Previously on Impact Wrestling
Ye olde contract signing saw TNA champ Chris Sabin make a poop joke, Brooke Hogan allude to Bully Ray having erectile dysfunction as well as Taz and Ken Anderson on commentary. I'm not sure what was worst...the end result was that if Bully loses this week, he can never wrestle for the title...again!
Bobby Roode had the It Factor working last Thursday. An out-of-nowhere attack on Magnus that earned Anderson a disqualification win in the Bound for Glory (BFG) series, and more importantly, knocked ten points off the Brit's lead was just the opening salvo in Roode's scheme to win the title shot at Bound for Glory. Later in the show he revealed an alliance with the Bad Influence pair of Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian designed to ensure that one of the three men won the race. Rather than face each other, Kaz and the Fallen Angel took a double count-out in their series match resulting in a draw that earned them two points each.
Recent Bellator signee and the man behind the #August1Warning hype, Tito Ortiz, addressed TNA. Sort of. Over the course of one in-ring and one backstage segment, we learned that the Huntington Beach Bad Boy also doesn't know why he's on Impact, that he and Kurt Angle respect one another and Bully Ray seems threatened by him. Pretty similar to Tito's next MMA opponent, Quinton Jackson's arrival in the promotion. Rampage was nowhere to be found on this show, because why would they want to build any tension between the him and Ortiz?
There was a mixed tag match designed to remind us that the Tag Champs (James Storm & Gunner) are still employed by the company and to set-up a Knockouts match for this week. And a pretty good match between Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy ended because an asshole stood up at the announce table.
In the main event, Sabin teamed with Sting...SWERVE...I mean Kurt Angle to face a reunited Team 3D in a really good tag match. Tables were got, but the current champ managed to pin the former one when the use of said didn't go as planned for Ray and Devon.
HARDCORE JUSTICE(y themed episode of Impact) - live from Norfolk, VA!
Viewer discretion is advised - they are hyping this like it will be an ECW show (the Philly kind, not the version Vince McMahon was champ of). It should be interesting to see if they go through with making anything other than the match gimmicks "hardcore".
The big one is the steel cage match for the title. Can't say as I liked the Motor City Machine Gun's odds to retain even before they made the stipulation about Bully's future at the contract signing, but the Main Event Mafia (MEM) has had his back against Aces and Eights. And now that the Mafia have some free time on their hands, maybe they can help an underdog brother out?
Lots of BFG series points are on the line in a couple of hardcore multi-man affairs. The acrobatic quartet of Jeff Hardy, Austin Aries, AJ Styles and Kazarian fight for 20 points in a ladder match, while current leader Magnus goes against Joe, Roode and Anderson for the same prize in a tables match. Daniels, Joseph Park and Jay Bradley should lodge a complaint about not even getting a chance to improve their position...
And the ladies will be doing it...tornado tag style! There will be no DQs or countouts (which eliminates the way 99% of Knockouts matches have ended this month) when champ Mickie James partners with Gail Kim to face ODB and Velvet Sky.
Expect to pop for:
Bobby Roode. I feel like I write about the It Factor in this spot every week that I'm not writing about one of the four remaining Knockouts on the roster. But, I know that I wrote about him in the next spot about a month or so ago, when I was worried that he was in danger of drifting into the hazy mid-card that his former partner Storm disappeared into around this time last year.
Well, lo and behold, the current best pro wrestler to never get a paycheck from Stamford, CT has reset himself with a minor modification to his character that looks to be entertaining as all get out and keep him front and center on Impact. An alliance of heels in a contest that can only have one winner probably won't end well. But it fits with Roode's character going all the way back to when he was TNA's hottest free agent following the break-up of Team Canada and, hey, who knows how the BFG series ends up?
I'd be okay with either a title shot for Bobby, or a feud with Bad Influence, or R-double as a monied manager backing Daniels' long overdue title run, or almost anything I can imagine coming out of the story they started last week.
The only thing that's for sure is...it pays to be Roode.
The heat is on:
The schedule makers. This is a solid card, focused on big stars who are created by or, at this point in their careers at least, all primarily thought of as TNA wrestlers. What Impact does well should be on display. So why is it stuck on SummerSlam week? The last "pay-per-view (PPV) quality" episode of Impact was also on the Thursday before a WWE PPV - where the #2 pro wrestling company has to work extra hard to cut through the noise from the biggest hype machine in sports entertainment history.
Perhaps even dumber, they don't schedule these things to take advantage of their own buzz. The promise of answers or just hints about the Ortiz reveal drew fresh eyeballs to last week's broadcast. But was that show surrounded with hot matches, designed to sell the casual fan on returning to Spike TV on Thursday nights? Tell 'em, Dean. Viewers were chased away by a placeholder, pre-taped show with a lot of clever but confusing to the unintiated BFG points shenanigans that didn't feature a strong match with a real finish until the main event.
Hold off on the Ortiz "speech" until this week. Use the extra time to really build it up, and then give it five minutes in the middle of a live show full of great wrestling. Even if it continues to be a joke, the Bellator cross-promotion has a chance to be useful that way. As it is, it has just added to the belief that the real jokes are the show and the company behind it.
Who comes out of the cage as World champ? And who takes pole position to face him at Bound for Glory? The picture should be a whole lot clearer after tonight.
Let's get your thoughts on the state of Impact Wrestling as we prepare for tonight's "PPV quality" festivities. Be sure to come back for the live blog of same, and stick around for results and reactions to this year's version of Hardcore Justice!