7/4 Powell's TNA Impact Wrestling live coverage review: Austin Aries vs. Chris Sabin vs. Manik for the X Division Title, Newest Main Event Mafia member revealed, Bound For Glory Series matches
By Jason Powell
TNA Impact Wrestling on SpikeTV
Aired live from Las Vegas, Nevada at The Orleans Arena
[Q1] Impact opened with a recap of Austin Aries revealing himself to be the impostor Suicide and new X Division Champion... Mike Tenay introduced the show along with Taz on commentary...
X Division Champion Austin Aries headed to the ring for a promo. Tenay said Aries was a con man last week, while Taz defended his actions. Aries said some people love him and some people hate him, but now everyone has to respect him. He brought up "Option C" and spoke of how he can cash in the X Title for a shot at the TNA Title. He recalled executing Option C last year and winning the TNA Title.
Aries said "you bet your sweet ass" he will cash in the X Division Title for a shot at the TNA Title on July 18. Aries called out Hulk Hogan so he could make it official and cash in the X Title. Hogan's music played and he headed to the ring. Aries handed him the belt to cash in.
Hogan praised Aries, but then said he took everything to a new high last year and brought it to a new low. He said no one has ever seen a sin like Aries committed last week. Hogan said the sin was gimmick infringement. "Hey, I don't infringe on other people's gimmicks, brother," Aries said.
Hogan said Option C would take place at the end of the night. He announced an X Division three-way match. Hogan announced that he changed Suicide's name to Manik. The masked man came out wearing the Suicide gear. Aries questioned who it was. Hogan called out Chris Sabin. Hogan said said Sabin had a chance to right the wrong, and Manik had a chance to get even.
Sabin spoke about how a year ago he was home questioning whether he would ever be able to wrestle again. He said Aries is the greatest scam that ever lived. He said he earned the X Division Title and there's nothing Aries or anyone else could do to stop him from becoming the X Division Title...
The announcers spoke about Main Event Mafia, then hyped Joseph Park vs. Jeff Hardy in a Bound For Glory Series match, and A.J. Styles vs. Kazarian... Backstage, Christopher Daniels lectured the camera guy, who wanted to talk to Kazarian, who said no one knows A.J. Styles better than they do... A shot aired of mopey A.J. Styles walking backstage... [C]
Powell's POV: For those keeping score at home, Hulk Hogan renamed the masked Suicide character that T.J. Perkins was playing. He apparently has trouble spelling or looked to '80s glam rock bands for inspiration for the spelling of Manik. Will someone in TNA ask the obvious question of why is Perkins still wearing a mask when his identity was revealed last week? Better yet, I must ask why his identity had to be revealed if they were going to keep the mask on him? Despite the introduction from Hogan, Manik didn't get a reaction from the live crowd.
[Q2] Tenay spoke briefly about the Bound For Glory Series as the leader board appeared on the screen...
1. Kazarian (w/Christopher Daniels) vs. A.J. Styles. Kazarian and Daniels came out dressed like Siegfried & Roy, which raises even more questions about the backstage bit where they were hiding shirtless behind the barely opened locker room door. Anyway, Kazarian started the match in his wig and costume, but Styles knocked the wig off immediately with a punch. Styles applied the Calf Killer for the win...
A.J. Styles beat Kazarian via submission in 4:00 to earn ten BFG Series points.
Backstage, Mickie James told some hippie crew member named Chuck that he better get the ladder she asked for set up. Tenay questioned what she was talking about... [C]
Powell's POV: I was hoping for a longer match from those two. As much as I get a kick out of the antics of Daniels and Kazarian, I didn't care for Kazarian wearing the gear to start a BFG Series match. If TNA wants fans to take it seriously, then it needs to feel like the participants are taking it seriously. If nothing else, the announcers should have acted outraged. It was good to see the immediate showing of the BFG leader board after the match showing that Styles moved into third place.
Backstage, Chavo Guerrero pumped up Hernandez and said he would be in his corner...
Mickie James Stood in the ring where a ladder was set up. Nice work, hippie Chuck. She climbed the ladder and said that to get to the top of the Knockouts Division you have to crawl, scratch, and claw your way to the top. She boasted about being a national recording artist, doing national commercials, and being champion.
Mickie said that despite her success, she keeps hearing about the ladder match that will determine who becomes No. 1 contender. She told Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell to break everything in the ladder match because they will never be as great as her.
