Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Tuesday, May 3
Soundstage 20, Universal Studios
Since the debut on Pop TNA’s television has usually worked on two week cycles. Each show would pay off things set up last week and set up things for the following week. Rivalries on the show would last longer than that, but everything that happens within them usually follows that two week pattern. It has pretty much never been the case that a match has been announced for three or four weeks down the line and built toward. Now though, for the first time on Pop, there is a PPV on the horizon. Slammiversary on June 12th gives TNA something to really build toward for the first time in a long time and thankfully it’s already pretty clear what the top matches on that show will be – Mike Bennett vs. EC3, Gail Kim vs. Maria, Hardy vs. Hardy and Lashley vs. Galloway. I’m interested to see how well TNA do with the six week lead in to the show.
Drew Galloway and Bobby Lashley opened the show brawling in a gym. The brawl spilled into an MMA cage where Drew got the better of Lashley with a short arm powerbomb (there aren’t enough powerbombs in MMA, they should take note) before a bunch of TNA wrestlers separated them. It’s a good thing so many TNA wrestlers use the same gym.
Mike Bennett opened the show bragging about doing what no man ever had – he defeated EC3. Having something to actually gloat about should help Bennett, rather than empty crowing about wrestling needs a miracle, it should add a little substance to his promos. Bennett even went so far as to call himself god. Bennett felt this entitled him to a TNA title shot, which Jeff Hardy took exception to. This led to an impromptu match.
Jeff Hardy def. Mike Bennett by Disqualification
They wrestled for a little while before Bobby Lashley came out and Speared Jeff Hardy for the DQ. Mike Bennett was very pleased until he also got Speared. Lashley wanted a World title match. Rather than simply giving Lashley a title match Dixie Carter booked a Lashley vs. Hardy vs. Bennett number one contender’s main event with Drew Galloway as the guest referee. *
Rosemary was backstage giving Crazy Steve and Abyss a pep talk. Rosemary then spat green mist down Steve’s throat giving the up to now mute Steve a voice. Rosemary then demanded Abyss take mask off his before also spitting mist in his face. This seemed to cause Abyss a great deal of pain. I’m never a huge fan of over the top supernatural mysticism but I suppose if there’s any act that you’re going to go all in on that stuff it’s Decay. And I suppose it’s more occult than supernatural.
Decay came to the ring revealing Steve’s new voice and Abyss’ new face paint (while also indirectly name dropping Stevie Richards, Joseph Park and James Mitchell). Rosemary is tremendous as the ringleader of Decay actually; she’s really owning that role in a fun convincing way. James Storm came out and interrupted proceeding, mentioning that Bobby Roode isn’t around anymore but Decay left him standing. This led to a Storm vs. Abyss match.
James Storm def. Abyss
They brawled around ringside for a while with Steve interfering. Abyss worked over Storm for a little while before Storm made a comeback. Abyss hit a chokeslam for two before Storm hit a Sling Blade followed by a top rope elbow for a near fall. Steve distracted Storm allowing Abyss to spit mist in Storm’s face combined with a Black Hole Slam for the win. Solid match, I hope Storm has an actual -direction post-Beer Money because he’s spent long aimless periods in TNA in the past. This show did a better job establishing Decay and who they are more than anything in the last four months. **1/2
Maria was in the ring preaching about how great she is and how she’s going to take the Knockouts division to new heights. She introduced Knockouts champion Jade who no longer has the Dollhouse music/get up. Maria dressed down Jade for not handing over the KO title and then demanded that Jade simply lay down for her. Jade refused and Maria unleashed Sienna, the former Allysin Kay, on Jade. Why do none of the Knockouts have last names anymore? Sienna destroyed Jade and laid her out. That was a strong debut for Sienna and cemented Jade’s turn in the process. The Knockouts division has badly needed new blood for a long while now so Sienna is a welcome addition.
TNA King of the Mountain Championship – King of the Mountain Match
Bram© def. Eli Drake, Jessie Godderz, Eddie Edwards and Andrew Everett
TNA have to stop booking King of the Mountain matches on TV if they’re not willing to give the match time. The format simply does not lend itself to short form matches. Everett hit a springboard into a powerbomb giving Bram a pin to become eligible. So viewers’ first in ring introduction to Everett full time on TNA TV is him immediately being beaten. Shane Helms (who was at ringside supporting Everett) pushed Eddie Edwards off the top giving Drake a pin. That was a weak way to score a fall on Eddie Edwards. Everett missed a moonsault and Godderz made him submit with the Adonis Lock. So viewers’ first in ring introduction to Everett full time on TNA TV is him immediately being beaten…twice. Drake hit Godderz with his Feast or Fired briefcase (which contains a King of the Mountain title shot) and looked to hang the belt but Bram knocked him off the ladder with a dropkick. Bram then hung the belt and retained the title. The action was fine but the shortcuts that had to be taken to make this kind of match work as a seven minute TV match were extremely counterproductive. Particularly pinning Edwards so easily and pinning Everett so often. Drake pushed Bram off the ladder and threatened to cash in his briefcase but ran away when Bram got up. **1/4
EC3 made his way to the ring as Mike Bennett came out for the main event. EC3 congratulated Bennett on beating him last week. He said when he beat everybody they moaned and complained about it and he wasn’t going to do the same. EC3 said he accepted the defeat but it changed him. EC3 said he hopes Bennett becomes World champ so he can take it away from him. If Mike Bennett is god, then EC3 is his devil. That was a great line. As EC3 was leaving, Lashley made his entrance and they briefly locked eyes – continuing TNA’s yearlong build toward their eventual match with subtle interactions. It’s a shame more eyes aren’t on what EC3 is doing right now because he is tremendous. Him owning the defeat to Bennett and using it to fuel his revenge is a wonderful little character beat, while also making wins and losses seem important.
Number One Contenders Match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship (Special Referee: Drew Galloway)
Bobby Lashley def. Mike Bennett and Jeff Hardy
Lashley and Bennett tried to double team Hardy to little avail. Hardy hit a Whisper in the Wind off the top to the floor. There’s your weekly Jeff Hardy does something crazy spot. Hardy hit Bennett with a Swanton but Lashley took him out with a running powerslam. Lashley went for a Spear but Bennett moved and Lashley took out Galloway. Jeff connected with the Swanton on Lashley but Galloway wasn’t here to count the three. Hardy took Bennett out with a plancha and placed him on the ring steps. Hardy hit a Swanton off the top onto the steel steps for the second Jeff Hardy does something crazy spot before Decay ran out and attacked Jeff. Abyss chokeslammed Hardy on the steps. Lashley ran up the steps and Speared Hardy into the ringpost. That was awesome. Lashley Speared Jeff one more time in the ring for the win as Galloway reluctantly counted three. Lashley demanded that Galloway raise his hand and Galloway did so but then they brawled as the show went off the air. This was a super fun sprint of a match. Hardy did some crazy things and Lashley looked like an absolute monster as usual. It set up some beef between Hardy and Decay, while furthering Lashley and Galloway’s issues. Really good stuff. ***1/2
This was the best Impact in ages. With Slammiversary on the horizon the show seemed to have a greater sense of purpose. Some of the characters are beginning to click and pop in a way they haven’t so far and the show just felt more vibrant and energetic in general.