So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen Monday nights
NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling
And just like that, the "new Monday Night War" is over. Probably not coincidentally coming the week after Impact turned in a microscopic rating, the announcement has been made that the show is moving back to Thursdays beginning next week. Thatís probably for the best, but weíve still got some Monday business to take care of in an episode called "Hogan/Sting - The Summit."
Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff discuss some of their plans for tonight while riding in a limo. A couple weeks ago it appeared these two would soon be coming to blows, but the beef between them has calmed down, at least for now. Neither man cares what Ric Flair will think about what theyíve got up their sleeves, but Hogan is determined to find out whatís going on in Stingís head.
Mike Tenay and Taz welcome us to the Impact Zone. Taz says that the reason for the move to Thursdays is due to popular demand, and that may be true ... if fans were contacting TNA and demanding that they do something to ensure there still was a show to watch. Flairís music hits, but itís Jay Lethal who struts down to the ring, sporting the Nature Boyís Hall of Fame ring. I have to say, Lethalís Flair impression is every bit as good as his Macho man, though the fans donít seem all that into it. Naturally, the real Flair is not amused, and he makes his way down the aisle. Ric wants his ring back, and Jay is surprisingly quick to give it up. Lethal explains that he meant no disrespect, and since heís always idolized Flair, he just wanted to see what it would be like to "be the man" for two minutes. He also says his mom is probably watching at home shedding a tear right now. Flair thanks him for returning the ring but also says it doesnít get Lethal out of the hole heís dug himself. A few slaps later, Lethal has had enough, and he defends himself with chops and a back body drop. Jay locks on the Figure Four, but AJ Styles, Desmond Wolfe and Beer Money, Inc. all rush to Ricís rescue. Abyss and Team 3D try to even the odds, but the good guys donít get things under control until Rob Van Dam arrives wielding a steel chair. Meanwhile, in the limo, Hogan receives word of whatís going down and orders the driver to turn the car around. Also, as the robots from MST3K would say, itís an awfully sunny night in central Florida!
Counting obviously isnít the TNA champís strong suit, because after the break, RVD challenges the four heels to come back for a fair fight. The problem, of course, is that there are five of them. Flair overlooks the bookkeeping error and leads his troops back to the ring for the proverbial Pier Six brawl. In the midst of the carnage, we discover that the limo couldnít have gone far, because Hogan strides down to the ring leaving heels strewn about in his wake. He lays into Flair and tosses him over the top rope, ushering in another commercial break.
Things still havenít settled down when we return, but at least Hogan is ready to get down to booking. To deal with all the excess testosterone, the Hulkster orders Wolfe to face RVD for the world title and Styles to take on Abyss in a Monsterís Ball Match. He also books Beer Money in a triple threat match against the Motor City Machine Guns and Team 3D. Sting lurks in the rafters, taking it all in.
The Beautiful People complain about having to defend all of their titles again, all in the same matchÖ again. And I have to admit, itís not very creative any more.
Match 1 -- Brian Kendrick and Douglas Williams vs. Ink Inc. (Shannon Moore and Jesse Neal)
Itís also not real creative to put the two guys with tattoos and Mohawks into a team together, but the name works. Williams gets some mic time to protest the fact that volcano-related travel issues led to him being stripped of the X Division Championship. Doug is still in possession of the belt, telling Kazarian (not pictured here) that heíll have to win it back at Sacrifice. Matt Morgan joins the announcers to air their [sic] grievances with TNA management over their tag team title defenses. Apparently Hogan is going to pick Morganís tag team partner for the upcoming pay-per-view. In the actual match, Ink Inc. shows good chemistry, with the Mooregasm setting up a spear by Neal that pins Kendrick. After the match, Samoa Joe stomps out to do his demolition job on Williams and Kendrick. Joe grabs the microphone like heís going to say something, but he thinks better of it and tosses the stick down on his way out.
Flair gives a pep talk to his stable of bad guys as only he can. Elsewhere, Hogan rhetorically asks no one in particular whatís wrong with Sting, and Mr. Anderson lays out DíAngelo Dinero backstage. He also steals The Popeís sunglasses. The nerve!
After the fourth Iron Man 2/Burger King ad already tonight, Anderson hits the ring dressed as an altar boy. He mockingly addresses Popeís congregation and laughs that DD wonít be cleared in time to compete at Sacrifice. The fans chant "Take that dress off!" Jeff Hardy interrupts and challenges Anderson to a match in Dineroís place. Ken refuses and tries to ambush Jeff, but all that gets him is a Twist of Fate after Hardy ducks. The Charismatic Enigma rips off the altar boy get up to reveal that Anderson is wearing briefs that read "Talk into..." on the back and "the mic" on the front. Ahem. In one of the more entertaining things Iíve ever seen Hardy do on the mic (admittedly not a long list, but still), he forces Anderson to mouth an acceptance of his challenge for the PPV. That was well done.
