Last night’s Impact saw two former World Champions collide inside a steel cage, a fair share of Bound for Glory points distributed, and a surprisingly good Ultimate X match. There were knockouts galore, a new Network exec was named (kind of), and Hulk Hogan regrettably teased lacing up his boots one more time. Come with me to the other side of this jump for all of last night’s action, bulleted for your pleasure.
- Kurt Angle opened the show by calling out Hulk Hogan. I couldn’t get the image of a bloody Hogan tapping out to the Ankle Lock at Backlash ’02 out of my head at any point during this segment. Kurt Angle demanded that Hogan stop calling him to join Immortal. Hogan responded by saying not to bring up his wife and kids, which was beyond strange since Angle hadn’t mentioned either. Angle threw the phrase “best in the world” around a few times, a clear knock on WWE & CM Punk. One of TNA’s biggest problems is basing their program around what’s going on in WWE – you’re a different show, do your own thing, don’t base everything around what’s happening on Mondays. After running in circles for a few minutes, Hogan & Angle finally got to the point. Angle told the Hulkster that if he wants Sting taken out, he should do it himself. The Olympic Hero stated that “every great warrior has one more fight left in him,” which is a bold faced lie. Hogan’s in-ring return looks to be inevitable, and I couldn’t be any less excited. Game over, Hulk, go home.
- Gunner and Rob Van Dam engaged in an action packed Bound for Glory series matchup. It was a good opening contest that would have been a much better way to begin the show than the Angle / Hogan interview was. Thankfully, Van Dam picked up the pinfall victory and seven points after hitting a long distance 5-Star Frog Splash. It was really nice to see Gunner lose for once, it seems like all he’s done is win over the past month or two.
- The Network ordered that due to the success of Destination X, more X Division wrestlers would be hired to Impact Wrestling and the division would be showcased more prominently. As Immortal was backstage discussing their displeasure with the Network’s decree, they were interrupted by Sting, who has become completely unwatchable since adopting his “insane icon” gimmick. The Stinger looked more Joker-ish than ever last night, wearing a red suit and carrying a cloaked cage as he conducted his business. Sting informed Immortal that he was now a Network executive and would be calling the shots beginning immediately, his first decision being that Mr. Anderson’s match with Kurt Angle later in the evening would be of the steel cage variety. During the same segment, more dissension surfaced between Bully Ray and Mr. Anderson as the former accused the latter of being scared of Kurt Angle. Hopefully Mr. Anderson’s stay in Immortal is a short one. I much prefer him as a lone tweener.
- Matt Morgan’s going to miss six weeks, officially stomping out his chances in the Bound for Glory series. Oh well.
- Brian Kendrick and Alex Shelley cut a promo in the ring on Austin Aries. Brian Kendrick was wearing jeans and no shirt, similar to John Morrison on Monday night, but he looked a lot less effeminate in doing so than his WWE counterpart. Kendrick spoke in the poetic verse that we’ve grown accustomed to, which Shelley translated. Austin Aries responded to their words, approaching the ring and admitting that his main priority at this stage in his career was making money. Kendrick insisted that despite his claims of “top doggery,” A Double has “termites in his soul.” It’s going to be a triple threat for the X Division Championship at Hardcore Justice between Shelley, Aries, and Kendrick. Tonight, it’s going to be Kendrick vs Abyss in an Ultimate X match, so says Sting. I don’t know how Brian Kendrick manages to pull his current gimmick off, but he does so very well.
- Bully Ray met the undefeated Crimson in a Bound for Glory series matchup, and I dreaded the outcome from the opening bell. I hate seeing Bully Ray lose; he’s one of the best characters on TV today. Unfortunately, it was evident that he was going to as soon as his opponent was announced. Sure enough, Crimson emerged victorious after hitting the former Dudley Boy with the Red Sky. Bully Ray dominated most of the match before being caught in Crimson’s finisher, but in the end, Big Red was still perched atop the Bound for Glory series leaderboard. Ugh.
