This week's TNA Impact episode opened with Taz being disallowed from entering the building. Atlas Security said it's Hulk Hogan's call. Teflon Taz vowed to get people fired because of this.
TNA then cut to the standard opening video package documenting recent events centered around the TNA World Title.
Inside the arena, Mike Tenay and Jeremy Borash introduced the show. Tenay plugged the Bound for Glory Series line-up tonight, including A.J. Styles vs. Austin Aries in the main event. Tenay then switched gears to a "chaotic week" for TNA this week. JB hyped the "August 1 Warning" mysterious person showing up tonight.
JB fed to the latest tape received earlier today. The modulated-voice man said he is the man who will inflict pain. He said his arrival tonight will shock people.
Back live in the arena, Austin Aries's music played to bring out Aries dressed in street clothes. Aries paraded to the ring before entering the ring to battle the house mic. Austin focused on the TNA World Title, congratulating Chris Sabin, but also warning him. Aries told Sabin that he's looking at the man who will win the BFG Series and become the next World Title. Aries said that all starts tonight when he faces A.J. Styles in the main event. He said everyone - wrestlers, Knockouts, catering, announcers, refs - want to see this match-up.
"They call it the Phenomenal One vs. the Common Denominator of Greatness," Aries said. Aries said Styles put TNA on his back for a decade, and he will put TNA on his back for the next decade. Aries said if anyone doubts that, he will erase those doubts tonight.
Aries established himself as the face in this segment by shouting out to the local crowd and using other cues, then Bobby Roode interrupted. Roode, wearing all-black, marched to the ring and walked past his former tag partner to grab the mic. Roode said Aries wants to brag and gloat, but they need to focus on his nightmare that dates back to Aries winning the TNA Title from him at Destination X last year.
Roode said everyone in the back, everyone in the arena, and even he has forgotten what he's capable of inside this ring. Roode listed his accomplishments, then shouted in Aries's face that he is the "It Factor of professional wrestling." Roode said the game is going to change starting tonight. He said he is going back to what brought him to The Dance and he only cares about one thing - getting back the TNA Title. "It pays to be Roode," he concluded.
Aries responded that he's going to agree with Roode on being the "Spit Factor," but he hopes Roode gets his mojo back and makes it to the BFG Series Finals so that he can beat him again.
After Aries bailed from the ring, Hernandez's music played to bring out Roode's opponent in the BFG Series. Suddenly, Roode ran down the entrance ramp and jumped Hernandez. Roode chucked Hernandez down to the floor as Impact cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 9:11]
1 -- BOBBY ROODE vs. HERNANDEZ -- BFG Series match
The match was joined in progress (a rarity for TNA) with Roode aggressively attacking Hernandez in the ring. Roode continued the attack with a spinebuster for a nearfall. Roode tried to keep his composure before deciding to dump Roode to the outside. On the floor, Roode chucked Hernandez into the ring steps as the announcers discussed the August 1 Warning deal.
Back in the ring, Roode took Hernandez up-top, where Hernandez blocked a suplex attempt, only to airball a big splash. Roode slapped on a crossface submission trying to force Hernandez to tap out, but Hernandez escaped with power.
Comeback by Hernandez, including The Pounce that sent Roode across the ring. Hernandez then headed up the entrance ramp to build momentum for a flying shoulder tackle, which he connected with. Hernandez, fired up, called for the ending. He wanted the Border Toss, but Roode escaped and made contact with the referee. This allowed Roode to low-blow Hernandez for a pin, but Hernandez kicked out just before three.
Roode flipped and went to the outside to start chucking chairs into the ring. The announcers said Roode has snapped again. Roode tried to re-enter the ring with another chair, but the ref reprimanded him. As the ref cleared chairs from the ring, Roode pulled out a beer bottle from under the ring and smashed Hernandez with it. Roode covered Hernandez and the ref decided to ignore the beer bottle shards in the ring to render a three count.
Afterward, ref Brian Hebner argued with Roode, who demanded he raise his arm in victory. Hebner reluctantly obliged, then checked on Hernandez. And, Roode is back to cheating to win tactics.
WINNER: Roode at 5:48 to earn 7 points. Nice story focused on Roode being desperate to get points and get back in the title picture, making this more engaging than a typical TNA TV match. Unfortunately, it was undercut by the see-through referee incompetency counting a pin while staring at beer bottle shards.
Backstage: Main Event Mafia was shown walking down the hallway. Kurt Angle hyped making Aces & Eights an offer they cannot refuse tonight.
[Commercial Break at 9:23]
Backstage: Frankie Kazarian was shown live-tweeting while talking to himself. Kaz didn't seem to like his word choice and adjusted his tweet.
