TNA Impact returned last night (Sept. 29, 2016) with what could have been their last episode given the uncertainty of the company’s future. Of course, that wasn’t known at the time of the taping so none of that is reflected in the episode.
For all the results of this episode’s happenings, you can find it at the live blog here.
The main event angle between Bobby Lashley and EC3 for the TNA championship had somewhat of a derailment the last few weeks, focusing more on Moose as an eventual challenger to Lashley’s title than the man who actually is facing him this Sunday in Ethan Carter.
They righted the ship booking wise this week, putting the focus back on Carter. To start, the show opened with a brief promo between the two men. Lashley continues to do his best promo work ever as this cool and confident destroyer. He made sure to tell Ethan that despite EC3’s success against many an opponent, none could hurt him or end his career like Lashley can. He’s 100% confident in his delivery to the point that he just laughs off when someone threatens him. And why shouldn’t he? He’s kicked everyone’s ass who steps up to him. The burden is on EC3 to wipe the smile off his face.
The main event was a Lethal Lockdown match between a team led by Carter (Moose, Aron Rex, & Gail Kim) and a team lead by Lashley (Mike Bennett, Drew Galloway, & Maria) where the winning captain got to pick the stipulation for their title match. As personal preference, I don’t like the Lethal Lockdown match. Its formula is extremely predictable. The heel team always has the man advantage. So we trade 90 second segments of a handicap assault followed by a house of fire good guy run in for six rounds until they are all in the ring. So there’s at least 10 minutes that you could probably just skip to get to the point where something of significance happens. Then it because a cluster cage match. It very well may be your cup of tea and I realize it has its roots in the beloved War Games, but it is just not for me and therefore much of the second hour wasn’t must see viewing for me.
As expected, the first half of the Lockdown match played out like they always do, with the story only resuming at the end of the match. And that’s when it became intriguing again. Carter finally had Lashley in the middle of the ring while the rest of the participants were laid out. Ethan wanted to fight Lashley in the beginning of the match and even challenged the opposing captain to come out first so he and Lashley would have 5 minutes in the cage. Lashley accepted but then like a true heel, he walked out as if he would, smiled, and then sent out Bennett first instead. A simple move but great heeling.
But now Carter finally had that chance to unload on his rival. And unload he did. While he didn’t throw everything in his arsenal at the champ (he never hit the One Percenter), he tossed Lashley against the cage multiple times and then used a weapon for good measure.
He hit his signature TK3 but the champ just bounced off the ropes and speared him. Lashley then quickly locked in his front choke. Carter made it to the ropes, but this being a cage match, Bobby didn’t have to break the hold. Because of that, Lashley was able to choke out Carter.
Then to make matters worse for the challenger, he declared the stipulation for BFG would be no holds barred.
I enjoyed how they set this up. EC3 went to town on the champion tonight, really for the first time all feud, and it still wasn’t enough to put the Destroyer away. Carter is going to have an extreme uphill battle to take the title off of Lashley, something he said he "needs to do" in his opening promo against Lashley. And with the added stipulation of No Holds Barred, he still won’t have the ability to break a hold against the ropes. If tonight happens again, he’s done.
The argument can be made that Carter was positioned too weakly in the build against Lashley, never getting the upper hand. It’s an argument I’d understand but I don’t think hurts Carter. EC3 has been booked as a dominant ass kicker in TNA since he showed up. He’s only lost to a couple people and still has only been pinned once. That history props up the challenger despite coming up on the short end against Lashley the majority of the time.
Now the man who’s had it easy the majority of the time in TNA is up against an obstacle that’s more difficult than one he ever faced. He delivered some of his best shots tonight against Lashley and it wasn’t enough. The Destroyer can do whatever he wants to Carter this weekend. He can hurt him and try to end his career like he promised early on. Can the once dominant Ethan Carter reclaim his title of dominant ass kicker? It’s not going to be easy.
While the couple episodes they focused too much on Moose hurt the build a bit, this is still a strong feud going into Bound for Glory.
Sit Down Interviews and Promo battles
The other feuds that were represented in the Lethal Lockdown each got promo time prior to the match, whether it be in the ring or in a pre-taped sit down. This was a good move. I was worried that they’d just use the match as the end of the builds and that would have been lazy. Instead, every one got a chance to try to sell the match more with just a microphone. That’s the best way to try to put the finishing touches on feuds. Here’s how they did:
- Maria and Gail Kim had a sit down. This is the best for Gail because an in-ring promo battle against Maria is an unfair disadvantage for the soon to be Hall of Famer. Here she got to calmly remind us that she’s been wanting to get her hands on Maria for 9 months, which is more important to her at this point than the title and even the Hall of Fame induction. Meanwhile, Maria, the superb promo she is, told Gail that TNA is an entertainment company and when it comes to that Maria is a star. This segment outlined the stark contrast between these two: pure wrestler vs. entertainer. It was a focus of their story back prior to Slammiversary and it was good to call back to.
- These two did not end up getting too involved in the Lethal Lockdown match as Gail ended up immediately chasing Maria to the back.
- Bennett and Moose had a sit down segment of their own and like his wife, Bennett was the better promo between the two. Moose went on about how when he was playing all levels of football (we get it, you played football), there were arrogant bastards like the Miracle. And those people were taken care of. Meanwhile, Bennett sold himself as "the hardest man to pin in wrestling" and cut down Moose. The Miracle is a good promo, but this one didn’t add to the match much at all. And given his really strong booking the last month, it almost feels like a forgone conclusion that he’s getting the W Sunday.
