Impact Wrestling on Destination America
Wednesday, November 11
Soundstage 20
Universal Studios, Orlando, FL

Group Knockouts Match
Madison Rayne vs. Gail Kim

This is the second week in a row the Knockouts opened the show. They did a goofy skit where Madison was trying to be a ninja in preparation for this match. These two have wrestled a number of times in the past, the best of which being their Lockdown 2014 match. They went back and forth exchanging a variety of pinfall attempts.  Gail missed a charge in the corner and crashed to the floor. Gail was going to be counted out but Rayne sportingly broke the count. Rayne hit an enziguiri and a crossbody for two. Rayne went for the Rayne Check but Kim rolled through into a small package for the win. This was a solid match, and these two have always had good chemistry together, but it didn’t entirely click. **1/2

This is Group Knockouts as it stands:

By virtue of her win over Rayne the first Knockout to qualify for the Round of 16 is Gail Kim. She will be joined by the winner of Kong vs. Brooke.

Group Future 4 Match
Eli Drake vs. Jessie Godderz

Both guys had pre-match promo essentially presenting this as a battle of two guys cut from the same cloth. They shook hands and simultaneously tried to cheap shot each other. Godderz tweaked his knee which resulting in his knee collapsing on a press slam attempt giving Drake the advantage. Eli worked over Jessie’s knee until Godderz made a comeback. Both men tried to grab the tights on pinfall attempts but the referee was having none of it. Drake crotched Godderz on the top rope, pinned Godderz and put his feet on the ropes for the win. I like these heel vs. heel matches where they try to out cheat each other. **1/2

Supplementary segments included EC3 confronting Dixie Carter, Matt Hardy talking about the final 16 and not taking Eddie Edwards lightly, post-match promos with Eli Drake and Matt Hardy, some World Title Series awards (with Pope giving the Biggest Disappointment award to James Storm), an interview with EC3 from India, interviews with Eric Young and Drew Galloway, and a Mahabali Shera training video. Also the announcers, particularly Josh Mathews, have done a really solid job keeping all the group and points stuff in check and updating the audience while also filling out the show talking about the Series. Mathews, like most announcers I suppose, is much better when he has something to sink his teeth into (and he’s dropped the counterproductive EC3 cheerleading which is a major plus).

Group Tag Team Specialists Match
Matt Hardy vs. Eddie Edwards

Hardy hit a bulldog out of the corner for two. Edwards dumped Hardy to the floor, followed with a suicide dive but ended up chopping the ringpost. Hardy went for a Side Effect on the apron but Edwards countered with a DDT. Edwards went for the backpack stunner but Hardy countered with a sleeper. Edwards escaped a Twist of Fate attempt and hit the backpack stunner for two. Edwards countered the Side Effect and Twist of Fate into pinfall attempts for two. Edwards hit a basement superkick but Hardy still kicked out. Edwards went up top but Hardy crotched him and hit a Twist of Fate off the top for the win. Really solid match with Edwards getting a little more desperate as the match progressed but Hardy getting him in the end. ***1/4

This is Groups Tag Team Specialists as it stands:

Hardy has qualified winning all three group matches, while Edwards is now eliminated. The winner of Robbie E vs. Davey Richards will join Hardy in the final 16.

Group X-Division Match
Zema Ion vs. Mark Andrews

Andrews arm dragged Ion to the floor, hit a moonsault off the steps followed by a dive to the floor. Andrews went for a standing moonsault but Ion launched him into the air and he landed right on his neck. That looked nasty. Ion went for his tornado DDT but Andrews escaped and hit a huracanrana for two. Andrews hit a top rope huracanrana followed by a standing shooting star for two. Andrews, frustrated, tried to pin Ion a few more times. Ion connected with the Hostile Makeover but Andrews kicked out. Andrews went for a top rope shooting press but Ion got the knees up and rolled Andrews up for the win. Andrews looked good here (he’s dropped the goofy skateboarder mannerisms) and showed a good sense of urgency with him needing to win to have some slim hope of staying alive in the tournament. ***

This is Group X-Division as it stands:

Andrews is eliminated but with Manik vs. Uno still to go nobody has officially qualified yet.

They aired highlights of Crimson vs. Micah with Micah picking up the win with a Samoan Drop. These two have yet to have a full match aired in this tournament.

This is Group Future 4 as it stands:

Crimson is eliminated but with Crimson vs. Drake and Godderz vs. Micah still to go nobody has qualified.

Group Champions Match
Ethan Carter III w/ Tyrus vs. Mr Anderson

Anderson controlled the early stages, wailing on EC3, before Tyrus tripped Anderson on the apron giving EC3 control. Both men collided with a double clothesline which opened the door for Anderson to make a comeback. Anderson hit the Green Bay Plunge and followed with the Kenton Bomb for two. Anderson hit the Green Bay Plunge from the middle rope but Tyrus pulled EC3 from the ring to avoid being pinned. Anderson wailed on Tyrus with a chair but this opened the door for EC3 to hit Anderson with a low blow but Anderson escaped a One Percenter attempt. Anderson went for the Mic Check but EC3 reversed into  a jackknife cover for the win. Same old EC3 formula match. **

This is Group Champions as it stands:

EC3 has qualified and will be joined by the winner of Austin Aries vs. Bobby Lashley in two weeks time.

I’ve been banging my head against a wall all year regarding the need to give EC3 credibility so it’s frustrating to see them tread the same ground with him once again. I’ve been watching every World title match in TNA history recently and let me tell you the ref bump/interference/cheating formula was tired and played out by 2004, never mind 11 years later. The whole heels need to cheat trope is a tired relic of the past. Ric Flair didn’t get over because he cheated; he got over because he was tremendous in every way. Heels cheating is a lazy substitute for real character development. People shouldn’t like EC3 because he’s an obnoxious, self-entitled jerk who’s only ever had things handed to him resulting in him feeling the world belongs to him and if people resist he’s willing to take it by force. That’s a really solid, easily dislikeable character and EC3 is more than talented enough to make it work.

He doesn’t have to cheat and rely on outside interference in every single match – that just results in people not taking him seriously. Not only that but who could possibly care about him cheating every week. It happens so often that people have just become numb to it. Its par for the course, it doesn’t actually achieve anything productive. It also makes the referees and officials look totally incompetent because EC3 does this over and over again and they never do anything about it or even get wise to his antics.

On another subject there is also the broader question of how to translate the World Title Series format to Impact in general once the tournament is over. This particular format is easier to execute in a tournament setting where each match already has a built-in meaning. Outside of the tournament context a lot more thought and more importantly discipline is required to build up TV matches to feel meaningful and create the sense that each TV match actually means something. A sense of progression is constantly required, with wins and loses actually mattering in terms of who challenges for title or moves up and down the card. Hopefully once the World Title Series is over they have a plan for using this same rough format (which has helped make Impact more watchable tenfold) for regular episodes of Impact. Place as much of the show as is possible on the ability and personality of your wrestlers – let them sink or swim on their merit. Remove the shackles and get out-of-the-way of the wrestlers. Simply place them in positions to succeed and cut them loose.

Final Thoughts: This was a really solid show up until the same old EC3 main event. Next week has Storm vs. Young, Roode vs. Abyss, Manik vs. Uno and Brooke vs. Awesome Kong.