Thursday, 31 March 2016

TV Review: TNA Impact Wrestling #611 (Galloway vs. Hardy *TNA World Heavyweight Championship*)

Check out the review of last week's Impact Wrestling with a look at the TNA World Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender's Gauntlet here

On 29th March 2016, TNA aired the 611th episode of Impact Wrestling, having previously taped the event on the 16th March 2016 at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, USA, on POP TV. The show featured Jeff Hardy challenging for Drew Galloway's TNA World Heavyweight Championship and a Six Man Tag Team match seeing TNA World Tag Team Champions Beer Money teaming with Ethan Carter III to take on The Matt Hardy Brand's Matt Hardy & Tyrus, as well as "The Mircacle" Mike Bennett...but was it any good? Let's find out!

impact wrestling #611 match card

Match 1 – Four on One Handicap Match – The Matt Hardy Brand vs. Ethan Carter III

Match 2 – Six Man Tag Team – The Matt Hardy Brand (Matt Hardy & Tyrus) & Mike Bennett w/Maria vs. Ethan Carter III & Beer Money

Match 3 – TNA Knockout's Championship #1 Contender's – Velvet Sky vs. Madison Rayne

Match 4 – Tag Team – Bram & Eric Young vs. The Bro-Mans

Match 5 – TNA World Heavyweight Championship – Jeff Hardy vs. Drew Galloway ©  

the matt hardy brand vs. ethan carter iii

Not a classic opening of Impact Wrestling here, in fact things ended up being a bit of mess. It felt like creative had three or four ideas to start the show and then decided to do them all. The fact that it went over 25 minutes and included two matches tells you quite a lot in and of itself. The Matt Hardy Brand kicked off the show, with Matt Hardy winding up the fans and taking shots at his brother, Jeff, before he was oddly interrupted "The Miracle" Mike Bennett and Maria. An odd heel vs. heel dynamic here as Bennett cut into Hardy for his age and claimed that nobody wanted to see him as TNA World Heavyweight Champion again, which got cheers. I'm not sure what the aim was here, in either the short term of the long term. The two were stopped from having a scrap by Ethan Carter III. Why would EC3 stop them from fighting? Well, he didn't really explain that, he just called The Matt Hardy Brand his three bitches and spoke to God about Bennett's career. EC3's creativity usual leads to a home run, unfortunately he struck out with this one. Hardy would then book himself and the rest of the Matt Hardy Brand (Tyrus, Rockstar Spud and Reby Sky) into a Four on One Handicap Match, because he can do that type of thing apparently.

After one weird arse set-up for the match, the contest was a pretty paint-by-numbers affair. Tyrus spent a lot of the match working over EC3 with a series of fairly basic moves (big clubbing blows and scoop slams) with the match seeming kind of directionless at times. The only stand out moment for me was Hardy holding EC3 so that Reby could slap him in the face repeatedly, which produced a sweet visual and showcased the relationship between Hardy & Reby particularly well. The finish featured some decent action between EC3 and Spud, but it'd come to a close when Bennett decided to interfere (he and Maria had stayed at ringside). EC3 had just locked Spud in a Cobra Clutch, so Bennett caused the DQ. After the previous segment, I just couldn't my head round the motives for Bennett stopping the match. Things got even more confusing when TNA World Tag Team Champions Beer Money made the save for EC3 and James Storm booked a six man tag bout to happen next. Seriously, can anyone just make a match? The rocky start continued...

the matt hardy brand and mike bennett vs. beer money and ethan carter iii

I wish that TNA had just start the show with this six man tag team match, because this was a much more enjoyable contest and an easier watch than what had gone before it. James Storm was in the face in peril role, with Tyrus doing a nice job of focusing on his ribs and The Pope actually doing a quality job of putting it over on commentary. EC3 and Bennett would eventually fight to the back, with The Miracle using Maria as a human shield, to advance their new feud. This would leave Beer Money alone with Hardy and Tyrus, with the crowd really into Storm and Bobby Roode as a duo, especially when they ran through their crowd pleasing come back sequence. I was surprised to see the heels pick up the win as Tyrus hit a heart punch and allowed Hardy to hit a Twist of Fate to get the pinfall on Roode. Seeing as the bout had basically become a regular tag team match, I'm not sure having the World Tag Team Champions lose, when the division is weak enough already, was the best idea. Well, after 25 minutes and a half minutes it was finally time for TNA to move onto something.

fast-forward...Jeremy Borash interviewed TNA Knockout's Champion Gail Kim, who revealed that Madison Rayne would face Velvet Sky in a Number One Contender's match later...Eli Drake revealed his disappointment with Jessie Godderz leaving him to rejoin the Bro-Mans in a weird backstage segment...

velvet sky vs. madison rayne - tna knockout's championship #1 contender's

Two stalwarts of TNA's Knockout division going at it to become #1 contender (alongside Jade who won a #1 Contender's bout last week) in an extremely average match. The ladies just weren't given enough time to produce anything memorable at all. However, with such an easy storyline to play off of it felt like both Madison and Velvet missed an opportunity here. Both are friends, but both want a shot at the title, but I don't think you'd have been able to tell that from watching the match. They just wrestled for a bit, and then Velvet won with a flash jackknife cover. The wrestling was fine, fairly smooth, but nothing that particularly stood. Here's hoping that TNA takes an interesting situation of both Jade and Velvet having a shot at Gail Kim's belt and with Maria still causing problems for the champ and turns into something with a bit more depth and bite to it.

