TNA Impact returned last night with it's big GFW vs. TNA Lethal Lockdown cage match for control of the company. Let's not dillydally and jump right in.
The show opens with Jeremy Borash mediating the contract signing for the Lethal Lockdown match between Dixie Carter and Jeff and Karen Jarrett. Dixie tells Jeff that's she's sad that it all came down to this. She would have preferred to work alongside Jeff again. But that's in the past and now she's invested in the men and women in the TNA locker room. Jeff Jarrett mentioned a member of that locker room, Eric Young, who opted to invest in JJ and Global Force. He says that tonight, he's going put Dixie where she belongs, outside of a wrestling company looking in. Jeff and Karen try to leave with the briefcase that contains the paperwork. However, JB stops them, saying it'll stay in a safe place until the end of the match. Jarrett punches JB and tossed the briefcase on top of him.
This was a good segment asides from the fact it was really odd to open a show with a contract signing for a match that is happening on the same show. I don't think I've seen that before. Most times, the contract signing is a week or two before to build hype for the match a week or so away. This segment would have been a great close to last week's show to build some intrigue for the match.
Karen Jarrett is such a heat magnet and in this role, she's great. Jeff got the most heat when he did the simple of act of thanking his wife. At first, I thought the idea of Karen being the mastermind and controlling Jeff was not the story the best one to tell, but watching her facial expressions and mannerisms, it sure works.
Mahabali Shera defeats Abyss via pinfall. James Storm tried to interfere but two miscues caused him to hit Abyss twice instead of Shera.
I'm not sold on Shera's dancing gimmick. And that's what he is now. A big, powerful looking man... who dances. The actual story Josh Matthews tells is Shera is a man who likes to have fun, but those characters are often hollow, dead end gimmicks. Granted, the crowd seemed to love his dance. However a good guy could dance a bit on the way to the ring, but you don't try to get your opponent to dance. Good guy's should take their opponents seriously most of the time, especially a big guy like Abyss. Trying to make him dance makes Shera look like an idiot.
It would be nice to see a big of fire from the big man. That's all he was when he was in the Revolution. He was a big guy with an intense look at times. That will likely get him further than being the silly dancing guy. It would be wise for him to at least turn on the seriousness more in the ring than he did tonight.
The match itself was fine. Nothing to write home about. James Storm tried to interfere and it cost him. Twice.
Ethan Carter and Tyrus come down the ring and then call down the new well dressed Jeff Hardy. Jeff comes down wearing a suit... covered with small EC3 heads! And he still has the EC3 face on a pole! When Hardy enters the ring, the fans are chanting his name, which EC3 demands Hardy to tell them to stop doing. Jeff refuses a couple times, but when Jeff reminds him he needs this job because he needs to feed his family, Jeff does (though still encourages it.)
Rockstar Spud's music hits and he comes down to the ring saying how familiar this looked, harking back to the days where he was the assistant to EC3. But unlike Spud, who needed a job anyway he could get it, Jeff Hardy is an established star and makes Carter look like garbage. The champ is upset by that and nails Spud with the microphone, which Hardy was none to please with. As the three of them leave, Spud runs up and attacks EC3 from behind and gets some punches in on the ramp. Tyrus pulls him off and EC3 instructs Jeff to punch Spud, which Jeff reluctantly does.
All in all, this was a really good segment, with just a couple of things that detracted. Carter is gold in the role of overbearing a-hole boss, and he shined in the in ring segment as well as some backstage segments when Jeff Hardy drove them in. Jeff Hardy is doing really great with this too. He doesn't have to say too much but his facial expressions switching between "This is beneath me" and "I hate you EC3" really work to push the story forward. To cap it with Carter making Hardy punch the Ultimate Underdog Spud was good enough to make even me, the eternal EC3 mark, want Hardy to get some review.
One thing that is detracting is the fact that we still don't know why Jeff has to do any of this asides for the fact his brother lost a match. Did he sign a contract? Does he get fired from TNA if he disobeys Carter? Is this indefinite? That's more on the announcers than the wrestlers. That's a perfect spot for Josh to say something like, "Jeff signed a contract. If he disobeys Carter, he loses his job here at TNA." That's it. Then we know the exact stakes. Carter was a bit too vague to get that across.
