By Jason Powell
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TNA Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Taped in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
[Q1] Impact opened with a recap video… Josh Mathews and “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero were on commentary… Shots aired of Drew Galloway and then Lashley arriving at the building. They actually came together when Lashley arrived and brawled backstage until wrestlers separated them. “I will finish you,” Galloway yelled at Lashley…
Powell’s POV: A good opening that set the tone for the TNA Title match for later in the show. Oh, and the NBA Draft Lottery is rigged, but you should have figured that out years ago.
Willow’s entrance music played. A guy dressed in all black from head to toe and wearing a Willow mask made his way to the ring. The man’s voice was distorted as he spoke about how his mind is clear and he has no regrets. Jeff Hardy made his entrance. Mathews noted that Willow is Jeff’s creation. Hardy labeled the man “Shadow Willow” and said the only true Willow lives inside of him.
Hardy said Willow is from the imagination and the man is a fraud. “Creatures, should I expose him?” Hardy asked. Please don’t. Anyway, Hardy entered the ring and asked the man three questions and then laughed like Willow. They fought and then a referee entered the ring to start the match…
1. Jeff Hardy vs. Willow. The fake Willow performed a Twist of Fate, but Hardy no-sold it and then performed the move on him for the win.
Jeff Hardy beat Willow in 0:40.
After the match, Hardy tried to unmask Willow, but a second Willow wearing a gold mask and a trench coat attacked Hardy from behind with one of those $40 Willow umbrellas. A third Willow showed up and delivered a distorted voice promo about becoming Hardy’s worst nightmare… [C]
Powell’s POV: Okay, this is weird and not in the good way that TNA is going for. The first Willow’s spandex bodysuit was just wrong. The third Willow is bulkier than the other two and his voice was distorted so much that it was hard to even make out what he said. Here’s hoping this story wraps up tonight.
An ad aired for the Slammiversary pay-per-view…
In the ring, the first two Willow’s held Jeff Hardy while the third Willow spoke. The third Willow unmasked and revealed himself as Matt Hardy to the shock of no one other than the broadcast team. Matt said Jeff loved Willow more than him. Matt used a maniacal voice while asking Jeff how he thinks it makes him feel that the people despise him and love Jeff.
[Q2] Matt said Jeff’s mistake was that he did not finish him. Matt said Jeff left him broken, battered, injured, and scarred, but he didn’t finish the job. Matt said his brain was left fully functioning. He said he created a pathway to pain and if it leads to Jeff’s total destruction than so be it. Jeff broke free and shouldered his brother, but the other two Willows took him down again.
Matt said it’s good that Jeff still has fight left in him because he wants him to go to war with him. Matt brought up various types of pain and said they would both suffer. “Matt Hardy will not die, but I will not rest until you meet your personal armageddon,” Matt said. The two Willows slammed Jeff down. Matt started to leave the ring. Matt stopped and picked up Jeff and put him in a sleeper hold. With Jeff out, Matt took the mic and said everything ends, even the indestructible Jeff Hardy…
Powell’s POV: Did Matt go to the same place in the Far East to learn the sleeper hold that Nick Bockwinkel did to counter Verne Gagne’s sleeper hold back in the day? I was a huge fan of Big Money Matt. The new Matt gimmick didn’t click with me initially, but he earned the benefit of the doubt with his previous character so I’m willing to give this a chance.
The broadcast team hyped the main event… Backstage, Velvet Sky was told by Maria’s new assistant Allie that Maria didn’t have time to meet with her. Allie informed Velvet that she had a title shot, then said she was mistaken. She looked at her phone and then informed Velvet that she a match against Sienna. Velvet physically intimidated her. Allie spoke with Maria and got giggly as she informed Velvet that she would be fired if she lost to Sienna… [C]
Powell’s POV: Allie is better known as Cherry Bomb. She played the bubbly yet arrogant assistant’s role well. There may even be some early Maria in her act. I like it.
A recap of the opening brawl between Galloway and Lashley aired… Backstage, Jeremy Borash asked Dixie for an update on the situation. She said the personal issues between Galloway and Lashley have gotten to the point where it’s affected people backstage. She said she felt forced into making the decision of having the entire roster come out and surround the ring. She announced that the match between Galloway and Lashley would now be a lumberjack match…
Powell’s POV: Because lumberjack matches always lead to a clean finish. I am convinced that we will find out years from now that the TNA creative team took tremendous pride in making Dixie’s character look stupid.
