Tonight, TNA resets their year. Bound for Glory is in the rear view mirror, and we have a new champion in AJ Styles. Bully Ray gets his rematch tonight, but all eyes are on how Dixie Carter ends up responding to AJ's victory.
Show Open, "Live" from Salt Lake City, UT
Dixie Carter comes to the ring, which is decorated with a big "Welcome Back AJ Styles" sign. Dixie plays the face here and says that she was wrong before but the future of the company is a man she is proud to call her World Champion and calls out "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles. He gets a big pop from the Utah faithful.
AJ starts to talk but Dixie asks to let her finish. She says that the last six weeks have been about motivating him to glory, saying he has been in a slump and her brilliance turned him around and made him a champion. She says AJ said she had to pay and she is prepared. She offers him a fancy dressing room "almost as good as hers", filled with top of the line food and drink, and a watch like Hulk got. She claims that she got Hogan's from Craigslist and it's a knockoff.
She asks for someone to reveal her "piece de resistance" - which is "a special thing" in redneck. There's a nice convertible car revealed by the ramp. Dixie says it's obvious she is ready to pay. AJ asks her if that's what she thought he meant. He says he's a truck guy and he doesn't want to separate himself from the boys. He says that she bet against him and she lost, and now she's trying to make up for it.
Dixie says that AJ is still upset from Sunday and admits her behavior wasn't ladylike. She says she booked the rematch with Bully Ray tonight but he didn't have to do that. She says all he has to do is hop a flight "out of this God-forsaken town." Before anyone says any more, Aces music hits and here comes Bully Ray.
This is a disjointed approach with Dixie's character. I guess one could save it if booked right, which TNA is not capable of really. Puts me in the mind of Vince trying to change Austin.
Ray asks Dixie if he heard right that the match wasn't happening. AJ tells Ray to shut up because Ray wants to hear what he has to say. He tells Dixie she's crazy and he came to defend his title. Ray tells him he isn't fighting Dixie and AJ got lucky at Bound for Glory. He tells AJ he kicked out of the Spiral Tap and Hebner screwed him with his old eyes.
AJ tells Ray he will beat him tonight and go to the crowd and ask everyone if they know who he is. He says he will tell them he is the Phenomenal AJ Styles, the World Heavyweight Champion. Ray lands a sucker punch then hits AJ with some objects in the ring. He tries for a powerbomb on the table but Mr. Anderson runs out and attacks Ray. Styles escapes and Anderson takes a beating from Anderson until he can escape.
That was a good return for Anderson - and I'm guessing we get him costing Ray later in the show so that spins Ray off to a feud with Anderson.
Anderson cuts a promo and says he missed everyone and it seems they missed him too. He says he really missed Ray, but doesn't think Ray missed him. He rolls his head around and says his neck feels great. Anderson says he was sitting at home watching the product and could tell that everyone, from the boys to the agents to the fans, were getting tired of what is going on.
He goes on but Dixie Carter comes out with security and cuts him off. She says Anderson wasn't authorized to be in the ring. She demands that security go handcuff him. Anderson asks if she is into handcuffs then says he's going to have fun. He knocks out a couple guards then gives himself up to the other two.
They handcuff him and walk up the ramp. Dixie tells the guards to get him out of there and they all head to the back.
I wish they'd have let Anderson talk some more there. He's been turned so many times that the time to allow him to solidify this turn was more necessary. Dixie put some heat on him but he could have done it alone.
We see Kurt Angle arriving, and Tenay tells us we'll hear from him later.
We get a recap video of Gail Kim winning the Knockouts Championship with the assist from Lei'D Tapa. The pair makes their entrance. Brooke comes out, then Velvet Sky and ODB.
Match #1 - Brooke and Gail Kim (w/Lei'D Tapa) vs Velvet Sky and ODB
The heels argue about who is going to start, so ODB drags Brooke in. ODB then goes after Gail, which lets Brooke attack her. Velvet tags in and starts some offense, but the announcers are busy talking about the new 24/7 initiative that TNA announced earlier in the day. Gail ends up distracting the official and that allows Lei'D Tapa to hit a big boot, giving Gail the pinfall over Velvet.
