The WWE Money in the Bank match has produced some of the most exciting moments of the last ten years. The glorified ladder match features daredevil heroics, extreme punishment, and intense action. Today I look back and celebrate the top five Money in the Bank matches in WWE history.
I don’t think anyone realized in 2005 when the WWE announced the first Money in the Bank match the significance this match would have on wrestling history. Stars were made, history was written, and memories have been cemented forever thanks to this innovative match. With two new matches around the corner I thought today would be a great time to look back and count down the top matches in MITB history. Since we aren’t quite ten years into MITB I went with a top five as opposed to a top ten. Leave a comment if you agree, disagree, or want to mention your favorite Money in the Bank match memory.
Edge defeats Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, Chris Benoit, Christian and Kane – WrestleMania 21
I can’t think of another MITB match that was more exciting than the one at WrestleMania 21. I think the big difference here was that it was the first. The match just had more intensity and crowd emotion than any other due to the fact that nobody knew what to expect. The match was full of crazy spots that fans hadn’t seen before or lumped into one match. It is hard to replicate the element of surprise that the first match had at 21. Spots like the Benoit diving headbutt and Benjamin running up the ladder had fans stunned in amazement at this new kind of match.
Not that this should be part of the criteria but it also had the biggest impact in regards to elevating a star. Edge won and once he cashed in became an established WWE elite superstar for the rest of his career. No other winner has taken as much away from this match as Edge did in 2005.
Mr. Kennedy defeated CM Punk, Edge, Finlay, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, King Booker and Randy Orton – WrestleMania 23
I liked this match a lot and even though it was one of the longer MITB matches, it kept me interested from bell to bell. Edge and Orton bumped up the star presence here while the Hardys brought a ton of excitement to the match with the anticipation alone of what these guys would do in this environment. In terms of MITB moments, the spots between Jeff and Edge were some of the best in MITB history. Jeff’s jump on Edge is arguably the greatest spot in MITB history. What those guys did alone made this match great, yet it was a great effort from all back at 23, and the surprise winner in Kennedy was a nice touch.
CM Punk defeated Shelton Benjamin, Carlito, Chris Jericho, Mr. Kennedy, John Morrison and Montel Vontavious Porter – WrestleMania 24
I was surprised at how much I liked this match when I went back and watched all of the old MITB matches. On paper it looks pretty average but these guys went far beyond anything I expected going into the match. It did get a little spot-crazy at times but that is to be expected in such a match. Shelton Benjamin really stepped it up here and John Morrison was in his element, delivering a moonsault with a ladder in his hand at one point. Matt Hardy’s spectacular 20-foot Twist of Fate remains the highlight of this match for me.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, Alex Riley, R-Truth, The Miz, Evan Bourne and Jack Swagger – Money in the Bank 2011
I debated a bit about the four spot here but in the end I went with the RAW MITB match from last year’s memorable show in Chicago. This match delivered on a lot of levels with the guys going out of their way to give fans plenty of breathtaking memories. Between Evan Bourne’s shooting star press 20 feet in the air, The Miz falling off the ladder, Mysterio and Kofi’s double leap, and Rey Mysterio getting unmasked, this was one of the more fun Money in the Bank matches. The hot Chicago crowd certainly didn’t hurt this one from entering the top five either.
CM Punk defeated Shelton Benjamin, Christian, Finlay, Mark Henry, Kane, Kofi Kingston and Montel Vontavious Porter – WrestleMania 25
I struggled quite a bit with the final spot here. I went back and forth between this one, last year’s MITB match, and the SmackDown match from the Chicago 2011 pay per view. In the end, the MITB WrestleMania 25 match was just too good to leave off the list. Shelton Benjamis was the show stealer in this one giving fans some of the best spots of the night in this match. One moment in particular saw Benjamin leap off the ladder placed in the aisle onto his MITB opponents. Watching these MITB matches reminded me how good Benjamin was and had me wondering why he isn’t the WWE today! Kofi also had his moments, one in particular had Kofi deliver a kick through the side of the ladder and climb the ladder while it was closed. Another saw Kofi run up the ladder and fall into a World’s Strongest Slam. Christian also had his moment hitting an Unprettier to Punk off the ladder. This match had a lot of great moments and is often one of the more underrated matches of the MITB series.
-It had been 15 years, but WWE had to get back on the horse and have an outdoor PPV again. Following the debacle that WrestleMania IX, I know that it had to be tough to repress the memories of bad matches and a horrid appeasement of Hulk Hogan’s ego. So here we are, at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL, on March 30, 2008. After years of watching TNA, I had no idea that more than 900 people were allowed to attend wrestling events in the city.
-So after JBL went back to being an active wrestler, our teams became Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler (Raw), Michael Cole and Jonathan Coachman (Smackdown), and Joey Styles and Tazz (ECW). The Smackdown team has the most legit news experience by far, yet want to be hung by their Adam’s apples for atrocities committed on headset, courtesy of the smark community. From this, I can infer that smarks hate news people.
-Kane won a 24 man battle royal before the show to earn a shot at the ECW Championship on this show. I still wish Val Venis had gone to the brand with him to form my dream team: “The Libertarian Extremists”. They could hold Tea Party protests over administrational tyranny and everything. They’d have my support.
-John Legend performs the America the Beautiful. When watching the show with my viewing party, I believe my exact reaction was “Oh, so that’s what he looks like.”
-The show opens with a “Belfast Brawl”, which I believe is actually a hardcore match, aka extreme rules match aka no holds barred match aka street fight. In other words, you can use weapons with total impunity to settle your blood feud, but just don’t aim for the head. Anyway, Finlay’s taking on JBL in this contest, which was centered around one of the most bizarre and non-sensical storylines in the annals of WWE history. I don’t even think I wish to recount it.
-Or maybe I do.
-Long story short, Vince found out that he had an illegitimate child in a case where the mother never revealed herself. The son was revealed in a convoluted game of process of elimination to be Hornswoggle. So Vince was dismayed, as you might expect, but eventually, Finlay kept coming out to save the little bugger from certain harm that Vince would create for him. Some “deal” between Finlay and Vince was tossed around, albeit vaguely. Finally, JBL somehow has this inside knowledge and he reveals that Finlay is Hornswoggle’s actual father. How he acquired such knowledge is anyone’s guess, but this led to a match between Finlay and JBL for this event.
-JBL attacks early and manages to hit Finlay with a trash can that the Irishman threw into the ring. He hit em in the head, but hey, we can ignore that for the sake of a Senate run.
-Just to exacerbate the horrible story arc, here comes Hornswoggle with a kendo stick. Sure enough, he hits JBL with it. Anyone who’s ever taken comedic pleasure in the mere sight of a midget should be hanged. Because of you, we have moments like this.
-Finlay attempts a suicide dive, but JBL smashes him with a trash can in mid air. It’s important to keep in mind that both men are north of forty years of age. Just wanted to note that.
-JBL throws a trash can hard onto a prone Hornswoggle on the floor, thus earning him the official ranking of “Jesus Christ Almighty” in my book. Thank you, John. I will never mock your man-boobs ever again.
-After whacking Finlay’s legs with the kendo stick, JBL lands the Clothesline from Hell for the win. If you take out the horrid angle and the involvement of a freaking leprechaun, then you’re left with a rather decent brawl. JBL and Finlay have known each other for years going back to their alliance in the CWA in Germany, so it makes sense that they’d have some chemistry. Good Belfast Brawl or hardcore match or street fight or whatever it was….
-Backstage, Mr. Kennedy has words with guest hostess Kim Kardashian. Ah, Kim. There’s a potential Raw host I could get behind. And I’d support her bid to host as well.
-Up next, we have the fourth annual Money in the Bank ladder match, featuring seven participants. That’s because Jeff Hardy decided to be El Violator de Wellness and get him excised from the match. So while Jeff’s at home living for the moment, we’re left with Chris Jericho, CM Punk, MVP, Mr. Kennedy, John Morrison, Shelton Benjamin, and Carlito. All in all, a pretty stellar cast.
-MVP manages to come into possession of a ladder early, and uses it to ward off the other opponents like some blinged out pong paddle. I take pride in knowing that I’m first person to ever type those four words in that order. Unfortunately for Mr. Porter, Jericho gets a bigger ladder and phallically out-duels him. So much for that.
-Jericho tries to put Kennedy in the Walls, but ends up slingshotting him onto the ladder, allowing last year’s winner to try and climb. However, Morrison and Benjamin end up joining him near the apex and it leads to a tower of doom sunset superplex spot. Not wasting time, I see.
-Shelton tries to top his usual insanity by springboarding to an empty ladder, but slips off without anyone to counter balance it. You mean WWE can’t find ANYTHING for Shelton to do? Really?
-Punk nails Benjamin with the GTS. Well, they found something for him. Unfortunately, it’s a role as “guinea pig for other guys’ finishers”. Well, it’s something.
-Shelton gives it one last go, but is dumped off the ladder, flipping through a table bridge at ringside in a truly scary spot. How scary? Carlito couldn’t hide the look of horror on his face, even though he’s one of the guys who pushed the ladder. Amazing.
-Jericho, Carlito, and Kennedy all make a run for the contract, but MVP dumps them all. Then MVP eats a ladder to the face from Morrison.
-Jericho, Carlito, and Kennedy again find themselves up on the ladders, with Punk as well, but all of them end up crashing, leaving MVP as the last man standing. He goes to climb with no one in sight to stop him, until Matt Hardy jumps the rail and asks us to buy his brother’s DVD to help pay his legal costs. No, sorry, he takes MVP out with a Twist of Fate. My only question: why is Matt in the audience without a shirt on?
-Two ladders get wedged together and Jericho drops Carlito onto the contraption, causing it to project one ladder vertically. Morrison tries climbing this oddly-positioned ladder, but gets pushed off and crotched on the top rope. Ouch.
-Carlito and Kennedy wipe out, leaving a finale between Jericho and Punk. They meet at the top and Jericho gets the upper hand, but Punk pulls Jericho’s leg through and hangs him out, leaving CM Punk to pull down the briefcase and earn the contract. Good stunt show featuring some really innovative stuff, especially Morrison’s climb up the doubled ladder. Plus, it pushed Punk up the ladder (pun intended) to becoming a featured player, which helped lead him to where he is today. What more can you ask for?
-The Hall of Fame Class of 2008 is introduced by Howard Finkel (#24!): The Briscos, Gordon Solie, Rocky Johnson, Peter Maivia, Eddie Graham, Mae Young, and Ric Flair, who is represented by his family. Moments after this recognition took place, Reid and Ashley were arrested for beating up Megan, and Ric was disappointed in David for being David.
-Backstage, Snoop Dogg, Festus, and Santino Marella ham it up. Maybe Snoop’s part of the reason why Luke Gallows got so messed up. Punk should rail against Snoop next.
-Teddy Long and William Regal provide the intros for the next match between Batista and Umaga, which is the “Battle for Brand Supremacy”. Man, when you can’t come up with a solid angle for Batista to work within, you must not have your priorities in order.
-Yes, Regal does call Umaga “Youmanga”. That will never get old, even if the guy is dead.
-Slow paced hoss fight with no story at all, and the crowd is all over Batista for some reason. Seriously, Umaga nails him in the throat at one point and the fans all cheered.
-Boo. Yay. Boo. Yay. The punch sequence we’ve all grown to love, except Umaga’s getting the yays. It’s like Hogan vs. Rock, but without the intrigue and imagination-capturing fun.
-Umaga has the Samoan Spike blocked, and Batista goes into the final sequence, botching the Batista Bomb en route to victory. Not good at all, and uncharacteristically stale for two pretty good brawlers. Batista would recover from this and Umaga….well, unfortunately, not so much. Last Mania match for the big man, who is sorely missed.
-JR and Lawler give us the tale of the tape for the Mayweather-Show fight. They should have included Show’s WrestleMania record, just for a laugh.
-Highlights of Kane winning the battle royal, thus dampening my spirits as I was pulling for Snitsky. Truth told, I was hoping that “bad teeth” Snitsky was a ploy to bring Isaac Yankem back through Kane, and create the most epic feud in the history of civilization. Sadly, the moment was wasted.
-So here’s Armando Estrada to do ring intros for the ECW Title match, and he’s wearing arguably the greatest hat in the world. Why not just make HIM Raw GM? He’s Cuban/Palestinian Slick!
-So here’s Chavo Guerrero to defend the title….and it’s over. Yep. Not even fifteen seconds and Kane chokeslams him to Hell for the gold. I wish Kane had been in the original ECW, just so he could set people on fire with more gusto. The match didn’t suck because, well, it wasn’t a match.
-Raven Symone promotes her Make a Wish charity to grant wishes for 50 kids in 50 states. WWE was so touched by the humanity on display, that they totally forgot to send Michelle McCool and Layla out there to call her fat.
-Shawn-Flair highlights to build up this historic match, and Mike Adamle gets Ric’s final thoughts. To Hell with Adamle, we should have Peter Vescey doing interviews. He could ask “So, are you retiring at age 59 because you finally have your finances in order and aren’t evading your taxes anymore?”. It’s a burning question, I think.
-Before we go any further, I’d like to state for the record that I, in fact, don’t have the same level of invested emotion in this match as many other fans do. Those who still love Ric Flair and voted this as match of the year for 2008 over, say, Shawn’s match with Chris Jericho at No Mercy, were free to have done so. However, given that I believe that Flair is a sycophantic lush who blew all of his money and sucks up to his current employer just to keep his remaining assets safe, I could not wait to see Ric go. What follows is a really good match, but I shed no tears over Flair’s departure.
-Anywho, it’s Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels in a match where Flair has to retire if he loses. Former WWE writer Seth Mates was right: they should have done it the opposite way. Have Flair lose to undercard guys like MVP and Kennedy, etc, with the edict being that Flair can’t retire until he WINS a match. In order to go out on top, Flair has to put on the performance of his life against Shawn, whom he tells not to lay down. Flair ends up beating Shawn in a possible classic, and then rides off into the sunset. Works better, I think.
-Technical exchange to start and Flair lands a hip toss, followed by his Flair strut. Flair’s not going down easily. The Internal Revenue Service learned this.
-Hey look, a chop fest between two men that Bret Hart doesn’t like, and they’re doing his least favorite move back and forth. If Bret goes to Hell, this move will be on loop for all eternity.
-Hey look, Flair hit a top rope move. It’s a cross body on Shawn, and cross bodies are played out, but hey. Better late than never for Naitch.
-Then we get a moment that’ll make ya cringe: Shawn attempts a moonsault to the floor with Flair in his path, and Shawn kinda gets em, but also slams his ribcage on the commentary table. It looked a lot worse than it would end up being, but geez. Flair shoulda just pinned him in a shoot and said “Ha ha, Vince still has to pay me! I’m out of debt forever!”. Just because.
-The match seesaws from here, which is fine because you can’t really have a heat segment for this kind of match if Flair’s going out, and I get that. So you have a game of one-upsmanship which I’m sure Michaels and Flair are willing play, since they’re buddies and all.
