Impact returned tonight (April 12, 2016) from Orlando with a show that put a bunch of stuff into play that will come to pass next week. Come see how they did.
The entire Matt Hardy Brand (including Maxel) make their way to the ring. Matt discusses how his whole career and all of his success is based on the last name Hardy. He's built his life on that name and all of the insane matches he's had the last couple of decades. But now his brother Jeff is tarnishing that name so he calls him out.
Jeff comes out (wearing a Willow shirt!) and tells Matt he's proud to be a Hardy and he's proud of what they've built together. He says he's fine with Matt doing his own thing, but he's not fine with Matt disgracing the TNA title because that is a symbol of who's the best. Matt rants that he's the best. The ICONIC one goes on about how he has always taken care of Jeff but Jeff has never done anything for him. Because of that, he wants Jeff to give up the name Hardy. Obviously, Jeff refuses and Matt continues on, saying he wants a fight. (He doesn't specifically say the match is for the Hardy name, but I believe it may be implied.)
Reby says that Jeff is scared to fight. Jeff retorts with "I'm just scared that your crazy bitch genes will get inside our family tree." He finally accepts the match.
It feels like every week reviewing TNA, I end up talking about how I'm tired of the word bitch being used by babyfaces. But Jeff was the worst here. In a segment that was good overall, Jeff has to go and ruin it with some misogyny. Because whille I'm not a fan of the use of the word in general, usually when the babyfaces (or heels) are using it, they're using it to denote cowardice. But here we have one of the top good guys in TNA look at his sister-in-law and call her a bitch in front of her husband and child. You know who does that? Bad guys do that.
This was a black eye on a segment that was good otherwise. I can't speak enough of how much I enjoy out of control Matt Hardy. And asides from calling his brother's wife a bitch, Jeff was pretty good here too. The Hardy brother's feud has been fun overall.
But seriously, calling a woman a bitch is not a babyface act. At all. Can we just put that word away and find other ways to get pops from the crowd already?
Beer Money defeat the BroMans, the Decay, and Eric Young & Bram to retain the tag team titles
The end of the match came down to Bram holding James Storm so EY can hit him. Much like we saw multiple times already with these two, Storm moves and Young ends up hitting Bram. The Cowboy hits the Last Call Superkick and gets the pin.
Obviously, Bram and EY are going to break up soon, but it'd be nice if they found some more creative ways for them to get in each other's way. I think this may be the third time we saw this type of spot during their break up. Let's switch it up a bit. Or we can just get to the break up already.
The match was fun. The BroMans were on fire during the match and Jessie Godderz did a sweet standing jump into a hurricanrana onto Crazzy Steve... who was sitting on the top rope. The way the Bros were booked here, it looks like they are good guys. They were the hot tag and they were on fire doing so.
Unfortunately, as of this moment, this was the entire tag division and two of those teams have members who have left TNA already. We know there's some new blood coming in, but hopefully they can make some teams from the rest of the roster to give the tag division some life. Tonight's match was fun, but it'll get repetitive without some fresh teams in the mix.
Maria Kanellis comes to the ring saying that tonight is the first night of her new Knockouts division. She introduces Jade. The new champ walks to the ring looking a bit thrown off by Maria. The First Lady takes credit for Jade's win and because of that, requests that Jade hand over the Knockouts title to her. Jade is not buying it. She says she's earned the title and if Kanellis wants it, she'll have to get in the ring and fight her for it.
Gail Kim comes down and tells Jade that she hasn't forgotten about her rematch. (Why would she? She lost her title last week.) She then tells Maria that just because she's the dog that barks the loudest, it doesn't make her the boss. It just makes her the loudest bitch. Maria retorts with "There you go being trashy again." She says that the KO's division are sheep that need to be lead.
Marti Bell and Rebel come out. Marti blames Maria for breaking up her family of the Doll House, who used to run it. With disgust, she tells Jade that it all worked out for her though. Before she can say much more, the Beautiful People (Velvet Sky and Madison Rayne) also come out. Madison says that Maria isn't their leader. If anyone, she's the leader since she's the Queen Bee. Velvet scoffs at that.
Then Billy Corgan comes out. After Maria spends a bit of time sucking up to him, he goes on to say that Jade will be defending her title against Madison Rayne tonight. And next week there will be a match to find out who the "leader of the Knockouts" is. Then all the women brawl.
