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Another Thursday, another episode of Impact Wrestling passes us by, and tonight had all the makings of an excellent outing for the second largest wrestling organisation. Both the X-Division Championship and the World Tag Team Championships would be defended, there would be a tag team tables match featuring Bully Ray and Sting against members of Aces & Eights, and hopefully we will be treated to some explanations as to why Garrett Bischoff and Wes Brisco turned on their mentor Kurt Angle to join the nefarious biker gang.

Once again, the Impact Zone was emanating from Manchester in the United Kingdom, so expect some raucous crowd interaction and a great deal of low-key racism from the heel superstars tonight. The UK love it when either TNA or WWE come to their neck of the woods, and they will certainly try and make the most of the extended stay of the Impact wrestlers on their shores. So tonight features championships, rivalries, hardcore rules, vengeance and a fantastic crowd. What could possibly go wrong?

The New Recruits Had Their Reasons

As the show commences, the Aces & Eights theme music blares out of the speakers, and we see Devon come out alongside Mike Knox, Doc, Mr. Anderson, the newest recruits Wes Brisco and Garrett Bischoff, and one guy that still hasn’t been unmasked who looks a little out of place. Devon immediately begins shouting about the dominance of the group at the start of this year, and how it will almost certainly continue throughout 2013. He tells Anderson that with the cage match with Angle that they always had a plan, and announces the newest members of the Aces & Eights, Bischoff and Brisco.

Bischoff takes the microphone, which is usually a danger sign, but his promo explaining his anger at the disrespect shown to him from the audience is short and sweet, with very little opportunity to go wrong. He then passes the mic to his partner in crime Brisco, who immediately is pummelled by crowd chants of “Who are you?” Brisco immediately cites his reason for joining the group is the disrespect shown to him by Hulk Hogan, who made him jump through so many hoops to earn an Impact Wrestling contract despite his obvious wrestling heritage. Brisco points out that one of Hogan’s mentors was his father Gerald Brisco, and so the general manager should have welcomed him with open arms and immediately pushed him to the moon. However, the name isn’t always enough, as Brisco’s release from FCW in 2011 illustrates.

Devon finally concludes that Angle should think twice about returning to the Impact Zone again, which suggests that he won’t be on tonight’s recording. Also, despite Hogan trying to spring the surprise of the tables match on them, he should by now have realised that the Aces & Eights always have an ace up their sleeves (I see what he did there, very clever). So expect some attempted interference for tonight’s main event, but perhaps its about time that the group looked a bit vulnerable after a number of weeks of looking unstoppable.

Three-Way X-Division Action

The first match of the night looks to have the potential to steal the show, as Rob Van Dam defends his X-Division Championship against two young, hungry and cocky wrestlers, Kenny King and Zema Ion. The crowd are very much behind the champ this evening, but the odds are against him with the vicious and opportunistic challengers. As soon as the match began and we saw both King and Ion acrobatically fly over the top rope onto the floor, you new this was going to be a high octane match. It didn’t disappoint.

RVD pulled out his signature moves and kicks, but in truth spent most of this match outside the ring. One thing to be said for him is that he sells a DDT better than any wrestler on the planet. King as well was impressive, with his arrogant character shining through with every move he connected with. But, if you learnt anything from this match, it is that Zema Ion is freaking amazing. His move-set is entirely unique, is always at a rapid pace and is finished with a panache that many other superstars lack. His selling of moves is also similar to that of Dolph Ziggler, as his reaction to King’s shotgun dropkick displayed – he was flung nearly halfway across the ring.

The end of the match was a little bit befuddled, with Ion and King battling in the ring, King connected with a Northern Lights suplex and bridged into the pin, and RVD was a little late to get to the top rope. While his splash was able to break up the pin, his fall was not as graceful as his usual Five-Star special. After breaking the pin, the champion was able to pick up the scraps and retain his championship. From this match the future of the X-Division looks bright, but for now having an established and popular star like RVD hold the belt can continue to benefit the developing superstars and continue the popularity of the division as a whole.

