This week's TNA Impact episode opened with a replay of the end of Thursday's Impact when Taz interrupted the wedding ceremony between Bully "Mark" Ray and Brooke Hogan. Then, Taz revealed he is an Aces & Eights member, setting off a wild brawl with A&E taking out Bully, Hulk Hogan, and Bully's groomsmen. It was the edited version with no footage of Brooke Hogan's wardrobe malfunction.
Post-Show: After Impact went off the air, Brooke Hogan, covered in a jacket, was shown tending to Bully and Hogan. Bully grabbed Hogan's hand to console him, then Sting, Tommy Dreamer, and Christian York helped Hogan out of the ring. Joseph Park then helped Bully out of the ring. No commentary over this footage, by the way.
Impact Zone: Todd Keneley and Mike Tenay introduced the show on-camera. Tenay sold disdain as Keneley noted that someone is missing from the broadcast position (Taz). Tenay said he has never been more shocked than at the actions of Taz last week. He advertised an explanation from Taz later tonight.
Video Package: Aces & Eights's theme played as the camera showed masked bikers circling around the parking garage. Devon, Mike Knox, D.O.C., and Mr. Anderson led them in some sort of tribal ritual. No voices, just sounds of motorcyles revving and the A&E members jumping around.
Impact Zone: A new TNA Impact intro video played before TNA cut back to the arena to show Aces & Eights arriving in the arena. Tenay wondered aloud why Taz turned on TNA and joined A&E. Taz, looking...interesting...in a black vest over a yellow flannel shirt while wearing a hoodie and dark shades, opened his promo saying life is about opportunity. Taz said he wants to be part of a group that lives by the direction of a higher power. He said he couldn't pass on that chance.
Taz mockingly said last week was all about Brooke Hogan's wedding. "Give me a break!" Taz shouted. He said all that wedding was for Aces & Eights to stand on their faces. He said Ray was just another victim. Taz then called out TNA president Dixie Carter, the front office, and Impact GM Hulk Hogan. He told them to look at the language in his TNA contract. Taz said he's bulletproof, and if someone puts a finger on him, he will "own this friggen place." Taz shouted, "I'm Teflon Taz!" Taz vowed to rule TNA and told them to deal with the carnage they will deal out. Taz told everyone good luck dealing with the higher power. After Taz wrapped up, Tenay said he hopes Taz will join them at the announce position tonight to offer more reasons behind his actions.
[ JC: Surprised TNA did not hype Taz's explanation throughout the show, then deliver it at the top of the second hour to build anticipation. It just didn't have the gravitas of a big heel turn promo, 10-15 years has passed since Taz last had to deliver a promo that counted, and Taz was made to look very short standing in front of taller A&E members, which might not be the best visual for the unofficial new leader of the group until the "Higher Power" is revealed. ]
Backstage: Tara was shown preparing for her Knockouts Title match before Jessie introduced a Velvet Sky action figure. Jessie said it's motivation to remind Tara that Velvet is nothing and they are TNA's power couple.
Up Next: Tara vs. Velvet Sky for the Knockouts Title.
[Q2] Still to come: Jeff Hardy defends the TNA Title against Daniels in the main event. This led to a video package documenting Daniels's quest to become TNA champion, going back to some of Daniels's early days in TNA. Tonight, Daniels has a shot at the title that has eluded him his entire career. Daniels is a heel, right?
Locker Room: The roving cameraman asked Daniels about his title shot tonight. Before Daniels could speak, Kazarian jumped in and noted he has a managerial license for tonight. Daniels then called this a milestone and a big night for TNA because TNA needs him. He rhymed about a feature who makes the girls dance when his hips sway.
Impact Zone: Heel A&E announcer Taz joined the commentary position. Keneley said he's feeling a little nervous, which Taz told him he should be feeling. The announce trio then turned their attention to the Knockouts Title match up next. But, Tenay still had questions for Taz, who shot down any questions about who the Higher Power is. Taz also noted he will continue spreading Aces & Eights's agenda as a good color commentary. Tenay wasn't impressed.
