Previously on Impact Wrestling
Or, more importantly, Previously on Slammiversary
It's been a busy week for the #2 pro wrestling promotion. One of the four pay-per-view (PPV) events they'll hold this year went down on Sunday night, and they made some noise across the fight world with a move made in conjunction with their network partners.
Bully Ray is still the TNA world champion, and, according to the rules he agreed to, Sting can never challenge for that title again. Since it took most of Bully's gang to keep the old man down, there will undoubtedly be some controversy surrounding the enforcement of that stipulation.
The main belt was the only one on the line at Slammiversary that didn't change hands, though. The monster Abyss appeared in his "brother"'s place and defeated Devon for the Television title. As that was not the planned match, the club will surely attempt to plead a case worthy of Joseph Park on their Sergeant at Arms' behalf.
Chris Sabin capped his long road back with a win over Suicide and Kenny King in Ultimate X to become the new X-Division champion.
James Storm must not have been too injured, because he and Gunner survived three other teams to win the tag team elimination match and become the new tag team champions.
Mickie James just recently won the Knockouts title, and it has brought a little bit of an edge to her performance. Newcomer Taryn Terrell again stymied former champion Gail Kim on Sunday. The women's division in TNA is showing signs of its former luster these days.
Jeff Hardy returned, Kurt Angle is headed to the Hall of Fame with another victory over long-time rival AJ Styles and Jay Bradley won the Gut Check tournament to become the first official entrant into the Bound for Glory series.
Live from Duluth, GA!
Former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson inked a deal with Spike TV, Bellator and TNA. So far, the information that's come out about the deal has been light on details and heavy on sunshine & rainbows. Rampage has been promised for tonight's Impact - will we begin to get more details of what this contract could mean for pro wrestling, or more hype about how excited everyone is?
What's next for the Icon if he really can never chase the company's top prize again? Who is next in line for a shot at Bully's title?
The main event was just about the only place Aces and Eights came out on top last weekend. Given how the gang has treated fallen brothers like D-Lo Brown in recent weeks, how will the group deal with the losses taken by Devon, Anderson, Wes Brisco and Garett Bischoff on PPV?
A Motor City Machine Gun and TNA veteran is back on top of the X-Division. While there is no Destination X PPV, scheduled for this year, ImpactWrestling.com mentions an "event" that will carry that name. And they indicate that the stipulation that allowed Austin Aries to turn in the X-Division title for a chance at the world championship is still in place. Could Sabin be the next contender for Bully's crown?
As if all that intrigue weren't enought, TNA is advertising a huge six-man featuring the new tag champs, James Storm and Gunner, alongside the new top dog in the X Division against Bobby Roode, Austin Aries and Kenny King.
Expect to pop for:
Taryn Terrell. And the whole Knockouts division, really, but on the strength of a performance I didn't see coming, we'll give WWE's Tiffany top billing here. Her victory over long-time nemesis (and one of the best female workers in the game), Gail Kim, at Slammiversary sets her up as a potential title contender.
Especially if the hints of a Mickie James heel turn - something that is also being done really well, with James saying overtly babyface things in an underhanded way - TNA could be building a strong underdog/newcomer story for a championship feud.
Or, as I like to think of it, what if Velvet Sky could wrestle.
For someone who has always been the butt of smark jokes due to rumors of what may have gone on during her engagement and marriage to Drew McIntyre, which may or may not have lead to her release from WWE and McIntyre's fall from "Chosen One" to part of a jobber entourage. This is someone who has proclaimed a love of pro wrestling and wasn't above heading down to Ohio Valley Wrestling for a few months to get better when she could have been all, "I've been in WWE".
Her work this year has improved by leaps and bounds. No more was this evident then the PPV match with Kim last Sunday. A few months ago, it wasn't clear that Taryn could be counted on to smoothly execute much more than a roll-up. She wasn't Daniel Bryan out there, but she bumped like crazy and pulled off a cleaner figure four than a certain Real World alum.
Plus, she went out with Carlton for a while. That's hot.
The heat is on:
All of us hoping for a TNA youth movement. I can't get too worked up about the Rampage announcement. The Muhammad Lawal experience indicates that as long as Viacom can make money off of mixed martial artists in Bellator, they won't do much of note with pro wrestling. Jackson has shown a willingness to pack it in, too, so while I see some potential there based on charisma, I don't see a guy that's going to tough it out if he loses to a couple of underdogs in the cage and is in a lame feud in the wrestling ring.
Some may see the Gut Check tournament as a way of elevating new talent, but the way the tournament seemed to play second fiddle to Magnus vs Aces and Eights undermined that. The internet wrestling community (IWC)'s resounding "who are these guys?" reaction to the match confirmed that not much was done to build Bradley or Sam Shaw, or create a connection between them and the audience.
I'm not convinced that TNA is definitely going to build toward Hulk Hogan vs Bully Ray, but I wouldn't put it past them. Replacing their old philosophy of hiring WWE veterans/washouts with one of hiring MMA veterans/washouts is only going to draw a few temporary eyeballs, not build the next great wrestling company.
Tonight feels like another in a long-run of critical moments in TNA's history. Will the addition of Rampage be a plus, a distraction or a non-factor? And what comes next for the main event and the world title?
Join the Cageside Seats' live blog tonight at 9/8c to enjoy the show as it happens, and check back often for the latest news and analysis concerning TNA wrestling!