TNA Impact returned this week (January 12, 2016) from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which according to Josh Matthews is the entertainment capital of the state. Who knew? Now that the World Title Series is finally over, it's time to start setting up some new stories for their new run on a new station.
TNA did not load videos for every segment but I will include all the ones they did.
The show opens with TNA Champions Ethan Carter and Tyrus. EC3 says he has now been vindicated, and he is the first ever two time undefeated champion. He then goes on to thank Tyrus for having his back and being his friend. Carter tells his bodyguard that if he wants that title shot he's earned, Carter will adhere to that. He thanks him again. Tyrus takes the microphone to tell the champ that he does believe in him, but before he can get anything else out, Carter takes the microphone back.
Jeff Hardy soon interrupts and comes down in ring gear with face paint... and face paint on his hands that he paints over the face paint he already has on! He gets in the ring and congratulates EC3 for getting the job done against his brother Matt alone last week. Jeff says he's not here about Matt, Matt can speak for himself, but instead gives Carter a letter from his doctor showing he's cleared to compete. Because of that, the Charismatic Enigma wants a title match with the man himself. While EC3 would love the moniker of "Charismatic Hardcore American Icon" Jeff has to start at the bottom. Ethan has management send out a guy from the back to face Jeff, who's generic entrance music Carter sings his own lyrics to.
Jeff Hardy defeats Shyron via pinfall.
This was a strong opening segment that put wheels in motion for a couple possible future feuds. Ethan Carter was in his prime form, excelling with his promo and facial expressions, which he often does. While Jeff Hardy worked the jobber, who got in enough offense so it wasn't a generic squash, Carter sat at the announce booth at ring side. It's good to have the announce booth there instead of in a studio in Tennessee doing a voice over. It just feels more legitimate and hopefully the are able to do that during further tapings.
It's been known that Jeff Hardy hasn't been my cup of tea for awhile now. Some characters in wrestling, much like Chris Jericho in WWE right now, aren't meant for everyone and Jeff Hardy has a lot of fans who love him. I'm just not one of them. To his credit, though, Hardy played the babyface role perfectly here. He congratulated the champion for his victory and said he wasn't here to speak for his brother. He called back to his stint as EC3's personal assistant as an added reason he's dying to face the champ as soon as he can. Continuity is always appreciated. An EC3/Jeff Hardy feud is inevitable and their work together when they were running the Personal Assistant angle was actually pretty good so when it eventually happens, it will be welcomed.
As for Tyrus, the seeds for that feud are planted as well, from EC3 cutting off his heavy when he tried to speak to Tyrus staring longingly at the belt when Carter had him hold it. It's not a feud I'm particularly looking forward to, but a slow build to it could go a long way to making it better.
There's a backstage interview with Jeremy Borash interviewing the Doll House. He tries to talk to Awesome Kong but Marti Bell tell him that if he wants to talk to Kong, he needs to go through her. Marti talks about how the Doll House is stronger than ever. Kong then allows JB to speak to her and she says that with this Doll House, she's stronger than ever and Gail Kim has what she wants in the Knockouts Title. The Beautiful People (Madison Rayne and Angelina Love) interrupt and say they don't need to jump them from behind, they'll do it from the front. Then they try a 2 on 4 assault that fails miserably.
The Doll House defeat the Beautiful People in a street fight after Jade hits a package piledriver on Madison Rayne.
The addition of Awesome Kong to the Doll House had me clearly skeptical as I mentioned in my preview. And while one interview isn't going to remove that entirely, it did assuage some of my concerns. Kong's promo about using her Doll House to do what she wants when she wants is a refreshing change from Taryn Terrell's sex monsters.
A 4 on 2 street fight, even though only Kong and Jade were technically in the match, was an odd choice and one that didn't work well. First there was the two members of the Beautiful People trying to take on 4 members of the Doll House who known for beating the crap out of people using their numbers. There's a fine line between bravery and stupidity but this long crossed it. When came back from the break, Josh Matthews was saying "It's been announce that this is a street fight." But at the end of the match, he said the Beautiful People asked for this to be a street fight, meaning some time between when they were getting their asses kicked in the back to when they were getting their asses kicked in the ring, they requested a four on two street fight. If they did request that, again, that's long past bravery. If they didn't, then it's a heelish authority move when you don't have any heels in position of power.
I did appreciate getting to see Jade work more and even picking up the win. She's a stand out that has had few opportunities to shine in TNA.
Beer Money (James Storm and Bobby Roode) come out for their Beer Bash, where there's a keg and a bunch of beer in the ring. Both men apologize to each other for all the ways the wrong each other in the past, from the legit grievances, like Roode hitting Storm with a beer bottle, to dumb stuff like Roode vomiting into Storm's hat. They're soon interrupted by Eric Young and Bram. Young talks about how he's still has issue with Roode from the past and he wants the King of the Mountain title. Roode agrees to put it on the line then and there.
During the match for the title, Bobby Roode eventually hits his Roode Bomb on Young, but Bram pulls the ref out of the ring. Bram is then confronted by James Storm and that fight is taken into the ring. Roode and Storm hit a double suplex on Bram but then Young attacks storm. As the referee is getting Storm out of the ring, EY kicks Roode in the crotch, hits his piledriver, and wins the King of the Mountain Championship.