Wow. Just...wow. The first wrestling in 40 minutes, and it's THAT?
We get hype for the iMPACT debut of Ethan Carter III coming next.
The Bro-Mans are going to have a cele-bro-lation later on tonight.
Match #2 - Ethan Carter III vs. Dewey Barnes
Christy Hemme starts the intro three times. Was that a botch, or is it his gimmick? Dewey Barnes is a string bean of a guy.
EC3 controls things early, but Barnes catches him with a missile drop kick. Dewey gets a two count, but ends up taking that finisher that looks like Dean Ambrose is working the EC3 gimmick and loses.
Afterward, Carter says "I'm a Carter. The world needs us." Not much response from the fans.
This could work, especially if Dixie finds her way with her character and the two truly work together.
We get a recap of the match between Sting and Magnus.
Earlier in the day, Sting and Magnus spoke. Magnus apologizes for not showing enough respect at Bound for Glory. Sting tells him they're cool, but he wasn't sure if Sting passed the torch, lit a fire under him, or both. He says that either way, they're cool. Magnus says it's Sting's world, and he's just living in it. They shake hands.
What in the hell was that? That didn't make sense at all.
We get a recap package of the match between Bobby Roode and Kurt Angle.
Angle comes to the ring and Tenay says that he has torn cartilage in his knee from the moonsault at the end of the match. Angle says that last weekend is tough to forget. He appreciates all that was said at the Hall of Fame dinner but he refused the award because he has so much more to prove. He says that when the time comes, he will take his place in the Hall of Fame.
Angle transitions to the match and says he knocked himself out on the last move. Bobby Roode's music hits and he storms to the ring. He gets up in Angle's face and then asks for a mic. He says that it's pathetic to listen to excuse after excuse and says that the real reason Angle turned the honor down is because he can't beat Bobby Roode. Roode tells him it's a good call because he beat Angle in the middle of the ring clean.
Roode says that he had a feeling of failure in his gut because he lost to Angle for the title two years ago, and now it's time for Angle to feel that way. Angle says Roode might be a bad SOB but he's not better than Angle. He says he isn't there to make excuses, but is there to challenge Roode to a match right now.
Roode poses to fight then says he can't, or rather Angle can't. He pulls out a piece of paper and says that Angle isn't medically cleared. Roode says that as much as he wants to kick Angle's ass tonight, he isn't allowed to. Angle says it's true the doctors won't let him wrestle, but they didn't say anything about a fight. He punches Roode and agents run out to break things up.
This was a good talking segment. I hope the knee issue doesn't shelf Angle for a long time, because it could lose the heat they have in this story.
Ray tells the last two gang lackeys to go find the jail that Anderson's at and make sure he doesn't post bail. He says that while they're gone, he's going to impose his will on "that redneck" AJ Styles. Knux and Bischoff head out.
Guessing these guys allow Anderson to get to Ray as some form of payback.
Dixie is on the phone with someone, and given the talk it's a lawyer. She says that she needs "it" immediately and thanks whoever she's talking to.
Bro-Mans come to the ring. Millions of TV's changed channels to whatever game is going on tonight. There is a table of food an party favors in the ring, along with a DJ. Robbie says his name is "DJ OH!". Dear lord, this isn't going to go well.
Robbie tries to cut a promo about their huge win, but the crowd derides them with a "you can't wrestle" chant. He doesn't get too far until James Storm's music hits and he and Gunner make their way to the ring. Storm tells DJ Anus to get out of the ring, then drinks their champagne. He says that next week they will get their rematch and take the titles back. He cues up his catchphrase but Bad Influence's music hits to cut him off.
