By John Moore
TNA Impact Wrestling Hits
Matt Hardy vs. Ethan Carter III vs. Jeff Hardy: This was a solid triple threat match with Jeff Hardy looking like he hasn’t lost a step since injury. I think of how Rey Mysterio has never been same after the knee surgeries and how Jeff has hinted at altering his in-ring style. So far he’s looking good and this was a solid yet inconclusive Triple Threat. This match was a bad piece of writing away from being in the Miss column due to the classic TNA run-in fests, but more on that below. Hopefully EC3 can be sidetracked by Rockstar Spud and Tyrus while “Willow” faces Eric Young and Bram (I’m less enthusiastic about the latter one, but I’ll give it a second shot).
Drew Galloway cashes in and wins the TNA Title: A deserved title win for the man who came into TNA and worked his way into coming across as arguably the most genuine babyface in professional wrestling. A reason that I didn’t give the run-ins a Miss was due to this – Matt Hardy was about to gloat about stacking the deck against his rivals only to have Drew Galloway turning the tables on him by using his briefcase to negate any diabolical plans that Hardy had against EC3 and Jeff. Essentially, the usual heel move of cashing in Money in the Bank-like Feast or Fired contract turned out invoking turnabout being fair play to counter Matt’s excessive cheating. TNA is really pulling out the intelligent writing lately.
Grado vs. Eli Drake: I flip week to week on my opinion of Grado and I’m back on the Hit side on him due to him pulling out a really entertaining ladder match against Eli Drake this week. What Grado was missing during 2015 was any reason to care about him and his lame humor. The comedy this year is coming naturally and a story is being told to make him a sympathetic figure. He didn’t go for the comedy in this match. He hit the high risk planchas and teased danger on the ladder and thus made the audience root for a guy fighting for his career. I’m hoping Mahabali Shera and Jessie Godderz end up being as negligible as they were here so that Grado can continue to endear himself to the Impact audience.
Beer Money and Eddie Edwards vs. Decay: Decay needed to pick up a win over some babyfaces and this match served that purpose well. I also didn’t mind the intergender module in this match as attention wasn’t drawn to it and nothing disgusting stemmed from it (as we saw from another company last week). James Storm is also starting to morph into a better character again. Last week he got to pull off a good promo on Kurt Angle, and this week he had a fun rally in the tag match with the announcers drawing attention to the great shape he has gotten himself in. In the end, Decay picked up the win and the tag team division continues to slowly be repaired (hopefully Beer Money can become the first TNA tag team champs in the last few years to avoid injuries).
Lashley: In Lashley’s past heel runs, he had to utilize Kristal Marshall and MVP as mouthpieces due to his lacking promo ability, which in turn allowed him to settle down as an absolute monster badass. In these past few weeks, Lashley is having a Dave Batista-esque renaissance in showing that he can actually string together effective words and present a demeanor to the point where he doesn’t need a mouthpiece as a crutch. As a matter of fact, Lashley is doing a fine job in his encounters against Kurt Angle and Josh Mathews. Hopefully, he keeps this up in what could be a good sidetrack feud with D’Angelo Dinero. Also, bonus points to him finally ditching the weird sweatband in favor of the black cap.
Drew Galloway and Gail Kim vs. Mike Bennett and Maria: Another smart move by TNA. Gail Kim trying and failing to get her hands on Maria was a nice piece of storytelling. Maria did a great job of eluding Gail and drawing heat towards herself. What’s cool is she did it with a minimal amount of wrestling, something that she was never great at anyway, and she doesn’t have to be great at that because she’s a great character otherwise. TNA is actually doing a better job of building Maria than they are Mike Bennett. Hopefully he can be built up now that it seems as if Galloway’s ascension to world title status will drag him up by association. Maybe you’ll even see Mike Bennett and Matt Hardy build up this “Kingdom” of miracles that he talked about.
Overall Show: This was on the better end of “Live” Impact episodes. We did get the usual run-in city that we tend to get on these shows, but the stories told around the run-ins were told smoothly. Jeremy Borash also provided good color commentary. Borash has more of an announcer’s voice and offers more diversified comments than Pope usually does.
TNA Impact Wrestling Misses
Jeff Hardy vs. Eric Young: Well, this was a match. It also looks like we’re going to get Willow vs. EY down the road. The real Miss from this was the strange interruption by Dixie Carter. This would have been a great announcement as a hook prior to the show or even an announcement before the match to allow Eric Young to do one of those rants he’s great at delivering on his way to the ring. We saw this later as well, but I think that Dixie Carter really, really wanted to be on this show. She wasn’t as detrimental as she can be at times, she was just unnecessary and even broke the pace of this match. Maybe they should try to shoehorn Billy Corgan into being the TNA executive to pull this off?