Impact opens this week with a video package, recapping the events of last week, when Hulk Hogan accepted the position as general manager of Impact Wrestling.
The entire roster is at ringside to start the show, with Dixie Carter and Sting in the ring. Dixie quickly introduces the new GM Hulk Hogan (Kurt Angle rolls his eyes). Hogan starts by giving his thanks to both Sting and Dixie. Hogan says he met with TNA creative today (I couldn’t believe he said this) and says the big focus right now is Lockdown. He tells Matt Morgan and Crimson that their feud needs to end in a cage at the pay per view, which both guys seem fine with. He then addresses Knockout Champion Gail Kim, saying that he can’t figure out who should be the number one contender for her title (the entire crowd is chanting for Velvet. Go figure), so he’s making a number one contender challenge match tonight. Hogan then says before anything else happens, he needs Eric Bischoff to come out to the ring right now. Ric Flair is at ringside and yells that Bischoff is not here, and neither Bischoff nor he answer to Hogan. Hogan tells Flair that he better get Bischoff on the phone and tell him to get to the arena. Bobby Roode interrupts the proceedings and says that he does what he wants when he wants. He says if Hogan has a problem with that, he can ask the former GM what happened when there’s a problem with the champ. Roode reminds everyone that his only obligation is to be in the ring at Lockdown against Storm. Roode is about to leave, but Hogan stops him in his tracks and says in case Roode hasn’t heard, things are changing around here. Hogan calls Mr. Anderson in the ring and says that Hogan’s in charge and he also listens to the fans, who have been telling him that they want Anderson versus Roode tonight. As Roode throws a tantrum in the entranceway, Hogan then turns his attention to Kurt Angle and says that instead of him wrestling Jeff Hardy at Lockdown, that match is going to happen tonight, and it’s right now.
Match #1: Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Hardy
Hardy is very color-coordinated this evening and he seems to be outwrestling Angle in the early going. I just noticed that Angle has a modified Olympic logo on his ring attire, which is a pretty nice touch. Hardy headscissors Angle out of the corner and then delivers a slide-through dropkick on the floor, which knocks Angle backwards into the guardrail (the back of Angle’s head actually hit the rail and blood is trickling down his forehead). Angle comes back with a snap suplex for a couple of near falls. Hardy then meets Angle with a flying forearm and tries the twist of fate, but Angle counters and delivers his succession of German suplexes for two. Hardy avoids the Angle slam and connects with the twist of fate, but as he attempts the swanton, Angle races up the buckles and meets Hardy with a top rope belly-to-belly throw. Angle then applies the ankle lock. Hardy is in the move for quite a while, but eventually escapes and drops Angle with a spinning reverse mule kick. Hardy once again goes upstairs, but Angle pulls referee Brian Hebner towards him, so Hardy can’t do the move. Hardy then comes back to the floor and Angle tries a low blow, but it’s blocked. Hardy tries the twist of fate again, but Angle avoids it and retreats to the floor, and then gets deliberately counted out.
Winner: Jeff Hardy by count-out
As Kurt Angle comes back through the entrance tunnel, he’s met by sarcastic applause from Hulk Hogan, who tells him that Angle can no longer get himself counted out, because he has a match with Jeff Hardy in a steel cage at Lockdown.
Ric Flair is backstage and calls Eric Bischoff, saying that something needs to be done about Hogan and the two of them need to talk immediately. Bischoff says he’ll be at the arena soon enough.
The Reaction interviewer asks Bully Ray for his prediction for the James Storm/Bobby Roode match at Lockdown. Ray says he’s sick of talking about Roode and Storm and says everyone should be talking about him. He says he’s going out to the ring to take care of a bigger, but then changes to ‘smaller’ problem, Austin Aries. As he exits, he instructs the camera operator to get a shot of his calves.
Bully Ray and his calves come out to the ring after the break. He says he’s confused why a small boy like Austin Aries would want to piss off a giant man like him. He then says he’s eaten chicken wings and taken craps bigger than Aries. Aries has apparently heard enough and interrupts this. Aries shushes both Ray and the crowd and with Ray waiting for him to say something, Aries just decks Ray with the microphone and beats on him in the corner, before being powerbombed out of that same corner. Ray then insinuates that Aries better recognize who he’s dealing with and then drops Aries’ own title on top of him.