d'angelo dinero calls out lashley

I've no idea who decided that D'Angelo Dinero would make a good commentator, because his promo here was absolutely all over the place. He basically just said his name a lot as he continually referred to himself in third person and got a bit angry about Lashley. There were some moments that worked but it was a very flabby piece of TV, that could have beneffited from some tighter editing in post-production. Things picked up when Lashley came out bringing things back to earth, as the segment moved naturally towards a scrap between the two. The fight was done well, with both Lashley and Dinero taking down officials and security guards in order to get at each other and including Dinero jumping off the top rope onto Lashley on the outside. Josh Matthews also ended up putting on one of his strongest performances here, adding to the sense of chaos well.  An up and down segment, but one that overall felt like it paid off strengthening the feud between The Pope and Lashley and presenting Lashley with someone to look strong against as he builds towards something bigger. 

bram and eric young vs. the bro-mans

After The Bro-Mans interrupted an Eric Young promo about Jeff Hardy, we got a pretty basic tag team match, that also featured Bram. Whilst it was simplistically put together it did manage to do a number of things here. The finish saw miscommunication between Young and Bram, which furthers their issues following Bram eliminating Young from the #1 Contender's Gauntlet last week well. We also saw the Bro-Mans take a sneak victory, which builds them back up as a team, after they lost on their return to Beer Money last week. Again nothing too memorable here, but at least it managed to strengthen a number of areas and build towards future episodes of the show.

fast-forward...In a surprise development, former WWE World Tag Team Champion, Al Snow returned to TNA attacking Grado and Mahabli Shera backstage, in a particularly violent skit...

gregory shane helms has a proposal for eddie edwards

This was another weird segment and a particularly odd piece of booking. It was billed as Trevor Lee addressing the state of the X-Division, however it was actually Lee's manager Gregory Shane Helms calling out Eddie Edwards and proposing that the two join together as a tag team. When the X-Division hasn't been on TV for three weeks and stars like Andrew Everrett, Mandrews, Tigre Uno and DJZ are nowhere to be seen, why not have an X-Division match here? I can't get my head building a storyline around Helms wanting to team with Edwards, in a situation that no one has asked for. I'm desperately hoping it leads to Lee breaking out on his own and Helms moving onto somewhere else (commentary maybe?) as this partnership just isn't doing it for me.

jeff hardy vs. drew galloway - tna world heavyweight championship

A good television main event here, as Drew Galloway had his first TNA World Heavyweight Championship defense in a competitive bout with Jeff Hardy. In their first time opposite each other, Galloway and Hardy had some nice chemistry as they worked a face vs. face bout in front of a split Orlando crowd. The contest unfolded nicely and told a satisfying story as the bigger Galloway dominated early on, before the veteran Hardy got frustrated at being unable to put the champ away with a Twist of Fate and Swantom Bomb and getting much more physical around the ringside area. Hardy going for a Swantom Bomb with Galloway on the steel steps on the outside, only to meet Galloway's knees, offered a great aesthetic moment. The Captain's selling of Hardy's ringside assault was brilliant, leading to another stand out moment when he desperately reached at Hardy and hit a Futureshock DDT to retain his title. It made Galloway look super tough and made the title look very important as he was willing to fight through the pain and do anything to keep hold of it. A clever piece of booking that gave Galloway a foundation for his title reign, after he cashed in his Feast or Fired briefcase to take the title from Matt Hardy. Easily the best piece of the show.

That wasn't the end of the show though, as Matt Hardy was out to reveal that he'd be facing Galloway for the belt next week on a special edition of Impact Wrestling entitled "Revenge". A strong emotive heel promo from Matt here that would eventually lead to Bram and Eric Young attacking Jeff at ringside and Matt fighting with Galloway. I was surprised to see the babyface's end up on top to close the show though, with Galloway taking out Bram & Young and Jeff hitting a Twist of Fate on Matt. It was, however, a set up for Jeff to announce that he'd be facing Young on next week's show inside a Steel Cage. A strong show close, that set up two big matches for next week's show.

atpw scale rating - 4.5/10

This was the weakest Impact Wrestling episode in about a month and a half, with a lot of confusing segments and weird piece of booking. It was luckily saved by a good main event World Heavyweight Championship bout between Drew Galloway and Jeff Hardy, which was followed by a nice closing segment that set up two big matches for next week. The segment with Lashley and D'Angelo Dinero was also strong. It was a shame however that stuff like Gregory Shane Helms asking Eddie Edwards to be his tag team partner, the weird 25 minutes intro with two matches and an awful lot of average wrestling made this show a bit of a drag. 

With Drew Galloway scheduled to defend his TNA World Heavyweight Championship against Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy stepping inside a Steel Cage with Eric Young hopefully we'll see TNA return to the much stronger form it's been in for most of 2016.

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