Wednesday, 6 July 2016

TV Review: IMPACT Wrestling #625 - Eight Man Ultimate X (James Marston)

A big old mental week of IMPACT Wrestling this week, with Matt and Jeff Hardy's Final Deletion match grabbing all the headline and taking up all the space on our Twitter feeds right now. That's exactly why we chose to give the match and it's build up it's own special article and review which can be found here - Final Deletion - Let's face it the storyline has been pretty much outside of IMPACT Wrestling for weeks and months anyway, in terms of production and style, so it deserved it's space where I could go more in depth. On the show itself however, the Eight Man Ultimate X match and prior segment got much more time, so that's gonna be the main focus of this article. Obviously, I'm gonna talk about Final Deletion, but if you want a more in depth look then click the link above. Right that's enough of an intro, let's talk about the show. 

For me, the booking of the shows open has been everything that's been wrong with the X-Division for the last couple of years rolled into one. I've made it clear in recent reviews that I'm a big fan of Mike Bennett's work and he continued to portray his character perfectly well throughout the segment, but as Dixie Carter made her return after a week off (really not a return is it guys?) things quickly went down hill. Carter ripped into Bennett only seeing the title as a stepping stone. This is despite her owning the company that offers the X Division champion a chance to throw his belt down to get a chance at a different one. Had it been someone like Eddie Edwards, who Bennett won the title from via underhanded means, saying this, leading to Carter returning to make a 1 v 1 match between the two, you've got a segment that doesn't point out the flaw in the booking logic and allows someone to make the belt look like something that's worth holding on to in it's own right. 

Instead of having a one-on-one rematch between Edwards and Bennett, Carter announced an eight man Ultimate X match for the belt, that'd end up with Edwards winning the belt back anyway, after knocking Bennett off a ladder to retrieve the belt. Andrew Everrett, Trevor Lee, Mandrews, DJ Z, Braxton Sutter and Rockstar Spud were the other men in the bout. On it's own the match was a really fun watch with everyone involved putting in a lot of effort throughout, whether that be from pulling out beautiful dives like Mandrews' moonsault of the top of the scaffold structure or more character-driven work like that from Spud who left the match early after seemingly having some teeth kick out by rival Sutter.  Was this a great television contest, yes it really was. Would I have preferred to have seen a focused singles bout between Bennett and Edwards get the same amount of time? Almost certainly. 

Final Deletion was a bonkers match that took place at the Hardy's home in North Carolina, where Matt Hardy would defeat Jeff Hardy, after setting fire to a giant version of Jeff's logo whilst "The Charismatic Enigma" was at it's peak, sending Jeff crashing to the ground. The match was produced like a movie with incidental music instead of commentary. This was not a match that was built on it's realism. From a few minutes in, things hit bat shit level craziness, as Jeff jumped out of a tree onto Matt who was propped up on a ladder in the corner, both men attacked each other with fireworks, Matt hid in a dilapidated boat, thought he'd drowned his brother in a lake, Willow turned up, Benjamin tasered Willow, but Benjamin was actually Willow or something. I don't fucking know okay. These lads have turned me into a mess with their mental antics. The finish of the match somehow had to top the rest of this lunacy and as described above it did. Once you see this match you will never ever forget it.

With Destination X taking place next week, Jeremy Borash asked new X Division Champion Eddie Edwards his plans in regards to the World Heavyweight Championship. This developed into a cool back and forth between Edwards and World Heavyweight Champion Lashley on the mic with both bringing their "A game" to assemble an interestingly poised match for next week. The segment built throughout as, first, Lashley tried to convince Edwards why he shouldn't go for the World title, only to offer something knew after seeing just how fired up Edwards became about his opportunity. Next week the pair with face off with both titles on the line, even with the X Division not what it was, this is still a big match. Whilst Edwards promo had passion, I felt this was one of Lashley strongest ever non-wrestling performances on TV as he bought a calm, believable, cynicism to his character, especially when threatening to destroy the X Division. I'd have liked to have seen this a week after Edwards won back the belt, allowing for breathing space and protecting Edwards from over-exposure.