While it's not the fault of the segment, putting Spud in there pretty much seals the fact that he's not going to continue his issues with Bobby Roode, which is unfortunate. Of all stories to drop, they drop one with a good build between the plucky underdog and the hot heel. But we still get to see Melendez/Young 7 eventually.
Gail Kim defeats Brooke, Awesome Kong, and Lei'd Tapa by pinning Brooke to win the Knockouts Title
Before jumping into what really peeved me about this whole thing, this was a good match. It started clunky at first, trying to figure out what all four women were going to do. But when they started showcasing match ups within the four, it was really good. Brooke and Gail have really good chemistry in the ring as they showed last week and again with their one on one work this week. When Gail and Tapa were in the ring, that was really good. The end where all the women were getting their spots in was good.
It's just extremely frustrating when there's a title change that has absolutely no build behind it. This match wasn't build to mean anything. Hell three of the women got the jobbers entrance (including the one that won!) Title changes should mean something and titles should mean something. And a random title change in a match that wasn't built at all does a disservice to both.
It was really all down hill with the direction (or lack there of) when Taryn lost the title to Brooke even though she was in a blood feud with Gail. Even though the Doll House was too much for too long, they had a great one on one match ready to go for the title. Then there was a random title change to Brooke and another back to Gail? Couldn't they have just paid off the story they had told for months?
Maybe this was beyond TNA's control. Maybe Taryn is hurt or they feared she was hurt so had her drop the title. Maybe it was just poor planning. Either way, it diminishes Gail's victory and Brooke's reign.
Hopefully, we do get more Brooke vs. Gail because those two put on some good matches. And hopefully they get back on course with storytelling in the Knockout's division.
Backstage, Jarrett tells Drew that it will now be a 5 on 5 and Eric Young will be on team GFW.
Team TNA (Drew Galloway, The Wolves, Bobby Lashley, and Bram) defeat Team GFW (Jeff Jarrett, Eric Young, Brian Meyers, Sonjay Dutt, and Chris Mortdetzky.) Drew pins Meyers for the win.
There was some good spots here and there, but there was too much working against this main event for it to truly succeed.
I mentioned in my preview that I was glad it was 4 on 4 because it would limit the predictable build time. Well, that didn't happen and for reasons that were never explained, JJ was able to change it to 5 on 5. That meant the build to the actual match was longer. Plus, the biggest problem with Lethal Lockdown is there are way too many guys in a caged ring that is visually smaller than a four sided ring. There is just way to much going on to follow. 10 men and one ref in that small six sided ring is just too much.
Then there's Bram. If you don't remember, Bram was indefinitely suspended by TNA weeks ago after being arrested on charges of domestic assault. However this was filmed long before then and there's really no way to edit him out so here he is. So instead of excitement of "Here's Bram!" you get "Oh, this is awkward."
And all of that horribleness aside, they didn't even use him well! He didn't even get a chance to come in and clean house. He was pretty absent in the 5 on 5 in general. Maybe TNA tried to edit him out of bigger spots than usual so he was less the focus, and that's understandable if that's the case. But it still made that whole part stumble.
There were a couple good spots, mainly the one where everyone got their licks in on Jeff Jarrett and the obligatory spot where everyone hit their finishers, which is always fun. However given how crowded it was in there, the men really didn't have an opportunity to have a chance to really shine.
TNA did a good job tonight making this main event feel like a big deal and credit to them for that. Unfortunately, likely given the schedule of the tapings, they did not have time to really pace its build to for it to feel like the big deal it could have or should have
Pros of this Show:
EC3 and Hardy are really owning this angle
Karen Jarrett is an excellent heel
The women's match was enjoyable
Cons of the Show:
The limitations of the Lethal Lockdown match alongside the awkwardness of Bram really hindered the main event
Too much dancing for Shera
While the women's match itself was good, the overall booking of the KO's has been poor lately
While the main event had somewhat of a big fight feel, it didn't live up. The stand out on this show was the EC3/Jeff Hardy story.