The Bound for Glory Series heads to its climax tonight. The final points matches happen tonight in Cleveland, OH. The field got pretty level over the past couple weeks with the hardcore matches, so the race is tight. Which four men secure their spot to contest for the right to face Bully Ray at Bound for Glory for the World Heavyweight Championship?
AJ Styles shocked us last week with a sudden turn, leaving his "No One" character seemingly behind and becoming "Phenomenal" again. Will he explain why he did what he did to us tonight? And is he aligned with the Mafia, or is he still running solo?
Show Open, Live from the Wolstein Center, Cleveland, OH
In the show lead-in, we get a close-up shot of Brooke Tessmacher's ass as she walks to meet up with Bully Ray. He looks disgusted. but she asks what could be so bad. He says nothing other than "let's go to the ring."
They roll into the "previously" video, highlighting the announcement of Brooke's alignment with Bully and AJ Styles joining the Main Event Mafia for last week's main event. After that, Tenay checks in, hyping up Devon's departure and the return of Hulk Hogan.
Aces and Eights music hits and here comes the gang. Tenay talks about the results of the match last week, with the Main Event Mafia sending Devon on his way. He also hypes up the "final matches" for points in the Bound for Glory Series.
Ray gets a mic and says he's in a bad mood. "As you can see someone's missing from this ring. My brother Devon is no longer here with us." He says he's concerned and upset and he wants answers. He turns to the rest of the gang and wants to know what happened.
Bischoff is first and he says he doesn't know what happened and he's upset. Knux says he did his part by taking on two men. Wes doesn't know what happened. Ray turns to Anderson and asks him what happened. He doesn't know either, but Devon knew the consequences just like the rest of the gang. He says it is what it is.
Ray agrees and shakes his hand. Ray calls it a disappointment and says Devon has always been a disappointment and a loser. He calls him a co-star and a sidekick that did what Ray told him to do. He never needed Devon and never will. Ray says the only man he needs is Tito.
He tells Tito he giving him a cut, but Anderson flips out. Anderson wants to know about a vote for this and asks if Ray just patches people in whenever he feels like it. Ray says Anderson needs to back it down because "he will do what he wants when he wants" and tells Anderson to get in line.
He asks for "the hottest piece of you know what", Brooke Tessmacher, to come out to the ring. He tells Anderson to not question him again. She comes out with a vest in hand for Tito. Ray offers the cut to Tito but Anderson interrupts again. Ray backs him off to a corner and tells him to stay. He puts the vest on Tito, and rips D-Von's tag off and holds it in front of Anderson.
He tells Anderson that if he has a problem he needs to get out. Ray says he's going to watch the Bound for Glory Series to see who wins, because he doesn't have to wrestle til Bound for Glory now.
Ray turns his attention to Hulk Hogan. He says he heard Hogan is in town tonight, which draws a Hogan chant from the fans. He says he's going to introduce him to the only Brooke that ever mattered in his life. Aces exits.
Dear lord, are we considering yet ANOTHER Anderson turn? Ray was good but it was lost behind Anderson's antics.
Tenay sells hearing from the Main Event Mafia tonight, then hypes up the three Bound for Glory Series matches that are coming up tonight.
Jeff Hardy recaps talking about beating Samoa Joe last year in a desperate situation to get into the final four of the Series. He says he pulled out a submission and it worked. He says tonight is the same deal as he faces Kazarian. He calls for the creatures to mount up.
Facepalm moment: Hardy said it was a submission win, but the video package showed Hardy using a crucifix roll-up.
We get a shot of Hulk Hogan arriving at the arena. Tenay says he's back after weeks of meetings in Dallas with TNA brass.
Match #1 - Kazarian vs. Jeff Hardy; Bound for Glory Series Match
As Kazarian comes out, it's said that if he, Roode, or Daniels interfere in the matches, they will lose their spots altogether in the Series.
Some basic back and forth in the beginning. Kaz crotches Hardy on the ropes and hits an enziguri. Hardy fights back and locks on a figure four. Kaz is able to roll it over enough to get him to the ropes. Hardy tries the Twist of Fate a bit later but Kaz counters into a backslide. He hits a pump kick for two.
In the end of this one, Hardy hits the Twist of Fate followed up by the Swanton Bomb to get the win. Tenay runs down the leaderboard to show that Hardy has vaulted into third place for now. There are matches remaining that could change that.
The match was good, but the Series concept is dead now. With all the issues they've had this year, they just show it's not viable. TNA has no one to blame but themselves.
The rest of the Aces members ask questions about what's going on with their club. They talk about the lack of a vote to patch in Tito and wonder what's going on with Bully. Anderson says they will have a vote of their own and no one man is bigger than their own club. They toast to that.
Tenay hypes up the two out of three falls match between Gail Kim and ODB coming up.
