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Impact: RVD gets an instant title shot and a big TNA star makes his return
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


Since only one member of the TNA roster was affected by volcano-related travel issues, it should be a full roster for a live edition of Impact, North America’s second favorite Monday night wrestling program. Tonight’s episode is called “What We All Fight For.”

Video clips are shown of last night’s Lockdown pay-per-view, an all-steel cage affair that seemed gimmicky when introduced but now has proven ahead of its time. AJ Styles, who retained his TNA World Heavyweight Championship against “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero, heads for the ring to kick off the live action. Calling himself the workhorse of TNA, Styles says Dinero was good but not good enough, putting him in the company of others like Sting, Jeff Jarrett and Kurt Angle. His monologue is cut off by the arrival of Rob Van Dam, who certainly is over in the Impact Zone. RVD tells Styles that in case he’s confused, that was a crowd reaction. Van Dam admits that Styles has talent but says he was never as impressed as everyone else and definitely isn’t as impressed as AJ is with himself. While Styles chews on that, Jeff Hardy decides to join the fun. He, too, gives AJ some credit but says he has his eyes on the world title himself. The music guy stays busy as Hulk Hogan makes his way down to the ring. The Hulkster gloats about Team Hogan’s victory over Team Flair on Sunday and points out how much excitement Jeff and RVD have brought to TNA. Hogan also says he understands what it’s like to be in AJ’s shoes, because being the champ brings fame, fortune and girls but also paints a target on you and forces you to constantly prove yourself. On a related note, Hogan asks RVD and Hardy if they’d be willing to put aside their friendship and tear the house down against each other tonight, with the winner getting a shot at Styles’ title. The champ protests and claims he won’t be ready by Sacrifice. Ah, but Hulk isn’t talking about a title shot at the next PPV… he’s talking about a match later tonight! The crowd loves that idea, but Ric Flair hears the news backstage and isn’t as enthused.

Match 1 – Daffney and O.D.B. (challengers) vs. The Beautiful People (champions) – TNA Knockouts Tag Team Title Match

Wow, I forgot O.D.B. still worked for TNA. This match is short and doesn’t contain much wrestling content. The end comes when Madison Rayne distracts the ref (understandable, that), allowing Velvet Sky to roll up O.D.B. and get the pin. See you in another six months, I guess.

Jeremy Borash wants to speak to Styles, but he’s busy getting an earful from Flair, who’s in full rant mode. Ric is still fuming about Team Hogan getting one over on him. JB interrupts, and the Nature Boy tells him to spread the word: he wants a Team Flair versus Team Hogan rematch in five minutes.

Abyss and Jeff Jarrett are in the ring after the commercial break. The Monster says Flair must not remember that the feud between the two teams ended Sunday night with Team Hogan kicking the crap out of Team Flair. They’d have no problems doing it again except that Van Dam and Hardy are already spoken for tonight. Ric could care less, as he brings Sting, Desmond Wolfe and Beer Money Inc. out on the stage and sics them on our heroes. The numbers quickly get the better of the faces, but “The Freak” Rob Terry runs down and clears the ring. Flair looks like he may burst a blood vessel as he turns beet red in anger. Eric Bischoff also makes an appearance, telling Ric to calm down because he’s granting him the rematch. Later tonight, it will be Team Flair facing Abyss, Jarrett, Terry and a mystery partner who can’t wait to lace up the boots and join the feeding frenzy. Interesting.

Matt Morgan tries to recruit Shannon Moore to help him defend the tag team titles even though he… um, I mean they don’t think they need any help. The Prince of Punk shoots him… uh, I guess them down cold. Bad move, he says. Or they say? You know what, let’s just move on.

