By: Thomas Sanders |
The Aces and 8s gang has been tormenting the IMPACT WRESTLING superstars since the beginning of this year’s “Bound for Glory Series;” but even the mighty duo of the “Icon” Sting and Bully Ray weren’t able to finish them off on TNA’s biggest stage. The gang’s name derives from the “dead man’s hand,” a poker hand with two black aces and two black eights that as legend has it, “Wild” Bill Hickok held as he was shot from behind by “Broken Nose” Jack McCall. Before this modern day incarnation started assaulting our superstars, the Aces and 8s preferred to scatter the “dead man’s hand” around the IMPACT Zone as ominous warnings of what was to come.
The warnings evolved into threats, and the threats eventually became attacks. In his fit of rage at “Bound for Glory,” Hulk Hogan unmasked former superstar Devon as the first confirmed traitor to have aligned himself with the Aces and 8s; but with the gang now controlling the IMPACT Zone, is it too late to save everything that TNA has built? Let’s take a look back to see where everything went so wrong.
On the June 14 edition of IMPACT, three masked men mysteriously attacked the “Icon” Sting as he humbly discussed his induction into the TNA Hall of Fame. In the IMPACT Zone, even bitter enemies fight with honor and respect, so when the masked attackers vanished for three weeks, their intentions became increasingly ambiguous. On July 5, Hulk Hogan received a package containing the “dead man’s hand” and a note that read, “We’re not cowards, we’ve got something for you Hogan, wait and see!”
Hogan didn’t have to wait very long, because on July 12, the Aces and 8s injured him during one of their signature attacks backstage. The next week on IMPACT, the gang jumped Kurt Angle, Austin Aries, and even a “Gut Check” hopeful during his live tryout. By this point, nobody on the TNA roster felt safe, so naturally hysteria began to ensue. On July 26, Sting presented evidence that the “Cowboy” James Storm was behind the Aces and 8s, which led to the entire IMPACT roster coming out to defend the ring during Storm’s match later that night.
With “Hardcore Justice” just around the corner at the time, the threat of more attacks loomed large over the IMPACT Zone on August 9. That night the gang only surfaced in a series of videos, which led to mounting suspicions about the “Cowboy’s” involvement. Four days later the Aces and 8s made their first Pay-Per-View appearance by attacking the “Pope” D’Angelo Dinero and later fulfilling their promise to target Bully Ray by interfering in the evening’s four-way tables match. The gang had become a constant threat to the superstars’ careers, as the hospital bills mounted while the attacks were growing in severity.
Tensions hit a breaking point on the August 23 edition of IMPACT: an all-out brawl erupted in the ring, the locker room, and even the parking lot. Austin Aries, who was TNA World Heavyweight Champion at the time, sustained a nasty injury to his arm from one of the gang members, and then the following week he took another shot which left him unconscious.
At “No Surrender” on September 9, the gang tried to affect the outcome of the Bound for Glory Series by fighting the TNA roster yet again in the locker room. The “Charismatic Enigma” Jeff Hardy felt the pain of a shoulder injury at the ruthless hands of the gang, but still managed to pull off an improbable victory against Bully Ray that night thanks to more interference. The loss would fuel Bully Ray to step up at “Bound for Glory” to volunteer as Sting’s partner against the Aces and 8s, but first the gang was about to up the stakes yet again.
September 20 marked the first kidnapping in the IMPACT Zone, which the Aces and 8s pulled off without a hitch. The gang took Hogan and Sting into their clubhouse and demanded a tag team match as a caged Joseph Park looked on in fear. With more brutal beatings happening every week and now a hostage situation at hand, Hogan had no choice but to grant the gang their match.
Sting and Bully Ray had control of the “No Disqualifications Match” at “Bound for Glory,” but as Wild Bill Hickok knows all too well: never turn your back on the “dead man’s hand.” The Aces and 8s dishonored their tag team agreement, swarmed the “Bound for Glory” ring and claimed victory. Nobody knows what the future holds for the IMPACT WRESTLING roster, which is now at the mercy of the Aces and 8s; all we know is that the gang is savage, unpredictable, and being helped by Devon, a man who knows exactly how to hit the superstars where it hurts most.