-Figure Four locked on, but Shawn gets to the ropes. As much as I disliked Flair here, I was enjoying the drama.
-Pinfall reversals and Flair gets a second Figure Four. C’mon, Shawn, tap out, his finances depend on this. Crap, Shawn gets the ropes. Oh well, maybe next time.
-Shawn lands the SCM, but a slow cover gets only a 2. Shawn tries another, but Flair goes low, since it’s one of the few moves he can execute now without giving himself a hernia. I have to admit, dramatic as it is, two years removed it, it’s just looking like any other match.
-Finally, the well known ending, where Shawn gets a second SCM, but is hesitant to cover. Finally, Flair tells him to bring it, and Shawn mouths the “I’m sorry….I love you” comment, before landing the third Sweet Chin Music to win and end Flair’s career. Shawn hugs the unconscious Flair and kisses him in a nice moment, before leaving him to have his spotlight. Flair embraces his kids at ringside, whom are all crying (“Crap, Dad’s going to be home more!”) and Flair leaves to a thunderous ovation. If you love Flair, then this was your Graceland. If you’re like me and you think he’s a scumbag, then it was merely a “really good match”.
-Goodbye, Ric. It’s a shame that we’ll never see you wrestle another match, since you’re a man of your word.
-Edge assures us that tonight, the fans will leave disappointed. Shoulda waited till next year to use that line, Mr. Copeland.
-Snoop Dogg is the guest emcee for the LumberJills Playboy Challenge Gala Thingie-ma-bobber. Beth Phoenix and Melina vs. Maria and Ashley while Mickie James gets to watch from ringside again. Lucky her.
-Mmm….Maryse and Layla dancing up on each other on the way out. Victoria dancing….well, not so much.
-And here’s a highlight: the lights went out during the match. And there’s your highlight. Thanks for taking interest in the match!
-Anyway, Santino Marella interferes on behalf of the heels and Beth pins Maria with her Fisherman’s Buster. Then Snoop takes out Santino and makes out with Maria. When you have 15 women out there and you’re just happy to see Santino Marella, there’s a good chance that WWE didn’t pique your sexual interest properly. Match was lame, as you’d expect.
-Hype for the triple threat WWE Title match. The viewing party was torn: one half hated Cena, the other half hated Triple H. Regardless, we received our Randy Orton Fan Cards in the mail days before, so our allegiance was set.
-Randy Orton vs. Triple H vs. John Cena was indeed next, and Cena’s special entrance is a college marching band playing his theme. I’ll admit, this is probably my favorite of the collection. How would the marching band play a theme like Isaac Yankem’s though?
-Cena tries to end it with the FU early on Orton, but HHH goes low on him to put a stop to that. Then HHH and Orton hit a cross body version of the Doomsday Device on Cena. Well, Hunter hates doing jobs, so that WOULD make him Animal. And they’re both related to Johnny Ace, either by blood or….I’ll just stop right there.
-Orton drops Cena and HHH with a dual rope-assist DDT. I really can’t believe I wasn’t an Orton fan sooner. If you get past his real life aggressive behavior, is there any heel that’s so perfectly slimy like Randy Orton has been? Even Jericho’s too likeable as a weasel. Orton just has the right amount of gusto for his character.
-HHH begins to work Orton’s knee, because the match could use a story other than “three muscleheads beating each other up in shifts”. Good call.
-Orton manages an RKO on Hunter, which knocks him to the outside. Cena gets the STFU on Orton, but Hunter pulls the pile to the ropes. Clever spot. Basically, the match turns into HHH and Cena taking turns wearing Orton out while disrupting the other man’s attempts to win. Makes you forget that Orton has a chance.
-Cena with another STFU on Orton, and Hunter locks Cena in the Voldemort Crossface. There’s a good way to wake the crowd up, imitate a disgraced murderer. Of course, Triple H is the smartest man in the business, you know.
-Hunter avoids the FU and Pedigrees Cena, but Orton comes flying in out of nowhere to Punt Trips’ head into the third row. With Hunter incapacitated, Orton covers Cena to win and to retain the title. It was a really good match, and my friends and I actually marked out like idiots when Orton actually won. And really, isn’t that what matters?
-Hype video for Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather. I believe the original concept for the match, before Rey Mysterio got hurt, was to have Mysterio and Oscar de la Hoya face MVP and Mayweather, which would have been far more interesting. At least, that’s what a couple of outlets revealed, so take it with a grain of salt. Poor Big Show. He’s always the consolation prize that nobody wanted.
-Mayweather’s entourage consists of about 8 large men and a promoter who looks like MVP if MVP went on the Kirstie Alley diet. Those sixty pounds that Show lost during his layoff had to go somewhere, geez.
-What follows is incredibly worked stuff, since Mayweather has to sustain as little damage as possible. Being an active boxer who draws millions of dollars on PPV, it would behoove you to work as light as you can. With the crowd kinda lukewarm on Mayweather, who doesn’t exactly have the most endearing personality, the fans seem lost.
-Show dominates for a few minutes and the entourage tries pulling Mayweather to safety. So Show lays out the crew and brings Mayweather back. Fans still have no idea who the face is here. Neither do I.
-After the crew helps Floyd avoid the chokeslam, Mayweather takes Show down with some chair shots, and then knocks him out with a pair of brass knux. Show cannot answer a ten count, so Mayweather is declared the winner. Weird spectacle of a match that wasn’t boring, but it was just badly booked. At least the Vince-Trump saga from one year earlier had a good story to it, with the characters better defined. This was just there.
-Kim Kardashian announces the attendance at 74,635. That’s also the number of things I’d love to do with her. Oh, don’t give me that look, you’re in the same boat with me.
-Undertaker-Edge highlight package. At this point, it was a bit uncomfortable watching Vickie Guerrero play a heel who was so sickeningly intimate with Edge, given that her husband, a hero to many, had just died two years before. At the same time, I feel like WWE has to go over the line when trying to get heels over, because there’s too many heels like Jericho, Punk, and others who the fans cheer and admire so much that it’s hard to get the vehement hatred that they desire. So, on the one hand, I understand using Vickie to cement Edge as a heel that you hate with all your heart. On the other hand, just….ugh.
-It’s funny how Teddy Long keeps getting reduced to minor roles, like “guy who pushes Vickie’s wheelchair”, when he’s possibly one of the top two or three most charismatic authority figures that WWE’s ever had. Between doing menial tasks, making weird deals (MVP’s contract when he debuted, for one), and relying on The Undertaker to be his main enforcer, has any authority figure been as misused as Teddy?
-I’m done being a bitterhead, I swear.
-Stand up brawl to kick things off, with Taker getting the better of it. There’s a good litmus test for main eventers. If you can’t have a decent brawl with Undertaker, then you’re probably not going to make it far in the company. Just saying.
-Taker tumbles to the outside after hitting a running knee into the corner, and the tide turns. Edge goes outside and slams Taker into the apron. Inside, Edge lands a beautiful neckbreaker, and the Dead Man falls back to the floor. Good build so far, but they have their work cut out for them after the Mayweather-Show debacle.
-Edge is knocked off the buckles, and Taker lands his super dive onto him. Finally, the fans are coming around.
-Meanwhile, Taker can’t hit the Last Ride due to back pains, and Edge takes him outside, slamming him into the rail with a back suplex. Even then, I don’t think any of us thought the streak was in jeopardy, even though Edge is that good of a heel.
-Edge works the leg to little avail, and Taker comes out of it with Snake Eyes, but runs into a dropkick on the rebound strike attempt. Taker tries a chokeslam, but Edge lands the Edgecution for 2. The two take turns countering moves, and it ends with Taker attempting Old School, only to get crotched. Edge lands a superplex for another 2 count. Good stuff.
-How often does someone outright kick out of the Last Ride? Edge just did. Then the champion counters the Tombstone attempt with the Edge-o-matic for 2. Nope. Still not buying the streak being in jeopardy.
-Taker misses a big boot attempt and takes out the ref. I’ll bet there’s going to be run-ins and/or chicanery. What do you think?
-Sure enough, Taker lands the Tombstone with no referee, and here comes Charles Robinson sprinting 165 MPH to the ring, but it’s only a 2 count. THAT was awesome.
-The Edgeheads of Curt Hawkins and Zack “WOO WOO WOO” Ryder hit the ring, but Taker takes them out easily. However, Edge manages a couple of Spears, but soon falls victim to Hell’s Gate, and submits after a struggle to give Taker his sixth World Title. Really good match, but the Smackdown matches seem to suffer compared to Raw in terms of telling the story, since Monday night is the “wrestling night”. I barely remembered the issue between the two men and I follow wrestling very closely. Even then, I still think the match was better quality than Michaels/Flair.
-Chili Peppers, Rev Theory, play us out.
-CYNIC SAYS: Kind of a weird show, but it wasn’t terrible. You had 4 matches to hang your hat on, but there was a share of crap as well. Finlay and JBL was the only “middle ground” match, so other than that, either it was really good, or it was really bad.
Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.
WWE as we knew it changed forever in the early summer of 2007. At that time, the company received some of its most extensive media attention to date, although it was for regrettable and horrifying reasons.
The story, which bears no necessity to rehash fully, sees Chris Benoit murder his wife Nancy and seven-year-old son Daniel, before hanging himself on a warm Georgia weekend. Accusations of “roid rage” ping-ponged through media circles, while television commentators asked empty questions about a serious story.
While Benoit’s catalyst for ultimately snapping is likely an undetermined combo of diminished mental capacity (due to years of hard landings and impacts in wrestling), a failing marriage, and a disconnect from life and faith after losing several friends at young ages (particularly Eddie Guerrero), steroids became the hot topic.
After some probing into his life, and his death, Benoit was found to have been received shipments of steroids and other drugs from an online company called Signature Pharmacy. By the end of the summer of 2007, a whole host of WWE superstars would receive suspensions for having their names linked to the pharmacy, including Edge, John Morrison, Umaga, Booker T, among others. Soon-to-be World Champion Randy Orton was reportedly on the list wasn’t punished. Batista and Rey Mysterio were both also linked to the company, but were never formally accused of association.
Gradually, as the scent of Benoit dissipated from WWE’s climate, the company began to alter their avatar, painting over the low-brow, violent, overly sexual image with, well, low-brow, family friendly colors.
Blood would disappear from WWE almost entirely, as would weapon shots to the cranium. The divas began to wear more clothing, in addition.
WWE was attempting to return to “family entertainment” at a time when they needed a safe place to rebury their roots.
THE EVENT Randy Orton had reigned as WWE Champion since October 7, 2007, after John Cena’s year long reign ended after he tore his pectoral muscle. Orton was handed the title at No Mercy, lost it immediately to Triple H, and then won it back at night’s end.
Cena, who was due to be out anywhere from six months to a year, was back in four. To the complete surprise of onlookers at Madison Square Garden, John Cena entered the 2008 Royal Rumble last and eliminated Triple H to advance to WrestleMania.
But what if he didn’t want to wait that long?
In an interesting move, Cena chose to cash in his title shot against Orton at No Way Out, six weeks before the big dance. Cena would win the match, however, he won by disqualification, meaning that Orton had outsmarted the challenger, making him blow his earned opportunity.
Triple H, meanwhile, had won a #1 contender’s Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out, getting a shot at Orton at WrestleMania. Cena managed to defeat Orton the next night on Raw in a non-title match with “The Game” as referee, to make the match a triple threat match.
The three men would then spend several weeks booking his opponents in difficult situations, as the three attempted to wear each other down before March 30.
Over on the blue brand, however, Edge was reigning supreme as World Heavyweight Champion after shacking up with Smackdown’s interim GM, Vickie Guerrero. With Vickie now in his hip pocket (among other places), Edge had also amassed a small army, consisting of Vickie’s nephew Chavo Guerrero, as well as Edge’s own wannabe doppelgangers Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder.
However, The Undertaker won Smackdown’s Elimination Chamber at No Way Out, and had revenge on his mind. Edge had cashed in a Money in the Bank privilege in May 2007 to injure Undertaker and take the World Heavyweight Title. Edge had also cost “The Dead Man” the championship at Survivor Series, so Undertaker now had a road toward revenge already paved.
Among the other marquee showdowns, Ric Flair was embroiled in an angle where he would have to retire if he lost one more match. After staving off the likes of Mr. Kennedy and MVP, Flair wanted a true test. He challenged Shawn Michaels to a match under WrestleMania’s bright lights, believing that if he couldn’t beat one of the all-time greats, then he should, indeed, walk away. After some hesitation, Michaels agreed to the match, which had both historical implications, as well as consequences.
In an attempt to add mainstream attention to an already stacked show, WWE brought in undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. to face Big Show in a no holds barred match. Mayweather had broken Show’s nose with a jab combo at No Way Out, setting the stage for their WrestleMania confrontation.
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler called the action for Raw, Michael Cole and Jonathan Coachman handled Smackdown, and Joey Styles and Tazz would perform duties for ECW. Socialite Kim Kardashian served as the show’s “guest hostess”, while Snoop Dogg appeared during a divas’ tag team match. Singer John Legend performed “America the Beautiful”. The WWE Hall of Fame inducted Ric Flair, Rocky Johnson, “High Chief” Peter Maivia, Mae Young, Jack and Gerald Brisco, Gordon Solie, and Eddie Graham.
Belfast Brawl: JBL def. Finlay in 8:35
(I’d share with you the saga of how Hornswoggle was Vince McMahon’s son, until JBL revealed it was a ruse and he was actually Finlay’s son and how JBL attacked Hornswoggle in a hospital and…well here, lemme bash you with this 2X4 so you’re not cross-eyed anymore)
Money in the Bank: CM Punk def. Chris Jericho, MVP, Mr. Kennedy, Shelton Benjamin, Carlito, and John Morrison in 13:55
(Somewhat disappointing given the talent level involved, but still a really good match. Shelton’s free fall through the bridged ladder prompted a legit look of horror from Carlito. Jeff Hardy was supposed to be in this match but, well, you can probably guess what happened)
Inter-Brand Challenge: Batista def. Umaga in 7:06
(What’s funnier: the fact that Batista was booed out of the stadium and botched the finish, or that these two were relegated to a forgotten “battle for brand supremacy”?)