Though they have been suspect of each other’s motives for weeks, all of a sudden Hogan and Bischoff are all buddy-buddy and can’t tell each other enough how impressed they are with the booking so far tonight. Hogan wants to make sure Bischoff’s mystery guest will be here, and Eric tells him not to worry. Bischoff is also excited about his revolutionary new ranking system for contenders for the world title, but he’s not ready to unveil it until next week. He sends his personal assistant and her very short skirt to get the files, and several minutes of lame sexual innuendos ensue. Even Hogan seemed ashamed to be part of that conversation, and that’s saying something. Elsewhere, RVD prepares for his match with Hardy and tells no one in particular that it’s time to prove that he’s the whole f’n show.

Match 2 – Jeff Hardy vs. Rob Van Dam

An early stalemate takes us out to commercial. RVD is bleeding when we return, but he hits a high cross body for two. The action goes back and forth while Taz informs us that Hardy and RVD have wrestled before, but Jeff has never won. I did not know that. That is weird, wild stuff. RVD hits a rolling splash for two and dodges Hardy’s swinging corner kick. Rob connects with a split-legged moonsault for another near fall. Hardy goes up top and Van Dam meets him there. Jeff prevails, shoving his friend to the mat, but he comes up empty on a Swanton when RVD rolls away. Van Dam hops up, delivers the Five Star Frog Splash and gets the fall, earning a title shot later in the show.

Christy Hemme gets some comments from both RVD and Hardy, who insist that they are still friends. They watch highlights of the match together, which turns out to be a lot more boring than it sounds because neither guy is really that great on the microphone. In the locker room, Abyss gets Jarrett and Terry psyched up for their match. It’s weird hearing Abyss as the rah-rah cheerleader guy, but it actually works the way they are portraying him right now.

Match 3 – Team Flair (Sting, Desmond Wolfe, Robert Roode and James Storm) vs. Team Hogan (Jeff Jarrett, “The Freak” Rob Terry, Abyss and ?)

The rules to this one have Jarrett and Sting battling for five minutes. After that, other wrestlers will join the match at two-minute intervals, but it will be fought under tag team rules. Got that? Sting and JJ do most of their fighting out in the crowd, finally dragging each other to the ring just before Desmond Wolfe joins in. Jarrett has to hustle to escape a Tower of London attempt, and Orlando Jordan looks on with interest from the ramp as we step out for a word from our sponsors. Seven of the eight men are in action after the break, and if you don’t think they saved the mystery partner for last, this must be your first time watching wrestling. Welcome! And the last contestant is… Samoa Joe! As the crowd erupts, Joe tags himself in and absolutely annihilates Team Flair. Joe hits a muscle buster to pin Roode, but he heads for the back immediately instead of sticking around to celebrate with his partners.

What is a word that means beyond furious? That’s where Flair was during the break, and he seems to have gone mad as well, challenging Abyss to a match next week with his Hall of Fame ring at stake against the ring Hogan gave to Abyss. Which one is the one ring that will rule them all? Guess you’ll have to tune in and find out.

Main Event – Rob Van Dam (challenger) vs. AJ Styles (champion) – TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match

AJ wastes no time drawing first blood, attacking RVD on the outside. After one last commercial (hopefully), Styles hits a low dropkick and attacks with chops in the corner. The champ works over Van Dam’s left leg for a bit. Van Dam buys himself some time with a kick to the face, leaving both men on the canvas. A battle between chops and punches breaks out, and RVD gets the upper hand with a series of running clotheslines, an Irish whip and a monkey flip. He follows with Rolling Thunder for two. Styles rallies with a Figure Four, but Rob escapes and tries to drop him over the ropes to the floor. AJ lands on the apron and tries to springboard back inside, but Van Dam shoves him down hard. RVD goes up to drop the Five Star Frog Splash on the champ, and it’s enough to keep him down for three. Confetti fills the air as most of the faces on the TNA roster come to the ring to help celebrate, along with Hogan, Bischoff, Dixie Carter and others. Team 3D hoists RVD up high and we fade out looking at the new TNA champion.

Nick Tylwalk found out that when Impact presents a better show, he doesn't have to work as hard to put jokes in the report, and he's grateful for that. Email him at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter at @Nick_Tylwalk.