Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Tuesday, January 12
Sands Bethlehem Event Centre
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Here’s a fun fact – this was the 600th episode of Impact and TNA made zero mention of it. That is a legitimate television milestone but it would appear TNA don’t even care. As overbearing as WWE’s “longest running weekly episodic television show” malarkey gets, they sure as hell make sure you know it if they achieve anything.

EC3 opened the show and said this was a moment of vindication, calling himself the first ever two time undefeated World heavyweight champion. That’s not actually true even within TNA. Christian was a two time NWA champion without ever being pinned or submitted. EC3 thanked Tyrus for his unbending support. Jeff Hardy made his way to the ring and congratulated EC3 for beating Matt fair and square last week. Jeff announced that he’s officially cleared to return to the ring and challenged EC3 to a title match. EC3 declined and said Hardy has to earn a title shot. EC3 instead presented Shynron as he sang his entrance music for him, treating him as a geek. Tyrus spent a great deal of time staring at the World title during all of this.

This is Jeff Hardy’s first match in nine months. Jeff Hardy is TNA’s biggest star. You would think moving to a new network and wanting all the viewers they could possibly get they would make as much fanfare about Hardy’s return as they possibly could. Well if you thought that you would be mistaken. Instead of weeks of vignettes and an all-out week of media spots building up to a big, eventful return TNA simply booked the match in the first fifteen minutes of the show. Not once did they announce Hardy would be returning to the ring this week, not even one single solitary tweet was devoted to letting people know that Hardy would be wrestling for the first time in nine months. Not one person tuned into this show to see Jeff Hardy wrestle for the basic reason they couldn’t have possibly known it was going to happen. And yet TNA expect people to tune into the show.

Jeff Hardy vs. Shynron

EC3 joined the commentary team. EC3 referred to Shynron as Shinbone on commentary. Shynron tried some fancy flippy stuff, which Hardy avoided. Hardy hit an alley-oop followed by a Twist of Fate to give Hardy the win. Nothing but a squash match giving Hardy a win in his first match back. Shynron didn’t get to show much. 1/2*

Street Fight
The Beautiful People (Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky) vs. The Dollhouse (Jade and Awesome Kong)

They brawled during an interview segment before the match. This was announced as a street fight as they came back from break. Velvet suplexed Jade on the ramp. Jade missed a cannonball into the corner and struck a chair instead. Velvet bulldogged Jade onto a chair. The Beautiful People attacked Kong with kendo sticks. Jade hit Madison with a Package Piledriver for the win. This was formless – they took turns hitting each other with stuff and then Jade hit a move and won. No flow to it at all. 1/2*

A video aired for a Raquel coming soon. It appears it’s Gabi of Tough Enough fame.

Beer Money made their way to the ring for a beer bash. Roode and Storm said they’ve spent the day drinking. Roode apologised to Storm for turning on him in 2011 and they hugged it out. Storm apologised for superkicking Roode so often. They continued to apologise for past indiscretions before they made some toasts. They were eventually interrupted by Bram and Young. Young ranted for a while before saying he wanted Roode’s King of the Mountain title. Roode said why don’t they have a title match right now.

King of the Mountain Championship
Eric Young vs. Bobby Roode©

Apparently TNA allow wrestlers who admit to being inebriated to wrestle. They went back and forth for a little while before Young took control. Roode teased a comeback but Young cut him off with a neckbreaker. Roode made a comeback which Young cut off again with a belly to belly. Young looked for a piledriver but Roode reversed into a sharpshooter. Young tried to escape but Roode shifted into a crossface. Roode hit a spinebuster for two. Roode hit the Roode Bomb but Bram pulled the referee from the ring, for some reason not prompting a disqualification. Bram tried to pretend it was Strom who pulled the ref out even though he was nowhere near them. So the referee is just stupid apparently. Roode and Storm hit the Beer Money suplex on Bram but while doing the chant Young low blowed Roode and followed with a Piledriver to win the title. I suppose Roode has the built in excuse of being tipsy for losing. Perfectly competent match before the overbooked finish but it was just picking up steam as they went to the finish. **1/2

Mr Anderson made his way to the ring for the debut of his new talk show titled “Huh??!! With Mr Anderson…Anderson” Anderson introduced Matt Hardy with his wife Reby and son Maxel as his first guest. Anderson accused Hardy of choking. Matt became very defensive. Anderson then accused of Matt letting Jeff do his dirty work for him. Matt responded by saying he loves his family and that he will not die and then he left. Reby gave Anderson a death stare as she left. I don’t really know what to make of this. Matt and Anderson basically argued and shouted at each other for a few minutes and neither really came off looking better out of it. Matt said he had an offer that EC3 couldn’t possibly refuse.

