We're a week away from the big showdown in Texas. Jeff Hardy will contend in his rematch against Bully Ray to get his title back - but that's in Corpus Christi next week. Tonight, will Bully use his Aces resources to gain an advantage over Jeff?
Show Open, taped in Jonesboro, Ark.:
We get our normal opening recap video package.
Aces and Eights members come to the ring, without Bully. Anderson gets on the mic and offers a cut to AJ Styles. He says he hopes AJ makes the right decision. Devon holds up an envelope and he says that when Ray and Brooke come out later, their relationship will be changed.
D'Lo gets on the mic next and says TNA has fired him. He says he demands more than that and demands a TNA official come to the ring to explain. Kurt Angle comes out and says he wants to tell D'Lo how he felt to his face.
Angle tackles D'Lo and goes at him. The rest of the gang piles in, but Angle gets support from his team when they hit the ring. The gang flees.
They covered several topics very quickly there and it was a bit strange. It wasn't really bad though. Hopefully the gang exiting means they'll win later on. It seems when they engage and get the upper hand in beatdowns, they end up losing a legitimate match later.
Brooke Hogan and Joey Ryan exchange some uncomfortable words of innuendo. Ryan is pleading his case to be the Knockouts official. Brooke isn't on board at first, but when Joey promises to not touch, she relents and lets him have the shot.
In a "one-off" type situation, this could be interesting. But hopefully this isn't a long-term thing.
Match #1 - Gail Kim and Tara (w/Jesse) vs. Velvet Sky and Taryn Terrell
Gail and Tara come out first while they recap the attack on Taryn last week, with her following up by attacking the heels. Joey Ryan pats all the women down overly well, and slaps Velvet on the ass. She glares, and Tara uses the distraction to attack her from behind to start the match.
Velvet locks on a headlock, and Ryan gives her a shoulder rub. Ryan keeps playing the sleaze role, staring at the ladies' asses during pinfall covers and touching when he could. Jesse gets pissed when Ryan touches Tara and goes after him. Tara calms Jesse down.
Gail actually starts flirting with Ryan, and he rips his shirt off and puts on cologne. Taryn rolls Kim up during the distraction, but Ryan played around too long. Kim reverses the pile and Ryan counts the pin for her.
Afterward, Ryan tries to celebrate with the heels, but they're not interested. Kim shoves him off. Then Ryan tries to get with the faces, but Taryn kicks him in the nuts.
Ugh. That was bad. Keneley's joke during the match was horrible - "the ropes aren't the only thing that's blue."
JB is in the ring with Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, and Chavo and Hernandez. JB tries to hype the match next week, but Aries cuts him off. He calls his team "a team of World Champions" and they outclass Chavo and Hernandez. Chavo speaks up and reminds him that he is a Guerrero. JB tries to go back to the signing, but Aries demands they want to add stipulations.
After some goofing off about green M&M's, Chavo throws in a stipulation. Aries says they're fine with it and adds in another. Chavo agrees, and JB announces it's a two out of three falls match and if Chavo and Hernandez lose, they can't team together anymore. Everyone signs.
They show Adam Pearce backstage, warming up for his Gut Check match. They air a hype package for him, showcasing that he is taking advantage of an opportunity.
This show seems dull so far. They're pointing to next week, clearly, and it's affecting this week. The signing was silly, even if a brawl would have been cliche. Pearce's video package was good, but it walked a very fine line about being a veteran deserving of a chance and being lucky to get it. A bit of an underwhelming start to Pearce but there's time to work with that.
We get a hype video for the other Gut Check competitor, Magno. It's him talking in Spanish about his mask. Some of the sub-titles are covered up with Bellator graphics.
Match #2 - Adam Pearce vs. Magno; Gut Check
Magno takes control early with quick takedowns. Pearce uses a forearm to get the match back. He follows with a nice spinebuster, but Magno hits a clothesline to take Pearce to the floor. Magno hits a standing moonsault from the top down to the floor.
He rolls Pearce back in. Pearce scores the win when he rolls up Magno and holds the ropes.
The match was fair. Magno got blown up pretty early it seemed. With Pearce "cheating," I wonder if they use that as a reason to cut him?
They recap the Sting/Hogan argument from last week.
Aces and Eights approaches AJ Styles. Anderson tells AJ that they like his new attitude and they give him the cut. Anderson tells Styles to think about it and they walk away.
A video package recaps the Aces story, focusing on Sting and Hogan's interactions. They talk to Hulk backstage. They ask Hogan about Sting and Hulk says Sting isn't there. He says they need warriors, not politicians. Hogan says he's going out to the ring to call out a warrior in a "grey area."
We're an hour in, and right now the one highlight of this show was Gut Check. Let's see if the second hour gets better.
Joseph Park is with Kurt Angle backstage, and he says he's ready for a fight. Angle tells Park to follow his lead, but take a shot if the opportunity presents itself.
Hogan comes to the ring and calls out AJ Styles. AJ comes out with the cut he got from Aces in hand. Hogan says he knows Styles is under stress for losing his "no title match for a year" match. Styles has never turned his back on the TNA family, though. Hogan says he needs someone dangerous like Styles to help TNA.
