Impact Wrestling on Destination America
July 15, 2015
Universal Studios
Orlando, FL

Impact began with the whole roster surrounding the ring being addressed by Dixie Carter (in a way that invoked memories of this). Dixie repented for her past sins and apologised to the wrestlers as well as the fans. She then gave the roster a pep talk and promised to do everything in her power to never let the roster down. It’s weird to watch something like this because while it’s presented as a story there are real life overtones that feel like they shouldn’t be leaking onto TV. EC3 interrupted her and demanded to know who was going to be appointed the new authority figure – or as they’re referring to him: The Law. Dixie introduced the man who once attempted to take the company by force with his band of painfully dull misfits the Aces and 8s and who one year ago Powerbombed Dixie Carter through a table – none other than Bully Ray. That makes sense. In fairness though, it’s not like there isn’t precedence for this. In 2010 Hulk Hogan forcibly stole ownership of TNA from Dixie and it took Dixie a year to get it back. Three months after Dixie won back ownership of the company from the dastardly, scheming Hulkster she appointed him as General Manager. So at least the Dixie Carter character making horrible decisions holds some storyline consistency.

Bully said Dixie apologised to him and he believed her so he came back for the fans and the wrestlers. Bully said he wants to help take TNA back to the promised land. EC3 will defend the World title against the winner of a battle royal, which starts now. This felt like one of those segments that TNA does a lot where they suggest they’ve learned for their past indiscretions and that things are going to be different from now on. But things never change and things never get better.

20 Man Number One Contendership Battle Royal: Manik vs. Abyss vs. James Storm vs. Khoya vs. Chris Meleldez vs. Drew Galloway vs. Shark Boy vs. Norv Fernum vs. Mica vs. Robbie E vs. Jessie Godderz vs. Bram vs. Magnus vs. Crazy Steve vs. Kenny King vs. Austin Aries vs. Mark Andrews vs. MVP vs. Eric Young vs. Hernandez

The match started with everybody already in the ring so it was quite the ordeal just taking note of every participant. Most of the people feuding with each other paired off before a bunch of the undercard wrestlers were eliminated quickly and nearly everybody else was eliminated during the commercial break. Seriously, what is even the point? They left most of the match on the cutting room floor. Why should I care at this stage? After the break only Galloway, MVP and Young were remaining. Young and MVP teamed up on Drew for a little while before Young doublecrossed MVP and eliminated him. Galloway eliminated Young with a flying boot to earn a shot at EC3 in the main event. I’m not one to moan about the presence of ad breaks in wrestling, they are a commercial necessity, but the break in this particular match consumed a large chunk of the action rendering everything else feeling incomplete. I don’t know was this as a result of the presence of Hernandez and the need to edit him off the show but it crippled this particular match. This was a rushed, bland battle royal with little real story and little in the way of compelling action.

Mike Tenay interviewed Anderson about the attack by Bram last week. Anderson discussed how he was 39 and has had a good career. He questioned whether he wanted to go toe to toe with Bram and risk an injury. The tease here was that Anderson was contemplating retiring rather than attempting to face Bram. It’s been a while since somebody in TNA teased retirement; it’s one of their favourite stories. I get the idea they were going for here was that Bram is big and scary and dangerous but it made Anderson, the babyface, seem cowardly. Though I suppose Anderson will likely pick himself up, dust himself off and seek retribution so all should be fine. I really like the role of the straightforward interview. It’s been one of wrestling’s most effective tools for decades and has seemingly become a bit of a lost art these days (especially to the degree to which WWE have homogenised them).

TNA X-Division Championship: Grado vs. Rockstar Spud vs. Zema Ion vs. Tigre Uno©

Tigre Uno will speak on Donald Trump next week after Trump’s highly racist tirade against Mexicans a little while back. Uno tweeted some stuff last week but it gained zero traction. I suppose you can’t blame them for trying.  This is TNA’s occasional display that they have zero vision for the X-Division and just randomly throw a bunch of them out on TV every so often and hope for the best. The early stages of the match were built around Grado comedy. Spud tried and failed to slam Grado. After an exchange between Ion and Uno, Grado and Spud teamed up to take down Ion but couldn’t get on the same page. Uno ran wild for a while, took out Spud and Ion with a dive and totally missed Grado with a Phoenix Splash but pinned him anyway after it. And thus why I wasn’t a fan of putting the X-Division title on Uno folks. This is what the X-Division has become – missed spots and bad comedy.