Moments Ago: Bobby Roode used a beer bottle to smash Hernandez for a victory. This led to a review of the BFG Series Standings.
Backstage: ODB was shown talking to Eric Young about facing Gail Kim in the ring tonight. Suddenly, Joseph Park was there. Park asked EY about match strategy in the BFG Series tonight, prompting EY to ramble in classic EY style before gifting Park something to wear in the ring.
[Q3] Last Thursday: Mannik became new X Division champion.
Locker Room: TNA Champ Chris Sabin walked up to Mannik a/k/a T.J. Perkins to congratulate him on becoming X Division champion. The camera only showed the back of Perkins's head as he said 15 years as T.J. Perkins got him nowhere; only when he became Mannik did he gain prestige. Sabin said he respects where Perkins has been, which is why he selected him for match action tonight. Sabin made sure he got Perkins's attention that he'll see him out there in the ring. Of note, Sabin noticeably carried himself more like a champion with his posture and body positioning relative to Perkins.
Backstage: A white stretch Hummer pulled up in the parking garage. The announcers speculated on whether the person inside the vehicle is the August 1 Warning.
[Commercial Break at 9:32]
In-ring: Christy Hemme was standing by to introduce Jay Bradley for the next BFG Series match. As Jay made his entrance, TNA cut to footage from earlier tonight when Bradley vowed to get on the BFG Series scoreboard. Back in the arena, Joseph Park was introduced along with Eric Young. Once in the ring, EY presented Park with amateur wrestling headgear to wear during his match. Bradley was not pleased by this, so he jumped Park from behind. Since this is TNA, the unfair start was okay'ed by the ref, who called for the bell.
2 -- JOSEPH PARK (w/Eric Young) vs. JAY BRADLEY -- BFG Series match
Bradley kicked and stomped Park while trying to rip off the headgear. Of note, Park's entire face was covered by the headgear, which would cause Vince McMahon to blow a gasket. Bradley continued to tease ripping off the headgear as EY tried to lead the crowd in rallying behind Park.
Park made a comeback at 2:50, but the crowd couldn't connect with him since his face was covered up. Park tried a top-rope move, but Bradley yanked him down. Suddenly, Park slapped on a Boston Crab mid-ring. Bradley fought the hold, then reached the bottom rope for a break. Park sold not understanding, then turned around and awkwardly ran into a corner boot that airballed Park's face.
Bradley finally got the headgear off Park's head, which was the best thing to happen to Park. Bradley stalked him for the Boomstick, but Park blocked and executed a fallaway slam, which was good for the pin and the win. Post-match, Park sold shock that he won before EY entered the ring to celebrate.
WINNER: Park at 4:24 to earn 7 points in the BFG Series. And, Park "improves" to minus three points in the Standings.
Tonight: What will be Main Event Mafia's offer to Aces & Eights?
Up Next: World champ Sabin vs. X Division champion Mannik.
[Q4] [Commercial Break at 9:44]
Main Event Mafia Lounge: Kurt Angle started a roundtable meeting by asking if anyone has any additional information on the August 1 Warning. Nothing. Sting got excited about Bully Ray no longer being TNA World champion, then he calmed down and asked if everyone is ready to take a risk. Rampage Jackson, Magnus, and Samoa Joe confirmed they are in, then Rampage noted he is ready for a fight.
In-ring: New X Division champion Mannik was introduced for the next match, followed by new TNA World champion Chris Sabin. Not a sign of faith in the singles champions by placing the start of their match in the filler Q4 segment, but it can be salvaged with a top-of-the-second-hour spotlight.
3 -- TNA World Hvt. champion CHRIS SABIN vs. TNA X Division MANNIK -- non-title Champion vs. Champion match
Back-and-forth to start. The two champions came to a stalemate one minute in, then TNA cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 9:54]
The match returned three minutes before the top of the hour with the pace picking up. Sabin knocked Mannik to the floor and delivered more offense before returning to the ring. Back in the ring, Sabin slowed down the pace to wear down the X Division champion.
[Q5 -- second hour] Mannik broke free of Sabin at the top of the hour, then delivered flying kicks and more aerial offense to score a two count. Mannik wanted a top-rope move, but Sabin cut him off before delivering a delayed superplex for a nearfall. Moments later, Sabin came to his feet and delivered a big kick to the face before scooping up Mannik for Hail Sabin. It was good for the pin and the win four minutes into the second hour.