Well this is disappointing. I was quite enjoying the story they were telling with the women but this all felt like one big mess. The story prior was between Gail and Maria as Maria tries to scheme her way to the top. She orchestrated the destruction of the Doll House by creating a match for a shot at the title and a chance to be her protege. This introduced Jade into the mix. After carefully introducing new people in the story, tonight they just dumped the rest of the division on top of it.
It looks like the protege stuff is already out the window since Jade didn't seem to be on board with Maria at all. (There can always be a swerve later.) I suppose that could make sense if Maria so delusional that she thinks she's something that she clearly isn't. But her success at easily destroying the Doll House hinted at more than delusional incompetence but a real flare for manipulation. The fact that Maria has been portrayed as both comes off as an inconsistency to her character.
In general, segments where one person (or people) interrupt another and then get interrupted by another and so on and so forth are tough to pull off. By the end here, it came off as repetitive and unoriginal. And the end result wasn't even worth it. A match to see who controls the Knockouts doesn't even make sense. When does an in ring competitor have control of a division? Why is that suddenly a thing?
This isn't' the first on air segment by Billy Corgan either and as an on screen figure, he's not that good. He's an awkward promo and didn't add anything to this segment. When I see him on screen, it feels like this is part of wrestling fantasy camp for him.
I worry that this segment is signaling a derailment of this story, but we'll see how they play their multi-woman match for control of the Knockouts next week.
(And yes, babyface Gail called heel Maria a bitch, which isn't her first time. And while Jeff was much worse, using such a cheap pop was quickly turned around on Gail by Maria, who immediately owned her because of it.)
Earlier in the night, a backstage segment is played showing Eddie Edwards, who was supposed to face Trevor Lee in an X Division title match tonight, laid out in the back. As he's being tended to, he tells the medics he was attacked from behind.
Later on, Shane Helms is in the ring with Trevor Lee. He says they were ready to give Edwards a beating tonight, but he's too busy looking up at the lights in the back. Shane says if anyone does have the balls to fight Trevor Lee, come on out and do so. DJ Z takes the challenge.
DJ Z defeats Trevor Lee via roll up
After the match, Shane Helms attacks DJ Z but before he can do much damage, Eddie Edwards runs out for the save.
Towards the end of this match, DJ Z hit a big DDT on Lee. Sensing his student was in trouble, Helms jumped on the apron and distracted the referee to buy Trevor some time. He then rolls out and plays to the crowd, assuming Lee has this under control. But when Lee sets up for a move, he gets rolled up and loses.
In a really really thin X Division, giving DJ Z a win makes sense. It doesn't hurt Lee and it gives credibility to a guy who hasn't won anything of note in a long while. Shane Helms is doing a great job as a heater for Trevor Lee. His pre match promo makes you want to see someone slap him, the distracting during the match makes you want to see someone punch him in the face, and then taking a cheap shot at makes you want to see him just get the tar beat out of him.
I've heard a lot of great things about Trevor Lee, but match wise, he hasn't been able to really show anything in TNA yet. I'm hoping when he finally goes up against Eddie, they get time. It doesn't need to be 105 minutes (please don't be 105 minutes) but a more than we've seen thus far.
"The Miracle" Mike Bennett defeats EC3 via disqualification
The way the match played out, when it was a fair match without distractions, Carter was in full ass kicking mode. On the other hand, Bennett thrived in the spaces created by distraction, whether it be waiting for Carter to slide in the ring, the ref slowing things down to ring the bell, or the more obvious distractions caused by his wife on the outside.
Maria paid off in spades for Bennett here. She distracted the referee multiple times during moments when EC3 looked to have the victory. Eventually, Carter got fed up and used the chair that Bennett introduced to unleash his rage. In an excellent moment after the match, Maria held her hand of her half conscious husband to denote their victory.
I was a bit surprised at first that this was not the main event, though the Hardy brothers feud alongside Drew Galloway is a main event worthy match. After it became obvious that this match was just a chapter in the Bennett/Carter drama, it made even more sense.
The match told a succinct story. When just one on one, Bennett cannot beat an enraged EC3. But if there's an advantage to be had, he'll take it and make it work. Lucky for him, his biggest advantage is married to him. This chapter of the feud has piqued my interested for the next part of this rivalry.
