Previously on Impact Wrestling
Sting and Kurt Angle laid out the two-fold mission of the new Main Event Mafia (MEM) - to destroy the Aces and Eights and cause Bully Ray to lose the TNA World Heavyweight title. They promised to reveal the third member of their "family" later in the show.
After a segment that hyped X-Division champion Chris Sabin to the moon and teased issues between he and Ray, a three-way match for that belt ended with Suicide pinning Kenny King, with some help from the ropes. Further adding to the mystery of the usually babyface masked wrestler's actions, Hulk Hogan came out with a bloodied and bruised TJ Perkins. The General Manager revealed that Perkins was the man he hired to wear the red & blue suit. The imposter left through the crowd with the strap - a strap good for a World title shot on July 18th.
Knockouts champion Mickie James busted out a submission finisher to beat Velvet Sky. Afterwards, VelVel cried almost as much as her man did when he lost the X-Division belt.
Bobby Roode lobbied for inclusion in the Mafia, but it may have cost him his Bound for Glory (BFG) series match against Magnus. The Brit is off to a great start, earning seven points for the pinfall to bring his total to 17.
Remember the tag team division? Well, there's a new team in town now that Robbie E has aligned himself with Tara and her boyfriend Jessie Godderz. The Bro-Mans team is gunning for champs James Storm and Gunner.
Samoa Joe defeated Mr. Anderson via submission to earn 10 BFG series points. The Icon and the Cyborg fought off D.O.C. and Knux of the club to allow the finish, and to reveal Joe as the third member of MEM.
Ending a night of intrigue, Bully and his kayfabe father-in-law came together to force faux-Suicide to unmask. He complied, revealing himself to be the originator of "option C" (cashing in the X-Division belt for a chance at the World title) - Austin Aries!
(NOTE: This show was taped on Saturday, June 29th for broadcast tonight. Previews are spoiler free, but results for this show - and next week's - are available here)
Viva Las Vegas!
Another member of Sting's new family will be announced. Like the Olympic gold medalist and the Samoan Submission Machine, was he also chilling backstage while the Aces and Eights kicked the Stinger's ass at Slammiversary?
Two BFG series matches that are interesting for different reasons take place tonight. Jeff Hardy faces Joseph Park - the legal eagle wouldn't seem to stand much of a chance against the former champ, but what about his "brother", Abyss? And in what should be a solid match with a lot of history, AJ Styles is set to face Kazarian with points on the line.
How will Hogan respond to Aries' gambit? Can't he just strip him of the X-Division belt since he wasn't booked for the championship triple threat? Is A-Double still in the BFG Series? Will we ever see Perkins on Impact again?
The answers, and probably more questions, on SpikeTV tonight at 9/8c!
Expect to pop for:
Austin Aries. clapclap...clapclapclap The Greatest Man that Ever Lived may not be an exemplary human being, but he's a hell of an entertainer. His voice modulated promo from last week was the icing on the cake of a great show built around that reveal and, with it, his character.
I was really amazed at how worked I ended up being by the whole thing. Once Hogan made it clear we were dealing with an imposter, he jumped to the short list (no pun intended) of suspects. But watching that match, I didn't get an inkling that it was Aries in the suit and immediately found myself wondering about a Suicide heel turn more than a hijacked identity. It's a large part of why he's been successful as a face and a heel throughout his career; his in-ring style is broad enough to allow for playing either alignment, and he knows how to tweak his character to either role.
His diminutive stature is always going to be a challenge to book around, but there's no reason that Aries should leave TNA's main event scene. This Destination X swerve is a good way to put him back in the scene after a long, entertaining run in the tag division with another guy who should never leave the big picture for long, the It Factor, Bobby Roode. But while Roode is still working on being a really interesting good guy (I wasn't the biggest fan of the character work in the babyface Beer Money runs), Austin is uniquely qualified for a program against Bully Ray as a tweener.
It's also fair that since he set the precedent for converting the X-Division belt into the main one, that he also be the first guy to come up short on the same bargain.
Either way, it'll be good to have him headlining for a month while the old guys simmer for a little while longer.
The heat is on:
Locker room morale. Yowza. When your biggest news is the resigning of a heel announcer (who kinda sorta indicated his interest in jumping to the competition)...does anyone want to work here?
RVD gone. Sting hinting that he'd like to be gone, too. Angle would go in a minute, regardless of what he says at any given moment. Hardy stayed, but if he can keep clean for the duration of this contract, I can't imagine that Vince won't give him what he wants for a one last run in the company that made him famous.
Now, the talent that we've been told is the "future" of the company is getting the axe. Crimson was getting the Goldberg treatment not long ago. Joey Ryan and Christian York were the best things to come out of the even more lame duck than it was last week Gut Check concept. And
Christina Taeler Hendrix had her admirers, and just played her role well in a match against the women's champ a few weeks back.
Throw in the rumors of late pay (but not for everyone, which is even worse - how much fun is it being the guy or gal getting the shaft while others are walking around with cash in their pockets) and I can't imagine that's a motivated work place environment right now.
I guess at least TNA treats its employees like it treats its fans - teasing them with promise before reverting to form, knowing that they'll stick with them because they're the biggest alternative to WWE.
Can a pre-taped show on a national holiday garner much attention? Who's setting their DVRs, and is it only to see what's up with A-Double and Destination X?
Join our live blog tonight and check back on July 5th for results and reactions!