Previously on Impact Wrestling
AJ Styles and World champ Bully Ray shared the ring and gave us a bit of a history lesson for their feud. Ray commanded the scene, but Styles did okay - at least until he awkwardly booked/informed the President of Aces and Eights of his match against Samoa Joe for later in the show.
The Phenomenal One was the first of several stars to interact with the 100% more heelish Dixie Carter last week. She told AJ that October 20th's Bound for Glory would be his last appearance for her company.
Austin Aries was on commentary for a tag team X-Division clash between Manik and Jeff Hardy on one side and Chris Sabin and Kenny King on the other. The Pretty Boy Pitbull ate the pin from the Charismatic Engima, then got brushed off the pay-per-view (PPV) card when Aries rescued Hardy and the champ from Sabin after the bell and Hardy made an Ultimate X match for the big show. What is it with talent announcing matches around here?
Magnus ran the Extraordinary Gentleman's Organization (EGO)'s gauntlet all the way up to Bobby Roode, where he was forced to tap to The It Factor. Sting claims he's gonna pull a Ric Flair and make the Brit at BFG.
We were spared a travesty of a women's match between Velvet Sky and Brooke Tessmacher, but unfortunately the means of our salvation was a screaming nobody whose first name is pronounced "laid". None of that was as disappointing as the wrestling main event, where neither Joe nor Ray could find a rhythm or give us a reason to care about their match. It was all a set-up for Styles to brawl with his PPV opponent, anyway.
And then, the moment we were all dreading and anticipating at the same time...Hulk Hogan no-sold Dixie's creepy sexual tension and left TNA rather than join #TeamDixie.
Live from Tulsa, OK!
Was Hulkamania the only thing holding this crazy crew together? TNA's asking that question, and I'm sure the Hulkster himself would love for us to think so. If Dixie is the one in charge, it should be fun to see her try to command respect from the men and women of the locker room after they watched Hogan drag her begging @$$ across the stage last week.
Bound for Glory is only two weeks away - that doesn't give TNA much time to build to its first PPV in more than three months. Can Bully focus on AJ with his club falling apart behind him? Does Sting have a big enough t-shirt for his match with Magnus? What can the champ do to not feel like the low man on the Ultimate X totem pole?
They're actually expanding the roster these days - Will we have to endure more of new Knockout Lei'D Tapa? When can we expect the fabulous Ethan to arrive on Impact?
And Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian promised to induct Roode into the EGO Hall of Fame this week, which probably means that the return angle for the next TNA Hall of Famer has been decided on (see what I did there?).
All 100% Hogan-free. For now.
Expect to pop for:
Chris Sabin. I was pretty critical of his overwrought babyface return from injury and really quite pointless month with the TNA World title. Hell, I've never much cared for the guy. He was fine as half of the Motor City Machine Guns, but being half of a good tag team doesn't equate to being a singles star.
Maybe it's because almost everybody is better as a heel - the old acting adage about the villains being more fun to play and all - but I am digging his work as a douchebag the last couple of weeks. It's a classic mix of various rudo traits: condescending to newcomers, mean bordering on abusive to his female associate, cowardly, underhanded...there's nothing terribly innovative going on here. But throw it all together with a solid worker and it's a fun addition to the mid-card.
I certainly don't mind seeing him mix it up with A-Double, Hardy and TJ Perkins (Manik) in the ring. And with what looks to be an AJ Styles title run on the horizon, the company will need heel challengers while Bully goes off to feud with Knux or whatever disappointing resolution to Aces and Eights they decide to run with.
Sign me up for more Dark Sabin.
The heat is on:
Whoever's writing this $#!+. I don't know if it's Eric Bischoff or Hulk Hogan himself, Dave Lagana or one of Vince Russo's bowel movements come to life. But somebody needs to slap whoever it is upside the head. Unless it's Russo's sentient stool. That would be gross.
It's okay to steal an idea every once in a while. There aren't too many original ones under the sun, and especially in a form like pro wrestling, variations on a theme are bound to pop up. But you can't run the same program at the same time as somebody else. Especially not when you know that pretty much everyone who watches your show already watches that other company's shows. As if that weren't bad enough, when you do the same story but with vastly inferior performers, you really look bush league.
I was just reading in David Shoemaker's latest (typically excellent) piece about how Memphis rasslin' used to be alternatively booked by Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett, and would swing from superheroes to Hatfields and McCoys accordingly. Couldn't they have waited six more months to do "owner who doesn't think undersized indy guy should be the focus of the promotion"?
Watching Dixie and AJ try to play the same game as HHH and Daniel Bryan also made me think of the oft-noted secret of Paul Heyman's success as a booker - accentuating strengths and hiding weaknesses. Whoever thought it was a good idea to let Carter and Styles close shows with microphones in hand didn't learn that lesson.
And that's why "their WrestleMania" is destined for about 15K worth of buys.
Live Impact with no Hulkster - who's in?
Let us know what you're thinking below, join us tonight for the live blog and stick around for the reactions - right here at CSS!