Joseph Park is in the catering area, interrupting more people at work, asking if they know where his brother Abyss is. Once again, nobody knows or cares.
AJ Styles is wishing James Storm luck in his match with Bobby Roode at Lockdown. Storm tells AJ that Hogan told him that since Roode has a match tonight, it’s only right for him to get a match tonight as well. Storm tells AJ that he wants his help to get ready for Roode tonight. AJ agrees, but says that Storm should know that he’s a lot faster than Roode. Storm says if he can hit AJ with the last call tonight, he won’t have a problem hitting Roode with it at Lockdown then. AJ then says he’ll help Storm, but asks Storm to give him a shot at the title after Lockdown. Storm agrees and they walk off.
Match #2: Winter vs. Angelina Love vs. Mickie James vs. Tara vs. Madison Rayne vs. Velvet Sky in a number one contender’s match for the TNA Women’s Knockout Championship
There are no pigeons let loose in this match as it seems to be all business for Velvet tonight. Tara gets a near fall after a standing moonsault on Winter, but the other participants break up the pin. Winter and Angelina apparently no longer have any ties to each other as there is a tease of them going at it, but Winter tags out to Mickie, which doesn’t seem to sit well with Angelina. Mickie drops Angelina with a neckbreaker, but Madison breaks the pin at two, accidentally delivering an elbow drop on Angelina in the process. Velvet comes in off a blind tag and nails Angelina with a low dropkick. Angelina retaliates with a falling front slam for two. Madison and Angelina have a bit of an argument in the corner, which allows Tara to knock them into each other and execute a firewoman’s carry into a spinning sidewalk slam to Madison for two. Madison delivers her crank neckbreaker to Velvet. Tara then drops Angelina with the widow’s peak. Winter delivers a spinning backbreaker (Sheamus calls it the Irish curse) to Tara. After everyone hits their finishing moves, Velvet gets in on the action with the ‘In Your Face’ to Mickie for the win.
Winner and number one contender: Velvet Sky by pinfall
Mr. Anderson tells the Reaction crew that the same thing that is going to happen to Roode at Lockdown is going to happen to him tonight. Roode and his security guards interrupt, saying that if Anderson gets in the ring with him tonight, he’s going to get hurt. Anderson says why not do this right now. Roode then hides behind his wall of security, asking Anderson if he wants to get hurt. Realizing that he’s outnumbered, Anderson tells Roode that he’ll see him in the ring and then kind of taunts the security guys.
Up next is a video montage, with highlights of James Storm and Jeff Hardy at the Country Music Awards.
Eric Young is backstage, giving a speech to some unknown people backstage (I’m assuming these are creative team members) and says that they’re going to get wild for the bachelor party tonight. Young says he didn’t invite any of the wrestlers or the knockouts, and then says it’s time to get started with their fantasy baseball draft. ODB interrupts, saying that the two of them only need each other. She kicks the other guys out and brings in a keg and chicken wings.
Match #3: James Storm vs. AJ Styles
They really need to go back to AJ’s original song (I hate this remix). There’s a nice sequence of chain wrestling in the early going, with Storm attempting the last call super kick early, but hits nothing but air, as AJ is too quick. AJ comes back with an explosive dropkick. AJ then delivers a backbreaker for two. Storm connects with an enzugiri from the apron, but is unable to follow up. He eventually delivers the eye of the Storm. Storm then goes for the facebuster, but AJ blocks it and applies a figure-four leglock, which he then transitions into the half crab. Storm escapes, but eats the Pele. AJ then tries a springboard moonsault, but Storm ducks. AJ still lands on his feet, but gets KO’d with the last call superkick, which Storm hits right on the button for the win.
Winner: James Storm by pinfall
After the match, Storm and AJ adhere to the code of honor. Storm then addresses Roode on the microphone. He says he wants Roode to face him next week one last time, before Storm kicks his teeth down his throat at the pay per view.