2. Velvet Sky vs. Sienna with Velvet’s job at stake. Velvet performed a couple of quick rollups that Sienna kicked out of. Velvet ran into a big boot.
[Q3] Velvet came back, but then Sienna ducked a charging Velvet, who tumbled through the ropes to the floor. Velvet whipped Sienna into the ring steps. Pope gave Maria a seven out of ten in the job she’s done as head of the Knockouts Division. Mathews blew up about Velvet being forced to fight for her career because of Maria. Back inside the ring, Velvet bulldogged Sienna for a two count. Sienna came back with her unnamed finisher for the win. “It’s over,” Mathews said regarding Velvet’s TNA career…
Sienna beat Velvet Sky in 3:25 to end Velvet’s TNA career.
They cut to footage of Mike Bennett and Maria at a home with a huge pool. Bennett spoke about how great their life is as Maria dove into the pool. She said that her husband is better than the best. Bennett said EC3 needs to fight him, but he must overcome his past. Bennett said his own road is looking at the future. Bennett said he is looking at the TNA Title and wants to be the longest reigning champion in company history and a first ballot TNA Hall of Famer. He told Maria to get some sun and then they could head over to the Impact Zone to truly make a miracle…
Powell’s POV: Velvet’s departure didn’t surprise those I spoke with in TNA. Whether accurate or not, the belief is that she wants to work for WWE, where her boyfriend Bubba Ray Dudley works. Keep in mind that TNA fired her once before via Feast or Fired, so they could always bring her back just as they did for this run. Meanwhile, the Bennett and Maria video was well done in that it made them out to be wealthy and on top of the world.
Mathews hyped the title match and the new lumberjack stipulation…
Mike Bennett and Maria delivered an in-ring promo. Bennett said the fans don’t believe in “The Miracle” yet because they don’t believe in themselves. Bennett said EC3 is someone who doesn’t believe in himself. Bennett said he could have easily fought EC3 again, but he would have just beat him again. Bennett said that if EC3 fails in his redemption, he will not face him at Slammiversary.
Bennett said he would be a TNA Hall of Famer. Bennett said he was going to call out a Hall of Famer. He said it wasn’t Kurt Angle because whenever he tried to call out Angle, he ran away like a chicken. Bennett asked for TNA Hall of Famer Earl Hebner to join him in the ring.
Bennett said having Hebner ref one of his matches was crossed off his bucket list. Bennett told Hebner that he wants to fight him in a Hall of Famer vs. Future Hall of Famer match. Bennett noted that Hebner was the only Hall of Famer currently on the roster. Bennett said they could wait until he is also a Hall of Famer, “but by that point you’ll probably dead.” Bennett called for a referee “who is not your stupid son” so they could have a match. A referee walked out and protested off-mic and then Bennett goaded Hebner, who eventually pie-faced him.
[Q4] 3. Mike Bennett (w/Maria) vs. Earl Hebner. Bennett told the referee to ring the bell after Hebner pie-faced him. For reasons even Mathews did not understand, the referee called for the bell. Bennett punched Hebner and then covered him and had the referee count. Hebner kicked out at two for a big pop.
Bennett yelled at the referee and then Hebner low-blowed Bennett from behind. Maria entered the ring and bickered with Hebner, who yelled at her and tore off his shirt. Hebner turned and ate a big boot from Bennett, who then pinned him…
Mike Bennett beat Earl Hebner in 1:50.
After the match, Bennett picked up Hebner and was about to hit a move when EC3’s music stopped him. EC3 walked to the ring and then Bennett and Maria exited through the other side. Bennett took a mic and delivered a promo in the entrance area. Bennett spoke about EC3’s road to redemption and recalled how he beat Rockstar Spud last week. He said he would face a much bigger opponent in a last man standing match. Tyrus attacked EC3 from behind and was then announced as EC3’s opponent… [C]
Powell’s POV: Good old fashioned bully heel fun. Bennett was really good here and the live crowds always react favorably to Hebner getting fired up and jawing at heels. The broadcast team had the right tone with both men chastising Bennett for sinking to a new low. The post match angle was simple, yet gave them an effective hook through the commercial break.
