Previously on Impact Wrestling
Sting and Kurt Angle opened the show and spent much of the night trying to figure our who their third would be for the six-man tag main event against Aces & Eights. The first guy they asked, AJ Styles, responded to their request the same way he does every demand made of him these days. He walked away.
When Angle decided to lay hands on Styles for his indecisiveness, Bully Ray, Anderson and Devon took the opportunity to lay the Stinger through a table.
The Knockouts match served to remind us how dang likeable Tara and Jessie Godderz are as a couple, and maybe establish them as babyfaces when Gail Kim made the brunette veteran the latest victim of her post-match ring post figure four.
The club spent most of the night humiliating their Vice-President for saying "I quit" in his match with Angle, and for screwing up D.O.C.'s tilt with Magnus. They jumped Magnus too, though, so he was spared a little of their wrath.
The bikers weren't the only ones doing some hazing, but before that went down, both Bad Influence and the Dirty Heels tried to sway the special guest referee from their #1 contenders match to their side. James Storm couldn't be bribed, and did a poor job officiating for both sides (and his own health). Their issues undecided after a no contest, the teams found something they could agree on - a backstage beatdown for the cowboy.
The main event started out as a three-on-two, but Hulk Hogan came through with a surprise to round out the good guys when they needed it most. The monster Abyss returned for the first time in nearly a year to win the match and leave TNA world champion Bully Ray looking like he'd seen a ghost.
(NOTE: This show was taped last week for broadcast tonight. Previews are spoiler free, but results are available here)
A pro wrestling tradition makes its return to TNA when Bully sits down with his Slammiversary challenger Sting for a good old-fashioned contract signing! If I were the Icon, I'd insist on using clipboards. You don't want to save Ray the trouble of going into a ring where tables have already been set up.
Abyss' return was surprising and excited, but WTF? Will he or General Manager Hogan explain where he's been or how he came to be on Impact last Thursday? What will his brother, Joseph Park, Esquire have to say about his long-lost brother's actions?
The X-Division title will be defended by Kenny King against the returning hero, Chris Sabin. And Petey Williams will be there, too, because of the "all matches will be triple threats" stipulation for the division. After a tense exchange of words last week, the focus will be on the champ and the TNA original. Can the Canadian Destroyer use that to his advantage?
Tag champs Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez will do battle with the teams who covet their belts - or parts of those teams, anyway. Chavito faces Bobby Roode, while SuperMex squares off against Christopher Daniels.
The Gut Check tournament for a spot in the Bound for Glory series (whew! that's a mouthful) kicks off with Christian York and Jay Bradley. And Gail Kim, who may be the only heel left in TNA's women division, gets a shot at champion Velvet Sky.
Expect to pop for:
Abyss. As much fun as it is to keep it kayfabe and treat Park and Abismo as two separate people, the mask and hair extensions they used last week don't make it very easy to play that game. But TNA has shown themselves to be adept at playing the long con of late, as evidenced by the Bully Ray - Aces & Eights story. Hopefully, the story of the Park "brothers" is another example. The legal eagle Park character really invigorated Chris Parks' performance, and it'll be fun to see them try and develop the story of Abyss "appearing" whenever Joseph gets color. They've got some 'splaining to do, but wrestling fans of all stripes like masks almost as much as we do catch phrases, so they've got a week or two to ride the return goodwill.
Kenny King. I've been a fan of the pretty boy pit bull for quite some time. When Ring of Honor (ROH) was on HDNet, he was part of Austin Aries entourage. Even as a sidekick, you could see he had a little more swag than your typical independent wrestler. Fast forward through a lot of stuff, and last Thursday was the first time in a long time that we really got to see King strut. Aside from a weird reference to R. Kelly's favorite fetish, Kenny was spitting fire as the cocky young champ appalled that this damaged old man has come for his belt. TNA likes to take a long time to pull the trigger on X-Division title changes, as the former Tough Enough finalist well knows. But they may want to cap Sabin's comeback story at Slammiversary, so tonight may be one of his last successful title defenses. Will that free up the former Chippendale's dancer for bigger things?
The heat is on:
Hulk Hogan. The logical person to explain the Abyss story is Hogan. He was the one who was on the phone with whoever lead to the monster raging into the main event last week. The problem is that TNA does it's best work with the Hulkster in a supporting role. Can he resist another chance to put himself front and center? The Abyss/Park story will be a tricky one to make work - it could swing from camp to cheese in an instant. If Hulk can just ask questions as an audience surrogate, narrate a bit and then get out of the way, we could get something really entertaining. If he wants another reason to not step into the spotlight, maybe he can do some public relations to help with the mess caused by...
Austin Aries. Oh, A-Double. This is a guy with all the talent in the world. The story has long been that if only he were bigger, he'd be a CM Punk / Dean Ambrose type of guy in WWE. But maybe the suits in Stamford were scared of Aries for other reasons? His exit from ROH was less than magnanimous, and he hasn't exactly been contrite in his response to his latest, and biggest, PR issue. What punishment will there be, if any? Will "the greatest man that ever lived" be willing to apologize for something he has yet to admit was wrong? And what will the fallout from all of this mean for Roode and the tag team title scene?
Impact Wrestling will bring us a taped show when they really need to call an audible on a few issues surrounding their employees and their storylines. Can they deliver a solid show that might help some of the questions blow over?
Join the live blog gang tonight for fun & frivolity. And stay with Cageside Seats for all the news and reactions from TNA and Impact Wrestling!