TV REPORTS KELLER'S TNA IMPACT LIVE REPORT 1/4: Jeff Hardy, NWO reunion, Hulk Hogan, TNA Knockout Title match, more surprises - ongoing coverage
Jan 4, 2010 - 10:05:59 PM
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KELLER'S TNA IMPACT REPORT
MONDAY, JAN. 4, 2010
ORLANDO, FLA. AT THE IMPACT ZONE
LIVE ON SPIKE TV
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-Here we go! Before the show, during a UFC TV show, they had commercial break cutaways showing Scott Hall & "X-Pac" Sean Waltman at the Impact Zone, and then later Shannon Moore & Jeff Hardy getting out of sports car. Taz exclaimed, "That's Jeff Hardy!"
-The show opened with a video package on the history of TNA including Ken Shamrock winning the first NWA (TNA) World Hvt. Title. Then they went to Sting arriving. Plus, Mick Foley, Kevin Nash, and Kurt Angle (vs. Samoa Joe). The James Earl Jones sound-alike said, "Tonight a new era begins!" Then they showed Hulk Hogan. "What was once unimaginable is now inevitable," said voiceover guy. Then Hogan talked about his arrival in TNA in brief soundbites. "Time for a Change" is the title of the show. The regular Impact opening aired. Raven is now part of it.
-The pryo blasted inside the Impact Zone as Mike Tenay introduced the show. He said, "Tonight Hulk Hogan makes his historic TNA debut." Taz said, "Whatcha donna do when TNA and Hulk Hogan run wild on you." Tenay called it the biggest night in TNA history. Indeed. Taz said the TNA we know now will be never be the same by the end of the night. Tenay then ran down the scheduled matches: The X Division (talked about as a singular) in the Steel Asylyum, ODB challenging Tara for the Knockout Title, Rhino vs. Abyss in a barbed wire match, and Beer Money vs. British Money in Full Metal Mayhem.
Taz said they have a new broadcast team member. Tenay called him one of the biggest names in satellite radio - Bubba the Love Sponge. They went to Bubba interviewing fans outside the Impact Zone. A fan said he doesn't want to see kiddie crap, but wrestling. Another said, "Vince McMahon, you have no idea what's coming at you, brother." A young fan shouted, "WWE sucks. TNA!" A woman said she's not a five year old, she likes to see the guys get down and dirty, "chairs on the head, all that good stuff." Bubba interviewed a fan dressed up as Hulk Hogan. Another fan said Vince McMahon "has no idea what he's up against." Sounds a lot like the other fan, tipping the hand that maybe fans were fed that line. Either way, it's an overt shot at WWE.
1 -- X DIVISION EIGHT-MAN BATTLE IN THE STEEL ASYLUM
Tenay called the X Division a "natural extension of the cruiserweights." He said it's more about a mindset than a weight division. I remember Jerry Jarrett trying to explain that to me back when TNA launched, and it's was vague then and vague now, but that's about as close as you can get to pegging it. Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Kiyoshi, Homicide, "Black Machismo" Jay Lethal, Consequences Creed, Suicide, and Amazing Red. Tenay said Mick Foley was denied access to the Impact Zone earlier. (Obviously an angle, just in case anyone is confused.) This match began nine minutes into the show. The crowd chanted, "Let's go, bitches! Let's go, bitches!" At least I think that's what they were chanting. Homicide used an extendible baton as a weapon, but then turned on Kiyoshi. The ref called for the bell. Bad start to have a lame DQ finish in the TV opener. The crowd chanted, "This is bullsh--! This is bullsh--!" Well, there's some feedback for TNA if they were looking for it. They had to silence the "sh--" part of the chant over and over. Clumsy and embarrassing. Homicide tried to climb out after hitting everyone else with his batton. The other wrestlers climbed after him. This turned into quite the clustermess.
WINNER: No contest in 4:00.