Post-match, Bully Ray came out of nowhere to ambush Sabin and knock him down in the corner. Ray delivered right hand blows to Sabin, then yelled at Sabin that he should have just handed him his title belt. Sabin suddenly fought back as JB said Sabin is ready for Bully Ray at "Hardcore Justice" Impact in two weeks ago. Ray high-tailed it out of the ring to the entrance ramp as Sabin stood tall in the ring.
WINNER: Sabin at 11:57. The post-match was fine to keep the Sabin-Bully issue going and allow Sabin to show some fight, but the match placement and booking sent a cue to the audience that TNA isn't serious yet about Sabin being their top champion.
Ringside: Tenay and JB were shown on-camera to hype Hardcore Justice in two weeks. But, first, tonight's main event is Styles vs. Aries in singles action. Plus, Main Event Mafia has an offer to Aces & Eights.
Parking Lot: The white hummer was shown outside the building. Suddenly, Taz entered the camera shot. Taz complained to the cameraman that he's going to expose August 1 right now because he's so upset about Hulk Hogan keeping him out of the building. Taz opened the door and mocked the hype for August 1 Warning before the camera discovered a laptop with another video message inside the vehicle.
Backstage: ODB was shown drinking from her flask on the way to the ring to face Gail Kim, who is apparently back to being in the heel role.
[Commercial Break at 10:08]
Back from break, Tenay and JB broke down the Live Events Center.
Backstage: James Storm was shown tweeting and drinking with his feet propped up on the desk holding a TV monitor.
Moments Ago: Taz had a good laugh at the August 1 Warning hype being a laptop with a message.
Next Week: Christopher Daniels vs. Kazarian in a BFG Series match-up. ... Backstage: Daniels and Kazarian were asked about Bad Influence being forced to wrestle against each next week. Daniels complained about TNA trying to break them since Day One. Daniels, looking like he fried his face in the sun, said he's 3-0 in the BFG Series, while Kaz is 0-3. This caused Kaz to stop Daniels mid-sentence and tell him he better not be feeling sorry for him. Kaz tersely told Daniels to bring his A-Game next week before knocking the appletini out of Daniels's hand, prompting Daniels to wonder what happened to their relationship.
[Q6] In-ring: Gail Kim came to the ring for the next match as the announcers recapped Gail and Knockouts referee ODB getting into it last week after Gail lost the KO Title match to Mickie James. ODB was then introduced to face Gail.
4 -- ODB vs. GAIL KIM
The two Knockouts had a staredown to start the bad-blood match. Of note, male referee Stiffler was assigned this Knockouts bout. Gail dominated early on, setting up ODB to make her comeback.
The match then moved to the floor, where the ref lost control of the match. Stiffler eventually just counted them out. After the match, Gail and ODB continued to brawl as the ref tried to restore order.
WINNER: Double Count-out at 6:10.
Backstage: A.J. Styles was shown leaning against a back wall before speaking in low tones about his so-called "dream match" against Austin Aries tonight. Styles said it's a bunch of b.s. He said he's no longer a wide-eyed kid, but a man who wants the money that comes with the TNA Title. Styles said there are no more dreams or heroes. "Austin Aries, I just became your nightmare," Styles said before dramatically flipping up the hood on his jacket and walking away.
[Commercial Break at 10:25]
Last Night: King Mo won the Bellator MMA lightheavyweight tournament.
[Q7] A&E Holding Area: Bully Ray yelled at the other Aces & Eights members about Main Event Mafia claiming to have an offer they cannot refuse. Ray continued to yell about other things, namely Chris Sabin. Ray told Mr. Anderson that he is in-charge of taking care of the Main Event Mafia tonight.
Suddenly, Brooke Hogan barged in looking for Bully. Bully asked if she wants to make out or if she wants a divorce that she will never get. Brooke laughed off Bully's tough talk, then told "Mark" that she heard some things about the contract for his TNA Title re-match that he might be concerned about. Ray demanded to know what's in the contract, then Brooke told him to make her his ex-wife and he might find out. Of note, the Ray-Sabin contract signing is next week.
Announcers: JB and Tenay broke down the line-up for next week's Impact.
In-ring: Christy Hemme was standing by to introduce the TV main event. Out first was Austin Aries, followed by A.J. Styles, who stood on the entrance ramp before slowly walking down to the ring. On commentary, Tenay called Styles greedy and hungry for power.
5 -- AUSTIN ARIES vs. A.J. STYLES -- BFG Series match
The wrestlers came to a stalemate two minutes in. Aries then rolled to the outside for a breather, so Styles attempted a dropkick through the ropes, but Aries side-stepped and jumped to the ring apron. Aries then came off the top turnbuckle with a double sledgehammer. But, Styles came back with a flying attack that knocked down Aries to the floor. Impact cut to break with Styles in control.
