The show opened with a brief video package outlining the events of last week and promoting the triple threat tag match between The American Wolves, Team 3D and The Hardys set for later in the show.
The real start of the show is Kurt Angle in the balcony running down the match ups for the night and noting that he has to have a sit down with Eric Young and Bobby Roode later on to determine what to do about the finish of last weeks escape the cage clusterfuck that failed to determine a new number one contender. It’s really hard to focus on the announced Ethan Carter III v. Rhino and aforementioned tag team three way, when TNA is teasing a storyline built around Kurt Angle putting himself in a different kind of three way. I have literally seen pornographic films that start off with this exact plot. “Hey boys, you both want the job, show me what you are willing to do for it,” is a perfectly fine way to build to a climax in porn, but I’m not sure it really works in wrestling. On the other hand, Angle’s atrophied arms are somewhat analogous to a really terrible boob job, and this does payoff what they have been teasing for months.
Just when Kurt is about to tell us what he has planned for his tryst with EY and Roode, MVP, Lashley and Kenny King come to the ring. Kenny King’s get up is great here as he is wearing a jean jacket with no shirt on underneath, which is a perfect fit for his obnoxious character, and also a an appeal to the prurient interests of leering pervert/boss Kurt Angle. MVP cuts a promo and manages to work in “Miley Cyrus’ flat ass” and a Frank White references, which is going to be hard for me to top in this write up. He puts over Lashley and then Tommy Dreamer hits the ring.
You gotta love how TNA uses Dreamer. Because they decided to tape a quarter of a million shows in New York, they are really making the most out of him as a hybrid of Paul Heyman and Terry Funk, working a gimmick based around transparently phony motivational speeches where he artificially inflates the historic value of talent, while tearing apart others in the lamest ways imaginable. Dreamer’s “your from Queens!” sellout line he dropped on King, was about the same level as Heyman’s “Matt Freakin’ Hardy!” bit that Edge no sold at One Night Stand I. I can’t really think of a good Funker comparison to Dreamer’s outrageous claim that Lashley was the most dominant champion in the history of wrestling, though “You got a gun in their Lawler?” from the Empty Arena match might suffice. Either way Kenny King ended up sucker punching Dreamer, and after a brief Dreamer comeback it led to Angle announcing Dreamer v. Lashley in a street fight.
Tommy Dreamer v. Bobby Lashley – Street Fight: This was an abbreviated version of your standard Tommy Dreamer match. I’ve watched every ECW match that exists on tape, and a lot of random indie feds main evented by Tommy Dreamer v. WWE castoff X, and you can pretty much map them out from beginning to end. It’s weird because I could live without ever seeing never Dreamer go twenty minutes v. Carlito again, but this match really suffered by comparison because Dreamer didn’t have enough time to get in some of his staple spots that pop the crowd (bellshot to the nuts for example). On the other hand this did continue the trend of putting over Lashley pretty strong. Not a good match really, but not anything that would have you scrambling for the remote either.
Backstage, Madison Rayne gets ambushed by the creeper cameraman who asks her about her up coming match. She cuts an uninteresting, but inoffensive promo on Taryn Terrell.
They show Gunner and Sam Shaw in the hotel. Sam is working on a detailed sketch of the New York City skyline, when Gunner gets a text message from a friend. Was it Ken Anderson? Gunner leaves, but Same chooses to stay and work on his drawing. As soon as Gunner leaves Sam gets up and gently touches Gunner’s military garb before turning to look at the empty spot where Gunner once was with a look of distrust on his face. I’ll be honest. I was really interested in the unique aspects of this angle when they first started doing it. I was excited to see how TNA was going to work this thing. Would we get Gunner as a PTSD counselor who takes advantage of his infantile patient? Would Sam end up obsessing over Gunner, perhaps leading to an angle where doppelganger Bram is abducted and abused as a surrogate for an uninterested Gunner? Would they work something based around the struggles of being an out man in the military, with the student Shaw teaching his teacher how to fully embrace his sexuality? There were lots of possibilities, and while it was likely they all would have played out terribly, they were still right there, just waiting to happen. Then Ken Anderson came along fatally wounding the best aspects of the angle, and now they are doing at least two other openly homoerotic storylines with Kurt Angle and James Storm. Worse yet both of those storylines are based on rather vile stereotypes about gay men, whereas the Gunner and Shawn storyline had potential to be a positive storyline, based on truer to life scenarios. So as usual TNA has fucked everything up.