-At that point, Jeff Hardy's music played. His own music that he made himself. He walked through the crowd, giving chills to TNA fans everywhere. He stood among the fans, then climbed over the barrier. Tenay said, "It was a night we promised you shocks, surprises." Homicide attacked Hardy at ringside. Hardy fought back and rammed Homicide into the cage. Hardy swung a chair and hit Homicide flush in the face with it. Hardy climbed the cage and sat on top. That song, by the way, was originally mass produced as an extra on the Ultimate Insiders DVD that I hosted five years ago when I interviewed both Matt and Jeff Hardy after they left WWE. Big early statement by TNA. They don't need any other big surprises. That fulfills their quota as Hardy was among the top two babyfaces in this industry the last couple years along with Cena. [c]
-After the first break, they showed a replay of Hardy arriving. Tenay said they're awaiting Hogan's arrival, too. They cut backstage to Hardy shaking hands with Shannon Moore. Then to ringside with Tenay and Taz. Taz said they're on the cusp of witnessing history. It seems they're building up Hogan's arrival for the top of the hour. They showed a motorcade with police escorts and a white stretch limo heading toward the Impact Zone. I get the build up for his arrival, but isn't he a little late to the party that he's been hyping forever.
-They went to Christy Hemme rubbing Kevin Nash's chest before interviewing him. Nash said his demeanor is a little different than it has been the last few weeks. He said it's an epic night for TNA. He said it's also a great night for Hulk Hogan. He said he's personally looking forward to seeing an old friend. He said he's had the rep for being the smartest guy in the industry because it's true. He said Einstein had to learn from somebody. He said he learned a lot from Hogan. He said whichever company Hogan has worked for has become number one. He said now that he's in TNA, they're on the way to number one. He said he's on his way to making more money than he ever has in his life. He said he has a lot of reasons to be excited. He was about to talk away, but jumped back into the picture and said he just talked to Hogan on the phone and he's on his way "and he's not alone." Good teaser. Does that mean Brutus Beefcake? The Nasty Boys? Hall & X-Pac? Eric Bischoff?
Tenay plugged that fans can ask questions by email and Twitter tonight at http://www.mycontent.com/tna. Tenay plugged there'd be more TNA Knockout action, plus again plugged Hogan's pending arrival. The crowd was decked out, by the way, in yellow Hulk Hogan shirts. Tenay plugged Dixie Carter's Twitter account. It diminished the value of the TNA Knockouts Title to have Tenay talking about anything but this match, not to mention it was another ridiculously short title match, with ODB winning at 2:00. You can't sell a title as important or its matches as an attraction worth paying for (or just staying tuned for) if the epitome of the champion and top challenge battle for two whole minutes and the announcers talk about everything but the match most of that two minutes. A lot of the same mistakes being made that seems smart at the time (we gotta plug what's next!!!), but with a long-term cost of deflating the value of the actual product they're ultimately trying to convince people is important enough to watch and buy. There was a small production glitch as they cut to a wide shot of the Asylum with an empty cage over the ring, presumably from before the X Division match started.
WINNER: ODB in 2:00 to capture the TNA Knockouts Title.
-Tara attacked ODB afterward, then took out her tarantula. She has to be so careful with it because if she drops it, it could easily die. Those types of spiders are extreme fragile.
-A white limo pulled up outside the Impact Zone. Out walked Ric Flair. "What? You gotta be kidding me!" Tenay exclaimed. He shook hands with a lot of people lined up outside, mostly anonymous workers getting some face time, but also Eric Young, Beer Money, and a referee. Taz said, "We knew there'd be surprises, but this is huge!" As he walked into the building, they cut to a break. It is almost too bad this isn't the first of a weekly Monday night schedule for Impact rather than a one-off, because it'll be tough to ever top Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy, and whatever else is coming up (X-Pac, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff) with a true Monday night timeslot debut.
-They went back outside to fans chanting for Hogan. The chant turned to "Foley, Foley." Christy Hemme ran up to him and asked what he was doing there. She asked what he was doing. He said he was going to work. She asked if he got the memo. He said he did get the memo that said he wasn't welcome because he was considered a potential disruption. He said he had a message to Dixie Carter and everyone else. He said he wouldn't be a distraction because he gets that Hogan arriving is historical. He then walked up to the gate. Security officers apologized, but said they're job is to turn him away. He turned to the fans and said, "They're not letting me in!" Looks almost too much like Chris Jericho picketing Raw last week.
-Bobby Lashley walked out with his wife, Krystal. Good to get him on the show, too, if not for his WrestleMania exposure in WWE but for what he might become in the future in MMA. Tenay touted his two-sport-star stature. The crowd chanted "Bobby! Bobby!" Tenay and Taz said Krystal is outspoken. She said her husband has a message for Hulk Hogan. She said nobody in pro wrestling or MMA can match is athleticism or strength. She said unlike MMA, pro wrestling is full of "inbred, toothless degenerates, people who act like animals." She said Lashley is honorable and strong. She told the booing fans to "shut up." She said that's why Lashley is asking for his immediate release. Tenay and Taz reacted with shock.
