Just two days removed from Slammiversary XIV, TNA presented a special edition of IMPACT Wrestling from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, USA. Gold Rush would ever match as Championship bout, so it had to be good, yeah?
Singles Match - TNA World Heavyweight Championship - Lashley vs. Drew Galloway
Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis-Bennett call out Dixie Carter
But was it any good? Let's find out.
This episode began with a fairly run of the mill opening segment, as new TNA World Heavyweight Champion Lashley kicked off proceedings. For me, Lashley is pretty ineffective with a solo promo and that showed here, as he lacked conviction in his delivery, especially when tasked with major claims like "I am better than every wrestler in the wrestling business today". What I did like however was how the rest of the segment went, as Ethan Carter III was out to lay claim to a title shot, before Drew Galloway interrupted to invoke his rematch clause. A rather savvy piece of booking here, as we've seen EC3 and Lashley cross paths a couple of times since March, with various things stopping them from having full blown fight with each other, so once again this segment teased a scrap continuing to add fuel to that fire, whilst simultaneously keeping it on the back burner. EC3 and Galloway both a lot of energy to the segment, with Galloway's promo being particularly strong in it's content and delivery.
The episode's first match saw Jeff Hardy challenging for the TNA King of the Mountain Championship against Eli Drake in a sloppy encounter. The clash had a couple of nice ideas, like Drake's springboard flying attack thing being turned into a powerbomb by Hardy, but more often than not these ideas where met with a scrappy execution. Outside this the match was fairly straightforward, with Drake dominating the earlier part of the match after throwing Hardy into the barricade, before a Whisper in the Wind would change the tide for Hardy. The finish earned an audible sigh from me, as Hardy nailed a Twist of Fate and then a Swanton Bomb, only for Matt Hardy to turn up and bite referee Earl Hebner's hand leading to the disqualification finish and Drake retaining his title. I honestly thought the Hardy stuff had been finished the previous Sunday at Slammiversary and that this show would feature fresher storylines, but nah, this bizarre feud rolls on.
fast-forward...Nice little backstage segment with Ethan Carter III and Drew Galloway having a chat about Galloway's TNA World Heavyweight Championship rematch with Lashley later in the show...
Thought that was all the Hardy shenanigans you were gonna get this week. Hell no, motherfucker. To be fair to the segment, it did manage to take the family rivalry to whole new level of utter insanity. Matt Hardy is doing some of the weirdest stuff that I've seen in the wrestling business and I've no idea if it's completely awful or bloody awesome. With Matt cutting his promo from the stairs that Jeff had jumped off a few months ago, there was no particular reason given for why this feud was continuing, it just was. There may have never been a storyline that has been so damn quotable as this one. "This here is the origin of broken Matt Hardy", "You had zero remorse for my lurvely wife" "For those sins you must be deleted" "Fight me with hona" with even Jeff chipping in with the ridiculous statement that baby Maxel was "the youngest teenage superstar ever to grace this sport". It all ended up with a silly spot as Matt pushed Jeff down the handrail of the stairs, which lets be honest wasn't the most brutal spot and was a bit of an anti-climax following the intense weirdness of the rest of the segment.
fast-forward...Matt Hardy left me questioning the meaning of life as he challenged Jeff Hardy to a Six Sides of Steel match next week in a backstage promo...
Eddie Edwards was putting his newly won TNA X Division Championship on the line against former champion Trevor Lee in a short encounter next. The pair showed real promise that they could produce a memorable encounter, if given more than four minutes to put something together. The action was crisp and the pair looked comfortable with each other as they crammed as much activity as they could into their match. A nice near fall for each lead to match feeling fairly open as Lee got a two of a Jumping Knee after distraction from Gregory Shane Helms, and Edwards countered Lee's small package driver with a small package of his own. It was a frustrating watch, as you could see the pair were fighting against the time constraints and therefore were never able to take things up a notch. Edwards would retain the title in simple finish, connecting with a Boston Knee Party to collect victory.
fast-forward...The Bro-Mans used some kind surveillance system to watch Raquel get changed, yeah, um, wow, 2016...Ethan Carter III and Lashley bumped into each other backstage, with EC3 reminding Lashley that he'd be coming for whoever was holding the title after tonight...
