It was a night of 5-on-5 ferocity, 3-man mayhem, 2-on-2 trouble, and 1-on-1 confrontations. From Jonesboro, Ark., it's the 4/4 Four-Point Stance! Full coverage from Thursday's IMPACT WRESTLING broadcast on SpikeTV!
Scroll down for exclusive ringside photos and footage from the event!
1. The Aces Continue Ripping At The Heart And Soul Of TNA: Say what you will about the members of Aces & Eights, they're not going to back down from a confrontation. Not in the form of a Team TNA consisting of Kurt Angle, Magnus, Samoa Joe, Eric Young and the eager newcomer Joseph Park. The A&8 took on said team in a 10-man tag match and prevailed, showing their ongoing willingness to take a beating in order to get what they want, be it victory or control. And certainly not in the form of World Champion Bully Ray's wife Brooke Hogan, who the champ called out to present an envelope, which Brooke assumed to be divorce papers. Instead, it was a front-row ticket to next week's IMPACT LIVE in Corpus Christi, Texas, where the Bully will take on Jeff Hardy in a Full Metal Mayhem match for the World Heavyweight Championship. Will Bully Ray's "good luck charm" show up ringside in South Texas? We doubt it after that slap.
2. She Doth Protest...Not At All: What is it with Gail Kim and putting her hands on TNA officials? We all know her physical run-ins with Taryn Terrell, the ones that resulted in the blonde bombshell being fired from her job as Knockouts official (and her subsequent addition to the Knockouts competitive roster.) Now we see Kim taking a similar, yet completely different, tack with Joey Ryan, who offered Knockouts exec Brooke Hogan his services (hopefully temporarily) as an official for the Knockout matches. Ryan ruled the ring with quite the studied inefficiency during the Knockouts tag match between Kim and Tara vs. Terrell and Velvet Sky, his hand touching the match only for a very speedy three count that gave Kim's team the win. Not that Kim had one bad thing to say about this particular ref's tactics. Funny, that.
3. Do They Have What It Takes? The debut of Gut Check on the road brought two well-traveled veterans -- "Scrap Iron" Adam Pearce and the lanky luchador Magno --out in front of the IMPACT bright lights and television cameras. Both men, each experienced in their own ways, had their powerful moments and their less-than-crisp moments. Next week in Corpus Christi, one will be eliminated and the other go on to face the Gut Check judges with an opportunity for a TNA contract on the line. At this point, we can honestly say it's a toss-up.
4. Which Side Will AJ Choose? The ongoing recruitment of, matched with an equal silence from, AJ Styles continues to befuddle the IMPACT audience. Aces & Eights loudmouth Mr. Anderson offered AJ a customized A&8s cut, ready to have The Phenomenal One join their ranks. Meanwhile, after IMPACT GM Hulk Hogan called Styles out to the ring for an answer, it was James Storm's interruption (not to mention not-so-veiled threat that "You better clock out before you get knocked out") that forestalled Styles' response. Could Hogan and Storm's insistence on an answer be the thing that tips Styles' scales toward TNA...or toward the renegade gang bent on TNA's destruction?
In other news coming out of Jonesboro:
-- The contract signing for the Tag Team Championship match next week between "the team of World Champions" Austin Aries and Bobby Roode, and Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Hernandez took on a new dimension. Despite the seeming hesitation of Super Mex, the challengers agreed to the new stipulation of a 2-out-of-3-falls match.
-- The flip side of the evolution of the X-Division, the new Qualifying Match, featured Sonjay Dutt (the man who took the pin in the most recent X-Division Championship Match) taking on Mason Andrews and the returning Petey Williams, who hadn't been seen in TNA in more than four years. In typical "quick as a hiccup" action, Williams' genuinely scary looking Canadian Destroyer sealed the deal on Andrews, after Andrews had dispatched Dutt with a high-impact flying knee. Williams goes on to face Zema Ion and the reigning X-Division Champ Kenny King at the next championship opportunity.