Previously on Impact Wrestling
It was still technically Hardcore Justice, but we were clearly dealing with fallout from the live action the week before. Mr. Anderson was not pleased that as Vice-President he wasn't in the loop on Tito Ortiz joining Aces and Eights. The President and World champ wasn't concerned about his VP's issues - could it be the dreaded dissension?
Christopher Daniels' gave a name to his and Frankie Kazarian's new alliance with Bobby Roode. The Extraordinary Gentleman's Organization (EGO) began courting Roode's tag partner, Austin Aries, but first took care of the previously missing in action tag champs in a non-title affair.
The "title not on the line" stipulation wasn't a giveaway in the first one-on-one X-Division match in some time, as champion, and recent recipient of a new contract, Manik beat Sonjay Dutt.
Joseph Park saw red and claimed 20 Bound for Glory (BFG) series points in a street fight. I'm really beginning to question if Eric Young is the man to get to the bottom of this whole Park/Abyss connection... Then two of the four remaining Knockouts had a match, and...yeah. I guess Gail Kim's gonna wrestle Mickie James again soon?
Aries doesn't need EGO because his own ego tells him he's good enough to earn a title shot at Bound for Glory on his own. And Chris Sabin has a sad.
Which there's an opening for, because AJ Styles is back to his old, high flyin' self! After a year of building the outsider character, TNA threw it away to replace Kurt Angle in the Main Event Mafia (MEM)'s five-on-five match against the bikers. Styles proved to be the deciding factor, as his pin of Devon meant a win for the good guys and that the champ's Team 3D partner Devon has to leave the company.
Live from the heart of Rock n Roll!
Brooke's dad is back, and, boy, is he gonna be pissed. That's what TNA wants us to believe, anyway. I guess he's mad that Bully's new Brooke is much hotter than his old one?
Does the Mafia's removal of Devon from the TNA roster signal that things are swinging back their way in the war against Aces and Eights? The gang will have to pour one out for their fallen Sergeant at Arms and get back to the business of keeping the title on their President, since it seems to be the only thing they do well.
AJ Styles speaks! He'll address what caused him to drop the Lone Wolf McQuade act and rejoin his TNA family...and Sting's MEM.
And he's still in the BFG series, and takes part in one of the three huge matches booked for tonight's show, when he faces Bobby Roode. With only weeks until the final four will face off at No Surrender, this could be the last chance for players to make a move. In other action, Austin Aries will battle Christopher Daniels, while Kazarian tangles with Super-Mex.
The standings (and an attempt to decipher WTF? direction TNA might be going with what should be a pretty cool tournament but has for a couple of years running turned into a convoluted mess) can be found here.
Expect to pop for:
AJ Styles. Last week's main event should have been a huge moment, the culmination of a year-long story that sawthe TNA Original barred from a chance at the World title, forced into soul searching mode - to the point where he acted selfishly and even contemplated jumping to the dark side - only to determine that he has to be true to his place as the heart and soul of Impact Wrestling.
Instead, we got a nice little moment. Most of us cracked a sly smile when "Evil Ways" transformed into "Get Ready to Fly", either because we had read the spoilers or because we'd been watching wrestling long enough to know that it had to happen sometime.
While all the beats of the story I described a paragraph ago were there, TNA still managed to TNA it up. Starting with the pacing...we got to "will he or won't join the Aces and Eights?" way too quickly. Rather than having it come after he'd moped around or beaten opponents from both with and without club affiliations, it happened in the middle of all that. Moping, "will he or won't he?", more moping.
Throw in that Styles was always a poor fit for a dark, brooding character (he's been a great heel before, but in the mode of either delusionally or vainly feeling himself), and the bookers seemed to know that from the start - and an angle that was always going to struggle to not be a rip-off of Crow-Sting against the NWO became a Scary Movie 4 level parody.
So why is the Phenomenal One in the "pop" section? Because thank goodness he can just go back to being the AJ Styles we all want to see. Not a crackhead's babydaddy, or an emo-biker. Just a great pro wrestler with exciting offense that we love to cheer.
Even if it is for one last run with the company that he helped keep relevant for the last decade.
The heat is on:
Hulk Hogan. So, the Immortal one returns. I'm not gonna bag on the guy for the usual reasons. We seem to have dodged the bullet of him lacing up the boots for a match against Bully, but who knows? He could be on his way back to the company that he called home during his late 80's heyday. The General broke down the possibilities in a post last week.
No, this is a high pressure time for the Hulkster because the cost-cutting move of keeping him off television ends this week. And for ego, and leverage in negotiations with whoever his next contract is with, Impact needs to pop a number tonight.
It's the last Thursday before football (that counts) starts. They've called attention to his absence (for "meetings", in kayfabe) and his return. If the old man's still got it, this is the time he needs to show he's still the draw he believes he is. At least as something other than a nostalgia act.
Can the quality of BFG matches keep the spotlight when the General Manager struts to the ring to a power chord?
Use the space below to talk about any and everything related to Total Nonstop Action, then head on back for the live blog of tonight's show.