TNA Impact returns tonight (March 22, 2016) to sort out the madness that was the close of last week's show and fallout from Drew Galloway's title win. Let's get started.
Drew Galloway opens the show cutting a promo talking about despite being called the "Chosen One," among a slew of other similar monikers, he's had to work for everything he's gotten. And now, he's going to try to change how people look at TNA and that title. He is going to put the TNA title on the map and be a fighting champion.
He is interrupted by Matt Hardy (who is out with Reby, Spud, and Tyrus), who is livid. He screams that after surviving two top stars to retain his title, Drew Galloway came in and stole it from him. It was such a robbery that he should have called the cops. Drew though he had because at his raging afterparty, the cops busted it up but when Galloway told them he beat Matt Hardy, the joined the party instead. Matt screams "No they did not!"
Galloway says that he saw an opportunity and made the most of it. He says that Matt has been quite the opportunist himself, manipulating those around him. But he was outdone and now Drew is champ. Matt says if he doesn't get his rematch tonight, the entire Matt Hardy Brand is going to annihilate him.
Jeff Hardy comes out to the entryway and says Matt should get back in line because Matt got pinned last week. Matt says Jeff should get out of his life and go do whatever he does, such as try to jump his bike over a volcano and break the rest of his limbs. Eric Young and Bram run out and attack Jeff from behind and beat him down as the group in the ring beats down Galloway.
This beat down actually goes through a commercial break and, despite a flurry from the faces, the heels get the upper hands. Finally EC3 runs down and clears the ring. He states the he wants a title shot. The Miracle Mike Bennett walks out with Maria and claims he should have a shot because he's the last man to pin the current champ. Drew says he'll fight them all.
Dixie Carter finally comes out to tell them all that the new Number One Contedner will be decided in a gauntlet match tonight.
Wow, what a chaotic opening segment. However, chaos does not necessarily equal bad and it certainly did not tonight. In fact, this opening segment was a great way to highlight what their main event division is. They showed us they have five men who would all be a believable world champion.
All men played their roles very well. Say what you will about Matt Hardy being a main eventer in 2016, but Big Money Matt has been Big Money on the microphone since he turned heel. Tonight, he was hilarious with his self righteous anger. And when Drew told his ridiculous story about the cops and Matt shouted "No they didn't" I damn near lost it.
Drew is on point as the "fighting champion" claiming he'd fight them all. (I did enjoy his "I'm going to be a traveling champion like Ric Flair" promo a bit more than the "I'm going to put TNA on the map" promo tonight, but both fit the man very well.) Tonight was one of the first nights I really thought EC3 felt natural as a face, successfully mixing in his classic EC3 humor while acting like a good guy. Meanwhile, Jeff Hardy is more calm in his promos, limiting his weird inflections.
This is the type of opening segment, while long (it went two segments), really sets the stage for things going forward.
Beer Money defeats the BroMans (!!!) via pinfall
As a BroMans (Robbie E & Jessie Godderz) mark, I was most definitely excited to see them back tonight. I was hoping for it in my preview, but I don't read the spoilers so it was just that: Hoping.
The BroMans break up last summer did nothing for either man. Neither of them caught on as a singles star (nor really got a chance to). Robbie E was quickly lost in the shuffle and, as Josh Mathews pointed out this match, this was the first time he even appeared on PopTV. Jessie Godderz had a pairing with Eli Drake, but they never found any chemistry.
This was a good match, and more importantly, a match that saw the BroMans treated as a legitimate threat and not the jobber duo they were before their break up. With a very very slim tag division, hopefully the plan is to keep these two as a unit going forward. And maybe they can get dust off DJ Z while they're at it.
Eddie Edwards defeats Crazzy Steve via pinfall
Prior to the match, Decay cut a really good backstage promo where Abyss talked about Davey Richards "getting caught in the bear trap." While at first, I thought Abyss was kind of the weak link of this group, their chemistry continues to grow and they seem to fit better together the longer we go. Their interactions remain fascinating. Their vibe is an odd cross between a sexual vibe and a childish vibe and it plays exactly as it should: intriguing and somewhat disturbing.
The match was a hardcore match, which was never announced. It's a small thing that can easily be addressed so the audience watching is clear what is happening. The booking of the match was a bit dumb. Crazzy Steve spent at least a minute or two setting up a chair in all six turnbuckles. So obviously, Eddie Edwards ending up tossing Steve head first into each one. Then when he goes for the cover, Rosemary pulls out the referee to distract him. Eddie Edwards pulls Rosemary up by head and looks like he's going to hit her. Steve runs at Eddie, Eddie dodges so Steve runs into Rosemary, and Eddie rolls Steve up for the win.
And it didn't sit well with me. I've never been a fan of the male face going to attack the hell woman (i.e. Maria's entire tenure in Ring of Honor). But I'm struggling with my opinion on all of it because at the same time, by Rosemary insisting she be part of the 3 on 3 tag match last week establishes her as more than just a valet but more as a wrestler. I have no problem with intergender matches. And if she is acting as a wrestler, would I care if Davey did that to a man? While my first impression is that I did not care for it, Rosemary having wrestled intergender last week does put it in a different light.
