1/2 Powell's TNA Impact Wrestling live coverage: Coronation for TNA Champion Magnus, Austin Aries vs. Chris Sabin for the X Division Title, Bully Ray vs. Joseph Park, Gail Kim's open challenge, first show of 2014
By Jason Powell
TNA Impact Wrestling on SpikeTV
Taped in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
[Q1] Impact opened with a video that focussed on Magnus winning the TNA Title and his coronation later in the show... Mike Tenay and Taz checked in commentary... Kurt Angle headed to the ring for a promo. "My name is Kurt Angle, and 2013 was the worst year of my career," Angle said. He said the feud with Aces & 8's took a toll on his body and mentioned his issues outside the ring.
Angle said they call him a cyborg, but in 2013 he was not that. He said he was there to address his plans for 2014. Bobby Roode's music interrupted Angle and headed to the ring. Roode questioned whether Angle was there to tell everyone that he was going to walk away and leave Impact Wrestling just as Jeff Hardy did the week before.
Roode told Angle to look him in the eyes and tell him that "The It Factor of Professional Wrestling is better than you." Angle said he was there to make it clear that he is going to kick ass in 2014. Angle challenged Roode to one more match. Roode was the only person surprised by this and acted outraged that Angle would challenge him to another match. "Absolutely not," Roode said. He told Angle that they are done.
Roode teased leaving the ring and then stopped. "Unless, maybe I accept this challenge, maybe I accept one more match, but in this match maybe you put something on the line," Roode said. He proposed that if he beats Angle that Angle leave the company and never accept the Hall of Fame induction in TNA.
"I'm glad you accept," Angle said. Angle announced that their match will be a cage match and will take place at the Genesis themed edition of Impact. Roode once again acted outraged and then accepted the challenge. Roode tried to sucker punch Angle, but Kurt saw it coming. They had to be pulled apart by the referees.
Rockstar Spud came out and yelled at Angle and Roode. He said the night belonged to him and Dixie Carter. He said if they want to fight, they should find tag partners and have a match later in the show... Tenay hyped the coronation ceremony for Magnus, the X Division Title match, and Joseph Park vs. Bully Ray, and Gil Kim's open challenge...
Backstage, Dixie Carter said tonight is her crowning moment. She said it took her eleven years to find the right champion. The person behind the camera said cut. Dixie entered her office and was given a message that was sent by a courier. She wasn't happy about the contents... [C]
Powell's POV: The opening segment felt a little flat because of the live crowd. There would have been nothing wrong with Roode reacting the way he did if the live crowd was with them, but because the crowd was so quiet it looked like he was too over the top. By the way, Chris Shore is in the process of moving and has the night off. He will be back on Friday with the TNA Impact Wrestling Hit List.
[Q2] Backstage, Dixie showed the message she received earlier to Spud. It said "See you tonight" and said it was unsigned. She told Spud to find out everything he could...
Gail Kim and Lei'D Tapa stood in the ring together. Kim said it was 2014 and it was time for another Gail Kim Open Challenge. She said she hopes TNA can find her some real competition because everyone she has faced so far has been very unimpressive...
1. Gail Kim (w/Lei'D Tapa) vs. Madison Rayne. Rayne got off to a fast start, but she was tripped up by Tapa as she tried to run the ropes. Kim came back with a face-first version of the electric chair (bad description or not, it looked impressive). Kim went for her finisher, but Rayne avoided it and rolled her up for the win...
Madison Rayne pinned Gail Kim in 5:00.
Backstage, Chris Sabin interrupted Velvet Sky and told her that she needs him to listen to what he says so he can walk out as the X Division Champion. He said that if she doesn't listen to him then he is leaving the building without her... [C]
Powell's POV: The match was a little clunky at times. Rayne does a good job of playing to the crowd now that she's a babyface. Maybe it's just me, but I lose interest whenever Gail Kim cuts promos. Meanwhile, Sabin's treatment of Velvet doesn't ring true. He is playing the part well, but it takes a meek female personality to make it work this long. Everything we've learned about the Velvet Sky character over the years tells us there's no way she would tolerate his antics.
