TNA Impact returns tonight (March 8, 2016) with their final show from their UK tour. TNA's moves their focus away from their Matt Hardy/EC3 title story and moves it to Kurt Angle tonight for his final TNA match.
Kurt Angle will square off against Bobby Lashley tonight in his TNA swan song. There is a small story attached to this match asides from the fact that it's Kurt's last. When Kurt was discussing his farewell tour, random matches against guys like Drew Galloway, Eric Young, and Bobby Roode, Lashley came out and requested that he get a spot as well. Bobby confessed that losing the title to Kurt Angle last year has haunted him. Now he wants a chance to avenge that loss so he can sleep better at night.
The story to the match was not a long one, only being featured on two episodes of Impact. One was when they announced the match and the other was two weeks ago when Bobby Lashley interrupted an Angle promo to call out Kurt for going soft. Between these, Lashley had a couple run ins with the mysterious Raquel (Tough Enough's Gabi) that has not yet amounted to anything. I did a quick google of Gabi and it turns out she had some rumored heat in the TNA locker room that got her kicked out of said locker room, so perhaps that lessened her story.
The match that Angle and Lashley had for the title last year was a good match so there's no reason to expect that tonight's won't also be enjoyable. Angle has meant a lot to TNA so the moments post match will likely be emotional ones and deservedly so.
However, with word from Angle himself that he wrestled tonight's match with a concussion, if that markedly lessens your enjoyment or interest, I totally understand.
Here's what else is on tap for tonight:
1) Gail Kim (c) vs. Jade for the Knockouts Championship
With Jade attacking Gail Kim from behind just last week to make her intentions known, having the title match tonight feels rushed. While it's likely to get as many big matches as possible in the UK, this feud just made itself known last week. Sure there has been a Doll House vs. Gail Kim/Beautiful People battle that has spanned what feels like forever, but the build to the one on one bout could use a little time. Give them a week of promo work building up hype for the match that is almost guaranteed to be terrific.
Perhaps this will end in a way that the feud will carry on, but with a feud with Maria Kanellis also lined up for Gail Kim, it's very possibly it will not.
2) The Wolves (c) vs. Beer Money for the TNA Tag Team Championships
The argument that there's been little to no build for this match could probably be made, but it doesn't feel that way like it does for the women. They have hinted at this match for awhile and when Beer Money won the Feast or Fired briefcase, the feud became inevitable. Bobby Roode already tried to cash in his opportunity but a match with the Decay happened first. And unlike the women, they had a promo discussing this match.
If this is the last show in Birmingham, unfortunately this is the show that Davey Richards injures his ACL, which will definitely put a damper on the match.
3) King of the Mountain match for the KOTM title
While it's not a requirement to defend the title in a King of the Mountain match, that's what's going to happen tonight. This is also how they will get more time for three UK talents (Big Damo, Jimmy Havoc, and Will Ospreay) they brought along for this tour. Big Damo had a match for the KOTM title last week and he looked impressive. Jimmy Havoc has had the most exposure, being part of a story with the Decay. And this will be the first time that Will Ospreay will be on TV. Bram will be joining the champ Young to complete the field.
If you want a refresher on the convoluted King of the Mountain rules, you can check out this old post I did on it last year. The match ends with taking a belt, climbing a ladder, and putting it back. There's a cage involved too. It's quite ridiculous, but if done right, it could be the enjoyable type of ridiculous.
What we'd like to see.
1) A rebound for the main event angle.
Even though Angle is going to be the main event tonight, I can't imagine the Matt Hardy/EC3/Spud story is taking a week off. Last week was a hiccup in a story that has been quite entertaining. It closed the show with a 15 minute long segment where EC3 beat up Rockstar Spud the entire time, which only served to put sympathy on the heel.
Fortunately, it's not something that derails the story and they can get back on track this week. With TNA headed back to the states soon, Jeff Hardy can also reenter the picture. (He's not allowed to travel to England due to his past legal troubles.) It's possible that EC3 will soon find another feud to occupy him while the Hardy brothers battle.
It may be too soon to feud Carter with Mike Bennett since Bennett should continue to win and I think Carter should win the next feud he's involved in. Perhaps a feud with someone like the big man Bram could be entertaining to give EC3 something to do.
2) Maria Kanellis
I may just always put her in here because she should be on every episode. And with her feuding with Gail Kim herself while managing her husband "The Miracle" Mike Bennett, she will likely be in every episode. She's been doing excellent work since debuting in TNA, delivering some money promos and pulling strings in both the women's and men's division.
3) Something fresh with the X Division
This is probably hopeless hoping for me, since the X Division has recently been a series of rematches between Tigre Uno and the new Trevor Lee. They need to show they have more people in the division and they need to actually start telling stories in it.
Alongside Lee and Uno, Mandrews and DJ Z have been the only other two who have been consistently billed as X Division talent. But it doesn't have to be that way. With the unfortunate injury to Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards can also do some work in there as well. Crazzy Steve could do double duty as part of the Decay tag team and take his character to the X Division. Robbie E is still employed has been an X Division champion prior. And Rockstar Spud was a two time X Division champion. Just because he's in a story with Matt Hardy doesn't mean he can participate in the X Division. A guy in the main event angle spending time in the X Division gives that division some much needed weight.
Clearly, it's not like they don't have enough talent to tell some compelling stories in the X Division. It looks like they just don't care to.
Impact airs tonight on PopTV on 9 EST. Who's watching?