By John Moore
TNA Impact Wrestling Hits
<b>New intro theme:</b> A minor hit, but a welcome one due to last year’s theme being overdone and not fitting the show. This theme is not the best either but it works as an intro theme. The problem it showed in this episode is that the theme also popped up during the commercial transitions (bumper cards). TNA had upbeat themes in 2013 and 2014 which fit well for these transitions. Hopefully they keep this theme as the intro and use a more action oriented track for the transitions. At least 2015’s theme was gone.
<b>Matt Hardy vs. Eric Young:</b> This was the better of the two semifinal matches and another example of a heel playing to his strengths and leading to his finisher. Matt Hardy told a similar story in his match against Jessie Godderz in the previous round with his back and this time his neck was targeted for Eric Young’s piledriver. It also ended the same way with Hardy’s X Factor being his Twist of Fate cutter, which really builds up that move two matches in a row. The fact that Hardy ate Young’s devastating finisher (that could be sold a bit more) gives Hardy an out in that he went into his final match beaten and handicapped somewhat.
<b>Awesome Kong joins Dollhouse:</b> The match was just meh, mostly due to Gail Kim already destroying Dollhouse by herself on other occasions and the centerpiece of that act, Taryn Terrell, leaving TNA for the time being. Rebel is green as hell and would be better suited as a valet. The only one with a bit of in ring credibility is Jade. Awesome Kong raises that credibility immensely. Kong benefits with a heel faction because her henchwomen can carry the work due to her limitations from injury. At the same time, I’m intrigued at her possibly invoking more of her Kharma character in this run, which ironically had her playing with Dolls in a sadistic way. With Kong being an established dominating force, I can see Dollhouse becoming what I initially envisioned as dominating faction rather than a pest team.
<b>”The Miracle” Mike Bennett:</b> This was a solid debut for the new Mike Bennett character. I’m a bit torn on the attire that look likes Armando Estrada with cheap clothing, but promo-wise he and Maria did a solid job here. The best part of that introduction was how well he was received at first sight, and how he turned the crowd against him once he started attacking their heroes. There is a little Reverend D-Von or Bo Dallas in him, but he can make this work if the character is a mask to more of an edgy version of himself.
<b>Ethan Carter III vs. Matt Hardy:</b> This was a pretty good match, and a solid final match. Hardy has the excuse of having to go through the sadistic Eric Young to get here (even though you would think Lashley could inflict the same pain to Carter). A huge part of the hit was TNA resisting the urge to fall back on the tropes that have become their MO. This was an upgrade over last year’s overbooked debut on a new channel. Also, EC3 continues to rack up his in-ring credibility by picking up these clean wins even though he prefers to cheat.
TNA Impact Wrestling Misses
<b>Lashley vs. Ethan Carter III:</b> This match wasn’t terrible, it was just there. It was a disappointment given the two talents involved. They had better encounters in the past couple of months. This served as one of those matches where EC3 is saving up for the main event, but made a bit worse with Matt Hardy and Eric Young putting in more effort on their side of the semifinal.
<b>Kurt Angle farewell tour announcement:</b> It was solid when Angle was in the ring. When Drew Galloway came out, it felt unnecessary, but it was okay. Adding Jessie Godderz and Eli Drake was overkill and these two could have used a chance to establish themselves. I know I’ve praised Godderz and Drake in the past, but that’s all based on potential, as they haven’t established anything solid yet. This also led up to some strange build to their One Night Only PPV. This is an odd time for TNA to start hyping PPVs when they usually don’t, especially when it seems like this one won’t matter in the canon of TNA?
<b>James Storm’s Return:</b> This wasn’t bad from a TV perspective. In fact it was a bit fun to have a Beer Money Inc. reunion. The Miss comes from the fact that Storm is back in TNA and it’s sad that he couldn’t find a fresh start in NXT or other places. On TNA’s side, it feels like they’ve done all there is to do with Storm so there is no net gain in the long run. The paycheck could have been better served for a new talent, and I hope they didn’t overestimate Storm’s market value to them.
<b>Bram:</b> Bram is about to follow the footsteps of Bobby Roode and Mr. Anderson if TNA isn’t careful. Bram was just fresh off a babyface turn for helping fight against the GFW “invaders”. Now he’s heel? Funny that he was against Roode, who went through maybe two or three heel/face turns in that last three months.
<b>Overall Show:</b> I was teetering on this one, but the show ends up in the Miss column due to the lack of real format change and the underwhelming nature of the entire show. The Jeff Jarrett return show was a bit more exciting with the surprises and shock value. The World Title Series was a welcome format change. I was hoping that some of the sports-like format from the WTS would carry over to the Impact show, with more “interviews” and less “drama”, more in line with what Jeff Jarrett declares as his vision for GFW Amped.