“Two Tickets To The Gun Show” ~Or~ “It Pays To Be Roode”
Greetings, “True-Believers”! I hope everyone’s had a great week. I’m writing this week’s recap while watching one of my favorite guilty pleasures: Comedy Central’s “Black Block.” Nothing better than a juicy turkey sammich with all the fixin’s, an ice-cold Vitamin Water and hours of Black comedy. Unless you’re talking about reviewing the world’s second-favorite Professional Wrestling program. This week, TNA continues it’s UK tour with show #2 from Manchester, England. There’s a great deal to talk about from this week’s program, so without any further ado… onto the show!
Impact opens up with a full-screen graphic honoring the recently deceased Nelson Frazier, Jr. (aka King Mabel/Viscera). We then go to a video package recapping what happened last week with MVP proposing a “Lethal Lockdown” match to Dixie Carter where the winner gets full control of TNA. Then we get the first of many vignettes highlighting Gunner and his road to tonight’s World Heavyweight Title match. After the intro, we cut to the arena where we find the “Royal Family” plotting in the back. Dixie & Rockstar Spud were firmly behind Magnus, while Ethan Carter III seemed less enthusiastic about helping the champion.
Dixie and Magnus head to the ring to make a big announcement. Magnus takes the mic and says before he can make the announcement, he needs MVP to join him in the ring. This brings out the new investor to a big pop from the Manchester crowd. Magnus runs down MVP’s time as an inmate, before announcing that he and Dixie have accepted MVP’s proposal for Lockdown. Magnus then clarifies that he will not be a participant in the match due to his desire to focus on his title match with Samoa Joe. MVP warns Magnus not to look past his match with Gunner. Magnus says he’s not concerned with Gunner and he will make MVP his “Biatch.” This doesn’t sit well with Mr. Porter and he proceeds to attack the champ. ECIII ran out to help Magnus & the two bat down MVP. The camera cuts to the back where we see TNA security & Spud holding back the Wolves. Just then, Gunner comes in to make the save & the heels bailed out of the ring. Magnus & ECIII begin to head up the ramp when the Wolves appear at the entrance. Magnus shoves ECIII into the Wolves and retreats to the back as we go to break.
Back from break we see Bobby Roode entering the arena. The cameraman asks Roode for a comment on his state of mind, but Roode says anything he needs to say will be said in front of the world. In another part of the building, an irate ECIII bursts into Magnus’ locker room. In the line of the night, Carter asks Magnus why he “literally threw him to the Wolves”… brilliant. Magnus replied that all ECIII needs to worry about is falling in line and doing what his aunt tells him to do.
We cut to the ring to find the #1 Contender, Samoa Joe. Joe said he gets to face the winner of Magnus-Gunner at Lockdown, which means he doesn’t have a fight tonight… but he wants to. Joe kicks it “Open Fight Night” style and issues an open challenge to the locker room. This brings out the Bro-Mans & D.J. Zema Ion. Joe then challenges all three men to fight and that takes us to our first match of the night: Samoa Joe Vs. The Bro-Mans & D.J. Zema (3-on-1 Handicap Match). Joe had the early advantage, but eventually the numbers advantage was too great and the heels gained the upper hand. The tide turned when Zema went for a top-rope dropkick while his partners held Joe. Joe reversed it and went through all of his signature spots, culminating in a combination DDT/Russian Leg sweep to the tag team champs. This left Joe alone with D.J. Zema and the Samoan Submission Machine wasted no time in ending the match. He hit Zema with the Muscle-Buster and locked him in the Kokina Clutch for the win. Winner: Samoa Joe at 3:37. Thoughts: Another week, another short but solid showing by Samoa Joe. I like that they’re not trying to be too cute with the booking of Joe. Give him wins, keep him strong and build towards the title match at Lockdown. Good stuff!
We head backstage where Christy Hemme is talking to the audio engineer about her mic not working properly. The engineer says he’ll take care of it and Christy walks off. Samuel Shaw then walks out from the shadows and chokes the engineer. Dragging him around a corner and slamming him into a bunch of crates before walking back to retrieve Christy’s battery pack.
Back from break, we get a mini Beer Money reunion as Bobby Roode is talking to James Storm in his locker room. Roode said he wants to bury the hatchet before he talks to the world tonight. Storm says he hopes Roode isn’t thinking of retiring. He gives his former partner a pep talk which seems to get through to Roode. Storm says the only people responsible for their actions is them. Roode then got up, hugged Storm, thanked him and walked off. This was a very solid segment and it’s always nice that TNA never forgets the history and continuity between the characters of Roode & Storm.
