Happy New Year!
TNA gives us our first show of 2014 tonight. Kurt Angle had a rough year last year, so will he begin to bounce back? And will AJ Styles come back to TNA to face the new champion Magnus? Magnus gets his coronation tonight, so be sure to wait for some kind of shenanigans that we normally get in these kinds of segments.
Show Open, taped in Orlando, FL
We open with a video package that focuses on Magnus winning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship and hypes his coronation ceremony for later in the show.
Tenay and Taz check in on commentary, and Kurt Angle's music hits. He makes his way out to the ring for a promo. He starts by introducing himself and saying "2013 was the worst year of my career." He mentions the feud with Aces and Eights and says that it took a toll on his body, as well as his issues outside the ring.
Angle says people call him a cyborg, but 2013 he was not that. He starts to address his plans for 2014 when he's interrupted by Bobby Roode's music. He heads to the ring and asks whether Angle is going to tell everyone that he is walking away like Jeff Hardy did last week.
Roode tells Angle to look him in the eyes and tell him that "The It Factor of Professional Wrestling is better than you." Angle tells him he is there to make it clear that he is going to kick ass in 2014. Angle challenges Roode to one more match, and Roode acts surprised by this. He sells outrage and tells Angle "absolutely not" and tells Angle they're done.
Roode starts to leave but stops. "Unless, maybe I accept this challenge, maybe I accept one more match, but in this match maybe you put something on the line." He proposes that if he beats Angle, Angle leaves TNA and never accepts his TNA Hall of Fame induction.
Angle tells Roode "I'm glad you accept" and says the match will be a cage match on the Genesis themed edition of iMPACT. Roode sells shock again but accepts. Roode tries a sucker punch, but Angle saw it coming so he avoids it. They brawl until officials pull them apart.
Rockstar Spud comes out and yells at them. He says the night belongs to him and Dixie Carter. He says if they want to fight, they should find partners and have a tag match later in tonight's show.
This fell flat in front of a bit of a dead crowd. Take Roode's reactions - had the crowd been more into the segment, he would not have seen so over the top in his response to Angle's actions and words.
Tenay gives us some hype for the X-Division Title match, Joe Park vs. Bully Ray, and Gail Kim issuing yet another open challenge.
Dixie Carter calls tonight her crowning moment. She says it took eleven years for her to find the right champion. The person behind the camera calls "cut" and she goes into her office. Dixie is given a message sent by courier, and she is not happy about the content.
After the break, Dixie shows the message she got to Spud. It simply read "See you tonight." and was unsigned. She tells Spud to get to the bottom of it.
Gail Kim and Lei'D Tapa are in the ring. She says now that 2014 has begun it's time for another Gail Kim Open Challenge. She bemoans the lack of competition in TNA and says she hopes the company can find her some real competition because to this point it has been unimpressive. Madison Rayne answers the challenge.
Match #1 - Madison Rayne vs. Gail Kim (w/Lei'D Tapa)
Rayne starts off quickly, but Tapa interjects and trips her as she runs the ropes. Gail comes back and she hits a really impressive looking move that puts me in mind of a face-first version of the electric chair. Kim tries to go for Eat D'Feet but Rayne avoids it and rolls up Kim to get the win.
Gail's promos are a bit boring to me right about now. The match was a bit clunky but passable. Madison does a nice job of playing to the fans as a face.
Chris Sabin interrupts Velvet Sky and tells her to listen to what he says so that he becomes X-Division Champion. He tells her that if she doesn't listen to him then he is leaving without her.
This rings hollow. It's not that Sabin is doing poorly, but what they're trying here works with a meek female personality, which Velvet never was established as.
Kurt Angle asks Gunner to partner with him tonight to face Bobby Roode. Gunner says it will be an honor. James Storm shows up and is surprised Gunner agreed to this. "Did you say partners? Very interesting." Storm says.
We get a recap of Austin Aries beating Chris Sabin to win the X-Division title.
Match #2 - Austin Aries (c) vs. Chris Sabin (w/Velvet Sky); TNA X-Division Championship
Aries gets the better of Sabin early on. Sabin calls for Velvet to do something, and she hesitates at first. Eventually, she gets on the ring apron to distract the official. Sabin uses the distraction to hit a low blow on Aries. Sabin rolls up Aries in a small package to win the title.
Afterward, Velvet looks overly sad about what happened. JB interviews Sabin, who congratulates himself and yells "I did it!"
Sabin has embraced this character and has come out of his shell with it. Velvet just isn't the right person to be by his side though, despite their real-life relationship. She's a good heel, so perhaps she comes out as being the one encouraging his behavior. It makes little sense storyline-wise, but I'd take it over what I'm seeing. And I'm not sure why we're hot-potatoing the X-Division title around right now.
