Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Thursday, August 11
Impact Zone
Soundstage 20, Universal Studios
Orlando, FL

Impact began with EC3 discussing his Bound For Glory Playoffs win. EC3 said in spite of all he had achieved in TNA, he was still missing his moment of perfection – his moment of crowning glory and he will have that moment at Bound For Glory. Lashley came out and forcibly disagreed (fun fact: EC3 is 3-0 in singles matches vs. Lashley). Storm then came out as the third wheel promising to beat Lashley in the main event. This segment certainly did little to make the result of the main event seem like less of a foregone conclusion. Storm and Lashley brawled to the back. Moose and Bennett attacked EC3, Eddie Edwards made the save and a tag match was on.

There are few in US wrestling right now who own their character better than Bobby Lashley does right now. He’s threatening and menacing but also understated. He’s calm and controlled but also cool and cocky. And this is the same guy that the company felt they had to give MVP as a mouthpiece two years ago (that was a very effective dynamic in it’s own right). I think the difference between now and then is that he’s since found his voice rather than having somebody else’s voice imposed on him. That’s a problem when you have overly scripted promos (and I don’t innately have a problem with scripted promos but they certainly have downsides), they go from being something designed to evoke a visceral emotional reaction to mechanical well delivered exposition dumps where a person’s sense of individuality is lost. Lashley on the other hand seems to have found his sense of individuality (something Storm found in 2005 and something EC3 has had very little difficulty with).

Moose and Mike Bennett def. Eddie Edwards and Ethan Carter III

Edwards and EC3 controlled the early stages while Bennett was in the ring but Moose turned the tide with an impressive dropkick to Edwards while Edwards was on the top rope. Edwards eventually made the tag to EC3 who ran wild. Edwards and EC3 took out Moose and Bennett with stereo dives. Edwards connected with a top rope huracanrana for two. Moose connected with the Go To Hell (a Sky High) but Bennett tagged himself in and grabbed the pin. Moose wasn’t exactly pleased that Bennett stole his pin. The Bennett/Moose relationship doesn’t seem long for this world and that’s probably for the best – Moose shouldn’t be tethered to Bennett even in the medium term. This was a really fun opening tag match. ***

Damien Sandow, now going by the name Aron Rex, made his TNA debut. Unlike Mike Bennett and Moose’s debuts the crowd actually knew who Sandow was. He cut the promo you’d expect him to (and for his first promo it was exactly the promo he should have done) – the gist of it basically being that he was held back in WWE and TNA is giving him the opportunity to be himself. That’s fine for his first night (and as I said for the audience he was in front of considering he has a decent amount of goodwill and people feel he wasn’t given ample opportunity this was the right promo here) but in the long run he shouldn’t be defining his character based on what he was or what he didn’t get but rather who he is. Interestingly the crowd chanted “You’re a genius” and he shut that down saying that was an act. To me that suggests that he wants to cut all ties with his past characters and stand on his own, though I’m not sure why you’d want to discourage people from chanting complements.

I’m interested to see how a serious and focused Sandow will do in TNA. He showed a remarkable ability to make just about anything work in WWE. He got over wearing a bathrobe and cosplaying as The Miz so he clearly has a great deal of talent. But he’s never really been a serious act. If TNA has been good for one thing in particular lately it’s been giving people a platforming and allowing them to make of it what they will. This will certainly be an opportunity for Sandow to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that WWE made a serious blunder by not giving him the opportunity he merited. We’ll see what he does with this chance.

No Disqualifications
Gail Kim def. Marti Bell

Marti controlled much of the match, Maria and Allie interfered but Allie (after being berated by Maria) accidentally struck Marti allowing Kim to win with a small package. Another story heavy match rather than something really substantial. Marti and co. attacked Kim before Jade made the save. Maria booked Jade vs. Kim for next week. I really hope they get an opportunity to have a really good match because they’re more than capable. *1/4

Matt Hardy was driven to a meeting with Jeff by Vanguard 1. That is certainly a multi-purpose drone. Matt discussed a premonition he had about how Decay were planning to kidnap King Maxel – Matt sent Vanguard 1 to defend Maxel (Vanguard 1 said goodbye as it flew away, I want a drone that pleasant) before Matt demanded Jeff continue his odyssey to win the World title by himself.