Match 2 -- The Beautiful People vs. Tara, Sarita and Taylor Wilde -- TNA Knockouts Titles Match
If any of the faces pin any of the BP, they win the corresponding belt. Actually, Tara probably canít be called a face any more, as she proves unable to play nicely with her partners. Sarita has to tag herself in at one point, but she ends up getting pinned by a double DDT, leaving Tara fuming.
Even a commercial break isnít enough to calm Tara down. When Christy Hemme asks an unusually valid question -- namely, why should TNA management give her a shot at Madison Rayne when all sheís been doing lately is losing? Tara says sheís willing to put her career on the line for a chance to compete for the belt. Hmm....
Match 3 -- Team 3D vs. Motor City Machine Guns vs. Beer Money, Inc.
This match starts out with a great pace and quite bit of potential. Then it quickly vanishes, as Kevin Nash and Scott Hall hit the ring looking for Devon and Bubba. The match is thrown out as a rumble erupts, and Eric Young runs down with a kendo stick. Only he turns on Team 3D, beating down both guys and siding with The Band. The Guns revive to take some shots at Hall and Nash, but Beer Money quickly puts a stop to that.
Now itís the moment youíve been waiting for (provided your name is Mrs. Jordan, mother of Orlando), the debut of the O Zone. Jordan says he does what he wants, when he wants, or something like that. His first guest is "The Freak" Rob Terry, or at least a cardboard stand-up of Terry. OJ asks the fake Freak who he fantasizes about, and apparently the stand-up canít stop thinking about Jordan. The real Terry shows up and isnít too happy, ripping up the stand-up. Jordan avenges the fake Terryís death by ambushing the real Terry, choking him with a chain and breaking an equally fake planter of some sort over his back. No one asked me, and I wouldnít have worked an angle around Jordanís real life bisexuality in the first place, but if I did, this wouldnít be the way Iíd go about doing it. Iíd say it would be blatant publicity grab via shock value or nothing. Again, preferably nothing, because itís hard to do something like this in a compelling way.
Match 4 -- AJ Styles vs. Abyss -- Monsterís Ball Match
A garbage can, steel chairs and a crutch all get in on the action. Styles gets thrown into a chair set up along the turnbuckle and hit with Shock Treatment, but he manages to kick out at two. Abyss empties a bag of tacks in the ring just as Flair arrives, apparently trying to force Chelsea to strip to distract Abyss. She doesnít, but Abyss is still distracted enough not to see AJ grab some brass knuckles. A shot from the knux softens The Monster up so Styles can springboard over and slam him on top of the tacks. Thatís enough to get the duke.
Main Event -- Desmond Wolfe vs. Rob Van Dam -- TNA World Championship Match
Wolfe attacks Van Dam on the outside before the opening bell. The action moves inside the ropes, where Desmond strikes with a shoulder charge into the corner. He follows with a forearm shot and a modified DDT for two near falls. RVD rallies with a jumping kick and Rolling Thunder, but he gets crotched when he goes up top. After blocking two Tower of London attempts, Rob hits a springboard kick to the floor. The two men battle on the ramp, but RVD manages to flip Wolfe back into the ring and follow up with a Five Star Frog Splash to retain the gold.
Weíre not done yet, because Hogan still wants to talk to Sting. Speaking of the Stinger, heís apparently been a busy boy, because Jeff Jarrett has been laid out backstage.
Hogan formally calls out Sting, who humors him and joins Hulk in the ring. Asked what makes him tick, Sting says itís the TNA brand. Unfortunately, Sting isnít fond of the way Hogan was protected in WWE and WCW, and he thinks Hulk is doing the same thing to some guys in this promotion. Hogan fires back that he believes Sting is just upset because some guys in TNA actually enjoy watching each otherís backs. He invites Sting to take his best shot, but Jarrett sneaks in from behind and steals the ever present baseball bat. JJ menaces Sting, but Hogan prevents him from seeking vengeance as Impact fades out. Is this goodbye forever Mondays, or simply Ďtil we meet again?
Nick Tylwalk has been writing for SLAM! Wrestling for over a decade, and yes, he referenced The Sound of Music in the headline. Call him out on it at email@example.com or follow more manly musings about violence both scripted and real at his Twitter feed @Nick_Tylwalk.