Wednesday, 9 March 2016

TV Review: TNA Impact Wrestling #608 (Angle vs. Lashley)

Broadcast on 8th March 2016 (taped 31st January 2016) the 608th episode of TNA's Impact Wrestling aired from the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, West Midlands, England. Kurt Angle had his last match for TNA as he faced Lashley and The Wolves defended their TNA World Tag Team Championships against Beer Money...but was it any good? Let's find out

impact wrestling #608 match card

Match 1 - TNA King of the Mountain Championship King of the Mountain - Big Damo vs. Bram vs. Eric Young (C) vs. Jimmy Havoc vs. Will Ospreay

Match 2 - TNA Knockout's Championship - Gail Kim (C) vs. Jade 

Match 3 - TNA World Tag Team Championship - Beer Money vs. The Wolves (C)

Match 4 - Singles - Lashley vs. Kurt Angle

tna talents pay tribute to kurt angle

Numerous TNA talents surrounded the ring to open the show, as TNA said goodbye to one of their best ever performers and 6 time TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Kurt Angle. Dixie Carter was the first to thank Angle for his time with the company and quite rightly TNA had edited out the "What?" chant that had hampered Dixie's emotional speech when I watched the segment get taped. Drew Galloway also took the time put over Kurt Angle and thank him for choosing the wrestle him twice on Angle's farewell tour. The last person to get involved was Lashley, who continued his slow-burn heel turn. His promo ability still isn't the strongest around, but he did what he to do here. A good idea to build towards Angle's final match with the company later on in the show and one that came off much better on TV than it did live in the arena. 

eric young defeats bram, will ospreay, jimmy havoc and big damo to retain the tna king of the mountain championship in a king of the mountain match

RANDOM KING OF THE MOUNTAIN MATCH WITH ABSOLUTELY NO BUILD...BECAUSE...TNA! The real success of this match for me was that it offered a good showcase for the British Indy talent. IPW:UK's Will Ospreay and Jimmy Havoc, and ICW's Big Damo all looked comfortable in front of the 3000+ crowd and working alongside two accomplished TV performers like Eric Young and Bram. Havoc's dive off the top of the Penalty Box cage and Ospreay taking a Neckbreaker off the ladder from Young stand out as the two best spots of the match. It was a shame that the match never had me convinced that Young would be dropping the title, as the format of the contest held things back a little in that sense. Bram and Eric Young eventually going at it provided a cool moment, that the crowd was more into than I would have expected, getting behind fellow Brit, Bram, before Young would eventually hang the title for the victory. Not the greatest example of the gimmick this one, but still will hopefully have had anyone new to Ospreay, Havoc or Damo looking to find out more about these three talented wrestlers.

fast-forward...Maria put in a killer performance in her backstage segment with Dixie Carter, no idea what actually happened though...

mike bennett and drew galloway continue to clash

The feud between Mike Bennett and Drew Galloway continued to grow, as the two had a war of words. Bennett opening the segment by claiming that he deserved a world title shot, citing that Kurt Angle leaving TNA and Ethan Carter III now being unable to challenge for the World title as reasons for this. The Birmingham crowd was on the Miracle's back, and Galloway heading out got a decent pop. The former ROH World Tag Team Champion has quickly aclimatised to the TNA environment and this feud with Galloway should leave him a position to become a major star for the promotion, he's got all the tools to do it, just as this segment proved. Galloway got the better of Bennett in the confrontation, but The Miracle still managed to escape before the former WWE Intercontinental Champion could hit the Claymore kick.

fast-forward...Backstage, Kurt Angle chatted to the TNA World Tag Team Champions The Wolves, wishing them good luck in their defense against Beer Money and also giving Davey Richards his blessing to use the Ankle Lock...

gail kim defeats jade to retain the tna knockout's championship

I'll be the first to admit that this match could have been a hell of a lot better, but it was still a solid slice of women's wrestling. Certain elements of the match could have done with emphasising for me, as there were a lot of ideas here that could have done with being spotlighting more. Gail locking on a Figure Four on the ringpost, for example, seemed to be thrown away when it could have been used to really drive the story of the contest. A big thumbs up for Gail selling her shoulder following a series of submission moves focused on that area. A highlight of the action for me was Jade turning Gail's rana attempt into a powerbomb, which looked brutal and was timed very well. A bit of a scrappy finish as Gail got the win, with Jade rolling through a crossbody for a two count before Gail rolled back through for the win, which was seemingly to set up a rematch between the two. Hopefully a rematch get's a little bit more time and attention, as this only scratched the surface of what the two talent should be capable of together. (8 minutes, 15 seconds)