- Aron Rex and Drew Galloway had an in-ring promo segment discussing their Grand Championship match at BFG. Rex continues to fall flat as a babyface, coming off like a dick too much when he talks. I don’t know if he’s trying to channel the Savior of the Masses that first opened some eyes in WWE, but he comes off too abrasive to be likeable, especially with his terrible insults. Drew, on the other hand, has been great as a heel. He took full credit for changing the impression of TNA and putting it on the map. That’s superb heeling. This ended up turning into a pull apart brawl, which it feels we’ve seen a ton of in the build for Bound for Glory.
Bring on the Great War!
The go home angle for the tag team Great War was a match between Rosemary and Reby. This has been building itself for awhile. As soon as Rosemary started targeting Maxel, Reby was going to get involved. Rosemary targeted her son and as a mother, there was no way in hell she was going to stand for it.
The match was brief, with Rosemary getting much of the advantage. However, when she was distracted by just seeing Matt Hardy at ringside (Broken Brilliance is captivating) that allowed Reby to get the advantage and hit a Twist of Fate. The Decay had to distract the ref and Rosemary ended up getting DQ’d due to the mist.
Then came the post match brawl. While the men fought out of the arena, the women fight in the ring. Rosemary put Reby through a table from the ring apron using a Side Effect, one of Matt’s own moves, and then while still laying down on the broken table, she grabs a mic and starts chanting Decay making the "Delete" motion.
The fight between the guys spilled backstage and was filmed in more of a Delete or Decay style instead of a standard backstage brawl style. That’s the way to go since the Broken World has a different cinematic feel than a standard backstage fight. Abyss ended up electrocuting Matt and Steve really beat the hell out of Jeff, leaving all the members standing tall.
I do this all the time, but praising the work of Rosemary needs one more go around. She’s the glue that holds Decay together and a focal point of that team for this feud. Sure Abyss and Steve play their parts. They are by no means dead weight. But the captains of the teams are Rosemary and Broken Matt.
The video hype package played prior to the match even backs that up with Rosemary being the voice of Decay through the entire video, juxtapositioned with Matt’s promos. If TNA does close its doors, Rosemary is going to be one of the talents that I’ll miss watching week to week the most. She is an example of why TNA staying in business is a good thing for performers. I would have never heard of Courtney Rush/Rosemary if TNA wasn’t around to showcase her. And now she’s one of my favorite performers.
Maria’s new soldier Laurel Van Ness (Chelsea Green of Tough Enough fame) defeated Madison Rayne tonight. The match itself was a bit sloppy where it seemed Laurel was really slow in transitioning from one sequence from another. However it was better than Van Ness’ showing in the multi-woman match she debuted on. Much of that is likely due to the fact that Rayne is a veteran and could support someone who’s still rather green.
Laurel played up an arrogant attitude and she did that rather well. Josh Mathews told us that she comes from wealth, so that was a nice wrinkle to the character she was playing.
The best part of Van Ness’ part tonight is how it continued to put sympathy onto Allie. Backstage prior to the match, Maria was once again berating her poor assistant when Van Ness rolled in. Maria was suddenly really sweet to Laurel (probably because of the money she’s come from) and proceeded to tell Allie how much better Van Ness is compared to her, even down to the fact that Van Ness is taller than Allie.
Then during the match, Van Ness played her part by bossing Allie around outside the ring when she’d get a chance, including making her powder her face while she took a powder. At the end, she made Allie repeat her victory announcement when Allie didn’t place the accent correctly on Van Ness.
While she’s still a bit green in the ring, Laurel’s character work was solid tonight and that works for the story they are telling with Maria and Allie. With time, hopefully, she’ll continue to put it together in the ring and play a part in the Knockouts division.
Poor X Division
DJ Z and Eddie Edwards had a match for the X Division title tonight where DJ Z picked up the victory to retain his title. After the match, the Helms’ Dynasty (Trevor Lee & Andrew Everett) attacked the two men who just competed and stood tall after the attack.
You’d think they’d announce an X Division match at this time for Bound for Glory, but they didn’t. So as of writing this, the X Division does not have a match at the PPV.
Now they probably will, but this is a reflection of how mismanaged this division is. They have a one on one title match that is given a bit of time, but not enough to really build it to something that feels bigger than any X Division match. Then again, the feud wasn’t given that either so I suppose it’s even. Then the Helms’ Dynasty runs out to attack and hopefully you remembered they were a thing because outside filling in spots in random X Division matches, the Helms’ Dynasty hasn’t been a story point for months now. Without well paced consistent story telling, the X Division is going to continue to flounder, and with it flounder the good talent they have in it.
It’s almost worth it not to have an X Division match at BFG and instead use these guys to fill out the battle royal field so there are more legit contenders in the Bound for Gold Battle Royal.
Pros of the Show:
- The Hardys/Decay continue to deliver
- They painted EC3 some almost insurmountable odds for Sunday as Lashley continues to look like a beast.
Cons of the Show:
- The X Division continues to be lazily booked
The focus was placed back on the main event and EC3 after two weeks of a detour and Lashley looks to be a mountain of an obstacle. Fun stuff with Decay. While most of the promo segments for the feuds weren’t home runs, they gave each big feud proper time on the go home show.
As long as nothing major happens, we’ll be here all weekend to get you ready for Bound for Glory.