Magnus retained his World Heavyweight Title with victory in a No Disqualification match against former champion AJ Styles.
The British fighter completed his transformation from hero to heel as he capitalised on the interventions of multiple members of the TNA roster to pin a beleaguered Styles.
With the Phenomenal One already set on his exit from the company, the match served as a final farewell to his army of loyal fans as he took on wrestler after wrestler using a plethora of his iconic moves.
Styles, who won his second TNA title in October when he beat Bully Ray at Bound for Glory, left the company following a contract dispute with company president Dixie Carter, but returned for a title unification match against new champion Magnus as part of a ‘one night only’ contract.
While the manner of Style’s defeat and departure will leave a bitter taste in some TNA fans mouths, his exit leaves the company at the start of an intriguing new generation.
The 36-year-old, who has won a total of 21 titles during his time with TNA and ROH (Ring of Honour), was the last surviving member of his company’s original start-up roster from 2002.
At the start of the evening Styles boasted to both Carter and Magnus that his ‘friends in the back’, wrestlers that liked him and respected him, would help him in his match, so the fact that Dixie had made it a No Disqualification match so that her ‘paper Champion’ Magnus could receive assistance made little difference to him.
However, Carter’s minions proceeded to attack the ‘friends of AJ’ throughout the evening, both in the night’s other matches and backstage.
Gail Kim and Lei’d Tapa attacked ODB backstage, causing Eric Young to leave his match with Joseph Park to help his wife and take her for treatment. Park was left defenceless against the World Tag Team Champions, the Bro Mans, who following their victory slammed him head first into the guard rails protecting the watching fans.
Ethan Carter III attacked Samoa Joe with a steel wrench during their ‘match’, which was declared a no contest after the intervention of Rockstar Spud, preserving EC3’s undefeated record in TNA.
Kurt Angle, who had earlier that night issued an open challenge to prepare him for his match with Bobby Roode at Genesis, was put against both Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian inside a steel cage. Despite victory, the Olympic Gold medallist soon had to rush away from the arena to deal with an ‘emergency’.
Dixie ordered the cage to be left standing for another match between Roode and Sting, who had informed Carter in no uncertain terms that nothing could prevent him coming to AJ’s assistance.
The Icon was on top in his match, following up his scorpion death drop with his scorpion death lock before EC3 and Spud again intervened. Carter scaled the side of the cage to distract the referee while Spud threw Roode a baton to use against Sting. The It Factor struck several times while the official’s back was turned before escaping the cage and winning the match in the commotion.
After the match, Sting criticised Dixie for her attempted sabotage of him and claimed it would take more than that to stop him helping AJ. She smiled wryly and told him that his contract would be in jeopardy if he insisted on intervening.
James Storm and Gunner, who earlier in the evening agreed to ‘one last match’ to determine the deserved recipient of the Feast or Fired briefcase that contains a World Title shot, were also found knocked-out backstage with whiskey bottles left smashed beside them. Styles, it seemed, was on his own.
Magnus was certainly under no illusions as to his advantage, and he toyed with Styles for several minutes – dancing round him and quickly ducking out of the ring whenever AJ approached him, on one occasion claiming to have tweaked an old knee injury.
On one such occasion, as a frustrated Styles looked on, he was attacked from behind by EC3 and Spud. AJ fought back, proving much too good for his amateur level opposition and advanced again on Magnus, with Sting staying good to his word, ignoring Dixie’s threats and arriving to fight off the competition.
The Bro Mans, accompanied by DJ Zema Ion, were next down the ramp as they attacked first Sting, and then Styles with Magnus simply leaning against the corner of the ring and watching on. Twice Styles was floored by his multiple opponents, who twice beckoned Magnus forward to make the decisive pin. But hesitation from referee Earl Hebner allowed Styles to break free on both occasions before the count reached three.
Bad Influence was next to reach the ring as the ‘heel roster’ circled around Styles and Sting. However, a disgusted Hebner refused to count out Styles, who was being held by Daniels and Kazarian while Magnus made the ‘pin’. Dixie dragged out Earl’s son Brian to officiate, but by the time he had started his count AJ had again broken free.
Styles launched his calf killer submission hold on Magnus, who despite tapping out, was saved by Kazarian, who attacked the referee to prevent him bringing the match to an end.
AJ responded with his iconic Styles Clash move and pinned Magnus to the canvas, but there was now no referee in place to count him out, and despite Earl – who had left the stage earlier in the match – running back down the ramp to attempt the count, the Brit was able to break the hold at two.
The Phenomenal One clambered to the top rope to launch one final attack, only for Bobby Roode to slam him back to the floor and set up the pin. Dixie dragged her third referee, Brian Stiffler to the ring who reluctantly made the count.
Magnus punched the air with triumph, holding both Championship belts aloft as the many boos of the crowd reigned in around him. His victory and Styles’ resulting departure from TNA leaves an interesting divide with ‘Team Dixie’ pitted against the remaining members of the roster.
The two sides will come face to face once again at Genesis next week as Sting takes on EC3 and Kurt Angle gets his hands on Bobby Roode in a steel cage. Madison Rayne will also attempt to wrestle the Knockout’s title away from Gail Kim while Mr. Anderson and Bully Ray return to renew their rivalry.
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