ECW Championship: Kane def. Chavo Guerrero in 12 seconds to win the title
(E-C-DUB! E-C-DUB! No wonder Joey Styles quit commentary)
Career Threatening Match: Shawn Michaels def. Ric Flair in 20:23
(Here’s the deal: it was a pretty good match, but, in my opinion, it’s nowhere near as great as everyone makes it out to be. Overzealous fans were hailing this as a magnum opus, but Ric Flair blew more big moments than the ’86 Red Sox in this match. Flair should have stayed retired, but it was clear at points in this match that Michaels was carrying him. When Flair needs to be carried, it’s over)
Lumberjill Match: Beth Phoenix/Melina def. Maria/Ashley in 5:56
(The bad news is that Maria decided to ditch her general cute look and try for some oversexed Manga-esque appearance from here on out. The good news is Ashley wouldn’t be around much longer)
WWE Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton def. Triple H and John Cena in 14:09
(The crowd reaction when Orton wins is a sound to behold. I had this long-standing theory that Cena’s “pec injury” in 2007 was actually a quiet suspension for a wellness violation, because in 2008, he was embarrassed so many times on pay per view, jobbing here, jobbing to JBL, jobbing to Batista, etc. It wouldn’t be until November that he would see the title again)
No Holds Barred: Floyd Mayweather def. Big Show in 11:36
(If you can figure out what this match was supposed to accomplish, you’re a better man than me. Best I can tell is that it was a way to humiliate Show again. Which I’m okay with)
World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker def. Edge in 23:50 to win the title
(Best match of the night, which is overshadowed by Flair’s retirement, and the fact that Smackdown seems to get little or no respect compared to the events on Raw. Compared to now, when Undertaker’s broken down, and Edge is starting to get there, this match is a near masterpiece)
ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
I’ll say one thing about WWE: they’re lucky to have the roster of competent, experienced, and instinctive wrestlers that they have, because their efforts in making a show great often bail out horrible writing and uninspired storylines.
Going into this event, you had angles involving a leprechaun offspring, a champion courting a real-life widow for title opportunities, a giant facing an unlikeable boxer with an annoying posse, and a meandering angle involving three men fighting for a world championship, in which the two babyfaces involved are stale and, at that point, largely disliked by strong portions of the audience.
But, at least, you had Michaels and Flair. Do I think the match is overrated? I do, but I do enjoy what it symbolized. The ending, in which Michaels had to search his soul before trying to finish Flair, with Flair egging him on, telling him not to let up, before Shawn’s famous “I’m sorry, I love you” declaration, followed by the kick and pin, will be burned into the annals of WrestleMania history.
If only Flair had stayed retired. A tearful “Nature Boy”, embracing his wife and kids, walking out to a thunderous ovation, was the proper ending.
Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.
Being World Wrestling Entertainment has its share of diverse ways in which it can present its product. With an impressive active roster, a tremendous amount of classic legends willing to appear, expansion into wrestling-starved foreign countries, and a stranglehold on social media and merchandise licensing, even when the product falters, WWE still manages to thrive.
In 2006, WWE found itself spinning its wheels. John Cena, while a popular champion to youthful audiences, was getting choruses of boos from the more “time tested” fans who were used to wrestling being more coarse, bloody, raw (pun intended), and risqué than a near-thirty year old man in rainbow-ish t-shirts, trucker caps, and sneakers running his mouth as if he were the Disney Channel’s version of Eminem.
Since WWE was keen on keeping Cena champion long term (a strategy that has paid off if you consider merchandise sales and Cena’s cross-promotions), Vince McMahon needed something to keep the “hardcores” happy.
And the answer WAS hardcore. Well, rather, Vince’s definition of “hardcore”.
In June 2006, WWE opened a third brand, resurrecting the five-years-dead ECW, complete with Paul Heyman in charge. Joining Heyman were Joey Styles and Tazz on the stick, as well as classic stars of ECW’s past, such as Rob Van Dam and The Sandman. While the new ECW (dubbed WWECW by smart alecks) lacked the unpolished feel of the previous incarnation, ECW would serve as a nice alternative to Raw and SmackDown, creating a number of new stars in the process.
Also in the spring, WWE brought back another uncouth concept: D-Generation X. Triple H turned face for the first time in four years, reuniting with Shawn Michaels to recreate some old mayhem, albeit with less controversy.
With this mix of classic chaos and modern marketing, WWE was on the road to Detroit.
For the first time since WWE allowed for two world titles to exist, the two title matches at WrestleMania would be exclusive to babyfaces only.
The Undertaker, after a decade and a half of raising Hell in WWE, finally could add a Royal Rumble victory to his resume. Being the first #30 entrant to win the January classic, Undertaker brawled with Shawn Michaels for the final eight or nine minutes, ousting his legendary counterpart by avoiding Sweet Chin Music.
Undertaker now had his pick of opponent. Choosing between WWE Champion John Cena, World Heavyweight Champion Batista, and ECW Champion Bobby Lashley, “The Phenom” settled on Batista, who reigned supreme over Undertaker’s home show, SmackDown.
With SmackDown’s main event locked in, Cena’s opponent was determined by a triple threat match between Shawn Michaels, Edge, and Randy Orton. Michaels managed to beat the former World Tag Team Champions to earn the spot.
Making this match interesting was the fact that, long before Michaels had become Cena’s #1 contender, he and Cena had beaten Orton and Edge to become World Tag Team Champions. This marked the first time in WrestleMania history that tag titlists would fight over a singles belt.
Orton tried to stir the pot between the two men, showing a video of how Michaels had turned on every tag team partner he’d ever had, including Marty Jannetty, Diesel, and Hulk Hogan, among others.
Michaels tried to smooth things with his unlikely partner by saying that “this time is different”, but Michaels would still taunt Cena with a feint attempt at a Sweet Chin Music.
At No Way Out in February, Undertaker actually teamed with Batista to face Cena and Michaels in a non title match. The Raw brand team won, and things looked to still be copacetic between the two men.
Six days before WrestleMania, however, the two teams would have a rematch. This time, Michaels came through on Cena’s paranoia by blasting the WWE Champion with Sweet Chin Music. Michaels left Cena laying, and his partner fell victim to the loss. Michaels’ well-timed double cross fueled the fire for the main event match at WrestleMania XXIII.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to build mainstream interest in his annual money-making machine, Vince McMahon began a feud with real life media mogul Donald Trump. The two had a disagreement after Vince used an actor playing Trump (indy wrestler Ace Steel) to beat an actress playing Rosie O’Donnell on Raw. The match was so ill-received, that Trump himself taunted McMahon by saying that Vince didn’t know what the fans wanted.
The two bickered further, each picking a man to represent him at WrestleMania. Vince chose WWE Intercontinental Champion Umaga, while Trump chose ECW Champion Bobby Lashley. Stone Cold Steve Austin would be the guest referee, and the losing cornerman (Trump or McMahon) would have their head shaved bald after the match.
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler handled Raw, Michael Cole and JBL called Smackdown, and Joey Styles and Tazz covered ECW, with all six men coming together for the opening match of the night. Aretha Franklin performed “America the Beautiful” as she had twenty years earlier at WrestleMania III. The Hall of Fame inductions saw the inclusion of Ross, Lawler, Dusty Rhodes, Mr. Perfect, Mr. Fuji, The Wild Samoans, The Sheik, and Nick Bockwinkel.
Money in the Bank: Mr. Kennedy def. Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Edge, Randy Orton, King Booker, CM Punk, and Finlay in 19:05
(Highlights including Kennedy’s annoyed face at Hornswoggle when he tried to interfere, as well as Matt encouraging Jeff to do a crazy dive onto Edge through a ladder. “Do it Jeff! He stole Lita from us! Now no one’s there to make you ramen noodles!” Second best MITB match in WrestleMania history)
The Great Khali def. Kane in 5:31
(I like how Kane slamming Khali was juxtaposed with Hogan’s legendary slam of Andre from twenty years earlier in the show’s closing highlight package. As if they had the same memorable value)
WWE United States: Chris Benoit def. MVP in 9:19
(This, of course, would be the final WrestleMania for Benoit, as three months later he…..well, we all know what he did. It was a good, not great, match to go out on, and I still miss the man)
World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker def. Batista in 15:48 to win the title
(That’s fifteen. This match was a pleasant surprise, as Batista and Undertaker have this weird chemistry that simply cannot be explained. The two men exchange crisp power moves and ramp up the intensity with their above-average brawling. Great match, and the best feud of a dismal 2007)
Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, and The Sandman def. Matt Striker, Marcus Cor Von, Elijah Burke, and Kevin Thorn in 6:25
(Seven men had their first WrestleMania match here. Those seven also had their last WrestleMania match. Oh, don’t act so surprised)
Battle of the Billionaires/Hair vs. Hair: Bobby Lashley def. Umaga in 13:04
(If Undertaker/Batista was a good surprise, then this was the opposite. Lashley was given a feud with McMahon and an endorsement from Austin and Trump, and still brought none of the energy or personality needed to make it to the next level. Lashley was overpushed, plain and simple)
WWE Women’s/Lumberjill Match: Melina def. Ashley in 3:13
(The bad news: this match was about 3:08 longer than Ashley is capable of working. Good news: Mickie looked great in her tight jeans at ringside. Shame she wasn’t wrestling)
WWE Heavyweight Championship: John Cena def. Shawn Michaels in 28:20
(The fact that Cena won turned a lot of fans off, but this is up there with the greatest matches in WM history. Michaels brought a more reserved, but grinding, personality to this, which included the awesome piledriver on the ring steps on Cena. Cena and Michaels worked their asses off here, and both of them deserve for this match to get a lot more credit than it does)
ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
The two World Title matches, as well as Money in the Bank, featured twelve men who worked their hardest to make WrestleMania as special as it’s meant to be. However, most of the hype going into the show revolved around Donald Trump‘s involvement, as well as his feud with McMahon, who was seriously getting out of control at this point regarding on-camera time.
When you have the three aforementioned matches on your show, you should walk away feeling great. But when you watch that Battle of the Billionaires, and you see how the fans barely reacted to Vince being shaved bald, and how they barely got behind an anemic talker like Lashley, who never looked like he wanted to be there, you feel a bit sour.
It’s like a concert. If you hype up Guns n Roses as the headliner, and you have three popular, but not yet legendary, acts (say Disturbed, Godsmack, and Saliva) performing, what if those three bands (who got less hype) rocked, and then GNR came out and absolutely sucked?
Do you hate the show because GNR sucked, or do you love it because the other bands owned it?
I guess the answer’s up to you.
Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.
This week on TNA Impact Wrestling, we’ll see a Gauntlet Match for 20 points featuring everyone in the BFG Series. We get comments from every single competitor, ending with Magnus, who says he will solidify his place as the #1 man.
In the arena, Bully Ray makes his way out with Brooke Tessmacher and Tito Ortiz, with the rest of Aces and Eights several steps behind. He wants to start off by telling everyone that A and E are in total control, and this group is the best bunch of brothers a president could ever have. He is so proud of each one of them. Without them, he’d be nothing. They watch his back, they all hang together, they do it all. Last week might’ve been a little harsh, but that’s over and done with, right? Ray then hugs each memberof the group as a rather loud, “Tito sucks!” chant breaks out. Ray says the fans are all jealous of Ortiz. They’re all weak, and none of them is the man he is. Every woman in the arena wants to be with him. He focuses on Mr. Anderson and calls him the best VP ever. He has more love for Anderson than he had for Devon. Anderson wasn’t happy about Devon, but that’s business. They hug, and Anderson has a sh*t-eating grin on his face. Now, onto to business. First up, Knux is going to destroy Chris Sabin. Later tonight, Wes Brisco and Garett Bischoff will beat the World Tag Team Champions. Then, Mr. Anderson will win the Gauntlet Match and get 20 points. Ray says he has Hulk Hogan in checkmate, brother, and he accepts the challenge from Sting. He’s going to beat Sting bad, just like he did at Slammiversary. Now, everyone can split. Knux can stay, since his match is up next. Ray is going to hang out with Taz and his broad, and they’re going to watch Knux beat Sabin.
MATCH 1: Knux (w/World Champion Bully Ray and Brooke Tessmacher) vs. Chris Sabin
Sabin ducks a lock-up attempt, then applies a side headlock. Knux shoves him off, then shoulders him down. Sabin pulls himself back up in the corner, and Sabin comes back with asking for a test of strength. He kicks Knux in the knee and applies the side headlock again. Sabin ducks a clothesline and a back elbow before hitting a pair of seated dropkicks to the knee. In the corner, Sabin hits a running back elbow, then dropkicks the knee once more before going for a half-Boston crab. Knux powers out of the hold, but Sabin keeps up the attack to the leg, combined with chops to the chest. Knux comes back with a running cross-body for 2, then hits a short-arm clothesline. Knux hits another for 2, and Sabin now fights back with punches before running into a big boot. Knux goes for a fireman’s carry and hotshots Sabin across the top rope before knee-choking him over the bottom rope. Sabin gets a slingshot under the bottom rope for 2, and Knux follows up with a neck vice. Sabin fights back with rights once more, but Knux grabs him by the hair, hits a forearm to the back and follows up with a back suplex. Knux mounts the middle rope and hits a guillotine legdrop for 2 before choking Sabin over the ropes once more. He misses a cannonball across the back, and Sabin rolls to the apron, where he hits a dragon-screw through the ropes. Sabin goes up top and hits a missile dropkick. Bully Ray throws Knux a hammer, but Sabin hits a dropkick to the knee before Knux can connect with the hammer. Sabin grabs the hammer and clobbers Knux with it, causing the DQ.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: Knux. Pretty sure that’s the first win Knux has gotten in TNA since, well, ever.
Up next, we hear from Mickie James as I prepare to throw up my dinner.
Back from the break, we see Chris Sabin and Velvet Sky in the back. Sabin is pissed about what just happened as Sky tries to calm him down. Sabin says something needs to change. He should still be the face of this company, and this isn’t right. He continues to bitch about the hammer, and he’s pretty much ignoring Sky. He finally calms down a bit and apologizes to her before storming off.
Mickie James comes out and says she’s excited to be in Cleveland, OH tonight. Not only is this one of the last Impacts of summer, but Cleveland is also the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was so excited about this, she prepared an “amazing” performance for tonight. In lieu of all that and the VMAs, no one needs all that when she has the “MJJs”, whatever that is. She puts some trophy on the top rope and says everyone needs to stop bagging on Miley Cyrus. She knows how hard it is to be a breakout star and to be larger than life, not to mention the greatest Knockouts Champion of the century. So, she said to herself this isn’t right. Apparently, no one likes the way she twerks.
Thank L. Ron Hubbard and all that is sacred, ODB interrupts this atrociously bad promo. She asks why James is mentioning Miley when they are in the home of rock and roll, and right now, James needs to worry about this broad taking the “Knocked Out” title. James calls herself a star, while ODB isn’t one. She then clubs ODB from behind with a forearm. ODB fights back with a clothesline, then grabs the KO title and holds it over her head. James rips it out of her hand and shoves it in her face while talking trash. ODB rips James’ shirt off, and James is acting like she’s completely topless (she has a bra on) as she runs to the back.
We get the current leaderboard for the BFG Series, and it’s as follows: 1-Magnus (39); 2-Austin Aries (35); 3-Bobby Roode (34); 4-Jeff Hardy (31); 5-Christopher Daniels (30); 6-Kazarian and AJ Styles (tie, 29); 8-Samoa Joe (26); 9-Mr. Anderson (24); 10-Joseph Park (17); 11-Hernandez and Jay Bradley (tie, 7). We cut to Jeremy Borash, who announces the two men kicking off the gauntlet are two guys who cannot get into the top 4 no matter what, that being Jay Bradley and Hernandez. He asks Bradley what he can gain in this match tonight, and Bradley says there isn’t a lot to gain, but he and Hernandez can still add value. A particular organization made Bradley an offer to handle business tonight, then offers Hernandez to be his business partner.