1 -- KO champion TARA vs. VELVET SKY (w/Jessie) -- Knockouts Title match -- Taryn Terrell special referee
Velvet tried a quick roll-up on Tara, which Taz called unfair. Taz is full-fledged heel announcer now. Keneley called Taz a turncoat, which led to Taz telling Keneley he's a rookie and needs to be quiet. Tenay said he's been here longer than Taz, which led to Taz telling Tenay he's been here too long. Tara rolled to the outside to avoid Velvet as Tenay said he still has questions for Taz leading to break. Apparently Impact broadcasts will now feature a grating, defender-of-the-heels Taz as opposed to a bored, disinterested Taz.
Back from break, the announcers resumed their disagreements as Tara controlled. Tenay said after watching Taz do what he did last week, it proves that you really don't know people. Taz said he's always done what's best for him, but refused to share why he feels that TNA wronged him. "That's clubhouse business," he said. Tenay continued the questions, asking if it's financially-motivated. Taz refused Tenay's line of questioning as Keneley tried to re-focus on the title match, but then plugged Bellator coming up after Impact.
Time for a WWE reference from Tenay, who noted Tara has been champion everywhere she's been. Velvet made a comeback and had a pin, but Jessie distracted Taryn. Velvet scored a second nearfall, then Jessie held down Velvet's feet from the outside to allow Tara to score the pin. Taz defended Jessie's actions as Velvet complained to Taryn about not seeing the outside interference.
WINNER: Tara at 9:40 to retain the Knockouts Title. What a mess. Now, Taz can get away with defending the heels because he's associated with Aces & Eights. Unfortunately, TNA has spineless face announcers, so they did not put up much of a fight noting Jessie's interference, which means no heat on the heels since it's all just fun and games and cheat as you wish. Also, how many times does the heel have to interfere the exact same way before viewers throw their hands in the air and declare incompetency from the faces, the designated Knockout referee, and "TNA management" for not doing anything about the exact same interference in each of Tara's title defenses? It's an obvious storyline issue that needs to be addressed.
[Q3] Next Week: Open Fight Night from the U.K.
Backstage: The roving cameraman asked Sting who he holds accountable for the wedding break down. Sting said now is not the right time to discuss his feelings. He said he will discuss his feelings in the Impact Zone.
Still to come: Hardy vs. Daniels for the TNA Title.
Locker Room: Kenny King was shown talking to himself in his locker mirror before Zema Ion walked in to discuss their tag match tonight. King told Ion to sit on the apron and let him do all the heavy lifting. Ion laughed him off, then sprayed himself with hairspray.
Impact Zone: Joseph Park was introduced to the ring. Taz quickly knocked Park, who had a black folder in-hand. After the jazz portion of Park's music played, Park spoke in the ring that he might not be the most graceful athlete in the world, but being in TNA over the last year has led him to realize one thing. He said his place is not in a courtroom, but right here as an active member of the Impact roster. Park said his match a few weeks ago did not go quite as planned, but he fought hard. Pause for pity applause.
Park said it made him realize that he is here to be the best he can be. Pause for more applause. He said that next week, Impact will emanate from the U.K., and it's Open Fight Night. And, he's ready. Park pulled out a U.S. passport, then said he will be competing in his first-ever Open Fight Night next week. So, who will he face? Park said he doesn't want to "kay fab" anyone, but he is going to take one week to deliberate, study tape, and make his decision next Thursday. Park declared that the U.K., U.S. ...and the whole world will witness his televised debut next week. Park vowed to get "that W" next week. On commentary, Taz said this guy is out of his mind. Tenay defended Park, which drew an angry response from Taz.
Still to come: Hardy vs. Daniels for the TNA Title.
Impact Zone: Kenny King's music played to bring out Kenny King and Zema Ion for X Division tag action. Tenay and Keneley noted their huge egos before Taz called the face announcers "a couple of jealous little girls." RVD's music played next to bring out the X Champ and Christian York.
2 -- X Division champion ROB VAN DAM & CHRISTIAN YORK vs. ZEMA ION & KENNY KING
At the start of the match, Tenay and Taz debated King's heelish actions as of late. Tenay had enough of this discussion, noting, "Boy, this is going to be tough." Taz said he might be scouting for talent, too, saying the A&E machine needs to get stronger. The announcers then shifted to King Mo's Bellator debut after Impact, and Tenay noted Mo is training to debut on Impact in the future. No comments from Taz during the King Mo discussion.
