AJ Styles made a dramatic return to TNA Impact last week, as he interrupted Magnus’ farcical ‘coronation’ as World Heavyweight Champion, and challenged the 27-year-old Brit to prove himself in a winner takes all match-up.
Magnus, who claimed his maiden World Championship belt with victory over Jeff Hardy two weeks ago, officially took the title vacated by former Champion Styles, who seemingly quit TNA in November over a contract dispute with company owner Dixie Carter.
But Styles returned, Championship belt in hand, to tell Magnus that he would never truly be World Champion, until he beats THE World Champion.
After much goading from two-time TNA Champ’ Styles, Magnus agreed to the match, claiming that nobody would ever doubt him, or question his title reign again. Ignoring the pleas of a furious Dixie Carter, Magnus offered Styles a one-night-only contract, with the winner of their match keeping his World Title and securing their future with the company.
The Magnus / Styles clash closed an action-packed opening to TNA’s 2014 schedule. At the start of the evening, Kurt Angle told the crowd that 2013 had been the worst year of his career; promising to improve this year and earn the Hall of Fame induction he turned down at Bound for Glory in October.
However, he was interrupted by his most recent nemesis Bobby Roode, who has defeated him on multiple occasions in recent months, starting with a win at Bound for Glory. Angle challenged Roode to “one more match”, an offer the ‘It Factor’ initially declined, before reconsidering and presenting a compromise: he would agree to a match if, when beaten, Angle would leave the company and never accept a Hall of Fame induction.
Angle agreed to the stipulations, before revealing to a shocked and angered Roode that their match would in fact be at Genesis, in two weeks’ time, inside a steel cage.
The pair’s feud was interrupted by Chief of Staff Rockstar Spud, who told the pair that if they wanted a fight, they could also fight tonight, in a tag match.
Angle recruited Gunner as his tag-team partner, to the disgust of James Storm, who has been feuding with the Modern Day Viking for several weeks. Shockingly, despite a renowned mutual dislike and the events of their World Title Tournament match, in which Roode came within moments of dumping Storm onto a board of barbed wire, Storm offered to be Roode’s tag team partner.
Roode belatedly accepted and, suddenly, Beer Money Inc. – four time World Tag Team Champions – were back together. And it was perhaps the deep inside knowledge of each other’s abilities that helped them claim victory. Gunner initially had Roode trapped upon his shoulders, only for Storm to land his last call super kick square on his former partner’s chin. Roode recovered and won the match via pin-fall.
Chris Sabin reclaimed his X Division title from Austin Aries, only three weeks after losing it to the self-proclaimed “Greatest Man that Ever Lived”. But once again, Sabin did his rapidly falling reputation little good, as he aggressively forced girlfriend Velvet Sky into intervening, and using the distraction she caused to pin his opponent.
Ethan Carter III finally agreed to a one-on-one match with the Icon, Sting, which will also be fought at Genesis. Sting had earlier interrupted EC3’s supposed ‘match’ with Jeff Hardy. Carter emerged first and called out his opponent who, unsurprisingly, did not appear following his quitting of TNA last week. An unconvincingly bemused EC3 told officials to ring the bell so that he could count out his opponent and continue his undefeated streak. As he reached nine, Sting emerged, claiming that it was time Carter faced him like a man.
Elsewhere, Madison Rayne answered Gail Kim’s open challenge and emerged victorious to earn a Knockouts Title Shot, while Samuel Shaw made his TNA debut, comfortably defeating Norv Fernum via submission – all the while casting a troubling gaze towards ring announcer Christy Hemme.
But despite all of this it was Magnus’ coronation, the Carter’s moment to celebrate their success in claiming a ‘worthy’ World Champion that would represent them in any manor they saw fit, that proved the real talking point.
The ceremony was initially interrupted by Gunner who, for the second time in as many weeks, attempted to cash in his Feast or Fired Briefcase that warrants him a World Title Shot. Having initially been restrained by Rockstar Spud and Ethan Carter III, a masked assailant came to the aid of Gunner, chasing his captors out of the ring, before turning to Magnus and revealing himself as AJ Styles.
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