We see Knux shoving his face with food and chatting with Wes Brisco and Garett Bischoff. I’m not sure why, as the segment pretty much ends after he says something about dessert.
Sting is shown entering the building earlier today. He will face Bully Ray later tonight, and now, the title is apparently not on the line, despite what was said last week. Whatever. I’ve stopped caring about this angle (not that I really ever did).
MATCH 2-BFG Series Gauntlet Match; Participants: Hernandez, Jay Bradley, Joseph Park (w/Eric Young), Mr. Anderson, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Kazarian, Christopher Daniels, Jeff Hardy, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries and Magnus
Hernandez and Bradley start, and Bradley grabs a mic. He asks Hernandez about his offer. There’s a certain group that has put a lot of money on the table. All Bradley has to do, with Hernandez’s help, is eliminate a certain someone at the right time. Hernandez helps him, he helps Hernandez’s wallet grow. Hernandez boots Bradley in the gut, then chops him in the corner before hitting an avalanche. He follows up with a running shoulderblock and a back body drop. He tries to throw Bradley out as Joseph Park makes his way out. Bradley assaults Park with punches and elbows before kicking him in the corner. Park gets corner-whipped, but rebounds with a clothesline and a shoulderblock. Bradley comes back with a back elbow, then tries to throw Park out in the corner. Park lands on the apron, and Bradley tries to knock him to the floor with elbows. Park is hanging on as Hernandez recovers and hits Bradley with a Pounce. Hernandez tries to throw Bradley out once more, but Bradley tangles himself in the ropes. Mr. Anderson is out next and knocks Hernandez down with a clothesline before trying to knock Park off the apron. Commercials.
Back from the break, Samoa Joe hits the ring and drops Park with a clothesline. Bradley gets one as well. Commercials.
Back from the break yet again, Anderson is assaulting Joe in the corner. AJ Styles is out and he immediately eliminates Park. He hangs on to the ropes off the clothesline and is still in this match.
Joseph Park is eliminated.
AJ sends Hernandez into the corner, then stomps Bradley before trying to throw him out. Joe tries to throw Anderson out, but Anderson lands on the apron and headbutts Joe. Hernandez hits a back body drop on AJ off the ropes as Anderson rakes Joe’s eyes in the corner. Hernandez tries to throw AJ out, but AJ fights him off. AJ targets Anderson now, hitting a series of rights as Kazarian comes out. Kaz targets AJ and immediately tosses him over the top. AJ holds on as Joe chops Anderson in the corner. Joe calls for the Muscle Buster on Anderson, but Anderson fights his way out with rights and a headbutt. Joe lands a kick to the head than knocks Anderson to the floor.
Mr. Anderson is eliminated.
Joe chops Hernandez in the corner as Kaz hits a snap suplex on AJ. On the replay, we see that Anderson hit the back of his head on the guardrail off the fall he took from Joe’s kick. Back to the action, Kaz hits an avalanche on Hernandez. AJ hits a back suplex on Kaz then tries to toss him. Christopher Daniels is out next, and he joins Bradley in stomping Joe in the corner. Daniels then targets AJ with Kaz, and they stomp him to the mat before Daniels knee-chokes Joe. Kaz holds AJ up for a shot by Daniels, and now Bad Influence double-teams Joe. AJ attacks Hernandez. Joe ducks a BI double clothesline, then hits one of his own. Daniels is thrown out, but hangs on. Kaz knocks Joe down, and BI then throw Hernandez out.
Hernandez is eliminated.
Jeff Hardy is out next, and he hits Kaz with a right as we go to more commercials.
Back once again, and Bobby Roode is out. Hardy is trying to throw Daniels out, and Roode puts a stop to that, throwing Hardy into the ropes and stomping him down. Bradley boots AJ then launches him outside. AJ hangs on and lands on the apron. Bradley goes for the Boomstick, but AJ ducks and pulls Bradley to the floor.
Jay Bradley is eliminated. BI double-team Joe in the corner as Roode hits some shoulder thrusts on AJ in the corner. Kaz targets Hardy in one corner now, while Daniels has Joe in another and Roode has AJ in a third. AJ fights off and goes after Kaz, nailing a dropkick. Joe throws Daniels to the corner. Austin Aries is up next, and he hits a flying clothesline on both members of BI. He tries to throw Daniels out, but Roode and Kaz put a stop to that. Daniels fights off a suplex by AJ, then goes for his own. AJ tangles himself in the ropes, then hits a chop. Joe joins in on the chops as well, and now AJ and Joe look to throw Daniels out in the corner. Roode tries to throw Aries out, but Aries hangs on. Kaz stops Daniels from being thrown out. Daniels hits a dropkick on Joe as Magnus comes out, completing the field. Magnus attacks both members of BI and hits Daniels with an elevated northern lights bomb. BI double-team Magnus a moment later and try to throw him out. Joe interferes and attacks both members of BI. Daniels low-bridges Joe, and Kaz helps push him out.
Samoa Joe is eliminated.
Aries attacks Daniels in the corner as Kaz against the ropes. Hardy tries to throw Kaz out, and Roode throws him out instead.
Jeff Hardy is eliminated.
Kaz attacks AJ as Magnus beats on Roode in the corner. Daniels throws Aries into the corner, and AJ manages to monkey-flip Kaz to the outside from his back.
Kazarian is eliminated.
Magnus picks Roode up for a powerslam and tries to launch him, but Daniels pulls Roode down and throws Magnus out.
Magnus is eliminated.
We are down to the final four, and the two remaining members of EGO double-team AJ. Roode targets Aries and holds him up for a clothesline, but Aries ducks before hitting Daniels with a rolling elbow. He tries for a cross-body on Roode in the corner, but Roode dumps him to the outside. Aries lands on the apron, and AJ knocks him to the floor with a forearm.
Austin Aries is eliminated.
AJ then low-bridges an incoming Roode, sending him to the outside.
Bobby Roode is eliminated.
AJ and Daniels trade punches before Daniels tries to backdrop AJ to the floor. AJ lands on the apron and hits the Superman before connecting with a series of strikes and a fireman’s carry into a backbreaker. He calls for the Styles Clash, but Daniels escapes. AJ ducks a clothesline and hits a Pele. AJ immediately clotheslines him to the floor.
WINNER: AJ Styles, who picks up 20 points and moves into 1st place with 49. The final four are now AJ Styles, Magnus, Austin Aries and Bobby Roode. Also a result of AJ’s win, he gets to pick who he wants to face at No Surrender in the final four.
Bully Ray is in the back with Mr. Anderson, and is disgusted with what he just saw. He calls Anderson a disappointment. He could have been on his way to BFG. All he had to do was win tonight. Knux won his match tonight. He’s sure Wes and Garett will win theirs. What has Anderson done for the club lately? Anderson says he’s been busting his ass for the club and has done everything for the club. Ray says he’s the president and is above Anderson. We saw what he did to his own brother Devon. How does Anderson know Ray won’t break a beer bottle on his face, rip off his vest and piss on it? Ray then tells him don’t ever screw up or disappoint him again, Mr. VP.
AJ Styles is in the back and says he was out of the top four, and now he’s in 1st place. He’s a winner, and he’s going to win the BFG Series. He’s going to face Bully Ray, and he’s going to take everything Ray’s got.
We see Sting and Rampage Jackson in the back. Jackson reminds us that Sting can never wrestle for the title again. Sting says that’s true, but titles aren’t important to him anymore. He thanks Bully Ray for what happened, because it made him realize he needs back-up. He’s got killers for a family now, and he’s got one more chance against Ray tonight. His odds are good, because he’s got back-up now. This might be his last chance, but he can do it.
MATCH 3: World Tag Team Champions Gunner and James Storm vs. Garett Bischoff and Wes Brisco (non-title)
Does anyone remember the last time the tag belts were defended? Shouldn’t be surprised. The TV title hasn’t been defended once since Abyss won it from Devon months ago. Anyway, Wes and Garett attack the champs as they’re coming down to the ring. The two teams brawl before Storm throws Garett into the ring to start the match. The brawl spills right back to the floor. Wes clubs Gunner down on one side of the ring as Storm throws Garett into the guardrail before popping a beer. Gunner drops Wes with a clothesline, and the champs corner Garett in the ring. Storm sends Gunner into Garett in the corner, then hits a clothesline for 2. Storm hits a bodyslam and a jumping kneedrop for another 2 before going for a suplex. Wes puts a stop to that, which allows Garett to hit a clothesline. Garett shoulders Storm in the corner a few times, then throws Storm into Wes’ boot before tagging out. Wes sends Garett in for a clothesline, and Garett then sends Storm into a Wes clothesline for 2. Storm fights out of the corner before running into a back elbow. Wes applies a jujigatame over the top rope, then gets 2 after he gets back in the ring. Storm counters a bodyslam with a backcracker, then kicks Wes off so he can tag Gunner. Garett also tags in, and Gunner hits a clothesline, followed by a headbutt and a corner clothesline. Gunner connects with a uranage backbreaker for 2 as Wes breaks it up. Storm takes Wes out with an apron kick. Gunner puts Garett in catapult position, sending him into a Storm DDT for 2. The champs go for their finisher, but Wes pulls Storm to the floor and sends him into the ring post. Garett rolls Gunner up with a handful of tights for 2 off the distraction. Wes grabs one of the tag belts and brings it into the ring. The ref pulls it out of his hand as Gunner knocks Wes to the floor. Behind the ref’s back, Garett pulls a chain out and clobbers Gunner in the back of the head before throwing the chain away and scoring the 3.
WINNERS: Garett Bischoff and Wes Brisco.
AJ Styles will announce his opponent up next.
Magnus, Bobby Roode and Austin Aries make their way out to the ring for AJ’s decision. JB introduces each one before introducing AJ, who makes his way out. AJ is asked who his choice will be. AJ gets in the face of Roode, then Aries. He calls Aries the biggest blemish on his BFG Series, as he’s the one guy AJ lost two. That’s why Aries is the first man he’s going through to get what he wants, making the matches AJ/Aries and Roode/Magnus. Aries says he doesn’t like making promises he can’t keep, but he can promise there will be a winner next week, and that winner will be the fans. Before JB can announce the Roode/Magnus match, Roode says he loves when a plan comes together. There’s a reason why he aligned himself with BI and became EGO-to get in the final four, and “The IT Factor” is in. As far as he’s concerned, he has the weakest link. Magnus may have beaten him earlier on in the series, but he’s a different man this time. He’ll defeat Magnus, move onto the finals then walk into BFG and take back his World title. Magnus says they earned their points at each others’ expense. The difference is, Magnus got his points by himself. He’s got a feeling Cleveland, OH is Mafia country, and Roode may have forgotten that, while he has new friends, Magnus has a family. Next week, the playing field will be even. No mistakes, no second chances, No Surrender. Magnus will go through everyone, go onto BFG and for the first time in his career, become the World Champion.
Bully Ray makes his way out for the main event, flanked by Mr. Anderson, Tito Ortiz and Brooke Tessmacher. Sting is out next. Ray grabs a mic after the formal introductions and reminds everyone this is a non-title match. Ray reminds Sting of Slammiversary and the stipulation of that match. Too damn bad. Screw you, and screw your best friend, Hogan. On this note, Hulk Hogan makes his way out. Hulk tells Ray he runs the show, and now it’s time for Ray’s receipt (?). As of now, Tito Ortiz is no long allowed at ringside, and Hulk tells security to escort Ortiz from ringside. Hulk then says if Ray didn’t like that, he’s not going to like this: the match is now a No-DQ Match.
MATCH 4-No-Disqualification Match: World Champion Bully Ray (w/Mr. Anderson and Brooke Tessmacher) vs. Sting
Sting immediately hits a Stinger Splash and some rights. He sends Ray into the opposite corner, then stomps on his hand before throwing him to the outside. Sting hits Ray with a chair. Commercials.
Back from the break, Sting is still hitting Ray with a chair. Ray rolls into the ring as Sting slides the chair in. Ray hits a low blow, and Sting stupidly pulls the chair across his own face as Ray hits a jumping splash for 2. Ray grabs the chair and cracks Sting across the back, then slams him on the chair. Ray stares Anderson down as he goes outside. Taz apparently hands Ray something, and Ray then starts cutting the canvas from the frame. Turns out it was a box cutter. Ray gets back in the ring, cracks Sting on the back once more, then begins tearing a corner of the ring apart, exposing the boards underneath. Sting comes back with a double-leg takedown and applies a very weak scorpion deathlock. Garett Bischoff, Wes Brisco and Knux jump into the ring and triple-team Sting as Ray recovers in the corner. Samoa Joe, Rampage Jackson and Magnus also make their way down, and the match turns into a brawl between the two sides until the Main Event Mafia clear the ring. Ray throws Sting near the exposed corner and goes for a piledriver. Sting counters into a back body drop, then avoids an avalanche. He goes for a Scorpion Death Drop on the exposed corner, but Ray hangs onto the top rope, blocking the move. Sting avoids a big boot and applies the scorpion deathlock once more. Mr. Anderson pulls out a hammer and tries to hand it to Ray underneath the bottom rope. Ray almost grabs it, but Anderson pulls it back before throwing it to another part of the ring and saying, “Oops”. Ray then taps out.
WINNER: Sting. Anderson grabs a mic and begins screaming that Ray couldn’t do it on his own. He also has the World title in his hand. He asks Ray if he knows who Anderson is, then says he’s the guy who is facing Ray next week for the title. He’s Ray’s worst nightmare, and the next World Champion. His name is Mr. Anderson.
End of show.
That last promo by Anderson would have been fine if nearly anyone else on the roster besides Anderson was delivering it. His stupid drunken frat boy gimmick killed it, though.
Dustin Nichols is a freelance writer, and you can keep track of all of his work on his Facebook page, which can be found at www.facebook.com/DustinNicholsWriter. Oh, and if you like bodybuilding, check out his mom’s official site by clicking the banner below:
This week’s TNA Impact opens with Jeff Hardy entering the building. Hulk Hogan stops him in the backstage area and asks if he’s ready for tonight. Hardy says he was born ready for this kind of match.
TNA now has credits for their opening video. Kill me.
Full Metal Mayhem happens tonight, as does Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell, and we will also get AJ Styles’ “big decision”. Now, to the ring for the opening match.
MATCH 1-Best-of-3-Falls Match for the World Tag Team Championship (If the challengers lose, they must split): Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez vs. Austin Aries and Hernandez (Champions)
The challengers are led to the ring by some boxing legend. I don’t pay attention to boxing, so I don’t know who he is, nor do I care. Roode and Aries attack before they even make their official entrance, with Roode throwing Hernandez into the steps several times. The bell rings, and in the ring, Roode sends Aries into Chavo for a corner dropkick. Aries then sends Chavo into Roode for the spinebuster, which gets 3.
