TNA is live in Cincinnati tonight.  They've hyped the return of a former champion, and it's now the time to kick off the championship tournament.  Jeff Hardy and Chris Sabin will face off in a Full Metal Mayhem Match!

Show Open, live from Cincinnati, OH

We get the opening video package that recaps most of Dixie's story and the commentators check in.

The Main Event Mafia comes to the ring together.  Sting says they're going to put the group on the shelf.  He says they all have things to do and puts each of the other three as being former World Champions.

Sting says he's going to deal with entitlement.  He says there are those in the back who believe the business owes them something and they can come in on top without paying their dues.  Sting says that isn't how he was taught and he has respect for the business.  He says he respects those who came before him, and he hugs the three men and exits.

Joe takes the mic and tells the other two that he had their backs the past few months and it's been a pleasure.  He says the people have been denied a Joe title run for too long.  He says his return started with Magnus and would likely go through Angle.  He says they're good friends, but he would remind them why they make better enemies.

Magnus is next and he says "and there were two."  He says Angle is on the road to redemption and he appreciates that because he considers Angle the greatest of all time.  He says that Angle's road to redemption is also his road to destiny.  Magnus says that once he goes through Joe, if he and Angle meet he will do what he has to do.  Magnus exits.

Angle says he has to prove that he is Hall of Fame worthy, and the tournament is the way.  He talks about knocking himself out last week and it's a setback.  Bobby Roode's music hits and he comes out.  He tells Angle to admit that he was beaten by Roode.  He repeats it a few more times and says that if they cross paths in the tournament, he will have no issue kicking Angle's ass again.  Angle has had enough and a brawl ensues into commercial.

Odd segment to split these guys up, but each guy was solid on the mic and explained their own reason for the separation. Magnus vs. Joe will be telling as to where Magnus' character is heading.  I wonder if Sting is turning his attention to EC3?

Angle is in the ring with a chair after the break. He says he has all night if he needs to but he wants to fight Bobby Roode right now.  Roode storms back out, and the brawl starts again.  Officials and agents get Angle to the stage and he acts as if he will go peacefully, but instead he attacks Roode again.  Bad Influence comes to Roode's aid, and Joe and Magnus come to Angle's aid.  Finally, everyone gets Angle to the back.

Bad Influence starts jawing with Adam "Pacman" Jones (the hyped former champion) and someone else from the Cincinnati Bengals.  Shoving ensues and the Bengal players jump the rail and chase Bad Influence to the ring and slam them.  Bad Influence runs to the back and the Bengal players play to the crowd.

That was crazy, but I have to admit it was entertaining.  I wasn't looking forward to covering this show tonight in light of what egg that WWE laid, but that was an intense segment that they built and Roode's reappearance was not expected which was good.  Big fight atmosphere for the next Roode/Angle match-up too.  The Bengal antics get a pass as a bit silly but it is in Cincy.  A good show start.

Backstage:

Knux and Bischoff say that their club business was none of anyone else's.  Anderson walks up and begs off from an attack. He tells them he doesn't blame them for what they did, and the best thing that ever happened to him was what they did to him to strip his colors.  He tells them to get out because it's not what they started.

Match #1 - Brooke vs. Velvet Sky vs. ODB; Knockouts Championship #1 Contender

In a pandering to the horny male demo, Brooke and Velvet compare asses.  ODB drops them and hits a double bronco buster.  All three women end up down, and out walks Gail Kim and Lei'D Tapa.

Out of break, the three chop on each other, and ODB asserts herself to take control.  She goes out to the floor and jaws at Tapa, which lets Brooke attack her from behind.  Velvet hits Brooke with a clothesline and rolls ODB in the ring.  Kim gets up on the apron, with Tapa.  Velvet cues her finisher but Kim attacks her from behind, throwing the match out.

Afterward, Tapa and Kim destroy the three women.  Gail cuts a promo, saying that there's no more competition in the division.  She challenges any woman outside the company to face her, and if they win, that woman will get a title shot.

So, we get this in order to set up a new Knockout arriving?  That's a horrible idea.  As good as the open was, that was just bad.  And Tapa looks like a dope for standing there while Gail says "there's no competition."  I have no reason why Tapa is hanging out with Gail rather than going after the title.

We get hype for the main event.

They show a video of AJ Styles leaving with the title and show a clip of him defending in AAA.  The message is "paid for by the Friends of AJ."

More main event hype.

Backstage:

Bischoff and Knux talk and say that maybe Anderson is right.  Ray walks in and says he knows about their conversation with Anderson.  He says he started the group for all of them.

Bischoff says it hasn't felt that way in a while.  Knux says they don't vote on things anymore and Ray says that's because he is president.  They start brawling and Bischoff breaks things up.  Knux calls for a vote, including Taz, and storms off.  Bischoff goes to leave and Ray grabs him and tells him to vote the right way, then lets him leave.

There are four votes.  How is this all going to go?

Backstage:

Dixie Carter throws a fit on the phone to someone about the AJ Styles video.  She tells whoever it is on the phone to do something about it and throws her phone.  EC3 walks in and Dixie tells him he needs to pick his opponent for the night.  EC3 says he thought when he came in it would be easy but she has picked two world class opponents for him.  He is afraid his streak might end tonight.  She says that can't happen and demands that he pick the correct opponent and win. They say that "we're the Carters and the world needs us" thing and he leaves.