Out of break, we get a recap of AJ beating Devon in the main event of last week's show. Tenay runs down the Bound for Glory Series leaderboard and hypes up Bobby Roode vs. AJ Styles for later.
Match #2 - Gail Kim vs. ODB; Number One Contender's match, two out of three falls rules
Gail controls the early action of this one. She hooks on a submission that looks like a half-crab merged with a half-cloverleaf. ODB taps out to lose the first fall.
Gail Kim wins Fall #1
Gail continues the assault on the leg. She sets up for another submission type move but ODB counters into a small package to even things up.
ODB wins Fall #2
Gail uses a figure four around the ring post to start the third fall. Gail breaks just in time to keep her from being disqualified. ODB mounts a little bit of offense, hitting a short-arm clothesline. She tries a fireman's carry but her leg can't take it. Gail goes back to a submission that ODB breaks at the ropes.
Gail tries Eat D'Feet, but ODB counters and locks on her own submission hold. Gail tries to get to the ropes but ODB drags her back. Gail taps out and ODB is your #1 Contender.
Tenay gives us some more hype for Styles vs. Roode for later on, and the Main Event Mafia speaking next.
We get some hype for Knockouts Knockdown, a pay per view event happening on September 6. They put some shine on the Taryn Terrell vs. Gail Kim match, calling it brutal.
HerveyCam talks to Velvet Sky. She says she's excited for ODB and thinks she can beat Mickie James. He asks about Hardcore Justice and she says that she wasn't there because she was tending to personal business. He tries to bait her into talking about her real-life relationship with Chris Sabin and she says she keeps that stuff separate from business.
Bobby Roode and Christopher Daniels are in one of the locker rooms. Daniels vents about Hogan telling them they can't get involved in matches tonight. Roode tells him to calm down and he will take care of business against AJ Styles.
We get a recap video of Aries getting involved in the street fight that Daniels was in. JB asks him about it backstage. Aries says he's a man who does things on his own and his own way. He turned down both EGO and the Mafia after all of that.
Daniels walks in to interrupt. He says he's going to flatten Aries flatter than Miley Cyrus' ass. That cracked me up. The two jaw at each other and end with "see you out there.'
I liked that exchange. Very good hype for their match and Daniels didn't get silly with it.
HerveyCam follows Hulk Hogan and asks his thoughts about Bully regaining the title. He doesn't comment on that. HerveyCam asks about Bully revealing Brooke Tessmacher as his squeeze. Hogan says he's going to address these things in the ring and goes into his office.
We get a recap video of the story between Aces and Eights and the Mafia, leading up to last week's elimination of Devon from TNA in the main event.
The Main Event Mafia comes out without Angle and Magnus.
It's reported that Magnus had work visa issues and missed this show. He'll be back.
Rampage gets the mic first and says he needs to address something. He says that he got taken advantage of by Tito and he won't wait for his MMA fight on November 2. Any chance he gets he will stomp a mudhole in Tito's ass.
Joe takes the mic. He soaks in a Joe chant first, then talks about last week. He says the Mafia was in a hole, but AJ Styles stepped up to the plate when no one else would like a man, and a member of the Mafia.
Sting gets the mic and does his yell. He addresses Styles stepping up and says that there is a spot in the Mafia for AJ if he wants it. But either way, the MEM wants to thank him publicly and personally for stepping up last week.
AJ's music hits, in the same sequence as last week. He tells the Mafia he appreciates them being there, but he needs to do something by himself. He repeats it because the Cleveland faithful are chanting pretty loudly.
Styles says he knows people have questions, and he has answers. He says he has been asked if he was in the Mafia. He says he respects them and what they are doing, but he has worn the suit before. It's not him. He says he has trust issues and talks about how he got stabbed by his two best friends and having dirty laundry aired.
He says he might have learned what the business is all about. He says he can't make it any clearer - he is with no one. He says he was better than the best in the world, and he is in fact phenomenal. He says the only person he can trust is Allen Jones.
Styles talks about his job sucking and asks the fans if they can relate. He engages Mike Tenay, saying that he deserved better. He addresses Dixie in the camera and tells her the same thing.
He says that he was the guy that the company turned to when the next big thing arrived, only to see them fail. He says he did what he had to do to feed his family, but at times wished he would get fired. He says that the light finally went on and he realized he liked being the go-to guy. He says he plans to put the company on his shoulders again, and he will win the Bound for Glory Series.
Bobby Roode's music hits, and he comes out to the stage. Their match is next.
It wasn't the worst promo I've ever heard but it was a rambler. Was it intended to be a "worked shoot" over his contract situation? I hope not, because there were some implied comments on CM Punk, who is leaps and bounds ahead of AJ on the mic.
