Devon Hughes was asked to leave the TNA Impact Wrestling company this week after being defeated in the ten-man, ‘Loser of the Fall is Gone’ contest between the Main Event Mafia and the Aces & Eights.
Heavyweight World Champion and President of the Aces & Eight Bully Rae could only watch on in despair, as his former tag-team partner and close friend was the first to be pinned in the five on five match-up.
AJ Styles, who was revealed shortly before the fight to be the fifth and final member of the Mafia team, grabbed the decisive pin and thus eliminated Devon from not only the match, but also the TNA Company – ending a career that has included 25 major championships.
The night ended with a furious Bully Rae, accompanied by associates Tito Ortiz and Brooke Tessmacher, approaching the ring with his famous hammer as the Mafia celebrated their victory.
It was a defeat that many would not have predicted for the Aces & Eights; just a week after Bully Rae had won back his World Championship belt from Chris Sabin.
In the long awaited contest that pitted Rae’s Vice-president Mr Anderson, along with Garrett Bischoff, Wes Brisco, Knux and Devon against the Main Event Mafia, the Aces & Eights expected to hold a one-man advantage due to Kurt Angle’s continued absence through injury.
This meant that at the start of the match, the Mafia lined up with just four members – Sting, Samoa Joe, Magnus and Rampage Jackson. Having already been turned down in their attempts to recruit Austin Aries, and with Tito Ortiz having betrayed his long-time compatriot Jackson to side with Bully Rae, the crowd favourites seemed resigned to going in a fighter short.
But long-time TNA favourite and former World Champion AJ Styles had other ideas, returning in his ‘Phenomenal One’ gimmick with his old theme song, giving up the ‘lone wolf’ image he has portrayed for much of 2013 following feuds with various members of TNA, including Anderson and Angle.
After an initial mass brawl between the ten competitors, the bout settled down into a more traditional tag-team match, with Joe and Brisco the only wrestlers in the ring.
The Mafia dominated the early stages as first Joe, and then Styles had early attempts at pinning Brisco and Bischoff.
But Knux began the Aces & Eights turn around against Magnus, and despite surviving an attempted pin, the British fighter was in trouble as his foe’s rotated cleverly against him, keeping him clear of any possible tagged escape and steadily wearing him down. Indeed, it took a late intervention from Joe to prevent Brisco pinning him.
Magnus was eventually able to crawl back to his corner and tag in Sting. The Icon swung things back in favour of the Mafia, only for all ten fighters to storm the ring, and for chaos to ensue once again.
Knux and Devon combined to almost take out Sting, but Styles responded in spectacular style, getting rid of Knux and then knocking aside Bischoff as he attempted to come to Devon’s rescue. Devon attempted to use the distraction caused by Bischoff to take out AJ, but Styles was not to be denied, pinning his victim for three and forcing him to leave TNA.
A stunned Bully Rae, invited by Anderson to watch his club’s predicted victory from ringside, stood with his hands on his head while his Vice-president and other associates all wore similar looks of anger and frustration on their faces.
The Mafia were left to celebrate, as their new hero was the first to slip out of the ring, pausing just long enough to respond with a courteous nod of respect back towards his teammates calls of appreciation.
Elsewhere this week, the Bound for Glory Series continued with a four-way street fight between Jay Bradley, Hernandez, Christopher Daniels and Joseph Park.
Daniels, a member of TNA’s newest collaboration – Bad Impact – alongside Bobby Roode and Frankie Kazarian, had helped both his compatriots pick up 20 controversial points in their matches last week, and more interventions were expected at some stage during this match-up.
And indeed they came when Roode and Kazarian emerged from back-stage and combined to drag Bradley temporarily away from the action, when he had been on top against Daniels.
However, Daniels was still struggling in the match until the arrival of Austin Aries, who at the start of the night had been offered the fourth place in Bad Impact. Aries had seemingly accepted the offer when his distraction of Hernandez allowed Daniels to slam his opponent to the canvas, but with Roode and Kazarian shouting their congratulations, Aries instead turned and smashed Daniels to the floor, before racing back up the ramp and away from the action.
With Roode and Kazarian chasing their double-crossing foe, Daniels was left unaided and defeated. Park and Bradley were left to battle it out for the win, with the latter apparently on top until his weapon – a set of brass knuckles, caused blood to spout from the nose of Park.
As seen in his match with Jeff Hardy, in which he lost via disqualification, Park was transformed by the sight of his own blood, pinning Bradley with a spectacular combo before dazedly returning to his original state. He seemed as stunned by his own victory as anyone.
Kazarian and Roode did taste victory on the night however, as an impromptu tag-team match against World Champions Gunner and James Storm ended with Roode pinning his former tag-team partner Storm to the canvas. Bad Impact have not been making many friends in the world of TNA wrestling over the last two weeks, with their underhand tactics and the attitude of Roode – the self-proclaimed ‘IT-factor’ in pro wrestling, the source of many of their fellow wrestlers discomfort.
X-Division Champion Manic also claimed a quick-fire victory over Sonjay Dutt in a non-title match that clearly showed off his credentials as one of the companies finest wrestlers, while Gail Kim defeated ODB in the female ‘knockout’s’ match.
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