[Q3] James said that no matter who wins the ladder match, she will take their pretty face and slam it on every run of the ladder as she knocks them back down. The announcers spoke about how full of herself James came across, and then hyped Kim vs. Terrell in a ladder match for next week...
Powell's POV: Mickie James is once again the most entertaining female wrestler on cable television. I've enjoyed A.J. Lee's work in WWE more often than not, but James as a heel feels fresh again. She really looks like she's having more fun playing this character than she has doing anything else in TNA.
Footage aired of Al Snow, Bruce Prichard, and Danny Davis discussing Gut Check contestants Ryan Howe and Ryan Ohriner. Snow said he has to argue with Prichard every time because he never likes either contestant. Prichard said his mind was made up in the first two minutes...
Backstage, the Gut Check judges addressed Howe and The Big O. Prichard informed them that Howe would be getting the in-ring judgment, meaning Ohriner was eliminated...
Sting, Kurt Angle, and Samoa Joe were shown entering the building wearing suits. Angle said the numbers keep growing and the fourth member of the Main Event Mafia would be unveiled to the world during the show... [C]
Powell's POV: Here's hoping that took one take. Wearing suits in the crazy heat that Las Vegas has had lately can't be fun. As for the Gut Check judgment, I really just wish the whole thing would go away. TNA needs a real developmental program and Gut Check just isn't providing that, nor is it making for good television. I was open to the concept initially, but it just hasn't worked out. Scrap it and move on, especially since it doesn't seem like the company has payroll room for Gut Check winners.
2. Hernandez (w/Chavo Guerrero) vs. Jay Bradley in a Bound For Glory Series match. Tenay read a plug for the Hardcore Justice 2 event that premieres on pay-per-view on July 5. Hernandez performed his run down the ramp shoulderblock. Bradley made a brief comeback, only to have Chavo enter the ring and grab his leg before he could hit the Boomstick finisher. Hernandez caught Bradley with a shoulderblock and pinned him...
Hernandez defeated Jay Bradley to earn seven points in the BFG Series.
Powell's POV: I think the idea here was that Hernandez didn't know Chavo interfered, but I'm not sure. Either way, I like Chavo in the weasel heel role a lot more than when he plays a babyface.
Backstage, Bully Ray spoke with the rest of Aces & 8's. Wes Brisco asked him about Brooke Hogan. Bully told him that she's his personal business. Wes pushed him by saying it's crazy that Brooke just got engaged. Bully stood his ground.
Powell's POV: I'm happy they addressed the Brooke engagement since it made enough headlines that it would have been ridiculous if they had tried to pretend it never happened. DOC asked Ray who he wants to win the X Title. Mr. Anderson said he doesn't think Ray cares. Ray questioned what would happen if nobody won. They all laughed...
[Q4] The announcers hyped upcoming matches... [C]
3. TNA Tag Champions James Storm and Gunner vs. "BroMans" Robbie E and Jessie (w/Tara) in a non-title match. Gunner was double teamed early, but he fought back, slapped himself in the face a few times, and tagged in Storm. They did a fun spot where they threw Jessie crotch-first into his partner, which got a rise out of the crowd. Storm hit the Last Call on Robbie to knock him out of the ring, then they doubled up for a suplex/neckbreaker combo move and scored the pin...
James Storm and Gunner defeated Robbie E and Jessie in a non-title match in 3:05.
Powell's POV: A short, yet entertaining match. It's encouraging to see Storm and Gunner working in tag team spots this early in their run together, as it makes them feel like a real team rather than just two singles guys thrown together. Gunner has really improved when it comes to the intensity he shows in the ring. I also like Robbie and Jessie as a tag team. They could be vulnerable tag team champ at some point, though I would like to see them develop an edge so that viewers see them as more than undercard comedy.
A shot aired of Sting, Angle, and Joe walking backstage in their suits... [C]
Jeff Hardy spoke backstage about his match against Joseph Park. He said he doesn't know much about Park, but he knows his brother and if he has any of the Abyss dark side then he could be dangerous... Kurt Angle and Sting headed to the ring. Comedian and fellow Minnesotan Louie Anderson was shown in the crowd.
[Q5] Angle took the mic and proclaimed the Main Event Mafia is back and worked up the fans. Angle said their mission is to destroy Aces & 8's and to make sure Bully Ray loses the TNA Title.
