SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
TNA Impact Wrestling
November 25, 2015
Taped in Orlando, Fla.
Aired on Destination America
Report by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonPW)
Impact opens with a video package recapping last week’s show. Tonight includes Rockstar Spud vs. Drew Galloway and Austin Aries vs. Lashley.
In-studio: Josh Mathews and Pope welcome us to tonight’s show. Pope says that tonight is do-or-die for Group U.K. and Mathews says that Davey Richards vs. Robbie E. will also happen tonight. As well as the triple threat match in Group X Division.
1 — TNA X Division champion TIGRE UNO vs. D.J. ZEMA vs. MANIK — World Title Series round-robin match
In this match, the first two wrestlers to score a pinfall or submission win will advance to the Round of 16.
A whole bunch of fast-paced action starts the match with leap frogs and jumps and flips happening everywhere. D.J. Z. turns Uno inside out with a clotheslines and then tosses Manik to the outside.
The action spills to the outside. Uno climbs to the top and lands a huge moonsault on D.J. Z and Manik on the outside.
Uno rolls Manik back into the ring. He has Manik tied up in some sort of submission hold, but Manik drop-toe holds him into a reversal. D.J. Z flies in with a dropkick to break up the hold. Uno tosses D.J. Z. to the outside and Manik comes from behind and snapmares him to the canvas.
Manik puts the boots to Uno with D.J. Z also down on the outside. D.J. Z back in the ring hits a springboard elbow on Manik. Uno tries to hit a tackle on Manik to the outside, but Manik ducks and Uno goes through the ropes.
D.J. Z hits a double tilt-a-whirl DDT on both men and pins Manik at the five-minute mark to earn a spot in the Round of 16.
The match now becomes a singles match between Tigre Uno and Manik. Manik lands forearms on Uno but Uno starts to fire back. Uno catches Manik in a moonsault attempt and hits a modified stunner but Manik kicks out. Manik applies a cross arm-breaker on Uno but he powers out. Uno then hits a split-leg corkscrew to get the pinfall win.
WINNERS: D.J. Z and Tigre Uno advance to the Round of 16
[MM Reax: Pretty good opening match. It wasn’t too long, and, as you would expect, offered some clear athleticism. The right two also went through. The only problem was that it was almost too fast, and at times felt hard to follow with such a high-paced speed.]
In-studio: Back from the break, Drew Galloway is speaking in a video interview. He said in wrestling you’ll fall more than you’ll stand up, but the key is always moving forward. Galloway is in Scotland and said this was the longest he’s been home in more than a decade. He said everyone is grown up, all of his friends from home. Galloway said in pro wrestling you’re married to the job. Aside from winning the World Title Series, Galloway said his goal return home to the U.K. for the tour in January as the World Champion.
2 — ROCKSTAR SPUD vs. DREW GALLOWAY — World Title Series round-robin match
Spud and Galloway start with a handshake. Galloway looks huge in the ring compared to Spud. They circle each other at first and Spud fires off some punches after Galloway misses on a charge. Galloway lands a loud chop to Spud’s chest.
Galloway and Spud are on the outside and Galloway is ramming Spud’s back into the post. Galloway charges Spud but misses and goes crashing into the steps. Spud rolls the referee back into the ring and tells the referee to start counting for a count-out. Galloway is slowly getting back to his feet and barely makes it back into the ring at nine.
Spud goes for two quick covers, but Galloway kicks out. Spud goes to the top, goes for a cross-body, but Galloway catches him and slams him. Galloway charges Spud in the corner but Spud moved.
Spud hits a series of flying forearms in the corner and then a running dropkick in the corner. Galloway is holding his shoulder. Spud with a kick to Galloway’s head. Spud goes for an Underdog, but Galloway tosses him aside and then lands a right hand.
On the apron, Galloway tries to power bomb Spud on the steps, but he seemed to second-guess himself. Spud lands a kick and goes back on the offense. Spud Charges Galloway but Galloway catches him and lands a Samoan Drop. Galloway is in the corner waiting for Spud to get up and then hits a flying boot for the pinfall win.
WINNER: Drew Galloway via pinfall.
