Previously on Impact Wrestling
It was Destination X time, and that means Austin Aries. This year, it also means a lot of folks chanting "E - C - DUB", but we'll get to that.
After a babyface promo from A-Double, it was time for Dixie Carter. She introduced us to her nephew and his "Extreme Army", assembled to insure that Aunt D never gets put through a table by Bully Ray. Rhino, Snitsky and Rycklon Stephens stand behind the Carters an promise to keep EC3's promise.
Matt Hardy returned to TNA, and last week he returned to tagging with brother Jeff as the Hardys took on tag champs The Wolves. The two pairs wound up the New York crowd with a hot match, finished by Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards with a Force of Nature on Matt. The two teams shook hands in a show of respect after the match, and you get the feeling we haven't seen the last of the tag team dream matches on Thursday nights.
Another returning star, Low Ki, has come back to the X Division because he's accomplished pretty much everything else in his career. I know he can check off the "be Michelle McCool's little buddy" box. Seriously, he's proud to be back, and he celebrated by winning his qualifying match for the title threeway over Manik and DJ Z. He'll face Sanada, who was introduced by his new mentor, James Storm, who's still crowing over convincing the Wrestle1 star to turn on his old mentor, The Great Muta. The Japanese defeated Crazzy Steve and Brian Cage to advance.
The third leg of the battle to follow Aries was won by Samoa Joe, who met with Kurt Angle before the match to confirm that they're both on the same page in terms of returning Impact to its glory days. Joe likes the Executive Director's work in bringing back the six-sided ring and a lot of familar players like Ki and Homicide, who the Samoan Submission Machine defeated along with Tigre Uno in his qualifier.
Not only did Bully Ray repeat his promise to table-ize Dixie, he wanted to do it immediately. Tommy Dreamer and Devon had his back, and even threatened to start a riot among the extreme fans in the Manhattan Ballroom in order to to make it happen. But they compromised, accepting an EIGHT MAN EXTREME WEAPONS HARDCORE WAR for this week. Not sure anything could be more 90s than that, unless Candlebox plays them in and Rob Liefield draws the comic book adaption.
Finally, we came to the match that Option C for the second time earned The Greatest Man That Ever Lived - a shot at Bobby Lashley's World title. Unlike many recent TNA heel champs, Lashley left his manager and lackey in the back, choosing instead to take care of business for himself. And after a few scares from the smaller man, he did just that, turning Aries inside out with a spear to keep his belt.
Who will round out Team 3D and Tommy Dreamer's side of the EIGHT MAN EXTREME WEAPONS HARDCORE WAR when they go up against Ethan Carter III, Snitsky, Stephens and Rhino? There's more mystery surrounding that than the outcome of Bully's quest to assault his boss, because TNA already spoiled themselves on that one...
Previews try to keep the spoilage to a minimum, but if you're interested, complete ones are available here.
In other action tonight, the X-Division belt will be handed to one of three men: Samoa Joe, Low Ki or Sanada. Whichever of these three deserving former champs leave with the title, hopefully this will be a match that restores some of the past prestige of the championship to what was once TNA's signature division.
And Abyss challenge to Bram will be answered, as the two square off in Monster's Ball. Will the Monster bring his "girl", the vicious, flesh-shearing weapon he calls Janice?
Expect to pop for:
Beneath the roar of the nostalgia pop, TNA is intelligently using veteran talent to put on some really good wrestling. Wolves vs. Hardys last week was super fun, and used stars of the past to build up current guys. The angle with Sanada and James Storm has managed to generate some real heat on a guy who doesn't even talk, and genuinely surprised the audience. Tonight's X-Division championship match should be a showcase for him, a homecoming for Low Ki and exactly the kind of thing that rejuvenates Joe back into one of the best workers of the last twenty years.
Those are the kinds of things that make me hope Spike re-signs this company to a telvision contract. They're also the kind of things that most networks would have no problem offering up to their viewers and advertisers.
Sounds like the wrestling will soon be the star of the show once again (WARNING: in that link there be spoilers). Hopefully it's not too late.
The heat is on:
I've written and spoken at length on my feelings about the Bully Ray vs. Dixie Carter angle. I think TNA has realized after the fact that there's a legit argument that it's offensive and in bad taste, and that's why it's being pushed as a story of the little guy getting back at his boss.
But it's been lazy storytelling from the time they turned Bully Ray face. And it's eating up precious television time with guys who are not going to be around to work under the company's new TV deal - if they get one. The only pair I'm less interested in seeing in a 2014 main event than Tommy Dreamer and Rhino are Snitsky and Ezekial Jackson.
After tonight, I'm looking forward to turning the heat under this angle off. And that'll be best for me, you, pro wrestling and TNA.
Do me a favor - don't put your boss through a table for TNA's made-up holiday.
But do watch Impact tonight with your fellow Cagesiders in the live blog!