Sting recalled the original Main Event Mafia consisting of former World Champions. He said that in situations like that they don't always have the most unity. He said that's why they went with Samoa Joe, who represents the foundation of change. Samoa Joe made his entrance and received a strong reaction.
Powell's POV: Wow, did everyone in TNA forget that Joe is a former TNA Champion? You know, just like Sting and Angle? Anyway...
"Las Vegas, once again the Mafia runs this town," Joe said. He said he's been a man of his own volition, but you need strength in numbers to defeat Aces & 8's. He said he will plow through every wrestler they put in his way until he earns his shot at Bully Ray and then chokes him out to win the TNA Title.
Angle said he picked Joe to be in the Mafia because of the great matches they had in the past. He put over Joe as the baddest SOB he's ever been in the ring with. Angle said Joe came to him with an idea of who the fourth member of the Mafia should be, and he thought "damn, that's a good idea." Angle said many would view him as the future, but he sees him as the here and now.
Magnus was introduced as the fourth member of the Main Event Mafia. Magnus walked to the ring wearing a suit to a decent reaction, though certainly lighter than the others received. Magnus said he had to think about joining the Mafia for about a split second. He said when opportunity knocks, you answer the door.
Magnus boasted about his top spot in the BFG Series and then praised each of his Mafia mates. Sting took the mic and assured the crowd that they will see to it that there's a winner in the main event despite Bully Ray teasing interference earlier...
Jeff Hardy made his entrance for his match with Joseph Park... [C]
Powell's POV: I had zero enthusiasm about the announcement that Sting was bringing back the Main Event Mafia. I still don't understand why he picked three guys who were backstage and didn't help him when Aces & 8's interfered in his last TNA Title match. Despite all of that, the faction came across really well here and it's coming together nicely. All four men seem excited about what they're doing and the live crowds are into it. I love the addition of Magnus to the group because it helps make him look like a bigger star. This is going much better than I envisioned.
A commercial aired for the Destination X themed edition of Impact, which airs on July 18... The Bound For Glory Series leader board was shown... Joseph Park made his entrance...
[Q6] 4. Jeff Hardy vs. Joseph Park in a Bound For Glory Series match. Park walked over to Hardy and shook his hand. Hardy controlled the early action and went for a Swanton a couple minutes into the match, but Park rolled out of the way. Park's initial offense consisted mostly of whipping Hardy into the turnbuckles a few times.
Later, Park caught Hardy with a Samoan drop and followed up with a second rope splash for a two count. Hardy caught Park with an elbow and came back with a Whisper in the Wind. Park came up with a bloody lip and morphed into Abyss mode. He performed the Black Hole Slam on the referee for the DQ. Hardy asked Joseph what the heck was wrong with him. Park came to and acted like he didn't know what he did...
Jeff Hardy beat Joseph Park by DQ in a Bound For Glory Series match in 7:45 (Hardy earns three points, Park loses ten points).
A shot aired of Ryan Howe backstage as Tenay hyped the Gut Check judgment for after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: Hardy vs. Park was a lot more fun that it looked on paper. I wasn't sure how the Park character would mesh with Hardy, but it worked nicely. It is a little silly that no one in TNA has questioned the obvious regarding Park morphing into Abyss mode, but the act is usually entertaining enough that I think most viewers give that a pass. They really needed the leader board at the end of this match. Tenay tried to explain the point breakdown, but it really should be an automatic graphic before and after each BFG Series match, particularly one with the rare DQ finish.
Tenay hyped upcoming live events... Jeremy Borash stood in the ring and introduced Snow, Davis, and Prichard as the judges. Snow was cheered, Prichard drew some boos, and Davis got even more boos for some reason.
[Q7] How walked to the ring carrying his guitar, but he didn't play it this time. Taz made more Van Hammer descendent jokes. Borash asked Howe whether they saw his best effort the week before. Howe emphatically said yes. Snow took the mic and spoke about Howe's improvement. Snow put over his musical ability and questioned why he even wants to wrestle. Snow said despite all of that, his answer his no.
Howe got 30 seconds to convince the judges that he deserved yes votes. The fans booed throughout his promo. Davis said his mind was made up, but the people changed it. Davis said the fans didn't let him take his mind off what he was saying while they booed him out of the building. Davis said he thinks Howe has potential and his answer is yes. Prichard had silly dialogue before getting to the no answer...
