It's Championship Thursday. Who gets to keep their gold tonight, and who might obtain new gold? We know one thing's for sure, Hulk Hogan is going to pick an opponent for Rob Van Dam and his X-Division Championship. Show coverage will kick off in minutes!
We get our "previously on iMPACT" recap, focusing on Wes Briscoe's Gut Check win and the Brooke Hogan/Bully Ray angle from last week.
Hulk Hogan's music hits as the announce trio checks in. Hogan says that his GM and father roles collided head-on last week when he was faced with the idea of his daughter being in a relationship. Hogan demands that he wants to know the truth of this whole situation. He calls out Bully Ray.
Ray deflects the question, and says Hogan doesn't trust him. Hogan asks a second time. Ray asks if Hogan really wants to know the answer to the question. Brooke Hogan comes out. She gets between them and asks why her dad is doing this.
Brooke points out that she's over 18 now. Hogan rants that he doesn't want to see her dating a wrestler. Brooke begs he stop this conversation. On the big screen, Austin Aries, Kenny King and Zema Ion appear.
Aries complains that Hogan isn't doing his job as GM tonight. The men in his office are waiting for Hogan to decide who gets the match for the X-Division Championship. He lays on the desk and says they're not leaving 'til they get an answer. Aries makes a snide comment about how he doesn't see Brooke being able to lay on the desk.
Hogan gets pissed and storms off to the back.
My first reaction was that this was going to be a bad story, but this actually wasn't a bad segment. Still cautious about how this will play out, but this was a good opening.
Mickie James and Gail Kim are shown getting ready for their upcoming match.
Match #1 - Mickie James vs. Gail Kim
Gail controls the early going, but in the end, Mickie picks up the win with her Jumping DDT.
They weren't given a whole lot of time to do much here. It was fine otherwise, but we've seen better.
James Storm talks about how he lives with his decisions. He refuses, however, to have someone talk about his family. AJ Styles shows up and gets on Storm's case for whining. He starts on with some whining of his own, though. Storm tells Styles to stop living in the past and get ready for their tag match later in the show.
It looks like Styles is going to turn heel fairly soon.
Hogan storms into his office and Aries backs off a little. Hogan shreds the potential challengers for laughing at Aries' jokes. He immediately cuts Kenny King from consideration, mostly because he's friends with Aries. He chases the rest of the challengers out.
Bobby Roode comes to the ring. Roode tells us he made a statement last week and feeds it to video. He says Jeff Hardy got called out by a Gut Check rookie and nearly got beat. If someone wants to make an impact, they should call out Roode, not Hardy.
Christian York comes out, and Roode chides him. Roode says this is his time. York slaps Roode and gets a mic. He says if Roode wants to call someone out, that's what he did. York challenges Roode. Roode gets pissy and rips his shirt off as the show goes to break.
York is still bad on the mic. Other than that, he's being handled well so far.
Match #2 - Bobby Roode vs. Christian York
York gets the early advantage and manhandles Roode. Roode gets some offense in, but York is able to keep control. He catches Roode in a couple of roll-ups.
In the end, Roode catches York in the back of the head and locks on a crossface submission for the win. Afterward, Roode goes to attack York with a chair, but Hardy runs out for the save.
They allowed York to shine here and the match wasn't terrible.
They give us a recap of the recent Aces and Eights attacks. The VP of Aces is shown at the clubhouse and he says the holidays are a time to be festive. He says next week, one of the Aces members will get Kurt Angle, one on one. Devon grabs a hammer and says he wants a shot at his TV Championship, or all hell will break loose.
They change gears from there to show the Gut Check judges debating Wes Briscoe's performance.
Wow - we're on hyperdrive again. York's push and the Aces and Eights hype should have gotten some attention and allowed time to sink in, but they immediately went to the Gut Check judging. Wow.
Gut Check Judging:
The judges argue backstage. Tazz supports Wes, but Pritchard is skeptical. Snow doesn't say much and talks about them working it out. They show Pritchard looking for Snow in a live shot. Kurt Angle talks to Pritchard and puts in a word for Wes. Pritchard says he will take it under advisement but goes back to looking for Snow.
Match #3 - Bad Influence (Kazarian and Christopher Daniels) vs. James Storm and AJ Styles
Daniels and Kaz come out first. Kaz cuts a promo, saying he was sorry about AJ's luck in 10 days because he would hear Daniels being declared the better man and winner. Storm and Styles get their entrances.
Styles starts it off, but can't get any offense. Storm gets the tag and gets control of the match. He tags Styles in and Styles loses the control that Storm gained. Storm gets a hot tag and cleans house at first, but Daniels helps Kaz block the backstabber.
The heels control Storm but he escapes and hot tags AJ. Styles cleans house and hits a flying forearm. He misses the follow-up dive on Kaz, who is out on the floor. Kaz and Daniels team up to hit a powerbomb/neckbreaker combination for two. They set up the next move, but Styles kicks Daniels away.