[MM Reax: Very good match, where the announcers did a nice job highlighting that Spud needed to take chances in order to win. Very interesting spot where Galloway hesitated powerbombing Spud on the ring apron. Could just be a throwaway thing to show he’s a babyface, but it felt like there might be something more to that down the road.]
In-studio: Mathews and Pope talk about the possible effects for Group U.K. if Grado beats Bram, and how that could create a three-way tie.
3 — BRAM vs. GRADO — World Title Series round-robin match
Grado does his dancing in the ring before the start of the match. The bell rings, Bram rolls him up, and the match is over in a matter of seconds.
WINNER: Bram via pinfall.
[MM Reax: Totally fine with this finish. This tournament is for the World Title. When you get to the Round of 16, things need to be taken more seriously than a comedy act.]
Mathews then throws to a video package hyping tonight’s main event between Lashley and Austin Aries.
In-studio: Back from the break, Pope and Mathews preview Jessie Godderz vs. Micah, which is up next.
4 — JESSIE GODDERZ vs. MICAH — World Title Series round-robin match
Micah is in control of the match early. After some arm drags, Jessie goes to the outside in order to compose himself. Micah gives chase and tosses him back into the ring. Jessie recovers and hits a backbreaker. Jessie hits a standing dropkick.
Meanwhile, Mathews plugs the next Impact tapings, with tickets going on sale. Mathews says next week all of the Round of 16 matches will happen. Micah then charges Godderz in the corner with a splash. Micah goes for a cover, but Godderz grabs the bottom rope.
After Micah pulls him to the middle of the ring, Jessie reverses and goes for a Boston Crab but Micah blocks it. Micah claims up to the top rope but misses a flying headbutt after Jessie moves. Jessie locks Michah in an Adonis Crab for the win.
WINNER: Jessie Godderz via submission.
Still to come: Robbie E. vs. Davey Richards.
Back from the break, TNA airs a video package that recaps the action in Group Tag Team Specialists.
Mathews then throws to video of Kurt Angle in the U.K., promoting the upcoming tour. It’s not an interview, but a pre-tape of Angle doing multiple interviews on radio and elsewhere.
Angle said he’s had the best matches of his career over the last two years. Angle calls this his “retirement tour for Impact Wrestling.” Angle said he had a great career from WWE to TNA and he was glad he would be able to retire in the U.K. Angle said that this is his last time in the U.K. this upcoming tour.
[MM Reax: The message seemed a bit cloudy. It was tough to tell if Angle meant this was just his final U.K. tour, or if he was ending his career altogether after the U.K. tour. After the tape, Mathews and Pope didn’t discuss it much.]
5 — ROBBIE E. vs. TNA Tag Team Champion DAVEY RICHARDS — World Title Series round-robin match
At the start of the match, Mathews said that the semi-finals of the World Title Series would take place Mumbai, India, which is interesting because right after this show, TNA announced that the India tour was canceled.
The match starts with a handshake and lock-up. Some wrestling holds to start the match, including a wrist lock by Richards and Robbie E. reversing into an armdrag.
A series of armdrags ends with an armlock. The action spills to the outside. Davey fakes a dive. Robbie E. has it scouted and ducks Richards’ attempt for a running kick. Robbie E. goes to the apron and dives off with a cannonball to the floor.
Robbie E. gets back up and rolls Richards back into the ring and hits a flying clothesline. Robbie goes for a reverse DDT, but Richards blocks it and shoves him into the corner.
Richards hits a clothesline. Richards goes for a submission in a reverse Figure Four but Robbie E. gets to the ropes. Richards then lands a series of rapid offense including clotheslines off the rope. Robbie E. counters and hits a boom drop. He goes for a cover, but only gets a two count.
Robbie E. goes for a reverse DDT but Davey counters it with a snapmare. Robbie E. ducks a clothesline, but Richards rolls him up for a two count. Robbie E. goes for a sunset flip, but Richards hits a double stomp from a standing position. Richards goes to the top rope, but Robbie E. moves. Both men back up, and Richards hits a Creeping Death for the pinfall.
WINNER: Davey Richards via pinfall.