If I'm going to mention over-exposure in regards to Eddie Edwards then I'm definitely going to have to mention in it when talking about Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis-Bennett. After opening the show with a promo, followed by Bennett dropping the X Division title, we then had another promo from the pair. I've been vocal about how much I've enjoyed the pairs work for TNA, but for me this was too much of a good thing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder after all. It all got a bit hammy when Billy Corgan and Dixie Carter came out, which lead to MKB throwing out a "This company is big enough for the both of us" situation to Carter, before Corgan called the couples bluff telling them to leave if they wanted to, before Bennett & MKB refused to quit and promised to make Destination X a disaster. I'm struggling to buy into this feud, as Carter and Corgan don't interest me either on their own or together and as the current driving babyface force, there's not a whole lot to buy into.

The Bro-Mans and Raquel picked up a surprise victory over World Tag Team Champions The Decay in six person tag team action, with Robbie E and Jessie Godderz hitting their Bro-Down finish to pin Crazzy Steve. The match turned in a decent tag clash, that despite a few questionable piece of booking like Godderz making his comeback on Abyss, as the two teams seemed to mesh well with their styles complementing each other. Following the hot tag and collision between Steve and Robbie E, the match flowed much better than I thought it would have heading into the match. The match played into another story that has been developing for the last two weeks, between The Decay and Bram, whilst also using The Bro-Mans Big Brother: After Dark cross-over as they played Bram necking with Rosemary backstage on the big screen before the match, with the Decays' loss being chalked up to this earlier distraction. 

In the other championship match of the evening, James Storm was unsuccessful in his challenge for Eli Drake's King of the Mountain Championship, despite winning the match via DQ after Drake attacked him with the title belt. This is another feud which has potential to blossom into something special on the undercard, and this match seemed to start building on the foundations that had been laid last week. The match was over quickly, but there was just enough of a glimpse of some in-ring chemistry between the two and we've seen what they can do on stick last week, so there's an opportunity here to produce some attractive television, whilst also allowing Drake to learn from a well-travelled veteran and elevating the King of the Mountain Championship in process. 

Considering the spot on the card they found themselves in, Jade and Marti Bell put on a more than enjoyable Street Fight, to seemingly conclude their feud as Jade got the pin with a Package Piledriver onto a steel chair. The two wrestled in jeans and looked like they wanted to hurt each, with Jade looking especially bad-ass. Despite Josh Mattews and The Pope being utter drivel on commentary, Jade and Bell bought crisp, strong offence and mixed it in with some of the usual plunder that TNA brings out for it's matches. For me, the more storyline moments like Jade pulling out nunchucks to counteract Bell's telescopic baton, before later holding the baton herself, were the weakest part of the match with rushing their moments with the camera just a tad. It's a shame that this feud has got to a gimmick bout already, because I'd've liked to see have seen what Jade and Bell could have done if allowed to explore their feud just a bit more.


ATPW Scale Rating - 5.22/10

An improvement on last week's episode but not quite reaching the year high of #625, the show will be remembered for generations to come. The Final Deletion will be discussed at wrestling shows and in bars and anywhere anyone who watches it happens to be. The X-Division guys went all out to show why they deserved more of a chance on the show, with guys like Mandrews and DJ Z making strong cases. Eddie Edwards showed he can handle himself with a promo opposite a main eventer, can he become a legit main eventer for TNA next week? Jade and Marti Bell put on the strongest contest on the undercard in their Street Fight, whilst the rest of the show managed to produce watchable wrestling onto which something can be built. The only thing I didn't particularly like was the second Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis-Bennett promo, with Dixie Carter and Billy Corgan's weird power struggle struggling to strike a chord with me.

A big episode of IMPACT Wrestling, with The Final Deletion managing to cause a big stir amongst social media and all over the world. I'd like to thing that the card was just about strong enough that those who tuned in for Final Deletion will decide to stick around next week for the big Title for Title match between Lashley and Eddie Edwards.

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