Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Tuesday, January 5
Sands Bethlehem Event Centre
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Here we go again.

Dixie Carter opened the show giving a little pep talk about why Pop was great and about how great 2016 would be for TNA. EC3 interrupted her and vowed to win the World title. Matt Hardy came out and also said he was going to win the World title. Eric Young jumped Hardy from behind as EC3, Young and Tyrus beat down Hardy before Lashley made the save. Everybody brawled for too long until they eventually went to break (during which Young hit Hardy with a chair).

I have no idea what the point of any of this was other than to overexpose the final four to the audience already on a show where two of them would be wrestling twice anyway. Why not simply start the show with EC3 vs. Lashley or Hardy vs. Young? I know they wanted to do an injury angle with Matt but why not just have Young attack him after their match later? It was just a waste of time. Not to mention that injury angle went nowhere.

World Title Series Semi Final
Bobby Lashley vs. Ethan Carter III

Lashley hit a Spear very quickly but EC3 rolled out to the floor to avoid being pinned. EC3 distracted referee Earl Hebner allowing Tyrus to slam Lashley on the floor. EC3 controlled Lashley for a while before Lashley fought back with a suplex. Lashley scored a nearfall off a spinebuster before EC3 came back with a Stinger Splash and a TKO for a nearfall of his own. Tyrus distracted Lashley allowing EC3 to roll him up for the win. This was a bad match. The work was clunky and formless – these two have little chemistry together. The Tyrus interference is a sad carryover from 2015 as they seem not to have changed their approach to EC3’s booking. *1/4

Kurt Angle made his way to the ring. Angle thanked the fans and announced that this is his TNA farewell tour. Angle will be personally picking opponents to wrestle on his farewell, the first of which is Drew Galloway next week. Galloway came to the ring and said it was an honour that he’ll get to wrestle Angle before Jessie Godderz interrupted. Godderz said he was the real superstar on this network (Pop also air some form of Big Brother) and on social media. Eli Drake came out next and also said he was great. Drake also suggested he and Jessie could team up and face The Wolves. Godderz and Jessie tried to fight Angle and Galloway and it didn’t go so well. They set up Angle and Galloway vs. The Wolves vs. Godderz and Drake for Friday’s One Night Only show later on.

This was another segment where I have no clue what they were trying to achieve. It was perfectly fine when it was simply there to set up Angle vs. Galloway for next week but then they wheeled Drake and Godderz out there for no other reason than to look like dorks and get beaten up. What was the point? The idea of Angle taking a victory lap of sorts is a good one. After going one ten year’s rock solid service to TNA he deserves it.  A three month programme for him would seem pointless. Just let him wrestle a bunch of good match with good wrestlers and go out on a high.

World Title Series Semi Final
Eric Young vs. Matt Hardy

Hardy hobbled his way to the ring because of the attack earlier in the show. They brawled at ringside for a while before Young back dropped Hardy on the ring steps. Both men exchanged punches with Hardy getting the better of it. Hardy hit a bulldog for two followed by a Side Effect for another two count. The match spilled back out to the floor before Young piledrived Hardy on the exposed concrete. That should really be a two month injury angle. Jeff Hardy came to the ring to check on Matt but Young took him out too. I guess that they forgot about their own stipulation that Jeff Hardy was banned during the World Title Series. Young leapt off the top rope but Hardy caught him with a Twist of Fate for the win. A perfectly fine match but nothing special at all. **1/4

King of the Mountain Championship
Bram vs. Bobby Roode©

This was an open challenge. Bram answering was underwhelming. Bram said 2006 would be his year. Apparently Bram is a time traveller. This was every Bram brawl ever.

Roode won with the Roode Bomb. They accidentally played the start of Beer Money’s music when Roode won, spoiling their own surprise that was to come. Eric Young, appearing for the third time in an hour, attacked Roode with Bram after the match. James Storm made the save. They talked about it being a return even though he was never actually off TV at any stage. Storm basically blew off his Revolution character saying it wasn’t him. Storm was mad that he got the Biggest Disappointment award during the World Title Series. Storm offered Roode a beer to which Roode responded money. And so Beer Money has reunited. Considering the endless number of singles matches they’ve had since they broke up I think they may have finally gotten the dispute out of their system. Storm and Roode will face Bram and Young on Friday’s live One Night Only (which I’m honestly shocked they actually mentioned). **

The Dollhouse (Jade, Marti Belle and Rebel) vs. The Beautiful People (Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky) and Gail Kim

Angelina Love is heavily pregnant and Taryn Terrell is done with TNA thus the teams. Kim hit Jade with a tornado DDT but Rebel broke up the win. Everybody hit their move before Jade and Kim had a fun little exchange. Kim caught Jade with a quick pin for the win. Adequate match but rushed and nothing remarkable. Awesome Kong made her way to the ring and destroyed Kim, Rayne and Sky. It would appear Kong has joined The Dollhouse. I suppose it’s a slight step up from the Kongtourage, but not by much. *3/4

Maria Kanellis walked out onto the stage and introduced ‘The Miracle’ Mike Bennett. Mathews tried to hype Bennett up as a major talent acquisition, a major league talent, a game changer. That’s fine, and exactly what Mathews is supposed to do, but it runs into problems if Bennett can’t live up to that hype. Bennett said he was mad that pro wrestling was full of washed up folks and he was the miracle that was going to save it. He specifically called out Matt Hardy, likely setting up his first programme.  Bennett was perfectly fine here, and TNA is a better fit for him than ROH or New Japan ever were.

World Title Series Final – TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Ethan Carter III w/ Tyrus vs. Matt Hardy w/ Jeff Hardy

Matt kissed his new-born son on the way to the ring. Tyrus and Jeff agreed to leave ringside before the match. They began by brawling around ringside before EC3 took control. EC3 hit a falcon arrow for two. EC3 booted Hardy’s head against the ringpost and the announcers never related it back to the piledriver on the concrete earlier. Hardy tried for a Side Effect on the steps but EC3 clumsily tumbled to the floor. That didn’t go so well. Hardy connected with a Moonsault and multiple Side Effects for nearfalls. Hardy hit the Twist of Fate but EC3 kicked out, EC3 hit the One Percenter but Hardy kicked out. Hardy hit the Twist of Fate again but still couldn’t put EC3 away. Hardy went for a top rope Twist of Fate but EC3 crotched him and hit a top rope One Percenter to score the win. Decent match, but overly reliant on finisher kick outs and I’m not entirely sure why they leaned so heavily on the Hardy injury angle only to totally ignore it here (the announcers never even brought it up). **3/4

Final Thoughts: From the outset this was a messy, unfocused show. EC3 is still the right guy to have the title on right now and I hope the booking of the main event is more indicative of the direction they intend to take him in the future as opposed to the booking of the Lashley match. There was nothing that I can honestly say you need to see. It was a little noteworthy in the sense that it crowned a new heavyweight champion, had the “return” of James Storm and the debut of Mike Bennett. Otherwise it was full of bland, uninspired content. Neither of the semi-finals were any good, Bram was a disappointing choice to face Roode and the Knockouts match was throwaway. Aside from the main event which threw every finisher kickout at the wall possible, nothing else felt like they were swinging for the fences. It all just felt like the same old Impact. Nothing has really changed.

Cheap plug: Check out my Beginner’s Guide to TNA (published yesterday) – http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/2016/01/05/a-beginners-guide-to-tna-wrestling/