Kazarian says they are petitioning to get a title shot also. Daniels mocks beer and champagne. Storm takes his drink, then Gunner throws it in Daniels' face. Kaz attacks and the heels take over on Storm and Gunner. Eric Young and Joseph Park run out for the save. Daniels hits Park with a bottle and busts him open.
Park goes to Abyss Mode, and he kills Jesse. Park ends up chasing Bad Influence to the back to end the segment.
Wow, that was absolutely horrible. What a jumbled mess of gimmicks.
Match #3 - AJ Styles (c) vs. Bully Ray (w/Brooke); TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Ray and Brooke come out, then AJ Styles. JB starts the old-school ring intros, but Ray cuts him off. He gets in AJ's face during his intro and AJ decides to attack to get things started.
Styles' ribs are taped up as Ray goes to work on him. AJ charges and Ray tries a back drop. AJ lands on his head instead.
Out of break, Ray concentrates his offense on the midsection with slams and a bear hug. AJ punches his way out of the bear hug and the two trade blows. AJ gets a flurry of offense off the punching exchange and tries to lift Ray for a move. He can't as his midsection gives out. Ray hits a fallaway slam for two.
Ray tries a senton from the top but AJ rolls out of the way. AJ tries the 450 and Ray moves. Ray sets AJ up top and tries to set a move up but AJ fights back. He tries a tornado DDT, but Ray tosses him off and AJ ends up taking out Hebner in the traditional TNA Referee Bump. AJ locks on the Calf Killer and Ray taps but Hebner's out.
AJ breaks the hold and checks on Hebner. Ray grabs his chain and hits AJ with it, and follows up with an Ace Crusher. He only gets two out of it from a wobbly Hebner. Ray grabs the chain and cues it up again, but Anderson runs in from nowhere and grabs the chain.
Anderson hits Ray with a hangman, then AJ uses a crucifix roll up for a slow and anticlimatic pinfall win to keep the title.
Afterward, Anderson reveals he still has the cuffs on one hand. Ray rolls out and they brawl at ringside until security escorts them to the back. Then Dixie appears on the screen and says she has a contract full of her money for AJ Styles and she is heading to the ring.
Ugh. TNA just cannot do a title match without a referee bump. This match would never have lived up to Sunday, but the bump was unnecessary and it's just such an overused gimmick. The match itself wasn't bad, but the brawl afterward was weak and the ending was terrible.
Dixie comes out to the ring and says that she thought through all the things she gave AJ earlier. She thought that's what he wanted, but she realized her strategy was off. She says she has a contract that has more zeroes on it than AJ has ever seen. She says she will give him the car anyhow as a signing bonus. She tells AJ she wants him in TNA and asks to put all the mess behind them and move on together. She hands him the contract and assures him it is real.
AJ studies the contract and calls it an amazing contract by a horrible human being who uses people to pad her bank account to buy homes and cars on the blood, sweat, and tears of every person who stepped in the ring. He says that she didn't believe in him months ago and he didn't have a contract. He takes the contract from the clipboard and wipes his ass with it.
He asks her if she really thought "making her pay" was about money. He tells her that money can't fix the problem. He says he's taking the title from her and leaving. He says he is taking it "to them" and takes the keys from her hand. He says on second thought, he will take her car. He walks to the back, gets in the car and leaves to close the show.
Dixie and AJ just can't find the right place for their interactions. Neither has the chops it takes to pull this angle off. And with this being a direct rip-off of what CM Punk did in 2011 in WWE, this is not off to a good start. They do have an opportunity though to do some of the things that WWE didn't, so I'm not going to clown on this too much and condemn it. I hope what they have in mind is solid though, because Dixie and AJ are not good on the mic.
TNA did a lot of stoytelling tonight and didn't do much in the ring. The crowd was hot, and that helped this show, but there just wasn't much wrestling. It's at least a good starting point to the post-Bound for Glory calendar. Surely they didn't do enough to catch new fans, or get old ones to return though. It definitely could have been worse.
I'll be back next Thursday night to bring you more iMPACT coverage here on Ring-Rap.com.