[MM Reax: Another very good match for Robbie E. in this tournament. He’s not moving on, but he showed a lot during this tournament. Once TNA makes the move to Pop TV, with a much thinner roster, Robbie E. could be a guy that TNA pushes as an upper midcarder and he showed enough in this tournament that the fans should take him seriously in that role. He could absolutely be a guy TNA pushes in that tier just below the World Title.]
Still to come: Austin Aries vs. Lashley.
Mathews plugged a “Bracketbrawl” contest for the Round of 16.
6 — CRAZZY STEVE vs. KENNY KING — World Title Series round-robin match
If Crazzy Steve wins this match, Group Wildcard will have a three-way playoff like Group X Division earlier tonight.
King starts the match with a headlock. Some holds to start the match with Steve reversing. King lands an arm drag and then taunts the crowd. They lock up again and King grabs a headlock. Steve shoves him off but King hits a shoulder tackle. Steve hits an arm drag and King looks impressed, offering a handshake but he instead goes for a drop toehold and secures a side headlock.
Wristlock by King. Steve reverses into a drop toehold and then honks his horn. King hits a spinning heel kick. King hits a suplex and then rains some right hands on Steve. King puts Steve in a submission but Steve wiggles out of it.
King hits a scoop slam and goes for a leg drop, but Steve moves and hits King with a flying elbow. Steve hits a series of left hands in the corner and starts to stomp King after King falls to the mat.
Steve honks his horn again and hits a running knee. King kicks out at two after a hurricanrana. Steve sunset flips King for a two count. Steve goes for a crucifix pin but King kicks out. Steve jumps at King but King catches him with a Coronation for the win.
WINNER: Kenny King via pinfall.
[MM Reax: Again, the right finish with the right guy moving on. It’s good to see TNA weeding out the comedy acts and making the Round of 16 as serious as they can.]
Backstage: Austin Aries says that tonight is win or go home, just like the Playoffs. Aries said that Lashley is a physical specimen and he “has something going on between those ears.” Aries said Lashley knows he’ll need to be perfect in order to beat Austin Aries. Aries said that tonight, Lashley needs to be just a bit better than the best who ever lived.
Back from the break, they air a clip from Mathews’s YouTube show, where Robbie E. basically tells a story where Vince Russo hired him because he found out from Simon Diamond that Robbie E. was from New Jersey, and the Jersey Shore was popular at the time and Russo got him hired because of that.
[MM Reax: Of course he did. That sounds like the Vince Russo we’ve all come to know, now doesn’t it?]
7 — BOBBY LASHLEY vs. AUSTIN ARIES — World Title Series round-robin match
Lashley and Aries circle each other to start the match. Aries jumps the rope in the corner and hits a forearm. Aries climbs to the top and hits a missile dropkick.
Lashley bounces off the ropes after the dropkick and hits a running clothesline. The match spills to the outside where Lashley starts to take control with his power and strength. Lashley hits another shoulder block. Lashley goes for a vertical suplex but Aries tried to reverse it with knees to the head while Lashley held him vertical. That was a cool spot. Lashley goes for a cover but Aries kicks out.
Back from the break, Aries hits some elbows in an attempt to break a waistlock by Lashley. Lashley counters with a belly-to-belly suplex. Lashley goes for a spear but Aries moves and Lashley goes charging into the turnbuckle. Aries hits a series of kicks from there.
Back in the ring, Aries has Lashley for a suplex but Lashley reverses and puts Aries on his shoulder. Aries drops down and hits a discus elbow. Now in the corner, Aries hits a running dropkick.
Four minutes to go.
Aries hits a brainbuster, but Lashley counters with a suplex. Lashley charges Aries, but Aries sidesteps it and Lashley goes tumbling to the outside. Aries off the rope and goes for a suicide dive on the outside but Lashley moves.
Pope says that’s why it’s call a suicide dive. Lashley rolls Aries back into the ring. Hebner is checking on Aries and Lashley is waiting for Aries to get up for a spear. Hebner is telling Lashley to wait. Mathews notes that the clock is ticking.