Backstage, Rockstar Spud works on his introduction for Magnus when he's interrupted by a phone call. He answers, but the person on the other end doesn't respond. He ponders and says that's the fourth call from that number like that.
Sam Shaw comes to the ring in a shirt, white pants, and he puts on black gloves. He opens the ropes nicely for Christy Hemme to go to ringside before she introduces his opponent.
Match #3 - Samuel Shaw vs. Norv Fernum
Shaw sticks with his wardrobe to work the match. He dominates Fernum pretty thoroughly, and looks at Christy every time he hits a big move. She looks uncomfortable with all of this. Taz calls his finisher a standing choke, and Shaw stares at Hemme all the while he has it applied to Fernum for the win.
Shaw's playing this well, and Hemme did a good job of being creeped out by it. The problem is, where is this going? Hemme has no on-air allies to come to her aid, and Shaw certainly won't kill anyone ala Patrick Bateman in the American Psycho flick. Also, let's make Shaw look more wrestler rather than someone wrestling in street clothes.
Backstage, James Storm tells HerveyCam that he is a tag team specialist. He says Gunner is like every other partner he has had in his career in that he changed. He says he will show Angle he made a mistake in selecting Gunner. Storm walks into a room and says "just who I was looking for."
After break, Storm is with Bobby Roode and Roode asks Storm to give him one good reason why he should trust him. Storm says he doesn't trust and downright hates Roode, but he needs to be his partner. Roode tries to walk off, but Storm says either he will be his partner or kicking the ass of everyone in the tag match, including Roode's.
A video recaps Magnus' win over Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Heavyweight Title.
We get ring intros for the tag match. JB asks Gunner what would happen if Roode picked Storm as a partner. Gunner calls it interesting and more physical. The announcers play into the possibility of Beer Money reuniting.
Wait, the match is next? And Roode still doesn't officially have a partner? This makes no sense...
Match #4 - Kurt Angle and Gunner vs. Bobby Roode and James Storm
Beer Money reunion time. Storm and Angle start it off but Roode tags in. Gunner gets in the match and gets the better of Roode and hits a slingshot suplex for two. Gunner gets in Storm's face, but whatever Storm said back caused him to walk right into a spinebuster from Roode. Storm takes the tag and throws punches on Gunner.
Later, Angle hits two of the three German Suplexes on Roode because Storm disrupts him. Angle locks Storm in the Ankle Lock, and Roode breaks that up. Gunner tries for the Gun Rack on Roode, but Storm hits him with the Last Call, which allows Roode to pick up the victory. Afterward, Angle tries to hit Roode with the Angle Slam, but Roode escapes and runs up the ramp.
Heel Storm and face Gunner isn't working. Crowds don't hate on Storm, and they don't pop for Gunner. It almost seems backward or something.
Speaking of crowds, this crowd is dead this deep into a marathon taping. Part of the reason there's no reaction for Storm and Gunner's characters is that they are so dead and just sitting on their hands.
Backstage, Rockstar Spud asks Sting if he's behind the phone calls and the anonymous message to Dixie to open the show. Sting says he isn't there to talk to Spud, but to Dixie's lapdog, Ethan Carter III.
Ethan Carter III comes to the ring and they recap the Sting and Jeff Hardy handicap match from last week. He says he changed the face of wrestling in 2013. He talks about Jeff Hardy leaving TNA last week so he could "go write ballads and poems about his creatures." He calls this a night for redemption and challenges Hardy to a match.
Carter has Christy Hemme introduce Hardy as his opponent, and his entrance music plays. The announcers explain that Hardy said last week that he was sick of the current state of TNA and what is going on.
EC3 has the timekeeper ring the bell, and tries to count to ten. At nine, Sting's music hits and Sting comes out to a decent reaction. Sting tells EC3 that he won't let Carter trash talk a man when he's not sure what EC3 even is. He labels EC3 a lapdog that waits for Aunt Dixie to feed him treats.
Sting says that EC3 can't even take a crap without being on Dixie's leash. Sting challenges him to be more than a lapdog. The live crowd that has been dead pipes up with a "Dixie's Lapdog" chant. Carter says he won't let Sting manipulate him and leaves the ring. He turns back and says he will fight Sting at Genesis.
This is growing on me. Sting as the veteran trying to goad the young, spoiled, pampered Carter into fighting him is working. Simple story.
Joe Park tells Eric Young that things are fuzzy to him, but he is not his brother. Young tells him to go back to the beginning. He says Abyss wrestled Bully Ray two years ago, so Park will do the same tonight and win. Ray shows up and tells Park that it's not in his best interest to go to the ring tonight since he will be alone. Ray says he knows what it's like to be alone, and Park shouldn't be the guy to burn for the sins of Ken Anderson. "I'm going to set you on fire." Ray says.