[Commercial Break at 10:37]
Back from break, Tenay claimed this is the match the audience selected on TNA's website. Or, the audience voted on three different wrestling cards, which contained six matches, and this was one of the matches on the winning card. Styles knocked Aries to the outside, then ref Brian Hebner reprimanded Styles for trying to get a count-out victory. "You can't win it out there!" Brian shouted, apparently forgetting that it's a BFG Series match where a count-out victory is good for a solid five points.
[Q8] Aries made a comeback at 11:00, then tried a top-rope move but Styles repeatedly blocked. Styles eventually transitioned into a hangman's neckbreaker for a close two count. Styles took a long look at ref Brian Hebner to evaluate his count, then he climbed to the ring apron. Styles wanted a springboard 450 splash, but Aries rolled out of the way. Aries immediately kneed Styles in the head to flow into the Last Chancery. Styles fought, then countered into the Calf Killer. But, Aries made it to his feet to snap off a Brainbuster Suplex. Aries covered, but Styles kicked out in-time.
Reset. Aries dragged Styles to the corner and climbed to the top turnbuckle for a 450 Splash, but Styles got his knees up to block. The announcers stressed the two wrestlers knowing each other's offense because they are so similar, then Styles clotheslined Aries to the entrance ramp. Of note, they're already past the time limit from Styles-Joe on Week 1.
At 15:00, Aries back-body-dropped Styles off the ramp down to the floor. Ref Hebner checked on Styles, then Aries came flying at Styles with a suicide dive, but Styles side-stepped and Aries ate the ring steps. Both men sold on the mat as the referee administered a ten count. And, both made it back into the ring in-time.
At 17:00, the two men traded bombs before Styles nailed a Pele Kick, which Tenay noted is a flash of Styles's past repertoire. As both men were on the mat, they each had an arm draped over the other. The ref counted one, two, Aries kind of re-arranged themselves, Aries lifted his shoulder, Styles did not lift his, and Aries was awarded a three count. Ref Hebner dramatically indicated that Aries won since the finish wasn't clear.
WINNER: Aries at 17:43 to earn 7 points in the BFG Series. Is there a time limit or not in the BFG Series? A little consistency would be nice. Otherwise, a strong TV main event - with Styles finding the right balance of "Old" and "New" A.J. Styles - until the awkward finish.
TNA quickly cut backstage to show Main Event Mafia walking down the hallway for the final segment of the show deep into Q8. The main event needed more follow-up time for the match to sink in, but TNA was short on time.
[Commercial Break at 10:53]
In-ring: Main Event Mafia quickly marched to the ring when Impact returned from break just a few minutes before the top of the hour. Sting quickly spoke that they will get the fight with Aces & Eights they want. So, the offer they cannot refuse is...
Aces & Eights's music interrupted. Mr. Anderson led the group on-stage to note that Kurt Angle ended up in the back of a pick-up truck the last time they fought. Anderson said Mafia cheats, which is the only reason why Chris Sabin is the new TNA Champion. Anderson said they can fight dirty, like the Mafia. Anderson said they're not backing down.
Back in the ring, Angle said there will be some serious consequences at Hardcore Justice (boos from the crowd) for a five-on-five match. Angle said whichever wrestler gets pinned in the match will have to leave TNA. For Good. On-stage, Anderson sold concern. Angle said this will begin his process of elimination. As A&E discussed matters, Joe spoke that this is not a negotiation.
[Q9 -- over-run] A brawl broke out inside the ring as Tenay noted A&E never answered the challenge. Anderson then grabbed the mic and said they accept the offer, which means Rampage Jackson's in-ring debut is confirmed for Impact in two weeks. On commentary, Tenay said it doesn't get any bigger than this match at "Hardcore Justice."
Suddenly, the lights went out and Tito Ortiz walked out on-stage. Mike Tenay speculated that Tito is the August 1 Warning. Mafia and A&E members were shown reacting with a mix of emotions as Ortiz stood on-stage with arms folded. And they stayed folded. The camera focused on Rampage Jackson selling annoyance that Ortiz just showed up on Impact to steal his thunder, following up on their face-to-face confrontation on Bellator MMA last night. Impact signed off two minutes past the top of the hour.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Here's the deal. A lot is riding on the success of Bellator MMA on Spike TV. TNA, with their slumping ratings over the past two years, has to play ball by utilizing the MMA fighters on their show. In the minds of the decision-makers, it's all about synergy and cross-promotion. Even if the audience overlap is minimal.
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