The SmarK Rant for TNA Impact Wrestling – 05.24.12 This trainwreck at least HAS to be more interesting than Smackdown these days. Taped from Orlando, FL Your hosts are Mike Tenay & Taz Hulk Hogan gives the troops a peptalk backstage, and he goes over the format sheet for tonight and talks about how all the MOMENTUM that TNA has are breaking the format because they can’t be contained by regular TV production. So it’s Open Fight Night, which means a title shot tonight and anyone can challenge anyone else, and Hogan grills Bully Ray, Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles about which of them should get the shot tonight. The upshot is that Hogan wants Roode to lose tonight, so it’s not Bully Ray getting the shot. Ouch. This was an interesting reality-show type backstage segment, filmed and produced differently than their usual ones. Eric Young & ODB v. Gail Kim & Madison Rayne This comes from a pretty brutal challenge promo by Gail Kim, as she delivers a stilted speech about being the most dominant Knockouts champion in TNA’s history. Young trades headlocks with Kim, and ODB comes in to clean house on the heels as we take a break. Back with Rayne working ODB over and getting an elbow for two. ODB spears Kim out of the corner and makes the hot tag to Young, but of course he’s not allowed to do anything. Or I guess not, as he slams the girls, but ODB nags him about putting his pants back on. And who hasn’t been there? Sadly, she’s so distracted by Young’s speedo that she gets tripped up and pinned by Kim at 8:50. I’m assuming this was non-title but it wasn’t really made clear. Rob Van Dam v. Gunner Apparently Gunner injured RVD some months ago, and RVD wants to settle it. I’m down with that kind of reasoning. They brawl outside and Gunner throws a chair in, but RVD gets into a slugfest with him instead and hits the spinkick. Rolling Thunder, but he misses a spinkick in the corner and Gunner takes over. He charges, however, and runs into a leg lariat and then gets Van Daminated. His own damn fault for bringing that chair in. Five Star Frog splash finishes impressively at 2:48. *1/2 TV title: Devon v. Garrett Bischoff Devon throws out the challenge based off getting eliminated in a battle royale last week. But they’re still cool with each other. Devon puts him down with a back elbow, but misses a splash to allow Garrett to get a neckbreaker. Devon shrugs that one off cheerfully. And then the Robbies run in for the DQ while Devon is casually holding a headlock. The babyfaces team up to get rid of the doofuses (doofusae?) and Garrett can barely clothesline someone over the top rope properly. Meanwhile, Hulk eliminates Jeff Hardy because his win-loss record just isn’t up to snuff lately. Hulk promises to choose between Angle and AJ later. Bully Ray v. JOSEPH PARK, ESQ. Bully calls Joseph out of the audience, but he’s never been in a fight before and he’s a little intimidated. But then he uses his LAWYERING skill to go all Matlock on Bully Ray and accuse him of masterminding Abyss’ disappearance. Bully takes offense and beats the hell out of him. Gut Check Challenge: Austin Aries v. Joey Ryan Ryan looks like a skinny 80s jobber trying to look like goofy 80s Scott Hall. Aries easily dominates him, but goes up and gets crotched for two. Ryan with a back elbow for two. Aries fires back with a spinning elbow, but Ryan bails to the apron and gets a sunset flip. Aries rolls through it and dropkicks him, but Ryan hits a pumphandle suplex for two. Pretty nice little sequence there. Aries comes right back with a throw into the corner and hits him with the dropkick into the corner, and finishes with the brainbuster at 4:10. Good effort from the indy geek here. He needs an image makeover, but I’d hire him. ** TNA World title: Bobby Roode v. AJ Styles Hogan brings out both potential challengers and then picks AJ because he knows Roode better. AJ dominates and tosses Roode, and we take a break. Back with Roode sending AJ into the post to injure the shoulder, and back in for two. Roode works the arm, but charges and gets backdropped to the floor, and AJ follows with a dive. AJ gets distracted by something on the ramp and that allows Roode the chance to hiptoss him onto the stairs, and back in for two. And we take another break. Back with Roode dropping a knee for two and going to a surfboard, but AJ breaks free and tries the springboard. Roode breaks that up, but AJ fires back with the springboard forearm after all, and gets two. To the top, but AJ fights him off and comes down with the missile dropkick for two. They trade finisher attempts and Roode catapults him into the corner and then follows with a spear for two. Into the crossface, but AJ rolls him over for two. Roode tries it again, but AJ reverses to an Indian deathlock, forcing Roode into the ropes. AJ sets up to finish, but Roode backdrops out and into the spinebuster, and the fisherman’s suplex gets two. Another one is reversed into the Pele kick and AJ goes out to the apron, but blows the 450 springboard, allowing Roode to finish with the suplex at 21:13 and set the record for longest reigning champion. Hell of a TV match, though. **** After one last break, Bobby Roode celebrates his win and calls out Hogan to celebrate with him, but Hulk brings out Sting, who is apparently the SHOCKING special guest promised all episode. So next week it’s Roode v. Sting in a lumberjack match on the first live show. Whoopee. The Pulse The closing angle was pretty underwhelming, but I actually enjoyed this show more than RAW as of late. It was certainly more logically booked. I’ll probably stick with this over Smackdown for a while and see where the live TV thing goes.