4. EC3 vs. Tyrus in a Last Man Standing match. The match was joined in progress and Mathews recapped the history between the two wrestlers. Tyrus controlled the early action and slid multiple chairs inside the ring. EC3 fought back, but Tyrus caught him with a thumb to the eye and then slammed him onto one of the chairs while Mathews explained the rules of the match.
Tyrus wedged a chair between the ropes in one corner of the ring. EC3 recovered and ran Tyrus into the chair in the corner and then performed multiple corner splashes. Tyrus recovered and went for his own corner splash, but EC3 moved and then caught Tyrus with a cross body block off the top rope. EC3 slid a table inside the ring. Tyrus choked him down and EC3 was down for a seven count.
[Q5] Tyrus placed EC3 on the table and then went to the second rope for a Vader Bomb, but EC3 recovered and ended up putting Tyrus through the table. Tyrus stood up and showed fire to break the ref’s count. Tyrus blocked a chair shot and threw the chair to ringside and then suplexed EC3. Tyrus caught EC3 with the ICU thumb spike to knock him off the apron.
Tyrus went to ringside and tore a piece of the guardrail apart and leaned it against the ring. EC3 came back, flipped off Tyrus, and then performed a Samoan drop onto the guardrail, which bent due to Tyrus’s weight. EC3 placed the ring steps over Tyrus, then slammed the steps repeatedly with a chair. EC3 stood with one foot on the steps to keep Tyrus down and he got the win…
EC3 beat Tyrus in a Last Man Standing match in 10:55 of television time.
After the match, Mike Bennett walked back onto the stage for a staredown with EC3, who held up two fingers to signify that he’s gone through two of Bennett’s handpicked opponents…
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match with the live crowd continuing to rally behind EC3. Tyrus had one of his better outings. I’d love to see Tyrus drop some weight to make him a little more mobile. Mathews called the post-match staredown well by pointing out that Bennett didn’t have his usual cocky smile this time around. The Bennett vs. EC3 match at Slammiversary should be very good and the build thus far has been strong.
A Lashley training video aired… Mathews hyped an X Division tag match for after the break… [C]
Backstage, Jeff Hardy delivered a promo about what his brother Matt did to him. Jeff said he and the Creatures will end it at Slammiversary…
Ring entrances for the X Division match took place. Gregory Shane Helms was shown delivering a pre-taped promo as he and his men headed to the ring…
[Q6] 5. Trevor Lee and Andrew Everett (w/Gregory Shane Helms) vs. Eddie Edwards and DJ Z. Z chased Everett around the ring and ended up running into a good looking kick from Lee. Later, Everett shoved Z into another kick from Lee. Everett went for a top rope move, but Z put his knees up. Z performed a DDT and pinned Everett…
Eddie Edwards and DJ Z beat Trevor Lee and Andrew Everett.
Mathews hyped the return of Eli Drake’s Fact of Life talkshow with Bram as his guest…
Powell’s POV: Good athleticism in the tag match but most of it was so rapid fire that it just didn’t register with me. I won’t complain about DJ Z’s gimmick this week, but I will point out that TNA is not getting enough out of Trevor Lee. He’s a guy they can build the X Division around, but he’s not positioned well in that he comes off as one of Helms’s guys rather than as his crown jewel.
A Drew Galloway video package aired… Eli Drake hosted his talkshow in the ring. He still has the dummy button. He introduced Bram as his guest.
[Q7] Bram walked to the ring wearing his King of the Mountain Title belt. Bram said he’s not stupid, he knows why Drake called him out. He said the Feast or Fired briefcase that Drake has for a title shot is dangerous, but Drake himself is not. Drake said he could take the title off Bram whenever he wants.
Drake said he was there to make a deal with Bram. He said he could give him the easy way or the hard way. He offered Bram a chance to save the humiliation of being beaten by him by instead turning over the title belt. Bram wasn’t having it. Drake said he’d be seeing him soon and then left the ring.