In the ring, RVD fought off Ion to hot-tag York, who came in at the same time as King. After York teed off on King, he scored a two count when Ion broke up a pin. All four men found themselves in the ring before York clotheslined King over the top rope to the outside. But, King pulled York to the floor.
Back in the ring, RVD dropped Ion with a scoopslam to hit Five-Star, but King re-entered and crotched RVD. Ion then shoved RVD to the floor. Confusion led to Ion springing on York for a Tornado DDT. King followed with a Blockbuster to York, then he posed for the crowd, which allowed Ion to pin York. Post-match, Taz noted he got a phone call and has to leave for a few minutes. Meanwhile, King yelled at Ion for stealing his pin.
WINNERS: Ion & King at 5:05.
Parking Garage: Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan were shown arriving at the building. Ray grabbed Brooke by the hand and walked her toward the Impact Zone while sternly telling the cameraman to get the camera out of his face.
Locker Room: Samoa Joe was shown talking to Wes Brisco and Garett Bischoff. Joe told them not to ride his jock like Kurt Angle. They said they just want to know how Angle is doing health-wise. Joe said Angle hasn't replied to texts or calls. Suddenly, Angle entered. Mystery solved. Angle said he's not 100 percent, but he has to take care of business tonight. Joe slapped hands with Angle and said they'll talk later. Angle then told Wes and Garett that he's ready to kick ass. They told him to let them know if he needs any help.
Video Package: A dreamy replay of Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan attempting to get married before Taz ruined it by leading an Aces & Eights attack.
Impact Zone: Bully Ray's music played one minute before the top of the hour. Tenay noted it's quite the coincidence that Taz bailed from the announce table just before Bully arrived at the building. On-stage, Bully yelled at Tenay and Keneley, wondering where Taz is. Ray and Bully then walked to the ring for a speech.
[Q5 -- second hour] Ray asked for his music to be cut as Brooke stood concerned in the background. Ray said that last week should have been the greatest night in their lives. But, last week turned into a nightmare. Ray said a lot of people were hurt last week. He said he expected this from Devon, but he never expected it from "scumbag" Taz. Ray called Taz a "freakin' coward." Ray said he doesn't care so much that he got hurt, but the people he hurt around him. He said the only man who has trusted him for the best couple of months, Sting, got hurt. And, the man he has been trying to get to trust him, Hulk Hogan, was hurt. But, most of all, the person he hurt the most was the woman he loves. "How dare you ruin our day," he said.
Ray continued that the things he will do to Devon, Taz, and every member of Aces & Eights - he can't even talk about it or say it on national television. Ray told them to sleep with one eye open. Brooke nodded along in the background, happy with her man's vow. Ray said he will not sleep until he kicks every one of their "mf'ing asses." But, he can't do any of that unless Hulk Hogan lifts his suspension. Ray said he knows Hogan is home resting up and taking care of TNA business, but he needs Hulk to lift the suspension.
Suddenly, Sting's music played. Sting marched to the ring with purpose before entering the ring to address Ray and Brooke. He said the whole world knows Hulk Hogan doesn't do anything halfway. Sting said Hogan goes all the way to the top no matter what he does. But, Hogan has only gone halfway because he walked Brooke down the aisle, gave her away to Bully Ray, and now it is time for him to announce in the U.K. next week that his new son-in-law will be re-instated. Sting's music played as Ray thanked Sting for his help. Ray and Brooke hugged, then Sting walked out of the ring.
Last Thursday: Bobby Roode and Austin Aries formed an alliance, disrespected TNA champions, and brawled with tag champs Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez.
Backstage: Aries was shown talking to Roode that each of them can take out Hernandez and Chavo, so they need to evaluate who should take out Hernandez first. Roode said Aries has the speed, agility, and great finisher, so he should go after Hernandez. Aries said that's right, but Roode is superior in wrestling ability, technique, and strength. He said Roode should take him on tonight. Roode then stood up and said Aries beat him, so he's obviously better. But, Aries said there might have been the slightest "fluke-itude" to that win. "I knew it!" Roode said, getting what he wanted to hear six months later. Aries concluded that Roode should start, and if there's anything left, he'll take him out.