beer money defeats the wolves to win the tna world tag team championship

The best match of the night for me here, as two of TNA's best tandems a very good tag bout for the Birmingham crowd. The match went back and forth, with both sides afforded exciting hot tag sequences, that made use of having two babyface tag teams in the ring together. This kept things a great tempo throughout, whilst allowing the crowd to stay lively with things pretty much split down the middle for the two sides. The closing sequences of action were superb as both sides traded big moves with all four guys getting involved and the pace rising and rising. It was a real shame that Davey Richards suffered a leg injury as he came off the top rope to take James Storm's version of the Codebreaker. This meant that Eddie Edwards had to finish the match alone, and lead to the finish feeling a little flat when Beer Money hit their D.W.I. tag finish. A rematch once Richards' is fit again certainly wouldn't go a miss, it's just a shame that it might be a while until they get to do it again in front of such a captive audience as they had here. (14 minutes)

fast-forward...Mike Bennett and Kurt Angle had a confrontation backstage, which weirdly seemed to sew the seeds for a future Angle comeback...After a scuffle in the ring, Grado escaped with Eli Drake's Feast or Fired briefcase (Jessie Godderz and Mahabli Shera also got involved)...A tribute video to Kurt Angle aired, with Pat Kenny, Al Snow, Shane Helms and Earl Hebner putting over the former 4 time WWE World Heavyweight Champion... 

lashley defeats kurt angle

I think pretty much everyone in the arena had decided that Kurt Angle was going to win his final match in TNA, but that was with everyone thinking with their heart, rather than their head. Angle has always come across as the traditionalist and would surely have wanted to give back to company, by allowing someone to get some heat from defeating him. This was another good match on Angle's "Farewell Tour", up there with the bouts with Drew Galloway and Bobby Roode from recent weeks. Certainly, the match had a lot of similarities to those contests, being heavily based on submissions with Angle locking on the Ankle Lock a number of times. A highlight of the match for me was Lashley pulling himself to ropes whilst Angle had a Grapevined version of the hold on, only for Angle to pull him back into the ring and try to lock it on again. Lashley's selling following the hold was some of the best that I've seen from the former WWE United States Champion. Whilst there was some sweet amatuer style action on offer, I felt the bout suffered from an over-reliance on the pairs finishers, with Lashley hitting a number of Spears before getting the pin. Whilst none of his three matches on this tour would be up there with some of Angle's best work, in my opinion, the fact that he managed to wrestle 3 matches of this quality over consecutive nights at this stage in his career is a testament to the true talent that Kurt Angle is. TNA will struggle to replace him.

Following the match, Lashley cemented his heel turn, by levelling Angle following initially embracing his opponent. Lashley got a bucket load of heat for this, and managed to take out both Drew Galloway and Eddie Edwards (seemingly Davey Richards was still too injured to help out) with Spears as they attempted to make the save. The pay-off for the segment was Lashley deciding to back down from Ethan Carter III and leave the ring, with the two closing the show with a stare down. There's another interesting feud to be had here, if the right heel role is found for Lashley, I'm intrigued to see exactly where TNA takes this towards the end of March and into April on TV. 


atpw scale rating - 5.68/10

Three weeks in a row that Impact Wrestling has managed to top it's best ATPW Scale Rating for 2016! Whilst this week's show receives just 0.02 more than last week, to see the show manage to maintain strong scores over the last few weeks is hopefully a sign that TNA is beginning to turn to the corner. There wasn't any particularly blow away on this week's show, but there was consitently solid content throughout the show, with every match and segment providing some form of entertainment. The show peaked towards the end of the broadcast with Beer Money winning the TNA World Tag Team Championships, before Kurt Angle lost his final contest to Lashley in the main event. 

There was certainly room for improvement throughout, with the biggest example being the lack of build for Eric Young's King of the Mountain Championship defence, that with a little extra thought (Young being forced to defend his title after upsetting Dixie Carter for example) would have resulted in a better and more satisfying contest. 

We'll have to see whether TNA can keep up the solid run of shows in the UK over the last five weeks when they return to Orlando next week with a live episode, featuring Ethan Carter III getting another shot at Matt Hardy's TNA World Heavyweight Championship and the return of Jeff Hardy against TNA King of the Mountain Champion, Eric Young.

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