By Jason Powell
TNA Impact Wrestling on PopTV
Taped in February in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
[Q1] Impact Wresting opened with a montage that showed their various logos and some of the wrestlers from over the years… A video package featured some of the company’s highlights and talent from over the years. The narrator closed it out by saying its time “we all make Impact great”…
Josh Mathews and “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero were on commentary. Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards brawled in the studio and into the bleachers. Security eventually broke them up…
Mathews and Pope spoke at ringside. Pope said new management is here. Mathews questioned why there was a third headset at their broadcast table. Jeremy Borash made his entrance. Mathews questioned why he was there, then told him, “Get the hell out of here.”
Borash took the house mic and asked the fans how they were doing. He told Mathews that new management thought they needed more excitement on commentary and maybe even someone who people actually like. Mathews said Borash has been there since day one and if he deserved to be in his chair then he would have done it by now. “This chair is mine,” Mathews said.
Borash spoke about how Mathews has pissed people off by going after legends in the business. Mathews turned his chair around and ignored Borash. Borash said Mike Tenay sat in that chair for 12 years and took him under his wing with the idea of passing the baton to him someday. Borash said someone was fired from WWE and two people who no longer work for the company thought Mathews was the model announcer. He said the model announcer is a Ken doll with no balls.
Mathews told Borash that he sat under the learning tree of Jim Ross and called WrestleMania. Mathews said he called matches in front of 80,000 people, not just at the Impact Zone where the fans come for free. Borash said Ross is a friend of his, and Ross thinks Mathews is a prick. Borash said the man who sits in that chair needs to have respect for the industry, the wrestlers in the back, and the fans.
Borash said he had a lot of bombs to drop because he actually knows what’s happening backstage and added that he actually talks to the wrestlers and the fans. Cody Rhodes showed up with Brandi Rhodes. Cody said they could start the show now that he arrived. He asked the fans who wanted to see him face Moose. Cody said he would face him on the spot. Borash said coming up after the break would be a new tag team and surprises that Mathews doesn’t even know about. “Cody is calling out Moose,” Mathews said. “Where is he?”…
DCC made their entrance. Borash hyped their opponents would be a new team…
Powell’s POV: A chaotic first 15 minutes, but that’s not a negative in this case. The show opening videos were cool and framed the company’s history in a positive manner. As much as I’m not looking forward to the possibility of hearing a bunch of bickering broadcast team members, Borash and Mathews played their parts well. The negative is that the Edwards and Richards brawl already feels like an afterthought, but perhaps it will continue.
[Q2] [C] 1. Reno Scum vs. Kingston and Bram (w/James Storm). Mathews questioned who Reno Scum were. Borash said they are the tag champions of Future Stars of Wrestling. Mathews took credit for the look of the new blue and black referee shirts. Pope said it’s not something he should be proud of.
Mathews said Tenay never called him to congratulate him for getting his job three years ago. Borash said Mathews never called him to talk to him about taking his job. Scum wont he match and Storm showed some frustration at ringside and then the DCC members bickered afterward. Storm eventually hugged both men… [C]
Reno Scum defeated Kingston and Bram in 2:25.
Powell’s POV: So it wasn’t the Global Force Tag Titles that Reno Scum wore? That’s what I took from Borash’s comments, as GFW was never mentioned. The bickering between the broadcasters really distracted from the match and it was hard to get a feel for Reno Scum as a result. I find myself being drawn into paying more attention to the broadcast team thus far, but I hope they settle down and put the focus on what’s happening in the ring. The best thing about this segment is that it appears they are teasing the end of DCC. They are three talented guys, but the faction has been a disaster.
A video package aired on the wedding and the aftermath… Backstage, McKenzie Mitchell said she was supposed to interview Maria. Sienna showed up and bullied Mitchell while telling her that Maria had a nervous breakdown due to the events of the wedding. Sienna took the mic and told Allie that she hasn’t gotten rid of her. She said Allie’s happiness won’t last long…
Powell’s POV: Maria and Mike Bennett did not appear at the tapings and are apparently moving on. We’ve seen pro wrestling companies simply act like departing talent never existed, so it’s refreshing that they came up with an explanation to explain her absence.