Taryn Terrell v. Madison Rayne: I guess these two worked hard, but I don’t understand how you can be a pro wrestler and not understand that a key component of your job is connecting with your offense. I understand that Taryn Terrell isn’t anything special, but how hard is it to throw a clothesline? How hard is it to run into a big boot? Terrell ended up winning this with an Ace Crusher, but not before we had several minutes of trash, made worse by an awful crowd, chanting stupid shit.
Backstage, Bobby Roode says he doesn’t know what Kurt’s decision is going to be but he has a feeling he’s going to find out. He walks into Kurt’s office and Eric Young is already there eating Angle’s food. Angle walks in from off camera and then ejects the cameraman. I know people think I’m joking, but it’s obvious what the angle is here right? No one is really going to argue that they are all but saying “Angle puts them both on the casting couch and makes them earn their shot by taking a shot” are they? This is probably the most obvious angle I’ve seen a company run in years.
Gunner comes back to the hotel room to find Sam Shaw dressed in his military garb from head to toe. He pretends to be angry and says “take it off…or I will.” That this the end of the segment. So in back-to-back segments we have Kurt Angle ejecting a cameraman from his dressing room so he can trade title shots for sexual favors, and Gunner promising to rip the clothing off of Sam Shaw as part of a role playing game taking place in a New York hotel room with a romantic view. I’m calling it right now — TNA is moving to the San Fernando Valley and getting a new “TV deal” with a tube site in 2015.
Crazzy Steve/Tigre Uno/Low Ki v. DJ Z/Manik Homicide: This was too short, and I had no clue it was a six-man tag until it was over, but it was actually a lot of fun. In some ways this was booked like an AAA undercard trio, with Tigre Uno as Australian Suicide and Low Ki as Pentagon Jr. I really loved the spot with Manik somehow getting spun around into a double stomp, Uno hit a nice dive, Steve wasn’t worthless for once, and they actually paced this well which is something they often screw up with these sprinty car crashes. Low Ki winning was a bit odd since he just got an X Division title shot, but it’s not like TNA knows what they are doing long term. It ended before it could get particularly good, but it was entertaining.
Backstage, Bobby Roode and EY walk out of Angle’s office angrily. Angle pops out and thanks them. Angle says he will announce the resolution to the number one contender issue next. In other words, Angle banged both of them and then told them something they didn’t want to hear, a typical trope of the porn standard they are ripping off.
They show a Rhino pre-tape. He’s standing in front of a brickwall and says nothing of note other than “Gore, Gore, Gore.” So this was every Rhino promo ever.
Bobby Roode comes to the ring and announces that Kurt Angle decided that the only fair thing to do was to have another number one contenders match between him and Eric Young next week. EY ends up coming to the ring, but before he can talk Roode jumps in and runs down the history between them and then says that he is honored to be wrestling EY next week. EY ends up cutting a muddled promo where he calls Bobby Roode the best in the business, but then says he’s just as good as him. Then he says next week he will be better. This did get a good reaction live, but I thought EY ‘s promo was flat.
Backstage the Bro Mans are having a Tinder swipe off. Jesse and Robbie E say they both have matches with TNA Knockouts and both plan to take them out and bring them home. The segment ends with Borash farting around on Tinder which may be a way to set up the next Kurt Angle storyline.
