We head to the end of 2012 - and if the Mayans were right, the end of humanity as we know it. But just in case that isn't true (which it isn't, I'd say), TNA is looking ahead to the Genesis pay-per-view event to open 2013. Is Austin Aries still pushing Hulk's buttons? Who gets the next crack at Jeff Hardy and the World Heavyweight Championship? iMPACT starts - NOW.
TNA opens with a graphic that expresses sympathy over the shooting in Connecticut.
The voice-over narrates the past couple weeks of events and hypes up Championship Thursday tonight. The announcers check in and run down what's known for the card for tonight.
Kurt Angle limps out and challenges Devon to a match for the TV Championship. Devon comes out with a group of the Aces with him. Angle tells Devon that since he wants to bring a pack with him, Angle has one of his own. Samoa Joe, Wes Briscoe, and Garett Bischoff come out to the ring also.
Match #1 - Devon (c, w/Aces and Eights) vs. Kurt Angle (w/Wes Briscoe, Garett Bischoff and Samoa Joe)
Devon gets dumped to the floor early on. The factions face off and fight with each other. The official takes control and sends the groups away from the ring. In the ring, Devon clips Angle from behind. After the commercial, Devon keeps working the leg. Angle fights back and gets out of that, but Devon chop blocks him.
Angle hits a missile dropkick and sells the leg. Angle hits a belly to belly for two. Devon hits a chokeslam that Angle weakly kicks out. He follows that up with the three German suplexes.
Angle locks on the Ankle Lock, but the Aces come out to run interference. Devon taps, but the official's distracted. Angle's supporters come out to fight the faction, but that allows one of the Aces members to slip in and hit Angle with a pipe. That allows Devon to pick up the win.
Good match to start off the night. Didn't do much with the Aces story, but it was good that they let the Aces side win this time.
They're setting up for the Knockouts title match. Brooke Hogan eliminates ODB from consideration.
Kenny King cuts a promo, and says that what happened last week was just him trying to get a win. It wasn't personal with him and Rob Van Dam. He puts over RVD and him as a great team.
Match #2 - Matt Morgan and Joey Ryan vs. Kenny King and Rob Van Dam
Ryan and RVD start off, and Ryan plays like a ninja. RVD kicks him around. King tags in and he takes his turn knocking Ryan around. Morgan makes a blind tag and hits King with a big clothesline.
The heels work frequent tags in and out. King does a cartwheel to get to RVD and tags him in. The pair clear the ring. Morgan recovers though and hits RVD with the Carbon Footprint. King had split just prior.
After the match, King makes fun of RVD from the ramp.
The match was fine. I see what they're trying to do with King and RVD, but they were really being clumsy with the storytelling here.
They recap AJ Styles' heel turn last week. Kaz is asked about AJ walking and he says that AJ's boots were made for walking; that's what he did. Kaz says everyone's going to see how much he appreciated his friend with a Christmas present. He answers his phone to take a call from "Nick" and asks about "Donder's hoof and mouth disease."
A bit silly...
In Ring Segment:
Hulk enters and he gets a big reaction. Hogan hypes up voting for TNA Wrestler of the Year and says they will give the results on the Jan. 3 show. Aces cuts Hogan off though and they come out through the crowd.
Devon goes to say something but Hogan invites him into the ring. Devon says that Hogan thinks 2012 is his year, but it has been the year Aces and Eights was born.
Devon puts over the group and says 2013 will be the year of Aces and Eights, and they will be revealed and "gold accomplished." Devon says one thing is for sure - Hogan won't be around to see all of this. Aces closes in, but Bully Ray runs out for the save with his chain.
Hogan stares at Ray for a while. He eventually walks off without thanking Ray or shaking his hand.
Hogan ends up looking dumb here. What's the point of him walking away looking the overprotective jerk? Is there a payoff in Hogan being suspicious of Ray? I'm not seeing it.
They replay Hogan walking off.
Jeff Hardy cuts a promo about how he respected Austin Aries, but losing it because Aries paid off Aces and Eights to attack him. Hardy says he's not hard to find.
Brooke Hogan cuts Brooke Tessmacher from title consideration, saying the other two ladies involved are freshly back and deserved their shot.
They show a shot of Kazarian heading to the ring with presents in hand.
They recap the AJ vs. Daniels feud storyline. Kaz comes out to the ring bearing gifts, and there's a Santa throne and Christmas tree in the ring. The angel on the tree is Daniels and Kaz together. Kaz cuts a promo in rhyme to introduce Daniels. Daniels sits in the chair, but then Kaz introduces Santa - "the guy with the biggest sack he has ever seen."
