The Road to Lockdown continues tonight.  Bobby Roode had someone come to see James Storm for him last week.  Will the champ come to Orlando tonight to address his challenger, or will he send another messenger?  And what of Sting, Dixie, and Hulk?  Will they come together to decide who is in charge, and who is not?
Show Open:They air a package that covers Sting stepping down from the general manager role and his attempt to appoint Hulk Hogan in his place.  They cut to Dixie Carter backstage, who says if Sting trusts Hogan, she does as well.Bobby Roode makes his way down to the ring, flanked with police security.  He starts his promo by saying that those who contacted TNA's offices demanding he be fired can kiss his world championship's ass.  He says without him, iMPACT is nothing.Roode brags about how he dominated Sting in all ways at Victory Road.  Roode says that Sting's stepping down solidified his winning the war, then turns his attention to Dixie Carter.  He says Dixie got hers at Victory Road too, and she should keep her nose out of his business.  The fans chant for Dixie.Roode says he doesn't even need to be in the building, and all he has to do is compete at Lockdown.  Roode calls the iMPACT Zone a "hostile work environment" and says he has some of Orlando's finest at his disposal.  He says the cops are there not to protect him, but to protect James Storm.Roode refers to himself as "the It Factor of Professional Wrestling" and says he will prove that at Lockdown again.  Roode looks into a camera and tells Storm that when you're the world heavyweight champion, you don't need luck.Storm''s music hits and he joins the party.  The police form a line between Storm and Roode as Storm speaks.  Storm says that Roode sent an idiot to do a man's job last week, and now he's there to kick the crap out of Roode tonight.Bully Ray ran down to attack James Storm from behind, but Storm dispatches him quickly.  In the meantime, Roode runs for the hills with his cops holding Storm back.  Storm grabs a mic and tells Roode if he wants some, he should come and get it.  Storm challenged the two of them to a handicap match, which Roode accepts.
I would rather see Roode and Storm feud with each other without other people involved, because in this case the extra bodies would take some steam off of what should already be an intense feud between the two former partners.  That point aside, I am glad that this feud is taking center stage over the authority figure stuff.  It's where it should be.
Backstage:Gail Kim and Madison Rayne have a heart to heart talk.  Kim gives Rayne a tiara, saying Rayne will always be her queen.  The two of them make amends and patch up their differences.  Gail tells Rayne she knows Rayne will beat the crap out of Velvet tonight.
I have to say I'm glad these two squashed this feud.  The Knockouts are in need of heel characters.
Match #1 - Velvet Sky vs. Madison Rayne (w/Gail Kim)Madison controls the early going, working on Velvet's neck.  Velvet tries to fight back with knees and clotheslines, but Rayne stops her offense.Late in the match, Rayne sets up her neckbreaker finish, but Velvet shoves her off.  She hits a spear and a bulldog on Rayne, then plants her with her butterfly facebuster for the win.After the match, Velvet grabs a mic and says she is still due a rematch for the Knockouts Championship that she never got.  She warns Gail that she is coming for her.
There's times lately that Velvet has made me cringe watching her in the ring.  Her timing is still off, but she's better than she has been recently.  You could tell Madison was working hard to cover some of her miscues.  Simple storytelling though in this situation, however and that's good.
Backstage:Bully Ray gives Bobby Roode a lecture about his attitude toward James Storm.  Ray tells Roode that tonight, they need to take Storm out.  This gets Roode fired up, but Ray calls him stupid.Hulk/Dixie Segment:Dixie Carter meets up with Hogan at the park.  Dixie is surprised she is asking Hogan to consider taking this position.  Hogan apologizes for his role in Immortal and dismissed some of Eric Bischoff's blame as well.  Carter says that for Hogan to walk away from Bischoff told her everything she needed to know.Dixie told him she trusts Sting implicitly, and she needs Hogan.  Hogan tells her he made peace with himself after he walked away.  Dixie says she didn't leave her peace, however so Hogan needs to come back and make things right.  Hogan admits he's had his day but he doesn't know what to do to fix things.  Dixie tells him that since Sting is walking away, she's out of options and begs him to consider it.Hogan calls Dixie a gorgeous lady in heart and soul, but him stepping in now would not be appropriate.  He claims the ship has sailed, but because he respects Dixie, he will consider it.  Tenay and Taz tell us that we will indeed hear from Hogan on this issue tonight.
