This week’s live TNA Impact opened with a video package recapping last week’s events, notably Tara pinning Miss Tessmacher, the latest Bound for Glory Series outcomes, and the end of A.J. Styles/Claire blackmail storyline.
Impact Zone: Mike Tenay introduced the show, focusing on the Aces & Eights group causing chaos last week. TNA then rolled video from last week when A&E arrived on motorcycles and picked a fight with Team Sting before injuring TNA World Hvt. champion Austin Aries.
After the video aired, Aries’s music played to bring out the World champ sporting a cast over his injured right arm. In the ring, Aries addressed A&E’s attack. He said they brought in 20 guys to create a diversion, then had six guys single him out to injure his arm. Aries said people are wondering if he will relinquish the title after the attack. But, that won’t be the case. He said he might not be medically cleared to wrestle tonight, but that doesn’t mean he can’t fight. Also, he’s left-handed, so his good hand is ready for some fighting. Aries called out the group and said he’ll sit in the ring all night until A&E answers his challenge.
After a pause, Hulk Hogan’s music played to bring out Hollywood Hogan and Sting, whom Tenay described as the “unified leaders” of TNA. On-stage, Hogan said he wants The Champ to calm down because they come in peace. Hogan said he just wants to let everyone know that he is back as GM. After thanking Sting for running the show, Hogan said things are going to run exactly how he wants them to go. He noted A&E messed with him, this business, his family, and wrestlers in the back. So, if they want a blood-bath, they’re here to have one. Hogan told Aries they’re here for support and Aries can have whatever he wants tonight.
Aries said he has a pretty long list of things he wants, but number one in his list is getting his hands on the group. He said he doesn’t care who it is, but he wants one of them to fight him tonight. Suddenly, the group appeared on the video screen. The spokesperson with the modulated voice said they do things on their terms and on their time. He mockingly asked Aries how his wing is doing. After the other members had a chuckle, the spokesperson said the group will let Aries and everyone else know what A&E is all about tonight. Back live, Aries acted annoyed by this development.
Still to come tonight: Joe vs. Styles, Angle vs. Hardy, and RVD vs. James Storm in BFG Series matches. They cut to shots of Van Dam and Storm warming up backstage ahead of their match up next.
Pre-taped Video: ODB was on the phone looking for her TV husband, Eric Young. ODB said in her voice-mail that they’re done if he doesn’t call back in 15 minutes. 15 minutes passed, but no call from EY. ODB said she misses EY, so she’ll extend the deadline to next week.
[Q2] After the announces reviewed the BFG Series standings, TNA rolled a video package on tonight’s matches continuing to build to the Final Four at No Surrender.
Impact Zone: Van Dam came out first and Tenay said he RVD needs to win one of his final two BFG Series matches to nail down a spot in the Final Four. James Storm, the current points-leader, was out next looking to solidify his spot in the Final Four in his last Series match.
1 — JAMES STORM vs. ROB VAN DAM — BFG Series match
After the bell sounded, Tenay passed along some news that the final #1 points-leader will be able to select his Final Four semi-final opponent at No Surrender. RVD and Storm looked a bit off in their exchanges early on before RVD knocked Storm to the outside. Van Dam followed with a plancha to the outside, which sent Impact to break.
Back live, Storm scored a close nearfall in the ring. RVD came back with a step-through kick to the face before charging Storm with a corner roundhouse kick. Next was Rolling Thunder for a two count. RVD was slow to follow up, allowing Storm to deliver an implant DDT for a two count. RVD sold being out cold as Storm dragged him to his feet to deliver Eye of the Storm for a close two count.
Storm followed up with right hand slaps before RVD reversed a corner whip and monkey-flipped Storm out of the corner. RVD continued to sell grogginess, then posed for the hard camera, which cost RVD the match, as he tried a somersault corner splash, but Storm intercepted him with a mid-air Last Call Superkick. Storm with the pin for the win to pad his first-place lead.
WINNER: Storm at 11:16 to earn 7 BFG Series points. The match just never clicked mixing a fighter/brawler like Storm with an overly-choreographed high-flyer like RVD.
[Q3] Ringside: Christy Hemme brought in James Storm for a post-match interview. Hemme made Storm’s arrival in the Final Four official before Storm excitedly said he did exactly what he said he was going to do when he came back to TNA – win the BFG Series and go on to win the TNA World Title.
