Thursday, 4 February 2016

TV Review: TNA Impact Wrestling #603 (The Wolves & Beer Money vs. Bram, Eric Young & The Decay *HARDCORE WAR*)



The 603rd edition of TNA's Impact Wrestling featured TNA World Tag Team Champions The Wolves teaming with Beer Money to take on Bram, Eric Young and The Decay in a Hardcore War and Matt Hardy defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Kurt Angle...but was it any good?



kurt angle confronts matt hardy








The opening segment was a bit of a clusterfuck, with every man and his dog getting involved before the first ad break. We did however, manage to get two interesting matches for the rest of the show, with Kurt Angle revealing he had a World Heavyweight Championship bout with Matt Hardy tonight as part of his Farewell Tour, whilst Beer Money & The Wolves challenged Bram, Eric Young and The Decay to a Hardcore War. For what was just over 10 minutes of screen time that's not bad going. The dynamic between Eric Young and Matt Hardy played out on screen well, with Young continuing to develop his unhinged character with a shouty promo, there's some fun to be had by keeping their respective storylines closely linked. Not a particularly finessed opening, but it did what it had to do.


fast-forward...Highlights from the Feast or Fired briefcase openings from last week, reminding us that Grado was fired, Drew Galloway earned a TNA World Heavyweight Championship shot, Eli Drake earned a TNA King of the Mountain Championship shot and James Storm earned a TNA World Tag Team Championship shot...Tyrus bumped into Drew Galloway backstage, with Galloway calling him a "big bitch"...


lashley defeats aiden o'shea



A pretty straight forward squash match for Lashley here, with Aiden O'Shea only really getting any offence in when the mysterious Raquel turned up a ringside. Beyond a pretty sweet looking delayed verticle suplex from Lashley, just prior to winning the match with a spear, there wasn't much to talk about in terms of the in-ring action. I've no idea where this whole gimmick with Raquel is going, and I'm not sure I care all that much. What on earth was Lashley's reaction to her supposed to be? He's facial expression just looked like he wanted to shag her in the middle of the ring. Which I'm sure would've been rather awkward for everyone, but especially O'Shea as he came to from his beating. 


gail kim confronts maria



This may have been my favourite portion of the show, as Maria Kanellis-Bennett continued to prove herself a capable addition to the TNA roster. Cutting an annoying, but seriously watchable promo about women's wrestling and how she could fix it. With the current swing in viewer preference, the promo managed to tap into the idea of what women's wrestling should and shouldn't be and played the current hardcore fan opinion well. There were a lot of similarities to be found between Maria and what is being done with Eva Marie in WWE's NXT brand at the moment. Except Maria's delivery and tone of her promo has me leaning towards the idea that her performance is much more deliberate and thought out. Gail Kim offers an interesting adversary for Maria and with Gail also performing well on the microphone, by the end of the segment I wanted to see the two women beat seven shades of shit out of each other. Can't ask for more than that really.


bram, eric young & the decay defeat the wolves & beer money in a hardcore war





With rules similar to War Games this was an exciting battle that highlight four of TNA's tag team division well. With members of each team entering at intervals, and each bringing a weapon with them, the bout managed to keep things interesting throughout over 16 minutes of screen time. James Storm bringing a beer keg to the ring provided one of the bouts most memorable moments, as he placed the keg between Bram's legs at ringside and swung for the fences with a steel chair. Who doesn't love seeing a Northerner writh in pain after having his bollocks squashed by a beer keg? That's an average Saturday night in Newcastle so I'm told. 