We then get a video package hyping up the UK tour. The positive scenes then cut to a backstage brawl between Gail Kim & Madison Rayne which led to Match #2 of the night: TNA Knockouts Champion Madison Rayne Vs. Gail Kim w/Lei’D Tapa (in a Streetfight). The match starts with the champion running out of the ring to attack Gail before the bell rings. The two brawl around for a minute before Tapa inserts herself into the match. Gail places the champ in her figure-four on the post, but Rayne manages to escape. They get back in the ring and Madison catches Gail with a spear, which brings Tapa into the ring. Madison turns her attention to the Samoan Amazon (is that a thing?), and Kim hits Rayne in the back of the head with the Knockouts Title for the win. Winner: Gail Kim at 4:20. Thoughts: A bit of a nothing match. Gail Kim may be the best female wrestler in the world and this feud DOES have history behind it… but it’s just not clicking for me yet.
We head backstage where we find Ken Anderson showing pictures of his children to Christy Hemme. Samuel Shaw is shown lurking in the background. This isn’t going to end well folks. We go from that to another awesome hype video for Gunner. This one features his parents & his wife talking about Gunner’s path from the military to TNA. Good stuff.
Back from break we go to Gunner’s locker room to find the challenger talking with his tag team partner, James Storm. Storm gives his partner a pep talk and tells him he’ll be watching his back tonight. Then we had to the ring where it’s time for Bobby Roode’s big announcement. The former World Champion walked down the ramp looking very pensive. Once in the ring, he grabbed the microphone and took a deep breath before speaking. Roode said that for the last 11 years, he has been proud to call TNA Wrestling his home. He said it was his life’s dream to be a pro wrestler, and he loves performing for the fans each and every week. He then said that there are some things he’s not been proud of, including ruined friendships and destroyed alliances. Roode said he can’t change the past, but he can change his future. Which is why this is his last night as a professional wrestler. The Manchester crowd was not pleased at this announcement and chanted Roode’s name to show their support of him continuing to wrestle. Roode got choked up and thanks the fans before dropping the mic and heading out of the ring. Roode was interrupted by Dixie Carter’s theme song and he stayed in the ring to see what Dixie had to say. Dixie entered the ring and said the Bobby can’t leave because he’s under contract. She said she didn’t need Sting, Jeff Hardy or Aj Styles… but she needs Roode to stay. Roode says he’s tired of being Magnus’ insurance policy. Dixie apologized, but said she needs him to captain her team at Lockdown and offers Roode 10% of the company if and when thy win. Roode thought it over, then accepted Dixie’s offer. The two heels shook hands and Dixie went to walk away, but Roode pulled her back in and said if she even thinks about screwing him over, he’ll spend the rest of his life trying to destroy hers. Roode then left the ring while Dixie sold some weird mix of relief & confusion (refusion???).
We head backstage to find Jeremy Borash chatting with European Gut-Check winner “Bad Bones.” The camera pans and we see Mr. Anderson and Christy Hemme chatting in the background. Suddenly Samuel Shaw attacked Anderson, which also knocked Hemme down. Shaw looked at Anderson with disgust before picking up Hemme and carrying her off.
Back from break, we find Bobby Roode talking to his EGO stalemates, Bad Influence. Christopher Daniels asks if he & Kazarian will be on Team Dixie/Roode at Lockdown. Roode says it’s not about friends, it’s about the best man for the job. He says that Bad Influence can prove themselves tonight in the ring against the Wolves. We cut to the ring where JB handles the ring introductions, apparently unfazed by the abduction of his co-worker. This leads us into what most people would consider a “dream-match,” Bad Influence Vs. The Wolves. A lot of up-tempo offense from both teams early on, with the Wolves gaining the advantage. Kazarian catches Richards from behind, which leads to some double-teaming from the former World Tag Team Champions Of The World. Richards finally made the hot-tag to Edwards who had Kaz pinned, but Daniels broke it up. This lead to a brawl between all four men. Daniels went to the top for his BME, but Edwards rolled out of the way. The Wolves hit a nice tandem maneuver on Daniels, followed by a double foot stomp by Richards for the win. Winners: The Wolves in 5:55. Thoughts: A very solid TV tag match. This was a much better showcase for the Wolves than last week and could have been even better if they had given them a few more minutes (or promoted the match).
