Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Tuesday, February 9
Manchester Arena
Manchester, England

Impact opened with a great video package setting the stage for the UK Tour. I don’t usually mention Impact’s opening videos because usually they’re just “Here’s what happened last week” but this one had a sense of scope and scale and grandeur that most usually lack.

Matt Hardy came to the ring and said his brand is more valuable than the Impact brand. Matt Hardy does have more Twitter followers than TNA I suppose. Matt Hardy says “iconic” as if he’s about to choke which is fun. Tyrus said they’re family and hugged it out with Matt. Matt said Kurt Angle, EC3 and Jeff Hardy were all victims. Matt demanded that Dixie Carter fire EC3 by the end of the show and left so that was their hook for the show. Matt is good fun in his new role but I’d still like to see him go a little further over the top, really sell his over-inflated sense of self-worth.

Lashley vs. Bram

Lashley controlled the early stages with his power. He got clotheslined out to the floor only to get back in and clothesline Bram out instead. Young swept Lashley’s leg on the apron giving Bram an advantage. Lashley made a comeback but Bram cut him off with the Brighter Side of Suffering. Instead of trying to pin Lashley after he hit his finish, Eric Young joined Bram in the ring only to eat a Spear after inadvertently hitting his own partner with a title belt, and Lashley followed with a Spear on Bram handing Lashley the win. Perfectly fine TV match but Young and Bram look like total buffoons. They would have been better off if Lashley just beat Bram clean. **

Kurt Angle made his way to the ring to a huge reaction. Angle said he was proud of what he accomplished in TNA and thanked the fans. Maria interrupted Angle introducing Mike Bennett. Bennett called New England the better, more advanced England. It is *New* England and new is always better. Bennett said he grew up watching Angle and vowed to beat him one day. Angle told Bennett to go away but Bennett suggested Angle vs. Bennett. Angle decked Bennett and said he only wrestles people he respects. This was a strange segment considering it appeared to set up an Angle vs. Bennett match down the line that looks unlikely to ever happen unless Angle returns. It was also a waste of the crowd’s novel reaction to Angle before his match with Galloway later in the show.

TNA X-Division Championship
Tigre Uno vs. Trevor Lee©

Uno didn’t get an entrance. Uno hit a baseball slide followed by a dive. Lee decked Uno with a lariat. Lee controlled Uno for a while before Uno made a brief comeback with a hurricanrana off the ring steps. Helms briefly distracted Uno allowing Lee to hit a Small Package Driver for the win. Bar an opening flurry Lee controlled large portions of this match, with Uno never really being in the match at all. A strange layout. *3/4

Beer Money vs. Decay

The Boozer Cruiser made its return as Storm made his entrance. Beer Money threatened to cash in their Feast or Fired tag title shot but Decay interrupted and after some jibber-jabber they decided to wrestle. By the way, Decay’s entrance music is Marilyn Manson’s The Nobodies. Beer Money dominated Steve but Abyss turned the match for his team. Roode hit a spinebuster on Abyss and tagged in Storm. Storm hit a sling blade (which he calls the Calf Wrangler) on Steve. Beer Money hit the Beer Money suplex and hit Steve with the DWI but Abyss pulled the referee out to cause the DQ. Abyss pulled Janice from under the ring but The Wolves made the save. The Wolves wanted their titles back so Abyss challenged them to a Monsters Ball title match next week. The Wolves accepted. The match was fine but it mostly served to set up the match next week. **

Grado, who was fired as a result of Feast or Fired, jumped the guardrail. Grado suggested he was screwed during Feast or Fired and that he had proof but Eli Drake interrupted him before he could reveal it. Drake tried to get security to kick Grado out but Grado fled. The crowd liked Grado. Grado asked Billy Corgan for help later in the show. Corgan didn’t understand a word Grado said and then Eli Drake hit Grado in the face.

Madison Rayne vs. Jade

Rayne took out The Dollhouse with a dive but Jade took back over soon after. Madison caught a lovely cradle for a quick two count. Rayne hit an enziguri and made a comeback with a sliding clothesline and top rope crossbody. Some interference gave Jade an opportunity to hit a package piledriver for the win. This was the fourth straight match on this show with interference. Jade and Rayne are probably the best in the division beneath Gail Kim and they made the most of the time they had. The Dollhouse tried to further attack Rayne after the match but Kim made the save. **1/2

Kurt Angle vs. Drew Galloway

Angle controlled the early stages. Galloway missed a top rope clothesline and Angle countered into an Ankle Lock. Galloway escaped and hit the Future Shock for two. The match spilled out onto the floor and Angle hit an Angle Slam onto the steel steps. Angle hit another Angle Slam but Drew kicked out. Is there a more worthless “finish” in wrestling than the Angle Slam? Drew hit a reverse Alabama Slam for another two. Galloway hit a top rope Celtic Cross for another near fall. Angle hit a German but Drew escaped an Angle Slam and hit two straight Claymore’s but Angle kicked out again.

Drew missed a Claymore from the top and Angle unloaded with German’s before pulling down the straps. Angle hit another Angle Slam and followed with a top rope splash for two. Angle locked in the Ankle Lock but Drew kicked him off, flung Angle into the post and followed with a Claymore for yet another near fall. Angle was bleeding from the mouth. Drew locked in the Gargano Escape, they’re partners in Evolve so I guess that’s okay. Angle escaped into the Ankle Lock but Galloway kicked Angle knee out and locked in the Gargano Escape again for the submission win. I was at this show and I actually liked this match a little more on rewatch than live. They really worked their asses off here. Drew got his win over Angle and if Angle does return to TNA down the line they can do a deciding match. Galloway pivots to a programme with Mike Bennett now. ****

Matt Hardy and company were in the ring and demanded Dixie Carter give them an answer. Dixie came to the ring and Matt demanded Dixie fire EC3. Spud came out and asked what Matt was doing. Spud said that in spite of a lot EC3’s past indiscretions being directed at him but that EC3 shouldn’t be fired because EC3 does what he says he’s going to do and called Hardy a bitch. Continuing a long standing tradition Tyrus dropped Spud where he stood and Matt went back to demanding that Dixie fire EC3. EC3 came out, unbuttoned his jacket, took off his shirt and stormed the ring taking out Tyrus. Matt Hardy fled the second EC3 got in the ring. EC3 shared a brief look at Spud and then left to close the show. If TNA are smart, careful, patient and don’t screw it up they have something in EC3 as a babyface. The crowd in the UK were extremely receptive to him and, at least at the moment, he seems to have some momentum. This was well executed.

Final Thoughts: The undercard, particularly the X-Division title match, suffered from the usual problems with TNA undercards, they felt in no way whatsoever substantial, but that last half an hour with Angle vs. Galloway and EC3’s return was probably the best thirty minutes TNA has produced on Pop to date.