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Impact: When Hulk Hogan's away, Eric Bischoff will play
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


Coming off the biggest night of its wrestling year, Impact should have plenty of ground to cover tonight. Oh wait… those are the other guys. Well, Impact still has a big name main event, with Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam and Eric Young teaming up to face Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean “Syxx-Pac” Waltman, now officially known collectively as The Band.

Who won’t be present tonight? Hulk Hogan, that’s who. Earlier today, he met with Jeff Jarrett to discuss the new start he envisions for the founder of TNA. Hogan is giving Jarrett a shot at AJ Styles tonight, and if JJ wins, he’ll become the number one contender to Styles’ TNA Heavyweight Championship. Hogan also gets another visitor in the form of “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal, who humorously acts like he really is Randy Savage and believes that it is still the Mega Powers era. Hogan plays along and puts Lethal in charge of the show while the Hulkster goes to New York.

Bubba the Love Sponge comes to the ring with The Band, and after fumbling through part of his promo (calling Eric Young “Vince Young” in a way that makes it unclear as to whether or not it was intentional), he makes it sound as if he will be the trio’s personal interview guy from now on. That makes sense if TNA wants to get The Band over as heels, as the fans seem to hate Bubba. Nash tells Young that the decision to reform the band was business, not personal, and that he still considers Eric a friend. He asks Young to join them in the ring and promises a spot in The Band. Young obliges and finds out he can join up if he calls off tonight’s main event. His response is to punch Nash in the face, setting off a brawl that turns bad for Eric in fairly short order. Van Dam and Hardy run down to run off the heels about a minute later. Hardy tells The Band that the good guys are ready for the six-man tag match now, but they’ve decided it would be better if it was the show’s main event. Oh, and it’s also going to be in a steel cage, the better to promote TNA’s next pay-per-view, Lockdown. That’s what we like to call synergy.

Match 1 – Doug Williams and Brian Kendrick vs. Kazarian and Shannon Moore

Kazarian and Moore show the better teamwork, which isn’t that surprising since Williams isn’t what you’d call a “people person.” Kaz eventually has Williams neutralized, allowing Moore to pin Kendrick. After the bell, Moore draws on Kendrick’s face, ostensibly to get back at Williams, but it’s likely he couldn’t care less.

Eric Bischoff is on the phone with Hogan, and he apparently gets some news he doesn’t like. We soon learn what that news is, as Lethal walks in with a “classic” card for tonight’s show. And by classic, I mean things like Nikolai Volkoff and The Iron Sheik vs. The Killer Bees. Bischoff blows him off, then tells his new, um, office assistant (who is sporting a very, very short skirt) to summon Beer Money for him.

“The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero comes to the ring to spend some time with his congregation. He’s waited for an opportunity to compete for the TNA Heavyweight Championship for a long time and worked hard to get it, and he’s ready for Lockdown despite the machinations of Styles and Ric Flair. He refuses to Call Flair the Nature Boy since “he was a boy 50 years ago.” Pope also tells Styles to go to Cape Canaveral and get a space suit since he’s about to get taken to the outer limits. Dinero admits that Styles is great in the ring when he wants to be but will never be as charismatic as The Pope. Hard to argue that, actually. Chelsea comes to the ring to get up close and personal with The Pope, engaging in some friendly sexual innuendos. Apparently she doesn’t know how to drive stick but is a quick learner. Ahem. Desmond Wolfe tries to ambush Dinero from the crowd, but The Pope is ready for him and quickly beats Wolfe out of the ring. Dinero leans Chelsea back for a deep kiss and stuffs a bill down her shirt. The Pope is pimpin’, after all.

Samoa Joe cuts a promo at very close range into what looks like a handheld camera. I think he says “They have voted and the results will be different,” but it’s hard to be sure. It’s good to see he’s alive and well. Or alive, anyway.

Orlando Jordan has a new entrance, and it’s… well, it’s different. He gets lowered to the ring from high above the ring, wrapped in police tape that reads “Cross the line.” Then he goes over to a small set and poses next to a young woman and a young man. Taz, Mike Tenay and Jeremy Borash are all stumped. I’m not 100 percent sure, but it seems like they are teasing a bisexual gimmick of some sort. Since OJ is said to be bisexual in real life, it’s not exploitation to do it. But without the context, it could certainly come off that way. Expect more “tawdry” cracks from Vince in the near future.

Moving on, Borash interviews Tara about her First Blood Match with Daffney. Tara wants the love of her life (her spider, Poison) back, and she will climb every mountain, ford every stream to do so. Okay, she didn’t really quote The Sound of Music, but you get the idea. Daffney attacks from stage right, and the two women brawl right into a commercial break. Looks like that match is starting right now.

Match 2 – Daffney (challenger) vs. Tara (champion) – First Blood TNA Knockouts Championship Match

Tenay is trapped and almost takes some bumps as the ladies fight behind the announce table. Daffney chokes Tara with a camera cord and literally drags her to the ring. A broom is used by both combatants, and the handle breaks in the process. Inside the ring, Daffney tries to use the broom handle like a stake, but Tara fights her off. The champ is able to maneuver her foe into the Widow’s Peak, but she needs to make Daffney bleed to win. She accomplishes that with a wicked tool box shot and retains her belt. Tenay is disturbed by Daffney laughing and licking her own blood after the bell.

