TNA Impact returned tonight (April 19, 2016) to set up their Sacrifice special next week while notching a chapter in the Matt and Jeff Hardy rivalry.
Maria Kanellis wins the Knockouts ladder match to win control of the Knockouts
During the match, Gail Kim was abducted by Rosemary and the Decay.
The match got them where they needed to go, but it was only a vessel to get there. The match it wasn't good. One issue is most of the people were just thrown in because they needed bodies. Only Maria, Gail, and Jade are part of this story. And, asides from one or two nice spots, it was just meaningless chaos. In fact plenty of times there were women nursing their injuries in the ring instead of rolling out onto the floor, which distracted from the action in the middle i
There was one particularly awkward moment where Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky hit a double baseball slide on a ladder that Marti Bell and Rebel were trying to introduce into the ring. Then they both just laid there selling an injury while Maria just waltzed in with the ladder, set it up, and started to climb. All the meanwhile they just continued to lay on the mat. At least roll out of the ring so it's not so obvious.
I initially really liked the tease of Rosemary feuding with Gail, figuring this would be all for tonight. But since it played out in a less than spectacular manner by the end of the show, in retrospect, this wasn't even that good. However, the moment when Rosemary hits Gail Kim with a kendo stick, drops the kendo stick for Maria, and Maria picks it up with a devious smile was the highlight of the match.
The result of Maria holding the control over the Knockouts division is where it needed to be, but it felt lazy getting there.
Drew Galloway comes to the ring clearly still hurting from the multiple spears from Bobby Lashley last week. He says that because of the attack, he's not cleared to wrestle. But that doesn't mean he can't fight. He calls Lashley down to finish the job.
He doesn't get Lashley though. He gets Rockstar Spud. Spud first makes a point to say that tonight will be the last night anyone sees Jeff Hardy thanks to his boss the ICONIC Matt Hardy. Then, as Drew is threatening to fight Spud, Spud introduces Tyrus.
Tyrus says that he's been biding his time to use his #1 Contender's opportunity but it looks like Drew is hiding behind his doctors. Galloway says that as soon as he's cleared, which should be next week, they'll have the match. Tyrus accepts this. As he is about to leave, Drew calls Tyrus back for that fight he wanted. Rockstar Spud gets a quick hit on Drew and both men work his ribs, ending with Tyrus splashing onto a chair set on Drew's midsection from the second rope.
This was a strong segment from all involved to set up next week's "Sacrifice" title match. Drew sold the hell out of those ribs making him seem extremely vulnerable as he's trying to pick fights. (Guts or stupidity?) He's very believable as the "I'll never quit and I'll never stop fighting" fighter that you almost wonder if that's what he's always life. Though it's hard to feel pity for him getting the tar kicked out of him in the end since he was the one to pick the fight.
Rockstar Spud's drugged up B-list rocker continues to amaze. This is such a different heel than he played wearing the bowties and sucking up to Dixie Carter but it's just as good. He always tries for the cheap shot, and even though he often pays for it, he probably doesn't feel any pain because of all the cocaine in his system.
And you know what, Tyrus was really good here too. I think he delivered the best promo I've ever heard him deliver. He was confident in his delivery and I caught myself buying in. While I'm still not a huge fan of his in ring work (though that has improved as well), this all has me ready for this match up.
It was nice seeing the heels get the upper hand closing the segment. I don't think TNA does that enough. So often they run a babyface out for the save that it never leaves the heel on top getting some heat. Ending a bit with a heel standing tall over our hero will leave the fans wanting to see the good guy actually get his revenge.
Trevor Lee defeats DJ Z and Eddie Edwards to retain his X Division title
At the end of the match, Edwards was on the top rope setting up. Shane Helms distracted the ref and Andrew Everett ran in to push Edwards off the top, leading to a sick knee from Lee and a pinfall.
After the match both Everett and Lee hit a move on the two other men in the ring.
Shane Helms said after this match in a backstage interview that he told us he was going to "revitalize the X Division." Now, let's not get ahead of ourselves, Gregory Shane. While it's been better because they are actually telling a story, it wouldn't take much to do anything better with the X Division than was being done recently.