-They went backstage to Velvet Sky who walked into a back room where Lacey Von Erich and Madison Rayne were playing poker. Sky said because it's all about the ratings and such a big night, they wanted to contribute. She said because poker shows are so popular, they're going to make their own without "a net." Lacey asked, "Who's Annette?" She's doing the old Maria gimmick. Sky had to explain the rules to them. Rayne and Von Erich acted totally ditzy when it came to adding up the cards. Sky said they have no chips, they'll have to play with their clothes. There's an old trick that bombed in the ratings last time it was tried in the Monday Night War, if I remember right. [c]
-During the commercial, they showed the motorcade for Hogan and the police escort.
-An add also aired for TNA Epics, a new TV show debuting Jan. 14 at 11 p.m. ET. It's basically a takeoff on UFC's "best of" series on Spike TV. The first show will feature Kurt Angle.
-They cut backstage to Scott Hall and "X-Pac" Sean Waltman. Hall said, "Time to party, old school style." Security told them they couldn't enter. Hall and Pac threw them against the doors. Other security intervened. They cut to Taz and Tenay who said Hardy and Flair were invited, X-Pac and Hall "no so much." Tenay announced that TNA is the no. 1 trending topic on Twitter right now. They cut away to the motorcade again. Tenay said they're just a few blocks away. They cut to another break, stacking them now before the top of the hour when Raw begins and they presumably lose a huge percentage of viewers. With Flair, Hogan, Hardy, Hall, and X-Pac, they just might convince people to at least keep checking back. It'll be interesting how different Raw is paced tonight with this type of competition on Spike TV. Will WWE sit back and not react or come across with a much greatest sense of urgency and energy than the last month of Raws? [c]
[Note: I've corrected the Facebook link for the PWTorch Livecast radio show we just started last week, and is scheduled every day this week at 5 p.m. ET tomorrow and 5:30 p.m. ET the rest of the week. The correct link is: PWTORCH LIVECAST ON FACEBOOK]
-They showed the motorcade coming to a stop. A black limo pulled up next to the white one. Someone got out of the black limo and ducked into the white one. Taz stammered and wondered what that was all about. Bischoff's up to no good! Or is it Heyman after all?
-They cut to Hall and X-Pac walking through the crowd, celebrating. Taz said they were crashing the party. He threw a toothpick at the camera as they cut to another break. During the break, they showed Hall taking a picture of himself and Waltman among the fans in the front row. Taz wondered what they were doing there. There's going to be upset fans about this stacking of breaks in this quarter hour, but it should pay off when there's way fewer breaks up against Raw. [c]
-Dave Penzer interviewed Hulk Hogan who walked out at 8:55 p.m. Smart to get him out there in time to address viewers before the start of Raw as they will lose a lot of fans interested in Bret Hart's Raw return. Better to get Hogan absorbing cheers and hopefully getting a word or two in before Raw starts. Tenay said they've been anticipating this for months. Taz and Tenay talked up Hogan's legendary stature. Strange music for him, more a derivative of the old NWO music than his usual upbeat, high-energy anthems.
-Hogan stepped into the ring. They showed his daughter Brooke cheering him on. The camera panned wide to show as many fans as they could from new angles. Hogan, of course, milked the moment as the fans chanted "Hogan, Hogan." Tenay said words can't do that moment or the crowd reaction justice. Taz said they are witness to history and "it's frickin' cool." The crowd then broke into a chant of "TNA, TNA."
"What's up TNA Maniacs?" Hogan asked at 8:59 p.m. "You know guys, TNA and the Maniacs, we are making history tonight, right here in TNA's ring." He said there is so much talent in the back running so hard. He added that there are also old faces in the back getting ready to gear up. He declared that TNA is going to become the no. 1 company in the world. A fan held up a sign that said, "Hogan Owns Vince." Hogan said he's spent all day dealing with talent in the back and hearing everyone's ideas. "This is the dream that I've been praying for," he said. "To feel the power of TNA, to feel the energy out here, there are so many new TNA faces out here and there's a lot of familiar faces out here." X-Pac leaped over the railing. They showed security talking to them as Hogan said, "This company will not be stopped." Hogan called for security to back off and let those guys say what they've got to say. "Bring them in the ring," he said.
