Hello again and welcome to Kayfabe Korner! I’m your master of ceremonies, Dylan, and I know I said I’d cover Summer Slam, but as it turns out, WWE.com also says that they provide a good quality stream of their pay-per-views, and they’re lying. Or maybe my computer’s tendencies toward being a paperweight are starting to come back to bite me. A pity, because days later, when I did see Summer Slam using a Greater Scrying spell cast at 14th level (Archivist, fools!), I loved it. Still, that’s forty-five bucks that could have gone to something more important, like Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, which isn’t out yet, but that won’t stop me from buying it on Steam.
But never mind that, because I recorded Impact Thursday night, and boy oh boy, am I looking forward to it. Not just because we’re probably going to see Rampage Jackson get thrown out of TNA, but also because apparently Brooke Hogan was just released from the company recently. How will that play out? That would be like if midway through a season of House, the actor playing Dr. Chase was fired. And if House was filmed live. So that’s going to be a ton of fun.
Tonight is Hardcore Justice 2: Electric Boogaloo, and who knows? Maybe there might actually be another Hardcore rules match. We start with Bully and Ortiz backstage, and Bully’s talking with Brooke on the phone. Anderson comes along and asks why Bully’s not returning calls. Bully waves him off and says that Tito is with him. Noticeably, he doesn’t offer to help in the upcoming 5-on-5 tag match. Why do these guys work with Bully anyway?
Roode and Bad Influence come out. They just brag, really. Daniels claims to be the best street fighter in all of TNA, but I seem to recall him losing to AJ Styles in a street fight last year. Roode calls on Aries to join their team, but James Storm and Gunner interrupt. Storm points out that he used to trust Roode, as they were a team for four years before Roode turned on him. They decide to fight, and for some reason the ref sends Daniels to the locker room.
So I should probably explain who “Mr. Intensity” Gunner is.
The match starts out as just a brawl and the bell rings once Roode and Gunner are the only men in the ring. Roode and Kaz work together a lot in this match, with frequent tags, but altogether it’s a fairly basic match. Not a bad way to open the show, to be sure, but I would prefer seeing these guys in singles matches. It’s sad to think that James Storm was nearly world champion last year, and now he’s barely on TV at all despite being half of the tag champions. Oh, right, Storm and Gunner are the Tag Team Champions, and no, they don’t have a name other than “James Storm and Gunner.” The finish comes when Storm is signaling for the Last Call Superkick, but Roode manuevers the ref between the two of them, blocking the shot. The ref looks away to prevent Kaz getting in the ring, and Roode hits a low blow and rolls up Storm for the pinfall. Bad Influence was put over strongly here, despite needing to cheat, since they won without interference, though a stated reason for Daniels’ being forced to leave would have been nice. Also, are Daniels, Kaz, and Roode collectively Bad Influence, or are they the team of “The It Factor” Bobby Roode and Kazarian and Christopher Daniels, the Bad Influence? Because the latter is just silly.
Aries is backstage and says he’ll think about joining the team of “The It Factor” Bobby Roode and Kazarian and Christopher Daniels, the Bad Influence. Ah, Bully Ray will be celebrating his win tonight. Can’t wait. Well, really what I can’t wait for is the explanation for why Brooke Hogan isn’t here, if one is forthcoming at all.
Tonight’s drink, by the way, is Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur, and not what I had last week, this godawful Cazul tequila. And I say it’s awful when I can drink Kraken straight.