We come back from break to find Samuel Shaw carrying an unconscious Christy Hemme into the trainer’s room. He places her on the trainer’s table and she wakes up. Hemme asks what happened to her, and where was Anderson. Shaw told her to calm down, then began rubbing her shoulders. Then he saw the cameraman shooting behind him and ran him off. Yeah, I’m officially out in regards to this angle. But at least it’s better than the “Willow” vignettes… one of which aired next.
We then go to a slickly produced video package (big up to David Sahadi!) featuring Magnus talking about his title reign. Then we get a graphic hyping up next week’s show from London – including MVP Vs. Bobby Roode in a Lethal Lockdown captain’s match and Kurt Angle’s HOF induction.
And now it’s time for tonight’s main event: TNA World Heavyweight Champion Magnus Vs. Gunner (No DQ “Magnus Rules” match for the World Title). Magnus did his best Ric Flair impression and stalled the action early on, trying to get under Gunner’s skin. Magnus then caught Gunner in a headlock and gave the Manchester crowd his best two-minute recreation of that awesome/terrible Danielson-Castagnoli “Headlock Match” from PWG a few years back. Gunner finally broke free and fired up on the champ, but Magnus cut him off with a kneelift and sent him outside. Magnus then signaled to the back to once again bring out his backup. But instead of the usual suspects, James Storm & The Wolves came out. Storm hit Magnus with the Dikembe Mutombo “No, No, No” finger wag as we cut to break.
We come back to find Gunner caught in a Camel Clutch while Storm & The Wolves try to rally the crowd. Gunner fights out of the hold and the two men brawl for a few minutes. Magnus then hit Gunner with a Michinoku Driver and hit a top-rope elbow drop that resulted in a near fall. Magnus then went to hit Gunner with the title belt, but Gunner ducked out of the way. The two men ran at each other and crashed into each other with simultaneous cross-body block attempts. Both men stayed down as the Bro-Mans and D.J. Zema ran down the ramp. The faces fought off the heels and brawled to the back. Back in the ring, Gunner hit the champion with a powerbomb, followed by his flying headbutt (yeah, I don’t know why people still do this move either). Gunner went for the pin, but Rockstar Spud broke up the pin. Gunner chased Spud around the ring and this momentary distraction allowed Magnus to sneak up from behind and crack Gunner in the head with the belt. Magnus taunted the crowd and then went for the pin. Gunner kicked out at 2.999 seconds to a HUGE pop from the Manchester crowd.
Spud’s interference brought James Storm back out. The Cowboy chased spud around ringside. Back in the ring, Magnus rammed Gunner’s head into the turnbuckle. Gunner no-sold that attack, then smashed his own head into the turnbuckle to fire himself up. Gunner started going to town on the champion with a variety of power moves, culminating in a Uranage. Once again, Gunner went to the top to deliver his flying headbutt, but Spud got in the ring and prevented him from hitting his finisher. James Storm entered the ring and launched Spud over the top rope, much to the delight of the British fans. Storm then pointed at Gunner and told him to finish it. Storm then fired up the crowd and Gunner came flying off the top rope. At the last possible second, Storm spun around and caught his teammate with a mid-air Last Call Superkick! Storm then glared at Gunner as Magnus covered him for the pin and the win. After the match Magnus celebrated while Storm continued to stare at Gunner. Tenay and Taz expressed shock and disgust as the broadcast went off the air. Winner: Magnus in 17:00 to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Title. Thoughts: I really liked this match. Magnus continues to add little wrinkles to his heel character and Spud is an excellent lackey character. Gunner gained more from losing than he probably would have from winning, and a heel James Storm could be interesting. All in all, a solid way to close the show.
Final Thoughts: I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably continue to say it… sometimes the simplest stories make for the best shows. Tonight’s program was basically built around three men: Gunner, Bobby Roode and James Storm. Over the course of two hours we saw Gunner built up as a credible threat to Magnus’ title reign, Bobby Roode have a crisis of confidence that resulted in a reconciliation with Storm and a partnership with Dixie, and Storm finally revealed his true colors; turning heel for the first time in about five years. All three men came out of Impact more interesting than they were when the program started… and that’s a good thing. Magnus, Joe and The Wolves came off looking strong as well.
That was the good part of the show. The bad and the ugly? Samuel Shaw, Christy Hemme and Willow. These are the type of angles that make wrestling fans cringe. Hopefully Anderson can make Samuel Shaw’s story interesting and the sooner Willow debuts the better. Overall I would say I enjoyed the episode and I’m really looking forward to next week’s show. That’s going to do it for TNA this week. As always, any feedback/constructive criticism is certainly welcome. I’ll see you all back here next week as we talk about TNA’s biggest TV show of the year… Impact in London!