Video And Backstage Filler

After that match, we are treated to a video reminder of the trials and tribulations of TNA’s British Boot Camp, where TNA scoured the UK in order to find some of their best raw talent. The montage shows how they were introduced to legends such as Sting, Angle and Hogan, and how their TNA try-out matches went. Dixie Carter eventually chose a wrestler known as Rockstar Spud to join the company, and he will be making his debut later tonight. Something for a home crowd to get excited about (unless of course he’s Scouse).

Also, we get to see a short backstage snippet of Bruce Prichard and D’Lo Brown discussing the shock of the betrayal displayed by Bischoff and Brisco, and how that in part they can only have themselves to blame for putting Brisco through in the Gut Check. Maybe, whilst they were at it, they could apologise for taking up ten minutes of TV time to state whether somebody has won a contract or not, rather than the thirty seconds it could take.

Mr Pec-tacular Gets Caught In The Eye Of The Storm

We return to our viewing spectacle to see Tara’s boy-toy Jesse talking about how good his body is and the fact that he is a Hollywood superstar – you know, the usual boring rigmorale whilst the audience at home wonder why they flicked onto the programme at this point. Then, his ego-trip was interrupted by “The Cowboy” James Storm, who is displaying how far it is possible for a former World Champion to fall and lose relevance when he is reduced to belittling somebody who has absolutely zero chance of any success in the company.

Of course this leads to a match, and despite an early flurry of offense by Jesse, who displays during the match his powers of punching, using the ropes to choke his opponent and no-sell a Russian Leg Sweep, the match almost immediately becomes a chance for Storm to hit all his biggest and most effective moves on a wrestler that has the prowess of a dummy. The inevitable victory for Storm with the Last Call Superkick precedes a beer-drinking celebration and a little bit more humiliation for his fallen “adversary”. A little bit of filler to keep Storm winning and keep the live crowd happy.

Tag Team Championship Match

This is a match I am very excited about, as the champions Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez defend their belts against the odd couple of Robert Roode and Austin Aries. Roode and Aries, depite butting heads over the issues of who is the better wrestler, have joined forces over the last couple of weeks with the outspoken goal of winning every single championship, beginning with the tag team titles.

The match is of a good quality, with the apparent tension between Roode and Aries evident from the outset, with both looking to avoid conflict with the opponents and display their own talents at the same time. Early moments include Guerrero and Hernandez connecting with a double suplex on Roode and Aries, which was both quite simple and unique, and Aries missing a suicide dive and hitting Roode into the barricade. It was clear that the champions were the more cohesive unit, but as the match wore on the wrestling ability of the two former world champions put a great deal of pressure onto Guerrero.

However, the petty rivalry between the two looked to get in the way, especially when Roode hilariously tagged himself in by lightly slapping Aries in the face. But after a long beatdown, Guerrero was able to get the tag to the powerful Super-Mex, who began to show that power against both Aries and Roode, who continued to show their selfish nature by pushing each other in the way of the opponents aggression. Towards the match’s conclusion it seemed that Roode had had enough, and left up the ramp. But whilst Aries was left at the mercy of the champions, he returned to ringside to distract the referee as Aries performed a low-blow on Hernadez. The warring partners then performed some stellar teamwork to down Guerrero, Aries connecting with the 450 splash and winning the match.

For the first time on my TNA Reviews, a championship changes hands as Roode and Aries carry out their promise of taking the first step in winning all championships in the company, and in the process Roode becomes a tag-team champion for the seventh time in TNA and Aries becomes only the fifth TNA Triple Crown Champion.

Following this is a promo regarding the fall and disappearance of AJ Styles since he walked out of the Impact Zone following his loss to Christopher Daniels. Personally, I feel he could be the embittered superstar that the Aces & Eights could need to become the genuine force in the company. Hopefully, in whatever form, the Phenomenal One will be back wrestling soon, as very few are better than AJ Styles.

Tara – Jesse = Defeat

Per an instruction by Brooke Hogan earlier in the night, Tara would have to wrestle the booty-shaking Brooke Tesmacher one-on-one without her beau Jesse at ringside supporting her. Tara takes an age walking to the ring, with a face of despair, as if she was sure she had left her purse unatttended backstage. Her opening aggression appears indicative of her frustration of not having her superstar boyfriend at her side, and throughout the contest she appears distracted, which allows Brooke to constantly take advantage.

