Tonight's the final show at the iMPACT Zone, and it's the last show before Lockdown. Sunday, Bully Ray will challenge Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Gail Kim will challenge Velvet Sky for the TNA Knockouts Championship. Bobby Roode and Austin Aries will defend the Tag Team Championship in a triple threat match. How will these matches get set up? And will Aces and Eights try to get an advantage over Team TNA as they get ready for Lethal Lockdown?
They open with an "In Memory" graphic that dedicated this show to Paul Bearer. Classy move, TNA.
They give us a "previously on iMPACT" recap of the past couple weeks, including Kurt Angle unmasking the VP in the Aces and Eights clubhouse.
Backstage, Kurt is approached by HerveyCam, who asks him who the VP was. Angle says he's going to reveal him tonight and this reveal will cause shockwaves. He calls this a TNA problem, not an iMPACT Zone problem. He storms away.
Taz, Todd Keneley, and Mike Tenay check in on commentary as Austin Aries heads to the ring. Aries says he can't find his partner again, then puts over his win last week against Hernandez. He says he gave Jeff Hardy and Bully Ray both pieces of advice they didn't appreciate. He says Bully said he would never be champion again and he wants to prove Ray wrong. He challenges Hardy to an immediate title match.
Hardy comes out, gladhanding with fans at ringside. Aries dives onto Hardy and starts an attack. He throws Hardy in the ring and the bell rings, so apparently this fight is on.
Match #1 - Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Austin Aries
Aries keeps up the attack, working over Hardy. He throws Hardy to the corner then charges. Hardy tries a head scissors but Aries dumps him to the floor.
Back out of break, Hardy rolls Aries in a sunset flip but Aries rolls it through and hits a drop kick. Hardy makes some more comeback attempts, but Aries keeps reversing them. He stands on the second rope and mocks Hardy then hits a frog splash. He gets two out of it then argues with the official. Hardy uses the tights to get a rollup near-fall and begins a comeback of his own.
Hardy splashes Aries from the second rope and hits a corner head scissors. Aries falls to the floor. Hardy dives and plays to the crowd afterward. He throws in Aries and goes up top. Aries stops him an tries a superplex but Hardy counters and hits two Twists of Fate. He rips his shirt off and sets up another move, but Matt Morgan hits the ring and causes a DQ by hitting the Carbon Footprint.
Afterward, Morgan sets Hardy up in the corner and teases another Carbon Footprint, but Bully Ray runs out and stops him. Morgan backs off and Ray helps up Hardy.
If Ray doesn't turn Sunday, then this is just insane. He's been so over the top with his face "protective" moves for some of the key players. Morgan coming out was pretty random. As was Aries and Hardy working a match on the go-home show.
The match was fine - the logic sucked.
Sting hypes up his team, saying they need to win tonight. He says he'll start things off.
They recap what happened at the end of last week's show with Kurt Angle, then show him heading to the ring.
They run a video that captures the history between Angle and Aces and Eights, focusing on Wes Brisco. Wes comes to the ring and says both his father and uncle said Angle was the best wrestler they had ever seen. He says he believed them until he met Angle for himself and realized what a waste he was. He says he'll beat Angle to death at Lockdown.
Angle comes out and says that when you disrespect him, you disrespect the business. He says he's not going to wait until Sunday and slides in the ring. Wes and Angle brawl until agents come out. D-Lo pulls Wes off, and Al Snow pulls Angle back. Angle keeps yelling "that's him." D-Lo kicks Angle in the balls. He and Wes beat up Al Snow and another agent and D-Lo grabs a mic. He reveals himself as the VP.
And the Aces angle continues to flounder. D-Lo hasn't been relevant in years and he's an authority figure in this angle? Not to mention, Angle didn't try to take shots at D-Lo?
D-Lo and the Aces guys get hyped up as Devon gets ready to face Sting. D-Lo says they'll destroy TNA this Sunday like Devon will destroy Sting.
Match #2 - Devon vs. Sting
The announcers say that the winner of this series of matches will get the man advantage in Lethal Lockdown.
They spill this fight to the floor. A fan in the crowd hits Sting in the face with a beer. Security drags the fan away. Meanwhile, Devon throws Sting back in the ring and scores the win.
Wow. That was nuts. I guess that fan wanted to make the last show memorable for himself. Sting spent some time talking to Hebner, so I'm wondering if this is was not a planned spot.
Velvet Sky gets questioned by HerveyCam about being champ when Gail Kim interrupts. She asks Velvet if Taryn and she split the title yet since both women screwed over Gail. She keeps talking then asks Velvet if she heard her, and Velvet slaps her and asks if Gail heard that.
Danny Davis has replaced Taz on the judging team. The judges put over both women in the pre-tape, then they go live. They talk and say it's a difficult decision. They cut Ivelisse. Visibly shaken, she shakes hands and leaves. Pritchard tells Lei'D Tapa they will see her in the ring.