Aries tags in after the rest period and goes up top, mocking Chavo. He takes too long, though, and misses the frog splash. Chavo gets in a quick Oklahoma roll for 3, tying up the series. We’re now into the third fall, and Hernandez is still laid out on the floor. Roode tags in and stomps Chavo down in the opposite corner before dragging him to his own for more stomps and a foot choke. Aries chokes Chavo over the bottom rope behind the ref’s back, and Roode hits a quick back suplex for 2. Aries tags in and hits a tope con hilo, then stomps the face and hits a fist drop for 2. Roode back in, and he corner whips Chavo. Chavo blocks the charge and goes for a tornado DDT. Roode blocks that, but gets hit with a dropkick. Chavo looks for a tag, but Hernandez isn’t there. He eventually crawls up and tags in, hitting a slingshot shoulderblock on Roode, who has tagged in as well. He takes out both champs before hitting Roode with a Pounce. Warrior Press on Aries, and now Hernandez goes outside to the ramp for an outside-in Air Mexico on both the champs. Commercials.
Back from the break, Aries hits a double axe handle from the top to the floor on Hernandez. Roode throws Hernandez back in and goes for the pin, getting 2. A rear chinlock is applied now, and Roode turns it into a snapmare. Aries tags in and hits a spinning European uppercut from the middle rope to the back of Hernandez’s head for 2. Roode back in as Hernandez tries to fight back from his knees. Roode drops him with a forearm, then nails Chavo on the apron, knocking him to the floor. Hernandez tries to fight back once more, so Roode rakes the eyes. Aries comes in illegally, and Hernandez blocks a double clothesline before hitting one of his own. Chavo tags in, and he hits a tope con hilo on Roode before knocking Aries to the floor. Spinning headscissors on Roode sends him out as well, and Chavo drops them both with a slingshot cross-body. Back in, Chavo gets 2, but Aries breaks the pin. He goes for the brainbuster, and Chavo counters into the 3 Amigos. He hits 2 before Roode breaks it up, and Chavo hits him with the 3 Amigos. Up top, Chavo goes for the frog splash. Aries pushes him off onto the ropes, and Roode gets 2 with a handful of tights. Roode applies the Bowflex, and Hernandez breaks the hold up. Aries sends Hernandez to the ramp, but he lands on his feet and hits another outside-in Air Mexico. However, the champs move, and Hernandez hits Chavo. Aries sends him to the floor, and Roode gets 2 on Chavo. Roode sends Aries in for another corner dropkick before Chavo counters a spinebuster by Roode into a DDT for 2. Aries breaks up the pin and sets Chavo up on the top rope. Hernandez comes in and grabs Aries in the Border Toss, but Roode boots him in the gut, preventing the move. The champs go for a double suplex, but Hernandez counters into his own. Chavo up top now, and he hits a frog splash on Roode for the 3.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez. Taz just said Texas is the only state that has their own flag. Jesus tap-dancing Christ…
In the back Brooke Hogan is stopped by Joey Ryan. He says she doesn’t have to apologize for how the knockouts acted last week. He has his ref gear again tonight and volunteers to do the job again. Brooke says he doesn’t have to worry about it. Ryan embarrassed her last week, and this week, he has a match, and we’ll see who the “bigger man” is.
Outside, Aces and Eights have arrived on their motorcycles and are just hugging each other repeatedly.
Joseph Park makes his way into the arena. He has asked for a few minutes to discuss a few points of business. His main issue is with A and E, and Bully Ray specifically. What Ray and his band of hooligans has perpetrated on TNA is felonious, and it stops now. The crowd has completely turned on Park in just a few seconds. Park wants justice, and tonight, it will be served when Jeff Hardy brings the title back to TNA. Justice doesn’t end there, though. Park is well-versed in divorce law and marital code in this country. He holds up a piece of paper and says he’s written up annulment papers that will officially end the marriage between Brooke and Ray. Before he can finish, Devon enters the ring and rips the mic out of Park’s hand before ripping up the papers. Devon says that, if Park has a problem with his brother, he’s got a problem with Devon. Go back to the rock you crawled out from, and stay out of family business. He doesn’t give a damn what Park thinks; stay out of the family business. You’ve been warned. Devon leaves as Park is picking up the shreds of paper, then gets back in the ring with a chain around his fist and decks Park in the gut.
MATCH 2: Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell
At least Taryn decided to invest in a pair of kneepads. I don’t know why, but wrestlers not wearing kneepads really, really bothers me. It just looks strange, not to mention it’s kind of stupid when you consider how much damage is done to the knees in this profession. Before the match begins, ODB is announced as the referee. Kim immediately gets in ODB’s face, and Taryn snaps her into the ring. Clothesline by Taryn, followed by a suplex. Monkey flip out of the corner, but Kim counters the spear. Taryn puts on the breaks and mounts the middle rope, so Kim trips her. In the corner, Kim strikes Taryn several times. Taryn tries to fight back from her knees. She ducks a clothesline, but gets hit with a back elbow. Kim picks her up for a fireaman’s carry, then drops her face-first on the mat. Kim foot-chokes Taryn over the middle rope, then gets in ODB’s face. Taryn reverses a corner whip, but Kim counters the charge into a roll-up with a handful of tights. ODB counts 2, but sees the cheating and breaks it. Taryn quickly schoolgirls Kim and gets 3.
WINNER: Taryn Terrell. Todd Kenely called this a “PPV quality match”, further establishing his lack of credibility. Kim continues to yell at ODB after the match, so ODB chases her to the back. Christy Hemme stops Taryn for an interview after the match. She says she has waited a long time to get physical with Gail Kim, but now, who wants to get physical with Taryn?
We see Adam Pearce and Magno in the back, ready for Gut Check. I already know how this part turns out, and it’s total bullsh*t.
Pre-recorded footage of Al Snow, Bruce Prichard and Danny Davis talking about Gut Check is aired, and they focus on Magno botching spots, as well as Pearce cheating to win the match. Davis calls Pearce “technically sound”, and he appreciates that, as does Snow. They question Pearce’s personality, as they haven’t heard him talk yet.
Back to the arena, the judges are with Pearce and Magno. Prichard talks about the hype for these two, and only one of them can go to the ring to face Gut Check tonight. Magno, you have your entire career ahead of you. Adam, you are a 17-year veteran, and that can be viewed either negatively or positively. Decision time: Magno, your decision will be made in the ring later tonight. Adam Pearce walks off, and you can hear the crowd booing in the background. As I said, pure bullsh*t.
AI stops Hulk Hogan in the back to ask about Bully Ray. He says it’s important for TNA to get the belt back, but right, it’s time to deal with AJ Styles. AI asks about Sting, and Hulk doesn’t have an answer.
Other AI stops AJ Styles outside to ask about A and E. He shoves the camera away. Mr. Anderson stops him and hands him another vest.
Hulk Hogan makes his way into the arena, and he’s here to get a decision from AJ Styles. There’s a lot of things going on tonight, but the man he needs to talk to is a man that needs to get out here right now. AJ Styles, you need to get out here and let him know what’s going on right now. AJ makes his way out, the vest still in his hand. Hulk says they’re in the middle of a crazy war. AJ is playing the middle, so he needs to know which side AJ is on. This is an ultimatum, brother. AJ says he doesn’t respond well to ultimatums. Once again, James Storm interrupts the proceedings. He’s not out here to give AJ an ultimatum or hear what side he’s on. But, what he is out here for is because he and AJ are going to fight. Bad Influence then joins the fray. Kaz tells “Toby Keith” to step aside, as this doesn’t concern him. They’re not out here to fight; they’re out here to men fences. They also see through all the poop happening in the ring. They’re sexual and intellectual, so they know what’s going on. “Thunderlips” is going to try to get AJ on his team since A and E has dismantled his team. A and E, at the same time, wants to recruit TNA’s best soldier for the last 11 years. Daniels tells AJ that both sides will use him up and spit him out. BI has another proposition: they want AJ on their side. They know AJ thinks the whole thing with Claire Lynch was bad, but wasn’t it worse when Dixie Carter, Hulk and the fans all turned their backs on AJ? Don’t stand with either of these strangers; come stand with your brothers. Think of all the titles of they’ve won together. Wouldn’t it be great if the three of them stood together and it was them against the world? Storm shoves AJ to get his attention, then begins screaming in his face. AJ once again walks away from Storm. He stares at BI for a minute, then walks past them as well. Hulk yells at him and tells him that, since he won’t make a decision, Hulk will. Next week, AJ will fight Storm.
Joey Ryan is on his way to the ring for a match.
In the locker room, Kurt Angle is saying the feud between A and E and TNA has only begun, and the balance of power switches when Hardy wins the title. Next week, Angle has asked Hulk for a handicap match against Tomax and Xamot, and he plans to show them he is the baddest SOB in pro wrestling.
MATCH 3: Joey Ryan vs. Rob Terry
Remember that tag team Ryan had with Matt Morgan? Neither does TNA. Ryan runs into a shoulder as Mike Tenay tries to make the claim that Terry outweighs Ryan by 100 pounds. Terry hits another shoulder, and Ryan rolls to the apron. Terry pulls him back in and beals him across the ring. Terry hits an open-hand chop in the corner, then does the same in the adjacent corner. Same thing in the third corner, and Terry caps off the chops with a hard corner whip. Bodyslam by Terry, followed by a corner clothesline. Terry hits an over-the-shoulder powerslam, then picks Ryan up on his shoulders, turning the fireman’s carry into the Freakbuster for 3.
WINNER: Rob Terry. At least Terry didn’t botch his finisher this week. Terry is doing a guest appearance at a local show here this month. Guess where I won’t be that night?
Brooke and Hulk are in the back, and Hulk says he has a suite here tonight, and he wants Brooke with him there to watch the main event. Brooke says she wants to be at ringside for that match so she can see Hardy win the title up-close. As Hulk and Brooke part ways, Matt Morgan stops Hulk and asks if this is what things have come down to for Hulk. He should have done the right thing and named Morgan the #1 contender at Lockdown. Bully Ray wouldn’t be champion, and Hulk wouldn’t be responsible for breaking Brooke’s heart. Instead, he did what he does best, and make another Hulk Hogan mistake. One day, all of these mistakes will come crashing down on him.
It’s Gut Check time. JB introduces the three judges, followed by Magno. Despite being from Texas, the crowd immediately turns on Magno once he’s introduced. Good. He doesn’t deserve any accolades after last week’s performance. Danny Davis is up first as the crowd chants “No!” He says the fans here have made a decision, but he hasn’t yet. If Magno was in OVW, Davis would make him a star. Unfortunately, they’re on Impact, which is nationwide, and he has to agree with the fans. His answer is no. Magno gets his 30 seconds now to convince the other two judges he deserves it, and he says there are a lot of goals in life. He’s been in work all around the world, but that’s not enough for him. All the people know him. But he wants the whole world to know him as Magno, Impact luchador. That was the English half of the promo. I don’t speak Spanish, so I don’t know what else he said. However, what he said in English was complete garbage, and the fans in the building let him know it as well. Bruce Prichard is up next. He tells Magno he’s here because he has his entire career ahead of him. He has the physical attributes and a marketable look. However, his experience in the ring could cost him. He doesn’t know who Magno is and he needs more seasoning, and his answer is in both English and Spanish: no. Good. Magno flat-out sucks.
Outside, A and E are having a party with their motorcycles. Anderson asks Bully Ray if he’s ready, then gives him the group’s catchphrase. Ray says he needs to walk alone tonight. He needs to beat Hardy alone so he can shove it up Hardy and Hogan’s asses. He asks A and E to swear they will let him do this alone tonight. He’s not doing this just for him; he’s doing it for all of them. He then asks Anderson to hold his wedding ring.
The main event is up next.
MATCH 4-Full Metal Mayhem for the World Championship: Jeff Hardy vs. Bully Ray (Champion)
We see Brooke sitting in the front row. Ray walks over to her and tells her he’s glad she could make it before blowing her a kiss. Hardy immediately hits a sit-out Twist of Fate, then follows up with an avalanche in the corner and some punches. Hard corner whip by Hardy, and he grabs a chair, striking Ray over the back twice. Hardy brings a ladder in and props it in the corner, where he sends Ray in face-first. Hardy sets the chair up and hits Poetry in Motion. Ray falls down, lands face-first on the chair, and the ladder falls across his back. Hardy sets the ladder up in the middle, but Ray tips the ladder over. Hardy lands on his feet and hits a reverse enziguri. He goes to clothesline Ray over the top rope, but Ray counters with a back body drop, sending Hardy back-first on the ramp. Ray grabs his chain and begins whipping Hardy on the ramp. He goes back into the ring and sets up the ladder before throwing a chair to the corner. Ray begins climbing, but Hardy recovers and climbs as well, hitting Ray with some punches. Ray punches back, then rakes the eyes. He goes for a suplex, eventually hitting it. Commercials.
Back from the break, Hardy is on a table in the middle as Ray is on the middle rope. Hardy slides off, grabs a chair and cracks Ray with it. He moves the table, then sets a ladder against it upside-down. Hardy goes for a superplex, but Ray blocks it and knocks Hardy back down. Hardy catches a boot and goes for a Twist, but Ray blocks it as the ladder falls. He knocks Hardy down and sets the ladder back in place, hitting a gourdbuster across the supports of the ladder. Ray throws a chair to the floor in front of Brooke, then throws the broken ladder to the floor. He grabs another chair and strikes Hardy in the leg. The table is set up on the side of the ring closest to the ramp, and Ray then goes outside for another ladder, throwing it in the ring. The ladder is propped in the corner next to the table, and Ray then tells Brooke he will slap her in the face after he wins the belt. Hardy gets back up and hits some rights, followed by a flying forearm, an inverted atomic drop, a double legdrop and a seated dropkick. He throws a chair at Ray, and Ray catches it, so Hardy grabs another chair and hits the chair into Ray’s face, knocking him to the floor. Hardy goes for a plancha, but Ray moves, and Hardy crashes into the guardrail. Brooke and Ray scream at each other once more, with Ray calling her “stupid”. He slams Hardy into the steps, then it’s time for more screaming. He asks for a kiss and sticks his tongue out, so Brooke slaps him. Hardy grabs Ray and slams him into the steps. He sets Ray on the table, but the table breaks in half. Hardy hits a quick legdrop and begins looking for another table. The closest one is all the way up on the stage. Good planning here. Hardy brings the table back to rinside. Ray attacks Hardy before moving the broken table. Hardy comes back with another sit-out Twist and sets Ray on the good table. Hardy goes into the ring and climbs to the top rope, hitting a swanton bomb through the table on the floor. Hardy rolls back in the ring and moves the table that is still in the ring. He sets up the good ladder as Taz hands Ray the hammer for the ring bell. Ray brings it back in the ring as Hardy is climbing the ladder. He climbs up as well, and the two trade punches. Hardy grabs the belt, and Ray smacks him in the face with the hammer, sending Hardy off the ladder and through the table before grabbing the belt.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Bully Ray. A and E come through the crowd to celebrate the victory. Ray yells for the music to be shut off as we see a replay of what just happened. He asks if everyone knows who he is, or who A and E are. They are the Aces and Eights. He is the World Heavyweight Champion and when you ride with the Aces and Eights, you never walk alone.