[ JC: This is an amazing pairing. Great work showing the heels trying to get out of facing Hernandez by pretending to endorse the other man as the superior wrestler. ]
Video Package: Jeff Hardy got the good vibrations after returning to the top of TNA last year as TNA World champion. Odd hearing pre-Aces & Eights Taz endorsing Hardy during match commentary from Hardy's recent title defense.
Backstage: Jeff Hardy was shown clutching his title belts while walking down the hallway. Hardy looked into the backstage camera to call out Daniels for hitting Angel's Wings on his title belt last week. He vowed to expose Daniels tonight.
Still to come: Hardy vs. Daniels for the TNA World Title.
[Q6] Impact Zone: Christy Hemme was standing by to introduce Bobby Roode for singles action. Roode came out on-stage sans robe and waited for his moment to start walking to the ring. Meanwhile, Taz re-joined commentary as Tenay and Keneley pretended to ignore his presence. Taz cleared his throat over and over before Tenay noted it was pretty nice not having Taz out here. Taz said someone told him that Bully Ray was out here. Techno music then brought out Hernandez, accompanied by Chavo Guerrero.
3 -- BOBBY ROODE vs. TNA tag champion HERNANDEZ (w/TNA tag champion Chavo Guerrero)
Before the bell sounded, Taz said the commentary must have been pretty terrible without him out here. Tenay noted Ray called him a coward in the previous segment, which Taz took offense to, claiming he had a business phone call. In the ring, Hernandez dominated Roode before slowing things down with a lengthy, delayed vertical suplex. Roode shook it off moments later and took control of the action. Taz then asked Keneley if he has a sense of humor or if he's made of ice. Cross-talk before Taz told Keneley to loosen up and hang out with them.
Roode continued the attack as Tenay and Taz continued arguing about Taz's conveniently-timed phone call. Hernandez then came back with a headbutt to the gut before corner-splashing Roode. Hernandez wanted the Border Toss on Roode, but opted for a shoulderbreaker. Hernandez then knocked Roode to the outside and wanted a flying splash, but Austin Aries ran down to ringside to pull Roode out of the way. Roode screamed at Aries, saying he doesn't need his help.
Ringside, Chavo picked a fight with Aries ringside. Back in the ring, Roode dropped a distracted Hernandez with a bulldog for the pin and the win. As Roode celebrated on the outside, Aries told him they did it. But, Roode said he did it all by himself and he doesn't need his help. After a replay of Roode's victory, Aries raised Roode's hand in the air, which Roode didn't appreciate.
WINNER: Roode at 5:40.
Backstage: Kurt Angle was shown walking down the hallway. He'll address his next line of business next.
Video Package: Kurt Angle's mission against Mr. Anderson, who joined Aces & Eights without any fanfare last week. The video showed Angle telling Anderson to reveal his true colors in recent weeks, then showed Angle being stretchered away from the Impact Zone a few weeks ago after A&E took him out.
[Q7] Impact Zone: Kurt Angle's music played to bring out Angle for a mid-ring speech. Once in the ring, Angle said he thought Aces & Eights was going to be temporary, but they're apparently here for the long haul. Angle said he's tired of their sneak-attacks and for causing injuries. Angle addressed Taz at the commentary position, saying he doesn't even know what revenge looks like. But, his quest is not Taz. Rather, Angle called out Mr. Anderson for Open Fight Night next week.
After a pause, Mr. Anderson's music played. Anderson walked out through the Aces & Eights entrance section before jumping into the ring to stare down Angle. Anderson asked Angle if he wants to fight him next week. "Is that what you want to do?!" Anderson shouted over-the-top. Angle stood his ground, then Anderson said he doesn't want to fight him next week. He said he wants to do it now. Anderson punched Angle, drawing laughs from Taz. "Attaboy, Ken!" Taz said. Keneley said that was a cheap-shot, which Taz laughed off. Angle then dropped Anderson mid-ring and teased the anklelock, but Anderson ran out of the ring.
From inside the ring, Angle told Anderson no one is going to attack him from behind on Open Fight Night because it will be Angle vs. Anderson inside a steel cage next week. Ringside, Anderson sold concern, contemplating another round with Angle inside the cage. Lockdown 2010 flashback. On commentary, Taz freaked out about this being unfair, but Tenay reminded him that it's Open Fight Night.
Backstage: Daniels was shown warming up for his TNA Title shot against Jeff Hardy in the main event.