Jeff confronted Matt about why he bit a man last week to which Matt responded “Because ants aren’t allowed to touch gods.” Jeff said he couldn’t win the tag titles by himself. He needed Matt to work with him. Jeff had a match instead after some mule based banter.

Matt and Jeff Hardy def. The Tribunal (Basile Baraka and Baron Dax w/ Al Snow)

Like last week, Matt refused to compete. A fan at ringside had a pro-Jeff sign. Matt then got in his face and shouted delete. The fan saw the light, ripped up the sign and started shouting delete. Matt then proceeded to bite Al Snow. Matt beat up at Dax at ringside. Jeff put Baraka away with a Twist of Fate soon after. *1/4

The brothers Hardy then went full batshit crazy. Jeff, after weeks of being abused and being told he was obsolete, finally snapped. Jeff hit Dax, Baraka and Snow with Twists of Fate as Matt made sounds of arousal. Jeff put Al Snow through a table before putting himself through a table with a Swanton off the top (the same way Jeff beat Matt at Slammiversary) – Jeff and Matt then cackled together as Jeff accepted his fate as Brother Nero and Matt declared his brother broken. It was actually quite sad to see Jeff finally succumb to the constant demeaning by Matt and give in, accepting his fate as Matt’s broken deleted obsolete mule.

Drew Galloway made his way to the ring for the first time in a couple of weeks. Galloway was rather perturbed about the way EC3 cost him his Bound For Glory Playoff semifinal match with Mike Bennett. Bennett also wasn’t best pleased about how EC3 cost Drew his first rematch with Lashley and how EC3 was pinned in his second three way rematch. Drew would have understood an accident once, three times a tad less so. Drew felt EC3 had less than noble motives. Drew challenged EC3 to a match where the winner gets the Bound For Glory title shot. Usually instances where people choose to put title shots on the line like this feel contrived but TNA has done such a smart job letting the EC3/Galloway issues simmer in the background for two months that Galloway has a legitimate reason to feel slighted and EC3 still has something to prove to Galloway. Drew was great here – passionate and angry, and perhaps even foreshadowing a heel turn.

They aired a series of tremendous videos with James Storm discussing the last time he won the World title and his desire to do so again. This plays into what I said last week about wanting to see TNA get more out of their big matches – these kinds of videos would have done a tremendous job of setting the stage for the Lashley/Storm match and it feels too late to hook any new people in airing them on the show itself. As they were though they did a superb job of humanising Storm and fleshing out his motivations. Storm has always worked best as a down to earth man of the people and this further played into that.

Titles vs. Title
TNA World Heavyweight, TNA X-Division Championship, and TNA King of the Mountain Championships
Bobby Lashley © def. James Storm ©

This was Lashley’s World and X-Division titles vs. Storm’s King of the Mountain title. Storm smashed Lashley with the Last Call just as the match began but referee Brian Hebner was still removing Jeremy Borash from the ring and was late to make the count allowing Lashley to kick out. That was a callback to a five year old match where Storm beat Angle in a minute to win the World title and I love it. Lashley doing a leapfrog will never not be impressive. Lashley took control but Storm made a comeback starting with a Sling Blade. Lashley cut him off with a big crossbody but Storm kicked out. Storm impressively got Lashley up for the Eye of the Storm but Lashley kicked out.

Storm’s head struck the inadvertently exposed turnbuckle and Lashley followed with a Spear but Storm kicked out. Storm hit a pair of Last Calls for a fantastic nearfall. Storm hit the Closing Time but Lashley rebounded off the ropes and smashed Storm with another Spear to score the win. This was so much fun as Lashley now holds all of the men’s singles gold in TNA. Aron Rex stepped onto the ramp and stared down Lashley to close the show. ***3/4

Final Thoughts:

This was one of the best Impact’s of the year. With a really fun opening tag match, a great main event, the Hardys going absolutely crazy, a strong debut by Aron Rex and an excellent Drew Galloway promo there was an awful lot to like here.