That was shocking. I would have expected Ivelisse to get the nod, but both women did show well last week.
Hernandez and Chavo make their way to the ring with Velvet Sky.
Match #3 - Hernandez and Chavo Guerrero and Velvet Sky vs. Bad Influence and Gail Kim
Daniels takes the bumps early on for Hernandez and Chavo. Gail grabs Chavo's leg in order to help Daniels grab control. Velvet returns the favor for her team. Kaz uses a dirty clothesline to help the heel team get control.
The ladies get the hot tags eventually. Things break down though with the men taking each other out. Velvet gets caught up in cheering and turns around into Eat D'Feet from Kim. The heels take the win.
Holy cow. The coveted second hour slot gets THAT match? Why not put something solid to promote the pay-per-view in this slot? This is just not making any sense tonight.
They recap what happened with Devon and Sting. The fan seems to have been a plant now.
Sting flips out backstage, beating a chair. He and Joe and Magnus argue amongst themselves about trust and if they could trust each other.
They hype up a video package featuring AJ Styles.
They show a package featuring AJ Styles. They find him at a hometown bar and try to get out of their car. AJ shoves them back in and tells them to leave.
Match #4 - Garett Bischoff and DOC vs. Samoa Joe and Magnus
Garett gets greeted with "you can't wrestle" chants. In the middle of the match, they show that AJ tweeted he will be in Chicago at next week's show. In the end, Magnus and Joe pull out the old double-team tag team moves and pick up the win after Magnus hits a top-rope elbow.
The match was fine, but why the AJ tweet during the match like that? It took away from it.
Lei'D Tapa makes her way to the ring for the Gut Check segment.
Kenny King cuts a promo about being the new X-Division Champion. He says he'll be the best ever. It doesn't matter who they give him to face on Sunday, he will beat them.
Sting talks to EY and James Storm. Young says he was the funny guy, but Aces tried to take wrestling away from him. He says he won't forget it and no punch line. He wants Sting to pick him for the final match. Sting says he appreciates the passion but he's going with Storm. Storm says he has it covered.
Gut Check Judging:
JB introduces the judges, then Lei'D Tapa. She gets heat as JB asks if the judges saw her best. Hard to tell if she plays the crowd or lets them get under her skin a bit as they chant "no." She gives her response about how far she has come over the last two years and how far she can go. Danny Davis says yes.
Pritchard works in a shout out to Paul Bearer in his response and says no. Tapa gives her kick-out promo, which starts off heart felt but turns passionate. She says she knew what she can add to the Knockouts Division. Al Snow says he'll miss "Uncle Paul" and gives her a yes.
Lei'D Tapa has a good size and what seems like a commitment to the sport. She does have a lot to offer TNA. I am still shocked Ivelisse got cut though.
Match #5 - Mr. Anderson vs. James Storm
Anderson gets some strikes in. Storm fights his way back and hits Closing Time. Aces and Eights comes out and stands by the railing, so Team TNA comes out and evens up the numbers.
All the outside activity distracts Storm. He turns around into the Mic Check from Anderson and Aces gets the man advantage on Sunday.
Storm looks stupid here, but they had to get to this result somehow. Cut and dried answer to who gets the man advantage, which is usually the heel team.
Jeff Hardy, Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan are all headed to the ring for the closing segment.
Ray and Brooke come to the ring first, then Hardy. Ray says he has had Jeff's back for a while but the bromance is over. Ray says he's coming for Hardy on Sunday. Jeff say he's proud of Ray for what he's done. Ray says he's never been proud of himself because he always expected greatness. He says he isn't going to go through the back door, but was going to go through the front door and beat Hardy with his best.
They shake hands. Hulk's music hits and he comes out. He says TNA is going on to greatness and they're looking for the guy who can take them there. He puts both guys over and says "may the best man win" on Sunday.
Aces and Eights hits the ring and attacks both men, but Team TNA runs out for the save. A brawl ensues to close the show.
Just....wow. I don't think that sold one single pay-per-view, and if anything it made me LESS likely to order. We got a babyface love fest to end the show, then Hulk came out and stroked his own ego a bit and in turn took what little heat was on the match right off of it. Then the Aces thing just buried the entire situation.
It seems like TNA decided to hold back then open things up once the show goes on the road. There's a problem with that: TNA cut to four pay-per-views, and every one of them has to feel special. This show does not feel important at all. They did a good job with the Lethal Lockdown match, but that was it.
TNA got very lazy with the build to Lockdown. Plain and simple. Maybe once we get beyond Lockdown and they work toward Slammiversary, it will change and they'll do a better booking job.
Join us Sunday night for live reaction and results for the Lockdown pay per view, live from San Antonio. We'll be back next Thursday with the first "on the road" TNA iMPACT broadcast. Thanks for watching along.