Previously on Impact Wrestling
This show starts with Bully Ray declaring his faction's dominance of TNA even more than Raw starts with HHH declaring that WWE is his domain. Except The Game backs it up. Regardless, the champ says that he loves his brothers and he's got Hulk Hogan in check. The Aces and Eights are going to run the table, starting with Knux taking care of Chris Sabin.
And that ends with a victory for the club...because Sabin intercepted the hammer and knocked Knux cold with it. The former champ is pissed, and can not be calmed by his main squeeze Velvet Sky (don't squeeze her too hard, Chris, she might pop).
Mickie James and ODB had a segment that centered around Miley Cyrus references. It was meant to hype their upcoming Knockouts title match, but mostly made the WWE Divas feud look like a discussion worthy of Charlie Rose.
The final match to determine the Bound for Glory (BFG) final four was a nice, long half-hour affair that reminded us what a gauntlet match means in TNA and propelled AJ Styles to the top of the standings. As the points leader, he was allowed to pick his opponent for the semi-finals, and chose Austin Aries since he was the lone blemish on his BFG résumé. That left Magnus and Bobby Roode in the other semi. Roode claimed that Magnus is a weak leak that he'll easily break; Magnus said he has family in his corner - setting up issues between the Main Event Mafia (MEM) and the Extraordinary Gentleman's Organization (EGO).
Garett Bischoff and Wes Brisco defeated the tag champs. This reminded us that all four men are still employed, and that James Storm and Gunner still hold belts.
Hogan made the already non-title Sting vs. Ray match no DQ. Before anyone could wonder how that was punishment for the club given their love of hammers and chains, Mr. Anderson declined to intervene on his President's behalf - allowing the Mafia head to submit the champ and setting up this week's Anderson vs. Bully Ray title tilt.
No one is Surrendering in Saint Louis - LIVE!
Is every live show a pay-per-view (PPV) quality very special free presentation now?
As retaliation for Bully having played his daughter, the Hulkster is messing with the champ's "family" by pitting Vice-President against President in a battle for the TNA World championship! Who will the rest of the gang side with? Are the Aces and Eights falling apart?
The rest of the show is dedicated to the BFG series' climax. I honestly don't trust TNA and Spike to not pull the final match and air it next week or something, but they're listing both semi-finals and the final battle between the winner of Styles vs. Aries and Roode vs. Magnus for tonight's show.
So, tonight revolves around two questions: who will earn a title shot for the Bound for Glory PPV, and which member of Aces and Eights will they face?
Expect to pop for:
Misssss-ttteeeerrrrr Anderrrrrr-sssooonnnn (Anderson). When he was a fresh faced WWE superstar, I was quite the little Kennedy mark. The self-announcing gimmick tickled me, and his was a heel cool enough to cheer for unironically. I don't think I was the only one, either, as he won a Money in the Bank ladder match and had seemingly been booked into a major WrestleMania angle just as the crowds were turning him babyface.
Then the injury bug hit, and he crossed someone with more pull backstage than him and he was gone. He drifted, allied himself with Hogan and became one of the first acquisitions of this latest phase of TNA management. As TNA is wont to do, they rushed him to the title and changed his alignment three or four times in the process. For his part, Anderson thought it was a good idea to take advantage of being off of PG rated television by saying "asshole" a lot. Unsurprisingly, a guy who rarely had a good match if he wasn't wrestling Kurt Angle was suddenly vilified by wrestling connoisseurs everywhere.
A low-key entrance into the strangely booked biker invasion gimmick Aces and Eights turned out to be just the thing for the man often just referred to as Anderson during his time with the club. After having the man and his sphincter-focused catch phrase shoved down our throats for so long, a place in the background was where he needed to be. It didn't hurt that the lowlights around him made him look like a big name in comparison, or that the concept of the faction got made fun of so much that we forgot to make fun of old Ken himself.
Bully Ray won't be confused for Angle as a worker any time soon, so I don't expect tonight's match to be a classic. But, if he can dial his character back to smart-alec from, well, asshole, and not embarrass himself, a feud against his brothers might be just the thing to get him back in the good graces of a few more fans.
The heat is on:
Magnus. Boy, you do not want to jump out to a big lead in the BFG series. Last year, the Cowboy raced to the front and looked like he was headed for a showdown with his former Beer Money, Inc. tag partner Roode. Aries got hot, Jeff Hardy's contract was up and Storm hasn't looked like much since.
This year, it was the Brit - dubbed by Dixie Carter as having potential to be a global superstar for her company - who was pushed to the front of the BFG pack. But then he was outsmarted into a DQ by EGO, leapfrogged by this year's version of Hardy and now feels like a sure thing to earn a semi-final loss. This before probably going back to helping Samoa Joe make Sting and Rampage Jackson look like something less than embarrassments in the ring.
Why TNA can't get more than one program going at a time, even for a young, handsome, polished if generic talker like Magnus is beyond me. But they can't. I guess it's because he isn't - like Hardy and Styles - one of the young stars that Hulk Hogan has identified with potential.
This is a big show for TNA - does it feel like one to you, and are you looking forward to it? Or not even planning on checking it out?
Let your thoughts and feelings flow in the comments, then come back for tonight's live blog...as the road to Bound for Glory winds on!