Backstage: Former Knockouts champion Madison Rayne was shown making her way down the hallway. The announcers weren’t sure what she was coming out for, suggesting an in-ring segment next.
Impact Zone: Madison Rayne’s music played to bring out Rayne for a match announced by Hemme. Tenay recapped the Rayne/Earl Hebner storyline before Rayne took the mic. And, in the background was referee Taryn Terrell. In the ring, Hemme said she received a call from Brooke Hogan during the week letting her know that she would be getting her Knockouts Title re-match tonight. To further confuse things, ODB came out instead of Tessmacher. On-stage, ODB said she has some bad news for Rayne because she also got a phone call from Brooke, who told her she has a match tonight. Rayne said that’s not true. ODB ignored Tessmacher and said it’s the two of them tonight. But, Rayne wanted nothing to do with ODB, who hit the ring ready for a match.
2 — MADISON RAYNE vs. ODB — Taryn Terrell referee
After Madison insulted ODB as “trailer trash,” ODB spit liquid in Rayne’s face to officially start things. ODB then finished off Rayne in 30 seconds.
WINNER: ODB at 0:26.
After the match, Eric Young emerged on-stage dressed in a suit wearing shades and holding beer and chicken. EY hit the ring and presented his “wife” with presents before she tried to figure out this man was before him. ODB demanded to know where EY has been the past two months, and EY replied that he’s been in Hollywood filming a show. EY was ready to leave, but ODB wanted to know who he is. “Where is my husband that I married?” ODB said, saying EY isn’t who she married. EY said she’s right that this suit doesn’t look right. To begin addressing matters, EY started a slow clap before removing his suit jacket, dress shirt, and pants, revealing a U-S-A Speedo. This prompted a big smooch from ODB.
[Q4] Video package: The Styles/Claire story…must…continue. TNA recapped events last week when Claire Lynch’s attorney revealed Claire’s plot to work with Daniels and Kaz to blackmail Styles.
Backstage: Styles said he’s glad this whole thing is over. He said there’s a time and place to face Kaz and Daniels again, but right now he’s focused on entering the Final Four of the BFG Series. He vowed to go through Samoa Joe tonight to accomplish that.
Up Next: Prichard, Taz, and Al Snow talk Gut Check.
Gut Check last week: Al Snow said he was very disappointed by Kris Lewie last week. Prichard said if you’re going to come in for Gut Check, then be ready. Taz said Lewie choked. Prichard said there are some obvious negatives, but there are some positives. Taz focused on his back-story and sob story. Hey, there are 1,003,305 people out there with a sob story, so they should be able to do better than that. There were no other positives the judges could identify. Prichard told them to keep an open mind about Lewie. Taz said he thinks he’s made his decision, but he’ll try to keep an open mind.
Backstage: Sting and Hogan talked about smelling blood. Sting wanted to blow a gasket, apparently on Aces & Eights, but Hogan told him to let the slow build-up take place. Then, Kaz and Daniels walked in to have a discussion with Hogan. Daniels told Kaz to speak first. Kaz reminded Sting and Hogan that they have iron-clad TNA contracts and they’re all friends. Hogan said they’re not friends and they hate Kaz and Daniels’s stinking guts. He then noted Styles isn’t done with them and he’ll get his revenge. And, his tag champions are going to fight. Hogan told them he’ll decide when and where, and he hopes they get their brains beat out. Daniels and Kaz tried to act calm before slowly walking away after the tongue-lashing.
Up Next: Styles vs. Joe in a BFG Series match.
Back from break, TNA aired a video package on Styles vs. Joe before the announcers reviewed each man’s place in the BFG Series standings. Just before the top of the hour, Christy Hemme introduced A.J. Styles.
[Q5 — second hour] The announcers recapped Styles’s name being cleared of the Claire Lynch allegations before discussing Styles desperately needing points tonight to slip into the Final Four of the standings. Samoa Joe then came out to face Styles. Before the bell, TNA replayed Magnus blasting Joe’s forearm with a steel chair two weeks ago on Impact.
3 — A.J. STYLES vs. SAMOA JOE — BFG Series match
The two men felt each other out early on before Styles slipped to the floor to regroup. Back in the ring, Joe back-elbowed Styles into the ropes, but Styles came back with a kick to the knees to begin working on Joe’s lower body. Styles knocked Joe to the outside, then tried a plancha, but Joe kicked him in the gut to block. Back in the ring, Joe delivered a big snap powerslam for a two count. Tenay said that reminds him of K-1 kickboxing coming to Spike TV. Anyway, Joe followed with a modified cross-face into a bow & arrow looking for a submission victory, but Styles reached the bottom rope for a break.
