Facts from TNA Impact Wrestling, MEN Arena, Manchester, Friday 25th January 2013

20130125_184115[1]I’ll try to minimise the spoilers as obviously these TV tapings won’t air for a few weeks in the UK – but there will be some, mostly relating to the Aces and Eights.

  • For some reason, one of the extended mix shouty rock songs they were playing prior to the show opening was the theme tune from WWE NXT. Oh, TNA.
  • Christy Hemme either forgot her skirt, or doesn’t get paid enough to be able to buy a full outfit. Poor Christy Hemme.
  • Dixie Carter began the evening by inviting the Blossom Twins out to train with OVW, an offer they accepted.
  • The opening cage match between Mr Anderson and Kurt Angle ended with the reveal of two brand-new members of the Aces and Eights! Not many people cared, though, apart from poor Kurt.
  • Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian were both dressed as Braveheart, and employed a fascinating array of insults towards the crowd.
  • Daniels called Frankie Kaz “Francois”, which is one of my favourite things that has ever happened.
  • Fortunately, Brooke Hogan was wearing a dress with straps, so no more unfortunate accidental exposure.
  • Velvet Sky called out “the two reasons I’m not Knockouts champion”. Oddly, these were not a) because she disappeared for six months and b) because she is awful, but instead Tara and her stupid boyfriend.
  • Speaking of Tara’s stupid boyfriend, James Storm apparently legitimately stiffed the hell out of him in a singles match. The highlight was the Cowboy’s superkick finisher to Jessie’s chest, which resulted in a crack that echoed sickeningly and yet quite hilariously around the arena.
  • Rob Van Dam got a huge nostalgia pop but did little to justify it in a triple threat match with Zema Ion and Kenny King, as the two younger men did all the work.
  • Joseph Park also got a massive pop, which was adorable.
  • Samoa Joe did too. God bless him, as always, he got a win over here, as he always does when he appears in Britain, because UK crowds cannot get enough of him.
  • And, of course, so did Rockstar Spud, who may possibly be being lined up to take the Robbie E role alongside Rob Terry in a new British Invasion – depending on, of course, whether they show any of that segment on TV, or whether it was just specially for the British crowd.
  • Austin Aries is MAGNIFICENT and I adore him, as does the rest of the UK, it seems. In his singles match against Chavo Guerrero, and then in a tag match with Bobby Roode against Chavo and Hernandez, the crowd were chanting his name throughout. Even when he wasn’t in the ring. The only time they stopped was when we interspersed it with “Chavo sucks”.
  • I suspect they may have to overdub the segment where SPOILER ALERT! Garett Bischoff and Wes Brisco made their first official promos as members of the Aces and Eights. Bischoff got about 12 seconds of a whiny, “You were all mean to me last year!” promo before the epic “You can’t wrestle!” chants kicked in, and Brisco got about eight seconds of a whiny “My dad is a great wrestler!” before he got the same, plus a load of “Who are ya?” for good measure. I’m told that D.O.C and Mike Knox were looking unimpressed.
  • The final match of the evening was a tables match in which poor old Sting was wheeled out, presumably filling the place Jeff Hardy would have taken if he wasn’t too conviction-laden to get into the country. It was noticeable that Sting never looked like taking any bumps, which was quite frankly a relief. Adorably, his tag partner Bully Ray had imitative face paint on as they took on the Aces and Eights.

Fantastic night, all in all – the crowd was about 6,000 or so, I’d say, bearing in mind the top level was closed and not all the lower tiers were sold out, but it was an amazing atmosphere – certainly better than WWE’s show at the same venue a few months back. All credit to TNA for this – they certainly play to their strengths and perhaps more importantly make an effort to engage their audience, primarily through Jeremy Borash acting as master of ceremonies, but also with the effort they put into to producing UK-specific shows (the win for fan favourite Samoa Joe, for example, plus a showcase for Magnus).

In terms of what these two TV episodes mean going forward (without any more spoilers), there’s at least one title match to look forward to, and there’s still at least one Ace and Eight to be unmasked. (My money’s still on Trent Barretta.)

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