Match #5 - Bully Ray vs. Joseph Park
Ray works in jeans and a Motley Crue hoodie. He doesn't even take his shades off. When the bell rings, Park walks toward Ray and stops. Ray looks up a Park, then low-blows him and the match is over via DQ.
Afterward, Ray pulls out lighter fluid and pours it on Park. Some fans snapped pix, some cheered, and one lady looks worried. Ray pulls out a lighter, and that's when Anderson runs out for the save. Ray squirts him with lighter fluid too and lights the lighter, but did nothing to either man.
Two weeks from tonight: "In a breaking story, professional wresting company TNA burns down the Von Braun Center during their Genesis show tonight..."
The Coronation of Magnus:
Rockstar Spud and EC3 are in the ring. There's a throne, fake plants and flowers, and British flags set up Spud reads a statement off his iPad. He says that Dixieland is a place where dreams always come true and says that tonight is about a man who will forever change professional wrestling.
EC3 takes over. He says Spud is from a country that worships kings and queens, but America the power is with the one percent. He's getting booed, but there's a smattering of "We want AJ" chants. EC3 introduces Dixie Carter, who also gets booed, but there's that one guy who is applauding her and the camera focuses on him. Nice production work.
Dixie talks about seeing a magazine article about AJ Styles. She says she turned the page, and there was a six-page feature on Magnus. The "We want AJ" chants grow. She works her way to the announcement of Magnus as her TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
Magnus comes to the ring in a suit and tie with the title belt across his shoulder. He takes a seat on the throne and tells the fans to return their women to their full and upright position. He thanks Spud and EC3 for their words, and turns to Dixie. He calls her "the wind beneath my massive wings."
Magnus says that fans assumed Bobby Roode, Kurt Angle, or Jeff Hardy would be the champion. "But it's not, it's me." He says he turned his back on the fans because they turned their backs on him. The fans chant "you suck." He says he won't take a back seat to anyone, and he will be champion for a very very very long time. Gunner comes out with his Feast or Fired briefcase and he holds that up.
Rockstar Spud, despite the initial silliness, is doing good. I hope TNA really does something with a face character to be his foil eventually.
Gunner says that he is cashing in his contract for a title shot, but Dixie has none of it. The heels attack Gunner when he gets in the ring. Spud and EC3 hold Gunner for Magnus, but AJ Styles runs in. Gunner makes his exit, and Styles clears out EC3 and Spud.
Styles and Magnus stare at each other, and hold up their respective title belts. Dixie yells at Styles to get out of her ring. Styles lays his belt in the middle of the ring and dares Magnus to fight. Magnus leaves with his own belt, and Dixie says it wasn't going to happen.
Styles tells Dixie to tell her lawyers to stop calling and texting about "her intellectual property." He says he won't just hand over the title belt. Styles says he didn't come back because Dixie made him, or wanted him to, but because she screwed over the fans by making her champion a farce. He says he needed to come back, and tells Magnus he's a farce and everyone knows it.
Styles tells Magnus he doesn't care if he wears the title on his shoulder or waist, he's not the champion until he beats the champion. Magnus asks if Styles is challenging him. "Two belts, but there can be only one TNA World Heavyweight Champion." Styles responds.
Magnus walks to the ring steps as Styles goads him on to take the match. The fans chant "you're a puppet" at Magnus. Styles tells him that people would doubt he ever was a champion, and that if he didn't take the match he will doubt himself as a champion.
Styles says the deal is on the table, but if he walks out the deal goes with him. "No, no, no, it's not going to happen." Dixie chimes in. Magnus tells Styles that he's not better than him, "not anymore." Magnus says if Styles wants him to prove it, he will next week - "one on one, two belts, one champion." Dixie yells that it won't happen.
Magnus turns to Dixie and says that if it isn't going to happen, he will leave too. He says no one will doubt his championship status again. Dixie asks if Magnus is insane and says Styles doesn't even have a contract. Magnus tells Dixie to give him a one night contract, and it's winner take all. She says if Magnus loses, she has nothing. Magnus says he feels lucky and wants to roll the dice. Styles extends his hand for a handshake, but Magnus glares and does not reciprocate as the show ends.
The fans popped to life for this final segment and they were into this. Dixie needed to shut up a little bit. Her talking over this made sense for her character, but it took away from the overall "big match feel" of this segment. This feels rushed as a result.
Not sure how I feel about Magnus. He showed that he's not simply Dixie's puppet, but he went against her so fast. This whole segment felt really rushed and clumsy. Will there even be a match? It's not like anything was finalized, and the two men were staring at each other rather than agreeing to battle.
This was a solid show for iMPACT to start the year. They just missed the boat with being able to really make Magnus vs. Styles a big deal with the way they rushed and mishandled their talking segment to close the show.
Join us next week for more iMPACT coverage right here on Ring-Rap.com.