Rhino v. Ethan Carter III: This wasn’t much, but I will give EC III credit. The guy took a hell of a guardrail bump early on. He throws an elbow drop like he doesn’t know it’ s a work. Also the Stinger Splash mockery is pretty funny. Still as a match this really wasn’t worth watching. Rhino is a shitty babyface, and though we got some Spud interference it wasn’t as hammy as I wanted it to be. ECIII ended up losing via DQ after beating Rhino with a chair, with Spud intervening because he was going to far. I think the goal here was to make ECIII look like a badass, and I guess that sort of worked to a degree, though really it just made Rhino look like a washed up relic.
Sanada v. Austin Aries: Pre-match James Storm came out and introduced The Great Sanada. The big reveal here was Sanada wearing make up on his face that made him look like the third Killer Bee. When Sanada was on offense this was pretty bad. I’m guessing he was trying to do a Muta routine with the methodical pacing, and ridiculous facial expressions, but he just doesn’t have it. When Aries was on offense this was pretty fun, as Aries is a good offense wrestler and Sanada knows how to take it. But the finish of this with Storm interference and the mist leading to the finish really felt like a flat way to debut a new character. I get that he is a heel, and there is a need to protect Aries, but that’s why you book Sanada against the other clown in the promotion for a match like this.
They show a brief video package promoting tonight’s Wolves, Team 3D, Hardys match.
Back from break they do a biographical video package on Sgt. Chris Melendez. Melendez was a solider in Iraq who lost a leg and is now making his pro wrestling debut with TNA. They used actual war footage in this package and included soundbites from Melendez talking about his path to wrestling. This was actually really well done and led to an in ring ceremony with Kurt Angle, Ken Anderson and Team 3D welcoming Chris Melendez to TNA. As good as the video package was, the in ring segment was just…well…they gave Ken Anderson a live microphone for several minutes and no one ever comes out looking better when that happens. The segment was okay when Bully and Angle were talking but it went on way, way, way too long. I understand that the Melendez story is a great one, but this ended up making him look like a literal charity case, rather than a guy who lost his leg in war, busted his ass and achieved his dream of becoming a pro wrestler. He didn’t even get to talk during the in ring segment, which is amazing considering the fact that it felt like one of the longest uninterrupted segments I’ve seen since I’ve been reviewing Impact. I hope for this guys sake that he doesn’t end up like Jesse Neal, but his debut really was the tale of two presentations, with the shittier of the two being the one that left it’s taste in your mouth.
Team 3D v. The American Wolves v. The Hardys: This was really strange as they did introductions pre-commercial and came back with the match just starting. On paper this is a really big match, maybe the biggest match the company has in some ways, and yet they did nothing to milk the significance of it at all. In fact they really blew there load with the lengthy Melendez stuff, as that came across as a go home segment, which hurt the mood of this. Having said that, this was a fun match. A match like this is really the best way to book the Wolves as the business exposingly terrible offense of Davey Richards is easier to hide, and the overly choreographed movements of both guys is actually an advantage in this setting. This also benefited from being short, as the spot running never got excessive, and even though this lacked a clear “middle,” the stretch run was filled with crowd popping stuff including the double Wolves dive, a German suplex/jacknife combo, an Air Hardy, Matt doing a moonsault to the floor, a swanton, and then the big 3D finish. It’s worth noting that this wasn’t a title switch because this is match one in a series of matches that presumably won’t be concluded now that Bully Ray looks to be gone from the promotion.
This was the week where the shows obsession with building storylines around sex got to be too much. I can live with that stuff if it’s well done, if the payoff is worth the build and if the presentation is right. But Jeremy Borash trolling Tinder on the same night that Gunner and Kurt Angle are shooting cliched porno scenes based on themes of domination and submission is too much. Especially when the same show also has more of the Sanada/Storm stuff, the crowd chanting for Taryn Terrell to show her tits and Bobby Roode and EY practically proposing marriage to each other to set up their match for next week. If you really think about it it is unbelievable that TNA debuted a one legged war hero on this show, but then this is a company that has booked multiple war heroes in embarrassing and demeaning ways for years.
Featured Video (from The AOL On Network):