[POLL: Our emails indicate a wide array of opinions on this first hour. Grade it in our instant poll right on the main listing at our website. PWTorch iPhone users, please visit us online or our regular website on your phone's browser to vote right now.]
(As Hogan was speaking, Justin Roberts introduced Bret "The Hitman" Hart. There were a lot more fans to show on Raw than in the Impact Zone. This is such a throwback to when Raw was getting its butt handed to them by Nitro led by Hogan, and when Vince bet on Bret at first, before "Stone Cold" Steve Austin took off. Be sure to check out James Caldwell's live report on Raw elsewhere on PWTorch.com and the PWTorch App.)
-So into the ring walked Hall and Waltman. Waltman and Hall did the WolfPac hand gesture to Hogan; Hogan reciprocated. Hall then said, "Hey, yo!" Hogan said, "Guys, you know, I'm all about the party, but if you've got something to say, say it right now." Hall said, "Say hello to the bad guy." He continued: "When me and Pac heard Easy E was here, that Hulk Hogan was gonna be here, and Big Kevin Nash has been here, that means one thing to us - big paychecks, big sold out arenas, and big parties." Hogan told Hall that this is a different time and a different place. "It doesn't work that way anymore, brother," Hogan said. The crowd cheered and chanted, "Hogan! Hogan!"
Waltman said that's why he wrong. He said it's the same place, same people, and "we're here to par-tay." Hall took exception and said he's the biggest name ever and he wants to change the way things are done. Hall said things are changing at TNA, in case he hasn't heard. Hogan interrupted and said, "It's time that we all grow up and we do the right thing for this business, brother." Hall said he grew up watching Hogan and he paved the way, helping him earn millions of dollars. He said things are going to change with him or without him.
Then out walked Nash. As he entered the ring, Tazz said there's a ton of history in that ring. Nash stepped between them. He said, "Hulk's got a role to play tonight; let him play it." Hogan said it's not a role, but instead he went into business with Dixie Carter and made a promise to change the business for the better. Nash seemed skeptical. He paused as fans chanted, "TNA! TNA!" He said he's been talking to him with Hogan for the last five or six weeks and "that's not exactly the conversation we've been having." He asked him, "I'm just curious. When did you turn so corporate?" Hall and X-Pac laughed. Hogan said those guys are his brothers for life, but they need to do this for real because it's a different time. Pac took off his jacket and then out walked another surprise - Eric Bischoff.
Bischoff entered the ring, the next in the parade of a bizarro "This Is Your Life" episode for thirtysomething wrestling fans. Bischoff said, "It's been a while, hasn't it." (Five of my longest, best, most newsworthy multi-hour "Torch Talk" interview subjects were standing in the ring at the same time!) He said: "Hey, it's ben a while, hasn't it. Brings back memories, doesn't it. Let me look around. In this ring right now are the guys that reinvented this business. We took on the 800 pound gorilla and put him in a little monkey cage and we spanked him. And in the process we changed this business forever. Hopefully we're all just a little smarter." He said he put that band together and has a little experience. He said he has the scar tissue to prove it. He said communication is key, and there's been a breakdown. Pac told Bischoff, "Please explain it to us." Bischoff said what Hogan is trying to tell them is that everybody has got to earn their position in this company.
Nash said, "Easy E, hear you loud and clear. Talk to you later." X-Pac, Hall, and Nash stepped out of the ring. Bischoff stood with Hogan. Hogan said, "At TNA, everybody has to earn their spot here. I don't care about the past relationships. I don't care who thinks they're on a roll. The game changes now. Everybody has to earn their spot in this company." Bischoff said the team of Hogan and Bischoff done it before and I'm damn sure we can do it in TNA again." He said there's a lot of talent and heart in the company and they're going to take it to the top. He said things are going to change, whether you're the janitor, champion, or cameraman. He said everybody is going to be under a microscope.
Hogan said change starts now. He said since they arrived they've been shuffling the deck. They showed Dixie Carter watching and applauding from ringside. Bischoff said, "Why don't we start right now?" He asked for the producer and the format sheet. He called for a "format." There was enough of a pause that it seemed improvised. He said, "This is what you thought we were going to do tonight," as he looked into the camera. He said there is nothing wrong with it. "You get an A for effort," and then he ripped it up. "Like the Hulkster said, we're starting over." He handed a new sheet of paper to Christy Hemme and told her to pass it to the director. He said they're turning things upside down starting now.
