TNA Impact returned last night (May 24, 2016) from Orlando to build up towards Slammiversary. Let's see how they did.
Matt Hardy comes to the ring says he's evolved. (He's now talking with a weird accent.) He tells EC3 that the match they are going to have is just a warm up match before he beats Brother Nero at Slammiversary. Matt holds a contract in his hands for that match and says Brother Nero signing it is akin to signing his death certificate.
Spud and Tyrus come out. Spud tells Matt that he dedicated himself to the ICONIC Matt Hardy and doing so made him a better man. But he doesn't know about this new Matt. He fears that Matt's feud with Jeff is slowly destroying him. Tyrus agrees.
Matt has an idea. Tonight, he will take that contract, hang it up, and Jeff will compete in a handicapped ladder match against Spud and Tyrus. If Spud & Tyrus win, the Hardys won't have the match at the PPV. If Jeff wins, Matt's association with Tyrus & Spud ends.
EC3 defeats Matt Hardy via DQ after Mike Bennett hits him from behind.
Post match, Bennett beats up Ethan and reminds him that the stipulation for this match was to win by pin or submissions, which Carter didn't do. So he'll never get to face the Miracle at Slammiversary.
Back stage later on in the night, EC3 says that Bennett has rigged the game, but he's been playing rigged games all his life. Now he's going to make a phone call he never wanted to make.
Man, I laughed so much at this new Matt Hardy. It is such a ridiculous angle. This Hardy brothers feud definitely is not going to be a serious one, but that's OK. If they know what they are doing comes off as extraordinarily silly and lean into it, fine. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea and going for laughter in one of the top PPV feuds is likely not the goal. But the story is presented in a way that it can be enjoyed if you like to laugh at the outrageous.
It's good that they circled back Spud/Tyrus part of the story because it's tying up loose ends. Where Spud and Tyrus stood was a question I wondered about in my preview and we got an answer here tonight. Often, things are just dropped when there are abrupt character changes, but instead, they chose to circle back to it. When it comes to tying up a loose end vs. dropping it, I will take tying it up every day of the week, even if the resolution isn't great.
Basically, the story looks like Matt became an eccentric millionaire who only wears a robe and pajamas and the guys who used to work for him miss the money but maybe not enough to associate with someone who has become Howard Hughes unstable. However they miss the money train too much not to try to get him back to a tolerable crazy. They also had some backstage segments where Reby tried in vain to talk some sense into Matt and later on pleaded with Tyrus and Spud to end this tonight. That's the last member of the Matt Hardy Brand accounted for, touching on all the loose angles left from Matt's drastic change in demeanor.
Now onto the other major story that was represented in the early part of the show.
Mike Bennett's plan is completely understandable. He had EC3 in the palm of his hand and opted to make him jump through a bunch of hoops to try to get something that the Miracle was never going to give him. It's a strong villainous move. However, it feels a bit cheap. Not because of what they did, but because it feels like they backed themselves in a corner.
Obvious the match is going to happen. But they've given us no reason that makes sense for Bennett to agree to one. Because now either someone like Dixie Carter or... sigh... Billy Corgan is going to just make him have the match, which neuters his character a bit and negates the last three weeks. Or EC3 is going to do something to convince him to have the match, and if he can find that, he should have just done that in the first place.
The story they've told so far makes sense, but it's entirely possible they've painted themselves into a corner. Carter's backstage promo intrigued me though we'll see how they get there before any final judgement is passed.
In the ring, Allie (Maria's apprentice) introduces Maria Kanellis. Maria says that she's working on instituting her vision. She's fired Velvet Sky (who the crowd was chanting for) because Sky was the past and Maria is building the future.
Gail Kim comes out, furious about Maria firing Velvet. The two jaw back and forth, with Gail trying to get a match against Maria. The First Lady says that Gail will have a match tonight, and like Velvet last week, if she loses, she's fired. While Gail expresses that she hopes it's against Maria, Sienna attacks her from behind. Those two will fight later in the night.
Gail Kim defeats Sienna to retain her job
After the match, due to the numbers advantage, Gail Kim is knocked down and then pummeled by Maria.
While Maria is a good fit as the heel in control of the KOs, this entire story has stalled. Despite introducing a couple of allies for Maria, the angle has been stagnant. We still don't know Maria's "vision" for the KOs and in general it feels like we're no further down the path this week than we were a month ago. In some situations, not knowing where the story is going is OK, but that's when there are multiple options laid out before us. Instead of that, we are getting a story that is barely moving.