This has become less analyzing the segment and more of my always evolving take of gender roles in pro-wrestling. It's a complicated subject and I decided not to force myself to rush a decision on what I fully think on this incidence, but instead let you know both of the feuding sides in my brain. It's stuff that's should be discussed. So feel free to do some in the comments but if you do, please keep it civil.
Maria Kanellis comes down for an announced title match with Gail Kim
However, the First Lady has other ideas. She says that she's not going to wrestle. Instead, she calls all of the Doll House to the ring and tells them that they are very talented, but it's time to break up the kids stuff. It's time for them to become individual women. So she will give her title shot to one of them and take that person under her win. And they must fight to decide who that will be.
Jade defeats (and pins) both Marti Bell and Rebel to become Number One Contender
After a long, arduous road, the Doll House is finally no more. And we have the always excellent Maria Kanellis to thank for that. And by God she was on point tonight. (Do I say that every week?) Her whole plan tonight was to show how much power she had by breaking up a faction that has been around the better part of a year. The First Lady's promo incite the dissolution was almost a super face promo, talking about how they'll be successful as individual women not acting like children. And it was straight money.
And then she went onto commentary and just owned Josh Mathews. I mean she was Kevin Owens level good shutting him down while putting over her plan to improve the Knockouts division in her own way.
The match itself was overshadowed by Maria getting her message across on commentary, but it actually told a nice story. The majority fo the match, Jade and Marti Bell didn't fight each other. In fact they worked as a team much of the early parts, both focusing on Rebel. Marti and Jade came into Impact together. They were the original Doll House, even before Taryn revealed herself as a member. Of course they would try to delay the inevitable or even try to win the match without fighting the other.
But when Marti clotheslined Jade, and it was by accident, Jade snapped. She went into serious badass mode and ended both women in no time pinning them both at the same time. That's how you build a star.
Drew comes to the ring to say there's been enough talking so let's get started with the gauntlet match. However, when it is revealed that Lashley is the first entrant, the two men have words. Galloway tells Lashley he no longer respects him. Lashley doesn't need the champ's respect though. Because he's going to win this gauntlet and take his title
Gauntlet (battle royal) match results:
- EC3 eliminates Rockstar Spud
- Bram accidentally elminates Eric Young
- Lashley elminates Eric Young
- Lashley eliminates Tyrus (Isn't he already #1 contender?)
- The Pope runs in to eliminate Lashley and they brawl to the back
- EC3 elminates Mike Bennett
- Matt Hardy eliminates EC3 as Mike Bennett holds him from the outside (a la Hogan, Sid, and Flair)
- Jeff Hardy eliminates Matt Hardy to become the Number One Contender
Drew Galloway comes to the entryway and holds up his title as Jeff celebrates in the ring.
I spent the entire night expecting an actual gauntlet match, not remembering that TNA's definition of a gauntlet match isn't the actual definition (where two people fight until one wins, and another comes down to fight the winner) but a Royal Rumble style battle royal. It would have been nice to have an idea of the match prior. Much like the unannounced hardcore match, it's good to give the fans a good idea of what is coming unless the surprise is part of the story.
None-the-less, the match itself was enjoyable. And a battle royal is better than an actual gauntlet match because no one to get pinned to lose. And the last thing you want to do with a bunch of main eventers is pin most of them in one night.
Early on in the match, the story was that EC3 had to fend of Lashley, Rockstar Spud, and Mike Bennett. Spud would run point telling the others when to attack until EC3 was down enough that he could attack him on his own.
But when Eric Young comes down, he's too wild to play by anybody's rules. So it all breaks down from there. He ends up getting eliminated by Bram, albeit by accident, and hopefully this leads to their eventual break up. It wasn't known at this taping that Eric Young would soon leave TNA, but I think Bram would be a fine person to take the King of the Mountain title off of EY.
While Pope has not been my cup of tea on commentary much at all, I found Pope eliminating Lashley really enjoyable. He had that look of fire in his eyes that makes you buy into his anger. And if this gets Pope off of commentary and into the ring, even if it's to end up doing the job for Lashley, I'm all for it.
The Hardy brother's mini match at the end was enjoyable. I think I'm more into a Hardys feud here and now than I was when they had it the first time in WWE. (Admittedly, I thought Jeff should get to defend his title at WrestleMania that year instead of have to face his brother so I'm biased.) Matt is just so good as a heel and Jeff has been playing the low key face, which accentuates how over the top of a scumbag Matt really is.
However, Matt needs to get a Dumbest Ass award for setting up a move that leads so easy to an elimination back body drop out of the ring. Plus, he wasn't setting up for any noticeable move. The announcers had to say he was setting up for "something." At least choose a move that makes sense. You were just asking to get tossed there, Big Money Matt.
So it looks like Drew is defending his title next week, which makes sense in the fact that Drew wants to be a "fighting champion." However a program between Drew and any of these men is worthy of a real build. It's very likely that the match will really just play into the Matt/Jeff feud so perhaps a real Jeff/Drew feud will be saved for a later day.
Pros of the Show
- Maria Kanellis dissolving the Doll House
- There are a ton of credible contenders for the title
- BroMan reunion!
- Unreasonably angry Matt Hardy is the best
Cons of the Show:
- The booking of the Edwards/Steve match
- Matt Hardy winning Dumbest Ass
This was an incredibly enjoyable show and one of TNA's best start to finish offerings in a long time.