Backstage, Kurt Angle asked Gunner to be his tag team partner. Gunner said it would be his honor. James Storm showed up and was surprised that Gunner agreed to it. "Did you say partners?" Storm asked. "Very interesting"... A recap aired of Austin Aries beating Chris Sabin to win the X Division Title... Ring entrances for the X Division Title match took place...
[Q3] 2. Austin Aries vs. Chris Sabin (w/Velvet Sky) for the X Division Title. Aries got the better of Sabin, who motioned for Velvet to do something. She was resistant, but she eventually climbed onto the ring apron. Sabin low-blowed Aries and then caught him in a small package for the win...
Chris Sabin defeated Austin Aries to win the X Division Title in 5:45.
After the match, Velvet made over the top sad facial expressions. Jeremy Borash interviewed Chris Sabin, who thanked himself and yelled, "I did it"...
Powell's POV: The good news is that Chris Sabin is coming out of his shell and really seems to have embraced his new character. The bad news is that Velvet just isn't the right person for this role regardless of her true life status in Sabin's life. It wouldn't make much storyline sense, but at this point I would settle for it being revealed that she's actually been encouraging this behavior and her performance has been a ruse. We know she can play a great heel and they could be a good heelish couple. She's simply miscast in this role. I'm also not a fan of the game of hot potato they are playing with the X Division Title. Here's hoping TNA can recapture the spirit of the division in 2014.
Backstage, Rockstar Spud worked on his introduction for Magnus. He answered a phone call and the person on the other end didn't respond. He said to himself that he received four hangup calls from that number...
Samuel Shaw headed to the ring wearing a shirt, white pants, and he put on black gloves. He opened the ropes for Christy Hemme to go to ringside before she could introduce his opponent...
[Q4] 3. Samuel Shaw vs. Norv Fernum. Shaw kept the shirt, pants, and gloves on as he wrestled. He dominated the offense and looked at Christy Hemme at ringside whenever he hit a big move. She looked uncomfortable. Shaw applied what Taz called a standing choke. He stared at Hemme as he held the hold for the win...
Samuel Shaw defeated Norv Fernum in 1:35.
Powell's POV: Shaw plays the American Psycho part well. Likewise, Hemme did a good job of acting creeped out by his actions. I'm just not sure what they are going for with the Patrick Bateman character. It's not like Hemme has any on-air wrestler allies that we can look forward to seeing come to her aid, and Shaw isn't going to kill anyone as Bateman did in the movie. I don't mind Shaw having the characteristics of the character, but I could really do without the clothing and block gloves. Here's hoping they can find a way to make him more of a wrestler and less of a movie character who happens to wrestle.
Backstage, James Storm told the camera guy that he's the tag team specialist. He said Gunner is like all the partners he's ever had in that he changed. He said he's going to show Angle that he made a mistake in choosing Gunner as his partner. Storm entered a room and said "just who I was looking for"... [C]
Backstage, Bobby Roode asked James Storm to give him one good reason why he should trust him. Storm said he doesn't trust and downright hates Roode, but he needs to be his partner. Roode tried to storm off, but Roode told him he would either be his partner or kicking the ass of everyone in the tag match, including Roode's... A video recapped Magnus beating Jeff Hardy to win the TNA Title...
Ring introduction for the tag match took place. Borash stopped Gunner and asked him what would happen if Roode selected Storm as his partner. Gunner said it would be interesting and would get more physical. The announcers played up the possibility of Beer Money reuniting after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: So Roode hadn't actually picked a partner even though the match was only seconds away? He even told Storm that he had a couple people in mind.
[Q5] 4. Kurt Angle and Gunner vs. Bobby Roode and James Storm. Storm and Angle started the match. Roode tagged himself in. Gunner got the better of Roode and performed a slingshot suplex for a two count. Gunner got in Storm's face, but whatever Storm said cause him to walk away and right into a spinebuster from Roode. Storm tagged in and threw punches at Gunner.