Great in execution, but truthfully, this is a story that doesn't really matter, doesn't get anyone over, and is nothing but a gigantic waste of TV air time for a company that needs a punch to make it grow.  This story has no interest from this viewer.
Video Segment:They recap the brewing Matt Morgan/Crimson feud in video.Backstage:Kurt Angle cuts a promo on Jeff Hardy, calling him a crybaby.  Angle tells Hardy that if he beats Ken Anderson tonight, he will accept Jeff Hardy's challenge to a match at Lockdown.In The Ring...Christy Hemme tries to introduce the next match, but Austin Aries isn't ready for that.  Aries comes to the ring and says he has a problem:  he has run out of competition, but he does have a problem named Bully Ray.  Aries calls Ray a prick.Aries says that Ray took his anger out on him last week, and Ray apparently forgot who Aries was.  He runs through his various nicknames and says now he and Bully Ray have a problem.  Aries says his balls are as big as Ray's calves.  Aries then compares himself to James Storm, and says he respects Storm.  Aries extends an offer to James Storm to fight by his side in tonight's main event.
Aries brought some solid work on the mic right there.  It seems TNA might be trying to go the "tweener" route with him, but if he's going to end up feuding with Bully Ray, I'd rather he just go full-on face instead.
Match #2 - Matt Morgan vs. CrimsonThe match starts while the show is in commercial, so we're joining in progress.  Morgan attacks Crimson on the floor, then the two men roll in and battle back and forth in the ring.Crimson takes control of the match, hitting a spear for a near fall.  He keeps up the offense, working over Morgan's neck and back.  He tries a charge in the corner, but Morgan moves.  Crimson eats the steel post.Morgan takes control of the offense at this point, and the battle spills back out onto the floor.  They brawl at ringside, and all the while the official counts both men out.  They don't care and keep fighting back toward the announce position, where Tenay declares that nothing has been settled between these two men.
This was actually a pretty decent match that was fun to watch while it lasted.  You might groan at the double count out finish, but I would guess that they don't want to give too much away on this feud just yet on free TV, considering Crimson's "undefeated streak" would be at stake.
Production Room:Joseph Park is still wandering around in the iMPACT Zone, and this time he's made his way to the Production Room.  He talked to the staff and says he's looking for his brother, Abyss, and leaves them his card.Match #3 - Mr. Anderson vs. Jeff HardyThey start off with some basic chain wrestling moves, but Anderson takes charge with a kick to the midsection.  The crowd rallies behind Hardy as Anderson locks him in a rest hold.Hardy runs through an offensive flurry, hitting a double leg drop / drop kick combination that nets a near fall.  Anderson battles his way back into it, nailing Hardy with  repeated elbow drops.  Anderson teases the Mic Check, but Hardy counters to the Twist of Fate.  Anderson pushes him away, and the two knock heads.The referee checks on Anderson.  Kurt Angle runs out and nails Hardy with a low blow.  After Anderson recovers, he hits the Mic Check to pick up the victory.
I don't have an issue with Angle interfering to tell the story that he doesn't want to face Hardy at Lockdown, but two of the three matches tonight ended with dirty finishes so far.  Cheap finishes lose their luster when repeated over and over and over again.
Music Video:They air the "much anticipated" music video for James Storm's theme music.
Odd programming dynamic to go from Angle heat to this video, but I do admit the music video was fun to watch.  Reminds me of my MTV days...when they still made music videos.
Backstage:Dixie Carter steps out of a limousine, and we get a shot of Eric Bischoff with his best "angry face" on.The Wedding...ODB and Eric Young are planning out their wedding.  ODB comes up with the idea that they would get married inside a steel cage three days before Lockdown.In Ring Segment:Eric Bischoff makes his way to the ring.  He puts himself over first, and brags about the clause in his contract that guarantees him camera time any time he wants it.
Can we find that contract, and void it?
