and Eights. Park told Ray that he was well versed in divorce law, and he took it upon himself to annul the marriage of Brooke and Ray. He held up a document that would be filed in Florida. Devon came down and tore the document up, and ordered Devon to stay out of Aces and Eights business. As Park went down to pick up the pieces of the document, Devon drilled him with a chain to the midsection.
2. Taryn Terrell pinned Gail Kim in 2:27. ODB returned as the surprise referee, which Gail Kim was furious about. ODB now has a mullet that's grown well below her neck. Taryn Terrell mainly sold. Finish came when Kim tried to pin Terrell after a schoolgirl cradle, but ODB stopped counting because she claimed she was pulling Terrell's trunks. Believe me, everybody in the world would've noticed if Terrell's bottom trunks were being pulled, and this wasn't the case. Terrell reversed the cradle for the pin. ODB chased Kim to the back after a protest. Terrell was in total jubilation after her first victory, and was interviewed by Christy Hemme afterwards, asking if anyone wanted to get physical with her. *
Al Snow, Danny Davis and Bruce Pritchard talked about the latest Gut Check decision. Snow sounded sour on Magno, basically saying he blew some high spots that he shouldn't have attempted because of his height. Davis thought Adam Pearce was technically sound, but Snow wondered if he could talk and if he was technically sound. They went live, with Pritchard saying this was the toughest decision they've had to make for Gut Check yet. Then Pritchard told Pearce that he was eliminated, and my jaw hit the floor. I know TNA needs a Mexican-American star, because who doesn't nowadays? But Magno had nothing going for him at all last week, especially after so many blown spots. Pearce called Pritchard "a damn fool" right to his face, and it looked anything but staged.
Hogan talked about A.J. Styles needing to make a decision about his future tonight. When asked about Sting, Hogan just gave a nasty look and limped off.
Styles was approached backstage by the interview crew, and Mr. Anderson walked up and handed him an Aces and Eights vest again. Styles has a fully grown beard now.
Hogan came out and called down Styles, who came out with the Aces and Eights vest. Hogan gave him on ultimatum to make a final decision, and Styles told him he doesn't respond well to ultimatums. James Storm came out and was roundly booed. He told Styles they were going to fight. Then Christopher Daniels and Kazarian showed up, with Daniels sipping from the obligatory Appletini. Kazarian told Storm, who he called "Toby Keith," to step aside. Kazarian basically said whether Styles chose TNA or A&8s, either side would use them. Daniels offered Styles a chance to join Bad Influence, despite them setting up the whole Claire Lynch hoax. Crowd started chanting for Hogan. It didn't appear the fans were very familiar with TNA storylines. Daniels reminded Styles that Dixie Carter and Hogan had stopped trusting him, and the fans had turned their backs on him. Daniels reminded Styles of all the titles they had won together. Storm started screaming at Styles, who walked out of the ring to more boos. Crowd still chanted for Hogan, who ordered a match against Storm and Styles next week. Segment really didn't make any sense. As great as Bad Influence is, there's no reason why Styles should want to join them. And the crowd just looked at the scene like it was four guys standing around Hogan.
Kurt Angle did an interview saying he would compete in a handicap match next week against Garrett Bischoff and Wes Brisco.
3. Rob Terry pinned Joey Ryan in 2:29. Total squash. Rob Terry still doesn't have the charisma of a man who they've tried to push for three years and never gotten anywhere with. Terry got the pin with a Freakbuster. DUD
Hogan talked to Brooke about how he wanted her to watch the main event in the luxury suits with him. Brooke said she wanted to be at ringside to see the look in "Mark's" (Bully Ray's) eyes when Hardy takes the title from him. What sense did that make? And Hogan was cool with it. Matt Morgan overheard this exchange, and said Hogan had made another mistake. Morgan said he should've done the right thing a long time ago and listened to him. Morgan said Hogan could have named him the number one contender, but he chose Ray instead. And now Ray was TNA champion. Plus, Hogan was responsible for breaking his own daughter's heart. Morgan promised Hogan that one day, all of his mistakes were going to come crashing down on him. Hogan looked troubled. Whatever happened to Hogan working Morgan to mold him into the model of the future?
Next was Gut Check with Magno, who got a lot of jeers for a man in his home state. Crowd chanted no, and Davis agreed. For his kick out interview, Magno started in Spanish, which won some fans over. Pritchard said Magno's inexperience could cost him and voted no. So Magno becomes just the second contestant to receive straight no votes. Still have no idea why Pearce didn't at least get to the ring.
Aces and Eights were revving up their motorcycles in the back when Anderson gave Ray a pep talk. Anderson reminded Bully of their catchphrase that "When You Ride with Aces and Eights, You Never Walk Alone." But Ray made his teammates promise that they wouldn't interfere in the match because he wanted to prove it to himself that he could beat Hardy.
4. Bully Ray defeated Jeff Hardy in a Full Metal Mayhem match to retain the TNA Heavyweight title in 17:10. The first thing Hardy did was hit a Twist of Fate on Ray, followed by chair shots to the back and Poetry in Motion while Ray was backed across a ladder. Hardy went for the belt, but Ray pushed him off the ladder. Hardy tried to clothesline Ray over the top rope, but Ray gave him a backdrop onto the ramp. Hardy landed with a thud, and didn't impeded his fall in any way. Ray went for the strap, but Hardy ran up the other side of the ladder, which led to Ray giving Hardy a superplex off the ladder. Crowd was into it big time from that point forward. Following a commercial, Ray turned a ladder upside down, and gave Hardy a gourdbuster on the handles of the ladder, which pretty much destroyed it. That was a new spot. Also hope to never see it again. Obviously, Hardy needed time to recover, but made his comeback with a flying forearm and an inverted atomic drop. Ray picked up a chair, but Hardy also grabbed one and hit it against Ray's face. Ray went out of the ring, but Hardy missed a flying clothesline and went into the railing. Brooke watched this scene right in front of her, and flipped off Ray. Then Ray tried to kiss her, but Brooke slapped him. Ray was cut hardway over the left eye. Hardy rammed Ray into a table, which broke by accident. This led to Hardy bringing a table from the back all the way to ringside. Hardy gave Ray a Twist of Fate on the floor, but Ray on the table, and Hardy brought the house down with a Swanton through the table on the floor for the Holy Shit spot. Hardy limped back into the ring and set up a ladder, but Taz handed Ray a hammer from the commentators' table. Ray climbed the ladder to stop Hardy, and as Hardy touched the belt, Ray hit him in the head with the hammer. Hardy fell through a table in the ring, and Ray got a ton of heat when the finish became clear. Ray grabbed the belt and Brooke stormed to the back in disgust. Aces and Eights hit the ring and Ray delivered their catchphrase. Truly an amazing performance by Hardy putting his body at so much risk. I can only hope it doesn't lead to long lasting repercussions. Hardy appeared to be treated by paramedics as the show went off the air. ****1/4
SUMMARY: It was a good beginning and a great finish. In between, not much. This felt like one of those early Nitros when WCW took their show nationwide, but in front of crowd that weren't necessarily familiar with the product because all they had known was WWF. That certainly did Styles and Storm no favors on this show, and TNA can only hope future crowds will be more knowledgable. I'm not sure why Roode and Aries dropped the tag team straps. If it was done to make a Texas crowd happy, then it didn't work because Guerrero and Hernandez were cheered no more than usual. But the main event was the best Impact match in a long time.