Some of this worked and some of it didn't. Let's start with the Beer Money reunion segment which unfortunately fell flat. These gimmick jokey promo segments that are often duds. This one felt like they were trying to recreate the magic of Beer Money but the Magic of Beer Money were really fun matches and less long drawn out comedy promos. That's not to say Beer Money doesn't have it any more but it sure wasn't here. When people are looking forward to the heels interrupting the segment, it didn't work.
Roode's match with Eric Young ended up being really good and served the larger purpose it meant to: Getting the King of the Mountain title off of Bobby Roode for his Beer Money reunion tour. Eric Young winning it was likely a reward for the fact that he was in a lot of high profile feuds and filled a lot of holes for TNA last year. Now the title can still be in play and not doing nothing while Roode does his Beer Money thing.
Mr. Anderson comes out for his talk show "Huh?" He first talks to the crowd asking who else is an asshole like himself. Then he calls Matt Hardy, his wife Reby, and infant son Maxel down as his guests. He asks Matt Hardy if he felt he choked last week against EC3. Matt gets defensive and blames his loss on the piledriver that Eric Young gave him earlier that night. He then says he needs another shot and has an offer that EC3 cannot refuse and that Matt Hardy will not die. He and his family then quickly leave the ring.
Instead of "Huh?" maybe they should have named this segment "Ugh" because it was groan inducing. Mr. Anderson may or may not have been a heel here. He played to the crowd but he was a jerk to his guest. However, Matt Hardy was even worse. Maybe he needs babyface lessons from his brother here because he just came off like a whiny brat here. Maybe the idea was supposed to be that he was so distraught from last week's loss he just can't take it. But that's a bad babyface. Blaming a clean loss on something else is a really bad babyface move. Insisting on another match he didn't earn is a really bad babyface move. Insisting he has Ethan Carter's number even though he lost to him 3 times already and didn't pin him the time he took his title is a really bad babyface move.
I don't know what the point of him having his family involved in this is either. Reby Sky has the facial expressions of a heel, especially the angry stare she did two weeks in a row so unless they are turning Matt, her and their infant son aren't helping anything in this.
The Wolves and Tigre Uno defeat DJ Z, Eli Drake, and Jessie Godderz after DJ Z had enough of his partners and kicked Godderz in the head allowing the Wolves to hit their double team finish.
This match had little stakes but was fun for what it was. DJ Z clearly had no desire to team with Drake and Godderz. Early on, neither man would allow him to tag out until he had the advantage and later he took an errant clothesline from Godderz. So when Mr. Pec-Tacular had Eddie Edwards in the Adonis Crab, DJ Z opted to kick him in the head.
It was a chance to get their tag team champions and X Division champions on TV in a quick match.
Ethan Carter walks with a purpose to the ring and calls out Matt Hardy to hear his offer. After Hardy talks up how he has earned everything while Carter was handed his fortunes, he requests on more title match and if he doesn't win it, he'll leave Impact. EC3 says he wants to humiliate Matt and stand over his body, leading to the stipulation of a Last Man Standing match. Matt accepts and the match is set for next week.
Well it looks like we are getting Matt Hardy vs. Ethan Carter one more time. While personally I'm done with this feud, one more match that's career vs. championship could be pretty good. This segment would have done fine alone setting up this angle, maybe with a backstage pre-tape setting it up, instead of the Mr. Anderson "Ugh" segment earlier.
Kurt Angle defeats Drew Galloway after hitting an Angle Slam off the top rope in the first match of the Kurt Angle Farewell Tour.
Let's start by saying this was a really fun match and a good match to main event an Impact with. Both men put on a hard hitting wrestling match. I want to get that out of the way because the points I have will make next are more of the nitpicking aspect and aren't meant to mean this wasn't a good match.
I wasn't a fan of Kurt Angle kicking out of Drew's Claymore finishing kick twice in a row. It hasn't been that long since Drew adopted that move as his finisher, relegating the Future Shock DDT to signature ability. So having someone, even someone like Kurt Angle, kick out of it twice in a row weakens it. Yes, Drew kicked out of two Angle Slams, but the Angle Slam had already long been weakened and it wasn't in a row. There are other ways in the match to create drama asides from multiple kick out of finishing moves.
I'm not upset that Kurt went over here, but it does raise some questions about what this Farewell Tour is. Is it Kurt Angle goes over all the young talent on the way out the door? Because that's not the best plan. While still talented, Kurt is past his prime so bulldozing the roster before he leaves it makes them look weaker. But it's also not great to see Angle lose every match a series dubbed a "Farewell Tour." If he's going to win some/lose some, it'd be surprising to put Galloway in the "lose some" category. It's something to keep an eye on as this goes on.
Pros of the Show:
- A really strong opening segment
- Good main event match
- The Awesome Kong lead Doll House has some potential.
Cons of the Show:
- Mr. Anderson's "Huh?"
- Beer Money's Beer Bash fell flat with lame jokes and no direction
- The women's street fight was a perplexing choice of a match
It was good to see Ethan Carter back in full form and the show setting up multiple angles for the future. Unfortunately, the Matt Hardy aspect of it, especially his time on Mr. Anderson's dumb show, was bad.