At 5:30, Joe scooped up Styles for an atomic drop before delivering a big-boot to the face. But, Joe airballed a flying butt splash to give Styles an opening. Styles delivered right hand slaps and punches before going to the corner for a springboard forearm smash. Styles then Pele Kick’ed Joe’s bad arm and followed with a cross arm-breaker attempt. But, Joe escaped via rope break. Styles tried to follow in the corner, but Joe intercepted with an E. Honda frontslam.
Joe, fired up, stalked Styles for the rear-naked choke, but Styles countered with a quick roll-up for a two count. Then, Joe came back with the rear-naked choke, but Styles countered into an armbar. Joe didn’t tap, though, before shifting his weight on top of Styles to pin A.J.’s shoulders to the mat for a three count. Post-match: Styles sold dejection in the ring as the announcers noted submission wrestling is not Styles’s style, but he needed the 10 points.
WINNER: Joe at 8:09 to earn 7 BFG Series points. Great start to the second hour after a poor first hour. Also, an excellent example of what a fluid, compelling big-man vs. high-flyer match looks like, unlike the Storm vs. RVD match earlier.
Earlier Tonight: Aces & Eights taunted Austin Aries.
Backstage: Lewie was shown preparing for his Gut Check evaluation up next.
[Q6] Backstage: Kurt Angle was shown talking about the importance of his match against Jeff Hardy tonight to determine who advances to the Final Four. Angle hyped his credentials and said he can’t let Hardy beat him tonight. Angle vowed to win the World Title at Bound for Glory.
Impact Zone: JB was in the ring with Taz, Bruce Prichard, and Al Snow. After formally introducing each judge, JB welcomed out Kris Lewie for his evaluation. Lewie came to the ring and JB asked him if he gave his best last week. Lewie nervously said he gets better every week. JB the formal Gut Check intro before asking Taz for his thoughts. Taz said he respects anyone who tries to make a career as a pro wrestler and comes out on national television to compete, but, quite frankly, Impact Wrestling is above his head. So, it’s a no. Prichard spoke next. He said he doesn’t like JB’s Gut Check intro, then did his own rendition that drew silence. Prichard talked about Lewie having a great story, but said Lewie needs to wake up from the dream because this business is not for him. TNA cut to a shot of his wife and child ringside. JB said that’s two no’s, so his Gut Check is over.
Suddenly, Joey Ryan was heard on a megaphone yelling at the judges. Ryan, on the front row, cut a promo on Al Snow, calling him a corporate stooge. Snow and Ryan had an exchange, then Ryan grabbed a cup from a ringside “fan” and threw a liquid in Snow’s face. Prichard held Snow back as Snow tried to hop the guardrail, then Snow broke through the guardrail and chased after Joey Ryan while Prichard jogged after him.
Up next: Angle vs. Hardy in the main event.
Backstage: Joseph Park is back. Park was shown addressing Hulk Hogan and Sting in the GM office. He said Aces & Eights has violated several laws and he thinks he might be able to get them on racketeering. Park wanted to be allowed to investigate the group and determine what they’re up to. Sting, going back several weeks ago, told Park to “kayfab” this conversation.
Ringside: MMA fighters were shown ringside promoting Bellator.
[Q7] Impact Zone: Jeff Hardy came out first for the TV main event for a “must-win match,” according to Tenay, who also noted Hardy faces Samoa Joe next week on Impact. The other match remaining after tonight is RVD vs. Bully Ray, who has not appeared on the show yet. Once Hardy and Angle settled into the ring, JB handled formal ring intros for tonight’s main event. Of note, JB slipped in a plug that Wrangler’s Jeans is sponsoring the main event.
4 — KURT ANGLE vs. JEFF HARDY — BFG Series match
Angle started things off with mat-based submissions trying to get a quick ten points, but Hardy cut him off with high-flying. Hardy corkscrewed Angle to the floor, then landed a double-foot dropkick through the ropes. Hardy followed with a flying splash on the outside. Back in the ring, Angle cut off Hardy to slow down the pace leading to break.
