With stalwart Impact reviewer Kyle Decker on vacation, I'll be stepping into the breach and reviewing the sequel to Final Deletion, among other things, on yet another strong episode of Impact.
As always click here for full results and the live blog.
Delete or Decay
Where else can you possibly start with this week's episode than the utterly insane sequel to Final Deletion? This was fantastic, and honestly, I think it might have been even better than the original it was inspired by. There's always the inherent appeal to the first time you see something as unique as that was, but there's also an advantage to honing your technique over time and continuing to develop what you want to do with the concept. This didn't feel like a sequel that was just made to cash in on a successful property, but a sequel made because Matt Hardy is a creative visionary and had more ideas for the concept.
What really worked so well here is that they didn't completely stray from the comedic elements of Final Deletion, but they did play it a bit more straight which was an effective choice given the nature of this feud. This isn't about Matt's funny accent or catchphrases, this is about a trio of psychos attempting to kidnap their child, so playing it more as a horror movie felt like the right tonal choice.
It didn't do away the absurd completely, of course, whether it was the ridiculous reappearance of Joseph Parks or the excellent pre-match build with the animals (Spot monkeys! George Washington as a giraffe! Genghis Khan as a tiger! Brother Nero boxing Joe Frazier the kangaroo!), but first and foremost, they sold that the Decay are genuinely dangerous individuals. Crazzy Steve, Rosemary, and Abyss all got their moments to shine as legitimate horror movie villains throughout the battle. Rosemary in particular felt like the star here, and it was great that she got the big climactic moment with Maxel, Vanguard One, and Broken Matt.
The ending was fantastic as well, with the Broken Hardys only attaining a pyrrhic victory. They managed to keep King Maxel safe in this battle, which was always the priority, but they are massively on the defensive in the Great War. As #Broken Matt said on twitter, it was a Dark Day for House Hardy. Senor Benjamin has been abducted, Brother Nero has been mutilated, Vanguard One is down and missing, and Reby has been traumatized. With that being said, the Great War is far from over. I trust Matt's Broken Brilliance too much to doubt that he'll have a plan to Delete the villainous Decay. And I for one cannot wait to see it.
The Real World's Champion
As an aside before getting into the meat of this, TNA came in for some major criticism and mockery last year with the tonal dissonance of having Mickie James get murdered (and then retconned to not be murdered after the jokes and jibes) by a train when the rest of the show was treated like a normal wrestling show, but they have found a much better way to do these tonal shifts this year. The Delete or Decay feud could not be more tonally different than Lashley versus EC 3, but both don't feel like they don't fit on the same show.
I'm not sure why that is, but my best guess is that it feels like they've effectively cordoned Matt Hardy and people in his orbit at any given time off from the rest of the show. Keeping most of his antics outside the physical arena is the key that makes it all work, because everything with Matt, aside from some build to his next explosion of creativity, happens off-site.
This build, on the other hand, was 100% pure sport build down to a UFC style press conference getting out of hand, and they nailed this just as well as they're nailing the Hardys and Decay feud. Maybe AJ Styles can give him a run for his money if he wins on Sunday, but there is no champion in any wrestling promotion who is as on top of their game as Bobby Lashley is in TNA right now. He's one of the only champions in wrestling, if not the only one, who legitimately carries himself like a World Heavyweight Champion.
Lashley and EC3 are both great in this setting because EC3 is a great classic wrestling promo and Lashley has developed into one in his own right. Having that more classic "talk them into the building" approach to promos is what you need if you're going to do a press conference gimmick, and that's their strong point. I thought Lashley in particular excelled here with his promo about how he's the real thing in a sea of fakeness. He's the guy that needs to keep wrestling strong as it gets weak. He's the true defender of the sport of professional wrestling as its being beset by all sides, including from the MMA lads. And that's the job of the world heavyweight champion, and EC3 simply can't handle that job.
And then after the really strong promo exchange, there was an equally strong pier six brawl all over the backstage area that spilled outside and sold just how intense this feud is and the match at Bound for Glory is going to be. This has been the best build to a title match this year, because they've done well to give both guys a ton of momentum coming into this with Lashley dominating multiple divisions and winning gold all over the place while EC3 won the Bound for Glory tournament and then also won his feud with Drew Galloway decisively, so the match feels like a legitimately big deal. This is what you want for the World Title match on your biggest show of the year.
"We Want Allie!"
This storyline continues to fire on all cylinders. The key that holds it all together is that Allie is tremendous in her role. The commitment, attention to detail, and earnestness in which she plays this character is so impressive. She's given such heart and humanity to a character that is on its face could be a total caricature of the flighty over-exuberant secretary archetype, and it has made her into a potential breakout star. It also helps that she has great chemistry with Sienna and that Maria is so excellent at being a completely loathsome monster, but it doesn't work this well without a performance at the center like this from Allie.
What I loved most this week was the way she played her complete and total joy at the "We Want Allie!" chants during the tag match. She really suffered last week in the brutal and gut wrenching segment when Maria forced her to lie down and hand over the Knockouts title, so you could tell that she really needed the support of the people so much and it helped bring her up from being so down.
...and then she suffered once more, this time physically, as Sienna had finally had enough of her and hit her with the Pounce. With how expertly they've built this and how charmingly she's performed it's going to be a huge moment when she finally stands up to Maria and Sienna for all their abuse they've doled out to her over these past few months.
Grand Championship: I think there's potential for this idea, but it really doesn't feel like they have the pieces for it. I thought the Godderz versus Drake match was surprisingly good, but none of them really did anything particularly interesting with the rules changes, and they haven't focused on putting together a collection of great workers to take advantage of having a different style. For all the good TNA is doing from a storytelling standpoint in multiple corners of the show, with a few exceptions, they have a lot of really mediocre workers, and a complex rounds style match structure doesn't feel like the most natural fit for the roster they have. A promotion like Evolve could probably do something with this idea, but it doesn't feel like a fit for TNA's roster.
Not Thinking: I really don't have a ton to say about Aron Rex aside from saying that it is a massive level of miscasting to attempt to portray him as some kind of badass. He just doesn't have that aura about him at all, it feels so incredibly fake. Maybe stay in your lane and do go back to thinking, Rex.
Overall, this was consistent with what Impact has been for a while now. Matt Hardy, Bobby Lashley, and Allie carrying the show, with very good supporting performances from their dance partners, but still some weaknesses outside of those three storylines that are each on fire.