Thursday, 24 March 2016

TV Review: TNA IMPACT Wrestling #610 (TNA World Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender's Gauntlet)

On 22nd March 2016, TNA aired the 610th episode of Impact Wrestling, having previously taped the event on 15th March 2016 at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, USA. The show featured Bram, Jeff Hardy, Ethan Carter III, Matt Hardy, Rockstar Spud, "The Miracle" Mike Bennett, Eric Young, Lashley and Tyrus competed in a Gauntlet Match to crown a new #1 Contender to Drew Galloway's TNA World Heavyweight Championship, after a chaotic opening segment involving everyone (minus Lashley) lead to Dixie Carter announcing the bout...but was it any good? Let's take a look.

impact wrestling #610 match card

Match 1 - TNA World Tag Team Championship - Beer Money (C) vs. The Bro-Mans

Match 2 - Street Fight - Crazzy Steve w/Rosemary vs. Eddie Edwards

Match 3 - TNA Knockout's Championship #1 Contender's Three Way - Jade vs. Marti Bell vs. Rebel

Match 4 - TNA World Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender's Gauntlet - Bram vs. Eric Young vs. Ethan Carter III vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Lashley vs. Matt Hardy vs. Mike Bennett vs. Rockstar Spud vs. Tyrus

drew galloway opens the show, shenanigans occur

What a start to the show! An exciting opening segment with lots of different faces and storylines, that set's up something to stick around for in the shows main event spot. New TNA World Heavyweight Champion Drew Galloway was on form with passionate opening promo, showing just what kind of Champion he'll be and kicking off his run well. The Matt Hardy Brand interrupted, before we got a slew of competitors attempting to state their case for a shot at Galloway's title. Jeff Hardy, Eric Young, Bram and Ethan Carter III all had a bit of a brawl, before Mike Bennett was the final one to have his say, coming out with Maria and reminding us that he was the last one to pin Galloway, back at IMPACT Wrestling #607. That's what made this segment work best for me, everyone involved had a real claim to a title shot and Galloway looked more than up for a scrap with anyone of them! "I'll bloody fight you all" he said.

TNA President Dixie Carter was out to settle things to the delight of everyone....I actually thought that Dixie did a pretty good job with what she had to do. I much prefer her role at the moment, compared to the over-done all-powerful heel boss thing she was doing a few years ago. Her saying something "they don't wanna see you argue for a title shot, they wanna see you fight for it!" was a sweet line, that managed to cut through the chaos of the rest of the opening. It set up the main event for later on and presented something a little bit different for people to tune in to. One of the strongest opening segments TNA have done in the last six months, and having plenty of names vying for a title shot can only be good for the title.

fast-forward...Mike Bennett selected his number for the gauntlet match from Jeremy Borash's golden tumbler...

beer money defeat the bro-man to retain the tna world tag team championships

The Bro-Mans were hardly the most excited duo to have answer Beer Money open challenge (only open to former tag team champions) but they did offer James Storm and Bobby Roode someone to quickly build their title reign up against, which with a pretty lacklustre tag division (You've only got The Decay and Bram & Eric Young teaming regularly) at the moment could have been hard to do otherwise. Although it was hardly a highly anticipated reunion, considering they last teamed together on One Night Only: Joker's Wild 4 that aired on 4th March. The bout itself was fairly basic in it's tag team structure, with Beer Money obviously coming out on top after about five minutes. I thought the closing stages of the bout were a little bit sloppy, with the four bumbling their way through what looked like it should have been a pacy series of moves, before Roode pinned Robbie E after a weak looking D.W.I. Not the greatest start to Beer Money's title reign this and it showed up just how much TNA need to build up it's tag division. 

fast-forward...The Decay cut another creepy backstage promo, calling out Eddie Edwards to a No Disqualification bout later in the show...Bram and Eric Young picked their numbers out of Jeremy Borash's tumbler, with Young seeing Willow again...

eddie edwards defeats crazzy steve in a no disqualification match

A decent no disqualification bout here, as Eddie Edwards looked to seek revenge on The Decay after they defeated him in six man tag action last week. Steve and Edwards worked well together, keeping a strong pace throughout and peppering in a couple of cool spots. A piece of action on the outside that saw Steve trip Edwards on the steps before hitting a cannonball stands out as the highlight of the match. Rosemary's involvement in the finish was handled well, as she costs Edwards the victory, before Steve accidentally ran into her allowing Edwards to get the win with a school-boy roll up. Whilst it didn't featured as much brutality as other recent TNA bouts, there was a lot to enjoy throughout here. It'll be interesting to see if this feud continues, but without Davey Richards able to compete, there isn't really anywhere else to take things at the moment. It'd be cool to see Edwards get a run as a singles competitor, as we saw in ROH he's got a lot to offer TNA in that department as well.

