The phenomenal AJ Styles capped off the biggest night in the TNA calendar by becoming the company’s new World Heavyweight Champion.
Styles defeated the head of the Aces & Eights and the defending champion Bully Ray, in a stunning no disqualification match that saw both men put their bodies on the line.
The result will surely mark a new era for TNA. Company President Dixie Carter was left visibly distraught, having tried everything in her power to prevent Styles winning the most coveted of titles for the first time since 2010.
Elsewhere at Bound for Glory, Chris Sabin controversially won the X Division Title in an Ultimate X match: forcing girlfriend Velvet Sky into the ring as a distraction before scampering up a ladder to claim the belt hanging above the ring; the Bro Mans caused a huge upset to take the Tag Team title, while Gail Kim defeated Brooke Tessmacher and ODB to be crowned the new Knockout’s Champion, after apparently teaming up with the giant Amazonian – Lei’d Tapa.
Kurt Angle declined an invitation to become the second member of TNA’s Hall of Fame, before losing in a tremendous match against Bobby Roode, which left both men barely able to stand. Magnus defeated Sting, before ignoring the attempted congratulations of his Main Event Mafia cohort and increasing speculation about a rift between the pair. Abyss returned to tackle Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, and Ethan Carter III, nephew of Dixie, made his TNA debut.
But it was a night that will be remembered for AJ Styles. After surviving a $50,000 bounty against his name in the build-up to the fight – with Dixie offering the money to anyone capable of preventing AJ fighting at Bound for Glory – and the various threats of the Aces & Eights, he fought spectacularly to cement his place as not only the TNA champion, but the people’s champion – winning against all the odds.
As expected Bully Ray fought in anything but a valiant manner, employing his traditional ‘dirty tricks’. Within a minute of the match starting, Garrett Bischoff emerged to distract Styles, while Ray grabbed his iconic hammer – but Styles was alert to the danger and quickly knocked it from his hand.
The second of Ray’s two remaining associates in the Aces & Eights – Knux – followed soon after, using the choke slam to send AJ sprawling to the floor, but he was still able to pull his shoulder up from the canvas at the last moment to survive the pin.
Keen to ensure her preferred victor, Dixie emerged to hand Ray a steel chair, but again Styles reacted, and took advantage of Bully’s turned back. Indeed, he would have won the match there and then with a pin, if it were not for Dixie’s distraction of referee Earl Hebner, as she ordered him not to count out the defending champion.
Ray fought back, ripping back the ring protectors to expose the hard wooden floorboards below – as he did at Slammiversary against Sting. But despite successfully launching several blows against Styles, AJ was a man possessed.
His overhead kick left Ray’s knee’s wobbling. He grabbed the discarded chair and sent Bully sprawling to the canvas. He dragged him agonisingly onto the wooden boards that the defending champion had himself exposed. And Styles wrapped up the victory by launching a stunning spiral tap move from the top rope and pinning his stunned opponent to the ground.
Explosive cheers rang around the arena in San Diego as a triumphant AJ repeated his iconic celebration, in amongst the crowd, surrounded by his adoring fans.
The fallout from Bound for Glory will be tremendous. Make sure you return next week to find out more.
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