TNA Impact returned last night (July 5, 2016) from Orlando with it's highly anticipated Final Deletion match. Let's not waste any time, shall we?
The show opens with Maria Kanellis and X Division champion Mike Bennett. The champ says he's exercising Option C right now. Dixie Carter comes out to the ring. She claims that Bennett has been disrespecting every X Division athlete that has came before him. Because of that, Bennett is going to have to defend his title tonight again before he can turn over the title for a TNA Championship shot. And the title match is going to be against the entire roster in an Ultimate X Match.
Eddie Edwards wins the X Division title in the Ultimate X match.
This was a really fun match -- one of the best X Division matches in awhile. They went back what people know and love when they think of the X Division: High paced indie work rate matches. Mandrews did a flip from on top the Ultimate X rope onto the floor that was sick. Rockstar Spud took a super stiff kick from Braxton Sutter that caused him to immediately start bleeding and he was rushed to the back. (It was a legitimate cracked tooth.)
Mike Bennett really played up his inability to work an X Division match, which was a great addition to the story being telled. He tried jumping for the title. He tried climbing the ropes but immediately slipped. The fact that he was ill prepared for this type of match while calling himself the greatest X Division champ of all time was a great touch.
The end of this story was really fun. The problem is it was way too rushed. The narration from the announcers and Dixie Carter was about how horribly Mike Bennett disrespected the X Division. And that's not completely incorrect, but it was just what we heard on commentary last week. The weight of the narrative did not fit with how quickly they went from the start of the story (two weeks ago) to the end of the story (tonight.) This would have been better if they were able to pace it to make it feel as big as they told it. The Miracle didn't have enough time to get heat on himself prior to getting his comeuppance.
In a King of the Mountain title match, James Storm defeats Eli Drake via disqualification when Drake hit Storm with the title. After the match, Eli hits his finisher on the Cowboy in the ring.
This looks to be just the second chapter in the story between these two guys. If this were the last chapter, it'd feel too rushed since they just started their issues last week. But this gets heat on Drake for being OK with the DQ loss to hold his title and screwing a James Storm who is still pretty hot with the crowd. It works well as the progression to the story. Now build it up more before having the next match in the feud.
Jade defeats Marti Bell in a Street Fight
TNA should be commended that they have always let their women wrestlers have the same matches the men do. They've done cage matches. They've had hardcore matches. I believe they've had ladder matches but I don't recall any recently. While indie promotions do the same, it's nice to see it on a televised wrestling show.
This match had it's moments. Jade took some kendo stick shots and then demanded Marti deliver more, establishing her as the badass that she is. And it ended with a sweet package piledirver from Jade to Marti on a steel chair. Unfortunately, there was nothing between the last match they had and this presumed blow off match. There was no promo, no backstage bit, or anything at all to help build something between where they were and where they are.
This will happen often in many of TNA's feuds that aren't the big ones. They'll just rush into the next match without giving us any more reason to care about seeing it again. How angry is Jade that Marti cheated to win the last match? Why did Marti agree to have another match at all? Give us more backstory on their prior friendship. Give the crowd a reason to care about this next step in the feud. Without things like that, this is just a random rematch. That kind of booking didn't do this match any favors.
The Miracle is back in the ring alongside Maria and he's pissed. He is ranting about how no one appreciates him. Maria demands Dixie Carter come back down to the ring. They get Billy Corgan instead. Maria continues talking about how she's the one who deserves to be president of TNA. She says that it's either Dixie or her. This finally gets Dixie to come on out.
Maria gets in Dixie's face demanding over and over if it's going to be "you or me?" Dixie calls her bluff, saying she's not going anywhere. Bennett demands to be in the main event of Destination X for the world title... or they walk.
While Maria is flipping out again, Billy Corgan screams at her to stop. He calls Bennett and Maria entitled children. Billy says he's not going to watch them take advantage of Dixie like others have. If they want to quit, they can quit. Bennett says they won't quit, but Corgan and Carter have made their bed, and now they'll have to lie in it. Because now he's going to ruin Destination X.
My thoughts on Billy Corgan and this angle haven't changed despite a month of telling this story. Corgan continues to be a straight up annoying on screen character. That obviously works in detriment of the story since we're supposed to like him.
Luckily, the Impact Zone is the least smark crowd ever because they always cheer the faces and boo the villains. There's something great about that because that allows to TNA to tell whatever story they want and not worry about the cool heel getting cheered or anything like that. But it's absolutely necessary in this story because any "smart" wrestling crowd would go wild at the idea of Maria replacing Dixie.
Even with the crowd cheering who the story dictates, it still comes off poorly on TV. The two strong promos in the ring are the heels and on the other side are two people with much less experience and less promo skill. And those are the people they want you to cheer/root for. I don't think Dixie is a terrible promo. In the years I've been watching TNA, I think she's definitely improved and she seems comfortable out there. She's no Maria Kanellis though. Corgan isn't a good promo and that makes trying to get sympathy on the face duo tougher. Then there's the "meta" aspects of Maria telling Dixie this company would be better without her, which do this story no favors either. All of those things work strongly against the story they are trying to tell.
Prior to the BroMans/Decay match, Jessie plays a video of Rosemary making out with Bram backstage, which the rest of Decay isn't happy about.