Our second match of the night is Sonjay Dutt v. X-Division Champion Manik, and apparently X-Division matches are no longer three way matches because just because. I wonder about this briefly, but then helpfully a Tweet from Hulk appears telling us that because everyone was sick of the gimmick, they decided to change it. I for one am happy, because the three-way X-Division matches were really spotty and dull, which shouldn’t be the case when the whole point is fast, exciting aerial offense. Dutt jumps out of the ring to fight as Manik approaches the ring, but Manik hip tosses him back in. They dodge each other until Manik briefly puts Dutt in the Christo Redentor, but clearly doesn’t have it in completely, so they transition into a really weird pin, which Dutt kicks out of. Dutt hits the headscissors takedown (and well! Never let it be said I won’t say something’s good when it is, and Dutt is really good). Dutt with a standing moonsault, and…why is the logo for the No Surrender pay-per-view Captain America’s shield? Dutt with a submission that I can’t place (possibly the dreaded Botchlock), which transitions into a pin. Dutt chokes Manik with his own arms, which really doesn’t look like it’s all that effective. Manik does his thing where he gets thrown into the ropes and clings, Spidey-style, to them. Manik leaps outside for a dropkick, then a springboard dropkick to the back. Manik hits a sit-out powerbomb and Dutt hits a running knee (more of a kick to the mask) in the corner, which looked really painful. Dutt with a springboard splash, and the crowd seems really bored, but that’s actually a problem throughout the night, and I’ll get to why later. Dutt goes for His Move (I believe the technical term is Jumping Onto A Guy) but misses. Manik has him hanging from his head in a Styles Clash position, then lifts him into a fireman’s carry, then he kinda drops down and drops Dutt at the same time and raises his leg to hit Dutt ostensibly in the face. Botch or just really dumb move? You decide! Manik hits the double knees to the chest for the three count.
I should mention that Dutt’s finisher, which I don’t know the name of, is actually really cool. He jumps off the top rope, somersaults in the air, and lands feet-first on his opponent’s chest. It’s really dangerous, looks like it’s agonizing on both men, and really fits the X-Division idea of “no limits.” It’s actually what I like to use for my created wrestlers, were it not for the fact that (a) the WWE’13 engine hates Created Finishers so they do less damage and don’t target enemies correctly and (b) I sold my consoles and joined the Glorious PC Gaming Master Race, hence why I’m so excited about Amnesia.
Backstage Aces and Eights are talking, and Anderson is trying to psych them up, but he seems more nervous than they do. I hope the beers everybody on this show drinks are just water, which would explain why they’re always open.
Oh boy, a new Splinter Cell game! I seem to remember Sam Fisher’s daughter being murdered offscreen in one game and then being kidnapped in the next, so I don’t play Splinter Cell anymore, save for the first one, on PC. I don’t have fond memories of the console version, but hey, it was five bucks.
We see Hernandez enter, then more commercials. When we return, Main Event Mafia (still minus Kurt Angle) is plotting their schemes backstage. They still don’t have a fifth man. You’d think they could have negotiated something earlier, since they had a whole week to do it. It’s not like WWE, where they’re doing a show almost every day but only two are taped; they had plenty of free time.
The third match of the night is the Street Fight for 20 points in the Bound for Glory series featuring “SuperMex” Hernandez, “Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels, Jay Bradley, and Joseph Park (w/ “Showtime” Eric Young).
So, Joseph Park. If you don’t know, TNA has a wrestler named Abyss who’s essentially Mankind plus Kane, only Mick Foley is likeable and Kane is intimidating (at least, when he’s masked). I don’t really know how good of a wrestler Abyss is, because he hasn’t wrestled in months. No, no, no. Now we get Abyss’ brother, Joseph Park (it’s the same actor), the lawyer who helped uncover the identity of the VP of Aces and Eights, D-Lo Brown (who was let go recently, so who cares?). His character is a bumbling buffoon in a track suit who insists on wrestling in matches and frequently winning against people I like, mostly Bad Influence. His thing is that when he sees his own blood, he freaks out and uses Abyss’ finisher, the Black Hole Slam, to win matches. Let’s get this straight: his character is not a wrestler. Yet he is in the Bound for Glory series, since he won a qualifying match against Crimson, and I’ve lost interest in this sentence so let’s get back to the match.
So right away, there are two jobbers in this match, and that’s just lazy, at least spread the jobbers out. Jay Bradley is a newcomer and his finisher is a clothesline called the Boomstick, so yeah, he has the same chance of winning as I do. Random “street”-based objects have been thrown around the ring like stop signs, garbage cans, and traffic cones. Oh, and kendo sticks. What, you’ve never seen a kendo stick on the side of the road? Come to Jersey, the place is lousy with kendo sticks, I can hardly walk to my car without tripping on three of the damn things.
