Previously on Impact Wrestling
A new authority figure needs a new title, so Kurt Angle is now Executive Director. Just when I had settled on DWO as the acronym for the old one, Director of Wrestling Operations. Not sure I can use ED, since that is also the clinical abbreviation for a condition men take Viagra for, but we'll play it by ear.
Annnnnyway, Angle billed the last show from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania as a Champion's Showcase, since it had three of the company's four belts on the line, and a twenty man battle royal to determine the #1 contender for Bobby Lashley's World championship. For that last match, the Executive Director really wanted former World champ Jeff Hardy to compete, so he called out his alter ego Willow and asked him to show up for the main event without the umbrella. The plastic skeleton aficionado agreed to consider it.
The first title to be defended belonged to The Wolves, and Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards outlasted Bram and Magnus in a hard-hitting affair to retain their belts. The mental Bram didn't like being pinned following an Edwards's jack knife powerbomb, and had to be pulled away from a post-match assault of the champs by his partner.
Bobby Roode got a spot in the main event from Angle, but he still needs to settle his score with Montell Vontavious Porter. The former DWO claimed that he didn't rob Roode of anything when he suspended him, he added days to his career, and now the longest reigning champ in company history is costing MVP his. The It Factor's assault set back his recovery on his knee, so now it will take even longer for Bobby to get him one-on-one in the ring.
Roode didn't want to wait, so he tried to roll MVP into the ring straight from his wheelchair. Kenny King helped Porter turn the tables on his nemesis, and when Eric Young tried to get involved, Lashley speared EY out of his boots to let the heels end the encounter with a victory.
The other half of the former Beer Money team, James Storm has been counseling Sanada since his mentor The Great Muta is in Japan. It didn't work out too well for the young gun last week, though, since he lost his X-Division title to Austin Aries. Aries now finds himself in a familiar place with Destination X coming up, and "Option C" (the ability to turn in the belt for a TNA World title match at that show) on the table.
Rhino and Bully Ray aired their differences in the ring. The former ECW standouts don't know each other any more, the Man-Beast thinks that Ray just uses people and has convinced check-writers from Paul Heyman to Dixie Carter to take care of him above his friends, like Devon. Bully thinks Rhino has screwed up every chance he's ever gotten, and blamed others for his own failings. Regardless, the master of the Gore is on the Carter's payroll now, and when the future Hall of Famer went after Ethan Carter III, Rhino helped turn the tide. Tommy Dreamer and his kendo stick ran off the Carters...for now.
Gail Kim retained her Knockouts' championship in a fourway dance with Angelina Love, Madison Rayne and Brittany when she pinned Love following Eat Defeat. In news almost as interesting as that, The Menagerie were going into the battle royal as a unit in order to win and make money for the family business. And that...
...didn't work at all, as they Crazzy Steve, The Freak and Knux were among the first guys eliminated. A showdown between Beer Money goes nowhere as things fall into their respective programs - EC3 and Spud cancel out Bully Ray, Roode danced with King and a ringside MVP - before Willow's alter ego dropkicked EY off the apron to earn a shot at Lashley.
We finally reach the much-hyped New York City shows. Previews do their darnedest to stay spoiler-free, but full results of this week's show are available here.
Once and future mixed martial artist Bobby Lashley defends his TNA World title against three-time champ Jeff Hardy in the main event - and whether Austin Aries likes it or not, it will happen inside a six-sided ring!
Speaking of the new X-Division champ, Kurt Angle isn't going to let him just walk into Destination X and face the World champ. He'll have to earn the right to exercise Option C by running a gauntlet of Manik, The Wolves, Crazzy Steve, Sanada, Tigre Uno and DJ Z (reminder - a gauntlet on Impact is a Royal Rumble-style battle royal).
A couple of grudges take things to the next level, as Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer reunite to face Rhino and EC3, which Bobby Roode and Eric Young battle MVP and Kenny King. And Madison Rayne deals with her deranged former fan Brittany when the Knockouts have a No Disqualification match!
Expect to pop for:
We really should have been talking about this match more last week. While I felt it lacked flow at times, the ending was spectacular, and Sanada shows real promise as the heel he is obviously starting to play. His meetings with James Storm aren't leading to anything good for him in face or heel sense, but they should lead to great things in terms of his finally getting a mouthpiece and a story with some real conflict.
A-Double, well, TNA should just change their mid-summer event show's name to Destination Aries. They could probably be using him better throughout the year, but I'm happy they left him out of the doghouse each July.
The heat is on:
Unfortunately, we weren't talking about a great X Division title match that propelled each participant forward, because we were talking about this guy again...
I get that he probably asked to be able to debut his Willow character on television as part of re-signing with TNA. And they had to get the name and face of arguably their most bankable star back somehow. But everything about this was lazy and just left all kinds of money on the table, with regards to the marketability of both gimmicks.
The General already said everything that needs to be said. But we could be looking forward to a well-built championship showdown between Jeff Hardy and Bobby Lashley tonight. Instead, we get this.
Will the first of six episodes from Manhattan live up to the hype that precedes them?
We'll find out tonight! And you should find out with your fellow Cagesiders in our live blog!