I usually avoid spoiler talk in this column but something happened at the taping for next week’s Impact that may change a lot of things going forward.
Long story short…Austin Aries is the new X division champion. Any other time of year this would barely qualify as news…but Destination X is only a few weeks away. Destination X (this time presented on the 7/18 Impact) is the show where the X division champion has the option of trading his title for a shot at the TNA Championship. Last year Austin Aries cashed in and won the belt from Bobby Roode. It was assumed that Chris Sabin, after coming back from 2 years of injury rehab to regain the X title at Slammiversary, would be in the position to challenge Bully Ray. They even had Hulk Hogan putting Sabin over after his big X title win. Unless Sabin regains the X title on the Las Vegas shows taped 6/29…that won’t be happening now. I wouldn’t look for him to win the X title back either, it makes zero sense to have had him lose next week heading into a TNA title shot. If they wanted him to get a win over Aries to make him look like a better challenge for Bully Ray…they could have done that without switching the belt and having him lose in the first place.
What makes this all very strange is that Aries is in the BFG series. While by rule he’s done nothing wrong in using the X title loop hole to secure a title shot while the series is running…what exactly happens if Aries were to win the TNA title? Would someone take his place in the series? To even out the matches someone would kind of have to. If we assume Aries is going to win the TNA title in July, return matches with Bully Ray could fill out the rest of the time between then and Bound For Glory. Bully could even win the title back (like everyone assumed Roode would do last year). If Aries isn’t going to win…why in the world would they change the X title in the first place? Simply to try and pull a slightly bigger rating because Aries is a better challenger for the belt than Sabin? That would be a terrible reason.
I’ve written before about the possible need to take the TNA title off of Bully Ray before BFG. If Hogan decides to return to the ring to do any kind of a match blowoff to his ongoing Bully Ray feud (whether it be singles, tag, 6 man, giant Main Event Mafia/Aces and 8’s clusterfuck…whatever) Bully can’t be TNA Champion because the TNA Champion must face the BFG series winner. Aries, unlike Sabin, would give them a credible TNA Champion to take his place. This is the inherent problem with the BFG series. While it’s great for TV and a fine way to bring up the #1 contender at Bound For Glory…it sticks the TNA Champion with very few options. 12 men are fighting for months to secure a title shot…which means it’s hard to justify anyone else getting a title shot between the Slammiversary and Bound For Glory.
This is why the X Division cash in was created. Last year Aries won the TNA title in July and rematches with Roode carried him through until Bound For Glory. This year they began a program between Aces and 8’s and the Main Event Mafia, it won’t provide any title matches for Bully Ray but at least gave him something to do for the 3 months following Destination X. Now the scenarios have all changed.
Let’s break it down:
Will Aries make it through the Las Vegas tapings as X Champion? It’s extremely likely. They run a show long angle next week to reveal what Aries had done. Suicide wins the X title in a three way over Sabin and Kenny King…but when it’s revealed that someone knocked out TJ Perkins and stole the Suicide costume…that Suicide runs away. Later Hogan and Bully Ray demand to know who Suicide is if he’s going to be cashing in for the title shot..and that’s when Aries unmasks himself. That’s a lot of trouble and a little build to just toss it away the next week.
Will Austin Aries win the title at Destination X? Much harder to predict. When you factor in Bully maybe working with Hogan in some capacity at BFG…you almost want to say yes. It makes zero sense to have pushed Sabin out of this spot if Aries isn’t going to be taking the title. Still…it doesn’t feel like Bully should be dropping the belt this soon. On the other hand…if Aries is going to be going into BFG as Champion again…you want him to have the belt for as long as possible before hand.
What becomes of his spot in the BFG series if he does? I suppose they wouldn’t HAVE to fill it. It would throw off the numbers so you’d think they would though. I’d put Sabin in that spot and give him the storyline of having to go through 11 other guys to get back what Aries just stole from him…a shot at the TNA title. Aries already has 7 points so I’m not sure what to do with that. If Aries loses I assume he just carries on with the series no harm no foul.
Does Bully Ray win the title back before BFG? If Aries does win at Destination X…probably not. If Hogan were to decide to not work BFG though they leave themselves with the option of putting it back on him over the summer.
Has Hogan decided to work some sort of match with Bully at BFG? It looks like they’re at least planning things that way. Now…Hogan could just show up to Destination X and tell Dixie and company he’s not doing it…and this could all be for nothing. He could tell them that at any point for that matter and Bully can just get the title back. But they’ve put a lot into this feud to think it won’t have a blowoff of some kind. Maybe Hogan is a part of the Main Event Mafia and he, Sting, Angle and Joe (who joins next week) have an 8 man tag against Aces and 8’s at BFG. That would limit what he has to do to a point where he could do it. Maybe they try Hogan and Sting vs. Team 3D where Sting can work the bulk of the match. Maybe he tries a singles match with all the smoke and mirrors possible. You would hope that they know by now what his plan is since the booking of the TNA title depends on it.
