By Jason Powell
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TNA Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Taped in January in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania at Sands Event Center
[Q1] Footage from “earlier today” showed a cameraman catching up with EC3 in a downtown setting. He told the man to meet him if he wants an interview to find out what’s going through his head… Josh Mathews and “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero checked in on commentary…
Matt Hardy, Reby Hardy, and Tyrus headed to the ring. Hardy spoke about business requiring you to make tough decisions about people you love. He said his brother Jeff Hardy was guilty of a sin by saying he was tarnishing the TNA Title. Matt said Jeff’s peg leg couldn’t run away from Eric Young fast enough.
Reby took the mic and said it didn’t have to be this way. Reby said she and Matt never believed that Matt was living in the shadow of Jeff. Reby said Jeff is jealous that Matt won the TNA Title “fair and square” and now he’s stuck at home watching. Matt said that what happened to Jeff wasn’t personal, “It was just great business for the Matt Hardy brand.”
Eric Young and Bram made their entrance as footage of Young piledriving Jeff Hardy through a table last week was shown. Young boasted that Jeff took his contendership, so he took his career. Young said Matt is doing a fine job as champion, but the world title goes through him. Hardy said he knows Young is smarter than to threaten him.
Kurt Angle’s music played and he walked onto the stage wearing his gear and a t-shirt with a mic in hand. Angle said it looks like Hardy’s business deal blew up in his face. Angle said Matt has degraded the title ever since he won it. Angle said he spoke with a TNA official about his next farewell tour match. Angle announced the match is going to be against Matt Hardy for the TNA Title later tonight.
Matt didn’t look pleased. Matt accused Angle of politicking his way into a title match. He said he was enjoying the Angle retirement tour, but if he keeps pushing his buttons then the tour will end prematurely. Angle said he is retiring on his own terms. Angle said he is only one man, but he will kick all of their asses whenever he chooses to. Hardy said there are five of them and one of him.
Angle looked to the back. James Storm and Bobby Roode made their entrance. Bobby Roode told Hardy to stick his brand up his ass. Roode said there’s gonna be a fight. Storm said they would take care of Young and Bram, who then left the ring and brawled with Beer Money. Meanwhile, Angle and Hardy fought in the ring. Crazzy Steve and Abyss headed to the ring, but The Wolves ran out and fought with them briefly.
All of the babyfaces ended up in the ring. Roode said Angle will win the championship tonight, then said there will be a “hardcore fight” between the tag teams. Somehow, Josh knew that it would be Beer Money and The Wolves vs. Young, Bram, Steve, and Abyss in a hardcore war… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good opening segment that covered a lot of ground. I write that while hoping that they dedicate a good amount of time to building up Hardy vs. Angle throughout the course of the night. Does Maxel have the night off?
[Q2] A recap of the Feast or Fired mess from last week aired. They focussed on Drew Galloway confronting Mike Bennett and Maria, then showed the wrestlers opening their briefcases…
Backstage, Galloway was talking about the TNA Title shot he won in Feast or Fired. Tyrus showed up and advised him to put the briefcase down and walk away. Galloway said it seems like Tyrus is happy being everyone’s big bitch. Tyrus told him to remember that he asked for this…
1. Lashley vs. Aiden O’Shea. Lashley wore a read headband to start the match. Raquel walked to ringside and took a seat as Mathews recalled her telling Lashley that his pain will be her pleasure. O’Shea controlled the offense early, but Lashley came back and clotheslined him to ringside. Lashley walked over to Raquel and asked, “Who are you?” As Lashley was talking, O’Shea punched him and then threw him back inside the ring. Lashley came back with a vertical suplex, then speared O’Shea and pinned him…
Lashley beat Aiden O’Shea in 4:10.
After the match, Raquel entered the ring and took a mic. She told Lashley that he told him he would see her again. She said the message is the same. “I can bring you pain or I can bring you pleasure,” she said. Lashley looked puzzled as she left the ring… A shot aired of Maria walking backstage… [C]
Powell’s POV: This was fine for a quick TV match. I think O’Shea has more to offer than creative apparently does. The focus is on Raquel and Lashley. She comes off a bit like Lucha Underground’s Black Lotus in terms of being a mysterious female character. I liked this exchange much more than their previous backstage encounter (and a hell of a lot more than Lashley’s silly headband).
EC3 sat in a bar area and told the interviewer that the world is going to hear it all tonight…
[Q3] Maria headed to the ring and welcomed viewers to her place of worship. She spoke about women’s wrestling and said it doesn’t need a miracle, it needs a leader. She introduced herself and said she is the first lady of professional wrestling. She said the Knockouts division is broken and she is the only one who can change it. “So out with the old and in with the new,” she said.
Gail Kim made her entrance and confronted Maria in the ring. Gail said she and Maria have known each other for a long time. She said she respects Maria, but she took issue with the things Maria said. Maria said Gail is a great wrestler, but that’s all she is. Maria said she is a businesswoman who little girls can look up to her. Maria said she can make Gail mainstream.