Someone the other day referred to Impact Wrestling as “TNA: We Are Recaps”. I think that’s extremely accurate. It’s ridiculous how much TNA recaps their own shows. It’s one thing to do a recap video of the previous week’s show at the beginning. It’s another to show video recaps of things minutes after they happened throughout the show.
This week on TNA Impact Wrestling Gut Check returns, and because Adam Pearce is involved, I’m actually somewhat looking forward to it.
The show opens with Aces and Eights (save for Bully Ray) making their way through the crowd. Anyone else notice that, since guys started getting unmasked, the amount of men in this group dropped from nearly 2 dozen to about 10? Mr. Anderson calls everyone douchebags (he is an expert on the subject), and he’s gotta package. He says that AJ Styles had TNA turn their back on him when he needed them. They have a “cut” for him, and hope he makes the right decision. Devon has an envelope in his hand, and it belongs to Brooke Hogan. When Bully Ray brings her out later, that envelope will bring a new meaning to the phrase “change of relationship”. D’Lo Brown also has a present for someone. It’s something he received, and it’s a letter from TNA Headquarters. Inside the letter was his notice of termination from TNA. After all of his years of hard work, he thinks he deserved more than a plain envelope. He didn’t get a phone call or a meeting. He doesn’t want a text or a tweet; he wants someone to come out and tell him to his face why he’s been fired.
Kurt Angle comes out, and he has something to say to Brown’s face. He’s going to walk down the aisle, get in the ring, look Brown in the eye and tell him how he really feels. Angle gets in the ring and tackles Brown for some mounted punches, and the rest of A and E immediately jump on him. Joseph Park, Magnus, Samoa Joe and Eric Young hit the ring to even things up, and they eventually clear the ring. Apparently, there will be a 10-man involving these guys later.
Joey Ryan stops Brooke Hogan in a locker room, offering her a favor. He knows she has a need, and knows he can fill it. She just fired the KO ref, and she needs a new ref for a match tonight, offering himself up for the job. Brooke agrees, but Ryan can’t touch the girls.
MATCH 1: Gail Kim and Tara (w/Jesse) vs. Knockouts Champion Velvet Sky and Taryn Terrell
Taryn looks decent until she smiles. She has too many teeth or something. Joey Ryan is patting down all of the competitors for “weapons”. Tara attacks Sky from behind, then chokes her over the top rope and hits a chop. Sky ducks a clothesline, hits a jumping one, followed by a second, and then applies a side headlock. Ryan begins massaging Sky, which causes her to break the hold. Kim and Taryn tag in, and Ryan is hitting on Taryn. Tara tags back in and Taryn reverses a clothesline into a backslide, followed bya schoolgirl. Ryan is doing no counting. Taryn pins Tara with a jackknife, yet still no count. Sky back in, and the faces hit a double shoulderblock and a double elbow drop. Sky goes for the pin, and Ryan stares at her butt while massaging himself. Kim runs in and clobbers Sky with a double axe handle. Tara stomps Sky down before throwing her into Kim’s foot. Kim tags in and hits some kicks to the gut, followed by a fireman’s carry into a pancake. She goes for the pin, and Ryan is still just petting himself. Tara back in, and she begins ramming her shoulder into Sky’s gut in the corner. Ryan steps between them and stares at Tara, so Jesse jumps on the apron out of jealousy. Sky rolls Tara up with no pin counted. Tara pops up with a clothesline and goes for the standing moonsault, but Ryan stands in the way. She pushes him aside and then misses the move. Kim and Taryn tag in, and Taryn hits a pair of clotheslines and a back elbow. Snap suplex by Taryn, and she goes up top, hitting a cross-body. She slams Kim’s head into the mat, and Tara comes in, hitting Taryn with a clothesline. Sky dropkicks Tara to the floor, and Kim clobbers her from behind. Ryan is making a pass at Kim, and she seems to like it, shoving him into the corner and playing with his mustache. Ryan starts stripping his clothes off as Taryn rolls Kim up from behind. Kim reverses the roll-up with a handful of tights and Ryan makes a fast 3.
WINNERS: Gail Kim and Tara. Ryan tries to celebrate with Kim after the match, but she leaves him hanging. He gets back in the ring to check on Taryn and Sky while massaging baby oil into his chest. Sky pretends to be interested, and Taryn low blows him from behind.
We see the World Tag Team Champions in the building. They’re headed out to the ring.
Back from the break, the tag champs are in the ring, along with Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez. They are facing off for the titles next week, and they’re signing the contract tonight. Austin Aries tells JB to shut up. Bobby Roode asks if either Chavo or Hernandez have been the World Champion. The reality is, is that neither one of them can hold a candle to either Roode or Aries. Chavo reminds us he’s a Guerrero, and calls Hernandez “strong as a son of a gun”. Stop letting this man speak. Aries asks if they’re bored with him and Roode beating them all the time. These contracts aren’t ironclad, so let’s make this more interesting. Aries adds a fruit basket, green M&Ms and more money for the winners. Chavo adds something, and the champs seem amused. Roode and Aries add one last thing, and Chavo agrees to it. Aries then asks JB to make everything official. JB announces that the titles are on the line next week in a Best-of-3-Falls Match, and if the challengers lose, they will never team again in TNA. Everyone signs the contract, with Hernandez being hesitant.
Video package for Adam Pearce, a 17-year veteran of wrestling and a former NWA World Champion and the former booker for ROH. He also reminds us he’s already faced nearly everyone in TNA at some point or another, which is true.
We then get a video for Magno, who I had never heard of until last week. His whole video is in Spanish, as he apparently doesn’t speak English. It’s subtitled, but I’m not going to give all the details. He basically talks about what a luchador is, and that his mask defines him.
MATCH 2-Gut Check: Adam Pearce vs. Magno
Magno is a 13-year pro, and was trained by Gory Guerrero, apparently. Pearce reverses an arm ringer and turns it into an armbar. Magno counters into an armdrag. Pearce goes into a hammerlock and takes Magno down. Magno counters into a headscissors, and we get another standoff. Pearce goes back to the arm and forearms Magno in the face before stomping him. In the corner, Pearce hits a European uppercut and sends Magno to the opposite corner. Magno blocks the charge but gets hit with a back body drop for 2. Magno botches a spot in the corner before rebounding and hitting a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. He botches a springboard moonsault for 2. Not off to a good start for the luchador. He goes for a springboard cross-body, but Pearce counters and turns it into a spinebuster for 2. Pearce nails a forearm and sends Magno into the ropes. Magno flips over and hits a headscissors from the apron. A pair of clotheslines connect, as does a corner kick. Pearce gets clotheslined to the floor, and now Magno goes to the top, botching another moonsault to the floor. Oy vey. Back in the ring, Pearce trips Magno and pins him with a rope assist.
WINNER: Adam Pearce. Wow. For as good as Pearce is, this was a really lousy performance. Not all of the blame can be placed on Magno, either. There was just no flow to this match at all.
We see AJ Styles in the back, and he’s approached by A and E. Mr. Anderson says AJ has had a change on his outlook on life. They like it and could use a guy like him in his organization. They had a vest made for him, and Anderson tells him to try it on and just think about joining them.
Sting/Bully Ray video package.
AI stops Hulk Hogan and asks about Sting. He says Sting isn’t here. He needs warriors here, not more politicians. He’s going to the ring to call another warrior out, because he needs to know where this person stands.
Kurt Angle is approached by Joseph Park in the back. He tells Angle he’s here for a fight tonight. He and his classmates watched Angle win his gold medal. A and E did him wrong, and he wants to stand by Angle’s side against A and E tonight. Angle tells him to follow his lead, and if he sees an opportunity, take it.
Hulk Hogan makes his way into the arena. We’ve heard him talk a lot about past mistakes. He won’t make those mistakes anymore. He’s going to lead with his gut, as well as make decisions with it. TNA is being held hostage right now, and there’s one man his gut is telling him to call out, and he’s going to do that right now. That man is none other than AJ Styles, brother. AJ comes out, and he’s still got the A and E vest in his hand. Hulk asks AJ is joining A and E, because if that’s the case, they are way off the page. He understands the personal crap AJ went through. He made the stipulation about the title match, and when AJ lost, he drifted off and turned into a different person. This roster is his family, and AJ has never strayed from them. He’s looking at AJ right now, and he sees a different guy. He’s praying he’s not joining A and E, because AJ is the man he needs right now. TNA needs help, and they need someone dangerous like AJ, brother. Hulk needs AJ Styles, and needs the dangerous version. He hands the mic to AJ. AJ looks at the vest for a moment and asks if Hulk wants him to help. Before he can go further, James Storm interrupts. He remembers the match stipulation where the person who got pinned didn’t get a title match for a year. He also remembers that he was the guy who pinned AJ. That’s how it goes. Everyone loses big matches. What really bothers Storm, though, is that last week, AJ stood there and watched as A and E jumped him. Storm has known AJ for 17 years and has been in TNA since day one as well. They helped build this company. He’s done everything AJ has done. Every time they clock in and get in the ring, they wrestle and perform because it’s what they love to do. From the Asylum in Nashville, to Europe, to San Antonio, to here in Jonesboro, they built this. And now AJ wants to join A and E? Go ahead, because you’re not the same guy he remembers at the fairgrounds. So, AJ better clock out before he gets knocked out. AJ dropes the mic and leaves the ring, still holding onto his vest. Anyone else think this angle is almost exactly like Sting/nWo in 1997?
MATCH 3-3-Way X-Division Qualifier: Sonjay Dutt vs. Mason Andrews vs. Petey Williams
Andrews pokes the other two in the chest, so Petey slaps him. Dutt applies a side headlock before shouldering Williams down. Series of pinfalls by all three, and now we have a standoff. Andrews goes to the floor, and Dutt dropkicks Petey for 2. Drop toehold into the ropes by Petey, and he nails Andrews on the floor with a suicide dive. Dutt goes for a plancha, but Petey moves and Dutt hits nothing but air. Andrews rolls Petey into the ring and hits an elbow for 2. Stomps by Andrews, and a spinning backbreaker gets 2. Andrews knocks Dutt off the apron, and now Petey hits some chops. Andrews cuts him off with a kneelift and rams him into the corner. Snapmare out of the corner, followed by an elbow to the shoulder from the second rope for 2. Dutt comes back in and applies an abdominal stretch on Petey. Andrews throws Dutt to the floor and goes after Petey. Dutt comes back in with a springboard dropkick on both competitors. Andrews sends Dutt in the corner, and Dutt counters with a Pendulum, followed by a legdrop across the middle rope. Springboard falling splash by Dutt on Andrews gets 2. Dutt goes for an Ace Crusher, but Petey blocks that and hits a spinning headscissors into a side-Russian legsweep for 2. Dutt counters into a crucifix for 2, and Petey pops back up with a kick. He goes for the Destroyer, but Dutt shoves him into the corner. Up top, Dutt goes for a super hurricanrana, but loses his balance. Andrews pops up with his own version on Petey, and Dutt hits Andrews with an Asai DDT. He goes for a moonsault double stomp, but Andrews moves. Dutt lands on his feet and gets nailed with a running knee, sending him to the floor. Petey gets back in the ring and quickly snaps off the Canadian Destroyer on Andrews for 3.
WINNER: Petey Williams.
We’re in the A and E clubhouse now, and Bully Ray is pissed. He blames Kurt Angle and all of his friends for his bad mood. He knows his boys will get the job done tonight in the 10-man. Let’s go out, kick their asses, take their names, and take their frickin’ souls. Devon has something to ask, and that’s if he’s ready to deal with Brooke. Ray says to be honest, he misses his wife. She took good care of him, and Devon asks if she likes “tag teams”. Ray is going out there, will look her in the eyes, hand her the envelope, and after that, they will all be able to move forward.
MATCH 4: Aces and Eights (Garett Bischoff, Wes Brisco, World Television Champion Devon, DOC and Knux) vs. Kurt Angle, Magnus, Joseph Park, Samoa Joe and Eric Young
Angle whips Wes into the ring, then hits some clotheslines. He beats Wes down in the corner, then foot chokes him. Snap suplex gets 2. Wes rakes the eyes and tags in Garret, who gets hip tossed. Angle knocks Garett down with punches, then beats him down in the corner before choking him with his knee. Magnus tags in and fires off some rights. Garett ducks a clothesline before getting caught. Magnus hits him with a modified northern lights bomb, then tags in Joe. Joe hits an inverted atomic drop, Magnus follows with a running boot, and Joe hits a running senton. Garett rakes the eyes and tags in Devon. Joe ducks some punches and hits a series of rights, followed by a running hip bump in the corner and a spin kick to the head. Devon gets dropped with a chop to the chest, and Jo follows up with a chop to the back, a kick to the chest and a jumping kneedrop for 2. Devon fights back and tags in Knux, who hits some rights. Joe ducks a clothesline and hits a running knee. EY tags in, and he comes off with a double axe handle to the arm. EY hits some rights in the corner until Knux hits him with a kneelift. Rights by Knux (noticing a trend here), and he sends EY into the corner, where he hits more punches. EY suckers Knux into the ropes, sending him to the floor, where EY hits a slingshot cross-body. Commercials.
We’re back, and EY gets a 2-count on Knux. Knux fights back in the corner, hitting a forearm to the face and sending EY to the floor with a big boot. Devon rolls EY back in the ring, and Knux hits a legdrop before tagging in DOC. DOC drops an elbow, then hits some body blows in the corner, followed by an uppercut. Short-arm clothesline connects, and DOC follows up with a Warrior Splash for 2. Devon tags in and fires off rights in the corner before hitting a snapmare and applying a trapezius claw. EY fights out, but runs into a spinning back elbow. DOC tags back in and hits an uppercut. EY counters a back suplex and hits a jawbreaker. DOC and Knux knock all of the faces off the apron, preventing a tag. In the corner, EY avoids an avalanche and hits an enziguri. Joseph Park is the only guy on the apron for EY’s team, so he tags in. Park hits some lefts and rights on DOC before clotheslining him to the floor. He knocks Wes down, then the rest of the heels off the apron. Bodyslam on Wes, who apparently tagged in, and a jumping splash gets 2. Both sides fill the ring and brawl now, and guys get sent to the floor, one-by-one. Joe, Park and Devon are the last three left in the ring. Devon hits a right on Joe, but Joe ducks a clothesline and hits a suicide dive to the floor. Devon ducks a clothesline by Park and hits a standing spinebuster. He goes up top for the headbutt, but Park moves out o fthe way. Park mounts the middle rope for the Closing Argument, but Wes and Garett run in. He double clotheslines them, and DOC hits Park with a low blow before getting the 3.
WINNERS: Aces and Eights.
Hulk is in the back with Brooke. He doesn’t feel right about tonight. Brooke says she can handle things tonight, and she’ll even bring security with her. She just wants to get this over with and have no more drama.
