Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Thursday, January 26
Universal Studios
Orlando, FL

A very hoarse Matt Hardy, accompanied by his brother Jeff, opened this week’s Impact Wrestling episode on Pop TV. Greatest tag team in time and space, seven deities and all that – you know the drill at this stage. Jeff suggested he’ll use his Open Fight Night case to challenge for the World Heavyweight title. Matt said he had a premonition to win every set of tag team titles they can get their hands on. DCC interrupted. They like titles. The revolving door continued with Decay. They also want the tag team titles. To the match!

TNA World Tag Team Championships
The Hardys © def. The DCC (Bram and Kingston) and Decay (Abyss and Crazy Steve)

This was the 30th time Jeff Hardy and Abyss have been in the same match in some capacity over the last thirteen years. I wonder… are they sick of wrestling each other?

Fun formula tag with a couple of comebacks from Abyss and Matt Hardy, the action kept ticking over and Matt won with a Twist of Fate on Kingston. It feels like The Hardys have been bouncing around a little aimlessly since The Great War. It’d be nice to see them settle into a real programme with a team. **1/2

Impact Grand Championship
Drew Galloway © def. Moose

They threw bombs in Round 1. Moose won. They did the terrible low blow thing again in Round 2 and the air was let out of the match. Galloway hit the Claymore just like last week but this time Moose kicked out. There was a ref bump, Drew hit another low blow and won after the Future Shock. Between Aron Rex doing the loaded punch schtick and Galloway cheating, the Impact Grand Championship is just like every other title now. Rather than being something unique in presentation and booking, it’s plagued with tired finishes involving heels cheating and the pen interfering with the quality of the performers’ efforts (something that drags down nearly every division in TNA). It’s a shame, presented thoughtfully with an eye toward making it something fresh and different the Grand Championship could have been an interesting experiment. *

I don’t understand the modern over-reliance on cheap finishes. It seems like people still do them because they’ve always been done and that’s just the way pro wrestling works – but when you think about it, what do they actually achieve? Like any storytelling device, controversial or inconclusive finishes can be useful when used sparingly but when used weekly their effect is nullified. Usually they are deployed to protect a babyface from a loss but they still lose – and the win the heel gets in undercut. Everybody loses.

And in theory people should be upset with the injustice of it all but the frequency with which these finishes happen (sometimes multiple per show) derails that. Nobody in the world could possible really care that Moose got screwed here. What’s more notable is that the officials were dumb enough to get duped in the exact same way two weeks in a row. You’d think people would look at NJPW and NXT who have generally gained some traction delivering satisfying conclusions to major matches and follow suit but they don’t. They take the lazy cop out route instead. We should dislike heels because they are bad people, stop using cheap finishes as a poor substitute for stronger characterisation and braver decision making.

TNA Knockouts Championship – Monster’s Ball
Rosemary © def. Jade

While the Monster’s Ball format isn’t exactly particularly novel, these two did a fantastic job of selling the intensity of the conflict. The need to escalate from their very enjoyable Six Sides of Steel match back in December justified the stipulation and they worked extremely hard to make it work – making interesting and brutal use of the props. Looking back at the last decade of the Knockouts division it takes two very good matches to be considered among the Knockouts elite. When you think of great Knockouts rivalries you have Gail Kim vs. Awesome Kong and Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell – Rosemary vs. Jade can now be added to that list. Rosemary won with a superplex through a table. Rosemary spat mist in Gail Kim’s (who came out to check on Jade) face afterwards. I hope Rosemary doesn’t get pigeonholed into doing these kinds of matches on a consistent basis like Abyss was. One because the novelty would wear off fast and two because she’s better than that.  ***3/4

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TNA X-Division Championship
DJZ © def. Caleb Konley, Marshe Rockett, Andrew Everett and Trevor Lee

Konley was signed back in April last year, this was his Impact debut. He had a little promo feature before the match where he talked about loving wrestling and working hard so he’s probably a babyface. This was your usual insubstantial been there, done that X-Division match but at least it was good fun. Dives, flips and no hold grabbing – they made the most of the time they had at least (I’m not even going to make that a veiled shot at 205 Live, 205 could badly do with undercard matches that at least have this kind of energy). Konley looked pretty solid on his debut, Everett was the stand out because flips are cool and DJZ won with the ZDT to Everett. Trevor Lee attacked Z’s leg with a chair afterwards, likely setting up Lee using his Open Fight Case next week. ***

TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Bobby Lashley def. Eddie Edwards ©

Lashley went 1-0 with a Spear. Lashley won fall 2 by count out after dropping Edwards with a powerbomb on the ramp like a badass. Edwards dragged it back to 2-1 with a really lame roll up. Lashley went to murder Edwards again on the ramp but Edwards landed on his feet and followed with a Boston Knee Party and Edwards soon hit another Boston Knee Party to bring it to 2-2. Lashley submitted Edwards after a spurt of near falls with a head and arm choke. Lashley tried to stall out the final few minutes but Edwards locked on a guillotine choke however Lashley hung on to win the World title.

Lashley was absolutely fantastic here, utterly dominating Edwards here as a compelling and convincing monster – he owns that role with such conviction that it’s easy for Edwards to come across as a compelling underdog. Lashley is the best possible champion for the brand right now. I really liked this match, the falls were well placed throughout to keep a steady pace and bar Edwards’ wacky roll up the falls were convincing – there is nothing worse in matches like this (and elimination matches) where moves that never keep people down are suddenly death blows. Edwards was at least given something in defeat after simply running out of time and Lashley’s total control of the match to that point ensured that he lost nothing with that finish. The Edwards experiment was a failure through little real fault of Edwards (who carried himself as well as possible all things considered); he was repeatedly booked into the ground to appear less than those around him. This was really good stuff. Lashley is fantastic. ****

Final Thoughts

A fairly bland first hour was followed by one of the better hours of Impact in quite a while. Lashley vs. Edwards was excellent, Rosemary vs. Jade was very good and the X-Division match was fun. The talent is there, it always has been, it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together.