Gail said she doesn’t want or need her help. She said the Knockouts are about being strong, powerful women. Gail told her to put her boots on. Maria a fish rots from its head and Gail stinks. Gail told her to fix the problem. Maria said people like Kim work for people like her. Gail said Maria doesn’t realize who she is talking to. Gail got in Maria’s face and challenged her to a fight on the spot. Maria left the ring…
Powell’s POV: Meh. The sad thing is that I agree with Maria’s character when she said the Knockouts division is broken. Kim certainly isn’t the problem, but the division isn’t in a great place these days. Maria is a good talker, but I’ll be surprised if she becomes an in-ring regular.
Backstage, The Wolves told Beer Money they are friends tonight, but they know they will be coming for the tag titles at some point. Storm and Davey Richards bickered a bit, but Roode interrupted and said they should take care of business tonight and worry about the tag titles another day. They shook hands and walked off together, then Mathews hyped the hardcore war… [C]
Another EC3 interview teaser was shown… Mathews hyped the TNA Title match…
2. Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, James Storm, and Bobby Roode vs. Eric Young, Bram, Crazzy Steve, and Abyss in a hardcore war. Richards brought out a chair and Steve brought out a bat of some kind. They started the match. Mathews explained in so many words that the match operates like a War Games match with wrestlers entering every couple of minutes.
Powell’s POV: If nothing is illegal and it’s a hardcore war, why don’t all the wrestlers just run out and start the match?
[Q4] Bram was the next entrant and he brought a turnbuckle to the ring with him. Mathews said Steve and Abyss are known as Decay. With the heels getting the better of Richards, Storm was the next entrant. Storm’s weapon was a keg of beer, which he brought to ringside with him and placed between Bram’s legs on the floor. Storm grabbed a chair and slammed it against the keg. The crowd chanted one more time, so Storm obliged. Young was the next entrant and he brought a kendo stick to the ring with him. [C]
Abyss was out next and he entered with crazy goth girl, whom the broadcast team called “the thing.” Mathews said earlier that she looked like something off of American Horror Story, which is a fair description. She goes by the name of Rosemary. Abyss brought Janice to the ring. He swung and missed, as usual, because people would die if he hit them with it. Bobby Roode was out last and he brought a hockey stick to the ring with him. You know, because he’s Canadian.
[Q5] The babyface foursome performed a big suplex on three of the heels at once, then they all did the Beer Money dance. Abyss of all people made them look like dopes by putting each of them down following their dance number. A short time later, Steve blew mist into the eyes of Richards. Abyss struck Richards with a title belt, then Steve pinned him…
Eric Young, Bram, Crazzy Steve, and Abyss beat Beer Money and The Wolves in a hardcore war in 19:40.
Backstage, Galloway entered Angle’s locker room to tell him how much respects him and how much of a dream come true it was to wrestle him in the first match of his farewell tour. Angle said Galloway is a world class athlete and he’s the future of TNA. Galloway said tonight is all about Angle. Galloway said that when Angle wins the title, he is hoping they tear down the house one more time in a TNA Title match… [C]
Powell’s POV: Believe me, Drew, we all heard you the first 75 times you said you respect Angle and that it was a dream come true to face him. The segment was fine once they got that out of the way. Meanwhile, I have a bad feeling that Beer Money is going to be dad humor late DX than something cool and fun. I like Steve and Rosemary, but Steve needs a new name and the best thing they can do is make Abyss the silent monster to give the two of them the spotlight.
3. Drew Galloway vs. Tyrus. Neither man received a televised entrance. Tyrus took a cheap shot to start the match. Galloway eventually knocked Tyrus down with a clothesline off the top rope. He went for his finisher, but Tyrus powered him into the corner and gave him a heart punch.
[Q6] Tyrus went to the ropes, but Galloway caught him and powerbombed him. Galloway was setting up for his kick when the lights went out briefly. Maria stood on the stage and said she believes in miracles, and Galloway’s miracle happens now. Mike Bennett entered the ring and struck Galloway with his own Feast or Fired briefcase for the apparent no-contest.
Drew Galloway fought Tyrus to an apparent no-contest in 6:15.
Bennett asked Galloway if he believes now. Bennett said Galloway thought his miracle was the briefcase because it would help him win the title. Bennett said that’s not going to happen. Bennett said he is the miracle that TNA needs. Bennett kicked Galloway again and then his music played to end the segment… [C]
Powell’s POV: Galloway vs. Bennett has the potential to be very good, but I hope we get to see more of Bennett establishing himself with wins before they go to that feud. I didn’t mind the outside interference here because I’m not a fan of Tyrus losing when he plays the role of the heavy. That said, I hope I just missed the announcement and they didn’t go WWE on us by not announcing the outcome of the match. That’s one thing WWE does that no pro wrestling company should emulate.
