Wrestling Flashback – The Aces And Eights

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“When you ride with Aces and Eights, you never walk alone!”

Many groups have came and gone in TNA but none of them were as consistently utilised and pushed for than the group of motorcyclists known as the Aces And Eights.

The group first made their way to TNA when they attacked Sting on Impact following his match with Bobby Roode at Slammiversary 2012. This was their way of asserting themselves in TNA by taking out the biggest dog in the yard and putting the rest of TNA on notice.

These attacks would continue on TNA talent as the TNA World Champion Austin Aries and General Manager Hulk Hogan were also targeted in these attacks. The big question was who was behind the attacks from these thugs and the first suspect that was mentioned was James Storm. The Aces and Eights started a pattern of attacking every member of the TNA locker room with one notable exception. Storm denied his involvement with the group and the group basically confirmed Storm’s innocence by attacking him on Impact.

Aries’ arm was attacked by the group and Aries wanted revenge. After taking an Aces and Eights member hostage (Yeah, this actually happened) Aries and Hogan tortured the poor fella for answers about who was running the deal. A deal was eventually made with TNA and Aces And Eights agreeing to a fight at No Surrender between Austin Aries and the “Arm Breaker” of Aces and Eights. Aries won the fight but the group made their mark that night by taking out Jeff Hardy. This led to Hogan locking out the Aces and Eights to prevent these attacks once and for all.

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However, this didn’t stop the group of bikers. They captured Joseph Park and eventually Hogan and Sting too, bringing them to their clubhouse. The leader of the group then began negotiations with Hogan and Sting for Joseph Park. The leader proposed a two on two match at Bound For Glory with two Aces and Eights members going up against Sting and a partner of his choosing. If the Aces and Eights won, they earned access to the Impact Zone. If they lost, they’d be gone for good. After the match, Park would be let go. Hogan agreed to the stipulation and the match was set.

What’s funny about this segment is that the leader’s voice was messed with by an audio mixer to prevent his identity from being revealed to the viewers. However, someone on YouTube actually messed with the audio of the segment to work out who was actually playing the leader in that segment. In this audio clip, it appeared that Eric Bischoff was actually playing the leader in this segment. However, a segment just a few months later would “reveal” Devon as the one that was taking to Hogan and Sting. It’s funny. Were TNA considering revealing Bischoff as the leader? I believe he was still signed to the company at the plan and it would have made sense because Hulk Hogan and Sting were the reasons why Bischoff was away from TNA in the storyline. I guess we’ll never know.

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Bully Ray volunteered himself to be Sting’s partner at Bound for Glory but Hogan was very sceptical. He didn’t trust Bully but Sting was all for Bully taking part. Hogan agreed to have Bully team with Sting, telling him that he was fighting for TNA. The tag team match saw Park break free and fight the Aces and Eights alongside Bully and Sting. Another member of the group put Bully through a table, giving the group the important win. An angry Hogan helped Sting and Bully take down and unmask the member that took out Bully. However, it was quite the shocker. The man was revealed to be Bully’s long time former tag team partner Devon.

It was a genuine shocker as Devon “revealed” on Twitter that he had left the company and he even vacated the TNA Television title. To see Devon was quite a stunner but it was a interesting plot twist considering Bully’s involvement in the fight against the group.

With full access, the group fought with the Impact roster more frequently and more members would soon be unmasked. D.O.C. (a.k.a. Luke Gallows) was the second man unmasked from Aces and Eights and took out Sting with a hammer to save his position within the club. Knux (a.k.a. Knux) was also revealed when Sting returned following the attack from D.O.C. Mr Anderson was also recruited to the club after they pointed out TNA’s negligence towards Anderson when the group took him out. Tazz was revealed as a member of the group during Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan’s wedding. Wes Brisco and Garrett Bischoff, two men that had been mentored by Kurt Angle, were also revealed to be associated with the group when they took out Kurt in a steel cage. The vice president of the Aces and Eights was revealed to be D-Lo Brown after he kicked Kurt Angle in the nuts. This left one member of the Aces and Eights still unmasked and one question left unanswered… just who was the leader? At Lockdown 2013, we got an answer.