One of the most heavily promoted sections of the show was the announcement of this year's inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame. Dixie Carter was on hand to unveil five time TNA Women's Knockout Champion and one time TNA Women's Knockout Tag Team Champion Gail Kim, with a promo flooded with hyperbole and video package on Kim's TNA career. To be fair, Kim was probably the only name that could think of as a possible induction this year, with names like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe all aligned with rival promotions. Whilst the official ceremony will take place in October at Bound For Glory, Kim thanked ANYONE SHE'D EVER WRESTLED anyway. This will most likely be used to add momentum to Kim's feud with Maria Kanellis-Bennett.
fast-forward...The Decay cut a short promo about their upcoming TNA World Tag Team Championship match, including some cryptic words from Rosemary about finding someone who needed to decay...Jade interviewed Jeremy Borash's sit-down interview with Marti Belle, attacking her former Dollhouse partner, throwing her into a row of chairs before having to be restrained...
The Decay put their TNA World Tag Team Championships in a Four Corners match involving The BroMans, Grado and Mahabali Shera and The Tribunal in a thrown together bout. It'd be hard to make a case for any of the three challenging teams deserving a title shot, with the BroMans having lost to The Decay and The Tribunal only having their first match as a duo and defeating Grado and Shera two days earlier at Slammiversary. Therefore the match ended up being fairly disjointed and whilst it didn't descend into becoming an absolute mess, neither did it provide anything of any real note. The Decay picked up their third successful title defense, capitalising on Al Snow's attack on Grado, with Abyss chokeslamming Crazzy Steve onto the prone Scotsman for the pinfall.
The longest segment of the show so far was up next and it was more talking. This time an appearance from Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis-Bennett, which is usually a highlight of the show for me, but unfortunately I felt that the segment came across as long-winded and ended up feeling much longer than it actually was. The narrative was basically that MKB would continue to get more and more aggressive with Dixie Carter, leading to Carter slapping her. Um, cool, I suppose. But it was just full of filler, as Billy Corgan came out for no particular reason and then Carter came out anyway, with everyone involved just rambling about nonsense. Carter shouting "These people do not want to hear you talk anymore" got a chuckle from me because how utterly ridiculous that statement is coming from the head of the company, who is also taking up precious TV time by talking. Carter should be nowhere MKB, there's no benefit for anyone of running with this storyline, especially when the one moment that the segment hinged on, the slap, looked bloody awful anyway.
If the rest of the show had been the miss, we were about to get a whole lot of hit as Drew Galloway unsuccessfully challenged for Lashley's TNA World Heavyweight Championship in a very good TV match. The pair hooked me from the opening exchange of action as Galloway went straight after Lashley, showing a detirmination to win back the title he lost the previous Sunday and a hatred for the man who had taken it from him, then The Destroyer clocked him in the ribs, which just so happened to be heavily taped and you had a match with a real story to tell. Galloway has developed into a top drawer performer over the last two years and it was all on show here. His selling was spot on, his facial expressions were believable and his offence looked strong and had a real purpose behind it, whilst helped by the narrative and booking, Galloway made it very easy to get behind him. On the flip side, Lashley looked like a dick, constantly going after the injury, posturing for the crowd and squaring up to Ethan Carter III on commentary and it worked as Universal Studios were on his back the whole match. The finish perhaps could have been a little stronger, with a bit of overbooking en route to Lashley pinning Galloway to retain, but it managed to work itself into the ongoing storyline in a way that will hopefully be paid off over the next couple of months. Doors have been opened for a Lashley vs. EC3 tie, whilst EC3 accidentally nailing Galloway with a chair creates some more storyline options going forward.
atpw scale rating - 3.94/10
This wasn't a good two hours of wrestling. It would be very kind to describe anything other than the main event above average here. Lashley and Drew Galloway with some help from Ethan Carter III may have produced a smashing television bout, with some clever booking and interesting storytelling, but if the undercard doesn't pull at least some of it's weight then you're going to end up with a fairly poor wrestling show. The lengthy segment with Dixie Carter slapping Maria Kanellis-Bennett, the under-developed World Tag Team and X Division Championship match and whatever the fuck is going on with The Hardy Boyz are to blame for this shows, relatively, low rating score. With this being an important live episode and coming directly out of a PPV involving a World title change, I can't help but feel that TNA missed a trick in not putting on more quality matches and focusing needless segments like Gail Kim being named as the next TNA Hall of Famer.
Hopefully next week picks up a little!