Similar to the opening segment once all eight men (and The Decay's valet Rosemary) were involved this became one big clusterfuck. But an exciting clusterfuck. Things were happening and bodies were flying. A cheeky suplex combination from The Wolves and Beer Money lead to all four men doing the "Beer..." "Money!" thing, which was a bit of a treat. Richards and Edwards seemingly have no clue what was going on gave me a little chuckle as well. The finish showed some form of long term planning as well, as after everyone else had for some reason brawled to the back (and seemingly just stopped once behind the curtain as we didn't see them for the rest of the show) The Decay took advantage with Crazzy Steve spitting mist (a la Tajiri) at Richards before Abyss finishing off the former ROH World Champion with a title belt shot to the head. The beef between the Wolves and The Decay has been furthered, whilst the dream bout between The Wolves and Beer Money has been held off for just a bit longer.


fast-forward...Kurt Angle and Drew Galloway had a chat backstage, with Galloway thanking Angle for their previous bout, whilst also challenging the Olympic Gold Medallist if he walked away with the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at the conclusion of the show...

drew galloway defeats tyrus by disqualification




I'm gonna quickly move past Drew Galloway and Tyrus' slog fest, as whilst it wasn't a bad match, the action struggled to hold my interest, with Tyrus dominating most of the bout. At first I was a little bit disappointed to see the most entertaining part of the bout (Galloway's fiery comeback) cut short as the lights went out, when Mike Bennett twatted the Scotsman in the head with a Feast or Fired briefcase I became more engaged than I had been with any part of the prior bout. Bennett cut a capable promo on Galloway, with the pair now set to begin what should be an enjoyable feud over the next month or so. Can TNA capitalise on the potential that both men have and come out with two main event ready stars? 

trevor lee defeats tigre uno to win the tna x division championship




This received very little hype throughout the show and to be honest, I'd completely forgotten about what went down with Shane Helms and Tigre Uno by the time the pair made it out to the ring. I was pleased to see Trevor Lee heading out to the ring, after his short run with the company last year, as the former PWG World Tag Team Champion had been one of the few rays of light in the GFW Invasion angle, putting on a strong bout alongside Brian Meyers against The Wolves on the Bound for Glory PPV. The X Division title bout itself wasn't the best start to Lee's 2nd run with TNA, as he and opponent Tigre Uno failed to truly connect inside the ring. Anyone who's watched PWG over the last two years knows exactly what Lee has to offer TNA and hopefully they'll find the right opponent (*cough* Mandrews *cough*) for the new champion sometime soon. This short bout ended with Lee pulling out the most impressive moment of the match, using a nifty small package driver to claim his first X Division title.

fast-forward...EC3 cut a superb promo on Matt Hardy, that was filmed perfectly, confirming his babyface turn...

matt hardy defeats kurt angle to retain the tna world heavyweight championship





The 2nd bout on Kurt Angle's Farewell Tour saw the Olympic Gold Medalist take a bit of different role to what we saw a few week's ago against Drew Galloway. This bout was much more of a storyline contest, with Hardy able to keep the upperhand throughout the match thanks to the interference of Reby and Tyrus at ringside. There was one section of decent wrestling with the pair running through some action surprisingly smoothly, and both man got a decent near fall with Hardy coming close off a Twist of Fate and Angle doing the same off an Angle Slam. Rather cleverly we'd seen all of Angle's on-screen allies (Galloway, The Wolves, Beer Money) taken out earlier on in the show, meaning that there was no one left to help him. A moment where one if not both of Hardy's ringside helpers had been ejected from the match would have added to the drama and allowed fans to truly believe that Angle could be on his way to his seventh TNA World Heavyweight title. However, with that no happening, we were handed a pretty predicable finish, which featured even more interference before Hardy hit his version of Nigel McGuinness' Tower of London for the victory. Not a great wrestling match, but certainly adds an air of legitimacy to Matt Hardy's title reign.

finally...












 atpw scale rating - 5.09 (average)


The two focal points of the show were more than watchable and whilst the Hardcore War might not have been a particularly high on awe-inspiring high spots and the World Heavyweight Championship bout wasn't a in-ring masterclass, both matches had their plus points and provided some storyline advancement, whilst bolstering both The Decay's fledgling run as a duo and Matt Hardy's title run. Mike Bennett and Maria continue to prove themselves as astute signings from ROH in two strong segments elsewhere, with only Lashley's bout with Aiden O'Shea failing to do anything for me, whatsoever. Not bad at all.

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