Hogan said: "If you can't talk and you can't wrestle, pack your bags and head up North because right now we're checking everybody out. By the way, whatcha gonna do when TNA and all these maniacs become number one in the world just for you."
-As Tenay talked about everything that just happened, they panned up to the rafters where Sting sat. There is a danger here they're getting too close to Nitro a dozen years ago, but considering Raw is reliving 1997 also, TNA has more solid ground to stand on. [c]
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3 -- TAYLOR WILDE & SARITA vs. AWESOME KONG & HAMADA -- TNA Knockouts Tag Team Title match
A minute into the match they cut backstage where Jeremy Borash was picking up chairs lying over the fallen bodies of Sabin and Shelley. He said, "We've got a traitor here." After a dive to the floor and a pile of bodies, they cut to a break at 3:00. [c] They showed a clip from during the break of a near fall by Wilde on Kong, then Kong making a comeback. Hamada had Wilde on the defensive back live in the ring. Tenay said this is a night they will never forget. He listed all of the big names appearing on the show including Flair and Hardy. Taz said they might see more surprises. In the end, Hamada finished Sarita with a top rope dropkick as Sarita was suspended on Kong's shoulders. Taz said he thinks everyone is picking up their game with Hogan and Bischoff watching.
WINNERS: Kong & Hamada in 10:00 to capture the tag team titles. It's a shame they didn't have any time to promote the actual wrestling matches on this show ahead of time. Two title changes already. Too bad title changes were rendered much less important thanks to the late-'90s booking frenzy when titles and title changes were devalued. This is more of the same, actually.
-They cut backstage to the strip poker game with the Beautiful People. In walked (The Man Formerly Known As...) Val Venis, which might be one-too-many '90s throwbacks for 90 minutes of a wrestling show. When Lacey was going to say Val's name, he stopped her and said, "Let's not get caught up with old names; let's get caught up in the excitement of competition." Sky complained that Mr. Towel Man just busted in on their game. Val said if they want ratings, time to take their game to a whole new level. He said he just stepped out of the shower, so it appears they have the advantage. "If I lose just one hand, it's all over for me." He asked if they have what it takes. Sky said they do, but does he? Val said, "Ladies, you have no idea." He said it'll be an interesting night. The women giggled. [c]
[POLL RESULTS: Close votes early in our poll, with most giving the first hour an A (35%), but even more giving it an D or an F (38%). Another 19 percent gave it a B and only 9 percent were in the middle with a C. So more thumbs up (54%) than thumbs down (35%), but very mixed early in our poll.]
-Foley tried to talk his way past security. They said they'd lose their jobs. Foley said he could plow past them, but he has another plan. One of the security guys said, "When I see the other security guys, I'll tell them I haven't seen you." Ironically he looked right at the camera as he began to say that. After Foley walked away, the Nasty Boys tried to get into the arena. The security guys told them to enter through the front gate where the names are listed of who's allowed in.
4 -- RAVEN & DR. STEVIE (w/Daffney) vs. HERNANDEZ & MATT MORGAN
As the backdrop to the announcing began (known in previous decades as a "wrestling match"), Tenay said Ric Flair was seen walking into A.J. Styles's locker room earlier and he hasn't left. Wait! TNA has a World Champion? And his name is what? A.J. Styles? Good to know. Morgan finished Stevie with a Carbon Footprint in less than a minute.
WINNER: Morgan & Hernandez in 1:00.
-Christy Hemme interviewed The Pope backstage. She said Hogan has asked him to be in the ring tonight against Desmond Wolfe. He said he's not surprised that Hogan, "the greatest entertainer of all time," wants to see him in the ring. He called himself a "delicious cup of chocolate saving grace." Can the TNA writers not treat women as sexual objects in even a single segment they appear on? It's not that one instance is bad since everyone's in character, but it's just all too much. Orlando Jordan interrupted and told Christy he's a big fan of hers. He asked if they had seen Hulk Hogan. He said Hogan invited him. Pope didn't believe him. Jordan said they go way back. Pope complained that he interrupted his interview time. Jordan told Pope that he reminds him of him. Pope called him a Whoopi Goldberg look-alike. He said if he called him a kid again, he'd pimp slap him. He closed with, "The Pope has spoken." Taz said that was Orlando Jordan. "How cool is this?" he asked.