A video package replays Jarrett’s match with Mick Foley last week, which ended with Foley getting fired. This actually played at the top of the show as well, I just forgot to mention it then.

Match 3 – Jeff Jarrett vs. AJ Styles (w/ Ric Flair and Chelsea)

Still in his wheelchair, the Nature Boy laughs while Styles controls the early action. Jarrett rallies with a flurry of offense and clotheslines AJ to the floor, then mocks Ric with a Jarrett Strut. An enzuigiri scores a near fall for JJ before both men exchange Figure Fours. Flair gets involved twice, earning the wrath of referee Brian Hebner. TNA Security has to wheel Flair out after Hebner gives him the heave-ho. AJ hits a nice dive to the floor during the commercial break and is in control when we return. Jarrett catches his second wind and connects on a series of moves, ending with a double underhook facebuster that’s good for only two. Jeff goes high risk and is caught and planted by AJ, who covers for two. A springboard into a flying forearm gets Styles another two count. Jarrett manages to counter the Styles Clash into a slam of some type that leaves both men down. Flair comes back out, setting up Hebner to take a bump. Jarrett delivers the Stroke off the middle rope only to find there’s no one to make the count. Bischoff runs in and teases a guitar shot, and when JJ turns to cut him off, a revived Styles sneaks up for a low blow. Though AJ looks like he is bleeding pretty badly from one hand, he uses the Styles Clash to put Jarrett down, and Bischoff wakes Hebner up to count the pinfall.

Lethal tells Bischoff he’s got the main event figured out: Brutus Beefcake versus Rick Martel. Eric has a better idea, which is to put Machismo into a match, since the Madness deserves the main event spotlight. Just head out there and you’ll learn who your opponent is in a minute. Hmm…

Match 4 – “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal vs. Beer Money, Inc.

To use one of my favorite Jay-Z quotes, “It’s what you expected, ain’t it?” Beer Money generally tosses Lethal around like a rag doll for a few minutes, and James Storm goes for his beer. But cockiness gets the best of Bischoff’s enforcers, and Lethal is able to roll up Bobby Roode for a quick three count. Black Machismo rubs it in Beer Money’s face by drinking their beer on his way back up the ramp. Bischoff can’t do anything but bury his head in his hands in his office.

Taz and Tenay tell us that Hernandez will be out for about seven months following last week’s attack by tag team partner Matt Morgan. Speaking of Morgan, he’ll get a chance to explain his actions next week. Honestly, those actions didn’t seem to need much explanation to me.

Match 5 – Desmond Wolfe (w/ Chelsea) vs. “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero

Wolfe wastes no time going after Dinero and grounding him with mat-based attacks. Desmond does seem a bit distracted by Chelsea, perhaps checking to see if she has thoughts about getting more sugar from The Pope. Chelsea decides to use her guiles on Earl Hebner instead, and the ref doesn’t see Wolfe wrap a steel chain around his left fist. One loaded shot later and Dinero is out, allowing Wolfe to get an easy win.

We’re told that it’s time for the main event, but evidently Kurt Angle has other ideas as he walks down the ramp. The Olympic Hero wants to address his current arch-enemy, Mr. Anderson. Kurt tells Ken that he knows nothing of the real Kurt Angle, but he will find out at Lockdown. Specifically, Angle plans on ending the night victorious and covered in Anderson’s blood. You know Mr. Anderson isn’t going to let those comments go unchallenged, and he and his best buddy, the old school microphone, appear on stage. Anderson says their feud has to end soon before they kill each other. A little birdie (possibly named Bischoff) told Ken that next week on Impact (at a special time!), the two of them will compete in a Ladder Match with the key to the cage at Lockdown hanging above the ring. Anderson won’t say let the best man wins, because he knows Angle is the better man in almost every way. But Kurt is also a nice guy, and nice guys finish last. Fortunately for Ken, he’s an {deleted by SLAM! Wrestling intern}hole… {deleted by SLAM! Wrestling intern}hole. Angle chews over those words for a second before leaving the ring, pausing briefly to give Nash the Wolfpac hand symbol on the way past The Band.

Main Event – The Band vs. Eric Young, Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy – Steel Cage Match

Nash and the boys jump our heroes on the ramp, and Young ends up laid out on the ramp. Waltman locks the cage door shut from the inside, making it a three-on-two beating for RVD and Hardy. They eventually rally, perhaps because Hall looks like he’s moving in slow motion. Young recovers and scales the wall of the cage from the outside, and RVE neutralizes Syxx-Pac when he tries to stop Young. Van Dam and Hardy fly from opposite turnbuckles to nail Hall and Nash, while Young summons up the courage to drop an elbow off the top of the cage on Waltman. Eric and Jeff both pile on Sean for the cover and three count.

We’ve got bonus wrestling, or at least bonus talking. Christy Hemme spends a minute with Abyss, who is the captain of Team Hogan for the Lethal Lockdown match at, um, Lockdown. The Monster promises to annihilate Team Flair, especially the traitorous Sting. He’s also ready to reveal the first member he’s picked… and Jarrett walks in, thinking aloud about how the business is funny. Your move Nature Boy! Oh wait, Pope said not to call him that. Your move Nature Man!

Nick Tylwalk thinks that since Chelsea seems to be the valet for everyone, she may as well be his valet when he writes these reports every week. TNA brass, please have Chelsea contact me at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com or hit me on my Twitter feed @Nick_Tylwalk. Thanks in advance.