Bischoff brags about his success and attributes it to the use of checklists.  Sting's no longer the GM?  Check.  A terrible replacement for Sting in place?  Check.  Increasing his own personal wealth?  Check.Eric says he has one more problem to check off his list, and with that invites Garett Bischoff to the ring.  Garett quickly obliges.  Eric gives him one more chance to walk away, or he will get hurt.  Eric tells Garett that if he doesn't walk, Garett will have to face Gunner inside a steel cage at Lockdown.Garett grabs the mic away from Eric and calls his dad a jackass.  Garett tells Eric he isn't going anywhere, and Eric is dumber than everyone thinks.  Garett gladly accepts the challenge to face Gunner at Lockdown.
Part of "selling" a promo is how you look, and Garett blew it big time here.  You could tell he was stifling a smirk or smile the entire time, even though he was speaking with intensity.  More evidence that it's just simply too much, too soon for the younger Bischoff.
Video Package:They air a video segment that highlights James Storm's training for Lockdown.  Well produced segment.Before the main event match, they show a shot of Hogan arriving in his limousine.Match #4 - James Storm and Austin Aries (X-Division Champ) vs. Bobby Roode (c) and Bully Ray:Aries and Ray start the match off, but Ray tags in Roode.  Aries decides to tag Storm in, but Roode attacks Aries from behind.  Aries is able to avoid some of Roode's onslaught though, and nails him with a kick.Aries yells at Roode to get back in the ring when the match goes to commercial about 2 minutes in.Out of the break, Aries wrestles Ray down to the mat and keeps outworking him.  Ray hits a big boot on Aries though, then drags him to the heel corner where Roode and Ray work him over.Aries begins to battle back, hitting a missile drop kick on Bully.  Aries finally gets to Storm with the hot tag, and he is off and running.  He charges Ray and hits a series of clotheslines, then turns to go after Roode but Ray short circuits that with an attack from behind.  Storm hits Closing Time on Ray.Roode looks for a shortcut and tries to spit beer in Storm's eyes.  Storm ducks out of the way and Roode nails Ray with it.  Storm hits the Last Call Superkick on Ray for the win.
All the guys in this one worked hard and got their chances to shine.  Good main event match.  Irritates me that the show didn't close on it though...
Backstage:We get a shot of Hulk Hogan, who is going to render a decision on whether to be the general manager.In Ring Segment:Dixie Carter is standing in the ring, and she asks Hulk Hogan to join her.  He obliges, and the place goes crazy.  Dixie tells Hulk she understands his hesitancy in this situation, but she believes in him.  She needs a decision.Hogan starts off by saying he has to thank Sting.  He recalls an earlier conversation with Sting and says he doesn't want to be the guy that he was.  He says he closed the book on that chapter in his life.  Sting's music hits, and he joins the caucus.  Sting was joined by all of the faces on the TNA roster.Sting says that all of them came out to support Hogan and Sting tells him to answer either yes or no.  Hogan says that TNA has a dark cloud hanging over it, and he needed to make sure that Sting would watch his back.  Sting says that he will, and asked Hogan again if he would take the position or not.  Hogan agrees to become the new general manager.Hogan looks into a camera and says "whatcha gonna do when the new GM runs wild on you?" as the show ends.
Wow.  Just...wow.  I get it that Hogan, despite his age, is still immensely popular in the mainstream and he can still work a crowd on the mic.  And whether you like him or hate him, if used properly he can give a rub to someone that needs it legitimately.  On this night, and on other nights in the past since he became involved with TNA, Hulk Hogan became the central focus of this show.  With Lockdown coming in a few weeks and it being one of TNA's more emphasized pay-per-view events, that was simply not needed.  TNA worked hard to put over Hogan tonight.  This storyline and role can work - but it has to be one of the background lines and TNA can ill afford to waste TV time with these little love-fests like they had tonight.That rant aside, TNA improved this week's show over last week.  They gave us a good main  event and I thought Austin Aries fit right into it very well.  They got out of the heel vs. heel Knockouts feud between Gail and Madison without turning either woman, something the Knockouts division didn't need to have happen.  Even Crimson and Matt Morgan entertained me in their double-count out affair.Join us again next Thursday as we continue the road to Lockdown with another TNA iMPACT Wrestling Reaction and Report here on Ring-Rap.com.