TNA returned last night (May 10, 2016) from Orlando, Florida as they built to their Slammiversary show next month. Let's see how they did.
Jeff Hardy comes to the ring talking about how he never had a problem with Decay. He actually liked their vibe. However, he doesn't get to say much before the Decay interrupt him. Abyss says last week's attack wasn't personal. It was business. In fact, he thinks Hardy would a great addition to the family. But the fans make him weak. Rosemary tells him that his head carries a high price. Abyss said their benefactor would reveal themselves when it's time.
They get into the ring and attack Jeff, who is soon overwhelmed by the numbers. He is saved by James Storm, who reminds Decay he has a tag team title rematch and Jeff Hardy knows something about tag team wrestling. Abyss says that last week, they were paid a high price to take out Hardy, but tonight, they'll do it for free.
Decay defeat James Storm and Jeff Hardy because Jeff Hardy was distracted BY FRICKIN' WILLOW!
Later in the night, Hardy finds the fake Willow backstage and beats the hell out of him. Unfortunately for the Enigma, two other Willow's appear and one ends up getting a chair shot to the head (not an actual one) while Hardy's lying on the crate.
I'm not really sure what to say about this at all. I mean it's not just one Willow, which was one of the dumbest things TNA ran in the last few years, it's three Willows. I'm using Willows in the plural. Plus I can't think of any storyline in professional wrestling in any promotion where someone dressed up like someone else's past weird gimmick and attacked the original person that was actually good. Remember the fake Kane story? Yeah, exactly.
However, if this is going to work in any situation, it would only be alongside the Decay. It feels like I'm getting repetitive but the Decay is so fun. Their entrance is straight awesome (the Marilyn Manson song adds so much to it) and they are all so dedicated to their characters that you want to buy in. But to enjoy the gimmick, you have to suspend disbelief. So where better to throw the ridiculous Willow character. Sorry, Willows. I have to remember we're dealing with plural.
So I'm not going to jump on the fact they did this yet, but I know that it has a strong chance of being really dumb. i mean, three Willows is kind of dumb. But if this is the Decay playing mind games with the Enigma using his alter ego and now a "Who's behind the mask?" thing, it still has a chance. Later on in the evening, the demons of EC3's past is part of a story so it looks like that could be a theme for tonight. I'm going with extremely cautious optimism here.
As for our poll from the preview, it looks like the closest to correct choice would be the fact they were hired, though we don't know by whom yet. The wrinkle that these elements of chaos could actually be bought adds an intriguing wrinkle to their characters.
Drew Galloway calls out Bobby Lashley. Lashley comes out and asks Drew if he finally respects him or he's just scared of him. The champ tells him that he's not scared of him, but the Destroyer thinks he should be. Galloway says he wants to fight him tonight. Bobby tells Drew that just like with Kurt Angle, he's already in his head. Lashley tells the champs that if he fought him tonight, he'd beat him in record time. But he may as well give these fans something to actually look forward to. So he'll give him a week before he takes back his title. He leaves Drew without the fight he was asking for tonight.
Eli Drake comes out and reminds Drew that he told him awhile back that their issues will never be over. He says that if Drew wants a fight, he'll fight him. Drake wants to win every title, including the one Drew has. Galloway is down for the fight and this becomes a sanctioned TNA title match.
Drew Galloway defeats Eli Drake via pinfall after hitting the Claymore kick and the Future Shock DDT to retain his title.
Immediately after the match, Lashley slides into the ring and spears Drew.
They've done a good job building to the Lashley/Galloway match next week. While I was hoping they'd tease it out a little longer to it feel even bigger, they've done well thus far. Since the issues between these men go all the way back to when Angle retired, the match next week doesn't feel rushed even though Lashley just became number one contender last week.
Bobby's points about getting into Drew's head just like he did Kurt were strong. Galloway is always flying off the handle and saying he'll take on fights that he probably shouldn't be taking on. The same goes for the fight tonight that he took against Eli Drake. Drake took advantage of an exhausted Galloway and had a couple of moments where he came damned close to pinning the champ and winning the title. And after Drew goes through a game Eli Drake, Lashley takes the opportunity to deliver another spear, softening up his opponent more for next week. Lashley is certainly the more cerebral opponent compared to Galloway's brash attitude.
As for Drake, I'm always a fan of drawing back to history between wrestlers. And even though it was brief, alluding to Drew and Drake's history when they were in the Rising together until Eli screwed Drew, was a nice touch. Their match was enjoyable. Drake has great facial expressions and it's fun to watch his reactions in the ring.
