Felt compelled to do an Impact Recap after many, many days. Not that I picked a particularly great show to do it, but here it is.
- From Tampa, FL.
Hulk Hogan heads out to deliver our opening promo as Mike Tenay reminds us that this is Hogan's hometown. Hogan starts off with the cheap pop, then namedrops his restaurant and Shark Boy (for some reason) and then gets to the business of Sting's stipulation for his upcoming match against Bully Ray. If Sting loses, he can never challenge for the World Title again. He calls out Sting, and Sting responds, saying that the stipulation is made and doesn't need to be changed. Sting botches a line but covers for it nicely under the guise of being excited. Hogan is all "chill, bro" and reminds him that he's in charge and can change the stip, but Sting says he's not worthy of a title challenge if he can't beat Ray. Now Brooke Hogan joins the fray, saying she's sick of watching Hogan and Sting take the blame for her misdeeeds. Brooke wants to resign from her position as Knockout in-charge, but Hogan won't let us have that small mercy. All this brings out Bully Ray, who wants Sting, Hulk, and Brooke to stop playing the blame game, because he's responsible for all the chaos in TNA. He takes potshots at Hogan's ability to run the company and reminds him that as World Champion, it is he who runs the show. Then he pulls an about turn and tells Brooke that he loves her. Ok, then. He says he thinks about her every waking moment, and he will never take his wedding ring off, sending Brooke into a crying fit. 0 for 1. That was an odd way to open the show and not a very good way at that.
Match 1: X-Division Contenders' Match: Joey Ryan v Petey Williams v Suicide
They've been hyping Suicide's return for a couple of weeks now. Ryan is subbing for Zema Ion, who is out injured. Kenny King is on commentary. This is your standard X-division three way with a lot of fast-paced, innovative (if contrived) spots with inconsistent selling. Suicide busts out a cool spot where he has Ryan in an Indian Deathlock and traps Williams in an abdominal stretch at the same time. Nothing much comes of it, but eventually Ryan wipes out Williams with a running boot and Suicide takes care of him with what looks like a wheelbarrow gutbuster in 4 minutes. 1 for 2. Nothing substantial, but nothing offensive either. King didn't add much on commentary.
Chris Sabin meets James Storm backstage to offer himself as a tag partner for Storm at Slammiversary. They have a nice exchange reminiscing past glories, but ultimately Storm refuses.
Brooke catches up with Bully Ray to ask him exactly what he meant. He repeats himself and walks away.
Velvet Sky is taping up her knee when Mickie James comes in to check up on her. Mickie and Velvet have a match tonight and Mickie wants Velvet to be a 100%. She proposes to have the match postponed but Velvet doesn't want Gail Kim (who is the cause of said taped-up knee) to have that moral victory so she wants the match to go down tonight.
Match 2: Sam Shaw v Alex Silva
Turns out Aces and Eights (Brisco, Bischoff, and Doc) have wiped out Silva offscreen. Wes Brisco complains about not being a part of the Gutcheck Challenge and wants to prove himself right now to Shaw. A&E commence a three-on-one beatdown (Tazz: "one-on-one, three-on-one, who cares? They're all numbers!") but now Magnus is out to chase them off. He challenges Brisco to a match right now!
Match 2: Magnus v Wes Brisco
The idea here is the Magnus is far better than Brisco as long as it is a fair fight. But with Doc and Bischoff outside, it is hardly ever a fair fight. Unfortunately that means that Brisco has to control much of the midsection of the match and his offense is not terribly interesting. Magnus gets a couple of attempts at starting an offensive rally, but those are quickly put to rest. Finally Brisco gloats for too long, getting caught in a suplex. They fight it out on the turnbuckle, where Magnus throws Brisco off and finally A&E intervene to end this thing at 8 minutes. A&E re-commence their 3-on-1 beatdown on Magnus, but now Samoa Joe returns to send them scurrying.1 for 3. This whole thing was a mess. That match had no chance because of the looming DQ finish and Brisco's plodding offense.
Backstage at an A&E meeting, Bully congratulates Doc and company for a beatdown well executed. Anderson wants to know the status of AJ Styles and Bully promises that he should be arriving soon. He is confident that Styles will not be a disappointment. (Complete with a shot of D-Lo being a sad panda.)
Match 3: Mr. Anderson v Kurt Angle
This starts out as a stalemate as the announcers sell this as a "PPV-quality matchup." Anderson gains the advantage by working the shoulder in the early going and controls most of the match. Angle's first comeback fails when he runs into a kamikaze roll, but a second results in multiple Germans. Anderson stops the Anklelock with a Mic Check but Angle won't stay down. Anderson heads to the top but gets caught and now AJ Styles appears to check the action out. Tazz wants to hug it out with AJ but he is nonplussed. Angle gets distracted by his presence and falls victim to a low blow and a rollup in 8 minutes. 2 for 4. Perfectly acceptable wrestling, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Keith. Post match, Anderson wants to celebrate with Styles, who no-sells him too.
Gail Kim rants about her match against Taryn Terrell and how she should be in a title match. Taryn attacks her out of nowhere, and smacks her into a door(!) until an attendant manages to separate them. Gail screams, "you're crazy!" Drew McIntyre probably agrees.