Bully Ray makes his way out through the crowd, manila envelope in hand. In seven days, the biggest World Championship rematch in wrestling history (ha!), Ray/Hardy in Corpus Christi, TX, Full Metal Mayhem. Hardy, you have to be the stupidest person he’s ever met. Why on L. Ron Hubbard’s green Earth would you challenge him to a match involving tables, ladders and chairs? Oh, my. That’s in seven days, though. Tonight, Ray wants to take care of some personal business. He would like his beautiful wife (double ha!) Brooke to come to the ring. Brooke comes out with two Atlas Security guys. Ray asks her how she is, then wants to know why she isn’t wearing her wedding ring. He’s still wearing his. It’s a sign of his love and devotion to her. He expects her to do the same for him. He’ll give her a pass this week, but from now on, do what your told and where your ring. He asks what the security guards are for. They should be here for Ray’s protection. After Lockdown, Brooke was a crazed woman, yelling and screaming, kicking things, knocking over tables…she was insane. She should have been happy that night, since her husband became champion. She should have acted like a good wife, but no, she’s an insane woman. That’s okay, though, as he forgives her. He asks if she knows what the envelope is. She guesses it’s divorce papers. Ray says he loves her, and couldn’t have done this without her. She’s the woman behind him that makes him so great. He couldn’t have done this without her. He tells her to open it, and inside is a ticket. It’s a front-row ticket for next week’s Impact. He wants her to sit in the front row and defeat Hardy for the second time. He wants her by his side, cheering him on, looking as beautiful as possible, because lately, she’s let herself go. Brooke slaps Ray on that note, and he laughs. He says he can’t help it, because she’s pathetic. She just smacked him in the face, and he’s laughing at her. He’s in her head so bad, it’s not funny. To be honest, he’s been in her since day one. He dares her to smack him again when Jeff Hardy’s music hits. He orders Brooke out of his ring as Hardy charges in. They brawl until Ray low blows him. Hardy no-sells it and starts fighting back.
TNA Impact is in Jonesboro, Arkansas this week, and man, these shows have been total throw-away lately. Not good, especially when this is the beginning of TNA being on the road full time.
Before I get into the recap, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. For those that might not have heard yet, Flair’s youngest son Reid was found dead earlier today (Friday) at just 24 years old. Cause of death is unknown at this time. It is truly a tragedy when a father has to bury his son, but when the son is so young, it’s even worse. I can’t even imagine what is going through Ric’s head right now. I have a feeling I know what caused the death, but it really doesn’t matter right now. This is horrible news, and my thoughts are with Ric and his family at this time.
It is OFN once again, and you can probably guess I’m thrilled. The show opens with the new #1 contender for the World title, Jeff Hardy, making his way into the arena. Hardy says that, last week and tonight, he’s not 100%, but he still feels better. He tested himself against Kurt Angle, Magnus and Samoa Joe, and he now stands as your #1 contender. With that said, it’s OFN, and he’s gotta call someone out. Before that can happen, though, Bully Ray cuts him off. Ray makes his way out through the crowd, flanked by the rest of Aces and Eights. Ray says that everyone in this arena needs to sit down and shut their mouths. He’s sick and tired of hearing Hardy’s voice, and he’s sick and tired of listening to Hardy bitch and moan. Do you know who they are? Hardy, they are the Aces and Eights. You want to call him out, Jeff? Why would you want to do that? This title wouldn’t be on the line, and he wouldn’t want to see anything bad happen to Hardy in front of all of his moron “creatures of the night”. Mr. Anderson steps in and asks Ray if Hardy is getting another second chance. No, no, no. That would never happen in a million years. Oh, wait. That happens all the time. This guy gets tons of chances. Remember all of those free passes you and he got? That didn’t happen, because they don’t need them. But hey, as long as Hardy isn’t burning down building and is still selling “merch”, the rules don’t apply to him. Hardy is a disappointment, and was a big one when he lost fair and square to Ray at Lockdown. And in Corpus Christi, he’s going to be a disappointment yet again. Hardy’s had enough, and he knocks the two off the apron. The rest of A and E hit the ring and beat Hardy down. Ray goes to swing his chain at him, but Eric Young, Magnus, Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle run down and clear the ring. Ray calls for the gang to regroup and head back through the crowd. Hardy then grabs a mic and calls Anderson out for later tonight.
We see Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez in the back, complaining about Bad Influence costing them matches. Chavo then reminds us it’s OFN, son. Hernandez whistles at the camera. The two then make their way out in to the arena, and you can pretty much guess where this is going.
After the break, Chavo and Hernandez are in the ring. Chavo says that, last week, they was robbed. They were cheated out of the titles by Bad Influence. That’s cool though, because tonight is about payback, son. Do you know what tonight is? It’s OFN, holmes. They’ve talked to Hulk Hogan, and there’s a stipulation added to the match tonight: the winners will be the new #1 contenders for the tag titles. Bad Influence, you better be ready, because they’re going to kick your butts all over Jonesboro, essas. It’s bad enough that Hernandez can’t talk for sh*t. Replacing his former mouthpiece Anarquia (who also couldn’t talk for sh*t) with Chavo (who can’t talk for sh*t, either) is not helping the situation.
MATCH 1-Winners will be the new #1 contenders for the World Tag Team Championship: Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez vs. Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels and Kazarian)
Chavo and Kaz start the match with a lock-up. Chavo breaks free, hits a hip toss and an armdrag. Hernandez tags in, and he bodyslams Chavo onto Kaz before hitting a Warrior Splash for 2. Kaz rakes the eyes and tags in Daniels. Daniels runs right into a bearhug suplex. Chavo back in, and Chavo hits a hilo as Daniels is stretched across Hernandez’s knees. He beats Daniels down in the corner. Daniels reverses a corner whip, but gets back dropped to the floor as he charges in, hitting the back of his head on the ring steps on the way down. That was a bad spot. Thank Chavo for being careless and not paying attention to where he is. Chavo goes for a dive, but Kaz low-bridges him from the other side before BI begins a double-team on Hernandez. Hernandez fights out of the corner and backflips back to the apron. Chavo is back in, and he hits a forearm on Daniels, and the faces hit a pair of Air Mexicos from the ramp into the ring. Chavo goes for the 3 Amigos, but Kaz blocks them and sends Chavo into the corner. The heels do an illegal double-team in the corner as the ref is distracted, and Daniels hits a shoulder stunner on Chavo as we go to commercials.
Back from the break, Kaz is the legal man for his team now. He mocks Chavo, but it sucks compared to how Austin Aries does it. Daniels tags in, and he hits a slingshot kneedrop. Kaz tags back in, and hits a slingshot legdrop for 2. Kaz has a top wristlock applied, but Chavo breaks free and hits a spinning headscissors. Daniels tags in, knocks Hernandez off the apron and goes for a double-team on Chavo, but Chavo ducks and Kaz collides with Daniels. Hernandez makes the hot tag and sends both members of BI into the corner for a double avalanche. He picks Daniels up on his shoulders and Chavo suplexes Kaz onto the other one, which Hernandez turns into a double over-the-shoulder backbreaker for 2. He suplexes Daniels back in from the apron, but Kaz trips him, and Daniels lands on top as Kaz holds onto Hernandez’s foot. The ref goes to count 3, but sees Kaz holding the foot and breaks the pin. Hernandez blocks a double clothesline and hits one of his own, sending Kaz to the floor. Daniels boots Hernandez in the corner and goes for the pin with his feet on the ropes, but the ref sees it once again. Daniels ducks a clothesline, but gets caught on a cross-body that Hernandez turns into a sit-out powerbomb. Chavo tags in and goes for the frog splash, but Kaz knocks him off the top rope. Daniels rolls him up with the tights for 2 as Kaz and Hernandez brawl on the outside, with Hernandez Pouncing Kaz off the ramp. Daniels goes for the Angel’s Wings, and Chavo blocks it. Hernandez hits him with a slingshot clothesline, and Chavo comes off the top with the frog splash for 3.
WINNERS: Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez.
Taryn Terrell comes out of the women’s locker room and tells AI she has a good idea for who she’s going to call out for OFN.
Taryn makes her way out to the ring, and really needs kneepads. She’s excited, as tonight marks her first official night as a Knockout, and Brooke Hogan told her she can get physical with whoever she wants, and it’s OFN. There’s one woman who has assaulted her, mocked her, and cost her her job as a referee. It’s no secret that woman is Gail Kim. Kim’s music hits, and she takes her sweet time coming out. Kim has had generic lyrics added to her music for no reason. She grabs a mic and tells Taryn that first off, this was a rookie mistake. Her first night here, she’s going to call out the greatest female wrestler that ever lived? Do you really want to embarrass yourself like that on national television? Besides, not only have you rubbed Kim the wrong way, but several other people as well. Particularly, one person who wanted to call Taryn out tonight, and she happens to be a former champion. Tara, why don’t you come out and help her take care of business tonight? Tara and Jesse make their way out now, and Tara talks trash to Taryn, which allows Kim to hit Taryn in the back of the head with the mic. The heels double-team Taryn until Velvet Sky’s music hits. She runs down to the ring and fights off the heels with clotheslines and kicks, knocking Tara to the floor and chasing Kim off. Glad we wasted time with this segment.
Sky and Taryn are now in the back, complaining about what just happened. Taryn runs off, as she sees Kim and Tara in the hallway. She attacks both of them until Sky holds her back.
We get a video for Gut Check, which returns next week. This segues into Jeremy Borash introducing next weeks contestants, that being Magno and former NWA World Champion and ROH booker “Scrap Iron” Adam Pearce.
Sting is in the back, headed to Hulk’s office when a security guard stops him and tells him he can’t enter. Sting says he’ll have to try a different approach.
The camera is now in Hulk’s office, and he’s talking to Jeff Hardy. He says he’s already booked the rematch for Hardy/Ray, and that’s Hardy’s night for him to redeem everything Hulk has done wrong. For Hardy to step up like he did last week and that he’s destined to lead this company, he’s never seen anything like that before. And to try and make up for the mistake Hulk made with Ray, he’s sorry for that. Hardy says he lost the title and made mistakes, but he doesn’t live in the past; he lives for the future, and in Corpus Christi, he’s taking the belt back. Hulk then tells Hardy that he gets to make the stipulation for the match that night. We hear Sting’s music hit, and Hulk excuses himself, saying Sting isn’t supposed to be here.
Sting enters the ring and says Bully Ray swerved the whole world. He told Hulk he could trust Ray, and he was wrong. Now he needs to fix this problem, but the only way that can happen is if he’s on the same page as one person who he has tried to talk to, to no avail. Since it’s OFN, Hulk, he’s calling you out right now. Hulk makes his way out and circles Sting in the ring. Sting says he’s tried to apologize a few times. Right now, he’s going to try again, and if Hulk doesn’t accept, things could get a little nuclear here tonight. Hulk tells him he started out “soft-shoeing” the situation. He should have listened to his gut about Bully Ray, but everyone around him, including Dixie Carter, tried to convince him otherwise on numerous occasions. Because of Sting, he didn’t listen to his gut, he made a decision that messed up the whole company, brother, and it’s all because of Sting. Sting reminds him that HE made the decision, not Sting. Hulk needs to stop pointing fingers, and most of the weight rests on his shoulders. Hulk is the GM and he makes the decisions, so he needs to man up and take ownership. Hulk admits he’s accountable, and he made the final decision as the GM. Now, as GM, he’s tired of hearing about said decision. He’s tired of Sting being in his face, and now as GM, he’s telling Sting to get the hell out of his face, and get the hell out of his ring, brother. Sting turns sad pants at this before telling Hulk to make him. Security steps in between the two of them as Hulk rips his shirt up, showing his awesome flabby physique in the process. Security eventually gets Sting out of the ring and backs him up the ramp. Sting grabs Hulk’s crutch, which was on the ramp, but then drops it. Not sure what the point of that was. He heads to the back, security in tow.
During the break, Sting was escorted out of the building. As he was leaving, Matt Morgan appeared, clapped and called the situation another Hogan mistake.
Video recap of the AJ Styles storyline. This leads into James Storm entering the arena. Two weeks ago, AJ Styles made his big return. It wasn’t the return Storm was looking for. Then last week, he tried to talk to AJ, and AJ just walked off. Since tonight is OFN, Storm thought he would take the time to call out AJ Styles. AJ shows up somewhere in the crowd. Storm tells him he knows what he’s going through. He was in that spot last year, but he picked himself back up and got back in the ring to do what he does best, and that’s what AJ needs to do. Being a man from the south, he’s pretty sure AJ can relate to this: they can drink some beers and talk things out, or they can fight about it. Either way, Storm is good. The choice is AJ’s. Before AJ can make a choice, DOC, Wes Brisco and Garett Bischoff hit the ring and beat Storm down. As this is going on, AJ just leaves. Eric Young hits the ring to virtually no reaction and gets assaulted by DOC. Kurt Angle comes out next, and he clears the ring. He grabs a mic and wants to know where A and E are going as they try to leave. He sees three of them and three TNA guys, and it’s OFN. Angle then challenges A and E to a six-man.
Hey, we’re already over an hour into this show, and we finally get a second match. L. Ron Hubbard help me.
MATCH 2: Kurt Angle, James Storm and Eric Young vs. Garett Bischoff, Wes Brisco and DOC
Garett starts off by getting assaulted by Storm. Thesz Press into some punches by Storm, and he throws Garett to the corner for an uppercut. Garett reverses a corner whip, but gets hit with a forearm. EY tags in, and the faces hit a double back elbow for 2. EY goes to the ropes, but gets hit with a clothesline. Garett stomps EY and gets 2. Wes tags in and throws EY into the corner for some punches and a shoulderthrust. EY does the Flair Flop out of the corner, gets back in the ring and hits a flying forearm for 2. Angle tags in and beats Wes down in the corner before stomping him. Back elbow of the ropes by Angle, and he tags EY back in. EY throws Brisco to the corner for some stomps, then hits a bodyslam and a running elbow for 2. Garett hits EY from behind off the ropes, and Wes hits a clothesline and some stomps for 2. Garett tags in and punches EY before DOC tags himself in. Commercials.
Back from the break, Wes is legal once again, and he has a rear chinlock applied on EY. EY breaks the hold with a jawbreaker and tags in Storm. Storm hits a clothesline and a back body drop on Garett. Running neckbreaker on Wes, but DOC stops the momentum with a shot from behind. Wes stomps Storm down before tagging DOC in. DOC sends Storm into the corner and hits an avalanche before choking Storm over the middle rope. DOC goes for the pin of a Garett cheap shot, getting 2. DOC hits a butterfly suplex for another 2. Garett back in. Storm hits a few punches before running into a back elbow for 2. Garett hits some mounted punches before tagging in Wes, and they hit a double corner whip before Garett whips Storm into a Wes clothesline. Wes foot chokes Storm in the corner before hitting a suplex for 2. Rear chinlock is applied now, and Storm tries to fight out before being whipped down by the hair. DOC in, and he hits a series of body blows in the corner before knocking Storm down with a straight right. Storm blocks a corner charge twice, ducks a clothesline and hits a flying forearm. Angle tags in, and he suplexes everyone in the ring. Angle Slam on Wes as D’Lo Brown comes down through the crowd and throws a chain to Garett. Garett is wrapping the chain around his fist, but Angle ducks a shot and applies the ankle lock. Wes comes in from behind and schoolboys Angle with a handful of tights for 3.
