Impact Wrestling on Destination America
Wednesday, November 25
Universal Studios, Orlando, FL
Group X-Division Playoff
Tigre Uno vs. Manik vs. Zema Ion
This was basically a reverse elimination match with the first two people to score falls going through to the Round of 16. Uno dropkicked Ion to the floor and hit a moonsault off the top to the floor. Manik locked a Gory Special on Uno and a reverse crab on Ion at the same time. Manik and Ion both went for springboard dives but collided in the air. Ion then hit a tornado DDT on both Manik and Ion at the same time and pinned Manik to move on to the final 16. Manik and Uno were then left to battle it out for the second Group X-Division spot. Uno hit a springboard moonsault into a lifting stunner for a two count. Uno went up top but Manik crotched him and grabbed Uno in an electric chair position. Uno escaped, hit a German into the corner and followed with a split leg splash to qualify. Like the rest of the X-Division matches in this tournament, this was a really fun little sprint. **1/2
The World Title Series has given me some hope for the modern X-Division. Outside of a one year revival at the helm of Austin Aries the division has languished for the best part of the last eight years. It’s been obvious that there is no clear vision for the division outside of the fact that they understand that it’s something people have said they liked about TNA and thus it’s just been there out of a sense of obligation more than anything else. But with a little more support and substance behind it, a division built around Manik, Uno, Andrews, Ion as well as Andrew Everett and Trevor Lee could be a very exciting thing for TNA. They just have to get behind it. The X-Division has never been that hard to execute successfully in the past and when done well it’s reaped pretty good rewards for TNA.
Group UK Match
Drew Galloway vs. Rockstar Spud
Galloway towered over Spud and dominated the early exchanges. Spud used his speed and spunkiness to dodge Galloway, sending him crashing headfirst into the ring steps. The referee began a ten count but Galloway just barely made it back in the ring. Spud went for a crossbody but Galloway caught him and turned it into a backbreaker. Drew charged Spud but Spud moved and Galloway struck the ring post. Spud hit a series of running forearms, a dropkick and an enziguri. Spud took his bow tie off (!) and went for the Underdog but Drew escaped and decked Spud with a punch. Galloway was going to powerbomb (or maybe Piledriver) Spud on the ring apron but decided against it out of sympathy. Spud saw that sympathy for weakness and followed by kicking Galloway right in the mush. Spud nailed a big DDT but Galloway kicked out. Galloway hit a Celtic Cross followed by the Claymore for the win. Solid little big man, little man match and I’d be interested to see whether they go anywhere with Galloway being reluctant to bludgeon Spud too much down the line. That opens up some interesting potential story avenues both for the rest of tournament and afterwards if Galloway loses in the end. **3/4
Group UK Match
Bram vs. Grado
Pope likened Grado to Barney The Dinosaur. If Grado wins he forces a three way playoff with himself, Bram and Spud. Grado and Bram had a little confrontation earlier in the year and it didn’t go so well for Grado. Bram rolled up Grado for the win instantly. Well, I can’t say I actually wanted more from that match. N/A
Galloway joins Matt Hardy and Mahabali Shera in sweeping their groups. Bram joins him in the Round of 16.
Group Future 4 Match
Jessie Godderz vs. Micah
Micah hit a nice double underhook suplex. That’s an underrated move. Godderz attempted to control Micah with a bear hug before hitting a lovely dropkick. Micah made a comeback punctuated by a backdrop. Micah hit the Big Ending but Godderz grabbed the rope. Godderz looked for the Adonis Crab but Micah escaped and hit a Samoan Drop. Micah missed a diving headbutt and Jessie locked in the Adonis Crab for the win. I like these two. They’re not Kurt Angle or AJ Styles or anything but they could form the basis of a rock solid midcard with some work. **
Godderz joins the already qualified Eli Drake in the last 16.
They aired a video cataloguing Angle’s current UK tour and officially dubbed the UK Tour in January as Angle’s TNA retirement tour.
Group Tag Team Specialists Match
Davey Richards vs. Robbie E
Davey tried to outwrestle Robbie but Robbie escaped a number of holds. Robbie snapped off a few arm drags but Richards scored a dropkick sending Robbie to the floor. Davey missed a punt and Robbie followed with a cannonball off the apron. Davey caught Robbie with an exploder suplex for two. Both men exchanged punches before Robbie took over. Robbie hit a flying clothesline for two. Richards went for a handspring kick but Robbie caught him with the Boom Drop for a near fall. That was a neat little sequence. Davey went for a variety of pinning combinations but Robbie escaped. Davey hit a foot stomp but missed a following top rope footstomp but hit a one man Alarm Clock and followed with Creeping Death for the victory. This was a really solid match. Robbie E did a good job of showing a more serious side in this tournament (while also proving he’s one of the most underrated guys on the TNA roster) and Davey Richards should be fun in the next round. ***1/4
Matt Hardy is joined by Davey Richards in the Round of 16.
Group Wildcards Match
Crazy Steve vs. Kenny King
Steve actually wrestled a little before King nailed him with a spin kick. Steve hit a running knee followed by a hurricanrana for two. Steve scored a number of near falls off of quick pin attempts before King shut him down for good with the Royal Flush. This was inoffensive – best case scenario really. *3/4
Kenny King joins Mahabali Shera in the next round.
Group Champions Match
Austin Aries vs. Bobby Lashley
These two had an excellent match together in July 2014. The winner of this qualified for the Round of 16 (or Aries qualifies in the case of a draw). Aries tried to outspeed Lashley with a dropkick but Lashley just clotheslined Aries instead. Lashley took Aries up with a delayed vertical and managed to hold Aries in place in spite of being kneed in the head. Aries went for a discus forearm but Lashley caught him and hit a belly to belly. Lashley missed a Spear opening to door for Aries to take advantage. Lashley lifted Aries off the mat into a running powerslam. With five minutes remaining Aries sought refuge on the floor. This was merely a ploy though, resulting in Aries locking in the Last Chancery. Aries hit a series of discuss forearms followed by a running dropkick.
Aries went for a Brainbuster but Lashley slipped out and hit an overhead German suplex. Aries sidestepped another Spear attempt sending Lashley out to the floor. Aries whiffed on the Heat Seeking Missile though as Lashley dodged. Aries appeared injured but with a couple of minutes left he may have been stalling for time (considering Aries would advance in the case of a draw). Lashley went for a Spear but Aries countered into the Last Chancery. Lashley powered to the ropes. Aries went for a 450 Splash with thirty second left but missed and walked into a Spear, giving Lashley the win. This was a very good match – Lashley looked like an absolute beast and, as usual, Aries delivered. ***3/4
Lashley joins EC3 as the final man to qualify for the Round of 16.
To close the show they revealed the brackets for the Round of 16. They are as follows:
All eight Round of 16 matches will take place next week. They closed the show with comments from most of the wrestlers about their Round of 16 matches.
Final Thoughts: The last of the group stage matches delivered a very good show capped off by the best World Title Series match so far. Thankfully that’s the end of the group stage because, while the shows were good, it was getting a little long in the tooth. In comparable tournaments this phase plays out over two weeks, not two months. There’s a lot of fun looking matches in the last 16, all of which take place next week.