Hogan gives Styles the mic and Styles asks "you want me to help you?" Hogan agrees, but James Storm's music hits. Storm comes out and Styles just stares straight ahead. Storm says he was the guy to beat Styles and lock him out of the title picture, but everyone loses big matches. It bothers Storm how Styles watched him take the beating from Aces and Eights.
Storm says the company was built on his and Styles' backs. He says they come to the ring to perform because that's what they love to do. He says they did it together and he asks AJ if he really wants to join Aces. He tells Styles to go ahead because he's changed. He tells Styles to clock out before he gets knocked out. Styles leaves the ring, looking at the cut in his hand.
This is a mess. Hogan and Storm were rambling without any sort of reason. Styles has done nothing that would really align him with Aces. The cut can't even be used because he got it tonight. Very odd situation.
During the break, they show Hogan saying he's done sucking up to AJ. AJ has a week to give an answer, and he's either in or out.
Wow. That made no sense.
They hype up the One Night Only pay-per-view event tomorrow evening.
Match #3 - Sonjay Dutt vs. Petey Williams vs. Mason Andrews; X-Division Qualifier
The winner here will get in the next title match with Kenny King and Zema Ion. The fans are really into Petey Williams.
This breaks down to a spotfest. Each guy gets his chance to show off what he can do. Andrews hits a flying knee and takes out Dutt. Williams hits the Canadian Destroyer on Andrews to get the win.
That was fun. Good to see Petey Williams again. That Canadian Destroyer is always an impressive spot.
Bully is pissed at Angle for pissing on their parade earlier, then he hypes up the team for their match later. Devon asks Ray if he's ready for Brooke. Ray says he missed her and they laugh. Devon asks for a hot tag and Ray says he doesn't think Brooke is into the tag scene. Bully says he's heading to the ring to hand Brooke the envelope so they can all move forward.
There's some good chemistry with Ray sitting around with the gang, but this promo segment was disjointed until they got to Brooke. He was all upset, then says things will be fine. Why act mad then?
The announcers hype up next week's show.
Match #4 - Aces and Eights (Devon, Knux, DOC, Garett Bischoff and Wes Brisco) vs. Team TNA (Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Eric Young, Joseph Park and Magnus)
Angle starts with Brisco. Team TNA gets the early control of the match with Angle and Joe hitting most of the offense. Eric Young dives out on Knux on the floor as they go to the break.
Out of commercial, EY sells for Aces. DOC knocks down all four guys on the apron in a strange spot. Park recovers and gets the hot tag from EY. Park takes everyone down and hits a splash on Brisco.
The match breaks down and all the guys are in a scrum. Park and Devon end up in the ring working. Devon hits a spinebuster. Devon misses the top rope headbutt as a follow-up, but DOC hits a low blow on Park to hand Aces the win.
It was good to give Aces the win, but there were some logic gaps there. Park nearly gets Brisco but DOC gets Park? The multi-man match like this is always a bit tough to work so the official just counted the pin.
Hulk tells Brooke he doesn't like her going out to face Bully. Brooke says she just wants to get it over with and agrees to take security along with her. She tells Hulk that he would probably just hand her divorce papers and be over with it. Hogan agrees and tells her to be careful.
We get a video recap of Bully's history with Brooke before Ray comes to the ring. He scares some little kid on the way - funny. Ray calls Brooke out and asks where her wedding ring is. He says he's wearing his, and expects her to do likewise. He asks if the security guards are there for his protection. She yells at him and he says they should be there for him, because she was insane at Lockdown.
He says her husband won the World Heavyweight Championship and she should be happy, but because she was insane, she wasn't. He asks her if she knew what was in the envelope, and she says she hopes it's divorce papers.
Ray acts hurt and says she was the wind beneath his wings. He claims he couldn't have done this without her. He hands over the envelope and she opens it. It's a front-row ticket to next week's program. Ray says he wants her to sit front row and watch him beat Jeff Hardy a second time. He also wants her to look her best, as she has left herself go. Brooke slaps him.
He laughs and calls her pathetic. He says he is in her head so bad right now and backs her up against the ropes. He asks her if she wants to slap him again, but Jeff Hardy's music hits. He charges to the ring and Brooke bails out. The two brawl to close out the show.
Yet another segment that leaves me scratching my head. I think they're still pointing to a heel turn for Brooke, and that seems to make sense, but the segment itself was odd.
All across the show that was the theme tonight. Not a lot to really get upset over, but it didn't feel like it made much sense. Pretty much like a holding-pattern show where nothing moved forward.
They really pointed to next week's show overall. Gut Check was the big winner tonight, though. The fear with a lot of time between pay per view events has been the lack of storyline movement. It happened with Lockdown, and it's happening again heading to Slammiversary. TNA really has to get their storyline arcing down to use the time better and get it worked out with these big gaps between pay per views.
Join me again next Thursday for more TNA coverage, including the big title rematch with Bully Ray and Jeff Hardy.