WINNERS: Garett Bischoff, Wes Brisco and DOC.
In the A and E clubhouse, Bully Ray is toasting his guys for winning their match before telling Mr. Anderson he can’t believe Jeff Hardy’s balls for challenging Anderson tonight. He also can’t believe the balls on Hulk for Hardy letting him make the stipulation for their rematch. Anderson says that won’t happen because Hardy won’t make it to that match. He then begins hitting the table with a hammer and throwing furniture around. Devon says he feels sorry for Hardy.
Funny to see a commercial for WrestleMania come on during this show.
Another video for all of the stupid changes that have been made to the X-Division. I swear TNA is doing everything they can to destroy the division that put them on the map in the first place.
JB is in the back with Sonjay Dutt. He tells Dutt he has to win next week’s 3-way to get back into the title hunt. He will face Mason Andrews (Scorpio Sky) and-HOLY SH*T!-Petey Williams next week. I can’t tell you happy I am to see “The Canadian Destroyer/Maple Leaf Muscle” back on TV. Seriously. TNA blew it when they released him a few years ago. Big surprise, I know.
MATCH 3: Jeff Hardy vs. Mr. Anderson
Hardy begins slugging away at Anderson until Anderson rakes the eyes. He attacks Hardy before sending him into the corner. Hardy counters the whip with a headscissors, sending Anderson to the floor, where Hardy hits an apron clothesline. Hardy drags Anderson around the ring, where he slams him face-first into the apron. Anderson pulls Hardy stomach-first into the steps, stopping Hardy’s momentum. On the apron, Anderson chokes Hardy over the middle rope. He goes for a running clothesline, but Hardy counters into a back body drop, sending Anderson into the ring. Commercials.
We’re back, and Anderson is back in control with a wristlock. Hardy eventually fights out and sends Anderson into the corner. Anderson blocks a charge and hits an armbar takedown for 2. Anderson goes back to the armbar, but Hardy armdrags out after a few moments. They trade punches until Hardy comes off the ropes with a flying forearm. He hits a double legdrop and follows up with a seated dropkick for 2. Hardy sends Anderson to the corner, blocks a charge off a whip reversal, then hits a middle rope splash for 2. Anderson blocks an Irish whip with a rolling fireman’s slam for 2. Hardy counters a corner charge with a back elbow, but misses the Botch in the Wind, which allows Anderson to get in a pin for 2. Anderson goes for the arm again, and Hardy shoves him off, knocking him into referee Earl Hebner. As Hebner is down, Garett Bischoff comes down and gives Anderson a hammer. Hardy ducks a shot with the hammer and hits a sit-out Twist of Fate. He grabs the hammer and nails Anderson in the gut, causing the DQ.
WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: Mr. Anderson. Hardy then knocks Garett off the apron with the hammer. As Anderson is crawling up the ramp, Hardy grabs a chair and cracks him over the back. Anderson is against the ropes, and Hardy sets up the chair on the ramp, hitting Poetry in Motion over the top rope and back into the ring. Hardy goes for a table now and sets it up in the ring. I’m guessing we’re now going to find out Hardy wants a TLC match. I’m pretty sure my suspicions are confirmed when Hardy brings a ladder into the ring and sets it up in the corner opposite the table. Anderson begins to fight back and goes for a suplex through the table, but Hardy blocks it and hits a Twist of Fate. He sets Anderson up on the table then climbs the ladder. Before he can dive, Bully Ray hits the ring, knocks Anderson off the table, then knocks the table over. He pulls Anderson to the floor and the two of them head through the crowd. Hardy grabs a mic and, sure enough, calls for Full Metal Mayhem, which is TNA’s name for the TLC match. I win.
Lockdown 2013 is in the book and TNA Wrestling has a new world heavyweight champion. Bully Ray defeated Jeff Hardy in a predictable, yet exciting finish which saw Ray win the title and reveal himself as the leader of Aces & 8’s.
TNA Lockdown was a mixed show which will be remembered most for the final match of the night than anything else on the card. Bully Ray pinned Jeff Hardy to win the title in a Steel Cage Match. The final minutes of the match saw the last six months of Bully Ray’s TNA career come full circle after admitting to screwing the Hogans and being the President of Aces & 8’s.
The match saw interference early from Garett Bischoff and Wes Brisco. They climbed into the cage but and were fought off by Hardy and Ray. Hardy and Ray worked as a tag team and eventually threw both members of Aces & 8’s out the door before going back to the match.
The finish of the match saw Bully powerbomb Hardy off of the top rope after Hardy tried to escape the cage. Hardy kicked out of a pin attempt. Hulk and Brooke Hogan were at ringside together by this time. Aces & 8’s surrounded the cage. Ray gave Hardy a chain and the two stood back to back ready to fight the group. Devon gave Bully a hammer which he used to nail Hardy with and wound up pinning him to win the title.
Bully told Brooke she meant nothing to him and threatened Hulk. Hogan told Ray he was a “dead man.” Ray then took the microphone and cut a promo saying he used Brooke and screwed Hulk. A few fans that appeared planted started throwing trash after which more fans followed giving it an “n.W.o. moment.” Bully then told the crowd that he was the President of the group.
I have mixed feelings on the angle. It was a tremendous moment and one of the most exciting in TNA history. But in the end Hulk Hogan looked like an idiot as did everyone else in TNA. Anyone who watched Impact with a clue knew that Bully was going to eventually turn. Hogan never appeared to question it and always endorsed Bully to skeptical wrestlers. Unless it is revealed at some point that Hulk was in on it all along (wouldn’t be surprised), he really looks like a fool. Dixie in Hulk’s spot would have been better because she should be more naïve than a veteran like Hulk.
I also don’t know where you go from here with Bully. The money match would appear to be Bully vs. Kurt Angle or Sting. I am not sure how Hulk plays into this, other than an eventual turn if that is the way this thing turns out. I have to think that most fans left the event wanting to see Hulk vs. Bully, well those that aren’t aware of Hulk’s physical limitations. I highly doubt the match is coming so I really don’t get Hogan’s involvement at this point unless he’s wrestling or winds up in the faction.
You could argue both sides of Bully being champion. On the one hand he is a fresh face to the title and he has been one of the best characters on the show in a long time. On the other he is 41-years old and has never been perceived as a major singles star or threat. This goes back to the old argument of youth vs. veterans in TNA. Normally I’d be on the youth side but TNA hasn’t developed any young fresh faces to be world champions in a long, long time. I really have no problem with him as champ but I am sure some will.
Other notes from Lockdown…Jeff Hardy suffered a bad concussion on that final powerbomb off the top rope and was in bad shape after the show. TNA announced the Lockdown crowd as the biggest in company history. The last reported number was 6,700, although Dave Meltzer was skeptical on his F4Wonline.com. What amazes me about that number is that this company has never drawn more than 10,000 people to an event in 11 years! This is a company that at one time had Hogan, Ric Flair, the Hardys, Mick Foley, Kurt Angle, and Rob Van Dam on its roster at the same time and they couldn’t break 10,000? I have no idea how this company makes any money if that’s the case. AJ Styles is also scheduled to return on Thursday. He can’t receive a world title shot for a year according to the storylines so maybe they try a year-long build with Bully? Bobby Roode has also reportedly worked out any contractual issues with the company.
Full TNA Wrestling Lockdown 2013 results and winners…
Bully Ray defeated Jeff Hardy (c) in a Steel Cage match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Team TNA (Sting, Magnus, Samoa Joe, James Storm and Eric Young) defeated Aces & Eights (Devon, Mr. Anderson, Knox, DOC and Garett Bischoff) in a Lethal Lockdown match
Wes Brisco defeated Kurt Angle in a Steel Cage match
Austin Aries and Bobby Roode (c) defeated Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels and Kazarian) and Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez in a Three-Way Tag Team match for the TNA World Tag Team Championship
Robbie T defeated Robbie E
Velvet Sky (c) defeated Gail Kim in a match for the TNA Women’s Knockout Championship
Joseph Park defeated Joey Ryan
Kenny King (c) defeated Christian York and Zema Ion in a Three-Way match for the TNA X Division Championship
So, TNA Wrestling Lockdown is now upon us and what was once known as the biggest clusterf*ck of a PPV in pro wrestling is more or less a Hell in a Cell knockoff at this point, as only three matches have been announced to take place inside the cage. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you. Still, the card overall looks incredibly weak, despite the fact that Lockdown is supposed to be TNA’s 2nd biggest PPV behind BFG each year.
JOEY RYAN VS. JOSEPH PARK
I only found out about this match by going to TNA’s website, as they have done absolutely nothing to promote this match. Hell, Ryan hasn’t been seen on television in over a month, and only last week did his partner, Matt Morgan return to TV. Joseph Park, on the other hand, has been shoved down our throats since day one, so bet on him winning in this completely meaningless match.
ROBBIE E VS. ROBBIE T
Despite the fact that this match has been promoted more than the previously mentioned one, people will likely be even less interested. Outside of possibly their immediate families, I don’t know of anyone who really gives a damn about either of these guys. The whole feud stems from T being a “better bro”, and that’s literally it. How can anyone possibly care about this match? Anyway, T easily wins here because E never wins matches, and T is big. That’s pretty much it.
3-WAY MATCH FOR THE WORLD X-DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP: KENNY KING (CHAMPION) VS. ZEMA ION VS. CHRISTIAN YORK
You know, I’m noticing a trend here. Third match in, and it has had no build outside of King challenging anyone to face him at Lockdown in a vignette that aired this past Thursday night. While it’s nice to see York in the mix, much like RVD, I’ve seen Ion wrestle King more times than I can count in various matches, and I’m tired of it. Moving King onto a feud with York is fine, but get rid of Ion. And I mean for good. The guy is a train wreck. Anyway, considering this match has had no build and King just won the title a week ago (on television, at least), he will be retaining. If TNA is smart, they have him pin Ion so York can claim he wasn’t the won defeated, leading into a one-on-one rematch in the future.
KNOCKOUTS CHAMPIONSHIP: GAIL KIM VS. VELVET SKY (CHAMPION)
TNA can shove Sky down my throat all they want, I’m still not buying her as the face of a women’s division. Kim, on the other hand, is one of the best female performers in the world, but at this point in time, she’s very obviously going through the motions. Despite the fact that she’s had several title reigns since returning to TNA and has been one of the main faces of the division, she just looks bored in her matches. Quite frankly, considering the “competition”, I don’t blame her. Still, if anyone can get a good match out of Velvet Sky, it’s her, but I’m not keeping my hopes up high. And as much as Kim deserves the championship, Sky is not losing it. Much like Kenny King, she just recently won the championship, so don’t expect her to drop it so quickly.
3-WAY MATCH FOR THE WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: BAD INFLUENCE (CHRISTOPHER DANIELS & KAZARIAN) VS. AUSTIN ARIES & BOBBY ROODE (CHAMPIONS) VS. CHAVO GUERRERO & HERNANDEZ
While I fully expect Roode and Aries to eventually split up (or at least go after singles titles while remaining a team), it’s not time yet. Honestly, these two are about the most entertaining thing in TNA right now, and both are damn good at what they do. Although the dysfunctional tag team thing has been done to death, Aries and Roode are kind of an anomaly because they’re a heel team doing it instead, and it’s become very entertaining. While I expect BI to regain the titles at some point or another, they won’t do it until a face team has the belts. As for the team they eventually beat, I’m pretty sure (or at least hopeful) that it won’t be Chavo & Hernandez. The fact is that fans do not give a damn about these two, and Hernandez was completely dumped on during the UK tour by every single crowd he performed in. Back in the states, the reception has only been slightly warmer. Out of everyone in this match, the most over team are the current champions, and I think they need to stay champions a bit longer to keep their current angle interesting. Champs retain in my view.
STEEL CAGE MATCH: KURT ANGLE VS. WES BRISCO
This match is going to be a mess, and is predictable from the get-go. It’s Angle in a cage. When was the last time you saw him lose a one-on-one cage match? When you take into account that Brisco is a nobody who does not deserve such a high-profile match, and you have your winner in Kurt Angle, with Aces and Eights likely trying to run interference towards the end, or just waiting until it’s over and attacking post-match. I would be amazed (and quite frankly confused) if Brisco won here. Just having a famous father who was good at what he did does not automatically make you talented, and Wes Brisco is walking proof of that. Kurt Angle is taking this one, and I will go one further and predict that Angle will botch a moonsault from the top of the cage as the crowd chants “Holy sh*t” like they’ve never seen it before, despite the fact that Angle botches a moonsault in literally every singles cage match he’s ever been in since the one against Krispen Wah years ago.
LETHAL LOCKDOWN: TEAM TNA (MAGNUS, SAMOA JOE, STING, JAMES STORM AND ERIC YOUNG) VS. ACES AND EIGHTS (GARETT BISCHOFF, DEVON, DOC, KNOX AND MR. ANDERSON)
Despite the fact that they’ve built this match up a few weeks, no one for either team was announced until last week. While A and E went pretty much the only way they could and picked every single unmasked member of the group (save Wes Brisco) for their team, Team TNA is just a mishmash of wrestlers. Yes, they’ve all been attacked by A and E, but that’s pretty much the only thing they have in common. And Eric Young? The guy has been gone for months filming a reality show and all of a sudden, he’s made a member of the team. Only one guy deserves this spot less than Young, and that’s Garett Bischoff. I don’t think I need to say any more on the subject. The only really shining part of Team TNA is Magnus, who is finally starting to get some kind of a push in TNA. I’ve thought he has deserved better for a long time, and it’s nice to see TNA finally coming out of their comfort zone and giving him a chance. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to bode well for this match, which I predict will be a huge mess. Lethal Lockdown always is, but considering who is in it this time, I expect it to be worse than normal. Think the very last War Games, and we’re now on the same page. Anyway, neither team winning will really mean much in the long run, as this storyline isn’t going away anytime soon, but considering we just learned who the V.P. of A and E is (g*ddamn D’Lo Brown, for those that don’t know), which was supposed to be a major turn in the storyline, I’m predicting A and E to win here.
STEEL CAGE MATCH FOR THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: BULLY RAY VS. JEFF HARDY (CHAMPIONSHIP)
And now, the main event. A main event that, if it weren’t for the fact that Ray is married to Hulk Hogan’s daughter on TV, would make absolutely no sense. So, Hogan has some qualifying matches on TV, and whoever impresses him the most gets a World title match. After all the matches, he picks his storyline son-in-law Bully Ray, despite the fact that Ray wasn’t involved in any of those matches in any conceivable way. From there, we get weeks of Ray and Hardy glad-handing each other every chance they get, and that’s pretty much it. Based on how sugary-sweet Ray is as a face right now, it’s only a matter of time before he turns heel again. I see one of two outcomes here: 1) Matt Morgan interferes and somehow costs Ray the title, thanks to their skirmish this past Thursday night, or 2) Ray wins the title and immediately turns on Hardy. I have a feeling prediction #1 will be closer to the truth (for now, at least), but it could really go either way