Al Snow comes to the ring for his mandatory apology for attacking Grado and Mahabali Shera. He said he was having some young guys "pay their dues" but went too far. He called Shera down to apologize but Shera walked out with a purpose, immediately grabbed Snow and berated him for putting Grado in the hospital. He goes for a punch but Snow insists he let him apologize first.
Shera allows it, and Snow tells him that it was much tougher getting into the business in his day. He speaks about the terrible hazing he had to go through and wonders if he attacked Grado and Shera because they had it easier. Or maybe it was because time has passed him by. Either way, he apologized and wants to help Shera be better. Shera accepts his apology.
So of course as they leave, Snow tosses Shera into the ring steps and beats the hell out of him some more.
Shera was not the guy to use in this situation to get heat on Al Snow because it clearly didn't work. The young wrestler hasn't formed any lasting bond with the crowd asides from that silly dance he used to do. His promo work is still very weak due to his shaky English so that hinders his ability to connect with crowds. He's kind of just there. Because of that, and partly because Al Snow is a beloved figure, Snow, the heel, was treated as a babyface most of this segment.
In fact, Snow had to shut down cheers during his promo and while he was beating the crap out of Shera, there was a "Head!" chant and a "You still got it!" chant. So that didn't go the way they planned.
Grado would probably have a better choice because people love that goofy bastard. But they don't really feel much of anything towards Shera.
After this segment, a camera man caught up with Al Snow asking him if he'd give an explanation for his actions. In full on heel mode, Snow refused to saying that he's given a lot to this business and paid his dues. This could be a very interesting story about an old school wrestler not accepting what the business has become. That is a potentially difficult story to tell with the risk that the "old school" ways of the business will become the hero somehow, especially with a fan favorite old school guy himself as part of the story. But that's not how it started with the clear bad guy representing a bygone era where "paying your dues" meant hazing. It'll be interesting to see how they play this out.
Jade defeats Madison Rayne to retain her knockouts title.
This was a good match between two really good competitors. I may not have cared for Madison being shoehorned into the Gail Kim/Jade/Maria story last week, but she is a great in ring worker. And her run as the heel Queen Bee years back was really good.
This match demonstrated the power and ability of Jade, who controlled much of the match. Madison being a veteran of the squared circle was able to fight back in the end, but Jade was just to much to overcome. Rayne is a good choice to make Jade look like the dominant champ she should.
I am upset that the package piledriver is no longer Jade's finisher. Though if it's a safety issue, I understand.
Matt Hardy & Tyrus defeats Drew Galloway & Jeff Hardy (with help of a Reby supplied hammer). This means next week's Hardy vs. Hardy match is an I Quit match, which was Matt's choice.
After the match, Bobby Lashley runs out and spears Drew Galloway three times and poses with the title.
This was a fun main event with many different story line paths crossing. Galloway made sense as Jeff's partner since he's had problems with Matt and Tyrus may be a future contender to his title. In fact, when Matt was getting the pin on Jeff, Drew was too busy beating up Tyrus outside the ring to realize it.
This sets up a big Hardy Brothers showdown next week. It's an "I quit" match, which often choreographs a babyface win because the good guy never gives up. It'd be nice if Matt came up with something downright nasty to make Jeff quit, but I doubt it. Even so, the Hardy brothers feud has been good this time around so next week should be fun.
the best part of this match was the insertion of Lashley at the end. The entire time, it was hinted that Tyrus would be the guy who is Drew's next challenger. They had a backstage segment together and the announcers discussed it multiple times during this match. So it was Tyrus, Tyrus... Bam! here's Lashley.
Lashley as the unpredictable heel has been a great use of the Destroyer and a hoss feud with him and Galloway is very promising. And just because Lashley is involved doesn't mean that Drew isn't going to have to contend with Tyrus prior or after he deals with Lashley. That's if he can survive Lashley. I always enjoy stories that exist with x factors that can play a part or not play a part.
While this match was really just a set up for upcoming matches or future stories, those stories are all intriguing and when it comes to Drew Galloway, there are a lot of places they can go with him.
Pros of the Show:
- Fun main event sets up some good stuff down the road
- Strong Knockouts title match
- Shane Helms is a great heater
Cons of the Show:
- The women's story feels like it could be going off rails
- Top babyface Jeff Hardy calling his sister-in-law "a crazy bitch"
While the "Let's get every woman involved" segment was a disappointment and no babyface should call his sister in law a "crazy bitch," the rest of the stuff on the show was pretty fun.