James Storm is out to pick his tag team partner for Slammiversary. Storm reminds the crowd that he's been part of two of the greatest tag teams in modern history, AMW and Beer Money, and he's ready to do it all over again and win the titles once more. This brings out Bobby Roode and Austin Aries and Roode proclaims himself tag-team royalty. Can't really argue with the man there. Roode notes that Beer Money were some of the worst years of his life, but Storm blames that on Roode's lack of drinking prowess. Roode reminds him of the day when he smashed a beer bottle over Storm's head and became champion. Now Bad Influence are out to offer their opinion. Kazarian calls Storm a "dumb dummy" for declining the chance to re-create Fortune. He says that regardless of who Storm picks, it will be a disappointment because they cannot measure up to Bad Influence. Now Shark Boy returns to offer his services, and wants the crowd to give him a "shell yeah." Robbie E is out to offer himself as a partner, complete with a list of possible team names (including "Hairspray and Drink All Day", HADAD for short). Robbie even has the lyrics for a theme song, but his song doesn't hold a candle to the improvised Orton theme that Damien Sandow produced a few weeks ago. Storm is rightfully exasperated but now Gunner shows up to beat up on both Robbie and Shark Boy. Between those three, I'd pick Gunner - and so does Storm. 2 for 5. It was going just fine with Storm, Roode, and Kaz, but they stretched the comedy a bit too far with Shark Boy and Robbie. Also, Gunner's quite the left-field choice.
Sting is with Joseph Park backstage and lets him know that he's looking for a tag partner for next week. He wants Park to arrange for Abyss to show up, but Park cannot get a hold of his brother. Sting mutters about being "kayfabed," but wants the next best thing: Park himself. Park is quite excited at this opportunity.
Match 4: Knockouts Title: Velvet Sky(c) v Mickie James
Mickie plays nice early on, and maintains control through a commercial break. Velvet has a bum knee, so her offense is limited and she keeps hurting herself on her comeback attempts. The story works in theory but Velvet's just so bad with her selling and offense that it's tough to take her seriously. They get temporarily lost after an awkward headscissors by Velvet and repeat the spot, but finally Mickie has had enough and chop blocks the bum knee. She gets a little crazed (and the crowd digs this) and finishes Velvet off with the Mickie-DT in 9 minutes to win another Knockouts Title. 2 for 6. Awful match - they have next to no chemistry and seemed lost out there after that awkward headscissors. Velvet's selling is terrible and I think her wrestling skills have actually declined over time. Mickie's "heel moment" was pretty cool - I wonder if a full-fledged turn is in the works.
Aces and Eights are out for the "Patching In" of AJ Styles. Bully Ray harps about the equality in the group and how proud he is of Anderson for getting the win against Angle. But tonight, he says, is about AJ Styles. Styles enters the ring as Bully reminds us what an important occasion this is. He recaps the events of the last few weeks, congratulating AJ on making the right choice as A&E is where the power lies in TNA. Bully wants AJ to prove his loyalty to the group by taking a drink of beer (as Styles doesn't drink), and AJ has no problem doing that. Bully says AJ's heart belongs to Jesus but his soul belongs to A&E.
Bully wants Anderson to give AJ his colors (his jacket), which Styles accepts. He's about to put it on as Kurt Angle interrupts. Angle lectures AJ about his legacy in TNA. "Does this make you feel important?" Bully points out that this is what Styles wants. Styles puts on the A&E jacket and the beatdown commences on Angle. Doc and Knox hold up Angle so Styles can hit him with the hammer, and Styles takes out his knee. A&E pose, but Styles TAKES THE HAMMER TO DOC's HEAD! Yikes! He takes out a couple of Aces and Eights and escapes before the rest can get their hands on him, and that's how we end the show. 3 for 7. I don't think anyone expected Styles to join Aces and Eights, but the fact that he remains a sort of free agent is quite interesting and not something we've seen recently in this sort of war-of-the-factions angle.
Wrestling Counter: 29 minutes.
This was pretty much a chore to sit through. AJ's character development is nice but there is very little else going on that is of interest to me. Still, might give it another shot next week.
I'm not a fan of the Sting stipulation, because I don't see how they could manage to avoid keeping to it. Hopefully they handle it like they did Angle's retirement (where Angle had to goad Immortal/Jarrett for months before they allowed him to wrestle again), and not like they did the year where Angle was not permitted to challenge for the world title (where Angle got another world title shot on the very next episode of Impact).
Brooke Hogan saying that Sting/Hulk have been friends forever would be cringe inducing (Sting v. nWo + Immortal = more like enemies forever) if it wasn't clear that Brooke is in cahoots with Calfzilla. The ongoing Brooke/Bully romance is fun.
I loved the X-division match. Normally, I don't. I wonder if Alex Shelley is under Suicide's mask.
When Magnus' music hit, I was expecting Douglas Williams to come out. I miss Williams. I like the Magnus/Joe bromance though.
Gail Kim's promo was enjoyable. Nice to see her looking dominant.
I was expecting to see Robby T as Storm's partner. Gunner was a surprising choice. I had been wondering where he disappeared to. Excellent segment.
Sting as the one person who suspects Joseph Park knows more about his brother's whereabouts than he lets on is an amusing turn from Sting's normal state of trusting everyone.
I liked the story of Mickie James's failures finally pushing her marginally over the edge.
I was surprised that AJ didn't join the bikers after he attacked Angle with the hammer.
WON had Suicide as TJ Perkins as well. TJP has had a dozen gimmicks, but I really liked what he did as the short lived deranged Sydistiko in Lucha Libre USA and he could probably just reuse the act in TNA if they keep Suicide around.
I'm going to take Reigns for the Rumble. Anything else is just overbooking to get to wherever it is they want to be at WrestleMania. Doesn't mean they won't do it, but I'm going to go with the simplest answer for once.