Backstage, Angle spoke about having the time of his life in TNA. He said he’s proud of the titles he won and now he can’t believe he’s wrestling for the title again on his retirement tour. Lashley showed up and wished him luck in the title match, then stopped and said it would be cool if Angle won tonight and then he beat Angle to take the title from him in the same place that Angle took it from him last year…
Tigre Uno made his entrance for a match against Gregory Shane Helms. Helms came out in street clothes and Mathews referred to him as the greatest cruiserweight of all-time. Helms said he’s not quite dressed for the occasion because he never said he was the challenger when he asked for a title match. Helms introduced a man he’s been mentoring for years, Trevor Lee…
4. Tigre Uno vs. Trevor Lee (w/Gregory Shane Helms) for the X Division Championship. Tigre wore his shoulder brace and was selling shoulder pain even before the match started. Lee dominated the early offense and the crowd was pretty quiet.
[Q7] Uno came back with a missile dropkick and scored a near fall off a rollup. Uno connected with a kick, but then ran into a double stomp from Lee, who followed up with a fisherman’s buster and pinned Uno to win the title…
Trevor Lee defeated Tigre Uno in 5:00 to win the X Division Title.
A shot aired of Angle walking backstage… EC3 was shown on the phone thanking someone for their support and then saying it’s okay because this is exactly what he wants to do… [C]
Powell’s POV: Good work from both men. I like the idea of going with Lee as the X Division Champion. He’s a talented guy who stands out from the other X Division wrestlers. He hasn’t shown much personality yet, but Helms can help hold up that end for now by serving as his presumably heelish mentor.
EC3 delivered a promo and said that when something bad happens to someone, you expect them to go off the rails. He said he’s been reflecting over the last two weeks. He said he was undefeated and he thought the party would never stop. He said he realized that he had advantages and sometimes he was kind of a piece of shit. He said it all came to a head when he suffered the worst beating of his life.
EC3 said he’s never been unbeatable, he just wants to win the most. He said it’s everything and he wishes there was a way to bottle it up and sell it on the black market. EC3 congratulated Matt Hardy for beating him, then said it took everything including his wife, his son, Tyrus, tables, ladders, and chairs. He said Hardy kept throwing things at him and he kept getting up.
EC3 questioned what was next. He threw out the idea of taking time off and sailing around the world. He said that when you have a problem you face the son of a bitch head on. EC3 said he’s not getting on a boat, he’s getting on an airplane to go to the UK. EC3 said he will be Hardy’s shadow and he will bring vengeance upon him…
Powell’s POV: Good mic work from EC3. I didn’t figure it out earlier, but I think the idea was that he was delivering the promo from his home. The background music was bad game show material and it was more distracting than it was helpful. Still, EC3 delivered a good first babyface promo. Being a rich character can make it tougher for him to get over, but I probably thought the same thing about Triple H when he turned back in the day.
Ring entrances for the main event took place…
[Q8] 5. Matt Hardy (w/Tyrus, Reby Hardy) vs. Kurt Angle for the TNA Title. Reby distracted Angle long enough for Matt to attack him once the bell started. Angle came back and performed a few suplexes. Tyrus stood on the apron, but Angle shoved Hardy into him to knock him down. Angle performed the Angle Slam on Hardy for a two count. [C]
Angle had the ankle lock applied coming out of the break. Hardy rolled out if and Angle tumbled to the floor where Tyrus clotheslined him. Tyrus talked smack to Pope, which led to the crowd chanting for Pope. Back inside the ring, Angle applied the ankle lock again briefly. Late in the match, Hardy pulled the referee’s shirt over his face and caught Angle with a low blow. Hardy performed the Twist of Fate for a two count.
Angle came back and went to the ropes, but Reby grabbed his legs long enough for Hardy to cut him off. Hardy performed a Twist of Fate from the ropes and pinned Angle. Mathews called Hardy’s actions disgusting and despicable. He asked if that’s a champion that people can be proud of. Angle headed backstage dejected while Matt and Reby kissed and celebrated in the ring…
Matt Hardy defeated Kurt Angle to retain the TNA Title.
A teaser for next week’s show from Machester hyped Angle’s retirement tour, Matt Hardy, and Lashley vs. Bram…
Powell’s POV: I actually would have preferred the finish be Hardy pulling the ref’s shirt over his face and stealing the win that way, but it was still an entertaining match that put more heat on Hardy. Mathews is doing a great job of reacting the way every good play-by-play voice did before Vince McMahon tried to reinvent the wheel in WWE. Mathews is outraged by the actions of Hardy, whereas the Raw broadcast team would probably shrug it off if not endorse his actions. Overall, this was another good show, particularly when it came to the TNA Title picture with the Hardy heel run continuing to click and EC3 delivering his first babyface promo. If you’re not watching Impact, you should be. Every show from the Bethlehem tapings ranged from solid to very good, and I am looking forward to seeing the upcoming shows that were taped in front of the lively fans in England.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ring of Honor's PJ Black discussing the ROH Pure Title tournament beginning on ROH Wrestling TV this weekend, ROH's COVID-19 safety precautions, his run in WWE as Justin Gabriel with The Nexus, wrestling as The Bunny, and more...