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During Bully Ray’s TNA World title match against the champion Jeff Hardy, Aces and Eights found their way into the steel cage. Devon was armed with a hammer which he simply tossed to Bully. When Jeff’s back was turned, Bully smacked Jeff in the head with it. Bully pinned Jeff to become the TNA World Heavyweight Champion and he revealed himself as the president of Aces and Eights.

This was the culmination of a nine-month plan by Bully to become the TNA World Champion and it was actually one of the rare instances where TNA followed through with their long term planning. The reveals of each member was clearly well thought of by the writers with the big end game being Bully Ray winning the TNA World title. They had a plan and they stuck with it. A lot of the Aces and Eights stuff leading up to Lockdown was hard to deal with, I must admit. However, there weren’t a lot of plot holes with the story. Bully Ray addressed a lot of the plot holes fans might have pointed out over the course of the storyline in a great segment on Impact a few weeks later, when Bully revealed the whole plan.

One of the biggest plot holes I can remember up until Lockdown was Kurt unmasking the vice president in a backstage segment (in a camera angle where the viewers couldn’t see who Kurt unmasked) and not saying a word about it until the next week when he did his segment with D-Lo. Right, because Kurt just kept this important information to himself for a week? It could have possibly been covered up with Kurt giving D-Lo a chance to reveal himself but this was never mentioned by any of the commentators.

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The Aces and Eights were riding high with Bully being the TNA World champion, Devon being the TV champion again and the rest of the group working their way through the roster. Bully ended up retaining against Jeff in a Full Metal Mayhem match and a No Holds Barred match with Sting, with the latter never getting another TNA title shot if he lost. D-Lo was also kicked out of the group during this time for losing a I Quit match to Kurt and a number of other botches which cost the group as well.

There was more dissension within the group as D.O.C. and Mr Anderson argued over who should replace D-Lo as the Vice President. This led to an all Aces and Eights battle royal which saw D.O.C. refuse to go over the top rope and let Mr Anderson win. Anderson was also elected Vice President but the storyline was never really followed up on, as D.O.C. was eventually released from the company.

Bully feuded with Chris Sabin, who had cashed in his X-Division title for a shot at the TNA World title. Sabin beat Bully for the TNA World title at Destination X but would drop the belt back to Bully in a cage match due to interference from the newest member of the group… Tito Ortiz.

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Yes, the MMA legend Tito Ortiz became a member of the group as part of TNA’s working relationship with Bellator MMA. It was really a cheap version of Mike Tyson joining DX which really put a sour taste in a lot of TNA fans’ mouths. Miss Tessmacher also became a member of the group as Bully’s new squeeze. These two new additions to the group was questioned by Anderson, but Bully just told Anderson off for doing so. In order to cause further dissension in the group, Hulk Hogan claimed that one of the members of Aces and Eights would get the title shot. Anderson was revealed as the number one contender and effectively left the group by costing Bully a match with Sting. However, Anderson was unable to capture the gold and Bully rolled onto Bound For Glory and a title defence against AJ Styles.

In case you were wondering, the whole Tito Ortiz/Aces and Eights deal came to close in just a few weeks when Bellator told TNA that they didn’t want MMA fighters appearing in TNA segments any more. Wes was also kicked out of the group by Bully Ray for losing a match and Devon was exiled from TNA after getting pinned in a five on five tag team match against the Main Event Mafia. It seemed that with a lot of the members leaving, the group was going to be finished real soon.

After Bully lost the title, Anderson returned for revenge on Bully for taking him out. Anderson also tried to cause further dissension from within the group but the group stayed united. In the end, Anderson beat Bully on November 21st 2013 to officially put an end to the group and this storyline.

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Overall, the Aces and Eights storyline was not a bad storyline. It was at least a storyline that the TNA writers stuck with and some of the long term planning paid off after Bully Ray was revealed as the president of the club. It seemed that it all the months of planning and swerves eventually came together. Like a lot of past stables in wrestling history, the biggest issue was the last few months for the group. It just seemed that there wasn’t any particular long term plans for the finish of the program, which really hurt it in the end. The suggestion that this was one of the worst stables in wrestling history is just absurd. There were far worse stables like the Corre and the New Blood that were treat far worse than these group of bikers. In the end it made Bully Ray a main event star, featured as much of the TNA roster as possible and did put TNA on the right track in terms of its storylines after the whole deal with Immortal. Here’s to you Aces and Eights. May you ride your mopeds to the shores of Valhalla…

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