A show with Low Ki vs. Austin Aries, Bobby Roode vs. Eric Young, The Wolves vs. The Hardys, and Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe should be one of the best TV shows of the year, right? Right?

Impact Wrestling on Destination America

Friday, January 16

Manhattan Center – New York, New York

We started the show with Josh Matthews and Taz introducing the new TNA on Destination America. They threw to Roode vowing revenge on Eric Young. They had cutaways to the announcers calling the action throughout the show but they were no longer working under the pretence that the announcers are live in the building. The new “reality” stuff is lame — they are trying to reinvent a wheel that doesn’t need reinventing, or at the very least not in the way they’re trying to. The usual with TNA trying to fix the sizzle instead of the steak. It appears they believe the problem is with the format and the presentation instead of the content.

MVP and company came out and declared themselves The Beatdown Clan (or BDC). For all TNA’s talk about new formats and all that, we’re still starting the show with a promo. Usual heel group promo about how great they are. MVP introduced Eric Young who came out to his old World Elite music with a mean face on. Eric was upset at Roode for not giving him a title shot (EY never asked for a title shot). Plus, Roode was champion for only like three weeks of TV. This was the ultimate betrayal apparently. Also Roode only texted EY instead of visiting him when he was injured. This was at best a tenuous excuse for a heel turn. Roode will face EY in a No Disqualification match tonight. MVP introduced Lashley but Lashley was nowhere to be seen, Angle then came out. Angle said he’ll make the BDC tap out. Joe took exception to this.

Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe: This is the most commercially successful feud in the history of TNA. So naturally the match happens on TV with absolutely no build. This is the reason Kurt Angle matches mean nothing. We join the match in progress with Joe working over Angle. Joe locked on a kneebar but Angle reached the ropes. Joe continued to work over the knee with a Dragon Screw legwhip. We cut away from a Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe match because apparently a producer being unable to find Bobby Lashley is more important.

Angle made a comeback with his rolling Germans. Joe escaped an Angle Slam and dropped Angle with an enzuigiri. Joe went for the Coquina Clutch but Angle countered into an Ankle Lock. Joe escaped but got hit with an Angle Slam for two. Joe hit the STJoe and went for the Muscle Buster. Angle slipped out into an Ankle Lock which Joe rolled through to escape but Angle hit the referee. Joe hit a low blow and locked on the Coquina Clutch for the submission win. Angle lost on week two of his comeback. The BDC beat up Angle after the match. Roode made the save. Watch the Angle/Joe matches from 2006 instead. **1/4

No. 1 Contenders Match – The Hardys vs. The Wolves: The Revolution were shown in the balcony before the match. Apparently, we should just ignore the No. 1 Contenders Tournament The Hardys won last year. Hardys worked over Davey including a double backdrop and a High Low but the Wolves came back with stereo dropkicks in the corner. The Wolves then dominated Matt until he eventually made the hot tag to Jeff. Jeff ran wild and hit the Whisper in the Wind on both Eddie and Davey. Matt then hit a double DDT on the floor. Jeff walked the top rope Elix Skipper style before nailing a big plancha to the floor. That was really cool.

Hardys hit a double front Suplex for a nearfall. Jeff caught only knees with a Swanton before the Wovles hit a modified Chasing the Dragon for two. Davey hit a footstomp on Matt but Jeff broke up the pin with a Swanton. Jeff dumped Davey to the floor with a backdrop, hit Poetry in Motion on Eddie and then picked up the win with The Natural’s old Natural Disaster. Not quite as good as their match last year, but this was great. ***3/4

No Disqualifications – Eric Young vs. Bobby Roode: Roode cut a promo earlier in the show about being upset about EY screwing him. Naturally the first match in the feud is a No DQ match. They clearly don’t care much for the very basics of story progression. Basically a big brawl throughout the building with chairs and stuff. Again they cut away from the match, this time to somebody asking Lashley questions. EY threw Roode into a chair set up in the corner and followed with a Piledriver on a chair for the win. MVP announced that we’d have a celebration of World Champion Bobby Lashley later tonight. **

Taryn Terrell and Brooke Tessmacher vs. The Beautiful People w/ The BroMans: Taryn took everybody out with a big crossbody to the floor. Robbie distracted Brooke and she was rolled up by Velvet for three. Kong appeared and killed Angelina, Velvet and DJ Z. Havok came out and went nose to nose with Kong. Security separated them before they could get their hands on each other. They’re doing a good job building up the Havok/Kong match. ½*

X-Division Championship – Austin Aries © vs. Low Ki: Feast or Fired is back next week. Because that’s a gimmick match that’s worked so well in the past. Also next week is Mahabali Shera’s debut and Jeremy Borash vs. EC3. The BDC all come out to the same music, the music isn’t as good as any of the respective members regular music. Match started with them going back and forth with strikes. Aries hit the Pendulum Elbow and locked in the Last Chancery but Low Ki reached the ropes.

Low Ki worked over Aries before Aries made a comeback with chops and a discus forearm. Aries hit the IED but Low Ki escaped the Brainbuster. Aries locked on the Last Chancery but the ref missed Low Ki tapping because the BDC distracted him. Aries took out Joe and MVP with the Heat Seeking Missile. King crotched Aries on the top rope giving Low Ki the chance to hit the Ki Krusher for the win. Heel stables are just the worst. We have a new champion but you’d barely know it, they cut away immediately. **1/4

I really don’t like this. And they did the exact same thing last year bouncing the X-Division title between Chris Sabin and Austin Aries. It worked so well then that they’ve decided to bounce it between Low Ki and Aries. Aries has been a six time X-Division champion and the only reign that actually meant anything, that was actually memorable was his first 298 days reign. I wonder why? I suppose it has nothing to do with it being a long reign consisting mostly of Aries having the best match on each show building toward him cashing it in to win the World title. It’s one thing for TNA not to learn from their mistakes, but they don’t even learn from their successes. This approach only makes titles meaningless, title matches meaningless and title changes meaningless.

MVP is gloating about how well the BDC has done tonight. This establishing heel stable dominance show is so incredibly tired. They’re already overexposed and they’ve been a group for a week. MVP introduced Lashley who does not approve of MVP’s antics. MVP took credit for all Lashley achieved. Lashley said he is the champion and wants nothing to do with MVP and company. Lashley called MVP “Hassan” so we know this is a shoot. The BDC beat up Lashley five on one and stole his title. Heel stables, stolen titles, Feast or Fired – such fresh, new ideas.

Final Thoughts:

The wrestling was pretty good, the booking wasn’t – a zero sum game with one cancelling out the other. Creative continues to get in the way of talent trying their best. This is not a show put together with an assured touch. It’s not a confident show, clear about its direction and its storytelling prowess. On week two TNA is already in desperation mode. Throwing as much as they can at the wall desperately hoping some of it sticks, desperately hoping hotshotting Kurt Angle matches and title changes and big feud matches creates interest.

Of course they don’t realize that approach hasn’t worked for the last twelve and a half years for this company and it won’t work now. I find it remarkable how little those in charge of this show can learn from what’s around them. A fleeting glance at TNA history will tell you exactly what not to do. A glance at Raw will tell you exactly what not to do. And a glance at New Japan and NXT will tell you exactly what wrestling fans will respond to in 2015. But instead they cover their ears, close their eyes and drive on with the same old approach that hasn’t worked time and time again. And there is no doubt about the results that approach will yield.