5 -- DESMOND WOLFE vs. "THE POPE" D'ANGELO EINERO
Taz said Hogan inspired a lot of wrestlers to get into pro wrestling. At 2:00 the crowd chanted loudly: "This is wrestling! This is wrestling!" They hadn't seen much of it yet, nearly two hours after the show began. Pope hit a corner swing elbow drop. Wolfe came right back with a Tower of London attempt. Pope escaped. They struggled for leverage, and Pope finished Wolfe with a small package.
WINNER: Pope in 3:00.
-They cut backstage to Jeff Jarrett arriving at the Impact Zone backstage. He rubbed his hands together. Taz wondered what he was thinking with Hogan arrived officially in TNA. They showed Jarrett again backstage mid-break. [c]
-They showed Tenay and Taz talking at ringside about everything happening. They're likely tracking commercial breaks for Raw and trying to fit in mentions of Flair, Hogan, and Hardy as often as possible when Raw is at a commercial. They went to clips of Hogan's promo earlier. Tenay and Taz reflected on the surprises. Then they showed Jarrett again walking backstage. Tenay said they're told he's on his way to the ring. [c]
-Borash interviewed Styles backstage. Borash said it seemed like just yesterday in 2002 when TNA wrestling launched. He said, "This is one for the books." Styles said he's never felt this kind of excitement. Borash plugged his title defense against (MIA) Kurt Angle. He said he knows he's the World Champion, but he can't hold that title with pride until he beats Angle. He said at Genesis, the world will find out who's the best. Bischoff mock-clapped as he walked into the ring. He said he's heard so much about him. He said it's an honor to meet him. He said he has some good news and bad news. He said the bad news is this whole Styles vs. Angle thing is not going to happen. He said the good news is he is absolutely right that the world does deserve to know who the best wrestler in the world is. He said they're going to find out tonight, since he'll be defending against Angle in the main event. "Get ready, because, kid, you're on!" Styles smiled. Tenay and Taz acted very excited about that news. "It's like a late Christmas gift!" Taz said.
Jeff Jarrett walked out at the start of the second hour. It's brave to put Jarrett out there in such a key segment (right up against DX vs. Big Show & Chris Jericho on Raw). Taz wondered what's going on in his mind with all of these colossal changes happening right in front of everyone's eyes tonight. A chant of "Welcome back!" began. Jarrett smiled and said, "Let me just say this from the very top. It feels great to be home in the Impact Zone." They showed Dixie gulping and fight back tears (or so it seemed) in the background. Jarrett said after wrestling 15 long hard years, he decided to take his savings and found a company called TNA. A loud chant rang out: "Thank you, Jeff! Thank you, Jeff!" He said every critic in the world said they wouldn't last six weeks or six months. He said, "Guess what? I'm standing in the middle of the six-sided ring on Monday night, the greatest night in company history. And I am damn proud to be here." He said he tried to convince Hogan for years to be part of TNA, but the timing just wasn't right. He said now the timing is right. He said he's done some good things and not so good things, but the most rewarding thing he's done is given dozens, "if not hundreds," of guys to get a chance. He brought up Beer Money. He said he considers them the greatest tag team in the business today. He listed the Motor City Machine Guns, Daniels, Samoa Joe, and A.J. Styles. What about Morgan? Or Amazing Red? He closed with, "I want to wrap up with this. Guys, you ain't seen nothing yet." He said with Hogan, Dixie, and himself working side by side, anything can and will happen in TNA. (It's still a terribly lousy name.)
Hogan talked on the big screen and said, "That's enough of the ga-ga." He said nobody cares and he's tired of hearing "I" over and over. He said he was on the verge of calling for security. "The truth is, brother, yes you did start this company. But in a short amount of time, you ran this company into the ground. So now that the truth be told, if it wasn't for Dixie Carter resurrecting TNA, if it wasn't for Dixie Carter giving all these guys a shot, this company would be under." The crowd chanted "bullsh--," which led to Hogan getting bleeped every few words. Hogan said they restructured the company and he's not Dixie's partner. He said as far as he's concerned, the young guys are going to get a real shot now, "the real push, brother." He said as far as his past accolades, nobody cares. He said one thing he has right is that with Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter, TNA is going all the way to the top. He said Jarrett has no voting power, no stroke. He said he needs to grab his boots and get in line with the rest of the crew and prove himself. He said he's no different than anyone else in the locker room. "I hope you can hang with the young guys," Hogan said. I'm not sure who's the babyface in this scenario. Hogan seemed pretty harsh. Bischoff earlier seems like Sleazy E again when interacting with Styles. Yet it seems they're trying to come across as motivating hard-asses doing what's best for the company. I think...