I like the addition of Andrew Everett for a North Carolina stable. However, that means there are only three entities in the X Division currently: Eddie Edwards, DJ Z, and the NC guys (Lee and Everett.) That's four people total. They are going to need to add at least two more people and preferably four, to actually make this seem like a division instead of a feud involving 4 guys.
But it's something. And maybe Lee and Everett can also be used to bolster the almost as slim tag team division.
Eric Young and Bram come to the ring. EY says he's tired of Impact catering to guys like EC3, Drew Galloway, and Jeff Hardy so he and Bram quit. Bram does not leave with Young. When EY confronts him, Bram says he is tiring of playing second fiddle to Young. He also comments that maybe that belt would look better around his waste. EY kicks Bram in the crotch and piledrives him. Then he grabs some scissors off of a PA and cuts a big chunk of Bram's beard off, saying he's the only one allowed to have a beard.
I've been hot and cold on Eric Young's psycho character, but this all worked for me. The dude was so delusional and over the top about quitting, assuming Bram would join him, and then even more so when he said no one else can have a beard. I've always liked Eric Young the performer but this psycho EY was a too played for me at times, even though he always gave it his all.
I was thinking today how far removed this is from the Eric Young that was married to ODB, tried to fight Scott Baio on a golf course, and won the TNA Championship as a big babyface. I loved that EY and he is playing this character with that same commitment. Hit or miss, it's admirable.
That all being said, it's time to finish up this story and hopefully get that KOTM title onto Bram, who could do some good with it. TNA still doesn't need that many men's singles belts, but if they are insistent on keeping it, Bram is a good performer to hold it. He could have a bunch of matches defending the title to build himself up before he enters the main event fray.
This was another segment where the heel was on top when it closed. And again it helped to get sympathy for the Bram character.
Mike Bennett and Maria come down to the ring. Bennett says it's Fairy Tale time with the Miracle and tells a story about a prince (EC3) who had everything but lost it all when a white knight (The Miracle) came into town. He then said the prince blamed the white knight for his losses and it's time for the knight to take back his kingdom.
EC3 comes out and tells Bennett they're a lot of like. They both have exquisite taste in women, the both train hard (but EC3 doesn't skip leg day), and they both strive to be the best. Carter has been the best but Bennett hasn't won anything here. Bennett says that ever since he's been here, he's heard about the legacy of EC3 but all he sees is a little boy blaming Bennett for his problems. The Miracle goes on to say that Carter challenged him and he came out with the win. That's it. No more matches.
Ethan threatens to be the Miracle's shadow, following him at every turn and beating his ass until Bennett agrees to a fight, a fight Ethan will win. Bennett still turns him down so EC3 tells him that if he wants to be a made man in TNA, do the one thing that no one has ever been able to do: Pin or submit EC3. Maria whispers in Bennett's ear and he accepts the match for next week.
This was EC3's best since turning face right here. Had his solid wit without insults that felt cheap (or shots at Maria.) He was clever and passionate and sold me on a match that I didn't know I wanted to see again this soon. Sure these two are talented young guys, but the feud never seemed to have a real purpose.
But this segment, which was a cat and mouse game between both men, really upped the stakes. Carter was trying to get what he wanted, which was a real match with a real ending against the Miracle. He wasn't going to live with the DQ loss BS. Meanwhile Bennett held all the cards, insisting that the DQ win last week was all that mattered because in the end, he never wanted to face Carter in the first place. Both men were playing mental chess and Carter won, telling Bennett that the biggest feather in his cap could be a legitimate win over Carter, something no man has done before. It was too much to pass up.
Maria's whisper to Bennett before he accepted the match added an extra layer of intrigue. So far, she has gotten what she has wanted while in TNA. Will it be the same next week?
Al Snow is in the ring and starts by first telling off the fans for whining and complaining about everything on the internet but still watching. He talks about how the business used to be protected... not everyone could just walk in. He tells the fans that they are what's wrong with the business today. And now, he's going to teach the fans, and Mahabali Shera, a lesson.
