Show opens with Austin Aries walking into the building and Mike Tenay talking about the decision he has to make tonight to either keep the X Division title or turn it over in exchange for a World Title shot at Destination X.
A video package airs outlining last week’s angle involving Bully Ray, tables, random ECW alumns, Ethan and Dixie Carter, and the heroic Rockstar Spud.
Bobby Roode vs. MVP – Falls Count Anywhere: Bobby Roode makes his way to the ring. MVP’s music hits and then we get the classic Mike Tenay line of “we’re getting word that something is happening in the back!” Of course we go to the back and there is MVP sensibly refusing to compete as he is still recovering from a leg injury. The sociopathic tyrant Kurt Angle is insistent that he must compete. I don’t know this to be true, but based on previous weeks of television I would guess MVP turned down Kurt’s sexual advances and the match was booked as punishment. In any event this is a Falls Count Anywhere match so Roode leaves the ring, runs to the back and brings the fight to MVP. A few weeks ago they did a similar sort of thing in a brawl with Bobby Roode and Kenny King which really didn’t work because when you start a match out of the line of site of the live audience you kill the intense atmosphere you are trying to capture right out of the gate. But I will be the first to say that it actually worked here and this was something of a miracle match. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t great and it is really stupid to have a babyface who is wrestling a crippled guy, eat a lot of the gimps offense, and then only win by viciously attacking the “heels” physical handicap. That said the crowd was really with them here and they definitely worked hard. For a guy with a legit knee injury MVP took a couple of pretty crazy bumps, and I thought this was on pace to be the best match I’ve seen on Impact since I’ve been reviewing the shows until the flat transition that set up the finish. I also didn’t care for the lame, but brief run-in sequence with Eric Young and Kenny King, though that didn’t really effect the flow of the match. As a piece of booking this was pretty stupid making Bobby Roode look like both a wimp and an asshole, MVP look sympathetic and Kurt Angle look like Stephanie McMahon with lower testosterone levels, but as a match it was surprisingly decent.
Video package covering the highlights of last week’s title match between Bobby Lashley and Jeff Hardy. I actually thought this was very good, and they continue to do a good job establishing Bobby Lashley as a dominant champion. After the video they show Jeff Hardy backstage walking around and pitch to commercial after telling us that Jeff Hardy will cut a promo on the other side of the break.
Backstage Dixie is interviewed. She promises she won’t go through a table and says she will be standing over Bully Ray’s dead body by night’s end.
Jeff Hardy comes to the ring and cuts a promo. He says he listened to Willow and brought back Jeff Hardy. Okay. Jeff rambles a bit and then says he’s bringing someone to TNA tonight. Immediately everyone knows it’s Matt and after a really ridiculous promo from Jeff (he’s “three years older than me” has to be the oddest way to sell an incoming talent in recent memory), Matt comes down. Matt is a much better heel promo than face promo, but I have to give him credit here as his “I had to heal myself!” bit allowed him to frame his return as a way of doing penance for his lifetime of hard living. Matt says the Hardys want to be World tag champions one more time and calls out the American Wolves. The Wolves show up wearing really nice suits, with Davey looking like a well cared for ventriloquist dummy. Eddie cut a flat, wooden promo, the sort of promo that makes you say “christ, no wonder the WWE passed on these guys” even if you are someone who thinks they are a great team. I myself don’t think they are good, let alone great, so I’m not terribly thrilled that this ended with the Wolves throwing down the challenge for next week’s Destination X show, but it will be interesting to see if Matt Hardy (who has been great this year) can work his magic on the Wolves next week.
Backstage Aries teases that he still hasn’t made up his mind about whether or not to invoke “Option C” and claim his World Title shot.
Back from the break the Bro Mans trio is in the ring, which is wonderful news because that means Robbie E is back. Even better news – he’s no longer afraid of clowns. Jesse talks about how Robbie E has been on one of the best reality shows of all time, then DJ Z says he is going to be the King of New York. This entire promo was about as useful as it sounds.