My prediction is that Aries will win the title at Destination X and be revealed as the last member of the Main Event Mafia. The groups will feud through BFG allowing Aries/Bully rematches so that the TNA title can still be defended. If Hogan works BFG, Aries enters as Champion to face the BFG series winner (Aries vs. Styles for the first time in TNA? That sounds good to me). If Hogan balks…well Aries can still be champion or they can put it right back on Bully in a rematch post Destination X. The move from Sabin to Aries screams giving themselves options. I put Aries with the Mafia for a couple reasons…first it streamlines the summer’s big feud, and second it means we don’t have to have a heel vs. heel dynamic between Bully and Aries. And if Styles wins the series and is still getting confused reactions…at least there will be a babyface in the title match at BFG no matter what. Half the crowds cheer Aries as a heel right now anyway.
All that being said…things have gotten utterly unpredictable between now and October 20th.
Impact 6/20 Recap
The Bound For Glory Series is finally here. They made the same mistake this year of cramming too much into the first show of the Series.
Mr. Anderson pinned Joseph Park for 7 points. Usual Park match that shouldn’t be in the series. Anderson had to cheat to win when DOC interfered. I’m no great Anderson fan but he shouldn’t have to be cheating to beat Joseph Park.
Austin Aries pinned Jay Bradley for 7 points. Good while it lasted.
Daniels pinned Hernandez for 7 points. Super short match with a fairly clean finish for the smaller heel Daniels. Maybe they aren’t even going to pretend Hernandez has a shot. I’m fine with that.
Magnus made Kazarian submit for 10 points. Another short match but the right guy went over super strong. Magnus is starting to get good reactions every week and they absolutely need him to make the final 4. He used the Texas Cloverleaf for the submission.
Samoa Joe and AJ Styles fought to a draw for 2 points each. Usual crowd problems for Styles. Usual booking problems too. On one hand they did right by having Styles new character go toe to toe with Joe and look strong. On the other…he didn’t win again. If there’s any character in wrestling in need of a statement win right now it’s AJ Styles. Instead he trades roll up wins with Angle and goes to a draw with Joe. He needs to be making Hardy tap out in the middle of the ring sooner than later.
Jeff Hardy pinned Bobby Roode for 7 points. This was a good match that only went like 6 minutes. It gets better when it’s not open fight night where they cram all 12 guys on.
Kurt Angle joined Sting in the new Main Event Mafia. Joe joins next week which will likely be the end of previous Mafia guys in this group. Again…Sting is putting together this group so that people he trusts will watch his back after no one came out to help him at Slammiversary. Not only are Angle and Joe two of the guys who didn’t come out to help him…but they also both turned on him in the original Mafia. But he’s Sting…so…you know.
Brooke Hogan held a state of the knockouts address. She was awful here. She’s good interacting with Bully Ray…and people care about that story a hell of a lot more than when she fails at doing this. They actually have two storylines going in the knockouts division at once…which is pretty unheard of. Velvet Sky will get her rematch against Mickie James next week (already taped) and Gail Kim will face Taryn Terrell in a ladder match in two weeks on the Las Vegas Impact. I like that they are positioning that rematch as big because their Slammiversary match was worth something. Also ODB and Eric Young surrendered the knockouts tag titles when EY admitted that he was, in fact, not a woman.
Current BFG series leader board:
Magnus – 10
Hardy – 7
Daniels – 7
Anderson – 7
Aries – 7
Styles – 2
Joe – 2
Roode – 0
Kazarian – 0
Hernandez – 0
Park – 0
Bradley – 0
Impact Preview 6/27
This show was already taped and we’ve spoiled a lot of it. Here’s the rundown:
Chris Sabin vs. Kenny King vs. Suicide for the X title
BFG series match: Magnus vs. Bobby Roode
BFG series match: Mr. Anderson vs. Samoa Joe
Mickie James vs. Velvet Sky for the Knockouts title
Gut Check returns
The next One Night Only is scheduled for July 5. It’s the Hardcore themed show with a supposedly excellent Bad Influence vs. Young Bucks ladder match, the return of LAX, and appearances by 2 Cold Scorpio, Bob Holly, FUNAKI, Judas Mesias, Jim Mitchell, Spike Dudley and others.
The list of upcoming TV/PPV tapings is as follows:
6/29- Las Vegas, NV (taped to avoid July 4th, the 7/4 show and the 7/11 show)
7/18- Louisville, KY (the live 7/18 Destination X show and the taped 7/25 show)
8/1- Wichita Falls, TX (the live 8/1 show and the taped 8/8 show)
8/15- Norfolk, VA (the live 8/15 show and the taped 8/22 show)
8/29- Cleveland, OH (the live 8/29 show and the taped 9/5 show)
10/20- San Diego, CA – Bound For Glory