[Q3] 2. Braxton Sutter (w/Allie) vs. Marshe Rockett vs. Caleb Konley vs. DJZ in a four-way. Rockett performed a buckle bomb on Sutter. He went for a move off the ropes and jumped into a triple dropkick from his opponents. Borash told Mathews that he wouldn’t believe how just showed up backstage. Mathews wanted more info. Borash told him that if he had friends backstage he would know. Late in the match, Allie climbed to the second rope and dove onto Rockett on the floor. The fans cheered. Inside the ring, Sutter performed a swinging neckbreaker on Rockett and pinned him.
Braxton Sutter beat Marshe Rockett, Caleb Konley, and DJZ in 4:20.
Sutter and Allie kissed in the ring afterward. Courtney Love, er, Laurel Van Ness came out drunk and still in her wedding dress and pointed at them. Sutter and Allie looked taken aback by her appearance… Footage previewed a Hardy Brothers segment… [C]
Powell’s POV: Here’s hoping the X Division is more about singles matches going forward because no one gets over in these random multi-person matches. I’m surprised to see footage of the Hardys. I thought Matt Hardy was using the show to hype footage he teased he would air if they did not, but apparently they had at least one more Hardys segment in the can. By the way, the Hardys will appear on tomorrow’s Ring of Honor 15th Anniversary pay-per-view. Join me for live coverage as the show airs.
3. Rachel Ellering vs. Sienna. Mathews acted like he was unfamiliar with Rachel’s father Paul despite his Hall of Fame career. Borash acted appalled. Pope asked Borash and Mathews to focus on what was happening in the ring.
[Q4] Borash noted that Ellering grew up 20 minutes from where he did in Minnesota, and that she went to Lance Storm’s training school. Ellering received plenty of offense, but Sienna hit her with the Silencer and pinned her…
Sienna beat Rachel Ellering in 4:15.
Another Hardy teaser video aired. Jeff was wrestling the kangaroo Smokin’ Joe Frasier… [C]
Powell’s POV: The broadcast team bickering is super obnoxious and distracting. I get that Josh is the heel, but they bickering is overshadowing everything and is already a big turnoff.
Bruce Prichard made his entrance. Mathews threw a fit. Prichard plugged his podcast and his website while saying that’s not what he was talking about. Prichard said Impact Wrestling is not the same Impact Wrestling that he remembers. He said it wasn’t all that long ago that he was backstage. Prichard said they were on the cusp of greatness. He said they had an Impact with hope. He said they had guys and girls who wanted greatness. “We were so damn close, but for whatever reason it didn’t all happen,” Prichard said.
Prichard announced that TNA is dead. He said the new owners brought a new name – Impact Wrestling. Prichard said new owners look for people who have achieved greatness in the past, so they called him. He said he has achieved greatness. He spoke about being there for Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena. “I know how to make wrestling great, and I sure as hell know how to make an Impact,” he said.
Prichard said you start with the face of the company. Prichard sang the praises of Lashley, calling him walking armageddon. Prichard introduced Lashley. Mathews took credit for the “walking armageddon” name. Lashley entered the ring and shook hands with Prichard, who introduced him “your world champion.” Lashley thanked Prichard for acknowledging his greatness.
Lashley ran through a list of people he has defeated, and noted that he successfully defended the President of the United States. Prichard said Lashley was the choice of the President. Prichard said people will have no choice but to recognize Lashley as the best because there was no one backstage who could challenge or defeat him.
[Q5] Alberto El Patron walked out to a weak entrance theme and received a weak reaction (or a poorly mic’d reaction). Prichard introduced the former Alberto Del Rio as Alberto El Patron. Lashley told him not to make the same mistake that others have. “Shut your mouth, perro,” Patron said. He added that Lashley hasn’t beaten him.
Ethan Carter III made his entrance. EC3 played to the crowd and then told Patron that he has to earn a title shot. EC3 said he carried the company on his “perfectly symitrical back for three years.” EC3 challenged Lashley to a match on this show.