Bram called Drake back and said he was born without testicles. Drake took the bait and returned to the ring and teased cashing in his contract, then said “Not tonight.” Bram grabbed Drake and threw him inside the ring and worked him over until Drake escaped to ringside…
Powell’s POV: The talkshow is a turnoff at this point. Drake has the gift of gab. He hasn’t quite put it together yet, but he has the tools to be a good talker. It feels like he’s trying to be annoying with rapid fire talking and his dummy button, when he might be better off slowing down and making his words count.
Backstage, EC3 wanted his match with Bennett, who was standing backstage with Maria. Bennett told him he has one more obstacle. Bennett said EC3 has get through Matt Hardy and make him pin or submit and then maybe they could talk rematch…
Mathews hyped EC3 vs. Matt Hardy, Grado vs. Al Snow, and and the turn of Ultimate X for the X Division Title…
The wrestlers headed to the ring to serve as lumberjacks for the main event…
Powell’s POV: Holy shit, Chris Melendez still works for TNA. Anyway, I hate the way the Ultimate X match is just thrown out there as an afterthought without listing the challenger(s) and with no real storyline support.
6. Drew Galloway vs. Lashley in a lumberjack match for the TNA Title. Lashley backdropped Galloway onto the ring apron, then speared him to the floor with the lumberjacks.
[Q8] [C] Lasley was still in control coming out of the break. He tossed Galloway to ringside where a group of heels got the better of him before throwing him back inside the ring. Lashley took Galloway down with a neckbreaker. He went for the same move a few minutes later, but Galloway slipped out of it and hit Lashley from behind. Galloway caught Lashley with a running boot to the head.
At 10:45, Galloway caught Lashley with a neckbreaker of his own for a two count. Lashley threw Galloway into the ropes and then picked him up and slammed him down impressively for a two count. Galloway came back with a a Celtic Cross.
With Lashley down, Galloway tuned up the band for his Claymore kick, but the heel lumberjacks pulled him to ringside. The babyfaces ran over for a big brawl. DJ Z entered the ring and dove onto them, then Robbie E climbed the ropes and did the same. It was Trevor Lee’s turn for a big dive. Eddie Edwards wanted his turn, but Andrew Everett cut him off. Edwards superplexed Everett from the top rope onto a bunch of lumberjacks on the floor.
Lashley returned to the ring. Bram entered and caught him with a running knee. Eli Drake attacked Bram with the briefcase. Jeff Hardy cut off Drake and went up top, but Matt Hardy appeared in his new goth gear and pushed his brother off the top rope and then fought him to the back.
Bennett threw Drake to ringside. Bennett turned around and EC3 was staring at him on the ring apron. Bennett acted like he was ready to fight. EC3 entered the ring and then Bennett fled to ringside. Lashley speared EC3. Galloway caught Lashley with a Claymore kick. Galloway performed a big dive over the top onto a group of lumberjacks. Galloway’s music played and Mathews said, “What a night, what an epic conclusion, and we leave you with Drew Galloway standing tall.”
Drew Galloway fought Lashley to an apparent no-contest in a lumberjack match in 17:15.
Powell’s POV: Huh? So no match finish? I assume they want to save the it for the Slammiversary pay-per-view, but some explanation would have been nice. Instead, Mathews had to sell it like it was a great finish to the show. All the big flip dives onto the lumberjacks and the various feuding wrestlers having moments with one another doesn’t change the fact that there wasn’t a real finish to a heavily hyped match. TNA showcased a bunch of rivalries effectively, but why leave the viewers confused as to the outcome and with the play-by-play voice acting content with the non-finish.
All of that said, I still enjoyed the show again this week. They have done a nice job of setting up several matches that feel big for Slammiversary. Now we just have to hope that they will deliver real finishes at Slammiversary and won’t give pay-per-view buyers the shaft by waiting for the “live” edition of Impact to deliver rematches with better finishes.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Jake Barnett co-hosting the Boom and Dot Net Weekly combo show. Jason and Jake discuss Becky Lynch announcing her pregnancy, Alberto Del Rio being accused of sexual assault, WWE's IC Title tournament, Mike Tyson appearing at AEW Double Or Nothing, Undertaker's Last Ride documentary, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV thoughts, and more...