Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Thursday, March 16
Universal Studios
Orlando, FL

Photos (c) jeanmariebiele.com

After last week’s utterly unbearable announcing that was a relentless onslaught on my ears, my sanity and showed a staggering disrespect for a bunch of very talented wrestlers – this week was a big improvement. The Josh/JB divide didn’t go away but they bickered less, they didn’t talk over each other nearly as much and they mostly kept the focus on the talent in the ring. Announcers feuding is a terrible idea but if it is to happen the execution this week was a great deal more tolerable than last week.

Alberto El Patron came out to address having to forfeit the TNA World title after winning it via nefarious means last week – the belt has been returned to Lashley. That sets a precedent that all underhanded or cheap title changes will be overturned. I wonder how long that’ll last? While his match vs. Bobby Lashley last week was pretty underwhelming, El Patron does seem to have a pep in his step at least – he seems excited to be there, for now at least. El Patron demanded a rematch, EC3 came out and disputed that and they set up EC3 vs. El Patron for later in the show. While this was a tad long in the tooth and EC3’s dialogue was a little strained at times, the performances were strong. It also ended in a pull apart brawl because this is a Jeff Jarrett led product and security always has to work overtime.

Garza Jr. and Laredo Kid def. Tyrus and Eli Drake

Garza Jr. is the nephew of Hector Garza, who competed for TNA in 2004 as part of Team Mexico as well as a featured act late in the year before he was deported. While Tyrus is notably a woeful base for high flyers to the degree that you’d wonder sometimes is he actively trying to avoid catching people, they thankfully had Drake do nearly all of the heavy lifting in that regard. Garza and particularly Laredo Kid looked pretty good in their debut (and thankfully this match actually got a decent whack of time) with Drake looking good as well before Garza pinned Drake with a quick roll up. Of course Drake had to take the fall here because Tyrus is big and can’t be pinned by the smaller flippy lads. Fun little match though. **3/4

Brandi Rhodes was set to face Kayci Quinn but Cody (Rhodes) came out, offered Quinn $45 dollars to go away and demanded Brandi come with him and not wrestle. There were some weird gender dynamics, with Cody utterly disrespecting women but I guess maybe that was the point because Cody came across as an unrelenting jerk here. It was pretty bad for Brandi’s character though just to stand down and follow her husband out. Rosemary showed up to destroy Kayci Quinn for good measure.

Alberto El Patron def. Ethan Carter III

This match followed the trend of a lot of recent EC3 matches where they got a tonne of time, they were clearly working very hard but the match just didn’t click. The work was solid, it just never really felt like it added up to anything. It didn’t build to another level despite building the match around El Patron’s attack on EC3’s arm. The finish (which did take the wind out of the sails of the match a little) was a considerable stretch to reach a story destination though. EC3 hit two TKO’s and rather than following up by trying to win he went to the floor to get a chair. He then opted not to use the chair and lost to a Cross Armbreaker. At no point did EC3 really sell the frustration of not being able to win and nothing about his character in the last few months justified the leap for him to randomly contemplate winning by cheating all of a sudden. It was a contrived, inorganic way of taking the EC3 character to a different place. El Patron paid tribute to EC3 after the match. ***





TNA X-Division Championship
Trevor Lee © def. Andrew Everett, Suicide, and Braxton Sutter

You might argue that the belts are now referred to as Impact rather than TNA but they literally still say TNA on the titles themselves. Impact has brought back Suicide in spite of revealing Suicide to be Manik, played by TJ Perkins in 2013. Does continuity mean nothing to them? While this was yet another four person X-Division match, they got an uncharacteristic amount of time and were able to string together a really fun match full of cool sequences and nifty dives. To say the X-Division has ever really been about singles matches would be misleading. The Low Ki/Jerry Lynn/AJ Styles era was all about three ways and multi-man matches. While 2005 had an uncharacteristic number of X-Division title singles matches on PPV (8 out of 12 that year), Impact and X-Division undercard matches rarely featured one on one encounters. The difference between those era’s and Impact’s of recent past is that the X-Division was treated with respect. They were given the opportunity to shine and steal the show, not just occupy a quick five minutes of television time. If this week is more representative of how the X-Division will be presented going forward, then I have hope for the division. Lee pinned Sutter after Drunk Laurel Van Ness distracted him. ***1/2

Bruce Prichard came out to address the now vacant TNA World tag team titles. Decay intercepted The Broken Hardy’s teleportation last week and The Broken Hardys are now lost in space and time. That is actually how they got the belts off The Hardys. Decay, Reno Scum (who are amusingly angry all the time) and Garza and Laredo Kid staked their claim to the belts before Homicide and Konnan showed up to reform LAX. They were joined by Mike Draztik and Angel Ortiz along with Angel Rose (going by Diamante). They absolutely destroyed Decay before Homicide dropped Crazzy Steve with  a Gringo Killer. This was a tremendously executed return. Chaotic and energetic, the new LAX looked like total killers. Homicide and Konnan are the link to the legacy of LAX but hopefully it’ll equally serve as a vehicle for Draztik, Ortiz and Diamante. This was super stuff, it actually had a little oomph which can be rare for this show these days.

Final Thoughts:

While not without flaw, this episode of Impact Wrestling was worlds better than last week on every level. There were only three matches but all were given ample time to develop, they laid the seeds for some solid stories and closed out with a hot LAX return. This would have been a considerably more effective reboot show because it showed rather than told.