Lashley said he’s beaten EC3 week after week. He told him to go to the back of the line. Lashley turned his attention to Patron and told him to tell him what he wants. Patron took the mic from EC3 and said, “Let’s dance, Bobby.” Prichard asked both men if they wanted to fight. Patron played to the fans an got them to chant yes in Spanish. Prichard hyped the match as happening on this show. EC3 looked confused and left out…
At ringside, Mathews hyped the match and then scolded Borash for being on his phone. Borash told him he just received word that a legend who has never appeared on Impact Wrestling. Borash said he would be out in a couple minutes…
Powell’s POV: Obviously, they are telling a story with EC3, so we’ll see where that goes. The live crowd was hotter for Alberto as the segment went on, but I’m really surprised how flat it seemed when he walked out. That should have been a big moment and my guess is the crowd was not mic’d well. I’m cool with Prichard hosting a segment or being a manager, but would it kill him to dust off one of his suits? I know he’s a podcaster now, but he looked downright dumpy as an on-air character. That said, I hope he does settle in as a manager because he can be a good talker. There’s been a lot of buzz that he could be Lashley’s mouthpiece. There was a time when Lashley desperately needed someone to deliver his promos, but that’s no longer the case.
Backstage, Mitchell interviewed Eddie Edwards, who said he never expected Davey Richards to do what he has done. He said Davey was his brother. Angelina Love showed up and told him to watch his mouth while talking about her husband. She said it was all about Eddie while Richards was out with an injury. She said the fans forgot about Richards and, worse yet, so did Edwards. Love slapped him across the face. Edwards asked why Richards’ wife hits harder than he does…
Powell’s POV: Are they ever going to have Edwards say that he actually did call his former tag partner while he was injured? It just seems odd that the babyface looks like the bad friend.
Mathews complained about Edwards never bothering to check on Richards. Cody showed up again and asked where Moose was. Borash stood up with the house mic and said Cody knows that Moose is in Japan. Cody asked Mathews, “Who is this stooge.”
Cody tossed his Global Force Wrestling NEXGEN belt in the ring and said he was going to wait for “that big dumbass.” Security came out. Cody intimidated them. Cody grilled the broadcast team regarding Moose’s whereabouts. Cody sat in the ring briefly before leaving through the crowd. Mathews questioned where Moose was, while Borash reminded viewers that Moose was in Japan…
A Lashley video package aired. He said Impact Wrestling has a lot of hungry guys who enjoy wrestling. He said the harder he works, the luckier he gets, and he’s working harder than ever…
[Q6] Dutch Mantell wheeled his cart onto the stage. He started to introduce himself as Zeb Colter, but he stopped himself and said he couldn’t say that due to legalities. He said what he could say is that he used to be Zeb Colter in an alternate universe. He said his real name is Dutch Mantell and this was the first time he was on Impact Wrestling.
Mantell said he was better known as Dirty Dutch and he earned that name. He said he’s been in the business for 40 years, which is longer than many of the fans have been on the earth. He spoke about all the places he has been and added that pro wrestling took him there.
Dutch said he is in love with pro wrestling because he doesn’t know what he would have done without it. Dutch said TNA has been taken over by a company named Impact Wrestling. He said the ink was barely dried when they called him, just as they did Prichard. He said he was asked if he would like to help them make Impact great. He said he would.
Dutch said he was there when Impact was great eight years ago. He said a picture speaks a thousand words. He mentioned AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, Sting, Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, Christian, and Booker T (and their pictures were shown on the big screen). Dutch said they were all there, yet they all slowly drifted away. Mantel said they had a reason.
Dutch said he wasn’t bashing anyone, but those men told him that there was a lack of leadership, vision, and respect. Dutch said the fans left too. Dutch said new ownership asked him how they could make Impact great. “Bring the people back,” Mantell said. Dutch said he’s not an authority figure, he just gives advice.
Dutch said he has a boss and asked if the fans know who it is. “You guys,” he said. Dutch said they have to give the company back to the fans because they are going to make it great. Dutch said his promo wouldn’t be complete if he didn’t have the fans, rise, put their hands on their hearts, and say, “We the people…will make Impact great”… [C]
Powell’s POV: Do fans really have fond memories of the Nash and Booker TNA runs? Anyway, the promo was well delivered and Mantell came off like a nice guy rather than like his Colter character. I wish someone would take a moment to explain who new ownership is and declare that they won’t be appearing on camera if that’s the case. All of these references to new ownership could lead viewers to wonder if they are building up to who the owners are. I don’t think that’s what the company is going for, so some clarification would be nice.