Powell's POV: Howe was doomed with the fans the moment he came out with the guitar last week. Besides, it would have been awkward to give him a yes vote on Saturday and then release him on Wednesday with most of the other Gut Check winners. The only things I would miss about these segments are Al Snow's jackets.
Backstage, DOC told Ray that he had his back against the Mafia. Anderson stepped in and accused DOC of campaigning for the VP role. Ray said if the two of them spent as much time worrying about taking out the Mafia as they do stabbing each other in the back the job would have been done. He said it was time to raise a little hell... Backstage shots aired of the X Division Title match participants heading into the break... [C]
Aces & 8's made their entrance... Tenay set up a video that spotlighted the ladder match that Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell will have next week. It included highlights from the physical and highly entertaining Last Knockout Standing match they had at Slammiversary...
Christy Hemme handled introductions for the X Division Title match...
5. Austin Aries vs. Chris Sabin vs. Manik for the X Division Title. Sabin and Manik attacked Aries to start the match. The Aces & 8's members stood in an aisle and watched the match. It quickly turned into an every man for himself situation in the ring, as Sabin and Manik worked against one another rather than just focussing on Aries.
[Q8] Manik did the bit where he catches himself in the rope. He released himself and fell to the mat when Sabin charged, causing him to go through the ropes. Ray was shown at ringside questioning who they were rooting for. Manik ended up selling at ringside while Aries and Sabin worked inside the ring. Ray clapped along with a fan chant.
Aries went for the Brainbuster on the entrance ramp, but Sabin blocked it and slammed him on the ramp instead. Aces & 8's headed to ringside. Manik set up for a move, but he was tripped up by DOC, who ended up slamming him to the ground with a powerbomb. The Aces & 8's members surrounded the ring while Sabin and Aries fought. The Main Event Mafia walked to ringside heading into the break. [C]
Powell's POV: The Mafia coming out right before the break was a nice hook, but Manik must think they're real dicks for not coming out sooner to stop the heels from roughing him up.
After the break, footage aired of Manik being stretchered to the back due to the powerbomb he took from DOC. Gee, thanks a lot, Mafia! Sting stood on the ring apron for no reason while the rest of The Mafia stood at ringside, and the Aces & 8's members had retreated back to their original spot in the aisle area.
Sabin threw a series of chops at Aries in the corner and then stood on him in the corner. Sabin caught Aries with a kick to the head and followed up with a dropkick to a kneeling Aries that led to a two count. Aries came back by targeting one of Sabin's surgically repaired knees. Aries connected with a missile dropkick and another dropkick in the corner. Sabin caught him with an inside cradle for a two count.
Aries recovered and performed a Brainbuster on Sabin. Taz sold it as if the match was over and then acted surprised when Sabin kicked out at the last moment. A "this is awesome" chant broke out with some fans. Aries put Sabin down and missed a flip move off the top rope. Sabin powerbombed Aries for a two count.
Sabin followed up with the All Hail Sabin slam for a good two count. A "TNA" chant broke out. Sabin hoisted up Aries for his finisher again, but Aries countered it into a pin attempt for a two count. Later, Aries came back with a dropkick in the corner. He put Sabin on the ropes, but Sabin countered it into a his All Hail Sabin slam off the top rope and pinned Aries to win the title...
Chris Sabin defeated Austin Aries and Manik in 16:15 to win the X Division Title.
After the match, Ray jawed at Sabin as the Mafia headed up the ramp. Sabin took the mic and told Ray that he "might be very well looking at the new World Heavyweight Champion." Tenay hyped Ray vs. Sabin for the Destination X show edition of Impact that airs on July 18...
Powell's POV: The match was especially good once it became a singles match. Here's hoping TNA gives up on the all three-way match concept for the X Division. I enjoy a good train wreck X Division three-way match from time to time, but it's just too gimmicky to do for every title match and it deprives TNA of some really good singles matches (not to mention forces them to write an extra paycheck). I don't think all of the silliness with Aries as Suicide and winning the title for one week was necessary, but I did enjoy this main event.
Overall, this was not a phoned in edition of Impact despite it being Independence Day in the United States. TNA delivered a good show with the reveal of a new Mafia Member, an X Division Title change, and some BFG Series matches. My expectations were low for a holiday show, but this turned out to be an entertaining and newsworthy show for those who saw it. I suppose that's the big question that won't be answered until the ratings (and DVR) numbers are released.
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