The BroMans and Raquel defeat the Decay.
I've been working on giving angles a little time before I judge them completely. Because of that, I'm going to see where this Bram/Decay things ends up. But I already don't like the idea of turning a hot, unique act like Decay and turning it into some high school drama bullcrap. We don't know that's where this is going to go, but it's an often traveled path when it comes to wrestling angles. I don't want to hear about how Crazzy Steve is jealous of Bram. The Decay are above that. You have plenty of different characters to play that teen drama story with. Decay deserves more and I hope it ends up being that way.
Eddie Edwards is in the ring with Jeremy Borash. JB asks Eddie for his decision on Option C. Before he can make his choice, TNA champ Bobby Lashley interrupts.
Lashley tells Edwards he's a great X Division champion, but he is the most dominant wrestler in the business today. The Destroyer tells Edwards that he doesn't want him to make a mistake. Eddie tells Bobby he doesn't scare him. He talks about working tough situations and with broken bones prior. Lashley reminds Edwards that he ends careers, including Kurt Angle's. He then suggests a champion vs. champion match instead.
Eddie Edwards knows the smart thing to do is to keep the title. Instead, he takes the title vs. title match.
Lashley then delivers a suplex to Eddie but when he goes for the spear, Eddie hits him with a knee. He holds both titles in the ring.
Wow, very interesting. This has me very intrigued because it sets up a situation where something has to give. Sure, they could end with a DQ and no titles changing hands or some double finish, and that's a possibility. But there's also a good possibility that someone walks away with both titles.
I'm continually impressed with Lashley's character work and promo ability, which may be the best he's done prior. He talked about "ripping out the heart of the X Division" when he wins the title, putting more pressure on Eddie than just to win the TNA title for himself. Instead, he's got the fate of the X Division on his back. Eddie's not the greatest promo either, but he showed a good amount of emotion here and sold his points.
This was all a turn of events I didn't see coming and one that has me very curious to see how it plays out.
EC3 and Drew Galloway had a brawl after their match last week and we told to stay home from Impact tonight because of it. Josh Mathews did an interview via satellite with both men that set up a street fight (though it may just be a brawl and not a match) next week.
While I find it funny that this is the first time ever that a backstage brawl lead to a suspension, I'm really looking forward to the feud these two will have. They really amped up how much they dislike each other (while still respecting each other) tonight.
The Final Deletion story ran in three parts.
It opened the show with Maxel's first birthday party. Matt tells Maxel that his gift to him is expunging the world of Jeff Hardy. He then has Senor Benjamin prepare the battlefield for MASSACRE.
In the middle of the show, Matt sends drones to Jeff's house that Jeff has to try to bat down with his guitar. One drone plays a hologram of Matt telling Jeff to come for the Final Deletion tonight. As Jeff leaves, Matt shows up and destroys all of Jeff's lawn art with his lawn mower.
A referee is summoned to the estate and then Matt summons Jeff using a violin. During an absolutely insane match, with Willow, Senor Benjamin, and Senor Benjamin as Willow. It ends when Reby hands Matt Maxel's first birthday candle from earlier and he sets a 20 foot tall Hardy brother's logo ablaze while Jeff is on top. Jeff takes a tumble and Matt covers him.
For a more detailed account, you can check out the live blog. And I'm going to wait for TNA to load the entire video before embedding it here. Small clips just won't do it justice.
Ho. Ly. Shit.
That was incredible. Yes, it was stupid as can be but the entire feud has been. Somehow, the Hardys keep finding a way to make the insanity addicting and we just wanted to see what kind of F'd up thing they're going to do next. That's why none of their in ring matches fully clicked. They could never get as insane as we wanted after they introduced it with the Contract Signing. But they could go as wild as they wanted tonight and man did they ever.
The drone segment was straight up ridiculous and superb at that. There were points during the match itself that I was laughing for a minute straight. Any time Senor Benjamin was in there, I lost it. When he TAZED Willow, I popped. But then poor Benjamin was somehow replaced with Willow when Matt went for the cover and Matt let out a "Nooo!" that was just perfect for this campy entertainment.
This isn't for everyone. It was never going to be for everyone. But I loved every second of it. And I don't think there has been as much buzz around TNA outside stories of financial problems. This generated a buzz for an on air wrestling angle. And while much of the buzz had to do with how crazy this was, it was still a positive buzz that got people tuning in to TNA that hadn't prior. Will everyone who watched tonight stick around? Probably not. But maybe some will. Because the rest of the show (outside commentary which I saw a decent amount of newcomers displeased with) was good.
And this was different. This was like nothing you'll see in any major promotion. Sure, there are smaller indie promotions who do this type of match, but nothing you're going to be able to easily find. Nothing on a televised promotion.
So kudos to TNA for trying something different, creating good buzz from it, and putting on something that made many of us laugh and have a good time watching professional wrestling. And isn't that really what this is all about?
Pros of the Show:
The Final Deletion
X Division title match was fun
Intrigue for the main event last week
Cons of the Show:
Stories like Bennett's X Division run or Jade/Marti feel rushed
The same problems persist with the Dixie/Corgan angle
Most of the show was good and the Final Deletion was extremely fun. Overall, a strong showing for a popular episode.