The jobbers lock up and Hernandez goes after Daniels, which I would love to see in a singles match because I like both of them. Bradley takes Park down and goes after Hernandez, letting Daniels rest up, before Hernandez clotheslines him to the outside. Daniels goes for a schoolboy and then a small package, neither succeed, but that’s the kind of smart wrestling I like. Wouldn’t you go for pins whenever possible? Hern picks Daniels up and goes for a backbreaker across the shoulder. Bradley hits Hernandez with a chair then wraps it around his neck, before jabbing it into his skull. He goes to whip SuperMex into the far corner, but the big man reverses it and sends him into Park’s elbow.
Park is getting real offense in, because he’s actually Abyss and TNA hates me. At least it’s better than Vince McMahon nearly beating CM Punk in a street fight (yes, that happened). Roode and Kaz come out to the ring, making me question why they weren’t there to begin with. They hang back because there need to be more commercials, but seriously, why? There are no rules and no penalties for interference. when we return Daniels is about to hit (or perhaps just done done hitting) Hernandez with a stick, but Hernandez kicks him and takes the stick because Daniels can’t catch a break in this company despite having led it to its best match (something like eight years ago, but still).
Daniels hits a back body drop on the steel ramp. Roode and Kaz are watching Park and Bradley in the ring, perhaps to prevent any pins that might cost Daniels, perhaps because they’re idiots, maybe they’re totally unconcerned for Daniels’ safety when he’s fighting a man twice his size. Park puts Bradley in a Boston crab, but breaks it when Kaz and Daniels distract him by just sort of looking in his general direction. They start to beat up Park, but then Young starts attacking them until they beat him up (Eric Young has been at ringside this whole time, I had forgotten too). Bradley forces Daniels into the corner and hits a low blow and a chair across the back. Daniels gets hit with a sidewalk slam on the chair by Bradley, who goes for the Boomstick, but Roode and Kaz pull him out of the ring. Hernandez hits Air Mexico (a unique move, in that it’s a suicide dive to the inside of the ring) and starts to beat up Daniels. Hernandez is about to go for the Border Toss (a crucifix powerbomb, much like the Celtic Cross that Sheamus used when he was a heel)(and entertaining), but Daniels holds on to the ropes and gets out of it. While Hernandez’s back is turned, Austin Aries jumps in and throws him outside. Aries high-fives Roode and Kaz and makes like he’ll side with them, then hits Daniels with the Brainbuster before bailing out and drawing Roode and Kaz away from the ring. The crowd starts to chant for Daniel Bryan, who you’ll note doesn’t work here. Bradley hits Park with brass knuckles, but then Park sees his own blood and flips out, clearing the ring and hitting the Black Hole Slam on Bradley for the three count and 20 BFG series points. Thank goodness, I might have actually been invested in Bad Influence’s rising fortunes. Close call.
Backstage, MEM is still whining. Magnus and Joe say they’ll be fine with just the four of them, which would be true if Sting weren’t in his 50s. We get a recap of Brooke and Bully’s relationship. It might have been dumb, sure, but it made sense: Bully seduced Brooke knowing the Hulk Hogan is a nepotistic dick who would give his son-in-law anything he wanted (a lot like how Triple H teamed up with the McMahons), and he managed to convince both Brooke and Sting that his intentions were pure. Sting eventually convinced Hogan of the same, and then Bully revealed that this had all been part of his Machiavellian scheme to get the title from Jeff Hardy. Also, Sting vouched for Tito Ortiz’ integrity last week. The lesson we learned here? Sting is a terrible judge of character.
Bully and Ortiz come to the ring, minus the rest of A&8. You know, Bully might not be a great wrestler, but he can piss off a crowd, even one as down on Quaalude as this one apparently is. He doesn’t say he’s a two-time champion because he doesn’t even recognize Sabin’s brief reign. Ortiz brags that he’ll beat Rampage again at their fight on December 4th. Bully calls Brooke to the ring, but she doesn’t show up right away. Just then! It’s Brooke Tessmacher, who apparently wasn’t laid off due to cost-cutting measures, and she’s Bully’s love of his life. I’m really not sure what this signifies. Brooke removes Bully’s wedding ring with her mouth, and Bully declares that with “the hot” Brooke, Tito Ortiz, and Tazz, he’s unstoppable. So inevitably, we’re leading up to the A&8 turning on Bully because he has done basically nothing for them lately, or really ever, and thinks his strength lies in Tito Ortiz, a female wrestler who used to be Eric Bischoff’s secretary/prostitute, and a commentator who’s less coherent than I am in the midst of a fever dream half the time.