Jeff Hardy sparred with the kangaroo while Matt watched. Matt told Jeff that it was time for them to go on their expedition for gold. They teleported via Vanguard 1. However, they next shot showed Decay being teleported into the backstage area of the Impact Zone. They had the tag titles. Abyss said it worked. Rosemary said they Broken Hardys are deleted, obsolete, and decayed…
[Q7] Borash stood in the ring and announced that the Slammiversary pay-per-view will be held on July 2. He said they will celebrate 15 years…
Powell’s POV: Again, at least there’s some explanation for a key departure. Okay, so this wasn’t a good one, but at least it was something. Meanwhile, running on Independence Day weekend in the United States is not a good idea. Yes, UFC runs holiday weekends, but Impact Wrestling is not UFC.
On commentary, Mathews said everyone was expecting him to freak out because Borash’s phone rang and then he made the Slammiversary announcement. Mathews asked if they want people to order the show then why would they have Borash make the announcement…
Ring introductions for the Lashley vs. El Patron match took place. Borash delivered the in-ring introductions for the title match…
4. Lashley vs. Alberto El Patron for the Impact Wrestling Title. The wrestlers traded offense during the first five minutes.
[Q8] Lashley got a two count on El Patron, then EC3 walked onto the stage and watched the match. [C] EC3 remained on the stage while El Patron took offense control. He went for the Cross Arm Breaker, but Lashley rolled him up for a two count. A short time later, El Patron ducked a clothesline, but Lashley accidentally hit the referee instead. REF BUMP!!!
A second referee ran out while El Patron put Lashley in the Cross Arm Breaker. Lashley powered out of the hold. El Patron came right back and performed his double stomp as Lashley was hanging between the ropes. At 16:05, El Patron set up for a superkick, but Lashley pulled the second referee into it. REF BUMP 2!!!
Lashley smiled as he grabbed the title belt from ringside. Lashley ate a superkick as he got back in the ring. El Patron hit Lashley with the title belt and covered him. The second referee recovered and made the three count to give El Patron the win. EC3 didn’t look pleased, but the fans cheered.
Alberto El Patron defeated Lashley in 17:10 to win the Impact Wrestling Championship.
After the match, Borash lost credibility by questioning whether they just had an instant classic. El Patron was named the winner by the ring announcer. He played to the fans on the ropes. The first referee spoke with the second referee. El Patron continued to play to the crowd. Lashley grabbed the second ref by the collar. A third referee joined the debate.
Bruce Prichard and other management members came out to talk with the referees. El Patron stood on the broadcast table with a mic and introduced himself as the new champion and got another si chant going. EC3 clapped as El Patron walked by him with the title. Mathews closed the show by talking about it as a shocker and said what a debut and what a welcome to Impact Wrestling…
Powell’s POV: Nothing says Jeff Jarrett and Dutch Mantell (and Vince Russo) era TNA quite like ref bumps in the main event. The only thing missing was a guitar shot. The first night was filled with too much talking, not enough quality in-ring action, and a ridiculous amount of squabbling broadcast team members. This was chaotic to the point that it was a turnoff. The controversial finish was likely designed to get people to watch next week to see if the title change sticks, but creative should have been self aware enough to know that doing multiple ref bumps and having a controversial finish to the title match made this feel like bad TNA, not a new beginning as Impact Wrestling. By the way, the creative was more consistent than ever last year, so all this talk about making Impact great again feels awkward. I will have much more to say in my member exclusive audio review later tonight, and John Moore will be by on Friday with the Impact Wrestling Hit List. Thanks for watching along with me.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Todd Martin on his background, attending pro wrestling events in Japan, the NJPW G1 Tournament, why lucha libre companies haven't been as successful as NJPW in the United States, AEW optimism, covering pro wrestling and MMA, and more (68:57)...