TNA Impact returned last night (Sept. 1, 2016) from Orlando, Florida with a couple advertised title bouts. Let’s get right to it.
Note: As of publishing this, the video clips of tonight’s show (asides from a Hardy one) weren’t yet made available. We will add them when they are.
Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis come to the ring. The Miracle talks about how everyone believes in the Miracle movement. He says his mission will be completed tonight when he wins the TNA championship. Miracle then says he needs Moose to come down to set the record straight on where they stand, but he gets the champ Lashley instead.
The Destroyer tells the challenger that Moose wants nothing to do with him, that they had a meeting themselves last week. Lashley tells Bennett that because of that, there's no doubt in his mind he's winning tonight. The champ is so confident that he's going to win because Bennett doesn't have Moose to back him up, he makes tonight's match a no DQ match.
Finally, Moose’s music hits. The big man comes down and says that Lashley knows they never had a meeting, which Bennett is extremely pumped about. But Moose cuts that immediately. He says tonight, he decides who walks out of the ring world heavyweight champion.
This opening segment set the stage for the real story of the main event for those who may not have been following the program. It’s less about the title match and more about Moose’s fraying relationship with the Miracle.
While foregone conclusions don’t make for high drama for title matches, it was pretty obvious that Bennett wasn’t going to win the title tonight. May as well turn the focus and let the people know what to keep their eyes on during the match.
The Hardy/Decay story was played out throughout the night:
The show starts with Reby playing the piano (the Obsolete song!) and her and both Hardy brothers are singing it! And so his Benjamin! Vanguard One too! Maxel then plays on his keyboard but that causes a premonition for Matt -- he sees that the big battle isn't going to happen in the Impact Zone but at the compound. Matt says he and Jeff need to go to the Zone of Impact but the rest will stay to watch Maxel.
Later, in the Impact Zone, Matt Hardy (with Broken Brother Nero) defeats Crazzy Steve, who is there alone.
As the Hardys are leaving, Steve grabs a microphone and starts laughing. He says while he's here alone, Decay is everywhere... including the Hardy estate. King Maxel no longer belongs to Matt and Reby, but right now, he's Rosemary's baby!
Backstage, Matt Hardy tells Jeff that he fears Loco Steve is telling the truth. He tries to call Reby but she doesn't answer. He then has VG1 scan the grounds. Meanwhile, sneaking up on Maxel's play pen is Rosemary!
Matt tries calling Reby again and this time she picks up. He informs her of the situation and she says she'll take Maxel to the safe room. Then Matt gets a message from VG1 saying that Rosemary is in the house! Reby takes Maxel to said safe room and soon Señor Benjamin joins her. She gives him Maxel, grabs a sword, and says she will deal with Rosemary herself.
Reby finds Rosemary in the theater and unsheathes her sword. She chases her outside, but then Rosemary appears from the balcony and tosses a baby (the doll from the original contract signing) to Reby and disappears. Benjamin brings her Maxel and tells her that Rosemary is gone, but Reby says this isn't over and then instructs him to prepare the battlefield for massacre!!!
Delete or Decay next week, baby!
I’m going to keep my words on all of this brief since there will be plenty of Hardy stuff to write next week, but this was all good fun. (The Hardy clan singing the Obsolete song was, as Matt would say, marvelous!) I love what they’re doing with Rosemary in these things, playing up her horror movie vibe — even having her slide UP a fire pole. And then she tosses Reby the baby doll that she tossed Jeff months back. Turn about is fair play.
The Final Deletion style vids are obviously not for everyone and those people may not want to catch this battle. But for those who dig it, it should be a good time.
In a X Division gauntlet match for the vacated X Division title, DJ Z wins the vacated belt.
This was a fun X Division style match, which have been par for the course for most Ultimate X matches in recent memory. Mandrews is protypical X Division athlete and he’s extremely exciting to watch in these matches. While he’s not high flying, Braxton Sutter had a good showing as well.
However, there were some things that served as a reminder that the X Division doesn’t as much care as the rest of TNA. For example, there's the fact that these matches are all about the high spots. While at least Spud and Sutter have a rivalry to build, there’s little character development with any of these men to help prop the match. Because the division has often been forgotten, DJ Z’s big win didn’t feel that big. (It also didn’t help that he wasn’t featured as much as others and won it in a bit of a heelish fashion.) The DJ does his best to make it feel big with a passionate backstage promo and hopefully they start to build the division more around him, but it’s definitely not there yet.
Other small points that bothered me (but again didn’t detract from the fact that these men put on an enjoyable match) was the fact they added a "gauntlet" stipulation where the match would start with two men and then another man would enter after a period of time. The match could be won prior to everyone entering.
Alone, that could be a fun stipulation, but it’s something we need to understand prior to right before the match begins. Sure they said "gauntlet" last week, but TNA uses the term differently than others so that didn’t explain the match. This is something they could have introduced last week during the Fact of Life segment and they could build it to give it meaning. But waiting until last minute to explain takes away any chance to build real drama with it. And without that, it’s just a stipulation added for stipulation’s sake.