Eli Drake, Jessie Godderz and DJ Z vs. Tigre Uno and The Wolves (Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards)

Drake, Godderz and DJ Z didn’t even get an entrance. The Wolves and Uno dominated for a while before Drake tripped Edwards from the floor allowing Godderz to hit a dropkick. Edwards hit both Drake and Godderz with a huracanrana and made the tag to Richards. Richards ran wild and managed to lock simultaneous submissions on both Godderz and DJ Z. Godderz accidentally struck DJ Z with a clothesline, Godderz locked on the Adonis Crab but DJ Z superkicked him in retribution. The Wolves put away Godderz with a superkick/Brainbuster combination. I assumed this was going to set up challengers for the midcard titles but it ended up being a showcase for the champions instead. Pretty good match though; it could’ve done with more time. **1/2

EC3 made his way to the ring wanting to know what Matt Hardy’s offer was. Hardy said he earned everything he got and EC3 only got everything he had because his name was Carter. Last I checked EC3 won a 32 man tournament to win the World title. Hardy challenged EC3 to a Title vs. TNA Career Last Man Standing match next week. Both men agreed and the match is on for next week. Instead of a multi-week build where we spend time establishing how much the World title means to Matt Hardy, establishing that he’s doing it for his family, and to finally properly achieve something he’s been working toward for 20+ years, not to mention how much EC3 would revel in ending his TNA career, we just get the match this week after Matt appeared totally unlikable earlier in the show. It’s perfectly fine to try and have a big match on Impact every week, but it’s fruitless if they don’t make that match mean something. If they don’t allow time to anticipate, time to establish the stakes, time to make it feel important. Time to make the match feel like an event – something special that cannot be missed. Their approach to making must see TV is to hot shot something every week, not to actually build it up and earn it.

Kurt Angle’s Farewell Tour
Drew Galloway vs. Kurt Angle

Drew got the better of the early exchanges before he walked into a Belly to Belly. Galloway fired up with chops and strikes followed up with a top rope clothesline. Drew missed a boot and Angle rattled off rolling German’s. Angle hit the Angle Slam for two only to lock on an Ankle Lock. Galloway escaped and reversed a backslide into the Future Shock for another near fall. They exchanged submission attempts.  Drew rolled through to escape an Ankle Lock sending Angle out to the floor. Galloway charged Angle but Angle Belly to Belly’d Galloway into the guardrail. Angle rolled Galloway into the ring and scored two on a pin attempt.

Galloway nailed the Claymore but Angle kicked out. Galloway hit another Claymore but Angle kicked out again. Galloway hit a Belly to Belly out of the corner and both men exchanged punches. Galloway missed a charge and struck the post allowing Angle to hit another Angle Slam but Galloway kicked out again. Drew went up top, Angle cut him off and followed with a top rope Angle Slam for the win. Angle and Galloway hugged after the match. Very good match and easily the best thing on the show but it did feel like they went to finisher kick outs way too quickly. They didn’t build the foundation so that the kickouts felt earned. Also the company being cold in general didn’t help because as a result it took the audience a while to get into it. They weren’t exactly chomping at the bit from the outset. Still though, they worked really hard, Angle looks sharper than he did last year and the match was very good. Also while I’d imagine Angle will win all but his last Farewell Tour matches to put over somebody on the way out, Galloway is really somebody who could’ve done with that win. It still feels like TNA has no idea what to actually do with him. ***3/4

Final Thoughts: Prior to the main event this was a poor show. Rife with many of TNA regular problems it was ill-paced and underwhelming with very few of the story beats landing in a way that feels meaningful and very few noteworthy performances. Too often it felt like television by the numbers, designed to desperately convince people not to tune out but what results is largely television not worth tuning into in the first place. The company feels cold and the formula is still to throw as much as possible at the wall in two hours hoping something sticks. There’s no patience or build. Nothing is clicking and the audience isn’t engaged. Things need to change.