Oh wow! On September 6th,Impact will be live from Newark, Delaware, that’s where I was born! Don’t tell anyone though: it’s my deep dark secret that I’m not actually from New Jersey.
Fourth match-up is Gail Kim against ODB. I won’t say for sure that Gail Kim is the perfect woman, but she comes close. ODB uses her size and strength edge early. Gail with a move that Tazz calls an armbar, and I may not know what it’s called but it’s definitely not an armbar. Gail starts to work the arm with a chickenwing and sort of hitting her groin into it, which I don’t think hurts very much. Gail hits a very lazy…I don’t know, headbuster?, and goes back to the hammerlock. Amusingly, after ODB breaks the hold, she keeps her arm in the hammerlock position for a few seconds, you’d think she’d want to stretch it out. ODB hits a low blow (and she’s the babyface!), follows up with clotheslines, elbow strikes, and ramming Gail’s head into the turnbuckle and then jumps on her from the top rope. Gail goes to the top rope, but ODB stops her and superplexes her (!). Gail uses a crucifix roll-up for the pin. Not a great match, but passable, as ODB sold her arm throughout, and hit a really good superplex.
Lengthy vignette of Jeff Hardy talking about winning the world title. Hey Jeff, remember that time you got high and/or drunk out of your mind, got online, and trash-talked the infinitely more talented CM Punk? Or that time you totally screwed up a pay-per-view main event by showing up late and tripping balls? Or how you still can’t do a headscissors takedown? Never change, Jeff.
And this is it, our main event, Aces and Eights (Mr. Anderson, Devon, Knux, Wes Briscoe, and Garrett Bischoff) v. The Main Event Mafia (Sting, Magnus, Samoa Joe, and Rampage Jackson), Loser Leaves TNA. Is it a Hardcore Rules match? No, but that’s probably for the best (despite this show being Hardcore Justice and all). I hate matches like this because they tend to devolve into big confusing brawls. Anderson grabs a mic (but it’s just a normal mic and doesn’t appear from nowhere after Anderson’s fashion) first and calls Bully to ringside to watch the match, so Bully, Brooke, and Ortiz stay up on the ramp instead of actually coming to the ring. The lights go out, and AJ Styles comes out, at first to his new brooding music, then his old “Get Ready to Fly” music and he jumps the ring to join the Mafia! Immediately the big confusing brawl starts.
When it clears up a bit AJ and Wes are in the ring. AJ hits a great dropkick on Briscoe, then Magnus gets in, he doesn’t tag or anything, he just shows up, and hits a few suplexes before tagging Joe. Joe pounds on Briscoe in the Mafia’s corner before hitting an enzuigiri, and it must be said that it’s still really damn impressive when a man the size of Samoa Joe does an enzuigiri. Joe goes for the pin, but not even Wes Briscoe will be pinned by an enzuigiri. Wes tags in Bischoff, who is immediately taken down by Joe, who tags AJ back in.
It must be said that Samoa Joe, an excellent mat wrestler who also possesses incredible agility by the standards of men 50 pounds lighter than he is, is totally wasted in a match like this where he can’t work.
Bisch gets hit with a backbreaker. Once again, all the A&8 are wearing leather cuts and shirts underneath, which doesn’t seem fair. It’s not like it’s chainmail or anything, but those do absorb a fair amount of impact compared to the nothing that AJ, Joe, and Magnus are sporting. Bisch forces Magnus into the Aces’ corner and tags in Knux, but Knux is in control for maybe 10 seconds before Magnus forces him away, but then Knux hits a shoulder block and a back drop before tagging Devon. Devon, as per Devo, does nothing of interest and tags Bisch back in.