The other small thing that was annoying was the fact that Eddie Edwards absence from the match wasn’t addressed. While it’s likely because he’s moved up on the card, he held the title just prior to Lashley so it would only make sense that he would be in the match.
While those points don’t take away from the in ring work that the men did to entertain us, it makes it feel like the X Division still isn’t getting the care that much of the other stories do.
Drew Galloway makes his way to the ring as the fans chant "Why, Drew, why?" He explains that while the fans were on the same page as him early on, they cheered for EC3 as he screwed Drew over and over. And then after last week's match, they weren’t cheering him at the end of the hard fought match, but referee Aron Rex. Drew's change in attitude is solely on the shoulders of the fans.
He said that what Rex is doing, succeeding through talent, is something Drew already did. And that makes Drew Rex's messiah. Billy Corgan’s music hits. He scolds Drew for his actions. Corgan says he was going to suspend him without pay but someone talked him out of it. And that person was Aron Rex.
Rex comes out and the two men brawl on the ramp. As Rex is about to go at Drew with a chair, he is held back by security. This becomes a pull apart brawl.
Honestly I’m sick of seeing Billy Corgan on screen. It sounds like backstage he’s been a good influence on the company and that’s excellent. But he’s terrible on screen. He's an awkward promo and comes off as really unlikeable when that doesn't appear the intent.
There was zero reason for him to be a part of this segment. Drew had a pretty nice heel promo railing on the fans. That is a perfect spot for Aron Rex to run down full of fire and then go into pull apart brawl. Instead, Billy has to come out for his on air time and have a little back and forth with Drew and introduce Rex himself, killing the heat of the segment. This segment was worse because he was in it.
Stop with Billy Corgan authority figure already.
EC3 defeats Eli Drake
There wasn’t much behind this match in regards to meaning. It was just a match between two big guys who have good chemistry and EC3 obviously won. There’s little to really say about it.
Allie comes down to the ring, which has balloons on the turnbuckles, super excited. She thanks the fans who chanted for her last week after her win. She is about to thank someone (probably Maria) but is interrupted by Sienna (who is followed by Kanellis). Sienna is pissed and Maria is trying to call her off. Maria tells Sienna she has the night off and sends her to the back.
The First Lady explains that the balloons and such that she wanted Allie to get weren't for her celebration because who would celebrate her assistant? Maria calls Allie worthless just like everyone in the crowd. She then demands Allie lay down for her but Allie doesn't want to. Maria starts running her down, insisting she lay down for her, which the champ eventually does.
Maria orders the ref ring the bell and pins Allie for the 1-2-3 to become Knockouts champion.
Afterwards she orders Allie put the belt around her waste and announce her the champion, which Allie does through her tears.
Oh, man, this segment had me in full on mark mode. This made me hate Maria and feel bad for Allie. This wasn’t like with Kevin Owens where I liked seeing the heel win the title because he deserves it. This was me hating Maria immediately not giving a damn how far she’s come since leaving WWE.
So mission accomplished.
Seriously, in two weeks, they’ve put a major jolt into the Knockouts division that it was missing. Maria was a really good heel already, but this made her actually hateable and created an instant babyface in Allie. And now I’m even cool with Gail Kim beating Maria for that title (I’m guessing that match is probably still the plan) because I just want Maria to get hers. But really, I want her to get hers from Allie. That moment would be really sweet.
Bobby Lashley retains the TNA championship against Mike Bennett after Moose wouldn’t give The Miracle a pipe to use as a weapon.
After the match, Bennett calls Moose a stupid animal and demands him get into his ring, despite struggling to breathe post spear. He runs down Moose as a failed football player who was nothing without him and then slaps him. Moose lays out Bennett with a major clothesline.
This played out as expected, but that doesn’t mean the story is a poor one. It seems like from day one, things were going to be short lived between Moose and the Miracle as the Miracle tried to make him his sidekick and from day one Moose had too much pride for that.
The Miracle’s character has been well established. He’s a pretty good wrestler, but that’s overshadowed by the fact he’s a cocky, delusional blowhard who thinks the world belongs to him. This just added to that character profile. Hell, after the match, he thought that calling Moose into the ring and deriding him would work out. The man was sucking air from the Lashley spear and he provokes Moose? It’s dumb as hell, but actually consistent with his character. Bennett is too dense to realize that he’s already lost Moose.
The match itself was OK, but really just served to push the Moose/Bennett story into high gear. Josh Mathews talked about a big fight feel, but because of the predictable nature of the outcome and the fact this was more about Moose than the two guys fighting, that wasn’t true. And the match didn’t do anything to change that because never did the stakes feel high. Because of that, this was never really a big title match and in that sense, this title match was disappointing.
But looking at the Moose/Bennett angle, it was a pretty good segment that moved a story forward.
Pros of the Show:
- The Knockouts story was superb
- Really fun Hardy stuff
- X-Division match was fun
Cons of the Show:
- Billy Corgan as on screen authority is just rough
- X Division still needs more care in their stories and characters
- Main event title match was never really about the title match
Fun show overall, setting up to the big Delete or Decay match next week which’ll likely be bonkers.