The match itself was pretty good. Gail fought like her job was on the line, as she should. And the post match beat down was effective. For the first time, Maria didn't get what she wanted (Gail's dismissal) and ended up showing a real mean streak because of it. It keeps some intrigue in the story. It would just be nice to know what that story really is.
Al Snow defeats Grado in a street fight.
At the end of the match, former NXT talents Sylvester LeFort and Marcus Louis attack Mahabali Shera, who is outside the ring in support of Grado. This distraction allows Al Snow to get the win.
This biggest problem with this story is that the story itself, told by Al Snow's wonderful promos are, carry a serious vibe. But all of the matches, including the one tonight where Grado ate some chicken mid match, are comedic matches. The matches telling the story that the promos are laying out don't mesh. Al Snow's words make me want to see Grado get serious for a moment and take it to the man who tells him he doesn't belong in the business. Instead, he eats some chicken.
It's good to finally see LeFort and Louis debut. Curious to see how they will fit in all this. Hopefully they're not tied up into a Grado pseduo comedy feud as their TNA debut. It'll be tougher to be taken seriously down the line if their first impression are part of gag matches.
Jeremy Borash is in the ring to make an announcement regarding Bobby Lashley & Drew Galloway. Before he can go further, Lashley interrupts him, saying after that nonsense last week, he should be champion.
Drew comes down and tells the Destroyer that last week, he saw fear in Lashley's eyes. The champ says he's never been a patient man so let's do it now. Lashley is down.
Dixie Carter comes out to tell them they will have a match and it will be at Slammiversary. They can only win by knockout or tap out.
Drew is about to leave when Lashley calls him out for bailing. Galloway then charges the ring and hits the Claymore kick on Lashley and beats him up. Two security members pulls him off so Drew lays out both men and tosses them out of the ring. This allows time for Bobby to get up and hit the champ with a spear. He's pulled off by security and a referee. Again, the security get laid out and this time the ref takes a spear. Lashley then chokes out drew with kinesio tape.
They've built a good feud with these men and I'm glad they are giving themselves another two weeks to continue it. The stipulation is intriguing because it clearly favors the challenger, but that puts Drew at a disadvantage which is good for the babyface.
The post brawl tonight added to the feeling of hatred between the two men. Their issues, which have gone back months, and their interactions have cultivated a big fight feel surrounding this title match.
Hopefully, there's some repercussions from both men assaulting security and Lashley spearing a ref. So often in wrestling, that comes with some type of punishment and it would be disappointing if they just ignore it in this case. Perhaps they will add a "No contact" claus for the next two things to spice things up.
Trevor Lee retains is X Division title in an Ultimate X match against Andrew Everett, DJ Z, & Eddie Edwards.
Edwards was actually the man who initially grabbed the title, but with Gregory Shane Helms distracting the referee, Lee was able to grab it out of Eddie's hands while he was still hanging before the ref turned around.
This was a great finish. It gives Eddie Edwards claim to the title while getting some heat on Lee and the rest of the Helm's Dynasty. Edwards/Lee is the feud they've been building and this is a good addition to it.
During the match, one time Everett went for the title. Lee pulled him down and they started arguing. However, Helms talked them down and from there on out, Everett just helped Lee try to retain. Looks like this duo is still a pretty well oiled machine.
The BroMans go to a gym to meet "The Guru" who will help them win the tag team championships. That turns out to be Raquel and apparently they can't keep up with her work out.
Dumb fun with the BroMans, who's thing is dumb fun.
Jeff Hardy defeats Tyrus & Rockstar Spud to get his match with Matt Hardy at Slammiversary.
This match was never taken serious, which I suppose is in the vein of the story. However, the crux of this match was the bit where Tyrus should be able to win but he can't because he's too fat and breaks the ladder as he tries to climb. That doesn't work well for a main event.
For one, it doesn't look like Jeff did anything to over come the odds. It just so happens one of his opponents is a fat dude who can't climb a ladder. Also, it's not just a dumb bit but one that's been done. (Big Show had it happen to him and then produced a super sized ladder.) I suppose it's realistic in the sense that ladders do have weight limits, but it's a lame spot to base your main event around.
It looks like the free ride for Tyrus and Spud is over. It will be interesting to see what they do going forward. They could make a fun thunder/lightening tag team in a division that could use more tag teams.
Pros of the show:
- They are building a big fight feel title feud
- Fun X Division match
- Addressing the loose ends of the Matt Hardy change
Cons of the show:
- Women's story feels stagnant
- Main event was based around a lame spot
- The comedy matches don't fit the story of the Grado/Snow feud
There was some good, but nothing great, and others left some to be desired. Not a bad show, but not a real good one either.