-Backstage, Hemme interviewed Daniels. He said he had faith he'd impress Hogan. Borash interrupted and said Foley wants to get into the arena. Hemme said he thought he already left and told Borash to tell Foley he can't come in. Borash looked worried, but when he opened a side door, Foley barged in. He said he had a bone to pick with Hogan and he doesn't care who he has to go through to get to him. [c]
-They showed Jeff Hardy painting backstage. Moore told him he has to start selling his paintings because they're so good. It was pretty cool. Moore asked Hardy if he's ready to meet with The Big Man. (Another two good "Torch Talk" interview subjects from the 2000s on the screen at the same time.) Taz joked that Hardy was painting a picture of Tenay.
6 -- ABYSS vs. SAMOA JOE
Tenay said they had announced Abyss vs. Rhino, but Bischoff threw out the format sheet and instead booked the first-ever meeting between Abyss and Joe. Taz talked about the immense respect he has for Joe. Some high-impact fast-paced action in the opening minutes. It's strange, but pleasant, to see Abyss wrestling without weapons or special stips. Abyss got a near fall at 4:00 after a chokeslam. Abyss threw the ref aside at one point, so Joe seized the chance to hit Abyss with a chair across the side of his head and shoulder as Abyss reached out to grab him at ringside. Joe then applied his submission for the win.
WINNER: Joe in 5:00 via tapout.
-They went backstage to Bischoff telling someone that a certain segment needed to be reworked or shortened. Krystal walked up to Bischoff and asked if he had anything to say. Bischoff said he heard Lashley wants to chase his MMA dreams, "but what does that have to do with me?" Krystal demanded a meeting with Hogan. Bischoff said, "Here's my advice. Go get a number. Stand in line with everyone else. And if and when you get that meeting with Hulk Hogan, take it from me, that chip on your shoulder is unbecoming." She said her husband won't be happy. Bischoff sarcastically, dismissively said, "Sorry." She said they're losing the biggest star TNA has ever had. She walked away. Bischoff sarcastically said, "Shaken!" Then he chuckled as she walked away.
-Bubba was kneeling over Beer Money. He said nobody knows who did this, but he has an idea. He said trainers are on the way to check on them. [c]
-The Nasty Boys tried to get in. Brian Knobs said they're Hulk Hogan's personal friends. Sponge walked up to security and said he's sure they're on the list. The security guy showed them the list. Sponge said the Nasty Boys have travelled thousands of miles with Hogan. He pulled the security guy aside and allowed the Nasty Boys to sneak in.
-Borash interviewed Kurt Angle backstage regarding facing Styles in the main event. Angle said since there were two other wrestlers in the match when Styles won the title, he didn't really beat him one-on-one. He said he didn't think his rematch would take so long. He said a lot has happened since September. He said it's time for him to reclaim his TNA World Hvt. Title. He closed with, "It's real. It's damn real."
-Back to Tenay and Taz at ringside. They said they have one of the biggest main events ever thanks to Bischoff and Hogan. Taz said it's a five-star match-up.
-In the parking lot, Moore told Hardy they got what they came for. They were holding what appeared to be contracts. Hardy said, "Maybe." Several teenage girls ran up to Hardy screaming. He signed his painting and gave it to them. He kissed one of them. They screamed and ran away excited. Hardy and Moore got into their sports car as they cut to a break.
-The Nastys busted into Team 3D's locker room. They complained about not having their own locker room. Knobs said they're in Japan for the biggest show of the year. A security guy walked up to them and apologized. He said he didn't realize how close they were to Hogan. They presented them with donuts. They demanded pizza instead and threw the donuts at the security guys. They tore up Team 3D's locker room, then spray painted it. Just what the wrestling industry needed - Team 3D vs. The Nasty Boys. There's a lot of history there. A lot of... uh... girth, too.