DJ Z v. Low Ki: I understand the idea of throwing Low Ki out there blind for a pop, and he eventually got it. I also understand the idea of letting Low Ki steamroll DJ Z. But I don’t understand why you would give this only two minutes. If the point is that you are building to Destination X and trying to get over Low Ki as a “special” guy, shouldn’t you give him enough time to showcase everything he can do? I still enjoy Low Ki’s offense, so this was a fun enough squash, but if you are going to bring in a guy like that give him the time to kick ass in a way that is going to make people want to tune in next week to see him at it again.
Backstage Gunner is talking to Samuel Shaw. Gunner is describing the appearance of a female they have encountered in the city. I THINK the joke was supposed to be that they had seen a drag queen, because right after this Shaw spoke up and said he was the most normal person in New York City. At this point I was kind of hoping that it would be revealed that Gunner has been cross dressing, and next week we would get the debut of a new Tootsie based character, but then Ken Anderson showed up to ruin the segment.
Backstage Ethan Carter III, Rockstar Spud and Rhino are talking about their respective careers as street fighters when Dixie walks in with King Mo. Rhino says “I saw that fight with Rampage and you won.” Dixie then says that Mo made a mistake because he fought Rampage in his hometown and didn’t take him out. I kind of like the idea of Dixie as an above average MMA analyst when TNA isn’t renewed by Spike, but this was an odd way to try out for that gig. Mo says if he sees Bully he’s gonna put him in ICU. This needed more of Spud and Ethan talking about life on the mean streets, and less of Bellator being made to look stupid by TNA’s writers.
Ken Anderson/Gunner vs. Bram/Magnus: This was booked like a really shitty ECW segment from the Arena in 1996. The match itself was short and kind of creepy as you had Gunner wrestling his doppelganger Bram and me getting confused about who was who. The heels ended up winning in relatively short order with Anderson taking the fall. This led to a post-match brawl. Bram hit Gunner in the nuts and went to get the metal turnbuckle he’s been using as a weapon but Samuel Shaw showed up and sacrificed himself, taking the shot intended for Gunner. Gunner fought back, but Magnus came in and took over on him. This brought out Abyss for the save. Gunner is a more interesting character and better wrestler than Raven, so I’m not sure why you would book him as Raven here, with Shaw as Stevie Richards. Abyss as 911 I can see, but Shaw as Richards just seems wrong. I am going to be really pissed if this Gunner and Samuel Shaw angle isn’t building to a public profession of love by Gunner.
Backstage Team 3D and Tommy Dreamer cut a promo setting up their fight with Ethan Carter, Spud and Rhino later in the show. Nothing of note really.
Decent video package outlining Aries, the X Division Title and the history of “Option C.”
Kurt Angle comes to the ring, announces that next week is Destination X and invites Austin Aries to come to the ring. Angle tells him he’s sitting on a winning lottery ticket and that all he has to do is turn over his X Division title to get his World Title shot. Aries says that everyone thinks his cashing in is a foregone conclusion and he teases that he’s not going to invoke Option C, when MVP and Bobby Lashley interrupt the segment and come down to the ring. MVP cuts a very good promo talking about the greatness of Lashley, mocks Aries as a “pretty good” wrestler, and tells him to keep his title and do all his “flip, flop and fly” stuff. Aries returns fire with an equally good promo talking about how he created Option C because of how much he values the X Division. He talks up his talents, says he has more heart that Lashley because hear isn’t measured by muscles, and then says when he beats Lashley he’s going to create Option D, where the X Division champion can get a title shot anytime he wants as opposed to once a year. The entire time he was cutting this promo Angle was creepily leering at him. I suspect this may have something to do with Aries saying “I know about taking things, touching them, and making them great,” which had Angle grinning ear-to-ear, but they are still only teasing Angle as a guy using his power to garner sexual favors so maybe I’m reading too much into this. As a whole this was a great segment, probably the best segment I’ve seen on Impact since I’ve been watching, though I do think it is ridiculous to have a crippled heel get his ass kicked, and leg destroyed, and then come out later in the show to cut a promo without the slightest hint of pain in his eyes because the guy he’s a mouthpiece for can’t deliver a single line without sounding like a fraud.
They show an excellent video package featuring the highlights of the two big Gail Kim v. Taryn Terrell matches. Really a strong feature from TNA, putting over a couple of matches that absolutely did deliver, and getting the viewer hyped for the rubber match coming up after the commercial.
Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell: Well this didn’t deliver at all. It really wasn’t their fault as the video package before the break artificially raised expectations, the crowd shit on everything they did and it had a run-in finish with The Beautiful People attacking both of them and leaving them laying. Still when the match was over I left thinking that their previous matches were as good as they were largely because of the gimmicks involved. I’m not sure these two have a good straight match in them.
Before commercial they show The Great Muta walking around backstage in his full get up. Maybe Muta was one of the people Gunner and Shaw saw walking around town?
They show Dixie and King Mo backstage. I didn’t pay attention to what Dixie said because this was such an obvious filler segment it felt morally wrong to treat it seriously.
The Great Muta vs. Robbie E: This was another quick squash. Before the match Robbie bitched about Muta and Low Ki getting big entrances and called him “not so great.” For a match that went a minute, and saw an old man who works for another company get put over a homegrown talent this was pretty entertaining with a misting, a dragonscrew, the Muta elbow and a shining wizard. I thought it was absolutely hilarious that Muta allegedly booked himself here because he’d never worked New York before and wanted to check it off of his bucket list, and still wasn’t going to waste a moonsault on a TNA show.
Post-match James Storm came to the ring and cut a good promo about how he was the legend in TNA and called Muta a fraud. He beat up Muta, with one of Muta’s young boys hitting the ring to try and make the save at one point. Sanada came out for the save with a chair, but ended up turning on Muta and leaving with Storm who he bowed to. As I have noted before Storm’s advice to Sanada about the dead end road of being a Muta protege in 2014 is dead on, but it’s hard to see how becoming a TNA full timer is a better option.
Backstage they show Rhino, ECIII and Spud walking to the ring.
Back from the break Jeremy Borash is in the balcony with Dixie Carter and King Mo. Dixie badly botches her first line. Dixie says she’s tired of hearing the fans chant for ECW and threatens to have King Mo beat up Borash if he mentions ECW again. Then she continues her promo along the same lines as before, talking about Dreamer and Team 3D being rejects from a dead promotion. So basically these entire New York City tapings are a TNA reboot of the original One Night Stand, with Dixie as the shittiest possible version of Eric Bischoff.
Tommy Dreamer/Team 3D vs. Rockstar Spud/Ethan Carter III/Rhino – Street Fight: Oh man was this something. This was the wrong kind of brawl, as they went straight to using props, rather than building heat, but this did have some great Spud bumps and mannerisms to keep things from being completely unwatchable. Still this was all about the idiotic post-match angle. I will say that there is something logical about foot fetishist Gene Snisky being part of a One Night Stand tribute show, and former ECW champion Ezekial Jackson being there arguably makes sense as well, but I can’t imagine why anyone would think this was a good idea. As soon as Snisky jumped the rail you could hear all the life being sucked out of the live crowd and when Big Zeke dropped his hoodie to reveal his face and Tazz said “I know who that is!” it had to rate as the most egregious fulfillment of second rate status in the history of TNA. Dixie strolling to the ring with a tenth rate MMA star, and standing tall with her menagerie of cast offs, and the truly brilliant Spud, was just the icing on the cake. The show ended with a video promoting next week’s big Destination X show that has The Wolves v. The Hardys and Aries v. Lashley, but the fucker finger saluted to every person watching live and on TV that was that final segment will be the lasting image of this episode.
I was actually set to call this a decent show until that last segment, which ranks with the most embarrassing, ridiculous and counterproductive segments of 2014, and this is coming from someone who watches Impact AND Raw every week. This show did have some good video packages, and did a decent job making you want to see the two big matches on next week’s show, but when you end on a segment that is effectively a five minute representation of every criticism ever leveled against TNA (terrible writing, awful announcing, bad acting from Dixie, overuse of WWE rejects, copying angles and storylines from the WWE, et.) it’s impossible to call it decent, let alone good. I will say that one guy deserves a ton of credit for his efforts, as he really carried the two strongest segments of this show, but when a one-legged MVP is not only your best talker, but also the best in ring performer on your show, it really puts things in perspective.