Gunner missed out on a maiden World Heavyweight Championship, as his own tag team partner James Storm turned heel and allowed Magnus to claim victory in Manchester.
The Cowboy had been ringside for the title match, supposedly to protect his close friend from any outside interventions. But with Gunner on the verge of victory, Storm hit out with a Last Call Super Kick to knock the Modern Day Viking out cold.
Storm and Gunner had been feuding for several weeks, stretching back to the Cowboy’s World Title Tournament defeat to Bobby Roode in November, when Gunner threw in the towel on his behalf.
Trouble between the pair worsened when Gunner clambered over Storm to claim the Feast or Fired briefcase that won him his title shot, but they seemingly reconciled in Glasgow a fortnight ago, when both apologised and agreed to work together once again.
Meanwhile, Magnus has now successfully defended his title three times – against AJ Styles, Sting and Gunner – all in controversial circumstances. His next test will come when TNA returns to Miami on March 9 for Lockdown, where he will face number one contender Samoa Joe.
While very much contentious, the Brit had beaten both Styles and Sting with relative ease, due to the help of much of the TNA heel stable, particularly Bobby Roode. His match with Gunner was a completely different story, as Storm and the Wolves rebuffed any attempted interference.
After a tense opening to the bout, Magnus beckoned towards the top of the runway for assistance.
Storm, Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards instead emerged – wagging their fingers and smiling broadly. Despite the match being under “Magnus Rules” (no disqualification and no count-out), his associates were blocked from reaching the ring to join the fight.
For the first time since he defeated Jeff Hardy to become World Champion in December of last year, Magnus had to rely on his own wrestling skills to win the match. He started well, landing a top rope elbow for a pin count of two, before tackling his opponent with his own World Title belt.
Even with an intimidating blockade facing them, Ethan Carter III and the Bro Mans attempted to get to the ring to help Magnus finish off Gunner, but their attempts were rebuffed.
By this point, the metaphorical match pendulum had swung in Gunner’s favour, the Modern Day Viking landing a ferocious power bomb and a diving head-butt. Unfortunately for Gunner, he had his pin attempt broken by Rockstar Spud – who had snuck down to ringside during the commotion between EC3, Storm, the Bro Mans and the Wolves and hooked Magnus’ leg onto the ropes.
Having recovered from his narrow escape, Magnus again attacked his opponent with the title belt, striking him hard on the top of the head. But with Storm, having chased Spud away, shouting encouragement at ringside, Gunner broke the pin at two once again.
Gunner responded by flawing Magnus with a slingshot off the ropes. He moved again to the ropes as he looked finish off the champion with Storm, now standing over the motionless Brit, egging on his tag team partner.
But as Gunner leapt, Storm lashed out, striking his former-friend square in the face and causing him to fall head first into the canvas. A grateful Magnus had just enough energy to haul himself to his feet and collapse upon his opponent, pinning him for the win as a glaring Storm watched on.
It was a bad night all round for Gunner who, ahead of his match with Magnus, handed over to Storm the second Feast or Fired briefcase he won from EC3 in Glasgow, which granted the holder a World Tag Team title shot.
It was an action-packed night in Manchester, with Roode also coming within moments of announcing his retirement from wrestling. The It Factor, who has grown frustrated with company President Dixie Carter’s refusal to hand him a World Title match, declared to a stunned audience that it would be his last night as a professional wrestler.
He explained that he had grown to ‘hate’ himself, as well as all the ‘crap’ he had taken from Carter. Unperturbed, Dixie emerged to win back her man. She told him that both she and the company needed him, and apologised for her treatment of him. With Roode seemingly unimpressed, Carter began to get desperate, explaining that she needed a team captain to represent her in the Lethal Lockdown match against MVP, which will determine the ownership of the company.
In exchange for his help Dixie offered to ensure Roode received a 10% stake in TNA upon victory. His head turned, Roode accepted.
Delighted by their friend’s news, Bad Influence duo Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian were quick to offer Roode their assistance for the match in Miami. However, rather than accepting his former cohorts offer, an unimpressed It Factor told the pair that they must first prove they deserve to fight alongside him. The pair then fell short, as they lost out to the Wolves in a tag team match.
Elsewhere, Samoa Joe single-handedly defeated the Bro Mans and Zema Ion in a handicap match, forcing Ion to tap out for a second successive week, and Gail Kim beat Knockout’s Champion Madison Rayne in a non-title Street Fight match.
TNA fans must now turn their attention to London, where the preparation for Lockdown will continue with MVP and Bobby Roode facing-off, while Kurt Angle will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
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