- Tara and Winter had a pretty good match last night. Angelina Love and Miss Tessmacher were ejected from the ringside area by Earl Hebner early on, so we were all losers in this one. Tara locked in a tarantula variation, which was a nice change of pace. Both of these Knockouts were at one time in the WWE and then released, and I’d honestly rather watch either of them than any of the current WWE divas save for Awesome Kong and Beth Phoenix. Winter went over in the end, and she’ll be meeting Mickie James at Hardcore Justice with the Knockouts Title on the line.
- Brian Kendrick successfully retained the X Division Championship with a win over Abyss in an Ultimate X match. Maybe it’s just because it featured Brian Kendrick, or maybe it’s because I love the inclusion of gimmick matches on free TV, but I really enjoyed this one. The dynamic brought on by the size disparity between the competitors was interesting, with Abyss attempting to snag the title without climbing the structure and Kendrick making frequent attempts to scurry up the scaffolding. Ultimately, it was an attempted chokeslam from Abyss that ended this one. When the Monster lifted Kendrick into the air, the X Division Champion scaled Abyss’ shoulders in one fluid motion and captured the Championship belt to claim victory. Great stuff from both guys, and Kendrick is becoming a standout star on Impact Wrestling.
- Traci Brooks and Velvet Sky came to the ring to call out Jacki and ODB. Traci scolded the two heels for invading the Impact Zone to attack Velvet Sky week in and week out, pointing out that they know that’s not the way to handle business. Velvet Sky went on to cut a promo about not being anyone’s punching bag. She told Jacki and ODB that she has had enough, and that even if they won’t relent in their attacks on her, she’ll always come out on top. I think that this will be used as one of those defining moments for Velvet Sky’s character, one that will find its way into the narration of video packages in the coming months. She’s definitely positioned for a run as Knockouts Champion sooner rather than later, and I’ll be curious as to who will be holding the title when it comes time for her to make her bid.
- Eric Bischoff was on the phone in his office when he learned that Sting was not, in fact, a network executive. While he was still on the phone, Sting entered the room and confirmed that he had fabricated that he was representing the network when he announced match stipulations earlier in the night. With the truth out, Sting took the opportunity to reveal the contents of the covered cage he had been carrying around all night. When he removed the cloak and opened the door, out flew a crow that landed on Eric Bischoff’s desk. Words cannot express how anti-climactic this was. Sting then teased Bischoff that the crow would peck out his eyes and exited the office, locking Easy E in the room with the bird. That’s your World Champion, ladies and gents, locking people in rooms with birds.
- Kurt Angle grappled with Mr. Anderson inside the confines of a steel cage with Fortune surrounding the ring. An all right back-and-forth match was soiled when Immortal made their way to ringside. A brawl between Immortal and Fortune ensued, with Mexican America joining the party to trade blows with Beer Money. Bully Ray somehow slipped through the cracks in all this and made his way to the cage. Anderson requested a chair from his Immortal cohort but made the mistake of calling Ray “sweetheart,” which did not sit well with Impact Wrestling’s resident Bully. He baited Anderson with the chair and distracted him long enough for Kurt Angle to hit the Angle Slam on his opponent for the three count. With Bully Ray costing Anderson the match, a feud between these two is inevitable. The only question is which one the rest of Immortal will side with. The show closed with Sting appearing in the ring to stare down Kurt Angle, his Hardcore Justice opponent.
Overall, the show was pretty decent. The Ultimate X match was very entertaining, the ending of which was both clever and exciting. Sting’s character continues to become more insufferable with each passing week, and the tease of Hogan coming out of retirement to deal with the Champ is reason for eye-rolling disappointment. I’ve been enjoying Velvet Sky’s push for months and I still like where it’s going. The growing role of Brian Kendrick is cause for excitement, and the lack of Jeff Jarrett in a leading role recently is refreshing. The Bound for Glory series is still a waste of television time. No wrestling fans have ever cared about points. Stop it. It’s confusing, contrived, and it’s missing the mark.