In the middle of the match, as Al Snow has the upper hand, he grabs a mic and invites the fans to get into the ring and show him how much they think they know about pro-wrestling.
Al Snow defeats Mahabali Shera via pinfall after using brass knuckles.
This entire story has me hooked. While it can still go awry given the fact the "old school ways" that still have pull in the business is the heel, meaning there's always the risk of glorifying the old school mentality, so far this continues to be really good.
Al Snow continues to kill it here as the most meta heel ever. Because not only is he waging war on the young guys who didn't have to pay the dues he did, but he's waging war on the new era of fans. And I know all heels go after the fans, but this time we're his target. He called out those who whine on the internet but keep watching. Me. He pretty much called me out.
Then, in the middle of the match, he grabs a match and says "You guys think you know it all about wrestling, come in and fight me!" It could even be cathartic for a guy who wrestled in the old school days to rage on the state of fans and state of the business.
While he's super meta in his promos, he worked over the top old school heel in the match, obvious ref distractions, and the exaggerated way he placed the brass knuckles. In a way, working as that exaggerated heel of yesteryear fits into his defense of those times.
The only thing I wonder is with a story this intriguing, is it a waste on the comedy act Grado and the still green Mahabali Shera? Though if any character in the locker room is to represent the lackadaisical youth of today, it's Grado.
Throughout the night, clips are played of a kidnapped Gail Kim in the possession of the Decay. They bring her down to the ring and say that if they are to free her, Beer Money needs to come down. James Storm and Bobby Roode come down and Abyss tells them they want a title shot. The tag champs will do whatever they want as long as they let Gail go. The Decay does after they say this will be a special match "in the valley of shadows"... whatever that means.
This was a flop.
I actually don't mind the idea of kidnapping in pro-wrestling. If anyone can pull it off in horror movie style, it's the Decay. But no matter what it has to be done just right and it has to be true to what they are going for the entire time. Is it supposed to be a big serious deal? (That's going to be the toughest to pull off.) Then play it that way and make sure that these people are treated as the worst people in the world by the announcers and with the way you tell the story. Is it supposed to be comedic? (That's not easy to pull off either.) Then keep it really light the entire time. It's going to be very difficult to do no matter what on a wrestling show.
Early on in the backstage segments, it was still intresting. It was creepy and a bit disturbing, which could help sell the Decay as a despicable, terror trio. But Gail isn't a good horror genre actor (better than Brie Bella though) and the end result to hold her hostage just to get a title shot with Beer Money wasn't worth working this angle.
To the credit of Beer Money, they played it serious and weren't funny Beer Money. But it wasn't enough. They could have gotten there in another way.
The Jeff Hardy/Matt Hardy "I Quit" match ends in a No Contest (I assume)
Jeff hit a Swanton bomb from up a flight of stairs on to Matt who was on the table. Matt ended up being stretchered out but never muttered the words "I quit."
For full disclosure, I'd always much prefer a one on one match in the middle of a ring than a hardcore match that's spent most of it's time in a dimly lit corner of the arena. But I accept this for what it is and that's another chapter in the story that was too early to end (and I bet will go to Slammiversary.) There were some good high spots and the brothers seemed particularly brutal with each other. Of course, Jeff hit a Swanton from such great heights (he may have over shot a tad) for the big spot to warrant the stretcher job finish for Matt.
The non-finish doesn't even bother me because it was too soon for a big finish to feel rewarding. Now, we can get Matt Hardy in a week or two coming out in a neck brace ranting about how he didn't quit so he won the match. So while it's always disappointing not to have a finish in the main event to some degree, we still got what we expected from this match: Jeff Hardy being crazy and jumping from an area that's really high up.
So while this was OK overall, a non-finish match with a few impressive high spots is somewhat unspectacular. But it didn't ruin the show and was likely more enjoyable for those who enjoy this type of match.
- Al Snow's meta heel
- The EC3/Mike Bennett segment
- Only Eric Young is allowed to have beards
- The ladder match
- That whole kidnapping story wasn't worth trying