Santa comes out, handing out candy canes and takes over in the throne. Kaz gives Santa some Zubaz. Daniels sits down on Santa's lap and Santa asks Daniels if he's been good. Daniels says he's been so good and eliminated the biggest loser in TNA (Styles). Santa agrees to grant Daniels his wish. Daniels says he will give his gift away and asks Santa to bring something to Styles' kids because Styles sucks.
James Storm takes exception and comes out. He says he doesn't care if Daniels and Kaz talk crap on Styles, but he's not about to let the pair destroy Christmas. Daniels tells Santa that Storm should be on the naughty list. Storm says that he should get in the ring and give them a reason to put him on the naughty list.
Santa talks Storm down at first. Storm quizzes Santa about previous Christmases and hits the Last Call on Santa to end the segment.
Can't win 'em all, Daniels and Kaz. That just never connected with me at all and it wasn't funny.
Austin Aries mocks the Jeff Hardy "deep thoughts" dialogue. Aries says he has to speak to be understood and everyone will understand Aries when he wins the title back.
Brooke Hogan is heading to the ring to introduce the Knockouts title contender.
Sting is the returning person on 1/3/13, and he's coming for Aces and Eights as a group. DOC is his first target. They swing to showing Aces looking a bit concerned. VP says they need more help. Devon has someone in mind who is arrrogant at times, but is probably pissed off enough to help them out. The faction votes to let Devon reach out to this person for a sit-down talk.
Is this the "Bully Moment" we predicted long ago? I guess they figured out that everyone guessed Sting was returning so they took the mystery away.
Brooke Hogan comes out and makes her decision to give Mickie James the title shot. She tells Velvet to watch because she might be next. Velvet is upset.
Match #3 - Tara (c, w/Jesse) vs. Mickie James; TNA Knockouts Championship
Mickie gets a fast start, but Jesse sticks his nose in things to give Tara a chance to take control of the match. Mickie gets her knees up on Tara's standing moonsault to start her comeback.
Mickie hits her DDT, but Jesse pulls her out of the ring so she can't cover. Mickie hits a flying Thesz press on Jesse out on the floor to take him out of the situation. Jesse grabs her leg though as she goes back into the ring. Tara uses the opening to hit a facebuster style move in order to grab the win.
That felt uninspired to me.
This show is dragging tonight. Huge gaps between matches and lots of filler material.
They air a Joseph Park training video. He didn't do much in the ring, but then his nose got busted. Enter Abyss mode and he goes nuts.
Match #4 - Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Austin Aries; TNA World Heavyweight Championship
We get our entrances and JB handles the ring introductions. The bell rings out of commercial and Hardy dumps Aries to the floor twice. On the second time, Hardy goes for a suicide dive but Aries moves, so Hardy crashes and burns.
Aries is working the back after our next commercial break, using a combination of rest holds and strikes. Taz says this will prevent Hardy from hitting the Swanton Bomb. Aries goes for the Brainbuster but Hardy counters and hits a front suplex. Aries reverses a head scissor and throws Hardy to the ropes in order to take control.
Aries hits a corner drop kick. Hardy reverses the next whip to hit a powerbomb lift that goes all the way over. Neat spot. Hardy hits a Twist of Fate but Aries almost immediately gets to his feet. Aries ends up landing on his back, with Hardy grabbing his feet. Aries kicks him away and the ref takes a bump.
Aries takes the low-blow route and follows with the Brainbuster. He calls for an official, and a second ref runs out to make the count. Bobby Roode makes his way to the ring and pulls the second ref out. Roode rolls in and makes a count. Aries realizes it's Roode and gets flipped off. Aries gets up and takes a spinebuster from Roode.
Roode leaves, just in time for the first official to recover and get back into things. Hardy hits a second Twist of Fate and follows with the Swanton Bomb to get the win.
Feels like a repeat of things we've seen before between these two. It was good, but didn't feel fresh. It also didn't truly feel like a "big match" like it should have.
Closing of the show...
Hogan is heading for his car in the lot. HerveyCam is asking him questions and Hogan tells him to not worry about the Brooke and Bully Ray situation. Off in the background, Brooke grabs Ray and pulls him in for a kiss. Hogan gets in the car and leaves, but the off-camera guy tries to ask another question about the situation. The guy off cam says "holy shit." to close things out.
This has digressed into "dumb" territory. They had some good work between Hogan and Ray in some early promos. Since then, it just hasn't worked out well. Just not sure I get it or see what the big deal is.
This seemed like a mixed bag to me. The show got sluggish partway through but all in all it was decently paced. The problem is that when TNA tapes shows, we don't get the same effort that they give us live. Call it the holiday blahs, but this show tonight got just enough effort and care to make it irritating because we've seen better.
Join us again next Thursday for the final iMPACT episode of 2012, right here on Ring-Rap.com. Thanks for following along.