Hulk Hogan is with Sting backstage, wishing him well in his time off. He says he wants Sting back at 100 per cent sooner than later. Sting says for Hogan to call him if it gets too heavy for Hogan to handle.
Montgomery Gentry are backstage (some country band I presume) putting over James Storm. Bobby Roode interrupts, reminding them that he smashed a beer bottle over Storm’s head when he took his title. Roode says he’s going to do the same thing at Lockdown and asks these guys if they like to drink beer like Storm does. Roode says he doesn’t drink beer, because he’s an athlete. He says instead, he drinks water, which he takes a swig of and then spits right back into the country guys faces. Before they can retaliate, Roode again hides behind his security. This was great!
Match #4: Mexican America vs. The Motor City Machine Guns
Sabin looks better than ever, as he applies a horizontal octopus to Super Mex, followed by a faceplant bulldog for two. Hernandez gets the advantage on Shelley with a big shoulder block and then an avalanche in the corner. The Guns regain the advantage and Sabin delivers the hesitation dropkick to Anarquia in the corner. He then slides through Shelley’s legs to deliver a tope to Hernandez. The MCMG follow that up with a neckbreaker/splash combo for the win.
Winners: The Motor City Machine Guns by pinfall
After the match, Sabin reintroduces his team and says they want the TNA World Tag Team Titles.
Eric Bischoff finally arrives to the building and is met by Ric Flair in the parking garage, who tells him that Hogan is out of control and needs to be put in his place. Bischoff calls himself a psychological ninja and says before the night is over, he’s going to put Hogan in a tiny little box that he can’t get out of.
After the break, Hulk Hogan is in the ring and gets right to business, calling out Eric Bischoff. Bischoff comes out to the entrance ramp and says that he and Hogan have been through a lot together, but very rarely on opposing sides. He says the biggest difference between the two of them is that Hogan is not a leader. Bischoff says that Hogan is more of an opportunist. Hogan says since Bischoff considers himself such a leader, and since they’re talking all about Lockdown tonight, he’s going to eliminate the Garrett versus Gunner match at Lockdown and give Bischoff the opportunity to assemble a team to face a team assembled by Garrett in Lethal Lockdown. Hogan says that if Bischoff’s team wins, he’ll finally be rid of Garrett from TNA, but if Garrett’s team wins, E. Bischoff must leave TNA instead.
Up next is another good video montage, focusing on James Storm’s road to Lockdown.
Match #5: Mr. Anderson vs. Bobby Roode in a non-title match
Brian Hebner immediately sends Roode’s security to the back before the match starts. Anderson takes advantage and is all over Roode in the early going. Roode gains the advantage with a back elbow. He then delivers a vertical suplex, followed by a knee drop for two. Anderson comes back and delivers a back body drop for two. Both guys have a nice sequence of counters, with the referee getting knocked down in the process. Anderson delivers a steamroller, but the ref is still down and unable to make the count. Roode goes to ringside and grabs a beer bottle from one of the fans at ringside. He uses that to break over Anderson’s cranium for the win.
Winner: Bobby Roode by pinfall
Anderson is covered in blood, but after the match, James Storm and Hulk Hogan both come out to the ring. Hogan reverses the referee’s decision and declares Ken Anderson as the winner of the match. Roode is yelling all kinds of obscenities at both Hogan and Storm to close the show.
I thought this was a decent episode of Impact, but not enough of a hook to order the pay per view next weekend. I thought there was ultimately not enough build for Lockdown, especially with only a week left. Bobby Roode stole this show once again, as he’s really turned into a fantastic heel. I loved the segment with him and Montgomery Gentry, and he even made Anderson look like gold in their segment. And I thought the main event was really good as well. It’s great to see the Machine Guns back and usually I’d complain that it’s their first night back as a team and it already looks like they’re getting a title shot, but they don’t really have any other option at this point. Although I like how they’ve been building up James Storm with all these highlight packages, I’d still prefer to keep the title on Roode, I thought Angle versus Hardy was a strong match, but a pretty weak way to build to their pay per view match though. Like I said, nothing was really bad on this show, but it just wasn’t impactful enough (pardon the pun). 7.5 out of 10.