Impact Wrestling on Destination America
Wednesday, November 18
Soundstage 20
Universal Studios, Orlando, FL

Group Knockouts Match
Brooke vs. Awesome Kong

For the third straight week the Knockouts open the show. The winner advances to the Round of 16. Brooke tried to avoid Kong but didn’t have much success. Kong attacked Brooke’s injured hand. Brooke eventually took Kong down with a drop toehold and followed with a faceplant for two. Brooke hit the Butterface Maker for another nearfall. Brooke went for the Tess-shocker but Kong crushed her and followed with a chokeslam for the win. Solid big woman/little woman match with Brooke showing good fire. **1/4

This is the final Group Knockouts table:

Gail Kim and Awesome Kong are in the last 16.

Supplementary segments included an interview with EC3 and Matt Hardy (which, quite logically, they appear to be positioning as the final), some bubble bursting by Pope and Mathews, and an interview with Eric Young where he basically called James Storm washed up.

Group X-Division Match
Manik vs. Tigre Uno

Uno dropkicked Manik to the floor and followed with a dive. Manik cut off a second dive and followed with a suplex on the ramp. Manik took over for a while before Uno eventually hit a facebuster. Manik missed a frogsplash but hit a double underhook into a gutbuster for a near fall. Uno nailed a reverse Shellshock, a corner dropkick and a corkscrew splash for the win. Like pretty much all of the X-Division matches in this tournament so far this was a really solid little match. ***

This is the final Group X-Division table:

As there is a three-way tie for first there will be a playoff next week to determine who qualifies – basically a two fall, three-way reverse elimination match (with the person who scores the first fall leaving). It’s nice that they actually booked a draw rather than conveniently avoid them.

Groups TNA Originals Match
James Storm vs. Eric Young

These two had an extended feud in 2007/2008 (and also go way back to the Team Canada vs. AMW days (producing this molten hot tag match)), primarily fighting over a phony drinking championship. They had mostly pretty good matches together. Young jumped Storm before the bell and took it to Storm. Storm, who was basically working babyface in this match, made a comeback. Storm hit a lungblower and looked for the Last Call but Young escaped. Storm hit the Eye of the Storm but Young kicked out. Storm hit another lungblower and followed with a code breaker but Young used Earl Hebner as a human shield. Young kicked Storm low and followed with a piledriver for a win. I just can’t click with a lot of Young’s work as a heel. He’s become just another bland brawler on a roster full of them. Storm on the other hand was excellent here. As a singles wrestler he’s a more natural face. ***

Group Wildcard Match
Aiden O’Shea vs. Mahabali Shera

They exchanged headlocks before O’Shea took over. Shera made a quick comeback and hit the Sky High for the win. Smartly, this was as short and simple as it needed to be. *

This is Group Wildcard as it stands:

Shera joins Matt Hardy in having swept his group. Next week King faces Steve with Steve looking to force a playoff and King looking to qualify.

Group Future 4 Match
Eli Drake vs. Crimson

Crimson didn’t get an entrance. At least his match is actually being aired this week. Drake pushed Crimson’s shoulder into the post and started focusing his assault on it. They briefly cut away to EC3 who wanted to be further interviewed but the announcers declined because there was a match in progress. Crimson hit a falcon arrow and an exploder suplex but Drake dropped Crimson’s arm on the ropes, hit a shoulder breaker and followed with a weak looking armbar for the win. They told a simple little story with Drake targeting the arm but the armbar that Drake won with didn’t really look convincing enough to submit even the most weakened opponent. **1/4

This is Group Future 4 as it stands:

Eli Drake has qualified and he will be joined by the winner of Micah vs. Jessie Godderz next week.

Group TNA Originals Match
Bobby Roode vs. Abyss

Kind of shockingly this is the first time these two have ever faced one on one on TV. Considering both men have been in the same company together for 11 years that is pretty amazing. Roode tried to match Abyss’ power with intensity and it didn’t really work for him. Things spilled out to the floor giving Abyss an opportunity to take over. Abyss wedged a chair in the corner giving Roode a chance to roll him up but Abyss kicked out. Roode made a comeback with a series of clotheslines. Roode hit a blockbuster for two. Abyss missed a charge and hit the chair in the corner. Roode locked on a crossface but Abyss reached the ropes. Roode got Abyss up for the Roode Bomb but his back gave out allowing Abyss to hit a chokeslam for a nearfall. Abyss went and grabbed Janice but got it stuck in the turnbuckle. This allowed Roode to connect with the Double R spinebuster for the win. Roode was excellent here – bringing the requisite level of energy to make a 2015 Abyss singles match work and showed great intensity and a sense of urgency with him needing to win to advance. ***

This is the final Group TNA Originals table:

Roode and Young both advance to the last 16 by virtue of their victories on this show.

I wrote this back in January in my review of the first episode of Impact on Destination America:

“But here we are in 2015 with TNA relaunching on Destination America. A smaller channel sure, but it keeps the doors open. It gives TNA one more chance to get things right. To deliver on that potential they’ve had for the longest of times.  We’ve heard the usual promises that this is going to be different. Things are going to change. We’ve heard all this from TNA before (this is the company that built a “Wrestling Matters” campaign around remarkably little wrestling (and had Eric Bischoff beating The Young Bucks and Abyss win the X-Division title on the show that launched that slogan)). Actions will speak louder than words. And TNA need to act.“

What was so disappointing at the time was that actions did speak louder than words and they weren’t saying anything good. For most of TNA’s year on Destination America TNA doubled down on their same old ways rather than becoming even remotely introspective. Nothing changed. No lessons were learned. And remarkably quickly TNA suffered the same fate as they did on Spike.

But as we move into 2016 I can basically write the same thing subbing Pop TV for Destination America. And I really hope they don’t simply stick to their ways when they move to Pop in January. I ask only three things.

  1. They learn from their mistakes. Don’t bury their heads in the sand and pretend everything is fine, because it isn’t. Once again TNA have a reprieve. An opportunity to at least try to turn the tide. But the first step in solving any problem is recognising there is one. They simply cannot do the same thing again – because the result will be the same and we’ll be doing this dance again in another year with the list of potential suitors running thin. It is fine to make mistakes, refusing to learn from them dooms them to be repeated.
  2. Have a real, concrete plan. You have to simply point to TNA’s PPV’s this year to illustrate the total lack of plan they had. Slammiversary, a show that was to be built around the big Kurt Angle/EC3 title match and the crowning of a new champion, was rendered meaningless when shifting Impact to Wednesday’s threw their entire plan for a loop. Jeff Jarrett and his pack of GFW goons disappeared nearly as quickly as they appeared. Bound For Glory was entirely thrown together in two weeks. Nothing felt like there was method behind the madness – no broader narratives, no real characters arcs, no rising or falling stars, only a handful of noteworthy matches, no sense that there is a plan to start building the ladder to climb out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves. They need a clear direction and a unified, coherent vision.
  3. Try something new. This basically ties the previous two points together. As I mentioned last week I’ve been journeying through the TNA World title matches of yesteryear and it’s clear the formula hasn’t really changed in 13 years in spite of it never really working. It got old both critically and commercially a very long time ago. The most disappointing element of TNA’s run on Destination America was the sameness of it all. It still felt like an uninspired rehashing of old ideas. TNA have needed a new approach for a very long time now; the company has been in free fall for over two years now and they’ve been unable, and at times seemingly, unwilling to do anything. They are painfully resistant to change. And yet they desperately need to.

Final Thoughts: This was a solid but fairly forgettable show with a couple of decent matches. Next week is the final round of group stage matches main evented by Lashley vs. Austin Aries.