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Preview for the July 25, 2013 episode of TNA Impact: Hail...whatever

Chris Sabin's the new champ, there's a triple threat Ultimate X match between great workers for the division title and two of the best female wrestlers of all-time battle for the Knockouts championship. So why is it so hard to get excited about tonight's show? Let's talk it out in this week's preview.

Previously on Impact Wrestling

Bully Ray loudly declared that he would never lose his TNA World Championship or his "wife", Brooke Hogan. Sting, Kurt Angle and the Main Event Mafia (MEM) might not be relationship counselors, but they swore to keep Bully's title defense against this year's Destination X "Option C", Chris Sabin, a one-on-one affair.

Austin Aries denied tag team partner Bobby Roode his first points in the Bound for Glory (BFG) series, and Roode snapped - laying waste to the ringside area in a fit of rage. Other than this rematch from last year's Destination X, the series got the night off.

The night was largely about the X Division, and we were treated to three triple threat matches to determine the make-up of this week's contest to crown a new champion ("Option C" meaning that Sabin vacates the divisional crown for his chance at the company's biggest prize). Sonjay Dutt beat Homicide and Petey Williams in a battle of returning stars, Manik defeated Kenny King and Chavo Guerrero in a duel between current roster members and the artist formerly known as Trent Barretta beat Rockstar Spud and Rubix in an everything but the kitchen sink third bout.

Knockouts champ Mickie James disrespected her top challenger, and she and Gail Kim ended up in a pull apart cat fight.

After a bunch of meaningless misdirection between Aces and Eights and the MEM, the club's signature hammer made its way into the title match anyway. The Motor City Machine Gun shocked the world when he was the one who put the hardware to use in deciding the match, and Sabin celebrated with the belt while Ray stared on in disbelief.


(NOTE: This show was taped last Thursday for broadcast tonight. Previews are spoiler free, but if you're so inclined, they are available here)

One more time from the home of the 2013 NCAA men's basketball champs!

New champ Sabin will attempt to convince us that he can hold the title until Bound for Glory, the pay-per-view (PPV), when he addresses the world tonight. Deposed champ and President of Aces and Eights Bully Ray will surely want to retort.

Ray's club was involved in one of the more pointless segments I've witnessed when they kind-of lured Rampage Jackson, Samoa Joe, Magnus and their Mafia family backstage so they could sort-of kidnap Angle. I guess it was a swerve (I did think that our Olympic hero would turn at one point), but the real question now is - why do we care if these groups are feuding? The club never had an authority role on the show, they've never been very good at beating people that they don't have a strap among them, who cares?

TNA will hopefully try to convince us that we still should give a damn on Impact.

The match I do care about tonight is Kim vs. James for the women's title. These veterans are great performers and, even without a babyface to root for - or that many other females on the roster - the ladies will put on a kick-ass show.

Dutt, Manik and Greg Marascuilo (Trent?) will put it all on the line for the right to rule the X Division in an Ultimate X match! But when the company can't even pay its current employees, I wouldn't expect either guy without a contract to emerge victorious.

And the BFG series ramps back up with AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels and Mr. Anderson vs. Hernandez. All but the last one should bring the goods, but can anyone catch Magnus?

Expect to pop for: ...
The heat is on: ...

I have a hard time getting worked up about this show - one way or the other. I think much of my venting about the current storyline direction, or lack thereof, in the wake of Sabin's well-deserved but completely ill-timed victory last week came out in the "TONIGHT" section.

There is certainly pro wrestling that's worth watching, tonight and on Thursdays into the future. Styles vs. Hardy should be fun. Joe vs. Daniels is a freaking all-star match. Ultimate X is a crazy concept and this one features three strong workers. The Greatest Man That Ever Lived and The It Factor always entertain the hell out of me, even when they're not scheduled to step into the ring. And Mickie facing Gail for the Knockouts championship? Fuhgedabowdit.

But, in a way, having all that talent that I appreciate wrapped up in all the news that's been hitting about the company, one thing after another, makes it that much harder to enjoy. Sure, I can usually separate the good from the bad and take things from the TNA product that I enjoy without dwelling on the stuff that I don't.

Having worked for companies that you knew were on the way out, for bad bosses who thought that their crap didn't stink, watching friends and associates get screwed and kicked to the curb...I can't not empathize with a guy like Bobby Roode, a lifer who has wowed me for years, or Chris Sabin, never a personal favorite but someone who's love of the business and the art form is clearly evident.

I'll try to accentuate the positive and get through tonight. I know as artists and performers, most of those still on the roster are doing this for our entertainment and didn't ask for my pity concerning their work environment. Hopefully, the flow of bad news will stop and things will stabilize for what is, like it or not, the second largest wrestling promotion going these days. Performers, production & creative people and fans deserve an alternative to WWE, even when WWE is putting on great shows. Sadly, TNA remains both the closest to achieving that - even if they feel very far away.

Can you set aside the public relations nightmare of the last few weeks and enjoy tonight's pre-taped show? Or is the inanity of Sting's "group of guys who never stood with him until they did" against Bully's "gang that couldn't shoot straight" too much for you to accept regardless?

If you're brave enough, jump in the live blog tonight and share the experience with friends. And stick with CSS for all the news - good or bad - related to Impact Wrestling!

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