You may be wondering Garrett Bischoff is a good wrestler. Well, he isn’t. Bisch hits a flapjack and tags in Wes. Wes whips Bisch into Magnus, who whips Magnus into a clothesline from Wes. It’s all very exciting, I assure you. Joe breaks the pin, but was there any danger of Magnus satying down for three after a clothesline? Wes tags Anderson, Magnus catches Anderson in midair, but Anderson rakes the eyes and tags in Devon, who finally does a move (leg drop) and taunts like Hulk. Devon does a kind of spinning shoulder block to Magnus, or possibly just hurfs at him, then spineroonis up for reasons I cannot know.
Knux tags in, slams Magnus, and does a leg drop off the top rope, goes for three pins in a row. He tries to suplex Magnus, but Magnus counters with a DDT. Magnus tags in Sting, who dropkicks Knux, hits the Stinger Splash twice and goes for the Scorpion Deathlock, but then the big confusing brawl starts again. Rampage gets back in the ring first and fights off the successive A&8 members with no-skill fake punches and elbows before Knux hits him from behind. Sting puts Knux in the Scorpion Deathlock, but Devon hits a low blow on Sting and drags Knux onto Sting, but the ref wasn’t in the ring and Sting kicks out once he gets back in. Devon body slams Sting and goes to the top rope for a flying headbutt, but Sting rolls away. Sting tags in AJ who unloads on everyone, and goes to hit a combo on Devon, which usually ends with AJ’s flying clothesline, but Devon falls down right before AJ can hit it, looking rather silly. AJ hits an enzuigiri and almost gets three on Devon, but again, no one gets pinned following an enzuigiri. Anderson and Bisch jump the ring and the brawl starts again. AJ goes for the Styles Clash, but Anderson interferes, so AJ hits the Pele Kick, Devon hits a Spear on AJ, but then AJ hits the Styles Clash and pins Devon, and therefore Devon is fired!
Bully and company look all shocked, and I’ll admit I was wrong. I had assumed Rampage was going to go, because it is clear from his performance tonight, in that there was no performance, that the company does not have enough faith in him to put him in the ring for more than a minute. And yet, here he is in the main event. Still, Magnus, Joe, and AJ were in this match a decent amount of the time, not that they got to do anything all that impressive. And that’s why I hate these big clusterbrawl matches, we don’t get to see wrestlers, you know, wrestling. Which, last time I checked, was what I was tuning in to see, and is what I will probably fail to get for as long as the damn A&8 plot continues, and it’s been going strong (well, it’s been going anyway) for something like, what, eight months now?
So speaking of big faction-on-faction wars, you might recall, if you know much about WCW, that the whole New World Order thing is part of what brought that company to its knees. Something similar is happening here: Hulk Hogan, who has a great deal of influence backstage, is apparently the one who insisted that Impact tour around the country instead of filming exclusively in Orlando. The expense of travel, renting arenas, and live filming are all taking their toll on the company financially, and according to the rumor mill, even those wrestlers who haven’t been let go (Joey Ryan, Crimson, Madison Rayne, Matt Morgan, and Christian York) have been getting their paychecks late. TNA even seems to be on the verge of letting AJ Styles’ contract expire, and he’s been with them since their first televised broadcast. We’re getting big matches and angles built around Sting and Bubba Ray Dudley, who while they’re both holding up remarkably well considering the death machine that it pro wrestling, are still many years past their prime. Even guys I’ve been heaping praise on, like Daniels, Styles, and Joe, are no spring chickens. The cost of filming is such that the show tapes two episodes at each arena, which is why Kurt Angle was shown on Impact and then a week later, we heard he entered rehab two weeks ago. It’s why the crowd tends to get dead after a while, because they’re sitting through over three hours straight of wrestling, and the wrestling hasn’t been very good lately. It’s entirely possible we’ll see people jumping ship, maybe to WWE, maybe to NJPW, who knows.
Here’s what I do know: I would pay damn good money to see CM Punk face AJ Styles at Wrestlemania.
Quote of the Night: Mike Tenay, as Devon does a Degeneration X crotch chop at AJ, “Devon drops the iPod!” Oh, Tenay. Shine on, you crazy diamond.