In-Ring Segment:

Knux and Bischoff are in the ring, and they ask Taz to join them then call out Ray. Ray starts to go through his gimmick but Bischoff stops him.  He says that it's been about Ray's ego from day one and they've had enough.  He says it's time to have the vote now.  Anderson's music hits and he comes to ringside.  He tells the group to not mind him and he just is there to watch.

Bischoff again calls for the vote, then says he's done.  He puts his cut on the turnbuckle.  Ray plays up to Knux and begs him to do the right thing.  Knux says he's done and takes his cut off also.  Ray says there's going to be a tie and the tie goes to the president.  He votes to keep the club together and Taz will do the right thing because he knows to follow the president.

Taz tells Ray to pump the brakes.  He says Ray let his ego too far and he's with the others. He takes his cut off and holds it out, but Ray tells him to put it back on.  Taz tells Ray to make him.  Ray repeats it, and Taz says he will end Ray.  Ray blames Anderson for what happened and Anderson tells Ray he did it to himself.  He tells Ray he wants to fight him at the Turning Point themed iMPACT in a no DQ match in two weeks.

Ray says that considering Anderson loved Stone Cold Steve Austin so much, he was surprised that Anderson didn't remember the first rule.  Knux and Bischoff jump Anderson from behind and rough him up, throwing him in the stairs.  They throw him in the ring and Ray says "don't trust anyone" and beats Anderson with a chain.  He says the slogan and the four leave Anderson beaten down in the ring.

Good swerve.  I thought this would be the end of Aces and Eights, and to be honest they don't mean anything anymore so the time would be right.  But, this surprised me and it was decently done.

They show Chris Sabin getting ready for his match backstage.  Taz laughs at ringside and Tenay calls them despicable for what they did.  Bobby Roode storms out and interrupts.  He demands that Kurt Angle come out and he gets a mic and says he's going to kick Angle's ass.  He storms out, demanding Angle comes out.  Roode gets EC3 instead, but Dewey Barnes is the opponent.

Match #2 - Ethan Carter III vs. Dewey Barnes

Not much to this one.  Carter hits the finisher after Barnes hits one move.  Afterward, Carter gets the mic and says his "We're the Carters" catchphrase.

It's hard to critique Carter until he faces someone of stature.  He is getting heat though.

Backstage:

Joe Park is rooting around through Halloween candy.  Bad Influence comes in and harasses him.  Eric Young comes in and interrupts, and he challenges BI to a match tonight.  They agree.

Odd that Bad Influence jumps every time Eric Young enters.

Match #3 - Eric Young and Joe Park vs. Bad Influence

EY starts off and he's doing great singlehandedly.  Daniels hits a cheap shot on the apron, and that lets the heels take control.  They control for a time until EY gets the hot tag to Park.  The fans didn't react much to that.  Daniels throws his appletini in Park's face, and Kaz rolls Park up for the win.

This just needs to die.  Daniels and Kaz should be holding the championship in my mind.

Kurt Angle's music hits and he comes out calling for Roode to come out.  Austin Aries' music plays and he comes out. He tells Angle he understands the frustration, but Angle had Aries next week and if he didn't focus 100% on Aries, he might lose.  Dixie appears on the jumbo screen and spins the Wheel of Dixie.  Their match will be fought under submission rules.

Aries walks off, and Roode attacks Angle from behind.  Roode beats Angle down until Aries makes the save.  He beats on Roode until Angle shoves him aside and starts beating on Roode again. Aries attacks Angle and all three men brawl until agents and officials break things up.

This has been a fun ongoing angle through the night.  It really feels like it's carrying the program.  The Full Metal Mayhem match might burn the crowd out for next week's show - we shall see.

Match #4 - Jeff Hardy vs. Chris Sabin; World Heavyweight Championship Tournament fought under Full Metal Mayhem Rules.

Hardy wastes no time to bring in ladder, but Sabin sends him to the corner with it to take charge.  He hits a twisting suplex onto the ladder and Hardy hits him with a backdrop onto the ladder.  Hardy hits him with the trash can and follows up with a two count.

Hardy gets a table, but it breaks so he gets another.  Oddly, he walks around one to get to the one he used.  Hardy sets the table up in the corner and picks Sabin up.  Sabin counters into a rana.  Hardy fights back and runs up the turnbuckle, but Sabin sweeps the feet and crotches him.  He hits Hardy with a chair then ties Hardy up in the tree of woe. He hits a baseball slide then a chair shot.

Sabin climbs the turnbuckle and Hardy no-sells and hits him with a chair. He hits a kick off the chair and follows with a clothesline to send Sabin to the floor.  He sets Sabin up on the table and tries a splash.  Sabin moves, making Hardy crash and burn.  Sabin rolls Hardy in the ring and sets a table up. He sets Hardy on the table then tries his own top rope move.  Hardy gets the legs up in a rough looking spot.  Hardy hits Whisper in the Wind and sets up a ladder.  He hits his Swanton from the ladder to get the win and move on in the tournament.  Trainers and Velvet Sky check on Sabin to close the program.

That was a good match that effectively used the shortcuts.  I'm not crazy about the idea of attaching gimmicks to all of these matches, but it didn't hurt anything here.  The live crowd is going to end up sitting through a submission match next, so it's going to be tough on them.  Angle and Aries can go, but it''s going to be tough to live up to this match with the shortcuts that were involved.

All in all, a decent show.  The Knockouts were a bit of a clunker.  Angle and Roode really were the story tonight and they told it pretty well.  It was a wrestling-light show and that was a bit frustrating.  But one thing was important to notice is that there weren't any glaring logic holes or problems - the storytelling seemed fairly sound.

Join me again next Thursday for more iMPACT coverage.