Later, Angle performed two German suplexes on Roode and Storm disrupted a third. Angle applied the ankle lock on Storm, which Roode broke up. Gunner went for the Gun Rack on Roode, but Storm broke it up with a Last Call superkick, enabling Roode to pin Gunner. After the match, Angle tried to hit the Angle Slam on Roode, who escaped and ran up the ramp...
Bobby Roode and James Storm defeated Kurt Angle and Gunner in 6:45.
Backstage, Spud asked Sting if he was behind the phone calls and the message to Dixie. Sting said he wasn't there to talk Spud, he was there to talk to Dixie's lapdog (EC3)... [C]
Powell's POV: I certainly understand why TNA went back to Universal Studios, but that doesn't stop me from hating how flat the live crowds are deep in the marathon tapings. I want to say that heel Storm and babyface Gunner is backwards because the crowds aren't popping for Gunner and are not hating on Storm, but it's so hard to tell when most of the fans are just sitting there no matter what happens.
Ethan Carter III made his entrance and a video recapped the Sting and Jeff Hardy handicap tag match...
[Q6] EC3 stood in the ring and said he changed the face of wrestling in 2013. He spoke about Jeff Hardy leaving TNA so he could "go write some ballads and poems about his creatures." He said it's a night for redemption because he challenged Hardy to a match. EC3 had Christy Hemme introduced Hardy as his opponent. Hardy's entrance music played. The announcers explained that Hardy explained last week that he was sick of what was happening in TNA.
EC3 had the timekeeper ring the bell, then he tried to count to ten for the count out, but he was interrupted at nine by Sting's entrance music. Sting headed to the ring and got a reaction from the crowd. Sting said he wasn't going to let EC3 trash talk a man when he's not sure what EC3 is. He then labeled EC3 a dog who waits for Aunt Dixie to feed him treats.
Sting said EC3 can't even take a crap without being on the end of Dixie's leash. Sting challenged him to be more than a lapdog. The previously dead crowd chanted "Dixie's lapdog" at EC3, who said he wasn't going to let Sting try to manipulate him. EC3 left the ring, but then said he would fight Sting at Genesis...
Powell's POV: The Sting and EC3 program is growing on me. It's simple and effective with veteran Sting trying to goad the pampered rich boy character into fighting him.
Backstage, Joseph Park told Eric Young that things are fuzzy, but he's not his brother. Young encouraged him to go back to the beginning. He said Abyss wrestled Bully Ray two years ago, so he would do the same tonight and would win. Ray showed up and told Park that it's not in his best interest to go to the ring tonight because he will be all alone. Ray said he knows what it's like to be all alone, and Park shouldn't be the guy who would burn for the sins of Ken Anderson. "I'm going to set you on fire," Ray told him... [C]
5. Bully Ray vs. Joseph Park. Ray wore jeans and his Motley Crue hoodie. He also kept his shades on when the bell rang to start the match. Park walked toward Ray and stopped. Ray looked up at Park and kicked him below the belt for the DQ.
Joseph Park beat Bully Ray by DQ in 0:45.
[Q7] After the match, Ray pulled out lighter fluid and poured it on Park. Some fans took pictures, some cheered, and one lady looked concerned. Ray pulled out a lighter. Mr. Anderson's music played and he ran to the ring. Ray squirted lighter fluid at him and then lit the lighter, but did not start either man on fire... [C]
Powell's POV: My bold prediction for 2014 is that TNA accidentally burns the Von Braun Center to the ground during Genesis in two weeks.
Rockstar Spud and EC3 stood in the ring where a throne, fake plants, flowers, and British flags were set up. Spud read a long introductory statement from his iPad. He said Dixieland is a place where dreams always come true. Spud said the night is about a man who will forever change the face of professional wrestling.
EC3 took over as the master of ceremonies. He said Spud is from a country that worships kings and queens, but in America the power is with the one percent. A "We Want A.J." chant could be heard amongst the boos. EC3 introduced Dixie Carter, who received boos from the crowd, so, of course, the camera focussed on the one guy who applauded her.