Storm drags Kaz out and gets on the apron. He blind tags himself in after Styles misses the Pele. Daniels tries to get Angels' Wings, but Storm delivers the Last Call for his team to get the win. Afterward, Styles leaves and sells his frustration.
Very enjoyable tag match.
The announcers hype up San Antonio being the location for Lockdown 2013.
Hogan is with the remaining three contenders. Each cuts a promo but nothing special. Hogan ends up selecting Aries.
Samoa Joe accepts Devon's TV Championship challenge for next week.
Match #4 - Doug Williams vs. Matt Morgan (w/Joey Ryan)
Williams comes to the ring, then Joey Ryan comes out. He tosses Christy Hemme from the ring (verbally) and introduces Matt Morgan. Morgan has a robe that Hogan wore in his match with Andre the Giant at Shea Stadium in 1980.
All Morgan from start to finish. He hits the Carbon Footprint to put him away.
D-Lo Brown and Pritchard are still looking for Al Snow. Pritchard had Snow's wife on the phone and she says she doesn't know where he is. Pritchard is freaked out about having only two judges for Gut Check. D-Lo offers to step in. Pritchard agrees and says after judging is over they need to find Al.
Is D-Lo in Aces? Hard to say but we may find out.
The announcers run down the card for next week with Joe vs. Devon; DOC vs. Kurt Angle; Roode, Kazarian and Daniels vs. Hardy, Storm and Styles.
Gut Check Segment:
JB introduces Wes Briscoe. Pritchard gets on the mic and apologizes for not being able to find Al Snow for tonight's segment. He says they will keep everyone informed and D-Lo Brown has stepped in for Al tonight.
Pritchard says that Wes didn't have the best match even though he won. Pritchard says yes. Taz gave indication that he would vote yes earlier but now votes no. He says Wes was close though. Briscoe makes a plea in his promo based on his uncle Jack.
D-Lo thanks Bruce for letting him fill in. He takes some time to say if Wes is good enough for Bruce, he's good enough for him. Wes celebrates, and Kurt Angle and Garett Bischoff come out to join him.
Eh, it was what it was. Should be interesting to see how this all plays out in the end with regard to Aces.
HerveyCam asks Hogan about the double-cut earlier on. Hogan blows him off. Ray walks up and asks if Hogan wanted Aries' head kicked in, why did he not come to Bully. Bully accuses Hogan of confusing business and personal matters. Hogan snaps back that Ray is the confused one and storms off.
This felt a bit forced.
ODB tells us backstage that Eric Young is in the hospital with a shattered ankle. She walks off, visibly upset.
The announce team runs down the card to date for Final Resolution.
Aries tells Hulk he planned for this to happen and Hogan fell for it. He will get his X-Division Championship back. Hogan tells Aries 'thank you' for opening his eyes. Hogan tells Aries that he will get his teeth kicked down his throat by RVD. Aries tells Hogan that's not in his plans.
Match #5 - Austin Aries vs. Rob Van Dam (c); TNA X-Division Championship
We get the traditional introductions for this after the ring entrances. Aries and RVD trade kicks and punches. RVD teases Rolling Thunder but Aries goes to the floor. RVD hits a drop kick through the ropes then hits a splash over the top rope.
Out of break, RVD drops Aries on the security rail and jumps off the apron. Aries moves and RVD crashes and burns. Aries follows up with a neckbreaker at the railing. He throws RVD back in but only gets a two-count. Aries hits a DDT, then his own version of Rolling Thunder, getting two each time. He goes up for a frog splash but RVD moves.
RVD hits some kicks then hits Rolling Thunder. He follows up with a split-legged moonsault for a two-count. Aries hits a fast elbow then mocks RVD's thumb-pointing routine. RVD lands a pop-up drop kick and does the thumb-pointing thing. RVD goes up top, but Aries knocks him off to the floor. Aries retrieves him and throws RVD in then grabs a mic.
Aries says that RVD is laying on his back hot and sweaty and out of breath just like Brooke Hogan. He says he's going to look like the new champion. Bully Ray runs out at that point and attacks Aries, throwing the match out.
Afterward, Ray lifts Aries for a move but Aries escapes. He goes to leave, but Hogan walks out on stage. Ray goes after Aries, but Aries escapes when Hogan stares at Bully. That's how the show ends.
Seems they wasted the goodwill they earned in the opening segment. The first segment was very good, but it flattened out and they never really got the momentum back. It also seems like they needed another Brooke/Hulk segment to help explain things.
This was a show that got off to a good start, but faded down the stretch. I didn't expect Aries to win the belt back, so it rendered the main event a waste for me personally. They could have done a better job with some storytelling but they did get to the points they wanted to get to.
Be sure to join us again next Thursday for more iMPACT coverage. Thanks for watching along tonight.