Lashley picks up Aries, but Aries drops back to the mat. Lashley sets up in the corner for a spear. Hebner is telling Lashley to wait because Aries is hurt. 90 seconds left. Aries fights back as Lashley picks him up. Lashley hits a clothesline. Lashley goes to the corner and tries for a spear but Aries reverses into a Last Chancery. Lashley makes it to the rope to break the hold.
Less than one minute left.
Aries goes to the top for a 450 splash, but Lashley moves and then hits a spear for the pinfall with just seconds left in the match.
WINNER: Bobby Lashley via pinfall.
[MM Reax: Excellent main-event match. If TNA is smart, now that they’ve secured a new television deal, if Aries is not locked up by Ring of Honor, he should be a guy on TNA’s radar to re-sign. He’s so good and can carry absolutely anyone on the TNA roster to a very good match at the very least, and in most cases, an excellent match. Lashley looked good here as well. There was some innovative counters and reversals in this match. Aries countering the spear into the Last Chancery was a bit clunky — it looked like Lashley just fell — but we haven’t seen that before. Aries using knees in an attempt to get out from the vertical suplex looked great.]
Up next: Mathews and Pope reveal the Round of 16 brackets
Back from the break, Mathews and Pope show highlights of what we’ve seen tonight. Then back in the studio, Mathews and Pope reveal the brackets.
Round of 16 Brackets
Ethan Carter III vs. D.J. Z
Bram vs. Davey Richards
Lashley vs. Drew Galloway
Mahabali Shera vs. Eli Drake
Tigre Uno vs. Gail Kim
Eric Young vs. Kenny King
Jessie Godderz vs. Awesome Kong
Bobby Roode vs. Matt Hardy
Mathews then threw to some video clips of the participants talking about their Round of 16 matchups.
– ECIII said D.J. Z had a tough draw, and he had to consider the club closed, and then immediately turned to Matt Hardy.
– D.J. Z said that he’s not much different than ECIII. D.J. Z was definitely cutting a babyface promo, calling ECIII a “scumbag” and himself a “recovering scumbag.” D.J. Z said on any given night, even the best in the world can be defeated.
– Davey Richards said Bram is stronger and more violent than him. But he has a nation behind him.
– Eli Drake said he’ll move on from the Future Four to the Future One. Drake said he’s not dancing with Shera.
– Eric Young said Kenny King is in his way from being King of this world.
– Jessie Godderz said no man, woman, or Kong will stop him from behind the next World Champion.
– Roode said it’s win or go home, and his toughest test his next. Roode said he has nothing but respect for Hardy, but once in the ring, he’ll do whatever he has to do in order to advance.
– Hardy said said that Roode is not stopping the Matt Hardy train.
[MM Final Thoughts: TNA has done the best job it can with the World Title Series, considering these matches were taped months ago. First, you would never really be able to tell that they were. All of the commentary was kept current, obviously. Considering they had just hours of matches, without any storyline, this came together quite well.
There are some concepts here that, moving forward, TNA should continue to use. The roundtables were great. Even later in the series, when TNA went away from the roundtables and started airing some backstage and pre-taped interviews, it was working. The show had a much better flow to it than during the GFW invasion angle. The more wrestling, the better, and the last several weeks have been filled with nothing but wrestling.
Even at the end of tonight’s show, TNA simply had the wrestlers send in 10-15 second clips talking about their matches next week. You could tell some guys were doing the videos on their phones or on an iPad, but it worked. It’s not rocket science.
As for who is advancing, most of the groups played out the way it should have. I would have liked to see Mr. Anderson go through, but that would have had to mean he was in a different group. ECIII and Lashley were the two that should have advanced out of Group Champions.
The Aidan O’Shea character has a future in TNA, and given how they’ve misused Kenny King over the last year, maybe you could make the argument that he could have advanced in Group Wildcard.
Finally, this tournament really helped elevate Robbie E. His push throughout this tournament didn’t feel forced whatsoever. It felt like a guy who was pushed up the card not in some silly angle, but by winning a big match and also hanging in there against the likes of Matt Hardy and Davey Richards in very competitive matches. He went 1-2 in his three group matches, but it definitely feels as though he was advanced considerably in this tournament.]
Final World Title Series Standings
2 — Robbie E. (3)