IMPACT WRESTLING on Pop Tuesdays at 9/8c starting January 5, 2016

Bracing For IMPACT: You've Been Warned

By James Guttman

When Tito Ortiz stepped into the arena on Thursday night's Impact, everyone instantly had an opinion.  They claimed to know what was happening.  Fans, commentators, and journalists all spoke out about what the MMA legend was surely here to do.  

Unfortunately for them (and us), no matter what they say, no one has any clue.

IMG 5650You see, Tito Ortiz said nothing when he crossed his arms at the end of Impact. He stood stoically and even in his stillness, he incited shock and amazement from every wrestler in the ring.  Do you know why?  Because they remembered something that we didn't.

Tito's #August1Warning videos never said, "Beware.  I'm coming to Impact to cross my arms and stand stoically."  No.  He said he had a problem that he needed to solve.  That was the warning.  Go back and watch.  He clearly has something on his mind and no one has any idea what that is.  As of this writing, Ortiz still hasn't made his intentions clear.  That's why the superstars of TNA are so worried.

Up until now, things have been all about stopping Aces and Eights.  The Main Event Mafia, Chris Sabin, and others all have gathered together to stop the outlaws from taking over TNA once and for all.  With this group warfare encompassing Impact, we tend to forget that there are individuals here with their own agenda.  Tito Ortiz may be one of those individuals.

It sent the Main Event Mafia into a tailspin to see the Huntington Beach Bad Boy arrive.  Fellow MMA icon, Rampage Jackson, nearly lost his head at the mere sight of him.  Although Sting and the others seemed slightly less agitated, don't let that fool you.  These veterans are used to the unexpected occurrences of pro wrestling.  Now, with less than two weeks until the big 5-on-5 Mafia vs. Aces & Eights Hardcore Justice match (which sees the man who takes the loss leaving TNA forever) , can the Main Eventers pull it together and overlook this distraction?  Or will the worries of Tito Ortiz hang over their heads in the most important bout the group has ever signed on for?

That's not to say that Aces and Eights can sit pretty.  How do we know that Tito isn't after them?  Heck, how do we know he's not here for the World Heavyweight Championship?  If you heard Austin Aries on Thursday, you know that the World Heavyweight Championship is the most important thing in TNA.  So it's not only possible, but probable that Ortiz might have his eyes on that.  In that case, the contract signing with Bully Ray and Chris Sabin this Thursday could take an interesting turn.  With just one week until the “Hardcore Justice” Impact special, the last thing Bully needs is the threat of Tito Ortiz lingering as he signs on for the big cage match.  Factor in that Brooke Hogan is cryptically threatening the former champion ahead of this contract signing and you have a night that the Aces and Eights President needs to prepare for.

If it turns out that the World Heavyweight Championship was the focus of the August 1st Warning, then Chris Sabin is in some trouble too.  As the current champion, he constantly has to watch his back.  Not only is the possibility of Tito Ortiz now looming, but there's the entire Bound For Glory Series that's been playing out.  With TNA's top stars ripping friends and foes limb-from-limb so they can challenge the Champion at Bound For Glory, this series has brought out a killer instinct in its participants that many didn't realize was there.  If you need a refresher course, just tune in on Thursday when Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian face off.  Badd Influence love sharing jokes and martinis, but the thought of a World Title shot will make them throw all of that out of the window and inflict some pain.  It's a scary thought if you're Chris Sabin.   Even if he isn't the target of Tito Ortiz, he has plenty more to worry about from a number of wrestlers who are becoming hungrier for the championship prestige each week.  There can only be one man at the top of the totem pole…but there's a whole locker room of stars just ready to chop him down.

So we can all shoot off our theories.  We can all debate the future.  But one thing is certain - nothing is certain yet.  Why Tito Ortiz is here is something that only he knows and, on Thursday night's Impact, he's going to speak out.  There will be plenty of people listening to what he has to say.  Those who aren't listening, well, those people just don't understand the whole point of a warning.