Match #3 - AJ Styles vs. Bobby Roode; Bound for Glory Series Match
Early, Styles tries for the calf killer but Roode gets in the ropes and slips out of the ring. Styles keeps going for some form of submission as the announcers sell that he needs 10 points to get to the final four. Roode hits him with a spinebuster. Styles comes back with strikes and a moonsault, then tries the submission again. Styles hits a Pele.
Styles tries a springboard, but Roode grabs him and hooks on a crossface. Styles gets in the ropes but Roode drags him back out and locks it back on. A bit later, AJ rolls Roode up and locks on the calf killer. Roode gets into the ropes to break it. Styles hooks a small package and picks up the seven points.
The announcers run through the leaderboard, and AJ is now one point behind the fourth place Christopher Daniels, who is next.
JB walks by Hogan's locker room, and says he has no comment still. He promises to speak once the Bound for Glory Series matches are complete.
Match #4 - Christopher Daniels vs. Austin Aries; Bound for Glory Series Match
Aries takes early control, setting up for his pendulum elbow. Daniel rolls out, and the two men exchange in and out slides until Daniels hits a stiff kick. Daniels plays to the crowd a little bit while the official checks on Aries, who is out. The official gives the "all clear" and we're back on again.
That was stiff! Wow.
Out of break, Daniels works some rest holds. Daniels locks on an abdominal stretch and uses the top rope for leverage. The referee catches him though, which lets Aries reverse the hold and use the ropes in a comedy spot. They exchange strikes, with Aries getting the better of it and knocking Daniels down. He hits the pendulum elbow.
Aries hip tosses Daniels out to the floor and hits a dive. He throws Daniels in the ring and goes up top. Daniels uses the official to shield himself. Aries jumps off and Daniels hits him with a sit-out powerbomb. Daniels perches Aries up top but takes a missile drop kick. Aries hits a corner drop kick and tries for the Brainbuster, but Daniels reverses it to his own version of CrossRhodes.
In the end, Aries hits a drop kick and follows up with a Brainbuster for the win.
The announcers recap the Bound for Glory Series standing, with the final four being Magnus, Aries, Roode, and Hardy.
So they had AJ cut this babyface promo about taking the company on his shoulders and such, then he falls short of the last round of the series? What?
Bully is with Tito and Brooke. He says sometimes he feels bad about what all he has done with the Hogans, but he gets over it quickly. He says that he has Hogan right where he wants him. He tells Tito to keep an eye on things and Anderson particularly to be sure everything stays in line. Tito says he has it covered.
Hogan comes out to a decent reaction, and plays to the fans. He puts over the talent for doing great while he was gone. He asks for the truck to put the leaderboard up for him on the big screen. He points out the top four, but says that when he was in meetings they decided to book one more match. It will be a gauntlet where 20 points will be available for the winner to advance.
Hulk starts to talk about something else, but Aces music cuts him off. Ray comes to the ring with Brooke Tessmacher, and he welcomes Hogan back. He says things have changed. "I have this again!" he says, holding up the title belt. He starts introducing Brooke but Hogan shuts him off. He says after a little time and a lot of money, he got divorce papers for Ray. He says that's it and they're done.
Ray acts upset, then says he doesn't care about Brooke Hogan, nor did he ever. He says he used Hogan's daughter to get the title, and to get the gang together and to get Tito. He says he has everything he wants and all he has to do is wait for Bound for Glory and watch it all play out.
Hogan mocks Bully's "Do you know, who I am" bit to a decent pop. He does it a second time and reminds Ray he is the guy running the show, not Ray. He says he plans to tear Bully's family apart just like Ray tried to do to his
Hogan tells Ray he has a title defense in two weeks vs. a member of Aces and Eights. Bully flakes out and yells at Hogan that he's not going to do it. Hogan made his way up the ramp by this point and he turns back and tells Ray he'll do it, and he's going to defend the title this week against his next opponent, Sting. Sting's music hits and he comes out to the ring. He and Ray scrum in the ring. Ray escapes and sits at ringside with Brooke as the show closes.
I have to ask in all truthfulness if Hogan had been drinking. He got his lines all twisted about the timing of the match, and mis-spoke on the name of Aces and Eights ("Aces of Eights"). That's odd for Hogan. Then there's the whole "Sting can't contest for the title" stipulation involved. Is this a mis-speak, or did they forget their own stipulation?
This show was a mess. They had booking mistakes with the Bound for Glory Series that they made worse by adding matches. They need to set their final four and be done with it.
The in-ring work was good for the most part, but they're really struggling with their storytelling at the moment. It really just overshadows what's going on in the ring.
I am really wondering where things are heading with AJ Styles. There's reports floating around that his contract is due up and they're having trouble making progress in sigining. After that promo - makes you wonder if it'll get pulled.
Join me next Thursday for more iMPACT coverage here on Ring-Rap.com.