TNA Impact returned last night (June 21, 2016) from Orlando with the furthering of the Hardy Brothers feud in a cage and much more. Let’s jump right in.
A note regarding the videos: At the time of finishing the review, there were no TNA YouTube clips of the episode uploaded. I used the WhipClip videos there were available. For those who had issues playing them in the past, I apologize.
Drew Galloway walks to the ring. He says he should be World Heavyweight Champion but he's not because of one man: EC3. He demands Ethan Carter come to the ring.
Carter obliges. He tells Drew he had no intention of costing him the title match and he tells him he's sorry. Drew say she's not looking to blame EC3 but he's looking to fight him. They then pass blame to each other, Drew saying Carter was at ringside last week because he thought he should be in the match instead of Drew and EC3 saying that Drew shouldn’t have taken the match so exhausted out.
Drew says EC3 should be thanking him because he represented the company so well. Carter starts to get angry and tells Drew he takes back his apology - he deserved to lose because he put himself in an unwinnable position. Drew then accuses EC3 of being an ass kisser to get where he is. Carter had enough and tell him they can go right now.
Lashley comes out and makes a deal that if Drew and Ethan win a tag match, they'll get a title shot. If not, they go to the back of the line and Lashley's partner gets a shot. They accept. Eli Drake comes out and convinces Lashley to let him be his partner
EC3 & Drew Galloway defeats Bobby Lashley and Eli Drake
The main event angle is off to a good start and has a ton of promise. EC3 and Drew Galloway are clearly the biggest stars in TNA and the two young guys who have represented the brand as champion over the last 2 years (with a little Matt Hardy in the middle.) That adds excitement to their impending collision.
I’ve quite enjoyed Drew’s character work the last couple weeks. That TNA title meant so much to him that he’s becoming more unhinged and less understanding about things. He was quick to jump on Carter and blame him for not being champion and in a sense, he has a point. But at the same time Carter didn’t intentionally cost him the title. Being the honorable guy he is, he owned that and apologized... until Drew Galloway pushed his buttons and then the Ass Kicking Machine just wanted to fight.
Lashley may be doing the best mic work he’s ever done. He doesn’t look lost at all out there. He’s very comfortable as a guy who’s so damn good and just knows it so he’s extremely cocky all the time.
Throughout the night, Bobby tells both EC3 and Lashley backstage that he is the one who will decide who he fights when. However, Dixie Carter finds him later and says that the decision has been made for him and he has to face both men in a triple threat for the TNA title next week. Lashley just smiles and says “Alright, that’s cool.”
Using Dixie Carter to just make the match herself instead of letting Lashley’s plan unfold was largely disappointing. They teased the idea that Lashley was in control despite losing the tag match earlier. What was he going to do? How was he in control? Who was he going to fight when? Oh never mind all that, here’s Dixie Carter to kill all that intrigue.
I did enjoy that Lashley just laughed at the idea, showing no fear and complete confidence at the announcement.
The Decay come out. Rosemary says while death is what they offer to most, there is one person who they want to offer life. She asks Bram to join them.
Bram comes out. Abyss and Steve aren't too please but Rosemary asks them to trust her. She wants Bram to trust them too. Rosemary tells Bram that they are the same as him, solving problems with violence and shunned by society. She says they understand the pain he felt when all his partners left him.
Bram says "he ain't no freak." Rosemary tells him that wasn't the answer she was looking for. As Abyss holds her back, Steve spits the mist in Bram’s face and they beat the hell out of him. As they hold him up, she tells him they aren't finished with him until he decays, decays, decays.
The Decay is great and Rosemary is the greatest part of them. She owns her role so well. She really sold her character and continued to establish who the Decay are with her promo trying to recruit Bram. She’s captivating to listen to. With her on their side, Decay is a force to be reckoned with, and I don’t just mean inside the story they are telling.
There’s little to say about this storyline because it’s just starting. It’s an intriguing angle, playing on what Bram’s character is known for. Bram is a charismatic performer so working with the Decay has some potential. Right now it’s one against three and this would be disappointing if he ended up taking them all out on his own. But he’s not the type of guy to get a partner so we’ll see where this goes.
Marti Bell defeats Jade via pinfall
This match got a decent amount of time and the women used that time to put together a match that told a pretty good story. We really haven’t seen Marti standing on her own in the ring. Usually, Jade did the brunt of the in-ring work in the Doll House. Tonight may have been the first time we’ve seen Marti in a meaningful one on one match and she held her own with Jade.
Jade controlled the majority of the match, which makes sense. She is the better of the two. She was the one who beat both Doll House members, and she’s the one who became champ. But Marti Bell would fight her way back a couple times last night and when she did she was full of fire. Her personality and angry character was evident in this match.
The match came down to the baton that Marti used at Slammiversary to cost Jade the title. Jade tried to use it once but Earl Hebner made her reconsider to avoid disqualification. At the end of the match, Jade had Marti in the Electric Chair on the outside and slammed Bell face first into the apron in a brutal spot. She could have won by count out, but that wasn’t going to be enough. Instead, Jade goes for a suicide dive and Marti is able to grab the baton and nail her with it without Hebner seeing for the win.