Backstage, Maria Kanellis tells Jade and Gail Kim they need a match tonight so why not have a Knockouts title match... one of the 5 star matches that Davey M always talks about. But her enforcer Sienna will be ringside for this bout.
Jade vs. Gail Kim ends in a no contest because Sienna ends up attacking both women.
There's not too much to say about this segment because despite being advertised as such, we still really don't know what Maria has planned for the Knockouts. We could also wonder she would make Gail and Jade have a match just to have Sienna attack them both. But that easily could be Maria showing them that she's the one in control. Those two enjoy having matches with each other and now they know that Maria can stop them when she pleases.
Sienna looked good after that segment. She looks like she'll be a nice addition to the Knockouts.
Al Snow is training at his school and cuts his promo how the doors are now wide open for anyone who wants to come into wrestling , including guys like Shera or Grado. Well he's going to be like Donald Trump and make wrestling great again by closing that door.
Mahabali Shera defeats Al Snow when Grado prevents Snow from using brass knuckles.
That Al Snow promo was strong. All of his "Old School Mentality" promos have been great. Unfortunately, the matches haven't been carrying their weight.
A big part of the problem is the crowd doesn't seem to care about Shera. They seemed to die out when he entered the room. When the match started, you could a "What do we want?" "Head" chant. That's not the desired response given Al Snows excellent heel promos. Because of the disinterest in Shera, this match seemed to drag on. It wasn't until Grado showed up that fans woke up.
The other thing that doesn't seem to fit with the fire promos of Snow is the fact that he plays a cartoonish heel the entire match and Earl Hebner ended up playing the stupid ref. It's possible that this is part of the "old school" that Snow is preaching, but it doesn't mesh with the promos.
In the middle of the show, EC3 comes out and calls out The Miracle Mike Bennett. Bennett obliges. He says that Carter needs something from him (a rematch) but the Miracle needs nothing from him. However, he knew that Ethan would be relentless after the loss because would be too if he lost (which he didn't.) Therefore, he and Maria (who EC3 dubbed "Toots McGee") have an offer. Since EC3 has been consumed by his demons for awhile now, if Carter could face all of his demons and defeat them, he'll get his match. And the first one will be tonight in a cage against... we'll he'll just have to wait to find out.
In the main event, EC3 defeats Rockstar Spud in a steel cage.
The Carter/Bennett story may be the best story TNA is telling now (and most of the stories they've been telling as of late have been good.) Carter is experiencing something he's never has in TNA before: A situation where he doesn't have control. While he was the villainous EC3, he always seem to have an answer to anything. If something didn't go his way, he had an answer. Hell, he forced Matt Hardy to vacate the TNA title leading to three months of the World Title Series (biggest heel move ever).
But things are different now. All he wants is a chance to right the wrong of two weeks ago and beat the man who was the first to pin him. However, in order to do that, he needs to get Mike Bennett to play ball and the Miracle has absolutely no reason to do so. EC3 even demanded a fight for then and there. Demanding a fight like that? That's not his style. That's a rushed, emotional move. And because he's so obsessed and out of his element, he agrees to some unknown stipulation from Bennett to face unknown opponents until the Miracle says he's done.
Picking Rockstar Spud, a man who's MO is getting his ass kicked by EC3, doesn't scream evil genius for Mike Bennett. However, if they are going to run through all of Carter's demons, they can't leave out Spud. His history with Carter goes back to the beginning. That can't be ignored.
The steel cage match was a good pick because while we know Spud can't defeat EC3 in a regular match, he can sneak out of a cage. And they had a few close calls in the cage to accent that point. Also, at one point in the match, Spud tried to use his belt to cut open Carter, which was a good draw back to the match they had over a year ago where Spud bled all over the place.
In the end, of course Carter won. I don't know how many demons they can have for him waiting in the wings. Obviously Tyrus but then who? Sting, Angle, and Bully Ray are all gone. Matt Hardy is likely coming back to feud with this brother and not as a pawn in the EC3/Bennett feud. And Jeff Hardy is busy dealing with three different Willows. Three Willows! Plural!
Pros of the show:
- The build for Lashley/Galloway
- Bennett and Carter's feud is TNA's best story currently
- The Decay continues to shine
Cons of the show:
- The Al Snow/Shera match doesn't fit the intensity of the story
Overall, it was a good show. I'm holding out judgement on the trio of Willows for now.