Dixie recalled reading a magazine article about A.J. Styles. She said she turned the page and there was a six-page feature on Magnus. The "We Want A.J." chants crew louder. She eventually introduced Magnus as her TNA Champion.
Magnus walked to the ring wearing a suit and had the title belt draped over his shoulder. Once in the ring, Magnus took a seat on the throne. Magnus told the fans to return their women to their full, upright positions. He thanked Spud and EC3 for the kind words, and then turned his attention to Dixie Carter, who he labeled "the wind beneath my massive wings."
[Q8] Magnus said fans assumed Bobby Roode, Kurt Angle, or Jeff Hardy would be champion. "But it's not, it's me," he said. Magnus said he turned his back on the fans because they turned their backs on him. The crowd chanted "you suck" at Magnus. He said he won't take a backseat to anyone in the business and he plans to be champion for a very, very, very, very long time to come. Gunner walked onto the stage and held up the Feast or Fired briefcase. [C]
Powell's POV: As much as I have disliked the Dixie Carter silliness, and as down on his initial performance as this character as I was, Rockstar Spud is doing a hell of a job. He's a great pest heel. TNA should build up to one of the babyfaces getting their hands on him.
Gunner said he was cashing in his contract for a TNA Title shot, but Dixie Carter was having none of it. The heels attacked Gunner in the ring. Spud and EC3 held Gunner for Magnus to hit, but A.J. Styles ran in. Gunner made his exit, and Styles cleared Spud and EC3 from the ring.
Styles and Magnus stared at one another and held up their respective TNA Title belts. Dixie yelled at Styles to get out of her ring. Styles placed his title belt in the middle of the ring and dared Magnus to come at him. Magnus left the ring with his own title belt. Dixie said it wasn't going to happen.
Styles told Carter to tell her lawyers to stop texting him about her "intellectual property." He said he wasn't going to just hand it over to her. Styles said he didn't return because Dixie wanted him to or made him, but rather because she screwed over the people by making her champion a farce. He said he needed to come back. Styles told Magnus that he's a farce and everyone knows it.
Styles said he doesn't care if Magnus wears the title on his shoulder or around his waist, he's not the champion until he beats the champion. Magnus asked Styles if he was challenging him. "Two belts, but there can be only one TNA World Heavyweight Champion," Styles aid.
Magnus walked onto the ring steps as Styles continued to goad him into taking the match. The fans chanted "you're a puppet" at Magnus. He told him that the people would doubt that he was ever a champion. Styles said that if Magnus doesn't accept, he will doubt himself as champion.
Styles said the deal is on the table, but if he walks out the door the deal is coming with him. "No, no, no, it's not going to happen," Dixie said. Mangus told Styles that he's not better than him, "not anymore." Magnus said if Styles wants him to prove it, he will next week - "one on one, two belts, one champion." Dixie yelled it's not going to happen.
Magnus told Dixie that if it's not going to happen, then he's leaving too. He said no one will doubt his championship status again. Dixie asked if he was insane. She said Styles doesn't even have a contract. Magnus said Dixie will give Styles a one night contract and it will be winner take all. She said that if Magnus loses, she will have nothing. Magnus said he feels lucky and he wants to roll the dice. Styles extended his hand to shake on the match. Magnus glared at him but did not shake his hand as the show went off the air...
Powell's POV: It was nice to see the Universal Studios crowd had some life left in them. The crowd was into Magnus and Styles. Dixie talking over the moment rather than laying out and letting the crowd savor the moment made sense for her character, but did not make sense when it came to building up the match. In fact, I would not have rushed this as much as they did.
I'm conflicted on Magnus. I like that he's not just a puppet for Dixie, but it did seem odd that he would go against her wishes so quickly. The end of the show was awkward, as there are probably some viewers left wondering whether there will actually be a match. Granted, they both challenged one another, but the show went off the air with Styles waiting for a handshake and Magnus just looking at him.
Overall, a good episode of Impact to start the new year, yet disappointing that all of the talking at the end prevented the Styles return and the setup for his match with Magnus feel like a bigger moment.
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