Brooke’s wrestling ability has come a long way since her time as part of Extreme Expose in WWE/ECW, but she still has a while to go to match the ability of Tara, whose power and ability were evidenced constantly throughout the contest, as she seemed more intent on punishing her opponent than winning. Despite her strength and dominance during most of the contest, her distraction over having no Jesse there ended up getting the better of her, as Brooke was able to take advantage and get the pin on the champion, which possibly confuses the picture in the Knockout Title picture, with both Brooke and Velvet Sky having valid claims for the championship. One thing for certain is that it has been a horrible British vacation so far for the current champion.

Please Welcome To The Stage, Rockstar Spud

The newest member of the TNA roster, Rockstar Spud, makes his way out to the ring for the first time as a contracted superstar. He gets a very warm reception from his hometown crowd, and shows his apparent delight at being hired by the company. Unfortunately, I don’t feel his look, gimmick and nationality are truly effective for a face superstar, so expect him to turn heel very soon and pursue the X-Division Championship as a goal.

His introduction does not go as smoothly as he planned though, as Robbie E and Robbie T come out to confront this new wrestler, and “E” berates Spud for being a midget and a joke, and whilst Spud looks more than ready to fight the Jersey Boy, his bodyguard “T” stepped in to prevent any violence from occurring. That was until he dropped the List he carries everywhere, which allowed Spud to get a shot on that bright orange face. It appears that this is a beginning of a break-up between the two “Bros” which has been teased for quite a few weeks now. When will it happen? And does anybody give a damn? Who knows.

MAIN EVENT – Tables And War-Paint, OH MY!

The main event now arrives, as Aces & Eights send out the team of Devon and Doc to battle against Sting and Bully Ray, who looks once again like Sting’s little mascot wearing some of Sting’s trademark war-paint. It reminds me of when Abyss was acting like Hulk Hogan, and does not truly fit the vindictive former character of the Bully. The early moments of the match were dominated by Sting and Bully, who hit many high-impact moves on the Aces & Eights pair, including Bully hitting a Stinger Splash on Devon, which he seemed to almost screw up by nearly flying over the top rope in the process.

Returning from the final ad-break, the teams had split into separate singles matches, with Doc and Devon getting a certain degree of control over their opponents, before once again they are taken down, with Bully hitting Devon’s signature headbutt to the groin on his former partner. This brings the crowd to its feet chanting for the tables to be introduced, and Bully happily obliges. But this allows the gang members to regain composure and take a few heavy shots on their long-term adversaries.

The match had a few high moments, including the over fifty-year old Sting connecting with a top-rope superplex, but that didn’t go through the table due to interference from Mike Knox. However, this added threat was soon dealt with by Sting, and this left the former 3D teammates in the ring, and while Devon continued to work on Bully, the next step in his fan-boy phase happened, as he began to “Hulk-Up”. Bully took every shot as if they were nothing, and after hitting a big boot proceeded to chokeslam Devon through the table and take the victory. A good match, but I would’ve preferred Bully to add a bit of his own character into his Hogan imitation, such as the use of the Bionic Elbow for example.

Thanks For Reading

But that is the end of Impact Wrestling for this week, with Bully, Sting, and the Hogan pair standing victorious and happy in the ring. One can only imagine what Aces & Eights will plan to do in retaliation, but it seems that they need somebody who can win a match either on their own or at least with only one person interfering on their behalf. Perhaps Bischoff and Brisco will return next week ready for a fight, and maybe Kurt Angle will be around to respond. Also, the sooner the show returns to the USA, the sooner World Champion Jeff Hardy can return to action, after he was pulled from the tour due to injury and former legal issues preventing his travel. Also, with new tag-team champions, what will be in the future of both the new champs and the former holders? Be sure to return here next week to find out all you need to know about the matches, and be sure to check out the program yourself (they could do with more viewers).

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This article was first posted on February 8, 2013