fast-forward...Jeff Hardy and Ethan Carter III picked their numbers for the Gauntlet from Jeremy Borash's tumbler, with EC3 cutting a passionate promo on Mike Bennett...

jade defeats marti bell and rebel to become number one contender to the tna knockout's championship

This was all a little weird, but I think I ended up liking it. Basically, Maria was supposed to face Gail Kim for the TNA Knockout's Championship, but called out the Dollhouse, revealing that TNA management had said she could give any Dollhouse member her shot at the title, setting up the three way and leaving Gail to awkwardly walk to the back. At first I was skeptical about the segment but with Maria explaining her position on commentary, saying she'd already defeated Gail and wanted the title to truly mean something before she won it, I was won round. It builds even more anticipation to final showdown between Gail and Maria. The three way itself was a good bout, with quite a few cool spots involving all three girls. The closing stages made Jade look like a boss as she dominated both of her opponents, and actually pinning both of them herself. Jade faced Gail on IMPACT Wrestling #608 and I asked for a more focused rematch, so I'm pretty happy on that front, and with the added element of Maria claiming that Jade is her protege, I'm very much looking forward to seeing what the three do with the opportunity they have.

fast-forward...The Matt Hardy Brand selected their numbers for the gauntlet from Jeremy Borash's tumbler, with Rockstar Spud's performance standing out especially...

jeff hardy wins a gauntlet match to become number one contender to the tna world heavyweight championship

This gauntlet was used to further a number of storylines TNA has going at the moment, was completely watchable, without being particularly memorable in it's own right. It seemed like a missed opportunity to not have any of the Matt Hardy Brand faction in the ring together, as Rockstar Spud found himself eliminated as Tyrus made his way to the ring and Tyrus was gone before Matt Hardy could get there. The group could have been used to drive the bout's story. We did however see Bram accidentally eliminate Eric Young to seemingly set-up a feud between the two, The Pope D'Angelo Dinero got involved in the bout to eliminate the man who attack himself last week, Lashley and after EC3 had eliminate Mike Bennett, Bennett helped Matt Hardy to eliminate him. Three big future feuds coming out of the battle royal with more fuel to add to the fire over the next few weeks, not bad at all.

The two Hardys being the final two in the match was a slightly obvious end to the bout, but both men put in some quality work here. There's definitely a sense that a one on one match between the two is inevitable at this point, and this tease of what could be to come was a pleasing one. The two going back and forth offered a couple of false finishes that kept the Orlando crowd engaged, with the strongest of these being Matt catching Jeff on the top rope as the younger brother went for a Whisper in the Wind. There was lots of drama towards the end of the bout, with Jeff on the apron, barely managing to hang on. Matt going for a Twist of Fate through the ropes was a nice piece of work, even if Josh Matthews called it as a Hangman's DDT, and Jeff managing to hit a back body drop over the top rope to win the bout gave a lovely visual on which to end the show. Jeff will provide a stellar first opponent for Drew Galloway's title reign next week and hopefully the pair are allowed to go full throttle, as they're more than capable of putting on a classic TV main event.

atpw scale rating - 5.71/10

TNA continues to deliver a solid two hours of television, with this episode scoring the highest ATPW Scale Rating for the show this year. The opening segment of the show completely nailed it, allowing a number of different faces to come across as stars, showcasing the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion Drew Galloway well and setting up an interesting main event for the show. Whilst that main event was hardly a blow away contest, it did set the wheels in motion for at least three different feuds, whilst also providing us with a new #1 Contender in the shape of Jeff Hardy. Hardy vs. Galloway next week is a marketable main event that if advertised well should draw a good rating. 

The undercard was varied, including a No DQ bout, a three way women's match with lots of storyline development and a World Tag Team Championship match that whilst not quite hitting the spot gave Beer Money more credibility as a Champions of a fairly weak division. 

 I want to be writing about great matches, not just good or decent matches! I think it's also worth noting that some of the promotions most exciting workers need to start getting more TV time, I'm talking about the likes of Trevor Lee, Andrew Everrett, Mandrews and Tigre Uno...basically the X Division! The show remains a watchable product and has been so for most of the year, however, with no storyline based PPV's it's time for the show to up their game in time of match quality.

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