It was a good match that got time to tell the story about the hatred between both women. It illustrated that Jade doing the right thing just gave Marti time to do the wrong thing. And it also established their hatred to make the next chapter of this feud something I’m interested in.
The Miracle and Maria demand Dixie Carter explain her actions from last week. Dixie Carter & Billy Corgan come out to the ring. Dixie doesn’t regret slapping Maria and thinks everyone else in her shoes would have done the same. Maria says all she did is speak the truth. She demands an apology. Dixie says the she regrets that she let Maria get to her and for that she apologizes. That’s not enough for Maria. She demands Dixie step down. Mike Bennett says that his dad is a lawyer and they could bring the company to a screeching halt.
Billy Corgan tells Dixie that Bennett and Kanellis have some points and Dixie put the company in a difficult position last week. He says he's not siding with Maria and Bennett but is trying to defuse the situation. He requests Dixie take a leave of absence for a week to cool down and he's doing this thinking of the company.
Dixie says "This changes everything" and leaves.
Bennett then tells Corgan he deserves a title shot. When Billy informs him they already have a main event for last week, Bennett says give him an X Division match so he can cash in Option C at Destination X. Billy gives Bennett a title shot against Eddie Edwards right now.
While this story hasn’t necessarily been bad per se, painting Dixie as a face who should fight for her company just doesn’t fly. Luckily, the crowds that go to these shows are by the book fans who cheer for the faces and boo the heels. Because in any other crowd, there’s a good chance that fans would cheer the idea of Dixie stepping down or would cheer when Maria makes a claim that Dixie can’t run this company. And that’s not even including the fact that neither Dixie nor Billy Corgan are good on screen characters.
Corgan still comes off as stiff and I couldn’t care less about some weird power struggle between him and Carter. Maria and Bennett are still excellent on the microphone (I had to laugh when Miracle bragged about his father being a lawyer). But given the fact that the main face of the feud, Dixie, is someone many fans would love to see get hers and the fact two of the main players, Carter and Corgan, aren’t good on screen characters, I don’t have high hopes for this story going forward.
Mike Bennett defeats Eddie Edwards to win the X Division title.
Their story was fine as a whole. Mike Bennett is a good heel who cheated to win after being unable to “adapt styles” like he boasted before. Eddie Edwards lost the title he fought for just a week after winning it due to chicanery from Bennett and his wife.
What’s a bit disappointing is the fact that they have to bring in someone from outside the X Division to play a part in the Option C angle because the division isn’t deep enough to do anything else. They have other X Division guys on their roster. They have Mandrews who is a prototypical X Division athlete. They have Rockstar Spud, who doesn’t have the typical X Division ring style, but with his great heel character work he’d be a good fit. If I recall, Tigre Uno recently re-signed but we haven’t seen him since he lost the belt.
This will probably be pretty good for Bennett and Edwards, but it’s a shame they have to bring guys outside the division when it’s time to focus on it at Destination X.
Braxton Sutter defeats Rockstar Spud
After the match, Sutter extends his hand. Spud goes to shake it but then kicks Braxton in the crotch. He then whips him with his studded belt and spits on him.
It was good to see Rockstar Spud, who a great character worker, play up his strengths. His pre-match promo, where he kicked out the guy who was originally going to face Sutter and then his post match beat down were all good parts.
The problem with Spud is he’s not a threat in the ring. He’s never been booked that way. Even when he was the good guy X Division champion, his bit was getting the crap kicked out of him the entire time and then eking out a win. So while it’s good to see him, I don’t think an extended program between Sutter and Spud is going to really help build Braxton up, which is what it looks like they’re trying.
Jeff Hardy defeats Matt Hardy when, from the top of the cage, he Swantons a table that is set up on top of his brother who is on another table and he’s got a chair covering him.
Oh man, I hope Matt taking the loss here doesn’t mean this is over. I need Brother Nero/Broken Matt in my life.
The end of the match was straight up ridiculous and I probably would take it to task for any other angle. But this angle is already straight up ridiculous so a finish like this seems to fit with the hyperbole of everything they are doing.
Prior to that insane double table spot of the top, Jeff Hardy low blowed Matt twice, hit two twist of fates, and a Swanton and Matt kicked out. That’s a huge sequence to kick out of. I just assume it’s because Matt had the 7 Deities on his side and they gave him the strength he needed. But he didn’t have enough Deities to overcome the double table spot. He’d need at least like three more Deities for that one.
I had fun with this because I have fun with this story. Like at Slammiversary, this story for me is all about “What insane shit are they going to pull next?” more than “I really hope Jeff wins this match.” The matches are supplementing their outrageous plots. So the question is whether or not this is over between them or if we’re going to get another Facebook live of Matt Hardy upsetting some fellow hotel guests.
Pros of the Show:
- Building great tension between EC3 and Drew Galloway
- Lashley is doing great heel work
- Rosemary continues to be great
- Marti Bell/Jade got time to tell a good story
Cons of the Show:
- The main focus of the power struggle storyline aren’t good on screen characters
- Teasing a Bobby Lashley plan just to have Dixie Carter upend that.
The world title picture is getting exciting and the Hardys are still dumb fun. Unfortunately, the other major angle looks has a lot of problems/pitfalls already. Most of the lower card stuff was fun overall with nothing actively bad.