Aces & Eights Video: Mr. Anderson was shown sitting down at a couch inside the Clubhouse. That was a quick exit to the Universal Studios Clubhouse, which is apparently underneath the Harry Potter ride. Anderson wanted a conversation with Devon about facing Angle next week. Devon told Anderson to relax, enjoy the perks of the Clubhouse, and not worry about Angle next week.
Next Week: Keneley said it's Open Fight Night from the U.K. Who will Joseph Park call out? Plus, Angle vs. Anderson in a steel cage.
Impact Zone: 20 minutes before the top of the hour, Daniels was introduced for the main event TNA Title match. Kazarian joined him as official manager, which Taz got a kick out of. Jeff Hardy was introduced next as the fans went wild. Hardy, dressed in royal purple tonight, took a victory lap as Taz poo-pooed on Hardy's 2013 campaign. "I dunno, I just got a feeling things might get a little rusty for him," Taz said. He said he hopes Hardy loses his title soon. Keneley called it ominous words before sending the broadcast to Jeremy Borash in the ring.
With everyone assembled, JB handled formal ring introductions for the main event. Daniels was great playing a cocky, arrogant fighter bouncing up and down as his name was introduced. Hardy was introduced next. The bell sounded exactly 16 minutes before the top of the hour.
4 -- TNA World Hvt. champion JEFF HARDY vs. DANIELS (w/Kazarian) -- TNA World Title match
The two men traded control in the first minute.
[Q8] Daniels built momentum as Taz heeled on Hardy, saying Hardy is selfish and wants the spotlight on him and his creatures. Keneley disagreed, then sent the show to commercial. On the way to break, Spike TV plugged King Mo making his Bellator MMA debut next.
Back from break ten minutes before the top of the hour, Daniels was shown clotheslining Hardy to the mat. Daniels then targeted Hardy's left knee and scored multiple nearfalls, but couldn't put away Hardy. Taz then said no one likes Jeff Hardy because he is about himself. He said Hardy needs to get beaten down, then he called the "Creatures of the Night" puppets who also need to be punished. Daniels continued to attack Hardy, who struggled to find an opening to make a comeback. Meanwhile, Tenay finally spoke up to counter Taz's heelish claims about Kaz's "teamwork" interfering on Daniels's behalf.
Hardy finally found an opening to mount a comeback, which Taz called showboating. Hardy nailed a top-rope splash, but Daniels kicked out. Taz asked why no one mentioned Daniels's resiliency, trying to take a dig at Tenay and Keneley for "favoring" Hardy. The action returned to the top rope, where Hardy delivered a big front-face suplex for a two count when Daniels placed his foot on the bottom rope. The crowd bought the nearfall as the finish, not seeing Daniels put his foot on the rope.
Daniels tried to come back with Angel's Wings, and he connected. Daniels covered, but Hardy kicked out again. Daniels sold shock. Kaz tried to get Daniels to re-focus as Taz complained about the ref's cadence. Hardy then airballed Whisper in the Wind, allowing Daniels to make a cover for a two count. "He's got a horseshoe up his rear-end," Taz declared about Hardy being "lucky." Daniels then tried Angel's Wings again, but Hardy blocked. Daniels then ran into Kaz, allowing Hardy to nail Daniels with Twist of Fate. Hardy kicked Kaz into the guardrail, then climbed to the top rope. Hardy nailed the Swanton Bomb and it was good for the win.
WINNER: Hardy at 14:11 to retain the TNA World Title. Solid match. The commentary vastly improved from the first match to the final match, mainly thanks to Tenay and Keneley finally speaking up to heel Taz. Still not sold on this promotion being focused on a heel announcer, especially one who can't wrestle a match, but it could work if he sets up enhanced Aces & Eights members to fight his battles. Overall, the end was better than the beginning. (**1/2)
Post-match, Taz walked out on-stage and sarcastically said it's time for a post-match interview with TNA champ Jeff Hardy. Taz asked Hardy what he's going to do when Aces & Eights destroys everything around here. Suddenly, fat masked man hit the ring and smashed Hardy's left knee with a hammer. The masked man bailed from the ring, then a ref checked on Hardy, who sold a left knee injury. Tenay said Aces & Eights took out Hardy's leg, then wondered about Hardy's condition as Impact abruptly went off the air.
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