TNA Knockouts Championship: Brooke vs. Taryn Terrell© w/ Jade and Marti Bell

Taryn did a head scissors thing in the corner that I legitimately have no idea what it was actually supposed to be. Jade and Marti interfered to help give Taryn the upper hand. Brooke made a comeback with a dropkick and a flapjack before Marti and Jade distracted her again. Brooke made another comeback punctuated by a spear but we had round three of interference. The lights went out and Gail Kim appeared at ringside, disposing of The Dollhouse. Brooke hit an X-Factor to win the title. Brooke tried hard but the constant interference and a general dislike of the whole Dollhouse schtick killed any interest I had in this match. *

Kurt Angle came to the ring and said Bully Ray has granted him another rematch at EC3, following EC3 getting deliberately disqualified last week. Angle suddenly shifted gears and announced he had a tumour in his neck and would be out for a while. He thanked Bully for the opportunity and thanked the fans before Eric Young came out. A renewal of the Young/Angle feud is all we need at this stage. They more than played that one out a couple of months ago. Young wanted to take credit for the tumour in Angle’s neck but instead suggested that it was a message from nature that Angle should pack it in. Young ranted and raved about wanting Angle gone for longer than “a while” and attacked him. Young tried to Piledrive Angle on the floor but Chris Melendez made the save. Melendez looked to attend to Angle but Young jumped him and Piledrove him on the floor. Looks like we’ll get a renewal of the Young/Melendez feud instead, after Young essentially squashed Melendez on the Slammiversary go home show. They really don’t want to give up on Young as an uppercard heel.

Next week TNA will announce their next Hall of Famer next week, they showed videos of Angle, Sting and Team 3D’s induction packages throughout the show. It makes you wonder whether TNA tempted fate in 2012 when they started a Hall of Fame. TNA re-aired an edited version of the Storm/Magnus Slammiversary match to fill what shall be henceforth referred to as “Hernandez Time”. If you’d like to read my thoughts on their match checkout my Slammiversary review.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship: Drew Galloway vs. Ethan Carter III©

Drew dominated for a while before we had the inevitable Tyrus interference, giving EC3 control. Eli Drake, with crutches after tweaking his knee a couple of weeks ago, came down to ringside to even the odds. EC3 slapped Drew a couple of times which fired Galloway up. Galloway scored a nearfall off a top rope clothesline. Drew hit an Air Raid Crash but Tyrus pulled EC3’s foot onto the ropes because EC3 naturally has to look like a loser once again. EC3 hit a Stinger Splash and went for a few chops but they had little effect. And then came the ref bump, because of course. Of course there has to be a ref bump. What else could I possibly want to see in a World title match? They have to tell their story. The whole idea of credible World championships and title matches that deliver to the standard one should expect from a World title match takes a backseat to the story. Because that’s all that matters. Tyrus got in the ring but so did Drake. However Drake struck Galloway with his crutch, revealing his knee injury was a ruse all along. It was a SWERVE! EC3 hit the One Percenter for the win. *1/2

TNA World title matches mean literally nothing these days. This is the fifth title match in three weeks. You could run an analysis of the relationship between TNA television ratings and World title matches and I’d imagine you’d fine that there is none. They have devalued the very idea of a title match over and over and over again to the extent that even the phrase “TNA World title match” invokes absolutely nothing. No excitement. No intrigue. Simply indifference. And TNA have done absolutely nothing to turn that around, frankly they’ve done the very opposite. This is Drew Galloway’s first title shot. In spite of TNA touting how great Drew was when they signed him and how WWE dropped the ball with him, his first World title match is a throwaway match with ninety minutes build that served as nothing but a backdrop for an angle. It didn’t feel special. It didn’t feel important.

This company is incapable of taking their time with anything, they are incapable of putting in the necessary groundwork to make an angle like this work. People couldn’t possibly have cared about Drew’s journey to the World title because it only started on this show. People couldn’t possibly have been excited about this title match because they only found out about it at the start of this show. And people couldn’t have possibly cared about Drake turning on Galloway because they were only partners for a couple of months, showed little chemistry and only appeared together a handful of times. This wasn’t Eli Drake screwing long-time friend Drew Galloway out of a much deserved, long awaited World title shot. This was Eli Drake screwing casual acquaintance Drew Galloway out of a relatively easily earned, spur of the moment title shot.

Final Thoughts

This show feels lifeless, it feels directionless. It was a chore to get through. Nobody is going anywhere. Nobody, not even EC3, has any kind of momentum. Nobody is showing any kind of upward mobility. The stories are ill-conceived and contrived, not to mention poorly executed. The wrestling is bland, rushed and uninspired. There is nothing about this show that feels like a company that has a plan to get out of their rut. There is nothing about this show that feels like a company with any sort of plan whatsoever. The sense of urgency that TNA desperately needs is sorely lacking. Something has to change and it has to change soon – because with shows like this TNA are going nowhere fast.