TNA Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Thursday, January 5
Universal Studios
Orlando, FL

Here we go again. Again. 

TNA has been surprisingly quiet this week. Anthem Sports and Entertainment have officially acquired a majority interest in the company while Jeff Jarrett has been reenlisted to right the ship. But in spite of the changes in management it felt like business as usual for TNA this week. Rather than going on the offensive, they’ve been in their regular “We have a TV show, please watch it” mode. That isn’t necessarily the approach I’d have taken after all that’s gone down in the last few months but here we are in 2017 and TNA is still trucking along. 

Little was different from Impact last year. Anthem logo’s were plastered on the apron and the turnbuckle pads and the ring ropes are blue now (an improvement visually from the prior black in terms of adding more colour to the show). Everything else was the same. There was a tone of talking about making TNA great/delightful again. Which, trite turn of phrase aside, seems a silly thing to say considering Impact was broadly pretty good this year and this show was literally no different to those.

The show opened with the usual “I want a title match” promo setting up EC3 vs. Lashley vs. Edwards as the main event. Doing a World title match to attract viewers to a “premiere” is somewhat is undercut by announcing that match in the opening segment.

Impact Grand Championship
Moose © def. “The Miracle” Mike Bennett

The best matches under the Grand Championship rules have treated an individual match like three separate contests. Each round has it’s own arc which should inform the pace and narrative of the following Round. If it’s worked more like a conventional match where Round 1 is the beginning, Round 2 is the middle and Round 3 the end you’ll end up with two rounds that fall flat and a finish that feels anti-climactic. Each round should end with a oomph, not a whimper. Keep them compact and explosive.

This match did a pretty good job of that. Bennett stalled out a victory in Round 1 causing Moose to come flying out of the gates in Round 2 – rapidly upping the pace. Moose won Round 2 and then both started throwing bombs in Round 3 to avoid handing their fate over to the judges. And what resulted was a Grand Championship match considerably better than anything from the Aron Rex era. Moose was awarded the match after winning Round 3. ***1/4

‘Swoggle def. Rockstar Spud

Spud was upset that ‘Swoggle turned on him during Apocalypto. Remember back in 2015 when Spud had those fantastic matches with EC3 and Austin Aries and looked like breaking out as a real character? Look at him now. ‘Swoggle beat Spud after hitting him with a Spear, a German Suplex and a Celtic Cross. Spud then proceeded to quit. *

Eli Drake was in the ring for the latest edition of Fact of Life. Eli Drake is allowed to speak once more after losing that right in a match vs. EC3 last year. His guests were The Broken Hardys, played to the ring by Reby. They jibber jabbered – Drake and a partner will face The Hardys for the tag titles on the One Night Only LIVE! show on January 6th. Long in ring promos do not suit the Broken Hardy’s characters.

Decay (Abyss and Crazy Steve w/ Rosemary) def. The Helms Dynasty (Trevor Lee and Andrew Everett w/ Shane Helms)

The Nobodies by Marilyn Manson is no longer Decay’s theme. Farewell Billy. That is actually a shame though – that was a weirdly important part of their act. They now have a patented TNA soundalike instead. The day TNA lost Mark Andrews, who did literally nothing in TNA for two years, to WWE they basically treated Lee and Everett as glorified enhancement talent for Decay. Use them or lose them. Match was fine, Decay basically worked as babyfaces. Abyss won after a chokeslam to Everett. DCC attacked Decay after the match so apparently Decay are actually babyfaces now. **

Sienna def. Allie

Maria, who’s employ Allie is still under, forced Allie into this match. Under the guise of being trained by Braxton Sutter Allie is wrestling more. Laurel Van Ness was hitting on Sutter at ringside which distracted Allie at times. That allowed Sienna to take out Allie with the Silencer. Transitioning Allie to the role of credible wrestler should be a priority for the Knockouts division in the next few months. **

TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Eddie Edwards © def. Ethan Carter III and Bobby Lashley

Lashley dominated, EC3 and Edwards teamed up to take him down. Lashley continued to wreck fool despite that. This was an enjoyable match that never really found a higher gear. It was a lot of fun at times but didn’t feel like an important title match. A match announced ninety minutes before it happens can never really feel that big a deal. Lashley hit the Spear but Edwards rolled to the floor. Lashley grabbed the title belt but Davey Richards returned after tearing his ACL in a match vs. Beer Money (that’ll tell you how long he’s been gone) last January to grab the title out of Lashley’s hands long enough to distract Lashley and allow Edwards to hit the Boston Knee party for the win.***1/4

Let’s have a look at Edwards’ title defenses to date.

  • Edwards lost to DJ Z and Aron Rex in his last two matches prior to winning the belt.
  • Edwards won the title from Lashley with an out of nowhere Boston Knee Party.
  • He retained it against Cody (Rhodes) with a flash pin after Cody hit a superplex.
  • He defeated Lashley in a rematch only after Lashley was given a visual pin and a referee fast count.
  • He beat Eli Drake clean.
  • He submitted as EC3 was pinned to result in a draw.
  • Lashley and Edwards brawled to a no contest during Total Nonstop Deletion
  • And on this show he beat Lashley only after receiving assistance from Davey Richards.

While nearly all of those were good matches, some of them great even, he hasn’t really been booked as too credible a champion. He’s been consistently presented as inferior to Lashley and Josh Mathews even referenced EC3 as the franchise player during this show. It’s all well and good to make somebody World champion, but that won’t elevate somebody unless you support them as champion too. A crowd will never fully embrace a champion who’s repeatedly presented as a bit of a fluke.

Final Thoughts:

This was an episode of Impact. It was the usual solid, pretty enjoyable but ultimately forgettable brand of television the company was known for in 2016 – that is both a relief and a little confusing. 

A relief because LIVE tends to bring out TNA’s worst qualities. They tend to feel the need to be noteworthy or try to generate buzz and what results is generally inorganic turns, contrived swerves or silly title changes. This show had none of that.  Confusing though because after all that’s happened over not only the last year, but the last sixteen years – TNA more than anything needs to feel new, it needs to feel exciting, it needs to feel different. If producing affably entertaining, inessential television was the solution to TNA woes, last year would have been the biggest year in the history of the company. It wasn’t. This show was the same. And the same just won’t cut it.