Back live, Hardy unloaded on Angle with a series of high-flying moves, but could only score a two count. Hardy teased the Twist of Fate, but Angle blocked and nailed a German Suplex. He wasn’t done, though, and ripped off two more. Angle then stalked Hardy for the Angle Slam, but Hardy easily escaped and hit the Twist of Fate. Hardy covered Angle, but Angle escaped just before three, stunning Hardy. Hardy came back with Whisper in the Wind and scored a near, near, nearfall.
At 9:00, Hardy measured Angle for a clothesline, but Angle belly-to-belly suplexed him, then dropped the straps. Angle wanted the Angle Slam and connected this time. He covered, but Hardy kicked out of Angle’s finisher, going tit-for-tat. Angle then teased the Anklelock, but Hardy countered into a pin for a two count. Hardy then hit a second Twist of Fate before climbing up top. Hardy wanted the Swanton Bomb, and he connected. Hardy covered, but Angle popped his shoulder just before three again. The pro-Hardy crowd shrieked, thinking Hardy got the win
[Q8] Hardy went back to the well, but Angle cut him off up-top. Hardy blocked Angle, though, and shoved him down to the mat. Hardy followed with a second Swanton Bomb and this one was good for the pin and the win as the Impact Zone went nuts for Hardy. Post-match: Angle sold with tears, realizing his journey back to the World Title was over. Hardy sold the effects of the match before TNA replayed the high points from the match. Back live, Angle was shown looking down at the mat contemplating his future.
WINNER: Hardy at 11:16 to earn 7 BFG Series points. This was the best piece of television TNA has produced in a while with a hot crowd, great wrestling action, announcers having something compelling to invest in, and the thrill of victory and agony of defeat on full-display.
Impact Zone: After Angle cleared out, JB entered the ring to introduce the Final Five of the BFG Series. JB introduced Hardy, who was still selling in the ring, then James Storm, Samoa Joe, RVD, and Bully Ray. JB announced that next week, one of these five will be eliminated when the final two BFG Series matches occur. JB noted Storm has already guaranteed a spot in the Final Four, then he plugged Ray vs. RVD and Hardy vs. Joe as the final two matches next week. Fireworks shot off as Bully and RVD got in each other’s faces to promote their match next week. Tenay said it’s high-stakes and high-pressure next week on Impact.
Backstage: Austin Aries was shown walking down the hallway. He’s up next to see what Aces & Eights has in-store for him.
Impact Zone: Back live, Austin Aries’s music played to bring out the TNA Champ for the second time tonight. Aries marched to the ring with possession of his title belt, then quickly ripped off his suit jacket and entered the ring with purpose to call out Aces & Eights for a fight. Aries paced the ring awaiting a response, but no sign of the group. And, like at the top of the show, Hogan’s music answered instead. After a pause, Hogan emerged on-stage, followed by Sting, Storm, Bully Ray, and other top stars. Hogan called out Aces & Eights for a blood bath, which Aries echoed from inside the ring.
A few members emerged through the back entrance of the Impact Zone and Aries called out the ugly one. Hogan and Co. slowly made their way down the entrance ramp to back up Aries before Hogan implored Aces & Eights to send their finest into the ring to fight Aries. One dude entered through the guardrail for an Aries vs. faceless man fight. The faceless man landed a right hand, but Aries tackled him. Then, Aces & Eights hit the ring, so the TNA roster hit the ring to start a brawl. After everyone cleared out of the ring, Aries dropkicked the faceless man.
Suddenly, a random man entered the ring with his face exposed. The random man put a cover over his face, then popped Aries in the head with an illegal object. The man left as Ray chased him away. Ray shouted, “flapjack,” as Aries remained KO’ed ringside. There was a commotion off-camera as the fight apparently continued ringside, but the camera stayed in the ring. The scattershot filming of this segment concluded with Aries KO’ed in the ring as Ray sold concern, Sting paced around, Storm paced around, and Hogan remained standing ringside.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Broken record time. Another good final hour of Impact hurt by the latest non-development in this Aces & Eights deal that has dragged on too long without a real development. TNA has to identify someone from this group that the audience can identify or relate to. Pro wrestling is about compelling stars fighting over an issue fans can invest in and care about, which is what Angle vs. Hardy was all about. Aries fighting a faceless person with no connection to the audience made for bad television, then another fake brawl breaking out nearly turned this into unintentional comedy time.