7 -- A.J. STYLES vs. KURT ANGLE -- TNA World Hvt. Title Match
During ring intros, Taz said: "I'll tell you something right now straight up from a pure wrestling perspective, you will not find a wrestling contest at the level of what you are about to witness, nowhere on TV right now live as we speak. Trust me on that my friends." Tenay called it a PPV-quality main event. They locked up at 10:36 p.m., with lots of time to tell a story and have a classic. Styles flip dove onto Angle at ringside at 1:00. Taz said, "I told you! And this thing just started." A man in a black outfit and black mask attacked Styles from behind, knocking Styles into the ref. Angle knocked him out of the ring. Angle helped Styles to his feet and soon took control with a powerbomb into the corner turnbuckles. Tenay told viewers not to go anywhere as they'll be back with more action after this break. Mid-break, they showed Angle on offense and Tenay thanking Hogan and Bischoff for putting this classic on TV tonight. [c]
[PWTorch.com just passed our high total of unique visitors for a single day from 2009, which was on April 5 - WrestleMania 25 Sunday. There's a lot of interest tonight, so I expect big ratings, but will Impact be part of that, or just Raw?]
Back live, the crowd chanted, "This is wrestling!" Tenay said, "You're damn right this is wrestling." At 8:00 Angle went into a series of unreleased back suplexes. Angle's turning more to the side on those, seemingly protecting his neck. Styles came back with a Pele kick, but Angle ducked it and applied the anklelock. Styles rolled him into a near fall. Styles then hit a Pele kick and scored another near fall.
Tenay said the lack of preparation time hasn't affected Styles or Angle. Styles hit a springboard flying forearm. Taz called him the best pure wrestling champion in the world today. Angle got up and threw Styles off the top rope for a near fall. Angle hit a frog splash for another two count a minute later at 12:00. Styles gave Angle a DDT as a countermove. That led to another two count. Taz said Angle had a dazed look in his eyes. "Who Needs Bret!" chanted the crowd. Wow. Was that prompted? No comment from Tenay or Taz. Angle went for an anklelock. Styles escaped. Angle hit another suplex for another two count. More near falls, one after another. Taz called it "an historic night." Angle applied a legbar. Ric Flair then walked out. Tenay said he wanted to watch the match in person. Taz said Flair spent along time in Styles's locker room earlier. Tenay said that they're staying with the World Title match until it's conclusion. He said, "No matter how long it takes, we're staying with it until we have a winner." Then they cut to a break. Kind of ironic to promise they'd stay with the match until it's over only to cut away immediately. But what they're saying is we might still be here after Raw ends, so check back in if you flip channels in the mean time. [c]
More fast-paced action after the break. Styles hit the Styles Clash, but he was slow to make the cover. They showed Flair again on the stage. Styles moved to the ring apron and hit a springboard flip splash for the three count. They showed Carter giving the match a standing ovation.
WINNER: Styles in 22:00.
STAR RATING: ****
-As it sounded like Tenay was signing off, Hogan's music played. He walked out onto the stage. He declared Styles and Angle "the two greatest wrestlers in this business today." Angle hugged Styles, congratulating him on his win. Hogan said they have nothing but respect for him. He told Styles that he just raised the TNA bar to "a whole 'nother level." He said this situation will go on and on and on. He said they've made history tonight. "This is the beginning of the greatest rise in the history of professional wrestling." Someone walked up to Hogan and whispered something at him. He ran to the back. Foley barged into the locker room with Val Venis and the Beautiful People. They were stripped down to their lingerie. Foley asked Val where Hogan was. Val said he was interrupting "something pretty damn special here." Val said he's not intimidated by him. Foley fumed, "Where is Hogan!" Val pointed out the door and said he's down the hall and to the left. Foley walked down the hall and to the left. He walked into Hogan's office. Bischoff spun around in a desk chair. Bischoff called it his former chair in his former office. Bischoff said his executive shareholder certificate isn't worth the paper it was printed on. Bischoff said he has no power, no control. He said his only choice is to put on his boots and earn his spot. Foley said he could handle working for Dixie Carter and even perhaps Hogan, but not Bischoff. He said he vowed to never do that again. Foley vowed to rip his teeth out of his throat. Bischoff told him to rethink that strategy. Nash, Hall, and X-Pac jumped Foley. Hogan barged into the room and looked around. The camera zoomed in really close as Hogan assessed the situation.
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